Bayern bosses dark on Podolski

Germany striker Lukas Podolski faces another stint on Bayern Munich's bench after a further ticking off from manager Uli Hoeness and his departure from the German giants looks increasingly likely.

With Italy striker Luca Toni injured, Podolski played in the last two league games against Wolfsburg and Frankfurt, but poor performances means he can expect to be back on the bench against Arminia Bielefeld on Saturday.

Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City have both expressed interest in signing Podolski and the player himself has hinted at a return to former club Cologne when the transfer window opens in January.

After Bayern's 2-1 win over Eintracht Frankfurt on Wednesday, Munich manager Hoeness again criticised Podolski and the chances of seeing out his contract, which runs until June 2010, look slim.

“He had two chances and did not use them,” fumed Hoeness, who told the 23-year-old to “stop whining” earlier this season when Podolski complained about being left on the bench for a second consecutive season.

Bayern's bosses are frustrated Podolski seems to have no problems scoring for Germany – he has netted 31 times for die Mannschaft in 59 games – yet has hit only 11 goals in 57 appearances since joining Bayern in 2006.

“He plays at 80 per cent against teams such as Liechtenstein or San Marino,” said Hoeness. “The problem is he scores two goals against Liechtenstein and is jubilant.”

Podolski scored the first goal in the 2-1 win over Russia earlier this month in a World Cup qualifier, but while he goes from strength to strength with Germany his position at Bayern grows precariously weak.

“It would be easier for him to bring forward arguments to support his case with a couple of good performances,” said Bayern coach Jurgen Klinsmann. And his Bayern team-mate Miroslav Klose also criticised him.

“If he needs someone to cuddle and support him, perhaps he should buy a cat,” said the striker in a thinly-veiled assertion patience is running out.

And Bayern chief executive Karl-Heinz Rummenigge recently questioned Podolski's motivation.

“I do not understand what he wants. I require of him that he does everything he can for Bayern Munich and shows commitment to the cause,” he said.

Thu 30 October, 2008
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UEFA to consider Atletico appeal on Friday

UEFA will hear Atletico Madrid's appeal against its ground ban following incidents at a Champions League match on Friday.

UEFA ordered Atletico to play their next two European matches at a stadium at least 300 kilometres (200 miles) from Madrid as punishment for crowd disturbances and racist insults against Marseille players during the October 1 match.

UEFA postponed the two-match stadium ban to allow last week's game against Liverpool to go ahead at Atletico's Vicente Calderon stadium due to “the organisational and logistical difficulties related to relocating.”

The Spanish government has pressed for a lifting of the sanctions, which also include a 150,000-euro fine and a two-match ban for its coach, Javier Aguirre, for allegedly insulting a Marseille player.

Thu 30 October, 2008
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Gillett quiet on Liverpool sale reports

George Gillett has refused to comment on speculation that he and Liverpool co-owner Tom Hicks have put the club up for sale.

Reports have suggested Gillett and Hicks were set to sell their stake at Anfield with the investment bank Merrill Lynch believed to have been contacted to find a buyer for the club.

The two tycoons need to restructure their 350 million pound (442m euros) loan with the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), which expires in January.

But the bank, at present under public ownership because of the global credit crunch, has adopted a policy of restructuring loans only in extremely favourable conditions which prompted talk of the pair looking to sell.

Asked directly about the rumours Gillett said on Thursday: “The stories feed on themselves and some are made up.

“With regard to what we’re doing we would not have any comment on that – there has already been enough speculation on that.”

Gillett is confident Liverpool – and Premier League clubs overall – are in a good financial position despite large debts they have to survive in testing economic times.

“I don’t know all of the facts. What I read is not in the newspapers because it is an unreliable source – what I am looking at are other financial filings which I think are more reliable,” Gillett said.

“There are certain sports which have felt the impact. It’s a good time to be cautious but it’s a bit early to write the obituary of professional sports.”

Gillett also admitted that plans for a new stadium have not been shelved permanently and revealed his relationship with the fans has improved.

“There are some of things which have happened which have upset the fans and got them mad at Tom and myself,” Gillett told Toronto Sport’s Radio.

“At this point, based on the media that we are seeing and an awful lot of the fan communication, I think they are at a point now where they are allowing the boys to demonstrate their skill.

“And also to allow Rafael Benitez – who is one of the great coaches – to do his thing and we just want to leave it that way and we will operate behind the scenes and let the club do the talking.”

On the stadium Gillet added: “We put it off on a temporary basis and we continued to invest substantial money every month in both engineering, architecture, planning, approving and zoning.

“All of the various measures you go through so there is still a substantial effort going on but the current situation in the financial world has made it prudent to delay it for an immediate period of time until the money market eases up.

“Tom and I talking and we are working together. They seem to have a measure over in England as to how well you getting along as friends by whether use first names to each or other or not.

“And the answer to that is that we are talking to each other on a first-name basis.

“Things are good. Tom is a great guy and he is smart as hell. We got off on the wrong basis and I think we are a little embarrassed by that.”

Thu 30 October, 2008
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Beckham lawyers due in Milan

Former England captain David Beckham’s lawyers were due in Milan on Thursday to thrash out a deal with AC Milan over the midfielder’s proposed loan signing.

Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani revealed at a press conference in the city that the meeting would take place and also said Beckham could join as early as next week.

“For the moment it seems that he should arrive next week, however Beckham’s lawyers will be in Milan today,” he said.

“We will start the negotiations. I don’t know if they will conclude positively or not but I hope and believe they will.”

Milan have back-tracked a little on last week’s claims that the Beckham signing was a done deal.

The former Manchester United and Real Madrid star is expected to join on loan from Los Angeles Galaxy for a few months during the off season in the American MLS.

Thu 30 October, 2008
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Ancelotti plays down significance of passing Inter

AC Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti refused to acknowledge any significance in his side overtaking city rivals Inter Milan in the Serie A table following their 2-1 win over Siena.

Milan have not been ahead of Inter at a significant stage of the season since the 2005-06 campaign.

But while the champions were held 0-0 at Fiorentina, Milan won at home and moved up to third in the table, one point and one place above the blue-and-black half of their city.

The victory was somewhat fortuitous, though, as it was earnt with a dodgy penalty awarded when Filippo Inzaghi went crashing down to the ground in the penalty box under minimal contact with Daniele Portanova.

Ancelotti, though, is satisfied with the way this campaign is panning out.

“The team did what it needed to, starting slowly and then growing. I don’t care about being ahead of Inter because our aim is to be first at the end of the season,” he said.

“Sunday we have a big opportunity against a team that like Udinese is ahead and can go the whole way.”

Milan entertain Napoli on Sunday knowing that victory would move them up at least to second.

The seven-time European champions are just one point below the top two and could even finish the week looking down on everyone else.

Inzaghi, though, admits the Italian giants are still far from their best but said that the points they are winning are vital.

The 2-1 home victory against Siena came hot on the heels of a narrow 1-0 success at Atalanta, which Ancelotti had admitted was not merited.

“I’m happy because I’m healthy and for Milan these points make the difference,” said Inzaghi. “Like those won in Bergamo (against Atalanta), because even not playing well we’ve got lots of points.”

The big difference this season from last for Milan is that this time around, despite losing their first two matches, they have started well.

Last year they reached the Christmas break more than 20 points behind Inter and any hopes of putting up a title fight had disappeared.

“I’m really happy because it’s a long time since we’ve started a season well like this year,” added Inzaghi.

Thu 30 October, 2008
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Chiellini looking forward to Roma clash

Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini is looking forward to the clash with Roma this weekend.

The Old Lady won 2-1 over Bologna on Wednesday, after a brace by Pavel Nedved, but Chiellini admits they must keep on winning games in order to get their season back on track.

Chiellini told Tuttosport: “We could have closed that game earlier but we ran a few risks too.

“We were always in control of the situation and we should have won 2-0 but we are used to suffering. Bologna even had the chances to equalize but we should have allowed them to score.

“Nedved? Let’s extend his contract for another year and I will back this as well. He is a leader and he dragged us to victory in a difficult moment.

“Tiago? We are happy he played a good game and we hope he can continue like that. He may even get people to change their opinions on him too.”

“Saturday there is Juve – Roma and we want to win beacuse that will launch us right up there in terms of chasing the leading pack,” added the defender.

“We dropped many points against Napoli and Palermo but we have reacted to this.”

[Source: Tuttosport]

Thu 30 October, 2008
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Maggio refusing to get carried away

Napoli ace Christian Maggio insists they will not get carried away, despite still leading the Serie A along with Udinese.

Napoli won 3-0 over Reggina last night after a hat-trick by Argentine hitman German Denis.

“We must not get carried away,” Maggio told Tuttonapoli.net, “obviously no one expected these results at the start of the season, but we are going through a positive moment and need to keep calm.

“We work very hard throughout the week and this allows us to be fired up each Sunday, but most of all we have plenty of quality players in our squad.”

Napoli will face AC Milan next Sunday.

Maggio continued: “We will go to Milan and play as we normally do, we are aware that they are a strong outfit and are also doing good things this term.

“I am sure it will be an enthralling encounter and we will need to show great character. That’s what we did yesterday, it was an amazing performance against a tough Reggina side.

“However, we must not get too excited now and just need to keep thinking about ourselves.”

[Source: Tuttonapoli.net]

Thu 30 October, 2008
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Beckham talks begin today

AC Milan vice president Adriano Galliani has revealed that David Beckham’s representatives are in Italy for talks.

Galliani confirmed that they will begin talks over a loan deal for the England international.

The Major League Soccer has confirmed that the Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder could join AC Milan on loan from January to March.

“At first we though they [Beckham’s lawyers] would be in Milan next week but instead they arrived today,” Galliani told Tuttosport.

“We will begin negotiations but I don’t know if it will conclude in a positive way or not but I am hoping we can conclude it in the best manner.

“There is still someway to go as we have to finalise everything.”

[Source: Tuttosport]

Thu 30 October, 2008
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Father shocked by Busquets progress

Carles Busquets admits that he is surprised with the positive impact his son Sergio is making at Barcelona.

The 20-year-old has been a hit this season and it is believed he could make his full Spain debut later this season.

Carles played for Barcelona during the 1990s.

“I do not think that anyone was expecting it. We all saw that he had something, that he gave up everything and that he lived for football, but nobody predicted this,” Carles told Sport.

“But he has been the same for the past two years and we hope that he can continue like this and that everything goes well.

“Sergio has always been a boy that has been mature for his age. He has not changed a thing and I hope he does not.

“We are not talking about a boy that you always have to watch. He has always behaved very well. The only thing I have said to him about his game is to play like he knows how – to stay calm and be confident.”

[Source: Sport]

Thu 30 October, 2008
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Ballack set to resign as Germany captain, report claims

Chelsea star Michael Ballack is set to stand down as Germany captain to be replaced as skipper by Philipp Lahm, according to Munich newspaper Abendzeitung here on Thursday.

Ballack, 32, apologised to Germany coach Joachim Loew last weekend for critising him in a German newspaper and the pair are set to meet face to face to discuss the situation.

The Abendzeitung claims Ballack will stand down as captain as a compromise to keep his place in the team, but the article cites no source.

The German Football Federation (DFB) have not commented.

Thu 30 October, 2008
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