Paper Round: Jose Mourinho - I was never friends with Roman Abramovich
United's manager has distanced himself from his old Chelsea chairman, Ryan Giggs has suggested buying Marouane Fellaini was a panic, and the Sergio Aguero exit rumours continue.
Mourinho: I was never friends with Abramovich
Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte started their pre-match needling in their press conferences. Mourinho claimed that he and Abramovich were not especially close. Mourinho said: “He was never my friend. We always had the relationship of owner-manager. A very respectful relationship. We were never close to each other. So, no. He is just a person that I keep very respected.” For his part, Conte predicted a warm welcome for the ex-Chelsea manager: "“He brought, with the club and players and staff, a part of the story of this club. When you’ve won three titles, you remain in the hearts of fans. It’s normal and I think he deserves this. Then, after the first whistle, he becomes like the other players of United — an enemy. But from a sporting aspect.”
Paper Round's View: The backpage is clearly much more sensational than what is really going on. There are very few examples of chairmen and managers ever being great friends. After all, the manager will want as much money as possible available for transfers, and most chairmen will attach various strings to the deal, or limits to the funds.
There's a natural antagonism which usually ends in a sacking sooner rather than later. What is clear is that Mourinho is in no mood to start more aggro so soon into his United job, and was relatively positive about Abramovich. Conte, too, can't ignore that Mourinho is a hero to many Chelsea fans, and to needle him would do more harm than good for his own position.
The Sergio Aguero exit rumours continue
The Mirror continues to stick to its story from yesterday that Sergio Aguero is on his way out from Manchester City. When asked about Aguero's future, Pep Guardiola said: "When Sergio decides to leave Manchester City, it will be his decision." The paper claims that Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain will be suitors for a player who Guardiola dropped for the match against Barcelona.
Paper Round's View: To go with the same, big story for two days in a row suggests that the Mirror are confident of the truth of the story. And, considering Guardiola's wish for Total Football, then Aguero might not be his perfect striker in mind. With City's money, he can elect to chase players without any consideration of budget or compromise, and perhaps he believes that a player like Kevin De Bruyne, if not De Bruyne himself, will be a more effective player for the side in the long-term.
However, the quotes - that it's Aguero's choice - can be read two ways. One, he's happy for Aguero to stay for as long as he wishes. Or two, that what is important is what he did not emphasise - that he wants to keep him above all else. Aguero, for his part, could do better than City, who seem years away from a Champions League title, something he is more likely to win at Real or even PSG.
Giggs: Signing Fellaini was a sign of panic
In an extended column for the Telegraph, Manchester United's former player and assistant manager, claimed that the signing of Marouane Fellaini so late in the transfer window was "different". "This time it was more of a panic," he continues. Giggs said that as the only major signing of the summer, it "suggested things were not running smoothly." Elsewhere, he praises both David Moyes and Louis van Gaal, despite regular rumours of his antipathy towards them both.
Paper Round's View: It is difficult to take the kind words for Van Gaal and Moyes as anything other than politics. For a man who wants to get back into management as soon as possible, he is not able to say anything negative about former colleagues for fear of looking unprofessional. However, the criticism of the signing of Fellaini, which is ultimately the fault of Ed Woodward's incompetence, is a sign of a break with Manchester United. The biggest criticism he has is for the person running the club that he wanted to manage when Van Gaal stepped down, so it is telling that he chooses to have a dig at United's flailing transfer policy.
Gareth Batty's Revival Tour
After waiting eleven years to play another Test for England, Gareth Batty yesterday took a wicket against Bangladesh. At 39, his is a return to prominence that is only matched by the legendary spinner John Emburey. England claimed a lead of 45 after the first innings.
Paper Round's View: Batty's recall was something of a surprise given his age, and that it would be a chance denied for a young spinner to gain some experience on tour with England. However, with some players concerned about security in Bangladesh, and the exceptional circumstances of playing in a tough environment, Batty's experience at county level and his level-headedness, appeared to have paid off as he supports Moeen Ali.