Liverpool youth academy “unacceptable” – Borrell

(GSM) – Liverpool youth coach Rodolfo Borrell says the Liverpool youth academy is in an “unacceptable” condition. According to Borrell, the academy needs two years to be close to the right level.

“The reality of what we found here was unacceptable,” said Borrell, who joined nearly a year ago having previously worked with Cesc Fabregas and Lionel Messi in Barcelona’s youth system.

“The under-18s had no centre forward, no balance, no tactical level, no understanding of the game.

“We are working hard, but you can’t change things overnight.

“I think we have made a lot of progress over eight months, but we need to improve a lot more to get more players into the first team.

“I think if we keep working hard maybe in two years somebody can appear in the first team.”

This week the club signed England youth international Jonjo Shelvey from Charlton and Borrell believes that Liverpool ought to depend on English players.

“I agree – the best players to defend the Barca shirt are Catalan players, the best players to defend the Liverpool shirt are English players,” Borrell told the BBC.

Fri 30 April, 2010
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Stalemate nudges Marseille closer to title

Marseille edged closer to the French league title on Friday after a 0-0 draw at closest rivals Auxerre allowed them to preserve their five-point lead with three matches left.

The result meant that Marseille could capture a ninth title, and first since 1992, on Wednesday when Auxerre face Lyon before Marseille tackle Rennes at their Stade Velodrome home.

“It was a tight match and very tactical,” admitted Marseille skipper Mamadou Niang, who had one of his side’s best chances in a game of few real openings.

“Auxerre were very solid, they are not an easy team to break through. Overall I think it was a good point for both sides.

“As far as the title is concerned, it isn’t mathematically sealed, anything can happen. There are three matches left to play. We still have to play Rennes and that won’t be easy.”

A goalless draw on Friday was hardly a surprise as the top of table clash featured the league’s two meanest defences – Auxerre have conceded just 26 goals all season while Marseille have shipped 32.

While Auxerre relied on the counter-attack, Marseille were left to create the best chances with Lucho (21min), Mamadou Niang (60) and Brandao (68) all going close.

For the home side, Benoit Pedretti (53) and Ireneusz Jelen (87) almost broke the deadlock.

Auxerre skipper Pedretti was yellow-carded in the 20th minute for a crunching, knee-high tackle on Mathieu Valbuena while Marseille’s Brandao was fortunate not be sent off for an elbow in the face of Cedric Hengbart.

“It was a good point to take against a fine team such as Auxerre even if we had three good chances,” said Marseille captain Didier Deschamps

“Auxerre had one at the end. We have stayed in the same position with the same points difference to second place. It’s a step closer although there’s a little disappointment in the dressing room that we didn’t win.”

Auxerre boss Jean Fernandez was happy to take positives from a run which has seen his team lose just once in the last 20 league outings.

“There weren’t many chances tonight and the draw was fair. We were playing the best team in the league. I only have one regret – we were missing a little technical quality and we could have caused them a few more problems,” he said.

“I am neither disappointed nor frustrated. We have taken four points from six off Marseille this season and they haven’t scored against us.”

Fri 30 April, 2010
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Fulham cleared in ´weak team´ row

Fulham, buoyed by reaching the Europa League final, were celebrating again on Friday after being cleared of fielding a weak team in a Premier League match against Hull on March 27.

West Ham lodged an official complaint after Cottagers manager Roy Hodgson rested five key players for the 2-0 defeat at the KC Stadium, which allowed the Tigers to pull level with Gianfranco Zola’s relegation-threatened side on 27 points.

However, a Premier League spokesman said in a statement: “The Premier League board has obtained the observations of Fulham FC in regard to the complaint made by West Ham United about the team fielded by Fulham in their League fixture against Hull City on March 27.

“The board is of the view that no breach of rules has occurred in this case.”

Fri 30 April, 2010
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Leonardo hints at Milan uncertainty

(GSM) – Milan coach Leonardo has hinted that he could leave the San Siro at the end of the season after being criticised by club owner Silvio Berlusconi.

Berlusconi was reported to have told the Corriere dello Sport newspaper: “He will leave, we are working on a new coach.

“Leonardo has been too tough headed and the team has played badly this season.”

And the Brazilian coach, who stepped up from his role as club’s technical director to succeed Chelsea bound Carlo Ancelotti last May, has responded by saying: “I can’t deny our relationship is difficult. We are different, maybe incompatible.”

The inexperienced manager, who has been capped 60 times by his country, has failed to improve an ageing team.

The Rossoneri are third in Serie A being well adrift of top two, Internazionale and Roma, with in-form Sampdoria closing in to steal the third automatic Champions League spot.

“The important thing is these next three games,” added Leonardo.

Fri 30 April, 2010
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UEFA set date for Bayern´s Ribery appeal

Bayern Munich’s appeal against the three-match ban handed to Franck Ribery, which is set to keep him out of the Champions League final, will be heard by UEFA on May 5 in Nyon.

The Frenchman was shown a straight red card for treading on the foot of Lyon striker Lisandro Lopez in the first-leg semi-final on April 21 which Bayern won 1-0 in Munich.

UEFA handed down a three-match ban for “assault”, meaning Ribery missed the 3-0 second-leg win and also that he will miss the final in Madrid on May 22 against Italian side Inter Milan.

But Bayern are furious with the decision and want their star midfielder back for their first Champions League final since 2001.

“In detailing the reasons for their verdict from a jurisdictional point of view, UEFA said Ribery was guilty of assault,” said the club in a statement.

“Bayern cannot accept this verdict in any sense and holds that it is entirely false.

“The accusation of assault is inapplicable in this case.

“Ribery certainly cannot be accused of intentionally attempting to injure his opponent.

“The player in question, Lisandro Lopez of Olympique Lyon, was able to continue the match uninjured.”

Ribery is still available for Saturday’s Bundesliga clash against Bochum and the final league game of the season at Hertha Berlin on May 8, as well as the German Cup final against Werder Bremen on May 15.

Fri 30 April, 2010
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Is Darren Bent good enough for the big boys?

Darren+BentSunderland striker Darren Bent comes head to head with champions Manchester United on Sunday hoping to end the Red Devils chances of the Premier League title.

If some media reports are to be believed the England striker could be heading to Old Trafford in a big money move this summer.

Prolific

Darren Bent has been in superb goalscoring form this season and has scored 24 goals in the Premier League. The 26 year-old has scored goals at every club he’s been at, even at Tottenham where he was mostly used as a substitute.

He needs regular first team football to find his best form and at Sunderland he is the main focal point of the attack, rather than just a bit part player as he was at Tottenham.

Interest

Sunderland boss Steve Bruce has revealed recently that he will try his utmost to keep him with the Black Cats. He says he doesn’t need to sell his star striker and won’t be under any pressure to sell, whether Bent’s head is turned by interest from big clubs remains to be seen.

Manchester United and Arsenal (where he used to have a season ticket) are believed to be interested in signing the England international and a move to one of those could prove an attractive option. It could be his chance to prove he is good enough to play on the big stage. No offence to Sunderland but they won’t be able to offer European football next season.

Twit

One thing that really annoyed me about Bent was the fact that he constantly expressed his thoughts via the social networking site Twitter. Some of his comments made him look like a right twit though. It’s good to see he has now abandoned his Twitter page and started to concentrate on his football career. It seems to have done him some good.

Quality

There have been some question marks over Bent’s quality but I have to admit I’m a big fan and think he is capable of performing at the top level. When he moved to Tottenham I thought he would have pushed on and become a top class striker.

However he failed to nail down a regular first team spot at White Hart Lane and ended up frustrated on the substitute bench. The move to Sunderland last summer was just what he needed. The move has proved a success both for Bent and for the North East club.

World Cup

Steve Bruce believes Bent should be on the plane to South Africa with the England squad. It’s hard to argue with the former-Palace boss. Bent is a very useful option for England boss Fabio Capello. The forwards that Capello has available to him haven’t been in the best of form this season.

The likes of Peter Crouch and Emile Heskey haven’t exactly been prolific this campaign. Yet they seem to be above Bent in the pecking order. Bent has only made five appearances for the Three Lions but hasn’t really taken his chance at international level.

He does have all the attributes to make it at the top level and is at his peak age wise. He’s old enough to have gained vital experience, yet young enough to still have time to make a big impression on the big stage. He could be Fabio Capello’s ace in the hole in South Africa.

Next

This summer could be a big summer for Darren Bent’s career. If he goes to the World Cup and impresses then he could have more than just English clubs looking to acquire his services.

I can’t see Bent staying in the North East for much longer and I believe he’s used Sunderland as a stepping stone to bigger things. He’s taken his opportunity and this summer I can see him moving to a bigger club.

Fri 30 April, 2010
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S.Africa omit Morris from provisional World Cup squad

Spain-based defender Nasief Morris was the major omission as South Africa coach Carlos Alberto Parreira named a provisional 29-man World Cup squad Friday.

The Brazilian coach picked 10 Europe-based stars, including record scorer Benni McCarthy of West Ham and Steven Pienaar of Everton, but there was no place for Morris or former Blackburn Rovers midfielder Elrio van Heerden.

Omitting Morris of Racing Santander, the only South African playing in La Liga, caused most debate and fellow defender Matthew Booth believes his fall-out with former coach Joel Santana before the 2009 Confederations Cup cost the 29-year-old his place.

“I am a bit surprised, but considering what went on with Nasief and if there haven’t been any talks before now, then you could see he wasn’t going to make it,” said Booth.

“It might sound trite of me to say this because he is in my position, but it is a pity that we don’t have our strongest team available, and he would be in mine without a doubt.”

Nineteen of the players who returned here Friday from a training camp in Germany retained their places ahead of the June 11-July 11 tournament where South Africa are in Group A with France, Mexico and Uruguay.

“We have been preparing this process for three years and a lot of factors were taken into consideration,” Parreira told a news conference.

“I’m happy with the players we have selected and I want to concentrate on them, not those who didn’t make it. I know Nasief very well, but at this moment we have to move on with the squad we have named.”

With six players to be cut before they face Mexico in the June 11 opening match, South Africa have lined up four home friendlies, including Colombia on May 27 and Denmark on June 5.

Booth, a star of the Confederations Cup in South Africa last year, had been sweating about his inclusion after being overlooked for recent matches and admitted it was a relief to be selected.

“I’m very pleased. I fought very hard in Germany to remain in contention even though the coach has stuck with the same team throughout,” Booth said.

“Once the overseas players arrive he (Parreira) will be much happier and more settled because he will be able to work towards building a starting team.

“The coach has picked a lot of players from the Confederations Cup last year so at least there will be some sort of continuity.”

Booth now faces a direct fight with SuperSport United defender Morgan Gould for one of four likely central defence spots, although Gould must first prove his fitness after an ankle ligament injury and was not named in the provisional squad.

Gould said: “They know what my situation is right now but I haven’t heard anything. I think they probably just need to assess me and find out how far I am away from fitness before the final decision is made.”

Squad

Goalkeepers: Rowen Fernandez (Arminia Bielefeld/GER), Moeneeb Josephs (Orlando Pirates), Itumeleng Khune (Kaizer Chiefs), Shuaib Walters (Maritzburg Utd)

Defenders: Matthew Booth (Mamelodi Sundowns), Siboniso Gaxa (Mamelodi Sundowns), Innocent Mdledle (Mamelodi Sundowns), Bongani Khumalo (SuperSport Utd), Tsepo Masilela (Maccabi Haifa/ISR), Aaron Mokoena (Portsmouth/ENG, capt), Bryce Moon (PAOK/GRE), Anele Ngcongca (Racing Genk/BEL), Siyabonga Sangweni (Golden Arrows), Lucas Thwala (Pirates)

Midfielders: Franklin Cale (Sundowns), Surprise Moriri (Sundowns), Andile Jali (Pirates), Teko Modise (Pirates), Reneilwe Letsholonyane (Kaizer Chiefs), Siphiwe Tshabalala (Kaizer Chiefs), Lance Davids (Ajax Cape Town), Kagisho Dikgacoi (Fulham/ENG), Thanduyise Khuboni (Arrows), Steven Pienaar (Everton/ENG), Macbeth Sibaya (Rubin Kazan/RUS)

Strikers: Benni MaCarthy (West Ham/ENG), Katlego Mashego (Sundowns), Siyabonga Nomvete (Moroka Swallows), Bernard Parker (Twente/NED)

Note: Squad will be reduced to 23 players by June 1

Fri 30 April, 2010
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I am happy at Arsenal: Arshavin

(GSM) – Andrey Arshavin has dismissed fresh speculation linking him with Barcelona and insisted he is happy at Arsenal.

Gunners boss Arsene Wenger was unhappy after reports emerged with Arshavin claiming a move to Barcelona “would be the peak of my career”.

But the former Zenit St Petersburg striker, 28, warned the Arsenal fans not to read too much into such stories.

Arsenal midfielder answered, “I am often translated wrongly.

“If I talk to the English press, there is no problem, but when I say something in Russia, some special news agency takes it, translates it and sells these quotes.

“During the process of interpretation they translate my words as they see fit.

“I find this unpleasant. People might think I said something that, in fact, I never said,” he convinced.

Arshavin further said, “I respect the club and I am happy that I am a part of it.

“I am very grateful to the Arsenal fans, who love me,” he concluded.

Fri 30 April, 2010
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Liverpool won´t do us any favours: Ancelotti

Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti expects Liverpool to do everything in their power to beat his team on Sunday even if it means handing the title to bitter rivals Manchester United.

Ancelotti’s side are one point clear of second placed United with two matches to play and they can move within touching distance of the Premier League crown if they take three points at Anfield.

It has been suggested Liverpool may give less than 100 percent against Chelsea because they can’t stand the thought of Sir Alex Ferguson’s team landing a 19th English championship, which would surpass the Reds’ own record of 18 league titles.

If Chelsea win on Sunday and United lose at Sunderland later the same day, Chelsea will be champions for the first time since 2006.

But Ancelotti is convinced Rafael Benitez’s side, who can still claim fourth place and the Champions League spot that comes with it, have too much pride to surrender in front of their own fans.

“I don’t think about these mind games. Sunderland will do their best to beat Manchester United and Liverpool will do the same to beat us,” Ancelotti said.

“Every team has respect for the Premier League and every team has to do their best until the end of their matches.

“We have to play against fantastic players in a very difficult stadium with a very difficult atmosphere. We know how the fans of Liverpool support their team.

“It is very difficult to win at Anfield but we have to try. We have one more point than United and with two victories we can be champions.

“We have to stay focused on our game and not think about the result of the Sunderland v Man Utd game. If we win two games we will be champions.”

Liverpool’s morale and energy levels will have been damaged by Thursday’s Europa League semi-final exit against Atletico Madrid after the second leg went into extra time.

The Reds are also without injured star striker Fernando Torres, but Ancelotti refused to belittle Liverpool’s prospects.

“They played two hours so maybe they will be a little bit tired,” said Ancelotti.

“But I know very well that at Anfield I have never seen Liverpool tired. They play strong for 90 minutes and I am sure they will do the same on Sunday.

“To have Torres out is a disadvantage because he is one of the most important strikers in the world.

“That is a problem but the team that played on Thursday was a very good team. They lost but played a good match for me.”

Victories over Liverpool and then Wigan at Stamford Bridge next weekend will guarantee Ancelotti a first English title.

The former AC Milan boss knows he needs to deliver a major trophy after Chelsea’s Champions League exit to Jose Mourinho’s Inter Milan and has told his players to focus on 180 minutes which will define their season.

“It is 180 minutes until the end of the season and I think if we stay focused for every moment we will be champions,” Ancelotti said.

“We will have pressure before the game. This is normal because it is a very important game. We have to keep this under control.

“I’m not worried. We had a good week training here at Cobham. Maybe I will be worried at the end of the season if we don’t do well in these two games but I hope to be happy.

“At the start of the season our aim is to win something and with 15 days to the end of the season we are involved in two important competitions.”

Ancelotti, who is boosted by John Terry’s return from suspension, also revealed he hadn’t contacted former Chelsea boss Mourinho to congratulate him on Inter’s Champions League semi-final triumph against Barcelona this week.

“No, I didn’t text him,” Ancelotti said. “But I did send a text after the first game against Barcelona saying congratulations.”

Fri 30 April, 2010
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Babel disappointed after Euro exit

(GSM) – Liverpool forward Ryan Babel admitted that they were disappointed after a heartbreaking Euro exit at Anfield on Thursday and he is confident of getting good results ahead of Chelsea clash.

The Reds missed out on facing Fulham in the Europa League final after Diego Forlan gave Atletico Madrid the away goal they needed to progress in extra-time.

Babel told clubs website: “It hurts a lot because we controlled the game, more or less. We made one mistake and they scored.

“It’s frustrating when you know you are so close to a trophy and in the end it’s gone. It’s very disappointing.

“Obviously everyone was quiet and disappointed in the dressing room – nobody said a word. We all need to go home and then we’ll discuss things on Friday,” he explained the story after their defeat.

Babel concedes that he and his teammates had nothing left to give in extra-time following a high-tempo performance during the 90 minutes.

However, he is confident Liverpool can get good results Sunday’s home clash with Chelsea.

“It was difficult mentally for us to get that third goal,” said Babel.

“Definitely at the end of the season, when you have to play that extra 30 minutes against a good opponent, it’s difficult.

“But I don’t think it’s difficult to pick ourselves up now because it’s Chelsea and you always want to do well against the top four. The whole team will be ready.

“It’s difficult to say where this leaves our season but the focus should be on winning our two games and hoping our rivals for fourth place drop some points.

“You should always try to believe and think positive. If you think negative, you don’t get anything,” Reds forward suggested.

Fri 30 April, 2010
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