Tag Archives: youth

Blackburn Rovers could appoint Judan Ali after Henning berg sacking

It's comical Ali! Blackburn linked to former India Under 15s and Dagenham community coach

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UPDATED:

23:14 GMT, 27 December 2012

Blackburn's Indian owners are preparing to appoint English professional football’s first British Asian coach, a 39-year-old former Arsenal trainee who until recently was running a community youth programme in Dagenham.

Judan Ali has also been the subject of ‘below average’ Bollywood movie Dhan Dhana Dhan Goal but his coaching experience hardly qualifies him to step in at Ewood Park in the wake of Henning Berg’s shock dismissal. Ali’s finest achievement to date was leading an Indian Under 15 side to victory in Arsenal’s ‘football festival’ in 2011.

But the Venky’s family see Ali as part of a managerial team alongside head coach Kevin MacDonald, the former Aston Villa coach.

Youth role: Ali meets England boss Roy Hodgson earlier this year

Youth role: Ali meets England boss Roy
Hodgson earlier this year

Ali’s Twitter page has been taken down but on it, he had described himself as ‘an independent football coach leading those who want to further themselves on the world stage and to surpass the elite’.

Berg was sacked on Thursday after just 57 days and a run of one win from 10 games that has left Blackburn 17th in the Championship.

Before his departure he had, however, met Ali, who had spent a week observing the Norwegian former Rovers defender at the club’s Brockhall headquarters.

Blackburn are said to be comfortable seeing how the arrangement with MacDonald and Ali works out, and will not rush into appointing a more high-profile manager. Roberto Di Matteo heads a list of possible targets should Venky’s change their view. Youth development boss Gary Bowyer is set to take charge for Saturday’s trip to Barnsley.

London-born Ali, whose family moved to the UK from India, was on Arsenal’s books as a YTS trainee but blamed the racist culture within English football in the 80s and 90s for his failure to secure a professional contract in this country. He played for Spanish club Murcia before his coaching career.

Struggling: Blackburn are 17th in the Championship despite spending 8m on Jordan Rhodes (right) and paying Premier League wages for the likes of Danny Murphy (left)

Struggling: Blackburn are 17th in the Championship despite spending 8m on Jordan Rhodes (right) and paying Premier League wages for the likes of Danny Murphy (left)

‘My goal is to become the first British Asian Premier League manager,’ he said. ‘I want to take a country to the World Cup and the 2022 tournament in Qatar is my goal.

‘It’s a myth that British Asians cannot play football. I hope I’m showing young Asians in this country that they can make it and that things are changing from the experiences I suffered as a teenager.’

Ali’s appointment will form part of a move by Venky’s to assume closer control of the club. When they became the Premier League’s first Indian owners two years ago, the Rao family talked about tapping into Blackburn’s Asian community and offering a route into English football for young players from their homeland. They have plans to open an academy near the company headquarters in Pune.

Whether Blackburn’s fans will be receptive to the latest move is another matter, however, following Venky’s decision to axe Sam Allardyce in 2010, Steve Kean’s stormy reign and now Berg’s ill-fated stint.

Sacked: Berg was only unveiled at Ewood Park on November 1

Sacked: Berg was only unveiled at Ewood Park on November 1

The 43-year-old was made aware of his fate before going to Brockhall on Thursday morning to say his farewells. However, the coaching team Berg inherited from Kean – assistant Eric Black, first-team coach Iain Brunskill and goalkeeper coach Bobby Mimms – were only informed on arrival for work on Thursday.

From the start, it was clear Berg was not the first choice among candidates including other former Blackburn players Tim Sherwood and Billy McKinlay. He walked out of the club’s Christmas party last week after being asked to wear a stocking on his head and lost on Boxing Day at Middlesbrough – his fifth defeat in six games.

Berg issued a statement on Thursday: ‘I am bitterly disappointed to have been relieved of my managerial duties at Ewood Park after just 57 days since my appointment.’

Coincidentally, Kean has only just agreed a 1.2million settlement.

Manchester United bid for Angelo Ogbonna on hold

United forced to look elsewhere for defensive cover after Torino's Ogbonna has surgery

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UPDATED:

22:44 GMT, 12 December 2012

Manchester United’s bid to sign Torino defender Angelo Ogbonna in January is on hold after surgery on a hernia.

United have watched the 24-year-old, who is rated at 18million, three times.

Ogbonn, who is of Nigerian descent, came through the Torino youth academy, spending one season on loan at Crotone.

Wanted: Angelo Ogbonna (left) is a target for Manchester United

Wanted: Angelo Ogbonna (left) is a target for Manchester United

Fernando Torres: I took up football because of Captain Tsubasa

Forget Pele, Maradona and Beckenbauer, meet the inspiration behind Torres' career… Japanese cartoon Captain Tsubasa

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UPDATED:

15:56 GMT, 10 December 2012

Fernando Torres has revealed that one of the reasons he took up football was down to a popular Japanese cartoon called Captain Tsubasa.

The Chelsea striker has recently discovered his goal-scoring form, netting four goals in his last two matches, and has travelled to Japan with the squad ahead of their first match in the Club World Cup.

Torres has revealed that it was in Japan where the seeds of his football career were sewn, though little did he know at the time.

Centre of attention: Torres is in Japan with Chelsea for the FIFA Club World Cup

Centre of attention: Torres is in Japan with Chelsea for the FIFA Club World Cup

The facts behind Captain Tsubasa

Captain Tsubasa, also known as Flash Kicker, is a popular long-running Japanese manga animation and video game series, originally created by Yoichi Takahashi in 1981.

The story focuses on the adventures of a Japanese youth soccer team and its football captain Tsubasa Oozora, whose name literally translates to ‘Big Sky Wings’.

The series is characterixed by dynamic football moves, often stylish and implausible.

Over to you, Rafa…

He said: 'I remember when I was a kid, we couldn't find the signal really well on TV, but everyone in school was talking about this cartoon about football, from Japan.

'It was a series called Oliver y Benji in Spain, and in Japan it was Captain Tsubasa, and these two young players started as youth team players, got into the national team, won the World Cup, and moved to Barcelona and Bayern Munich, then moved to Europe, so it was like a dream.

'I started playing football because of this, and because my brother forced me, and I loved the cartoon. I wanted to be Oliver, because he played out on the field and Benji was the goalkeeper. That was the first contact I had with Japan.'

Brace yourself: The Spaniard netted a double in the wins over Sunderland and Nordsjaelland

Brace yourself: The Spaniard netted a double in the wins over Sunderland and Nordsjaelland

Torres also defended the significance of the tournament, which is dismissed by many as a FIFA jolly and money-making exercise.

The 28-year-old told Chelsea's official website: 'How many people don't take this tournament seriously, or don't think it is like the real World Cup. It is for the clubs. You ask the South American people. David Luiz showed me a video of Corinthians fans at the airport, it was full of fans cheering the team and travelling to Japan to support, so it is important.

'In Europe maybe we don't give it as much attention, and to some people it might not mean much, but to me it does, so this is not a holiday or a break, this is a World Cup. It's nice to be involved, and maybe to be able to say you are a world champion. The European Super Cup was just as important to us and we lost, so we don't want that disappointment.'

Wes Thomas gets revenge on Ian Holloway

On the road: Ollie gets payback for an old rejection as Blackpool scrape point

By
Riath Al-samarrai

PUBLISHED:

22:35 GMT, 9 December 2012

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UPDATED:

22:35 GMT, 9 December 2012

It's a hell of a thing to carry a grudge for seven years against a man who doesn’t recall ever having met you.

Wes Thomas wasn’t shy last week in talking about the deeper meaning to his appearance on Saturday for Blackpool against Crystal Palace.

He had a score to settle with Ian Holloway, he said — and to judge from his bulging eyeballs as he mocked Palace’s fans 89 minutes into the game, he felt the mission was successful.

Revenge mission: Wes Thomas was released by Ian Holloway at QPR

Revenge mission: Wes Thomas was released by Ian Holloway at QPR

Blackpool’s striker, borrowed from Bournemouth three weeks ago, had just created the late equaliser for Nouha Dicko with a delightful run and cross from the right. For Blackpool it meant a point from a 2-2 draw; for Palace it meant two dropped in pursuit of Cardiff.

For Thomas it meant a smidgen of revenge against the man in charge when he was cut from QPR’s youth ranks as an 18-year-old.

‘Ian Holloway is the one who released me when I was at QPR, so Saturday is a game I’m really looking forward to,’ Thomas had said ahead of the match. ‘I took it quite hard. It’s my chance to show Holloway I’m back.’

Thomas, 25, went on to speak about the pain of rejection, the uncertainty he felt as he fought his way back to the professional game via Waltham Forest, Fisher Athletic and various other non-League sides. It was a touching tale.

Alas, Holloway said: ‘Don’t know him at all. But he looks a good player.’

Thomas would have stood out to Holloway even if he was lousy. Of the 14 players Blackpool used on Saturday, Thomas was the only one who did not work under Holloway in his three-and-a-half years at Bloomfield Road, a relationship that ended on November 3 amid some mystery.

Holloway’s line has been that he
fancied a fresh challenge and a move back to his family in the south;
others suggest he was unhappy with elements of his rolling contract.

Familiar faces: Ian Holloway welcomed his old side to Selhurst Park

Familiar faces: Ian Holloway welcomed his old side to Selhurst Park

What was initially presented as an amicable split — or as amicable as these things ever are — has recently evolved via insider testimonies into something a little more strained.

Ian Evatt did not play for Blackpool on Saturday because of a knee problem but he was there through Holloway’s best years in management, when he took them up to the Premier League in 2010, came within a whisker of keeping them there, and then reached the play-off final last season.

Evatt’s still there now, playing under Michael Appleton and a fortnight ago offered an intriguing and alarming insight into the final months of the Holloway regime. ‘I think we both needed a change,’ Evatt said. ‘In the last couple of months, we hadn’t really done much training. We had numerous days off — anything from two to five or six at a time.

‘It was as surprising to the lads as
anyone else. We’re an honest bunch of players and we want to work hard,
but at times we weren’t doing that.’

For their part, the Blackpool fans were largely respectful.

They clapped Holloway on and they
clapped him off. But in between, when Blackpool took the lead through
Nathan Delfouneso, they sang: ‘Ollie, Ollie, what’s the score’

‘They weren’t singing that when we went 2-1 up,’ Holloway said later.

Party time: Michael Appleton celebrates after Blackpool equalise

Party time: Michael Appleton celebrates after Blackpool equalise

There was an element of anger in his tone but not as much as he reserved for a member of Appleton’s staff.

‘I didn’t like the reaction of one of the men on their bench,’ he said. ‘One of the new fellas looked straight at me when they equalised. It’s a war out there, and I carried my shield very proudly.

‘He didn’t stare me out. No one can stare me out. I know Michael wouldn’t have done something like that. He’s got more about him than that. But I didn’t look round at them when we scored, did I

‘I was at Blackpool a long time and had great times, but you have to move on.’

Easier said than done. Just ask Wes.

Whither Wilfried now

Where will Wilfried go next It’s a question Stephen Crainey, Blackpool’s left back, struggled with for the better part of 90 minutes on Saturday.

It was not Zaha’s best game for Palace — not by a long shot — but most of his errors only came after he skinned his marker and had plenty of time to decide what to do next.

He really is a wonderfully exciting talent and one with a very bright future. But the feeling is that Saturday’s performance, in particular during the second half, was better than most he has managed since his England call-up to face Sweden last month.

Waiting game: Wilfried Zaha (right) has a number of Premier League admirers

Waiting game: Wilfried Zaha (right) has a number of Premier League admirers

Holloway seems to blame the dip on speculation surrounding the 20-year-old, with some reports claiming Arsenal are close to signing him, while one on Sunday said Manchester United are preparing a 10million January move that would see Zaha loaned back to Palace for the rest of the season.

Holloway said: ‘The last thing we need is for him to get confused about how good he is and what he can do. He just has to start concentrating on what he was doing well this year.’

Crainey will testify that he’s very close to finding his best form again.

By the way…

It's clear AFC Wimbledon were right to be wary of the hype surrounding the FA Cup clash with MK Dons. They know their real challenge lies in League Two, and their failure to win on Saturday leaves them just one point clear of the relegation zone.

Jamie Mackie says he"s proud to say he"s former Wimbledon, not former MK Dons: EXCLUSIVE

EXCLUSIVE: I'm proud to be former Wimbledon, not MK Dons, says QPR's Mackie

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UPDATED:

22:45 GMT, 29 November 2012

Ask Jamie Mackie if he considers himself a former Wimbledon or MK Dons player, and you’ll get an unequivocal response.

'I'd always say I was a former Wimbledon player,' said the Queens Park Rangers forward. 'I just don’t feel as emotionally attached to the MK Dons. Wimbledon was my first club.

'I made my debut in the league for the club, even though, strangely, it was playing in Milton Keynes.

Top Don: Jamie Mackie considers himself a former Wimbledon, not MK, player

Top Don: Jamie Mackie considers himself a former Wimbledon, not MK, player

'But the badge said Wimbledon. We were Wimbledon, we had Wimbledon’s history — we just weren’t playing there.'

Mackie is part of a small band of footballers to have played for Wimbledon and MK Dons. Having emerged through the youth ranks at Wimbledon, Mackie made his first-team debut in December 2003.

But the famous Crazy Gang spirit was no more. Wimbledon had already moved to the National Hockey Stadium in Milton Keynes — and just eight months later he was lining up for MK Dons in a 1-0 defeat by Doncaster.

'I was at Wimbledon as a youngster, I understand the turmoil the supporters have gone through,' said the Scotland forward. 'Some Wimbledon fans say losing the club was like losing a loved one. I don’t think that is taking it too far.

'That’s what is amazing about football, the passion runs so deep. It’s like dating a girl and then breaking up with her. I can totally understand it.'

But, while Wimbledon’s break-up meant heartbreak for the club’s fans, Mackie is not ashamed to admit he benefited from the move.

'I know that era will hold bad memories for Wimbledon fans but for me it was a time to remember because I made my breakthrough into the first team,' he said.

New dawn: Wimbledon's league place was taken by the newly-formed MK Dons in 2004

New dawn: Wimbledon's league place was taken by the newly-formed MK Dons in 2004

Phoenix from the flames: AFC Wimbledon have risen through non-league football to League Two

Phoenix from the flames: AFC Wimbledon have risen through non-league football to League Two

'I was getting a game when maybe I might not have if the club were still as strong as they once were but, I have to admit, it was strange playing for Wimbledon in Milton Keynes. One day we were told we were going to Milton Keynes and that was it.

'Of course, it was a bit weird to start with but we were employed by the club. The players didn’t even have a choice.

'Ideally, we wanted it to stay as Wimbledon and keep playing in London. But we, the players, had bills to pay, mortgages and families to feed.

'We were all under contract and, if we didn’t play then, we might not have had a job. We had to work.'

Once Mackie walks off the pitch against Aston Villa on Saturday afternoon, his thoughts will turn to Sunday’s FA Cup clash at stadium:mk, when MK Dons and AFC Wimbledon, the reincarnation of Wimbledon, will go head-to-head for the first time.

Up for the cup: Wimbledon face MK Dons for the first time on Sunday in the FA Cup

Up for the cup: Wimbledon face MK Dons for the first time on Sunday in the FA Cup

The 27-year-old said: 'This match was always inevitable. It was always going to take place, be it in the league or a cup. I know a lot of AFC fans never wanted to see this match take place and I can sort of understand their point.

'It would be great if this match could be the beginning of the end of the rivalry but I don’t think that will be the case. You will never change that, it will be very hard to draw a line under it because of the history.

'But, for me, both sets of fans should be proud of their clubs for their own achievements.

'I see the clubs as completely different entities. I see AFC Wimbledon as the new Wimbledon and MK Dons as MK Dons.

'I don’t attach the old Wimbledon to MK Dons, the badges tell you that and that’s how it should be.

'But at the same time, I don’t think people should hold that much against MK Dons as a club and people should appreciate what they have achieved.

'The chairman is fantastic and an ambitious man. At the end of the day, Wimbledon were going out of business and if he didn’t do it then someone else would have tried. A lot of credit has to go to him because the club were on their knees.'

A large section of south-west London will not see it that way. Particularly at 12.30pm on Sunday.

James Ward-Prowse signs new Southampton deal

Rising Saints star Ward-Prowse pens long-term deal at St Mary's

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UPDATED:

20:20 GMT, 19 November 2012

Contract: Ward-Prowse has signed a new deal

Contract: Ward-Prowse has signed a new deal

Southampton rising star James Ward-Prowse has signed a new five-year contract, the Barclays Premier League club have announced.

Ward-Prowse, 18, made his top-flight bow on the opening day of the season and has gone on to play 10 games so far this term.

His performances have led to claims that he could be the latest Southampton Academy product to be tempted away from Saint Mary's Stadium, but he put a stop to that speculation when Saints announced the midfielder had signed a new deal.

A statement on Southampton's website read: 'Saints are delighted to announce that James Ward-Prowse has signed a new five-year contract.'

Ward-Prowse grew up as a Portsmouth supporter, but joined Pompey's south coast rivals as an eight-year-old.

Rising star: The Saints youngster in action for the England Under 19s

Rising star: The Saints youngster in action for the England Under 19s

The midfielder impressed through the youth ranks at Saints and made his first-team debut a week before his 17th birthday last season.

Manager Nigel Adkins deemed the teenager ready for top-flight football at the start of the season, and he has been one of the few success stories at the struggling club so far this term.

Ward-Prowse, who played a key part in Southampton's win over QPR on Saturday, told the club's website: 'I'm absolutely delighted. 'It was nice that we got the win on Saturday, and it's nice to put pen to paper. I can kick on from here.

'It's been an absolute whirlwind to go from playing under-18 football against lower league teams to playing against the likes of Manchester City and Manchester United.'

Italian coach attempts to trip up winger – video

VIDEO: Italian coach attempts to trip winger but ends up being sent to stand behind a fence

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UPDATED:

14:46 GMT, 14 November 2012

Working out how to defend against a tricky, pacy winger is the stuff of managers' nightmares.

Man marking him out of the game is one option while doubling up and risking leaving space elsewhere on the pitch is another.

But if all else fails, the boss could always take matters into his own hands and attempt to remove him from the game… just like the Italian youth coach below.

Cheeky: The coach attempts to trip up the winger as he launches an attack

Cheeky: The coach attempts to trip up the winger as he launches an attack

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The attempted trip happened during an Italian youth league game between Corpolo and Rivazzurra.

A Corpolo winger set off down the touchline but was stopped in his tracks by a cheeky flick from the coach.

Although he missed both the ball and man, the winger stumbled to the ground before both sets of players are involved in a brawl.

The offending coach was then sent to stand sheepishly behind a fence to ensure he could interfere no more.

Locked out: The coach was sent to stand behind the fence

Locked out: The coach was sent to stand behind the fence

Eric Dier makes Sporting Lisbon debut

Everton's Dier move to let England youth international go could return to haunt them after Sporting show

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UPDATED:

18:10 GMT, 12 November 2012

Sporting chance: Dier is back in Portugal

Sporting chance: Dier is back in Portugal

Have Everton missed a trick by letting former loanee Eric Dier return to Sporting Lisbon

The 18-year-old defender was born in England but moved to Portugal aged seven and joined Sporting two years later.

He climbed through the youth ranks at Sporting’s academy – known for producing the likes of Luis Figo, Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani – and Everton took him on a six-month loan last year. But he did not feature for the first-team and they sent him back.

On Saturday he made his debut first-team appearance back in Portugal and set up the winner in their match against Braga.

The centre-back captained every junior Sporting side, apart from the Under 19s, since he was 11-year-old.

Leader: Dier has captained Sporting through their youth ranks

Leader: Dier has captained Sporting through their youth ranks

When he signed a professional contract with Sporting back in 2010 it was reported they beat Arsenal, Tottenham and Manchester United to his signature.

He has played once for England Under 18s and seven times for the Under 19s but has been approached by the Portuguese Football Federation about representing them. Dier, born in Cheltenham, has said he wants to play for England.

Manchester United and Chelsea want Mario Sampirisi

Chelsea, United and Liverpool plot move for highly-rated Genoa defender Sampirisi

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UPDATED:

22:30 GMT, 28 October 2012

Chelsea, Manchester United and Liverpool all had scouts watching Genoa full back Mario Sampirisi, 19, against AC Milan on Saturday.

The youngster learned his trade at the Milan youth academy as a wing-back but later reverted to a deeper role.

Sampirisi failed to feature in Serie A for Milan and only made his league debut in January during Genoa’s clash with
Palermo.

Wanted man: Mario Sampirisi (right) has attracted Premier League attention

Wanted man: Mario Sampirisi (right) has attracted Premier League attention

Suso signs long-term Liverpool contract

This is one of the best days of my life: Suso delighted to sign new Liverpool deal

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UPDATED:

17:19 GMT, 19 October 2012

Happy days: Suso was delighted to put pen to paper at Anfield

Happy days: Suso was delighted to put pen to paper at Anfield

Liverpool midfielder Suso has signed a new long-term contract at Anfield.

The 18-year-old Spaniard, who joined Liverpool from hometown club Cadiz in 2010, committed his future to the Reds when he put pen to paper on the new deal at the side's training complex at Melwood.

After signing the contract, Suso told the club's official website: 'I am really happy. Liverpool are one of the biggest clubs in the world and this is the right place for me.'

Suso was given his senior debut for Liverpool in the Europa League win over Young Boys last month after impressing in the youth ranks and the reserve side.

'I am happy Brendan has shown trust in me,' Suso said.

'I had no questions about signing a new deal and I am really glad to have done so.

Break through: Suso is becoming a big part of manager Brendan Rodgers' plans

Break through: Suso is becoming a big part of manager Brendan Rodgers' plans

'I am comfortable here. I have played some games for the first team and I hope to continue doing that, but I need to work hard every day for that to happen.

'This is one of the best days of my life.'

Since his debut, the teenager has made four further appearances for the first team, and Reds boss Brendan Rodgers believes he has all of the qualities needed to develop into a top class player at Anfield.

Rodgers said: 'We are all delighted Suso has committed his long-term future to Liverpool Football Club.

'At 18, he has demonstrated outstanding technical qualities but also shown very good temperament to play for such a prestigious club.

'His commitment is very good news for all our young Academy players and the excellent work taken place by the Academy coaches and staff.'