AVB: SPECULATION WILL CONTINUE

Andre Villas-Boas admitted speculation over his future would only intensify after Chelsea lurched to yet another defeat that left them in danger of Champions League elimination.

Villas-Boas watched his Blues produce their latest defensive horror show to lose their last-16 first leg 3-1 and pile the pressure on their beleaguered boss.

And he acknowledged afterwards his side had shot themselves in the foot yet again as they extended their winless run to five matches.

The Portuguese has repeatedly insisted he has the full backing of billionaire owner Roman Abramovich but this performance would have done nothing to convince the Russian to deliver the vote of confidence his manager now needs more than ever.

“Speculation will continue as the results don’t happen,” Villas-Boas said.

Having thrown away leads with alarming regularity both at home and abroad this season, Chelsea duly did so again as captain John Terry’s injury absence continued to tell.

Juan Mata gave them the dream start but all three of Napoli’s subsequent goals were the result of poor defending, even if Edinson Cavani’s second carried suspicions of handball.

Villas-Boas said: “We have to solve these mistakes at the back.

“We need this concentration right and this efficiency right, for sure.

“At the moment, without John, a very important player for the team, we have suffered a lot of goals recently.

“We had improved a lot at the beginning of January, so we have missed John.

“But we have full belief in these players and we have to continue to work with them to get it right.”

David Luiz’s latest mistake was the most costly, gifting Napoli the third goal that made them firm favourites to win the tie.

“It’s obvious that that player has become a target,” said Villas-Boas.

“He’s a fantastic young player with a big future ahead of him, and he has to work to try and be a bit better.

“We suffered three goals. If he’s linked to one, he might not be linked to the other two.”

As well as taking flak for standing by Luiz, Villas-Boas is bound to face criticism for his decision not to start either Frank Lampard or Michael Essien.

Much has been made of the Chelsea boss’ relationship with Lampard in particular, but he insisted his team selection was purely tactical, while Ashley Cole did not start after only just recovering from injury.

“You can have your opinion but it was based on what was the best team in my thoughts,” Villas-Boas said.

“Whatever explanation I give you, in the end it would be a fantastic explanation if we’d won the game.

“Any explanation is now useless given the result of the game, so there’s no point.”

Villas-Boas, who admitted one of the formations he had been toying with but did not end up using had been written on a piece of paper left at the team hotel, added: “I had a conversation with Ashley and Frank.

“Through the players that they are and the players with the experience they have, they felt they could have helped the team.

“That’s perfectly understandable.”

Only three teams have overturned a two-goal first-leg deficit in Champions League history but a defiant Villas-Boas said: “I want us to be the fourth.”

He added: “It’s a negative result, of course, but a result we are sure we can turn around at the Bridge due to the amount of chances we had.”

source: sportinglife.com

STUART PEARCE SET TO EXPERIMENT

It is understood that interim England coach Stuart Pearce will name an inexperienced squad for a friendly date with Holland.

Pearce, who has been handed the national reins in the wake of Fabio Capello’s resignation, is set to announce his squad on Thursday.

It is expected that he will take the opportunity to experiment, with a number of senior stars set to be overlooked.

A meeting with Holland at Wembley on 29th February will see England step up their preparations for Euro 2012.

They need to start piecing together plans for that tournament, but are keen to take a look at as many players as possible before a decision has to be made regarding their final 23-man squad.

As manager of the U21 side, Pearce is fully aware of what the next generation of English talent could bring to the fold.

He is expected to call on a number of those he has worked with during his time with the Young Lions, offering them an opportunity to impress on the biggest stage.

source: sportinglife.com

JOHN TERRY OUT FOR TWO MONTHS

John Terri is set to be out for up to two months after aggravating his knee injury, Press Association Sport understands.

Terry is due to undergo what is understood to be a small procedure on the right knee that has been troubling him ever since he collided with a post in last month’s FA Cup clash with Portsmouth.

Blues boss Andre Villas-Boas had been hoping the 31-year-old would recover in time for Tuesday night’s Champions League clash at Napoli.

But, despite taking part in training last night, the England centre-back woke up in considerable pain at Chelsea’s team hotel this morning and will now miss Tuesday night’s game and next week’s international friendly against Holland.

The news is huge blow to the club, who have not won a match or kept a clean sheet since Terry was first ruled out three weeks ago.

A two-month absence would see him miss potential Champions League and FA Cup quarter-finals as well as a host of crucial Barclays Premier League games as Chelsea struggle to secure a place in the top four.

Terry had played through the pain of what was bruising on the bone for three weeks and the club were hoping a period of rest would see him make a full recovery.

But he is now set to undergo a small procedure in the next 24 hours after the Blues fly home from Tuesday night’s Champions League last 16 first leg.

England caretaker manager Stuart Pearce is scheduled to name his squad for next Wednesday’s friendly with Holland on Thursday morning.

Terry’s absence relieves Pearce of the problem of having to decide whether to pick both the deposed captain and Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand.

Terry lost the armband while he awaits trial for allegedly using a racist slur against Ferdinand’s brother, QPR’s Anton Ferdinand.

Terry denies any wrongdoing and the Football Association’s decision to strip him of the captaincy led to Fabio Capello quitting as England boss almost two weeks ago.

Source sportinglife.com

Carlos Tevez offers apology to Manchester City

Manchester City striker Carlos Tevez has apologised for his recent conduct following his touchline row with manager Roberto Mancini in September.

The 28-year-old returned to the club last week , following a self-imposed, three-month exile in Argentina.

“I wish to apologise sincerely and unreservedly to everybody I have let down and to whom my actions have caused offence,” Tevez said in a statement.

He has also withdrawn his appeal against the club’s misconduct charge.

“My wish is to concentrate on playing football for Manchester City Football Club,” he added.

The Argentina international has been missing from the City squad since November and has not featured for the club after boss Roberto Mancini alleged the striker refused to come on as a substitute during City’s 2-0 defeat by Bayern Munich in a Champions League tie in September, although Tevez claimed there had been a misunderstanding.

Carlos Tevez’s apology marks a significant rapprochement in this often bitter dispute.

It should be viewed as a pragmatic measure by both club and player, following lengthy negotiations this month between Kia Joorabchian, Tevez’s representative, and John McBeath, Manchester City’s acting chief executive.

Having failed to secure a move to, notably, AC Milan in the January transfer window, Tevez faced a choice of continuing to play golf in Argentina or returning to Manchester to fight for his place in the team.

It may still be the case that Tevez moves on in the summer, but for now peace appears to have broken out at the Etihad Stadium.

Straight after the incident, Mancini claimed the Argentine was “finished” at City, though he later suggested an apology would put an end to the matter.

Tevez was suspended and later fined for misconduct before he flew back to South America to begin his unauthorised leave on 7 November, for which he has lost nearly £10m in salary, fines and bonuses payments.

During his three-month absence, the former Manchester United and West Ham striker was linked with transfer window moves to AC Milan, Inter Milan and Paris Saint-Germain but failed to secure a switch away from Manchester.

West Ham chairman David Gold has also revealed his club made a number of attempts to bring Tevez back to Upton Park on loan.

 

Earlier this month relations seemed to have thawed and Mancini named the Argentine in his 25-man squad for the rest of the season.

BBC Sport understands that neither Tevez nor Mancini have spoken to each other since the striker arrived back at Manchester City last Tuesday.

Tevez has since begun a two to three week training program designed to return him to fitness. He is not in the club’s European squad ahead of their Europa League clash against Porto as he is not registered for the competition.

Former Manchester City star Dennis Tueart told BBC Radio 5 live that the Argentine’s return had not surprised him, and insists the club’s handling of the affair was “a message going out to the world of football that we are not a soft touch”.

“Once the transfer window closed and he realised that the grass wasn’t greener elsewhere and no-one else was prepared to pay the money, where else could he go?” said Tueart.

The former winger added that the fine form of City’s strikeforce makes Tevez “fourth choice” and said “if Sergio Aguero keeps producing the goods he has all season, Tevez won’t get a game”.

“If he’s introduced, he will be introduced off the bench and it will be interesting to see what his attitude will be if he’s asked to resume warming up,” said Tueart.

Source: bbc.co.uk

Spurs’ Harry Redknapp to resist lure of England – Levy

Harry Redknapp Redknapp’s side saw a six-game winning run halted by Stoke on Sunday

Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp is not interested in taking on the England manager’s job “at the present time”, according to club chairman Daniel Levy.

“Harry has 18 months left on his contract. As far as Harry is concerned, he is very happy here and he doesn’t particularly want to consider England at the present time,” said Levy.

“We will worry about that situation if it arises in the summer.”

Current England boss Fabio Capello will leave the role at the end of Euro 2012.

Redknapp has previously said the England job would be “hard to turn down” and described the position as “the pinnacle of your career”.
Harry Redknapp’s managerial career

He also claimed in September 2010 that he was taking his career a week at a time.

The 64-year-old took the reins at Tottenham in October 2008 with the team four points adrift at the bottom of the Premier League after a miserable start to the season under Spainard Juande Ramos.

He oversaw a recovery in their form as they climbed to eighth by the end of the campaign and then qualified for the Champions League in his first full season in charge in 2009-10.

Tottenham claimed famous victories over Inter Milan and AC Milan en route to the last eight of the premier European competition and have won plaudits for an attacking style that has taken them to fourth in the Premier League table this season.

Redknapp is due to face trial in January on tax evasion charges relating to his time as manager of previous club Portsmouth.

Meanwhile, the Tottenham boss has been warned over his future conduct following his post-match comments about the performance of referee Chris Foy during the defeat at Stoke.

The Spurs boss said he felt like Foy “was quite enjoying not giving us anything” during the 2-1 defeat.

The Football Association looked at the comments but decided against taking disciplinary reaction and instead have written to Redknapp.

An FA spokesman said: “We have written to Harry Redknapp following his post-match comments on Sunday warning him as to his future conduct.”

INCE: UNITED NEED MODRIC OR INIESTA Transfer Specials.

Former Manchester United midfielder Paul Ince believes the transfer window has come at the right time for the club.

United announced that midfielder Darren Fletcher is to take an extended break from the game because he is suffering from ulcerative colitis, a chronic inflammatory bowel condition.

The Old Trafford club had previously stated they did not intend doing much activity in the transfer window – but Ince believes the absence of the Scotland international means they may reverse that decision.

With fellow midfielders Anderson and Tom Cleverley sidelined and central defender Nemanja Vidic also injured, Ince believes Tottenham’s Luka Modric may interest manager Sir Alex Ferguson.

Ince told BBC Radio Five Live: “I feel they need that creativity in midfield, losing Paul Scholes was a big loss obviously.

“You’re not going to get players like Roy Keane or Bryan Robson, those players aren’t around anymore.

“The game has changed since then and you don’t get those type of characters, so he (Ferguson) has got to look at another way of controlling the midfield and I think that can come from creativity in someone like Luka Modric or Andres Iniesta, they are the players I would be looking at.

“I’m sure Sir Alex will take stock and he’ll be looking at what type of player he will need in January and it won’t just be in midfield, I’m sure he’s looking at a centre-half with Vidic being out.

“But I’m sure he knows what to do, there’s no point me telling him what to do because he’s the greatest manager I’ve ever played under.”

Former West Ham, Liverpool and United midfielder Ince also believes a goalscorer should be on Ferguson’s wishlist, particularly with Javier Hernandez out for several weeks with an ankle injury.

He added: “There is a lot of pressure on Rooney and we saw what that did to him in the World Cup.

“If you are going to compete with the likes of Manchester City and Chelsea you need someone who is going to score you 20 goals a season and you can’t just rely on Wayne Rooney to do it year in and year out.

“Nani has chipped in and Ashley Young was flying early on, but they have quietened down form-wise, so you wonder where the goals are going to come from.

“[Dimitar] Berbatov’s not playing enough, Michael Owen is out injured again and Danny Welbeck is still a young lad but he will chip in with goals.”

REDKNAPP WANTS TO SEE TWO REFS Barclays Premier League.

Harry Redknapp believes football should experiment with two referees after a recent spate of controversial decisions.

Tottenham were on the wrong end of what they believe were costly errors by the match officials during their 2-1 defeat at Stoke on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Manchester City were denied what appeared to be a clear-cut penalty during their 2-1 reversal at Chelsea on Monday night.

Redknapp feels these mistakes could be eradicated if extra officials were introduced.

He appreciates that it would be difficult for a rule change to be implemented, but feels football needs to explore all possible avenues when it comes to getting big decisions right – with so much riding on the outcome of results at the highest level.

“This could make me just about the most unpopular manager among my colleagues in the Premier League, but I reckon it might be a good idea to have not one but two referees in every match,” Redknapp wrote in his column in The Sun.

“Refs have a tough job, I know that. The other managers know that.

“I don’t want to criticise them, but if we can think of a solution where they can work more effectively and we avoid these fall-outs surely it must be better for us all.

“Referees are human and can make errors and bad calls, just as I can, and, do.

“However, if we had two referees on one pitch, perhaps one in each half, surely it would cut the risk of getting a big decision wrong by 50 per cent.

“In Europe, we have had extra refs on the touchline and that has helped.

“But two on the pitch could be something worth experimenting with.

“We have lots of top-class referees so it could only make their job easier if they got some help on the pitch.

“Key decisions are being made in big games and there is so much more pressure involved nowadays.

“Virtually every match is on the telly and I think we must look at every angle of making sure we get it right.”

Chelsea boss Andre Villas-Boas says he has backing of Abramovich

Winning title will be difficult – Villas-Boas

Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas insists owner Roman Abramovich has faith in his long-term plans despite a third defeat in four league games.

Earlier on Sunday, Chelsea said newspaper claims of fractures in their relationship were “total nonsense”.

And after the 2-1 defeat by Liverpool, Villas-Boas said he was confident he retained the owner’s full support.

We have enough talent to compete in all competitions

Andre Villas-Boas

“He didn’t pay 15m euros (£13.2m) to get me out of Porto and another fortune to get me out of Chelsea,” he said.

“It is not a question of the owner having patience. I have said we have set out to build something new at this club and the club is committed to what we are building for the future.”

The loss at home to Liverpool leaves Chelsea 12 points behind leaders Manchester City and Villas-Boas admits they now face a huge task to revive their title hopes.

“Our commitment is to the club and to what we are doing in the future and we have enough talent to compete in all competitions. This our perspective at the moment,” he added.

And a defiant Villas-Boas declared he is happy to try to match the ambitions of Abramovich, demands which meant Carlo Ancelotti was sacked only 12 months after winning the Premier League and FA Cup double.

“There is no running away from our responsibilities,” said Villas-Boas. “There is no calling this a year of transition, no calling for time to do our work.

“Our responsibility is to win the most amount of trophies we can and at the moment we are in four competitions.

“It is not the brightest of starts in the Premier League for Chelsea in the last 10 years, but the belief is there from the team and that is what we have to focus on.”

The Sunday Express had claimed Abramovich was not ‘overly impressed’ with Chelsea’s start to the season, and identified the 5-3 home loss to Arsenal as a particular cause for concern.

Former Chelsea manager Guus Hiddink, who has left his post as Turkey coach, has been tipped to replace Villas-Boas.

The Dutchman, 65, has done little to play down the speculation by admitting he enjoys a close friendship with Abramovich.

He told English language Russian television station RT: “The relationship [with Abramovich] was, has been and will be very good.

“When I go to London, I am always welcome at Cobham (Chelsea’s training ground) and the stadium.

“We don’t speak every week but every now and then there is contact and I feel very welcome always.”

He added: “I will take some time off and see what the future brings.”

Source: www.bbc.co.uk

Robbie Keane rejects plea to skip Republic second leg

Robbie Keane is delighted to see the morale boost that the Republic of Ireland’s likely qualification for Euro 2012 is giving to his country

Robbie Keane has turned down a request from his US club to miss the Republic of Ireland’s Euro 2012 play-off second leg against Estonia on Tuesday.

Los Angeles Galaxy play in the MLS Cup final on Sunday and had hoped Keane might miss the Republic’s game, given their 4-0 advantage from the first leg.

But Republic captain and record goalscorer Keane declined the request.

“The job is still not done yet. We have to be professional and do the job properly,” said the striker.

“They requested me to come back with the final [against Houston Dynamo] on Sunday, but this could be one of the greatest moments in Irish history for me playing for my country.

“To miss a special night – hopefully – like this, it wouldn’t feel right.”

Keane insisted the Galaxy had understood his decision.

Richard Dunne says the Republic will not let up in the second leg against Estonia

“They requested it and they were happy with what the manager and the association said, so believe me, it’s no problem,” he said.

It is 10 years since the Republic of Ireland made it to a finals tournament, the 2002 World Cup in the Far East, and on that occasion, they also took the play-off route.

Then skipper Roy Keane, who had headed off on international duty nursing an ankle injury, was not present as their trip to the Far East was confirmed in Tehran having, to the surprise of many, returned to Manchester United following a 2-0 home win over Iran in the first leg.

The current captain said: “I don’t want to get into what happened in the past,

“I can only speak for myself and what Ireland means to me, and you all know I turn up for every game.

“If I have got a slight injury, I still come in and try my best to play the game, that’s just the way I have been brought up, that’s the kind of player I am.

“I can only speak on behalf of me and for me, this is probably one of the proudest moments my footballing career, to lead this team to where we are now and to achieve what we have achieved.”

source: www.bbc.co.uk

Injured Danny Welbeck out of England’s friendly with Sweden

Manchester United striker Danny Welbeck has been withdrawn from England’s squad to face Sweden at Wembley on Tuesday because of a muscle strain.
Welbeck, who came on as a second-half substitute in Saturday’s 1-0 win over Spain, has returned to his club.
Coach Fabio Capello was planning to make eight changes with John Terry and Gary Cahill returning.
Welbeck’s absence could hand Daniel Sturridge the chance to partner Bobby Zamora in attack.
When asked about Sturridge’s possible debut, before Welbeck’s injury, Capello said: “One hundred per cent, he will start on the bench. All of the young players who come from the Under-21s have been monitored for a long time.”
Everton defender Phil Jagielka will not have the chance to continue his impressive form in England’s 1-0 victory over the Spanish after being released from the squad due to an ongoing toe injury.
The Football Association (FA) stressed that Jagielka, 29, did not aggravate the problem while on international duty.
“Some midfielders and a keeper will remain. Spain and Sweden are two very different games,” said Capello.
“They are two different games but the experience gained for these players is really important, in order to improve for the next match against the Netherlands [the friendly originally called off because of riots in August] or for the Euros.”
Capello is also considering giving goalkeeper Scott Carson, 26, a first cap in three years.
It would be his first outing at Wembley since the 3-2 defeat by Croatia in November 2007, a result which meant England failed to reach Euro 2008 and cost manager Steve McClaren his job.
Carson joined Turkish side Bursaspor in a £2.1m deal from West Bromwich Albion during the summer.
Despite England’s excellent result against Spain, Capello is mindful Sweden will provide another stern test.
England have not beaten Sweden in 12 matches since 1968.
Sweden reached Euro 2012 as the best runners-up in qualification after finishing second behind the Netherlands in Group E, with 24 points from 10 games.
Capello added: “They are really good and play in a very organised way. Everybody knows what they need to do in every moment of the game.
“It is a little country with a small population but it’s always difficult to beat Sweden.”
Capello is looking forward to the challenge of stopping Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the striker the Italian signed for Juventus for £15m in 2004.
He said: “Ibrahimovic is a really good player who can decide a top-level game in a single moment.
With less to fear from Sweden than Spain, the real test for England may come from striking the right balance between continuing their solidity while offering more attacking threat
“I bought him as Juventus manager and for this reason I know how important he is for Sweden and what a real danger he is for every opponent.”
Meanwhile, England goalkeeping coach Ray Clemence has been admitted to hospital.
The former Liverpool and Tottenham keeper, 63, who won 61 England caps, began to feel unwell on Friday and missed Saturday’s win over Spain.
An FA statement confirmed: “Ray Clemence has been unwell while with England and is having tests in hospital.
“Ray would like to thank everyone for the kind messages he’s received and the FA would like to request privacy for his family.”
It is unlikely that Clemence will be at Tuesday’s game against Sweden.
For the latest updates and reaction to this story, read Sportsday Live. Have your say on Twitter via the hashtag #bbcsportsday.
Source: www.betting-zone.co.uk