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Dugout Blues: Adrian Mutu turns down job in Iraq; others get busy in preseason

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The bi-weekly round-up of former Chelsea players turned managers rolls on. With pre-season in full swing, Adrian Mutu balks at his chance to take the reins of a new club, whereas another former Chelsea player gets hired in Italy.

Chelsea v Watford Photo by Phil Cole/Getty Images

MUTU THE MANAGER? NOT YET

Of all the players to have ever donned Chelsea Blue, few have had careers as tumultuous, or odd, as Adrian Mutu. The Romanian striker transferred to Chelsea from Parma in 2003 and immediately stunned the Shed End with dynamic runs, clinical finishes, and a spark of aggression that would have made Diego Costa proud. He scored four goals in his first three matches, including two against Spurs (boo). It seemed as though the new signing had everything needed to become a prolific Premier League striker and a possible Chelsea legend. However, Mutu was powerless to resist the curse that has snared so many big-name and big-money strikers who have come to Stamford Bridge. After his explosion of offense at the beginning of the 2003-2004 season, Mutu’s form slumped, his goals dried up, and he barely featured in the second half of the season behind the likes of Hernan Crespo, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, and Eidur Gudjohnsen.

When The Special One began his first term as Chelsea manager in 2004, he clashed with Mutu - publicly. Mourinho and Mutu accused each other of lying over an injury that determined Mutu’s eligibility for a 2006 World Cup qualifying match with Romania. Soon after, it was revealed that Mutu had failed a drug test for cocaine. Mutu received a seven-month ban and a £20,000 fine. He was released by Chelsea on October 29th, 2004.

What followed was a still-ongoing saga where mega-rich Chelsea aggressively pursued Mutu for millions of pounds, citing a ‘breach of contract.’ Chelsea originally stated they wished to recoup - from Mutu himself - £13,814,000 (to replace the money they spent to buy him) plus £22,661,641 (the cost Chelsea paid to replace Mutu) plus £3,128,566.03 (to repay the benefits Mutu received from Chelsea) plus £391,049.03 (in legal fees). Chelsea also wanted financial renumeration from Mutu to make up for the damage to Chelsea’s ‘brand value’ he had caused, which Chelsea demanded be at least equivalent to the £22million replacement cost they were seeking. Instead of the roughly £60m that Chelsea were seeking, in 2008 FIFA ordered Mutu to pay the club £13.8million, covering just his transfer fee from Parma to Chelsea and the various signing and agent fees associated with it. Mutu appealed the decision and took his argument all the way to the European Court of Human Rights. Despite the appeals, Mutu was left saddled with the compensation order, which he had to pay with 5% interest. He was also ordered to pay for Chelsea’s various court costs.

While battling Chelsea in court for close to a decade, Mutu played for Juventus (via Livorno) — Chelsea also sued both clubs, but that case was later thrown out on appeal — Fiorentina (where he scored 54 goals in 112 appearances), Cesena, and Ajaccio before returning to Romania to play for Petrolul Ploiesti in 2014. After a brief spell in India, Mutu joined ASA Targu Mures earlier this year, playing four games, and then retiring at age 37. In international football, Mutu, who captained Romania on occasion, played 77 games and scored 35 goals. His international also included bans he received from the national side for both missing a friendly match in order to go drinking, and for ridiculing the national coach on Facebook.

Despite his antics, or perhaps because of them, Mutu is a popular figure in Romanian media and there were rumblings that the much-reformed Mutu would feature in Romania’s EURO 2016 squad, as either a player or an advisor. This did not come to pass. Mutu’s name has also popped up as a possible coach within the national set-up, as well as for various Romanian league sides, also without fruition. And one place Mutu will definitely not be managing - for the foreseeable future - is Iraq.

On July 30th it was revealed that Mutu had been offered the manager’s job at Iraqi Premier League club Zakho FC, but, according to GSP, Mutu turned down the offer, calling it ‘brilliant’ but unfeasible. Mutu told the Romanian publication that concerns over safety, and namely the Islamic State, was why he rejected the offer, which reportedly came with a hefty salary. Zakho FC are based in Iraq’s northern Kurdistan region, close to borders with both Turkey and Syria. The city of Zakho is less than two hours from Mosul, the largest city controlled by the Islamic State. Mutu said he ‘politely declined’ the offer from Zakho, and added that he was sure more offers will come his way in the near future.

Somebody ought to write a book or three about the footballing adventures of Adrian Mutu.

ELSEWHERE

UEFA Super Cup Previews Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

Roberto Di Matteo’s Aston Villa vision is beginning to take shape. After signing midfielder Aaron Tshibola from Reading for £5million, Di Matteo now seems set on switching goalkeepers. He sold USA international Brad Guzan to Middlesbrough and is expected to complete the signing of Watford’s Costel Pantilimon for £2million. Villa will be losing pseudo-Kanté, Idrissa Gueye soon, after Everton triggered the 26-year-old midfielder’s release cause of £7.1million. Another player seemingly on his way out is striker Rudy Gestede, whom Di Matteo has reportedly offered to Hull City in a proposed swap for high-scoring Uruguayan Abel Hernandez. In pre-season games, Villa drew 1-1 at Bristol Rovers on July 20th, before beating Nantes 1-0 in France on the 23rd, and Cambridge 3-0 away on the 26th. On the 30th, they lost 3-1 at Middlesbrough.

At QPR, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink has a lot less action going on, though not for a lack of trying. The Hoops have continued their attempts to ship out some of their high-earners, with former Spurs (boo) midfielder Sandro being offered to clubs across Europe. In pre-season QPR drew against Northampton, Wycombe, and Burton in away games on July 19th, 22nd, and 26th respectively. On the 30th they beat Watford 2-0 at Loftus Road.

Across town, Slavisa Jokanovic and Fulham have finally agreed to let their best player, Ross McCormack leave. On July 31st, the Daily Mail revealed that the Cottagers had accepted £12million from Norwich City to let their top scorer vacate West London. The 29-year-old Scot had scored 49 goals in two years at Craven Cottage. In friendlies Fulham beat Brighton 3-0 away on July 19th, lost to Betis 2-1 away on the 23rd, drew 0-0 at Portuguese side Nacional on the 25th, and beat Crystal Palace 3-1 at home on the 30th.

Also in England, Kevin Wilson saw his Nuneaton Town team held 1-1 away at Rushall in a pre-season friendly.

At Real Betis, Gus Poyet has lifted his first piece of silverware (kind of). On July 30th, Betis beat Everton on penalties to secure the Dresden Cup. The invitational tournament was hosted by Dynamo Dresden and featured Werder Bremen, along with Betis and the Toffees. Betis beat Bremen 1-0 on the 29th. Prior to this, and in addition to beating Fulham, Betis won against Middlesbrough 2-1 on the 19th and Linense 2-0 on the 18th.

In Scotland, David Hopkin’s Livingston United will not progress to the last 16 of the Scottish League cup, after they were beaten by Scottish Premier side Hamilton, 2-1 on July 30th. In their other League cup group games, Livi beat Edinburgh City 3-0 away and lost to Ayr 2-0 at home.

Dan Petrescu continues to disappoint in charge of Kuban Krasnodar. After a boring 0-0 draw away at FC Tambov on July 31st, Kuban find themselves in the relegation zone (17th out of 20 teams). Petrescu’s team has yet to win this season, with four draws and one loss to their name - scoring just two goals in the process. On July 23rd the team lost 1-0 away at Spartak Moscow 2, before drawing 1-1 at home to Tosno.

And now it’s time to welcome another new manager to the Dugout Blues’ fold. In late June, Christian Panucci was unveiled as the new manager of Serie B side Ternana. The 43-year-old managed Livorno last season (who were relegated from Serie B after he was fired). He played as both a right-back and a centre-half in a solid professional career that started at Genoa and progressed from there to AC Milan and Real Madrid. Panucci joined Inter Milan in 1999, who loaned him to Chelsea for the 2000-2001 season. He played just 10 games for Chelsea, 8 of which were in the Premier League. Panucci’s only Chelsea goal was the game-winner versus then-Swiss champs St. Gallen in the UEFA Cup. After Chelsea, Panucci moved to Roma, where he spent the bulk of his career; playing 260 games between 2001 and 2009. Panucci, who won the Champions League twice (Milan 93-94 and Real Madrid 97-98), will probably be charged with maintaining a safe league position for the Rossoverdi (red and greens) this year. Ternana finished midtable in Serie B last season.

VIDEO OF THE WEEK

Though his time with Chelsea was short and rather controversial, let’s take a moment to celebrate the ten times Adrian Mutu found the net for Chelsea, courtesy of YouTuber LP&CFC.