Van Gaal backs Bayern´s Guardiola swoop

21 January 2013 12:21

Louis van Gaal believes Bayern Munich have made the right choice to appoint Pep Guardiola as their new head coach.

The Bundesliga leaders announced last week Guardiola has signed a three-year deal with Bayern and will take over from Jupp Heynckes at the end of this season.

Netherlands coach and former Bayern trainer Van Gaal has endorsed the appointment of the Spaniard, who guided Barcelona to unprecedented success between 2008 and 2012.

“Guardiola’s appointment was not a surprise for me as Bayern always go for the best coaches out there. And Pep follows the Van Gaal-philosophy. I think it’s a fantastic choice,” he told NOS.

“I’m the one who first employed the formation Bayern Munich are using these days during my time at the club. (Jupp) Heynckes then continued on the same path and Pep is the right man to succeed him. Pep thinks just like Jupp and I.

“Guardiola is a really intelligent guy. He might struggle a bit with the German language, but they all understand English as well.”

Van Gaal was in charge of Bayern from 2009 until 2011 and also coached Guardiola at Barcelona.

Pazzini thrilled with key contribution

21 January 2013 12:00

Giampaolo Pazzini says he was overjoyed with his goals in AC Milan’s 2-1 Serie A win over Bologna on Sunday.

The 28-year-old joined Milan from cross city rivals Internazionale in the off-season transfer window, but initially struggled to make an impact at his new club.

Nevertheless, Pazzini netted both of Milan’s goals in the home victory over Bologna, and has now scored 10 goals in 19 league matches.

“Milan have always shown faith in me and I’m happy when I can repay this faith,” Pazzini told reporters.

“I’ve been able to work well for the last few weeks.

“I’m happy because my performance (against Bologna) was decisive. I hope I can continue to score big goals and help the team towards important objectives.”

Pazzini’s strikes helped Milan climb to sixth spot in the Serie A table following this week’s results.

Messi rejects superstar tag

21 January 2013 11:44

Barcelona’s Lionel Messi says comparisons to other athletes such as Michael Jordan, Usain Bolt and Muhammad Ali make him feel uncomfortable.

The prolific forward has been likened to some of the best sportsmen in history for the way he has dominated football in recent years, but Messi would rather not evaluate his career until he has hung up his boots for good.

“It’s crazy that I’m compared to athletes like Michael Jordan, Usain Bolt or Muhammad Ali,” Messi was quoted as saying by El Periodico de Catalunya.

“I don’t like comparisons, who am I to compare myself to someone else? I do my job and when (my career) is over we’ll see how well I’ve done.”

The Argentine then went on to stress that he is not easily satisfied with his own performances.

“The biggest critic of Messi is Messi. I know when I do things correctly and when I do them poorly. I’m my No.1 critic.”

The 25-year-old has netted 29 goals in 20 La Liga appearances this term.

Allegri unsure on Kaka swoop

21 January 2013 09:05

AC Milan manager Massimiliano Allegri is unsure of the likelihood of pulling off a sensational swoop for Kaka.

The Brazil international spent six years with the 18-time Serie A winners before joining Real Madrid in 2009, where he has enjoyed mixed success.

“It is difficult to speculate on the percentage for Kaka, but as a coach I look at this issue with great interest,” Allegri told Rai Sport.

The 45-year-old also spoke about bringing lifelong Milan fan Mario Balotelli to the club, as well as the possibility of making other signings.

“Balotelli is a Manchester City player, and I have not spoken with Roberto Mancini about him, and I think he still has continuing and important qualities,” said the former Cagliari coach.

“I do not think there is the need for reinforcements in defence: Mexes’ [own-goal in Sunday’s Serie A win over Bologna] was a simple accident, which occurred after a positive performance, and we have many good players in that department.

“I think a coach, like a business leader who has people under him, needs to know how to wait patiently for the results of the work.”

Wenger concerned by top four prospects

21 January 2013 08:46

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger believes his side cannot drop any more points if they are to finish in the top four.

The north London side slipped to a 2-1 defeat to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, a result which leaves them seven points behind fourth-placed Tottenham – albeit with a game in hand.

And the Frenchman believes Arsenal must improve in the coming weeks if they are to qualify for the Champions League again this season.

Wenger told reporters: “We have lost two big games in the last week, and that’s very damaging for us. We can’t drop points any more if we want to be in the top four. That’s a concern.

“We have fantastic quality and spirit, but come into the game when we are 2-0 down. That is very difficult in the big games and at the moment that is worrying for us.”

The 63-year-old also bemoaned his side’s poor start against the Blues, a factor which he believes was the main reason for defeat.

“We were stretched, we gave Chelsea far too much room to play and we didn’t defend tightly enough,” Wenger continued.

“We didn’t make enough of our chances, which is why we lost. It’s very damaging for our league position and difficult to swallow.”