Tag Archives: succession

Sean O"Driscoll sacked by Nottingham Forest

Forest sack O'Driscoll after thumping win over Leeds

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UPDATED:

19:15 GMT, 26 December 2012

Sacked: Sean O'Driscoll has left Forest

Sacked: Sean O'Driscoll has left Forest

Nottingham Forest have sacked manager Sean O'Driscoll just hours after a 4-2 home win over Leeds left the club one point adrift of the npower Championship play-off places.

Owners Fawaz Al Hasawi and Abdulaziz Al Hasawi say they have made the decision because they want a manager with Premier League experience.

O'Driscoll, who left Crawley in the summer to take over at the City Ground, leaves Forest eighth in the table.

Reds chairman Fawaz Al Hasawi admits the timing of O'Driscoll's departure is unfortunate.

He told the club's official website: 'We cannot speak highly enough of Sean as a man.

'He was appointed at an extremely difficult time for the club and can count himself unlucky to have lost his job with the team just one point away from the top six.

'But we have a responsibility to look to the future for this great club because we have huge ambitions for it.

'We knew when we bought the club in the summer that it would take time for the players we bought in to settle but that process has taken longer than we anticipated.

Two good: Billy Sharp (left) scored twice as Forest beat Leeds 4-2

Two good: Billy Sharp (left) scored twice as Forest beat Leeds 4-2

'We feel we have developed a really strong squad of players but are still searching for consistency in terms of team performance, underlined by the fact that we have not won more than two games in succession in the Championship this season.

'And with the January transfer window approaching, we feel it's the right time to make a change.

'We are looking to bring in an ambitious manager with Premier League experience.'

Arsene Wenger tells Stan Kroenke he wants to turn Arsenal round alone

Stay out of it Kroenke! Defiant Wenger wants to get Arsenal's season back on track without interference

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UPDATED:

10:52 GMT, 14 December 2012

A defiant Arsene Wenger today said that he is determined to turn Arsenal's stuttering season around and does not expect any intervention from the club's board, including majority shareholder Stan Kroenke.

Arsenal suffered a crippling defeat at Bradford on Tuesday, when they were beaten on penalties in the Capital One Cup.

Wenger watched his season go from bad to worse at Valley Parade. The Gunners sit in 7th in the Premier League and are already 15 points behind leaders Manchester United after just 16 games.

Deflated: Arsenal lost in the Capital One Cup to Bradford earlier this week

Deflated: Arsenal lost in the Capital One Cup to Bradford earlier this week

With hopes of winning the league all but over, should Arsenal fail to bring home the FA Cup or the Champions League this season, it will be their eighth in succession without a trophy.

But Wenger has pulled Arsenal through
rough patches before, and he is determined to do so without any
intervention from Kroenke and the board.

Wenger said: ‘I am responsible for the football front, I don't expect Stan Kroenke to intervene.

‘The way to support me is to let me
do my work and do my job, I don't expect anything else. I'm very
determined and very hungry – if I wasn't I wouldn't be here.

‘I love the club, I sit here and show
how much I love the club. We have been through difficult periods before
and I know how to turn this around because I have been here 16 years.’

Wenger is looking to pick his players up at Reading on Monday evening after a difficult week, but believes he and his players should be looking forward, not back.

Crunch time: Arsene Wenger is determined to get the season back on track without interference

Crunch time: Arsene Wenger is determined to get the season back on track without interference

'We are top professional people. What
is important is what happens tomorrow, not what happened yesterday. We
are sorry for that [Bradford] but what is important is the next game.'

'They [Reading] are a team who deserve a lot of
credit because they came up last year, for me surprisingly.

'They make it difficult for every
team in every game, so we expect a battle. Our results are quite
consistent and good away from home.

'We had a good game against West Brom [and] it’s important to confirm that in our next away game.'

The Frenchman believes his players are committed and resilient enough to bounce back from the Bradford loss.

He said: 'This team cares, is serious and wants to do well, I do not question the spirit of the team.
I believe I have a strong team.

'If you look at our season at the moment, we have not produced our performances at home, away our results are in the same bracket as the two top teams.

Resilient: Wenger believes his players can bounce back at Reading

Resilient: Wenger believes his players can bounce back at Reading

Stop the rot: Arsenal are in seventh place in the league, 15 behind leaders Manchester United

Stop the rot: Arsenal are in seventh place in the league, 15 behind leaders Manchester United

'Where we have lost the points is we made too many draws at home.

'Manchester United are top of the league, six points ahead. They have lost three games, we have lost four. We had more draws, especially at home, that is where we have lost the points.'

The Arsenal manager was also asked whether, after 16 years at the helm, he had been at the club for too long.

He said: 'I can understand people
criticise when the results are not as expected. It looks like has become
the modern way to think.

'You say that 16 years can be a handicap, but it can also be an advantage because you have experience, you love the club.

'If I sit here, it is because I have really shown how much I love his club. We have gone through difficult periods before and you know how to turn it around.'

There has also been speculation that all-time top goalscorer Thierry Henry could re-join the club on loan in January, but Wenger refused to comment on the proposed move, and said: 'I cannot tell you anything about it because nothing has happened.'

SOS: Arsenal could be tempted to make a move for all-time top goalscorer Thierry Henry

SOS: Arsenal could be tempted to make a move for all-time top goalscorer Thierry Henry

Not even close: Gary Jones of Bradford scores with his penalty attempt past goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny

Not even close: Gary Jones of Bradford scores with his penalty attempt past goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny

Sebastian Vettel vows to stay at Red Bull until 2014

Triple-world champion Vettel vows to stay at Red Bull until at least end of 2014 season

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UPDATED:

15:47 GMT, 26 November 2012

Sebastian Vettel can see no end in sight to the fairytale he is currently enjoying with Red Bull.

After becoming the youngest driver in Formula One history to clinch not just three titles, but to do so in succession, Vettel has reassured his team he has no intention of jumping ship.

The 25-year-old German has a contract with the Milton Keynes-based marque through to the end of 2014, which he has again insisted he will honour.

Game on: Vettel celebrates his third world title with Red Bull

Game on: Vettel celebrates his third world title with Red Bull

That was a reference to the fact that Vettel was linked with Ferrari for 2014 at various stages throughout the campaign, a situation that could be viewed as an attempt at destabilisation.

After finishing sixth in Sunday's Brazilian Grand Prix to win the title by three points as Fernando Alonso could only finish second behind Jenson Button, Vettel mentioned 'a lot of people tried to play dirty tricks', but refused to expand. The question now is with three championships to his name, what could motivate him to remain with Red Bull

'The next challenge First of all I want to enjoy now,' Vettel said. 'I've tried to explain the whole time the most important thing is to be in the present. I don't want to get carried away with next year.

Centre of attention: The Red Bull driver is the youngest triple world champion in F1 history

Centre of attention: The Red Bull driver is the youngest triple world champion in F1 history

'I'm very happy now and I want to have a good time with the guys, and then surely at some stage you try to recharge the batteries.

'It's been a tough, long season and I want to come back in shape next year. 'But I'm with the team. I have a contract until the end of 2014 and I'm very happy with what we have achieved so far, and I don't think this story is over yet.

'So I'm very happy and extremely committed to give everything I have in the next (two) years when I'm with them.

Facing the wrong way: Vettel finished sixth after spinning on the opening lap in Brazil

Facing the wrong way: Vettel finished sixth after spinning on the opening lap in Brazil

'At the moment I don't see any point thinking about another team or something else. I'm extremely happy in the position I am in because it's incredible what we have achieved.'

Vettel also refused to suggest he could one day eclipse Michael Schumacher's records of seven titles, 91 race wins and 68 poles.

Although firmly on his way with three championships, 26 victories and 36 poles, Vettel said: 'I'm not commenting on that because it's nonsense.

'Whatever he has achieved in his career is unbelievable. People tend to forget he was dominant like no other driver ever in Formula One during his time.'

Meanwhile Alonso has called on Ferrari to get their heads down over the winter and find him the speed he needs to end his agonising wait for his own third Formula One world title.

'For the future we need to improve the car,' said Alonso. 'We have the best team in terms of approaching and preparing for the races, we've had zero mechanical problems this season, and we've had good pitstops, good starts, good strategy, but we were too slow.

'We were behind the Red Bulls, the McLarens, and in the last couple of grands prix, behind Williams and Force India. We were clearly slower than them in pace.

'So this is something we must improve next year because we cannot fight for a world championship if we are too slow. We can be a little slower, but not that much.'

Leighton Baines in form of life for Everton – Dominic King

Baines the creator! Everton star is first player in Europe to lay on FIFTY chances

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UPDATED:

13:08 GMT, 26 November 2012

Swagger and style. All the top players have it; the unshakeable belief that they are made to play at the top level, the confidence to dominate and influence games. At this moment, it is oozing from Leighton Baines.

Everton's left-back is in the form of his life. He is the first player in Europe's top five leagues to reach 50 chances created this season. Little wonder therefore that he has established himself as the most important player in David Moyes' team.

While Nikica Jelavic adds a goal threat and Marouane Fellaini is a towering menace, Baines is the man who makes it tick. It is not often a manager would put a left-back as the first name on his team sheet but that is where Moyes stands with Baines.

Flying high: Baines is in the form of his life for Everton

Flying high: Baines is the first name on the teamsheet for Everton boss Moyes

Aside from being an outstanding defender, he is also Everton's chief creator of chances and the best set piece taker at the club. Everton, simply, cannot be without him. The same might also be true for England.

When Baines started progressing for Everton, the dearth of talent behind Ashley Cole meant it was inevitable he would one day get selected for national service but now Baines looks like he belongs. Significantly, he knows it too.

The confidence and belief he has is
reflected in the way he is performing. His left-foot is like a magic
wand, bending and fizzing in a succession of balls to Everton's
forwards. Quick, wiry and energetic, his partnership with Steven Pienaar
is as good as anything in the Barclays Premier League.

Ashley Cole

Leighton Baines

National service: Many are debating whether Baines should be England's first choice left-back over Cole

All over the country, people are now debating whether Baines should be regarded as England's first choice left-back.

There is no disputing that Cole has been a magnificent servant for past decade but Baines is now applying pressure like the Chelsea has never experienced before.

'Leighton plays like an
international player now and is looking for players around him to
develop at that level,' observed Everton manager Moyes.

'Over the past two years his level of performance has been excellent. He is now showing the maturity of an international.'

Your country needs you: The Everton defender has impressed for England under Roy Hodgson

Your country needs you: The Everton defender has impressed for England under Roy Hodgson

But that wasn't always the case. When Baines first arrived at Goodison Park, becoming the most expensive defender in Everton's history in July 2007 following his 6million move from Wigan, it appeared for a spell as if his talent would be unfulfilled.

During the first 12 months, Moyes never used to pick him for the games that mattered, preferring instead to go with Joleon Lescott. It reached the point in the winter of 2008 when it appeared that a parting of the ways might occur. The turning point, however, came during a Merseyside derby at Anfield in January 2009.

It was a frantic affair, physical and rumbustious. Baines stuck his guns, however, and refused to be cowed. He came off sporting a black eye following a collision with Jamie Carragher but he proved a point.

'When he first came to Everton, I thought 'Come on! Grow up quickly!' but he is certainly there now,' recalled Moyes.

'He has produced some outstanding performances, and has a belief in himself at the highest level.'

Baines, who has been courted by clubs such as Arsenal and Bayern Munich down the years, would agree.

'I feel I've changed as a person and you bring that in to training,' he once told Sportsmail. 'I think I've changed a lot over the last couple of years. I'm more confident, comfortable and self-assured. There is no cockiness but I'm just comfortable with who I am. That never used to be the case. I used to be much more introverted and go back inside myself. I was never sure of myself. I'm not saying now “here I am!” – I just accept the way I am, I know my strengths and weaknesses and that has helped me progress.'

It has also brought out the style and swagger – and helped Baines become one of the top left-backs in Europe.

Felipe Melo saves penalty for Galatasaray

Beyond the call of duty! Brazil MIDFIELDER Melo steps up and saves penalty to secure victory for Galatasaray after keeper sees red

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UPDATED:

20:28 GMT, 24 November 2012

'Are you sure you know what you’re doing, mate' Could be the question posed to Galatasaray midfielder Felipe Melo as he proceeded to put on goalkeeping gloves in the 90th minute.

His side were 1-0 up when Fernando Muslera was given his marching orders after giving away a penalty to opponents Elazigspor, handing them the opportunity to snatch a draw at the death.

Fearful the Turkish side would give up the two points, Melo pulled on the departing keeper’s jersey and gloves.

Scroll down for video

What a stop: Felipe Melo saved a penalty to keep Galatasaray's noses in front

What a stop: Felipe Melo saved a penalty to keep Galatasaray's noses in front

As Goksu Turkdogan took his run up, the 29-year-old Brazil midfielder shuffled tentatively to his left before changing his mind and diving to the right.

The outfield player parried the penalty – rather unconventionally – away from goal, sparing his goalkeeper’s blushes and sealing victory for his team in the process.

After Melo palmed Turkdogan’s shot to safety, rather than getting to his feet, he crawled along the floor, pulling a silly face to celebrate as his team-mates rushed to congratulate him.

Who could blame him for this strange display though After all, he had just gone beyond the call of duty and saved a penalty kick – despite being a defensive midfielder.

Unorthodox: Melo crawled along the floor after keeping the penalty out

Unorthodox: Melo crawled along the floor after keeping the penalty out

After stepping up and pulling off an incredible act of heroics for his side, Melo might have replied: 'Did you just see that Of course I know what I’m doing!'

Melo's team's 1-0 win over Elazigspor was their second in succession. Galatasaray beat the visiting Manchester United in Istanbul in the Champions League in midweek.

VIDEO: WATCH FELIPE MELO'S PENALTY SAVE

Liverpool target Al Habsi pledges his loyalty to Wigan

I love it at Wigan! Liverpool target Al Habsi pledges his loyalty to Latics

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UPDATED:

08:00 GMT, 7 November 2012

Ali Al-Habsi has played down suggestions he is being lined up for a January move to Liverpool by insisting he is happy at Wigan.

The Oman goalkeeper’s reputation has blossomed over the past 18 months and he has become an integral part of Roberto Martinez’s squad, which has led to him gaining admirers.

Liverpool’s current No 1 Pepe Reina, by contrast, has suffered a dip in form recently and that has led to speculation that Brendan Rodgers is considering bidding for Al-Habsi when the window opens.

Impressive: Wigan goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi

Impressive: Wigan goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi

Al-Habsi, however, has stressed he is
settled at The DW Stadium and Liverpool’s main priority in January will
be to bolster their forward line.

Furthermore, at no point has Rodgers
ever said he is looking to replace Reina, who has missed the last four
games with a hamstring problem.

‘I heard about what was said at the
weekend but that kind of thing is not of any importance to me,’ said
Al-Habsi, who has flourished since moving to Wigan from Bolton,
initially on loan, in 2010.

‘I am very, very happy at Wigan – as
has been the case since I first came here. I am doing well, my form is
coming on with every game I play, and my confidence is very high.

Watching brief: Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers

Watching brief: Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers

‘All I want to do is concentrate on
my job here and to help the team, because there is lots of work to be
done. The most important thing for any professional is to enjoy what
they are doing and that goes for football as much as anything.’

Wigan have started to find some
consistency after a sticky start to the new campaign and their win at
Tottenham last Saturday was their second in succession.

Al Habsi told The Wigan Observer: ‘If
you enjoy what you're doing then you are able to do your job right, and
that has always been the case at Wigan.’

Vincent Kompany: I don"t listen to Manchester City"s critics

Kompany paying no attention to City critics and says champions will be back to their best soon

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UPDATED:

23:49 GMT, 28 October 2012

Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany is not concerned by his or the team's critics and expects their tune to change soon enough.

City have so far this season lacked the dynamism which carried them to the Barclays Premier League title last term and their performances in the Champions League have been particularly disappointing.

That has led to some cutting analysis from outside the club, and Kompany, outstanding at the heart of City's defence in the last campaign, has also found his form the subject of scrutiny.

But the Belgian said: 'Personally, I don't ever get affected by it. I just keep living the life and keep working really hard. If one day goes a little bit less than another, I know I have at least done my best.

Winner: Carlos Tevez scored the only goal of the game for Manchester City

Winner: Carlos Tevez scored the only goal of the game for Manchester City

'/10/28/article-2224326-15B718EB000005DC-486_468x337.jpg” width=”468″ height=”337″ alt=”Battle: Vincent Kompany (left) was only interested in the three points” class=”blkBorder” />

Battle: Vincent Kompany (left) was only interested in the three points

Although the Champions League
situation is precarious, with City having collected just one point from
their first three group games, the Premier League position looks far
healthier.

Despite under-performing, the
champions remain unbeaten and Saturday's 1-0 win over Swansea was their
fourth victory in succession.

Kompany said: 'I feel good but we set
a very high standard last season. We want to achieve the same
performances as last season but it is a matter of time sometimes.

'When statistics are not going your way, there is no way of fighting by talking about it.

'Now we have got a clean sheet, we
are going into the next game and if we can keep getting good results,
things will fall into place naturally.

'Football is like a big piece of
theatre. We are on stage and when it goes well people are clapping you
and sometimes you get more praise than you should.

Party time: City celebrate after Tevez scores the winner against Swansea

Party time: City celebrate after Tevez scores the winner against Swansea

'Sometimes when it doesn't go as well as you want it, you'll be the worst player or the worst manager in the world.

'It is just part of the game and one thing I don't do is get involved.'

Kompany's own game has been dissected by television pundits but he does not intend to take any notice.

He said: 'Criticism just depends how
much attention you want to pay to it. I don't pay any attention to
criticism. I just do my own critique, so it doesn't affect me.

'I wouldn't expect the manager to be affected by it and I would expect the whole team to be very mature to kick on.

'Whatever criticism we are getting now, we are still unbeaten in the league. It just means we have set the standard very high.'

Roberto Mancini wants Manchester City players to toughen up

Mancini wants players to toughen up and keep Euro dream alive with win over Ajax

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UPDATED:

19:26 GMT, 23 October 2012

Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini knows his team must toughen up to keep their Champions League quest alive.

City have made another disappointing start in the competition having collected just one point from their opening two matches in Group D.

Alarmingly, according to UEFA statistics, they have allowed 50 attempts on their own goal during their opening loss at Real Madrid and in their draw against Borussia Dortmund last time out.

Show me more: Roberto Mancini wants the likes of Yaya Toure (right), Mario Balotelli (centre) and Carlos Tevez (left) to improve to beat Ajax on Wednesday

Show me more: Roberto Mancini wants the likes of Yaya Toure (right), Mario Balotelli (centre) and Carlos Tevez (left) to improve to beat Ajax on Wednesday

It leaves them heading into the first of their back-to-back games against Ajax in the Amsterdam Arena anxious for a result.

Mancini said: 'It is better that we don't concede a lot of shots, but we played against Madrid in Madrid, so it is difficult not to concede chances.

'We had a bad game against Dortmund, but it is important we don't give away so many chances to score.

'This group is very difficult. We haven't started very well, tomorrow will be a difficult game.

'People think it will be easy, but Ajax have a good young team and will play well. It is more difficult away from home.

'We can't think before the game about not winning. We have to think about winning this game.'

City found themselves in a similar situation 12 months ago after managing just one draw in games against Bayern Munich and Napoli.

They went on to beat Villarreal twice in succession but still failed to progress from the group stage despite ending it with 10 points.

That meant that, despite their status as Barclays Premier League champions, City were again seeded in a difficult group – one comprising domestic champions – this season and they must advance to improve their co-efficient.

Mancini has no doubt his players are good enough to reach the last 16 but it is a case of obtaining the results.

Ready to start: Edin Dzeko is hoping his manager will select him for the clash after his impressive double at the weekend

Ready to start: Edin Dzeko is hoping his manager will select him for the clash after his impressive double at the weekend

The Argentine contingent: Tevez (right) and Sergio Aguero (left) are also vying for a starting spot in Mancini's team

The Argentine contingent: Tevez (right) and Sergio Aguero (left) are also vying for a starting spot in Mancini's team

Final preparations: The Manchester City team were put through their paces on Tuesday in Amsterdam

Final preparations: The Manchester City team were put through their paces on Tuesday in Amsterdam

The Italian said: 'It is frustrating. We are here and every group game is difficult in the Champions League.

'We should continue our way and if we play like this, we will win.

'We don't have experience as a club, but all of our players have Champions League experience.

'Maybe as a club, we need more experience, but we have good players and that's why we should be in the second stage.

'It is not easy because you need luck in this competition when you have the draw for the group.

'We want to play for a better seeding. We started the group so-so, but we still have a chance to go through – but we must take our chance.'

City will have to achieve their aims in Holland without playmaker David Silva, who remains out with a hamstring injury and has not travelled.

Defender Maicon and midfielders Jack Rodwell and Javi Garcia are also missing.

Those that did make the trip trained at the Amsterdam Arena on the eve of the match.

Leading by example: Mancini's team have earned only one point in their first two Champions League games this season

Leading by example: Mancini's team have earned only one point in their first two Champions League games this season

Up for it Balotelli (left) was a danger to himself on Saturday as he nearly earned himself a red card against West Brom

Up for it Balotelli (left) was a danger to himself on Saturday as he nearly earned himself a red card against West Brom

That represented a break from Mancini's usual European routine as the manager usually prefers to train in Manchester in the morning before travelling.

After previous disappointments, it was suggested to Mancini he might be trying something different but he insisted it was nothing significant.

Speaking at his pre-match press conference, he said: 'Some players wanted to see the stadium because it is fantastic and they wanted to train here. Only this.'

It was also put to Mancini by a Dutch journalist that he is a 'lucky' manager because his club's vast spending power allows him to buy almost whoever he wants.

Gather round: Mancini lectured his players in the Amsterdam Arena

Gather round: Mancini lectured his players in the Amsterdam Arena

Eyes on the prize: After drawing against Borussia Dortmund, victory over Ajax is a must for Mancini's men

Eyes on the prize: After drawing against Borussia Dortmund, victory over Ajax is a must for Mancini's men

Mancini said: 'I am very lucky because I work for a fantastic club – but this is not true.'

Mancini was non-committal on when asked about his strikeforce and whether Edin Dzeko might have done enough to earn a starting spot.

Dzeko is the club's top scorer this season with six goals, five of them after coming off the bench, including last weekend's vital double against West Brom.

Mancini said: 'It is always difficult. When you have four strikers like Mario (Balotelli), Sergio (Aguero), Carlos (Tevez) and Edin, you can't play them all.

'Dzeko was fantastic against West Brom, but we will decide tomorrow.'

Meanwhile City's captain, Vincent Kompany has dismissed concerns about his form ahead of his side's crucial Champions League encounter.

The Belgium international was one of the standout players as City powered to the Barclays Premier League title last season but has not yet reached his best this term.

The 26-year-old was subject to further scrutiny at the weekend after a mistake exposed his side against West Brom and led to the sending-off of last man James Milner for fouling Shane Long.

Anyone's guess: Mancini was coy on who he would start up front in Holland on Wednesday

Anyone's guess: Mancini was coy on who he would start up front in Holland on Wednesday

No worries: Captain Vincent Kompany is not concerned about his form, despite a mistake at the weekend against West Bromwich

No worries: Captain Vincent Kompany is not concerned about his form, despite a mistake at the weekend against West Bromwich

City need their skipper back on top form as they head into back-to-back games against Ajax in Champions League Group D.

Kompany said of his recent error: 'I can only say I have a long career ahead of me, anyone who says it won't happen again would be lying.

'But I feel great. Maybe we are focusing on the wrong topic.

'When it comes to character and spirit and strength to overturn situations – you can only achieve that collectively. There is no such thing as a one-man team.'

He said: 'It's a very tough group, we always knew that. There are no easy games and this is no different.

'It's very tight, but it makes it more exciting.

'We are a very disciplined team and we have always shown capacity to react.

'Tomorrow is a different game, a different set-up and important for us to win the game.'

Chelsea will pay for not buying Willian – Mircea Lucescu, Shakhtar boss

Refusing to shell out for Willian will cost you! Shakhtar boss takes aim at Chelsea

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UPDATED:

17:59 GMT, 22 October 2012

Shakhtar Donetsk manager Mircea Lucescu has warned Chelsea they will be made to pay for failing to appreciate Willian's 'true value' in Tuesday's crunch Champions League clash.

Lucescu accused the European champions of making a derisory bid for the Brazil playmaker, who they tried to buy in January and reportedly made another attempt to sign this summer.

Shakhtar were said to have snubbed a 16.7million offer at the start of 2012 and one in the region of 27million after the Blues were crowned kings of Europe.

Preparations: Shakhtar train

Dangerman: Willian

Warning: Shakhtar's manager Mircea Lucescu (below) told Chelsea to beware Willian (right)

Shakhtar boss

Lucescu, who admitted he had given Willian assurances he could move to Stamford Bridge, said: 'Willian was far away from Chelsea.

'They didn't even get anywhere near to our requirements, having done nothing to make my promises to Willian come true.

'Speaking specifically about the amounts, they officially offered the sum for which we had bought him young.

'I would really like them to highly appreciate his true value tomorrow and realise that they made a big mistake.'

Lucescu also confirmed Chelsea had been interested in defender Darijo Srna while Carlo Ancelotti was in charge at Stamford Bridge.

He said: 'Several years ago, I had a conversation with Ancelotti, and he was interested in Srna.

'My wish is that, after tomorrow's match, Chelsea get interested in all of our players.'

However, Lucescu insisted his red-hot side needed no more motivation to win tomorrow's top-of-the-table Group E match than the fact they were playing the Champions League holders.

The Ukrainian champions look well equipped to claim a huge scalp having won a record 21 Premier League games in succession and 15 out of 16 of their matches in all competitions this term.

Lucescu said: 'For the first time during my spell at Shakhtar we take on the Champions of Europe.

'For my players, it means big motivation and aspirations.

Excited: Shakhtar players prepare to face the champions of Europe

Excited: Shakhtar players prepare to face the champions of Europe

'For our fans, it's the pride to receive such a team at their home stadium, and for our club, it's a great joy and delight.

'If we played a friendly instead of the UCL game against Chelsea, we would probably have had to pay a million or a million and a half (euros) for it.

'Hence, Shakhtar can only take advantage of its every aspect. And if we achieve a positive result – that's what everyone wants – it would be just great then.'

Chelsea are also in irresistible form, having enjoyed their second best ever start to a Barclays Premier League season.

Their 4-2 win at Tottenham on Saturday was their seventh in eight league games and they are scoring just as freely as Tuesday's opponents.

But Lucescu said: 'We are also different from Tottenham these days. I believe that our team's level is higher.

Watch out: Alex Teixeira can find the net with ease

Watch out: Alex Teixeira can find the net with ease

'This is true of both each player's individual skill and the game organisation.

'I think that we surpass Tottenham in terms of those qualities.'

Shakhtar midfielder Tomas Hubschman added: 'Playing against the champions is a big festival for us.

'We prepare for the encounter so that we could get a positive result, which would enable us to progress further. We'll see tomorrow how we manage it.'

The match is the first of a double-header with Chelsea and asked what points total would satisfy him from both matches, Hubschman said: 'Six.'

Mark Noble defends Andy Carroll

Andy's not soft! Noble says if West Ham team-mate Carroll never went to ground he wouldn't win any fouls

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UPDATED:

21:28 GMT, 21 October 2012

Mark Noble has defended Andy Carroll from accusations he goes to ground too easily by arguing if the 6ft 3in England striker does not fall down he will never win fouls.

The West Ham midfielder responded to claims from Southampton’s Adam Lallana that Carroll won a succession of ‘soft’ free-kicks at Upton Park, two of which led to goals in the hosts’ 4-1 victory.

Carroll won five fouls in the match – the joint-most in the league with three others – and often struck an exasperated figure towards referee Neil Swarbrick at his perceived mistreatment.

Too easy Mark Noble defended Andy Carroll (left) for going down to easily

Too easy Mark Noble defended Andy Carroll (left) for going down to easily

But Lallana, who scored his first Premier League goal on Saturday, said: ‘Players are clever nowadays. You kind of draw fouls and it’s up to the referee whether he sees it as a foul, or whether he sees it as a player being soft.

‘Obviously they got a lot of free-kicks and put the ball in our area. But it’s not just down to that. We dealt with it fine first half, but obviously not the second.’

Noble, who scored directly from one set piece and earned a penalty when centre-back Jose Fonte handled another lofted ball, countered: ‘Andy’s a big man and if he doesn’t go down he won’t win any free-kicks because the refs think that’s he’s too big to get a free-kick.

‘When you’ve got somebody as big as Andy in the box he’s going to cause havoc. Centre-halves will be so desperate to win the ball that they’ll do anything.

'He got an elbow in the first half which went unpunished. But he can put up with it.’

Top form: Mark Noble (right) scored two goals against Southampton on Saturday

Top form: Mark Noble (right) scored two goals against Southampton on Saturday