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17 Januari 2009

Avram Grant To Jose Mourinho: My Chelsea Were Better

Jose Mourinho recently said that man who succeeded him as Chelsea manager, Avram Grant, did "nothing" for the club during his seven-month stint at the helm.
The Israeli led the Blues to their first-ever Champions League final, where they lost to Manchester United on penalties, but Mourinho claimed he would have gone one better had he stayed at Stamford Bridge.
Grant is confused by the Inter Milan coach's unprovoked criticism and has defended his efforts in resurrecting a Blues side that were in turmoil when he took over.
He told the News of the World, “What the fans need to remember is that Jose did not leave me a team that were champions, that was Manchester United and we were in sixth position after a very poor start to the season.
“Everyone was in shock. The atmosphere in the dressing room was not good, critics were saying the football was boring and negative and we had just had a poor draw with Rosenborg in the Champions League.
“The supporters were booing the team after that match, the stadium was half empty and Jose knew his time was up.
“He then walked out a couple of days before an away match with United when Didier Drogba, Frank Lampard and Ricardo Carvalho were all out injured and I agreed to step in.
“I was director of football and was enjoying my job. Jose agreed I should come and we worked for three months together. He did his job and I tried to help him. I felt it was a very important role. But things were not good. Morale was low and questions were being asked.
“With a lot of effort — and a lot of thinking and hard work — I started putting the team back together again.”
What's Stopping Mou?
Grant then launched a stinging counter-attack at Mourinho, insisting the Portuguese had plenty of chances to lead Chelsea to European glory.
“I don’t see how Jose can claim he would have won the Champions League if he’d still been in charge,” the 53-year-old continued.
“He was boss for more than three years and he didn’t even make the Champions League final once. What stopped him? He had the biggest budget in the history of football, some of the best players and an owner that gave him everything.
“But he got beaten twice in the semi-finals by teams with half the budget he had at his disposal.
“What he forgets is that we beat Liverpool with a team that had (Fernando) Torres in and only missed winning the biggest prize in football by inches — and that penalty shoot-out miss did not make us a bad side.”
One Of The Best
Nicolas Anelka's flubbed spot-kick doomed Chelsea to trophyless season and signalled the end of Grant's whirlwind spell in the Stamford Bridge hot-seat.
But people often forget that the Pensioners came agonisingly close to claiming a double last term, as they battled Man United right to the wire for the Premier League title - a remarkable achievement after the start they endured.
And Grant said, “Jose says that I did ‘nothing’ in the League. Perhaps his memory is failing him because my winning ratio of games was second to none. We won all the big games at home when I was in charge, beating Arsenal, United and Liverpool.
“I am told one of the best in their history. We won all the big games at home when I was in charge.
“If we hadn’t started the season so badly under Jose, we would have been champions — it’s a fact — but the dropped points cost us dearly at the end. We paid the price for a poor start under his guidance.”
Mike Maguire,

David Beckham Urges Kaka To Stay At Milan

There was an air of mourning mixed with chants of anger at the San Siro last night as AC Milan claimed victory over Fiorentina thanks to Alexandre Pato's lone goal.
The result was secondary, even though it keeps the Rossoneri alive in the Scudetto race, as David Beckham made his first appearance at the Giuseppe Meazza since arriving on-loan from the Los Angeles Galaxy.
But even he wasn't the centre of attention, as the focus was purely on Kaka in what might prove to be his last game as a Milan player.
The Brazilian superstar now seems all but certain to join Manchester City now that their mammoth €120 million bid is set to be accepted by the Italian giants.
However, Beckham does not buy into the frenzy surrounding the former FIFA World Player of the Year's proposed move and hopes he snubs the vast riches on offer at Eastlands.
"I don't think it was Kaka's last game," the 33-year-old midfielder said in The Daily Mail.
"I think there's always going to be speculation around him, there's always going to be speculation around big players at big clubs and they don't come much bigger than Ricardo (Kaka). But he's very happy here.
"Without doubt he should stay. AC Milan are one of the biggest clubs in the world. It's not always about money. There is not one player in that dressing room that cares about money before football. I hope he stays."
Wise words from a man who has so often been accused of favouring personal gain over the pursuit of footballing greatness.
Mike Maguire,

Real Madrid Offer Milan Late Bid For Kaka - Report

As the Kaka transfer drama rumbles on, Real Madrid are attempting to throw a late spanner in the works.

According to the News Of The World, the club contacted Kaka's father on Friday night and signalled their intent to sign the player.

Real Madrid are willing to match Manchester City's record-breaking €120 million bid, but they will not go anywhere near the estimated €562,000-a-week wages that City are said to be offering.

In their favour, however, is the fact that Kaka appears reluctant to move to a club that does not play at the highest level, a platform that Real Madrid can guarantee.
In addition, a move to the Bernabeu would only materialise in the summer, after their club elections, allowing the Brazilian star to play out the season at Milan.

Arjun Miglani,

24 Desember 2008

Scholes wants to win everything

Manchester United ace Paul Scholes has set his sicghts on ‘winning everything’ with the club this season.
The 34-year-old has just recently returned from a three-month injury absence.
Scholes said in the Daily Star: “This year has been a great one for us. We won the league and the European Cup in May and this season has gone well so far.
“We are still in four competitions and I’m looking forward to next year.
“My aim for 2009 is to see United win everything and for me to be a part of a team that goes on to lift trophies at the end of the season.”
He continued: “Now we can really concentrate on the league, the Champions League and the two domestic cups.”
[Source: Daily Star]

Mourinho plans Premiership return

Inter Milan coach Jose Mourinho has admitted that he wants to return to the Premier League one day.
The 45-year-old won two Premier League titles, the FA Cup and the Carling Cup twice during his three year spell as Chelsea boss.
He told Sky Sports News: “I never hide. I am in love with the English game. I have to go back one day, for sure. I just love it.
“One of my ambitions is to win the Premier League, Serie A and La Liga. The three big championships in Europe.
“One day I will go back to England because I love it and one day I will go to Spain to win La Liga. But at the same time, I am really, really happy with Inter.
“I want to make Inter a better club. I am very, very happy with the way things have gone so far. It has been a new start to me.
“My team is almost like I used to call my Chelsea team in 2004/2005, a ‘victory machine’. You always have a feeling you will win because the team is so strong.”
[Source: Sky Sports News]

Scolari urges Chelsea to give him more cash

Chelsea boss Phil Scolari has asked the club chiefs for money to spend on new players in the January transfer window.
Blues owner Roman Abramovich and chief executive Peter Kenyon insists they will not spend any money in the January transfer window.
Scolari is desperate to bring in a new striker in January.
A source close to the Brazilian told the Sun: “Sometimes the best way to re-energise a team is to inject fresh blood, that’s all he asked for.
“Felipe was promised funds to buy before he joined. Everyone knows he wanted Robinho and what happened there.
“He knows financial situations have changed. But he is not asking for £20million, just a reasonable amount to get a new player in.”
[Source: The Sun]

Why have Arsenal failed to live up to their expectations?

The headline of this article has been the question being asked for the past couple of weeks in the SoccerNews poll. A number of you have voted and the result makes for interesting reading.
Despite beating Chelsea and Manchester United and holding Liverpool to a draw with only ten men, there is no doubt that this season has been, in the main, a disappointing one for the Gunners. They wouldn’t have wanted to be sitting in fifth place at Christmas time and despite Arsene Wenger’s protestations about being a young side and learning all the time and being a great side in the future, he must be as upset as the fans and the players.
There has been some turmoil at the club with William Gallas speaking out about team-mates and things that should have stayed in the dressing room. He was, of course, stripped of the captaincy.
Someone new
There has been some strange comings and goings at boardroom level, and for the first time in his reign, there have been a few fans thinking that Arsene Wenger has done as much with the club as he can and they should consider bringing in someone new.
They lost Hleb and Flamini. There has been much talk of Adebayor and Fabregas leaving. They have been without Rosicky and Eduardo.
All out attack
The fans have booed their own player in what seemed like an all out attack against Emmanuel Eboue. It is some time since the Gooners have turned on one of their own.
Transfers in have been minimal and many eyebrows were raised about the signing of Michael Silvestre. Hardly a move designed to bring about an end to the small run of trophyless years.
The board spoke out that Wenger had money to spend if he wanted to, yet the big names did not come. Is this because Arsene Wenger stubbornly refuses to bring world stars to the club or because the club has a wage structure that makes getting the top players to sign too difficult?
The results of the poll show that at 43% nearly half of the respondents feel that they have under achieved due to the simple fact that the squad is too inexperienced.
Some 18% think the blame lies in a weak midfield. With the loss of Hleb, Flamini, Gilberto, and Rosicky, that may well be the case.
Roughly the same number of respondents put the blame firmly at Arsene Wenger’s door, blaming his stubborn views on the club’s transfer policy.
15% of respondents felt that the internal problems at the club have caused the problems and 5% actually went as far as to blame William Gallas personally.

Benitez and Torres close to Liverpool returns

Rafael Benitez is close to a return to the Liverpool dugout for Friday's clash against Bolton, while star striker Fernando Torres should also be back in action soon.
Liverpool manager Benitez missed Sunday's 1-1 draw at Arsenal while he recovered from a kidney stones operation, but he is expected to be back on the bench for Bolton's Boxing Day visit to Anfield.
Benitez's assistant Sammy Lee hopes his imminent return can provide the perfect boost for Liverpool to finish the year on a high.
“Rafa is a lot better, he's on the mend. He has been in a lot of pain but he is improving,” Lee said.
“His presence is always missed, but the organisation he has put in place is such that even though he has not been here this week, the battle plan is still there.
“We know what we have to do, the game plan is there, it is business as usual.
“He is missed and hopefully he will be back with us for the Bolton game.
“He is a hands-on manager, it is hurting him more being away from the training ground really, but he will be back soon.”
The Bolton game may be too soon for Torres to return from a hamstring injury that has forced the 24-year-old to miss five matches, but Lee expects him back soon.
“Fernando's progress has markedly improved. He is getting better. He improves with every training session and he has worked very hard on his rehabilitation,” Lee said.
“We will put him in when we see fit, that's not evasive but I don't want to start revealing our line-up.”
Liverpool go into the first of their Christmas fixtures on top of the Premier League and protecting an unbeaten home league record in 2008.
It is the first time Liverpool have been top at this stage since 1996, and two wins over the holiday period against Bolton first and then at Newcastle on Sunday will give them their best points tally in a calendar year for 19 years.
“The lads will be in training on Christmas Day, we have two very important games in three days coming up and they are very professional and accept that they have to have their Christmas at a different time to everyone else,” Lee added.
“They know the job in hand, they know what preparation is needed to stay at the top of the Premier League.”