Tag Archives: managers

Celtic player Scott Brown named Scotland manager by Gordon Strachan

Brown named Scotland captain for Strachan's first match in charge

PUBLISHED:

15:34 GMT, 5 February 2013

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UPDATED:

15:35 GMT, 5 February 2013


New skipper: Scotland manager Gordon Strachan has named Celtic's Scott Brown as his captain for the friendly with Estonia in Aberdeen tomorrow

New skipper: Scotland manager Gordon Strachan has named Celtic's Scott Brown as his captain for the friendly with Estonia in Aberdeen tomorrow

Scotland manager Gordon Strachan has named Scott Brown as his first captain.

Celtic skipper Brown will lead out the team for the first time ahead of tomorrow night's friendly against Estonia at Pittodrie.

'He already knows what it's like to be a captain with pressure and that made him favourite,' Strachan told a press conference in Aberdeen.

Gary Caldwell and Kenny Miller have shared captaincy duties in the absence of Darren Fletcher, who is battling a chronic bowel condition.

But Caldwell has returned to Wigan with an injury and 33-year-old Miller is unlikely to start as the Vancouver Whitecaps striker is in the midst of his close season.

Strachan confirmed Caldwell's withdrawal was one of several from his squad, adding: 'He's left. Grant (Hanley) has left too, they did well to come up, they'd really been struggling.

'Ross McCormack has left, he's got some sort of bug but he made it up here which was terrific.

'Young James (Forrest) went back because I felt it might be too much to play two games back to back for him. So he's away to Celtic and they'll look after him there.'

The Scotland boss is more than willing to co-operate with Clydesdale Bank Premier League managers as all parties aim to minimise player fatigue.

'I spoke to a lot of managers recently and I'm trying to do the best for the group and the best for the managers,' he added. 'The team that is picked is the best one we can put out tomorrow.

New dawn: Strachan takes charge of his first international match at Pittodrie in Aberdeen

New dawn: Strachan takes charge of his first international match at Pittodrie in Aberdeen

'We're taking into consideration the last time they played, the conditions they played in and who'll be playing at the weekend.

'We'll try to help them and try to get something positive for ourselves.'

Strachan is preparing to make his debut as Scotland manager at the ground where he spent seven successful years as a player between 1977 and 1984.

Out: Gary Caldwell has returned to Wigan after picking up an injury

Out: Gary Caldwell has returned to Wigan after picking up an injury

He added: 'When I first got the job I thought 'wherever the first game is, it will be fantastic' but I think I've realised it's even more special that I'm going back to Aberdeen where I enjoyed smashing times with great players.

'I'm going back again 30-odd years later and the best wishes have been overwhelming, especially in Aberdeen. The people that I've met around this area recently have made it even more special.

'The group Craig (Levein) passed to me are a smashing bunch of players and sometimes they're over enthusiastic but we can always curtail that.'

Neil Lennon answers journalist"s phone in Celtic press conference

Dial-a-manager! Celtic boss Lennon stops his press conference to answer reporter's phone… but the wife hangs up (TWICE!)

By
Declan Warrington

PUBLISHED:

12:44 GMT, 22 January 2013

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UPDATED:

14:10 GMT, 22 January 2013

For all of the pressure football managers are thought to be under, Celtic boss Neil Lennon has shown some of them are happy not to take themselves too seriously.

During his press conference following his side's 4-1 Scottish Premier League victory over Hearts, one of the reporters' phones being used as a recording device began to ring.

And how did the manager react By answering the call, from the reporter's wife it turned out, and attempting to engage the woman, whose initials are SW, in front of a packed room.

Scroll down to watch video of the hilarious exchange at Celtic

Focus: Neil Lennon was speaking at his Celtic press conference

Focus: Neil Lennon was speaking at his Celtic press conference

Who's this Lennon picks up the phone after being interrupted

Who's this Lennon picks up the phone after being interrupted

After first ignoring the ring and vibration on the desk, Lennon cut short his answer to a question and took the call. 'She's not happy,' he said, as the call was hung up.

Normal service was resumed but, undeterred, the women, now identified as Sharon, the wife of Michael Grant, the chief football correspondent for the Herald newspaper, called back.

Question and answer: Lennon tries to speak to the reporter's wife

Question and answer: Lennon tries to speak to the reporter's wife

Snub! Lennon chuckles after the woman hung up on him

Snub! Lennon chuckles after the woman hung up on him

'Are you going to stop interrupting my press conference please,' Lennon said as he answered. 'This is Neil Lennon.'

He then laughed as the call was cut again, before turning to the man whose phone it was, adding: 'You're not going out tonight, Michael.'

VIDEO Lennon picks up the phone in press conference

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Stoke City players play Premier League fantasy football game

REVEALED: The fascinating insight into who the Premier League players rate as Peter Crouch and co pick their fantasy football team at Stoke… but who has splashed the cash on points king Van Persie

By
Adam Shergold

PUBLISHED:

16:17 GMT, 8 January 2013

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UPDATED:

18:02 GMT, 8 January 2013

It's the time of year when the 20 Barclays Premier League managers start to think about tinkering with their teams in the transfer window.

And around the world, millions of fans with fantasy football teams will log on to do the same.

These two parallel worlds have collided this season after 18 members of the Stoke City squad entered their dream teams in the official Premier League fantasy football game.

Enlarge

Dream teams: The Stoke City squad have their own mini-league on the official Barclays Premier League fantasy football game

Dream teams: The Stoke City squad have their own mini-league on the official Barclays Premier League fantasy football game

Now see fantasy football at Stoke…

Click HERE to view the stars' mini league

Peter Crouch, Asmir Begovic, Jermaine Pennant and Kenwyne Jones are among the Potters stars who have put their judgement and reputations on the line in the club mini-league.

And it's Crouch who has stormed clear at the top of the table, albeit only after he made the heartbreaking decision to drop himself from his 'Longpins Longballers' XI.

The switch came at the end of November, after the lanky striker lost two teeth in a mid-air collision with Newcastle's Fabricio Coloccini.

The former England frontman clearly didn't have much faith in his powers of recovery and hauled himself out of his fantasy team.

But the tough decision has paid off, as his introduction of Demba Ba and Jermain Defoe to accompany Robin van Persie in a three-pronged attack has enabled him to surge to the top of the 'SCFC Fantasy League' in recent weeks.

Good move: When Peter Crouch (above) suffered a mouth injury in November, he removed himself from his fantasy football team and installed the more prolific Demba Ba (below left) and Jermain Defoe

Good move: When Peter Crouch (above) suffered a mouth injury in November, he removed himself from his fantasy football team and installed the more prolific Demba Ba (below left) and Jermain Defoe

Demba Ba of Chelsea

Jermain Defoe of Tottenham Hotspur

He currently enjoys a healthy 54 point advantage over Ryan Shotton and his 'FC Shottinho' side.

Shotton has been rewarded by his faith in teammate Jones, who scored three goals over the Christmas period to help Stoke into the top half of the real-life standings.

The free-scoring Van Persie is a staple in all the Stoke players' teams – as he is in thousands up and down the country after his phenomenal start to life at Manchester United.

There is also extraordinary loyalty towards teammate Asmir Begovic and this is well placed as he's won each of them 93 points so far this season on the game.

Points mean prizes: The Stoke squad's faith in their own keeper Asmir Begovic has earned them plenty of points in the fantasy game

Points mean prizes: The Stoke squad's faith in their own keeper Asmir Begovic has earned them plenty of points in the fantasy game

Languishing in the wooden spoon position at the moment is Dean Whitehead, his last place making a mockery of his 'no.1 seed' team name.

And this despite his XI currently featuring Van Persie, Fernando Torres, Santi Cazorla and Juan Mata, some of the Premier League's most in-form players.

His biggest mistake came, perhaps, in removing Liverpool red hot striker Luis Suarez just before a spell in which he has scored five goals in three league games.

Basement battle: Dean Whitehead is currently bottom of the Stoke mini-league

Basement battle: Dean Whitehead is currently bottom of the Stoke mini-league

Astonishingly, out-on-loan Pennant, who opted for a rude name for his team, hasn't cashed in on the lottery of points Van Persie offers, refusing to bring the Dutchman in at any point so far this season.

Arsenal selling Robin van Persie was a mistake, says Alisher Usmanov

You let the fans down selling Van Persie! Usmanov launches fresh attack on Arsenal

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UPDATED:

08:57 GMT, 20 December 2012

Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov says Arsenal made a mistake in selling Robin van Persie to Premier League rivals Manchester United.

The oligarch, who has accumulated an 18billion fortune and is believed to be one of Russia's richest men, says it is still his dream to own Arsenal.

And in a rare television interview, the 59-year-old, who already owns a 30 per cent stake in the club but has no seat on the board, gave his full backing to under-fire boss Wenger, who has been fighting calls from fans to quit.

Hitting out: Alisher Usmanov has once again criticised the way Arsenal is run

Hitting out: Alisher Usmanov has once again criticised the way Arsenal is run

Usmanov, who earned his fortune in
mining, lumber and business investments and is believed to be
significantly wealthier than Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, said the
Arsenal boss has not had enough support in recent years to keep up with
Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea.

Speaking in broken English, Usmanov
told CNBC in Moscow this morning : 'First I did not hear the claims that
Arsene Wenger was against me and the board, and I am surprised about
this.

'Second I always tell Mr Wenger he is
one of the best coaches and football managers in the world but I openly
admit he has many, many difficulties to contend with.

'Today less, but over the last five
years he has not had enough support to provide his conceptions of his
game in Arsenal from the board, either for transfers or for keeping
players etc.'

Usmanov was asked if he would have
done more to keep van Persie who joined United in a 24million deal in
the summer, despite Wenger’s attempts to keep the Dutch striker.

Dutch despair: Usmanov attacked Robin van Persie's sale to Manchester United

Dutch despair: Usmanov attacked Robin van Persie's sale to Manchester United

Dutch despair: Usmanov attacked Robin van Persie's sale to Manchester United

The Soviet-born businessman said:
'This decision (losing Van Persie) was a mistake. If I am one of
Wenger’s players I would want to stay for the finish, but he explained
Robin want to go to win trophies.

Asked about his influence in the
transfer window, Usmanov said: 'I never interfere with things over which
I have no control, this question (about buying players) is for Wenger.

'I never ever give instruction to chief executive of my plans I only ask you need my help or not.'

Usmanov also said Arsenal had not made enough capital from its commercial wing and he questioned the operation at the Emirates.

Slump: Arsenal have endured a difficult season so far, summed up by the humiliating Capital One Cup defeat to League Two Bradford

Slump: Arsenal have endured a difficult season so far, summed up by the humiliating Capital One Cup defeat to League Two Bradford

He added: 'If I have big stake in
Arsenal of course I have my opinion what we must do, for example in the
commercial side there are many questions over the effectiveness of
commercial side of Arsenal today. But we will see we will wait and may
be when I wake up some day I have this Arsenal club.

'The cycle of big money might change
tomorrow in football. Everything has a limit, and this cycle of
development (rising wages and transfer fees) may come down.'

Paul Lambert stays grounded after Norwich beat Aston Villa

Villa boss Lambert stays grounded after thrashing former club Norwich to progress

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UPDATED:

23:41 GMT, 11 December 2012

Paul Lambert remained humble in victory after Aston Villa booked their place in the semi-finals of the Capital One Cup with a 4-1 win at old club Norwich.

Lambert received a mixed welcome as he walked out at Carrow Road, with a few jeers heard among general applause for the man who masterminded the Norfolk club's meteoric rise up to the top flight from the depths of npower League One.

However, the former Canaries boss, who is in dispute with his old employers after an acrimonious departure during the summer, enjoyed the last laugh as substitute Andreas Weimann hit a second-half brace to turn the tie around after Brent Holman had cancelled out Steve Morison's opener.

Gracious: Paul Lambert watched his new club cruise past Norwich in the Capital One Cup quarter final

Gracious: Paul Lambert watched his new club cruise past Norwich in the Capital One Cup quarter final

Christian Benteke cracked in a fourth during stoppage time to move Villa within 180 minutes of Wembley.

'I thought we were excellent for the whole game,' Lambert said.

'We have been playing like that since the Sunderland game, but I am delighted, I really am.'

Lambert, who is been represented by the League Managers' Association in his arbitration hearing with Norwich, which is set for early next year, maintained he will always look back on his time at Carrow Road with pride.

'I had three great years here. We gave anyone a really good run for their money. I love the club. I've got nothing but praise for the football club,' he said.

'You like to think they [fans] appreciate what you have done and I appreciate the support they gave us.

'It is great club with great fans, but this is Chris' (Hughton) team now, he has done fantastically well with the position he has got them into and we will try and catch them.'

Villa's travelling support were in full voice on what was a bitterly cold night in East Anglia.

Just like that: Christian Benteke scored yet another goal

Just like that: Christian Benteke scored yet another goal

In it goes: Andreas Weimann scored twice for Aston Villa

In it goes: Andreas Weimann scored twice for Aston Villa

Lambert hopes to give them more to cheer about over the coming months as he aims to reconstruct the Midlands club.

'I have never been to Wembley, although I have been to watch a game,' he said.

'But it's not anything I have thought about – we have still got a couple of games to go.

'However, it gives the club something to look forward. The fans deserve a pick up as well.

'Whatever happens [for the semi-finals], Villa Park will be jam-packed.

'I will be more pleased with the pleasure the players get from it because I don't play the game any more.'

Lambert had handed Darren Bent a rare start, only for the England striker, who saw an early one-on-one saved, to limp off just after the hour with a hamstring problem.

Lambert said: 'I thought he looked pretty sharp. It was a blow for us, I don't know how serious it is.'

At home: Grant Holt (right) was unable to prevent his former manager getting a win at Carrow Road

At home: Grant Holt (right) was unable to prevent his former manager getting a win at Carrow Road

Norwich had been defending an unbeaten 10-game run heading into tonight's game, and certainly had their chances to put the tie beyond Villa at the start of the second half, when Morison missed twice in quick succession and Villa keeper Shay Given produced a brilliant reaction save to deny Grant Holt.

Canaries boss Hughton, who turned 54 today, said: 'We needed to make sure we held onto our 1-0 lead longer, and then at the start of the second half, we had a great chance and if that goes in then possibly it is a different story.

'Villa are a good footballing side and they were more clinical than us.

'It is really disappointing because we had been on a good run.

'We have to take it on the chin and now need to make sure we can get back on track for Saturday against Wigan.'

Either Manchester City or United will win the Barclays Premier League title: Gary Neville

The title is now a two-horse race and both are from Manchester

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UPDATED:

23:19 GMT, 8 December 2012

My gut feeling assessing the Manchester derby on Sunday is to say that this is just another three points in a long season.

I want to argue that, in my years of
fighting for titles and having watched several races unfold, Sunday's
result will not have a pivotal influence on the eventual outcome.

I would add that it is far too early to judge and that there are too many twists and turns to come.

Golden touch: City forward David Silva celebrates scoring in the 6-1 derby win at Old Trafford last season

Golden touch: City forward David Silva
celebrates scoring in the 6-1 derby win
at Old Trafford last season

Either of these sides are capable of
putting a 10- or 15- game unbeaten run together. And either team could
be struck down with injuries.

There is so much more to be played out. Remember, it was just over a year
ago, in October 2011, that Manchester City beat Manchester United 6-1 at
Old Trafford and the headlines the day after were 'Power Shift' and
'This Will Herald A New Era'.

More from Gary Neville…

Gary Neville: Chelsea's players must be living on a knife-edge
24/11/12

Gary Neville: Brave, ruthless, relentless: Ronaldo redefined football
17/11/12

Gary Neville: Why Manchester City are still searching for their own identity
10/11/12

Gary Neville: Nine great reasons why RVP can become a Manchester United legend
03/11/12

Gary Neville: Why both Chelsea and Manchester United would accept a 1-0 win at the Bridge
27/10/12

Gary Neville: AVB deserves a second chance… good managers – and some great ones – have failed before
20/10/12

Gary Neville: Rooney is in the same mould as Robson, Adams and Keane
06/10/12

Gary Neville: A lack of belief is all that separates the London rivals
29/09/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

But seven weeks later, when City lost at Chelsea, another headline read: 'Title Race Blown Wide Open'. Normally I would use those examples to demonstrate how quickly our perceptions of the title race can change.

But then my mind goes back to that
dramatic last day of the season, to Sergio Aguero's injury-time goal, to
the United players looking bemused and downcast at the Stadium of Light
and to City's ecstatically celebrating the title – on goal difference.

I said in April last year, before that climax to the season, that it would be Sir Alex Ferguson's worst nightmare to lose a title race on goal difference and that he had always emphasised to us the importance of winning a game 3-0 or 4-0 once we were in control, precisely because of that possibility. And I remember Sir Alex congratulating City immediately after they had won the title, but then saying: 'This will never happen again.'

On Sunday, those United players that were at the Stadium of Light, who experienced the bitterness of losing the title, will be reminded of that: it can never happen again. Because although we can overstate the importance of individual games, when it came down to it, the goal difference City accrued in October last year at Old Trafford proved crucial.

And those United players will receive another reminder from Sir Alex that, were they to lose at the Etihad Stadium, they would again be knocked off the top spot by City – on goal difference. And that's why this game has become the most important fixture in English football.

Low point: United manager Sir Alex Ferguson leaves the pitch after losing 6-1 against City

Low point: United manager Sir Alex Ferguson leaves the pitch after losing 6-1 against City

I've seen both United and City nine times this season and there is nothing to choose between them.

The title race is between these two. I don't see any other team with the mental strength, durability and character that these clubs possess. They haven't been at their best yet and if there's one thing I would want to see on Sunday it's a step up in quality so that it is a magnificent game that befits the Premier League's strongest clubs, with exciting attacking cancelled out by concentrated defending.

But make no mistake, these are the best teams in England right now.

United have been better in attack, they have had more creative play and are more unpredictable.

But City have been more resolute defensively, grinding out results without the flair of United but with more stability. So Roberto Mancini will want to see that spark again to ignite his team. He would want to see Edin Dzeko, David Silva, Sergio Aguero and Samir Nasir firing again.

And Sir Alex, with most of his defenders fit, would want to start keeping clean sheets, to see his side become difficult to beat and pick up 1-0 wins rather than the 4-3 victories.

No love lost: Ferguson clashes with City manager Roberto Mancini (right)

No love lost: Ferguson clashes with City manager Roberto Mancini (right)

But do I think that if United win, City will have suffered a crucial blow in retaining their title No.

And if City win, does that mean they will go on and win the League No.

The reason why it's impossible to call between these two is because of that mentality they now show.

Last season, City made good the mental deficit they had always had when competing against United, that feeling that they would always fail at the last. The 6-1 win at Old Trafford, the crucial 1-0 win at the Etihad in April which put them back on top of the table and finally winning the League has given them a psychological strength that only a title win can provide.

Now both sides have a level of mental strength unmatched by the teams around them. You can see it in the early-season form. Whether it be in United's ability to
come from behind or City's knack of winning when not at their best, they
have demonstrated courage to stay in games and ability to grind out
results.

Who will have the edge: Ferguson (right) does not need to remind his players they lost the title on goal difference

Who will have the edge: Ferguson (right) does not need to remind his players they lost the title on goal difference

Even when City have suffered disappointments in the Champions League, they have been able to bounce back in the Premier League. So when they lost in the final minutes at Real Madrid, they were able to draw against Arsenal that Sunday. When they went down 3-1 at Ajax, they beat Swansea the following Saturday.

Both of these sides are capable of withstanding a setback on Sunday and coming back to win the title. But at the same time, the race is likely to be so close that this result could be significant.

Anyone who says they know who will win this is guessing. And if anyone tells you they know who will be champions after Sunday, you can ignore them.

All that we can say for sure is that last season showed these Manchester derby games have the potential to be decisive – even if it's impossible to say exactly how at this point.

Give him a hand: UEFA president Michel Platini has a plan

Give him a hand: UEFA president Michel Platini has a plan

Plantini's big idea has potential

UEFA president Michel Platini has suggested that the Euro 2020 Championship will be in a multitude of countries rather than in one or two host nations.

I think we need to hear the details before we form a fixed view as to whether it can be a success or not.

Because if it's a tournament that takes place in six different cities within an hour's flight of one another, then it could be incredibly successful.

Imagine London, Cardiff, Amsterdam, Paris, Brussels and Dortmund being the host cities.

That would be easier to manage for all fans and for teams than the tournaments we've been at recently in South Africa or the Ukraine and Poland and certainly more condensed than the Brazil 2014 World Cup.

But if, for political reasons, Platini ends up giving games to Istanbul, Moscow, London, Reykjavik, Lisbon and Rome, you are talking about a fad.

All of those cities would be perfectly good hosts on their own.

But the geographical spread would make it a nightmare for players and fans.

I know what I expect to happen. But let's hope that UEFA can salvage a good idea out of this.

Sexy managers calendar: Roberto Mancini, Arsene Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson drawn in compromising poses

Cheeky chaps! Fergie, Mancini and Wenger (plus Fabio and Sven) pictured as you've never wanted to see them before…

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UPDATED:

13:37 GMT, 30 November 2012

You won't see these cheeky chaps on Match of the Day… The world's top football managers drawn in 'sexy' poses – many inspired by Hollywood films – for a new calendar.

And it's proved so successful that the website selling the calendar has had to re-stock, so
popular has the saucy picture collection been.

Tottenham boss Andre Villas-Boas can be pleased with his
depiction. Bare-chested and riding a white horse along the beach, the Portuguese looks every inch the Old Spice hunk.

Others do not fare quite so well. New QPR boss Harry Redknapp is pictured riding a bucking bronco clad only
in a tight pair of black leather riding chaps. He fails to quite capture the sexiness
of Kylie Minogue in the original Agent Provocateur advert.

White Horse Lane: Spurs manager Andre Villas-Boas is riding up the Premier League with his in-form team

White Horse Lane: Spurs manager Andre Villas-Boas is riding up the Premier League with his in-form team

VIDEO: The Old Spice advert, which inspired the Villas-Boas image above…

Meanwhile ex-England manager Fabio Capello can be seen
rolling seedily on a bed covered in money bills, in an image reminiscent of
Demi Moore in Indecent Proposal.

Sven Goran-Eriksson doesn’t quite manage to reproduce the
image that had female bond fans drooling over Daniel Craig. Strolling out of
the surf wearing only a pair of light blue ‘budgie-smugglers,’ the Swede
appears happy but ever-so-slightly pot-bellied as he saunters onto the beach.

Roberto Mancini strikes an authoritative pose in his own
picture, which was inspired by Jim Morrison. Lit from behind by the moon, his
Manchester City scarf hangs gracefully between the Italian’s legs as he holds
open the doors to his balcony.

The usually affable Martin Jol looks less than friendly in
his own depiction, but is set to play the hero, clutching a life-board and
peering out from his post in search of swimmers to save.

Ghosting into the box: Kenny Dalglish and Sir Alex Ferguson recreate the famous Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze scene from the film Ghost, as drawn by James Husbands for a new calendar

Ghosting into the box: Kenny Dalglish and Sir Alex Ferguson recreate the famous Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze scene from the film Ghost, as drawn by James Husbands for a new calendar

Film stars: Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze (left) have got nothing on King Kenny and Fergie (above)

Film stars: Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze (left) have got nothing on King Kenny and Fergie (above)

Maid in France: Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger, as drawn by Husbands, dusting the Gunners' empty trophy cabinets

Maid in France: Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger, as drawn by Husbands, dusting the Gunners' empty trophy cabinets

Mancini

Harry Redknapp

Yee-haw: Roberto Mancini wears his trademark scarf to just the right length (left) – Jim Morrison, anyone – and new Queens Park Rangers boss Harry Redknapp (right) recreating Kylie's Agent Provocateur advert… and no we can't show it here because it was banned!

SO, WHO IS MR JANUARY

January – Arsene Wenger
February – Harry Redknapp
March – Roberto Mancini
April – Pep Guardiola/Jose Mourinho
May – Fabio Capello
June – Sven Goran Eriksson
July – Andre Villas-Boas
August – Martin Jol
September – Rafa Benitez
October – Ian Holloway
November – Alex Ferguson/Kenny Daglish
December – Roy Hodgson

Chelsea man Rafa Benitez channels Antonio Banderas’ flair as
he passionately flamenco dances, while Ian Holloway strikes a classic Marie
Antoinette pose, complete with fan and stockings.

Alex Ferguson shares an intimate spot with Kenny Daglish as
they mould clay together, replicating the romantic moments of Patrick Swayze
and Demi Moore in Ghost. Also cosying up is Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho as
they hold each other in a tender embrace on Brokeback Mountain.

Arsene Wenger is in pictured in a lonelier position,
forlornly looking for some trophies to polish whilst dressed in his French maid
outfit, but finding none.

Roy Hodgson brings the year to a close with a festive image.
With only a flickering candle and some strategically placed baubles hiding his
modesty, the England manager looks strained as he puckers up for a Christmas
kiss under the mistletoe.

James Husbands is the cheeky creator. The London-based
artist is a full-time illustrator and storyboard maker, and has worked with a
number of broadcasters, including the BBC and E4. Sports stars such as Joe
Calzaghe and Ian Wright are listed as owners of his work.

Rafa Benitez

Spanish waiter Newly installed interim Chelsea manager Rafa Benitez lives up to national stereotype, pictured here as a flamenco dancer. Ole, Rafa…

Martin Jol

Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola

Craven Cottage, by the…. seaside: Martin Jol (left) as a Baywatch lifeguard, while Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola recreate the Broke Back Mountain scene

David Hasselhoff

Broke Back Mountain

Art imitating life (sort of): Baywatch star David Hasselhoff (left), the inspiration for Jol (above) and the Broke Back Boys (right), who were recreated by our Spanish friends

He has shown a particular interest in sporting heroes. His
exhibition ‘Sporting Greats,’ featuring Ryan Giggs and Eric Cantona among
others, was on display in Canary Wharf’s Cabot square last year.

The managers may be unhappy to hear that the artist does not
consider himself a caricaturist. Instead he tries to ‘catch the essence of the
person’s character.’

‘I usually draw them from photographs,’ Husbands told The
Wharf last year. ‘Because people don't usually get up close to these sports
stars it was important to ensure they are recognisable, so they have to be good
likenesses.’

Want one for your bedroom wall The calendar costs 10 and is available at www.jameshusbands.com

Show him the money: Former England boss Fabio Capello enjoys a lie-in with a case full of cash

Show him the money: Former England boss Fabio Capello enjoys a lie-in with a case full of cash

James Bond Played by Daniel Craig

Sven

Spot the difference: Daniel Craig as James Bond emerges from the surf (left), smiling ex-England boss Sven Goran Eriksson as Daniel Craig (right)

Palace fan club: Ian Holloway posing in the Blackpool dressing room, presumably before he made the move to Selhurst Park

Palace fan club: Ian Holloway posing in the Blackpool dressing room, presumably before he made the move to Selhurst Park

Holloway's pose was inspired by the 2006 film Marie Antoinette (above)

Ollie, Ollie, Ollie: Holloway's pose was inspired by the 2006 film Marie Antoinette (above)

Roy Hodgson

Christmas cracker: Husbands signs off the calendar with a bit of festive cheer for football fans with England manager Roy Hodgson… Ding dong merrily on high

Year full of fun: The front cover of Husbands' calendar

Year full of fun: The front cover of Husbands' calendar

Wilfried Zaha to Arsenal transfer: Ian Holloway blasts Arsene Wenger

EXCLUSIVE: Why is Wenger talking about Zaha Palace boss Holloway with fierce
'hands off' warning

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UPDATED:

16:24 GMT, 28 November 2012

Ian Holloway has blasted Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger for acknowledging an interest in Wilfried Zaha and warned other January suitors off his prized asset.

Zaha has been centre of attention this November, a month in which he turned 20 and also made his England debut as a substitute against Sweden, and Wenger is one of a number of Barclays Premier League managers monitoring his exploits in the npower Championship.

When asked specifically about his interest in the 20million-rated winger on Tuesday morning, Wenger said: 'We are looking at every player who could strengthen our squad – but he is not more on the list than anyone else.'

On the run: Zaha is wanted by a host of top-flight clubs after impressing for Crystal Palace this term

On the run: Zaha is wanted by a host of top-flight clubs after impressing for Crystal Palace this term

Fury: Holloway is angry with the Arsenal manager for seemingly declaring his interest in Zaha

Fury: Holloway is angry with the Arsenal manager for seemingly declaring his interest in Zaha

While the Arsenal manager didn't mention his name, it was widely received at the time that he was declaring his interest in Zaha.

Crystal Palace manager Holloway, who was due to sit down with the Selhurst Park hierarchy today to discuss their own transfer window strategy, retorted: 'Why is he talking about my players I don't think that's right and proper, with the greatest respect.

'I don't think anybody who manages any other club should actually admit who he likes and what he should be doing. I think that's totally bad etiquette. He can say what he likes but about his players, not mine.'

Holloway, who is less than a month into his tenure with the south London club, expects Zaha to spend some of his current five-year deal representing Palace in the Premier League.

But should that dream not materialise, the former Blackpool manager has already proposed his next destination.

'I have told Wilf what I would do if I was him, and we have got such a strong contract they can go and whistle to be honest,' Holloway added, of clubs preparing to make bids.

'I have just walked in on this, it wasn't my party, but I have to have some sort of say in it.

'I think the boy is learning, and learning in our first team. He has been here since he was 12, and the chairman has a grip of what he wants to do.

'At the end of the day I just want the best for the boy and I can guarantee he will get that: I know where I want him to go if he doesn't play for us in the Premier League next year, and I have already told him.

Interested: Arsenal manager Wenger is poised to make a move for the Crystal Palace winger

Interested: Arsenal manager Wenger is poised to make a move for the Crystal Palace winger

'But at the minute he probably will not be available no matter what the price is in January.

'I have been delighted with my few weeks here and at the end of the day Wilfried is a big part of this season.'

Palace are well placed to return to the top-flight and their position would have been enhanced further when Zaha released the manacles imposed on him by fellow promotion chasers Hull on Tuesday night only to be denied what would have been his fifth league goal of the season, and a last-minute winner, by home goalkeeper David Stockdale.

Your country needs you: Zaha made his full debut against Sweden earlier this month

Your country needs you: Zaha made his full debut against Sweden earlier this month

A dozen minutes earlier, he had been clattered to the turf via a robust challenge from Hull's on-loan Manchester United midfielder Robbie Brady.

As displayed by the peerless Lionel Messi, however, to dust down and carry on is the best policy, according to Holloway.

'He gets kicked all over the place but that's what he has got to get used to. He's got to stop gesticulating and get up like Messi does, and in the meantime the more he does things like he did in those last couple of seconds of the match, the more people will be chasing if he becomes available,' Holloway said.

'What he has to learn to do – the more famous he becomes, the more people will talk about him – is to produce.

'I have got no doubts that he will. I just have to make sure that he looks right to those sitting in the stand. If he gesticulates to the referee then those people watching might be put off. You just have to get up like Messi, get on with it and do it again.'

Arsene Wenger responds to Arsenal fans" criticism

Wenger opts for sarcasm as Arsenal fans voice frustrations against Villa

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UPDATED:

22:20 GMT, 25 November 2012

It was short, sweet and to the point.

After Arsenal’s travelling support chanted ‘You don’t know what you’re doing’ at Arsene Wenger following his late substitution of Olivier Giroud, the club’s manager chose sarcasm as a convenient escape.

Well, it was either that or criticising his own fans which is the game’s No 1 no-go area as far as football managers are concerned.

I can't look! Arsenal fans watch on dejected as their side struggles

I can't look! Arsenal fans watch on dejected as their side struggles

I can't look! Arsenal fans watch on dejected as their side struggles

‘I’ve been lucky,’ he said, ‘I’ve only managed 1,600 games and in 200 matches in the Champions League.’

As a neutral, it was difficult not to feel a tad of sympathy. Given Wenger’s monumental achievements over the past 15 years, perhaps he deserves more understanding.

Saturday’s outing at a drenched Villa Park was the Gunners’ 10th game in 34 days. Some of his players had used their spare week in that time to represent their respective countries.

This Wednesday’s trip to Everton kicks off a spell of five matches inside a fortnight. It is a hefty workload.

And Wenger travelled to the Midlands on the back of a vital home Champions League qualification game with Montpellier.

Benched: Jack Wilshere was rested by Wenger against Aston Villa

Benched: Jack Wilshere was rested by Wenger against Aston Villa

Arsenal fans howled for the introduction of Jack Wilshere after barely an hour, vocalising their criticism of the manager still further. They were right, too. This stalemate needed a touch of genius.

But equally Wenger’s explanation was sensible. After being without the England international for such a lengthy period of time, he’s using his experience to guide the playmaker through.

‘Jack’s ankle is inflamed,’ he said, ‘it’s around the scar tissue. It’s not much but the rest today will help him get rid of it.

‘Apart from that, he’s done well. But he’s not played competitively for 17 months. People forget what that means — in terms of his career, 17 months is a massive length of time.

Under the cosh: Arsene Wenger

Under the cosh: Arsene Wenger

‘But I’m happy with his progress.’

It was fair to say that Arsenal’s usual crispness of passing was lacking but Villa, with Paul Lambert watching from the stands following his one-match ban for criticising match officials, were far more solid after conceding eight goals in their last two outings.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain appeared particularly afflicted by the hosts’ industry. But again Wenger’s comments were on the level.

‘He’s learning his trade and he’s a very talented young boy,’ he said, ‘I believe he will be a great player but at the moment he is learning his job. Basically, he’s 19 years old.’

As for Lambert, he trotted out his usual ‘We’ll be fine’ line.

He’s right, fine lines are what the game’s all about. But he’s not out of the woods yet.

If Villa’s next three matches against Reading, QPR and Stoke City don’t go according to plan, he might need his own method of self-defence.

Oh well, he could always phone Wenger for advice.

Jose Mourinho and Carlo Ancelotti in referee academy plea

Mourinho and Ancelotti lead calls for referees' training centre to iron out controversies

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UPDATED:

23:58 GMT, 20 November 2012

Coaches across Europe have urged football’s authorities to create a state-of-the-art training centre for match officials to try to rid the game of refereeing controversies.

With the fall-out continuing from Mark Clattenburg’s handling of Manchester United’s win at Chelsea and contentious decisions being challenged on a frequent basis, some of the continent’s top managers have called for action to improve standards.

Led by the likes of Jose Mourinho and Carlo Ancelotti, they have made it clear a professional Academy should be set up to train referees to a higher level and ensure mistakes are kept to a minimum.

Hopeful: Jose Mourinho wants a refereeing academy to be set up to rule out controversy

Hopeful: Jose Mourinho wants a refereeing academy to be set up to rule out controversy

The message to the game's heirarchy was delivered in an inaugural annual European managers’ and coaches’ survey, devised by the League Managers’ Association and their partners Castrol.

In it, most respondents backed the idea of committing funds to a new professional training centre for referees, in the belief it would improve the overall standard of the game across Europe.

There were also calls from 85 per cent of participants for further clarification of the laws governing handball, while 65 per cent felt the triple sanction of a penalty, sending off and suspension for players denying an obvious scoring opportunity in the area was excessive.

Additionally, 69 per cent opposed the current dates for transfer windows, 72 per cent backed a reduction in international friendlies and 62 per cent were in favour of goalline technology.

Reflecting on the findings, Howard Wilkinson, chairman of the LMA, said: 'I am delighted that the LMA has produced this groundbreaking survey of European managers’ and coaches’ views on issues crucial to the game.

Joining in: Another former Chelsea coach Carlo Ancelotti agrees

Joining in: Another former Chelsea coach Carlo Ancelotti agrees

'Consultation is the mother of progress and change, and these views objectively represented, will be the basis for better co-operation between governance and practitioner.'

Former Chelsea boss Ancelotti said: 'It is fantastic that the LMA are canvassing the views of managers and coaches across Europe for the good of the game.

'Football is a truly international game and issues do not stop at country borders.

'It is vital that there is open dialogue in the game for it to progress and I along with the managers and coaches across Europe are always open to the opportunity to come together to discuss and debate matters like leadership, management and the many technical issues in the game.'

Rumbling on: Mark Clattenburg has had time off following a controversial match between Manchester United and Chelsea

Rumbling on: Mark Clattenburg has had time off following a controversial match between Manchester United and Chelsea

Another ex-Chelsea manager, Mourinho, added: 'It is vital for the future of football that the combined views and opinions of managers are collected and listened to.

'This LMA survey is so important because it deals with the issues that affect managers each and every day, from rules and regulations, to technology, transfers and finances.

'It brings together managers and coaches across Europe, demonstrating the subjects we feel strongly about and provides real insights from managers based on our combined experience.

'The results of the survey should be used to benefit and help shape the overall development and progress of football.’

Castrol is the official performance partner of the LMA