Jol wary of relegation scrap

Fulham manager Martin Jol says he will be relieved to reach 40 points in the Premier League this season.

Fulham manager Martin Jol says he will be relieved to reach 40 points in the Premier League this season.

Jol’s side sit eight points clear of the relegation zone in 11th place but the Dutchman is refusing to take safety for granted.

“Like a lot of other teams, we set a target that we would like to have 40 points,” Jol told reporters.

“Then we can relax maybe a bit more and, from then on, try to get as high up the table as possible.

“If you see the league over the last five or six years, you will see the same situation. There are three or four clubs down there but, at the end of the year, you always see one or two teams dropping into trouble.

“Wigan, for example, are almost specialists in getting out of trouble, so there will always be one or two clubs to be dragged into it and we don’t want to be one of those clubs.

“Our first target was to stay in the league because that’s important for the club. If you look at the resources all the clubs in the Premier League get at the end of the year, it’s vital for us to stay in the league. And then even 12th or 11th would be fantastic for us.”

The former Tottenham boss also revealed that Mahamadou Diarra is still a few weeks away from returning to the first team, as the midfielder struggles to come back from a knee injury that has kept him out since early December.

“Diarra had a little setback a week ago and, hopefully, he will be fine in the next three weeks but I can’t have a guarantee from my medical staff so that is a problem for him and a problem for us,” Jol noted.

“After his operation we thought he was better, he thought he was better, then he felt this aching pain.”

Thu 28 February, 2013
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Moses sets sights on FA Cup

Chelsea attacker Victor Moses has suggested that winning the FA Cup would mark a successful season for the club.

Chelsea attacker Victor Moses has suggested that winning the FA Cup would mark a successful season for the club.

The Blues are 19 points behind Manchester United in the Premier League and have endured disappointing exits from both the Champions League and Capital One Cup this season.

But, after scoring in a 2-0 win over Middlesbrough which sealed Chelsea’s place in the FA Cup quarter-finals on Wednesday, Moses underlined the importance of lifting the trophy.

“(The FA Cup) will be important for us, we’ve already lost a few competitions this season, so this one would be massive for the club,” he told Chelsea’s official website.

The 21-year-old went on to praise his team-mates for their performance during a potentially tricky away tie at the Riverside Stadium.

“It was a great win for us,” he said. “Right from the start we wanted to get the game out of the way.

“They were a good side, they had a few chances as well, but we managed to capitalise on the ones we had and win the game.

“In the first half both sides had chances. We had our own but weren’t able to take them and we knew in the second half that if the chances came we’d have to take them.

“It wasn’t an easy game and we’re delighted to come away with the victory.

“It was great work from (Eden) Hazard and Oscar (to set-up Moses’ goal). They’re both great players as we all know, it was a nice one-two to slip me in and it just needed a little touch from me to put the ball in the back of the net.

“Hazard’s a quality player, we see week-in, week-out what he can do, and playing alongside him can only help me.”

The west London outfit will meet Manchester United in the last eight but must keep up their challenge for a top-four finish in the league against West Brom at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

“We’ve got an important game coming up on Saturday,” Moses said. “We’re looking forward to it but it’s not going to be an easy game, so we need to make sure we get three points.”

Thu 28 February, 2013
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Vela happy at Real Sociedad; Lewandowski set to leave Dortmund

Carlos Vela has insisted he is happy at Real Sociedad amid ongoing speculation linking him with a sensational return to the Emirates Stadium.

Former Arsenal striker Carlos Vela has insisted he is happy at Real Sociedad amid ongoing speculation linking him with a sensational return to the Emirates Stadium, Sky Sports understands.

Vela, 23, was loaned out to Real Sociedad in August 2011. The San Sebastián-based club decided to make the switch permanent after the 23-year-old striker bagged 12 goals and seven assists in 35 league appearances during his debut season.

The Mexican striker is enjoying another productive season at the Anoeta, having tallied 11 goals and five assists in 24 appearances in La Liga this term.

In fact, Vela’s scintillating form has led to rumours linking him with a return to Arsenal in the summer, according to the Spanish media.

However, the 23-year-old has played down this speculation, while insisting he is happy to stay at Real Sociedad for years to come.

“I never regretted joining Real Sociedad and the results have proved me right,” revealed Vela.

“I think my decision to come here looks even better now. At no time have I felt otherwise, I came here because I trusted the team and thought they could make progress.

“I want to give more, not just this season but in the years to come. I think we can still go higher.

“Today I am here and just thinking about Real. Arsenal could buy me by paying Real a million Euros more than Real paid. I’m going to give everything for the team, what is going to happen next, I do not know.”

Although it is unlikely Arsene Wenger will buy back Carlos Vela — to replace Marouane Chamakh – when the transfer window reopens in the summer, it would not be the worst signing the Frenchman has ever sanctioned.

Lewandowski set to leave Dortmund

Borussia Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc has confirmed Poland international striker Roberto Lewandowski will not sign a new contract at Signal Iduna Park, Sky Sports reports.

Lewandowski, 24, is under contract at Dortmund until June 2014, but the Bundesliga side may look to sell him in the summer.

The likes of Bayern Munich, Juventus and Manchester United have been linked with the Poland international in recent months.

“Robert Lewandowski is not going to sign a new contract. We will have to see if he is going to be on the move in the summer,” Zorc told Sky Sport Germany.

“His contract runs until 2014. There are two options. Either he goes in June or he stays for another year.”

At the moment, it seems increasingly likely that Dortmund will sell Lewandowski when the transfer window reopens in July.

The two-time German champions are surely lining up a replacement for the prolific Polish striker, with recent reports suggesting that Dortmund are monitoring Christian Benteke (Aston Villa) and Mame Biram Diouf (Hannover 96).

Thu 28 February, 2013
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Pulis let down by Huth conduct

Stoke City manager Tony Pulis accepts that the FA was right to hand defender Robert Huth a three-match ban for violent conduct.

Stoke City manager Tony Pulis accepts that the FA was right to hand defender Robert Huth a three-match ban for violent conduct.

The 28-year-old centre-back appeared to elbow Fulham’s Philippe Senderos during the club’s 1-0 defeat at Craven Cottage on Saturday, in an incident that was missed by the referee.

The FA charged the German retrospectively, and Pulis believes that Huth has nobody to blame but himself.

“I don’t think Robert will be pleased and it affects the team,” Pulis told reporters.

“But everyone makes mistakes and he will be big enough and strong enough to hold his hand up and say that what he did was wrong.

“Robert has been fantastic for this football club – a great player and one of the signings we will look back on and say: ‘What a wonderful signing’.

“But I think he has let himself down more than anything else.”

Stoke sit in 10th place in the Premier League standings and face fellow mid-table outfit West Ham at the Britannia Stadium on Saturday.

Thu 28 February, 2013
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Floro came close to Spain job

Former Real Madrid boss Benito Floro has revealed that he came close to becoming Spain coach in the wake of Euro 2004.

Former Real Madrid boss Benito Floro has revealed that he came close to becoming Spain coach in the wake of Euro 2004.

Luis Aragones eventually took the post vacated by Inaki Saez, who had recommended Floro for the job upon taking up a role with the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF).

“After the European Championship in Portugal, the coach (Saez) resigned and he became director of football, and he recommended (to the RFEF) that I became the new head coach of Spain,” Floro told Goal.com.

“He recommended me due to my vision of the game and (how) my playing style fit in well with the way the youth teams were being prepared, which was the main reason for the massive success of the Spanish national team.

“But unfortunately, due to circumstances that were beyond my control at that time, it was not possible.”

Floro went on to discuss the high standard of coaching instruction in Spain, in which he plays an active role as a mentor.

“Fifty years ago in Spain, the federation created a school for coaches of the highest level with highly qualified instructors of the highest level in the three most important aspects of football – strategy, technical ability and physical preparation,” he said.

“Because of this, the standard of coaches in Spain is very high due to the difficulty levels of the coaching courses in Spain.

“Sooner or later this had to yield its fruits, and people now understand that it is much better to play an attacking combination game instead of say, counterattacks or long ball attacks.

“My work as a coach and instructor isn’t for me to judge; however, it is evident that what I have learned from my instructors, I put into practice on the field and with aspiring coaches that I myself instruct.

“A coach has two important missions: teach his players to improve on an individual basis daily and also to teach his team to play whatever way they need to, on any kind of pitch, in any kind of circumstances to obtain the desired result.”

Thu 28 February, 2013
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Afellay only focused on recovery

On-loan Schalke attacker Ibrahim Afellay says his sole focus is on recovering from injury as he remains in self-imposed exile from the club.

On-loan Schalk
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e attacker Ibrahim Afellay says his sole focus is on recovering from injury as he remains in self-imposed exile from the club.

The Dutchman moved to the Veltins Arena from Barcelona last year, but has made just a handful of appearances thanks to a thigh injury, much to general manager Horst Heldt’s disapproval.

“It’s really bizarre how this injury has gotten to me,” he told Sports-Promotion.Nl.

“First my ligament injury at Barcelona, then my tendon injury in my upper leg. In the last 18 months, I have spent more time recovering than playing.

“I know I have to pull through and I will. But there have been moments I doubted everything.

“Of course I want to be with the guys at Schalke. Preferably, I would wish them all the best for every match, and I would be there when they play.

“That’s just how I am. If you make a choice with something, you have to stick to it. With that attitude I chose a loan period at Schalke.

“But I’m sure I couldn’t put up with being there and watching them in practice, I just can’t put up with it.

“For my own benefit, I have to close myself off from the outside world and focus on one thing only: my recovery. That is dominating my life right now.

“How long will it take before I can play again? That’s the thought I go to bed with, and wake up with. There’s nothing else for me.

“The medical staff at Schalke are being updated about everything, as they should be.”

Thu 28 February, 2013
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Tiago sidelined with broken arm

Atletico Madrid midfielder Tiago faces a lengthy spell on the sidelines after undergoing surgery on a broken arm.

Atletico Madrid midfielder Tiago faces a lengthy spell on the sidelines after undergoing surgery on a broken arm.

The 31-year-old took a kick from Sevilla’s Gary Medel in the first half of their Copa del Rey semi-final clash on Wednesday and had to be replaced as a result, with the club confirming after the match that he had fractured his right forearm.

Following further tests by doctors in the Spanish capital, the club announced that the Portuguese player has had a plate fixed to the ulna bone in an effort to repair the damage, with his recovery period as yet unknown.

“(Medel) was going to clear the ball and I put my arm up to protect my face,” Tiago told the club’s official website.

“In the end, I felt something was wrong. I tried to keep playing but I could not continue. The bone was broken and it hurt to move my arm.

“I was feeling pretty good in the team. Injuries never come at a good time and now I have to recover well.”

Atletico claimed a 4-3 win over the Andalusians on aggregate following Wednesday’s 2-2 draw away from home, and will face Real Madrid in the final of the competition.

Thu 28 February, 2013
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McGlynn leaves Hearts post

Hearts manager John McGlynn has left the Scottish Premier League club by mutual consent after eight months in charge.

Hearts manager John McGlynn has left the Scottish Premier League club by mutual consent after eight months in charge.

The former Raith Rovers boss leaves the Edinburgh team sitting bottom of the SPL following Wednesday’s 2-0 defeat away to fellow relegation strugglers St Mirren, his side having reached the Scottish League Cup final but floundered in the table.

A club spokesperson told the team’s offical website: “When John came to the club, Hearts was embarking on a transitional phase in the club’s history.

“He began that important period of change and it is now imperative we find the right man to take the transition forward. The overriding factor in this decision was the long-term well-being of Heart of Midlothian Football Club.

“We would like to thank John for his tireless efforts as manager of Hearts and wish him well with his career. He will be welcomed back to Tynecastle as guest of the club at any time.”

McGlynn spent 10 years at Tynecastle as a coach prior to his successful stint at Raith Rovers and admits his sadness at leaving the club.

“I was very grateful to be given the chance to become the Hearts manager as it was my dream job,” he said.

“It was an honour and privilege to serve the club in this capacity and I thoroughly enjoyed working with the players, who have been top professionals.

“It is unfortunate that things didn’t turn out the way I wanted them to and I am gutted about that. I am a worker and want to get back into football as quickly as possible.

“I don’t think I could have done any more but the league table doesn’t lie and I know it is a results-driven business. We had a lot of difficult circumstances to deal with and they have taken their toll in the end but no-one will be more delighted than me if the team can go on and win the League Cup.

“I would like to thank all the backroom staff – the physios, medical staff and video analysis department – also the club’s media department and everyone at Tynecastle for being good work-mates.”

Thu 28 February, 2013
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Asamoah: Sanchez would be a good fit for Juve

Kwadwo Asamoah believes Barcelona forward Alexis Sanchez would be a good signing for Juventus.

Kwadwo Asamoah believes Barcelona forward Alexis Sanchez would be a good signing for Juventus.

The Chile international has struggled for consistency since joining the Catalans from Udinese in 2011, and was heavily linked with a move to Juve in the winter transfer window.

Juve are allegedly still interested in the 24-year-old, and Asamoah said he would welcome his former Udinese team-mate with open arms should he move to the reigning Serie A champions.

“Alexis is a player with great qualities. He is incredibly quick,” Asamoah told Corriere dello Sport.

“He could give us a helping hand if he were to make the move to Juventus.”

Sanchez has a contract with Barcelona until June 2016.

Thu 28 February, 2013
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Bergkamp to be honoured with statue

Arsenal legend Dennis Bergkamp says he is ‘honoured’ that the club plans to erect a statue in his likeness outside the Emirates Stadium.

Arsenal legend Dennis Bergkamp says he is ‘honoured’ that the club plans to erect a statue in his likeness outside the Emirates Stadium.

The former Netherlands international scored 120 goals in 423 appearances for the Gunners, and is set to join the likes of Tony Adams and Thierry Henry in being immortalised by the north London club.

The 43-year-old, who is serving as Frank de Boer’s assistant at Ajax, says the unveiling will be a ‘special moment’.

“First of all, I am honoured that this is going to happen. It makes me very proud. Everyone knows that I love Arsenal and that I had a fantastic time at the club,” he told reporters.

“For me and my family it was an important period in our lives. Next to that the people were great, the team was amazing and we had a lot of success over the years.

“I will do everything I can to be there when it will be unveiled. It will definitely be a special moment for me which I don’t want to miss.”

Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis has also hailed Bergkamp following the news, but expressed disappointment the announcement had to be brought forward due to a leak.

He said: “It will be a fitting tribute to Dennis’ huge contribution to the club that a statue will be on display outside Emirates Stadium in the near future.

“Dennis’ quality and style of play will never be forgotten. He is a true legend of Arsenal and it’s great to think that so many Arsenal supporters and visitors to Emirates Stadium will be able to enjoy this tribute to such a great player for years to come.

“Dennis and everybody at Arsenal are slightly disappointed that some images have been leaked today of the statue in its development, but this will not detract from the excitement we have for the statue’s unveiling in the coming months.”

Thu 28 February, 2013
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