Granero focussed on QPR salvation

QPR midfielder Esteban Granero said he has no interest in looking for another club and is focused on helping his side avoid relegation.

QPR midfielder Esteban Granero said he has no interest in looking for another club and is focused on helping his side avoid relegation.

Harry Redknapp’s team remain rooted to the bottom of the league table, seven points adrift of safety and with only 11 games remaining to try to beat the drop, with speculation surrounding the futures of several members of the squad should they go down.

But Granero argued to the club’s official website: “I am not the type of player who wants to play for many teams and move every transfer window.

“I like to get involved with the club, with the team, with everything. I have only played for two teams (before QPR) in my career; one is the team of my life, Real Madrid, and one is Getafe, who I was with on loan.

“I am not thinking about the future. In the summer I signed a four-year contract because I wanted to spend four years here and I still want to spend four years here.

“I do not want to be changing teams all the time. I am happy at QPR. This is a good club for me. I feel now this club forms part of me and I am just thinking about playing these games and trying to get out of the relegation zone.

“Then we can face a new season with new opportunities and try to start better from the beginning to make sure it is a better season.”

With Saturday’s trip away to fellow strugglers Southampton earmarked as an opportunity to pick up some much-needed points, Granero admitted – even though he has settled in well at the club – he will regard this season as a failure if they are relegated.

He added: “Apart from the results, everything is perfect! But when you are bottom of the league it is hard to relax and be happy because you are suffering for the club, for the supporters, and for yourself.

“We still have the chance to get out of this situation and if we manage this, I will remember this as a great season. We have some very difficult games ahead and this is a big challenge for us. We have to be ready for it.”
Thu 28 February, 2013
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Hughton buoyant ahead of United test

Norwich City manager Chris Hughton says his side will go into Saturday’s match against Manchester United in a confident mood.

Norwich City manager Chris Hughton says his side will go into Saturday’s match against Manchester United in a confident mood.

Hughton’s side claimed a first victory in 10 Premier League games with a last-gasp 2-1 win over Everton last time out.

That, Hughton says, has put them on a high as they attempt to complete a Premier League double against the runaway leaders.

“Last Saturday was a big win for us against an excellent side,” the Irishman told Sky Sports.

“To go into a game at Old Trafford after defeat makes it a bit harder. There’s been a good feel in the camp this week.

“United have only lost one game at home this season, so the magnitude of the task is still there, but we are certainly better going into it for the result of last weekend.

“The win over United (1-0 on November 17) was one of our best performances this season. For us to repeat that at Old Trafford would take a huge effort but we’re ready.”

Hughton is expecting opposite number Sir Alex Ferguson to rotate his squad for the game with Tuesday’s Champions League showdown with Real Madrid in mind but is under no illusions about facing a weak team.

“It is a massive game they have on Tuesday. I think it will affect the line-up but I don’t think it will affect the quality of the line-up,” the 54-year-old observed.

“Irrespective of the team they put out, we know it is going to be one of high quality.

“At this moment, they are the team who have the best-quality squad in the division, there is no doubt about that. There is nobody who manoeuvres his squad any better than Sir Alex.

“Any win at Old Trafford would have to see us play extremely well and for United to have one of their rare off-days but you have to go into every game hoping the work you have done can come right and you can get that result.

“There will be no fear from our players, we will want to go there and play. However, it is very difficult to go to Old Trafford with an open formation. If you are going to go there and take them on at what they do very well, then generally there is only one outcome.

“Ultimately, you want to get a result and a draw at Old Trafford is a very good result but it is also about a performance.”

Thu 28 February, 2013
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Poyet eyes Chelsea return

Brighton manager Gus Poyet has thrown his hat in the ring for the soon-to-be vacant Chelsea job.

Brighton manager Gus Poyet has thrown his hat in the ring for the soon-to-be vacant Chelsea job.

The former Chelsea player is deemed a potential candidate for the job after interim manager Rafael Benitez confirmed he will leave the club at the end of the season.

Poyet remains one of the main contenders having steered Brighton to sixth place in the Championship this term as they seek a playoff position.

“That’s good news (the Chelsea vacancy). Thank you for letting me know. That’s my aim. Everybody knows that,” Poyet said.

“I want to go to the highest level. If it’s as a Premiership manager with Chelsea, fantastic. And if it’s somebody else, we’ll see.”

But Poyet, who scored 49 goals in 145 appearances for the Blues, insists his attention remains on his current club and their upcoming Championship game against Huddersfield on Saturday.

“I can assure you I didn’t watch Chelsea yesterday, I was not paying attention to the game or the way they played or who played or didn’t play,” he said.

“I was paying attention to Huddersfield because that’s my job. The rest? I like it because it means we are doing something right but it doesn’t change my life at the moment.”

Whoever Chelsea’s next manager may be, Poyet said he would always have a sentimental spot in his heart for the club.

“As you know when I look at Chelsea, I always want them to win,” the Uruguayan said.

“They are in the next round of the (FA) Cup so, me in particular, I am not making banner or going to the stadium because I always want the manager to get the support.

“That doesn’t change my mind that I was very upset when Robbie (Di Matteo) left the club. But now he’s (Benitez) the manager, you want your fans to stay with the team.”

Thu 28 February, 2013
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West Ham suffer Nolan blow

West Ham are set to be without Kevin Nolan for several weeks after it was confirmed that the club’s captain has a broken toe.

West Ham are set to be without Kevin Nolan for several weeks after it was confirmed that the club’s captain has a broken toe.

The Englishman suffered the injury after a robust tackle from Tottenham’s Moussa Dembele in West Ham’s 3-2 Premier League defeat on Monday.

West Ham assistant Neil McDonald told reporters Nolan had experienced issues with his toe all season.

“He’s had problems in the past with it, all season really,” McDonald said.

“He has had problems with his foot all season and he has been playing through the pain barrier. It’s probably worse than it has been with him having the kick right on it.”

With just one win in their last seven league games, West Ham are now just six points clear of the relegation zone, but McDonald insists that the team are not looking anxiously over their shoulders.

“We’ve always looked up the table this season and we’ve always tried to get into the top 10 and, with a good result on Saturday, we can push ourselves a little bit closer to that,” he said.

“I think the away form hasn’t been as good as we’d have liked. Our home form has been really, really good, even though we’ve lost a couple.

“We have to address that; we’ve got to be a little tighter and a bit more physical away from home and make sure we try and keep a clean sheet.

“If we can do that, that gives us a good chance to get back to winning ways on our travels.”

Thu 28 February, 2013
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Laudrup coy on Swansea future

Swansea City manager Michael Laudrup remains non-committal over how long he will remain at the club.

Swansea City manager Michael Laudrup remains non-committal over how long he will remain at the club.

The Dane has enjoyed a fantastic debut season since taking over at Liberty Stadium, leading the side into the top half of the table and securing their first-ever major silverware after beating Braford City in the League Cup final.

This success has reportedly caught the attention of major European clubs but Laudrup is refusing to be drawn on such speculation.

The former Mallorca boss told reporters: “I’ve said it already a couple of times – my intention is to stay here next year but, again, who knows about the future?

“One thing is our intention and my intention is that. Do you know your future next year? You are 100 per cent what you will do next year?

“You can have an intention and think ‘this is my plans’ but none of us knows it, because … maybe it’s a good thing that we don’t know what’s going on in the crystal ball there because it could be positive or negative, you never know if you talk about life.

“I really cannot answer that question differently and I think it will be the same next week and next week and next week and next month.

“I think we just have to leave it there and go back to what is important and that’s the games on Saturdays.”

Swansea chairman Huw Jenkins has expressed optimism that the club can secure Laudrup on a long-term deal.

Thu 28 February, 2013
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City youth jailed for driving deaths

Manchester City youth player Courtney Meppen-Walter has been sentenced to 16 months jail after killing two people through dangerous driving.

Manchester City youth player Courtney Meppen-Walter has been sentenced to 16 months jail after killing two people through dangerous driving.

The 18-year-old was behind the wheel of his Mercedes, speeding at 56 miles per hour in a 30mph zone when he crashed into a Nissan Micra emerging out of a side street, killing both Kulwant Singh, 32, and his 37-year-old sister, Ravel Kaur.

Ms Kaur’s two sons, aged 16 and 17, were also both injured in the collision while in the back seat of the vehicle.

Meppen-Walter, who was given a driving ban of three years shortly after the incident took place in September last year, pleaded guilty to two counts of causing death by dangerous driving at Manchester Crown Court.

The City youngster had previously represented England at Under-17s level.

Thu 28 February, 2013
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Oxlade-Chamberlain thanks Arsenal fans

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has thanked Arsenal fans for making him feel welcome at the club.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has thanked Arsenal fans for making him feel welcome at the club.

Since arriving from Southampton as a 17-year-old in 2011, the youngster has quickly risen to the Gunners’ first team as well as the England squad, and he hopes that his performances can repay the support shown by the Emirates Stadium crowd.

“The supporters welcomed me with open arms and really did make me feel welcome,” Oxlade-Chamberlain told the club’s official website. “It’s nice when they take to you in a positive light.

“That support really did help me in my first season. I was a bit of an unknown quantity. People didn’t know what they were going to get from me.

“I was a young lad stepping up from League One into the Premier League and Champions League football. It’s a big jump and people didn’t really know if I was going to deliver.

“I think I found that in my first year, I was happy with the way it went and the fans took to me. It was almost quite exciting for them to see.”

Perhaps not surprisingly, his second season has been a little tougher going for Oxlade-Chamberlain, who has been restricted to just 16 starts for the club, but the former Saints starlet insistesd he is focused on his development rather than any negative press.

“It hasn’t really affected me too much because I’ve always been focused on where I need to be and I’m always trying to improve my game,” he said.

“Sometimes it is hard to ignore, when it’s coming in the papers and your friends are telling you what people are saying. It is hard but it’s all part and parcel of it. If you didn’t have people critiquing you, you wouldn’t find motivation.

“I always want people to be watching me and I like it when people tell me I need to be doing more. It gives me more motivation to go out and there, roll up my sleeves and prove to them that they can knock me down but I’m going to keep going and keep proving that I can play and I can do well.”

Thu 28 February, 2013
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El Shaarawy signs Milan extension

AC Milan striker Stephan El Shaarawy has extended his contract at the club until June 2018.

AC Milan striker Stephan El Shaarawy has extended his contract at the club until June 2018.

The 20-year-old has been the stand-out player for the Rossoneri this season, notching 18 goals and four assists in all competitions.

His electric form saw him linked with the likes of Manchester United and Manchester City, but Milan have now confirmed the re-signing.

El Shaarawy joined the San Siro side in the middle of 2011 from fellow Serie A outfit Genoa.

He has been crucial to Milan’s efforts to rebuild the squad following wholesale changes in close season, helping propel the side back into contention for a top-three finish.

Thu 28 February, 2013
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Giovinco takes criticism in his stride

Juventus striker Sebastian Giovinco believes he is worthy of a place in the team despite being criticised by some fans.

Juventus striker Sebastian Giovinco believes he is worthy of a place in the team despite being criticised by some fans.

The Italy international moved back to Turin from Parma last year, but has failed to live up to expectation, attracting boos from some of the club’s supporters of late.

“The numbers are on my side,” he told La Stampa.

“I can’t answer why, for example, there are those who say I’m not good enough for Juve. The season is positive for me and the side.

“We’re top of the league with the best defence and the second-best attack, and we are still in Europe.”

Giovinco’s arrival at the club coincided with icon Alessandro Del Piero’s departure, and the 26-year-old feels he suffers from living in the World Cup winner’s shadow.

“I’m condemned by the fact that there are always people who talk to me about Del Piero,” he said.

“But I’ve always instantly said that I am Giovinco. Alex is unique, it would be difficult to match him.

“Will I stay? I’m not a director so I can’t answer that question. But I’ve only just arrived and I can’t see myself anywhere else.”

Giovinco said his goal celebration against Siena on Sunday – where he put a finger to his lips – was aimed at his critics as opposed to supporters.

“If you look at the pictures you can see that I didn’t turn to the Curva, but to a specific section,” he said. “The fans are free to jeer who they want.”

Thu 28 February, 2013
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Chiellini wary of rising Napoli

Giorgio Chiellini has warned his Juventus team-mates not to underestimate the threat posed by Napoli in their Serie A clash on Friday.

Giorgio Chiellini has warned his Juventus team-mates not to underestimate the threat posed by Napoli in their Serie A clash on Friday.

Just six points separate the two sides going into the San Paolo fixture, and the Italy international has been impressed with Napoli’s rise in recent years.

“The match could go either way. It won’t be decisive because there is still a long way to go in the championship, but it will of course be important for both teams,” Chiellini told Sky Sport Italia.

“Napoli have improved immensely. They have an ambitious president, and since (Walter) Mazzarri arrived, they’ve taken a further step up in quality.

“The club has not only become competitive in Italy, but also in Europe, as they showed last year over two legs against Chelsea.”

Thu 28 February, 2013
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