Eriksen dismisses Ajax quit rumours

17 December 2012 08:12

Christian Eriksen insists he is in no hurry to leave Ajax, despite frequent rumours linking him with a move away from the Dutch champions.

Speculation continues to mount surrounding the player’s future with Europe’s big clubs ready to land his signature, and has emerged as one of Tottenham’s primary targets.

However, the 20-year-old has now dismissed any suggestion that he could leave Ajax soon, and is intent on continuing his development with his current employers.

“I’ve read about it, but they are just rumours,” he told Goal.com.

“It also depends on what Ajax want. I hope, and I think, I will be finish the season with Ajax. Someday, I will take the step [abroad], but I do not know when.

“It depends, of course, on how I feel at that particular time and which clubs come along.”

Sunday’s 4-2 win over Willem II saw Ajax move just one point behind joint Eredivisie leaders PSV and Twente.

Martinez looking for Wigan improvement

17 December 2012 06:53

Roberto Martinez is hoping that recent injury setbacks will bring the Wigan squad together ahead of a busy festive fixture schedule.

Adrian Lopez and James McCarthy both limped out of the 2-1 loss to Norwich City on Saturday to take the club’s injury list to eight.

Martinez accused Norwich of targeting McCarthy, leading to him damaging his ankle, and revealed that both are doubts for the visit of Arsenal on December 22.

And the manager is hoping his charges will step up their efforts to compensate for certain absentees.

“We don’t want to look at excuses but having so many players unavailable, and senior players at that, is affecting us too much at the moment,” he said.

“It’s a situation I’ve never seen before: Adrian Lopez picked up a nasty hamstring injury and James McCarthy was involved in one of the most infuriating incidents of the game having been targeted by the opposition and picking up a nasty ankle injury as a result.

“I doubt James will make the Arsenal game next weekend and we’ll have to assess Adrian in the week but he’s a doubt as well.

“Now is a moment that we need to get together as a club and face this adversity to make sure we find a response.

“Having eight players missing is a real challenge for any club but we need to show now our typical togetherness and that feeling only we can create at the club.”

Focusing on the loss, Martinez revealed his frustration at the lax defending that gave Norwich an early upper hand but did commend his players on an improved second-half display.

“We are disappointed with the first-half performance, didn’t get to grips with the game and gave a really soft goal away early on,” he said.

“It wasn’t anywhere near good enough but the reaction is what pleased me the most. After the break we showed real intent, started to be ourselves and scored an outstanding goal from open play.

“At that point we had the momentum and if anything looked as though we could get a winner but the disappointment once again was the conceding of another soft goal, giving the smallest player on the field a free header inside the box. Conceding goals like that make it very difficult to get anything from games and we need to improve upon it.”

Simeone bemoans ´boring´ La Liga

17 December 2012 07:14

Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone has described La Liga as a ‘boring’ league after Barcelona’s 4-1 defeat of his side on Sunday.

In a battle of the league’s top two, the Catalans proved a class above despite what Simeone described as a ‘perfect’ first half from his side and extended their lead at the top to nine points.

“Let me speak about the game of Barcelona, they are a fantastic team who are strong and I think that we were competitive against them today,” Simeone said.

“I leave Barcelona with the feeling that Barca plays in a different league than the rest but we were in the match.

“However I also leave with the thought that they are superior to the rest and this is a boring league.”

Simeone lauded his side’s impeccable first half but was stunned to see Barcelona take the game to a new level and hammer four goals past his defence after the interval.

“We played an almost perfect first half where we managed to create three good chances,” he said.

“We hit the post with the first chance and another was stopped by the goalkeeper, our third effort was the goal for Falcao.

“We defended brilliantly and denied them any chances where they could inflict us pain.

“Then Adriano made a beautiful shot which was their first goal. Shortly after that they had some luck and got their second goal.

“This changed the game and from then on all the possession was driven by Barcelona. We still created chances but it was difficult when 2-1 down.”

Lionel Messi scored his 89th and 90th goal for 2012 but the only comfort for Simeone is that the world’s best player is a fellow Argentine.

“Leo Messi is the best in the world. Obviously all the team plays very well but he close the matches as today when he made two goals. I am very happy that he is Argentinean.”

McDermott rules out Downes return

17 December 2012 06:49

Reading manager Brian McDermott has played down suggestions that Wally Downes could be set for a return to the Madejski Stadium.

The 51-year-old was part of Steve Coppell’s coaching set-up at the club from 2005-2009, a period that saw the Royals achieve promotion from the Championship and finish eighth in their maiden Premier League season before succumbing to relegation the following year.

Downes then joined West Ham in 2010 but, after helping the Hammers return to the Premier League last season, he was relieved from his duties at Upton Park this week – prompting suggestions that a return to help his struggling former side could be in the offing.

However, current Reading boss McDermott says there are currently no plans to bring Downes back to the Madejski.

“No (he will not be returning). I’ve spoken to Wally,” McDermott told reporters.

“It came out of the blue for him and I have no idea what happened. He’s a good bloke and I’m gutted for him.”

Reading face Arsenal on Monday night having slipped to the bottom of the Premier League table after QPR’s victory over Fulham.

But McDermott remains confident that with a change of luck his side can achieve the victories to get out of trouble.

“I had a text from someone who said, ‘You’ve had no luck whatsoever’, so that’s got to change,” he said.

“We’ll just keep doing what we’re doing. But the only thing anyone is interested in is results, and I know that.”

Lennon confident Hooper will stay

17 December 2012 06:40

Celtic manager Neil Lennon is optimistic the club will fend off all offers for in-demand forward Gary Hooper during the January transfer window.

The Englishman has carried his impressive goalscoring form of last season into this campaign, with 14 goals in 25 appearances, including crucial strikes against Spartak Moscow to take the Glasgow club into the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League.

Such performances have reportedly sparked the attention of the Premier League – namely Southampton – however, Lennon insisted the club are in no hurry to sell one of their most prized assets, particularly with their European campaign continuing into the New Year.

“No, I’m pretty confident (Hooper will stay),” Lennon told reporters.

“We don’t need to sell. As I said before, everyone has their price and I think I will have a say in the decision if a huge bid comes in for any of the players.

“But I don’t want them to go. I want them to see this season out anyway, and make a real fist of the competitions. There are not many teams still going on four fronts – including the Champions League – with half the season gone.

Lennon continued: “If we receive a bid on the last day of the window, it’s too late.

“I wouldn’t have time (to replace him) and they’ve all month to put a bid in. It does happen but it won’t happen here, not to any of our major players anyway.

“To leave with all the things going on here and go to what could be a lower-end Premier League team, I think that would be a backward step. He has produced time and again so I think he’s one of the best strikers we have had here for quite a while.

“Regardless of the speculation, I’ll rebuff the offers unless it is an astronomical one that suits everybody.”

The 41-year-old added that if Hooper were to stay at Celtic Park and continue his development, a call-up to Roy Hodgson’s England squad will soon be coming the former Scunthorphe man’s way.

“I don’t think Gary’s far away at all from an England call-up. He had a wee bit of bug and that’s why we left him out against Arbroath. But he’ll play the bulk of the games now,” Lennon said.

“He’s a goalscorer and I think they’re priceless. Not only that, I also think he is a pretty intelligent player. He’s got a great first touch and he can bring other people into the game.

“We’ve given Gary a great platform. He’s grown – he’s still only 24 and people forget that – to the point where he is more on less on the verge of being in the England squad.”