Colback rues League Cup defeat

Jack Colback believes Sunderland have cost themselves a “massive opportunity” to claim silverware by exiting the Capital One Cup on Tuesday.

Middlesbrough defeated Sunderland 1-0 at the Stadium of Light thanks to Scot McDonald’s 39th-minute strike, and Colback admits he and his team-mates felt the fixture against the Championship side gave them a good chance to advance to the quarter-finals of the League Cup.

“That wasn’t good enough. We didn’t create enough and we have missed a massive opportunity. It’s a bitter pill to swallow,” Colback told the Sunderland Echo.

“We weren’t good enough all over the pitch. We made mistakes we shouldn’t be making. We shouldn’t be nervous because we’ve played the game long enough now and should be able to deal with that pressure.

“We wanted to do well in this competition. We missed a big chance last season in the FA Cup and this is another missed opportunity.

“We want to play in finals and a few Premier League teams have dropped out of this cup. It was a chance. We were at home and we expected to win the game. We let down ourselves and the fans.

“And you want to win derby games. We were disappointed not to beat Newcastle and now this.”

The midfielder feels Sunderland were not creative enough against their north-east rivals, suggesting confidence may be an issue with some of the players within Martin O’Neill’s squad.

“We had most of the play and didn’t really create any gilt-edge chances,” he said.

“We are not worried about that too much because we know we have the players who can create and we believe it will come.

“Maybe confidence is a slight issue. Winning games does breed confidence and we have only had the one win in the league.

“Sometimes you can overplay a bit and maybe we try to play a pass when we should take a shot. If you don’t shoot, you are never going to score.

“We are working hard, but that’s not enough. We are not really performing at the moment and we do have some great players, international players in our team.”

Wed 31 October, 2012
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Raiola blasts UEFA, FIFA

Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s agent Mino Raiola has lashed out at UEFA and FIFA, while also labelling Michel Platini a ‘Mafia boss’.

Raiola believes his client Ibrahimovic should have won the Ballon d’Or several years ago, and believes another snub in the 2012 edition of the award is proof of corruption in the governing bodies.

“FIFA and UEFA are exactly the same s***,” Raiola told Expressen.

“If he does not win (the Ballon d’Or), it will reinforce the idea the award is politically corrupt.

“If you want to take the award seriously, it should be the best player to win. And the best player, (it has been) Zlatan for several years.

“These organisations are not transparent. They can be compared to Mafia organisations somewhere. If the Swedish government behaved in this way, the country would revolt.

“Michel Platini is not friends with Mino Raiola, the French president of UEFA is a Mafia boss. Platini has never done anything important for football. If he had enough courage, he would change UEFA.”

Ibrahimovic swapped AC Milan for Paris Saint-Germain in the close season.

Wed 31 October, 2012
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Lyon star denies Fiorentina contact

Lyon forward Lisandro Lopez has denied speculations that he is closing in on January move to Fiorentina.

The Argentina international has less than two years left on his deal at Gerland and is heavily linked with a January exit from Velodrome.

Fiorentina are just one of the clubs that have expressed their interest in the highly rated player, but Lopez is adamant he has had no contact with the Artemio Franchi outfit.

“Never, never, never, have I had contact with anyone from Fiorentina,” Lopez told reporters at a press conference.

“And I don’t think OL, or any intermediary or agent has either. I said that we could continue like this while I had two and a half years left on my contract.

“There is no problem with staying. Now, I still have a year and a half left, it’s the same thing. I’ve never wanted to leave.”

Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas recently admitted that the club would have to sell three high-profile players by next summer in order to balance the books, but pointed out that the Argentine was unlikely to be one of them.

The chairman’s stance is hardly surprising when we take into account that the 29-year-old has scored 51 goals in 96 Ligue 1 games since arriving to the club in a €24 million move from Porto.

Wed 31 October, 2012
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Rodriguez seeks own Colombia legacy

James Rodriguez is flattered to be compared with Colombia great Carlos Valderrama, but wants to make a name for himself in his own right.

Attacking midfielder Rodriguez has developed into a key player at Porto since joining the club from Banfield in 2010, and his good performances have earned him comparisons with illustrious former Colombina international Valderrama.

“We all wanted to have the No.10 on our backs when we played. It makes me proud when they compare me to great players,” Rodriguez told the UEFA website.

“But I am James and I continue to be James. I am my own person and the world can see me that way.”

The 21-year-old then went on to reveal his ambition to win the Champions League with Porto.

“Porto are a club that always want to win,” he said.

“To play here makes me proud. It’s a club with a lot of history.

“We hope we can get past the first stage in the Champions League, because you have to take it step by step and then later you can reach your objectives.

“You always want to win trophies – when it’s the Champions League, even better.”

Porto sit top of Group A with nine points from three games so far in the 2012/13 Champions League.

Wed 31 October, 2012
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Arshavin grateful for Walcott strike

Andrey Arshavin has hailed the impact of Theo Walcott’s goal in Arsenal’s remarkable 7-5 comeback win over Reading in the League Cup.

Hosts Reading raced into a 4-0 lead in the first half of the match on Tuesday, with Walcott pulling one back in first-half injury time.

Russia international Arshavin was in fine form for the visitors at the Madejski Stadium, providing three assists as Arsenal scored three second-half goals to level the game at 4-4 before they went on to win in extra time.

And the 31-year-old playmaker feels his side’s ability to get back into the tie hinged on Walcott’s delicate lob over Adam Federici, as Arsenal’s confidence grew in the second half.

“I think it was important that we scored one goal before half-time because it helped us believe that maybe it was possible,” he the Arsenal website.

“I think we showed spirit because you cannot come back from 4-0 down if you don’t have spirit. Also I think we were lucky and the referee added extra minutes and we equalised at the end of stoppage time.”

Arshavin insisted he was not angry with his side’s first-half display, suggesting Reading were simply doing everything correctly as Arsenal failed to cope.

“I did not feel frustrated but everything was going wrong and everything was going well for Reading,” he said.

“They got in the necessary positions where they could score and they did it.

“To be honest I did not think about when we had to equalise, I just felt that if we had the chance and God will help us, we will make a draw. He helped us and that’s why we scored in the last minute.

“I have lost twice 7-1, once I lost 8-3 and once I won 9-3 and now 7-5.

“But this game was one I will remember always because it was from 4-0 down and I don’t think anyone here believed that we could come back. But we did it and we deserved to win.”

Wed 31 October, 2012
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Abate flags penalty doubts

AC Milan defender Ignazio Abate has questioned referee Nicola Rizzoli’s decision to award Palermo a penalty in the teams’ 2-2 draw.

Rizzoli pointed to the spot in the dying seconds of the first half on Tuesday, after Abate touched the ball with his hand inside the area, and the Italy international feels the official’s decision was a harsh one.

“The penalty was dubious,” Abate was quoted as saying on the club’s official website.

“It indeed hit my hand, but there was no movement of my arm towards the ball. I think it was a bit generous.”

The decision came just a matter of days after Rizzoli caused controversy by disallowing a Catania goal in their defeat to Juventus on Sunday.

Abate was quick to move on from the incident and stressed Milan must keep on working hard as they look to resurrect their season.

“We’re all on the same page and we have to keep on going like this,” he said.

“We must focus on the match against Chievo now.”

Milan sit ninth on the Serie A table, with 11 points from 10 games played.

Wed 31 October, 2012
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Carragher tips Wisdom to thrive

Jamie Carragher believes fellow Liverpool defender Andre Wisdom can become a star for the Anfield club in coming seasons.

Wisdom, 19, has started to feature in the first team for Liverpool this season along with the likes of Suso and Raheem Sterling, and looks set to play against Swansea in the Capital One Cup on Wednesday.

Veteran Carragher – who is also in line for an appearance against Swansea – thinks Wisdom and his young team-mates can become regulars if they work hard and continue to show belief in themselves.

“When you are Andre’s age, you look after yourself. If you don’t do well when you get a chance as a young lad, you might not get another. But Andre has been excellent. He is a Liverpool player. He can pass the ball,” Carragher told the Daily Mail.

“All the kids who have come in during the last 18 months have been the same. Jack Robinson, Jon Flanagan, Raheem Sterling, Suso and Andre – they have all done really well. I’m sure there will be others too.

“It’s good for them to be nervous. It shows they care. If I play against Swansea, I’ll be a little bit nervous as I want to do well. You should have belief in yourself but you need that edge. It keeps you on your toes. Obviously if the nerves go too far, it shows they are not up to it. But Andre has shown that he can.”

Wisdom spoke of his delight at being tutored on the job by Carragher, explaining it is a big step from going from low-key reserve games to the pressures of the Premier League: “It is always good to play alongside experienced players. ‘Carra’ never stops talking. You need that in the game.

“It is different when you are playing in big games in front of big crowds. If you get 50 people for reserve games, you are lucky. It is very nerve-wracking when you are playing for Liverpool.”

Wed 31 October, 2012
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Vilanova applauds young Roberto

Tito Vilanova has praised Sergi Roberto in the aftermath of Barcelona’s 3-0 win over Alaves on Tuesday evening.

The 20-year-old midfielder is seen as one of the hottest prospects at Barca, and featured for the full 90 minutes in the round-of-32 cup game, impressing his coach.

“It’s good to know that Barca have a player (Sergi Roberto) for the long term,” he told reporters.

“He’s in a position to play more games with Barca now. He could possibly play more for the first team, but there are very good players in his position.”

Roberto made his debut for the club in November 2010, but has played mainly for the Catalans’ B team so far.

The Spain Under-21 starlet has a contract with the Liga leaders until June 2015.

Wed 31 October, 2012
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Wilkinson takes issue with FA ban

Stoke defender Andy Wilkinson is still unhappy with the retrospective three-match ban imposed on him by the Football Association.

Wilkinson has returned from the suspension he received after the FA, using video evidence, determined his flailing hand had made contact with the face of Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli.

“It was a harsh punishment and it certainly cost me,” Wilkinson told reporters.

“You’ve seen similar incidents go unpunished. We have a really good squad now and so getting back into the team when you’re out is really difficult.

“But overall I cannot complain with life too much. I look at what I have at Stoke City and I know I am a very lucky individual.”

The right-back has also expressed his interest in swapping flanks for Tony Pulis’ side, with fellow defender Marc Wilson ruled out for three months following a broken leg in the match against Sunderland.

Stoke are without a replacement left-back in their 25-man squad for Premier League matches, and Wilkinson said he would be willing to fill the vacancy.

“It’s down to the gaffer who plays there, but I’m ready,” he said.

“If you look at how many games I’ve played there, I’ve played quite a few at left-back. Yes, it is more unnatural to me as a right-footer, but it’s nothing I can’t deal with.”

Wed 31 October, 2012
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Dempsey confident of beating Norwich

Tottenham midfielder Clint Dempsey believes his side should have no problems beating Norwich City in the Capital One Cup on Wednesday.

Spurs, fourth in the English Premier League, beat Southampton 2-1 on Sunday, with Dempsey scoring the winner in a dominant 45 minutes from Andre Villas-Boas’ men.

Next up is a trip to face Norwich at Carrow Road, where Dempsey wants his team-mates to reproduce their level of performance from the weekend.

“It’s going to be a difficult game,” Dempsey told the Spurs website.

“I saw the game against (Aston) Villa. It was at Villa Park and they were taking it to them in the second half so Norwich are a team that does have quality and a good work rate.

“We will have to go there, be sharp and put in a professional performance, but I feel that if we go there and play as we are capable of and perform as we did in the first half at Southampton, we will be fine.”

Wed 31 October, 2012
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