Everton Club Focus – Toffees left devastated at the death of Gary Speed

Any good feeling after Everton’s 2-0 victory over Bolton Wanderers on Saturday disappeared suddenly with the shocking news of the death of former Toffees captain Gary Speed. The few days that have passed since then have done nothing to soften the blow of the loss of such a popular figure at the age of 42. Complaints over Everton’s form, squad or boardroom paled into insignificance with the tragic death of a friend, husband and father. Tributes poured in from Everton, including comments by current captain Phil Neville, Tim Cahill and…

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Tactic Talk – Gritty Man Utd lacking firepower

Manchester United came away from Old Trafford with a frustrating point following a controversial 1-1 draw against Newcastle United at the weekend. Rio Ferdinand was harshly judged to have fouled Hatem Ben Arfa, with referee Mike Jones originally awarding a corner kick after the challenge, only to take his assistant John Flynn’s advice and award a penalty, which was duly despatched by Demba Ba to rescue a point for the visitors. While the decisions of the officials were a deciding factor in the result, United’s second draw in a week…

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Arsenal 0-1 Manchester City: Gunners knocked out by late Aguero sucker punch

Emirates Stadium, LondonAguero 83 Not so long ago the League Cup was considered a ‘Mickey Mouse’ competition which the so-called big clubs didn’t bother with. However, such is their dominance these days that they almost can’t help themselves. So this match saw £119m worth of Manchester City second XI talent take on Arsenal’s less-expensively assembled reserves. Domestically, these sides have been going great guns over recent weeks, topping the form table in the Premier League but, with Roberto Mancini making clear his dissatisfaction at having to play just 48 hours…

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Cardiff 2-0 Blackburn – Carling Cup offers no respite for under-fire Kean

Blackburn Rovers crashed out of the Carling Cup at the hands of Championship side Cardiff City in a 2-0 defeat to heap more pressure on beleaguered manager Steve Kean. Kenny Miller and Filip Kiss scored the goals to put the Welsh side into the semi-finals. Miller opened the scoring after 19 minutes, latching on to Aron Gunnarsson’s through ball to slot past Rovers goalkeeper Mark Bunn. Kiss doubled the advantage five minutes after half-time, converting Anthony Gerrard’s header from Peter Whittingham’s corner from a yard out. After going two goals…

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Chelsea 0-2 Liverpool – Rodriguez and Kelly put Reds into Carling Cup semi-final

Goals from Maxi Rodriguez and Martin Kelly put Liverpool into the semi-final of the Carling Cup at the expense of Chelsea, who were unable to take revenge for the Premier League defeat at the hands of the same opposition earlier this month. Rodriguez opened the scoring just before the hour mark, meeting Craig Bellamy’s pass to net his second goal of the season against Andre Villas-Boas’ side. Bellamy was again instrumental in Liverpool’s second, when Kelly flicked the Welshman’s free-kick past Ross Turnbull. Florent Malouda had arguably Chelsea’s best chance…

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Peterborough defender Ryan Bennett on Manchester United’s radar

Defender Ryan Bennett has attracted the attention of Sir Alex Ferguson, claims Peterborough United manager and son, Darren. The Posh’s boss said: “I spoke to my dad and he likes Ryan Bennett, always has. I can understand the interest. “It’s no secret that a lot of clubs are looking at Ryan. I’m staying silent on who exactly is interested, but unless we get a massive offer there is no way the chairman would sell. “We’ll ignore the speculation and get on with our jobs. Ryan is a sensible lad who…

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James Tomkins ponders over West Ham deal

Centre back James Tomkins is yet to agree a new contract at West Ham United, however manager Sam Allardyce is confident his defender will sign. Tomkins has played an integral part in the Hammers push towards promotion, and has strongly been linked with a January move to London rivals Queens Park Rangers. However United co-owner, David Gold, announced the club will rebuff any offers for the 22-year-old, who are determined to keep such young prot

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Liverpool eye £20m Spanish striker to solve goalscoring problems

Liverpool are reportedly interested in the services of prolific Valencia striker Roberto Soldado, according to The Metro. Soldado, who came through the youth system at Real Madrid before moving on to Getafe and subsequently Valencia, has netted eight goals from 13 La Liga appearances this season, following on from a successful term last year that has seen him interest the likes of Tottenham and Benfica. It is reported that Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish is looking for a striker to help turn draws into wins, after a seaosn that has so…

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Bristol City announce losses of £11.45 million

Bristol City have announced for the year ending May 2011, that they have recorded £11.45m in losses. The deficit, which follows losses of £11.8m in 2010 and £6.5m in 2009, has been said to have come from the rising wages for players and the delays in the development of their new stadium. Chairman Colin Sextone explained that ‘It is a big problem’ and that ‘it’s a lot of money over three years.’ “Wages in the Championship are far too big and at Bristol City in particular they are just too…

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Northampton caretaker manager Tim Flowers fearful of non-league ‘graveyard’

Northampton caretaker manager Tim Flowers insists the club has a lot to do if they are to avoid relegation to the Blue Square Premier. Flowers’ first game in temporary charge of the Cobblers ended in a 4-1 defeat to bottom-side Plymouth and stretched their run of games without a win to nine in all competitions. The former Blackburn goalkeeper re-iterated his position is only temporary when he spoke to BBC Radio Northampton and that a long-term replacement faces a huge task on his hands to turn around their ailing fortunes:…

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Phil Brown insists Preston squad remains united

Preston North End manager Phil Brown has been quick to reassure fans that the squad is still united after their wretched run of form continued. A 1-0 defeat to Bury on Saturday meant the Lilywhites have picked up just one point in their last nine matches and currently sit in 16th place after previously occupying one of the automatic promotion spots. Brown’s men travel to Hartlepool tonight looking to win on their travels for the first time in two matches, and after receiving a public backing from chairman Trevor Hemmings…

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Drogba will go to the highest bidder says agent

Didier Drogba has reportedly turned down a one-year contract extension at Chelsea in favour of a lucrative deal elsewhere, according to the Mirror. The player’s agent, Thierno Seyd, has revealed that Drogba has turned down both a one-year extension at Stamford Bridge and a potential loan move to AC Milan. Seyd has stated: “We know what we want, where we want to go and what offers we have. AC Milan came in for Didier on loan with an option to buy but I said ‘No’ straight away. Their offer did…

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Charlton manager Chris Powell pleased to topple record-breaking Huddersfield

Charlton manager Chris Powell was brimming with pride after his side ended Huddersfield’s 43-game unbeaten record with a 2-0 win at the Valley last night. Goals from Yann Kermorgant and Hogan Ephraim put an end to a run that began on the 1st January with a 2-2 draw away at Carlisle. Powell was delighted to pick up the win when he spoke to the club’s official website and believes the Addicks will always be remembered for the victory: “For us to be the ones who stopped their record is pleasing…

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Di Matteo backs Torres to find scoring form again

Chelsea assistant manager Roberto Di Matteo has lept to the defence of Fernando Torres. The stuttering Spaniard has found himself benched for four successive games by Andre Villas-Boas as his Chelsea career remains stagnant. Chelsea’s number two, Di Matteo has insisted Torres is still a key component in Chelsea’s squad: “There are a lot of positive signs with Fernando. We’ve been pleased with him, I know we all expect our strikers to score, but if they don’t, you look at their performance in the team, and we’ve been pleased.” Di…

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Chelsea set to win race for 15-year-old Danish star Christensen

Chelsea look to have fought off competition from league leaders Manchester City for Danish prodigy Andreas Christensen, reports the Daily Mail. The 15-year-old centre back has been linked to moves to City, Aston Villa, Bayern Munich and Ajax, but it is the Blues who appear to have won his signature. Christensen has already represented Denmark at Under 17 level and the already 6ft teenager could well become a big physical presence at the heart of the Chelsea defence. The youngster is expected to leave current club Brondby and arrive at…

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Rooney must be in Euro 2012 squad despite suspension says Wilkins

Former England midfielder and current football pundit Ray Wilkins has insisted that England must take forward Wayne Rooney to the European Championships 2012, even if he is banned for the group stage. Rooney received an initial three game ban for his sending off against Montenegro in England’s final qualifying game, ruling him out of the entire group phase of Euro 2012. Despite some calls for manager Fabio Capello to bring in a player with no suspension in his place, Wilkins says bringing the Manchester United striker is a must, even…

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Villas-Boas needs more time says Wilkins

Former Chelsea Assistant Manager Ray Wilkins has given his verdict on new Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas, and insists the ex-Porto man needs more time to show what he is capbale of at Stamford Bridge. Wilkins, who was dismissed controversially last season by club owner Roman Abramovich, claims the new system the Blues play leaves opportunties for the opposition: “There has been a few players brought in, and the system has changed quite a lot. AVB wants his players to press higher up the pitch, and that can consequently leave space…

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Tottenham linked with move for Benfica winger Aimar

Spurs are being linked with a potential January move for Benfica winger Pablo Aimar, according to Metro. Argentinian international Aimar, 32, is out of contract at Benfica in the summer, and the Portuguese club have already indicated that they will not be offering him a new deal when his current one expires. With Aimar thought to be desperate to play in the Premier League before the end of his career, Spurs are considering a cut-price January deal. However, in addition to Tottenham, low-lying Blackburn and cash-strapped Everton could also offer…

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Corluka eyes January Tottenham exit

Vedran Corluka has admitted he is planning a January escape from Tottenham, according to the Daily Mail. The 25-year-old Croatian defender has made just one appearance in the Premier League this season, after losing his first team place to 21-year-old Kyle Walker. Corluka has made several appearances in the Carling Cup and Europa League, but his attempts to win back his first team place from Walker have been derailed by a chronic achilles injury. “Redknapp chose Walker, and doesn’t see me in defence, so it is logical to sit around…

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King to get new Spurs deal if target matched

Ledley King will be handed a new deal at the end of the season, the Daily Mail reports, provided he manages to play more than 20 games this season. King, 31, suffers from chronic knee problems, which restrict his ability to train with the rest of the squad, and also mean he cannot usually play in more than one game per week. The central defender only managed nine appearances last season, but has already matched that figure this time around, so will need to make another eleven appearances in order…

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Gary Speed – The memories of a Leeds supporter

“Go on Gary Speed, get one yourself son.” Words that will forever bring a smile to Leeds United fans of a certain vintage, used by club commentator John Boyd who for a moment allowed his professionalism to slip to be like all us other fans, urging the youngster on to score a crucial goal in a 4-0 win over Sheffield United in our promotion season in 1990. The tragic loss of the former Leeds United midfielder at the tender age of 42 has affected football supporters up and down the…

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Coventry not opting for long ball tactics

Manager Andy Thorn has said that Coventry City will not resort to long balls upfield in order to try and win football matches. Despite his side sitting in 23rd place, Thorn is determined to see his passing game work, and admitted “We gifted them a goal start. That happens sometimes but what really disappointed me was the way we played in the first half – going long, crashing the ball about.” Coventry recorded their fourth loss this month with a 2-1 defeat at Brighton on Saturday, and the Sky Blues…

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Derby County hopeful on injury returns

Derby County will be hoping Shaun Barker, Paul Green and James Bailey all play a part in Tuesday’s clash with Brighton. The trio all returned at Upton Park on Saturday Evening following lengthy absences, as County suffered their fourth straight defeat. Barker and Green both made their first starts in seven months following knee injuries, whilst Bailey recovered from a cracked bone in his foot and ankle ligament damage to make his first start for three months. November has been a torrid month for Nigel Clough and his team with…

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Diouf shocked to be bestowed with Doncaster captaincy

Following Doncaster Rovers goalless draw with Watford on Saturday, attack El-Hadji Diouf admitted it was a shock he was given the skipper’s armband. With club captain Geroge Friend missing due to a foot injury, manager Dean Saunders turned to the former Liverpool and Bolton striker to lead the team out. The former Senegalese international helped Donny bounce back from their 2-0 defeat to Yorkshire counterparts, Barnsley, with a battling performance against the Yellow Army of Watford, and fully deserved their point. Although later substituted in the match, Diouf led his…

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