Andy Mitten

  • Fabregas DOES want to join Manchester United

    So many Spaniards have moved to the Premier League this summer that you can make an XI of players who will be debuting next month. A 4-2-3-1 formation could be Adrian (West Ham); Muniesa (Stoke), Amorebieta (Fulham), Amat (Swansea), Luna (Aston Villa); Canas (Swansea), Campana (Crystal Palace); Navas (Man City), Deulfeu (Everton), Pozuelo (Swansea); Aspas (Liverpool). There are more. And others may be joining them in England, though not all would be first timers.

    Manchester United want Cesc Fabregas. And United understand that Cesc Fabregas is quite happy with the idea of going to United and

    Read More »from Fabregas DOES want to join Manchester United
  • Manuel Pellegrini

    Malaga coach Manuel Pellegrini often leads his football clubs into uncharted territory.

    He took Villarreal to the semi-finals of the Champions League in 2006, earned Real Madrid their highest ever points total in 2010, then last season shepherded Malaga into the Champions League for the first time.

    This season, he secured wins over AC Milan, Anderlecht and Zenit St Petersburg as Malaga became the first side through to the knockout stage - then guided them past Porto to reach the quarter-finals. But for a couple of terrible refereeing decisions against Borussia Dortmund, Malaga would then have

    Read More »from The Pellegrini philosophy: ‘Aesthetics are important. People want to be entertained.’
  • Galatasaray on the rise may surprise Real

    The mood on the terraces became agitated as Galatasaray strove in vain for an equaliser in atrocious conditions. One-nil down at home to Cluj in October, they were going out of Europe.

    Heavy rain started four hours earlier and became so bad that attempts to clear the standing water from the pitch were farcical – four men with wooden brushes who swept the 10 metres closest to the sideline and little more. The rain worked against the Turkish champions because they couldn’t play.

    They’d lost their first game 1-0 at Old Trafford, before Braga beat them 2-0 at home. Three defeats from three

    Read More »from Galatasaray on the rise may surprise Real
  • The 10-year-olds on the beach in San Sebastian don’t dream of playing for Barcelona or Real Madrid. The boys wearing blue are from Antiguoko, a junior club named after a beachside barrio where Xabi Alonso and his brother Mickel started out. So did former Spanish international Javier de Pedro, current Arsenal captain Mikel Arteta and several more celebrated names.

    The young footballers playing as the Atlantic waves crash 20 metres away on this winter’s morning fantasise about wearing the shirt of local heroes Real Sociedad. Given their current form, who can blame them?

    Antiguoko is an

    Read More »from Rise and rise of ‘La’ Real Sociedad challenges Bilbao’s Basque supremacy
  • Ronaldo returns to Manchester, where he is still revered

    Ronaldo celebrates scoring against Levante in La Liga (Reuters)

    Cristiano Ronaldo was on the phone to Manchester, as he often is. He told former team-mates that he was coming to the city for Real Madrid's first ever game at Manchester City and wanted to know who was about to meet up and liven up his 24 hours in a hotel.

    He was deflated to hear that Manchester United have changed their travel plans for European away games and now stay overnight afterwards so that players and staff get a night's sleep. United will return from Istanbul this afternoon (Wednesday) just a few hours before Madrid meet City.

    Ronaldo was cheered though to hear that several key

    Read More »from Ronaldo returns to Manchester, where he is still revered
  • Bernabeu cauldron awaits City

    Manchester may be a football capital, but the most successful team of them all didn't play a single game in the city in the '70s, '80s or '90s. Real Madrid played some epic games against United in the '50s and '60s, but while the Spaniards were consistent European performers, bans and less than spectacular league form meant that United and City were not.

    They may have been beaten by Aberdeen, but Madrid seemed to be on another level to anything Manchester offered in the 80s. They had bigger stars, bigger crowds and a far bigger trophy cabinet. In 1994, Old Trafford held 44,600 - less than

    Read More »from Bernabeu cauldron awaits City
  • Malaga implosion means Liga duopoly set to continue

    Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo should dominate La Liga once more

    The Catalan press-pack sat enjoying the Gothenburg sun the morning after Barcelona's 0-0 pre-season draw against Manchester United last week.

    Barca won 2-0 on penalties and their players looked embarrassed at the fanfare and fireworks which followed, with an awards ceremony to rival a World Cup final. Perhaps it was to be expected after the match trophy was delivered to the centre circle before kick-off by helicopter.

    Nearby, the Barca players were confined to their hotel. Messi and co. wanted to leave and walk the streets and do as normal people do, but it was impossible without being

    Read More »from Malaga implosion means Liga duopoly set to continue
  • Manchester United's former captain Bryan Robson was once asked on a TV quiz to name the fictional city in which Batman fights criminals. "Gothenburg," replied Robson, who will be in Sweden's second city on Wednesday to see United take on Barcelona in a glamorous pre-season friendly.

    All 48,000 tickets sold out in 27 minutes, the majority to United fans who will be hoping the match is more entertaining than the club's four pre-season games so far. United have scored just three goals, but pre-season results count for little, with the players seeing it as a chance to ease their way back towards

    Read More »from Vilanova has little room for error at Barcelona
  • Malaga lurching from boom to bust

    This should be the greatest time in CF Malaga's chequered history. Fans who bought every season ticket to guarantee a full house for every game of the forthcoming season should be anticipating a first foray into the Champions League and the continuing improvement of their squad.

    Instead, the baffling situation at Malaga is causing considerable concern. They may have a side full of renowned players coached by former Villarreal and Real Madrid coach Manuel Pellegrini, but they don't know for how long.

    For Malaga fans, they've never had it so good. The team who are 19th in the all-time Spanish

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  • Kaka could find old magic back at Milan

    The former World Player of the Year has been told to find another clubRivaldo peered down over Barcelona from the 18th floor of the Princess Sofia hotel close to Camp Nou. It was a decade ago and the world's player of the moment was asked about any up-and-coming Brazilians.

    "There's a young guy who plays for Sao Paulo called Kaka who plays just behind the front two. You don't know anything about him in Europe, but watch him if he is chosen for the World Cup."

    Rivaldo's 2002 recommendation came as a surprise. Kaka was in many ways his antithesis and Rivaldo had just spoken passionately about discrimination in Brazil and the gulf in living standards between his

    Read More »from Kaka could find old magic back at Milan