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Friday, April 29, 2011

Guardiola: “We are seven points away from the League title

“You [the media] may not want to talk about it as you are more interested in talking about Wednesday’s match but we are playing for the League [title] tomorrow,” reminding the press present at today’s meeting that they are there to talk about tomorrow’s Liga match against Real Sociedad, and not the Champions League or the controversies surrounding last Wednesday’s match.

“If we win tomorrow, we’ll take another giant step forward. The players are very tired but must keep their focus on going for the win tomorrow. We have to find the strength from wherever, knowing that if we win we are almost there. We have to make an effort, and forget about the knocks and the fatigue. We’re playing for the most important title of the year, one which reveals more [about a team’s capability]. A win will almost certainly be a decisive step, and it’s no use to be distracted [by any other issues].” 

“We [Barca and Madrid] are certain to surpass 90 points, and that will again show both teams have done an extraordinarily championship season.”

“There’s no euphoria within the team [after Wednesday’s match]. We suffered a lot against Almeria and Osasuna, and we will have to maintain our concentration against Real [Sociedad]. We are seven points away from the League title, and with every step we are closer to it. Madrid is not going to give anything away, and it is not going to drop points so it is up to us to win it.” 

“We are not in the final yet. The only one who has a title is Madrid, not us. In the League they are not going to give anything away. We must earn the right to play in another final [again].” 

Asked if the win over Real Madrid gave a boost to his players’ confidence for upcoming matches, the coach said: “Whenever you win you are certain to feel happy but another match comes after that. We are not playing the penultimate match, and I will only unwind when all this is over. The players and coaches will have a celebration when the right time comes. Right now, the less we think about a victory or defeat the better.”

As for the complaints filed by both Madrid and Barcelona, he was brief in his reply: “I can only support the Board. I am an employee of the club and I‘m behind whatever decision they decide to take,” adding that likewise “the board, under both Laporta and Rosell, has always supported my decisions, and I have never felt isolated.”

Guardiola also said he doesn’t think the rivalry between both sets of players will have a knock-on effect on the solidarity of the Spanish national team: “They are top professionals. Whenever they are called to represent Spain they will give their all for if they hadn’t they would not have won the World Cup.”

Inquired if he’ll rest key players tomorrow, especially Valdes now that Pinto is suspended for Tuesday’s UCL return leg, the coach said, “We will decide tomorrow. The players that will play will go out to win the match. Tomorrow we will not hold back anything. If we win, we are much closer to winning this league.” 
“I want to see how they are doing physically and mentally before making my decision. A point that must be taken into consideration is the fact that we are going to play a crucial league match in a very difficult venue.” 

And on why he is leaving Puyol out, he replied, “I don’t want to push him [unnecessarily]. He has some minor discomfort with his ankle but his knee is fine, and I don’t want to risk losing him for Tuesday.” 

As for Iniesta: “He is better but has yet to be fully recovered,” and Abidal: “The most important thing is that he is doing well. Even though he is able to kick balls around I will never play him if there is a small risk of him injuring himself. When he is fit, he will play, but I want the doctors to be absolutely clear about that.”

Finally he said there is nothing wrong with Messi: “He took a couple of knocks but it will heal with time. It is not a big deal. I will only rest those that are unable to play,” and that Afellay has “played very well on Wednesday. He is a player who can hold onto the ball well.”

Keane takes on Yorke in Victory battle

AS Dwight Yorke has emerged as a shock candidate for the vacant coaching position at Melbourne Victory, it looks as though he will have to fight off competition for the role from former teammate Roy Keane.
The former Manchester United pair face fighting for the same job after Keane told sources he was ''very open'' to managing the two-time A-League champions.
Keane has been in Australia on holiday for the past month and is back in Sydney, where he is waiting to hear more from Victory about whether he could be the right fit as their manager.
After beginning his managerial career at Sunderland, Keane moved to English Championship side Ipswich, where he was in charge for 18 months before being sacked in January. T
he former Republic of Ireland captain was thought to be only vaguely interested when he first held talks with Melbourne more than a month ago, but now his interest has grown and he is discussing with his family the prospect of moving to Australia permanently.


Melbourne Heart FC Photo

The team prepares for their class photo
 Good Debut Season
source//facebook page

'This Manchester United team might not have the Cristiano Ronaldo factor, but it does not understand the word defeat'

Sir Alex Ferguson has dismissed suggestions that his Manchester United side have lacked style since the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo.

Ferguson was quick to defend his squad, who have been criticised by some for lacking an attacking edge, as they look to clinch a record 19th league title and a place in the Champions League final.

"This team might not have the Ronaldo factor, but it doesn't understand the word defeat," he told Inside United magazine.

"It's determined, gritty and very professional, and it's produced some great moments."

The Scot also noted the value of the experienced heads in his squad as the pressure of the run-in starts to build.

He said: "It's important to keep momentum going by winning games. That's vital. The likes of Ryan [Giggs], Rio [Ferdinand], Paul [Scholes] and Edwin [Van der Sar] have got enough experience to handle any situation that comes along."

The former Aberdeen manager was also keen to point out how close United came to trophies last season.

He said: "We only lost it by a point last year [the Premier League] it was not like the wheels came off and we collapsed. Bayern was a big blow. The consistency was there but we've got stronger this year."


Full-strength Chelsea ready and raring to go

Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti has revealed he has a full strength squad to pick from ahead of Saturday's crucial Barclays Premier League encounter with Tottenham Hotspur.
The Blues have embarked on an extended run of form with their last defeat dating as far back as 6 February, during which time Chelsea have won seven out of the nine league games played.
Ancelotti's side still have an outside chance of retaining the title this season, and will be looking for another positive result this weekend to keep the pressure on leaders Manchester United.
"All the players are fit. Ramires and Essien had problems at the start of the week, now they are ready and fit.
"Alex is okay as well. All the players are ready to play, we don't have a problem," Ancelotti told journalists in today's pre-match press conference at Chelsea's training ground in Cobham.

A win will move the Blues to within three points of United, who travel to the Emirates Stadium to play Arsenal in Sunday's lunchtime kick-off.


Thursday, April 28, 2011

Dimitar Berbatov moves closer to Manchester United exit as contract talks break down

Dimitar Berbatov’s contract talks with Manchester United have broken down and the Premier League’s leading scorer could be heading out of Old Trafford this summer.

Berbatov was told the club were ready to hand him a two-year extension to his current deal, which runs out in in June 2012, during initial negotiations just before Christmas and was confident of putting pen to paper before the end of the season.

But when the Bulgarian returned to the negotiating table earlier this year, the offer had been downgraded to a one-year rolling deal, albeit on improved terms.

United are prepared to hike his wages from £80,000-a-week to around £120,000-a-week as reward for his role in propelling the club to a six-point lead in the Premier League table.

However, there has been no indication from the Old Trafford hierarchy over the last six weeks that a longer contract will be on offer.

Berbatov, who did not travel with the squad to Gelsenkirchen for Tuesday night’s semi-final first leg against Schalke because of a groin injury, is unhappy that he has been relegated down the United pecking order in that time despite heading the Premier League scoring charts with 21 goals.

“Hernandez was not expected to perform as well as he has and the return of Wayne Rooney to top form has also weakened Berbatov’s case for a longer contract.”


Thomas Vermaelen gives Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger a much needed boost as he plays 90 minutes for reserves

Arsene Wenger has recieved a massive boost after his Belgium centre-back Thomas Vermaelen completed 90 minutes for Arsenal reserves in a match against Manchester United.

The Gunners defender has missed the last six months with an Achilles injury but there is now a chance he could return to action before the end of the season.

Wenger, though, had stated that he won't consider Vermaelen for the upcoming clash with Manchester United insisting he is not ready yet.

The reserve game also featured Darren Fletcher, who returned to play the first 45 minutes for Manchester United, his first action for two months after suffering a debilitating virus.

It is unlikely that he would be in contention for the match at the Emirates on Sunday but he will be in line for a return in next week's Champions League semi-final second leg with Schalke.

The United reserves also featured Wes Brown and Bebe, and the two sides played out a 0-0 draw.


Dutch club signs up 18-month-old after seeing YouTube video

A Dutch soccer club from the southern city of Venlo has taken youth scouting to an extreme, signing up an 18-month-old toddler who shot to fame on YouTube, Radio Netherlands reported Wednesday.
Baerke van der Meij became an internet sensation when a video, posted by his father, showed him shooting three balls into a toy box at his home.

The startling accuracy and perfect technique hinted that little Baerke may have inherited the technique of Dutch soccer masters of the past. However, the authenticity of the video could not be confirmed.
Baerke's local club, VVV Venlo, on Tuesday signed the prodigy up to a ten-year "token" contract. His grandfather played for the same club.

"The toddler's favorite position has not yet been determined. But we can speak of a right-footed player with a very good kicking technique, perseverance and, importantly, football genes via his grandfather," the club said in a statement.

The Photos of El Clasico Number 3

Image credit:  Pedro Armestre./AFP/Getty Images and AP Photo

The Front: El Mundo Deportivo (28.04.2011)

ECTASY (OK, Pep, but we’re almost on Wembley)
Messi is the fucking boss
Barça destroys Madrid with football and two goals by Leo in Bernabéu
Real Madrid 0 – 2 Barça
Red card to Pepe and Mourinho blames [his defeat on] UEFA refereeing again
Report: We answer Mou’s questions.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Sergio Ramos, Pepe and Pinto join Champions League suspension list as Clasico absentees mount

The festival of cards shown in Real Madrid's 2-0 home defeat to Barcelona will have ramifications far beyond Wednesday night, with both sides now lacking several players for the return-leg at Camp Nou next Tuesday.

The first leg at the Bernabeu saw Sergio Ramos pick up a suspension after earning a yellow card, while Pepe's straight red will see him sit out the return leg.

Almost certainly set to miss out is Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho, who was sent to the stands for what he described as some laughter and clapping towards referee Wolfgang Stark in the aftermath of Pepe's dismissal.

On the other side, Barcelona's substitute goalkeeper Jose Manuel Pinto was the first to see red, the veteran receiving his marching orders for his part in a half-time melee.

Andres Iniesta is likely to make a comeback for Barcelona, while Ricardo Carvalho returns from suspension for Real Madrid.

It leaves the list of missing names for the second-leg clash longer than it already was. Players in italics could potentially return for the match:


Mourinho hits out at Barcelona & Uefa

Jose Mourinho believes Barcelona have already knocked Real Madrid out of the Champions League following his side's 2-0 defeat in the semi-final first leg.

Lionel Messi scored both goals at the Bernabeu to hand Pep Guardiola's side a comfortable advantage heading into the return fixture, but the focus of the tie at the Bernabeu was on the sending off of Pepe in the second half for a challenge on Dani Alves.

Mourinho was sent to the stands for his gesture towards referee Wolfgang Stark after the defensive midfielder's dismissal and the Portuguese coach concedes his side will find it difficult to progress to the final at Wembley.

"The return game is mission impossible,'' Mourinho told reporters.

''Barcelona have qualified for the final. Sometimes I feel disgusted about this football world of ours. Yes, we have already been knocked out.

''No one has any chance against Barca. Where does all this power come from? To win like this is very nasty.

''We had the intention to keep the game at 0-0, then bring on a striker, then a third phase with a No. 10 behind three forwards. But the ref didn't allow it.''

Mourinho declined to elaborate on his opinion of Stark and is adamant the sending off resulted in a forced change in his side's mentality.

"I haven't said anything to the referee. I simply laughed and gave some two-finger applause. If I said what I thought, my career would end today.

"I'll give one question. Why? Why Ovrebo, Busacca, Stark? In each semi-final it's the same. We're talking about an absolutely fantastic team. Why didn't Chelsea go to the final? Why were Inter saved by a miracle? At 0-0 I was going to bring Kaka on for Lass."

Source //     

How bout' A Joke

A friend of mine once sent me a post card with a picture of the entire planet Earth taken from space. On the back it said, "Wish you were here."