Pellegrini added: “He will provide a variety of attacking options for us and he can also score goals as well as create them for others. He is an excellent signing for the club. “Jesus is a world and European champion and a regular squad member in a very special Spain team.” Brazilian midfielder Fernandinho has been brought in from Shakhtar Donetsk and Pellegrini said the 28-year-old was one of his major summer targets. “I made Fernandinho one of the top priorities. He has impressed me on a number of occasions over the past few years and is another player I’ve taken a keen interest in,” the Blues boss told mcfc.co.uk. “He is an experienced international who will further strengthen our midfield and I think he will be well suited to the Premier League. He is a superb athlete with a wide range of passing, can score goals and most importantly, can quickly turn defence into attack. “Both Jesus and Fernandinho add pace and skill to what is already a very talented and successful squad. I am looking forward to working with both our new signings and to working with the players who have already won a Premier League title together. “We have a very strong pool and together we aim to achieve great things.” New Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini believes adding more pace to his squad puts them in better shape to regain their Premier League title. The Chilean has spoken of speed being a key component in the armoury of the club’s two summer signings Jesus Navas and Fernandinho. Pellegrini is looking to add more before the start of the season, but appears to be losing the battle to be reunited with Isco, whom he coached at former club Malaga. Nevertheless Pellegrini is delighted by the two acquisitions already made. “Jesus is a player I know well from La Liga and he is someone I have admired for a long time,” he said. “He is quick, has excellent technique and I think the City fans will enjoy watching him play.” Press Association
Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill is close to agreeing a new contract with the Irish Football Association. Press Association O’Neill, who managed Shamrock Rovers before taking over from Nigel Worthington, has had an up and down stint in charge of the national side with a memorable win over Fabio Capello’s Russia and a brave draw away to Portugal tempered by defeats in Azerbaijan and Luxembourg. Northern Ireland finished fifth in their World Cup qualifying group with seven points. O’Neill has a chance to add a second win to his CV on November 15 when his side travel to Turkey for a friendly. He announces his squad on Tuesday. O’Neill’s original two-year deal expires at the end of December and, although he has won just one of his 14 matches at the helm, he has the support of key officials at Windsor Avenue. Talks have been ongoing for a number of weeks and though nothing has yet been signed, Press Association Sport understands that both parties are keen to finalise terms for another two years.
A 1-0 defeat by Everton on Wednesday night has seen David Moyes’ side slip 12 points behind leaders Arsenal, but Mourinho believes they are still in contention. The Portuguese, who has denied plotting a January move for unsettled Monaco striker Radamel Falcao, insists the philosophy at United enables Moyes to stay patient. Arsenal head the Premier League by four points – Chelsea are second – but Mourinho refused to add his voice to the debate on whether they are capable of sustaining a title challenge. “Arsenal lead and if they lead it’s because they have more points than other people and because they are better and have made less mistakes,” he said. “If they are there it’s because they deserve to be there. But the championship finishes in May. Let’s see what happens then.” Chelsea travel to Stoke on Saturday to conclude a run of three Premier League matches in seven days, two of them away. In contrast title rivals Arsenal face the same number of games but over nine days. Mourinho describes the discrepancy as a “big coincidence”. “This is like preparation for the Christmas period,” he said. “This week is a hard week because we start on a Sunday, not even on a Saturday, playing Southampton, but finish on a Saturday. “For some clubs it’s Saturday-Sunday when for us it’s Sunday-Saturday. “Once more when it comes to fixtures, we are always in trouble. It’s a big coincidence. “I don’t like to give a day off to the players after a big game, but I’ll have to give them the day off on Sunday. “I don’t think it’s good for their body, but it’s good for their heads. “I like to give physiological recovery, but the mental point of view is more important. It’s important they have a free Sunday to disconnect.” Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho insists the identity of Manchester United ensures they remain Barclays Premier League title contenders. “If it was another club I’d tell you it’s impossible, but with Manchester United I don’t say that,” Mourinho said. “The reasons are because of the potential of the team, what the club represents and the culture of the club. “It’s not a club in panic. It’s not a club where you feel the end of the world is arriving. “They are calm, they go the same way and support the manager. Nobody touches the manager. “They have a project. If they don’t win this season they believe they will win next season. “It’s a very, very stable situation and an example to many others. Because of that they are still a contender. “They will stick together, they will fight and try to get 12 to 15 points in a row. Yes they are still a contender. “They will wait for matches between Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester City, Liverpool and Tottenham when others will lose points.” Press Association
Rose made his comeback from a three-month injury lay-off in Thursday’s 4-1 win over Anzhi Makhachkala. As Tottenham do not have an abundance of cover at left-back, Villas-Boas shifted Jan Vertonghen out into that position during Rose’s absence – a move which did not go down too well with the Belgian, who prefers to play centre-half. That has led to suggestions that Villas-Boas could make a move for another left-back in the January transfer window. After spending the majority of the last five seasons out on loan, Rose wants to make the position his own now at Tottenham and he feels has to prove to the manager that he does not need to recruit another body in January. “That is my job (to persuade Villas-Boas signing another left-back is not necessary),” Rose said. “And I would be the first one to find out if the club were looking to do that. “I thought the club were going to do that in August, I went to see the manager, I sat down with him and he told me it was not true and if the club was going to do that he would come and speak to me first hand.” Villas-Boas challenged Rose to secure his position as first-choice left-back in the summer following a successful loan spell at Sunderland. Rose, 23, grew frustrated with life under Harry Redknapp. He felt he did not get a fair chance under the former Tottenham boss, but he has nothing but praise for the man who replaced him. “I have a lot of respect for the manager and he has got a lot of respect for me,” Rose added. “He treats me as one of the big players here and it’s the first time I have had that at this club.” Rose gave Villas-Boas no reason to seek a new left-back at the start of the campaign as the Englishman slotted in nicely to the starting XI following the departure of Benoit Assou-Ekotto. Rose’s season then hit an abrupt halt following a bizarre injury during Spurs’ home win over Tromso in September. A Tromso player stood on the defender’s foot deep inside the away half. Initially it seemed only a minor injury, but Rose ended up needing specialist treatment and was out for almost three months. “At first thought I had broken my foot but I had torn something underneath it,” he said. “I had a lot of bone bruising but we couldn’t see the bone bruising until the swelling had gone down. “I did my foot against Tbilisi and we were trying to get fit for the Chelsea game, which was about 10 days afterwards, and I have made it even worse trying to get fit for that game. “It set me back a long time. The manager tried everything he could to get me fit. “He flew me out to Portugal to see a doctor out there and I did some rehab out there. “It has been very frustrating. I have missed some important games. “It has been quite hard to watch at times, especially with it being such a soft injury that I have had. I am just glad I am back now. There are a lot of games coming up and I hope I can stay fit.” With Vertonghen now out until the new year because of an ankle injury, Villas-Boas only has right-back Kyle Naughton and the untested Zeki Fryers as cover if Rose breaks down again. Rose will not demand a place in the team for Sunday’s game against Liverpool, however, as he does not want to suffer a relapse. “I am not sure (about playing on Sunday),” Rose added. “No disrespect to Anzhi, but it is totally different to playing a top-class team like Liverpool. “I wouldn’t want to mug myself off and say I could play, and not do myself or the team any justice.” Danny Rose expects Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas to inform him if he intends to sign a new left-back in January. Press Association
Lewis Holtby has told Tim Sherwood’s critics they must give the new Tottenham manager time. Spurs’ build-up play was often laboured under Villas-Boas and he failed to get the best out of his strikeforce this year. But while results, and not style will determine whether Sherwood is a success, Holtby is a big fan of the former Tottenham midfielder’s philosophy, and he also thinks his history with the club will help him. “He knows the club inside out,” Holtby said. “He has been here as a player and manager for the (development) team. “He knows the club, his style of play is a very good idea, he likes to play attacking football. “We have the team capable of doing this, its just a matter of time adapting to that now. “The things he has tried to bring to us, they are really working.” Sherwood is also committed to bringing through some of the young players he managed in the club’s successful development team. The new manager gave 19-year-old Nabil Bentaleb his debut against Southampton, putting the midfielder on to replace Mousa Dembele with 40 minutes left. Holtby, a full Germany international, remained on the bench and did not feature at St Mary’s. Holtby returned to the starting XI for the West Brom game, though, and he sees no reason to complain. “I am a footballer, I love to play football and I am always a bit shocked if I don’t play because I love this game, but you have to give credit to Nabil because he is a fantastic young player,” Holtby said. “The gaffer knows him so there is no need for me to get angry in situations like now because we are trying to chase European football. “The gaffer is new in and he is trying to put his thinking into the team and we have to stick behind that. “(Tim and I) spoke after the (Southampton) game, but I am not going to tell you all the details. He played me against West Brom.” Sherwood’s predecessor, meanwhile, lamented his failure to repeat the success he enjoyed at Porto, where he won three trophies during his first and only season in charge. “I wish I could have responded to the confidence shown by the fans with a trophy”, Villas-Boas told Portuguese newspaper O Jogo. “I had great ambitions to win a trophy this season.” With his reputation in England having taken a big hit, Villas-Boas looks set to be planning a return to the management on the continent. The 36-year-old was not short of offers last summer. He rejected overtures from Paris Saint-Germain while Real Madrid were also said to be interested in his services. He has recently been linked with AC Milan. In the interview he refers to his time in England in the past tense, and talks of “re-positioning” his career, suggesting that he will not be looking for a new post in the Barclays Premier League any time soon. “This is a time of reflection for me and my staff, and for repositioning of our careers,” he said. “Nevertheless, England was a great experience.” Spurs were far more attacking than they were under Villas-Boas, but they could not find a way through the West Brom defence and they also looked vulnerable at the back. A smattering of boos rang out following the final whistle, but Holtby thinks it would be wrong to expect too much too soon from Sherwood. “We need to give him some time,” the Tottenham midfielder said. “It’s not easy coming into a club when you have a hectic Christmas period. “You don’t have much time to train, but credit to him – he has calmed things down.” Sherwood looked anything but calm on Boxing Day. He spent the majority of the 1-1 draw on his feet shouting and gesticulating towards his players in an animated fashion from the touchline. Sherwood’s enthusiasm for the game and for Tottenham are commendable, though, as is his commitment to attacking football. Press Association Tottenham took a gamble on Monday when they handed Sherwood an 18-month contract to succeed Andre Villas-Boas as head coach. The former Blackburn captain could not deliver a win in his first game in charge, though, as Tottenham had to settle for an underwhelming point against relegation-threatened West Brom.
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers is remaining cautious over their January transfer activity but there is unlikely to be a huge amount of movement over the next month. Press Association The window opens on Wednesday but the Reds are not looking to bring in a significant number of players to bolster the squad and there are no early signings imminent. Liverpool have extensively scouted Basle winger Mohamed Salah but reports of him being on the verge of a switch to Merseyside are premature, Press Association Sport understands. The 21-year-old is regarded a key player for his club, who currently lead the Swiss Super League and as their domestic competition does not resume until February 1 there is significant resistance to a sale. Liverpool are interested in doing a deal for the promising young forward but any agreement in January would have to be on the right financial terms and may ultimately prove too difficult to complete with a summer transfer appearing more likely. Rodgers said on Tuesday not to expect any early signings in the transfer window. “There’s nothing to add on anything with regard to players coming in,” he said. “There’s nothing imminent. “Obviously the recruitment team are busy putting things together in terms of the profile of players we need here to improve the team and the squad. “The owners have invested millions upon millions into the team and every window we arrive in looking to improve where we can. This window will be no different.”
“Lacina is a player who I really like and is someone who would fit in really well in the role we want the player to come in,” said Martinez. “There are a couple of hurdles that we need to get over; the work permit is something we need to look into. “If we can get through that he will be a player we will be very keen to add to the squad. “He had a recent soft tissue problem but it is not too bad. He is a few days away from being fully fit and we were quite happy with the medical. “Every work permit is difficult. We have a very strong case of showing why we need Lacina with us. “He is a very talented footballer. He is only 23 and has already had a couple of moves (totalling) nearly £30million but every work permit is a difficult one and we will try our best.” The Ivory Coast international joined the French side earlier this month but they are willing to allow him to gain experience somewhere else for the next few months. West Ham were in the running for the 6ft 8in forward but Everton have stepped in, and after a medical allayed any concerns over a hamstring injury the Toffees boss said they now just had to secure the necessary paperwork to allow him to sign. Press Association Everton manager Roberto Martinez has revealed a deal has been agreed to sign Monaco striker Lacina Traore on loan subject to a work permit being granted.
Striker Daniel Sturridge apologised to fans for not winning the Barclays Premier League this season but assured them he expects Liverpool to challenge for the title again. If Liverpool are to become genuine regular title contenders while balancing the demands of the Champions League, they have to strengthen their squad considerably. Southampton midfielder Adam Lallana – who will go to the World Cup alongside Sturridge and Reds team-mates Steven Gerrard, Raheem Sterling, Glen Johnson and Jordan Henderson – has emerged as an early priority in Brendan Rodgers’ strengthening process. There are reports of a formal bid being lodged with Saints and it is no secret Rodgers is an admirer. Sturridge is confident his manager will get the summer recruitment right. “I think this squad is unbelievable. We’ve done really well and I fully expect us to push on again next season,” he added. “I am sure the manager will buy players who he believes can push us on to the next level. “With whoever comes in together with the great players we already have here, I am sure we will do well next season.” While looking to bring in more players, Liverpool are also keen to extend the contracts of a number of the first-team squad. Negotiations are on-going with right-back Johnson, who has just over 12 months remaining, but much will depend on the England international. The club want to keep the defender, who turns 30 in August, but considering his age they want his salary – Johnson is one of the highest wage earners – to reflect that and that may be the stumbling block. There has yet to be any movement on new deals for Jordan Henderson and Gerrard but those are expected later in the summer. Midfielder Lucas Leiva moved to clarify remarks he made after posting an image from Sunday’s post-match lap of appreciation. The Brazil international, who lost his regular place after Gerrard dropped into a deeper midfield role, wrote alongside a picture of him and his family: “Yesterday I finished my the season with Liverpool. I want to thank the ones who supported me all this years. #thankyou #goodbye.” However, after realising that left much open to interpretation he soon added: “The goodbye that I said it is about the season that finished nothing else.” After 21 goals this season it was no surprise to see Sturridge selected in Roy Hodgson’s World Cup squad and the 24-year-old hopes to be able to take his good form to Brazil. “It’s a very big summer ahead,” he said. “I’m really looking forward to going to Brazil and trying to do well. I’m hungry to do well. I want to bring England some success.” Press Association “I know we set the target of reaching the Champions League but I can’t stand here and say I’m happy. I am gutted,” said the England striker. “I know we’ve gone from seventh to second but I am never happy coming second no matter what I’m playing, whether it’s table tennis, cricket or whatever, I don’t like losing. “We’re all hungry for success and the fans deserve success. They’ve given us great support from the first minute to the last and I apologise to them for not winning the Premier League. “I’ll do everything in my power, just like my team-mates will, to try to ensure we do that for them next season. I believe we can. “People can make excuses about how we had an advantage because we weren’t in Europe this season but I know we will be contenders again next season. “We will take the positives from this season and learn from the negatives. “This experience will stand us in good stead for next season. I believe we will challenge. “Next season will be a big year for us and we’re looking forward to that already.” The Reds had destiny in their own hands until slipping up with a home defeat to Chelsea late last month which handed the initiative to Manchester City, who duly closed out the championship on Sunday with victory over West Ham, negating Liverpool’s 2-1 win over Newcastle. However, second place still represents success, having come from seventh last season, as it secured a return to the Champions League and although Sturridge knows it could have been so much better, he also believes this campaign will not be a flash in the pan.
Press Association Sunderland boss Gus Poyet has launched his summer rebuilding programme with the capture of West Brom defender Billy Jones. The 27-year-old, who is out of contract at the Hawthorns, will formally complete his move on July 1 after signing a four-year deal, the club has confirmed. Jones said: “I’m really happy to be here and I’m looking forward to getting back for pre-season and kicking on. “I’ve played at the Stadium of Light a number of times, so I know what it’s about and what great backing the club has. “I’ve come to the training ground today and it’s amazing. I knew I was signing for a massive club with everything in place to kick on up the league and carry on moving forward.” Shrewsbury-born Jones began his career at Crewe, and joined the Baggies, for whom he made more than 70 senior appearances, from Preston in July 2011. The fact that Poyet’s first close-season acquisition working alongside new director of football Lee Congerton is a British player with Barclays Premier League experience is significant with the Black Cats changing direction after a dismal summer 12 months ago. Of the 14 signings made by then director of football Roberto De Fanti for manager Paolo Di Canio, 13 were from overseas, many of them with little or no background in English football, and a season of struggles duly followed.
Pulis left Selhurst Park by mutual consent on Friday after reportedly falling out with co-chairman Steve Parish over transfers this summer. Palace had collected just four points from 11 games when Pulis was appointed manager in November but the former Stoke boss instigated a remarkable turnaround. The team finished 11th and 12 points clear of the drop – an achievement that saw Pulis named Premier League manager of the season three months ago. “We’ve lost a great leader of a football club and of men,” said Millen, who has been put in temporary charge for the team’s Barclays Premier League opener against Arsenal on Saturday. “He likes to control the club and what goes on in the club but he also controls the players. “He’s close to the players, he works them hard, he’s very structured and organised, he’s very single-minded. “He knows what he wants and the players understood that.” Pulis took training with the first-team on Thursday afternoon as normal before meeting Parish in the evening. It was decided there that the pair’s relationship was not sustainable and Millen was informed at 9pm he would take charge of the first team on Saturday. “You can see both sides of the argument,” Millen said. Crystal Palace caretaker boss Keith Millen believes the Eagles have lost a “great leader of men” after Tony Pulis’ shock departure from the club. “When you look at the structure of the club overall, there’s been a lot of work done at Selhurst Park and at the training ground. “We’re trying to build a club that can sustain staying in the Premier League. “It’s the balance of spending money on the stadium and trying to strengthen the squad. “Whether that’s been the source of the clash I don’t know but it’s about getting that balance of trying to do both.” The club’s technical coach David Kemp addressed the players on behalf of Pulis on Friday morning, expressing his gratitude for their hard work last season. Millen also took temporary charge of the first team in October after Ian Holloway left and the team picked up four points from four matches while he was at the helm. “When Ian left last time there was a sense that it might happen because the results hadn’t been going well,” Millen said. “There was disappointment when Ian left but also maybe a bit of relief as well because we’d been struggling so much. “This time, on the back of the season we had, it’s shocked the players in a different way. “They want questions answered as well on where we’re going as a club now.” Former Cardiff manager Malky Mackay has been installed as the early favourite to replace Pulis while Tim Sherwood, Neil Lennon and David Moyes are also available. Millen insists he is undecided on whether he would like to be considered but believes the appointment will be made quickly this time around. “The beauty of when Ian left and I took over was the chairman wanted to see what was out there and he was happy with what we were doing in the meantime,” Millen said. “I don’t see it taking so long this time. The timing of it means the transfer window shuts at the end of the month. “We are looking to do more business and it’s important the new manager picks those players.” He added: “I would have thought there won’t be any more players coming in until someone new is appointed. “Ever since I’ve been here the manager has had a big say in the players brought in and we want to get off to a good start so I think the chairman will be very proactive.” Press Association