Category Archives: SPORTS

Rooney could leave if Manchester United miss out on top four, admits Moyes

Rooney could leave if Manchester United miss out on top four, admits Moyes

 

Manchester United manager David Moyes has admitted that striker Wayne Rooney may not sign a new contract if the champions miss out on a top-four finish.

The Red Devils currently languish in seventh place in the Premier League, five points behind Liverpool in fourth and 11 points off top-of-the-table Arsenal.

Rooney’s current deal expires at the end of next season and, as exclusively revealed by Goal in December, the striker has rejected United’s latest attempts to open talks over a new contract.

When asked how confident Moyes was of Rooney signing a new deal if United missed out on the top four he told reporters: ‘Well, we would have to wait and see what [would] happen if that situation arose.’

The former Everton man has, however, been in top form for the reigning champions this season scoring 11 times and his manager feels he is happy at Old Trafford.

‘I thought if you looked at his performances you’d have to say he’s certainly playing at his best,’ he added.

United are in FA Cup action on Sunday, a game Rooney is expected to miss through injury, although Moyes is confident he could return in midweek for the Capital One clash with Sunderland.

‘He’s got a groin injury and won’t be available for the game,’ he said before adding he ‘had a chance’ of facing the Black Cats.

United face Swansea at Old Trafford having lost six times already at Old Trafford this season but Moyes has urged his side to improve and insists the FA Cup is important to the club.

‘To have not won the FA Cup for 10 years is something which is a bit of a surprise but it’s something which we’ll try and do,’ Moyes said.

‘We’re trying to win all the competitions we enter which we’re sure most people are trying to do but as far as I’m concerned we’ll do everything we possibly can.

‘The cup is important to me, it always has been but I’m sure it’s important to every club.’

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Kerry says Mideast plan will be ‘fair, balanced

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US Secretary of State John Kerry said Sunday that any Middle East peace plan would be “fair and balanced,” as he held a fourth day of talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders.

“I can guarantee all parties that President (Barack) Obama and I are committed to putting forward ideas that are fair and balanced, and to improving the security of all peoples,” Kerry told reporters in Jerusalem.

Kerry also said Sunday the United States would stick by Iraq in its battle with Al-Qaeda-linked militants, but stressed it was “their fight.”

“We will stand with the government of Iraq who push back against (militant) efforts … but it is their fight — that is something we determined some time ago,” he told reporters in Jerusalem.

Kerry insisted Saturday that there had been “progress” in the talks that he kick-started in July, despite bitter recriminations by both sides and mostly irreconcilable demands for any future peace deal.

“We’re not there yet, but we are making progress,” Kerry said Saturday, adding everyone was “working with great intensity” to try to reach a deal.

“I’m confident that the talks we’ve had in the past two days have already fleshed out and even resolved certain kinds of issues and presented new opportunities for others,” he said.

“We are beginning to flesh out the toughest hurdles yet to be overcome.”

A cabinet member close to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday Israel rejects any US-proposed security concessions for the Jordan Valley.

“Security must remain in our hands. Anyone who proposes a solution in the Jordan Valley by deploying an international force, Palestinian police or technological means … does not understand the Middle East,” Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz told Israeli public radio.

The US top diplomat was to set off early on Sunday for Jordan and then Saudi Arabia, after three days of intense shuttle diplomacy between Netanyahu and Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas.

On the situation in Iraq, Kerry said Washington was “very, very concerned” about the Al-Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

“These are the most dangerous players in the region. Their barbarism is on display for all to see, their brutality is something have seen before.

“The United States will continue to be in close contact … We will help them in their fight, but this is a fight in the end they will have to win and I’m confident they can.”

Iraq lost Fallujah to ISIL fighters, a senior security official said Saturday, putting militants back in control of the city west of Baghdad where US forces repeatedly battled insurgents.

And fighting in Anbar province killed 65 people — eight soldiers, two government-allied tribesmen and 55 militants from ISIL, security officials said.

It is the worst violence to hit the province in years, and the first time militants have exercised such open control in major cities since the height of the bloody insurgency that followed the US-led invasion of 2003.

Barcelona make renewed David Luiz enquiry

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EXCLUSIVE
By Paul Clennam

Barcelona have made a renewed enquiry as to the availability of Chelsea defender David Luiz.

Camp Nou officials contacted Chelsea about the Brazilian shortly before Christmas and Goal understands that the Brazilian is keen to discuss a move away from Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea are willing to listen to formal offers for the 26-year-old, but Jose Mourinho considers the former Benfica man a valuable asset and would only sanction a move for a significant fee.

Barcelona approached Chelsea over the summer but Luiz claims he rejected the chance to join the Catalan outfit.

‘There was an official offer [from Barcelona], but I decided to stay at Chelsea,’ the defender told Brazilian newspaper Gazeta Esportiva in September.

Mourinho moved to play down talk of any potential transfer last month, stating: ‘He’s our player and we are happy he’s back in a moment when we need him and John Terry in defence.’

However, sources close to the club have indicated that Chelsea would be willing to let Luiz, who has impressed in recent weeks, leave the club if Barcelona make an offer that is too good to turn down.

Chelsea have been tracking St. Etienne defender Kurt Zouma in recent weeks, with the club set to go head-to-head with Manchester City and a number of other sides in the coming months to secure the highly rated 19-year-old.

Eriksen delighted with Manchester United upset

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Tottenham midfielder Christian Eriksen has shared his delight at the north London club’s 2-1 win at Manchester United on Wednesday.

Spurs continued their bright start under new head coach Tim Sherwood, making it three wins from the four Premier League matches he has taken charge of.

Eriksen crossed for Emmanuel Adebayor’s first-half opener and then got on the scoresheet himself, heading Aaron Lennon’s cross in with 24 minutes left.

The champions produced an immediate response through Danny Welbeck but were unable to find an equaliser despite enjoying strong spells of late pressure, much to the delight of Spurs’ Danish playmaker.

‘I couldn’t have wished for a better start to the New Year than a goal and assist in a win at Old Trafford,’ Eriksen said.

‘I’m really happy with the win and if you score, it’s an even better feeling. We got to 2-0, they came back quickly and we had to keep going.’

The result continued United’s recent home woes, with David Moyes’ men now having lost three of their last four league fixtures at Old Trafford.

Pique: Catalunya national team could compete at a high level

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The Barcelona centre-back is not sure just how far the Catalan side could go if they were to play in official international competitions but feels that they could hold their ownBarcelona defender Gerard Pique believes that the Catalannational team could compete with the best sides in the world.The Spain international, 26, has represented the region on sixoccasions and is set to feature once more when they take on CapeVerde on Monday.Catalunya are affiliated with neither Fifa nor Uefa so cannotcompete in World Cups or European Championships but Pique isinterested in how they might fare.’World-class players will be on the pitch,’ he is quoted as sayingby Marca on Monday’s match.’Yes, it is true that we could compete at a high level with otherteams but I do not know how far we could get. It’s important to seegreat football with no injuries.’Pique also gave his backing to team-mate Lionel Messi’s Ballon d’Orbid, insisting that the Argentine is the best player in theworld.’Whoever wins it deserves it but Messi is the best in the world,’the center-back remarked. ‘The team has managed without him inrecent weeks but he is the best and gives us a lot.’

Del Bosque warns against Spain complacency

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The Roja boss insists his side must not rest on their past successes as they prepare for the 2014 World Cup and admits the South American nations will pose stern testsSpain coach Vicente del Bosque has admitted he is worried abouthis team’s mindset ahead of the 2014 World Cup.The reigning world and double European champions wereconvincingly beaten 3-0 by Brazil in the final of theConfederations Cup during the summer and Del Bosque has warned hisstars not to rest on the laurels of their previous tournamentsuccesses.’They are players who have won a great deal, almost everything,and they see things through different eyes compared with five orsix years ago,’ Del Bosque told AS.’That is the only fear I have. It is fundamental to be humble,sporting and good lads, nice guys. We have to forget about the pastand not revel in what we won in the years before.’We are going to another World Cup, a different one, in adifferent country and on a different continent, and we have to gothere with the same spirit as in South Africa.’That’s the most important thing.’Del Bosque reiterated his desire for his team to show’humility’, and acknowledged his side will be favourites to defendtheir crown.Spain – who will face 2010 finalists Netherlands, Chile andAustralia in Group B – will face stiff competition from severalnations in Brazil, something Del Bosque is well aware of.’Humility is not an empty word,’ he said.’When I ask for it, it is because I know it is the path tosuccess. Spain has a good national team and is not inferior toanyone but we must be cautious.’We are the team to beat and there are powerful opponents,mainly the South Americans including Brazil, Colombia, Argentinaand Chile.’Then there are the Europeans, teams like Germany, Holland orPortugal. It is not easy and we have to show respect for all ouropponents.’

Murray faulters in second round, Nadal through at Qatar Open

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DOHA: Wimbledon champion Andy Murray warned of “bumps along the road” during his comeback from injury and his words proved prophetic as he began the new year with a stunning second-round loss in the Qatar Open.

Murray led by a set and 3-0 and yet lost 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 to Florian Mayer, the world number 40 from Germany, who seemed more surprised than anyone at how the contest turned around.

It was only Murray´s second match on the tour after a back operation and a four-month absence, but for about an hour his lack of match practice had hardly seemed a problem as he took charge.

Then Mayer attacked more, Murray tired, and everything changed. “It was amazing,” said Mayer. “To be honest in my mind the match was finished. I don´t know how I came back. I played fantastic tennis. In the third set maybe he was injured, but I played well.”

Murray however admitted to no injuries during the one hour 51-minute encounter, and whatever his physical discomforts it did not prevent him playing doubles later in the day. “I am stiff and sore but that´s to be expected,” he claimed. “It´s more the joints rather than muscles. I have to get used to changing direction and playing at this level. I didn´t have high expectations because I have not had many matches. I was playing well and moving well at the beginning. It was nevertheless “a good day”, Murray concluded. “I lost two matches but got through without any niggles or injuries.”

Mayer, a former top 20 player, slowly imposed himself on the match as Murray became more defensive, and after letting slip two break points for a 4-2 second-set lead, the Scot hurled down his racket and flung away his sweat bands.

He then served a double fault and dropped serve at the start of the third set and was never close to breaking Mayer after that. “It´s normal – you can´t be a hundred percent, you have to play some matches,” the German graciously said. “I am sure he will improve round by round in Melbourne.”

However, the loss of court time in preparation for the Australian Open, which starts in little more than two weeks, may prove to be the most significant aspect of the setback for Murray.

There were early season uncertainties elsewhere too, as David Ferrer, the second-seeded Spaniard, his compatriot Fernando Verdasco, the eighth seed, and Philipp Kohlschreiber, the sixth-seeded German, all lost.

That trio were beaten by Daniel Brands of Germany, Victor Hanescu of Romania and Peter Gojowczyk of Germany respectively.

A day of considerable German success continued when Dustin Brown, a qualifier, saved four match points in a 28-point second set tie-breaker to win 3-6, 7-6 (15-13), 6-4 against Ivo Karlovic, the Croatian who had ousted fourth seed Tomas Berdych a day earlier.

For a while it seemed the biggest upset of all was possible, with world number one Rafael Nadal taken to three sets against another German in Tobias Kamke.

The qualifier played well before going down 6-3, 6-7(3-7), 6-3 against the legendary Spaniard. “He took risks and played very well,” said Nadal. “But I had a lot of chances with my return and hope to make a few more tomorrow (Thursday).”I don´t know if I can win the tournament. Yesterday (against Lukas Rosol) was tough, today was tough, and it is difficult to think about winning titles when you are in the quarter-finals. But I am very happy to be there.”

Nadal, who has never won this title in five attempts, next faces Ernests Gulbis, the seventh-seeded Latvian.

They are the only seeds remaining after fifth seed Richard Gasquet, struggling with a back strain, lost 6-2, 7-5 to his French compatriot Gael Monfils, a former finalist in Doha, in Wednesday´s last match. (AFP)

Defending champions ManU nearly out of title race

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MANCHESTER: Emmanuel Adebayor inspired Tottenham Hotspur to a 2-1 win at Manchester United on Wednesday that is likely to have ended the champions´ hopes of retaining the Premier League title.

Christian Eriksen doubled Spurs´ lead, after Adebayor had claimed his fourth goal in five games under new manager Tim Sherwood, before Danny Welbeck replied in vain for United.

Adebayor was stretchered off in the 70th minute, but not even that injury could take the shine off a Spurs performance that left United in seventh place and trailing leaders Arsenal by 11 points.

Tottenham were required to weather a bright and breezy opening from their hosts, but by the time Adebayor struck his 34th-minute opener, the London club were good value for their lead.

The goal came following a blistering counter-attack as Kyle Walker broke up a United foray and Spurs exploited space on United´s left.

Eriksen picked out Adebayor with a superb cross that the Togo international met, outjumping Chris Smalling in the process, to place an accurate header beyond the dive of David de Gea.

Adebayor, revelling under the new White Hart Lane management, almost had a hand in a second goal minutes later as he won the ball in midfield and found Aaron Lennon, whose cross was put wide by a sliding Roberto Soldado.

A two-goal advantage would not have flattered Tottenham, with Lennon squandering arguably the best chance of all as he raced onto Soldado´s 14th-minute pass, only to be denied by De Gea.

It was a stark contrast to the opening exchanges, when Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris appeared fortunate to escape after seeming to handle the ball outside his box as he thwarted a United attack.

Welbeck was then denied by the Frenchman and Lloris enjoyed a slice of luck when he saved Smalling´s fierce shot with the inside of his thigh before the rebound squirmed over the byline for a corner.

But for all their early possession and swift attacking play, United failed to really test Lloris in the opening hour.

Wayne Rooney´s frustration earned him a 41st-minute booking for a petulant tug at Mousa Dembele, while Welbeck dived in an unsuccessful attempt to earn a penalty after Vlad Chiriches made the slightest contact with him.

Appreciating the dire situation, United manager David Moyes made a bold double substitution on the hour, bringing on forwards Shinji Kagawa and Javier Hernandez for midfielder Michael Carrick and full-back Smalling.

The move saw Antonio Valencia switch to right-back and it back-fired when he responded slowly as Spurs made it 2-0 in the 66th minute.

Again, it was a goal carved out of a counter-attack, with Soldado slipping the ball inside for Lennon, whose chipped pass across the area was met by Eriksen´s stooping header as Valencia was found wanting.

Fortunately for Moyes, however, it took less than a minute for Welbeck to respond as he chased Adnan Januzaj´s perceptive pass between two defenders and finished confidently over the advancing Lloris.

Januzaj led the charge for the equaliser, shooting just wide from 20 yards then slaloming in from the right before crossing to the near post, where Hernandez´s back-heel was blocked by the goalkeeper.

Lloris also showed a rush of blood in chasing out of his area to challenge Ashley Young, sparking United penalty appeals, although the goalkeeper made amends with superb stops in quick succession from Rooney and Nemanja Vidic. (AFP)

Clarke aims to take advantage of green SCG pitch

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SYDNEY: Australia skipper Michael Clarke is hoping his rampant fast bowlers can take advantage of a green-topped pitch at the Sydney Cricket Ground as his side target a 5-0 Ashes whitewash.

The home team have four huge Test wins under their belts already and victory in the final match of the series starting on Friday would complete the misery for the beleaguered tourists.

Clarke said although the pitch looked lively ahead of the game — likely to suit the side that bowls first — he expected spin to play a role at the traditionally spin-friendly ground.

“I think a day of sun today and (with) a lot of rolling it might whiten up a bit. But that´s as much grass as I´ve seen on an SCG pitch,” he said on Thursday.

“It feels pretty hard at the moment. Looking at it today I think it will certainly suit the fast bowlers. But in saying that I think the forecast is pretty warm for the week as well. I still believe spin will play a part throughout the Test match.”

The green top will be good news for paceman Mitchell Johnson, who needs nine wickets to become only the fourth Australian bowler to take 40 wickets or more in an Ashes series along with Terry Alderman (twice), Rodney Hogg and Shane Warne.

Of those, only Warne took his 40 wickets in a five-Test series, a feat that Johnson is seeking to emulate.

Clarke said there was no need for him to rally his players before the game.

“I think that desire burns within every single player in the changeroom. I said that before Melbourne (fourth Test) and I think we showed with the way we played,” said the captain.

“This Test is no different. This is important. We want to continue to run with the momentum we have at the moment and continue playing good cricket and getting the results we´ve been getting.”

While Shane Watson (groin) and Ryan Harris (knee) bowled in the nets on Thursday, Clarke said he was not certain of his line-up for the Sydney Test.

“Everyone is out in the nets batting or bowling. I´m really confident guys will pull up fit, but we need to give them every chance and wait and see how they wake up in the morning,” he said.

Posted by: AFP

Pellegrini plots 2014 title push

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Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini is happy with his side’s position heading into the new year and the second half of the season.

City will end 2013 just a point off the top of the Barclays Premier League having clawed back five points on leaders Arsenal over the course of the last month.

Pellegrini had said he wanted to be top, or at least within three points of it, by January.

With that aim completed, and progress also made in the Champions League and Capital One Cup, he is now looking forward to a strong push over the remainder of the campaign.

The Chilean, whose side are back in action at Swansea on New Year’s Day, said: “I think it was a fantastic month for us.

“We played nine games in December, we won eight and drew just one.

“In the Premier League, from the last seven we won six.

“It was very important for us to recover points. Arsenal were six points ahead of us so it is very important to finish the year in the position we wanted to be.

“To recover six points in a month is not easy.

“We continue in Capital Oneand Champions League so I think the first six months of the year were very good for us. Now in the second half we try to win.”

Despite their superb form, City have found the going tough in their past two games.

City did well to hang on for a 2-1 win as Liverpool made life difficult on Boxing Day and two days later they could only manage a 1-0 victory over battling Crystal Palace.

Pellegrini expects more of the same at the Liberty Stadium even though the Swans have not won in five Premier League games and City overcame the Welsh side 3-0 a month ago.

The 60-year-old said: “Every team in the Premier League can cause problems to our team and to all other teams. That is why it is so close, this Premier League.

“I repeat what I have said, six or seven teams will be fighting for the Premier League until the end.

“We will continue exactly the same as in the first half.

“Within four or five points, you have five teams and the second half will be exactly the same.

“Swansea play very well at home and away. We will need to be very strong in all senses, defending and attacking, if we want the three points.”

Just six points separate Arsenal at the top from Tottenham in seventh.

Such is the tight nature of the table that Liverpool, who led on Christmas Day, have slipped to fifth in the space of two games.

It could be the closest title race for years, something Pellegrini had suspected might happen.

He said: “It is not a surprise for me. I have lived in Europe for the last 10 years, in Spain, and I always saw the Premier League so I knew there were strong teams.

“The budget of the teams is closer than in Spain, so that is why you have six or seven important teams. All the other teams can’t win the league but they are strong teams also.”

City will be without playmaker David Silva through suspension while top scorer Sergio Aguero, fellow striker Stevan Jovetic and defenders Martin Demichelis and Micah Richards are still injured.

Right-back Pablo Zabaleta, recently recovered from a hamstring injury, was rested against Palace but will return.

Goalkeeper Joe Hart will play despite needing five stitches in a wound under his left eye suffered in the Palace match.

Pellegrini was frustrated by what he perceived as a defensive approach from Palace in that game but he accepts his team must learn to deal with such tactics.

He said: “I don’t know what other teams will do in the future here at the Etihad.

“Crystal Palace played the game they thought was the best for them.

“We have to try to resolve the problem, although it is difficult when you are not fresh.

“We played 44 hours after a very tough game against Liverpool.

“What will happen in the future, I don’t know, but it is our problem to resolve.”

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