Mancini challenges Rodwell to develop at City

12 August 2012 19:22

Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini has warned new signing Jack Rodwell he must improve to play at the highest level.

City announced on Sunday they had agreed a fee with Everton, believed to be around 18 million pounds, to lure the 21-year-old to the Etihad Stadium.

But speaking after City’s 3-2 win over Chelsea in the Community Shield at Villa Park, Mancini described Rodwell as a player for the future who must get used to competing for trophies.

“Jack Rodwell is a young player who needs to improve to play at this level,” said Mancini.

“He’s a good player for our future, I hope. I liked Jack last season and for this reason we bought him.

“He’s doing a medical at this moment. I think he’s a good player, he’s young and it’s the first time he’ll play to win things. It will be difficult for him but I am sure in a couple of years he will be a top midfielder because he’s strong.”

Rodwell will become the first off-season arrival at City following their English Premier League title triumph and Mancini admits he remains frustrated by the lack of progress in their pursuit of transfer targets, including Arsenal captain Robin van Persie.

“I’m unhappy, it’s normal,” he said.

“Every manager is unhappy if one week from the season (if) they haven’t bought any players, but we are working this week.

“We are looking for other players. I’m waiting at this moment and I think tomorrow we will talk about other players.”

Mancini said defender Micah Richards could miss up to a month due to the ankle injury he suffered playing for Great Britain against South Korea at the London Olympics.

“He has a problem with his ankle, a big problem maybe, and it may be one month out,” he said.

Romanian goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon deputised for regular shot-stopper Joe Hart against Chelsea, but Mancini said the England international was expected to be back in action soon.

“Joe had a problem yesterday with his back but I don’t think it is serious,” he said.

League Cup: Blackpool 1 Morecambe 2

12 August 2012 19:00

Blackpool bowed out in the first round of the League Cup at the hands of League Two outfit Morecambe on Sunday.

Goals from Lewis Alessandra and Andrew Fleming were enough to hand Morecambe a 2-1 victory at Bloomfield Road, with Alex Baptiste pulling a goal back to no avail for the hosts.

Ian Holloway’s men, who lost in the Championship play-off final in May, made the worst possible start when 23-year-old striker Alessandra scored from the edge of the area on six minutes.

Blackpool came within a whisker of an equaliser on the half-hour mark but Matt Phillips’ shot cannoned off the post.

And the Championship side were made to pay 11 minutes into the second half.

Andrew Wright delivered a ball to Fleming, who showed terrific composure to elude goalkeeper Matt Gilks and smash the ball home.

Defender Baptiste restored hope for Blackpool with a close range strike before Elliot Grandin came close to sending the match into extra-time after hitting the post.

However, Jim Bentley and his players stood strong to record a memorable victory and advance to the second round of the tournament.

Kagawa honoured to play with Rooney

12 August 2012 18:58

New Manchester United midfielder Shinji Kagawa says it has been a great honour to play with Wayne Rooney during the side’s pre-season games.

The Japanese international moved to Old Trafford from Bundesliga champions Borussia Dortmund in the close season and was involved in his side’s final warm-up game on Saturday before the English Premier League season begins next weekend.

Manchester United overcame Hannover 4-3 in Germany and Kagawa was delighted to play alongside England international Rooney.

“Playing with him (Rooney) creates such an exciting atmosphere and he really senses when he’s going to get an opening to shoot,” he said.

“My purpose is to help create those opportunities for him to shoot, if we have get the ball under control we can have those chances to get a shot away.

“It is such an honour to work alongside him and by playing with someone like Rooney, allows me to develop to the next level. I will continue to work my hardest.”

The former Cerezo Osaka midfielder was also pleased with his personal performance, while highlighting the quality of his team-mates.

“I was able to play at my full speed and power and there were a lot of chances for me,” Kagawa said.

“It was such a good feeling and the match gave me a chance to put on a good performance.

“I have just started here and there is so much for me to learn. Playing for this team presents me with so many opportunities.

“My team mates are great but there are so many talented and gifted players out there. I think we stand a good chance in the matches that we have coming up.

“There were lots of openings and opportunities for me today and the playing conditions were good too.

Kagawa will get his first taste of competitive action for United when they get their Premier League campaign underway with a trip to Everton on August 20.

Eredivisie wrap: Feyenoord fire in opener, Ajax held

12 August 2012 18:47

Feyenoord opened their Eredivisie campaign with a victory over FC Utrecht, while Twente and NEC also got off to winning starts.

Ronald Koeman’s team, who finished second behind champions Ajax last season, edged hosts Utrecht 1-0 courtesy of a 39th-minute header from Sekou Cisse at Stadion Galgenwaard.

Utrecht created a number of opportunities inside the opening 15 minutes but failed to convert one, paying full price for their profligacy.

Ruben Shaken delivered a measured cross to Cisse and the Ivorian rose above the Utrecht defence to head the ball home and ensure Feyenoord of the ideal start to the 2012-13 campaign.

Dusan Tadic came back to haunt former club Groningen as Twente ran out 4-1 winners at De Grolsch Veste Enschede.

The Serbian midfielder joined from Groningen on a three-year deal in July and he played a leading role in their demise on Sunday, setting up two goals and scoring two of his own.

Nacer Chadli broke the deadlock in the 30th minute before Tadic doubled Twente’s lead moments later.

Chadli completed his brace nine minutes into the second half, with Tadic bagging his second on 71 minutes, before Leandro Bacuna pulled a goal back for the visitors.

At Amsterdam ArenA, American striker Jozy Altidore scored twice as AZ Alkmaar drew 2-2 at Ajax.

Defender Gregory van der Wiel helped Ajax out of the blocks with a ninth-minute goal and the score would remain the same until three minutes into the second half.

Donny Gorter set up Altidore for his first goal on 48 minutes before he struck his second two minutes later.

AZ were on course for maximum points but Kolbeinn Sigthorsson beat Esteban Alvarado on 83 minutes to clinch a draw for the champions.

Elsewhere on Sunday, NEC scored two first-half goals through Melvin Platje and Pavel Cmovs to record a comfortable 2-0 win at Heerenveen, while Vitesse and ADO Den Haag played out a 2-2 draw.

Butland: Judge youngsters on talent alone

12 August 2012 17:45

Birmingham City goalkeeper Jack Butland thinks his age should have no bearing on whether or not he is included in future England squads.

The 19-year-old, who received a taste of international football by representing Team GB during the Olympic Games men’s football tournament, has insisted talent should be the defining factor.

His comments come after his inclusion in Roy Hodgson’s England squad for their friendly with Italy on Wednesday in Switzerland.

“Age is just a number,” Butland told The Sun.

“It’s not relevant to me and I wish no one made a fuss about it.

“If you are good enough you are old enough. I’d hate to think I was getting looked on favourably, or being held back due to my age.”

It has been a meteoric rise for Butland, who spent last season on loan with League Two side Cheltenham Town.

Now he is on the verge of becoming the youngest ever shot-stopper to pull on the England jersey.

“Joe Hart is the perfect example,” he said.

“Everyone knew what a great keeper he was but when the World Cup came, people were still pointing to his age and suggesting that England needed experience.

“He never played in South Africa yet, when it was over, he was immediately handed the number one shirt and looked as if he’d been there all his life.”