“In 2003 we did a study at Barcelona and for every player who ended up in the first team from the academy there was an average cost of £2million, which is nothing if you think of the current cost of players. “The principle of bringing players through is fundamental to give a technical identity to a club, because that leads to a style of play. “They have to learn from five years old the style of the team, and then you get the benefits.” City’s rise to Premier League champions was built on a massive spending spree but Soriano insists that will not be the case moving forward. “Our squad is still competitive. Our problem is finding players stronger than those we already have and that’s not easy,” he added. “In the last three years, we have lost £200m, then £100m and now we’re on track to be in the red by £50m, but we have also invested £150m in youth structures. “It is a fantastic project, aimed at financial sustainability.” Press Association The Barclays Premier League champions currently trail neighbours Manchester United by 15 points and retaining their title looks a distant hope. That appeared to put pressure on Mancini’s future but Soriano, who moved to the Etihad Stadium from Barcelona in the summer, has a greater understanding of the situation. “It is not easy to win back any league, especially the Premier League,” he told a press conference in Italy where he was picking up an award for his book, Goal: The Ball Doesn’t Go in By Chance. “One year you can win with luck but in the long term you need planning and investments to reach the final of the Champions League.” Manchester City chief executive Ferran Soriano appears to have offered some support to manager Roberto Mancini by suggesting the club need a long-term plan to sustain success.
Club owner Tony Fernandes, who celebrated his 49th birthday with a big QPR cake, met with manager Harry Redknapp yesterday to formulate a plan to try to get Rangers back in to the Barclays Premier League at the first attempt. Fernandes was happy that Redknapp was willing to continue as manager, but he was in a far less joyous mood when asked about the performances of some of his players this season. The Malaysian businessman will likely try to clear out some of those players in the summer, including Barton, whose loan at Marseille expires in the summer. Midfielder Esteban Granero has hinted that he would be willing to remain at Loftus Road, but Loic Remy, Djibril Cisse, and Julio Cesar appear to be considering their future. Remy, who has scored five goals since joining from Marseille in January, revealed he wants to playing the top flight again next season. When asked whether Premier League football suited him, the French striker told FIFA.com: “I feel like it is, in every way. “You get less time to read the game in this league. There’s more pressure and there’s more contact, though there is more space too. It’s great for a player like me. They play deep here and I like that. It feels like the perfect league for me.” Midfielder Shaun Derry thinks Joey Barton decision to brand QPR’s players as “maggots” was unwise. Barton wasted no time in delivering a damning verdict on QPR’s relegation on Sunday afternoon, describing some members of the squad as “maggots” shortly after the team’s 0-0 draw at Reading. “I know Joey. I know him on a different level and I know that when things go against him personally he comes out with some unbelievable comments,” Derry told talkSPORT. “Deep down he’s a fighter, but at the same time, when you’re down and you’re really at the bottom of what’s been a horrible season perhaps it wasn’t the wisest thing.” Press Association
QPR midfielder Stephane Mbia appears to be angling for a move back to former club Marseille after Rangers dropped out of the Barclays Premier League. Press Association The Cameroon international moved to Loftus Road last summer, with Joey Barton making a loan move to Marseille as part of the deal. But, after being unable to help QPR avoid the drop, he took to Twitter to contact Barton and see if he was interested in returning to the west London club in his place. He wrote: “@Joey7Barton: Do you want to rechange (sic) your seat with me?” Barton, who was sent off on his last appearance for QPR and was handed a subsequent 12-game ban, has repeatedly told of how he is enjoying his time in France with Marseille and was quick to respond to Mbia’s request. “How do I answer this politically? Er…Nope (sic),” he Tweeted. “If you go down with a team, you should stay and help them up mate. They need you all to stick together and help them back.” Mbia, 26, has since removed the Tweet and said on the social networking site he only asked in jest. Mbia backtracked again shortly after, tweeting: “No it was not a joke i delette my tweet on pressure. I want speak with #qpr but they don’t want. So… #qpr #om.”
“To put that to one side is a big decision and a hard decision but when your body says you need to put something aside to keep yourself in good condition for your club, which is your day to day job, the decision has to be made. “I’m as passionate as the next man and I’ve always loved doing that. But there comes a time when your body tells you what to do. “If I want to remain fit and well and playing consistent football at the top level it had to give somewhere and international football was that. “I had a good stint in international football but now I want to give my everything to Manchester United.” Although he had yet to play under Roy Hodgson, the prospect of the United defender adding to his 81 caps did seem possible, despite the confusion over his recent call-up and subsequent withdrawal from the World Cup qualifiers against San Marino and Montenegro due to an “intricate and pre-planned training regime”. Ferdinand had earlier issued a formal statement, in which he urged England to put their faith in the current crop of younger defenders. With Ferdinand and John Terry, for so long mainstays of the side, both now retired there is room for others to grow and Ferdinand will be behind them all the way. “After a great deal of thought, I have decided the time is right for me to retire from international football,” Ferdinand’s statement read. “At the age of 34, I feel it is right for me to stand aside and let the younger players come through, which allows me to concentrate on my club career.” Ferdinand, 34, announced his international retirement on Wednesday – ending any lingering hopes of a playing at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. “I think I owed it to Manchester United to do that but it wasn’t easy, I’m not going to lie,” he told MUTV. Press Association Rio Ferdinand felt he “owed it to Manchester United” to call time on his England career.
Eight players have now been brought in by Reds boss Brendan Rodgers this summer, with Monday’s arrivals following those of Kolo Toure, Iago Aspas, Luis Alberto, Simon Mignolet and Aly Cissokho. Moses told Liverpoolfc.com: “First and foremost, I’m delighted to have made the loan from Chelsea to a big club like Liverpool. “The most important thing is for me to be professional about it and I’m here to do a job for the club. “The target is to get into the top four and for the club to compete in the Champions League – and I’m delighted to be here. “The manager has done very well and the formation and players here will help me and I just want to gel in, get to know the players and play with them. “There are a lot of quality players here – they’re winning games and creating chances. It’s a massive thing for me to be here.” France defender Sakho played 201 games for PSG, securing the Ligue 1 title with the capital club last season to add to winners’ medals in the 2010 Coupe de France and the 2008 Coupe de la Ligue. But now the 23-year-old, who can operate in central defence or at left-back and has won 14 caps for Les Bleus, cannot wait to get started for his new team. Liverpool have announced their third signing of the day after confirming Chelsea forward Victor Moses had joined on a season-long loan. Press Association “I’m delighted to be here,” he told www.liverpoolfc.com. ”I’d like to thank everyone for the welcome. “I came here because the project that is in place at Liverpool interests me. “I’m really looking forward to playing my first game.” He continued: ”I’m really looking forward to cracking on with work and I can’t wait to get on (the) pitch. “I know the Liverpool fans are fantastic and while I was in France, it was clear for me to see they are amongst the best in England.” Portuguese centre-back Ilori was equally thrilled to have arrived on Merseyside. “It feels great being a Liverpool player – coming to the Premier League has always been a dream for me,” the 20-year-old said. “I’m going to try to achieve everything I can. I want to play as much as possible and we’ll see what the future holds. I will give my all and try my best to help the team.” The 6ft 3in London-born centre-back has represented Portugal at Under-18, Under-19 and Under-20 level, and has played at Anfield for Sporting in the 2011-12 NextGen Series. ”I know the history of the club and the Premier League is the best league in the world, in my opinion,” he added. ”Liverpool have a great team and I think it’s the place for me to be at the moment. ”I know there have been some great teams here in the past and the club has won a lot of trophies and I want to be a part of it.” The triple swoop will no doubt add to the feeling of optimism around the club, who have started the Premier League season with three straight wins. The Reds had already brought in defenders Tiago Ilori and Mamadou Sakho from Sporting Lisbon and Paris St Germain respectively. Moses only joined Chelsea last summer, scoring 10 goals in 42 appearances, and his switch was confirmed on transfer deadline day after he passed a medical at the Anfield club.
The 27-year-old is currently understudy to the Dutchman at St James’ Park, but was handed a chance to impress by manager Alan Pardew during the second half of last season when first an ankle injury and then a dislocated shoulder forced Krul onto the sidelines. However, the Holland international is now back in harness, leaving Elliot fighting for a place once again, and it is a battle for which he is fully prepared. Newcastle goalkeeper Rob Elliot has warned Tim Krul he is gunning for his place as he attempts to force his way onto the international stage. “We are good mates anyway, so there’s nothing nasty there. Tim knows I work hard and I want to get in the team, and he knows he has got to keep me out. “As long as we are both putting in performances like we have been doing recently, that’s all we can do.” Elliot has an added incentive to force his way ahead of Krul in the pecking order as he attempts to fulfil his ambition of playing senior international football for the Republic of Ireland. He has to date been overlooked by current manager Giovanni Trapattoni, whose reign looks to be drawing to a close in the wake of Tuesday night’s 1-0 qualifying defeat in Austria, although his lack of first-team football will not have helped. Greenwich-born Elliot, whose father’s family is from Cork, said: “I would love to eventually get a call-up one day. “I played a lot at youth level. I have been slightly disappointed not to get a call-up. “But the thing is, they have got three top keepers – and one of them is my best friend in football, Darren Randolph – so I can’t really complain. “It’s more of a privilege to get an international call-up, you can’t demand it, so I just have to keep playing well and hopefully I get noticed. “We have always been cricket England and football Ireland in my family, believe it or not, so it would be fantastic to get an opportunity. But I will just have to see how it goes.” The former Charlton keeper said: “Tim is a top keeper and he is the number one, but I am not here just to sit on the bench. I am here to push him. “That’s what I did all pre-season and I was disappointed, to be honest with you, not to start the season. “I had a chat with the gaffer and he said, ‘Tim is the number one, so you have to accept that’. “But I just said I want to keep training, keep working hard and prove that I can hopefully get into the team. “Obviously, Tim has been fantastic, as he usually is. All I can do is back it up when I get a chance to play and keep doing well in training.” Despite the competition between them, Elliot and Krul are close friends, although that will not prevent either from doing all they can to get the better of the other. Elliot, who started the 2-0 Capital One Cup victory at Morecambe last month, said: “Obviously, I want the club to do well and whoever plays – if it’s Tim, which is more than likely – then I want him to do well. “But I want to make sure that he knows (I am here) to keep him on his toes and keep him honest. Press Association
Laudrup acknowledges it is a considerable compliment for Wenger, who is celebrating his 17th anniversary in charge of Arsenal this weekend, to compare the two, but the Dane is happy to focus on the unique qualities his bargain £2million signing brings to his team. He said: “Michu is different to the other players we are talking about. They are smaller players physically, but you always want your players to work between the back four and midfield, in the hole, that’s what you want. “But he scores more goals than a lot of other players who play there. I don’t think he’s similar in the way he plays, he is a different kind of player, even if he plays the same position. “People want to compare Michu to a lot of players. Just let Michu be Michu. “Bergkamp and he are two different players, with Michu’s height and physicality he is so important for us. “I wouldn’t compare him to Bergkamp, Ozil or Cazorla, but we’re very pleased with what he is doing for us. “For an Arsenal fan, Bergkamp is a very special player in the history of the club, so to talk about two players like that shows how much Arsene Wenger appreciates what Michu has been doing here for the last 15 months.” While happy to extol the virtues of Michu, who has already scored five goals in all competitions this season after netting 22 last term, Laudrup also praised the way Ozil has quickly adapted to English football, but admits he was surprised to see Real Madrid let the Germany international go. “I have to admit I was very surprised when I saw he had left Real Madrid as he is a fantastic player,” he said. “Arsenal is a great club too but with Real Madrid you are playing in the quarter-finals, semi-finals and finals of the Champions League. “I was also surprised with the way it happened on the last day of the transfer window as I did not imagine a player with his quality would be changing team at the last moment, but he did and you have to say well done to Arsenal. “Even before signing Ozil, the strongest part of their side was the midfield with Jack Wilshere, Santi Cazorla and after adding Ozil there is so much quality. Fortunately Cazorla cannot play against us, but they are still very good in that area.” Wenger found himself under immediate pressure when Arsenal lost to Aston Villa on the opening day of the season, but they have recovered with four wins on the bounce to sit top of the Premier League table, and Laudrup has hailed the character shown by the Gunners. “They lost the first game and experts were saying they would have a tough year, but now they have won games including a difficult Champions League game. It’s a fantastic start,” he said. “It will be difficult for us as their midfield is strong and Olivier Giroud has shown Wenger he wants to repay the faith he has shown in him, and Aaron Ramsey has also had a great start to the season. I’m looking forward to an exciting game, but also a difficult one.” With the Swans facing Arsenal in Saturday’s tea-time kick-off, comparisons have been made between the Spaniard and Ozil, who has quickly established himself as Arsenal’s attacking fulcrum since his high-profile arrival from Real Madrid. Gunners’ boss Arsene Wenger even went as far as to put Michu in the same bracket as Dutch hero Bergkamp, who is fondly remembered by fans of the north London club thanks to his magisterial 11-year stint there, during which he registered more than 300 appearances. Michael Laudrup has seen his star player compared to Dennis Bergkamp and Mesut Ozil among others, but the Swansea boss is happy to simply “let Michu be Michu”. Press Association
Press Association Manuel Pellegrini’s side made it an impressive nine out of nine – with 37 goals scored – to move into second place behind Arsenal as the Reds slipped to fourth after a 2-1 defeat. However, had Raheem Sterling’s effort not been wrongly ruled out for offside before either side had scored – and goalkeeper Simon Mignolet not made a hash of Alvaro Negredo’s winner – Brendan Rodgers’ side could well have got much more out of this game. Kompany’s header wide from a corner gave Liverpool a warning which they later failed to heed as City continued to probe and press. By the time Negredo fired wide Suarez had already aimed a low free-kick straight at Joe Hart as the tide started to turn. Sterling’s diagonal run from the right had already been picked out once by Suarez without success but when the Uruguay international found the youngster again and he did not make the same mistake, going around Hart to score into an empty net. Play was brought back by an offside flag but television replays showed Sterling was at least two yards behind the last defender when he was played through. The same pair combined for the opening goal in the 24th minute when Suarez’s ball over the top was destined for Sterling only for Coutinho to come in from the left and score from a narrow angle. City’s response was instantaneous as Yaya Toure went past three defenders with one turn only to be denied by the outstretched leg of Martin Skrtel. The Slovakia defender has been singled out recently as the weak link at defensive set-pieces and while he was busy trying to grapple with Kompany the City captain had eyes only for David Silva’s corner and glanced a header past Mignolet. With City now holding the upper hand again Liverpool fire them a warning after a brilliant move via Suarez and Sterling saw Coutinho forced Hart into a smart save. But City often catch opponents napping on the counter-attack and so it proved on the stroke of half-time when Mignolet failed to deal with Negredo’s shot with outside of his left foot from Navas’ through ball as the visitors were cut wide open. Negredo tried a similar effort early in the second half but this time the goalkeeper was better positioned. The attacks continued at both ends with Sterling coming the closest with 17 minutes remaining when he diverted Suarez’s inviting cross over from seven yards. Late on Suarez appealed for a penalty with Lescott pulling at his shirt but as Skrtel had spent most of the match doing that to Kompany there was almost an argument for it being the same for both sides. As it was they contributed much to an enthralling match which was billed as a test of their title credentials. That may still be something of a distant dream, considering Rodgers was forced to name 19-year-old reserve team defender Brad Smith in his squad for the first time, but it did plenty to suggest their top-four challenge is alive and well. City, of course, remain favourites for the title and their home form will be a major factor in achieving that but for all their goals what was just as impressive about this performance was the way Kompany and Joleon Lescott kept the Premier League’s top scorer Luis Suarez on a tight leash in terms of chances. Philippe Coutinho’s opener sparked the home side into life and after Kompany had equalised from a corner Negredo’s 14th goal of the season ultimately clinched another three points. No team have scored more at home in the Premier League than City this season while Liverpool were the top flight’s top scorers on the road so the signs were good and the first half did not disappoint as both sides attacked each other freely. City had the better of the first and last 15 minutes with their visitors enjoying the middle third. The home side set out trying to exploit the weakness on Liverpool’s left where Aly Cissokho, the unconvincing on-loan Valencia defender, was making his first appearance since November 9 because of makeshift left-back Jon Flanagan’s hamstring injury. Jesus Navas almost made that pay when his looping header hit the outside of the post after he nipped in front of the Frenchman to meet a left-wing cross. Manchester City retained their imperious 100 per cent home record as they denied Liverpool the chance to regain top spot in the Barclays Premier League in an entertaining encounter at the Etihad Stadium.
Shelvey put the hosts ahead in the 61st minute when his shot from the edge of the box struck Wilfried Bony and Brede Hangeland to beat a helpless Maarten Stekelenburg. Flores’ near-post header, which flicked in off Dimitar Berbatov, sealed the 2-0 win, just the third on home turf this term, and moved Swansea up to 10th in the table. Keiran Richardson’s superb set-piece delivery picked out captain Hangeland near the penalty spot, but the Norwegian headed well over. Alexander Kacaniklic’s surging run created another headed opportunity, but Dejageh failed to test Gerhard Tremmel as his effort was straight at the Swansea keeper. Tremmel then pushed away a deflected Clint Dempsey strike and the tension among the home support was palpable. Swansea rallied, with Shelvey’s fierce drive rattling the crossbar from Hernandez’s lay-off. It sparked a strong start to the second period for the hosts, with Stekelenburg making a superb save to keep Flores’ header out of the far corner from Jonathan de Guzman’s set-piece delivery. De Guzman and Shelvey tried their luck from distance, and it was the latter who broke the deadlock just past the hour mark. Substitute Nathan Dyer set up Shelvey after nice work from Bony and his strike from the edge of the box took a couple of deflections, the second – and most notable – off Hangeland to beat Stekelenburg and nestle in the bottom of the net. Fulham had to come out in search of an equaliser, and De Guzman almost picked them off with a driving run and left-footed shot that Stekelenburg leapt high to his right to keep out. The points were sealed with 15 minutes to go. De Guzman’s free-kick was flicked goalwards by Flores and hit Berbatov on its way win, leaving Fulham with no way back. Press Association Fulham failed to make the most of excellent first-half chances for Hangeland and Ashkan Dejagah as they slipped to a defeat which ensures they remain just a point above the drop zone. Swansea manager Michael Laudrup had warned his team they may have to suffer in order to end their worrying winless run, their worst run of league form since the 2008-09 season, and so it proved. There was plenty of anxiety among the home support during a tight first hour, but the Welsh club have opened up some valuable breathing space ahead of the weekend trip to West Ham. Given both sides poor recent form and precarious position in the table, it was little surprise that the opening exchanges were decidedly cagey. Swansea had plenty of ball but Fulham had little difficulty in sitting deep and soaking up the pressure. It took 12 minutes for there to be a genuine effort on goal, with Bony’s looping header dropping on the roof of the net from Ben Davies’ cross. A couple of minutes Shelvey fired well over after nice interplay between Pablo Hernandez and Angel Rangel had teed him up on the edge of the area. Fulham weathered that flurry and carved out the two best chances of the half. Deflected efforts from Jonjo Shelvey and Chico Flores gave Swansea a first win in nine Barclays Premier League matches to ease their relegation fears against fellow strugglers Fulham.
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has conceded defeat in the Barclays Premier League title race following the 1-0 loss at Crystal Palace. Press Association A John Terry own goal earned the Eagles a lifeline in their battle against relegation. Chelsea’s concerns are at the top of the table and they have played more games than rivals Manchester City and Liverpool. A second successive away loss saw Mourinho admit his hopes of a third Premier League title are over with six matches to go. Mourinho said: “We depend too much on other results. When you depend a little it’s possible, when you depend a lot, I don’t think it’s possible. “We depend now too much. I don’t think now we can win the league.” Mourinho absolved his defenders – Branislav Ivanovic, Gary Cahill, Terry and Cesar Azpilicueta – of blame for the loss to Palace, but was not shy at pointing fingers at others. Mourinho said: “My four defenders, phenomenal performance, as always. The others I’d prefer not to analyse individually.” Asked what quality is required for his side, Mourinho said: “I cannot say in front of the cameras. I can write it on paper.” Offered a notepad after the media conference, the Portuguese wrote “balls”. He had made his discontent clear. “We missed some qualities,” he said. “Mentality and a little bit of quality. Mentality because the opponents beat us clearly on that. Strong mentality, aggressive, committed. “Every one of them played, I think, at the top of their potential and that, in football, is important. “Clearly we have some players, because of their profile, who find it difficult to perform in some profile of matches. “You have Ivanovic, Terry, Cahill and Azpilicueta and they perform in the sun, in the rain, small pitches, big pitches, aggressive teams, non-aggressive teams, possession teams, not possession teams and they perform every game from day one to the last day. “And you have other players who are fantastic in some matches and disappear in other matches.” For Mourinho, the disappearing acts have happened in four of Chelsea’s five losses this season, all of which have come away from home. The exception was the defeat at Aston Villa when the Blues boss was unhappy with referee Chris Foy’s performance. Mourinho claims he was trying to avoid an incident similar to when Eden Hazard was sent-off for kicking a ball-boy at Swansea last season when he approached one of Palace’s ball-boys in stoppage time. The Chelsea boss suggested the boy had been told to return the ball slowly. Mourinho said: “The kids were doing that all the time, so I went to stop Azpi and I had the chance to get the kid, and the kid was cute. “He came to me and I told him if he does this, ‘one day somebody will punch you’. “But the kids, it’s not their fault. It was not me, for sure (telling the kids to slow it down). I was losing.” Palace boss Tony Pulis danced down the touchline at full-time in celebration of the Eagles’ first league win over Chelsea in nearly 24 years. After fulfilling some of his media commitments, Pulis left his post-match media conference to assistant David Kemp to enjoy a glass of wine. Kemp said: “Our players have put in a magnificent effort today. They’ve been rightly rewarded and for him to recognise their effort I thought was very good. “Jose came and congratulated our players. I thought that was very classy.” Kemp did not dwell on the penalty appeals which went against Palace, but believes the result could have been more convincing, with Cameron Jerome also hitting a post. “The finishing didn’t match some of the rest of the play, but that’s been our problem for a while,” Kemp added. “Fortunately today one was enough and we’re very pleased with it. “If we could stick the ball in the net to back it up it could’ve been a bit more comfortable.” The victory could aid Palace in the closing weeks of the campaign. “It’s big for the club and it’s big for the players,” Kemp said. “When you beat a top team it gives them that little bit more confidence, credibility and belief to go on. It will be very important for this group of players and the club.”