PSG sound out Villas-Boas

Andre Villas-Boas could end up replacing Unai Emery at Paris Saint-Germain. (Shutterstock)
Updated 14 December 2017
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PSG sound out Villas-Boas

LONDON: Paris Saint-Germain have contacted Andre Villas-Boas as the Qatar-owned club prepares the ground to replace Unai Emery as coach. According to sources close to the former FC Porto, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur coach, PSG sporting director Antero Henrique has asked to be kept informed of Villas-Boas’ plans to return to management.
The 40-year-old left Shanghai SIPG last month after the club finished as runners-up in both the Chinese Super League and FA Cup. Having preceded his single-season spell in Asia with Russian Premier League and Cup successes at Zenit Saint Petersburg, Villas-Boas wants to return to coaching in one of Western Europe’s leading leagues.
Villas-Boas came close to accepting an offer from PSG to succeed a Real Madrid-bound Carlo Ancelotti in 2013, ultimately opting to continue into a second season at Tottenham. The proposal came from club president Nasser Al-Khelaifi, whom the Portuguese knew well from working together for the Al Jazeera Media Network. PSG were ready to use a £10 million release clause in his contract with the English Premier League club.
“With Nasser, we have respect for each other,” said Villas-Boas later that year. “That PSG approached me was released (publicly), but I wanted to stay a second year in Tottenham, building on the work of last season, making two consecutive seasons in the same club for the first time in my career. I wanted to continue the project here.”
Villas-Boas’ relationship with Antero is closer still, stretching back to two spells working together at Porto, the first as an assistant to Jose Mourinho, the second as coach of their 2010-11 Primeira Liga, Taca de Portugal and Europa League treble winning team. Villas-Boas and the sporting director’s friendship is such that they have taken family holidays together.
PSG have been unimpressed with Emery’s handling of an already expensively assembled squad that was supplemented with the global record signings of Neymar and Kylian Mbappe in the summer. Neymar’s working relationship with Emery has been particularly fractious, including a public dispute over set-piece duties, absence from two unappealing away games with what the club described as minor injuries, and a complaint from the Brazil international that he should be allowed to choose which fixtures he plays in.
A broader discontent among the PSG squad fed into successive losses at Racing Strasbourg and Bayern Munich at the beginning of this month. Al-Khelaifi responded to the Ligue 1 and Champions League losses (the first of the Parisians’ campaign) with a public statement of Qatar’s dissatisfaction.
“We didn’t perform,” said Al-Khelaifi after the 3-1 defeat in Germany. “I am very disappointed about the result, the quality of our play, especially in the first half. I am optimistic for the future, but we didn’t play as well as we could have done in this match. It is a lesson for everybody.”
Antero has been working on securing a replacement for Emery for months, and has made it clear that there are jobs for Mourinho and his highly-valued assistant Rui Faria in Paris in the summer should they want them. Since Oryx Qatar Sports Investments took control of PSG in the summer of 2011, Mourinho has been offered, and turned down, the opportunity to manage on at least three occasions, and was very close to taking the job in 2016 before eventually agreeing terms with Manchester United.
While Antero is aware that Mourinho remains the preferred option of his employers, he has also prepared alternative appointments, as well as a contingency plan to replace Emery mid-season should results or team harmony demand it. Villas-Boas — who is understood to be ready to take a project like PSG’s on an initial short-term contract if necessary — would be a good fit to such circumstances. Antero has asked his friend not to accept an offer from any other suitor without first informing him.
At present, Villas-Boas is preparing to fulfil a long-held ambition to drive the Dakar Rally. The car and motorcycle enthusiast has been registered as Ruben Faria’s co-driver for the 15-day rally, which begins in Peru on Jan. 6.
 


“Captain fantastic” Harry Kane to the rescue as England beat Tunisia at the death

Updated 18 June 2018
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“Captain fantastic” Harry Kane to the rescue as England beat Tunisia at the death

  • Harry Kane came to the rescue with two goals, the second a dramatic injury-time winner
  • England had started brightly in a blur of passing and movement and could have been two goals up inside the first four minutes

VOLGOGRAD, Russia: Captain Harry Kane came to the rescue with two goals, the second a dramatic injury-time winner, as England began their World Cup Group G campaign with a stuttering 2-1 win over Tunisia on Monday.
Gareth Southgate’s men almost paid a heavy price for missing a slew of first-half chances when Tunisia’s Ferjani Sassi slotted home a softly-awarded penalty 20 minutes before half-time.
And the north Africans were still level as the game went past the 90-minute mark.
But Harry Maguire won a header from a corner and Kane was on hand at the far post to nod in the winner before being mobbed by his ecstatic teammates.
“I’m so proud of the lads,” Kane said. “They kept going, kept going to the last second.
“I am absolutely buzzing, everyone on the staff is. It shows good character to get the job done.”
England had started brightly in a blur of passing and movement and could have been two goals up inside the first four minutes.
First Jordan Henderson’s lofted first-time pass released Dele Alli and when the ball eventually broke to Jesse Lingard he saw his shot from six yards saved by the outstretched left boot of Mouez Hassen in the Tunisia goal.
Kane had been kept quiet in the opening salvos but he exploded into action in the 11th minute when he cut inside from the left and saw his shot from the edge of the box deflected wide for a corner.
Ashley Young delivered the set piece for John Stones to rise highest and meet with a powerful header. Hassen saved acrobatically but Kane was on hand to tap home the rebound with his right foot and open his World Cup account.
Hassen, who had injured his left shoulder making an earlier save, could not continue and left the field in tears as he was replaced in goal by Farouk Ben Mustapha.
England continued to press and were made to pay for not converting a succession of chances when they conceded a soft penalty.
Kyle Walker swung a lazy arm across Fakhreddine Ben Youssef who fell as if poleaxed and Colombian referee Wilmar Roldan pointed to the spot, with his decision being upheld by the VAR.
Ferjani Sassi took one step and fired home confidently past the hitherto unemployed Jordan Pickford and Tunisia who had been outplayed for the first half-hour were somehow level 10 minutes before half-time.
Still there was time for Lingard to come close again twice, first from a goalbound shot and then a dink over the keeper which agonizingly struck the post.
Alli too hit the woodwork with a header and England went into half-time wondering how they had not sealed victory already.
England still enjoyed the lion’s share of possession but could not find the same zip and penetration they had enjoyed at the start of the first half.
The ineffective Sterling gave way to Marcus Rashford with just over 20 minutes to go and the Manchester United man almost fashioned a chance straight away with a jinking run into the box.