A rare shot of Dave Whelan with his mouth closed.

by Steven S

As the hours and days tick by I click into rumour columns and gossip from ‘reputable’ insiders on twitter looking for something, anything to replace the weekly analysis of a football match. Inevitably the transfer cogs are taking some time to kick into action. Where the focus lies at the moment is with the vacant positions at West Brom, Aston Villa, Chelsea and Liverpool, as the respective directors scour the globe looking for their next saviour.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was the most left field of all suggestions last week, suddenly jumping the queue out of nowhere for the role at Villa Park. What seemed to be a done deal was ended by Ole who did not want to relocate his family again after only moving to Norway 18 months ago. Looking at the even larger picture it is probably the best move for the rookie manager who will surely receive other opportunities if he continues as he has started at Molde. West Brom have been going about their business very quietly, with the latest news being that Claudio Ranieri is in talks and likely to be their next man. The Italian would be a good appointment and more likely to carry on the good work set up by Hodgson.

Liverpool continue to keep a smile on opposition fan’s faces as the selection process appears to continue from Henry and co, everyone seemingly in the dark as to who is the favourite. Wigan owner Dave Whelan believes that Martinez has been offered the job at Anfield although the level of control Roberto may have in footballing matters could be the stumbling block. The level of control many of the Liverpool players had last season was not up to much either so you can understand what he means.  Motormouth Whelan also let slip that he believes his ‘pal’ Fergie will only stay on at United for one more season, following his health scare two Fridays ago when he had problems with a nose bleed. Perhaps he spent too long looking up at City. Who knows?

Di Matteo is no longer officially the Chelsea manager although he may not have even noticed up there on Cloud Nine only a week after securing his legend at the club. The big question the owner has to pose is can RDM build a new team from the ashes of the current spine, already a man down after Drogba’s confirmation that he will be leaving and more likely heading over to China to become a very rich man and quite literally a giant amongst men in the new continent.

First little Fernando was not happy. “I want them to tell me what is going to happen in the future” he said as his glittering CL medal shone around his neck. Then little Fernando was very happy “At Chelsea, I am very happy and I never said the opposite”. With the Big Bad Drog on his way to China to laugh as Anelka tries to tell him what to do, they way is now clear for little Fernando to become a grown up boy.

Chelsea achieved the amazing last weekend winning the Champions League against all odds, seemingly inspiring a talented young Belgian to score a hat trick in his final game for Lille the following day. Stamford Bridge is now a much more attractive option for Eden Hazard now they have lifted the elusive trophy quickly forgetting that Manchester was his assured destination. Now all three clubs are locked in battle to grab the hottest property in Europe who is certainly making the most of all the attention.

Most satisfying news of the week came from the FA on Wednesday as Joey Barton was suspended for 12 games at the start of next season, following the Barton Death Match away to City. 8 additional games were added to the 4 handed out for being sent off, with a pointless fine of £75,000 – football authorities world wide need to look at how effective a fining system really is anymore. The ban means he will miss a third of QPR’s game next season if he survives the internal investigation currently being undertaken by his club. ‘When you stare into the abyss the abyss stares back at you’. Nietzsche I think it was.

Everyone’s favourite comedy President piped up again yesterday, Sepp Blatter suggesting that the rather sensationally named Football Task Force 2014 (!) led by Franz Beckenbauer may look at changing the penalty shoot out “tragedies”. A week on from Bayern’s failure under pressure to win the trophy in their home city and an absolute legend of the club (and president of 18 years) is tasked with looking into the validity of deciding games in this manner. Suspicions are for the cynical. Nothing to see here…

TV income figures were released during the week, revealing the amazing amount of money being pumped into the English game during the 2010-11 season. £2.3 billion to be precise. With every single penny being spent. In fact, collectively the league is in debt by £361 million with more than half the clubs in the league actually making loses. Man City top the debt pile after their recent splurges, making a record loss of £179 million although you do know that it will have little effect on their overall finances. For years it has been predicted that the bubble had to burst but with the Asian markets opening up and more room for exposure across Africa, it is hard to see how.

The PFA have stepped forward and announced that any convicted acts of racism within football will now be a sackable offence. Likely to gain backing from the related associations, every club needs to step forward and give this a very public backing and state that it will actually be enforced should another Suarez or Terry situation arise. At least Suarez has let us know that his conscience is clear about the whole thing, which was nice of him.

Goal line technology is to be trailed when England host Belgium at Wembley on June 2 using the widely accepted Hawk Eye for the game. It will not be used to decide any in game decisions however, just used purely by the independent testers to see how it works in a live environment. It follows on the first ever test held last week for the Hampshire FA Senior Cup Final between Eastleigh and AFC Totton. Eastleigh won 2-0 you’ll be glad to hear.

Alan Carr’s dad Graham has plucked another obscure player from the French league as Newcastle sign attacking midfielder Romain Amalfitano from French Ligue 2 club Reims. Given the success of their recent signings it will be very interesting to see how he develops alongside Sylvain Marveaux who was on the fringes of the team last season after signing from Rennes. The Vertonghen to Tottenham deal drags on with both clubs haggling over the price tag looking likely to be resolved early next week. After Ibra, now it’s teammate Thiago Silva being punted as the next Man City target which would make an absolutely terrifying combination alongside Kompany. Berbatov is scouring around for clubs, PSG taking some interest in him and you get the feeling his languid style might just be the perfect match for the French. Odemwingie is making noises about leaving West Brom after a couple of years being linked with clubs higher up in the table.

And breathe. The season is finished but I swear there is more happening than usual. Yet it won’t stop there. Oh no it won’t. England play away to Norway tomorrow giving us our first glimpse of the Euro 2012 Champions elect and nothing less than a 12-0 will suffice. Friendlies kick off across Europe as the national teams shape up for the forthcoming Ukraine show, so we’ll cover all of that and more when we return next week. See you then my lil’ cherubs.