Crouch relishing Stoke´s pre-season US tour

1 August 2012 13:38

Stoke City striker Peter Crouch has enjoyed the pre-season tour of the United States, which ends on Wednesday.

Manager Tony Pulis and his side wrap up their first US tour against Sporting Kansas City – their third match in the US.

Stoke finished 14th in the Premier League last season and Crouch thinks training in hot weather is the perfect preparation to try and improve on it.

“We come into these games having only been back for a couple of weeks now,” he said.

“So it’s about getting our fitness back and making sure we are ready for the Premier League season. The results don’t matter too much now but they do in the Premier League and we’ve got to make sure we’re ready.

“Tests like this, where we’re playing Sporting Kansas City, will be good for us and hopefully stand us in good stead when the season starts.”

Two of Crouch’s former teams, Spurs and Liverpool, along with Champions League holders Chelsea, also visited the US for part of their pre-season and he can see why.

“It’s growing here all the time. I think the standard is improving, there’s some great facilities and it’s also a great place to come and visit so everyone’s a winner.

“You see more and more Premier League side’s coming out here to play football but also it’s a good test for them as well.”

Time will tell if their trip to America has set Stoke up well for the upcoming Premier League season – they kick off against newly promoted Reading on August 18.

Chicharito sets team goal at United

1 August 2012 13:18

Manchester United striker Javier Hernandez said he would swap all his goals for another Premier League title.

‘Chicharito’ has struck 32 times in all competitions in his first two seasons at Old Trafford, but claims that he does not set personal targets and focuses solely on helping the team win matches in whatever way he can.

The Mexico international added that he does not want to be seen as a player who had played badly if he has failed to score – instead hoping people recognise his all-round contribution.

“I’ve never had a goal target,” Hernandez told Inside United magazine.

“I don’t want to be obsessed with scoring goals, I don’t want to be only that player who only scores goals, and if I score goals I’ve played well and if I didn’t score goals I played badly.

“It’s more about doing my best for the team – if the goals come then great, but if someone else scores instead of me then it’s still great for the United fans and for the club.

“You can never play one man against 11, and one player can never score all the goals by himself. If the goals are coming then good, but as I’ve always said, I would swap every one of my goals for a title with Manchester United.”

United lost their grip on the title in dramatic fashion last season, as rivals Manchester City scored twice in the dying minutes of the campaign to beat QPR and claim their first Premier League crown.

Hernandez admitted that the tables had been turned on a club that has, over the years, come back from a couple of seemingly impossible positions themselves, most notably in the 1999 and 2008 Champions League finals.

“It was difficult to believe, really,” Hernandez said. “For so many years that type of game was a fable of Manchester United, with goals in the last minute (to win big games), and sometimes it is part of life to experience the bad moments like this one.

“It was a very strange day because in the space of one minute we thought that the title was going to be ours, and then City scored twice, and that’s it.

“When you win you learn to keep working hard in order to keep doing the things you did to win the title. And when you lose, you need to learn from the mistakes you made.

“It’s not like one, two or three people are guilty of making mistakes – it’s a team game and every player wants to do their best to help the team to win trophies. I think we all learned a lot from last season and we’re confident we can come back this season.”

Kolo Toure wants City stay

1 August 2012 12:14

Manchester City defender Kolo Toure has not ruled out staying with the Premier League champions.

After attracting interest from both Europe and the Middle East, it had been expected that the Ivorian would leave the Etihad in the 2012-13 season.

City boss Roberto Mancini is willing to listen to offers after making a new central defender one of his top summer targets – Liverpool’s Daniel Agger has been linked with a move to the club – although Toure feels there is no rush in deciding his future.

The 31-year-old told The Sun: “I did speak to the people there but I’m just focusing on City. I’m a City player, I still enjoy it here, you can see that.

“I love playing at the same club as my brother (Yaya Toure). But we will see what will happen. I’ve got one year left on my contract and that’s it.

“I am still at City but you never know the future. For me the most important thing is every day I’m at City I’ll give 100 per cent.”

Although never first choice in Manchester, Toure believes that his experience holds him in good stead for City’s defence.

“I won the title with Arsenal in 2004 and it is harder to defend it the following season,” he said.

“Every game will be like a cup final because every team will give 100 per cent to beat City because we are the champions.

“We know that though. It’s been a good pre-season – now we need to confirm we are a good team – but there will be no easy way to do it. It is all about working hard, focusing and doing our job.”

Both the Toure brothers, regardless of their domestic location, will be expected to join up with the Ivory Coast in January ahead of the African Cup of Nations, which will provide Mancini with more selection dilemmas.

“The African Nations Cup is being held again next January and it is going to be really exciting for my country,” Toure said.

“We have never won it and we were so disappointed to lose in the final in February.

“I will keep playing for the national team until I feel I can’t offer them anything.”

Keeper Viviano heads to Florence

1 August 2012 12:07

Fiorentina have signed Emiliano Viviano from Palermo on a one-year loan deal, with an option to make the move permanent.

Head coach Vincenzo Montella was keen to add another goalkeeper to his squad ahead of the new Serie A season, and the former Roma striker has now got the reinforcement he was looking for.

Viviano joined Palermo from Inter on a co-ownership deal in January 2012, and immediately became first-choice shot-stopper with the Sicilians.

Nevertheless, the 26-year-old will now continue his career at Fiorentina after completing his temporary move.

Fiorentina have also signed midfielder Francesco Della Rocca from Bologna on a one-year loan deal.

The 24-year-old, who is co-owned by Bologna, was surplus to requirements, and will be looking to relaunch his career at the Stadio Artemio Franchi side.

Arbeloa re-signs with Real

1 August 2012 11:55

Alvaro Arbeloa has signed a two-year extension on his Real Madrid contract that will keep him at the Santiago Bernabeu until 2016.

The 29-year-old is a product of the Madrid youth academy, but left the club for Deportivo La Coruna in the summer of 2006 after failing to secure regular first-team action in the Spanish capital.

However, Arbeloa returned to Real in 2009 after a two-and-a-half-year spell with Liverpool, and has since developed into an important member of Jose Mourinho’s team.

“I am very happy with my new contract. For me, it’s an honour to be part of Real Madrid,” Arbeloa said.

“Signing a two-year extension to my existing deal is a source of joy for me. I am delighted with the club’s faith in me, and I am looking forward to continue playing here.”

The right-back has made 123 official appearances for Madrid, scoring three goals.