Tag Archives: mentality

Florent Malouda says Chelsea are "trying to break me mentally"

Chelsea are 'trying to break me mentally', claims Malouda after being frozen out at Stamford Bridge

By
Laurie Whitwell

PUBLISHED:

22:32 GMT, 11 February 2013

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UPDATED:

08:16 GMT, 12 February 2013

Not happy: Florent Malouda has hit out at Chelsea

Not happy: Florent Malouda has hit out at Chelsea

Florent Malouda has launched an astonishing attack on Chelsea, claiming the club are trying to ‘break him mentally’ by forcing him to train with academy players.

The France midfielder has hit out after being excluded from the 25-man Premier League squad all season and forbidden from even changing with the first team at their Cobham training ground.

Malouda, whose contract expires at the end of the season, has been banished since a move to North America collapsed last summer.

‘The details I’ll explain when I’m free,’ Malouda, 32, told newspaper France-Guyane.

‘But
the strategy they use is to make me look like a player seeking
substantial compensation. If you are excluded for one year, it is very,
very long.

'You must be armed mentally. All this is done to break me
mentally, but in reality it motivates me enormously.’

Meanwhile, Rafael Benitez believes his squad – the majority of whom won the Champions League last May – will realise how important the Europa League is when they arrive in Prague on Wednesday.

Chelsea play Sparta Prague in the last 32 tie first leg on Thursday evening, with Benitez admitting it will take an adjustment for players used to plying their trade in Europe's premier club competition.

'We will need some time (to talk),' said Benitez, who replaced Roberto Di Matteo in November after the holders were knocked out of the Champions League.

Happier times: Malouda (second from right) trains with his Chelsea team-mates

Happier times: Malouda (second from right) trains with his Chelsea team-mates

Happier times: Malouda (second from right) trains with his Chelsea team-mates

'In terms of flights and games it's like the Champions League, in terms of mentality, the first thought is “hmm, it's different”. But if you see the teams that are in the Europa League, you will see it could be quite difficult.

'The day before we will fly, we will be there, they will realise it's Europe and they can concentrate 100 per cent. I'm expecting that they will be focused. We will have to start thinking of it as a great competition, with good teams and we will try to do our best.'

The Europa League is one of two trophies Chelsea can realistically still win this term; they began the season in contention for seven. They sit third, 16 points behind leaders Manchester United with 12 games to play in the Barclays Premier League, but remain in the FA Cup.

The next four matches are key for Chelsea's season and could lift the mood at Stamford Bridge, by changing perceptions of Benitez's reign, which has been unpopular from the start.

On a roll: Chelsea head to Sparta Prague this week for their Europa League clash

On a roll: Chelsea head to Sparta Prague this week for their Europa League clash

Should Chelsea advance to the Europa League last 16, at the expense of Sparta Prague, beat Brentford in the FA Cup fourth round replay and win at Manchester City, cutting the deficit to the second-placed Premier League champions to one point, Benitez will be able to demonstrate progress.

Benitez is unfazed at the prospect of regular Thursday and Sunday fixtures which Europa League progress dictates, although it does limit the amount of time he has to work with his squad.

'Two games a week we can manage, if we have enough bodies,' added the Spaniard, who won the UEFA Cup with Valencia and Champions League with Liverpool. 'Normally when you want to improve your team tactically, you push them. But in this situation you can't because if you push them too much they will be tired. The balance is quite difficult.

'The day after a game you have a light training session. The second day is before the game, so you have a light training session. Then you have to play. That means when you try to do your tactical adjustments, your preparation, you cannot do too much.'

The Walcott should copy Thierry Henry – Martin Keown

Walcott should learn from the master… when Henry was in the zone there was no stopping him

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UPDATED:

23:35 GMT, 30 December 2012

When Thierry Henry was in the zone, he was driven, there was a real fierce determination about him.

You could see it in his eyes. And I think that is coming into Theo Walcott's make-up now.

At the moment, the reason for this is that he wants to prove he deserves to stay at the club. But when that is taken care of, he needs to carry on producing.

In the zone: Thierry Henry gave his team-mates hope with his drive and determination

In the zone: Thierry Henry gave his team-mates hope with his drive and determination

Walcott needs to want it for wanting's sake. He needs to stay in this same thought process because it is bringing the best out of him at the moment.

When Walcott went home on Saturday night, he must have felt like a proud man – on top of the world with a tremendous feeling of satisfaction.

He needs to want to produce that same feeling next time he steps out on the pitch.

You do not stop until you feel that joy of winning, and that comes from scoring the goals that win matches.

Henry gave us tremendous hope. Without those players, you do not finish off the hard work because you don't score goals.

This transition from winger to centre forward has been seven years in the making and the club have probably been waiting for this to happen.

And right now, it's like Walcott is saying: 'Take a look at me at centre forward. This is where I really want to play.'

Main man: Walcott was in exceptional form against Newcastle

Main man: Walcott was in exceptional form against Newcastle

Expertly done: Theo Walcott showed his ability to play in the middle for Arsenal

Expertly done: Theo Walcott showed his ability to play in the middle for Arsenal

There is much more purpose and precision, and there seems to be a shift in his mentality, underlined by the way he took his third goal.

Walcott gets knocked to the ground but bounces back up again looking for a goal. There's that hunger to score – the same hunger Henry had.

Furthermore, his first goal had all the precision of Henry. And for me, that is the difference; he is more clinical in front of goal.

There was not the consistency to his finishing three or four years ago, but that consistency is there now. And I think that has come with a change of mindset.

Yes, he has maybe proved a point. But what he has to focus on is scoring goals and winning games for Arsenal. It's not about just performing well and looking good.

I think maybe, in the past, there has been that element to his game. But if you focus on what matters, winning football matches, it is easier as a professional footballer to go out there and do well.

Back in town: Henry is currently back training with his former club

Back in town: Henry is currently back training with his former club

Manchester City could be the new invincibles

We are invincible: Mancini's men can't match Arsenal's record but have the same mentality

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UPDATED:

22:10 GMT, 23 December 2012

Defeat in a dramatic Manchester derby earlier this month means that Roberto Mancini and his players can no longer match Arsenal’s ‘Invincibles’, but it would be wrong to assume they do not feel invincible.

It has become a hallmark of Mancini’s Manchester City. There is something about the relentless way they pursue their objective that is typical of neighbours United and that celebrated Arsenal team of 2003-04.

They create the sense that a goal is inevitable, breathing belief into City and dread into their opponents.

Belief: Gareth Barry's (in blue, second left) late goal against Reading is the latest evidence of Manchester City's refusal to give up

Belief: Gareth Barry's (in blue, second left) late goal against Reading on Saturday is the latest evidence of Manchester City's refusal to give up

People will always remember the late efforts from Edin Dzeko and, of course, Sergio Aguero that clinched the Premier League title for City on goal difference in May, but the sort of mentality Mancini demands of his players has been a work in progress for some time.

Think back to last season. The late winners against Tottenham and Chelsea; the later equaliser against Sunderland. Without those points, the last-day heroics would never have been possible.

The trend has continued this season. Late goals in the first two games enabled City to pick up four points.

Dzeko’s last-gasp winners against Fulham, West Bromwich and Spurs could prove invaluable.

Super-sub: Late goals by Edin Dzeko (right and below) against Fulham, West Brom and Spurs have proved invaluable

Super-sub: Late goals by Edin Dzeko (right and below) against Fulham, West Brom and Spurs have proved invaluable

City are displaying that trademark of champions: a knack of winning without playing particularly well.

On Saturday, it was Gareth Barry’s turn to pop up in the 92nd minute and snatch a 1-0 victory over stubborn Reading. ‘You have to believe,’ he said.

‘Turning one point into three can be vital, and we’ve scored so many goals late on last season and again this year. They can be so important at the end of the season.’

Super-sub: Late goals by Edin Dzeko (right and below) against Fulham, West Brom and Spurs have proved invaluable

Kolo Toure recognises the signs.

The City defender was one of Arsenal’s Invincibles who went unbeaten to win the Premier League title, and he senses the same conviction within Mancini’s squad.

‘We just keep believing we will score,’ said Toure.

‘Teams coming here know we can score at any time. We’ve got that in our minds and the teams we play against know that as well.

Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini

'Mancini time': Late goals have become a hallmark of the Mancini era at City

‘It was the same at Arsenal. We knew we could get the goal. We have the same mentality here. We never accept drawing or losing a game.’

Mancini marked his third anniversary in charge on Friday by talking about his success in changing the balance of power in Manchester.

Robin van Persie’s winner in the derby was a painful reminder that United still rule in ‘Fergie time’, but City are building an impressive record in what could become known as ‘Mancini time’.

Considering their strike rate in the last five minutes of games, it was staggering to see fans leaving the Etihad Stadium early.

‘We won the title in the last second,’ said Mancini. ‘We’ve also recovered a lot of games in the last three or four minutes.

'We know we can change every game right at the end.’

It earned grudging admiration from Brian McDermott but the dejected Reading boss criticised referee Mike Dean’s decision to deny his team a second-half penalty for Karim Rekik’s off-the-ball challenge on Jay Tabb and then to allow Barry’s header to stand.

A seventh straight Premier League defeat was cruel on Reading, although Nicky Shorey’s failure to challenge Barry for a magnificent cross from David Silva in the second of four added minutes made it difficult for Dean to award a foul.

McDermott said: ‘Manchester United notoriously score late goals. Manchester City scored a late goal last season which was quite important, apparently.

'That’s what top sides and top players do. But we didn’t deserve to lose.’

Furious: Reading manager Brian McDermott (left) gave grudgingly gave respect to Mancini's team but was angry at Barry's goal standing

Furious: Reading manager Brian McDermott (left) gave grudgingly gave respect to Mancini's team but was angry at Barry's goal standing

Roberto Mancini toasts third anniversary

Mancini: Raise a glass to me, I always win! City boss toasts his third anniversary

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UPDATED:

23:54 GMT, 21 December 2012

Roberto Mancini celebrated his third anniversary as Manchester City manager on Friday and admitted he has exceeded his own expectations by breaking Sir Alex Ferguson’s grip on English football so quickly.

It is three years since Mancini was unveiled amid what he described as a ‘war’ at City. One Premier League title and an FA Cup triumph later, and the Italian believes the balance of power in Manchester has already changed.

Christmas cheer: Roberto Mancini toast the press with a glass of Champagne during his press conference

Christmas cheer: Roberto Mancini toast the press with a glass of Champagne during his press conference

‘When I arrived here three years ago I
didn’t think that maybe in two years we would win the Premier League
and the FA Cup,’ he said. ‘I thought that it would take maybe four or
five years to win the Premier League because it isn’t easy.

‘We changed things in England, and
Manchester in particular, because for 20 or 30 years United won
everything. We changed this because we worked really well.

‘United’s mentality is stronger than
our mentality at the moment. But as a team our quality is the same level
as theirs, and we showed this in the derby.

Welcome return: Vincent Kompany is close to a comeback

Welcome return: Vincent Kompany is close to a comeback

Back in business: James Milner is in contention to play against Reading

Back in business: James Milner is in contention to play against Reading

‘We need to have respect for them and
for Ferguson. I don’t know if when I’m 70 like him, I can have the same
attitude that he has. But I think if we work well we will be better.’

Apart from one year at Lazio, Mancini
has won a trophy in each of his eight full seasons in management.
Crucially, it is a winning habit he has transmitted to his players, and
one that he is certain will see City retain the title or lift the FA Cup
again.

‘I always win,’ he added. ‘I can’t do
anything about this! We won and I think we can continue to win in the
future. I think that is very important for us, because we started to win
two years ago and every year we won a trophy.

‘We have two targets and I think we
will win (one of them). It will be better if we win the title. Now we
are in second position and we have six points less. It will not be easy
but we have a good chance. I’m confident.’

Centre of attention: Mario Balotelli reports for City training on Friday

Centre of attention: Mario Balotelli reports for City training on Friday

Mancini recalled his stormy opening
press conference in December 2009, overshadowed by a barrage of
questions aimed at former City chief Garry Cook over the sacking of Mark
Hughes.

‘I remember it was a very good press conference!’ said Mancini, laughing. ‘I thought I was in the war!’

These days most of Mancini’s battles
seem to be with Mario Balotelli. The controversial striker dropped his
protest against a 340,000 club fine for breaches of discipline earlier
this week, deciding not to take City to a Premier League tribunal ‘as a
sign of respect for Roberto Mancini, the supporters and the club’,
according to a City statement. But Mancini insisted that, above all,
Balotelli needed to show respect for himself by accepting the
punishment.

‘It’s normal that when someone makes a mistake he should take his responsibilities and Mario did this,’ he said.

Balotelli has been ruled out of
Saturday's game with Reading through illness, but Mancini believes that
he can still have a future at the club.

‘Sure,’ he added. ‘But Mario now needs to deserve this.’

Everton boss David Moyes: I want to manage in Germany

Everton manager Moyes reveals desire to manage in Germany

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UPDATED:

22:00 GMT, 20 December 2012

David Moyes has revealed his ambition to coach in a European league one day – and named Germany as the most appealing option.

The Everton manager is a huge admirer of German football and has been studying the framework of the Bundesliga to try to improve himself as a coach, as well as his team's performance.

Ambitious Moyes, who is set for discussions with Everton chairman Bill Kenwright next month to extend his contract, said in an interview with France Football: 'I always had the hope of being a coach abroad. If I had the choice, I would probably go to Germany, in part because of the mentality, which is similar to mine. I'm also fascinated by what happens in German football.

Part of the furniture: Moyes has been at Everton for over ten years

Part of the furniture: Moyes has been at Everton for over ten years

'They seem to have found a way of producing young players. Look at Borussia Dortmund. I saw them against Manchester City this season. They were fantastic. They put this incredible intensity on their opponents to break the tempo. It adds a new tactical level.

'If I was not working as a coach, I think I would decide to go to South America: to Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, to see how they train young people out there. That would be my project: to understand football better.'

In his 11th year in charge of Everton, Moyes has overseen a decade of massive improvement and this season they are contenders to finish in the top four.

Kenwright continues to look for investors who could make a difference and Moyes does not think a massive amount of money is required to propel Everton forward.

Flying high: Everton have been transformed under Moyes

Flying high: Everton have been transformed under Moyes

'Everton have shown stability and are going in the right direction,' said Moyes. 'We do not need a billionaire… even if we have nothing against the issue of finding one. We are a club. We are a community. Everton are for the people, for the people of Liverpool.

'From the first day I wanted to change the perception of Everton. I do not know if I could one day take Everton as far as winning titles or playing in European Cup finals but I wanted people to say, “Things are getting better. Everton are a good club, a stable club”. I wanted to make an impact.'

Frankie Gavin will ditch British Lonsdale belt if he necessary for European title shot

Gavin ready to ditch Londsale belt if it gives him chance of European title shot

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UPDATED:

18:48 GMT, 19 December 2012

Frankie Gavin insists there will be no room for sentiment if he has to dump the prestigious British Lonsdale belt in order to secure a European welterweight shot.

The domestic champion defends his crown for the first time against Jason Welborn at Walsall Town Hall on January 18.

The Birmingham fighter earned the title by outsmarting wily veteran Junior Witter recently and has been rewarded with a seemingly straightforward assignment in nearby Walsall against local lad Welborn.

No room for sentimentality: Frankie Gavin will ditch the belt if needs be

No room for sentimentality: Frankie Gavin will ditch the belt if needs be

'Nobody wanted to fight Witter, nobody was calling him out except me,' the 27-year-old said.

'I got myself into the mandatory position and did what I had to do to get the best of him.

'The dust has settled on that and it's about defending the title now. Jason Welborn will do everything he can to get close to me and knock me out but I've got different feelings about that.

'I'll use my ring smarts and ring craft and hopefully will have too much for him.

'It's going to be a great atmosphere. He sells a lot of tickets, I do too, it's going to be packed. It's great for me to be back in my local area in a Brum v Black Country scrap.'

Gavin (14-0, 10KOs), who is ranked in the European top 10, added: 'It's very important to me to keep busy and keep this belt but if the two defences don't happen quickly and I get offered a European title shot or something different of that stature then I'll take it.

Up for it: Gavin (right) in action against Michael Lomax

Up for it: Gavin (right) in action against Michael Lomax

'It's important that I keep winning. That's all that matters to me.

'I've got a winner's mentality. I just want to win, win, win. Whatever it takes.'

Welborn (11-1, 5 KOs) is happy to postpone Christmas festivities in order to fulfil his dream.

He said: 'It's two local lads fighting in the local area and you don't often get fights like this. That's why tickets have just flown out – he's sold all of his and I've sold all mine. We're trying to get more.

'I've got to be good over Christmas but this is my Christmas present, to get that belt. I felt it earlier and I want it.'

Local favourite Martin Gethin fights for the vacant British and Commonwealth lightweight belts against Ben Murphy on the same bill.

Alastair Cook praises whole England team after third Test victory over India

Cook aiming for 3-1 series win after seeing England claim second Test by seven wickets

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UPDATED:

07:38 GMT, 9 December 2012

Alastair Cook set his sights on a historic 3-1 series triumph this week in Nagpur after England took less than an hour to wrap up a seven-wicket win on the final morning of the third Test at Eden Gardens.

A 2-1 victory would be epoch-making in its own right, for England have not won a series in India since David Gower’s side did so by the same margin in 1984-85.

But no visiting team has ever won three Tests in India in a series of shorter than five matches. And Cook is acutely aware of the danger of heading to the City of Oranges only to slip up on a banana skin.

All together: Alastair Cook praised England's all round team performance

All together: Alastair Cook praised England's all round team performance

'Without a doubt we will go into
Nagpur aiming to win,’ he said. ‘Clearly, I would take the draw now if
someone offered it. But you can’t go into a game with that mentality.

'We have to go in the same as these
last two games and produce the goods again. We can do something very
special but it takes a lot of hard work to do it over here.’

The turnaround in this series has been one of the stories of a sporting year already overflowing with them.

Hammered in the first Test at
Ahmedabad, England were ridiculed for another dismal display –
especially in the first innings – against spin. But Cook’s
second-innings century there was the first of three for England’s new
captain in what has turned out to be a run-glut to match his performance
in the 2010-11 Ashes.

Making the breakthrough: Graeme Swann took England's first wicket after lunch on Saturday

Making the breakthrough: Graeme Swann took England's first wicket after lunch on Saturday

Of the eight overseas batsmen to have
scored more in a series in India than his 548 (average: 109), only one –
Australia’s Matthew Hayden – played in as few as three Tests. The other
seven played in five or more.

Modestly, Cook preferred to spread
the praise for England’s comeback. ‘It’s been down to a lot of hard
work,’ he said. ‘We have taken what we have been doing in the nets out
in to the middle, and are starting to perform close to our potential.
That’s what has really happened.

'In this game our bowlers have been
outstanding. To restrict them to 300 on that wicket was a great effort
and yesterday, when they were 80-odd for 0, to put in a session like we
did was highly skilled bowling.’

Finishing up: Jimmy Anderson took the final wicket of the India innings early on Sunday morning

Finishing up: Jimmy Anderson took the final wicket of the India innings early on Sunday morning

After months of obfuscation and
denial from the England camp, Cook was finally able to admit – from a
position of strength – that the batsmen had been hampered by their
Achilles heel.

'The first thing,’ he said, ‘was the
realisation of the problem against playing spin. It probably wasn’t as
big as everyone made out, but I think all of us as a batting unit had to
look at our technique against spin and work out a method which suits
each individual player. It’s not going to happen overnight, but we’re
now starting to get a few results from it.

'We just spoke about batting long
periods of time pretty much. There are not many people in world cricket
who come to India and can dominate bowling the whole day. Kev obviously
did it in Mumbai with a great innings, but that’s not the norm.

'The norm is you have to accumulate
and be prepared to bat the whole day or as long as you can. It has been a
really good tour for that but unfortunately we can’t keep patting
ourselves on the back now. It’s not the time to do it. We’ve got
another challenge very quickly round the corner so we’re going to have
to recover well and go into that test match believing we can win again.’

If they do, Cook will be hailed as a miracle worker. And the troubles of a difficult year will almost be forgotten.

Picture dispute

We are unable to carry live pictures from the third Test in Kolkata due to a dispute between the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and international news organisations.
The BCCI has refused access to Test venues to established picture agencies Getty Images and Action Images and other Indian photographic agencies.
MailOnline consider this action to be a strike against press freedom and supports the action to boycott BCCI imagery.

Gaston Ramirez can be the next Cristiano Ronaldo, claims Jose Fonte

Fonte: If he works hard enough Saints' Ramirez can be the next Ronaldo

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UPDATED:

22:30 GMT, 7 December 2012

Southampton defender Jose Fonte watched Cristiano Ronaldo develop from a teenage team-mate at Sporting Lisbon to one of the greatest talents in the world today.

And he recognises similar traits in Southampton's record 12million signing Gaston Ramirez.

Fonte was 17-years-old when he started playing and training with 16-year-old Ronaldo.

The next big thing Jose Fonte claims Gaston Ramirez could be as good as Cristiano Ronaldo (above)

The next big thing Jose Fonte claims Gaston Ramirez (above) could be as good as Cristiano Ronaldo

The next big thing Jose Fonte claims Gaston Ramirez (right) could be as good as Cristiano Ronaldo (left)

He used to kick him in training because he was so quick and was startled by the desire from this teenager to be better than all of the older players.

The teenage Ronaldo wanted to be stronger and faster than everyone else and he was prepared to work harder to do it.

Fonte said: 'I've seen it with my own eyes – him doing press ups in the shower. I know he worked very hard to get where he is and I'm very pleased for him because he deserves it.

'He was the youngest but he wanted to be the best all the time.

'I'm fortunate to have worked with him and I saw his progress and he inspired me to be honest because of the way he always drives and wants to be the best at everything.

'I'm very pleased for what he has achieved and he'll achieve more because he has that mentality. He never stops.'

When Ronaldo was at Manchester United and Fonte moved over to England to play for Crystal Palace the pair used to exchange messages. But they have lost contact since, as Fonte said: 'he's too big now.'

Yet when 22-year-old Ramirez joined Southampton in the summer he started to spot similar ability and is sure with a similar work-rate to Ronaldo he can be up there with the best.

Whereas he used to kick Ronaldo off the park – he can't get anywhere near the Uruguyan in training.

Friend of the stars Fonte (right) used to play with Ronaldo at Sporting Lisbon

Friend of the stars Fonte (right) used to play with Ronaldo at Sporting Lisbon

Boost: Ramirez is likely to start against Reading despite spending the past week in Uruguay

Boost: Ramirez is likely to start against Reading despite spending the past week in Uruguay

And Fonte added: 'Ability-wise he's up there with the best I must say. His technique, creativity and vision of the game and understanding are better than everyone else in the team at the moment.

'He gives us something else. Creativity-wise Ramirez is up there, no doubt about it.

'Listen, you can have all the talent in the world but if you don't work sooner or later you're going to start going down in your career.

'You have to maintain that and keep improving. And that's what Ronaldo did. That's what I try to pass on the message, for example Ramirez is 22 he knows if he wants to go even higher he has to keep working.

'He has the talent but it doesn't mean anything if you don't work.'

Rafa Benitez says he tried to win over John Terry and Frank Lampard

Rafa reveals attempts to win over old boys Terry and Lampard after arrival at Chelsea

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UPDATED:

22:30 GMT, 7 December 2012

Rafa Benitez has revealed that one of his first acts as Chelsea manager was to try to get John Terry and Frank Lampard onside by addressing the club's rivalry with Liverpool.

The former Liverpool boss remains a deeply unpopular appointment among Chelsea fans after comments he made before the 2007 Champions League semi-final between the two clubs, but the Spaniard chose to discuss the issue directly with his skipper and vice-captain.

Both players have yet to play for their new interim manager and Terry, 32, will not travel to Japan for next week's Club World Cup as he continues to recover from a knee-ligament injury.

Didier's back! Drogba returns to Cobham to train with Chelsea during the Chinese off-season

Didier's back! Drogba returns to Cobham to train with Chelsea during the Chinese off-season

Lampard, however, will be among the
substitutes for Saturday's Barclays Premier League clash at Sunderland
after missing the last month with a calf problem.

Benitez cast doubt on the
midfielder's long-term future when he said he did not know whether
Lampard, 34, would stay at Chelsea next season.

But his decision to address the
rivalry with Liverpool with two of his most senior players demonstrates
the influence the pair continue to have at the club.

Benitez said: 'I had a conversation
with Frank and Terry at the beginning because they were injured and we
spent time in the dressing room while the team were doing the warm-up.

'I spoke about the rivalry and the mentality. I have a winning mentality. They have and had a winning mentality.

Running man: Drogba back in Chelsea colours during a training session in Cobham

Running man: Drogba back in Chelsea colours during a training session in Cobham

Looking on: Recognise the chap at the back Drogba watches as Frank Lampard passes the ball to Juan Mata

Looking on: Recognise the chap at the back Drogba watches as Frank Lampard passes the ball to Juan Mata

'We knew the rivalry between
Liverpool and Chelsea was big. We were in the top competitions and close
to the finals, but I will carry on working hard and trying to win
games.

'If we carry on playing at the level
we did the other day (in the 6-1 win against Nordsjaelland in the
Champions League), I'm sure the fans will be happy.

'I'm really pleased to be here, and
the players are really good and their commitment is fantastic. In time,
we will understand each other really well and you will see positives on
the pitch.'

The European champions have won just
one of the seven games Terry and Lampard have both missed, but Benitez
said it was 'too simplistic' to attribute Chelsea's dip in form to their
absence.

Doubt: John Terry (left) has yet to return to full Chelsea training

Doubt: John Terry (left) has yet to return to full Chelsea training

Crocked: Terry was hurt after a collision with Liverpool's Luis Suarez

Crocked: Terry was hurt after a collision with Liverpool's Luis Suarez

He insisted, however, that Lampard's
comeback was a boost. 'Terry and Lampard are important players with big
character but the team has been winning without them. 'Frank is an
experienced player and a great player.

He can find players between the
lines, get into the box and score goals. So he's a different kind of
midfielder to those we have at the moment.'

Benitez said Terry was keen to lead
Chelsea in Japan but will follow medical advice and stay at home because
his right knee is still swollen.

The defender is targeting a comeback
in the Capital One Cup against Leeds United on December 19. Benitez
said: 'He wanted to go, he wanted to help. But it would be better for
him to stay. 'He's training very hard with the physios. We'll have to
wait and see how he recovers.'

Manchester City"s David Silva passed fit for derby against United

Silva lining for Mancini as City's Spanish maestro recovers in time for crunch derby

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UPDATED:

11:18 GMT, 7 December 2012

Manchester City talisman David Silva is fit for Sunday's clash with rivals United in the Barclays Premier League, according to manager Roberto Mancini.

Silva has been absent with a hamstring injury and missed City's embarrassing midweek Champions League showing in Dortmund.

But Mancini said at his press conference this morning: 'David is fit and will play.'

Welcome back: David Silva has handed his manager a boost for the derby

Welcome back: David Silva has handed his manager a boost for the derby

City go in to the game at the Etihad Stadium three points behind United and Mancini admitted Sir Alex Ferguson's team are favourites for the title.

He said: 'United are better than us at the moment. Last season was important for us. We won the first derby 6-1 and our mentality changed.

'But they have three more points than us at the moment. They were a strong team already and they bought Van Persie and Kagawa.

'They bought a player who had scored 25 goals last season but that (City's pursuit of him) is in the past now. If we continue to work we can improve.'

Despite Citys elimination from the Champions League, Mancini claimed he doesn't feel under pressure.

Eyes on the prize: Roberto Mancini is preparing for the biggest game of his season

Eyes on the prize: Roberto Mancini is preparing for the biggest game of his season

'I don't feel this,' he said. 'I'm happy with the job I have done these last two years.

'When you build a new team its normal to have difficult moments. You can't win all the games. You can lose important games. Its normal.'