GUS IS GONE
According to the Athens based daily newspaper Ekathimerini, Gus Poyet was fired from AEK Athens on April 20th, moments before the team took on Atromitos in the first leg of the Greek Cup semi finals. Some reports - mostly coming from outside of Greece - have Poyet still at the club, but all agree that he will end his successful spell in Athens shortly.
Tension had been building between Poyet and AEK ever since the manager declared that he would be leaving the capitol city club once his contract expired this summer. In response to Poyet's public announcement club owner Dimitris Melissanidis blasted the Uruguayan in Greek media and called the former Chelsea midfielder ‘immoral' for leaking details of private conversations between him and the club.
Gus Poyet's departure comes at a time when his name has been linked to multiple English teams including Leeds United and Aston Villa. However, the majority of reports are linking Poyet with a move to Championship strugglers Nottingham Forrest, who sacked Dougie Freedman back in March. Poyet is currently the second favourite with the bookies to get the City Ground job, behind Martin O'Neil.
AEK Athen's last league game of the season came on April 17th. The second place finishers were uninspiring, losing 3-0 away at Levadiakos. Second place puts AEK into a play-off series to determine Greece's second UEFA Champions League entrant (behind champions Olympiakos, who ran away with the league this year). Poyet lead AEK to 13 wins, 3 draws, and 6 losses in the league this year, restoring pride to a team that had suffered incredible embarrassment as of late.
While we eagerly wait to see where he ends up, let's take a moment to enjoy one of Poyet's best moments in a Chelsea shirt:
Poyet's old running mate, Gianfranco Zola, saw his season come to an end on April 16th. His side Al-Arabi closed out a disappointing Qatar Stars League campaign with a 2-1 loss at home to Al Sailiya. The result saw Al-Arabi finish 8th. The team won a total of 10 games all season, drawing 5, and losing 11. The season was a tale of two halves for The Red Devils. The first half of the season saw them win 7 of 13 games and many believed the team was a frontrunner for an Asia Champions League berth. However, the next 13 games saw the side lose 7 times and only pick up 3 wins. Despite the season being mediocre at best, it seems that the popular Italian's job is safe, for now.
In the Vanarama Conference North, another Chelsea old boy got his walking papers. Frank Sinclair left Hednesford Town by ‘mutual consent' on April 14th. However, unlike the last time he left the club, he did not return 48 hours later. Sinclair's last game in charge of the Pitmen was a 1-0 loss at home to Worcester City on the 12th. Two days after his departure Hednesford beat the champions-elect Solihull Moors 2-1 away. The painful season for Hednesford fans reached rock bottom on the 20th when the team was officially relegated thanks to a midweek win for Lowestoft Town (over Worcester City). The midlands side will be playing their football in the Evo-Stik League Premier Division next season.
At the top of the Vanarama North Sinclair's old teammate Kevin Wilson has Nuneaton fighting hard for promotion. The Boro drew 0-0 at home to Harrogate on the 12th and beat Gloucester City 1-0 away on the 19th. On the 23rd they faced Boston, who occupied the last available play-off spot. Despite taking the lead in the first half, Nuneaton fell 2-1 and thus failed to leapfrog Boston in the table. Nuneaton, who are 6th, are now 4 points behind Boston, with two games remaining (Boston only has one game left). Nuneaton also has a far superior goal difference compared to The Pilgrims. Nuneaton's last two games are away to Bradford PA and home to Frank Sinclair-less Hednesford.
QPR and Fulham continue to mirror each other's results, this time at the hands of Premier League hopefuls Brighton & Hove Albion. On the 15th Slavisa Jokanovic's Fulham were smoked 5-0 by the seaside. 4 days later, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink took QPR to Brighton and got thumped 4-0 himself.
In Fulham's other games over the past two weeks they drew away at Ipswich 1-1, and lost to Nottingham Forest 3-1 at home. The Cottagers are 21st in the league, one spot above the relegation zone. Though they are not safe (mathematically) from relegation, it seems unlikely that 22nd place MKDons will overcome the 9 points needed in their remaining 4 games.
QPR's midtable finish is all but assured after the Hoops were held 0-0 in Cardiff and drew 1-1 with Reading at Loftus Road.
Lower down the leagues, Micky Hazard's Hadley FC had a fortnight to forget. They drew with London Colney 0-0 on the 13th and then lost to Cockfosters, Biggleswade United (with Enrique de Lucas, what?!), London Tigers, and Berkhamsted. Hadley is now 9th in the Spartan South Midlands Premier Division.
In Scotland, Livingston United lost to Queen of the South 3-1 on the 23rd. The result means that David Hopkin's men will have to compete in a play-off tournament with the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th placed teams in League One. Livi will only keep their Championship status if they win that competition.
Dan Petrescu is still undefeated in the Chinese Super League, though his team did slip to second, behind reigning champions Guangzhou Evergrande. On April 16th Petrescu's Jiangsu Suning beat Shanghai Shenhua, which featured Demba Ba, Fredy Guarin, and Giovanni Moreno, 2-0 at home. On the 23rd Jo saved Jiangsu's unbeaten start to the season, by converting a penalty in the 93rd minute, away at Guangzhou R&F.
In the Asia Champions League, Jiangsu beat Vietnamese champs Binh Duong 3-0 at home. The victory placed the Chinese club second in Group E with one group game left to play. The first two placed teams move on to the knockout phase. Jiangsu's last game is away against South Korean champions Jeonbuk, who they beat at home in January. If Jiangsu fails to win and FC Tokyo beats Binh Duong in Vietnam, Petrescu's side will be out the competition.
A Dugout Blue for the future might be Damien Duff. On April 16th it was announced that the Irish winger had been brought in as a coach for Ireland's U-15 squad. In the first 3 years o the Abramovich Era Duff played 125 times for Chelsea and scored 19 goals.
Former Chelsea player and assistant manager, the legendary Steve Clarke is being linked with Celtic, according to the Sunday Post. Clarke was sacked as Reading manager in December 2015. Clarke made over 400 appearances for Chelsea between 1987 and 1998, scoring 10 goals.