Club friendlies wrap: City too strong for Malaysia XI

30 July 2012 21:19

Sergio Aguero starred for Manchester City in their 3-1 friendly win over a Malaysia XI on Monday.

The Argentine was at his exciting best, scoring once and setting up the other two as Roberto Mancini’s side romped to a convincing victory.

City picked a strong side to face the Malaysian select XI – who narrowly lost to Arsenal last week – with Yaya Toure, Carlos Tevez, Adam Johnson and Aguero all starting on the pitch.

They could have been a man down within two minutes though after City’s Romanian goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon handled the ball out of his area.

The referee showed lenience, given the non-competitive nature of the match, and Pantilimon made an impressive save from the resultant free-kick.

Aguero’s opener, scored after just 18 minutes, was delightful as he cut in from the left, skipped past three defenders and then dinked the ball over the onrushing goalkeeper with the outside of his right boot.

City could have won a penalty when Aleksandar Kolarov went down in the penalty area but their protests were waived away as the English side took a 1-0 lead into the half-time break.

Mancini’s men came out firing as the Italian resisted the urge to change things, with Tevez charging onto an Aguero through-ball and smashing a first-time shot into the back of the net on 48 minutes.

And just five minutes later City extended their lead when Aguero found Johnson with a pinpoint cross.

The midfielder chested down before spinning sharply to shoot low across the goalkeeper with an impressive strike.

The final 30 minutes saw a raft of changes, with youngsters George Evans, Luca Scapuzzi and Marcos Lopes all introduced off the bench for City.

Adamuddin Akil bagged a late consolation for the Malaysian side with three minutes left but the Premier League champions would have been pleased with an impressive display.

In other friendly action on Monday, Bundesliga side Nurenberg thumped Sivasspor of Turkey 5-0.

Best out for six months

30 July 2012 21:07

New Blackburn Rovers striker Leon Best has been ruled out for six months after injuring his knee in a pre-season friendly on Sunday.

Best – who signed from Newcastle for a fee of over three million pounds earlier this month – was stretchered off in the first half of Blackburn’s 2-1 win over Greek giants AEK Athens on Sunday.

A club statement said that the Irish international went for scans on Monday, which confirmed that he suffered cruciate ligament damage.

The news is a significant blow to Blackburn manager Steve Kean, who earlier watched Best score and provide an assist for the club’s other goal in the match.

Morganella sent home from Olympics

30 July 2012 20:39

Swiss defender Michel Morganella has been expelled from the London Olympics for directing an allegedly racist insult at South Koreans on Twitter.

Switzerland’s Olympic delegation have sent the 23-year-old home from the Games after he posted the message in the wake of the team’s 2-1 defeat to South Korea on Sunday.

“Michel Morganella gravely insulted and discriminated against the South Korean people and their football team with his highly offensive comments on Twitter,” said Gian Gilli, chef de mission for the Swiss Olympic delegation at the Games.

“We condemn his comments, which are in fundamental violation of the IOC’s Olympic charter and Swiss Olympic’s own ethics charter.

“This is why, in consultation with the Swiss Football Association, we have withdrawn Morganella’s accreditation.”

The player has accepted the decision and apologised for his behaviour.

He said: “I made a huge mistake after the disappointing result.

“I wish to apologise to the people in South Korea and their team, but also to the Swiss delegation and Swiss football in general. I obviously accept the consequences for my actions.”

His Twitter account has been deleted.

Gilli said the Swiss committee felt Morganella had been provoked on his Twitter account, but they had no choice but to take strong action.

“Michel indeed does realise that his behaviour was wrong, that he has accepted the decision to be excluded and we hope that he will draw the necessary lessons for his still young football career,” Gilli said.

Morganella plays in Serie A for Palermo, having joined them from Novara this summer.

He only made his Switzerland debut in May.

He has played in both of their Olympics Group B matches so far, picking up a yellow card against South Korea.

The Swiss drew their first game 1-1 with Gabon in Newcastle last Thursday.

Twente sign Castaignos from Inter

30 July 2012 19:39

Twente have confirmed the signing of teenage forward Luc Castaignos from Inter for a reported six million euros.

The Netherlands Under-19 international has penned a four-year contract with the Enschede outfit, just over 12 months after joining the Nerazzurri from Feyenoord.

Castaignos insists that he does not regret his decision to move to San Siro at such a young age but, having made just six appearances in Serie A last term, admits that he was drawn to Twente by the prospect of regular first-team football.

“I chose (in favour of the) certainty to play,” the 19-year-old striker told his new club’s official website.

“Not that I am sure of a starting place; I must work hard. But I want to go back to basics and return to Netherlands.

“I realised that there was not much confidence in me [at Inter], yet I have no regrets.”

Castaignos also revealed that he had initially sought out a return to De Kuip and also rejected offers from abroad as he had his heart set on going home.

“I wanted to return to Feyenoord in the beginning, but Inter would not cooperate,” he said. “There were a number of foreign clubs but I opted for Twente.”

Twente were in the market for a new striker following Luuk de Jong’s departure for Borussia Moenchengladbach earlier this month.

United announce new shirt deal

30 July 2012 18:34

Manchester United have agreed a seven-year deal with Chevrolet, with the car manufacturer to replace Aon as the club’s official shirt sponsor.

Chevrolet is the current Official Car Partner of the Red Devils, and will become only the fifth shirt sponsor in the club’s 134-year history, at the beginning of the 2014/15 season.

The deal has been signed for an ‘undisclosed amount’, and has been greeted with praise by those involved.

“This is a fantastic, long-term deal for the club. We have been partners with Chevrolet for only six weeks, but already they have produced some fantastic ideas that will benefit both the partnership and our 659 million followers around the world,” Richard Arnold, United’s Commercial Director, said.

“They are a key partner on our current tour and I know they have enjoyed experiencing the buzz generated by our fanatical support and the sell-out crowds in South Africa, China, and Europe.

“It is a great thrill for those of us who work with partners all year round when an existing partner steps up to being one of our principal partners. This commitment to United and its fans will bring real benefits to everyone who cares about the club.”

The deal represents a significant move into the US market for the club, after DHL became the first ever training shirt sponsor with the Old Trafford outfit.

Alan Batey, General Motors’ North America Vice President, US Sales and Service said: “We are extremely proud to connect our brand, Chevrolet, with Manchester United and its passionate supporters all around the world.

“Manchester United’s statistics are impressive, but this relationship goes far beyond the numbers – this relationship is about connecting our brand with the deep-seated emotion that surrounds the team everywhere.

“When you consider the core values of Chevrolet, our passionate customers around the world, and our rich 100-year history, the partnership with Manchester United is a perfect fit.

“And, to be only the fifth name on the iconic red jersey is a genuine honour. We very much look forward to the road ahead and the opportunities we have in partnering with such a legendary club.”