Coutinho earns Pascoe praise

8 March 2013 14:03

Liverpool assistant manager Colin Pascoe has hailed Philippe Coutinho and his impact on the Reds’ first team.

The Brazilian signed from Inter in January and has already managed a goal and two assists in his three appearances for the Merseyside outfit.

“Philippe has been brilliant,” Pascoe told the club’s official website.

“He is a quiet, young lad and it must be hard for him because he doesn’t speak much English – and I can’t help him as he doesn’t speak Welsh either. But with Luis (Suarez), Lucas, Sebastian (Coates) and Fabio (Borini) you have Spanish and Italian, and he can speak that.

“I’m not surprised by his impact so far as we knew how good a player he was. He’s got a good eye, he’s got a good awareness of where his team-mates are and that’s what he’s picked up very quickly.

“He got two assists at Wigan. The one he crossed for Stewart Downing’s goal with two wingers combining was fantastic, and his goal against Swansea was superb.

“He wants to get into the box and he wants to score goals. If the opportunity is there for a pass he will make the right decision whether to shoot or pass and that’s the sign of a good player.”

Pascoe is also happy that Brendan Rodgers’ style of football seems to be paying off, with Liverpool having scored 12 goals in their past three games.

He explained: “It’s always hard when you implement a new style and it takes time to get used to it, but with the way the lads have been playing it has been fantastic.

“Daniel Sturridge and Coutinho came in January and they have gelled well with the rest of the lads.

“The lads have been fantastic and every day they are working hard on the style, the tactical and technical style of their game, and good positioning, pressing and passing the ball better.

“You look at the 5-0 win against Swansea, 4-0 versus Wigan – both high scoring games and we could have even scored more with the way we played. We also played Arsenal and Manchester City and dominated them and were unlucky not to beat them.”

Zanetti rues Samuel absence

8 March 2013 13:54

Javier Zanetti said Inter’s disappointing start to 2013 is partially down to the absence of Walter Samuel.

Inter have struggled to find their best form in Serie A in recent weeks, and were beaten 3-0 by Tottenham in Thursday’s Europa League encounter at White Hart Lane.

“We miss Samuel a lot but we also miss others too,” Zanetti told the club’s official website.

“We’ve had to contend with a whole host of injuries that have forced the coach’s hand in terms of team selection.

“We haven’t got time to sit here feeling sorry for ourselves though, because there’s another big match just around the corner.

“We have to immediately switch our attentions because we’ve got a massive game coming up on Sunday against Bologna.”

Inter sit fourth in Serie A, while Bologna are in 11th spot ahead of the two sides’ clash at the weekend.

Green wants Rangers to play in England

8 March 2013 13:42

Rangers chief executive Charles Green claims the club are working to become a member of the English Football League.

The club, reformed after going into administration last year, have competed in the Scottish Third Division this season, with Green critical of plans to restructure Scottish Football.

Green cited the example of Welsh clubs being allowed to play in England and believes attempts to block a move south of the border would be illegal.

“I would be delighted to be the chief executive of Rangers that took them into the English league,” Green told reporters.

“We are going to pursue it. We’ve sought legal advice. I’ve had enough indications that Scottish football don’t like us and don’t want Rangers, so I look at other options.

“I have taken legal counsel, because let’s be clear: it is a breach of European competition law to deny Scottish clubs, not just Rangers, the right to play in England. That is against European law.

“I don’t believe that the authorities would stand back and try to ignore that position.

“You just try and explain to me why a Welsh club can play in the English league but a Scottish club can’t.”

Early goal can boost Barca, says Xavi

8 March 2013 13:27

Xavi said Barcelona have what it takes to overcome AC Milan in their Champions League round-of-16 tie.

The Blaugrana were stunned by a 2-0 defeat in the first leg at San Siro, but the Spanish midfielder remains upbeat Barcelona can reach the quarter-finals.

“I am quite optimistic that we can turn the first-leg defeat around, even though Milan are a strong and competitive team. The pitch will be in great condition and the fans will be behind us,” Xavi told El Mundo Deportivo.

“Everybody has responded well to our recent losses and that encourages the team. We want to give the fans something to cheer about and will attack in numbers right from the start.

“We will try and get a goal in the opening 15 or 20 minutes to get back into the tie. We have 90 minutes to turn things around, and perhaps even 120 minutes. Anything can happen in the game.

“We have to act careful. We cannot afford to give away free-kicks in dangerous positions or lose possession easily. We have to find back the fluidity that has seemingly been missing recently.”

Xavi is recovering from a hamstring problem, and could make his comeback against Milan on Tuesday.

Ribery: Bayern can compete in market

8 March 2013 13:36

Franck Ribery said Bayern Munich can compete with clubs such as Barcelona and Real Madrid when it comes to high-profile signings.

The Frenchman feels world-class players previously preferred a move to Spain or the English Premier League, but the Bavarians’ recent good results have made them an enticing destination too.

“Bayern have always been Bayern. However, in the past, top-players were more likely to look at Barcelona, Real Madrid or the Premier League,” Ribery told Sport Bild.

“Nowadays, you get the impression that world-class players would prefer to join Bayern.

“The fact that we reached the Champions League final two times in the last three years speaks for itself.”

Ribery joined Bayern from Marseille in mid-2007, and has become a key player at the Allianz Arena.