Holman: It was difficult leaving Europe

23 June 2013 17:35

Former Aston Villa midfielder Brett Holman said it was a tough decision to leave Europe and sign for UAE Pro League side Al Nasr.

The 29-year-old joined Villa from AZ Alkmaar last year, but was not at his best in 29 appearances for the club in all competitions.

He fell out of favour with manager Paul Lambert in the second half of the 2012-13 season and said he has moved on in the hope of securing regular first-team football.

Holman needs to be playing regularly if he is to continue being picked by Australia, who qualified for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil earlier this month.

“It was difficult (leaving Europe) but (this is) a decision that I know I have made with 100 percent of my heart,” said Holman after being unveiled at his new club.

“It’s a step I wanted to make – it is a fantastic project and it’s definitely a big challenge and something I am looking forward to.

“I played under some fantastic coaches, I learnt a lot about football and maybe I can bring that experience to this club and show what I have learnt under Dick Advocaat, Louis Van Gaal and Ronald Koeman.

“It’s very important (to play regularly), every player wants to play every game if possible. Obviously there is another goal for me, playing in a World Cup and it is my ambition to play every game for Al Nasr and (getting in the World Cup team) is definitely a goal for me.”

Holman said a talk with Socceroos team-mate, and former Al Nasr player, Mark Bresciano convinced him to sign for the UAE side.

“He just said that his time here, although it was short, he had a great time,” he said.

“His family was happy, the football was good, he scored goals and the words he passed on were only positive and made it more comfortable to make my decision.”

Thai Premier League Wrap: Buriram United, Muang Thong United notch home wins

23 June 2013 17:23

Thai Premier League table-toppers Buriram United thrashed Bangkok United 6-2 on Sunday, while Muang Thong United also won.

Buriram scored five goals in the last 30 minutes at the Thunder Castle Stadium as they extended their winning streak to five matches.

Spaniard Carmelo is the league’s top scorer and he gave Buriram United the lead after just nine minutes.

But Bangkok United – who are in the relegation zone as a result of their latest defeat – levelled proceedings seven minutes into the second half.

Mario Cesar da Silva was the scorer and it set up an interesting conclusion to the match with scores locked at 1-1 as the hour mark passed.

The all-important second goal came for Buriram United with 26 minutes left, as Patino’s strike opened the floodgates.

Carmelo got his second, and 15th of the season, on 71 minutes, and although Romain Gasmi gave Bangkok United a lifeline, Osmar sealed the contest with Buriram’s fourth goal.

Cesar da Silva then netted an own goal before Adisak Graisorn struck in injury time as Buriram United won well.

Muang Thong United – who are second in the table and four points behind Buriram United – came from behind to beat Bec Tero Sasana 3-1.

Amorn Thammanarm gave the losers the lead after 38 minutes and it was an advantage they carried into the half-time break.

Thailand international Terrasil Dangda bagged an equaliser on 56 minutes though and Ri Kwang Chon’s effort with 13 minutes to play gave Muang Thong the lead.

And they wrapped up their win with Dangda’s second in stoppage time.

Other results on Sunday saw Songkhla United thump Tot-Cat 4-0, while Chiangrai United and Pattaya United played out a goalless draw.

Higuain to sign for Arsenal or Juventus

23 June 2013 16:45

Arsenal remain in “advanced talks” with Real Madrid striker Gonzalo Higuain, according to the player’s father.

Higuain is in demand, with Italian giants Juventus also chasing his services, but Arsenal appear to be leading the chase.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is reportedly set to spend big in the off-season and the 25-year-old Higuain and Manchester United forward Wayne Rooney are at the top of his hitlist.

Reports the Premier League club were in negotiations with the Argentinian were widespread through the week and the player’s father has confirmed that they are on-going, while adding that Juventus had also made an offer.

Jorge Higuain told The Mail on Sunday: “Nothing has been signed yet but I can assure you there are advanced talks between the clubs.

“We wouldn’t arrange any personal contract before the clubs agree for the transfer. I’m aware Arsenal has made a strong offer, as well as Juventus.”

Higuain scored 18 goals in 44 appearances for Real Madrid in all competitions last season.

Adams predicts bleak future for Arsenal

23 June 2013 16:21

Tony Adams believes his Arsenal’s eight year wait for a trophy is set to continue as they are “miles off” winning the Premier League.

The former Arsenal captain has watched closely as the club have gone from champions in 2004 to a side just scraping into the top four in 2013, and the 46-year-old believes there is a lot of work to be done if they are to return to the summit of English football in the near future.

“It’s time that Arsenal won something again, even the FA Cup or League Cup,” Adams told The Sun. “But I can’t see it, to be honest.

“They are still not good enough in certain areas of the team. And they are miles off the title.”

During his 19-year career at the club, Adams made 669 appearances and lifted 10 major trophies under both George Graham and Arsene Wenger.

His rock-solid partnership with Martin Keown is something Arsenal fans have dreamt about in recent seasons with their defensive problems, but the ex-England captain revealed that his offers to help the club in recent times have fallen on deaf ears.

Following Peter Hill-Wood’s decision to retire from his role as chairman, a new figurehead was required within the club and Adams immediately threw his hat in the ring.

However, the club chose 73-year-old Chips Keswick as their new chairman, a decision Adams was surprised by.

“I read an interview with Peter saying they wanted younger blood on the board but it was not easy finding people willing to take on second jobs who were not money-orientated,” he added. “I thought I ticked boxes, so I wrote to Peter and said ‘I’ve got a statue outside and I know a bit about the club’s principles and values’.

“I didn’t hear anything back, which was unusual for Peter, but I know he has been ill.

“But if they just wanted a figurehead, they should have gone for me. I think it would have been a better visionary decision than Chips, even though I love him to bits. But maybe the owner thinks that Chips is better politically than me.

“He was probably the only one who spoke to the 30-percent owner of the club Alisher Usmanov and was good at reaching out.

“But if Chips wants to pick up the phone, I will be happy to have lunch with him.”

Adams also raised concerns about the future of the club when Wenger’s tenure comes to an end. The Frenchman has one year left on his current contract and reports have linked him with a move to Paris Saint-Germain once it expires.

And Adams believes that contingency plans should be made in case the boss opts to leave, again offering his services to help with the succession planning.

“They should be lining up the new manager,” he said. “Chief executive Ivan Gazidis is in a tricky situation and I think he could do with some help.

“I don’t think any other coach can do any better than Arsene. But it always comes down to players.

“You can’t win things if you keep selling your best players.”

Rat ´very proud´ to be at West Ham

23 June 2013 16:12

New West Ham signing and Romania captain Razvan Rat will be “very proud” to play for the club this season.

The 32-year-old Rat has signed for West Ham on a free transfer from Ukrainian outfit Shakhtar Donetsk.

Rat will add experience to West Ham’s side and he is likely to compete with Irishman George McCartney for the left-back position.

And Rat is excited to make his debut and put on a West Ham shirt in a competitive fixture for the first time.

Rat told West Ham TV: “First of all I am very happy to wear a West Ham United kit.

“For me it’s an honour to wear this shirt and to play in the Premier League. I will be very proud to wear the claret and blue colours and I hope to satisfy the fans.

“I’ll be very excited when I pull on the kit for the first time, because it will be my first game here.”

Rat’s first West Ham appearance is likely to come on the opening day of the 2013-14 Premier League season when his new side host Cardiff City at Upton Park.