Posted: 2/16/2009


          A 62 million loss including 23 million pay offs to Jose Mourinho, Avram Grant and their staff, and STILL another 7.5 million due to recently axed Phil Scolari. Roman Abramovich's wind up toy train set is off the rails, as forecast by many. Two EPL titles after an absence of 50 years was not enough to keep The Special One in a job,the two following coaches didn't last long, and the club is in a credit crunch and playing crisis.

      In contrast, look at stability and success at Old Trafford. Believe it or not, but since Alex Ferguson came south from Aberdeen, over 930 English managers have lost their jobs.  Many clubs are in trouble and hope that the idle rich sheiks from the Middle East will ride to the rescue, but a report out this weekend from Wonder Place DUBAI, said that there are over 3,000 abandoned cars left at that airport as short term residents and businessmen flee their creditors.

     Chelsea are an ageing team and what the new part-time Dutch saviour Guus Hiddink can do in the next three months remains to be seen. The man from Varsseveld had a varied career at de Graafshap, PSV Eindhoven, Washington Diplomats, San Jose Earthquakes and NEC Nijmegen. Although a success as a coach with PSV, Netherlands WC 1998 and South Korea WC 2002, and OK with Australia at WC 2006, a number of coaching jobs have lasted less than a year. While at Valencia he could never manage higher than 4th in La Liga (NOT satisfactory at Chelsea), and was dumped at Real Madrid, Betis of Sevilla and Fenerbahce of Istanbul, all within a season.

    As we speak, David Beckam's transfer to AC Milan is being sorted out as AC Milan big wigs fly into Orange County.  This week he is listed on the AC roster for the UEFA match up at Werder Bremen, although carrying a slight injury. I believe that both parties want the deal to go through, with LA Galaxy holding out, quite rightly, for more money. His 3 kids are happy with the California life style and schooling, although I told David a couple of weeks ago at the San Siro that the International School in Milan, where friends of mine attended and others taught at, was excellent.

      Beck's soccer school empire in California is really not needed anyway. Every college coach and his dog has a soccer school cum baby sitting programme every year.  For sheer enthusiasm and magical skills training I would recommend Jeff 'JJ' Johnson's, based in the American Riviera, Santa Barbara. While there you can't beat The Shoreline Grill.  opposite La Playa Stadium, and on the beach. The chairs and tables are on the sand and you can stick your toes in the warm sand as you watch joggers, windsurfers, dolphins, sea lions and maybe whales in the distance.

      With Jeff and friends I have enjoyed a bucket of Mexican bottled beer with slices of limes, and a plate of fresh shrimp or a basket of clams. I was telling a newly arrived New Zealand friend that they may see somebody famous there one day. WELL, 5 minutes later, who came and took the space two tables away-Jamie Lee Curtis and her mom Janet Lee, who was sadly to pass away a few weeks later. One great afternoon we paddled some kayaks into the bay near the Santa Barbara Pier as curious sea lions popped up for a curious look.  California in fact has two of my favourite cafes in the WHOLE WORLD. The other is called World Famous.  The brunch of eggs benedict with crab cakes and a bottle of house champagne while watching the beach activity is truly a delight.