Martin Jol insists he is concentrating on turning Hamburg into a top side despite growing talk of a switch to Manchester City, the Germans’ opponents in today’s UEFA Cup quarter-finals return leg.
With a 3-1 lead from the first encounter Bundesliga title contenders Hamburg look favorites to reach the last four and former Spurs boss Jol is keen to extend his adventure in the northern German city, even if media reports say he could replace Mark Hughes should he leave City in the summer.
Jol dismisses the idea.
“The name Jol gets bandied about at every English club which happens to have a problem with its coach. It really gets on my nerves. But I’m not thinking about it [leaving Hamburg] in the slightest,” he insisted.
“I am at a great club with great fans with a great environment, the likes of which few clubs can boast in Europe,” he said.
“I am very happy here,” he told Bild newspaper.
Jol has a contract until the end of next season and while he has not yet talked about an extension he admits that “I can imagine working here for a lot longer yet.”
While Hamburg seek to reestablish themselves as a major force in a European game which has seen England and Spain come to preeminence ahead of Italy while Germany has relatively faded into the background, City are likewise chasing the elite.
For all the talk of being the world’s richest club following last year’s takeover by the Abu Dhabi United Group for Development and Investment, City have endured a mediocre English Premiership campaign.
European success for the first time since a Cup Winners Cup win in 1970 might save Hughes, though the injury loss of livewire forward Craig Bellamy is a blow.
Bellamy suffered a recurrence of a knee injury in the match in Germany while strike partner Benjani Mwaruwari is battling a thigh muscle strain and winger Shaun Wright-Phillips has ankle trouble. But Robinho, rested for a weekend loss against Fulham, will play.
While City bid to overturn a two-goal deficit Marseille must do the same against Shakhtar Donetsk after losing 2-0 in Ukraine.
Marseille coach Eric Gerets says his side have a tough task ahead, though confidence is high after Sunday’s 4-1 thrashing of Grenoble.
Dynamo Kiev will be targetting a Ukrainian double against French opposition as they attempt to finish the job against a Paris St-Germain side they held to a scoreless draw away.
Werder Bremen like Hamburg have a 3-1 advantage in their pockets as they travel to Italy to face Udinese.