Dominic Fifield

Author's posts

Nov 06

Michael Emenalo was a lightning rod for criticism – his exit leaves board exposed | Dominic Fifield

Chelsea’s departing technical director bore the brunt of criticism over the club’s transfer dealings – who will carry the can now he is gone?It was easy to lapse into cynicism glancing at the statement, published on Chelsea’s website, that announced Mi…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/nov/06/michael-emenalo-chelsea-antonio-conte

Oct 17

Antonio Conte rues Chelsea’s ‘thin’ squad and ponders Álvaro Morata recall

• Manager again raises issue of squad depth after summer transfer frustrations• Chelsea must ‘pay great attention’ against Roma says ConteAntonio Conte has conceded Chelsea’s “thin” senior squad will force him to take risks in his team selection in the…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/oct/17/antonio-conte-chelsea-alvaro-morata-roma-champions-league

Oct 13

Roy Hodgson hopes returning Wilfried Zaha can lift but not carry Palace | Dominic Fifield

Winger will have to hit the ground running after two months out and manager has urged his struggling squad not to put too much ‘on his plate’A month into Roy Hodgson’s return to club football and he finally had some positive news to relay. Crystal Pala…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/oct/13/crystal-palace-wilfried-zaha-roy-hodgson

Oct 01

Kevin De Bruyne has no regrets at leaving Chelsea and ‘doesn’t think they have’

• Manchester City midfielder has thrived since 2014 sale to Wolfsburg
• ‘There’s no bad feeling at all, it’s part of life. It’s a business’

Kevin De Bruyne did his best to insist all parties had moved on and, in truth, it was hardly an opportune moment to reveal any lingering bitterness. After all it was barely an hour since he had rasped in a glorious winning goal for the current league leaders at the reigning champions and, back in the stadium’s media room, Pep Guardiola was still busy lauding the Belgian’s natural talent and eager work rate, declaring him one of the team’s “captains” who can “do absolutely everything”.

Yet there had to be some mention of that stunted spell as a Chelsea player, a period that yielded as many loans away as Premier League starts – two – before a sale to Wolfsburg in 2014 from which he has never looked back. The sight of De Bruyne dictating occasions such as that on Saturday will always prompt thoughts of what might have been in a corner of south-west London. “But I’ve no regrets over anything that happened,” the playmaker said. “I don’t think they have regrets: they’ve won two league titles since I’ve been gone, so they’ve done fairly well. That’s the way it goes, it’s a business. At that point it was a good decision for me to go and maybe for them it was also good to let me go. There’s no bad feeling at all. It’s just part of life and you need to grow up.”

Related: Pep Guardiola realises importance of full-back and exposes Chelsea vulnerability | Jonathan Wilson

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/oct/01/kevin-de-bruyne-no-regrets-over-exit-chelsea-manchester-city

Sep 15

Roy Hodgson returns refreshed to his Crystal Palace roots

The former England manager, now aged 70, is looking forward to the challenge of keeping his new club in the Premier League

Roy Hodgson was as polite as ever and even offered his response through a chuckle but, as his first media conference back in club management stretched beyond the half-hour, it was easy to pinpoint the moment his patience snapped. The drip-feed of references to Nice, Iceland and a night he would rather forget had been incessant. He had already admitted that “careers are defined by small moments and nothing I can say or do will change that”. He had even conceded that he had dared to re-watch the panic gripping in the Allianz Riviera “but not for about 14 months, and I certainly don’t intend to watch it back again now”.

It was only when he was asked what his impressions had been as he re-viewed that ignominious departure from Euro 2016 unfurl on his television screen, his audience pushing for one last glimpse of colour or lingering reflection, that the shutters came down. Enough was enough. “Look, I’m not interested in Iceland,” said Hodgson through a smile that betrayed a hint of underlying exasperation. “We’re going back down a route which I’ve said, reasonably politely, is a past chapter. Who cares? You might. There might be people up in Carlisle who’d like to know that. But at the moment I’m south London. I’m here in Beckenham. A lot of the Crystal Palace fans who will be reading this, the ones who interest me most of all, will want to know what Roy Hodgson is saying about Crystal Palace. What is he saying about the job? About our team? That Iceland game has gone and has no relevance to my work now.”

Related: Sweat, repetition and ruthlessness: why Roy Hodgson could be perfect for Palace | Stuart James

Related: What is it with Crystal Palace and foreign managers? First Lombardo, now De Boer

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/sep/15/roy-hodgson-returns-crystal-palace-roots

Sep 05

Diego Costa may return to Chelsea in bid to ease Atlético Madrid transfer deal

• Exiled forward could make trip to London to help with his sale to former club
• Chelsea and Atlético keen on making sure disgruntled player remains fit

Diego Costa may be on the verge of ending his self-imposed exile from Chelsea with suggestions in Spain that he is increasingly inclined to return to London in a bid to speed a transfer to Atlético Madrid.

The forward has been in Brazil all summer after receiving a text message from the Chelsea head coach, Antonio Conte, informing him that he is no longer in the club’s plans. The Premier League champions insist they told Costa and his representative in January that he would be surplus to requirements after Costa agitated mid-season for a lucrative move to the Chinese Super League.

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/sep/05/diego-costa-may-return-chelse-atletico-madrid

Aug 31

Phil Jones claims he was harshly treated with two-game ban after Europa final

• Manchester United defender admits abusive language at drug test
• Jones and Blind each fined £4,600 for conduct after Ajax final

Phil Jones has denied directing foul and abusive language at a doping control officer after the Europa League final last season and said the two-game ban imposed by Uefa was harsh, although he opted not to appeal.

The Manchester United defender, an unused substitute in the final against Ajax in May, and Daley Blind had been selected to undergo post-match drug tests in Stockholm, with Jones infuriated at missing a dressing-room squad photograph being taken to pay tribute to those affected by the Manchester terror attack that had taken place two days earlier. Jones was banned for two European matches – the first of which he served in the Uefa Super Cup against Real Madrid in August – and fined £4,600.

Related: Injury-free Phil Jones back on form to impress cautious José Mourinho

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/aug/31/phil-jones-two-game-uefa-ban-europa-final-manchester-united

Aug 21

Thibaut Courtois says loss to Burnley gave Chelsea timely wake-up call

• Victory over Tottenham ‘good for the confidence’, says Blues’ goalkeeper
• Chelsea attempting to buy at least three more players in transfer window

Thibaut Courtois believes the shock of losing on the opening day against Burnley served as a wake-up call for Chelsea in their bid to defend the Premier League title, and the champions duly proved their pedigree with victory at Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday.

The win at Wembley has eased fears of a repeat of Chelsea’s last title defence which unravelled so spectacularly under José Mourinho in 2015. Antonio Conte, while still frustrated at a lack of progress in player recruitment, hailed his side’s spirit and character both in the second half against Burnley – when the hosts recovered to 2-3 despite being reduced to nine men – and with a depleted lineup against Spurs.

Related: Premier League: 10 talking points from the weekend’s action

Related: Is ‘the Wembley curse’ fake news? – Football Weekly

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/aug/21/chelsea-thibaut-courtois-tottenham-hotspur-wembley

May 28

Departing John Terry urges Chelsea to spend big on their squad

The former captain of many triumphs said the club need to invest heavily in the transfer market to compete in the Champions League

First rewind almost eight years to the day and John Terry had stood confronted by massed ranks of dictaphone wielding media, deep in the bowels of Wembley stadium, contemplating what Chelsea must do next. The names that had tripped off his tongue that afternoon were David Villa and Franck Ribéry, “the kind of players we want to attract, the best out there”, with the senior pros sensing the current crop might fall marginally short when it came to Europe.

A year on and, with the club having recruited only Yuri Zhirkov of note in the interim, the captain’s rhetoric remained steadfast. “The big four need to strengthen next year because everyone’s become closer,” he had said before the successful defence of the FA Cup which would complete Carlo Ancelotti’s Double in his first season in charge. The established quartet were coming to terms with Manchester City’s new financial strength and, this time, Chelsea would react. Ramires, David Luiz and Fernando Torres arrived over the next seven months for a combined £90m, an eye-watering outlay at the time. Two years later the team would lift the European Cup in Munich.

Related: John Terry can have successful managerial career, says Antonio Conte

Related: Hero worship and mayhem mark John Terry’s exit as grand old man of Chelsea | Barney Ronay

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/may/28/departing-john-terry-urges-chelsea-spend-big-on-squad

Apr 20

Chelsea may recall John Terry for Cup semi-final if Gary Cahill remains unwell

• Cahill hospitalised for two days with illness
• Terry, Kurt Zouma and Nathan Ake all in frame for a game

Chelsea fear they could be without their captain, Gary Cahill, for Saturday’s eagerly anticipated FA Cup semi-final against Tottenham Hotspur, with the England defender struggling to recover from an illness which has affected him all week and saw him hospitalised for two days.

Related: Tottenham hungry but Chelsea are FA Cup semi favourites, says Pochettino

Related: Has José Mourinho reminded Spurs how to beat Chelsea in the Cup at Wembley? | Jonathan Wilson

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/apr/20/gary-cahill-chelsea-tottenham-fa-cup-semifinal

Apr 17

Chelsea’s Thibaut Courtois set to return in FA Cup semi-final against Spurs

• Basketball injury ruled Courtois out of defeat at Manchester United
• Antonio Conte unimpressed No1 was hurt on club’s commercial duties

Thibaut Courtois is confident he will be fit enough to feature in the FA Cup semi-final against Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley on Saturday despite damaging his ankle while playing basketball at a Chelsea promotional shoot last week.

The Belgium international twisted the joint on Tuesday at an event organised by the Premier League leaders, and filmed as part of their commercial duties with the NBA. His team-mates Nemanja Matic, Marcos Alonso, Nathan Ake and Asmir Begovic were also involved at the shoot, with Courtois understood to have landed awkwardly having jumped to catch a basketball.

Related: Tottenham’s Mauricio Pochettino fires early shot at ‘artificial’ Chelsea | Sachin Nakrani

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/apr/17/chelsea-thibaut-courtois-fa-cup-semi-final-spurs-conte