Sabtu, 09 Februari 2013

Pochettino praise for Zabaleta

Pablo Zabaleta: Impressive season for City

The reigning Premier League champions have endured a frustrating season and sit nine points shy of Manchester United.

Zabaleta has been one of City's shining lights and his performances have caught the eye of many, including Pochettino.

The Argentinian pair played together at Spanish side Espanyol and the Saints boss is proud of his old friend.

"I know him because we shared the same dressing room," Pochettino said. "The problem won't be just playing against him, but the fact he has 10 colleagues with him.

"That said, he arrived in Spain when he was very young and has been maturing. He is at a high point now with Manchester City.

"He is the same now as he was then. He has not changed. He has a great mentality, a winning mentality, aggressive - the typical sort of player in the Premier League."

Zabaleta's contribution seems to be getting recognition at last - something Pochettino, himself a former defender, is pleased to see.

"Teams need players with different characteristics but what people notice most is the goals," he said. "That is what is prized most.

"But the trainers, the manager, attach a lot of value to players that provide the ball to be scored.

"I think he is amongst the top 10 players in his position in the world.

"That is demonstrated by the fact his place in one of the best teams around in Manchester City and the Argentinian national team."

Pochettino may be looking forward to seeing Zabaleta tonight but he is hoping to disappoint him at St Mary's, with Southampton looking for a first win since his arrival.

"I want to point out the great willingness they've all shown and also how willing they've been to accept the new management, the new philosophy," said Pochettino, who has so far overseen two draws and a win.

"I don't like to compare but we've seen the team which is in a very good line of play at the moment.

"We've deserved be tter reward from teams we've played up until now."

Saints star targets top four

Rickie Lambert: Striker is confident the club will stay in the top flight

The club have not won any of their three matches since the Argentinian replaced Nigel Adkins, who was sacked last month.

However, the former Bristol Rovers and Rochdale hitman is confident Saints will stay up and has backed chairman Nicola Cortese to provide the funds for the new man in the summer to help the club challenge the big boys.

The 30-year-old told The Sun: "The new manager has been great and you can see since he has come to the club he wants to make things happen.

"The chairman is very ambitious and Southampton is going to be a very exciting place to be over the next few years.

"It is not unrealistic to try and challenge for the top four over the next three years. That is what we have to aim for.

"Three years ago a lot of people would have laughed in our faces if we had said we'd be in the Premier League.

"We have got to keep that momentum going and keep moving forward. I am very confident we will stay up."

Lambert is also hopeful of joining club legends Mick Channon and Matt Le Tissier by scoring 100 goals for the club and he is aiming to do it against Manchester City.

The striker, who has bagged 11 goals this season making him the highest-scoring Englishman in the Premier League, said: "Scoring my 100th goal against a world-class team like City would be special but only if we get a good result.

"I try not to think about the record too much because the most important thing is the team get three points to move away from relegation danger."

Jumat, 08 Februari 2013

Premier League: Southampton v Man City preview

Luke Shaw: Injury concern for Southampton

Southampton left-back Luke Shaw is a doubt for Saturday's clash with reigning Premier League champions Manchester City.

The 17-year-old picked up a ligament issue ahead of his England Under-21s debut against Sweden in midweek, while fellow full-back Nathaniel Clyne, another to drop out of the Young Lions' squad, may also be unavailable.

Gaston Ramirez and Guly do Prado are also possibly out, while Jose Fonte is sidelined.

Adam Lallana could make his first start since suffering a knee injury on December 8 and January acquisition Vegard Forren could make his debut.

City could be boosted by the return of captain Vincent Kompany after recovering from a calf injury.

Kompany returned to training on Wednesday and Roberto Mancini will make a decision on his fitness after training on Friday.

City are also boosted by the return of Yaya and Kolo Toure after returning from international duty at the Africa Cup of Nations with Ivory Coast.

Mancini must decide who to start with up front after leaving Carlos Tevez on the bench against Liverpool with Sergio Aguero and Edin Dzeko getting the nod in attack.

Lallana impatient to get back

Adam Lallana: Eyeing a first start since December

Saints have not won any of their three matches since the Argentinian replaced Nigel Adkins at the helm and face the unenviable task of looking for a first victory against Manchester City.

It is a match in which Lallana could make his first start since December 8, having suffered a knee injury in the 1-0 defeat of Reading at St Mary's.

That was Southampton's last home victory and Lallana is hoping to make up for lost time against the reigning champions.

"I have been itching to get back now the whole time," he said.

"I've been there or thereabouts the last three or four weeks and I've made a couple appearances off the bench.

"I am fully fit and eagerly hoping to get some time from the start, whether I do, we will find out on Saturday.

"I was injured when Alan Pardew left the club and Adkins came in so I've experienced similar to this.

"It was frustrating because you want to get out there and prove to him your worth, real ly.

"He has been great and the language barrier is not an issue. You communicate fine and his assistant Jesus Perez, Miguel D'Agostino and goalkeeping coach Toni Jimenez can all speak English well.

"It is great and I am so far thoroughly enjoying my time under the gaffer."

Lallana believes Pochettino has already "put his footprint" on the team in the few weeks he has been in charge.

Despite having not yet secured a first win in English football, the former Espanyol manager's team have attracted plaudits from fans and pundits alike.

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson even said Saints were the best team to have visited Old Trafford this season but Pochettino's side lost on the night - something Lallana knows cannot continue.

"We approach the Man City game how we have approached our previous three games under him," the left winger said.

"There have been some positive performances, we just want to turn them into points be cause that is the only way we're going to get up the table.

"If they've not got Pablo Zabaleta at right-back, they've got Micah Richards or name after name.

"They have top quality international players in their team but those kind of players that you relish.

"If I am up against Zabaleta, that's that. I will have to deal with and look forward to it."

There was an air of positivity around St Mary's yesterday, where Lallana was helping Southampton launch their new official timekeeper partnership with Eterna.

The winger was joined at the ground by frontman Rickie Lambert, who was overlooked by Roy Hodgson for the friendly against Brazil despite being this season's top English league scorer.

"I was surprised," Lallana, part of the squad that faced Ukraine in September, said of the omission.

"We were chatting in the changing rooms, especially after Jermain Defoe and Daniel Sturridge picked up knocks.

"He has got 11 Premier Le ague goals, the highest by an Englishman in the league, so the stats are there.

"He has been absolutely outstanding for us and as long as we have got him fit and healthy, ready for us, that is all I am worried about and probably the Saints fans too.

"He does deserve it and how far he has come as well in a short space of time is quite unbelievable."

Lallana and Lambert are both among Southampton's longest-serving players, along with Kelvin Davis and Jose Fonte.

All four have been highlighted as leaders by Pochettino and Lallana admits he is unclear as to whether he will remain captain under the new manager.

"I am not sure," he said. "I am just eagerly looking forward to coming back.

"I am only 24 and that is not a massive issue. If I am, then great. If not, I will still give 100 per cent for the team."

Prem clubs agree new controls

The 20 club chairmen voted by 13 to six - with one abstention - to implement two significant controls - to limit players' wage bills from next season, and longer-term measures that will restrict the amount of losses clubs can make to 105million over three years.

Clubs whose total wage bill is more than 52million will only be allowed to increase their wages by 4million per season for the next three years, though that cap does not cover extra money coming in from increases in commercial or matchday income.

The effect of the financial controls should prevent hugely wealthy owners achieving the almost-overnight success of Chelsea and Manchester City.

Any club breaching the rules will face tough sanctions - and Premier League chief executive Scudamore said they would be pushing for points deductions.

Scudamore told reporters: "As all things in our rulebook you will subject to a disciplinary commission.

"The clubs understand that if people b reak the 105m we will looking for the top-end ultimate sanction range - points deduction.

"Normally we stay silent on sanctions as the commission has a free range, but clearly if there is a material breach of that rule we will be asking the commission to consider top-end sanctions."

It emerged tonight, however, that the vote for the financial regulations could hardly have been closer - only 13 of the 20 clubs voted in favour, six against with Reading abstaining. It meant that the 'yes' vote only narrowly achieved the necessary two-thirds majority of the 19 votes cast.

Clubs sources say Fulham, West Brom, Manchester City, Aston Villa, Swansea and Southampton all voted against. Chelsea, who had initially been viewed as opponents of financial fair play regulations, voted in favour.

Of the 20 clubs in the top flight, only Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool have reported losses of more than 105million over the last three years, according to the mos t up-to-date published accounts.

Scudamore said there would be an "absolute prohibition" on clubs reporting losses of more than 105million over the next three years with the first sanctions possible in 2016. He said that the measures would mean it will take longer for benefactor owners to achieve success - but that it would still be possible.

He said: "The balance we have tried to strike is that a new owner can still invest a decent amount of money to improve their club but they are not going to be throwing hundreds and hundreds of millions in a very short period of time.

"While it has worked for a couple of clubs in the last 10 years, and I am not critical of that, if that's going to be done in the future it's going to have to be over a slightly longer term without the huge losses being made.

"I think at 105million you can still build a very decent club with substantial owner funding but you have to do it over time, you can't do it in a season."< /p>

Chelsea won the Premier League two years after Roman Abramovich's takeover, and Manchester City's title success came three years after Sheikh Mansour's takeover.

Any club making any loss of over 5million a year will have to guarantee those losses against the owner's assets.

"In some ways that's the most significant part, this is a three-year rolling system of secure funding - it's one year at the moment," Scudamore added.

The ceiling when the wage increase restrictions kick in will be 52million next season, 56million the following year and 60million i 2015/16. Only seven of the current top-flight clubs would be under that ceiling at the moment.

The Premier League's legal advisers will now work on the detailed proposals and these will be brought back before the chairmen in April to be ratified.

In a statement, Chelsea said they are supportive of moves that promote financial stability.

The statement said: "Premier League clubs t oday reached an agreement to introduce financial stability rules and wage controls for the league. Chelsea Football Club is supportive of moves that promote financial stability in football. We are already subject to UEFA's financial fair play principles and will comply with those.

"The new rules will be subject to further detailed discussions before they are brought in and we will play our part in those to ensure implementation is fair for all clubs in the league."

West Ham's co-owner David Gold said the proposals would prevent Portsmouth's descent in administration happening again.

He said: "It's not a salary cap - it's a restraint on over-spending. If clubs increase their revenues then they can increase their spending.

"We have got restraint - that's the important thing. What's driving the whole thing is we've got to avoid another Portsmouth."

Kamis, 07 Februari 2013

Pochettino relieved by omissions

Mauricio Pochettino: Has lost Luke Shaw to injury

Lambert has shone on his first season as a Premier League player, netting 11 goals in 25 matches.

The 30-year-old's haul is the highest by an English player and led one bookmaker to offers odds of 3/1 on him receiving a first call-up for Wednesday night's match against Brazil.

In the end, England boss Roy Hodgson overlooked the striker, something Pochettino was relieved about after left-back Luke Shaw picked up a knock on England Under-21 duty.

"For me, they are all worthy of playing for their national teams," Pochettino said of his new charges.

"[But] it would be better for Southampton that they are not with their national teams after what happened to Luke Shaw.

"It's natural they should have enthusiasm to play for national team, but they have to be calm and everything comes bit by bit over time."

Shaw picked up a ligament issue ahead of his Young Lions debut against Sweden and is a doubt for Saturday's late kick-off against Manchester City.

Fellow full-back Nathaniel Clyne, another that dropped out of the Under-21 squad, may also be unavailable, with Gaston Ramirez and Guly do Prado also possibly out.

"We have several players recovering from situations that have happened to them over the last couple of games," said Pochettino, who will almost certainly be without centre-back Jose Fonte.

"I can't confirm at the present time whether they will be ready for Saturday or not.

"I hope they will be available for the game. Luke Shaw has come back with a problem after his time with the England Under-21s team.

"We don't know if Adam Lallana will be ready right from the start. He is recovering from injury so we don't know yet."

Should the winger make his first start since December 8, it would be a huge big boost to Pochettino, who has yet to secure his first win since replacing Nigel Adkins at the St Mary's helm.

The Argentinian knows it will be tough to se cure his first three points against City, highlighting David Silva, Carlos Tevez and Sergio Aguero as the key threats.

"It's obvious that those two players plus Silva are great players," Pochettino said.

"We know that we have to stop the players getting balls to these three players.

"We know any of these three can decide the match at any time so we have to stop the ball getting to them."

Premier League clubs to compromise

The terms of the deal will allow owners to cover up to 105million losses over three years.

The Premier League system would be less hard-hitting than UEFA's, which comes into force next season and limits owners to covering 39million losses over a three-year period.

A cap on wage increases is also expected to get the go-ahead at the meeting of the 20 clubs.

Significantly, Chelsea are set to back both a compromise FFP system and a salary cap - the Roman Abramovich-owned club had been viewed in some quarters as opposed to any spending controls.

Insiders at Stamford Bridge insist they have never been opposed to a compromise agreement, and that position should now ensure that both spending control systems are agreed.

Arsenal, Manchester United, Tottenham and Liverpool have been pushing for an FFP system where wealthy owners are not be allowed to underwrite any losses, but that stance looks set to be defeated.

The wage increase cap may also be watered down however - initially Sunderland owner Ellis Short had suggested a maximum 10% increase allowed for player wages. It now looks likely that the cap will only affect those clubs whose total bill is higher than 52million so promoted sides are not prevented from improving their squads.

Furthermore, spending money earned from clubs' individual commercial deals on wages will not be restricted. That can be significant - in Manchester United's case commercial income totalled 117.6million last year and their wage bill 160million.

But some form of wage increase cap will satisfy club owners who are fearful of the bulk of the income from next season's bumper new television rights deals - expected to be worth 25million-30million per club - going straight into the pockets of the players and agents.

Arsenal, Manchester United, Tottenham and Liverpool - styled as the 'gang of four' after they sent a joint letter to the last shareholders meeting calli ng for owners not be allowed to cover any losses at all - argue that tough FFP measures will maintain the Premier League's competitiveness and its attraction to a global TV audience, rather than risk a situation developing such as in Spain where only two clubs dominate the football landscape.

Other clubs believe the four are acting out of self-interest and want to maintain a status quo where smaller clubs can never break into the top ranks, even with a benefactor owner.