Roman blasts Berbatov

Tottenham ace Roman Pavlyuchenko has blasted Dimitar Berbatov, ahead of Sunday’s Carling Cup final.

The Russian striker has labelled Berbatov an ‘arrogant snob’ and believes he would not receive a warm welcome should he one day return to Spurs.

“Robbie Keane returned to the Spurs as if he never left the club,” Pavlyuchenko told Russian paper Gazeta Daily .

“It’s evident that he’s a man of authority inside the team which is good for us. He was always liked as far as I can judge.

“If Berbatov returned it would be taken quite differently. I heard tales that he was an arrogant snob who after a training session would just throw his dirty boots to the man who takes care of our footwear saying: ‘Clean them for me!’

“No one likes such people. Still he’s now playing for Manchester United.”

[Source: Gazeta Daily]

Sat 28 February, 2009
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FIFA drops plan for 20-minute half-time

FIFA on Saturday withdrew a proposal to extend half-time breaks from 15 to 20 minutes after it became clear that it would not be adopted by world football’s rules-making body, the International Football Association Board (IFAB).

The plan had been opposed by the Football Associations of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, who have the power to block any changes to the rules as they account for half the votes on the IFAB.

FIFA has four votes on the Board and it requires six to push through any changes.

The meeting of the IFAB here was due to discuss proposals for an experiment with sin-bins for yellow card offenders, further trials for an extra assistant referee behind each goal and the possibility of allowing a fourth substitute in matches that go into extra time.

Sat 28 February, 2009
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Klinsmann happy at Bayern

Bayern Munich coach Jurgen Klinsmann insists he is not interested in a move to Premier League side Manchester City.

Reports in the press have suggested that Klinsmann could be in line to replace Mark Hughes as City manager.

“I always tell my players, like Franck Ribery, that if there is speculation about other clubs wanting you, it is a compliment to Bayern and yourself,” Klinsmann is quoted as saying in the Daily Mail.

“If you hear of an offer, you must be flattered, and it applies to managers and coaches as much as players.

“But I am under contract to Bayern until the end of next season, and my only thought at the moment is trying to win as many trophies as possible in that time.”

[Source: The Daily Mail]

Sat 28 February, 2009
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Inter Milan keen on Aguero

Inter Milan technical director Marco Branca has confirmed they are interested in signing Atletico Madrid star Sergio Aguero.

The Argentine ace has been linked with several of Europe’s best club over the last few years.

“Like other players he has everything to be considered a top player, a really good player,” Branca told Corriere dello Sport.

“We admit following certain players from the many people who each weekend are going to watch matches for us.”

Branca insists they have not made any enquiries for the Atletico Madrid star.

“But we have not asked the price or opened a negotiation. Neither for him or other players,” added Branca

“Now we think only to the present.”

[Source: Corriere dello Sport]

Sat 28 February, 2009
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Walcott set for training return on Monday

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger expects England winger Theo Walcott to return to full training on Monday after four months out with a shoulder injury.

The 19-year-old has been sidelined since November after an operation on the shoulder injury he suffered in a collision with England team-mate Scott Parker during a training session ahead of their friendly with Germany in Berlin.

Walcott’s return is perfectly timed as the Gunners are without a host of creative players including Cesc Fabregas, Eduardo and Tomas Rosicky.

“Theo will join in on normal training on Monday and then we will see how he behaves with challenges,” Wenger said.

Sat 28 February, 2009
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Ronaldo should join Real Madrid, says Figo – report

Manchester United’s star striker Cristiano Ronaldo should join Spanish giants Real Madrid, fellow Portuguese player Luis Figo said Saturday.

“Real Madrid is the most important club in the world, the best club in the world. I think Ronaldo has already wrapped up a stage at United,” the Inter Milan midfielder told Spanish sports daily Marca.

“He has won everything he can with the English club, which is another great club, but he should have other goals now, other ambitions, and Real Madrid would allow him to achieve more importance, more relevancy,” he added.

“That is what I have told him. I don’t know what he thinks now,” the 36-year-old former Real player added.

Real tracked Ronaldo all of last summer following his Champions League and English Premiership triumphs and 42 goals across the campaign before United boss Sir Alex Ferguson stepped in and emphatically vetoed his departure.

But Spanish media continue to insist that the 2008 Ballon d’Or and FIFA World Footballer of the Year will join Real at the end of the season. Ronaldo added to the speculation in January when he told Spanish television he was learning Spanish.

The 24-year-old playmaker is under contract with United until 2012.

Figo joined Real in 2000 after five seasons with Barcelona, in a controversial move which intensified the great rivalry between the two clubs.

Sat 28 February, 2009
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Rooney eyes quadruple for ´stronger´ Man Utd

Wayne Rooney believes Manchester United have a stronger squad than last year as they try to win the first part of a quadruple haul of trophies on Sunday.

United face Tottenham in the League Cup final at Wembley before they attempt to retain their Premier League and Champions League titles and win the FA Cup.

Rooney told Saturday’s Sun newspaper: “I hope the quadruple is possible. We have a great chance in the Carling (League) Cup, we’re in a good position in the league, the quarter-finals of the FA Cup and have a good chance of reaching the same stage in the Champions League.

“It will be hard work to win them all but we are positive and that’s what we’re aiming to do.

“We are stronger than last season when we won the double.

“And winning the Champions League has given us an added confidence and belief which has brought us on.”

Rooney, 23, said that lifting the League Cup — the least important of England’s cup competitions — at Wembley stadium was something he had dreamed of since childhood.

“I still remember going to the old Wembley as a kid to watch Everton beat United in the FA Cup final,” he said.

“It was an amazing occasion and something that has always stuck in my mind. To play in a major final is still a dream come true for me.

“The Carling Cup was the first trophy I won with United, in Cardiff, and something I want to win again badly.

“The fact it is at such an amazing place like Wembley now obviously makes it more special.”

United boss Alex Ferguson has vowed to field inexperienced starlets Danny Welbeck, Darron Gibson and Jonny Evans on Sunday.

Sat 28 February, 2009
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Arsenal look to replicate Euro form in EPL

Arsene Wenger is desperate to see his Arsenal side start translating their European form into a sustained Premier League challenge.

Not so long ago, the north Londoners would routinely swat aside all-comers in the domestic league while labouring horribly once they confronted the cream of European opposition.

Now, however, that scenario has been turned on its head, with Arsenal finding sweet relief from their Premier League travails in the Champions League.

Wenger’s preference for continental opposition cannot simply be measured in results, although they are undoubtedly impressive.

His team has not lost at home in 23 European games, no goals have been conceded in five Champions League ties at the Emirates this season and, after Tuesday’s 1-0 win over AS Roma, a place in the quarter-finals is beckoning.

The Frenchman will take heart from those statistics, but his real appreciation for European occasions comes in the freedom they allow his young side.

While the continental elite will generally back themselves to expose Arsenal’s soft centre at the Emirates, Premier League sides invariably think better of it, swamping midfield in an effort to squeeze the space and relying on one, muscle-bound target man to serve as an attacking outlet.

This ultra-pragmatic approach has earned some of the top flight’s lesser lights invaluable points at Arsenal this season, with Sunderland the latest to profit last weekend, when a goalless draw cost the Gunners the opportunity to move closer to fourth-placed Aston Villa, who were beaten by Chelsea.

Wenger is notoriously sniffy about the lack of ambition displayed by some of his side’s opponents, to the point where they were dominating his thoughts even in the wake of the victory over Roma.

“The difference between the game against Roma and the one against Sunderland was that both teams tried to play and go forward,” Wenger said. “I believe that the games are locked in the Premier League because the teams refuse to play.

“When teams don?t come out, the game doesn?t go up and down. We had no space on Saturday and as long as you don?t score the first goal, that is what you get.

“In a game like the one against Roma, both teams take the initiative when they win the ball back. That isn?t the case at the moment in the Premier League.”

Wenger has suggested that Arsenal need to find a way of “punishing” sides who refuse to attack them on home soil, and they should have another opportunity to fine-tune that art when Fulham make the short journey to the Emirates on Saturday.

The Cottagers side boast the second-worst away record in the Premier League, having failed to win on the road in the league all season, and manager Roy Hodgson is unlikely to tell his players to commit to all-out attack.

Nonetheless, Fulham will not be anything less than doughty.

Hodgson’s team has already held Liverpool to a goalless draw at Anfield and, while they capitulated miserably at Manchester United in their most recent trip to one of the established ‘Big Four’, that was an unusually limp performance.

“Going to United and not performing well left a bad taste and we knew we needed to get back to the basics,” Clint Dempsey, the striker, said. “We need to be a team that can do it away from home and we?ll continue to work hard to correct that.

“It?ll definitely be a tough game but we?ll give them a good match and the last time we played them at home we won. We have to go there being positive and try and get forward and score goals. We?re trying to do everything we can to stay in the top 10 and push on from there.”

Sat 28 February, 2009
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Manchester City, Klinsmann in and Robinho out?

The Daily Mail writes that Manchester City will listen to offers for their Brazil striker Robinho this summer. According to sources close to City’s Arab owners in the Middle East, the Barclays Premier League club — who last night denied they had sounded out Bayern Munich’s Jurgen Klinsmann about becoming their next manager — will cut their losses on England’s best-paid player if they receive an acceptable offer.

Ironically, current City boss Mark Hughes has targeted Bayern’s France forward Franck Ribery as someone he would like to sign and he also has an interest in Barcelona’s Thierry Henry.

Sat 28 February, 2009
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United, Rooney wants a trophy at Wembley

Wayne Rooney is aiming to fulfil a boyhood dream tomorrow by lifting a trophy at Wembley. “The Carling Cup was the first trophy I won with United, in Cardiff, and something I want to win again badly”, The Sun reported Rooney said. “The fact it is at such an amazing place like Wembley now obviously makes it more special.”

Rooney said: “After the Inter Milan game we were all trying to name the team for Sunday because everyone wants to play in it. Also we know that if you can win a trophy at the beginning of March it can give give you that extra confidence to kick on and win more. So all the players want to win.”

Sat 28 February, 2009
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