Stoke appoint Hughes as manager

30 May 2013 09:02

Mark Hughes has been named new manager of Stoke City.

Hughes has signed a three-year deal to replace Tony Pulis, whose seven-year stay with the English Premier League club ended on May 21.

Pulis’ reign was ended by mutual consent after Stoke finished 13th in the English Premier League this season, six points clear of the relegation zone.

The 55-year-old took the Staffordshire outfit to the Premier League in 2008 and has kept them in the top-flight comfortably, even embarking on a UEFA Europa League campaign in the 2011-12 season.

Former Fulham, Blackburn and Manchester City manager Hughes has been out of a job since being sacked by QPR in November 2012.

Having replaced Neil Warnock in January of that year, the London club snatched unlikely Premier League safety with five consecutive home wins, despite an incredible 3-2 defeat at Man City on the last day of the season.

Things turned sour the following campaign, however, as Hughes led QPR to their worst ever start to a Premier League season, going without a win in their first 12 games and he was sacked, with harry Redknapp brought in to replace him.

Hughes’ appointment has already drawn criticism, with Stoke City’s Supporters Club saying on Wednesday the 49-year-old was not their ‘first choice’.

A fans spokesman told BBC Sport: “It is not just me, it is the thoughts of 90 percent of Stoke fans.

“He is not a long-term appointment, look at his track record, but it looks as though he is going to be appointed anyway.”

Suarez open to Real switch

30 May 2013 08:40

Liverpool star Luis Suarez says it would be ‘difficult’ for him to turn down La Liga giants Real Madrid.

Suarez, 26, is contracted to the English Premier League side until 2016, but has been the subject of speculation linking him with a move away from Anfield since receiving a 10-match ban for biting Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic.

With Gonzalo Higuain looking set to exit the Santiago Bernabeu, Real have been linked with moves for the Uruguayan pair of Suarez and Edinson Cavani.

Suarez said there had been no formal offers for his services, but admitted a potential move to Real Madrid interested him.

“I’ve talked to my agent – there’s nothing concrete. To say no to Madrid would always be difficult and more so with the team they have,” Suarez told Uruguayan radio station Sport 890.

“I have a contract with Liverpool, but it would be very difficult to say no to Real Madrid. There are a lot of rumours in the transfer period, but you never know until firm offers are made.

“I’ve talked to the coach (Brendan Rodgers), and he knows what I want. He was a player. Some of the players understand my situation – enough said.”

Biting Ivanovic only added to a long list of misdemeanours Suarez has committed during his time in England.

Suarez said he loved Liverpool but is unhappy with the way he has been treated by the English press.

“I love Liverpool, but if there is a chance of playing somewhere else … I suffered too much as a kid to get where I am to be attacked unfairly by the English press,” he said.

“They haven’t appreciated me as a player. They’ve just judged my attitude.

“I’m happy at Liverpool, I’m happy because of the fans. I made a mistake, I’m human, but (the press) talked about me in ways they shouldn’t have.

“My family have suffered and things got out of hand. My daughter and my wife have suffered. I’m not prepared to continue to put up with the English press.”

Suarez has developed into one of Europe’s best goalscorers since joining Liverpool from Eredivisie giants Ajax in 2011.

He is set to miss the first six games of the 2013/14 season after his suspension for biting.

Mueller targets treble completion

30 May 2013 08:21

Thomas Mueller says Bayern Munich are determined to beat Stuttgart in the DFB-Pokal and clinch an historic treble triumph.

Bayern will take to the field at Berlin’s Olympic Stadium on Saturday knowing they can secure the impressive feat, which would be a first for a German side, in what is coach Jupp Heynckes’ final game in charge of the club.

“The cup has gained in importance, because the prize on offer is more than just the cup, we can make history. It won’t be 85 percent, it’ll be 100 percent and nothing less,” he told FCB.TV.

“We were a little heavy legged yesterday, you sensed things were still a little out of shape. But it was better today.”

Mueller knows Bayern will face a tough challenge from a Stuttgart team keen to cap off their season with silverware.

“Naturally, they’ll get stuck in. Stuttgart can salvage their entire season by winning the cup, so they’ll give it everything they’ve got, we have not won the match yet. In this game as in every other, we’ll have to work for our success,” Mueller said.

The midfielder has been a pivotal player for Bayern this season, playing both on the right and in a central position, scoring 22 goals in 46 appearances.

Rami hints at Valencia exit

30 May 2013 07:21

Adil Rami says he has “desires elsewhere”, indicating he may seek to leave Valencia in the off-season.

The France international has been linked with Paris Saint-Germain in recent weeks, having enhanced his reputation with some stellar displays for Valencia.

The cash-strapped La Liga club remain determined to keep hold of one of their prized assets but it remains to be seen if the 27-year-old will still be at Estadio Mestalla at the start of next season.

“I have learned a lot in Valencia and Spain. I am here today but that does not mean to say that I do not have desires elsewhere. I read that Valencia pushed me towards the exit, this is totally wrong. I broke my contract with my agent in February,” he told RMC.

“I had a good laugh because on Tuesday I had a meeting with Valencia directors and it is impossible for them to let me go. I have a clause between 10 and 12 million euros so we will see what is best for me moving forward.”

Rami joined Valencia in January 2011 and after spending the remainder of the 2011/12 season on loan at Lille he has become a star performer over the last two seasons, making 74 appearances in the process.

He is contracted to Valencia until June 2016.

Perez: Bale ´born to play for Real´

30 May 2013 07:13

Real Madrid president Florentino Perez says Tottenham Hotspur’s Gareth Bale was “born to play” for the Spanish club.

The 23-year-old scored 21 English Premier League goals during a stellar season that saw Spurs narrowly miss out on UEFA Champions League qualification, and he is expected to sign a new contract worth 130,000 pounds per week at White Hart Lane.

However, Bale’s agent, Jonathan Barnett, said on Wednesday the forward would consider any offer from Real.

“Gareth Bale was born to play in Real Madrid,” Perez told Cadena Cope.

Last week, Real Madrid’s newly appointed director of football Zinedine Zidane ranked Wales international Bale alongside La Liga superstars Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

“I have been watching Tottenham for the very reason that Bale has been playing,” he said.

“Aside from Ronaldo and Messi, who are the top players, I must admit that he is the footballer who impressed me most.”