Rooney sinks City despite Ronaldo red card

Manchester United earned a 1-0 win over bitter rivals Manchester City at Eastlands on Sunday despite Cristiano Ronaldo's bizarre sending-off.

Wayne Rooney's 100th career club goal – his first for five weeks – put United ahead just before half-time in the 150th Manchester derby.

But Sir Alex Ferguson's team, beaten twice by City last season, were reduced to 10 men in the 68th minute when Ronaldo was dismissed by referee Howard Webb for a second booking after the Portugal winger handled a United corner.

Ronaldo appeared to claim that Webb had already whistled for a foul before his handball and was clearly furious as he trudged down the tunnel.

United, who had gone in front when Rooney tapped-in after Joe Hart parried Michael Carrick's 42nd minute shot, held on to move within five points of leaders Chelsea, who face Arsenal later Sunday.

Sun 30 November, 2008
RSS Feed

Mrs Schweinsteiger derails Juventus move

Juventus President Giovanni Cobolli Gigli says Bayern Munich ace Bastian Schweinsteiger’s girlfriend has derailed a move to the Serie A club.

“Schweinsteiger is an excellent player and we are talking about it,” said Cobolli Gigli to Tuttosport.

“I cannot say that he is officially of interest, because we have not yet finalised the situation within the club hierarchy.”

Reports in the German press says Schweinsteiger’s girlfriend Sarah Brandner does not want to move to Turin.

Cobolli Gigli continued: “I saw photographs of her in the newspapers and she is a beautiful woman. However, a great player should not let his career be dictated by such matters.

“He should be given the freedom to choose the solution that seems most opportune purely from a sporting point of view.”

[Source: Tuttosport]

Sun 30 November, 2008
RSS Feed

Hughes: Robinho can be just like Cantona

Mark Hughes believes Robinho can make as big impact at Manchester City as French legend Eric Cantona did at Manchester United.

Robinho has impressed so far in his career at Eastlands, but failed to make an impact in the Manchester derby on Sunday.

City boss Hughes played with Cantona at United from 1992 to 1995.

“Robinho has definitely had an effect on Stephen Ireland,” he said in The Daily Star Sunday.

“That’s a consequence of bringing in top players.

“It happened at United with Eric Cantona. People immediately recognised that he was a huge talent.

“I think Robinho can be as big a talisman as Cantona. He’s a world-class talent and has got that stature.”

“Robinho is very much in the loop as regards what the plans are for the club,” he added.

“He’s very excited about that. He’s very happy here.

“People question him when he’s back in Brazil about why did he come to City.

“He’s able to articulate that’s he’s part of a huge thing which will happen here.”

[Source: The Daily Star]

Sun 30 November, 2008
RSS Feed

Dunn could be back before the New Year

Blackburn boss Paul Ince believes midfielder David Dunn could be back before the New Year.

The 28-year-old is now back in training after suffering an Achilles injury at the start of the season.

“I don’t want to put any pressure on Dunny,” he told the club’s official website.

“He’s started running so we are getting close, but it could be another four or five weeks.

“We are optimistic. He is a key player for us and I think we saw that at the start of the season against Everton.

“He gives us something that no one else has got and those players are worth their weight in gold, so hopefully he’ll be back in four or five weeks.”

[Source: Blackburn Rovers Official website]

Sun 30 November, 2008
RSS Feed

English football´s big guns face Championship tests

Manchester United have been handed an FA Cup third round trip to Championship club Southampton, while Liverpool travel to Preston and Arsenal host Plymouth.

Like United, Liverpool and Arsenal are both facing Championship teams, but their fellow big-four club Chelsea have an easier tie at home to League One Southend. FA Cup holders Portsmouth were drawn at home to Bristol City

Conference club Histon, from English football's fifth tier, were rewarded with a home tie against Championship side Swansea after their shock 1-0 win over Leeds on Sunday.

Barrow, also a Conference team, will travel to Premier League Middlesbrough and fellow non-league club Eastwood Town, fifth in the Northern Premier Division, travel to Notts County or Kettering.

Blyth Spartans of the Conference North have an extra incentive to win their second round replay against Bournemouth after being given a potential home tie against Blackburn.

Draw for the English FA Cup third round made on Sunday:

Portsmouth v Bristol City

Sheffield Wednesday v Fulham

Preston v Liverpool

Birmingham v Wolverhampton

West Ham v Barnsley

Middlesbrough v Barrow

Hull v Newcastle

Hartlepool v Stoke

Chelsea v Southend

Manchester City v Nottingham Forest

Cardiff v Reading

Ipswich v Chesterfield or Droylesden

Charlton v Norwich

West Brom v Peterborough or Tranmere

Torquay v Blackpool

Leyton Orient v Sheffield United

Southampton v Manchester United

Millwall v Carlisle or Crewe

Histon v Swansea

Forest Green Rovers v Derby

QPR v Burnley

Leicester v Crystal Palace

Tottenham v Wigan

Morecambe or Cheltenham v Doncaster

Arsenal v Plymouth

Notts County or Kettering v Eastwood Town

Bournemouth or Blyth Spartans v Blackburn

Macclesfield v Everton

Watford v Scunthorpe

Sunderland v Bolton

Coventry v Kidderminster

Gillingham or Stockport v Aston Villa.

Ties will be played on the weekend of January 3-4

Sun 30 November, 2008
RSS Feed

Ferguson has no plans to quit Man United yet

Sir Alex Ferguson has upset predictions on his possible retirement date after declaring he will will remain in the Manchester United hot seat for some time yet.

Having won all there is to win during 22 years at Old Trafford, including two of the club’s three Champions League/European Cup triumphs, Ferguson was widely expected to step down at the end of season.

However, the 66-year-old Scot – who previously stated he would step down at the end of the 2001/02 campaign, only to then go back on that decision – insists retirement is simply not an issue.

“Why would I pack it in at the moment?” the United chief said in the News of the World.

“I don’t ever think about it any more – it’s all out of my mind. It doesn’t even come into it now. I don’t even think about it.

“I am not even going to put myself into that situation where I am thinking: ‘Should I this year, should I next year?'”

Ferguson, who has been involved in football management for 30 years, said the only thing that would force him to make such a decision would be deteriorating health.

“If my health deteriorated, that solves the problem for everyone,” he added.

“You would be rid of me for good!

“Secondly, it’s about my team. If they are doing well, then there’s no pressure on me.”

Sun 30 November, 2008
RSS Feed

Keane places doubts on Sunderland job

Roy Keane has placed doubt on his ability to continue as manager of Sunderland, who dropped into the relegation zone after their latest defeat on Saturday.

“I ask myself every single day if I am the right man for Sunderland. I asked myself this morning and said I was,” Keane said after a 4-1 drubbing at home by Bolton.

“Tomorrow morning if the answer is 'No' we will have to look at it.

“It's not about what's best for Roy Keane. It's what's best for Sunderland Football Club. I might wake up on Monday morning and think I'm the right man. On Tuesday it might be different.

“I'm the manager of this football club and ultimately I'm responsible and I've never shied away from that. That's part of being a manager and that's why I take full responsibility for the run we're on and everything else.”

After spending nearly 70 million pounds in the transfer market, Sunderland are struggling to keep pace in the highly competitive Premier League. The Black Cats have won just one of their last seven games.

“I can't sit here and say I've not had the backing,” added the Irishman, whose contract expires at the end of the season.

“I have brought in loads of players and I have absolutely no excuses.

“We've been very poor and the goals we have conceded recently would make it impossible to win any game of football, let alone in the Premier League.

“It is not good enough. We play with such innocence we make it hard for ourselves and we get punished for every mistake we make.”

After 15 games Sunderland are third from bottom with 15 points from four wins and three draws.

Sun 30 November, 2008
RSS Feed

Brad Friedel breaks Premier League record

BIRMINGHAM, England (AP)—American goalkeeper Brad Friedel of Aston Villa made a record 167th consecutive Premier League appearance Saturday against Fulham.

The 37-year-old, who started the streak in August 2004 with Blackburn, overtook the previous record set by Portsmouth’s David James in April. He earned a third straight shutout in the 0-0 draw.

“Is it nice that I have been able to get a run of games? Yes, absolutely, but I hope to have many more games ahead of me,” Friedel said. “I have never appeared in a game hoping to attain an appearance record. I appear because I am under contract to play football and I love football.

“It really hadn’t entered my mind until recently when the statisticians said I have a chance to break the record.”

Work permit issues forced Friedel to bounce around Europe and the United States—playing for Galatasary, Brondby and the Columbus Crew—before finally joining Liverpool in December 1997.

He struggled to start for the Anfield team and in 2000 joined Blackburn, where he spent eight years before seeking a new challenge at Villa.

“It is remarkable in this day and age, whether you are a ‘keeper or not, to play that number of games consecutively. It is fantastic,” Villa manager Martin O’Neill said. “Well done to him. During the last eight or nine years, from leaving Liverpool to the career he has had at Blackburn, Brad Friedel has been so consistent.

“Last year was maybe his best ever season and he wants to try and emulate that this year for us.”

Friedel also played 82 games for the United States from 1992-2004.

“I have been fortunate with injuries, touch wood, and when I have got the odd knock it has always seemed to coincide with international breaks,” Friedel said. “Since I retired from international football, I have managed to rest up between domestic games, too.”

Sun 30 November, 2008
RSS Feed

Bayern and Hoffenheim eye Bundesliga showdown

Title rivals Bayern Munich and Hoffenheim remain on a collision course to decide who is the Bundesliga’s best on Friday night after both teams picked up wins at the weekend.

Bayern passed rivals Bayer Leverkusen with a 2-0 win on Saturday to go second in the league after goals from Italy’s Luca Toni and Germany striker Miroslav Klose put them three points from first place.

Leaders Hoffenheim travel to Munich’s Allianz Arena on Friday to defend their position at the top of the table.

“We have plenty of respect for Hoffenheim and we’re happy to compliment them, but our aim is to go top at some point soon,” said Bayern coach Jurgen Klinsmann.

“We’ve steadily worked our way towards that, and we’re really looking forward to them coming to Munich.

“It’s a meeting between two top-class teams.”

And the fairytale continues for village team Hoffenheim on their debut season in Germany’s highest league.

They wrapped up an impressive 3-0 win at home to Bielefeld as the league’s top-scorer Vedad Ibisevic opened the scoring with his 17th goal in 15 games.

Carlos Eduardo then made it 2-0 inside the opening 11 minutes before Francisco Copado netted a last-minute spotkick to make it 11 league wins and 34 points from 15 games.

“The next game against Bayern will be very difficult – with their experience Munich have to start as clear favourites,” said Hoffenheim’s Germany defender Marvin Compper.

But coach Ralf Rangnick says confidence in his side is strong and they will take the fight to Bayern on Friday.

“The spirit within the team is at an all-time high,” said Rangnick.

“Everyone put their hand up for places in Munich on Friday and there were some outstanding performances.

“The crew showed the same consistency they have all season and I hope that continues for the rest of the season.”

But Bayern are starting to look worthy of taking over as league leaders as Klinsmann praised his team who have completely turned around their league position from 11th at the start of October to challening for the lead.

“We simply have extra class at the moment,” said Klinsmann.

“There’s so much good football in the team.

“The lads are enjoying themselves and they’re fit, because we’ve worked really hard for four months.

“It’s taken us a while to get up to speed, but the team’s enjoying the fruits of their labours now.

“As we saw in the second half, they’re capable of totally dominating a match now and the goals were just a matter of time.”

And Leverkusen boss Bruno Labbadia had no complaints.

“We were strong for the first 25 minutes and seized the initiative, but then one or two of my players went into reverse gear,” he said.

“We allowed ourselves to be pressed back and stopped getting forward as much. Bayern deserved to win.”

Hoffenheim have a superior goal difference to Bayern and even defeat at Munich’s Allianz Arena on Friday may not be enough to rob them of top spot.

But as Bayern manager Uli Hoeness added: “Now we want to beat Hoffenheim. I’m sure it’ll be a cracking match, and it’ll tell us who has the best team at the moment.”

Sun 30 November, 2008
RSS Feed

Sunderland need to find the ‘old’ Roy Keane

Roy Keane is a winner. As a player he could transform a match with his determination, drive, ability and passion. As a manager, he started really well and looked as though he had formed a Sunderland team in his own image. Now, however, Keano is seeing the horrible side of management. He is experiencing the fact that once the players go out on to the pitch, the manager is completely helpless.

Capitulated

Sunderland now lie 18th having lost five of their last six Premier League matches and yesterday capitulated in a demoralising 4-1 defeat at home to Bolton. The few fans that stayed in their seats until the end of the game let their feelings be known at the final whistle and Roy Keane will have been seriously hurt by that.

After the game Keane hinted that his future as Sunderland boss may not be certain as the defeat saw his side enter the relegation zone.

“I ask myself every day if I’m the right man for Sunderland. I asked myself this morning, and I said I was. Sunday morning, if the answer’s no, we’ll have to look at it.”

The game itself turned out to be a comedy of errors by the Sunderland side. Keane had left Anton Ferdinand out of his starting line-up to try to change their fortunes at the back, but horror shows from keeper Craig Gordon, skipper Dean Whitehead and centre-half Danny Collins gifted the win to Bolton after Djibril Cisse had given them the boost of an early lead.
.
It is quite clear that Roy Keane is seriously considering his future. He went on to say,

“I have to be honest in my assessment. It’s not about what’s best for Roy Keane. It’s Sunderland football club. I might wake up on Monday morning and think I’m the right man. On Tuesday it might be different. I’m the manager of this football club and ultimately I’m responsible and I’ve never shied away from that. That’s part of being a manager and that’s why I take full responsibility for today and the run we’re on and everything else.”

Keane refused to blame his players publicly although we can only imagine what he might have said behind the closed dressing room doors!

“I look at what these lads have done over the last two and a bit years and they’ve been absolutely brilliant. I can’t legislate for individual mistakes so stuff like that doesn’t make me angry. We play with such innocence we make it hard for ourselves and we seem to get punished for every mistake we make. It’s such a harsh world. When you get in front you’ve certainly got to make sure you don’t lose the game.”

It is tempting to feel sorry for Roy Keane who up until now has hardly put a foot wrong in his managerial career. He did a great job getting the club promoted and keeping them up relatively comfortably last season. He seems to have a great working relationship with Chairman Niall Quinn despite their differences during their playing careers. Up until recently, he also seems to have had a great relationship with the Sunderland faithful.

Seventy million pounds

Maybe now the Sunderland faithful are looking at the fact that Keane spent seventy million pounds in the Summer and yet the team can’t now buy a win and look like facing a relegation battle. Maybe the Sunderland faithful didn’t expect to have a relegation battle this season. It could be said that fans of a club who have had a manager in place for three years and who has been financially backed by a supportive chairman and board have a right to expect more coherent performances than what was served up by the team yesterday.

I always admired Roy Keane the player. He did many things that it was difficult to condone but his passion and drive and ability were second to none. I have, up until now, admired Roy Keane the manager as well. I just think that he needs to roll his sleeves up and show the same sort of passion he showed as a player and instil some of that passion in his players, rather than constantly speculating on his own future as he has done over the past week.

Passion

Don’t talk about leaving Keano, talk about how you are going to demand better and how you are going to turn things around. That is what the old Roy Keane that we all know and love (or hate) would do. Stop moping about and show that old passion!

Sun 30 November, 2008
RSS Feed