Dutch duo told to prove worth

13 August 2012 10:43

Netherlands assistant Patrick Kluivert says Robin van Persie and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar have to prove themselves to new coach Louis van Gaal.

Previous incumbent Bert van Marwijk struggled to make a choice between the two for the position as striker, and his decision to bench Schalke star Huntelaar in favour of the Arsenal captain at Euro 2012 led to plenty of unrest in the Dutch camp.

Kluivert has insisted that the Netherlands’ new staff are yet to make a decision over who to play up front, and is urging both players to prove their worth.

“Van Persie and Huntelaar start from scratch again. They are both candidates for the position of striker, and will have to show their worth again,” the former Barcelona striker told Goal.com.

“Van Gaal will make a decision based on their desire to play and their fitness.”

The Netherlands’ all-time top-scorer went on to explain his role at the national team, highlighting communication with the players as one of his main jobs.

“It is my job to bridge the gap between the players and the coach. I am pretty close with a few of the players and have even played with some of them. That is a real plus,” he said.

“It is a bit easier for me to communicate with them. My biggest qualities are talking with the players on the pitch and making sure everybody fulfils his task.”

Kluivert recently joined Danny Blind as Van Gaal’s assistant. The trio will be in charge of Netherlands for the first time in Wednesday’s friendly against Belgium.

Mancini rules out Adebayor return

13 August 2012 10:14

Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini has expressed sympathy for Emmanuel Adebayor but insists he has no chance of returning to the club.

The Togo international spent last season on loan at Tottenham but has so far failed to complete a permanent move to White Hart Lane.

Adebayor scored 14 goals in his first season at the Etihad Stadium after completing a move worth around 25 million pounds from Arsenal but gradually fell down the pecking order and has also spent time on loan at Real Madrid.

“I am sorry for him because he is here and not playing,” Mancini told reporters. “But he has no chance of playing this season for us.

“It’s important for him that he can find a good solution because he scored a lot of goals last season and he’s a top striker.

“I hope for him he can find a good solution very quickly.”

Mancini has also claimed that the four first-team strikers currently at the club – Sergio Aguero, Carlos Tevez, Mario Balotelli and Edin Dzeko – will all stay.

Dzeko scored 19 goals last season but found regular starts hard to come by after the return of Tevez from his period of exile and had been linked with a departure.

“I still have confidence in the four strikers,” he added. “They scored 70 goals between them last season. They will all stay.”

Bonucci warns of Juve potential

13 August 2012 09:31

Leonardo Bonucci is hoping Juventus’ Supercoppa Italiana win over Napoli is the beginning of a successful season for the Serie A champions.

Juventus beat the Coppa Italia holders 4-2 after extra time over the weekend, and the centre-back Bonucci was pleased with his side’s performance.

“We have to make sure this is just the beginning,” the Italy international said. “We have a long and demanding season ahead.

“Napoli waited for us and we perhaps gave them too much space. We came good though. But that’s Juve for you, a team that proves they are better than the rest on the pitch.”

Juventus get their Serie A defence started against Parma in a fortnight.

Rooney ready for season opener

13 August 2012 08:35

Manchester United forward Wayne Rooney says he is primed for the start of the season as the Red Devils look to regain the Premier League crown.

Sir Alex Ferguson’s side rounded off their pre-season preparations with a thrilling 4-3 win over Hannover, with Rooney playing in a deeper role alongside Shinji Kagawa and Tom Cleverley.

England international Rooney was pleased to link up with the Japanese star and United youth product.

He told reporters: “It was alright. Obviously it’s nice to score but the most important thing is the 90 minutes and the game, so that was good for me.

“I think it was OK, at times we played some great football and sometimes we were a bit sloppy, but I think that’s always going to happen in pre-season games.

“I played with Kagawa and Tom Cleverley in there as well and the three of us linked up really well I thought, at times anyway.

“He (Cleverley) was a big miss for us last season. Obviously now with the Olympics he’s up to speed, he’s got his fitness and he will be an important player for us this season.

“Kagawa’s been great. He’s a great signing for us and I’m looking forward to playing with him in the season.

“I feel good. A lot of hard work in training, obviously it’s the games what count and it was nice to have the 90 minutes tonight and yeah I feel good.”

United were pipped to the title by Manchester City last season, but Rooney is refusing to speculate on the destination of the title this term.

“I don’t know. Obviously everyone has their opinions,” he said. “Some people think City, some people think United, some people think Chelsea.

“I’m not really going to get into that but we’re working hard to try to win the title back anyway so hopefully we can do that.”

United take on Everton in their Premier League opener next weekend and the 26-year-old is hoping to avenge last season’s 4-4 draw between the sides that dented United’s title challenge.

He said: “Obviously a big disappointment for us that game and you can argue that that was the game which cost us the title.

“But it’s a new season and it’s important to start well and it’s always a tough game so we will have to be at our best to beat them.

“It’s a big game for us. It’s important to try to get off to a good start in the first game so it will be a good time to do that.

“I still have connections with Everton but the most important thing is for Man Utd to try to go there and get three points. That’s what we’re aiming to do.”

MLS wrap: Fire rally, Donovan stars for Galaxy

13 August 2012 08:11

Chicago Fire have extended their unbeaten run to three games with a 3-1 comeback victory over Philadelphia Union in the MLS.

The home side took a 1-0 lead over Chicago when Fire defender Jalil Anibaba failed to control Freddy Adu’s cross and scored an own goal in the 34th minute.

But the visitors were in front by half-time after scoring two goals in as many minutes.

Chris Rolfe equalised for the Fire in the 43rd minute, bursting into the box to half-volley Sherjill MacDonald’s cross past Zac MacMath in Philadelphia’s goal.

And German defender Arne Friedrich made it 2-1 for Chicago with a header from a corner in the 45th minute.

Rolfe hit a powerful shot from the corner of the penalty area 10 minutes into the second half that MacMath could only palm into the top corner of his net and Chicago held on to win by two goals.

Los Angeles Galaxy routed Chivas USA 4-0 after a star performance from Landon Donovan, who set up each of the Galaxy’s goals.

The first goal came in the 27th minute after a Robbie Keane finish into the bottom left corner.

Two second half strikes from Juninho extended the Galaxy’s lead, before Omar Gonzalez capped off an emphatic victory for the visitors in the 83rd minute.

In Sunday’s other match, Montreal Impact defeated New England Revolution 1-0 after a brilliant solo goal from Sanna Nyassi in the 61st minute.

The Gambian midfielder took the ball from New England’s Benny Feilhaber deep in Montreal’s defensive half before skipping clear of several opponents and thumping a shot in to the top corner of the net.

Montreal had to hang on in the second half as New England poured forward.

French striker Saer Sene was particularly dangerous for the Revolution as the home side hit the frame of the goal twice.