Football shorts

It’s a general rule of thumb in football that this is the time of year that transfer rumours begin to contain the minutest nuggets of truth and plausibility. After all, this was traditionally the point of the season that the Cesc-to-Barca/Ron-to-Real/Anelka-to-anywhere rumours would crank into maximum overdrive, and some of the springtime whispers in today’s papers are beginning to look rather ‘unfoundationless’.

One annual rumour that regularly disappoints is the Rooney-leaving-United one, and while deep down we all know he’ll stay in Manchester until he’s 137 years old, at least Zlatan Ibrahimovic has done his bit to make the Rubenesque striker’s career a bit more interesting.

The PSG man said this week: “If he wants to be part of the best project in football then there is only one club to sign for. Only he knows the decision he is going to make in the summer but the project we are trying to build here is clear.”

One rumour that at least feels like a transfer is the news that Andy Carroll will remain at Anfield. While it’s been obvious to everyone except Brendan Rodgers that Liverpool need a ‘Plan B’ when their ‘pass-to-Suarez’ tactic is failing, the Mirror reports that even ol’ BR has seen the light.

The Mirror said: “The England striker, currently on a season-long loan at West Ham, must accept he will be used as an impact player from the bench if he wants to re-ignite his career at the Anfield club he joined for £35million in January 2011.

“The Mirror understands that talks will take place between manager and player in the coming weeks with a view to thrashing out a compromise if the Hammers confirm they intend to send Carroll back to Merseyside without making an offer for his permanent signature.”

Speaking of the Daily Mirror, the red-top is on top form today, with their news that Blackpool manager Paul Ince has become a shock candidate for the Leicester City job. The Tangerines are increasingly resembling a lovelorn teenager, as the club have already been spurned by managers for sexier models Blackburn and Crystal Palace this season and, should the Guv’nor leave the big dipper behind, the club will be looking for their FIFTH manager this season. I do feel for Blackpool fans, but I can’t help sniggering at the thought of Karl Oyston sat in his room listening to Linkin Park burning Ian Holloway’s letters.

One thing you can put your house, car, children and barbecue on this summer is Christian Benteke leaving Aston Villa this summer. The striker has been performing like a pocket-Drogba this season in possibly the worst Villa team in living memory (and that includes John Gregory’s ill-fated Juan Angel-topped ‘Christmas Tree’), and bids will undoubtedly fly in for the Belgian this summer. Spurs, who seem to look at strikers as a needless luxury, are rumoured to be preparing a £15 million bid for the powerhouse striker.

AND...

Leeds fans. Just when you thought your club couldn’t get any weirder, David O’Dreary, sorry, O’Leary, looks like he’ll be riding in on his saphire-encrusted donkey to drag the club where he made his rather short-lived managerial name back into England’s elite. O’Leary told the Mirror: “I’m very flattered that people remember me up there. I don’t want to influence anyone, but it wasn’t my decision to leave and the supporters have always been there for me. That’s why I’ve stayed in the area. It’s fantastic place to live.” The Irishman has not been in work since he was sacked by Villa in 2006, and was last in the Elland Road hotseat in 2002. Say what you like about O’Leary, he didn’t finish any lower than 5th in the Premier League during his 4-year tenure as Leeds boss – a period in which he overhauled George Graham’s defensive tactics in favour of youthful attacking vigour. While his appointment is unlikely, Whites fans would do well not to dismiss his appointment outright.