FOOTBALL – Musical chairs – full circle

The deed is done. Ranieri has finally been put out of his misery and Porto’s José Mourinho installed as new Chelsea supreme. Very much his own man, the Portuguese coach has already started the Stamford Bridge clear-out with 20million pound misfit Veron, who has been loaned to Inter Milan. Others will follow. The much-maligned Ranieri, however, has fallen on his feet, taking over at Spanish champions Valencia, who will lose their successful manager Rafael Benitez to Liverpool. The 44-year-old will succeed Gerard Houllier, who has had talks with Benfica… whose coach Camacho has taken the helm at Real Madrid, replacing the failed Carlos Queiroz. The Portuguese is back in Manchester for a second spell as Sir Alex Ferguson’s right-hand-man, who he hopes to succeed in due course.

Meanwhile, Spurs too have finally found their man in current France coach Jacques Santini, whose contract with his country expires at the end of Euro 2004. The former St. Etienne star took Lyon to the French title in 2001 before succeeding Roger Lemerre as national coach, losing only once in 23 outings with Les Bleus. Santini will sign a three-year contract and work with new Director of Football, Dutchman Frank Arenesen. All this activity has left the much-coveted Martin O’Neill, still with Celtic, sitting on the fence – permanently.