Bale thrilled with new Spurs role

18 September 2012 09:36

Tottenham winger Gareth Bale says he is delighted with his role under new manager Andre Villas-Boas.

The Portuguese coach favours a 4-2-3-1 formation with Bale, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Aaron Lennon all providing support to lone striker Jermain Defoe, with the insurance of two holding midfielders behind them.

This has allowed Bale the freedom to express himself in attack and the Wales international has praised the tactical switch, saying it suits his style.

Bale told The Daily Mirror: “We’re not playing the same formation as last year – it’s a different way of playing.

“It’s great. You get to attack more, which is always good. You don’t have to run too much – although you still have to run back. As long as we’re enjoying our football, then we can show what we can do.

“He (Villas-Boas) is here to build a team and it’s a new way of playing for us.

“Everybody should understand that it takes time and I think there has been an improvement in every game and you’ve seen that against Reading.

“I think everybody just has to be patient. As players we’re learning different things every day so it’s positive for the club. Things will come and it’ll start to click like it did against Reading and hopefully we can push on from there.”

Defoe has also benefited from the new system, netting twice in Sunday’s 3-1 win at Reading and Bale has praised the contribution of the England international.

“He’s looking sharp, isn’t he? Bit greedy, as normal. But that’s him. It’s great for him and great for the team. As long as somebody’s scoring, I don’t think any of us mind,” Bale said.

Evani: AC Milan should keep Allegri

18 September 2012 09:24

AC Milan should stick with coach Massimiliano Allegri despite their loss against Atalanta on Saturday, according to Alberigo Evani.

Evani, who spent 13 years at San Siro as a player, says his former side need to unite as a group to overcome their trying start to the season, while they would be making a mistake in firing Allegri, whose future has come under scrutiny due to their indifferent form.

“I don’t believe that sacking Allegri would be the best thing to do,” the former midfielder told Goal.com.

“Quite often a change of coach can bring about confusion and it doesn’t make things any better.

“I would say that to sack Allegri would only deepen their problems. At this moment, I believe that Milan just need to be calm, to work hard, and find that spark once more.

“After that, they can get back to picking up good results and the mood will also improve.”

He admitted that Milan’s form going into their Champions League opener against Anderlecht has simply not been good enough, but the switch of focus to Europe could be just what they need.

“That performance on Saturday was truly ugly, but in Europe I would say that the motivations will be very different,” Evani said.

“Milan live for the Champions League like no one else, it is a spirit that has been handed down, and I believe that the Rossoneri will not lose on Tuesday.

“But it is necessary to change their attitude, and naturally, there are other solutions. In Serie A there is a lack of order on the field, but the desire to do well is not missing at all.

“To me, it seems that the players were attempting, at all costs, to win again (against Atalanta) in a bid to show to everyone that they are still a competitive team.

“They took too many risks in their attempts to get all three points. It’s a shame because Milan should be winning their home games and making the most of the San Siro effect that visitors normally feel.”

Aguero a chance for Real clash

17 September 2012 17:35

Sergio Aguero will travel to Spain for Manchester City’s Champions League meeting with Real Madrid, Roberto Mancini has confirmed.

The Argentine has been sidelined with a knee injury since the Premier League champions’ opening-day victory over Southampton, and was not risked for Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Stoke.

Despite concerns still remaining over the forward’s fitness, City manager Mancini is set to gamble on the 24-year-old making a full recovery in time for Tuesday’s clash at the Bernabeu.

“I think he can have a chance,” Mancini said. “Sergio will travel with us.

“He worked with the team in the last three days before the Stoke game. We didn’t want to take any risks with him – but maybe he can be ready for Madrid.

“Will he start? I don’t know.”

Another player who has overcome a troubled start to the campaign is Gareth Barry, who returned to first-team action as a substitute at the Britannia Stadium.

Barry has struggled to recover from surgery following a lower abdomen tear, and Mancini has welcomed the England midfielder’s return.

“I’m happy for Gareth after three months to play again,” Mancini said. “It’s important for us because he’s an important player and he had 30 minutes and did well.”

Utaka grateful for Girard guidance

17 September 2012 17:27

After playing a pivotal role in Montpellier’s title-winning side, John Utaka says he owes his renaissance to head coach Rene Girard.

The Nigerian scored both goals in the side’s 2-1 win over Auxerre that secured Montpellier’s maiden Ligue 1 title last season and has finally found his feet in France.

The 30-year-old endured an unsuccessful spell at English club Portsmouth but thanked Girard for giving him the opportunity to play consistently in the first team.

“Rene Girard is one of (my most important managers) because he gave me confidence and practically played me in all of the games and for me it’s something I won’t forget because you play week-in, week-out and people will see you and see what you’re capable of,” Utaka said.

“Doing that and winning games, it was a turning point.

“It shows that all the work I did during those years paid off. That’s why when I play I give 200 percent – it doesn’t matter.”

Montpellier’s success earned them a place among Europe’s elite for this year’s Champions League for the first time in the club’s history but Utaka is set to miss their opening clash against Arsenal on Tuesday with a groin injury.

Szczesny out of Montpellier clash

17 September 2012 17:20

Wojciech Szczesny will miss Arsenal’s opening Champions League fixture against Montpellier because of an ankle injury.

The Polish goalkeeper sustained the injury during his side’s 6-1 rout of Southampton on Saturday.

Vito Mannone is expected to deputise in goal for Tuesday’s match against the Ligue 1 champions.

Szczesny played in the Premier League opening day 0-0 draw with Sunderland, but then missed the following stalemate with Stoke City after failing a late fitness test, and sat out the win over Liverpool.

Mannone has represented Arsenal in the Champions League before, stepping in against Standard Liege for his first appearance in the competition in 2009, where he conceded twice in the first five minutes.

The former Atalanta custodian fared better in his second opportunity, keeping a clean sheet against Olympiacos in the same campaign before going on to face the Greek side once more in the 2011/12 season.