Tag Archives: gareth

Goal of the season – Premier League contenders so far

After wonder goals from Lowton and Remy, Sportsmail picks the contenders (so far…) for the Premier League's goal of the season

PUBLISHED:

10:49 GMT, 8 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

10:59 GMT, 8 April 2013

Forget the title race or the fight to avoid relegation, here's one competition that pretty much all football fans can enjoy – goal of the season.

It may only be the first week of April, but screamers from Matthew Lowton and Loic Remy at the weekend will definitely be contenders.

Super strike I: Matthew Lowton fires home his volley for Villa at Stoke

Super strike I: Matthew Lowton fires home his volley for Villa at Stoke

Super strike II: Loic Remy crashes home the ball in QPR's draw with Wigan

Super strike II: Loic Remy crashes home the ball in QPR's draw with Wigan

Lowton's sumptuous late volley at Stoke breathed life into Aston Villa's battle to stay up on Saturday.

And Remy fired home a rocket from the edge of the box to give fellow strugglers QPR hope before Shaun Maloney's equaliser at the death.

Let's hope there are further contenders in the climax to the season – but, for now, Sportsmail's team of experts nominate their favourite of the campaign so far.

*Who would you vote for Explain your choice at the bottom of the article…

NEIL ASHTON

Gareth Bale – West Ham 2 TOTTENHAM 3 (February 24, 2013)

Special players score goals at important moment, living with the pressure and winning games for their team with top class finishes when others are fading. Bale did just that when he won this fixture for Spurs at West Ham with a top quality strike from outside the area. His celebrations with Andre Villas-Boas on the touchline were even better.

SAMI MOKBEL

Gareth Bale has got quite a collection to choose from this season – but this is right up there. Final minute. 30 yards. Left foot. Bang. Three points.

Rocket: Gareth Bale scores at West Ham before celebrating with Andre Villas-Boas

Rocket: Gareth Bale scores at West Ham before celebrating with Andre Villas-Boas

Rocket: Gareth Bale scores at West Ham before celebrating with Andre Villas-Boas
DOMINIC KING

Leighton Baines – Newcastle 1 EVERTON 2 (January 3, 2013)

An absolute humdinger from the best left-back in the country, his effort from 30 yards dipped, swerved and sped past Tim Krul before he realised what had happened. Great technique and phenomenal power. Eclipses Luis Suarez's stunning control and deft finish against the same opponents at Anfield in November.

Rocket: Leighton Baines crashes the ball home from 30 yards at Newcastle

Rocket: Leighton Baines crashes the ball home from 30 yards at Newcastle

SIMON CASS

Luis Suarez – LIVERPOOL 1 Newcastle 1 (November 4, 2013)

Luis Suarez’s equaliser against Newcastle back in November will take some beating. The Uruguayan plucks Luis Enrique’s long ball out of the air, holds of Fabricio Coloccini before taking a touch to go past Tim Krul to roll it into the net. Genius.

Control: Luis Suarez bamboozles the Newcastle defence to score this wonder goal

Control: Luis Suarez bamboozles the Newcastle defence to score this wonder goal

SAM CUNNINGHAM

Dimitar Berbatov – FULHAM 1 Stoke 0 (February 23, 2013)

This goal was everything that sums up the nonchalant Bulgarian – class, quality, precision, technique, grace. He was standing just inside the box on the right when a defensive header dropped from the sky. The ball plummeted 20-30 metres, a distance your average armchair fan would struggle to even control the ball from, and Berbatov stroked it into the top corner from just inside the box on the right.

Eyes on the ball: Dimitar Berbatov volleys home against Stoke at Craven Cottage

Eyes on the ball: Dimitar Berbatov volleys home against Stoke at Craven Cottage

Eyes on the ball: Dimitar Berbatov volleys home against Stoke at Craven Cottage

Eyes on the ball: Dimitar Berbatov volleys home against Stoke at Craven Cottage

CHRIS WHEELER

Cameron Jerome – STOKE 3 Southampton 3 (December 29, 2012)

Jerome's blockbusting 90th-minute equaliser was stunning – if it wasn’t for the net, this one would still be travelling now.

Salute: Cameron Jerome celebrates his stunning last-minute goal for Stoke

Salute: Cameron Jerome celebrates his stunning last-minute goal for Stoke

JOHN EDWARDS

Loic Remy – QPR 1 Wigan 1 (April 7, 2013)

It has to be Remy, for one simple reason. While Lowton’s goal was spectacular, Remy’s had an air of wonder, bordering on mystique, about it. We’ve had any number of brilliantly-executed volleys down the years, but never, as far as I can recall, a first-time side-foot shot on the run from 20 yards hit with such power, it was past the keeper before he could move. Like Paolo Di Canio’s airborne effort against Wimbledon, it left you shaking your head and wondering exactly how he did it.

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ADAM SHERGOLD

Robin van Persie – MANCHESTER UNITED 3 Fulham 2 (August 25, 2012)

What a way to introduce yourself. A cross in from the left, a step in front of the defender and, in one fluid movement and without even looking at the goal, the ball is swept home. It was a goal that said: ‘I’m worth every penny and I’m here to get your title back.’ And how he has.

Touch: Robin van Persie directs the ball home in United's win over Fulham

Touch: Robin van Persie directs the ball home in United's win over Fulham

MIKE ANSTEAD

Papiss Cisse – NEWCASTLE 4 Southampton 2 (February 24, 2013)

Cisse has now scored a few belters for Newcastle. He likes to drop the odd cracker in among his finishes inside the six-yard box. This goal reminded me of Alan Shearer in his Newcastle pomp, lashing it home from 25 yards.

Sealed with a kiss: Cisse celebrates his stunner against Southampton

Sealed with a kiss: Cisse celebrates his stunner against Southampton

MATT FORTUNE

Theo Walcott – ARSENAL 7 Newcastle 3 (December 29, 2012)

It's not the tidiest, the most sweetly struck, or skilful, but for the befuddlement I still feel when watching it back, Walcott's hat-trick goal saw him tie two players in knots by the touchline, trip over his own feet on entry to the box, somehow slide on his knees practically through the legs of another, take out a fourth, jump to his feet and scoop the ball from a narrowing angle into the top corner.

Joyous: Theo Walcott wheels away after completing his hat-trick against Newcastle

Joyous: Theo Walcott wheels away after completing his hat-trick against Newcastle

ALEX KAY

Michael Kightly – Manchester United 4 STOKE 2 (October 20, 2012)

The former Wolves man doesn’t always get a game for Stoke but his run from the halfway line at Old Trafford was phenomenal and one he will remember for the rest of his career. There was a slightly lucky bobble along the way but the finish was excellent.

LUKE BENEDICT

Matthew Lowton – Stoke 1 ASTON VILLA 3 (April 6, 2013)

For the patience to wait for the ball to drop on to his foot despite two Stoke players closing down fast, for the vision to shoot on goal given the magnitude of the match and just how far out he was, then finally for the technical ability to actually pull it off. Can you imagine the fuss if Messi had scored it

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Roberto Mancini praises Vincent Kompany as Manchester City thrash Newcastle

Kompany is key for City: Mancini pleased to have his captain back from injury

By
Simon Stone, Press Association

PUBLISHED:

21:02 GMT, 30 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

21:02 GMT, 30 March 2013

Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini hailed the influence of captain courageous Vincent Kompany after the Blues romped to their biggest Premier League win since November.

On his first appearance after two months out with a calf problem, Kompany netted City's third in a 4-0 triumph over Newcastle that consolidates their second-placed position in the table.

Little wonder Mancini was so concerned at Kompany being called into World Cup action for Belgium last week, given his obvious importance to the Blues.

Mobbed: Manchester City's players celebrate with Vincent Kompany after he scored his side's third goal against Newcastle

Mobbed: Manchester City's players celebrate with Vincent Kompany after he scored his side's third goal against Newcastle

'Vinnie is important for us,' said Mancini. 'We played without him for 60 days, which was very bad for us, like when we lost Yaya Toure for a month. 'There are some players that are very important and if they don't play for three, four, five games it is a big problem.'

Kompany turned home a Gareth Barry strike at the start of the second half to snuff out any hope of a Newcastle revival after Carlos Tevez – with his seventh in six games – and David Silva had put the hosts in command before half-time.

Yaya Toure increased City's lead before the end and with Sergio Aguero also returning from a knee injury, the Blues will head into their April 8 Manchester derby meeting with United at Old Trafford in confident mood, even if their Premier League title defence is almost over.

'It is impossible we can win the title but it is important to finish the season well,” said Mancini, whose side will discover their FA Cup semi-final opponents on Monday when Chelsea entertain United.

'If we play like this we won't have a problem in the last couple of months of the season.

'We want that second place and to win the FA Cup semi-final.'

Mancini confirmed defender Matija Nastastic had been ruled out by a foot injury sustained on international duty, although the Serbian is not expected to be missing for long.

Newcastle manager Alan Pardew admitted his side were second best, a situation that would have been the same even if they had been at full strength.

'I think we might have struggled against that Manchester City side even with my best team,” he said. “Kompany gives them an assurance and a presence at the back that they might have been missing in other games.

Taking the applause: Kompany claps the City fans as he is substituted

Taking the applause: Kompany claps the City fans as he is substituted

Key man: Roberto Mancini is pleased to have Kompany back in the side

Key man: Roberto Mancini is pleased to have Kompany back in the side

'I don't think City are going to win the league and in the first half they had an assurance about them that comes from playing with no pressure.'

The same cannot be said of Newcastle. Whilst Thursday's Europa League quarter-final with Benfica sprinkles some stardust on their season, the spectre of relegation is growing.

The Magpies are now just three points above the drop zone and Pardew accepts they have some scrapping ahead of them if his side are to preserve their top-flight status.

'I don't think we ever thought we were out of it,' said Pardew.

Wales" Gareth Bale is back in the frame to play Croatia

Bale back in the frame for Wales clash with Croatia after coming on leaps and bounds

By
Thom Drake

PUBLISHED:

16:03 GMT, 25 March 2013

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UPDATED:

16:04 GMT, 25 March 2013

Wales winger Gareth Bale has been training as he recovers from both a stomach virus and the ankle injury which forced him off early against Scotland on Friday.

Bale was a doubt for Wales' World Cup qualifier with Croatia, but he seemed as athletic as ever bounding around the training session.

If Wales want to stand any chance of going to Rio they have to overcome a seven point gap between themselves and both Belgium and Croatia who lead the group on 13 points.

Flying high: Gareth Bale appears to be fit again by the look of this acrobatic celebration

Flying high: Gareth Bale appears to be fit again by the look of this acrobatic celebration

Smiling wide: Wales will be hoping Bale can get round the Croatian defence as easily as he did this marker

Smiling wide: Wales will be hoping Bale can get round the Croatian defence as easily as he did this marker

Aaron Ramsey is ruled out of the game through suspension because of his sending off against Scotland.

Wales came from behind to with two goals in two minutes. Grant Hanley had put Scotland ahead on the stroke of half-time, but when Robert Snodgrass fouled Chris Gunter, not only was he given a red card but Ramsey put away the penalty.

Only a minute later Wales scored the winner as Hal Robson-Kanu headed past Alan McGregor.

Man down: Ashley Williams keeps Bale in his sights as they train

Man down: Ashley Williams keeps Bale in his sights as they train

Cheeky: Wales lost the away fixture with Croatia 2-0

Cheeky: Wales lost the away fixture with Croatia 2-0

Bale's incredibly season has included 23 goals for club and country, and has taken his tally of international strikes up to 10 in 37 appearances.

He failed to get on the score-sheet against Scotland when he was hampered by injury, and will be chomping at the bit to continue his goalscoring run.

Croatia's biggest threat will come from former Tottenham and now Real Madrid playmaker Luka Modric, Bayern Munich's Mario Mandzukic and Wolfsburg's Ivica Olic.

Gently jog: Bale and Craig Bellamy warm up before their session

Gently jog: Bale and Craig Bellamy warm up before their session

Gareth Bale

Gareth Bale

Star man: Manager Chris Coleman will be delighted to have Bale back in his first 11

Star man: Manager Chris Coleman will be delighted to have Bale back in his first 11

Puffed out: Even Bale has to take a rest at some point

Puffed out: Even Bale has to take a rest at some point

Gareth Bale to sign for Barcelona says Gerard Pique

We'd love to have Bale at Barcelona, says Catalan giants' defender Pique

By
Charlie Skillen

PUBLISHED:

11:26 GMT, 10 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

11:51 GMT, 10 March 2013

Gareth Bale has been told he would be a great fit for Barcelona by the Catalan giants’ defender Gerard Pique.

Pique, who has made 29 appearances for Barca this season, said the La Liga leaders’ dressing room is always awash with talk of English football, and Bale is a hot topic.

Bale has scored ten goals in his last eight games for Tottenham, and will face fellow Player of the Year contender Luis Suarez when Spurs travel to Liverpool in the Premier League today.

Perfect fit: Pique said Tottenham's Gareth Bale is an 'unbelievable player' good enough to play for any side

Perfect fit: Pique said Tottenham's Gareth Bale is an 'unbelievable player' good enough to play for any side

And his stellar performances have caught the eye of Barcelona, where Pique is a huge admirer.

‘He is an unbelievable player, a great player – he has with all the conditions to play in the team that he wants to,’ Pique told the BBC.

‘He's doing a great job at Tottenham, and we will see. We want to have all the best players in our team.

Sensation: Bale (centre), tearing through the Inter Milan on Thursday, has scored ten in eight for Spurs

Sensation: Bale (centre), tearing through the Inter Milan on Thursday, has scored ten in eight for Spurs

‘It’s true that maybe, because he’s really quick and with the power he’s got, he fits a bit better at Real Madrid, but he can play here too definitely.

‘The best players can fit in any team, no matter the style.’

Pique, who re-joined boyhood club Barcelona from Manchester United in 2008, said the Premier League is also a reason to poke fun at one of his team-mates.

Hot topic: Pique (left), challenging Cristiano Ronaldo, said English football is always discussed at Barcelona

Hot topic: Pique (left), challenging Cristiano Ronaldo, said English football is always discussed at Barcelona

‘Fabregas loves to talk about Arsenal – but we say they have no chance to win anything this year!’ he said.

Barcelona are currently 14 points clear of second-placed Atletico Madrid in the Spanish La Liga, but face a difficult task on Tuesday at the Nou Camp to overcome a two-goal deficit against AC Milan in the Champions League.

Tottenham 2 Arsenal 1 – match report: Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon score for Spurs, Per Mertesacker heads in consolation for Gunners

Tottenham 2 Arsenal 1: Bale and Lennon pounce on shoddy defending to win north London derby and send Spurs into third

PUBLISHED:

17:54 GMT, 3 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

17:54 GMT, 3 March 2013

Tottenham pulled clear of their north London rivals Arsenal in the race to secure Champions League football with a 2-1 win in a pulsating derby at White Hart Lane.

Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon capitalised on some poor defending from the visitors to give Spurs a commanding 2-0 lead at half-time.

Per Mertesacker hit back for Arsenal with a header early in the second half but Arsene Wenger's side couldn't force an equaliser.

Spurs moved seven points clear of their neighbours and leapfrogged Chelsea into third place in the Premier League.

Delight: Tottenham celebrate their 2-1 win over Arsenal which moved them into third in the Premier League

Delight: Tottenham celebrate their 2-1 win over Arsenal which moved them into third in the Premier League

MATCH FACTS

Tottenham: Lloris, Walker, Dawson, Vertonghen, Assou-Ekotto, Dembele (Livermore 87), Parker, Lennon (Gallas 90), Bale, Sigurdsson, Adebayor (Defoe 66).

Subs not used: Friedel, Naughton, Holtby, Carroll.

Goals: Bale 37, Lennon 39.

Booked: Vertonghen, Adebayor.

Arsenal: Szczesny, Jenkinson (Rosicky 60), Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Monreal, Ramsey, Arteta (Podolski 77), Walcott, Wilshere, Cazorla, Giroud.

Subs not used: Mannone, Koscielny, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Coquelin, Gervinho.

Goals: Mertesacker 51.

Booked: Ramsey.

Attendance: 36,170.

Referee: Mark Clattenburg (Tyne & Wear).

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More to follow

Opener: Gareth Bale beat Arsenal's offside trap to score the first goal at White Hart Lane

Opener: Gareth Bale beat Arsenal's offside trap to score the first goal at White Hart Lane

Opener: Gareth Bale beat Arsenal's offside trap to score the first goal at White Hart Lane

Pounce: Aaron Lennon took advantage of some poor Arsenal defending to double Spurs' lead

Pounce: Aaron Lennon took advantage of some poor Arsenal defending to double Spurs' lead

Open goal: Lennon took the ball round Wojciech Szczesny before rolling it into an empty net

Open goal: Lennon took the ball round Wojciech Szczesny before rolling it into an empty net

Back in it: Per Mertesacker celebrates after heading home for Arsenal to reduce their deficit

Back in it: Per Mertesacker celebrates after heading home for Arsenal to reduce their deficit

Rafa Benitez press conference: Chelsea manager defiant

Rafa responds! Defiant Benitez insists he wants the fans to back him and the team

: West Brom 1 Chelsea 0 (Gareth McAuley, 82)

The Portuguese was supposed to be given the freedom to overhaul an ageing squad, but with a place in the top four and Champions League football slipping from Chelsea's grasp, Villas-Boas was given his marching orders in early spring. Di Matteo was brought in and delivered the FA Cup and Champions League trophies.

ROBERTO DI MATTEO

November 17, 2012: West Brom 2 Chelsea 1 (Shane Long, 10, Peter Odemwingie 50; Eden Hazard 39)

After leading Chelsea to a first Champions League title while interim boss, the Italian's permanent appointment was short-lived. A 2-1 loss at the Hawthorns, the team's first away defeat of the league season, was followed by a European defeat at Juventus which sealed Di Matteo's fate and saw Benitez drafted in.

Rafael Benitez crisis: Chelsea had Mourinho, Rodgers, Villas-Boas and Clarke – now they are full of resentment

Chelsea old boys Mourinho, AVB, Clarke and Rodgers are full of simmering resentment… is it any surprise after working at this club

)
Roberto Di Matteo (Mar 2012-Nov 2012)
Rafa Benitez (Nov 2012- )

It was no surprise the combustible Villas-Boas and Mourinho fell out, but more damagingly Clarke and Rodgers now have one of the frostiest relationships in the game.

Clarke played a pivotal role in getting Rodgers’ career started at Stamford Bridge and was torn apart by the way he was treated by the Ulsterman when their paths crossed briefly again at Liverpool last summer.

Clarke, regarded as one of football’s nice guys, had put his own reputation on the line to get Rodgers a job at Chelsea.

Brendan Rodgers

Brendan Rodgers

Now and then: Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers was once youth and reserve-team boss at Chelsea

Can West Brom's grim reapers Bag another Chelsea manager's scalp

Rafael Benitez will not be happy to see Chelsea's next opponents are West Bromwich Albion – the grim reapers of Blues bosses.

The Baggies have hammered the final nail into the coffin of Benitez's two predecessors in the Stamford Bridge hotseat, Andre Villas-Boas and Roberto Di Matteo.

Villas-Boas' reign was ended after just eight torrid months following a dismal 1-0 defeat at West Brom in March 2012, in which Gareth McAuley struck the winner.

Chelsea

And Di Matteo saw his reign terminated, despite winning the Champions League just six months before, after an unacceptable run of results culminated in a 2-1 defeat at The Hawthorns in November last year.

Shane Long and Peter Odemwingie scored the goals as the Italian's fate was sealed even before the Champions League defeat against Juventus three days later.

Yet when Rodgers arrived on Merseyside
to succeed Kenny Dalglish as manager, Clarke – the club’s
assistant manager – learned about his dismissal with a phone call from
the club’s human resources department, rather than from Rodgers himself.

Fortunately for Clarke, he has been able to rebuild impressively his shattered career at West Brom this season with the club standing seventh in the Premier League, and is too polite to follow Benitez’s example and go public with his grievances.

But as he walks out at Stamford Bridge this weekend, he’ll undoubtedly cast his mind back to 2004 when he was Mourinho’s assistant manager at Chelsea and Rodgers an unknown 31-year-old whose playing career had been cut short by injury.

When a vacancy came up as youth-team manager, Chelsea playing idol Gus Poyet was the hot favourite until Clarke remembered the keen young coach he’d met on a pro-licence course and recommended him to Roman Abramovich.

The rest, as they say, is history. Rodgers learned avidly under Mourinho and used four years at Chelsea as a springboard for his own managerial career, at Watford, Reading, Swansea and currently at Liverpool.

In all that time, Clarke felt his early assistance went unappreciated.

‘Even at Liverpool, Brendan never spoke to him through the process of Steve leaving his job. They knew each other well but he left it to another department to sort it out,’ confirmed a friend.

‘The thing that hurts most is he never got a thank you. It’s an understatement to say he was badly treated.’

Rafa Benitez will know how he feels. It must be a Chelsea thing.

CHELSEA IN 2007: WHEN ROMAN COULDN’T MOVE FOR MANAGERS…

Glory days: Mourinho and Clarke formed a strong bond which brought huge success to Chelsea

Glory days: Mourinho and Clarke formed a strong bond which brought huge success to Chelsea

JOSE MOURINHO (manager)
The Special One led Chelsea to their
first title since 1955 but was sacked after a Champions League draw against
Rosenborg. Now in charge of Real Madrid but tipped for a return.

STEVE CLARKE (assistant manager)
A former Chelsea player, he was able
to teach Mourinho all about the club’s history and tradition. After
being a long-time No 2, will be back at the Bridge this weekend as West
Brom manager.

BRENDAN RODGERS (reserve-team manager)
Clarke gave him a reference to become
Chelsea’s youth-team manager and he was promoted to the reserves. Now in
his fourth managerial job, at Liverpool.

ANDRE VILLAS-BOAS (scout and cheerleader)
Mourinho’s close friend from Portugal,
AVB was often a hot-headed figure seen on the Chelsea bench. Now
reinvented himself as a great thinker, he failed as Chelsea manager but
doing well at Spurs‬.

Rio Ferdinand tweets that anyone comparing Gareth Bale to Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo "doesn"t know football"

Think Bale is on the same level as Ronaldo and Messi You don't know football, says Rio

PUBLISHED:

09:36 GMT, 27 February 2013

|

UPDATED:

09:43 GMT, 27 February 2013

Rio Ferdinand believes anyone who compares Tottenham’s Gareth Bale to Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo or Barcelona magician Lionel Messi ‘doesn’t know football’.

The Manchester United defender tweeted to his four million followers that Bale needs to keep scoring at this rate for three or four years for there even to be a debate.

He wrote: ‘People mentioning Bale in the same breath as @Cristiano + Messi really don’t know football! Bale been 1 of best 2 in PL this year but….

'Don't know football!' Rio Ferdinand has slammed those comparing Gareth Bale (below) to Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, saying the last two are on a different planet

'Don't know football!' Rio Ferdinand has slammed those comparing Gareth Bale (below) to Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, saying the last two are on a different planet

Best in the world Gareth Bale's spectacular strike for Spurs against West Ham on Monday led to comparisons with the greatest players in the world

Best in the world Gareth Bale's spectacular strike for Spurs against West Ham on Monday led to comparisons with the greatest players in the world

‘He is not on CR7 + Messi’s level yet…he carries on doing what he is doing for 2/3yrs then there can be a debate.

‘Bale showed me a clean pair of heals once this year so I’m in good position to judge! CR7 + Messi have been on another planet for 4-5yrs #consistent #KeepItClean’

Bale has already scored 15 goals in the Premier League this season — earning Tottenham an astonishing 15 points on his own.

Number one: Cristiano Ronaldo reminded us of his quality by scoring two goals for Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey semi-final with Barcelona last night

Number one: Cristiano Ronaldo reminded us of his quality by scoring two goals for Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey semi-final with Barcelona last night

Hot property: Lionel Messi has scored 49 goals for Barcelona already this season

Hot property: Lionel Messi has scored 49 goals for Barcelona already this season

Without him Spurs would be way off their quest for fourth place, languishing down in ninth position in the table. Statistics show manager Andre Villas-Boas has been given Bale free rein to roam the park and be selfish — he is making fewer passes and creating fewer goals than last season but scoring far more.

When Cristiano Ronaldo was Bale’s age at 23, he won the Ballon d’Or after scoring scored 31 goals for Manchester United at a rate of one goal every 89 minutes, with a shooting accuracy of 59 per cent.

So far this season Bale has scored 15 goals at a rate of one goal every 135 minutes, with a shooting accuracy of 57 per cent.

Manchester City prepare to sell Edin Dzeko, Maicon and Joleon Lescott

Dzeko, Lescott and Maicon head for City exit as Mancini prepare fire sale to fund move for Fellaini

By
Sami Mokbel

PUBLISHED:

23:21 GMT, 21 February 2013

|

UPDATED:

02:06 GMT, 22 February 2013

Manchester City want to significantly slash their wage bill this summer with a ruthless clear-out.

The current Barclays Premier League holders have already begun the process of making their salary expenditure more cost-effective from next season by instructing a number of third-parties to find buyers for a host of players this summer.

Newly-appointed director of football Txiki Begiristain and chief executive Ferran Soriano have made it a top priority to streamline the club’s wage bill.

On his way: 27m striker Edin Dzeko could be heading for the City exit

Under threat: Joleon Lescott has also fallen out of favour this season

Edin for the exit: Dzeko and Joleon Lescott are among those set to leave City this summer

Players City are committed to offloading this summer are Maicon, Joleon Lescott, Edin Dzeko and Scott Sinclair.

The futures of Gareth Barry, Javi Garcia, Aleksandar Kolarov and Samir Nasri are also under review ahead of the summer shake-up.

Furthermore, City will make an instant 15million annual saving once Roque Santa Cruz, Wayne Bridge and Kolo Toure’s contracts expire at the end of the season.

Samir Nasri

Gareth Barry

Disappointing: Samir Nasri has never justified his City salary, while Gareth Barry is rapidly declining

The Etihad Stadium club will also look to use their unwanted stars as makeweights in their attempts to sign fresh blood.

The imminent clear-out is, in part, to ensure the club fall into UEFA’s financial fair play guidelines, but also designed to give the club more leeway in terms of wages in the transfer market this summer.

City will look to make at least two significant purchases, with Napoli forward Edinson Cavani, who has a 52million release clause, already identified.

Targeted: Roberto Mancini hopes to recruit Marouane Fellaini

Targeted: Roberto Mancini hopes to recruit Marouane Fellaini

Manager Roberto Mancini will also look to add a box-to-box central midfielder to his ranks, with Everton’s Marouane Fellaini viewed as a leading candidate.

It is understood the Toffees are aware of City’s growing interest in the Belgium international, but are unwilling to make a decision on his future until the end of the season.

City would be willing to stretch to 23million to land Fellaini, who is also a long-term target for Chelsea, in the summer and have already earmarked young striker John Guidetti as a sweetener in the deal. Celtic midfielder Victor Wanyama is also a target for City.

Roberto Mancini challenges Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero to score goals to win the Premier League

Now win us the title, Sergio! City boss Mancini challenges Aguero to score goals to catch rivals United

By
John Edwards

PUBLISHED:

18:20 GMT, 17 February 2013

|

UPDATED:

10:16 GMT, 18 February 2013

Roberto Mancini challenged Sergio Aguero to score the goals to wrestle the Barclays Premier League title from favourites Manchester United.

After seeing Aguero score twice in a 4-0 FA Cup win over Leeds, Mancini backed his striker to spearhead a late charge for the championship.

In the Cup spirit: Roberto Mancini is not giving up on winning the title just yet

In the Cup spirit: Roberto Mancini is not giving up on winning the title just yet

‘I hope Sergio will be like this from now to the end of the season, because if he is and our other strikers continue to score then the championship is not finished,’ he said.

With Malaga’s former Real Madrid coach Manuel Pellegrini the latest to be linked with his job at the Etihad Stadium, an unlikely second successive title should be enough to save Mancini from the growing threat of being sacked.

‘It is possible we could be 15 points behind by the time we face Chelsea next Sunday, but I think we should always be confident in ourselves,’ Mancini added.

‘There was a stage where we lost seven points in three games and that can happen to other teams as well.

At the double: Sergio Aguero scored twice as Manchester City cruised past Leeds

At the double: Sergio Aguero scored twice as Manchester City cruised past Leeds

‘So, even when we’re 12 points behind at this moment, we should believe it can be done. At this moment, United deserve to stay there because they have been better than us and scored more goals, but this win against Leeds can influence what we do for the rest of the season and spark us into life.

‘We have been unlucky with injuries this season, but Gareth Barry should be ready for Chelsea, and we hope we have Vinny Kompany for that one as well. We will see tomorrow or Tuesday about Javi Garcia, but I don’t think it’s big problem with him, either.’

Three and easy: Carlos Tevez celebrates with Aguero and David Silva after scoring City's third goal

Three and easy: Carlos Tevez celebrates with Aguero and David Silva after scoring City's third goal

Neil Warnock completes a year in charge of Leeds on Wednesday, but had to contend with some travelling fans calling for his head.

‘I’m going to have to get used to that, but no-one wants it and I don’t think I deserve it after the year I’ve had here,’ he said.

‘The fans are so desperate to get back in the big time and when they see the opportunity gradually fading, the manager has got to be the scapegoat.

Spot on: Aguero scores a 15th-minute penalty against the Championship side

Spot on: Aguero scores a 15th-minute penalty against the Championship side

‘If we don’t go up, I think everyone knows I’m not going to be here. My contract is up at the end of the season, and there’s no way I want to stay in the Championship next year.

‘The further from promotion we get, the more the club will be looking out to see what they are going to do. Could I go before then I have spoken to them (the owners) at great length. If they think it will help them then I’m not against it — I think whatever is best for Leeds United really.’

Feeling the heat: Manager Neil Warnock is under pressure from Leeds fans

Feeling the heat: Manager Neil Warnock is under pressure from Leeds fans