Suarez prioritises Premier League title

19 August 2012 13:12

Liverpool striker Luis Suarez has declared his main career ambition is to win the Premier League with the Anfield club.

The Reds endured a tough campaign on and off the field in 2011-12, eventually finishing eighth, but their top scorer is desperate to top the table.

The Uruguayan told the Daily Mirror: “If you ask me now what am I dreaming of for the rest of my career, I would tell you it is a championship with Liverpool.

“That is all I want – and usually I get what I want.

“I have a lot of self-confidence about this now, but before I joined Liverpool – I can admit this now – I was nervous.

“I feared I would be surrounded by superstars in the dressing room, big-time Charlies, But I soon found out they are all really nice, down-to-earth guys. Now I am so happy in Liverpool.

“As a young boy I would dream about playing for a club like this.

“Even when I first bought a PlayStation, I used to play a football game and I always picked Liverpool as my club. So I find it amazing that I now wear the shirt here. I am playing for one of the biggest clubs in the world. Everyone in South America knows that. My career is going fantastically.”

Suarez arrived at Anfield already notorious for having once bitten PSV’s Otman Bakkal in November 2010 while playing for Ajax, but feels the incident is referred to too often, nearly two years after the fact.

“Listen, when I make a big mistake, I accept any punishment and all the criticism,” he said.

“The biting incident was a massive mistake. When I bit Bakkal, I knew I was wrong, so I apologised to Bakkal and my team.

“But I see fouls in England which are far worse and the sanctions are not as big – I never kicked someone’s leg to pieces, you know.

“But even when I know I’ve been wrong, I can’t read or hear the stuff they say about me because I get so upset.”

Suarez paid tribute to the role of his wife, Sofia, and two-year-old daughter, Delfina, in keeping him grounded in football.

“When I was little, I did not even have money for football boots,” he explained.

“My family barely had enough money for food, so I try not to spoil Delfina with material things.

“But in Uruguay, people see me as some mega-rich footballer. Kids talk to me, saying: ‘hey, you’re the multi-millionaire’. I find that awkward.

“It is true I have a super contract now, but I try to live a normal life. I know the value of money because of the way I have been brought up.”

Gomis happy to stay with Lyon

19 August 2012 11:56

Lyon striker Bafetimbi Gomis has played down speculation about his rumoured departure from the club, saying he is not going anywhere.

Gomis scored twice as Lyon came from behind to beat Troyes 4-1 on Saturday in their Ligue 1 opener, and said he is happy to stay with the club this season.

“It’s part of life as a footballer. Sometimes a club wants to sell you, sometimes you actually leave, but personally I really love this group of players, this club and this city,” Gomis said.

“I’ve never said that I’m going, I still have a lot of great moments to come here in Lyon. Obviously you can never say never, but for me, I will stay here with Lyon until the end of the season and then, after that, we’ll see.”

Centre back Cris is another who has been linked with a move away from the club, and the Brazilian admitted it can be hard to stay focused amid the speculation.

“Look, until the end of the transfer window, you always think it could be your last game with your club,” Cris said.

“As I just said, each week anything can happen, but every game that you play you just have to stay focused, because if you go the other way, you might not play very well.

“At the end of the day, I just tried to play my game and to give my best as usual, for the club. It’s for me and for the supporters.”

Head coach Remi Garde also has transfers on his mind, but said players must be given credit for maintaining team spirit during a period of upheaval.

“I don’t sleep. I stay close to my phone, but I don’t think I’m the only one,” Garde said.

“There must be other clubs in the same situation. I just try to talk with the players as much as possible. Some of them need to be reassured on their individual situations. Others are more integrated into the group.

“It’s not easy, but it’s an interesting job which demands a lot of energy.

“Somewhere we have to give credit to the players. All of them have very important individual interests, but football is a game of 11 players. We need this cohesion, this solidarity – words I often use – so maybe they will begin to understand.”

Mazzarri pondered quitting Napoli

19 August 2012 11:45

Napoli coach Walter Mazzarri said he considered quitting his job following his side’s 4-2 Supercoppa Italiana defeat to Juventus.

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Napoli had Juan Camilo Zuniga and Goran Pandev, along with Mazzarri himself, sent off in extra time, with Juve bagging the two decisive goals shortly after.

The Partenopei opted to boycott the trophy presentation in response, which led to Pandev and Andrea Dossena being slapped with two-match Serie A bans.

And the 50-year old boss has moved to reveal the extent of his anger speaking to reporters, stating that ‘(he) wanted to resign’.

“I tell this to those who look at other people’s business and not their own – I’d love to have seen what others would’ve done in our place, if they had suffered what we did during and after the game.

“We were right not to attend the ceremony. What would’ve happened if we had faced the referees at the end of the game, after the decisions they made? I think Napoli made the right choice.”

The San Vincenzo native went on to slam Juventus’ interim manager Massimo Carrera, who had previously questioned Napoli’s ‘man-hunt’ tackling in the showpiece fixture.

“He invented all of it and must’ve seen a different game. Juventus committed many tackles worthy of a yellow card that weren’t given. From the first to the final minute, there was an unequal approach against Napoli,” he said.

Despite his frustration, the Italian believes a positive season lies ahead for his side.

“I am confident, as we would’ve probably beaten Juventus had it not been for the refereeing decisions… In any case, Napoli will have a great campaign,” he said.

Keegan: City will win it again

19 August 2012 11:21

Kevin Keegan has tipped Manchester City to successfully defend their English Premier League title.

Keegan managed City between 2001 and 2005, helping the club win promotion back into the top flight during his first year in charge.

The face of the club has changed completely since then but Keegan is tipping them for more success this term, naming them as favourites for the Premier League crown.

“Manchester City will win it again, Manchester United are going to push them all the way but I think it’s mainly between those two,” Keegan told Goal.com.

“Despite Chelsea spending 65 million pounds and with Villas-Boas new at Spurs and Newcastle stacking up, I still think it’s going to be in the North West again.”

When asked where the main challenge to the Manchester duopoly was going to come from, Keegan said the usual suspects would still be in the frame for a top-four spot, but the majority of teams would simply be playing catch-up.

“Chelsea and Arsenal definitely – I think that the top four are going to be the same, it’s been nearly the same top four for around 10 years now,” he said.

“The Liverpools and Tottenhams have been playing catch-up for the most part and although they’ve managed to do it on occasion, there’s a big gap there still.”

Keegan made his name as a player at Liverpool during a trophy-laden six-year spell in the 1970s, and he believes that under the management of new boss Brendan Rodgers, the club are heading in the right direction.

But the feels any talk of a title push in the near future needs to be dampened.

“It all depends on who you talk to, we used to talk about the club winning titles and finishing second was a disappointment, but now we’re talking about finishing fourth as an achievement,” he said.

“I think if Brendan (Rodgers) can get them into third or fourth this season, though, then that would make him a gold medal winner.

“He may have had only one season’s top flight experience with Swansea, but he was a coach at Chelsea under Jose Mourinho for a number of years, so it’s not like he’s wet behind the ears.

“He’s got to be himself, but there are pressures there – the club’s got a fantastic stadium and a fantastic history. If he can get that history and use it to his advantage, then he’ll be able to take the club forward, but if he doesn’t, it becomes an anchor and it can weigh on you.

“My feeling is that the Liverpool fans are more positive than they have been the past two or three years.

“That positivity shouldn’t let them think that they could possibly go on and win the league, they’re a little bit away from that and behind Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal for me.”

Malaga coach pleased with ´fortunate´ win

19 August 2012 11:00

Malaga boss Manuel Pellegrini has conceded his side was lucky to grab all three points in their 1-0 win over Celta Vigo.

The Andalusians saw off the recently promoted side with a late effort from Olinga, 16, who became La Liga’s youngest ever goal-scorer with his 83rd minute strike.

Speaking to the press after the game, the club’s Chilean coach admitted he would have settled for a solitary point given the performances of both sides.

“We were fortunate enough to win, whilst a draw on that last play would not have been unfair,” the 58-year old said.

Malaga have been subject of much upheaval following financial difficulties at the club, and Pellegrini believes his side did well to put this and the departure of several star names behind them.

“Our group has been through some very difficult times but they have served to make them stronger in spirit and mind,” he said.

Malaga’s next fixture is their Champions League play-off match against Panathinaikos on Wednesday.