Jol interested in Derby teen Hughes

26 December 2012 21:36

Fulham manager Martin Jol has confirmed he is considering a move for highly rated Derby County teenager Will Hughes.

The 17-year-old has been linked with a host of top clubs and the Dutchman says as many as 10 English Premier League sides are interested in the midfielder.

Hughes’ exploits in the Championship, where he has made 23 appearances so far this season for Derby, have earned him a call-up to the England under-21 side.

“Believe me, there is probably 10 clubs in the Barclays Premier League having a look at him,” Jol told reporters.

“He is one of these wonderful talents so he is always on lists. If you have a good scouting system, he will always be on the list but we will see.”

Jol is hoping to strengthen a squad that was depleted in midfield in the off-season after the departures of Moussa Dembele and Clint Dempsey, who both left to join Tottenham.

Fulham could be left short in the middle of the park when Mali international Mahamadou Diarra leaves for the Africa Cup of Nations in January, though Jol has ruled out a move for reported target McDonald Mariga of Inter Milan.

“He is an interesting player but I have to be honest and say we’re not looking at him,” the Jol said.

“We did a couple of years ago.”

Martinez slams referee after loss

26 December 2012 21:19

Wigan manager Roberto Martinez was left ‘bemused’ after his team were denied what he felt was a clear penalty in their 2-1 loss to Everton.

Martinez’s men remain in the English Premier League relegation zone after goals from Leon Osman and Phil Jagielka condemned them to defeat, with Arouna Kone netting a late consolation.

But Martinez was incensed by Lee Mason’s decision not to award Shaun Maloney a spot-kick in the second half, when the Scot appeared to be tripped in the box by Osman with the score at 1-0.

He told reporters: “It was a great piece of skill and he goes past him with ease. I haven’t got any player who looks for penalties or dives.

“We’ve been given six penalties already this season and it is a shame that we didn’t get a decision that Shaun Maloney deserved there.

“There’s clearly contact. It’s a great drop of shoulder, a step over and then Osman sticks his leg out. I was bemused that he didn’t give the decision.

“From where (the referee) was, he’s got a perfect angle and it’s hard to understand.”

The Spaniard did take positives from the game at Goodison Park, insisting his side deserved at least a point.

“I thought the scoreline is hard to take for us. We knew that Goodison Park is a tough place and Everton are unbeaten (here) this season but if you watch the game you do feel that we deserve a positive result,” Martinez said.

“There is a point that the difference in the two boxes was very, very clear. The first goal is a great moment of luck for Everton – there is a deflection and not much you can do.

“I like the response that we had. I like the character that we showed. The key action (was) the penalty which is a real clear incident. It’s no good feeling sorry for ourselves. We need to get even better.”

Everton manager David Moyes later conceded his side were fortunate not to give away a penalty but said the decision was not clear-cut.

“From where I was I thought it looked like a penalty kick but when you see it again there is a bit of debate (over) was there any contact or not. Sitting in the dugout I thought ‘this looks like a penalty’,” he said.

Moyes hailed Everton’s performance, but lamented their inability to keep a clean sheet.

“Wigan are a good footballing team and they’ll cause a lot of teams problems because they can play in different ways. They’ll be hard for a lot of teams to play against this year,” he said.

“I was disappointed we didn’t keep a clean sheet but for the goal it’s an incredible handball which puts the ball into Kone’s path to score but that sometimes happens.

“We’re not saying an awful lot about it but he knocks it right in front of himself.”

Rooney out for up to three weeks

26 December 2012 20:58

Manchester United star Wayne Rooney has been ruled out for up to three weeks due to a knee injury.

The striker played in the 1-1 draw against Swansea on Sunday but was not involved as the English Premier League leaders secured a 4-3 Boxing Day victory over Newcastle United.

United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has told MUTV the England international is struggling with a slight knee ligament problem and is facing two to three weeks out.

“Wayne had a volley yesterday towards the end of training and he’s torn the ligament in the back of his knee,” the Scot said.

“He could be out for two or three weeks which is unfortunate because I thought after his performance on Sunday he could be brilliant, you know you don’t have two performances like Wayne did on Sunday.

“He was desperate to play and unfortunately couldn’t risk him.”

Ferguson was also without Ashley Young with a knock, while Danny Welbeck was ruled out prior to the game through illness.

United edged Newcastle at Old Trafford to move seven points clear at the top, with defender Nemanja Vidic an unused substitute due to soreness after the Swansea draw.

Premier League: Aston Villa 0 Tottenham 4

26 December 2012 20:50

Tottenham made it a Christmas to forget for Aston Villa as they condemned their hosts to a second defeat in four days with a 4-0 victory.

Andre Villas-Boas’ men enjoyed large spells of pressure in the first half but were unable to break Villa until the second half on Wednesday.

But a second-half hat-trick from Gareth Bale and a Jermain Defoe strike punished some sloppy defending to seal all three points for Tottenham as Villa were dealt a heavy loss just days after being beaten 8-0 by Chelsea.

The visitors dominated the opening half and should have tested Brad Guzan more often, but the American was only really stretched by a Bale strike in the 15th minute.

The Welshman’s effort looked to be heading for the top corner but Guzan managed to get his fingertips to it and turn the ball over the bar.

Emmanuel Adebayor had two good chances from two of Tottenham’s 15 first-half corners but was unable to get enough power in either of his efforts.

Villa substitute Marc Albrighton caused Tottenham problems after coming on but his crosses into the penalty area were easily dealt with by Hugo Lloris.

Despite Villa’s improvements they were punished just before the hour as Kyle Naughton superbly found Defoe inside the penalty area.

The England striker made no mistake, poking the ball through the legs of Guzan for his 14th goal of the season.

Tottenham doubled their lead minutes later as they punished some sloppy attacking from Villa with a devastating counter-attack.

Christian Benteke’s cross was intercepted and cleared and Ciaran Clark failed to control the long ball before Defoe touched the ball away from Joe Bennett’s challenge for Bale to race clear.

Once inside the penalty area, he danced around Guzan and tapped into the open goal to make it 2-0 on 61 minutes.

The points were sealed in the 73rd minute as Bale added his second and Tottenham’s third with an easy finish into the bottom corner, giving Guzan no chance.

Aaron Lennon moved along the edge of the penalty area, spotted Bale and rolled a perfect pass into him and the Welshman fired into the bottom corner.

Bale completed his hat-trick in the 84th minute as another lovely passing move released Gylfi Sigurdsson and he rolled the ball back to Bale, who finished for his hat-trick.

Gutierrez likens Pardew to Maradona

26 December 2012 13:46

Jonas Gutierrez believes there are many similarities between Newcastle manager Alan Pardew and Argentine legend Diego Maradona.

The 29-year-old, who has plied his trade with five managers during his four-year stay at St James’ Park, said he can see a resemblance between Pardew and the former Argentina national team coach.

“In some ways Alan Pardew is a bit like Diego Maradona,” the Argentine told the Guardian.

“They are different people but they are both passionate for football. They have a real thing for it; they think about it in the same way.

“Alan Pardew has found a really good group of players who all want to do very well for the team.”

Despite a strong campaign last time out for Newcastle, when they finished fifth on the table, this season has seen problems on the field and injury concerns throughout the team which have hampered their efforts.

“It’s a difficult season, we’re conceding goals we kept out last year, but we’re all still working very hard,” he said.

“I play most of my best games on the left wing but because of the injuries we’ve had this season I’ve had to be more in the middle of midfield and it’s been harder.

“Last season we were lucky with injuries and suspensions. This year we’ve been unlucky and we now know it is the hardest thing to play well in the Europa League and the Premier League. But we have to start winning.

“Otherwise there’s going to be too much pressure; we have to start climbing the table and then we can still finish quite high in the spring.”