PLAY IT SHORT: Jones justified Moyes faith; Bendtner not the answer; Mourinho looking ragged; Clearing English clubs for U17 Nigeria champs
MOURINHO ESCAPED HAZARD SCRUTINY
Jose Mourinho is playing the media beautifully. But all is not right at Chelsea. Could David Moyes or Arsene Wenger get away with a similar AWOL episode at Manchester United or Arsenal, as Mourinho has managed involving Eden Hazard? It just hasn't been scrutinised. But by Mou's own admission, the Belgian mislead his manager about the reasons for his visit to Lille. And then to compound things, he failed to make the first training session of the new week by misplacing his passport. This followed on just hours after David Luiz was hammered by senior players for his performance in defeat at Newcastle United. The Portuguese looked ragged in the post-match of Saturday's 2-2 draw with West Bromwich Albion. Ramires' tumble was never a penalty and it so easily could've been consecutive defeats to teams in the bottom half of the table. This isn't the Chelsea of the previous Mourinho era.
WILL PREMIER LEAGUE CLUBS BE ALLOWED TO TAKE NIGERIAN SUPERKIDS?
So will the authorities help the Premier League bring the cream of Nigeria's U17 world champions to England? Or will it be business as usual - blocking clubs from signing African teenage talent and in the process seeing millions leave the country in the future as these same players are finally bought from foreign teams for huge fees. Its folklore now, but Chelsea duo John Obi Mikel and Michael Essien could've signed for Manchester United for nothing as teenagers, only to be blocked by UK work permit laws. In the end, they did make it to England, at Chelsea, which forked out over £40 million for the pair - £28 million of which was lost to the English game. Kelechi Iheanacho, wanted by Arsenal, was voted the tournament's MVP, while his captain, Musa Mohamed, targeted by Liverpool and the Blues, was superb in the final against Mexico. They've grown up in Nigeria Premier League fans, they want to move to England. Rather than making it more difficult for such talent to gain a work permit, the game should be doing everything in it's power to make it as easy as possible for clubs to compete for these players and so keeping more money in the country.
SCHWARZER HAS CECH NERVOUS
Could Mark Schwarzer have timed his international retirement any better? Barely days after announcing he was quitting the Australian national team, Petr Cech has a nightmare for Chelsea against West Brom. And now with international week upon us, instead of jetting halfway around the world to play in a meaningless friendly, Schwarzer has a full week at Cobham with Jose Mourinho. The Blues manager, as he showed at Real Madrid, isn't afraid of shaking up his keeper options when needed and he knows Schwarzer isn't you're average No2. After devoting himself fully to the Blues cause, the Australian has given himself every chance of taking advantage of Cech's wobbles after the international break.
JONES JUSTIFIES MOYES BACKING
David Moyes will have been delighted with Phil Jones' performance yesterday. Word from the Manchester United training ground is that Moyes has been desperate to give Jones a run at centre-half this season, but given concerns with the lack of steel in his midfield, he's been forced to field the England man out of position. But against Arsenal - and with Nemanja Vidic forced off at halftime - Moyes was able to play Jones alongside Jonny Evans at centre-half and his performance reinforced the opinion amongst coaching staff that this is his long-term position. Wayne Rooney was the driving force on the night, but Jones and Chris Smalling, both heavily criticised this season, also played a big part in the critical win.
BENDTNER NOT THE ANSWER FOR WENGER
The difference between winning the title and (again!) being an also-ran was staring Arsene Wenger in the face last night. A goal down and struggling to find a cutting edge, Wenger could only turn to Nicklas Bendtner with just over ten minutes to run. And the Dane had his chance, a wonderful, whipped in cross from Bacary Sagna right across David de Gea's goal. But Bendtner never got close, being superbly manipulated out of the contest by Chris Smalling. But you wonder just how a Christian Benteke or Loic Remy would've attacked the same opportunity. Was Smalling's defending that good? Or is Bendtner simply not the player Arsenal need.
MACKAY LACKS THE STAR DUST TAN WANTS
Malky Mackay must see the writing on the wall at Cardiff City. Though he wants to see out what he's started at the CCS, it's becoming obvious club owner Vincent Tan doesn't see Mackay as the manager to take them forward. It has nothing to do with Scot's ability, it's simply profile. Given Tan's ambitions of 'globalising' the Cardiff City brand and the ever deepening links with the Malaysian government, it's clear he wants an international name as head of the club. Certainly, the governmental pressure that has been created by Cardiff's deal with Malaysia's Tourism board will ease if Tan can find an international famed manager to lift the club's profile and in the process generate global publicity for his country. It's rough justice for Mackay, but Tan will argue his plans for the club are beyond the Scot at this stage in his managerial career.
ANEKE CAN FIGHT BACK AT CREWE
Chuks Aneke extended his loan with Crewe Alexandra to season's end last week. It was a big decision from Aneke, whose contract with Arsenal expires in June. While Arsenal fans celebrate the emergence of Serge Gnabry and the rapid rise of fit-again duo Aaron Ramsey and Kieran Gibbs, at the other end of the scale is Aneke - and his Gunners teammate Benike Afobe. Before turning pro at London Colney, both players, fresh from winning the U17 Euros with England, toured Barcelona's La Masia academy and flirted with the prospect of signing their first deals with the Spanish giants. Instead, the pair chose to stay in London and - for a variety of reasons - have struggled to fulfil the promise they were showing four years ago. Now 20, it isn't too late for Aneke to still meet the expectations created as a 16 year-old. And at Crewe, under Steve Davis and Dario Gradi, he couldn't choose a better place to launch the next stage of his career.