Saints and United in drab draw

first_imgOn a day of potential farewells at St Mary’s, Southampton and Manchester United ended their respective Barclays Premier League seasons with a less-than thrilling 1-1 draw. But, if the two clubs meet early next season, the chances are a number of the main protagonists will have moved on to pastures new. With the managerial futures of both Giggs and Southampton counterpart Mauricio Pochettino unclear, it is likely two new coaches will be brought in over the summer – and for Saints their main challenge will be replacing a seemingly Liverpool-bound Adam Lallana. The 26-year-old is reportedly the target of a big bid from Anfield and Lallana, who picked up both the club’s fans’ and the players’ player of the year awards earlier in the week, once again showed how he can cut it against some of the best players in the league. Giggs made seven changes from the midweek win over Hull for what will probably be his last match in charge as he recalled Nemanja Vidic for his final game for the Red Devils. But it proved to be a torrid outing for the man who will be lining up for Inter Milan next year as he and his defensive partner Rio Ferdinand, another who could well be departing Old Trafford, struggled to contain Southampton’s rampant frontmen in the opening 45 minutes. Nathaniel Clyne, a possibility for Roy Hodgson’s World Cup squad announcement on Monday, created the game’s first chance as he crossed to Victor Wanyama who diverted the ball through to Lallana, but the Southampton captain could not steer a clever flick past David De Gea. In front of the watching England manager, Lallana then crossed for World Cup hopeful Luke Shaw but the left-back could only head onto the roof of De Gea’s net. Lallana was proving to be the main catalyst in the hosts’ attack and, after profiting from a mistake from the unsteady Vidic, he bent in an effort that De Gea once again was able to gather, but it was not too long before another England international was celebrating putting Southampton ahead. Vidic could only head a long ball into the path of Steven Davis under pressure from Lambert, who was then picked out to slot home his 13th league goal of the season. United’s players gathered around Mike Dean after the award of the goal as Vidic had a bloody nose after the clash with Lambert in the build-up to the goal. Southampton looked to capitalise on their opening goal and Lambert fired in another shot at the back post, with Chris Smalling diverting the effort behind for a corner. United were able to spring a break from the resulting set-piece, with Jack Cork booked for pulling back the marauding Adnan Januzaj. Vidic was on the end of Mata’s deep free-kick but could only head wide as he continued to mop blood away from his nose. The Serbian defender’s final game for United continued to go wrong as he was booked for hauling down Lallana after losing his own footing, with Lambert’s tame free-kick held comfortably by De Gea. The ever-busy Lallana came close to creating a second for Southampton with five minutes of the first half remaining but his flash across goal just eluded the head of the onrushing Davis. Giggs reacted to a mediocre first half by replacing Shinji Kagawa with Michael Carrick and, after his side had started the second-half on top, they soon drew level. Danny Welbeck was bundled to the ground by Wanyama and Mata curled the resulting free-kick well out of the reach of Boruc. The visitors almost took the lead moments later as Januzaj crossed unchallenged, with Welbeck only able to head over and, while Southampton continued to threaten, Vidic and Ferdinand were proving to be a much tougher nut to crack since the interval. James Ward-Prowse replaced Lallana, with the Saints skipper receiving a standing ovation from the home fans in what could prove to be his swansong for the club. Shaw, also linked with a potential departure after an impressive season, was the next to be afforded such an accolade as he made way for Calum Chambers with a little over 10 minutes remaining. Those changes seemed to hand the impetus to United but, other than a late Welbeck chance, they could not muster a winning goal to potentially end the Giggs reign in style. With Southampton guaranteeing an eighth-placed finish with a win at Swansea and United heading into the game with only the slightest possibility of qualifying for next season’s Europa League, this game had long lost any meaningful intrigue. The hosts dominated the opening 45 minutes and Rickie Lambert put Southampton into a deserved first-half lead, with a Juan Mata free-kick nine minutes after the interval enough to earn Ryan Giggs’ side a share of the spoils. Press Associationlast_img read more

Business as usual for O’Neill

first_img However, as O’Neill prepared to cross the Atlantic ahead of friendlies against Costa Rica and Portugal, he was a happy man. Asked about Keane’s decision, he said: “I’m naturally very pleased and delighted that he’s done so. Maybe we might just get on with things now. “It’s obviously good news for us, for everyone concerned, I think. The players in particular are delighted, and so are the rest of us. “I think that he has enjoyed it here immensely – that obviously plays a part in his thinking. I’m sure there were quite a number of factors, but that was pretty important too. “At this minute, he is enjoying it – he has just got started – and hopefully that might continue.” O’Neill is well aware that Celtic’s interest – he revealed last week that the 42-year-old had held informal talks with the Scottish champions – is unlikely to be the last approach for Keane. O’Neill said: “Celtic is a great club, it’s a fantastic club. In the future, he will have loads of offers, as he has had in the past and in the immediate past. “Things like this here will crop up again, with a wee bit of luck. I’m not saying Celtic will, but that type of job will.” Republic of Ireland boss Martin O’Neill jetted out to the United States on Wednesday insisting it was business as usual after holding on to assistant Roy Keane. The 62-year-old Ulsterman was delighted at Keane’s decision not to pursue Celtic’s interest in him as their new manager, which he revealed on Monday after days of speculation that he was bound for Parkhead. Keane has since been linked with a role at Aston Villa, working alongside Paul Lambert in conjunction with his Republic duties. Indeed, the link with Villa is evidence that Keane remains a man in demand. That said, O’Neill for one is drawing a line under that particular topic until after he and his assistant have run the rule over the players in the Republic’s remaining summer friendlies. The former Celtic and Sunderland manager said: “I wish I could predict the future – I might be in better shape than I am. “But everything now at this minute is on the back-burner in terms of all speculation, all that type of stuff. I don’t really want to continue on with this until we come back from the United States.” Keane’s presence within the Ireland set-up was designed to give them a higher profile, but the former Manchester United captain has found himself in the headlines repeatedly since accepting O’Neill’s offer of work in November last year. But the manager insists he can handle the interest his number two has sparked. O’Neill said: “Actually, it isn’t really a problem to me. It will happen again, there’s no doubt at all about it, and I will deal with it accordingly at that time, or Roy will deal with it accordingly.” In the meantime, the pair will attempt to put together teams to face the Costa Ricans in Philadelphia on Friday night and the Portuguese in New Jersey four days later, having been hit by a series of withdrawals. Ciaran Clark has a niggling knee problem and has not travelled, and the same applies for fellow defenders John O’Shea, Seamus Coleman and Damien Delaney, while striker Jon Walters is recovering from a virus which at one point left him on a drip in hospital. Walters’ condition has improved markedly since and he, like full-back Stephen Ward, who is nursing a knock, could join up with the squad ahead of the Portugal game. Press Associationlast_img read more

Zebo hoping to keep Ireland spot

first_imgIreland winger Simon Zebo is determined to hold on to his place in the squad after making his first international appearance in a year in their 29-17 win over Argentina last weekend. The 24-year old missed out on this year’s RBS 6 Nations triumph after a spell on the sidelines with a foot injury, but is hopeful he can do enough on the two-match tour to Argentina to claim a permanent spot. “It’s always a pleasure and an honour to get to wear the green jersey and I was just grateful that I had got the chance to get back and play,” said the Munster player. “It’s been a while through injury and other things that I’ve been out. To come back and get in the shirt and get a win as well has been special. “It’s always going to be tough with the competition we have. There are some world-class operators in the back-three department for us and we’re blessed to have that. “Competition drives players on to perform even better so it’s better for the squad as a whole. “Hopefully the strong competition drives me on and drives all our other players on, and come the World Cup and the Six Nations we’ll have a very, very strong squad, plenty of strength in depth to operate with.” Zebo won his seventh cap against the Pumas at the weekend and was pleased with how the match went for him. He said: “I was relatively happy. It’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve last played and I was a little rusty in a couple of areas but generally happy with the few touches I had. “The most important thing was to get the win and hopefully now we can do that again against Argentina, but we know it will be very tough. “We are looking forward to and it should be good.” Ireland face Argentina on Saturday in the second Test in Tucuman. center_img Press Associationlast_img read more

Vidal serene despite United rumours

first_img The Chile international has been heavily linked with a move to Old Trafford as United look to rebuild under new coach Louis van Gaal following a dismal season that saw them miss out on European football for the first time in 25 years. However, recent speculation suggests United’s interest in the 27-year-old has cooled due to Juve’s reported £35million valuation of the midfielder. Press Association If that is the case, and Vidal does not end up at United, then the former Bayer Leverkusen and Colo-Colo player admits he will be happy to stay at Juve – although he says his focus right now is on enjoying his post-World Cup break and not thinking about his future. He was quoted as saying on www.chilevision.cl: “I’m not thinking of where I’m going to go, I want to take advantage of my holidays with the people I love. Right now I’m thinking of other things. Afterwards, when I arrive in Italy, I’ll see. “I’m already at a great team, Juventus, so I will be just as calm if the Manchester United option falls through.” United, who on Monday announced a £750million sponsorship deal with adidas, have already made two big-money signings this summer in defender Luke Shaw and midfielder Ander Herrera but are being linked with a host of other players. Vidal, who is under contract with Juve until June 2017, had right knee surgery on May 7 but recovered in time to help Chile reach the last 16 of the World Cup, where they lost on penalties to Brazil. He added to Chilean sports programme Central Fox.: “My knee is good. I’m resting it after two hard months.” Vidal, who scored 11 goals in 32 league appearances for Juve last term, is expected to arrive in Turin for pre-season training on July 28. center_img Arturo Vidal will not panic if nothing comes of a proposed move to Manchester United, pointing out he is already at a “great team” in Juventus.last_img read more

Martin O’Neill hails Ireland’s fighting spirit against Germany

first_img Opposite number Joachim Low cut a hugely frustrated figure to have seen his side let a seemingly decisive lead slip to surrender two points they could barely afford to drop. slide 1 of 1 Twitter Facebook Close slide 1 of 1 slide 1 of 1 John O'Shea celebrates with John Walters slide 1 of 1 David Forde He said: “It is extremely annoying for us not to have won the game. Ireland basically had one single chance and in the final second of the game, managed to equalise. “On the other hand, if there’s anyone to blame, the blame has to be on us. Something like that shouldn’t have happened in the dying seconds of the game. Close David Forde Bongarts/Getty Images SPORTSFILE Whatsapp But minutes after substitute Wes Hoolahan had seen his goal-bound effort blocked by defender Erik Durm, O’Shea got ahead of Mats Hummels to turn Jeff Hendrick’s cross past keeper Manuel Neuer and stun the home crowd at the Veltins Arena. O’Neill’s men will head for Scotland next month brimming with confidence and intent on maintaining their drive for qualification. Asked how the group now stands, the manager said: “It’s hard to call. Third game in, it really is a fantastic effort by the team. Facebook Martin O’Neill delighted with ‘fantastic effort’ following draw with the world champions “We had to withstand a bit of pressure, but we knew that would happen. Our idea was to threaten them, to use the ball better than we did in the first half. “At half-time, I felt we were reasonably okay. They scored a goal – we should have closed it down a couple of times – and then what was the point of losing the game if you can’t kind of go for it? “There’s always a chance. It was a fantastic effort from the team, really really fantastic. We just never gave up. We kept going. I never felt, funnily enough, that we were out of the game after we conceded the goal. That’s of great credit to the players.” Whatsapp Read More “People have said that Germany are missing players, but so are we. The best right-back in Britain is missing to us in Seamus Coleman. We have had our own injury blows.” REUTERS David Forde makes a crucial second half save from Mario Goetze. Photo credit: REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay Mats Hummels, Germany, in action against Jonathan Walters, Republic of Ireland 1/1 David Forde makes a crucial second half save from Mario Goetze. Photo credit: REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay John O’Shea celebrates with John Walters David Forde makes a crucial second half save from Mario Goetze. Photo credit: REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay John O’Shea celebrates with team-mates Stephen Ward and Jonathan Walters after scoring Ireland’s equalising goal against Germany with the last kick of the game in Gelsenkirchen. Photo: David Maher / SPORTSFILE Email Facebook David Forde Press Association Steven Reid column: End result justifies means but we can improve on this Germany, looking to bounce back from their 2-0 defeat in Poland, dominated possession throughout, but failed to work keeper David Forde often enough before the break. However, they raised their tempo in the second half and Forde had to pull off a series of fine saves to keep them at bay until Kroos found the net off the foot of the post. Read More 1/1 David Forde Whatsapp 1/1 Close Mats Hummels, Germany, in action against Jonathan Walters, Republic of Ireland John O'Shea celebrates with John Walters SPORTSFILE David Forde makes a crucial second half save from Mario Goetze. Photo credit: REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay Twitter Close Bongarts/Getty Images David Forde “We lost possession too easily, we misplaced passes, we passed too often back to Neuer. Despite being 1-0 up, we showed a lot of nervousness in the game, we stopped controlling the game and gave too many chances to the opponents. We let them rise again.” Low admitted some of his players may be suffering a World Cup hangover, but promised they would return to their best. He said: “We had hoped for more points getting out of October. You can see it in the players’ eyes, they are a little exhausted after a long season, the World Cup, then a short pre-season. “There is a little bit missing from some of them, but next year we will be better and we will bounce back.” Read More ‘Momentum is key’ – O’Shea marks century with equaliser SPORTSFILE John O'Shea celebrates with team-mates Stephen Ward and Jonathan Walters after scoring Ireland's equalising goal against Germany with the last kick of the game in Gelsenkirchen. Photo: David Maher / SPORTSFILE John O’Shea celebrates with team-mates Stephen Ward and Jonathan Walters after scoring Ireland’s equalising goal against Germany with the last kick of the game in Gelsenkirchen. Photo: David Maher / SPORTSFILE Whatsapp 1/1 John O'Shea celebrates with team-mates Stephen Ward and Jonathan Walters after scoring Ireland's equalising goal against Germany with the last kick of the game in Gelsenkirchen. Photo: David Maher / SPORTSFILE SPORTSFILE Read More Twitter John O’Shea celebrates with John Walters Email Twitter David Forde makes a crucial second half save from Mario Goetze. Photo credit: REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay Glorious night in the Ruhr as Keift’s ghost is exorcised Facebook Facebook Mats Hummels, Germany, in action against Jonathan Walters, Republic of Ireland Whatsapp Martin O’Neill praised the fighting spirit of his Republic of Ireland heroes after seeing them snatch a precious Euro 2016 point in Germany. John O’Shea celebrates with team-mates Stephen Ward and Jonathan Walters after scoring Ireland’s equalising goal against Germany with the last kick of the game in Gelsenkirchen. Photo: David Maher / SPORTSFILE REUTERS Twitter slide 1 of 1 Mats Hummels, Germany, in action against Jonathan Walters, Republic of Ireland Central defender John O’Shea struck in the fourth minute of injury time on his 100th appearance for his country to maintain Ireland’s unbeaten start in Group D, which they now lead jointly with Poland, with a 1-1 draw in Gelsenkirchen. They had fallen behind with 19 minutes remaining when Tony Kroos broke their stubborn resistance with a long-range strike, but the world champions could not hang on to their advantage. PA Email Email PA Mats Hummels, Germany, in action against Jonathan Walters, Republic of Ireland A delighted O’Neill said: “It was a great point for us, to come to the home of the world champions from a few months ago and get something out of the game. John O’Shea celebrates with John Walters Email Close 1/1last_img read more

Sinclair on brink of Villa deal

first_img Sinclair could also be included in Villa’s squad for Sunday’s trip to Arsenal, should the move be completed in time. The 25-year-old joined City from Swansea in 2012 but made just three starts and 19 appearances in total. He has played just 25 minutes this season and has not featured for City since coming on late in the 2-2 draw with Burnley in December. Sinclair spent last season on loan at West Brom but failed to make an impact, playing just eight times in the Barclays Premier League. He will become Villa’s second January signing after Carles Gil joined from Valencia earlier this month, while they have also been linked with a move for MK Dons’ Dele Alli. Lambert has been looking to add creativity to his side, who have scored just 11 league goals this season. The winger will sign until the end of the season with a view to a permanent move, Press Association Sport understands. The deal looked off last week when Villa boss Paul Lambert claimed it was dead but the clubs revived talks earlier this week. Manchester City flop Scott Sinclair is set to complete his loan switch to Aston Villa within the next 24 hours.center_img Press Associationlast_img read more

Kane signs new Tottenham deal

first_img Press Association Kane, who was born in Walthamstow and a boyhood Spurs fan, has become a big favourite for Tottenham supporters, who hail him as ‘one of our own’. He made his first-team debut in the Europa League in August 2011 after a spell on loan at Leyton Orient and scored his first goal in the same competition that December. Further loan spells with Millwall, Norwich and Leicester followed, with mixed success, before his breakthrough back at Tottenham last season. After mostly having to make do with appearances in the cups, Kane scored his first Premier League goal on his first start against Sunderland last April. He scored in the following two games as well and kept his place until the end of the season. Speaking about the potential of a new contract for Kane following Saturday’s 3-0 win at The Hawthorns, Pochettino said: ”This is a club decision and the player’s decision. “This is business, but Harry wants to stay with Tottenham and Tottenham want Harry to stay long term.” Kane’s superb form is expected to earn him a first call-up to the full England squad after success with the age-group sides. He has played at every level from under-17 and has netted eight times in 10 appearances for the under-21s. Harry Kane’s superb form for Tottenham this season has earned him a new five-and-a-half-year contract at White Hart Lane.center_img The 21-year-old only signed a new deal in August but his 20 goals in all competitions have earned him improved terms and a contract until 2020. Kane’s goalscoring form in the cup competitions prompted manager Mauricio Pochettino to give the academy graduate a run in the Premier League and he has not looked back, netting 10 league goals, including braces against Chelsea and, on Saturday, West Brom. last_img read more

Vlaar could stick with Villa

first_imgRon Vlaar has revealed he could yet sign a new deal with Aston Villa this summer. The defender is out of contract at the end of the season and was expected to quit the club, with talks on hold until they seal survival in the Barclays Premier League. But after helping Villa to the FA Cup final against Arsenal after Sunday’s 2-1 win over Liverpool, Vlaar insisted it is possible he could extend his stay. “It’s great and I think we really deserved it, to get through to the final. “We showed great character after losing Nathan (Baker) so early and then going behind. “We’ve shown we can do that. We did it against QPR. We got the equaliser within a few minutes. The team spirit is really good.” Shay Given had little to do, although was bailed out when Kieran Richardson cleared Steven Gerrard’s late header off the line, and the Republic of Ireland goalkeeper believes they can win the Cup. He added: “We know Arsenal are the favourites and it is going to be a tough game but we got through against the favourites today as well and we know within the camp we have got a really good team spirit and we have got a chance. “I thought we deserved to win as well – I think the neutral or even a die-hard Liverpool fan would say we deserved to win the game.” “Yes it is,” said the 30-year-old, who signed from Feyenoord in 2012. “Things have changed for me in the past few months since (Tim) Sherwood took over. “It’s been a hard season for me with all the injuries. Now I just want to play and be important for the team. This helps – you can trust me on that. “I don’t know about my future but to be part of this feels so good. To feel the joy and relief after the West Brom game (the quarter-final). So many people came on the pitch. “The impact for the fans; how big this club and what it all means – I called my dad and said ‘This really means something’. It’s great. Everything helps.” Vlaar helped Villa to their first FA Cup final in 15 years after Christian Benteke and Fabian Delph scored to shock Liverpool at Wembley following Philippe Coutinho’s opener. Villa are still in danger of going down but Vlaar insisted they deserved their victory and he has been blown away by the Cup. “It feels really good – unbelievable. This is just so big for the club and the fans,” said the Holland international. “I’m not that familiar with the English FA Cup. I don’t think I realised just how big it is. You can just see it in the stands and out there on the pitch with us. It’s massive. Press Associationlast_img read more

Gradel enjoys Mourinho’s praise

first_img And the Ivory Coast forward, a £7million signing from St Etienne, says it is easier to play for the Premier League champions than a side like the Cherries. Gradel was used as an example by Mourinho to illustrate the talent in the Premier League and the competitive nature of the top flight, with the Blues boss saying the 27-year-old could play for him. “In England they give you opportunities. If I’m doing good and the club here are happy with what they gain, if everybody’s happy, we move on.” Gradel had offers from CSKA Moscow in Russia, Lille in France and Bournemouth’s fellow Premier League newcomers Watford, but opted for the south coast. He added: “A lot of people don’t understand my decision. They are probably thinking I should be playing for the top teams now. “I agree with them, but for me it’s important you go where you’ll be happy. When you’re happy in the club or the town, it’s easier to give your best every game. “Eddie Howe is a great person. I’ve known him for a long time and this club gave me the opportunity. “I was at Leicester but I never played first-team. This club gave me the chance to play first-team football. “This is where things started for me. I have something to give back to this club and my story with this club hasn’t finished yet.” “Yes, I think I can play for Chelsea, of course,” Gradel said at Bournemouth’s media conference on Thursday ahead of Saturday’s Premier League opener with Aston Villa at Dean Court. “It’s nice to know a big manager like Mourinho said something like this. “If he says that, that means that it’s true. He won’t say anything that he doesn’t mean. “With the squad they have, it’s easier to play in the Chelsea team. It’s easier to play with great players.” Gradel, who returned to Bournemouth after a loan spell in 2007/08, is determined to prove his value and believes he could end up at Stamford Bridge in future if he does perform well. “It’s a positive pressure. You work hard to get to this level,” he added. “I have to be happy and enjoy it, because I know how far I’ve come. It’s a big test for me to show people what I can do at this level. “In England you go where you deserve to go. When you’re good enough to go to Chelsea, you go to Chelsea. Bournemouth recruit Max Gradel is happy with Jose Mourinho’s suggestion he is good enough to play for Chelsea. Press Associationlast_img read more

Barry: Barkley better for struggles

first_img The 21-year-old’s struggles to recapture his scintillating form of manager Roberto Martinez’s first campaign were almost symptomatic of the entire team’s troubles which saw them finish a disappointing 11th. Barkley managed just two goals, taking 11 matches to get off the mark, but has already opened his account with a fine strike in an encouraging performance in the opening 2-2 draw at home to Watford. Press Association Everton midfielder Gareth Barry believes Ross Barkley has benefited from last season’s difficulties. “Ross burst onto the scene and set his standards so high but inevitably it is impossible to keep those going continuously,” Barry told Press Association Sport. “I am sure last season he would have wanted to score more goals and have more assists but you can’t continuously keep that upward curve going. “But it will have been a good year for him in terms of his future and he started well with a fantastic goal.” While Everton undoubtedly need more goals from midfield, and the arrival of Tom Cleverley and Gerard Deulofeu should assist in that, their fortunes are likely to be determined by the form of striker Romelu Lukaku. The Belgium international scored 20 times last season but eight of those were in the Europa League and without the distraction of European football this season he will be expected to have much more of an impact in the Premier League. “Every top team needs a goalscorer scoring 20 goals and in Rom I think we have a player who can do that year in, year out,” added Barry. “It is important he stays fit and gets his confidence going and he can achieve great things too.” Fitness is currently an issue for Everton with left-back Leighton Baines ruled out for three months after an ankle injury. With Bryan Oviedo still working his way back to fitness teenager Brendan Galloway is likely to fill in but it is a difficult ask to replace Baines – Everton’s Mr Consistency who provides a threat from the flanks. “The manager described it as a disaster and that is probably the right word because of the influence he has in games and around the dressing room,” said Barry, speaking at Everton in the Community’s golf day “It is a chance for someone else to step in and improve us again.” Everton head to St Mary’s on Saturday and Barry admits Southampton are now serious competition to them after finishing seventh last season but feels they have to take advantage of Saints’ involvement in Europe over the course of the campaign. “They are on the back of a fantastic season. Everyone was writing them off last year but the players have produced a good season,” he added. “It is teams like Southampton we are competing with – we want to finish above them and kick on from there. “Last season it was great to be involved in European football, it is where this club wants to be, but at the same time it can take something away from Premier League performances. “So in terms of that there is no excuse for the players not being ready for Premier League.” Everton have not won in their last six visits to the south coast club and their record there is poor. “The last two visits have been really tough games for different reasons and I don’t think they have been just football aspects – things that could go wrong went wrong,” said Martinez. “Two years ago we had two early own goals. But it is not just in the last two seasons – the last six visits we have had three defeats and three draws. “We’ve only had two wins in 22 years so it becomes an extra challenge and we want to embrace that.” last_img read more