Henry preaches long-term thinking for Reds

Liverpool owner John Henry revealed the club’s transfer policy is all about building for the future.

Henry is the head of the Fenway Sports Group, which bought Liverpool in October and quickly won favour with the fans after installing club icon Kenny Dalglish as the new manager.

And although they invested over 50 million pounds in January – albeit from player sales – Henry said he will not be rushed into making big-money purchases for the sake of it, explaining that the club’s policy would be focused on the long-term, instead of short-term fixes.

“Speculation on players shouldn’t include those of a certain age,” Henry posted on social networking website Twitter.

“We are not going to be successful by merely filling short-term needs at LFC.”

Liverpool have already bought 21-year-old midfielder Jordan Henderson from Sunderland for 16 million pounds during this transfer window and they were also keen on signing 18-year-old striker Connor Wickham, who eventually joined the Black Cats from Ipswich Town.

His comments prompted a series of questions from fans of the Anfield outfit, who expressed their concern that rivals Manchester United had already spent approximately 50 million pounds on securing the services of David De Gea, Ashley Young and Phil Jones.

“Everything in sports is overpriced now – especially the cost of winning,” Henry responded.

“But you make your choices based on a plan. Some things happen early and some late. The important thing is that things happen. Sometimes what you avoid is important.”

Thu 30 June, 2011
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Brazil, Norway secure tight victories

Brazil and Norway both enjoyed narrow first-up wins in Group D at the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Germany on Wednesday.

Brazil, the 2007 runners-up, were pushed all the way by Australia in Moenchengladbach before escaping with a 1-0 win.

The Australians gave as good as they got in the first half, with forwards Kyah Simon and Lisa De Vanna both spurning good chances.

They were made to pay nine minutes after half-time when they failed to deal with a bouncing ball on the edge of the box and Brazil midfielder Rosana was on hand to lash the ball past Australian goalkeeper Melissa Barbieri.

Despite the best efforts of Australia, that was where the score line stayed as Brazil moved to the top of Group D.

Joining them there are Norway, who had an 84th-minute strike from Emilie Haavi to thank for their 1-0 win over Equatorial Guinea, who were making their World Cup debut.

Wed 29 June, 2011
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Bangladesh, Palestine earn qualifying wins

Bangladesh and Palestine moved closer to second-round qualifying in Asia for the 2014 FIFA World Cup on Wednesday.

Bangladesh comfortably accounted for Pakistan 3-0 at the Bangabandhu Stadium in their first-round first-leg, thanks to goals from Zahid Hasan Emily, Mohamed Zahid Hossain and Rethul Karim.

Pakistan coach Tariq Lutfi has a mountain of work to do to pick his side up before Sunday’s return leg in Lahore if they are to book a spot in the second round to face Lebanon.

Palestine, meanwhile, had goals from Murad Alyan and Ismail Al Amour to thank for their 2-0 win over Afghanistan at the Metallurg Stadium.

Sri Lanka and the Philippines head into their second-round match locked at 1-1, after Nate Burkey’s 50th minute equaliser cancelled out Sri Lankan Chathura Gunarathna’s first-half opener.

Cambodia twice came from behind before claiming a 4-2 win over Laos, who will now have it all to do in the second leg on Sunday if they are too tee up a second-round clash with China.

A 71st minute strike from Ju Manu Rai handed Nepal a 2-1 win over East Timor, and a goal from Tsend-Ayush Khurelbaatar three minutes before half-time gave Mongolia a 1-0 win over Myanmar.

Wed 29 June, 2011
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Black Cats sign Wickham

Sunderland have signed 18-year-old striker Connor Wickham from Ipswich on a four-year deal for an initial fee of eight million pounds.

Wickham had been a target for a host of English Premier League clubs, including Liverpool and Arsenal, but Sunderland have won the race for the England under-21 international.

The eight million-pound fee has the potential to rise to 12 million over the course of Wickham’s contract.

“Steve Bruce has made England Under 21 international Connor Wickham his latest summer signing,” a statement on the official Sunderland website read.

Sunderland’s coffers had been swelled by the sale of Darren Bent to Aston Villa and Jordan Henderson to Liverpool, and manager Bruce said he was delighted to use some of those funds to secure Wickham.

“A number of top sides have been chasing Connor for some time now, so naturally we are absolutely delighted he has chosen to come to Sunderland,” Bruce said.

“He’s still very young, but at 6ft 3in he’s a physical presence. With his height and style of play, he will offer us a threat in front of goal and complement our existing strikers.”

“We have been watching him for a while now and he is improving and developing all the time. He’s a great prospect and I’m sure our supporters will love watching him play.”

Wed 29 June, 2011
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Choi comes clean on betting scandal

Former South Korea international Choi Sung-Kuk has become the second player to admit to match-fixing in the K-League.

Suwon Bluewings striker Choi owned up to his involvement in throwing games while with Sangju Sangmu, the football team of the South Korean military, last year.

The 28-year-old’s case is now with state prosecutors, according to reports from South Korea.

Choi is the second player known to have turned himself in to the K-League, who are offering leniency to those who come clean before the end of June.

The 28-year-old is the most high-profile footballer yet implicated in the scandal. He has been capped 26 times for South Korea and was also a star member of the Under-19 and Under-23 national teams.

According to reports, Choi was invited into the match-fixing ring by disgraced Sangju team-mate Kim Dong-Hyun, one of 10 players handed a lifetime ban after being indicted by prosecutors.

Choi has been suspected of being involved in the scandal ever since Kim was indicted, and even held a press conference in May to protest his innocence.

A former South Korea goalkeeper, whose name was withheld, became the first player to confess earlier this week.

Ten players have already been indicted and suspended for life while an 11th player was handed a five-year ban for betting on a game after a tip-off from another player.

Wed 29 June, 2011
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City out of Sanchez race

Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini has said the club will not be pursuing highly regarded Udinese winger Alexis Sanchez.

English Premier League outfit City are reported to have made a 30 million-pound bid for the 22-year-old Chilean international, but Udinese – who qualified for the Champions League qualification round by finishing fourth in Serie A – want more for the star.

With Barcelona believed to be the front runners to capture Sanchez’s signature, Mancini said he had all but given up hope of luring him to Eastlands.

“I talked to Sanchez, he said he was willing to come to City,” Mancini told Sky Italia.

“But after the last offer we are out of the race for the Chilean player.”

Mancini has also denied speculation his star strikers Carlos Tevez and Mario Balotelli could be on their way out of City, although Mancini did say he was looking for another striker to join the pair and Bosnian Edin Dzeko.

“Tevez is a good player and I think he will remain at City. I have three strikers, we need another one,” Mancini said.

“Balotelli to AC Milan? For now, certainly not. In the future, you never know.”

Mancini is a fan of prolific Napoli striker Ezequiel Lavezzi, but is unsure about the potential 30 million-pound fee for the 26-year-old Argentine.

“I like Lavezzi a lot, but I don’t think he is worth the 30 million euros of his clause,” he said.

Wed 29 June, 2011
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Silva urges caution from champions

Brazil defender Thiago Silva says his team is taking nothing for granted as they prepare to defend the CONMEBOL Copa America.

The Milan star is part of his nation’s squad for the 2011 tournament in Argentina, with Brazil targeting a third-consecutive triumph.

Mauro Menezes’ team drew 0-0 with the Netherlands and beat Romania 1-0 in their two friendly fixtures ahead of the tournament, which starts for Brazil against Venezuela in La Plata on Sunday.

Paraguay and Ecuador make up the rest of Group B, and Silva knows it will take good football just to progress to the quarter-finals.

“Today, football isn’t what it was 20 years ago when Brazil came on the field and everyone knew that they would win 4- or 5-0,” Silva said.

“Today, the playing field is level and if you don’t have respect for your adversary you can have a lot of problems.”

“All the Argentine players are sure that they can win the competition, because they have a well-formed team that has played together for a long time. They are prepared to get through the first round, which is the most difficult. You have to have respect for Argentina.”

Brazil remain hopeful that stars Alexandre Pato and Ganso – selected despite both being under injury clouds – will be fit to participate.

Wed 29 June, 2011
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Di Matteo a clever appointment by new Chelsea boss

Chelsea boss Andre Villas-Boas has started to reshape his backroom staff and has appointed former-Chelsea star Roberto Di Matteo as his new assistant manager.

Villas-Boas has also brought in scout Daniel Sousa from former-club FC Porto.

Philosophy

Villas-Boas told the press: “If you see the technical staff in front of me, and my appointment of Roberto, these are people who like the quality of the game and have a philosophy. It’s not just a case of winning it’s a case of flair.

“Everyone likes attacking football and the Premier League has a certain amount of goals in every game and it should be an entertaining game for the fans and that is what we will look to do.”

When Roberto Di Matteo played for Chelsea the Blues side was full of flair and attacking verve. The Italian has taken this approach into his managerial career first with MK Dons and then with West Brom.

This approach helped West Brom regain their place in the Premier League and also to a good start to last seasons campaign. Unfortunately for the Italian his side went through a difficult patch and Di Matteo paid the price with his job.

Experience

Roberto Di Matteo will provide his new boss with his experience of the English game and the Premier League. With Villas-Boas new to the league he will benefit from somebody with previous experience of the league, although I’m sure the Portuguese has a good knowledge of the Premier League already.

Team

Both Roberto Di Matteo and Andre Villas-Boas are young ambitious coaches. As a team they could be a winning combination for the Blues. Chelsea were in need of an intake of fresh blood into the club.

Di Matteo and Villa-Boas together seems just what the Blues need to challenge for the Premier League title again next season.

Two

One thing that Di Matteo might find difficult is being only a number two after previously being top dog in his previous two roles. However with all due respect to West Brom he has made a massive jump up to Chelsea.

Opportunity

The chance to work at Chelsea is a good opportunity for Roberto Di Matteo to gain more coaching experience. He is still young and has time to gain the necessary knowledge to be a successful Premier League boss in the future.

He already has the right football philosophy to be a top manager.  He just needs slightly more experience and Chelsea is a good place to gain that coaching experience.

Love

The Italian seems to have a great love for Chelsea. It was the Blues who introduced him to the English game and he enjoyed his time at Stamford Bridge. I’m sure he is relishing his return to the Bridge.

Popular

Roberto Di Matteo was a hero of the Chelsea faithful and his appointment seems to be a popular one. If every decision that Andre Villas-Boas makes is as good as this then he won’t go far wrong at Chelsea.

He has already impressed the Chelsea fans and if he carries on in a similar vein then he could just be the man to bring much needed stability to the boys in blue.

Is Roberto Di Matteo a good appointment as Chelsea number two?

Wed 29 June, 2011
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De Gea seals United move

Manchester United have signed Spanish goalkeeper David de Gea from Atletico Madrid for a reported sum of 17.8 million pounds.

That sum makes de Gea, 20, the second-most expensive goalkeeper of all time after Italy’s Gianluigi Buffon, who completed a deal worth 52.3 million euros from Parma to Juventus in 2001.

United boss Sir Alex Ferguson was forced to wait until after the European Under-21 Championships in Denmark to seal the deal, with the youngster helping Spain win the tournament.

The Scot had been looking for a replacement for Dutchman Edwin van der Sar for some time, after the 40-year-old confirmed in January he would be retiring at the end of the 2010/11 season.

De Gea said he was looking forward to establishing himself as the new number one at Old Trafford.

“I feel very proud and I can’t wait to start playing here,” he told MUTV.

“When a club the size of Manchester United comes in for you it obviously makes you very, very happy.”

“I saw their interest as an extra motivation to work even harder to show off my ability.”

“It’s a great privilege to be part of a club like United and I’m keen to do my best and show what I can do.”

United’s off-season shopping bill is now over 50 million pounds, with de Gea joining new recruits Phil Jones and Ashley Young at the English Premier League champions.

Wed 29 June, 2011
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Mexico on move in FIFA rankings

Mexico are back in the top 10 in the FIFA world rankings for the first time in almost four years following their CONCACAF Gold Cup triumph.

Mexico came from two goals down to stun the United States 4-2 in the Gold Cup final on Saturday, completing a stunning run of six wins from six games at the tournament.

As a consequence, El Tri have risen 19 places to ninth in the latest rankings issued by FIFA, the first time they have sat inside the top 10 since July 2007.

They could be set for an assault on the top five if they can carry their winning form through the Copa America, which gets underway in Argentina from Saturday.

Only world number one Spain and second-placed Netherlands have retained their positions in the top 10 following a month that included the Gold Cup, 61 friendlies and 48 qualifiers for confederation championships.

Brazil have dropped to fifth from third, a spot now occupied by Germany following wins at Austria and Azerbaijan in European 2012 qualifiers.

England have risen two places to fourth and Italy three places to sixth, followed by Portugal (7th, up one) and Croatia (8th, up two).

Argentina have plummeted five places to 10th in the rankings owing to a pair of friendly losses at Nigeria and Poland, though they will surely make up ground at the Copa America.

The decision to devalue the group-stage matches at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa cost some nations dearly, particularly Uruguay, who fall 11 places to 18th.

Montenegro (16th, up eight spots) and Ivory Coast (14th, up seven) have both reached their best-ever rankings since the system was introduced.

The next month will be crucial for all teams, as the July edition of the rankings will serve as the basis for the preliminary draw for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Wed 29 June, 2011
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