Despite one Chelsea supporters group having decided that "Rafa Benítez is not a Chelsea manager" and announced that "he isn't what we want", Roman Abramovich is unlikely to fire his newly appointed interim manager this morning, even though the Russian billionaire and oligarch has [sarcasm]always been very interested in the opinions of the season ticket holders who flock to Stamford Bridge every other Saturday[sarcasm].
Unpopular with Chelsea supporters because of his famous feud with José Mourinho, his habit of knocking the club they support out of the Champions League and the scorn he heaped on them over those "stupid plastic flags" they give out at Stamford Bridge, Benítez faces a number of daunting challenges on this, his first day at the Cobham office: helping Fernando Torres rediscover his goalscoring touch, teaching David Luiz the finer points of the zonal marking system he's bound to employ and trying to convince Fifa to allow Didier Drogba special dispensation to return to Stamford Bridge on loan from Shanghai Shenhua, even though, under current rules, the Ivorian is not allowed to play for another club until 1 January.
"The Fifa administration services are looking into it," said Fifa in a statement, conjuring up images of five or six harried looking, middle-aged Swiss bureaucrats standing expectantly around one of Europe's last remaining Xerox Office Fax IF6020 Inkjet fax machines, waiting for it to chunter into life as they take turns to shake their heads, look at their watches, shrug theatrically at each other and tut "Mais, c'est impossible!".
The Schalke general manager, Horst Heldt, has had his say on talk linking the German club's striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar with a move to Arsenal. "Either Arsenal make us an offer, otherwise it's a load of nonsense," he harrumphed, showing the kind of canny understanding of how the football transfer market works that no doubt helped elevate him to the exalted office he holds today. With Huntelaar's contract timed to expire at the end of this season, Schalke need to offload him in January if they're to make any money out of him.
Should Arsenal attempt to bring Thierry Henry on loan to the Emirates during the MLS close season, as they did last year, it looks like Andy Roxburgh, the sporting director at Henry's New York Red Bulls, will take some convincing. ""In general terms, I wouldn't say it would be something we would favour," he said. ""I think the length of the season we have here, when [the players] get the break over the Christmas, New Year's period, they need to regenerate themselves," he continued, making his football players sound like Time Lords from the planet Gallifrey undergoing a Tardis-assisted transformation into a new physical form.
Arsène Wenger is also interested in bringing 18-year-old Netherlands and PSV Eindhoven left-back Jetro Willems to the Emirates, but will have to fight off representatives from Inter, the Daleks, Valencia, the Cybermen, Manchester United and the Krillitanes to get him.
With Radamel Falcao looking certain to leave Atlético Madrid for big money in January, the Spanish club will be wanting to get somebody in instead of him, but talk that they could replace one lank-haired South American goal-getter with another remains just that: talk, with Pierpaolo Triulzi, the representative of the Napoli striker Edinson Cavani, having rubbished speculation that the Spanish club have made an offer for his client. "If Atlético Madrid want to pay his €62m release fee then they can have their say, but there has been no contact and we don't know if they want to buy him," said Triulzi, showing the kind of canny understanding of how the football transfer market works that makes Schalke general manager Horst Heldt look like a bumbling amateur.
Manchester City wish to prise 16-year-old teenage prodigy Alen Halilovic away from Dinamo Zagreb in exchange for £7m and if you watch the kid's show reel, it's not difficult to see why. According to the Mirror, City sent "a delegation" to the Croatian capital this week, and when they weren't meeting with their Dinamo counterparts, the Rumour Mill likes to think they took time out from conducting their Serious Football Business to enjoy a few hours of leisure time knocking back Velebitskos with rakija chasers in a nice Jelacic Square bar, before browsing assorted cheese and fish stalls in the Dolac market, then strolling the Maksimir.