JIBE TALKING JOSE

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FROM STEVE BRENNER IN WASHINGTON DC

JOSE MOURINHO labelled Rafa Benitez a fatty after being taunted by the Spaniard’s missus.

The Chelsea chief’s acid tongue was already working overtime this summer as he laid into domestic rivals Arsene Wenger and Manuel Pellegrini.

Then Montse Benitez, wife of his managerial arch-enemy, joked that her hubby was used to being brought in by clubs to clear up the mess left by the Special One.

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GET YOUR CALCULATORS OUT

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FROM STEVE BRENNER IN MONTREAL

José Mourinho has begun the mind games before the Premier League season by taking aim at Manuel Pellegrini and Arsène Wenger. The Chelsea manager questioned why his Manchester City counterpart criticised him for being self-obsessed rather than enjoying his holidays and said anyone who thinks Arsenal are not among the big spenders should “get a calculator”.

Mourinho and Wenger face each other in the Community Shield on Sunday and the Chelsea manager firmly believes Wenger’s side will be strong challengers for the league title. He was at pains to point out that Wenger has spent large sums to reach this point, including not far short of £100m on Mesut Özil, Alexis Sánchez, Mathieu Debuchy and Calum Chambers since 2013.

Wenger has signed only the goalkeeper Petr Cech, an £11m buy from Chelsea, this summer but Mourinho said: “If you add up the amounts clubs have spent in the last three or four years I think maybe you will find a surprise. If you put Özil plus Alexis Sánchez, plus Chambers, plus Debuchy, you will find a surprise. It’s a fantastic squad with good players, fantastic goalkeeper, they are more than ready to be a title contenders. Get a calculator. That is the easiest thing, it leaves no space for speculation. If you want to be honest, objective and pragmatic it is the easiest job for a manager to do.”

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HAZARD SUITED AND BOOTED

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FROM STEVE BRENNER IN MONTREAL

Eden Hazard could be forgiven for breaking out in a cold sweat when quizzed about the Premier League brutality that leaves him popping postmatch pills to ease the pain.

The Belgian was often kicked from pillar to post in a desperate attempt to quell his irresistible path to being crowned player of the year; no one was fouled more often than Chelsea’s playmaker-in-chief.

But mention becoming involved in regular editions of football’s very own fight club and Hazard just shrugs his shoulders, smiles and looks forward to more of the same. “Sometimes I am in pain after games,” he says. “I have to take some anti-inflammatories or something like that. But I like to have the ball at my feet and, when I have the ball at my feet, I get a lot of kicks. But this is football.”

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PSG 1 CHELSEA 1 (CHELSEA WIN ON PENS)

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FROM STEVE BRENNER IN CHARLOTTE

This was anything but meaningless.

An ultimately hard fought, entertaining match which ended in a penalty shoot-out triumph for the English champions over their French counterparts delivered more than its fair share of excitement and plot lines which will develop rapidly as the new season begins in earnest next Sunday when Chelsea and Arsenal meet in the Community Shield at Wembley.

For Jose Mourinho, it was a chance to send Radamel Falcao out for the first time in a Blue shirt while Diego Costa, once again, proved his uncanny knack of infuriating and frustrating defenders to the point where wild kicks almost always ensue.

The PSG full-back Serge Aurier became incredibly flustered with the Chelsea striker who received a boot to the leg for his troubles after an arm was robustly thrown into the Ivorian’s face  while Zlatan Ibrahimovic decided the best way to reintroduce himself to John Terry was to put an elbow into his head just moments before putting Laurent Blanc’s team into the lead.

Friendly, indeed.

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OH, A-ROD. YOU’VE DONE IT AGAIN

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BY STEVE BRENNER

Alex Rodriguez has been called all sorts over the years.

Cheat, disgrace, liar, fraud, drug user.

He is an American sporting superstar who divides opinion like no other.

Yet there were new accusations being bandied around this week, ones which are never normally associated with a convicted steroid abuser whose disgraceful actions of the past will forever taint his legacy.

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JOSE DOESN’T NEED ANY MOUR STARS

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FROM STEVE BRENNER IN MONTREAL

The transfer merry- go-round is spinning yet Jose Mourinho isn’t jumping on board.

While Louis van Gaal and his friend from across Manchester , Manuel Pellegrini, are flexing their financial muscles, the man they are trying to catch is fine-tuning a squad which was the strongest , and ultimately, the best in the Premier League last season.

Yes , United have rapidly brought in quality at a cost. Of course, City’s £49 million purchase of Raheem Sterling is a stark indicator of how serious their domestic ambitions will be. Oh, and naturally, Petr Cech , the man who was a bedrock in the Portuguese’s first two English titles, will become invaluable to Arsenal.

Yet as Mourinho sat here in the team’s Montreal base decked out in club blue, glint firmly in eye,  there were no pangs of panic.

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CHELSEA WON’T RELENT IN STONES PURSUIT

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FROM STEVE BRENNER IN MONTREAL

Chelsea are refusing to relent in the battle to sign John Stones and will make a new improved bid of around £26 million despite Everton manager Roberto Martinez’s anger over the situation.

The Spaniard has accused Jose Mourinho, the Chelsea coach, of unsettling the 21 year-old England international by going public with an initial £20 million offer which was rejected by the Goodison Park club.

Martinez maintains Chelsea received a letter stating they would not allow Stones to leave and is unhappy with how the Premier League champions are conducting their business.

Mourinho, it is understood, received the correspondence yet maintains there was no mention of the player not being available at any price. The Portuguese remains confident of being able to sign the player who cost just £3 million from Barnsley in January 2013 . He  has four years left on his current contract.

Mourinho sees Stones as the ideal replacement for 34 year-old John Terry and knows a vast improvement on his current £30,000 a week contract will help ease a passage to Stamford Bridge in time for the start of the Premier League season on August 8.

The player is believed to want a move and the chance of playing Champions League football.

Furthermore, with Everton sure to demand in excess of £30 million, Stones is set to become the most expensive British defender of all time, eclipsing the fee spent by Manchester United to sign Rio Ferdinand in 2002.

Meanwhile, Patrick Bamford, the midfielder who spent last season on loan at Middlesbrough, has joined Crystal Palace on a season-long loan.

HAVEN’T WE MET BEFORE?

lampsFROM STEVE BRENNER IN NEW YORK

Almost a year after his first unveiling as a New York City FC player, Frank Lampard was back in the old routine.

When it was announced the 37 year-old would be joining the new MLS franchise in July 2014, the excitement which panged around the new franchise’s embryonic fan base was quickly spiked with a kick in the proverbials. It stung. Badly.

The City Football Group, Manchester City’s all encompassing attempt to attain global recognition, decreed the former England midfielder would initially spend six months in the Barclays Premier League before, predictably, reneging and deciding to keep him until the end of the season.

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