Former England boss Robson dies

Former England and Newcastle manager Bobby Robson died on Friday at the age of 76 after a long battle with cancer.

Robson, whose first brush with the disease that would ultimately claim him was in 1992, led England to the World Cup semi-finals in 1990 before leaving to manage a host of top European clubs including PSV Eindhoven, Sporting Lisbon, Porto, Barcelona and finally his boyhood team Newcastle.

A statement issued on behalf of his family said: “It is with great sadness that it has been announced today that Sir Bobby Robson has lost his long and courageous battle with cancer.

“He died very peacefully this morning (Friday) at his home in County Durham with his wife and family beside him.

“Sir Bobby’s funeral will be private and for family members only.

“A thanksgiving service in celebration of Sir Bobby’s life will be held at a later date for his many friends and colleagues.

“Lady Robson and the family would very much appreciate it if their privacy could be respected at this difficult time.”

As a youngster, Robson, born in County Durham, fell in love with football as he travelled with his father Philip and brother Ronnie 20 miles on the bus to watch the Newcastle team of the 1940s, which included the great Jackie Milburn.

Robson, whose father was a miner, had started to learn to be a pit engineer when he avoided a career underground by signing for Fulham, aged 17.

Through the 1950s and early 1960s he was a top midfielder with the London club and with West Bromwich Albion.

Robson was the first player to negotiate an image rights deal and was paid a fee of three guineas for his photo to appear on cigarette cards.

He won 20 England caps, and took part in the 1958 World Cup in Sweden.

His first managerial role came at Fulham, but he made his name during a successful reign at Ipswich from 1969 to 1982.

Under Robson’s astute leadership, Ipswich – an unheralded provincial club – became one of the most feared teams in England and their boss earned a reputation as one of the gentleman of British sport.

Ipswich won the FA Cup in 1978, beating Arsenal 1-0 in the final, and enjoyed European glory for the first time in 1981 with victory over Dutch side AZ 67 Alkmaar in the UEFA Cup final.

A year later Robson was appointed England coach and, after missing out on qualification for the 1984 European Championships, he took England to the quarter-finals of the World Cup in 1986.

England’s run in Mexico ended in controversial circumstances when Diego Maradona’s infamous ‘hand of god’ goal and a brilliant solo effort handed Robson’s team a 2-1 defeat.

“It wasn’t the hand of God, it was the hand of a rascal,” Robson said.

By the time England reached the 1990 World Cup in Italy, Robson had grown tired of the pressures of the job and revealed he would leave to take charge at PSV after the tournament.

He almost went out on a high as England, inspired by a young Paul Gascoigne, reached the last four for the first time since winning the competition in 1966.

A heart-breaking penalty shoot-out defeat to West Germany ended Robson’s England reign, but he was to enjoy more success for the rest of his career.

With his reputation restored, Robson won the Dutch league twice with PSV, then went on to Sporting Lisbon and Porto in Portugal, where he won more championships.

A move to Barcelona in 1996 was perhaps the biggest job in his club career, and he led them to Spanish Cup and Cup Winners’ Cup success in Europe before he briefly became general manager.

In 1999 he made a romantic return to Newcastle at the age of 66 but was unable to end the club’s long wait for silverware.

Robson was knighted in 2002 but two years later Newcastle chairman Freddy Shepherd sacked him despite a fifth place finish in the Premier League the previous season.

His last job in football came in 2006 when he was a consultant to the rookie Republic of Ireland boss Steve Staunton.

Robson was first diagnosed with cancer in 1992 while working in Holland and when he was 62 a malignant tumour was detected in his head.

A routine check-up in February 2007 revealed more tumours on his lungs. This time they were inoperable.

He devoted his time to raising cash for the fight against cancer and launched the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.

He finally admitted cancer was going to kill him, saying: “I have accepted what they have told me and I am determined to make the most of what time I have left..

“But then everyone has to go some time, and I have enjoyed every minute.”

Sir Bobby is survived by his wife Lady Elsie and their three children, Andrew, Paul and Mark.

Fri 31 July, 2009
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Nigeria strike Kanu close to Portsmouth deal

Nwankwo Kanu is close to agreeing a new one-year contract with Premier League club Portsmouth, according to the Nigeria striker’s agent.

Kanu’s present deal ran out at the end of last season but the former Arsenal star and his agent Samuel Okoronkwo have been in discussions with Fratton Park chief executive Peter Storrie and expect a new contract to be settled soon.

Paul Hart’s side are short on strikers following Peter Crouch’s move to Tottenham and manager Paul Hart has invited Kanu to join his team-mates on their pre-season tour to Portugal.

Okoronkwo said in The News: “Kanu is in Portugal with the rest of the team. He would not be out in Portugal if he was not close to having a new contract.

“His presence with the team is sufficient expression of how close we are. There is a situation at Portsmouth being handled by Peter Storrie.

“But as far as my client is concerned though, his commitment to the club is total. Peter (Storrie) and I have had very productive discussions and talks are progressing very well.

“The understanding is there and the commitment is there. The i’s will be dotted and the t’s crossed shortly. I’m sure whatever is not finalised will soon be sorted.

“The conditions are right and both sides are comfortable with Kanu remaining at Portsmouth for another season.”

Fri 31 July, 2009
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Mutu to pay Chelsea £14.5m in damages

The Court of Arbitration for Sport has rejected an appeal made by Fiorentina striker Adrian Mutu against an order to pay Chelsea £14.5m in damages. The Blues sacked the Romania international in 2005 after he tested positive for cocaine. “The Court of Arbitration for Sport has today dismissed the appeal filed by the Romanian football player, Adrian Mutu, against the decision rendered by the FIFA Dispute Resolution Chamber on May 7, 2008 in which he was order to pay €17,173,990 in compensation… for breach of contract,” a statement read.

Fri 31 July, 2009
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Panucci: “I just want to focus on Parma”

Speaking at his official unveiling, the 36-year-old defender Christian Panucci said he was ready for a new challenge after eight years in Rome. “My relationship with Roma is over. I have no regrets. I gave everything there and now I just want to focus on Parma,” he explained. “I am happy to be here and this is a big challenge for me, a very important battle. At 36, I want to show that I can still prove myself at the highest levels. I was close to joining Milan before Parma, but then it fell through. They didn’t want to know anymore and it upset me because a shaken hand is more important than a signed piece of paper,” Panucci concluded.

Fri 31 July, 2009
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Diego will not play against Real Madrid

Juventus new signing Diego will miss tonight’s Peace Cup semi-final against Real Madrid with a muscular problem, according to the club’s website. The 24-year-old Brazil international only made his debut on Tuesday, scoring a goal in a 3-0 victory over Korean side Seongnam. “Diego signalled a problem to his right leg at the end of the final training session this morning,” a statement read. “After the first examination, it’s nothing serious, but he will not play during tonight’s fixture against Real Madrid following a decision from the club’s medical and technical staff.“Diego will now be rested for the next 48 hours and his condition will be evaluated afterwards,” the statement concluded.

Fri 31 July, 2009
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Eto’o: “I intend to earn our fans’ respect day by day”

“I’m Samuel Eto’o and I am like no one else: what I’ve achieved so far says it all. Ibrahimovic is a star, I wish him all the best in a team that I will always love. He may have kissed his new shirt, but I intend to earn our fans’ respect day by day, out there on the pitch. It will happen one day at a time, not by signing a piece of paper. Ibrahimovic can do what he wants: if he wants to kiss the shirt, so be it.” – said the Cameroon international.

Problem with Mourinho Someone, somewhere dragged up a sentence once said about Mourinho: “I don’t like his football, I’ll never play for him.” The Cameroon international firmly denied it and confirmed he’d been wooing him for some time: “I have never said anything against Mourinho, I’ve wanted to work with him for years and now I’ve got the chance to do it. I’m very happy to have him as my coach and I’ll work hard to show him he was right to believe in me.”

Fri 31 July, 2009
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31/07/09: Transfer Rumors

‘Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger looks set to step up his interest in Bordeaux’s £12m-rated Moroccan striker Marouane Chamakh.’ – L’Equipe

‘Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez is holding out for £30m following Xabi Alonso’s transfer request, with Real Madrid having already offered £24m.’ – The Guardian

‘Liverpool have been offered Negredo, Rafael Van der Vaart or Klas Jan Huntelaar as a part of the Xabi Alonso transfer deal by Real Madrid.’ – AS

‘England midfielder David Beckham insists he is happy at the Los Angeles Galaxy in America despite last week’s ugly confrontation with spectators during his first home game for the club after returning from a five-month loan spell in Italy with AC Milan.’ – Sky Sports

‘Manchester United will launch a £35m bid for Bayern Munich midfielder Franck Ribery in two weeks.’ – The Sun

‘Mark Hughes is set to offer £22m for Joleon Lescott, with Everton so far unwilling to release their defender to Manchester City.’ – Daily Express

‘Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is targeting Roma midfielder Daniele de Rossi, with the Italian star valued at around £30m.’ – The Independent

‘It looks like a busy time for the Gunners with St Etienne’s defensive midfielder Blaise Matuidi being lined up for a move, while midfield legend Patrick Vieira is set to return and be his mentor.’ – Daily Mail

‘Ghanaian midfielder Derek Boateng will leave Cologne for the Spanish club Getafe’ – Official site (1. FC Köln)

‘Liverpool are keen on signing Roma midfielder Alberto Aquilani.’ – The Independent

‘Portsmouth are close to signing Australian striker Mark Viduka on a one-year deal after they failed to get Croatia’s Nikola Kalinic.’ – Daily Mail

‘West Brom have offered £1.5m for Real Betis winger David Odonkor.’ – The Sun

‘Nicolas Dieuze will sign a two year contract with Le Havre from Grenoble’ – Official site (Le Havre)

‘Uruguayan striker Ernesto Javier Chevantón is “waiting for something new” regarding a possible departure from Spanish Club Sevilla FC’ – Marca

‘Malaga have signed Albert Luque and Edinho.’ – Official site (Malaga)

‘Hull City manager Phil Brown has confirmed the club’s interest in Newcastle’s Senegalese defender Habib Beye.’ – Sky Sports

‘Former Swiss international defender Stephan Keller has committed to a season with Sydney FC, after the 30-year-old became a free agent on leaving Dutch club De Graafschap last summer’ – L’Equipe

‘Frédéric Piquionne could soon join the Premier League and Portsmouth, Lyon and Pompey currently negotiating a loan deal with an option to purchase the forward.’ – L’Equipe

Fri 31 July, 2009
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Ronaldo sale forces Fergie to change tactics

Alex Ferguson admits Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure to Real Madrid has forced him to change the way Manchester United will play this season.

Ferguson often set up his team with three central midfielders last season to allow Ronaldo a free role.

That allowed Ferguson to get the best out of Ronaldo, while keeping a solid defensive base, and the Portugal winger responded with over 60 goals in the last two season.

But after Ronaldo’s world record 80 million pounds sale, Ferguson wants more goals from all his players and he has been experimenting with different combinations in midfield and attack.

In an interview in Inside United, posted on manutd.com, Ferguson said: “Obviously Cristiano is a big loss in terms of the goals he gave us.

“But we will just have to find the goals from somewhere else and our tactics will adjust accordingly. Fans will see us playing a slightly different style of football this season.”

Ferguson has already used Wayne Rooney more as a central striker, rather than playing him out wide as he did last season.

“Usually you look to score about 100 goals in all competitions, so we are aiming for that again,” Ferguson said. “If we are going to win the league again or do well in Europe we certainly need players to step up.

“Going back a few years, we could always guarantee goals from Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs and David Beckham, who always pitched in with about 10 a season.

“Those goals from midfield have dried up a little in recent years, so we have to address that.

“I will be looking to Park Ji-Sung, Nani, (Luis Antonio) Valencia – even (Danny) Welbeck and (Federico) Macheda – to contribute 40 goals between them. The defenders will contribute a few from set-pieces too.”

Fri 31 July, 2009
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Legendary England football boss Robson dies

Former England and Newcastle manager Sir Bobby Robson died on Friday at the age of 76 after a long battle with cancer.

Robson, whose first brush with the disease that would ultimately claim him was in 1992, led England to the World Cup semi-finals in 1990 before leaving to manage a host of top European clubs including PSV Eindhoven, Sporting Lisbon, Porto, Barcelona and finally his boyhood team Newcastle.

A statement issued on behalf of his family said: “It is with great sadness that it has been announced today that Sir Bobby Robson has lost his long and courageous battle with cancer.

“He died very peacefully this morning (Friday) at his home in County Durham with his wife and family beside him.

“Sir Bobby’s funeral will be private and for family members only.

“A thanksgiving service in celebration of Sir Bobby’s life will be held at a later date for his many friends and colleagues.

“Lady Robson and the family would very much appreciate it if their privacy could be respected at this difficult time.”

Ipswich opened a book of remembrance for Robson ahead of Friday’s friendly with Real Valladolid and a minute’s silence was held during training at Newcastle, while the club’s St James’ Park stadium was opened for fans to lay tributes.

As a mark of respect, flags at the Civic Centre in Newcastle were lowered in tribute, while Barcelona, PSV Eindhoven and Ipswich all released statements expressing their sympathy to Robson’s family and saluting his achievements with their teams.

As a youngster, Robson, born in County Durham, fell in love with football as he travelled with his father Philip and brother Ronnie 20 miles on the bus to watch the Newcastle team of the 1940s, which included the great Jackie Milburn.

Robson, whose father was a miner, had started to learn the same trade when he avoided a career underground by signing for Fulham, aged 17.

Through the 1950s and early 1960s he was a top midfielder with the London club and with West Bromwich Albion.

Robson was the first player to negotiate an image rights deal and was paid a fee of three guineas for his photo to appear on cigarette cards.

He won 20 England caps, and took part in the 1958 World Cup in Sweden.

His first managerial role came at Fulham, but he made his name during a successful reign at Ipswich from 1969 to 1982.

Under Robson’s astute leadership, Ipswich – an unheralded provincial club – became one of the most feared teams in England and their boss earned a reputation as one of the gentleman of British sport.

Ipswich won the FA Cup in 1978, beating Arsenal 1-0 in the final, and enjoyed European glory for the first time in 1981 with victory over Dutch side AZ 67 Alkmaar in the UEFA Cup final.

A year later Robson was appointed England coach and, after missing out on qualification for the 1984 European Championships, he took England to the quarter-finals of the World Cup in 1986.

England’s run in Mexico ended in controversial circumstances when Diego Maradona’s infamous ‘hand of god’ goal and a brilliant solo effort handed Robson’s team a 2-1 defeat.

“It wasn’t the hand of God, it was the hand of a rascal,” Robson said.

By the time England reached the 1990 World Cup in Italy, Robson had grown tired of the pressures of the job and revealed he would leave to take charge at PSV after the tournament.

He almost went out on a high as England, inspired by a young Paul Gascoigne, reached the last four for the first time since winning the competition in 1966.

A heart-breaking penalty shoot-out defeat to West Germany ended Robson’s England reign, but he was to enjoy more success for the rest of his career.

With his reputation restored, Robson won the Dutch league twice with PSV, then went on to Sporting Lisbon and Porto in Portugal, where he won more championships.

A move to Barcelona in 1996 was perhaps the biggest job in his club career, and he led them to Spanish Cup and Cup Winners’ Cup success in Europe before he briefly became general manager.

In 1999 he made a romantic return to Newcastle at the age of 66 but was unable to end the club’s long wait for silverware.

Robson was knighted in 2002 but two years later Newcastle chairman Freddy Shepherd sacked him despite a fifth place finish in the Premier League the previous season.

His last job in football came in 2006 when he was a consultant to the rookie Republic of Ireland boss Steve Staunton.

Robson was first diagnosed with cancer in 1992 while working in Holland and when he was 62 a malignant tumour was detected in his head.

A routine check-up in February 2007 revealed more tumours on his lungs. This time they were inoperable.

He devoted his time to raising cash for the fight against cancer and launched the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.

He finally admitted cancer was going to kill him, saying: “I have accepted what they have told me and I am determined to make the most of what time I have left.

“But then everyone has to go some time, and I have enjoyed every minute.”

Sir Bobby is survived by his wife Lady Elsie and their three children, Andrew, Paul and Mark.

Fri 31 July, 2009
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Leonardo repeats reinforcements demand

AC Milan lost their fifth pre-season match in a row and new coach Leonardo has reiterated his call for new signings at the seven-time European champions.

Milan lost on penalties to Boca Juniors following a 1-1 draw in the Audi Cup in Munich on Thursday evening.

That followed a 4-1 defeat to hosts Bayern Munich the day before and three defeats out of three in the World Football Challenge in the United States against Club America, Chelsea and Inter Milan before that.

Former Brazil star Leonardo remained upbeat despite the defeat but has once again pleaded with his bosses to bring in new players.

“This squad is not sufficient for all the commitments we have, we need to add a couple of players,” he said.

Since the end of last season Milan have sold former world player of the year Kaka to Real Madrid for 67 million euros, seen Paolo Maldini retire and sent David Beckham back to Los Angeles and Andrei Shevchenko back to Chelsea after the end of their loan periods.

Coming into the club have been American defender Oguchi Onyewu on a free transfer from Standard Liege, Brazilian centre-back Thiago Silva and former Italy full-back Massimo Oddo, who has returned from a loan spell at Bayern Munich.

But the team have been left looking short in attacking and creative positions.

They have not won Serie A since 2004, since when their only trophy has been the 2007 Champions League.

Fri 31 July, 2009
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