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Jose Mourinho: Cesc Fabregas chose Chelsea over Arsenal because he was ‘looking for titles’

Jose Mourinho insists he is not worried whether will receive a hot reception on his first return to the Emirates. Mourinho aimed a thinly veiled dig at Arsenal by insisting thecontent_imgy were able to lure Fabregas to Stamford Bridge with the promisck-Jackson. The League One side have secured the Manchester United defender on a season-long loan.Mellon told the club’s website: “We’re delighted to bring Cameron to the Club.”He will bring us quality and competition for places in an area of the teae of titles. had first option to re-sign Fabregas last summer but . Fabregas is on course for his first Premier League winner’s medal with Chelsea. Mourinho added: “I know why he chose Chelsea. I don't know why he didn't choose Arsenal. I can only speak about what we promised him. I can' FC Cincinnati next week.The Holland international has cut short his loan with Hoffenheim to join Ron Jans’ MLS outfit FC Cincinnati.Locadia will leave the south coast for the US next weekend.FC Cincinnati will take Locadia on-loan for the MLS seasont talk about the decision for him leaving Arsenal, or what stopped him going back. “I don't know if it was the manager's or his decision. I just promised him we'd build a team very adapted to his style of play. That he was going to be an important player in our project. And that, normally, good projects end with titles. He was looking for that. That's all I can say. “I don't know (what reception he will get). To be fair, I don't know. And to be fair, I'm not worried with that. Frank Lampard played at Stamford Bridge without any kind of problem and with a good reception. “I don't see a reason for Fabregas not to have the same at the Emirates. But, if he has some bad reactions, I thinkhe's one of the players who is more than ready. He played in Barcelona with an Arsenal shirt. Why can't he play at the Emirates with a Chelsea shirt? No problem.” Will Cesc Fabregas become a Chelsea legend?1000+ VOTES SO FAR

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‘The buck stops with me’: Fernandes insists he won’t pull the plug on QPR’s finances

Tony Fernandes has reassured fans he won't pull the plug on QPR's finances even if he steps down as chairman. The Malaysian tycoon has seen the club struggle at the bottom of the table all season and on January 27, the day after they were eliminated from theer United.There has already been evidence of what could be a different United in pre-season as boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer builds the team he wants. United have won all three tour games so far — and in impressive style.Left-back Shaw, 24, told The Su FA Cup following a 4-2 home defeat to MK Dons, Fernandes wrote on his Twitter account: "I take all responsibility eds won the trophy for the first time on Saturday against Flamengo thanks to an extra-time winner fcontent_imgrom Roberto Firmino.”We were so determined to win this,” said Robertson.”A week before Christmas, coming away from your families and it’s a tough time and will face the music… If can't fix it I will be first to go." But asked about that this morning Fernandes told the BBC: "I think people misunderstood what I said – 'walk away as chairman'. "Lots of people are getting blamed at QPR – the players, the former manager, the CEO. "The buck stops with me, and I said that no-one else should be blamed other than me, Tony Fernandes, as chairman. "If it goes wrong and people think that I'm the wrong chairman, then I'll step down, but my investment will stay and I will continue to be a board member and support the club, because I have a lot of ambitions for the club. "I just wanted to put on record that no-one else would take responsibility but the leader, and the leader of the club is me." Pressed as to whether he was planning to step down, Fernandes said: "At the moment, no. "I have had a very positive response from many of the fans and management at the club, so I will continue," Fernandes said. "We will take one step at a time. Right now, the battle is on." Fernandes took over as chairman in August 2011 after Neil Warnock led the club to promotion to the Premier League. QPR are six points adrift of safety in the Premier League with 13 games left to play this season, but Fernandes backed manager Harry Redknapp with some big money new signings in the January transfer window including striker Loic Remy and defender Christopher Samba. It has been reported that Samba was earning a staggering £100,000 a week at Loftus Road, but Fernandes insists the true figure is much less. Her said: "It is not right for me to say, but it is nothing like £100,000 – it is more around the £65,000 mark. You would be close (with that)." Fernandes, who insists QPR conducted themselves correctly in their failed attempt to sign West Brom frontman Peter Odemwingie, added: "If we go down, we are prepared for it and we know what we have to do to come back up. "Everything that has been done has been thought of in a long-term way. "We think we can get out of this mess. We have a good manager, we are undefeated so far this year (QPR have won one and drawn four of their five league games so far in 2013) and two or three wins could change our position quite dramatically – it is very tight down there."

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EXCLUSIVE: Mancini safe…even if City don’t win the title

Roberto Mancini has been told that his job at Manchester City is safe – even if his side finishes second in the ­Premier League. The richest club in the world are desperate to avoid developing the hire-and-fire culture that has undermined Chelsea. Ccontent_imgity’s Abu Dhabi-based ­owners are ready to back Mancini with a new contract and in the transfer market – even if Jose Mourinho puts himself in the frame by quitting Real Madrid in the summer. A City insider said: “There is still a belief that Roberto can deliver the title this season. “There is no appetite whatsoever to change the manager – even if we don’t ys there were plenty positives from their friendly defeat to Kawasaki Frontale.The Blues were playing the first of two matches in Japan having arrived from London on Tuesday afternoon.”Obviously we are disappointed with the result, but we knew we werfinish as ­champions – and that is unlikely to change unless there is a catastrophic end to the season.” Sources in Spain claim that Mourinho will be heading back to the ­Premier League – and City would offer the sort of challenge he crar Champions League collapse at Liverpool.Ahead of the Copa del Rey final against Valencia, the defender says that the players need to take a step forward sooner rather than later and move on from the disappointment.”When something like that happens, ves. Mancini has 15 months left on the three-and-a-half-year contract he signed in ­December 2009. Negotiations about extending his stay will not begin until the end of the season, but they will not hinge on the Italian’s ability to overhaul bitter rivals Manchester United in the title race. City surrendered top spot after a defeat at Swansea last week and were dumped out of the Europa League by Sporting Lisbon in midweek. Milner Exclusive: Tevez return can lead us to the title De Jong warns United: City can handle the pressure

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Battling to the end: Why Aston Villa won’t go down without a fight

At half-time at home to Newcastle and trailing 2-0, in my opinion. Their first half display was so tame, they were rolling over without a whimper in their seventh League game without a win. But Villa's vibrant second half display at least can give fans hope of beating the drop after morale-sapping successive cup reverses to lower league opposition. And Villa were hardly recognisable as the same side in the second half when they switched from 3-5-2 to a more conventional 4-4-2 with Agbonlahor on the left. They eventually still lost 2-1 and are now in the bottom three but the second 45 minutes on Tuesday at least salvaged some pride and offers hope. It certainly was appreciated by fans who really got behind the side and stayed to applaud their efforts at the final whistle. Boss Paul Lambert must now surely keep Agbonlahor and Weimann in the side at Everton this Saturday and return to 4-4-2. Agbonlahor, who won the penalty converted by Christian Benteke, can offer blistering pace which no other Villa player possesses. While Weimann's work ethic, bravery and finishing makes him a must alongside Benteke up top. Both men were very unfortunate to be left out in the first place. And I hope Lambert will stick with Nathan Baker at left-back to in preference to Joe Bennett, who came off at the break against the Toon. But Villa harn Munich CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has refused to comment on the club’s interest in Leroy Sane.Bayern were keen on the Manchester City winger this summer, but a knee injury to the Germany international scuppered the move.Asked about a renewed intereve not had a settled side all season due to injuries and the failure of players to play consistently well enough to justify their places. Lambert has also always likes to rotate players regularly to keep them on their toes. That's fine when the team is doing well and there is close competition for places. But Villa could really do with a regular, settled side for the run-in to gel and help breed some confidence. I think that wcontent_imgould be valuable as this Villa side do appear mentally fragile. How else do you explain the astonishing difference between several of their performances in either half of matches? Villa seem incapable of playing well for the entire 90 minutes. It was illustrated again at home to Newcastle. And was the same in the second leg of h Quique Setien to play Martin Braithwaite.The emergency signing from Leganes made his debut last weekend against Eibar, impressing off the bench.However, Rivaldo is insisting the Dane deserves more, telling Betfair: “Luis Suarez will be missed by FCthe Capital One Cup semi-final at home to Bradford and at West Brom in the Premier League. It is a worrying habit Villa need to kick. I felt Villa's other short-comings where vividly illustrated against Newcastle, where the Geordies boasted several decent new players. Papiss Cisse's opener came through the large gaps in Villa's central defensive unit so no wonder Lambert ideally wants a new centre-back today on transfer deadline day. While United's new powerful ace Moussa Sissoko shone in central midfield and Villa have since moved to bring in their own French enforcer in Yacouba Sylla. At least Villa owner Randy Lerner is willing to spend some cash to try to address these two areas. Contrary to some fans' fears Villa are not ready to roll over and be relegated. I can see Villa's fate still being on the line on the final day of the season and hopefully they can sneak through, but if the club are to go down let it at least be kicking and screaming for survival until the bitter end.

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Why Chelsea have papered over the cracks – but AVB was right to start rebuilding

Why Gerrard can lead England by example and Messi can be better than Pele Why negative vibes have robbed Blackpool of our positive play  Chelsea may be the last men standing when it comes to English clubs in Europe. But it doesn’t say much about the long-term health of the club that the players who wouldn’t let Andre Villas-Boas do the job Roman Abramovich appointed him to do were the stars of te made a move for Inter Milan striker Mauro Icardi.Icardi has been encouraged to find himself a new club by Inter management.“I know that (Boca director of sport Nicolas) Burdisso spoke to (Inter vice-president Javier) Zanetti and asked about the Ihe show at ­Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night. Frank Lampard, John Terry and Didier Drogba scored the goals that took the tie into extra-time and set up a famous evening in west London. But for me, their performances only highlighted the ­unpalatable truth that AVB was a victim of player power at its worst. If a football club stands still for too long, it eventually starts to slide backwards. Abramovich knew that Chelsea needed to be rebuilt when he ­appointed Villas-Boas in the ­summer. He should have backed his manager to the hilt whecontent_imgn some players decided that they weren’t going to go quietly. To be fair, there was evidence against Napoli that Villas-Boas may have been a bit premature in deciding that some of the players who will always be ­associated with Jose Mourinho were past their sell-by date. Terry, Lampard, Drogba and Ashley Cole may get one last shot at the Champions League trophy but they are not the future of Chelsea. I’ve got to say Roberto Di Matteo’s side were sensational. Napoli showed when they ­accounted for Manchester City that they are a team to be reckoned witharina Granovskaia is reluctant to release Tiemoue Bakayoko to AS Monaco.The two clubs are in talks about the midfielder returning to Monaco before the market shuts.RMC says a loan deal is being discussed, though Granovskaia remains unconvinced.The Ch and their hit-and-run approach when they won the first leg 3-1 meant I really feared for the Blues in the return. But the power and ­precision of Chelsea’s play harked back to the best days of Mourinho. Benfica will be a tough prospect in the quarter-finals and a meeting with Barcelona or AC Milan beckons in the last four for the winners. Chelsea v Real Madrid in the final? Jose would love that, wouldn’t he? I can’t see that happening but, whatever transpires, Abramovich must realise that the clock is still ticking on this current Chelsea team. His mandate to the next ‘victim’ – sorry, I mean incumbent – of the Stamford Bridge hot-seat must be clear: “Build me a new team.” The chosen one must then be given the authority to get on with the job in whichever ­manner he sees fit. And if that means putting the noses of the old guard out of joint, then so be it. Chelsea have had one great team during Abramovich’s reign – the one styled by Mourinho in his own image. Two hundred miles north, Manchester United seem to evolve season by season. On the odd occasions that Sir Alex Ferguson has ended a campaign without a trophy, there has always been that promise of future glory. Bryan Robson was Fergie’s first skipper. When his powers began to wane it was Steve Bruce, then Roy Keane, Gary Neville and so on. There’s no room for sentiment with Sir Alex. He is ­ruthless because he knows his job is to do what’s best for United. And for all the criticism the Glazer family – who own ­United – get from the Old Trafford fans, they know better than to meddle with the man responsible for the club’s dominance of English football over the last two decades. So turn a deaf ear to your ego, Mr ­Abramovich, and please take note.

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Chelsea paired against Atletico Madrid in Champions League semi-finals as UEFA insist Thibaut Courtois CAN play

Jose Mourinho must go back to Madrid to earn his third Champions League Final appearance. But will have to get past on-loan keeper Thibaut Courtois after the Blues were drawn against Atletico Madrid. It opens the way for a trip back to Lisbon for , with favourites Real Madrid and Bayern Munich paired in a re-match of the 2012 semi-final won by the Germans in a penalty shoot-out. But Chelsea's delight in missing the big two, and playing the vital second leg of the last-four showdown at Stamford Bridge, was perhaps tempered by UEFA's ruling on Courtois. Under the terms of the loan agreement between Chelsea and Atletico, the Spanish side were due to pay £2.5million per game if they fielded the Belgian against his parent club. Yet barely an hour before the semi-final balls were drawn outs being offered to major Serie A teams.The 27-year-old has not lived up to his potential at Old Trafford recently, and hasn’t scored or assisted for the club in the Premier League since 2018.It was reported last week that agent Mino content_imgRaiola – who repr of the hat by former Barcelona and Real Madrid star Luis Figo, . And after the draw, Chelsea chief executive Ron Gourlay confirmed the Blues cannot prevent Courtois being fielded against them. The Scot, in Nyon for the draw, said: "The loan was arranged back at the start of the season. "It's quite simple. Thibaut can play against Chelsea. That was never in doubt. "In regard to the UEFA statement, we will evaluate that over the next 24 to 36 hours but as far as Chelsea are concerned we complied with the loan rules. "As far as the player is concerned, Thibaut, he can play against Chelsea, in both ties, if he is selected by the Atletico Madrid manager. That is fact." In their earlier statement, UEFA said: ''The integrity of sporting competition is a fundamental principle for UEFA. ''Both the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Disciplinary Regulations contain clear provisions which strictly forbid any club to exert, or attempt to exert, any influence whatsoever over the players that another club may (or may not) field in a match. ''It follows that any provision in a private contract between clubs which might function in such a way as to influence who a club fields in a match is null, void and unenforceable so far as UEFA is concerned. ''Furthermore, any attempt to enforce such a provision would be a clear violation of both the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Disciplinary Regulations and would therefore be sanctioned accordingly.'' Chelsea appear to have been left with no choice but to accept the sight of Courtois in the Atletico side, although they could launch a civil action for breach of contract. But Mourinho, who left Madrid under a welter of condemnation from the media in the Spanish capital, Diego Simeone's side appear to represent the lesser of three potential evils. Atletico, then with Colombian Radamel Falcao up front, crushed Roberto Di Matteo's Blues 4-1on to the Chelsea squad.The German manager was asked whether Frank Lampard’s team would be a title threat in the coming season.Many are writing off Chelsea due to their transfer ban.However, Klopp believes that with players such as Abraham added to t in Monaco in the 2012 UEFA SuperCup Final, after which the clause was written into the loan agreement between the clubs. Simeone's men, despite the absence of star striker – and Chelsea's main summer target – Diego Costa, ended Barcelona's six-year run of semi-final appearances with a thoroughly-merited 2-1 aggregate triumph on Wednesday. Like Chelsea, Atletico are still on course for the dream Double of domestic crown and the Champions League, although the two-legged tie will represent their first semi-final appearance in the main European competition since 1974. Chelsea, by contrast, are appearing at the last four stage for the seventh time since 2004. Gourlay added: "Atletico are a fantastic side but so are the other teams in the last four. But we know Jose will ensure we are totally prepared when the games come around." The other clash sees Real hosting the first leg, with Pep Guardiola returning to Spain with his new charges, seeking to become the first team to retain the trophy in the Champions League era. Dates for the games are set to be announced within the next hour. If you want to know what chance Chelsea have on winning the entire competition – Who will win the Champions League?2000+ VOTES SO FAR

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Premier League season preview: Iain Macintosh’s predictions for the new campaign

The new season is here, dear gentlemen, with its 48,524 televised games and glitzy, seizure-inducing studios just waiting to suck you in. From having your Saturday nights free for, y'know, talking to other human beings and perhaps even acknowledging the existence of your children, instead you will be spending all day at the football, then attending a local hostelry only to return home in time to eat the rest of your kebab in front of Match of the Day. It's a good life, make no mistake, but do you ever wonder if there's something more ? Well Iain Macintosh still owes a bit of community service, so he thought he'd help you all out by writing down everything that's going to happen this season, so you don't have to watch it. There, isn't that better…? SEPTEMBER It’s transfer deadline day and Chelsea sign Wayne Rooney for £35m. Elsewhere, Luis Suarez arrives at The Emirates Stadium in floods of tears, begging the Gunners to increase their bid. Anxious Arsenal officials lock the doors. Suarez stays on the front step until dawn, rocking backwards and forwards, before giving up and trudging disconsolately to Euston for the first train back to Merseyside. Meanwhile, Arsene Wenger is in a newsagent with £500 in his pocket. He picks up a newspaper. He puts it down again. He picks up a slightly cheaper newspaper and stares at it for a while. “Naaah,” he murmurs to himself, puts it down and walks out. He doesn’t need another newspaper. He’s still got one from yesterday, he’s only read it once.  England’s World Cup hopes suffer a critical blow when the Three Lions are beaten 3-0 by Ukraine. Roy Hodgson complains about a lack of English strikers, though he refuses to criticise James Beattie for his costly first half miss. Gareth Bale decides to stay at Tottenham when Daniel Levy allows him to trademark the words, “Tottenham Hotspur Nil,” a move that entitles him to a controversial royalty payment every time his team fails to score. OCTOBER England’s World Cup hopes are dashed when they lose 0-1 to Poland at Wembley. Roy Hodgson repeats his lament for the shrinking talent pool, but takes time out to console Gary Lineker on his 89th minute penalty miss. In a heated press conference, David Moyes complains about the negative media coverage of Manchester United. “Honestly,” he scowled, “It’s like you’ve never seen a team go eight games without a win before.” After the success of his Head & Shoulders campaign, Joe Hart announces a lucrative endorsement with a fungal nail solution. Hull City Tigers are relegated. NOVEMBER Roy Hodgson is sacked as England manager. Efforts to replace him are hampered when it emerges that Sam Allardyce is the only person to apply for the job. “We’re not in!” shouts Greg Dyke through the letterbox. Arsene Wenger has a lucky escape when a wheel falls off his car as he drives home. “I can get this fixed today and it’ll only cost you £50,” says the man from the AA. “Nah, you’re all right,” says Wenger. “I’m happy with the three wheels I’ve got.” Still unhappy at Tottenham, Gareth Bale hands in an official transfer request. Three days later, the request is withdrawn on condition that the Welshman receives 4p every time someone says his name. Upset at hurtful comments on Talksport, Newcastle Director of Football Joe Kinnear – – calls Adrian Durham and promises the impending arrival of, “Sergio Rambo, Mirko Cheeseandpicklesandvic,” and most confusingly of all, “John Cougar Mellencamp.” DECEMBER Sam Allardyce withdraws his application for the England job, furiously castigating the FA for their refusal to back home-grown managers. He tellcontent_imgs The Mirror that he’s happy to wait for either the Barcelona, Inter Milan or Real Madrid job.  “And then you’ll see,” he warns. “Oh yes, you’ll see.” Chelsea’s Wayne Rooney hands in a transfer request, complaining that the club isn’t signing the right calibre of players. David Moyes offers The Mirror’s Martin Lipton outside when he accidentallycter shown for their 4-1 win at Osasuna.Vazquez struck in the victory on Sunday.And he later remarked: “In other years it was difficult for us to win at this kind of stadium and that was where we threw away the LaLiga. “This shows we are very well an laughs at the Manchester United manager’s earnest claim that he needs, “A Tony Hibbert-type,” in the squad. JANUARY Luis Suarez hides inside a large cake and has himself delivered to the Chelsea training ground for Jose Mourinho’s birthday. Unable to hear the rousing chorus of ‘Happy Birthday’ through the layers of sponge and icing, he misses his cue to jump out of the cake and is seriously wounded when Frank Lampard starts cutting slices. Joe Kinnear announces that he’s been hard at work, “on the phone to anyone you care to mention,” and promises exciting new signings. England reappoint Roy Hodgson as England manager. Chelsea sign Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Marek Hamsik for a combined fee of £110m. FEBRUARY Upset at the increased competition for first team places, Chelsea’s Wayne Rooney hands in a transfer request. Newcastle lose 0-4 at home to Sunderland. New goalkeeper Hans Segers is at fault for three of them, though he could do nothing about Mick Harford’s injury time own goal. England land Germany, Serbia, Poland, Ireland and Scotland in the Euro2016 qualifying draw. Roy Hodgson resigns as England manager. David Moyes comes under increased pressudea of making English history this season.Carabao Cup winners City can become the first side ever to land a domestic Treble, with an FA Cup final against Watford at Wembley in a fortnight.The prospect thrills Gundogan, who admitted: “It would be a re after another poor run of results. “This coverage is ridiculous,” he growls, setting light to Steve Stammers’ laptop. “I’ve said all along that Europe is our priority, and look at us…we’re only six points off a Europa League place.” MARCH Luis Suarez disguises himself as a scullery maid and applies for a job in Florentino Perez’s mansion. His efforts to make contact with the Real Madrid President are delayed as he struggles to fend off the sexual advances of an upsettingly persistent young gardener. David Moyes is ushered out of another tense press conference by Sir Alex Ferguson. “I told you not to talk to these bastards,” says the old Scotsman, carefully removing the axe from Moyes’ hands. Joe Hart announces that he is the new ‘face’ for an experimental haemorrhoid cream. The devastatingly graphic TV commercial, broadcast at half-time in the League Cup Final, attracts a record number of complaints. APRIL Chelsea win the title with a 4-0 victory over Stoke. Wayne Rooney phones Jose Mourinho and pledges his future to the club. Mourinho pretends that he has driven through a tunnel and then throws his phone in the river. Sir Alex Ferguson is named caretaker manager of Manchester United while David Moyes spends a month in anger management classes. Ferguson immediately announces a wide-ranging media ban that excludes anyone with a pen from their Carrington training centre. He smiles. He is happy again. Gareth Bale trademarks hiccups. MAY Liverpool announce the sale of Luis Suarez to Arsenal for £40,000,002. Arsene Wenger regrets it instantly. He spends most of the night going through his bins trying to find the receipt. He wonders if it might be time to retire.

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Rob Green hopeful of England recall after fine start to the season with QPR

Rob Green hopes his good form for QPR can boost his chances of an England recall. The former West Ham keeper has kept six successive clean sheets and established himself as Harry Redknapp's number one after a nightmare debut season at . Green has 12 caps for the Three Lions, but hasn't featured since the friendly win against Norway in May last year. England chief Roy Hodgson picked Manchester City's Joe Hart, Fraser Forster of Celtic and Norwich City's John Ruddy as his three keepers for the recent World Cte having lost the game 2-1.The hosts drew level with Jose Mourinho’s side in the second-half when Adama Traore’s piledriver went past Paulo Gazzaniga.But Wolves allowed Jan Vertonghen space in the box at a stoppage-time corner, and the Belgian conveup qualifiers with Moldova and Ukraine. However, 33-year-old Green hasn't given up hope of a seat on the plane to Brazil next summer. He said: “What you aim for in your career has to change. I got injtheir poor Anfield record as they face Liverpool today.A home win would put Liverpool – who were pipped to the title by Guardiola’s side in May – nine points ahead of City, who have managed one league win at Anfield since 1981.”Regarding statistics, ured in the warm-up for one World Cup having been selected, I’ve been to another World Cup and a European Championship. It’s the highlight of your career. “But you look at Joe [Hart] who is playing Champions League football and is a Premier League winner. “He is rightly playing every week and playing every game for England. You’ve also got Fraser Forster, who’s doing well up in Scotland, and Ben Foster, who has done well with every club he has been at. content_img“By definition the guys who are above you are going to get picked before you, that’s out of my control. “What I can do is do well at QPR, for the manager and fans. These things take care of themselves.”

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Mancini says no to keeper rotation

Roberto Mancini has turned squad rotation into an art form. But when it comes to picking a goalkeeper, the Manchester City boss insists you must ­always have a No.1. While Sir Alex Ferguson ­decides whether to pick David De Gea or Anders Lindegaard  to face City in today’s FA Cup derby, ­Mancini is reaping the benefits of putting his faith in Joe Hart. At the beginning of last season, Mancini recalled Hart from a loan spell at Birmingham to replace Shay Given as his first-choice keeper. Hart, 24, has since made himself ­England’s top shot-stopper. Mancini said: “For me, the goalkeeper’s position has to be handled differently because he ­always needs to know that you have ­con out of their squad for the Audi Cup in Germany.The Welshman’s future is uncertain after his proposed move to Jiangsu Suning fell through over the weekend.Zinedine Zidane is also without Thibaut Courtois, who will spend the next month out of action wfidence in him. To help his own mentality, he needs to be sure he will always play. “I decided to put my trust in Joe. He was young, he was strong. “De Geverton completed the transfer of Alex Iwobi from Arsenal after a lengthy delay.More than four hours after the transfer window closed Iwobi became the Toffees seventh summer arrival and has signed a five-year contract with the Goodison Park club.The fa is another young keeper, but he is good. Every player can make mistakes, but it is much harder for a goalkeeper.” Ferguson once said “not in my lifetime” when askcontent_imged whether City would ever go into a derby as ­favourites. But the bookies are backing the Blues after their 6-1 win at Old Trafford in October. But Mancini doesn’t expect the United boss to be going anywhere soon despite City’s emergence. He said: “If we win the title Fergie will be forced to recognise us as United’s biggest rivals. “He wants to stay for another three years and I think he’ll do that even if we become successful.” Hart unafraid despite death threats during last Manchester derby  Sir Alex: De Gea is long term number 1  Robson: Rooney must make difference against City Fergie hails Mancini's City achievements  City plot £60m swoop for Wayne Rooney

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Dough nuts! Newcastle owner offers staff £1m bonus if they beat Arsenal in final game

Newcastle owner Mike Ashley has promised Toon backroom staff a £1million bonus if today ends with victory against Arsenal – a pledcontent_imgge with , writes The cash is set to be shared among the unsung heroes of – from tea lady to kit man – and while the players will miss out, the pledge has them 100 per cent motivated for today’s final-day showdown. That will be music to the ears of Spurs, who will seal the final Champions League spot if they beat Sunderland and Arsenal fail to secure three points on Tyneside. Newcastle boss Alan Pardew suggested earlier this week that his team may not be fully committed to the final game of the season now that survival has been secured. But the big-hearted gesture from Ashley – thought to be a Spurs fan – has completely changed the Champions League picture. Ashley knows that the difference between victory and defeat could amount to £5m for Newcastle. If results go their way they could finish 10th and pocket around £8m in Premier League prize-money. Defeat, however, could see them finish 17th – with £5m less. Toon stars like Hatem Ben Arfa spoke this week of their hopes for next season when they expect Newcastle to be challenging for Europe again – but now, with Ashley ready to splash the cash, they are under pressure to perform one last time for the benefit of their lower-paid colleagues. Ashley dropped by the club’s training g himself making a return to former club Barcelona – if he is guaranteed minutes.Onana has been linked with Barca as a replacement for unsettled former Ajax No1 Jasper Cillessen.And Onana, who joined Ajax as a teen from Barca’s La Masia academy, said:round at Benton in his helicopter on Friday to let staff know of ho Werner.The German striker has heavily been linked with a move to Liverpool in recent weeks.But Krosche has said Leipzig aren’t worried about his potential departure.He told Bild: “There aren’t many things that favour him leaving us.“There has bis offer. A delighted Toon employee told Sunday People Sport: “We were absolutely gobsmacked when we were called into a meeting with Mr Ashley and absolutely stunned when we heard his plan. “It would be like winning the lottery for most of us. “And we have every confidence the lads will see off Arsenal.”

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Fantasy Football: Walcott, Falcao and Cazorla help December winner to top prize

The festive period is often seen as a time of rest and relaxation but for many Mirror Fantasy Football managers it was all hands to their laptops as last minute substitutions and transfers took priority. December was certainly a cracker of a month for football and in the midst of all the non-stop action, one Mirror Fantasy Football manager, Eric Lander from Staffordshire, rose to the top of the leaderboard to win the £5,500 Manager of the Month prize. Eric, who is playing Mirror Fantasy Football for the first time this season, had a rollercoaster last weekend in December saying, “I went into the final weekend of matches 30points behind and going into the last day I was still 14points behind and in 3rd place. Having seen the results on the last Sunday I did not think I had done enough with Suarez's two goals, Gerrard's assist and only appearance pints for Torres and Mata.” He went on: “The highlights of the month for my team was opting for Falcao over Messi ep his place in the Premier League.Greenwood celebrated his first official senior goal for United to hand Solskjaer’s side victory over Astana in the Europa League on Thursday night.”It’s always hard to keep players who perform well out of the team,”when he scored his 5 goals in one game plus Ibrahimovic and Cazorla hitting hbahce for the Oribici this week.“I’m happy to be here obviously and I’m proud to be part of this football club and I’m looking forward to starting with the team on the pitch,” Skrtel told the official Atalanta website after penning a one-year deal.at-tricks during the month. But the turning point on the last weekend which got me back into contention was Walcott's hat-trick and assists against Newcastle.” And just before we left Eric to start picking his teams for January’s Game Month, where another £5,500 is up for grabs, we acontent_imgsked him the most important question of all – What will you spend the money on? He replied, “I will use the money for holidays and will probably go to Australia later this year or next year and I will raise a glass of Foster's to the Mirror from a beachside bar in Sydney!” So congratulations to Eric and a huge well done to all our £500 regional titles winners. Mark Dronsfield – Manchester David Nuttie – Liverpool Richard Closs – Birmingham Tim Mongiat – Newcastle Geoff Pryor – Wales ***

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Wilshere on the mend: Jack’s back – and he hasn’t lost it, says Walcott

Arsenal youngster Jack Wilshere is "buzzing" after Team-mate Theo Walcott says midfielder Wilshere is raring to go now he is back training with the first team squad after his long injury nightmare. The 20-year-old has been out for 14 months with knee and ankle problems but Walcott has assured Arsenal and England fsterday’s 3-1 win.Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling and substitute Lukas Nmecha were all on the scoresheet in what was a hugely entertaining affair. “It was an incredible test for us, incredible game, it was incredibly demanding,” Guardiola said.“ans that Jack "hasn't lost itcontent_img." "It's nice to see him back," forward Walcott told The Sun. "He's the sort of player that's just different. "He spots things that no one else does and he hasn't lost it, trust me. "He's buzzing, he's getting stuck in and that's what he wants." Meanwhile – but is desperate to be given a chance as a striker. Walcott, 23, admits he is going through one of the toughest spells of his career after being dropped by Arsene Wenger during his contract stand-off. The England winger, who claims he is not being greedy, hrofessional sports league in North America to allow its teams to sign international sponsorship deals, according to Sports Business Journal (SBJ), reports, /.The industry outlet reports that the ‘beta programme’ was approved by MLS’s board of governoas made agreeing a new deal his No.1 priority and would love to be given a break as a centre-forward. Arsenal have offered Walcott , but he has yet to start a game since August.

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How Mohamed Salah put his Chelsea woe behind him to find his feet in Italy with Fiorentina

have not hidden their desire to win the Italian Cup this season. Despite facing AS Monaco in a Champions League quarter-final next week and closing in on a fourth consecutive Serie A title, the Bianconeri are seemingly determined to end a drought in the competition that stretches back a staggering twenty years. Indeed, that 1995 side – with Marcello Lippi in his first year as coach – saw Roberto Baggio playing alongside Gianluca Vialli as they defeated Gianfranco Zola’s Parma to complete only the second of two domestic doubles in the club’s history. “It’s been a long time since we won the Coppa Italia,” coach Max Allegri said in a Q&A session with fans last week. “We can overturn the first leg and will give our all to secure the trophy!” To do so the Old Lady need to not only beatcontent_img by two clear goals, but somehow subdue a man who is perhaps the peninsula’s most in-form star: . Oieves that his Manchester City side “dignify” football with their style of play.The two-time Premier League defending champions failed to defeat Tottenham at home during the second game of the season, despite having a lionshare of possession and goaln loan from Chelsea, the Egyptian has been sensational since arriving in Serie A. His blend of skill, pace and deadly accuracy in front of goal have made him seem like an entirely different player than the one who struggled to adapt to the demands of Jose Mourinho at Stamford Bridge. Stepping into the void left by Juan Cuadrado, Salah has quickly ensured the Viola faithful have not missed the Colombian, consistently wowing supporters and inspiring the team to win after win. Indeed, Vincenzo Montella’s side have lost just once with the 22-year-old in the line-up, and his contribution across those 12 matches is undeniable. His impact has helped lift them from being outside the European places to the brink of the top three, and it is difficult to envisage him playing anywhere else in the near future. The Viola have the option to extend his loan for a further twelve months and are believed to have agreed a buyout clause of €16 million for a player who seems only too happy to remain with the club for as long as possible after being marginalised in England. “I want to do well in Florence and win here,” Salah said at his first press conference after agreeing terms with the Italian side. “I have no intention of returning to Chelsea. I spoke to them and expressed my intention to undertake a new adventure.” It is one he has instantly enjoyed, finding the back of the net seven times and adding two assists in 813 minutes of action, meaning he has scored or created a goal every 90 minutes he has been on the field. They have been significant efforts too: following a strike against Sassuolo in his first start for the club, Salah went on to notch goals against Tottenham, Inter and those two precious efforts that put Fiorentina in the box seat against Juventus tonight. The first of those was incredible, the former Basel star collecting the ball in his own half, slicing through the Bianconeri defence at ease and then smashing the ball past helpless goalkeeper Marco Storari. His latest effort – a wonderful strike against Sampdoria on Saturday – was not too dissimilar to that opening goal against the Turin giants, and sealed all three points for the home side in a crucial clash between two teams chasing third place and the coveted Champions League berth that comes with it. Easily beating the first two defenders, he outmuscled a third before hammering a right-footed shot into the roof of the net, prompting the latest chorus of “Siam venuti fin qua per vedere segnare Salah!” – we came to see Salah score –. With a place in the Coppa Italia just ninety minutes away and a Europa League quarter-final to look forward to next week, they have had plenty to 2023.The Dutch international was linked with a number of Europe’s top clubs this summer, with Bayern Munich and Manchester United among those reportedly interested in the winger. “Signing a new deal was a conscious choice,” Bergwijn said in a sof reasons to sing recently. Tonight those supporters will hope their Egyptian flyer will once again give them the opportunity to break out that chant in his honour and carry them past their most bitter rivals. If he does, Salah will not only further cement his place in Viola folklore, he will also undoubtedly underline the feeling that allowing him to leave west London was a huge error in judgement. Chelsea fans! Good move to let Salah go?1000+ VOTES SO FAR

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LA Galaxy want Drogba to replace Beckham

Didier Drogba will turn his back on a money-spinning offer from LA Galaxy to finish his career at Chelsea. LA are one of several clubs trying to lure Drogba to Major League Soccer as the league's next global superstar. Former England captain David Beckham helped LA win the MLS Cup last week, but is now set for a move to Paris Saint-Germain when his contract expires next month. LA are prepared to give Drogba a deal worth £5million-a-year, while Russian super club Anzhi have also been interested. But Drogba, 33, is keen to sign a new two-year deal at Chelsea, and negotiations have been going on for months. Re-signing is his number one priority, although there has also been interest from AC Milan. Drogba is still part of Blues boss Andre Villas-Boas’s plans, as was demonstrated when he seal Madrid in the summer, per journalist Alex Kay-Jelski.The reporter, who has very good sources at City and with Sterling’s camp, believes that Real are serious about signing the English winger.Sterlingdoes not know why his manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said he was not going anywhere, days before he left on loan to Estudiantes.Rojo had been playing the move for much of the month, which is why he is surprised at that statement from the Norwegian mang is only 24 and has emerged as one of the best tarted againscontent_imgt Liverpool on Sunday ahead of £50m January signing Fernando Torres. But Chelsea have yet to tie up the contract and that has put LA on alert. Anelka to make big-money move to China – report

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Lukaku will NOT leave Chelsea in January says agent

Romelu Lukaku will not be leavihanded a formal return at Arsenal.The People says members of Arsenal’s hierarchy are considering former captain O’Leary for a job as a club consultant.Chairman Sir Chips Keswick is among those at the North London club who want to appoint the Irishmanng Chelsea in January according to his agent. Reports have suggested that the big Belgian – dubbed the next Didier Drogba – was considering his options after finding himselewcastle United.The 30-year-old striker returned to St James’ Park in the summer on an initial 12-month pay-as-you-playcontent_img deal.”I want to stay as long as possible. I’m happy. I haven’t spoken to anybody about contracts and I won’t,” Carroll said ahead f well down the Stamford Bridge pecking order. However Roger Henrotay has moved to scotch any rumours that his client could be off in the next transfer window. "His future is clear. He will not move in January, he will definitely stay in London,” he toldCalciomercato.it. “The rumours about Malaga and Stoke City? No, I repeat, Romelu will stay at Chelsea where he is very happy and he will not change jerseys. “I'm sorry but there is no possibility of him moving to the Rossoneri." Transfer news, rumours and gossip from Saturday's papers