Ancelotti: Cole to play, discipline no problem

Ashley Cole will play for Chelsea against Manchester United despite being disciplined for shooting a work experience boy with an air rifle.

Cole has apologised for Sunday’s incident, described as an ‘accident’ by Chelsea after players messed around with the rifle at the club’s training ground at Cobham, and is also expected to be fined by the club.

The accident left student Tom Cowan requiring treatment, but not seriously injured. And it seems Cole has escaped calls for him to be sacked.

Manager Carlo Ancelotti said: “He will play tomorrow, yes. Obviously we are not happy with what happened but I have spoken with him. He was really disappointed about this, he said sorry – he made a mistake, it was an accident. Now we are taking proper action but tomorrow he will play and I think he is in focus to play a good game.”

When it was suggested Cole should be sacked, Ancelotti was adamant the English Premier League club would stand by the player and denied discipline was a problem in his squad.

“No, there is no way for this. He’s our player. He always took very good behaviour here. He made a mistake, he knows this. Now we have to move on,” he said.

“When one player said sorry it’s difficult to do different. We have to take our decision.”

“Cobham is not out of control. Cobham has discipline, the players have to respect this. If some players step over the line, we take a decision. This is normal life.”

“But I think from outside nobody can say it’s out of control. They are not here. We have internal discipline. We don’t want to speak about it. It’s not true that there is no discipline here.”

“You can judge the players on the pitch, and on it they are showing respect for referees and for the fans. This is what we have to judge, not other things.”

“He said sorry to everyone. He said sorry to the guy that was involved in this and second to his teammates and third sorry to the club.”

“He’s a good player, a fantastic player, maybe he did a mistake in this situation but he remains a very good player and in my opinion and very good professional.”

Cole will line up against United in a match that could have a huge impact on the Premier League title race, even if Chelsea – at 15 points in arrears – are now almost certainly too far behind the leaders to win the championship themselves.

Ancelotti said: “It’s a very important game for them, for us – a very important game for the future of Man United and of Chelsea. We are excited to play this game. We are in a very good moment, we have confidence to win.”

“It will not be easy because Man United until now is the best team in the Premier League but we hope to play our game and to win.”

“For us it’s important to win to improve our confidence. It will be a good step.”

Ancelotti refused to say whether Didier Drogba and Fernando Torres would both line up against United but said both players would have ‘some minutes’ on the pitch and gave his backing to Torres, who is yet to score since a 50 million-pound move from Liverpool in January.

“For a striker, it is obviously very important to score,” he said.

“But over the last games he played really well. He had four opportunities to score with just the keeper and he moved really well for the team. I was really happy about his performance. He would prefer to score but he will score.”

Mon 28 Feb, 2011
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No FA sanction for Rooney

Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney has escaped punishment from the Football Association following his elbow on Wigan’s James McCarthy.

The England striker appeared to catch the Wigan midfielder on the side of the head in the opening ten minutes of United’s 4-0 English Premier League win over Roberto Martinez’s Wigan on Saturday.

Referee Mark Clattenburg saw the incident and decided to award a free-kick against Rooney but stopped short of showing a card to the United man, who scored his side’s third goal of the game.

Wigan manager Martinez felt the England international should have been sent off for the challenge, while United manager Sir Alex Ferguson admitted he was bracing himself for a media storm to be created following the incident.

But after receiving Clattenburg’s report, the FA – who could have used video evidence to charge the forward with violent conduct – opted to take no further action against Rooney.

Clattenburg told the FA on Monday that he felt he took the appropriate action, which under Premier League rules means the governing body cannot launch disciplinary proceedings against the 25-year-old.

The striker will now be available for United’s trip to reigning Premier League champions Chelsea on Tuesday.

Mon 28 Feb, 2011
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Mensing doping ban revealed

It has been revealed that Hamilton midfielder Simon Mensing served a month-long suspension for testing positive for a banned substance.

Mensing received notice of the ban in January from UK doping body UKAD after he tested positive for methylhexaneamine, but at the time his wife had just given birth and the club hinted he was unavailable because of family commitments.

Methylhexaneamine can boost the heart rate and is found in foods, medicines and dietary supplements.

Mensing took the supplement in September 2010, and UKAD sent out notice in November that methylhexaneamine was banned.

Mensing played his final game before the ban in Hamilton’s January 22 draw with Inverness, and said he would never knowingly ingest a banned substance.

“I did everything I could to check that it was alright,” Mensing said. “This whole saga has been a nightmare for me and my family.”

“I should make it clear that I would never have taken any banned substance in a million years – and made every effort to check in advance that the dietary supplement I did take was clean.”

“I am glad it has been recognised by the anti-doping authority that I did not know that the supplement was contaminated by something that I now know is called methylhexaneamine.”

“They also accepted that I had made no effort to improve enhance my performance as I did not know I had ingested the substance.”

“However, it still leaves a bitter taste that I have been prevented from playing because the rules are that if any substance is found in your body, whether you knew or not, then you bear responsibility.”

“It’s strict liability and that is very hard to take when you are completely innocent.”

“When I gave my routine urine sample at the end of the game on 29 December I told the testers I was taking this – I made no attempt to hide it.”

“What makes this even more of a nightmare is there was no way of knowing that this substance was in what appeared to be a perfectly good dietary supplement.”

“The whole saga has been hugely frustrating but my conscience is absolutely clear.”

The 28-year-old German-born Englishman returned to the Hamilton line up for their 1-1 draw with Dundee United at New Douglas Park on Saturday.

Mon 28 Feb, 2011
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Juve start search for new coach; Ronaldinho wants to return to the national team

Juve start search for new coach

Juventus are set to stick with Luigi Del Neri until the end of the season, but the Old Lady has reportedly singled out Fabio Capello and Luciano Spalletti to replace the coach next summer.

Gigi Del Neri’s position in the club has come under intense scrutiny after the home defeat to Bologna with Beppe Marotta admitting that the club were reviewing Del Neri’s position.

La Gazzetta dello Sport reports that Del Neri will be allowed to finish the season at Olimpico, but he will almost certainly be sacked at the end of the season.

The Bianconeri have already started searching for replacements, with club president Andrea Agnelli expected to contact his close friend Fabio Capello regarding the Juventus job.

Should the England boss reject the offer, the job will be offered to Zenit coach Luciano Spalletti, who’s been heavily linked to Juventus over the last few months.

Gigi Del Neri’s coaching methods failed to get the best out of the team and Juve are desperate for a fresh approach.

The Bianconeri need a coach who can stabilize the team as well as cope with the constant media pressure, so it is little wonder Fabio Capello and Luciano Spalletti are in the mix.

Ronaldinho wants return to the national team

Former Barcelona and Milan star Ronaldinho has revealed his main objective is to return to Brazil national team.

Ronaldinho yesterday lifted the Guanabara Cup after scoring the only goal of the game for his Flamengo.

Ronaldinho managed to kick-start his career after returning to Brazil, and he now wants to return to the national team.

“My goal is to get Flamengo to be known worldwide again. My goal is to return to the national team as soon as possible and help other players from Flamengo get there,” The Brazilian said.

He was euphoric after scoring the only goal of the game.

“It’s an indescribable emotion. At the time I took the free kick I had nothing on my mind, but then came the memories of Zico and Petkovic. They have scored many goals from free kicks. I am still euphoric.”

Ronaldinho is not the first player who got his career back on track after returning home, but he will need to continue his rich vein of form in order to receive a new Brazil call-up.

[Source: A Bola]

Roma set to sack Adriano

Roma are set to cancel Adriano’s contract with immediate effect, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport.

The Brazilian striker arrived to Roma from Flamengo last summer, but he continued causing problems, with his latest incident likely to prove the last drop.

Adriano returned from Brazil three days late before missing the appointment with the club’s doctor and that could cost him the chance to stay at the club.

“It’s impossible to continue defending Adriano. We have done all kinds of things for him since he joined Roma,” said sporting director Giampaolo Montali

“Nevertheless, we have no other choice but to take measures against him to protect the club’s interests.”

Adriano’s agent recently said that he didn’t expect his client to be punished for the latest mishap, but it looks as though Roma chiefs are fed up with the Brazilian and they are expected to rescind his contract in the coming days.

The problematic behaviour exhibited during his career has cost Adriano dearly and prevented him from realizing his undoubted potential, so he is unlikely to get another shot at playing at the biggest stage.

For more news about football transfers and rumours, visit our Transfer News section. To view all football transfers for 2010/11 season, visit our Soccer Transfers section.

Mon 28 Feb, 2011
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Moyes backs Arteta to fire

Everton manager David Moyes is hopeful a dominant display from Mikel Arteta on the weekend is a sign the Toffees playmaker is back to his best.

The 28-year-old has been at the heart of Everton’s prolonged period in the top reaches of the Premier League over the last few seasons, using his incisive delivery, particularly from set pieces, to set up numerous goals for his team-mates.

It is hardly surprising then, that a downturn in the Basque native’s form has coincided with a season where the Toffees have been particularly inconsistent, struggling to make an impression on the league’s top tier, despite impressing in the FA Cup.

This has been particularly concerning for Moyes after signing Arteta to a five-year contract over the summer.

But the manager believes his star weapon, who he compared favourably with Barcelona gun Andres Iniesta, could be set to fire once more after an impressive display in the 2-0 win over Sunderland last Saturday.

“Mikel’s form’s been a worry because we swam the channel to try and keep him last summer,” Moyes told the Liverpool Echo.

“Obviously Mikel’s form has not been as good as we thought it would be.”

“(But) I think there have been glimmers and signs in the last few weeks that he’s gaining a little bit of confidence.”

Moyes’ observations may be an ominous sign for Championship side Reading, who will travel to Goodison Park on Tuesday night to take on Everton in the fifth round of the FA Cup.

And Arteta himself says there are plenty of reasons for him to produce a big performance against the Royals.

“I didn’t get the chance to play in the (2009) final because I was injured,” the midfielder said of Everton’s heartbreaking loss to Chelsea two years ago.

“(So) Tuesday is a massive game.”

“It is the only chance now we have got to win something, so let’s beat Reading and that will make a big difference to the season.”

Mon 28 Feb, 2011
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Premier League preview: Chelsea v Manchester United

Chelsea head into their Premier League blockbuster with Manchester United on Tuesday rested and ready to win their way back into the top four.

Sir Alex Ferguson’s side have played twice since Chelsea defeated FC Copenhagen 2-0 in Denmark last week and the Blues will hope to benefit from the rest in potentially their last chance to be involved in the Premier League title race.

A win would lift Chelsea into fourth, one of the Champions League spots, and see them trail table-topping United by 12 points with a game in hand, leaving captain John Terry to describe the fixture as a must-win match.

“We are very confident at home and the way they (United) play might help us,” Terry said.

“I’m not sure how they are going to come at us but other teams that have come to the Bridge have sat back and we’ve found it hard to break them down. It is a must-win game for us and the fans are going to be up for it.”

Despite the fact last year’s Premier League runners-up were 4-0 winners at Wigan on Saturday, they have just won four league matches on the road this season and have not won at Stamford Bridge since a 3-0 triumph in 2002.

Chelsea’s three-pronged attack of Fernando Torres, Nicolas Anelka and Didier Drogba could also cause Manchester United real problems and although Torres is yet to score for his new club after a 50-million-pound deadline day move from Liverpool, a goal on Tuesday could make him a fan favourite.

Chelsea will miss midfielder Yossi Benayoun while Alex and Yuri Zhirkov are also likely to miss out with knee and calf concerns respectively.

The fixture, originally scheduled for December but postponed due to heavy snow, means Manchester United have two massive Premier League fixtures in less than a week.

After travelling to Chelsea on Tuesday, Ferguson’s side will travel to Merseyside in preparation for a match against Liverpool at Anfield on Sunday, in potentially a crucial week in the title race.

Nani, who has been one of the best performers all season for last year’s Premier League runners-up, said it is vitally important his side do not lose either of the two fixtures, with Arsenal snapping at their heels.

“We have some tough games coming up,” Nani said.

“It’s the most important period of the season and I think that if we can beat Chelsea and Liverpool then we’ll have a fantastic opportunity to win the league.”

“But that’s easy to say: it’s much harder to do it. Chelsea and Liverpool are fantastic teams and obviously they’re desperate to win as well. We know it won’t be easy.”

“Of course, we may not be able to win every game, and if we end up getting a draw against somebody then it’s not the end of the world. The important thing is not to lose.”

Manchester United are likely to be without defensive pair Jonny Evans and Rio Ferdinand due to ankle and calf injuries, while Anderson, Park Ji-Sung and Antonio Valencia are still weeks away from returning.

Mon 28 Feb, 2011
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Premier League and Carling Cup – Who’s Hot and Who’s Not

Who's Hot and Who's Not

  • Hot team
  • Great results for Manchester United, Everton, Aston Villa, West Ham and Wolves. However, there really is only one serious contender this week.

    Sometimes you have to hold your hands up and admit you are wrong. Yesterday I wrote that I didn’t like the way Birmingham play football and that I hoped they didn’t win the Carling Cup. As it turned out, they did win, they did play attacking football and they did deserve it.

  • Not Hot team
  • Bad day at the office for Wigan, Sunderland, Blackburn, Liverpool and Blackpool. Despite that, it was an even worse day for Arsenal.

    That was surely their best chance of ending their long run without a trophy. I know they were missing Fabregas and Walcott, but even so, it should have been their game. You have to ask now, are they ever going to win anything?

  • Hot keeper
  • He does seem to be making a bit of a habit out of picking up the man of the match award at the Carling Cup final, but Ben Foster showed once again what a class act he is.

  • Not Hot keeper
  • I don’t know if it was his fault or that of Koscielny, but Arsenal’s young keeper, Wojciech Szczesny, will long have nightmares about the mistake that cost Arsenal the chance to win a trophy.

  • Hot defender
  • Matty Upson and James Tompkins deserve a mention for their oustanding performance for West Ham against Liverpool, but I’m going for Birmingham centre back Roger Johnson. He is talented and brave as an lion.

    He may not be Birmingham’s captain but he is a true leader on the pitch. With a few minutes to go in the final, he picked up an injury and should have come off. I don’t know anyone who would have been brave enough to suggest it! You would have had to shoot him first!

  • Not Hot defender
  • Just last week I was saying how I may have misjudged Arsenal’s Laurent Koscielny. I was saying that he might actually be a decent centre-back who would be good enough to help Arsenal to trophy success. I said that maybe Arsene Wenger didn’t need a new defender in that position. I was wrong.

  • Hot midfielder
  • I have always thought that Birmingham’s Barry Ferguson was an over-rated player. This season however, I have started to grow to admire his workrate and his ability to play little passes, keep possession and get Birmingham going. Against the multi-talented Arsenal midfield yesterday, he was excellent.

  • Not Hot midfielder
  • He thought he was on the bench but an injury in the warm up to Joey Barton meant that Ryan Taylor had a chance to show Alan Pardew that he should get a regular place in the Newcastle starting eleven. When an unexpected chance like that comes along, you just have to grab it with both hands.

    What you don’t do is mis-control the ball and then in your anger and desire to win it back, fly into a dangerous and reckless two-footed tackle over the ball and run the risk of breaking a fellow professional’s leg. He looked distraught after he was shown the red card and he had every reason to do so.

  • Hot striker
  • Jermaine Beckford bagged a brace for Everton and showed that he can score goals at the top level. Hernandez bagged a brace for United and continued to show that he has a great future at the club. Ebanks-Blake bagged a brace for Wolves and showed that he might be able to do what he did in the championship, in the Premier League.

    I’m going to go for a man who only scored once, but made it four in four since he joined his club. Daniel Sturridge has been hugely promising for a long time now. He couldn’t find a way into Chelsea’s set up and they spent fifty million pounds to replace him when they sent him to Bolton on loan. I wonder if they’re regretting that now?

  • Not Hot striker
  • He’s had a far better season than many, including me, expected him to, but Blackpool’s DJ Campbell really let himself down on Saturday. OK, Wolves defender Stearman pushed him, but Campbell’s reaction was ridiculous. The referee had no choice but to send him off and Blackpool capitulated and fell to a confidence sapping 4-0 defeat.

    They will now have to cope without their top scorer for three games. It really was very silly.

    Mon 28 Feb, 2011
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    Montella rues late lapse

    Roma manager Vincenzo Montella was disappointed after his side threw away a two-goal lead against Parma on Sunday.

    For the ninth time this season, Roma dropped points from a winning position after Amauri’s late double salvaged a point for Pasquale Marino’s side at the Stadio Olimpico in the exciting 2-2 draw.

    The result leaves Roma in sixth position on the Serie A table, leaving them five points behind fourth-placed Lazio, who occupy the last of the Champions League spots.

    “We concede far too many goals in the final half hour,” Montella said.”It isn’t a question of players or formation but simply a dip in concentration. This side has suffered this lapse all season and we must work to put this right.”

    “I liked what I saw during the first half and this gives me confidence going forward,” he said.

    “After the break we were missing (David) Pizarro who is fundamental for our particular way of playing.”

    “We believe a lot in the fourth place, very much and also after today’s result and today’s performance, because, I repeat, there were positive signals.”

    Roma are close to terminating the contract of Brazilian striker Adriano after he failed to attend a medical.

    The forward, who signed a three-year deal in June, has been in his home country to receive treatment on a dislocated shoulder and has repeatedly delayed his return to Rome.

    He finally arrived last week but did not turn up to an organised medical, infuriating club director Gianpaolo Montali.

    “It’s true, the player did not turn up and will be given a heavy fine,” Montali said.

    “We tried in every way possible to look after this man when he came to Roma, but now the problem is that he is unprofessional. Adriano is indefensible.”

    Mon 28 Feb, 2011
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    Leonardo happy with Inter response

    Inter Milan boss Leonardo was happy his side bounced back from their midweek Champions League defeat with a Serie A victory on Sunday.

    After suffering a 1-0 loss to Bayern Munich in the first leg of their round-of-16 tie, Inter recovered to deny a buoyant Sampdoria 2-0 on Sunday.

    Wesley Sneijder scored the opener for Inter in the 73rd minute, before Samuel Eto’o sealed the result in the fourth minute of injury time.

    “I am satisfied with the result, as it was a very delicate match. After the loss to Bayern, it was important to win,” Leonardo told Sky.

    “Everyone played very well from Julio Cesar, to all the defence. (Dejan) Stankovic and Sneijder were extraordinary, as were (Giampaolo) Zanetti, (Javier) Pazzini, (Housine) Kharja and everyone else.”

    “Winning this evening, we had to claim more than just three points, as we are tired from our recent matches.”

    Inter sit second in the Serie A standings, though they could relinquish that place should third-place Napoli defeat leaders AC Milan on Monday.

    Leonardo, however, says he hopes his title rivals can play out a draw at the San Siro.

    “We are in an excellent position on the ladder, and tomorrow I will be supporting a draw. But thinking about us, the next three league matches will help us shape our future,” he said.

    Mon 28 Feb, 2011
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    Cup triumph my career highlight, says McLeish

    Birmingham manager Alex McLeish has labelled his side’s Carling Cup win his greatest achievement in football.

    Sunday’s last-gasp 2-1 victory over Arsenal at Wembley was a fortunate one for Birmingham, after Gunners goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny fumbled the ball, and on-loan striker Obafemi Martins was on hand to tap the winner into an empty net.

    McLeish said although City were facing an Arsenal outfit minus stars Cesc Fabregas and Theo Walcott, he was proud that they relished the challenge in a cup final and came out the winners.

    “It’s an achievement when you consider who we were up against,” said McLeish.

    “We weren’t given a prayer by the pundits and the bookies but we believed today. It was a titanic performance by the players.”

    “We had a game-plan and managed to get our noses in front, that gives you a great chance.”

    A frustrated Arsene Wenger accepted his side’s well-publicised title drought – they last won a trophy in the FA Cup in 2005 – will have to continue, but praised Arsenal’s attitude after a shattering defeat.

    “I wanted to end our wait for a trophy today,” he told Sky Sports.

    “The only thing you can guarantee is the quality of the performance and the attitude. That is of course very important for us. We will have to wait a little bit longer.”

    “We got what we expected from Birmingham – they are a team who fight very hard and cause a lot of problems from long balls,” the French boss said.

    “Both teams gave everything. Congratulations to them – they got the trophy – but we have regrets with the way we conceded the (second) goal.”

    “What can you say? You have to be positive because he (Szczesny) is a young boy. He has to pick himself up from that goal and hopefully he can do that.”

    Mon 28 Feb, 2011
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