Jumat, 08 Februari 2013

Premier League: Southampton v Man City preview

Luke Shaw: Injury concern for Southampton

Southampton left-back Luke Shaw is a doubt for Saturday's clash with reigning Premier League champions Manchester City.

The 17-year-old picked up a ligament issue ahead of his England Under-21s debut against Sweden in midweek, while fellow full-back Nathaniel Clyne, another to drop out of the Young Lions' squad, may also be unavailable.

Gaston Ramirez and Guly do Prado are also possibly out, while Jose Fonte is sidelined.

Adam Lallana could make his first start since suffering a knee injury on December 8 and January acquisition Vegard Forren could make his debut.

City could be boosted by the return of captain Vincent Kompany after recovering from a calf injury.

Kompany returned to training on Wednesday and Roberto Mancini will make a decision on his fitness after training on Friday.

City are also boosted by the return of Yaya and Kolo Toure after returning from international duty at the Africa Cup of Nations with Ivory Coast.

Mancini must decide who to start with up front after leaving Carlos Tevez on the bench against Liverpool with Sergio Aguero and Edin Dzeko getting the nod in attack.

Roberto Mancini: Manchester City the best team in the Premier League

Roberto Mancini: Claims Manchester City are England's top side

Speaking ahead of Saturday's trip to Southampton, the City boss said his own side have been England's top team for the past 18 to 24 months.

The Italian said: "I don't think in these last two years there is a team that has played better than us.

"Manchester United is a strong team, Chelsea is a strong team but I think in the last two years Manchester City is the team that has played better in the Premier League.

"We are a strong team. We have been unlucky because we lost two or three players in January for the African Cup.

"Yaya (Toure) is an important player for us. When he doesn't play he is important. We've missed him a lot in these last 20 days."

As for United's commitments in Europe, he added: "When you play in the Champions League against Real Madrid you can lose your strength in this game.

"So we support Manchester United to go through in the Champions League."

With regards to staying on as manager at th e Etihad Stadium next season, when asked at Friday's pre-match press conference he answered quickly: "Yes, yes. Why not?"

City will check defender Vincent Kompany after training on Friday before deciding whether he can feature at Southampton.

Kompany has been sidelined by a calf injury that was expected to keep him out until after next week's FA Cup fifth-round tie with Leeds.

However, the Blues skipper returned to training on Wednesday and could be available at St Mary's.

"We are optimistic," said Mancini. "He trained yesterday, and two days ago. After today we will decide."

Mancini also confirmed Yaya and Kolo Toure will be available after Ivory Coast's earlier-than-expected exit from the Africa Cup of Nations.

"I am sorry because they didn't win but I am happy because they are here," said the Italian.

Mancini wants United to progress

Roberto Mancini: Will be supporting Sir Alex Ferguson

The consolation from his own side's exit from Europe's number one club competition was that the Blues chief has always felt it could be the distraction to United that aids City's cause.

That belief was heightened when the Red Devils were paired with Real in a blockbuster last 16 tie, which will be played at the Bernabeu on Wednesday.

Such is the nature of the rivalry between the two clubs, most City fans will want United to lose no matter what the impact to their own team.

However, Mancini is being more pragmatic about the situation.

"It is normal when you play against Real Madrid in the Champions League you can lose your strength," he said.

"So I support Manchester United to go through in the Champions League."

The odds remain stacked against City, who have slipped nine points behind Sir Alex Ferguson's men after drawing their last two games, against QPR and Liverpool.

Mancini is refusing to throw in the towel.

After all, he reasons, given the Blues were eight points behind with only six games remaining last season and managed to turn the situation around in their favour, why can it not happen again?

"Manchester United have done better than us this season because they won a lot of games," said Mancini.

"They have nine points more than us.

"But if we can recover eight points in six games, recovering nine in 13 games will be easy.

"I never remember the title race being finished 10 or 13 games before the end.

"Three years ago Chelsea were nine points behind at one point. By the time they played at Old Trafford two or three games from the end, they were only three points behind.

"In the end, if Manchester United win all their games from now to the end of the season, they deserve to win.

"But I am sure we have another chance."

Not according to rumours that swept around Manchester on Thursday night that suggested Mancini was set to resign over apparent annoyance at Mario Balotelli's departure.

At the very least, it was claimed, senior figures at City had told the Italian his services would no longer be required at the end of the season.

Mancini was either ignoring those rumours, or oblivious to them on Friday when he was asked whether he would still be in charge next term.

"Yes," he said. "Why not?"

The possible return from injury of skipper Vincent Kompany and African Nations Cup duty in the case of Yaya and Kolo Toure offers a significant selection boost ahead of Saturday evening's trip to Southampton.

Yet the fact remains unless City complete another great escape, they will end up with only the FA Cup to play for, having made zero progress on the European front.

It is hard to imagine owner Sheikh Mansour being too impressed about that given his vast investment and knowing Jose Mourinho is likely to be looking for a job in the summer.

But Mancini beli eves some satisfaction can be gained from the campaign, even if City lose their status as England's number one club.

"It is important we are there, on the top and fighting for the title every year," he said.

"If another team is better than you, you should accept it.

"But I don't think anyone has played better than us over the last two years.

"Manchester United are a strong team, so are Chelsea but in the last two years Manchester City is the team that played better in the Premier League.

"We are unlucky because we lost players in January to the African Nations Cup.

"But last year no one believed we could win the title and in the end we won. This year could be the same."

Santos say 'blank cheque' from Man City would not land Neymar

Neymar: Constantly linked with moves away from Santos

Reports from Spain claimed that City's hierarchy - led by director of football Txiki Begiristain - were ready to offer a 'blank cheque' to Santos in order to land the brilliant young Brazilian.

However, Ribeiro was quick to insist that even if City did make an approach it would have little bearing on them.

"I would tell the English that I would have a new stamp for their cheque: It would be returned for non-payment, rather than for lack of funds," said Ribeiro, who refuses to put any price on his prized asset.

"I'll say in advance what my response is to any offer that may come, my answer is no.

"Neymar is going to stay at Santos for sure until 2014 and I hope he stays even longer than that."

Ribeiro believes Neymar could stay with Santos whilst he remains as happy as he is.

"I have a very clear thesis to explain why Neymar stayed at Santos, resisting the offers from the Spanish. The reason is simple, he is happy. And he costs us relatively little considering his talent.

"The presence of Neymar generates so much for us, like our fan base growing 20% in the last two years.

"It's a repetition of what happened in the 1950s and 1960s when Pele attracted lots of fans far beyond the city limits, repeating history is not creative but I'm doing what [former Santos president Athie] did regarding Pele."

Pele stayed at Santos for almost two decades and played more than 1000 games for the club, including friendlies.

Prem clubs agree new controls

The 20 club chairmen voted by 13 to six - with one abstention - to implement two significant controls - to limit players' wage bills from next season, and longer-term measures that will restrict the amount of losses clubs can make to 105million over three years.

Clubs whose total wage bill is more than 52million will only be allowed to increase their wages by 4million per season for the next three years, though that cap does not cover extra money coming in from increases in commercial or matchday income.

The effect of the financial controls should prevent hugely wealthy owners achieving the almost-overnight success of Chelsea and Manchester City.

Any club breaching the rules will face tough sanctions - and Premier League chief executive Scudamore said they would be pushing for points deductions.

Scudamore told reporters: "As all things in our rulebook you will subject to a disciplinary commission.

"The clubs understand that if people b reak the 105m we will looking for the top-end ultimate sanction range - points deduction.

"Normally we stay silent on sanctions as the commission has a free range, but clearly if there is a material breach of that rule we will be asking the commission to consider top-end sanctions."

It emerged tonight, however, that the vote for the financial regulations could hardly have been closer - only 13 of the 20 clubs voted in favour, six against with Reading abstaining. It meant that the 'yes' vote only narrowly achieved the necessary two-thirds majority of the 19 votes cast.

Clubs sources say Fulham, West Brom, Manchester City, Aston Villa, Swansea and Southampton all voted against. Chelsea, who had initially been viewed as opponents of financial fair play regulations, voted in favour.

Of the 20 clubs in the top flight, only Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool have reported losses of more than 105million over the last three years, according to the mos t up-to-date published accounts.

Scudamore said there would be an "absolute prohibition" on clubs reporting losses of more than 105million over the next three years with the first sanctions possible in 2016. He said that the measures would mean it will take longer for benefactor owners to achieve success - but that it would still be possible.

He said: "The balance we have tried to strike is that a new owner can still invest a decent amount of money to improve their club but they are not going to be throwing hundreds and hundreds of millions in a very short period of time.

"While it has worked for a couple of clubs in the last 10 years, and I am not critical of that, if that's going to be done in the future it's going to have to be over a slightly longer term without the huge losses being made.

"I think at 105million you can still build a very decent club with substantial owner funding but you have to do it over time, you can't do it in a season."< /p>

Chelsea won the Premier League two years after Roman Abramovich's takeover, and Manchester City's title success came three years after Sheikh Mansour's takeover.

Any club making any loss of over 5million a year will have to guarantee those losses against the owner's assets.

"In some ways that's the most significant part, this is a three-year rolling system of secure funding - it's one year at the moment," Scudamore added.

The ceiling when the wage increase restrictions kick in will be 52million next season, 56million the following year and 60million i 2015/16. Only seven of the current top-flight clubs would be under that ceiling at the moment.

The Premier League's legal advisers will now work on the detailed proposals and these will be brought back before the chairmen in April to be ratified.

In a statement, Chelsea said they are supportive of moves that promote financial stability.

The statement said: "Premier League clubs t oday reached an agreement to introduce financial stability rules and wage controls for the league. Chelsea Football Club is supportive of moves that promote financial stability in football. We are already subject to UEFA's financial fair play principles and will comply with those.

"The new rules will be subject to further detailed discussions before they are brought in and we will play our part in those to ensure implementation is fair for all clubs in the league."

West Ham's co-owner David Gold said the proposals would prevent Portsmouth's descent in administration happening again.

He said: "It's not a salary cap - it's a restraint on over-spending. If clubs increase their revenues then they can increase their spending.

"We have got restraint - that's the important thing. What's driving the whole thing is we've got to avoid another Portsmouth."

Napoli confident buy-out clause will prevent Edinson Cavani from leaving

Edinson Cavani: Any interested party would have to meet his buy-out clause

With the Serie A outfit having seen interest in their Uruguayan frontman mount steadily over recent years, they have moved to secure his future in Naples.

A 63million (54.5m) buy-out clause has been inserted in his contract, pricing most clubs out of the market.

Napoli appreciate that their hand could be forced if their demands are met over the summer, but president Aurelio De Laurentiis is optimistic regarding the club's chances of retaining Cavani's services for the foreseeable future.

He told La Gazzetta dello Sport: "The clause of 63million? No-one has paid it.

"Last summer I refused 55m and Real Madrid didn't even get to 50.

"If someone meets it then there is nothing I can do, but I would do everything to convince the player to stay because it takes an agreement with him too.

"The last thing I am thinking about is depriving myself of Cavani. I like him as a player and as a man."


On the latest rumour s regarding his future - with the likes of Real Madrid, Manchester City and Paris St Germain said to be leading the hunt for his signature - Cavani told Radio Marca: "I'm having a great time at Napoli.

"My future? The aim is to continue to grow, but right now I am only thinking about helping Napoli to realise their dreams."

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Rabu, 06 Februari 2013

Yaya ready to help City fight

Yaya Toure: Ivory Coast midfielder back with Manchester City

Nigeria's 2-1 win over Ivory Coast freed up Toure to return and he is set to feature in Saturday's game at Southampton as City attempt to cut Manchester United's nine-point lead at the summit.

Toure told the club's official website: "We are further behind than we'd like, of course, but all we need to do is think about last season to know what is possible.

"My friends are all here and are happy to see me and we are like a family or brothers who will all fight together - and that is a very important thing to have.

"United have a strong squad and on paper, they have an easier run in than we do but the title race is a long way from finished. It only takes a couple of results to go our way and we're right back in it - I'm sure we'll come back.

"I feel like I'm home again and I met some City fans before my flight from Paris to Manchester and they said 'welcome home, Yaya' and they said they wanted me to help the team and bring happiness to our s upporters. That's what I aim to do."