- This graphic shows Louis van Gaal’s stunning influence over top level European football
- Louis van Gaal says that both Jose Mourinho and him live to win titles [Video]
- Gent attacker Nicklas Pedersen hit a sensational volley versus Standard Liege [GIF]
- Incredible last ditch defending by Djurgårdens IF defender in Swedish top flight [GIF]
- Memorable moments from FA Cup semi-finals through the years [Video]
Nasri ‘living off last season’, Capital One Cup final previews, and Woeful Wolves
- February 23, 2013
Comment & Analysis round-up
Quote of the day: Samir has fantastic qualities. He should always play well. A player of this quality could be one of the best players in Europe. But it’s not happening. Sometimes a player thinks it’s enough what they did the year before and doesn’t understand that every day they should improve … Sometimes you get players who think it is not important to work and this is their worst mistake.” – Roberto Mancini on Samir Nasri
Runner-up: “You can’t make money in the Championship. You get the parachute payments, which are terrific I suppose. I don’t see why it should apply itself but it is there and teams can benefit from that. But player contracts are an issue because some of them are on very good ones and the clubs have to pay them. If you drop down, I would imagine motivation is very difficult. The only place you want to be is the Premier League. That is reflected in QPR spending the money they have.” – Sir Alex Ferguson on QPR
Roberto Mancini: ‘I like being a manager; I like being angry every day (Daniel Taylor, The Guardian) “I want to continue my work. I always wanted to work in England. OK, I don’t think Manchester is Rome where there is always the sun and it’s a different type of city. The rain is a problem but do I like Manchester? Yes. I have a good feeling here. There might not be 100 restaurants but I have no problem with it. I like to go out on my bike. That’s when I do my thinking. Two or three hours on the roads. That’s when you get time and you can think without problems. I know Alderley Edge, Wilmslow, Hale. It’s nice. My wife likes it too. Sometimes we go down to London to have a look around. I like the people here because they let you walk. Sometimes they might ask for a signature but they have respect for you.
Ashley Williams: ‘I don’t care what people think of me’ (Henry Winter, The Telegraph) “It was funny because on Twitter it was 50 per cent Manchester United fans hating me and 50 per cent Arsenal fans saying ‘Sign for us’, ‘We love you’. The main thing, for me, is that it knocked my own goal [against Derby] off YouTube. So when you type my name in now it’s not an own goal. That was a good thing.” If some people’s perception of Williams is shaped by the Ferguson incident, others are aware of his conscientious work through his charity WillsWorld. I’ve never been on the back page in my life for charity stuff but I was for Van Persie,” he said. “No one wants to read you’ve just helped people. Look at Craig Bellamy. He has put X amount of his own money into this foundation because he wants to. But if he does one little thing on the pitch it’s big news.
Capital One Cup Final Preview
Ashley Williams makes way from waiter to Wembley to Swansea City (Sam Wallace, The Independent) At 28, and now the captain of Wales, he has established himself as one of the leading lights in Michael Laudrup’s team to the extent that Arsenal, and his former manager Brendan Rodgers at Liverpool, consider him a potential signing. Not bad for a boy from Tamworth who was rejected by West Bromwich Albion, aged 16, and just hoped to make some money from playing the game.
At 28, Swansea’s steal of the season Michu is making up for lost time (Jim White, The Telegraph) Michu’s cupped ear mime has become a familiar sight at the Liberty Stadium. Behind it lies a narrative which gives an indication of the player’s drive. It harks back to when he was playing for Celta Vigo in the Spanish Second Division. Michu missed the crucial penalty in a promotion play-off against Granada. Over the summer break he got a transfer to Rayo and could not wait for the La Liga fixture back at Granada. He had only one thing in mind: revenge.
Are Swansea the best-run club in the top-flight? Phil Cadden, The Telegraph) With Huw Jenkins pivotal as chairman, Swansea are the first and only club in the top flight in which the fans have a significant share – the Swansea City Supporters’ Trust owns 19.9 per cent, making it the club’s third largest shareholder, and it also has a director, Huw Cooze, on the board
Meet my Swansea City club mates – Garry Monk’s guide to cup finalists (Stuart James, The Guardian) Chico Flores. Nickname: Zorro or Steven Seagal. A good lad with a bit of a mad side to him – he’ll just do little outbursts in the middle of nowhere, shouting something stupid in Spanish. You can tell he’s a little bit of a loose cannon. After a settling in period, I think he’s been tremendous. So unlucky to be injured two weeks before a final. He’s played in quite a few of the rounds and he deserves to be playing on Sunday. I really feel for him
Phil Parkinson’s everyday heroes relish their match-up with Swansea (Louise Taylor, The Guardian) Known simply as “Ken” at Valley Parade, the 24-year-old Darby is said to bear an uncanny resemblance to Coronation Street’s Ken Barlow and is regularly teased for being old before his time. Wells seems cast more in the “18 ’til I die” mould. “Nahki recently bought an extremely fancy new car but rather spoilt the effect by needing L Plates,” reveals Matt Duke, Bradford’s goalkeeper. “It didn’t look right but, after a few attempts, he’s finally passed his test. Fortunately he’s a better footballer than a driver.” The former star of Bermuda’s Dandy Town Hornets recalls the frustration. “The most annoying thing about the UK is the driving test, it’s a ball-ache,” says Wells. “I failed twice. I just feel like some examiners here take their job too seriously.” It is a joy to hear these four down-to-earth Bradfordians reduced to chortling, disbelieving anticipation about Wembley. Because as they reflect on English football’s most astonishing journey, you know a note of terrible poignancy, staring out from that photo, will inevitably intrude.
Bradford on the brink of history as tragedy and triumph unite (Ian Chadband, The Telegraph) Lawn, Neale and Templeton, all survivors of the Bradford inferno, need no photo; it is scarred on all their minds. Lawn seems an irrepressible character, the lifelong, tattooed fan who would sneak in for free as a kid over the back of the Kop toilets and who now jokes he “must have been mental” to pump in £1.1 million to help Rhodes shore up the desperately ailing club six years ago.
Stench of failure at Wolverhamton Wanderers is overpowering as successive relegations burn bright (John Percy, The Telegraph) Saunders could be second bottom by the time his team face league leaders Cardiff on Sunday and has warned relegation would be “a disaster”. It certainly would be for Morgan, who is determined to ensure the club becomes self-sustaining and did not build the £18 million Stan Cullis Stand to entertain the likes of Carlisle and Crawley. The stench of failure is overpowering, however, and the most pertinent question from Wolves supporters this season is: where has the money gone? Wolves raised around £25 million in the summer through the sales of Steven Fletcher and Matt Jarvis after chief executive Jez Moxey refused to cave in. Moxey also rejected three bids from Stoke before eventually accepting £2 million for Michael Kightly. Perhaps unfairly, Moxey has always been a target for fans but deserves immense credit for driving such a hard bargain. That cash raised should have given Wolves a chance to build a squad capable of a challenge but of the summer signings made by Solbakken, only Bakary Sako can arguably be deemed a success.