Monday, 6 October 2014

Darko Milanic Watermelon Test: 3 Games In [picture]

Massimo Cellino gave the watermelon test to a grand total of 36 managers during his 22 years in charge of Italian side Cagliari and this conveyor belt method of selection shows no sign of slowing after having taken over at Leeds.

With Brian McDermott, David Hockaday and Neil Redfearn having already been pulped in Massimo’s quest for the perfect manager, next in the firing line is previously unheard of Slovenian coach Darko Milanic.

Opting to roll the dice once again on another unknown and untested manager, Cellino gave an early vote of no confidence stating: 'I don't know why I've chosen Milanic. The coaches are like watermelons. You find out about them when you open them. His particular qualities? He is good looking, what can I tell you?'

Having a tough act to follow after Neil Redfearns decent interim spell, Milanic has yet to earn his first victory for the Whites since his installation last month. The Slovenian opened with a 2-0 defeat to Brentford and then followed it up with a nil-nil draw against Reading at Elland Road. He then made it two points out of a possible nine after fighting back to earn a 1-1 draw against Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday.

It is far off promotion form, however Leeds currently sit just six points behind league leaders Norwich. When asked about the chances of a play-off place Milanic refused to be drawn, stating: 'My job is to improve the team. I have to see the players on the field in a big game like this and they have the quality, yes. There's enough quality. But my job is to improve them like I said. We're working very hard to make a good team.'

Are you a betting man (or woman)? How many managers will Cellino get through in his first season at Elland road? For those who like a bit of online football betting check out the odds of Leeds here

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Hart's Not In It [picture]

Joe Hart was left sat on the bench for Manchester City's game against Hull this afternoon, with Manuel Pellegrini opting to give Willy Cabellero his Premier League debut rather than playing the England ace.

Pellegrini stated after the signing of Cabellero in the summer transfer window that he would not have a number 1 keeper and that either man could make the starting line up for any game, regardless of the competition.

He lived up to his word opting to play the Argentine keeper in consective games following his clean sheet City's mid-week Carling Cup game against Sheffield Wednesday. Speaking after today's game, Pellegrini stated: 'I think for Willy it was good to play not just one game but to play two in a row.'

'Joe played eight games in 32 days, a lot of games for a goalkeeper. I have a squad of 22, 23 players and I make rotations because I think it is better for the team. In this case I think it was good for Willy.'

There has been speculation linking Hart with a move away from City, which could gain further momentum if Pellegrini continues to opt for his former Malaga pal Cabellero. Hart is yet to be offered a new contract with City which has given rise to rumours that he could leave the Etihad for Premier League rivals Liverpool.

Speaking about his contract situation, Hart stated: 'nything about a new contract is news to me. I’ve heard nothing. I’ve got a year, nearly two years, left on my deal. That is all I am aware of.'

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Billy Sharp Signs as Leeds reinforce squad

Souleymane Doukara scored twice on his first competitive outing at Elland Road as Leeds beat Accrington Stanley in the first round of the Capital One cup. David Hockaday’s side provided a much improved performance from Saturday’s loss against Millwall and were deservedly 2-0 ahead at half time. Accrington improved after the break and James Gray scored a late consolation for Accrington in the 84th minute. Leeds’ new signing Gaetano Berardi saw red in the 88th minute after a reckless flying tackle which led to a nervy last few minutes for the home side.

Leeds have added to their ranks this afternoon having announced the signing of Billy Sharp on a two year deal from Southampton. The experienced striker will help to replace goals missing since Ross McCormack departed Leeds this summer.

Leeds look set to announce three new signings this week as Massimo Cellino aims to improve his squad. Guiseppe Bellusci, 24, has signed a season long loan deal from Catania with the option for of a permanent deal at the end of the season. Chesterfield have also announced that a fee had been agreed for their central defender Liam Cooper after Leeds came back with an improved third offer for the 22 year old.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Wenger: Mourinho truly is the Special (at failure) One [picture]

Wenger has finally done it. The curse is lifted and the famine is over, Arsenal have won a trophy. You may not have heard, but it had been nine barren season's for the Gunner's without silverware. Thankfully with the winning of the FA Cup last Saturday that statistic can be put to bed and Wenger can focus on more important things, like doing battle with unruly coat zippers.

With the passing of one managers trophy drought, so beginneth another. Jose Mourinho followed up from his final season at Madrid with another trophyless season at Chelsea and as Arsene can attest they quickly start to stack up.

Mourinho branded Wenger a 'specialist at failure' earlier in the season and had looked to be proven right when the Gunner's Premier League title challenge fizzled out in trademark fashion, but a lifeline was provided when they scraped past Wigan on penalties in the Semi-final of the FA Cup.

Arsenal's bad luck had looked to have struck again when Hull went 2-0 ahead in the first eight minutes of the FA Cup final, but a hard fought comeback saw them win 3-2. Silverware was finally being brought back to the Emmirates and a smile was brought back to Wenger's face.

Speaking to Channel 4 following Arsenal's triumph, Mourinho stated through clenched teeth: 'I know. In the last nine years, Arsenal won an FA Cup. That’s a nice moment for them.'

Monday, 12 May 2014

No Sleep for Stevie [picture]

Steven Gerrard may suffer one or two poor nights sleep after Liverpool lost out in the Premiership title race to Manchester City after having been in the driving seat with three league games to go. The Liverpool captain had implored his team-mates not to let their lead at the top of the table slip following the win over City, only to play a pivitol role in the demise of his sides title challenge. His costly slip during the game against Chelsea helped hand the advantage back to City in the title race. Oh sweet irony!

Speaking following confirmation that City had clinched the league with a 2-0 victory over West Ham, Gerrard stated: 'I'm absolutely devastated. Personally gutted and gutted for the fans. They've been magnificent but we can't be too down because it's been a fantastic season and we need to bounce back for next year and try and go one better. It took me until I'm 33 to get the experience of a proper title race so the experience for these young lads is going to be vital and there is a lot of ability in the squad. It's growing and it's moving forward and hopefully we can keep improving it.'

'We have to congratulate Manchester City because they've been the best over 38 games so congratulations to them. I can certainly play at this level for another year for sure because I feel so fit and so strong and even though I am getting on. But the idea for me is to carry on until my legs pack in, but I will know when the day comes, but it is not here just yet.;

'Champions League was the target but if somebody asked me if we would go to the last day in the title race I wouldn't have believed them. It was our target the top four but after going on a run of 11 wins we got a bit of belief and we started dreaming. We gave it our best shot unfortunately we fell short of it, but if that point at Crystal Palace or the three points today got us in the top four we would be celebrating for weeks now.'

Saturday, 19 April 2014

This Doesn't Slip? Liverpool to win the Title [picture]

Steven Gerrard was heard giving his Liverpool a impassioned post-game speech after beating Manchester City at Anfield last Sunday in which he implored his team mates not to allow any points to be lost in the remaining four games of the season.

Liverpool's fate is in their own hands and Gerrard can win his first ever Premiership title if every one of their remaining fixtures are won. After having won the previous ten Premier League games, Brendan Roger's Liverpool juggernaut shows no sign of stopping, however Gerrard wants his side to take nothing for granted as they near the finish line.

In the centre of  a huddle of his celebrating team mates, Gerrard shouted: 'This does not f*****g slip. We keep going. Listen! Listen! We go to Norwich. Exactly the same.'

Speaking after the game Gerrard elaborated further on the attitude he feels his side needs to take going into the season final fixtures. 'Every game is getting bigger because we are getting closer to the last game of the season,' said Gerrard. 'Man City was always going to be huge because they are in the race with us but Norwich now become Man City. Norwich become Chelsea. Norwich become Manchester United. That's how big it is.'

'We have got to treat Norwich like we treated AC Milan in 2005. That's just how football is. We can't think about what colour shirts Norwich are wearing and the personnel in them. We have got to treat them like the best team in the world.'

'It is a remarkable run but you get nothing for it. You get a pat on the back. We've all had them but they come and go. What is key as a footballer is getting something to show for all the hard work. We have been on a magnificent run. We could win 13 on the spin but lose the last one and we will get nothing. Nobody will remember it. The only way people will remember it is if we go on and win it.'

'We have got to forget where we are and forget what we have done. We have just got to focus and prepare for Norwich now. We have got to treat it like it is the last game of all our careers. That is the mentality.'

Sunday, 23 March 2014

F.T Phone Home [picture]

Fernando Torres has hinted that he would like to make a move back to his former club Atletico as the next step in his career, citing his desire to work once again with former teammate Diego Simone as an opportunity he would like to take up.

Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho has made no secret of his desire to bring in a new forward over the summer and it is possible Torres could be sold off as they look to strenghen their attack.

When speaking to Spanish newspaper AS this week, Torres stated: 'In football you never know. You can't be sure where you're going to be tomorrow or in a week or in 10 years.

'I have a lot of admiration for Diego Simeone from when we were team-mates. He helped me a lot and taught me to be captain. He taught me many things in our seasons together at Atleti.'

'I always want to work alongside people I admire. I admired from the outside Rafael Benitez and had the opportunity to work with him. It was the same with Jose Mourinho and Luis Aragones.'

'I have been fortunate to work with people who you say from the outside 'What do they have? What is their secret? Why do all their teams win?' Simeone is like Guardiola or other coaches. You'd get to see how they train.'

'The twists and turns of life are unknown. I don't have to meet Simeone either here at Chelsea or with Atleti. Who would have said I would work with Benitez at two English teams?'

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

The Beginning of the End for Arsenal's Title Challenge [picture]

Is Arsenal's season about to implode? Looking at the gruelling set of fixtures in store for the Gunner's this month, it may well do. With Premiership visits to White Hart Lane and Stamford Bridge as well as tough home games against Swansea and Manchester City it isn't difficult to see them losing ground in the title race.

It has been noted following Arsenal's defeat against Stoke last weekend that things have often gone pear shaped in the months of February and March in regards to their recent title challenges and manager Arsene Wenger has admitted that their defeat against the Potter's was a massive setback in their quest for silverware this season.

The defeat leaves them four points behind league leaders Chelsea and with their most promising campaign in years taking an ominous turn for the worse. Speaking about their defeat, Wenger stated: 'It is not slightly worrying, it's a big worry to lose a game like that. In a game like that, we didn't produce the performance that we wanted. To win a title when you are expected to perform, you have to perform, it's as simple as that. It was a massive setback.'

Also in store for Arsenal this month is a trip to Munich where they must try to overturn a 2-0 defeat sustained in the first leg of their Champions League Round of 16 tie with Bayern as well as a tricky FA Cup match against Everton.

It is a familiar story, but it could well be yet another trophyless season for Arsenal as they edge closer towards a barren decade of missed opportunities.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Will Wenger still be smiling in May? [picture]

We are half way through January and Arsenal are still yet to relinquish their grasp on the top spot in the League. Although few have tipped the Gunners to go the distance and both Chelsea and Manchester City have shorter odds at the bookies, belief is begining to build amongst the Arsenal camp that they can win the Premiership for the first time since 2004.

Following their 2-1 victory over Aston Villa on Monday night, Arsenal lead the pack by a single point and defender Per Mertesacker believes they have ahown they have what it take to handle the pressure of Chelsea and Manchester City snapping at their heels.

Speaking to the Sun, Mertesacker stated: 'We look at ourselves and think we are good enough to respond to any challenge others give us. It is always harder to play on a Monday night, especially as all the teams at the top also won.'

'No-one dropped any points at all, so there was a bit of added pressure. The team could definitely feel it, but we responded. Away from home, people may have been expecting us to drop points but we just kept going.'

'We went back to the top of the league. And that was important, because it let the other teams see that Arsenal are still alive and able to respond to anything. They gave us a big task by winning but we also gave them a good idea of what this Arsenal team is about.'

'Against Aston Villa, we showed the other teams that we can feel the pressure but still win. It's really tight at the top at the moment, so there is no chance to drop any points. We showed them all how resilient we are now.'

With a lack of strikers and a number of injury problems some feel reinforcements are required this January in order to bolster Arsenal's title challenge. Will Wenger still be smiling in May?

Sunday, 12 January 2014

No World Cup for Walcott [picture]

England's World Cup hopes suffered a major blow this week, when it was confirmed that Arsenal winger Theo Walcott would miss out on the competetion due to damaging his knee. Walcott suffered an injury to his anterior cruciate ligament during Arsenal's 2-0 win over North London rivals Tottenham, ensuring he would miss out on the rest of the Premiership campaign with the Gunners.

Roy Hodgson and Arsene Wenger have expressed their dismay at the news which is sure to make a dent in each their hopes for success in the upcoming months, but both have tipped Walcott to come back stronger than ever following recovery from the injury.

Speaking to Hodgson said: 'It is such a shame that we have lost a player of his calibre for the World Cup, he has been incredibly unfortunate and we wish him a speedy recovery. Having worked with him for two years as England manager I know the character he has, and I know he will come back even stronger from this setback.'

Walcott was approached by a number of specialist who claimed they could provide operations that would get him back in action before the World Cup, but he had rejected any quick fix options to ensure he has a full and safe recovery from the injury.

Arsene Wenger has backed the decision stating: 'That's a disease you have everywhere in the world. There's always people who promise miracles but when you make more enquiries on their surgeries you cannot find a football player who is a top athlete to prove their statement is right.'

'We have enough experience on cruciate injuries to know that the minimum time is six months to come back. It is absolutely unbelievable his career. Theo went to the World Cup when he was certainly not ready to go and when he was ready to go, he was not selected. Now this time when nobody disputes that he will go, he is out through injury. It is unbelievable.'