Wednesday 17 September ~
Unusually, one of tonight's Champions League fixtures involves an English manager. This is Bruce Rioch, whose Aalborg side take on Celtic at Parkhead. Rioch has been in Denmark for three years having taken his previous club, Odense into the UEFA Cup group stage last year after a qualifying round defeat of Hertha Berlin. Rioch had been overlooked for management job in England for several years since leaving his last post, at Wigan, midway through 2000-01, when he is said to have objected to the chairman's desire to have a say in the team's training routines. Rioch is now 61 but any sort of success for Aalborg in this season's competition might yet generate job offers in England. Roy Hodgson after all had turned 60 when he joined Fulham in Autumn 2007, nearly a decade on from his last job in England at Blackburn.
Another former League manager who has been out of the limelight for a while, David O'Leary, is now being considered for a temporary post at Newcastle, along with Alan Curbishley; both men are said to be friends of Newcastle's executive director Derek Llambias. Any such appointment will have to be discussed by phone at the moment, as Mr Llambias is still out in the United Arab Emirates with his employer Mike Ashley, where they are hanging about in hotel foyers in the hope of meeting anyone prepared to take Newcastle off their hands. One report today stated that Ashley declined to meet representatives of Dubai's ruler Sheikh Mohammed because they weren't close to matching his asking price of £481 million, and that he opted to instead remain in a hotel bar "drinking cocktails and chatting to girls". But this may yet prove to be the type of sophisticated bluff that pays dividends in the world of high finance.
Unlike Newcastle, Arsenal are actively discouraging a takeover bid, to which end they are about to bring on board the US entrepreneur Stan Kroenke. He already owns a 12.3 per cent stake in the club but having once been derided by club chairman Peter Hill-Wood as "not our sort", Kroenke will now serve as a bulwark against the advances of the Russian-Uzbek billionaire Alisher Usmanov who is the club's biggest shareholder. Of course, if Usmanov were to give in to this Anglo-American pact and sell up, he'd have more than enough funds to buy Newcastle. Then everybody would be happy. Sometimes a simple solution can be staring you in the face.