José Mourinho not convinced about signing Cesc Fábregas for Chelsea

José Mourinho is unconvinced about signing Cesc Fábregas with the Chelsea manager retaining a preference for Atlético Madrid’s Koke, the midfielder with whom Barcelona want to replace the former Arsenal captain.

Fábregas has been told by the Catalan club that he is for sale for £30m. The 27-year-old would prefer to return to the Premier League and to a Champions League club, his options have narrowed to Chelsea, as Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City have all – for the moment, at least – passed up the opportunity to buy him.

With Louis van Gaal, the new manager of Manchester United, having also not identified Fábregas as a priority as the Dutchman seeks to rebuild the squad, the Chelsea hierarchy have presented the Spaniard to Mourinho as an ideal goal-scoring midfield successor to Frank Lampard, who is leaving after 13 years at the west London club.

Mourinho, however, is unsure about the Spaniard, preferring instead to target Koke. And, with Mourinho having also sold another diminutive goal-scoring playmaker in Juan Mata to United in January, plus Fabregas’s history with the Portuguese, whether he joins Chelsea is in the balance.

In February Fábregas told Mourinho to “shut up” after the 50-year-old had branded Barça the worst team the club had fielded in “many, many years”.

Although Mourinho would rather sign Koke, Barça are favourites to do so. Koke is five-years younger than Fábregas and was part of the successful Atlético side that won La Liga and were 90 seconds away from defeating Real Madrid to lift the Champions League.

Given that Fábregas has won the World Cup and the last two European Championships with Spain and is a proven Premier League performer the reluctance of three of the clubs competing in next season’s elite competition – plus United – to buy him is a big surprise.

Fábregas is understood to be relaxed about the situation, though with Spain’s World Cup defence starting on Thursday-week in Brazil, whether his future can be decided before then becomes less likely as the tournament nears.

Fábregas’s stock has fallen considerably from last summer. Then, United had a £35m bid for him rejected by Barça, with Fábregas prepared to move to Old Trafford had his club been prepared to sell.

Richie Lambert letter to Southampton fans

What can I say…?

Southampton has been my life for the past five years, in which we have achieved all of our dreams and more.

First I have to thank Markus Liebherr for saving Southampton then Alan Pardew for bringing me to the club.

Thank you to all the staff involved in making me the player I am today. Without your knowledge and commitment I would not be here right now at a World Cup with England.

Thank you to all the players, past and present, who I have had nothing but good times and success with driven by our club captain, Kelvin Davis. I love every last one of you.

Thank you to the managers I have worked with – Alan, Nigel and Mauricio – and their teams for helping me and Southampton step up and adapt to every challenge that has come our way the past five years.

When I grew up there was only one club I loved. I can honestly say now I have two clubs which will always be in my heart and that is thanks to the Saints fans.

The people who support this club have been nothing short of amazing towards me and, when I look back in years to come, it will be the relationship I had with the fans here which will stand out the most.

Southampton have allowed me to realise a lifelong ambition by joining Liverpool FC and taking my family home. The five-year plan when I arrived was to get this club from League 1 to the top half of the Premier League. Against all the odds we have achieved that.

Now, under Katharina Liebherr’s leadership, the club has the chance for a new plan, a new chapter, and I wish them all the success in the world.

Rickie Lambert

FAI Summer Soccer Schools

The eFlow FAI Summer Soccer School programme enters its 18th year in 2014. Over the years, the camps have grown to become the largest programme in the Grassroots Department of the Football Association of Ireland.

The camps aim to provide children between the ages of 6 and 14 the opportunity to attend a week-long football-oriented summer camp over the holiday period. Every year boys and girls of all abilities turn out to enjoy five days of fun and football. It doesn’t matter if you’re just a beginner or if you have our sights set on Robbie Keane’s number 10 shirt, you will get a lot out of the Summer Soccer Schools.

Football is, ultimately, a game and at the eFlow FAI Summer Soccer Schools we believe games should be fun. While participants will learn new skills and tricks, the most important element of our camps is that they are fun and that all children enjoy them.

Our camps are fully inclusive, so if your child has a disability he/she is more than welcome. If your child requires additional assistance, no problem – we’ll get a coach in to specifically ensure that your son or daughter has a fantastic experience. Every child should have access to play football, and we recognise that sometimes it’s just a little extra assistance that will enable them to flourish. When you’re making your booking, be sure to flag if your child’s condition warrants one-to-one coaching and we’ll take care of it.

We have had some famous graduates of the Summer Soccer Schools throughout the years. Stephen Ward, John O’Shea, Megan Campbell, Ciara Grant and Stephanie Roche all attended their local Summer Soccer School as children and look at how much they’ve achieved in their football careers! Here’s a top tip – Megan, Ciara and Stephanie coach on camps in Louth, Donegal and Dublin so if you’re on a camp in either of these counties keep an eye out for them!

David Moyes Warns Manchester United After Louis van Gaal Appointment

David Moyes Warns Manchester United After Louis van Gaal Appointment
Former Manchester United manager David Moyes believes his sacking and the subsequent appointment of Louis van Gaal has ended the club’s tradition of planning for the future.
Lets not forget that Moyes was dismissed nine months into his six-year deal at Old Trafford after failing to qualify for the Champions League in his first season in charge and presided over some of the worst results against The Premiers top 4.
Upon the Scot’s appointment comparisons were drawn between Moyes and Sir Alex Ferguson, who announced his retirement from United last May, and having been handed a long contract was expected to be give similar time at the helm.
However, Moyes was handed barely a season to adapt to the demands at United and he admits the club’s long-term thinking adopted under Ferguson is a thing of the past.
“I never had the chance to thank the Manchester United supporters for the backing they gave me during my time as manager,” he wrote in the Irish Sunday Times. “I wish them every success in the future.
“They now appreciate, I am sure, that things are changing at their club and it could well be that gone are the days of long-term planning. They were fully aware of the task I had. It was unfortunate I wasn’t given more time to succeed.”
Moyes’ harrowing experience at United was expected to see him take time out of the game, having also spent 11 years at Everton though the manager admits offers have already come in.
Though Roy Keane (who has sounded out Aidan McGeady about houses in the Glasgow and Edinburgh area) is expected to take over, Moyes had been linked with the vacant managers position at his former club Celtic and he admits to being tempted into returning to the game.
“Since leaving [United], I have received some very good offers and am tempted by one or two of them,” he added.
“I have not closed the door on anything and am open-minded about my next step in management, and whether it will be in the UK or abroad.
“Another possibility is that I may choose to have a break and enjoy watching and observing football throughout the world. What I do know for sure is that I have moved on.”