Koeman hails team’s character

first_img Saints continue to make a mockery of the doom merchants, with this 1-0 win moving them back up to second in the Barclays Premier League. Sadio Mane’s first-half strike proved the difference as they secured a fourth successive victory at St Mary’s, although Stoke made them work for it. Southampton manager Ronald Koeman was more satisfied by his side’s performance against Stoke than their annihilation of Sunderland last week. Press Association While the scoreline was not as sweet as last week’s, it offered match-winner Mane the chance to make up for last week’s disappointment. The Senegalese summer signing thought he had scored the eighth against Sunderland, only for his first goal for Saints to be harshly stripped off him by the Premier League’s dubious goals panel. “I heard it yesterday and I explained to Mane and his reaction was okay,” Koeman said. “Maybe that was the reason he came to the bench and to say this one they will not take it away again. “He had a great performance – he’s fast, he’s a good player but his defending attitude is important for the team.” Mane gave Stoke a torrid time in the first half but, like his team-mates, was unable to make the same impact after half-time. City boss Mark Hughes was pleased by the way his side responded to a one-sided opening period, but knows that 45 minutes cost them. “From our point of view, we’re a little bit disappointed with the first half, really,” he said. “We didn’t really ask enough questions of Southampton, made it a little bit too easy, showed them a little too much respect, I would suggest, which is understandable to a certain extent given their exploits last time out here. “I think that was the case in the first half. They caused us a few problems at set plays and obviously from one of the ones we didn’t deal with it dropped handily for them and they’ve been able to dispatch the winning goal. “Second half, I thought we were a lot better. We made a change very early on, got Mame Diouf on, and that gave us a threat in behind and that stretched the game. “It allowed us to control of the game and in the second half I thought we were the better side, but we never really created those clear-cut chances we need to get back on level terms.” It was a far cry from last weekend’s 8-0 humbling of Sunderland, but manager Koeman was actually more impressed by this display. “It was difficult because we didn’t kill the game,” the Dutchman said. “We created eight good chances and you know if you don’t score the second one it’s difficult. “Stoke put everything in, changed the system after an hour and with the physical strength that they have it was difficult. “Football is strange because the first half was much better than last week. I think it was one of the best first halves of the season. “In the second half we lost sometimes too easy our position. “They didn’t create a lot, we deserved our win but it was a difficult one, more difficult than last week and maybe more nicer to win like this than last week because the lads showed great character and great ambition again. “We had a great support of our fans and a great win.” last_img read more

‘Awesome’ Sceaux in Arkle romp

first_img Un De Sceaux was soon adopting his customary role in the hands of Ruby Walsh, albeit perhaps slightly more harnessed than has been the case in the past, and some bold leaps kept up the heat. Gilgamboa was feeling the pinch when making a mistake in the back straight and although Clarcam went in pursuit jumping the second fence from the finish, Un De Sceaux engaged overdrive rounding the home turn to leave him toiling. Another fine leap at the final fence sealed his 15-length success, with Clarcam, already a Grade One winner over fences and receiving 10lb from the market leader, holding off Gilgamboa by half a length for second. RaceBets make Un De Sceaux the 10-11 favourite from 2-1 for the Arkle at Cheltenham on March 10, with Paddy Power going 4-5 from 2s. Mullins said: “His jumping was fantastic today and he looked reasonably settled. “He’s passed the test today and the Arkle will be his target at Cheltenham. “He was quite calm today and if he can repeat that performance (at Cheltenham) he will be tough to beat. “He can stand off or he can stand anywhere. I thought he was awesome.” Press Association Willie Mullins summed up the mood perfectly as he hailed Un De Sceaux “awesome” after a scintillating display of raw power and jumping accuracy in the Frank Ward Solicitors Arkle Novice Chase at Leopardstown. Walsh said: “They’re two good horses behind him, Gilgamboa and Clarcam. “We went a good, honest gallop. I think the boys thought I might go a bit faster, but I thought I was going plenty quick. “He jumped really well. He was good and brave down the back, he was very clever at the second-last and he quickened away from them and won very well at the death. “For a front-runner that does everything on the bridle and going forward, he does find. He doesn’t stop. You know there’s a bit in the tank.” With his front-running style earning him seven wins from as many starts over hurdles, the seven-year-old began the campaign as one of the most exciting novice chase prospects of recent years. His fencing career did not get off to the best of starts as he came to grief when miles clear at Thurles, but he got back on track at Fairyhouse last month and was an 8-11 favourite for his Grade One debut. last_img read more

Van Gaal: Battle will go on

first_imgLouis van Gaal has warned Manchester United they still have much work to do before they secure Champions League qualification. Van Persie candidly admitted on Monday that he had under-performed this season. But he looked like his old self for long periods on Saturday and h is goal was out of the top drawer. Van Persie watched Daley Blind’s pass float over his left shoulder before he stabbed the ball past Mark Schwarzer first time with his right boot. Replays showed the striker was lucky the goal was allowed to stand, though, as he was marginally offside. Van Gaal felt for his opposite number Nigel Pearson, and admitted such errors will only be stopped if more technology is introduced into the game. “I think also it was offside but it always happens in games that the referee or a linesman are not in a good shape at that moment but you cannot avoid that,” Van Gaal said. “You need modern techniques always and when you don’t use them in this modern time it shall happen every game.” While United have City in their sights, it is a completely different story for Leicester, who remain rooted to the foot of the Barclays Premier League. The Foxes are three points from safety but defender Ritchie De Laet is still confident his team will not be relegated. “The United game was a bonus game, no one was expecting us to take anything from it,” said De Laet, who left United for Leicester three years ago. “But our confidence is still high. “I think we can get out of it. You just have to look at the last five performances. We have had three wins out of them so we know we can give teams a good game. “We still have everyone to play around us and those are the important games.” Van Gaal, meanwhile, has told Adnan Januzaj he must show him why he deserves to be a regular in the United starting XI. Saturday was the first time Januzaj had started successive games for the club since the first week of November. Van Gaal has told the 19-year-old, who is reported to have attracted interest from Paris St Germain, he faces tough competition to play at Old Trafford on a regular basis. “He has a lot of talent but you have to perform that talent in the matches and in training,” Van Gaal said. “The competition is high and also that’s difficult to manage for players. “I’m looking every week and every day the players have to show it. “I’ve said to players, I’ve said to Falcao, I’ve said to (Juan) Mata and I’ve said to Januzaj.” Van Gaal said the fact that David Moyes handed Januzaj a lucrative contract during his first season in the senior side proved the midfielder is good enough for a club of United’s stature. The Dutchman also revealed that another young prospect, Paddy McNair has signed a contract extension. “The former manager (Moyes) has chosen him to play (Januzaj) from out of the youth and he had an extension of his contract, so then you know that he is a Manchester United player,” Van Gaal said. “Paddy McNair, now, is coming from out of the youth, he has extended his contract, so he is a Manchester United player.” The win lifted Van Gaal’s team to within five points of second-place Manchester City and also went some way to appeasing the fans who watched their team play out an uninspiring 0-0 draw at Cambridge last week. But Van Gaal reminded his players following the win that the season is far from over. “No, because (only) at the end of the league matches we divide the titles and not at this moment,” the United boss said when asked if he could sense Champions League qualification was getting closer for his men. United have a winnable set of fixtures coming up against West Ham, Burnley, Swansea, Sunderland and Newcastle. But Van Gaal is aware he still has to travel to Liverpool and Chelsea in the last third of the season and he believes the fight for a top-four finish will go right down to the wire. “It shall be a big battle to the end,” Van Gaal told MUTV. “That is a big battle. West Ham has lost (to Liverpool on Saturday). “One competitor shall lose.” United returned to winning ways on Saturday with a 3-1 victory over Leicester at Old Trafford. Robin van Persie put United ahead with a sublime finish and Radamel Falcao added his fourth for the club before Wes Morgan’s own goal helped United avenge their embarrassing 5-3 reverse at the King Power Stadium last September. Press Associationlast_img read more

Pulis frustrated despite win

first_img Press Association Tony Pulis played down West Brom’s win over his former side Stoke – but insisted the Baggies should have scored more. Brown Ideye’s header – his seventh goal of the season – earned the hosts a deserved 1-0 win over the poor visitors. Ideye was denied a second by an offside call and referee Michael Oliver ignored huge claims for a penalty when Geoff Cameron felled Craig Dawson. He said: “Ben had come off with a knee problem, he felt his knee go from under him and we’ll have to get him checked, we need him fit. “Browny has also taken a knock. He has been good for us. We have only got two strikers Saido (Berahino) and Brown, we have got all these results with just two strikers. They look a good pair.” The Potters had been aiming for a fourth straight win, after rising to eighth in the table, but while Jonathan Walters forced a smart save from Myhill they failed to fire. It was just their third defeat in the last 12 league games but boss Mark Hughes admitted he told some home truths at half-time. He said: “It’s fair to say I wasn’t best pleased. We got a little bit of a reaction but we didn’t maintain it. We lacked quality in the final third. “We didn’t play particularly well, we started slowly. “We didn’t ask any questions against a West Brom side who were quite comfortable defending what we were able to produce. We had a slight reaction, possibly to my words, but didn’t maintain it. “That’s a disappointment for us because we have been playing well and I didn’t see the performance coming. We know we’re better than that. “Unfortunately on the day we haven’t been able to produce what we have produced in recent weeks.” It was also West Brom’s first home win over the Potters since 2003 and moved them 11 points clear of the Barclays Premier League drop zone. But Pulis insisted the Baggies should have been home and dry long before the final whistle. “The disappointing thing is we had to wait until the 95th minute to take a sigh of relief, it should have been over before that,” said Pulis, who also beat Stoke 1-0 as Crystal Palace boss last season. “The penalty in the second half, Michael will look at that and be very disappointed, it was as blatant a penalty as I have seen for a long time. “With the offside goal I thought the keeper had touched it, as soon as he does Brown – from what they tell me – is onside again. “It’s three points, I had a great 10 years at Stoke, a wonderful journey, I left it in a very sound financial and good position. We did wonderful things there from a club which was 14th or 15th in the Championship. “To take it to where it went was wonderful and it will be years I will always remember but today was about West Brom getting the three points.” But Ben Foster was forced off in the second half, being replaced by Boaz Myhill, and Pulis also has worries over goalscorer Ideye. last_img read more

Power out to end Meydan hoodoo

first_img “He has been ultra consistent and has thrived once more during his second winter here in Dubai. Few other sprinters can match his consistency.” Caspar Netscher was a further head adrift in third that day and his trainer David Simcock is similarly pleased to have been given a double-figure stall. He said: “I think he has a live chance. The Asian sprinters look very tough but mine has drawn well and he looks to have come forward for his prep run. He showed plenty of speed that day, he’s in very good order and I like the fact he is drawn high (11). “It is the first time we’d had a clear run with the horse since May last year. He had a pelvic problem which made the whole season particularly difficult. Everything was a rush, but he is now much better physically.” Fourth-placed Lancelot Du Lac also reopposes for Dean Ivory after finishing just behind Ahtoug on the first of his three Dubai runs back in January. Ivory said: “He’s been here for a while now and knows the ropes. I feel he goes in with a decent chance. He has never won over 1000 metres (five furlongs) but he ran well (over that trip) at the Carnival. I’m very happy with his draw (15). He is where the speed is, and that’s important because he travels better when they go fast from the start.” Sole Power will tread a familiar path as he tries to make it fourth-time lucky in the Al Quoz Sprint at Meydan. Eddie Lynam’s charge posted his best effort in the five-furlong heat when a length-and-a-half second to Ortensia back in 2012, before going on to finish fourth and seventh in the two subsequent renewals. The eight-year-old won the King’s Stand at Royal Ascot and the Nunthorpe at York last term, but failed to take a hand in the finish in his three starts at the end of the campaign before posting a disappointing effort when down the field in the Meydan Sprint earlier this month. Lynam told At The Races: “He’s training well and we’re very happy with him. He ran on ‘Super Saturday’ and was a little bit disappointing. Hopefully he’ll put that run behind him and bring his best form to the race. “His best run in the race was three years ago when he was second behind Ortensia. He ran a good race when he was fourth and last year draw-wise he probably saw a bit more daylight. “He seems to have taken a little bit longer to come to hand as he’s got older and we’re just hoping he reproduces his best on the day. “He’s won nearly two million euro in prize-money – he’s a been a lifetime horse and we’re very fond of him. Let’s hope we’ve got another year of him performing at his best.” The Ian Williams-trained Sir Maximilian won the Meydan Sprint to book his place and cement his heady progress, lining up on a mark of 108, some 20lb higher than his rating this time last year. Williams said: “I’m delighted with him. He’s in good nick and Dawn Oxley, who has been with him in Dubai since January, has done a great job. He’s the first horse I’ve run here, so there’s been a lot to learn, but he is at the top of his game.” Ahtoug was beaten just a short head in that Group Three race and trainer Charlie Appleby was delighted to get a high draw in the 16-runner event. “I was pleased with Ahtoug’s draw. In sprints at Meydan, I am always happier when my horses are drawn towards the stands side. There is also plenty of speed around him so I am very happy being drawn 13,” he said. Press Associationlast_img read more

Deeney pens new Watford deal

first_img The 27-year-old scored 21 goals as the Hornets finished second to Bournemouth last season and secure a return to the top flight after an eight-year absence. Deeney, who has been a target for a number of clubs in recent seasons, will now look to prove he can cut it in the Premier League and will go into the first game of the campaign against Everton buoyed by his new contract. Watford striker Troy Deeney has signed a new five-year deal with the Barclays Premier League newcomers. Watford wrote on their official Twitter account: ” @T_Deeney has signed a new 5-year contract with us. 5 years with us 2010-2015 – and now 5 more! Troy Deeney: #watfordfc’s No. 9.” His tally last season means former Walsall hitman Deeney has struck at least 20 goals in each of the previous three campaigns. Signed from The Saddlers in 2010, Deeney amassed 81 goals in 220 Championship appearances and will no doubt be pivotal if Watford are to survive in the Premier League under the stewardship of new boss Quique Sanchez Flores. The Pozzo family who own the club are likely to bankroll a number of arrivals before the season begins with the likes of Tottenham midfield duo Etienne Capoue and Benjamin Stambouli both heavily linked to the club. Roma full-back Jose Holebas has already joined and it is reported that Allan Nyom of Udinese, another club owned by the Pozzo family, is also closing in on a move to Watford. center_img Press Associationlast_img read more

Modem takes control

first_img Press Association The five-year-old was sent off a 5-1 chance at the bottom of the weights for the two-mile Connacht Hotel Qualified Riders’ Handicap and turned in a power-packed display for her proud connections. Wood Breizh held a slight lead off the bend, but the grey was overwhelmed by Ted Veale, Awesome Star and Modem inside the final 250 yards. But it was the latter who held the momentum when it mattered as Kate Harrington kept her companion up to his work to defeat runner-up Awesome Star by a neck. Ted Veale, the 4-1 favourite, was not far away in third spot, while Wood Breizh stayed on doggedly for fourth. Modem’s sights will now be briskly switched towards the Guinness Galway Hurdle on Thursday. Jessica Harrington said: “Everything we wanted to happen in the race happened. “I said, ‘Jump out, get a place on the rails’, and it was absolutely brilliant. “Kate got out and he was great, the little horse. “He absolutely battled to the line and he’s a smashing little horse. “We’re trying to go for the big-race double. Trainer Jessica Harrington and daughter Kate teamed up in glorious fashion to take the feature race on day one of the Galway Festival with Modem. “He’s had a rest from Cheltenham to Killarney and we’ve been keeping him for this. “This was the plan but I didn’t think he’d ever get into this race.” Kate Harrington said: “You need some luck in this race, but I jumped out and got a perfect position. “Hopefully he’ll run on Thursday and he’d have a right chance. “I always dreamt one day I would win this race but I can’t believe it’s happened.” Harrington received a ten day suspension for not giving her mount enough time to respond. last_img read more

Stadium ban frustrates Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho

first_img “Maybe I watch a movie. I don’t know,” he said. “For me, it’s very similar to going to a cinema and somebody tells me ‘you are not allowed to come in’. “Or I go to a shop to buy a pair of shoes and somebody tells me ‘you cannot come into the shop to buy a pair of shoes’. “So tomorrow I want to go to a football match, Stoke against Chelsea, and if I try to do that somebody will stop me. “I want to go to Stoke-Chelsea with my son and, at the door of the stadium, somebody says: ‘You kid, you can come in. You father, you go home’. That’s the basic picture. “On top of it, I am going to that stadium to work, and people says ‘you cannot come here to do your work’. “Even if I buy a ticket people will stop me (coming in). There is no chance.” Mourinho must stay away from the Britannia Stadium following his half-time dismissal at West Ham last month. The Blues boss “admitted a Football Association charge of misconduct regarding his language and/or behaviour towards the match officials in or around the dressing room area” at Upton Park and was fined £40,000 alongside the stadium ban. The FA released its reasons on Friday, with referee Jonathan Moss saying Mourinho called him “f****** weak”. “My punishment, the dimension of my punishment, the stadium ban that stays suspended, obviously affects everything,” said Mourinho, who on Thursday lost a separate appeal against a suspended one-match stadium ban. “My answers (to the media), obviously, are going to be different. “The way I participate with the game, obviously, is going to be different. “I had a game a few days ago where I stood for 90 minutes on my side. The other manager (Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp) was jumping like Michael Jordan and nothing happened. “So, I know that for me everything is different. It’s changed a lot. “I think the message that the power (the FA) want to give me, the message is more than clear.” Mourinho is frustrated he is barred from doing his job as he says he is uncertain how he will follow the game, although it is inconceivable he will not watch the televised contest. Press Association Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho says his stadium ban changes everything and compared his banishment from Stoke’s Britannia Stadium with being prevented from entering a cinema to watch a film. last_img read more

Norwich land Chelsea striker Patrick Bamford

first_imgChelsea striker Patrick Bamford has joined Norwich on loan for the rest of the season. The 22-year-old spent the first half of the season on loan at Crystal Palace but it ended in controversy when he said his spell there had been “terrible”, a comment he later retracted with an apology. Bamford returned to Chelsea at the end of December and the England Under-21 international now moves to Norwich, with the Canaries’ official Twitter account saying on Saturday night: “DONE DEAL – City sign @ChelseaFC striker @Patrick_Bamford on loan until end of the season.” Press Associationcenter_img Grantham-born Bamford has yet to make a first-team appearance for Chelsea but he has played over 100 games on loan at MK Dons, Derby, Middlesbrough and Palace. Last season he was named as the Sky Bet Championship’s Player of the Year after scoring 17 times in 38 league matches at Middlesbrough. Speaking to canaries.co.uk about his latest loan move, Bamford said: “I’m really happy to be here, and the sooner I’m able to get involved the better. “That’s what I want to do personally, but it’s also about helping Norwich to get the points required to stay in the league.” Bamford becomes the third January signing for Norwich with manager Alex Neil having already signed defender Ivo Pinto and striker Steven Naismith in this month’s transfer window. “Patrick is a player who excelled last season and we are pleased to have the opportunity to bring him in,” Neill said. “He’s a young forward determined to make his way in the game, and adds competition for us at the top end of the pitch.” last_img read more

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger upbeat about Jack Wilshere’s Euro 2016 chances

first_imgArsene Wenger has revealed he has reassured England boss Roy Hodgson that Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere will be fit and ready to go at this summer’s European Championship. The 24-year-old has not played for the Gunners this season having suffered a broken leg on the eve of the new campaign. Wilshere has endured a torrid time with injuries over the previous three years, with a number of ankle issues keeping him largely on the sidelines. But Wenger, speaking ahead of the Arsenal’s Barclays Premier League clash with Southampton on Tuesday night, played down suggestions Wilshere has suffered a setback in his recovery and has spoken to Hodgson about a player both managers admire greatly. “No. That is the wrong information,” Wenger replied when asked about a potential delay in Wilshere’s return. “He is looking good. I had a short chat with Roy Hodgson about him and reassured him that he is progressing well. I’m cautious but I will say (he will be back in) four weeks.” Even if Wilshere returns at the end of February, he faces an uphill challenge to be both fit and in-form in time for England’s opening Euro 2016 clash against Russia on June 11, with friendlies against Germany and Holland coming in March. His Arsenal and England colleague Danny Welbeck is in a similar position, as is Liverpool forward Daniel Sturridge – but the trio are likely to be afforded as much time as possible to prove their fitness. center_img Press Associationlast_img read more