Boruc targets Champions League

first_img The Poland international’s deal was due to expire in the summer but he has ended mounting speculation over his future by penning a two-year extension. “I am very happy and to be honest I am quite proud that I am part of the great ambitions of this club,” Boruc said. “I don’t think [Champions League is too big an ask]. We’re playing Swansea this weekend and they show playing totally different football that you can achieve a lot.” Artur Boruc is targeting Champions League football after becoming the latest Southampton player to pen a new deal. Press Associationcenter_img He added: “I think we are heading to this with our new manager. We are showing a lot of good work and I think the results we are getting are very good as well so, yeah, why not? “You need to ambitious in your life to achieve your ambitions. You never know what is going to happen – it is a funny story with football. Everybody has great ambitions and you need to work hard to be in that position. I do believe that we can achieve it.” Saints look all but certain to be plying their trade in the Premier League again next season and have spoken of their big ambitions for the future – something Boruc is confident they can achieve. Few could have predicted the clamour for Boruc to stay after what was a difficult start to life on the south coast. In only his second game for the club, the former Celtic goalkeeper was subject of an internal investigation into allegations he swore at home fans and threw a water bottle at them. Boruc was dropped from the side after that match with Tottenham and only returned to the starting line-up on New Year’s Day, although has since established himself as number one. “It was a bit of a roller coaster,” Boruc said. “I am glad it ended this way. That was the past and I will do everything to make the club better.” last_img read more

Read More →

Everton duo would welcome Martinez

first_img Press Association Leighton Baines and Phil Jagielka would welcome Roberto Martinez’s appointment as Everton manager. Wigan manager Martinez is the bookmakers’ favourite to replace David Moyes at Goodison Park, with talks under way with the Merseysiders. Everton chairman Bill Kenwright has stressed the Spaniard is not the only option, but his appointment would be welcomed by some of the club’s key players. “It all sort of seems to be going on at the moment,” left-back Baines said. “Thankfully we are in camp so I am keeping it at the back of my mind for now and concentrating more on England. Roberto Martinez has been linked with the job. He is a terrific manager so we will just wait and see.” center_img Everton captain Jagielka, also on duty with Roy Hodgson’s side, would also welcome Martinez’s arrival, although would be happy with whatever name the club plumps for. “I will be delighted whoever comes in,” he said. “Everton is a massive club and hopefully we can get a fantastic manager.” A decision on Moyes’ successor could have well been made by the time the pair return from South America, where England face Brazil in a high-profile friendly at the Maracana on Sunday. If England are to get a result against the 2014 World Cup hosts, though, they will need to play better than they did against Ireland on Wednesday night. Hodgson’s side were made to look decidedly ordinary by a side 32 places lower down the FIFA rankings, with Frank Lampard’s first-half strike earning a draw. However, Jagielka was keen to draw the positives from the game, insisting it will help in their World Cup qualifiers against the likes of Ukraine, Montenegro and Poland. “I am sure the fans enjoyed the game,” the defender said. “It was pretty much end to end. Unfortunately for us we did not manage to get the win, but there are still quite a few positives to take out of it. If you look at the games we have left in the group, especially at Wembley, teams will try to frustrate us. “After getting the goal, that was Ireland’s gameplan – to try and hit us on the counter with longer balls forward. To be fair, they did it well and managed to keep it down to one. We had quite a few opportunities to score a goal or have a killer, final ball, but we will still take positives from the game.” last_img read more

Read More →

Chelsea reach Schurrle agreement

first_img Press Association The 22-year-old has long been a target for the Blues and becomes the first transfer since the appointment of new manager Jose Mourinho in what is reported to be an £18million deal. A statement on the club’s official website, www.chelseafc.com, read: “Chelsea Football Club and Bayer 04 Leverkusen have reached an agreement for the transfer of Andre Schurrle, subject to the completion of legal documentation and related matters, including personal terms and passing a medical.” Chelsea have confirmed the signing of Germany forward Andre Schurrle from Bayer Leverkusen.center_img It had been expected Chelsea midfielder Kevin de Bruyne would move on loan as part of the deal, following a successful spell in the Bundesliga at Werder Bremen last season. However, Chelsea’s statement made no mention of the 21-year-old, with Mourinho suggesting at Monday’s press conference the player was very much in his first-team plans for the future. Mourinho, who agreed a four-year deal to return to Stamford Bridge following his departure from Real Madrid, admitted it was “normal” to expect some fresh faces to be added to the squad, and Chelsea have been heavily linked with Napoli’s £30million-rated frontman Edinson Cavani as well as Wayne Rooney, should the England striker be sold by Manchester United. However, the new Blues manager, who won the Champions League for a second time with Inter Milan after leaving Stamford Bridge six years ago, maintained he was also looking to bring on the club’s younger players in the new campaign. ”These ‘kids’ – and I say that respectfully – have big potential and big space for improvement. They’ve not reached their best level,” he said. ”The stability the owner and I can give them is related to work – in the methods, the coaching philosophy, in my leadership, in everything that can help them improve. ”When you mix with them those who are over 30, we will keep a balance and try to go on.” last_img read more

Read More →

McIlroy snubs Faldo advice

first_img This year the 24-year-old has failed to meet his own high standards, having not managed a victory following a stellar 12 months in which he had five wins worldwide – including a second major – and topped the money list on both the American and European Tours. His reputation has been damaged by issues concerning his change of management and equipment manufacturer, which resulted in him throwing one club in frustration and bending another at last month’s US Open, and walking off the course mid-round during the defence of his Honda Classic title in March. Ahead of the 142nd Open Championship at Muirfield, Faldo this week said McIlroy needed to concentrate just on golf, alluding in part to his relationship with tennis player Caroline Wozniacki. And although the Northern Irishman admitted at last month’s Irish Open he was feeling “a little lost”, he insists he is more than capable of sorting out his issues. “I saw what he said and he said I should be at the course nine to five,” McIlroy said. “I actually was on the range at 6.15am and got out of the gym at 6:15pm. That’s actually a 12-hour day compared to his eight-hour day. “Nick should know how hard this game is at times. He’s been in our position before and he should know how much work that we all do put into it.” McIlroy said he “didn’t know” whether Faldo was trying to help with his words of wisdom, but he admitted he could not copy the six-time major winner’s renowned single-minded dedication to the game during his peak, adding: “I could never – no, I’m not like that.” Debate over McIlroy’s form has become almost a weekly topic of conversation. The player himself has done his best to avoid consuming too much of the constant conjecture. “I guess the best way is to not read too much or not listen too much or not watch too much TV,” he said. “The best thing is to try to stay oblivious about what people are saying about you and try to wrap yourself in a little bubble, but obviously it’s hard to avoid at times. “The thing I think is ‘What’s the big deal?’ I haven’t had the best six months, but it’s okay. I’m fine, I’ve got a good life. World number two Rory McIlroy has told six-time major winner Nick Faldo he does not need any advice to find a way out of his current difficulties. “It doesn’t bother me and I’m working hard on the right things, and sooner or later it will turn around and I’ll be back lifting trophies. “You just have to have the confidence and the self-belief in yourself that what you’re doing is ultimately going to get you to the place that you want to be.” World number one Tiger Woods on Tuesday offered words of support to his closest rival and McIlroy believes he can learn a lot from the American, now a stablemate at Nike after his change of equipment. “Tiger more than anyone else in this game, probably more than anyone else in sport, has been scrutinised and criticised throughout his entire career,” he said. “He set the bar so high and that’s the expectations that everyone thought he was going to live up to. “It was only a couple of years ago he had dropped outside the top 50 in the world and he’s worked his way back up and he’s now the best player in the world again. “He had a plan in place, he stuck by it and all of a sudden proved a lot of people wrong. It seems like a few guys have forgotten in a short space of time how hard you have to work and how tough this game can be.” McIlroy still insists he has no regrets about changing his clubs after signing a multi-million pound mega deal with Nike. “I would rather have it done in a three or six-month period rather than having it drawn out over two or three years,” he added. “I’d rather get it done straight away and then at least after that transition period you’re fully comfortable. “I don’t mind maybe not playing your best golf for six months. It isn’t a huge sacrifice in a 30-year career.” McIlroy added: “It’s like life – you’re going to go through highs and you’re going to go through lows. It’s just about trying to work your way out of the lows. I haven’t played my best golf this year but I’ve shown signs it is there and it’s about trying to do that more often. “It’s been difficult to explain why I’m not playing or why I haven’t had the results I’ve wanted over the past six months, but I know that I’m working on the right things and I know I’m doing the right things and I’m staying patient. “Sooner or later it’ll turn around and I’ll play the golf that everyone knows that I’m capable of and that I know is capable of winning major championships.” Press Associationlast_img read more

Read More →

Chelsea complete Eto’o swoop

first_img The former Barcelona striker did not travel to Prague for Friday night’s European Super Cup clash with Bayern Munich – neither did Willian, whose move from Anzhi was confirmed on Wednesday – but is eager to get into the action. “I am very happy to be here but also anxious because I want to get playing as soon as possible,” Eto’o said on chelseafc.com. “It wasn’t a hard decision. I saw the qualities Chelsea have, and I was very happy with Jose Mourinho before, so when the opportunity came, I was very happy to take it. “I have had a career where I have been lucky enough to win a lot of trophies in different countries, but one of my last dreams as a professional is to come and play in England and see if I can have the same success as in my previous clubs. “I don’t see it as a final challenge, but to have a good time, enjoy my football, and have success with this team.” Eto’o, who will have to wait until after the international break to make his debut, with Everton away on September 14 the first opportunity, revealed he might have been a Chelsea player sooner. But he opted to stay at Barcelona before moving to Inter as part of the deal which saw Zlatan Ibrahimovic move in the opposite direction. “I’ve had a couple of opportunities to come to England before, including the first time Jose was here, but it didn’t work out for one reason or another,” Eto’o added. Samuel Eto’o hopes to replicate his prior successes after signing for Chelsea in a transfer which appears to mark the end of Jose Mourinho’s pursuit of Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney. The Cameroon striker has left Russian club Anzhi Makhachkala to sign a one-year deal and be reunited with Mourinho, who was his boss at Inter Milan. Eto’o is apparently ‘plan B’ after United rejected two Chelsea bids for Rooney, with Mourinho opting against lodging a third, having said he had back-up options. The move might never have happened if Mourinho had received the indication from Rooney that he wanted to join Chelsea. Speaking prior to confirmation of Eto’o’s arrival, Mourinho appeared to have conceded defeat in the bid to capture England striker Rooney, who played for United against Chelsea on Monday and afterwards praised the “fantastic” reception he received at Old Trafford. Mourinho said: “I told you what I have to say. I think I (made it) very, very clear that we didn’t start the process (a third bid). We have nothing more to say. He’s a Man United player and no more than that.” Capturing Eto’o, who commanded wages reported to be in the region of £300,000 a week in Russia, is at odds with Chelsea’s recent transfer policy of signing younger players. It also leaves a question mark over the futures of Demba Ba and Fernando Torres as Mourinho has made it clear four strikers is too many and that Romelu Lukaku is key for Chelsea’s future. Ba’s place in the squad seems most at risk, but Torres has still to repay the £50million fee paid to Liverpool, as Mourinho admitted earlier this week. Eto’o became Chelsea’s fifth signing of the summer transfer window, following Andre Schurrle, Marco van Ginkel, Mark Schwarzer and Willian, who can be expected to provide the ammunition for the striker to score. “I think Willian he is one of the best players in modern football,” Eto’o said. The 32-year-old Eto’o began his career with Real Madrid before, following a spell with Real Mallorca, surging to prominence with Barcelona, scoring 152 goals in 232 appearances for the Catalan club. He has a controversial history with Chelsea. Following a bad-tempered Champions League encounter at Stamford Bridge, the striker criticised Mourinho, referee Pierluigi Collina and made a claim in the Spanish media that he was called a monkey by a Chelsea security guard. The allegations were swiftly denied by Chelsea. It can be assumed Eto’o’s relationship with Mourinho did not suffer as at Inter the pair combined to devastating effect and together won the 2010 Champions League title in a treble-winning campaign. Eto’o, who also played at Stamford Bridge with Inter, added: “They were always games between two big clubs. They didn’t always finish well, but the most important thing is they were spectacular games every time.” The striker netted 53 goals in 102 appearances for Inter before joining Anzhi in August 2011. Press Associationlast_img read more

Read More →

Solskjaer closes in on signings

first_img The 40-year-old has targeted the midfield duo of Magnus Wolff Eikrem and Mats Moller Daehli, both capped by Norway, who he worked with at former club Molde and while in charge of the Manchester United reserve team. Eikrem, 23, is currently at Dutch club Heerenveen having been sold by Molde last summer, but he attended Cardiff’s FA Cup win at Newcastle on Saturday and has travelled back to south Wales to undergo a medical. Press Association Sport understands the deal will be worth around £2million and should be completed before the upcoming Premier League game against West Ham. It is understood Daehli, 18, is also set to undergo a medical and complete a switch from Molde in the coming days. Cardiff have also been linked with moves for Blackpool’s Tom Ince and Crystal Palace’s Jonathan Williams, as well as a loan deal for Manchester United’s Wilfried Zaha. Cardiff manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is closing in on his first signings as Bluebirds boss.center_img Press Associationlast_img read more

Read More →

Long keen to repay Bruce faith

first_img Press Association Shane Long is eager to start repaying Hull manager Steve Bruce’s confidence after completing a protracted move to the KC Stadium. “(Last time) it was always last minute and it fell through in the end,” he said. “Steve Clarke was manager at the time and he didn’t want to me to go so it didn’t happen. I went back and concentrated on my football. “Now Steve Clarke has gone and the club wanted to get the funds in so the only option was to leave. “I enjoyed my time at West Brom but it is time for a change and new chapter in my career.” Long scored 19 goals in 81 Premier League appearances for Albion – 60 as a starter – and, along with Jelavic, adds significantly to a forward line that has laboured in an otherwise successful season for the Tigers. Ivorian Yannick Sagbo has impressed with his hold-up play but found the net just twice, while on-loan Sunderland striker Danny Graham has struck a solitary goal in a disappointing spell. Graham, who currently inhabits Long’s preferred number nine shirt, may yet be sent back to the Black Cats, while Matty Fryatt and Nick Proschwitz are available for transfer and have already attracted interest from in the Championship. Long’s arrival, meanwhile, may see Republic of Ireland management team Roy Keane and Martin O’Neill take up semi-permanent residence at the KC Stadium. Keane has already visited twice this season to keep tabs on David Meyler, Robbie Brady, Paul McShane and Stephen Quinn, and Long’s presence will prove an even greater draw. “I’m lucky that I’ve had a few inside informers letting me know what it’s like up here,” noted Long. “They all love it up here, and they’re excited by what is happening at the club.” Long has now put pen to paper on a three-and-a-half-year deal which could cost Hull up to £7million – a significant financial commitment less than two days after signing Croatia striker Nikica Jelavic for a fee that could reach £7.5million. That makes the pair Hull’s most expensive players ever and, with Long having seen his position at West Brom gradually eroded in recent months, he is glad to be somewhere where he knows he feels needed. “It shows he (Bruce) really wants me at the club and that it wasn’t a ‘panic buy’ last time he came in for me,” Long told Hull’s YouTube channel. “He’s had a lot of time to think about it and it so it gives me confidence that I’m what he wants. “The pressure now is on me to produce and to follow up on his confidence in me. I’m excited, it seems like a good opportunity for me, and I want to get out there now and play football. “I hope it’s money well spent and it’s up to me to prove myself by scoring goals and I hope to do that sooner rather than later.” With West Brom having accepted Hull’s initial advances in September and declined to open talks on an option to extend Long’s deal for an extra year, the 26-year-old appeared to be on his way out of the midlands for some time. Despite that, he has featured regularly this season and it appears a desire to free up money for new manager Pepe Mel was the final reason for his exit. Long was on Bruce’s radar in the summer and came close to joining the Tigers on deadline day in September only for West Brom to pull the plug when their own pursuit of Romelu Lukaku hit the rocks. But Bruce’s interest never faded and the managerial upheaval at The Hawthorn, with Pepe Mel replacing Steve Clarke, opened the door for a fresh bid this month. last_img read more

Read More →

Ulster ready for revenge

first_img The semi-final pairings are Wasps or Gloucester against Bath or Brive, and Sale or Northampton versus Stade Francais or Harlequins. Gloucester qualified as a best runner-up from the Heineken Cup, joining Northampton and Harlequins, after destroying Perpignan 36-18 in France. “It’s an exceptional result for us. The last time we won an away game in France in the Heineken Cup was during the 2007/08 season,” Gloucester rugby director Nigel Davies said. “To a man, the players stood up individually and performed. We backed ourselves to play rugby and have a go at Perpignan. “To be in a quarter-final in Europe is big for us. The more exposure we get at this level the better.” Press Association Ulster bowed out to the current Aviva Premiership leaders at Twickenham last term, but this time they will be on home soil for a repeat last-eight clash that will see Saracens boss Mark McCall, a former Ulster coach and player, return to Belfast. “Over the past few seasons we have made steady improvement,” Ulster rugby director David Humphreys said. “First, we qualified, then last year we won our group but were away in the quarter-finals. Now we have finished the pool stage as top seeds and have a home quarter-final. “Last season, we were hugely-disappointed with the way we performed at Twickenham against Saracens. Now we have the opportunity to lay those ghosts to rest.” Leicester, European champions in 2001 and 2002, must travel to face last season’s Heineken Cup runners-up Clermont Auvergne at Stade Marcel Michelin, a ground where Clermont are unbeaten for more than 70 games. And three-time European champions Leinster will travel to Jonny Wilkinson’s Heineken Cup holders Toulon in arguably the tie of the round, with Toulon’s fellow French heavyweights Toulouse tackling Munster at Thomond Park. The games are scheduled to be played on April 4/5/6, with six former Heineken Cup winners – Ulster, Toulon, Leicester, Leinster, Munster and Toulouse – contesting the first knockout round. The semi-final draw, meanwhile, has also been made with Ulster or Saracens having advantage in their own country against Clermont or Leicester, and Toulon or Leinster hosting Munster or Toulouse in France or Ireland. In the second-tier Amlin Challenge Cup, six English clubs will contest the quarter-finals. Top seeds Bath play Brive in a repeat of the 1998 Heineken Cup final, with Wasps hosting Premiership rivals Gloucester, Stade Francais tackling Harlequins in Paris and Northampton visiting Sale. Top seeds Ulster will be out to avenge last year’s European exit when they host Saracens in the Heineken Cup quarter-finals later this season. last_img read more

Read More →

Swansea confirm training ground row

first_img The pair clashed as the Swans prepared for Sunday’s 3-1 home defeat against Tottenham, which extended their winless run to eight games and left them three points above the relegation zone. Reports have claimed Flores was seen brandishing a brick during the incident, but this was denied outright by the club. Swansea have confirmed police were called to their training ground on Friday following a row between defenders Garry Monk and Chico Flores. A Swansea spokesman said: “Chico Flores and Garry Monk had an exchange of words, which is not uncommon between players in training grounds across the country, but no threats or altercations took place between the players in question. “It’s understood a member of the public phoned the police, who felt no action was required. “The club can categorically state that nobody was threatened with a brick. “The matter has been dealt with and is concluded.” A statement from South Wales Police said: “Police were called to the training ground at around 1.30pm on Friday. “Club officials were spoken to and no police action was required.” Former captain Monk has not played since September after suffering a knee injury, while Flores, who joined from Genoa in the summer of 2012, has struggled for his best form in recent months. center_img Press Associationlast_img read more

Read More →

O’Connor makes halfpipe semis

first_img O’Connor, who can compete for Ireland through his grandparents, was fourth after the first run, despite suffering a slip, with a score of 54.00. He looked on course for a bigger score but failed to land his final trick properly, which marked him down, and was gradually overhauled. “It was my hope that if I had landed that run, that I could have made it (to the final),” he told Press Association Sport. Nevertheless, O’Connor, who also competed in the slopestyle event, was happy he fulfilled his wish of making it past the heats stage. “That was originally my goal – to make the semi-finals and I got in there,” he said. “Once I was here I was kind of wanting more. Wanting to land my run, which I was hoping would put me through to the final. “Just that I made it here is great but it would have been nice pass to through again.” British duo Ben Kilner and Dom Harington struggled in the heats and were eliminated, with both admitting the controversial halfpipe course played a factor in crashing out of the event. The pair could not come through the first heat of qualifiers, with Kilner finishing 16th and Harington finishing bottom of all 20 competitors at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park. The halfpipe course has come in for some criticism of late, with the warmer weather appearing to make the track bumpy and hinder the competitors. Kilner, whose top score was 43.50, admitted the conditions of the course had played its part in him under-performing. “It didn’t quite go how I planned,” he said. “I was really trying to push it but everything got the better of me. “I only just kept it together on the first run but the conditions are bumpy and it was tough to hang on.” His team-mate Harington made similar comments, but refused to use it as an excuse after failing to land a clean run in either of his two attempts, falling over on both occasions. “I didn’t do as well as I hoped,” the 29-year-old said. “I was really nervous on my first run and my legs were like jelly. “The second was going really well but then I hit a bump and went down and that was it – game over. “The conditions are the same for everyone so you can’t complain.” Irish snowboarder Seamus O’Connor failed to qualify for the Winter Olympics halfpipe final, but was pleased with his efforts. Press Association Having reached the semi-final by finishing eighth in the first heat, American-born O’Connor could not advance any further after coming ninth, with the top six qualifying for the showpiece event. He would have been, at 16, the second youngest competitor in the final behind 15-year-old Japanese prodigy Ayumu Hirano, who topped the standings in the first heat of qualifying. last_img read more

Read More →