The Lead

The Footy Blog was a little quiet (i.e. totally dead) yesterday because Ontario celebrated “Family Day,” a made-up vacation that puts the onus on guilty parents to take their kids out to the park or something. For others without kids or a spouse, it offered an extra day for reflection, time to sit around and think.

There seems to be a lot of thinking going on right now in the Premier League, by owners and managers alike. Sir Alex Ferguson has issued his bi-annual retirement date, which we’re now meant to believe will be in 2015. There are rumours that despite Andre Villas-Boas’ insistence Chelsea’s Champions League fixture against Napoli tonight won’t “define his career” with the club, Rafa Benitez quietly waits in the wings.

Meanwhile Arsenal supporters’ confidence in Arsene Wenger is all but dried up, with the Supporters Trust quizzing the board over money-hoarding. The American owner Stan Kroenke has reportedly flown in to publicly back his man. If the Premier League was an HBO/AMC style serial drama (and it may as well be, really), the writers would be laying on the suspense and uncertainty pretty thick at this stage. Even the future of a successful manager like Harry Redknapp at Tottenham remains unknown.

Most incredibly though is that if this Mexican stand-off ends with a pile of managers on the floor and Blackburn manage to somehow stave off relegation, Steve Kean could be the man to walk into the sunset. Some middling success in the next few seasons could even mean he’ll outlast Sir Alex himself. Food for thought…

Canada

Two Montreal Impact defenders chopped ahead of their inaugural MLS season.

Former Impact goalkeeper in the Amazing Race.

DeRo gets his contract extension, headlines.

England

EBJT won’t feature in the Chelsea v. Napoli match tonight.

West Ham co-chairman David Sullivan says Scott Parker “stopped tackling” to prevent injury ahead of his move to Spurs.

Robin Van Persie ready to sit down with Arsenal.

Andy Carroll at Liverpool: nothing to see here.

Wolves in talks with Reading manager Brian McDermott to replace the sacked Mick McCarthy.

West Ham confirm they made some silly, silly January bids.

The FA’s new initiative against homophobia in football.

Newcastle will have to dig deep to keep Demba Ba.

Jonathan Wilson picks Arsenal apart. So does Michael Cox.

Racism

Yup, it’s come to this.

Chelsea team bus surrounded by racist Napoli supporters.

Black leaders in the UK condemn Liverpool over Suarez.

Manchester City provide video evidence to UEFA over monkey chants at Porto.

Italy

Inter’s Wesley Sneijder turned down an approach by Zenit.

Paolo Bandini on how Inter crushed the hopes of a certain nine-year-old.

Allegri bets on Pato ahead of Milan’s title clash with Juventus.

Cavani bullish ahead of Napoli’s CL match against Chelsea.

Spain

La Liga weekend round-up.

Malaga could make the Champions League, says Sid Lowe.

Mourinho firmly back in control at Real Madrid.

Bits and bobs

The Internet’s killed football fantasists.

Two fans hurt after keeper hits ball in crowd in frustration.

Introducing Africa’s next generation of footballers.

And that, give or take, is the story so far…