Tag Archives: squabbles

Andre Villas-Boas says Europa League is not a punishment

Europa League is no punishment! AVB slams English attitude towards tournament

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UPDATED:

21:30 GMT, 3 October 2012

Andre Villas-Boas has rejected talk that the Europa League is a ‘punishment’ for Spurs, describing it instead as a dress rehearsal for Champions League glory.

The Portuguese will once more field a strong side in Athens on Thursday night, despite hosts Panathinaikos appearing to be nearing meltdown.

The Greeks have been beset by internal squabbles but Spurs’ head coach is refusing to follow the lead of Liverpool and Newcastle who have both chosen to field shadow squads in the competition.

Warming up: Spurs players ready themselves to play Panathinaikos

Warming up: Spurs players ready themselves to play Panathinaikos

Former Tottenham chief Harry Redknapp described the Europa League as ‘a nightmare’ but Villas-Boas feels it deserves more respect.

He said: 'I aim to field the strongest team possible. We want to progress in this competition – the overall objective is to win it – and I respect it.

'For us to go on and eventually win the Champions League, I think we have to get used to playing in these situations, playing two games per week, both physically and mentally.

'So I respect the competition. I certainly think that it is viewed as a punishment in England and I cannot understand why.

'It’s a traditional trophy, particularly in England, that’s what surprises me more.

'So many great players won this competition. So many great English players. If you go back to Clemence, Keegan…to our goalkeeping coach Tony Parkes. The list goes on and on.

'In the end, we view it here as an education for the future. I certainly believe that other countries do not approach it like they do in England.'

There was some good news on the injury front, too. Spurs travelled to the Greek capital without Emmanuel Adebayor but Villas-Boas said that he would be in contention for Sunday’s game against Aston Villa.

Brad Friedel has not travelled which means either Hugo Lloris or Carlo Cudicini will start in goal.

Several players are still missing, including Kyle Naughton, Scott Parker, Benoit Assou-Ekotto, Jake Livermore and Younes Kaboul.

Serious: Andre Villas-Boas is not mucking around

Serious: Andre Villas-Boas is not mucking around

Spurs players training

The hosts appear to be in disarray. Without a victory in six matches, the Greens have slipped to 12th in their domestic league. The club also cancelled the contract of skipper Kostas Katsouranis on Wednesday after a row with the club’s owner.

'There is a difference between the Panathinaikos of today and the Tottenham of today. Tottenham have a good team today while we have many problems,' said coach Jesualdo Ferreira.

But Villas-Boas was not being taken in.

'It’s not easy for a club of this size to be in the situation they now find themselves,' he said. 'Their players will be full of tension and emotion after what has happened. I expect them to play to their maximum.'

Turmoil: Panathinaikos are in quite a state

Turmoil: Panathinaikos are in quite a state

Manchester City 3 Sunderland 3: Title hopes suffer another blow despite late rally

Manchester City 3 Sunderland 3: Title hopes suffer another blow despite late rally

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UPDATED:

16:34 GMT, 31 March 2012

Manchester City dropped two potentially vital points in the Barclays Premier League title race despite a rousing late fightback against Sunderland.

Mario Balotelli's second goal of the afternoon and a powerful Aleksandar Kolarov strike inside the last five minutes at the Etihad Stadium earned City a draw but it was not enough to take them back top.

Sunderland had powered into a 3-1 lead with two goals from Sebastian Larsson and a fine header from Nicklas Bendtner.

Warring factions: Two-goal hero Mario Balotelli squabbles with Aleksandar Kolarov over the taking of a free-kick

Warring factions: Two-goal hero Mario Balotelli squabbles with Aleksandar Kolarov over the taking of a free-kick

MATCH FACTS

Man City: Hart, Richards (Johnson 46), Toure, Kompany, Kolarov, Milner (Pizarro 81), De Jong, Toure Yaya, Silva (Tevez 58), Balotelli, Dzeko. Subs not used: Pantilimon, Clichy, Barry, Zabaleta.

Booked: De Jong.

Scorer: Balotelli (pen) 43, Kolarov 86.

Sunderland: Mignolet, Bardsley, Turner, Kilgallon (Kyrgiakos 81), Colback, Larsson, Gardner, Cattermole, McClean, Sessegnon, Bendtner. Subs not used: Westwood, Campbell, Richardson, Vaughan, Ji, Meyler.

Booked: Gardner.

Scorer: Larsson 31, 55, Bendtner 45.

Referee: Phil Dowd.

Attendance:

From that position, City would
ordinarily have been pleased with a draw – which preserved their
unbeaten home record – but arch-rivals Manchester United now have a huge
advantage and could go five points clear on Monday.

It was a fractious affair in which Balotelli appeared to argue with team-mate Carlos Tevez.
Problems appeared to be mounting for City before kick-off when, a day
after manager Roberto Mancini mysteriously refused to discuss top scorer
Sergio Aguero's ankle problem, Samir Nasri revealed he had been ruled
out by injury.

City at least had the reassurance of
captain Vincent Kompany back in their defence after four games out with a
calf injury but the hosts lacked bite and were pushed back from the
outset.

Micah Richards found himself in the
firing line early on as he blocked a powerful shot from James McClean
and then required treatment after Stephane Sessegnon beat him to create
another opportunity.

Sessegnon failed to make the most of that chance, opting not to pass to McClean to cut inside and Kolo Toure cleared.

Hammer blow: Sebastian Larsson beats Joe Hart for his second goal of the game

Hammer blow: Sebastian Larsson beat Joe Hart for his second goal of the game

The first signs of City unrest were
perhaps seen as Balotelli and Yaya Toure were involved in animated
discussions as play was stopped for Richards' injury.

Sunderland had another good chance to
go ahead as Sessegnon was twice involved in a sweeping move but Craig
Gardner's shot into the side netting.

City responded as Edin Dzeko tested
Simon Mignolet and Kompany scuffed a shot wide from the resulting corner
but Sunderland remained just as likely scorers.

Controversy: Sunderland players remonstrate with referee Phil Down after seeing a penalty awarded to Manchester City

Controversy: Sunderland players remonstrate with referee Phil Down after seeing a penalty awarded to Manchester City for a foul on Edin Dzeko

McClean turned on the edge of the
area to shoot narrowly wide and Bendtner then had an effort blocked
before the visitors deservedly went ahead on the half hour.

Larsson did the damage with a superb finish from the edge of the area, beating Joe Hart with a low shot into the bottom corner.

City tried to reply quickly and Yaya Toure won a free-kick on the edge of the area but Mignolet saved from Kolarov.

On top: Nicklas Bendtner is congratulated by Lee Cattermole after putting Sunderland 2-1 up

On top: Nicklas Bendtner is congratulated by Lee Cattermole after putting Sunderland 2-1 up

City got back into the game from the penalty spot after Phil Dowd controversially ruled that Gardner had upended Dzeko.

Sunderland were furious at the decision but Balotelli kept his cool to level.

An argument broke out between Dzeko
and Phil Bardsley when play was stopped following a clash of heads
between Richards and Colback.

Not now: Phil Dowd pushes Roberto Mancini away after the final whistle as the Italian complains

Not now: Phil Dowd pushes Roberto Mancini away after the final whistle as the Italian complains

Balotelli proved an unlikely
peacemaker and play eventually restarted, but City may have wished it
had not as Sunderland reclaimed the lead in first-half injury time.

Bendtner made no mistake as he planted a firm header past Hart from a Sessegnon cross.
City needed to respond but it was Sunderland who continued to force the pace in the early stages of the second half.

Yaya Toure, weary after a heavy
tackle, was beaten to the ball inside his own half as Sessegnon launched
the attack which led to Sunderland's third.

Parity restored: Kolarov lets fly to make it 3-3

Parity restored: Kolarov lets fly to make it 3-3

Bendtner raced into space down the
right and played a low ball into the box for Larsson, who timed his run
perfectly to slide in at the far post.

Mancini's response was to send on
Tevez for Silva and the hosts spurned a chance moments later as Kolo
Toure headed over from a corner.

City won a free-kick after Kolarov
went down on the edge of the area and frustrations boiled over as the
hosts could not decide who should take it.

Fightback: Balotelli levels just before half-time

Fightback: Balotelli levels just before half-time

Balotelli clearly wanted to be
involved and reacted unhappily when Tevez lined up behind the ball.
Kompany had to push the Italian away and in the end it was Kolarov who
took it, curling a shot wide.

Tevez had his first chance as City broke from deep but hit the side netting from the edge of the area.
Bendtner missed a fine chance to make it 4-1 when he fired over from the edge of the box and City finally stirred into life.

Balotelli reduced the arrears with a
fine goal, all of his own making, five minutes from time as he came in
from the left and ran across the edge of the box to beat Mignolet from
distance.

High riser: Bendtner puts Sunderland ahead

High riser: Bendtner puts Sunderland ahead

The hosts threw everything into
attack and were rewarded again as substitute David Pizarro rolled the
ball wide for Kolarov to smash home.

Despite some frantic late scenes, however, City could not claim a winner.

England must be united to succeed, says Holland star

Holland's Heitinga warns England they'll get nowhere unless they are united

John Heitinga has warned England the only way they will stand a chance of flourishing at major tournaments is by becoming a united squad.

The Everton defender, who will figure prominently for the World Cup finalists in Wednesday's friendly at Wembley, has taken note as England’s hopes of prospering at Euro 2012 appear to have been compromised by numerous squabbles from boardroom to dressing room.

It is, after all, a topic in which the Dutch have experience. There have been several shameful episodes, both at World Cups and European Championships, when Holland ultimately threw their chances away by fighting amongst themselves.

Dutch of class: John Heitinga thinks England need to take a lead out of the new-look Holland book

Dutch of class: John Heitinga thinks England need to take a lead out of the new-look Holland book

Holland’s campaign in South Africa two years ago, however, was free of controversy and that led to them attaining their best performance at a tournament since they were crowned champions of Europe in 1988. Heitinga believes it is an example from which England can learn.

'Before the tournament Bert van Marwijk said to us “it doesn’t matter if you don’t like this or that person, you have to accept his quality and work for each other”,' explained Heitinga, who has been capped 72 times.

'He told us what would happen on the pitch is that we would help each other. After the game, if you don’t like each other, then you don’t have talk to each other. But on the pitch it’s different. There is only one goal and you need all the players working for together to win a trophy.

Stick together: The England team have bridges to build before Euro 2012

Stick together: The England team have bridges to build before Euro 2012

'That is always your best chance. The main thing for us in South Africa was that we were a team. Everyone was fighting for each other. We knew who the stars were but you need everyone working together if you’re going to reach your goal.'

It has been argued that England would stand a better chance if the onus was put on youth but Heitinga, 28, feels to make too much of a radical change – regardless of who is manager in Poland and Ukraine – would be too big a gamble.

'If you are going to start (this kind of approach) now, it is going to be hard to get results at Euro 2012,’ he said. ‘You need to start, yes. But I don’t know whether now is a good time or not, maybe wait until after the Euros.'