McDermott caught out by Reading axe

31 March 2013 14:57

Brian McDermott says he was shocked to get the sack from Reading and thought he would be at the club “forever”.

McDermott was dismissed by owner Anton Zingarevich in March with the club deep in relegation trouble, and former Southampton manager Nigel Adkins has since been appointed as his replacement.

Many of the Reading squad were reported to be shocked by the decision to sack McDermott, and the man himself has said he was as surprised as anyone by the news.

“It was initially very difficult, but everyone has to move on and you get on with it,” he told Sky Sports.

“It was a shock, because I’ve been there 13 years and loved every second.

“I had a phone call on the Saturday to see the owner on the Monday and didn’t think too much of it, I thought it was just to discuss the team (to play) against (Manchester) United.

“The owner wanted to see me at three and I didn’t think too much of it. It wasn’t normal but just I didn’t get it, until I went into the room and thought ‘This guy is going to sack me’.

“It was difficult for him. He made his choice and his decision. I can’t say I agree with it but I’ll never have a problem with Reading as a club. He thinks what he’s doing is right.

“It’s about the next challenge for me now. I was hungry before and I’m hungrier now.

“I thought I’d be there forever – that’s how you think – but the club is going in a different direction and I think Nigel Adkins is a superb guy and a superb manager.”

McDermott expressed his surprise at hearing the news that Martin O’Neill has also been dismissed from his post as Sunderland manager after a run of poor results.

“It’s a surprise about Martin,” he said.

“He left a message on my phone when I was sacked. With seven games to go it’s difficult to go in there and make a difference.

“When you consider the experience and expertise Martin brings it’s a big, big decision. Sunderland must have someone lined up to take over almost immediately. I’d be very surprised if they haven’t.”

Gargano enjoying life at San Siro

31 March 2013 14:50

Walter Gargano says he is happy with life at Inter Milan and hinted he could make his loan switch from Napoli a permanent move.

The Uruguay international arrived at the club from Napoli last August and has gone on to make 25 Serie A appearances for the Milan outfit this season.

Gargano made it clear he is enjoying his time at the club, though he cannot say for certain whether he will remain with Inter.

“I don’t know what will happen in the future,” the 28-year-old Uruguay international told FCInterNews.it.

“I feel good at Inter and the club will decide my fate.”

Andrea Stramaccioni’s side have endured some indifferent results of late, losing their last two league games – including Saturday’s 2-1 Derby d’Italia loss to Juventus – and have slipped to seventh in the table.

Gargano said he could understand the frustrations of the Inter faithful, with cries of unrest beginning to surface around San Siro.

“The boos from the crowd don’t have any affect on me because I’m doing my job,” he said.

“If we mess up, the fans are entitled to have their say, but everyone makes mistakes and it’s not a problem for me. I am happy to be here.”

Postecoglou turns attention to finals

31 March 2013 14:36

It was a case of job done and move on for Melbourne Victory after their 3-2 win against Wellington Phoenix on Sunday.

The win secured Victory third place and an elimination final against Perth Glory on Friday.

With a short turnaround heading into the A-League finals series coach Ange Postecoglou was happy to see his team bounce back from last week’s disappointment against Perth and come through the match at Westpac Stadium with no injuries.

“We won the game. We were pretty keen on sticking in third spot because I think where you finish on the ladder is still important in terms of your season,” Postecoglou said.

“We lost last week and if we’d gone in (to the finals series) with a couple of defeats it wouldn’t have been great for us. So it was great to get the result.”

Victory led 2-0 with around 25 minutes to play after goals to Marco Rojas and Marcos Flores.

But they saw that lead wiped out by quick-fire goals from Stein Huysegems and Jeremy Brockie and it took an 84th-minute strike from Archie Thompson to seal the win.

“The performance was okay, nothing flash,” Postecoglou said. “To Wellington’s credit they had nothing to play for and were quite adventurous and caused us a few problems.

“In the end we got the win and came through unscathed so from that point of view it’s a positive thing.”

Postecoglou handed teenager Jason Geria his first start in defence, opted to rest Billy Celeski until the 72nd minute when he replaced Flores, and gave returning Socceroos Mark Milligan and Archie Thompson the full 90 minutes with one eye on Friday’s elimination final in Melbourne.

“Mark Milligan and Archie Thompson were away for a good 10 days and didn’t really play much so it was good for them to get some minutes under their belt,” said the coach.

“Flores got another hour or so because he’s been out for a while.

“The primary thing was to get through unscathed and hopefully get three points. We did both of those.

“We get back to Melbourne tomorrow and start looking forward to a big game on Friday.”

Postecoglou certainly expects a different level of football at Etihad Stadium.

“There’s a lot more edge to (finals football). There’s a lot more pressure to every situation. The tempo is usually higher and the intensity is definitely higher … particularly if you’re playing knock-out football,” he said.

“For us, we’re going to be in that scenario for the next three weeks. Every 90 minutes could potentially be our last.

“There is a little bit of a different mindset going into finals. But we’ve been preparing for that for a while as well. I think the style of football we’re trying to play will hopefully be successful in a finals type scenario.”

Paston content with retirement decision

31 March 2013 14:28

Retiring Wellington Phoenix goalkeeper Mark Paston is confident the decision to hang up his boots was the right one.

Paston, 36, brought the curtain down on six years in Wellington with a 3-2 loss to Melbourne Victory on Sunday as the Phoenix could not avoid the dreaded wooden spoon.

Following the match Paston said there was obviously sadness at ending his professional football career but excitement about what lay ahead.

“This moment you know it’s coming eventually,” he said. “The decision is always supposed to be tough but I think I’ve made the right decision.”

The New Zealand international has battled back from two broken legs as well as other injuries during his time with the Phoenix and New Zealand, and said the physical toll of training and playing week in week out was one of the reasons behind his decision to quit.

“I tend to get to December and my body starts seizing up and the guys have a bit of a laugh at training when I start warming up when I can barely walk let alone run,” said the affable goalkeeper.

“It gets harder every year. That side of things does take away the enjoyment a bit when you spend more time warming up than actually training.”

Spending more time with wife Amy and children Jack, Benji and Charlie was also a major factor.

But he has left the door open on his All Whites career.

“I can’t commit (to it) at this stage and I don’t want to,” said Paston, who hopes to move into IT now.

“I’ll need to have that conversation with a few people. If I am going to do it I want to make sure I do it for the right reasons.

“It’s important to separate the two (the Phoenix and All Whites). Playing professionally is 10, 11 months of the year and it’s five or six days a week and a huge amount of travel.

“It does take a toll on your body and on your mind as well. I just felt like it was time to move on from that.

“Whether that means my All White career is over I don’t know at this stage. I need some time out to recharge and see how we go.”

Interim Phoenix coach Chris Greenacre was effusive in his praise of the goalkeeper, who entered New Zealand football folklore when his penalty save against Bahrain got New Zealand to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

“I can’t speak highly enough of the guy,” said Greenacre. “I think he’s been a great ambassador for the game in New Zealand.

“For young players he’s probably one of the best role models you could have. He’s a family man and watching him at training working day in, day out and then the brilliance he produces on a Saturday. He’s got absolutely everything. I’m proud to say that I played with him.

“We wish him all the best and all the luck in the world with his new career. I’m sure he’ll be a massive success at that as well.”

Greenacre also believed Paston and his team-mates could hold their heads high after showing some resilience in the final weeks of a horror season that cost Ricki Herbert his job.

“When Jonathan (assistant coach Jonathan Gould) and I took over five weeks ago I just asked the players to eat, live and breathe the football club and they’ve done that,” said the Englishman, who led the Phoenix to two wins and three losses.

“It was important that we gave the players a direction in how we wanted to do things and that was to play attacking, expansive football.

“I think today has been a perfect example of what we’ve asked them to do. It would have been quite easy just to sit back and let Melbourne Victory dictate the game as they do to a lot of teams.

“It was important we took the game to them. I thought the boys did that today.

“I’d like to think I can hold my head really high. I’m proud to do that for these players. They’ve given us everything and when players give you everything you can’t ask any more.”

Giovinco voices fitness concerns

31 March 2013 13:48

Sebastian Giovinco says an ankle injury means he is in doubt for Juventus’ Champions League tie against Bayern Munich on Tuesday.

Juve defeated Inter Milan 2-1 in their Serie A clash at San Siro on Saturday but some gloss was taken off the victory when Giovinco was caught by a bad tackle from Esteban Cambiasso deep into stoppage time, an incident which earned the Argentine a straight red card.

Giovinco limped off the field and confirmed to Tuttosport that he is a doubt for the quarter-final first leg in Munich.

“My ankle hurts and we are a little worried,” he said.

The Derby d’Italia defeat leaves Inter seventh in Serie A and the frustration in Cambiasso’s lunge was evident, though the midfielder was quick to express his regret at the challenge.

“Yes, I apologized to him (Giovinco) and I think that is the most important thing,” he said.

“I am sure that Sebastian understood. Anyone who has played football knows that if you wanted to hurt someone, you wouldn’t go in as low as that. I arrived a split-second late.”

Inter coach Andrea Stramaccioni was also quick to leap to his player’s defence.

“I have already told everyone that Esteban is a good man and a true professional,” he said.

“No one needs to lecture him about this.”