Insider Notes: José Mourinho safe at Chelsea for now; Bob Bradley's future
A high-ranking Chelsea source says despite all its problems the club, as of now, intends to keep manager José Mourinho.
Top management still thinks Mourinho can get the team out of its current funk, and it doesn’t think he has lost the majority of the locker room. There are also two big obstacles to firing Mourinho: One, he would get a giant financial payout, and two, Chelsea doesn’t have a ready replacement. Jurgen Klopp would have been considered before he joined Liverpool, and Carlo Ancelotti doesn’t have any interest in coming back at midseason or for a caretaker role.
The high-ranking Chelsea source says: “Mr. Abramovich wants to keep José. But Mr. Abramovich has also been known to change his mind on things.”
Here are a few more insider items from around the soccer world:
What's next for Bob Bradley?
Former U.S. coach Bob Bradley completed a near-miracle accomplishment last weekend, becoming the first U.S. coach to lead a team to Europa League qualification. Bradley’s Stabaek is now guaranteed to finish at least third in the Norwegian league, despite having one of the lowest payrolls in the country and despite selling its best player, Adama Diomande, to Hull City on the last day of the summer transfer window.
When I spoke to Bradley on Tuesday, he said Stabaek had made about $5.5 million in transfer fees by selling players the last two seasons. The club has needed the money, but it has also made Bradley’s degree of difficulty much higher. Bradley’s two-year contract is up in a week, and while he didn’t want to say anything about his future until after the Norwegian season is over, I think it’s likely he’ll move to a more prestigious job in Europe.
Bradley had reportedly been in negotiations with French second-division club Le Havre.
Gulati on FIFA reforms, World Cup hosting bids
I attended an event in New York City on Wednesday where U.S. Soccer president and FIFA executive committee member Sunil Gulati was interviewed by the political consultant James Carville. They spoke a bit about the FIFA scandal, and Gulati said he does expect that reforms will be passed in February. He also said it was “nonsense” that FIFA says government should not be involved in sports, arguing that government has to be involved to put on any significant event, especially the World Cup.
Gulati also said future World Cup hosting bid campaigns need to have tighter rules from FIFA and “technical standards that mean something.” It was a veiled shot at World Cup '22 host Qatar, which happened to be funding the event that Gulati spoke at.
Gulati did not take questions from the media afterward.
Future for Williams, U-17 residency program
The U.S. Under-17 team did not have a good performance at the recent World Cup, going out in the group stage, and I'm told that the job of coach Richie Williams is most definitely in danger.
But a U.S. Soccer source tells me there most likely won't be a decision made on Williams until early in the 2016 calendar year. The source added that the Under-17 residency program in Bradenton, Florida, will probably have one more two-year cycle and then cease to exist. The Bradenton academy has been in place since the late 1990s, but the growth of the national U.S. development academy program and MLS academies has made it less useful.
Sakiewicz not straying from soccer
Nick Sakiewicz may have been pushed out as the Philadelphia Union CEO last month, but that doesn’t mean he’s leaving the soccer world. Sakiewicz told me this week he’s excited about continuing his involvement in soccer, which has lasted 21 years and seen him oversee the building of two soccer stadiums, roll out three MLS teams and raise more than half a billion dollars in investment capital for the sport.
“I’m extremely proud of the small part I played in MLS and soccer’s explosive growth over the last 20 years,” Sakiewicz said. “I’m even more energized and excited about my next leadership role in the evolving soccer landscape across North America.”