Friday, 27 September 2013

Mata set for Chelsea first-team … if he plays my way - Mourinho

Mata set for Chelsea first-team … if he plays my way - Mourinho

Mata set for Chelsea first-team … if he plays my way - Mourinho

The Special One admits he has been impressed by the way his No.10 has reacted to being dropped and told to up his defensive work rate, and remains hopeful on Ramires' fitness

By Liam Twomey at Cobham

Juan Mata will find himself back in the Chelsea team if he continues to produce the kind of performance he did against Swindon, boss Jose Mourinho has revealed.

Mata has fallen out of favour at Stamford Bridge since the Special One's return in the summer, with Oscar, Eden Hazard and Andre Schurrle preferred for their superior defensive work rate.

But the Spaniard produced a more disciplined display against the Robins on Tuesday evening, and Mourinho admits he has been impressed by his No.10's reaction to being dropped.

When asked if Mata stood a chance of keeping his place for Saturday's clash with Tottenham, the Blues boss replied: "Yes. I liked him [against Swindon].

"We are speaking about a team that is two divisions below us, but professionalism is important no matter who you play against.

"He made a big effort to come in my direction and when he does that, all I can do is go in his direction. From now if he keeps working that way, the football I want, the natural tendency is to be in the team."

Saturday's match at White Hart Lane has been billed as a personal duel between Mourinho and his former protege, Andre Villas-Boas, who spoke coldly of their relationship earlier this week.

But the Special One was in no mood to answer questions on the subject. "I don’t describe [our relationship] because I don’t discuss relationships with the media," he insisted.

"I don’t care what he says, and I’m not going to comment. I’m not interested.

When asked what influence he had on Villas-Boas' managerial career, Mourinho responded: "I have no idea. You have to ask him, it’s not my problem.

"I had so many assistants and was always an open book to all of them trying to do the same with Chris Jones, Steve Holland and the coaches in the academy.

"After that if they want to read the book, it’s not my problem."

The Chelsea manager does, however, believes their summer of transfer activity means Tottenham will mount a serious challenge this season, despite losing Gareth Bale.

"I think they are a big contender," he continued. "They were the champions of the market, all international players with quality. The squad is very good.

"Before there was a bit of a difference between first choice and second line, but in this moment they have two teams.

"I think they have a much better squad now than before, and no one can criticise me for that. You win titles with squads, not a good player, so I think they are bigger contenders than before."

Ramires did not train with the Chelsea squad on Friday, but Mourinho remains hopeful that he can feature on Friday. "I hope he plays and we’re doing everything for him to play," he added.

One man who is definitely out, though, is Marco van Ginkel, who underwent successful surgery on an anterior cruciate ligament injury, but will still be out for six months.

"He had surgery and it went well the doctor is happy, but now he has to wait and wait for a long time," he continued.

"It’s very sad for a kid who was going to an important season for his evolution, but that’s football. We have lost a player for almost the whole season." ---------------------

Van Persie fit to face West Brom, says Moyes

Van Persie fit to face West Brom, says Moyes

Van Persie fit to face West Brom, says Moyes

The Scot says the striker has shrugged off injury and should play some part in Saturday's game at Old Trafford but midfielder Tom Cleverley is still a doubt with a knee problem

Manchester United manager David Moyes says striker Robin van Persie has recovered from injury and is fit enough to face West Brom on Saturday.

The Netherlands international missed Sunday’s 4-1 Premier League defeat to Manchester City and the midweek win over Liverpool with a groin injury.

However, the Scot has revealed Van Persie is fit again and could feature against Steve Clarke’s men at Old Trafford on Saturday.

"Robin will be back, involved somewhere. He trained today and is fit. But we'll have to see exactly where he is," he told reporters.

"Tom [Cleverley] has done a bit of training today. He rocked his knee in training and hopefully he won't be too far away."

Moyes admitted that he still had much to learn as United boss but once again took time to praise his players for bouncing back from Sunday's thrashing at the hands of their neighbours.

"I have been learning every week since the day I walked in. I don't think that's going to change for a long time," he added.

"We made seven or eight changes. We made sure everybody at Manchester United was able to show what they can do.

"The players showed they were hurt. We'll try to give the fans something to shout about again tomorrow."

United face a West Brom side that were knocked out of the Capital One Cup by Arsenal in midweek but Moyes is still expecting a tough test and is looking forward to meeting up with former Everton striker Victor Anichebe.

"Steve Clarke has done a great job. West Brom is a stable football club that has continued to progress," he said.

"I'm pleased he [Anichebe] got a good move. I hope he does well - but not against us." ----------------------

Lopez: It's hard to define Ronaldo's quality

Lopez: It's hard to define Ronaldo's quality

Lopez: It's hard to define Ronaldo's quality

The Spaniard believes the Portuguese star's new contract was a massive boost to everyone associated with Real Madrid and is looking forward to a fierce derby with Atletico

Diego Lopez believes it is "hard to define" how important Cristiano Ronaldo is to Real Madrid after he signed a new contract at the club.

The Portuguese sensation signed a three-year extension to his deal at Santiago Bernabeu earlier this month to make him the highest-paid player in world football, and Lopez feels the news of his renewal was warmly welcomed by team-mates and supporters alike.

"It's difficult to define a player of Cristiano's stature," Lopez told Bwin's official website.

"He's the best and we are hugely fortunate to have him at the club, now and for many years to come. [His renewal] is the best news for all madrisistas and for all of us [in the squad]."

Real Madrid face Atletico in a hugely-important derby clash on Saturday.

It is first encounter since Diego Simeone's men beat their neighbours to lift the Copa del Rey in May, and Lopez admits he is relishing the prospect of another battle with their cross-city rivals.

"It's a game with a huge rivalry attached and we're looking forward to it. They're matches where you see plenty of spirit and passion. It's a game where you fight to give your best and come away with three points," he continued.

"Real Madrid always have to win, and we cannot allow ourselves to slip up in any game, especially in our own stadium. Every game is unique for me but I always try to approach them in the same way.

"We're up against a very dangerous team. They have a very strong group, they're united and they know how to play well. We have to exploit their little deficiencies and impose our own quality on them.

"I hope we win, but above all, I hope it's a good game."

Finally, the Spanish goalkeeper revealed his admiration for coach Carlo Ancelotti and believes the team is beginning to adapt to the Italian's methods.

"The main thing I've noticed has been the professionalism of the group [since Ancelotti's arrival]," added the 31-year-old. "He has enormous talent, and what we're learning from him, his way of organising the group ... little by little the team is adapting to what he wants." ---------------

Messi evidence 'clear and transparent'

Messi evidence 'clear and transparent'

Messi evidence 'clear and transparent'

The Barcelona attacker appeared before a judge on Friday and his lawyer Cristobal Martell insists they have cooperated fully with Spanish authorities
Lionel Messi's lawyer insists the Barcelona star has provided "clear" evidence of his innocence, amid accusations of tax evasion.
The Argentina international began court hearings on Friday, to answer allegations over unpaid tax on money from his image rights.
Messi has allegedly used countries outside of Spain - Belize and Uruguay - to sell his image rights, circumventing Spanish tax laws.
His father, Jorge, who made a payment of €5 million to the tax authorities in August, has also been implicated in the case and he too appeared in a separate hearing to his son.
Both men have strenuously denied the charges that date back to 2007 and 2009, which were originally levied against the pair by the Economic Crimes Prosecutor Barcelona in June.
And the pair's legal representative, Cristobal Martell, said Friday's proceedings are an opportunity for the Messi family to cooperate with Spanish authorities in an attempt to clear their name.
"To start a procedure like this we are following just one instruction: to cooperate with the administration to explain my client's actions and provide them with financial information," Martell commented.
"The instruction from the Messi family has been to be transparent, clear and cooperative.
"In terms of transparency, the hearings began today and we have provided evidence to show a complete unwillingness [by my client] to commit fraud, a strong effort to be transparent for the tax office and a desire to avoid entering into any kind of bitter fight with the State about these matters." ------------------

El Shaarawy: Balotelli's temper is penalising Milan

El Shaarawy: Balotelli's temper is penalising Milan

El Shaarawy: Balotelli's temper is penalising Milan

The Italian admits his side are often made to suffer from his compatriot's outbursts but insists they can surpass last season's third-placed finish despite their poor start

Stephan El Shaarawy has urged Mario Balotelli to curb his temper or risk damaging AC Milan's chances this season.

The striker was issued a three-match ban after he angrily confronted officials following the Rossoneri's 2-1 defeat to Napoli, forcing him to sit out Tuesday's 3-3 draw with Bologna as well as forthcoming games against Sampdoria and Juventus.

El Shaarawy has revealed his compatriot apologised to team-mates immediately after his outburst, but has urged the former Manchester City man to control his actions better in future or risk derailing Milan's season.

"He knows it was wrong and he apologised to us after the game. He made a mistake. It's an aspect of his character he knows he must improve because it penalises us," El Shaarawy told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

Milan struck twice in the dying minutes to take a share of the spoils from their trip to Bologna earlier this week, but already find themselves 10 points adrift of Serie A leaders Roma having accrued just five points from five games.

El Shaarawy insists he is not concerned by his side's inauspicious start to the 2013-14 campaign and maintains their target is to improve on last season's third-placed finish.

"Last season we reached third place, which was a great achievement. The goal is to do better than a year ago, that's obvious," he continued.

"I'll be honest: this false start doesn't scare me.

"I'm satisfied with what I've produced so far. I've scored, I've set up others. Personally, I can't complain. I feel an integral part of this project." ---------------------

Former tennis champ Hingis accused of assaulting husband

Former tennis champ Hingis accused of assaulting husband

Former tennis champ Hingis accused of assaulting husband
Geneva: The husband of former tennis champ Martina Hingis has accused his wife and mother-in-law of assaulting him and has left Switzerland fearing for his life, the Blick daily reported today.

Police in the northern Swiss canton of Schwyz confirmed to AFP that Thibault Hutin was in the process of filing a complaint following an incident at the couple`s apartment in the village of Feusisberg.

The 27-year-old French equestrian had talked to police on Tuesday about "serious problems" at his home Monday evening, police spokesman David Mynall told AFP.
"He has started the process of filing a complaint, but it hasn`t been finished yet," he said, not specifying the nature of the incident or who the complaint was being filed against.

Hutin, however, told Blick that his 32-year-old wife, the former world number one, her mother and her mother`s boyfriend had "beaten and scratched" him.
The boyfriend had also struck him in the head with a DVD player, he said, adding that he was so "terrified" he had fled to Paris.

"I`m really afraid. What will be next, a bullet?" he asked in the interview.
Hingis, the winner of five Grand Slam singles titles, came back from six years of retirement in July this year to play doubles.

Hingis, who could not be immediately reached for comment, was reportedly in Tokyo to take part in a 30th anniversary celebration for the WTA tournament.
She had originally been set to take part in the Pan Pacific Open women`s tennis tournament in Tokyo this week, but withdrew for "personal reasons," organisers said earlier this month.

AFP ---------------------

Venus Williams battles through to Tokyo semis

Venus Williams battles through to Tokyo semis

Venus Williams battles through to Tokyo semis
Tokyo: American Venus Williams battled past Eugenie Bouchard 6-3, 6-7 (4-7), 6-3 Thursday at the Toray Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo to advance to the semifinals of this hard-court event.

Williams needed more than three hours but finally overcame the stiff challenge from the 19-year-old Canadian.

The American heaped constant pressure on Bouchard`s service games, getting four service breaks in the first set and three in the third set.

Bouchard fought off six of the seven break points she faced in the second set en route to evening the match at one set apiece.

Williams had her own serve broken four times, but saved five of six break points in the crucial third set.

The 33-year-old former world No. 1, who has battled injuries and illness in recent years and is currently ranked No. 63, will next take on Czech Petra Kvitova.

Kvitova had to win two matches Thursday due to rain the day before, cruising to a 6-2, 6-2 win over American teenager Madison Keys and then a 6-4, 6-1 victory over Russia`s Svetlana Kuznetsova in the quarterfinals.

Denmark`s Caroline Wozniacki also booked a spot in the semifinals by rallying to defeat Czech Lucie Safarova 2-6, 6-3, 6-2. She will next square off against Germany`s Angelique Kerber, who upset No. 2 seed Agnieszka Radwanksa of Poland 6-4, 6-4.

The Toray Pan Pacific Open is one of the biggest events on the WTA calendar.

IANS -----------------

Battle of the sexes` between Li Na, Djokovic set to start China Open

Battle of the sexes` between Li Na, Djokovic set to start China Open

Battle of the sexes` between Li Na, Djokovic set to start China Open
Beijing: The `Battle of the Sexes` match between World No.1 Novak Djokovic and China`s No.1 Li Na for charity has been scheduled to open the China Open tennis tournament in Beijing on Friday night.

According to China Daily, each single ace shot from Li would earn 6178 dollars for charity.

Kunlun Mountains Mineral Water, sponsor of Li, is reportedly donating a minimum 100,000 yuan to China Soong Ching Ling Foundation after the game while setting no ceiling on the amount if the Chinese tennis star plays more aces, the report said.

Li, US Open semifinalist and charity devotee, said she`s looking to be involved in charity work after retirement while the Serbian star has been seeking a showdown with a female counterpart ever since becoming World No. 1, the report added.

Li lost to Serena Williams of the US while Djokovic lost to Rafael Nadal from Spain in this year`s US Open in August, the report further said.

ANI ---------------------

Ronaldo: Real Madrid have made Cristiano a complete player

Ronaldo: Real Madrid have made Cristiano a complete player

Ronaldo: Real Madrid have made Cristiano a complete player

The former Blancos striker believes his namesake has become more rounded since his move from Manchester United and has backed Carlo Ancelotti to deliver success

Former Brazil and Real Madrid sensation Ronaldo says Cristiano Ronaldo has become "a very complete player" since his move to Spain.

The 28-year-old has scored a remarkable 208 goals in 205 appearances for los Blancos since his €94 million move from Manchester United in 2009, and his Brazilian namesake - a three-time winner of the Fifa World Player of the Year award - believes the Portugal captain has developed significantly at Santiago Bernabeu.

"Cristiano is very good. He has become a much more rounded player here and everyone gets excited about watching him play the way he does here with Real Madrid," Ronaldo told the club's official website.

"Coming here has been good for him. He was already scoring a lot of goals for Manchester United, but here he scores a lot more and he has developed a taste for being a goalscorer. He is a very complete player."

The 37-year-old also spoke about Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti, backing the Italian to have a strong impact upon the team this season.

"The team looks very good to me. They have started well and Ancelotti’s influence will show," Ronaldo continued.
"He will make the team play his way. He has a lot of experience and he is a coach who is very easy to get along with. The players like him to be their friend."

Finally, the all-time leading World Cup finals goalscorer admitted he still enjoys visiting the Spanish capital whenever time allows, after watching the team's final training session prior to Wednesday's clash with Elche.

"I was here for five years and I am always happy to come back. I still have a house in Madrid. I spent many years training here and I am always excited about coming back," the former Inter man added.

"There are a lot of young players in the squad and others who I played alongside and who I have good memories of, like Iker [Casillas], Sergio [Ramos], the coach, who I was with at AC Milan, and obviously [Zinedine] Zidane.

"I miss being with them and that is why I have come to see them.

"Right now I am working so that the World Cup in Brazil is the best ever. I have a lot of work, but I am very pleased to be doing it. We are all very excited about the next World Cup." -------------------------

Serena bags world number one year-end crown for third time

Serena bags world number one year-end crown for third time

Serena bags world number one year-end crown for third time
New York: Serena Williams has clinched the year-end women`s world number one ranking for the third time in her career after winning two grand slam titles during an excellent 2013.

The American has compiled a 67-4 record this season and won nine singles titles on the WTA Tour, including the French Open and the US Open crowns.

The 32-year-old, who became the oldest women`s player to clinch the top ranking when she returned to number one in February, has won more than $9 million in prize money in 2013 so far, the WTA said in a statement on their website.

"Serena has proven time and time again throughout her career that she is an incredible champion, both on and off the court," WTA Chief Executive Stacey Allaster said in the statement.

"This season she continues to rewrite the record books, proving she is one of the sport`s greatest athletes of all time."

Williams, who has 55 singles titles and 22 doubles crowns in her career, will be presented with her world number one trophy during the prestigious WTA Championships in Istanbul next month.

China`s Li Na became the fifth player to qualify for the October 22-27 event, where the world`s top eight singles players and top four doubles teams will compete for a $6 million purse.

Williams, Victoria Azarenka, Maria Sharapova and Agnieszka Radwanska have booked the other four spots.

Reuters -----------------------

Sampras believes Federer can win another Grand Slam

Sampras believes Federer can win another Grand Slam

Sampras believes Federer can win another Grand Slam
Washington: American tennis legend Pete Sampras has said that he thinks Swiss player Roger Federer can win another Grand Slam to take his tally to 18.

According to, Sampras stated that many tennis fans have written off Federer like they did him but he believes that if he plays well and stays healthy then the Swiss Maestro has capability to prove people wrong.

The American said that people once also wrote him off but the great players have belief and once Federer has that belief back, he could win another major.

Sampras had not won any Grand Slam for more than two years but then he thrashed top competitors at that time to win 2002 US Open, the report said.

ANI -------------------

Djokovic practices cycling on mountains ahead of China tour

Djokovic practices cycling on mountains ahead of China tour

Djokovic practices cycling on mountains ahead of China tour
Washington: World No.1 Novak Djokovic is working hard on his fitness and practicing cycling on the mountains to increase chances of holding on to his ranking, which he is in danger of losing to Spanish player Rafael Nadal.

According to, the Serbian player showed it to the world when he posted his photo while cycling on Twitter and Facebook.

The 26-year-old wrote a caption with the photo that he had great practice in the mountains and was now on his way to the airport, the next stop being China.

Djokovic will play an ATP 500 event in Beijing from Monday and from the next week; he will be playing in an ATP Masters 1000 event in Shanghai, the report said.

ANI --------------------

Li Na signed as Right to Play ambassador

Li Na signed as Right to Play ambassador

Li Na signed as Right to Play ambassador
Washington: Chinese player Li Na has been signed on as an ambassador for Right to Play, an organization that uses sports to educate and empower kids facing adversity.

According to, the announcement was made when the world no. 5 visited the Right To Play programs at Beijing School For The Blind.

Li said that being with the children helped her to gain perspective as an athlete and it is hard to imagine being a child and not having the chance to play, adding that it was every child`s right, no matter where they come from or what their abilities are.

Right To Play reaches one million children across over 20 countries, the report said.

Li Na has become a global icon following her 2011 French Open triumph, making her the first Asian player to win a singles grand slam title, the report added.

ANI ---------------------

Sone Aluko: The outstanding Nigerian performer in the EPL

Sone Aluko has imbued Hull with confidence

Sone Aluko: The outstanding Nigerian performer in the EPL

Sone Aluko has imbued Hull with confidence
The Hull City forward was one of many Super Eagles stars to have enjoyed a great few days in the Premier League, here, Goal takes a look at his impact for the Tigers

By Ed Dove
Once again last week was a fine weekend for the Nigerian contingent in the Premier League. However, despite excellent outings for a number of our stars, it was one of the least heralded among them that stole the show.
In the West London derby between Chelsea and Fulham, John Obi Mikel finally got off the mark for the Blues, prompting jubilation among his teammates.
It has taken 185 games for the Super Eagles talisman to break his EPL duck, and now, finally, after 282 outings in all competitions—after picking up almost every honour known to mankind—Mikel finally made the net ripple for Jose Mourinho’s men.
While the goal didn’t quite manage to detract from a wholly uninspiring performance by Chelsea, the fine, agile finish will doubtless live long in the memory of fans for whom Mikel’s key offensive contributions have been about as frequent as Ghanaian victories at the Cup of Nations.

Mikel: Slowly Catching Up with Lampard
Victor Moses’s promising start to life away from Stamford Bridge continued this week despite Liverpool going down 1-0 to both Southampton, in the league, and Manchester United in the English League Cup. The Nigerian superstar offers directness and ferocious pace, dovetailing well with Danny Sturridge, Luis Suarez and, one imagines, Philippe Coutinho when the Brazilian eventually returns from his injury problems.
As well as offering exceptional off the ball work and incisive movement as part of a forward three, Moses has also shown a propensity to drop deeper in his early games under Brendan Rodgers. I was impressed with his ability to do this during the Cup of Nations triumph earlier in the year, particularly in the rout of Mali. His increasing involvement in the build-up play and his improved game time on Merseyside will surely be of benefit to the national side over the coming months.
Down in the Black Country, Victor Anichebe entered the fray as a substitute to great effect as his new club, West Bromwich Albion, downed Sunderland.

Anichebe: A Change of Pace
The Black Cats defence was—admittedly—not up to much, but Big Vic’s strength and poise was evident as he controlled and protected the ball well before laying it off to Morgan Amalfitano to score the side’s third goal.
The former Everton man entered the contest as a 68th minute substitute for Nicholas Anelka, his powerful play as a target man coming as a welcome contrast to Le Sulk’s deeper, more creative influence. The pair’s contrasting styles, as well as the pacy work of Shane Long, give the Baggies some exciting options in attack.
If Anichebe continues in this encouraging vein, then surely it should be he, rather than Shola Ameobi, who offers the presence and muscle in the Super Eagles’ attack.
Over at Ameobi’s home stadium, St. James' Park, Newcastle United’s fans were sent into a state of shock by the Magpies’ inadequacies and the bullish determination of their opponents, Hull City. Last year’s Championship play-off winners secured one of the results of the season by beating Alan Pardew’s boys 3-2.
Here, Nigeria’s own Sone Aluko was the star of the show, the game’s outstanding individual and, ultimately, the difference-maker.

Aluko: Does What the Night does to the Day
Predicted by many to be little more than relegation fodder before the season began, the Tigers have already picked up seven points, losing only to Manchester City and Chelsea, and currently sit in eleventh place after five games. Many observers are being forced to reassess their expectations of the team and their previous evaluations of Hull’s squad.
Aluko, along with Robbie Brady, looks to be a natural fit in the Premier League, while Steve Bruce’s decision to sign Tommy Huddlestone from Tottenham and also acquire Jake Livermore on loan has given the central midfield both creativity and combativeness.
Against Newcastle, the Nigerian forward, whose season was curtailed by injury so cruelly last term, was positively glowing. He provided the assist for Brady on 26 minutes and then sealed the clash 15 minutes before the end with a delicious volley. The technique was sublime, the inventiveness admirable and the spectacle—breathtaking.
Beyond providing his team with an invaluable three points and the precious, morale-boosting reality of an away victory, Aluko has announced himself to the EPL with a collection of impressive performances.
While the season will be long and perilous, Hull’s early performances have changed the perception of the team within the context of the league. Already, they are no longer the new boys, the rabbit in the headlights, they look a composed, competent unit, menacing on the break, lethal down the flanks and more than capable of dictating a game on their terms.
Aluko has been, and will continue to be, a key feature of this reassessment.

Aluko & Nigeria: Soon to be Reunited?
For Nigeria, this can only be very encouraging news. After over half a season devastated by injury, Aluko has burst into the Premier League with a point to prove and with the ability to prove it, very forcefully, and very emphatically.
Surely his very pertinent, very visible contributions to the tapestry of the EPL will not be going unnoticed by Stephen Keshi. The former Aberdeen man was ignored ahead of the Malawi qualifiers, but with his pace, versatility and innovation on show for all to see, it can’t be long before the Big Boss decides to recruit him back into the fold.
Aluko has imbued everyone involved with Hull with the confidence that the team are not merely here to make up the numbers, but are here to genuinely compete with the big boys and be proactive, rather than merely reactive. There is no reason why the forward, who already has two caps for the national side, cannot prompt a similar response among Nigerians. ----------------------

Mourinho blocked my progress, says Villas-Boas

Mourinho blocked my progress, says Villas-Boas

Mourinho blocked my progress, says Villas-Boas
London: Extra spice was added to Tottenham`s clash with Chelsea on Saturday after Andre Villas-Boas said he went into management when his coaching ambitions were thwarted by Jose Mourinho at Inter Milan.

The two Portuguese managers will be in opposing dugouts for the first time when their teams meet in the Premier League, four years after Villas-Boas quit Mourinho`s backroom staff at Inter to take a job back home with Academica.

The pair had been close, Villas-Boas working under Mourinho at Porto and Chelsea before the spell together in Serie A signalled the end of their working relationship.

The Tottenham manager had been an opposition scout for Mourinho but wanted a more hands-on coaching role, only to be rebuffed.

"My relationship with him professionally and personally was excellent, as you can imagine, because we worked so many years together," he told reporters at Tottenham`s training facilities in Enfield on Thursday.

"Our break-up point was because I was full of ambition to give him something extra and I wanted further involvement to the job that I was doing at the time which was scouting and match preparation.

"I felt that I could give him much more so my initial idea was to keep working with him but he did not feel the need for someone near to him or in another position as an assistant and because of that we both decided it was time."

Villas-Boas denied there was any on-going feud between the coaches who have strikingly similar career paths with varying degrees of success.

They are on speaking terms, but are no longer close friends.

"We talked at the Premier League managers meeting when we were there in August, but since then no," Villas-Boas added.

The Tottenham boss may feel he has a point to prove at White Hart Lane against the team who sacked him after only eight months in the job.


Tottenham`s excellent start to the season has put them two points clear of their London rivals, having won eight of their nine competitive games this campaign and conceding a solitary goal.

Victory would provide them with a healthy cushion and might also offer food for thought to Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich who was quick to pull the trigger on Villas-Boas`s reign at Stamford Bridge having tasked him with rejuvenating the squad.

The Tottenham manager, who set out his stall to challenge for the title when he took the job last year, feels Saturday`s match is unlikely to have a decisive impact on the final table and what he believes could be the tightest title race in years.

"It can change very quickly, at the moment we are on a good run. There aren`t any teams on maximum points, so this year it will be very tight at the top," he added.

"We could have the tightest Premier League in years. What is happening to us now, puts us in a positive mood, but we just have to continue trying to get the most amount of points possible.

"It is very early stages, anything can change dramatically, this game will not have any significant impact," Villas-Boas said.

"Whatever comes out, I`m not sure it will have a great impact on the classification at the end of the season, but we want to do well and build on our confidence."

Reuters -----------------

Germany striker Klose doubtful for World Cup qualifiers

Germany striker Klose doubtful for World Cup qualifiers

Germany striker Klose doubtful for World Cup qualifiers
Berlin: Germany forward Miroslav Klose could miss the World Cup qualifiers against Ireland and Sweden next month after undergoing foot surgery late on Wednesday, Germany coach Joachim Loew said on Thursday.

"I have been informed about his surgery and will directly speak with him," Loew said of Klose, who plays for Italian club Lazio.

Lazio said on its website Klose would start his recovery immediately after the surgery. Klose`s Germany team mate Mario Gomez has already been ruled out of those games with a knee injury.

Max Kruse had been called up for the last two internationals earlier this month.

"I still do not know what kind of impact his absence will have on the nominations for the games against Ireland and Sweden. I will name the squad at the end of next week," Loew said.

Germany, top of Group C next host Ireland on October 11 before finishing off away to Sweden four days later. They need two points from the two games to guarantee top spot.

Reuters ----------------------

Balotelli apologises and says he was provoked

Balotelli apologises and says he was provoked

Balotelli apologises and says he was provoked
Milan: Maverick AC Milan forward Mario Balotelli has apologised for a sending-off against Napoli which earned him a three-match ban but claimed he was provoked.

Balotelli was dismissed for arguing with the referee at the end of Sunday`s 2-1 home defeat and suspended the following day.

"I apologise to my team mates, who train hard every day. I also apologise to the referee," he said in an interview with Sky Sports Italia. "I reacted the wrong way to provocation.

"Mario has made a mistake," he added. "He has been provoked and made a mistake in reacting.

"If Mario makes a bad mistake, Mario should be punished...But against Napoli it was the same old story, the fouls against me didn`t count for anything, I was the only one who could do anything wrong."

Reuters ------------------

Guardiola to celebrate Bayern success with Oktoberfest delights

Guardiola to celebrate Bayern success with Oktoberfest delights

Guardiola to celebrate Bayern success with Oktoberfest delights
London:Bayern Munich manager Pep Guardiola is reportedly set to don leather breeches (lederhosen) and sample the alcoholic and culinary delights at the upcoming German festival Oktoberfest to celebrate his flying start to life in Munich.

Bayern is currently vying for top spot in the Bundesliga alongside Borussia Dortmund, with both clubs level-pegging on 16 points, and has already added the UEFA Super Cup to their collection of trophies this season, following a penalties victory over Chelsea.

According to, the Spaniard, who was the former manager of Barcelona, joined Bayern in early 2013 and is ready to celebrate the club`s success under his tutelage with beer, bratwurst, lager and women in frocks at the Oktoberfest.
The report mentioned that Guardiola has worn the traditional Bavarian lederhosen outfit during the club`s annual photoshoot.

ANI -----------------------

England's football failures down to poor coaching standards, says Patrick Vieira

England's football failures down to poor coaching standards, says Patrick Vieira

The number of foreigners in the Premier League is not the reason for England's lack of success, according to the former Arsenal midfielder
Patrick Vieira: Adamant foreign players are not to be blamed for lack of success
Patrick Vieira: Adamant foreign players are not to be blamed for lack of success
Patrick Vieira says that England's failures at major tournaments cannot be blamed on the amount of foreign talent plying their trade in the Premier League.
The ex-France midfielder, who is now Manchester City's elite development squad coach, said: "I believe the game has changed and if the game has changed that means we need to change our methods.
"The problem is deeper than just saying there are too many foreigners.
"The methods in England haven't changed as much as the game has changed."
Football Association chairman Greg Dyke recently stated that the national side needed more Englishmen playing regularly in the top flight.
The number of English players under the age of 21 in the Premier League dropped to its lowest level last season.
And only 25 of the 137 transfers made during the summer window were English.
But Premier League clubs have vowed to back the new FA commission which will be set up to try to boost the number of English players in the top flight.
The 20 club chairmen met Dyke to thrash out the details of the new body - and it was agreed clubs, the Premier League's board and leading officials would all contribute to its work.

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Gustavo: Even Bayern have a weak point

Gustavo: Even Bayern have a weak point

Gustavo: Even Bayern have a weak point

The Brazilian says Saturday's return to the Allianz Arena will be emotional, while Wolfsburg coach Dieter Hecking is confident in his team's chances

Wolfsburg midfielder Luiz Gustavo has suggested that even reigning European and Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich have a weakness.

The 26-year-old left die Roten for an undisclosed fee believed to be around €20 million following Pep Guardiola's arrival this summer and he is predicting that an emotional but winnable return to the Allianz Arena on Saturday.

"Every team has a weak point," the Brazil international is quoted as saying by Bild. "But Bayern will keep improving.

"It will be an emotional day. I will see many friends again."

Meanwhile, Wolfsburg coach Dieter Hecking believes that his team have an outside chance of taking a point or three back to the Volkswagen Arena, but is aware that Bayern can blow away any team in Germany.

"I think every coach has to try to seem confident before a game in Munich against Bayern," Hecking said ahead of Saturday's fixture. "You have to believe you can play successful football.

"But they are unbelievably dominant; in their last game they changed five or six players and they played like they would play every weekend.

"They're the biggest and best quality this league has to offer but we have to go there and we have to believe in ourselves.

"We are allowed to do everything, we can attack, we can defend and we also can have fun. Of course it's going to be tough, though. Everybody knows that."

Wolfsburg, who sit sixth in the Bundesliga with three wins and three defeats, will kick-off their visit to second-placed Bayern at 15:30CET. ----------------------

'Messi defied Guardiola in front of Barcelona team-mates'

'Messi defied Guardiola in front of Barcelona team-mates'

'Messi defied Guardiola in front of Barcelona team-mates'

The Argentine star "humiliated" the former Barca boss in front of the whole squad, according to ex-New York Red Bulls coach Hans Backe

Lionel Messi deliberately went against the orders of his former Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola, according to ex-New York Red Bulls boss Hans Backe.

The 61-year-old has never previously had any direct association with Barca, but his tenure in charge of the Red Bulls coincided with the stays of Thierry Henry and Rafael Marquez, both of whom were Blaugrana players when the alleged incident occurred.

Backe told Sweden's TV4 that Messi intentionally disobeyed instructions from Guardiola in front of the entire Barcelona squad before a game in 2009, though, he refused to reveal his source.

"It was three hours before the game when all the players were sitting and eating, and Messi said he wanted a can of coke," he said.

"Guardiola replied that no player should drink cola three hours before a game.

"So Messi got up and left, returned a few minutes later with a can of cola and drank it right in front of Guardiola and the rest of the team.

"Imagine what would have happened when a player with the profile of Messi goes against the coach in this way?

"It was a war Guardiola could not win; it was impossible." ---------------------

Story of a Black Doll: Meet football agent Eby Emenike

Eby Emenike is a female player agent who has earned lots of acclaim in mainstream football and keeps doing so. Goal caught up with her to find out why

By Nana Frimpong

In the predominantly masculine world of football player management, one female has dared venture and successfully carve a niche that suits her lovable yet ethical personality quite snugly.

                                GORGEOUS | The Black Doll is on the path to break more grounds

Indeed British-Nigerian Eby Emenike (no relation of the Super Eagles striker who bears the same surname) has defied the status quo and dug her high-heeled shoes deep into the trenches of a macho system and has successfully managed feats that few of her male colleagues would ever dare attempt; exploits like bridging the vast chasm between the sciences of football and chemical engineering, as well as finding a common wavelength of operation between a football club in England’s North-East and another in Ghana’s second-largest city. All these Eby has achieved under the rather unusual alias of being 'The Black Doll'.

Hearing Eby relate how she actually got into mainstream soccer is quite a story in itself.

“I set up a business with a colleague in 2006, working with Ghanaian footballers on the Public Relations and charity side of things,” she narrated in a chat with Goal.

“In 2009,” she continued, “I shifted focus to player management because I saw a few ways in which I believed I could help young players.”

A year later, she took the agents' examination in England, passed, and received an FA-issued license.

Subsequently, she split from her business partner and established TBD Management, under whose auspices Eby recruited the likes of Asamoah Gyan, Didier Drogba and Salomon Kalou for WASH United, a German NGO that promotes water sanitation and hygiene in Africa.

Growing up in a household with a father and sister who were huge fans of Leeds United - Leeds being Eby's city of birth and where she was raised for the most part - she always had a soft spot for the beautiful game, a spot eventually triggered by certain footballing acquaintances she made back at the University of Leeds. Eby, through her interaction with these players - mostly Africans like herself - came to realise there existed 'a gap', one that few of the players themselves were really conscious of yet which Eby, ambitious as she was, sought to bridge anyway.

Still, it took further prompting to fully psyche her up for the work, and she found that bit of inspiration during a period when she regularly visited Ghana - between 2006 and 2009 - while working with former Ghana captain Stephen Appiah's StepApp Foundation.

“Watching talented young players feature in the 'StepApp to Sports' series of charity games really piqued my interest. I enjoyed mentoring a couple of players who were scouted at the event, one being Selorm Geraldo, who spent a season at Red Bull Academy in Sogakope and is currently on the books of Dansoman-based Liberty Professionals in the Ghana Premier League.”

That experience set Eby’s little football heart ticking, and in the years that have followed she has done much to keep it so. More than a mere passion, however, Eby has considered her job a true mission; a mission to correct certain wrongs she had observed in the player agency/management business while surveying the field prior to venturing into it herself.

“Some agents sign players, collect fees, and then disappear without a trace. Others lie and feed their clients false/inaccurate information."

Eby cited an experience which well illustrates her point: “I once had a player confide that an agent had assured him he was actually better than one of the best players in the English Premier League and thus should not be playing in Ghana - just the kind of ego-stroking that could make a really desperate footballer act on every whim of a manipulative agent. I have also had players in first and second division teams approach me regarding how some fraudulent agent promised to bring them to the UK - a possibility that anyone well-versed in the business knows is practically non-existent primarily due to work permit restrictions.”

Indeed Eby has proved a cut above most by striving to live up to her lofty standards and doing so to brilliant effect, with the most outstanding example being the case of Finland-based Gideon Baah.

Baah had been a promising talent ever since he won the maiden edition of the MTN Soccer Academy in 2007, a football reality show that featured and groomed some of the best football talent in Ghana. By 2010, he had established himself as first-choice left-back for record Ghana league champions Kumasi Asante Kotoko via transits at Zaytuna and Stay Cool Professionals. Just when Baah seemed ready to hit his stride, however, disaster - of the worst kind any footballer could imagine - struck.

In March 2010, Baah suffered a terrible injury when the Porcupine Warriors played archrivals Hearts of Oak in a derby. At the time, it seemed a promising career had withered even before it truly blossomed, and few doubted Baah would even recover fully, talk less of reviving his football.

A 20-month-long period drenched in blood, sweat, and tears ensued, and at the very beginning of it all, Eby stepped in and swiftly catalyzed what had thus far been a painfully dragging process, guiding Baah every step of the way. She recounted how she chanced on Baah in the first place, and with much nostalgia.

"He was recommended to me by an old school friend whose aunt went to church with Gideon's. I was told he had been badly injured but would be back on the field within three months. Research I did on him yielded some positive results and thus I requested that he contact me when next I was in Ghana."

Apparently, Baah’s likeable personality proved as much a lure as the sheer tragicness of his story, and Eby found it out to be quite so. 

"When I met him - aided by crutches and with his injured limb cast in Plaster-of-Paris (PoP) - I took to him
"Some agents sign players, collect fees, and then disappear without a trace. Others lie and feed their clients false/inaccurate information"
instantly. In spite of the gloomy present and uncertain future, Baah's humility, determination and strength quickly shone through.

"I went back to the UK and started putting a plan into action to get him back on his feet. To start with, I got in touch with Kotoko and Dr. Awariyah - the physician at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital who performed Baah's required surgeries - and eventually secured for him a trip to Hearts of Midlothian FC in 2011 so he could benefit from the Scottish club’s well-resourced physiotherapy department.”

After the grim narration, however, came the happy 'climax' to the Baah story which Eby recounts with all the satisfaction of a lady who considers her job quite well done.

"It gives me so much joy to observe just how far he has reached in terms of his recuperation, coupled with the thrill of watching him play in the Europa League this year. Quite a few people told me he had 'had it' and that he could never - emphasis on 'never'- recover from such an injury. All that kind of talk just strengthened my resolve to keep supporting him and 'bring him back'."

Back from the dead, as it were.

After Baah had been nurtured back to optimum health and fitness, Eby felt the need to go a step further with him. In his absence, Baah's place at Kotoko had been taken by another and thus the need to find a club where he would be guaranteed greater opportunity. In a wholly unprecedented move, Eby successfully scouted and found Baah a loan deal with an European club, FC Honka of Finland, where the guardsman has proved so successful his transfer has recently been made permanent and now even - as Eby inferred earlier - features in European competition.

That's all, then?


To Eby, Baah isn't yet the finished product. She foresees Baah reaching greater heights and seemingly has plans firmly in place to help him realise those goals. But, of course, she prefers to keep her cards close to her chest and isn't prepared to let too much away yet. The most she can utter at present is urge fans of Baah to “watch this space and keep supporting him.”

We sure will, Eby.

Quite a few people told me he had 'had it' and that he could never - emphasis on 'never'- recover from such an injury. All that kind of talk just strengthened my resolve to keep supporting him

- Eby
Her dealings with Baah earned Eby direct contact with officials of Kumasi Asante Kotoko, thus laying the grounds for arguably her greatest coup yet: the landmark partnership between Kotoko and England’s Sunderland that she struck.

Again, Eby has the inside story on this one, but wouldn't disclose it till our next session. Watch this space for part two. ----------------------