Smith buoyed by Mulvey re-appointment

15 February 2013 07:19

Injured Brisbane Roar captain Matt Smith has backed Mike Mulvey to lead a resurgence after his re-appointment for another two years.

Despite a record of only three wins from 10 matches in all competitions since taking charge in December, Mulvey has been guiding the Roar in the right direction, according to Smith, who is out for the rest of the season after a hip operation.

Having Mulvey locked in as coach for next season would allow everyone around the club to focus on the future, Smith said.

“I think that the stability, and moving forward, is a big step today,” he said.

“We can now focus on the last seven games of the season, plus finals and then know the direction that we’re going for the next two years.”

Smith told reporters he was not surprised at Mulvey’s re-appointment, even though it came so soon after the Roar’s elimination from the AFC Champions League against Buriram United.

“From what I’ve seen over the last two or three months that Mike’s been in charge, there’s certainly been some positive changes, particularly in and around the club, and in and around the playing squad,” he said.

“We’re moving in the right direction, albeit a bit slow, and now we can really start to round things up for the remainder of this season and beyond, and know that we’ll have that direction.

“Because previously we were a bit unsure, is Mike going to be here, or is he not going to be here? Whereas now we know that what we’re working on is towards something beyond this season.”

Mulvey hinted there would be more shuffling of playing staff on the cards, something that Smith said he has no problems with.

“I’ll be the first to admit that we haven’t lived up to our expectations this season. We’ve struggled with consistency,” Smith said.

“Changes might be the thing that we need.

“With Mike at the helm now, those are his choices to make. He has obviously got his own vision and his own philosophy.

“Now that he’s got that security of knowing that he’s going to be the gaffer for the next couple of years he can really start to drive his mentality and his approach even further.”

Mulvey wants a year to prove himself

15 February 2013 06:35

Brisbane Roar coach Mike Mulvey wants to be judged on his performance in 12 months after being re-signed for a further two years.

Mulvey had been given the job on an interim basis last December and, despite not producing markedly improved results from his predecessor Rado Vidosic, has now been entrusted with the position for the next two seasons.

The decision comes at an unusual time, with the club just eliminated from the AFC Champions League at the first hurdle, losing on penalties to Buriram United in a one-off playoff in Thailand on Wednesday.

Mulvey told media on arrival at Brisbane airport from Thailand that his appointment to the full-time role had not come as a surprise, despite the result against Buriram.

“I’m thrilled. Brisbane is my home town and to be given the opportunity to build some momentum and get the club back to where it belongs, is a great feeling for me,” Mulvey said.

“What I ask is that I’m judged in 12 months time with regards to a full pre-season, settling of my own squad, and then moving forward.

“There will be changes through the playing squad. That’s for the future. Right now we’ve got to give these players the best opportunity to do the best they can.”

Asked if he had been concerned about his future at the club after Brisbane lost two crucial encounters in the past week, to Buriram and Sydney FC, Mulvey said he was never worried.

“For my future? No. My future never came into it,” he said.

“It really isn’t about me, it’s about the club. And if I can bring some qualities to the club that will help it improve, then that’s great.”

“I was extremely disappointed (with the shoot-out loss). It’s a terrible way to lose a game. We do want to compete in Asia at the very top level.

“But if I’m truthful about the whole thing, we’re probably not equipped well enough to compete deep into the tournament this year in terms of our depth.

“While we’re very, very disappointed, we know we’ve come back to the A-League, which is equally important to us and we want to be aiming towards getting to the finals from now on.”

Bale: Practice makes perfect

15 February 2013 06:16

Tottenham star Gareth Bale has credited plenty of training-ground practice for his two excellent free-kicks against Lyon on Thursday.

The Welshman added to the set-piece he scored against Newcastle last Sunday with two long-range efforts in the Europa League tie first leg – the first from 35 yards out in first-half injury time and the second coming with the last kick of the game.

A delightful strike from Samuel Umtiti was sandwiched between the goals, the youngster hitting the ball first-time from an acute angle, leaving Brad Friedel stranded in goal.

“I’m delighted. I’ve been practising free-kicks on the training ground and I scored one like that last week. Both came at good times in the game,” Bale told ITV.

“Lyon are a good team and we weren’t 100 percent to be honest – we looked a bit tired.

“But the most important thing is we got the win. It’s going to be hard going over there, but we’re taking this competition seriously.”

Spurs travel to France next week with the advantage, but Umtiti’s away goal leaves the tie firmly in the balance.

Nolito unfazed by Barcelona clash

15 February 2013 06:12

Granada winger Nolito says he and his team-mates are undaunted by facing Barcelona in La Liga on Saturday.

Despite the colossal task facing the league leaders, with 36 points separating the two sides on the table, the man on loan from Benfica is remaining upbeat.

“It’s complicated, but we will try to be ourselves. If we can beat Deportivo (La Coruna), Real Madrid and Barcelona then it would be a few days worth celebrating,” Nolito told reporters at a press conference.

“We know it will be a difficult game, but we are preparing with the same intensity that we had against Madrid and Deportivo.

“Football is 11 against 11 and we have to play like we have been playing. Barcelona can score a goal in a second, we must try to be brave and outrun them.”

Granada head into the clash sitting 15th in La Liga, six points clear of the relegation zone.

Beauchamp to return for Wanderers

15 February 2013 05:57

Western Sydney have received a boost with captain Michael Beauchamp set to return from injury against the Melbourne Victory on Saturday.

Beauchamp has missed the Wanderers’ past two matches with a groin strain suffered during training.

But after coming through the club’s final session on Friday, coach Tony Popovic will throw the 31-year-old straight back into his side for the AAMI Park clash.

And Beauchamp’s return is timely with the Wanderers facing a huge challenge against the Victory as they look to keep the pressure on A-League leaders Central Coast.

The competition new boys, who have won five matches in a row, are just four points off top spot heading into the final seven games of the season.

While the pressure and expectation rises with every win, Popovic is confident his players will continue to leap every hurdle starting with the third-placed Victory on Saturday night.

“The players have shown since the second third of the season – we’ve lost one game and won five in a row – that the pressure of trying to maintain performances and results every week is not affecting them at all,” Popovic told reporters on Friday.

“There was no panic when the results weren’t there at the start (of the season) because we could see we were competitive and creating opportunities.

“And we believe now that the form we’re in, if we perform to our best we give ourselves a chance against anyone and that includes (the Victory).”

Beauchamp, who is likely to replace Italian Iacopo La Rocca in the starting 11, believes the trip to Melbourne will be the biggest test so far in the club’s short history.

He said: “It’s obviously second playing third and in front of a big crowd down there on a fast pitch, everyone’s going to have to be up for it.

“I’m confident that we will be and it’s just another great challenge for us as a club.”

While the Wanderers will go into the clash at full strength, Victory will be without star Archie Thompson after he strained his hamstring in the loss to Adelaide and the suspended Adama Traore.