Pardew: England still appeals

Newcastle manager Alan Pardew has reiterated that he would be interested in managing England.

The 51-year-old arrived at Sports Direct Arena to replace the popular Chris Hughton in 2010 and, after seeing his reputation soar with the Tyneside club’s fifth-placed finish in the Premier League last season, has made no secret of his desire to take charge of the national team.

The club secured a new eight-year contract with the former Southampton manager on Thursday and Pardew hopes to honour the deal before considering his future.

“I do have ambitions internationally, I would like to do that at some point,” he told reporters.

“Hopefully, I will see this contract out and then see what I’m going to do later on.

“I have always felt that a person can be a success as England manager. I won’t change my opinion on that, but I don’t think it’s easy.

“Roy Hodgson probably has a tough spell as England manager because our pool of players is not as great as it used to be. Ultimately my ambition might reach that conclusion: to be England manager.

“It’s not something I would not do and it’s not something I want to do right now.”

Pardew also praised Newcastle owner Mike Ashley after the pair’s recent contract negotiations, revealing it was the Magpies’ owner who suggested the length of the deal.

“Both of us looked at the contract and felt it lacked a bit of security. So, this contract is more secure for Mike in terms of keeping me at the football club,” he added.

“The eight years came from Mike. I never got to the point of talking about how long I wanted the contract for. He spoke to me about eight years – and I thought: ‘OK!’”

Sun 30 September, 2012
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Sabatini hits out at Roma

Roma sporting director Walter Sabatini has slammed his side after their thrashing at the hands of Juventus.

Zdenek Zeman’s side were humbled in Turin on Saturday, as an early blitz from the Serie A champions sent them on their way to a 4-1 win.

Sabatini, 57, condemned the attitude of the players and called on them to learn from the defeat – and quickly.

“Many players don’t deserve to wear the shirt,” he told Mediaset Premium. “We have to immediately change trajectory. Immediately.

“In the space of a few minutes, we suffered two upper-cuts then the team just disappeared. We ask our players to react. Let’s not get discouraged.

“This team is competitive and we know that we can play with anyone. We just have to learn from this defeat and change tack.”

Despite his side’s lacklustre showing, the former Stadio Olimpico player has defended Zeman after criticism of his tactics, insisting the team is still in transition.

“I am referring to a squad that is midway through the process and still trying to absorb certain concepts,” he said.

“We are not yet gelled as a team, but must face every game with a different spirit – right now.

“It is evident that we’re behind schedule. Roma need to step on to the pitch with the right attitude and motivation.

“We emerge from this evening with great suffering, but have to find a solution.”

Sun 30 September, 2012
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Villa calls for Barcelona to focus

Barcelona forward David Villa has warned his team they cannot afford to relax as they prepare to face Benfica in the Champions League.

Tito Vilanova’s side came from two goals down to beat Sevilla 3-2 in a dramatic La Liga clash on Saturday, with the Spain forward grabbing the winner in the third minute of additional time.

The 30-year-old admitted he was relieved to have helped his side earn the victory, and has called on the team to show the same kind of commitment when they take on Benfica on Tuesday.

“I’m happy that I was able to help the team in the little time I had,” he told reporters after the match.

“Sevilla fought hard and they played well. Thank God that I was able to finish off some good team play. We’re taking the three points.

“It’s now time to focus on another competition. We’re very pleased to leave here with such an important result and now we have to focus on the match in Lisbon.

“It’s an important and difficult match and that’s why we can’t afford ourselves the luxury to relax. We want the three points.”

Sergio Busquets echoed the sentiments of his compatriot, warning that Vilanova’s side will face a tough test at Estadio da Luz.

“We are eager to win so that we can preserve our perfect start in the Champions League,” he told reporters.

“We want to win but we know that they are a very difficult team and they have quality players, especially up front.”

Cesc Fabregas came in for criticism from some quarters after the match, after claims that he went to ground too easily during a confrontation with Gary Medel that saw the Sevilla man sent off.

Busquets, however, insisted the sending off was deserved, saying: “Medel wasn’t letting go of the ball and Cesc went over to get it. The two squared off and Medel hit him. That’s a fair red card.”

Sun 30 September, 2012
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Fletcher eyes Scotland return

Manchester United midfielder Darren Fletcher says he is ready to make his return for Scotland after spending 10 months out of the game.

The 28-year-old had been sidelined with a chronic bowel problem, but played the full 90 minutes of United’s 2-1 League Cup victory over Newcastle United last Tuesday and also made an appearance off the bench in his side’s opening Champions League tie with Galatasaray.

Fletcher, who is still the captain of his national side, is getting back to full fitness but is expected to be named in Craig Levein’s squad for the forthcoming World Cup qualifiers with Wales and Belgium.

“Obviously it’s the manager’s decision to pick me and he’ll be looking at how much game time I’ve had for United,” the Scot told The Sunday Mail.

“But I’m desperate to be involved. I was desperate to be involved in the Serbia and Macedonia games as well but it was just a little bit too early for me.

“I came up for the Serbia clash but United had a reserve game on Tuesday at the same time as the Macedonia match.

“I felt it would be better for me to get it under my belt.

“I wanted to be at Hampden (Park), though. As captain of the squad you want to be there for the players, for the manager – you want to play your part.”

Scotland got their World Cup qualifying campaign underway with two disappointing draws against Serbia and Macedonia but Fletcher believes there is more to come from his team.

“Everyone agrees that two points wasn’t good enough – but not to the level of criticism we got. We should have had more, definitely from the first game,” he said.

“I honestly thought it was a good performance. Serbia are a good side and beat Wales 6-1.

“I knew it would be tough but we approached the match the right way. Maybe four points would have been a good return but it’s by no means over.

“We’re capable of getting results in the next two games, without doubt, and we’ll be looking to do that. We’re behind the manager and what he’s doing. We respect him and are prepared.”

Sun 30 September, 2012
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Gerrard: Winning title would be a ´miracle´

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard admits he needs a ‘miracle’ to lead his side to an English Premier League title before the end of his career.

The Anfield giants finished second in 2008/09 with a points total of 86 that would have won the league in several other seasons, but have never come as close in Gerrard’s tenure as skipper.

With the Manchester clubs and Chelsea all strengthening in the off-season, the 32-year-old realises his hopes of bringing the title to Merseyside are unlikely to happen, especially with other up-and-coming rivals also hungry for success.

“It will be a miracle if I now realise my dream of winning the title with Liverpool,” he wrote in his recently published autobiography My Liverpool Story.

“I say that because of my age and where we have finished in the league the past couple of years. And also the situation we’re in with the rivalries.

“There’s not just United and Arsenal now but City, Chelsea and Tottenham – Newcastle coming as well. The Premier League has become a lot more difficult to win for everyone.”

Sun 30 September, 2012
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Filippi talks up Bendtner´s chances

Juventus goalkeeping coach Claudio Filippi is confident that Nicklas Bendtner will get a chance to prove his worth.

Filippi, who spoke after the 4-1 victory over Roma, praised Juve’s collective spirit and togetherness and gave credit for the win to suspended head coach Antonio Conte.

“Nicklas Bendtner will eventually have his chance,” Filippi said.

“Juventus have a great group of strikers this season. Right now, we have several forwards that give us guarantees. They are rotated according to how they perform in training.

“We work hard during the week with Conte, so this victory belongs to him.”

Despite the manner in which the Italian champions sent Zdenek Zeman’s Roma packing, Filippi is refusing to dismiss their title credentials.

“It’s true we got off to a splendid start, but we fought against a side who will nevertheless continue doing important things this season, continuously challenging for the top places.”

Juventus now turn her attention to their Champions League fixture against Shakhtar Donetsk, after earning a credible opening day draw against fellow Group E heavyweights, Chelsea.

Sun 30 September, 2012
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Ibrahimovic: I´ve never heard of N´Koulou

Paris Saint-Germain star Zlatan Ibrahimovic has claimed never to have heard of Marseille starlet Nicolas N’Koulou.

The talented 22-year-old has impressed in Ligue 1 ever since his switch from Monaco in 2011, and has reportedly attracted interest from the likes of Barcelona and Manchester United in the past.

Ibrahimovic has been in fine form himself since his move to Parc des Princes from AC Milan, but seemingly played down the potential of the Cameroon defender when appearing on French TV show Telefoot, claiming he had never heard of him.

When the presenter suggested the Marseille man was the only player who could stop the Swede, he said: “N’Koulou, who is that? I don’t know him. Never heard of him.

“This is not a lack of respect, but when I don’t know a player, I don’t know him.”

The mercurial striker has often been labelled as being too self-assured throughout his career, but the 30-year-old has insisted such views of him are mistaken.

“I’m a simple guy. If you think I’m arrogant then you don’t know me. But when people keep talking about you, that means you’re an important person,” he said.

PSG have invested heavily in order to build a squad capable of challenging for European honours, and Ibrahimovic said all his efforts were designed to help Carlo Ancelotti’s side claim the continent’s biggest prize.

“I’m not 100 percent, but I train everyday so I can win the Champions League with Paris,” Ibrahimovic said.

Sun 30 September, 2012
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Hazard hails Villas-Boas

Former Tottenham midfielder Micky Hazard has praised Andre Villas-Boas’ spirit and passion after their win over Manchester United.

The 34-year-old had faced criticism mere weeks into the season after an inconsistent start for the north London side.

Hazard has blasted the media for leading a ‘witch hunt’ against the former Chelsea boss, who guided Tottenham to their first win at Old Trafford in 23 years after a 3-2 victory on Saturday.

He told talkSPORT: “A-V-B has taken a lot of flak and the press seem to have had a witch hunt against him, so I’m delighted for him.

“I love his passion. When we score a goal he’s like a fan – and fans loves to see that.

“He’s been under a lot of pressure, there’s no doubt about that, and the knives were out, but he stood firm, made some fantastic signings in the window and we look a good side now.

“The players have brought into it, adopted the way he wants to play. And when we have to dig deep and battle, we can do it.”

Hazard also hailed the strength in depth available to the Portuguese tactician and believes the north London club could be celebrating success come the end of the season.

“Look at the squad – it looks powerful and strong,” he said.

“You can virtually put two teams out in the Premier League and they’d hold their own. It must be great for A-V-B to have that situation.

“I see power and goals throughout the team and there’s no reason why Spurs can’t have a very, very successful season.”

Sun 30 September, 2012
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Eriksson: Terry case handled badly

Sven-Goran Eriksson has leapt to the defence of Chelsea captain John Terry, saying the defender’s racial abuse case had been handled poorly.

The 31-year-old defender was cleared of using racist language against Anton Ferdinand by Westminster Magistrates’ Court in July this year.

But the Football Association subsequently conducted their own investigation and slapped him with a four-game ban and a 220,000-pound fine for using abusive and/or insulting words and/or behaviour in reference to Ferdinand.

Eriksson believes Terry should face punishment if he did express racist language, but insisted the whole incident has been handled poorly.

“It is obvious John should be punished if he’s expressed himself so inappropriately,” the former England manager told reporters.

“I refuse to believe (Terry) is a racist. What makes me upset is the FA punishment has come after a year.

“I honestly think the FA – and civil courts – have handled it in a miserable way.”

Terry quit the England team on Wednesday before the FA concluded their case a day later, with Eriksson suggesting Terry did so to protest the possible guilty verdict.

“It has obviously had a major impact and he has quit England,” he said.

“I suppose it was a kind of protest against the FA.”

Terry is still deciding whether to appeal the FA’s verdict, and will not be banned until he accepts the decision, or the 14-day appeal window expires.

Sun 30 September, 2012
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Messages of support flood in for Vukcevic

Well wishers from around the world have expressed their sentiments for Hoffenheim midfielder Boris Vukcevic, who remains in an induced coma.

The 22-year-old was involved in a collision with a truck near the club’s training ground and suffered serious head injuries, with the player having to be airlifted from the site of the accident, which took place on the road between Hoffenheim and Heidelberg on Friday.

The club also issued a statement, prior to the 0-0 draw against Augsburg on Saturday, confirming the life-threatening injuries.

The news has since shaken the football community in Germany, with messages of support coming from across Europe, led by FIFA president Sepp Blatter.

“My thoughts are with him and his family. I hope that he will be well soon,” Blatter wrote on Twitter.

“All the best and a speedy recovery, Boris Vukcevic! All the best and get well soon,” tweeted Arsenal striker Lukas Podolski following the game against Chelsea.

“I wish you a speedy recovery Boris Vukcevic! (Keep your) head up, and you can do it,” Borussia Dortmund’s Marco Reus added.

“Dear people, pray and hope that my friend and team-mate of (the Germany) Under-21s, Boris Vukcevic, is healthy again. My thoughts are with him and his family,” said Schalke star Lewis Holtby on his Facebook page.

His former Hoffenheim team-mate Edson Braafheid also tweeted: “My thoughts are with you. I hope that with God’s help, you get better soon!”

Saturday’s 0-0 draw against Augsburg was played following the request of Vukcevic’s parents, with the 22-year-old still in a critical condition as of Sunday.

Sun 30 September, 2012
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