45 days to go to the AFC Asian Cup, UAE 2019

Lee Wellings: The Real deal in Bournemouth

How much would you pay to see Real Madrid play your local team?

And I mean Real Madrid, not Real Madrid’s third team, or youth team?

There has been a great deal of debate, as well as excitement, about the confirmation that the first team will come to play Bournemouth, a club on the English south coast who have reached the Championship, one below the Premier League, for the first time in 23 years.

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Lee Wellings: Is hosting worth it?

Brazil. World Cup hosts. Olympic hosts. 2014-2016. What an opportunity, what an honour, what a privilege and a pleasure.

But during a fraught fortnight off the pitch at the Confederations Cup the Brazilians – and FIFA – have been reminded that hosting is a double edged sword. Underestimating the power of the public can have major consequences, whether or not their ire is deserved, whether or not the event is actually the cause of the trouble.

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Lee Wellings: More humiliation for Toon Army

Do any supporters anywhere openly suffer as much as those of Newcastle United Football Club?

No club moves from stability to disruption, from good stock to laughing stock, from hope to despair, like Newcastle. They are world champions at humiliation, and they could probably do with any silverware this brings.

Their latest drama has fallen snugly into the ‘you are joking?’ category they occupy so frequently.

The appointment of Joe Kinnear as ‘Director of Football’,

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Lee Wellings: Tahiti the whipping boys

What on earth are Tahiti doing in the Confederations Cup?

They will be the biggest Tahitian whipping boys since Captain Bligh sailed the south Pacific in the 18th century and there was a ‘mutiny on the Bounty’.

It underlines the problem FIFA have had since Australia became part of Asia’s football family, and even they would not be an ideal ‘eighth’ team in a major tournament on current form.

Australia’s departure in 2006 has given opportunities to New Zealand in international and club football that may not be entirely fair,

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Lee Wellings: Summer loving for the Premier League

You’ve got to feel sorry for cricket. And golf. Tennis too. In fact any sport that isn’t football, and more specifically, the unstoppable English Premier League.

We are in the summer break in European football, where other sports usually enjoy their time in the sun, something that didn’t happen as normal last year when the London Olympics dominated in this part of the world.

But this time, the feverish anticipation of a new English Premier League (EPL) season is creating the headlines and the interest.

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Lee Wellings: Benitez could be a great coup for Napoli

Have Napoli just landed themselves the best manager in world football?

It would be a quite a coup for a club that isn’t amongst Europe’s elite – I think it’s time to consider the evidence in favour of Rafa Benitez being, well, the true special one.

The only thing he has in common with the great Napoli hero Diego Maradona has been a comedy beard, but he might be the best chance the club has had of real success since the Argentinian legend inspired them to glory in Serie A and the UEFA Cup in the late 1980s.

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Lee Wellings: It’s up to you – New York New York…

‘New York , New York so good they named it twice’.

I’m pretty sure singer-songwriter Gerard Kenny wasn’t referring to soccer when he delivered this hit record in 1978, but suddenly the game will be all over the city.

New York WILL be named twice in the MLS have when the New York City FC franchise join the Red Bulls in 2015. The Red Bulls actually play in New Jersey but remember also the famous old New York Cosmos are about to re-emerge in the second tier of American football……

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Lee Wellings: Fourth is the new first

What have Borussia Dortmund, Manchester City and Real Madrid got in common?

It’s not just that they were drawn together in the toughest group in the Champions League this year.

They also all finished a distant and disappointing second in their domestic leagues.

Dortmund can be excused of course. They have achieved miracles in the Champions League, and who’d really be able to keep up with Bayern Munich the way they have played throughout 2012/13.

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Lee Wellings: The value of giving it a little bit of time to cook

If the case of Sir Alexander Chapman Ferguson doesn’t serve as a warning to trigger-happy football club owners and chief executives, nothing ever will.

Three trophy-less years into Alex Ferguson’s reign as Manchester United manager the fans were restless.

But the board stuck by him in those dark days of 1989.

24 years and a record 38 trophies later – including 13 Premier League titles – it’s just about safe to say Ferguson repaid the club’s faith.

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Lee Wellings: Fuentes doping scandal taints football

Keeping Jose Mourinho out of the spotlight is near impossible. And his impending divorce from Real Madrid after a loveless marriage was the talk of Madrid and the football world when they failed to overturn the Dortmund deficit

But something more significant than football results – yes even the Champions league results, even Jose Mourinho’s future – had concluded in Spain earlier in the day.

The trial of Doctor Eufemiano Fuentes in Madrid.

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Lee Wellings: Biting the hand that feeds you. Are fans cheering the indefensible?

The chances are that at least one of those eleven footballers you are cheering is what English people might call a wrong’un. A ne’er do well. A nasty piece of work. Increasingly you suspect it’s far more than the odd bad apple, but half the team.

I raise this of course because of Luis Suarez, arguably the third best player in the world and with a charge sheet longer than the bite marks in Branislav Ivanovic’s arm.

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Lee Wellings: Tan’s red dawn

So Malaysia will be represented in the boardroom of the world’s most powerful football league next season – even if Tony Fernandes and Queens Park Rangers are relegated as expected.

Tan Sri Dato Seri Vincent Tan Chee Yioun – Vincent Tan to supporters of Welsh club Cardiff City – has taken the club in the capital of Wales into the English Premier League.

I was going to write ‘controversial’ owner but is he?

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Lee Wellings: Blue storm building in south east Asia

A violent thunderstorm rages while we talk in Singapore, but Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck is a man used to dealing with turbulence.  Including the furore over the club’s ruthless attitude to sacking managers.

” I know we have fired what most people would say are a lot of managers  – terminated their relationship is a better way to describe it – but we’ve always thought long and hard when we’ve done it,” said Buck.

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Lee Wellings: Caution needed in di Canio storm

I didn’t think I’d be returning to the subject of racism in football quite this quickly.

But the stories are coming thick and fast as is the political manoeuvring from football’s leaders.

So the last thing that is needed is anything that threatens to dilute the very real, very serious issue of racism in football 2013. Anything that is grey – not black and white – poses a big problem. And yet it seems for each disgusting act from the terraces or on the pitch there is now an inconclusive allegation.

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Lee Wellings: Peerless Spain soothe club concerns

When you are as special as world champions Spain, it’s no surprise two games without a win is viewed as a mini-crisis.

But the emphatic response of Vicente del Bosque’s side to World Cup qualification concerns reminds us they are close to football immortality. A fourth consecutive major tournament win in Brazil 2014 would be a simply incredible achievement.

In the spirit of consistency I should reiterate my prediction for how the 2014 tournament will unfold.

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