Thursday 26 December 2013
As Sir Alex Ferguson’s decision to retire as Manchester United manager settled in, the Barclays Premier League was reunited with an old fans’ favourite in June ahead of the 2013/14 season. A host of clubs meanwhile made eye-catching signings at the start of a busy summer transfer window.
The month began with Jose Mourinho’s return to Chelsea as first-team manager. The 50-year-old Portuguese signed a four-year deal with the club he guided to back-to-back Barclays Premier League titles in 2004/05 and 2005/06 after leaving Real Madrid.
There were also managerial appointments at Manchester City and Everton as Manuel Pellegrini was confirmed as Roberto Mancini’s successor at the Etihad Stadium, while FA Cup winner Roberto Martinez left Wigan Athletic to fill the Everton vacancy left by David Moyes' move to Manchester United.
As Martinez came in, football said a fond farewell to a Goodison Park favourite as Phil Neville announced his retirement from football. The 36-year-old, one of only nine players to make over 500 appearances in the Barclays Premier League, called time on his playing career to focus on coaching before joining Moyes at Old Trafford.
Andre Schurrle became Mourinho’s first signing at Chelsea after joining from Bayer Leverkusen while Brazil midfielder Fernandinho moved to Manchester City. Fernandinho was later joined at the Etihad Stadium by Sevilla winger Jesus Navas, while Liverpool added two Spanish signings of their own in Luis Alberto and Iago Aspas.
Brendan Rogers added a third summer transfer with the capture of Belgium goalkeeper Simon Mignolet from Sunderland and allowed England striker Andy Carroll to join West Ham for a club-record fee.
Aston Villa made a busy start in the summer transfer window as the club announced six new recruits. Aleksandar Tonev, Jores Okore, Leandro Bacuna, Nicklas Helenius, Antonio Luna and Jed Steer all arrived at Villa Park as Paul Lambert began rebuilding his squad after a relegation battle the previous season.
In South Wales, Europa League contenders Swansea City landed Spanish duo Jordi Amat and Jose Cañas and re-signed Jonathan de Guzman on a season-long loan. Curtis Davies moved to newly promoted Hull City from Birmingham City, Southampton signed Croatia defender Dejan Lovren from Lyon while Fulham brought in Roma and Netherlands goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg.
The month also marked the end of an era at Arsenal, as Peter Hill-Wood stood down as chairman after 51 years on the board to be replaced by Sir Chips Keswick.
"I feel myself not just as the Chelsea manager, because this is the first time in my career that I've arrived at a club that I already love. Normally I love the club a couple of years after I am there. Of course I go to a club, I wear the shirt and I feel the shirt with the crest and I give everything I have to do it, but this is the first time where I love it already.” – Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho on his return to the club after six years
“Playing has gone. [When I made that decision – to retire] I felt quite excited. It was about three weeks ago and everyone in the world seemed to be retiring and I thought I am not just going to jump on that bandwagon.” – Phil Neville on his retirement from professional football
“I am delighted to accept this hugely exciting opportunity. The club has a clear vision for success both on and off the pitch and I am committed to making a significant contribution. Everything is in place for Manchester City to continue to be successful and I am excited to be able to work with such a talented squad, the executive team and the board to deliver for fans who are renowned for their steadfast support.” – Manuel Pellegrini after being given the manager’s job at Manchester City