x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

All eyes trained on the golden handshake

Bridge could snub Terry when Chelsea host Manchester Cityas both side's coaches keen to keep focus on issues that could shape key encounter.

Wayne Bridge and John Terry in happier times.
Wayne Bridge and John Terry in happier times.

In sport there is often one incident so significant that it overshadows the main event. That will undoubtedly be the case today when Chelsea host Manchester City in a vital Premier League encounter. All eyes and every camera lens will be trained just before the kick off on the meeting between Wayne Bridge and John Terry.

The moment that matters will be the obligatory pre-match handshake between the players and whether Bridge will show any sign of reconciliation with his ex-Chelsea and England teammate following allegations that Terry had an affair with Vanessa Perroncel, the mother of Bridge's son. Fabio Capello will be watching closely in the stands at Stamford Bridge. He still retains hope that the City left-back will change his mind on his decision - caused by the Terry saga - not to make himself available for England at the World Cup.

It was a move that surprised Roberto Mancini, Bridge's club manager, who admitted the player had "another difficult decision" to make over the handshake scenario. "He's a strong character," added Mancini. "For me, he is a good man and he has a strong mentality. "It's not affecting the team or the dressing room and Wayne must concentrate only on this game. It's important for me, for him and the club that we get a good result in London. It's an important game for our future."

Carlo Ancelotti, the Chelsea manager, does not think the showdown will distract Terry or his players either. "I think, no way," he said. "I don't know how many people are interested in this, but, for sure, no players. I think John Terry is professional and doesn't have a problem to stay focused on the match. I didn't speak with him about this because it was not necessary. I like to talk about football, about matches."

Despite Ancelotti's insistence that Terry has "been putting in good performances", his captain has not looked as composed since his personal life made the headlines. He was at fault for goals in recent defeats to Everton and the midweek Champions League tie at Inter Milan. Ancelotti wants complete focus to help the league leaders move four points clear of Manchester United. He has not forgotten how Chelsea were beaten 2-1 at City in December, nor the qualities of Mancini.

As players, the pair were teammates for Italy and remained friends despite being coaches of city rivals AC and Inter Milan. Defeat to Stoke in the FA Cup on Wednesday saw City's last chance of a trophy disappear this season and Mancini's future questioned. But Ancelotti said: "To go into a new team in a season is not easy. He's trying to put his mentality in the squad and until now he has done a good job."

Having spent four years at Inter, Mancini said it was "impossible" to have more pressure elsewhere. But four games without a win and the loss of Emmanuel Adebayor with a four-match suspension do not help his cause at a crucial period. The return of Carlos Tevez from Argentina, following complications with the birth of his daughter, does. His 15 goals in 15 games underline his importance. But Shay Given, the City keeper, said the whole team needed to raise their standards.

"Of course there's pressure on the club with all the investment," he said. "It does take time, but people are very impatient. "The pressure is on all of us, not just the manager. Expectation levels are extremely high at the club and rightly so. Everyone involved in the club has to step up to meet those levels. "We started the season wanting to win something and fourth place would soften that blow a little. If that's not the case, it will be disappointing." @Email:akhan@thenational.ae Chelsea v Manchester City, KO 4.45pm, Showsports 2

Roberto Martinez, the Wigan manager, wants the club to build towards qualifying for European competition - but accepts there are more pressing concerns first. Martinez's side are just two points above the Premier League relegation zone, having failed to win in their last six games. The Latics have only won twice in three months but Martinez is pleased with his team, even if results are not necessarily showing why. He said: "We have got a great challenge, staying in the Premier League. There is no hiding that we are in a relegation battle. If we do that we will go on to the next level, I'm sure. "Very soon we will be fighting for other aims, rather than just fighting to stay in the Premier League. I want Wigan Athletic to compete for Europe but to do that we need to come through this challenge." Birmingham v Wigan, 7pm, Showsports Extra

Gary Cahill could return to action within four weeks, Owen Coyle, the Bolton manager, said yesterday. The defender's season - and hopes of making England's World Cup squad - were feared to be over after a blood clot was discovered in the his arm earlier this month. "We did the scan and Gary will now go another two weeks without any contact but from that point he will be able to come back and join in with the group," Coyle said. "I'm envisaging, fingers crossed, that possibly Gary could be back within four weeks. "Ideally I'd like him back earlier but we have to make sure Gary is fine. A specialist in the field has looked at him and there was a little bit of his rib when he turned that was catching on the blood flow to the vein, which caused the clot." Bolton v Wolves, 7pm, Showsports 1 & 2

Peter Storrie, the Portsmouth chief executive, has said he that he will resign when the administrators sell the club. The club went into administration yesterday, with debts of approximately £70million (Dh392m), and will be docked nine points, virtually condemning them to relegation. "What I am not prepared to accept is the very personal level of abuse on websites, emails and local radio which I have received over the last couple of days," he said. "It is my intention to work with the administrator to help sell the business and I hope that will be quick as there is already interest in acquiring the club. I will also work with manager Avram Grant on the football side. Once the sale is complete, I will tender my notice to the new owners as set out under the terms of my contract." Burnley v Portsmouth, 7pm, Showsports 4