The 18-year-old winger made a big impression at the start of last season but his progression has since been hampered by some well publicised off-field issues. Quoted in the Daily Mail, Rodgers said: “He needs to have a clear mind in everything in his life. We mustn’t forget he is 18. We have 18 and 17-year-olds on the bench at the moment. He needs to stabilise his life. Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has told Raheem Sterling to sort his life and and take advantage of being at “one of the biggest clubs in the world”. “He needs to understand the remarkable opportunity he has at one of the biggest clubs in the world and focus everything on his career. “Once he does that and he is clear in his mind, once he has got no distractions, we can get to the level of performance of the first four to five months of last year. “He is a good boy and had lots going on last year when he was put in the spotlight and he did well, but now it’s about him focusing on his football.” Press Association
Sir Alex Ferguson has once again restated his backing for the Glazer family ownership of Manchester United. “You would be throwing your money down the drain if you put any money on me coming back as a manager. “United are in good hands with David Moyes. He will be fine. He’s a good manager. “I made my decision. The timing was perfect. There is no way back for me now. I’ve got a new life. “I want to go to the Kentucky Derby and the US Masters, the Melbourne Cup. I want to visit vineyards in Tuscany and France.” Besides, with United having given Moyes a six-year contract on Ferguson’s recommendation, he is hardly likely to sanction a change so quickly after he spent 26 years in the job. “I believe in building a football club rather than building a football team,” he said. “I can understand coaches who concentrate on building a football team because it gives them a job. “It’s a results industry. “You only have to look at Paolo Di Canio last week, five to six games into his first season at Sunderland, they allow him to spend £19 million and then sack him. “To me, there is no evidence that that is going to bring success.” Ferguson also revealed he was asked to manage Chelsea by Roman Abramovich not long after the Russian had taken over at Stamford Bridge and praised Wayne Rooney for his return to form, although he did not retract his previous claim the striker had asked for a move in the summer. “He has people who advise him and that’s where all that’s coming from,” said Ferguson. “At that particular moment he wasn’t doing particularly well. “But now we see him today, he’s got his energy back. And he’s doing great.” Ferguson also spoke positively about David Beckham, even though he would have preferred the former England skipper to have avoided the celebrity culture he became so synonymous with. “His focus changed,” said Ferguson. “He got drawn into that celebrity status. “I don’t think he could listen. He just said “I’m in love”. There is nothing you can do with that. And therefore he lost the focus. “But how can you argue with life? He’s an icon for young people; represents himself the proper way. And, I say, well done.” Press Association The Scot has been heavily criticised in recent years for not speaking out against the controversial American family, whose leveraged takeover of the club has cost an estimated £680million in associated costs. Yet even now he has retired – with no intention of returning – Ferguson is still speaking positively on the family’s behalf. “There is a misconception about the Glazers buying the club,” he said. “It created hostility and different factions but you forget, the minute it became a PLC someone was going to buy it. “The Glazers did buy it. And in my time with them – they were nothing but supportive – very strong, single-minded people but always supportive of the manager and the things that happen in the club. “I’ve absolutely no hesitation in supporting the way they’re going about the job – very low key.” Ferguson was speaking exclusively to US TV network PBS. In a wide-ranging interview, the Scot confirmed his belief David Moyes was the right man to replace him. And clearly there will be no going back on that decision. “I’m not interested in managing again or getting myself worked up about Manchester United’s results,” said the 71-year-old.
The Belgian, who enjoyed a hugely successful loan spell at the Bundesliga side last season, has started only two Barclays Premier League matches this term. He was left out of the squad for Tuesday night’s Champions League trip to Steaua Bucharest, with questions over his omission prompting Blues boss Jose Mourinho to call a halt to his pre-match press conference. Bremen general manager Thomas Eichin told the Bild newspaper: “Should Kevin be unhappy, we are an eager first contact. “I am in contact with his agent and am informed about Kevin’s situation at Chelsea.” The 22-year-old scored 10 goals in 32 Bundesliga games for Bremen last season. Eichin added: “I know Kevin, if he doesn’t play it is certainly a big problem for him. “Let’s wait and see what happens in the winter. We will be ready, if there is a possibility, to get him.” Press Association Werder Bremen are keen to take Chelsea’s Kevin De Bruyne back to the club in January.
Everton midfielder Darron Gibson is to undergo surgery after suffering anterior cruciate ligament damage, the club have announced. Gibson was carried off on a stretcher after injuring his knee in a first-half challenge during the Republic of Ireland’s World Cup qualifier against Kazakhstan in Dublin on Tuesday. The 25-year-old was assessed by club medical staff on his return to Everton and, following confirmation an operation will be required, a lengthy lay-off is likely. Press Association
Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers hailed Steven Gerrard’s enduring quality after watching him complete a century of Barclays Premier League goals at Newcastle. He said: “It’s a monumental contribution. I have watched him play for many years as a young player and probably for me, his best Premier League goal came at this ground when he played against Newcastle. “He scored an absolute screamer here from a free-kick. But he’s an incredible player and I am fortunate enough that I get to know him as a man as well. “As a captain, he has been brilliant for me. He understands the manager’s role and respects it. “He is a great player who has got many more goals to come as well. You see his fitness level – people talk about him and his fitness and how is he at 33? “Well, he’s played two really tough international games, played at a high level and he has also got a really good performance in, so he is still fresh and looking very, very good.” A thrilling encounter lifted off after 23 minutes when Newcastle midfielder Yohan Cabaye smashed a dipping 30-yard shot across goalkeeper Simon Mignolet and inside the far post. However, the Reds were back in it before the break when central defender Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa hauled back Luis Suarez inside the box and referee Andre Marriner, for the third successive time in a Newcastle game, produced a red card. Newcastle boss Alan Pardew said: “I thought it was a tough call. I don’t think Mapou really pulled him down in a manner that was a definite sending-off. “He got a little piece of him, he was the last man and I suppose by the letter of the law, he had to go. I haven’t got a massive problem with it.” Gerrard calmly dispatched the resulting penalty and the visitors looked to be set fair. However, substitute Paul Dummett, a home-grown left-back who had been asked to plug the gap in central defence, turned up at the far post 12 minutes after the restart to side-foot home a Cabaye free-kick and restore the Magpies’ lead. Liverpool laid siege to the home goal and finally got their reward 18 minutes from time when Daniel Sturridge headed Suarez’s cross past keeper Tim Krul, and it took a superb injury-time save from the Dutchman to keep out Suarez’s free-kick. Pardew was delighted with the resilience shown by his team in front of an appreciative home crowd on a day when several hundred fans had earlier staged a march to protest about owner Mike Ashley’s running of the club. He said: “We showed that, that is in the group, that we can fight when we need to and therefore I am immensely proud of the whole day, really. “Our fans were brilliant – Steven Gerrard coming to take a corner and being applauded by our fans and stuff like that, it was just a great day for football. “If Brendan is slightly disappointed, he shouldn’t be because he’s got a good team and I think we perhaps just deserved the point. “I enjoyed Paul Dummett’s goal because we have had him since he was nine. “Paul has had to come through some really good class players here to get as close as he has to get that opportunity he got. “It’s great for the academy and great for us that he scored that goal, and his little bunny-hop after was even funnier, so he’ll get a bit of teasing about that.” The 33-year-old England captain scored his 100th league goal from the penalty spot three minutes before the break as the Reds twice came from behind to claim a point in a 2-2 draw with the 10-man Magpies. Rodgers later saluted Gerrard, who led his country to qualification for the World Cup finals in Brazil during the international break, and predicted there is still more to come. Press Association
Cardiff chairman Mehmet Dalman has revealed he has only one candidate in mind to succeed Malky Mackay, but was mischievously coy when it came to the subject of favourite Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. “I have a preferred candidate. I only have one candidate in mind,” he said. “I have not made an offer to anybody as such, but that does not mean I have not had discussions.” When asked if he had spoken to Solskjaer, he said: “I spoke to him many a time in the old days (when the Norwegian was at Manchester United). “I might have spoken to him recently, and I might not have.” He added: “You know what these things are like, they take time. We will do our work as diligently and as quickly as we can but I am reasonably optimistic that we will get things moving.” One man Dalman ruled out of contention is Turkish journeyman Yilmaz Vural. Vural’s agent has consistently touted him for the Cardiff job, but Dalman said: “I am not getting a Turkish manager, I can categorically state. There is a manager who keeps putting himself forward. It is not going to happen.” Dalman confirmed Mackay’s lieutenants David Kerslake and Joe McBride will remain in temporary charge of the team against Arsenal on New Year’s Day. Press Association Kerslake made it clear he has no aspirations to take the full-time job. He said: “I have been in the position for six hours and had three phone calls from the director, one from the chief executive, one from the chairman and one from the owner. That’s probably put me off for life! “They were all well wishes as well, by the way, but I have been a coach for 10 years. I love what I do. I love being on the grass with the players.” Cardiff should have taken all three points against the Black Cats after dominating the first hour and leading 2-0 through Jordon Mutch and Fraizer Campbell goals, only for the visitors to hit back through Steven Fletcher and Jack Colback late on. Owner Vincent Tan was pictured booing after the final whistle, however it was unclear if Cardiff’s players were his target. Kerslake praised how the team responded, having learned of Mackay’s sacking on television. Kerslake said: “The players are devastated in the dressing room. We got ourselves in a fabulous position and we should have seen the game out. “It is disappointing for us because we were 2-0 up. With eight minutes to go, we conceded a poor goal so there is work to be done.” Kerslake added: “The players found out (about Mackay) via the TV. I guess they are only human and they have probably been on the phone talking about it. “The way we came out the traps today they certainly put it behind them. “The manager has asked for that start for the last two-and-a-half years and to come out all guns blazing. For 35-40 minutes, we blew Sunderland away.” The sacking of Mackay has been widely condemned and ensured the spotlight was firmly on the home side, but there were no signs of any genuine venom being directed towards owner Tan, although there were several pro-Mackay chants and banners in evidence throughout the game. The former Manchester United striker and current Molde manager is the bookmakers’ favourite to take charge of the Bluebirds after Mackay’s dismissal on Friday. Dalman made an unexpected appearance in the post-match press conference room after the 2-2 draw with Sunderland, and said discussions have already taken place with his preferred candidate, but would not confirm whether it was Solskjaer.
Press Association “In football you never know but the normal thing is to continue improving.” City, with the experience of their 2012 title win behind them, their talented squad and financial muscle, head into 2014 as the league favourites. The club have bold ambitions to build on that and not only win more silverware, but establish themselves as England’s dominant footballing force. Pellegrini hopes to be the man to oversee that progression, but knows in such a tight competition that will not be straightforward. He said: “I think we must try at least. It is very difficult to be the dominant club here in England. “Chelsea is a very strong team, Manchester United is, Arsenal is, Tottenham, Liverpool – it is very important to be fighting to be the best team.” Pellegrini is also hoping striker Stevan Jovetic’s luck will finally turn in the second half of the season. The Montenegro striker was signed for £22million from Fiorentina in the summer but has made just five appearances due to various disorders. Jovetic had niggling injuries soon after his arrival and then had a long lay-off with a calf problem. His potential return in December was scuppered by illness and he is now out again with a hamstring injury. Pellegrini said: “I hope this will be the last time he is out and he can start playing normally. He is a very important player and we need him. “I suppose he has had very bad luck in his first part of the year. I hope that the second half will be very good for him.” Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini is happy with his first six months in the job – but knows things must still improve. Yet the Chilean was also set the challenging task of winning five trophies in the next five seasons when he was appointed in the summer, and he knows further improvement is expected. Pellegrini, lured from Malaga after the sacking of Roberto Mancini, said: “It is unbelievable how fast the time goes. “Six months here is a lot of time, but it was very short for me. “Playing every few days the time runs, but after six months I am very happy and very settled here in England. “It is a good club. Working with the team, I always think the first months are the most difficult for a manager, or the players starting a new job. “To be in the position that we are now already, I think it is a very good start for the season. “But the important thing is to continue learning, always, not just this year but every year and not always in the Premier League, everything. “It is very important to be improving, always. City head into the second half of the 2013-14 season well placed, a point off the top of the Barclays Premier League and still involved in the Champions League and Capital One Cup. Pellegrini also appears to have fulfilled the stated requirement of the club’s hierarchy to improve the team’s style of football, with 82 goals scored across all competitions.
Tomas Oral and Werner Leuthard have arrived as first-team coach and conditioning coach, respectively, ahead of Magath’s first game at fellow strugglers West Brom this weekend. It is a match, Holtby says, they approach with renewed confidence brought by the man that managed him at Schalke. “I know him well,” the on-loan Tottenham midfielder told the club’s official website, www.fulhamfc.com. “He’s won titles in Germany and done some great stuff in the Bundesliga. He’s a very hard-working guy who wants 100 per cent from his sides. “We’re going to get the full German experience from him and I definitely think he’ll help us achieve our goal of staying up in the Barclays Premier League. “Training’s been good, although it’s definitely been a new experience for the English players. “Myself, Sascha Riether and Ashkan Dejagah [who also played under Magath] know all about him but in training he works you really hard and you always have to be on top of your game.” As good a manager as Magath may be, the bookmakers still make Fulham overriding favourites for relegation. Four points adrift of safety and bottom of the pile with 12 matches remaining, Holtby knows is it is crucial to bring three points back from the Hawthorns on Saturday. Press Association “It’s a massive game,” he said. “In Germany we call it a six-point game and I think you have a similar saying over here. We need to win this fixture. “We were unlucky against Liverpool where we should have taken something from the game, but now it’s not about complaints, it’s about getting points and winning these types of games. “I played against West Brom for Tottenham Hotspur in December and it’s going to be very hard. They’re very organised and very energetic.” Lewis Holtby is confident that Felix Magath’s arrival as first-team manager will see Fulham stave off relegation. It has been a hectic few days on the banks of the Thames, with head coach Rene Meulensteen’s 75-day spell at the helm brought to an abrupt end on Friday. The Dutchman’s exit from the club was confirmed on Tuesday evening, with Alan Curbishley and Ray Wilkins amongst those following him out of Craven Cottage.
Faugheen took the drop back in distance in his stride as he made all the running and demolished the opposition in the Herald Champion Novice Hurdle. Faugheen was left to come home unchallenged by 12 lengths from his stablemate Valseur Lido, with the Mick Channon-trained Sgt Reckless third. Paddy Power promoted the winner to 5-1 co-favourite for next year’s Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham. Mullins said: “Vautour (Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winner) failed a late fitness test, he wasn’t right at the time of declaration so we put Faugheen in instead. On that ground I thought he was very, very good. “We’re not making any decisions on him, but you would have to consider staying over hurdles next season. “This trip is good enough as he is a keen horse who likes to get on with the job.” Walsh said: “The lad who rides him every day said he’d blow you away and he did. “I was fairly adamant the run in Cheltenham would improve him a hell of a lot, jumping-wise. “He’d won soft races and never been tested and today he jumped like a buck down the back. When I opened him up turning in, away he went. “It was a fair gamble dropping him back to two. It will have Willie scratching his head now. “Willie had been keen on him going jumping, we’re having a debate with what we are going to do with three or four of them, but you’d like to think he’d be in the mix.” Walsh added: “Those were good novices behind and he’s beat them by 12 lengths and it could’ve been 25. He’s a really good horse. “When I changed my hands off the home turn he started to lengthen and he was picking up to a fair rate of knots coming to the last. “He and Vautour are two different types, but the good thing is Willie Mullins trains the two of them, Rich Ricci owns the two of them, so I won’t have to worry about who to pick because they won’t run against each other!” Tackling two miles for the first time over timber, the unbeaten Willie Mullins-trained six-year-old jumped much better than he did when winning the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham. Ruby Walsh never had an anxious moment as the 1-2 shot asserted on the home turn and sealed victory by completing an almost foot-perfect round with a good jump at the last. Press Association
Arsenal defender Thomas Vermaelen is close to a £15million move to Barcelona, Press Association Sport understands. Club captain Vermaelen, who joined from Ajax in 2009, made 21 appearances for the Gunners last season. Niggling injuries and the form of Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker limited his impact. However, despite being an unused substitute at Wembley, he did lift the FA Cup in May as Arsenal ended their nine-year trophy drought. The 28-year-old has made 150 appearances in all competitions, scoring 15 goals for the Gunners. Speaking on Thursday ahead of Sunday’s Community Shield with Manchester City, Wenger revealed interest from United and others. Wenger said: “Have we received bids? Yes. I can’t tell you who from but you will know very soon. “Are Man United one of the teams to have made an offer? I think they could be in the group. “Ideally, yes, we would like to sell him abroad and that is an option for us. “I don’t want to say how many offers we have but we have offers from abroad as well.” United are understood to still be interested, although a swap deal would not interest them, with rumours Arsenal enquired about defender Chris Smalling and striker Javier Hernandez. Now it seems the Nou Camp, and not Old Trafford, is Vermaelen’s likely destination. Wenger believes it is important for Vermaelen to play. “He could leave, it could happen, I’ve said that since the start of pre-season,” the Frenchman added. “He needs to play now. He has shown an outstanding attitude but he is in a position where we wouldn’t stand in his way if he finds an interesting opportunity.” The Belgium defender could complete a move to the Nou Camp over the weekend. Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger on Thursday suggested the club’s preference was to sell the defender abroad, rather than to a domestic rival, with Manchester United rumoured to also be interested. Press Association