The Italian had considerable support in the stands and that was evident at the FA Cup final at Wembley on Saturday when, amid rumours over his future, his name was chanted regularly. Mancini ended the club’s 35-year trophy drought by overseeing their 2011 FA Cup success and bettered that by winning a first top-flight title in 44 years last season. That the news of Mancini’s departure broke on the anniversary of last year’s dramatic Premier League title success added to the gloom. Kevin Parker, general secretary of the Manchester City Supporters Club, said: “After the weekend I think we were all expecting it to happen but I think we are all a bit disappointed it happened yesterday of all days – the anniversary of when we won the Premier League.” The sacking of manager Roberto Mancini has been met with widespread dismay by Manchester City fans. Parker added: “All those fantastic memories we have of May 13, 2012 – that date is a special date for City fans and that’s been a little bit tarnished. We’re definitely all disappointed.” A statement from the club said that Mancini had been relieved of his duties for failing to achieve the season’s “stated targets”. Parker said: “It is unbelievable. The club have said the targets set haven’t been met, but finishing second in the Premier League and losing finalists in the FA Cup would suggest those targets might have been unachievable. Does that mean we had to win the Premier League and win the FA Cup? I’m not sure.” The club’s statement also referred to a “need to develop a holistic approach to all aspects of football at the club”. Parker feels this could be a reference to various reports of disunity within the dressing room during Mancini’s tenure. This season alone Mancini has attracted criticism for seemingly unnecessary comments about Joe Hart, Micah Richards and Vincent Kompany while the many incidents involving the now sold Mario Balotelli were a patience-draining distraction. Parker said: “I think it seems clear – whilst they might not be happy with what’s happened on the field – there are other bits and pieces off the field that we as fans don’t get to know about. This reference to an ‘holistic approach’, there is probably a message in there somewhere. I think they are looking for peace, harmony and happiness in the camp. “That would suggest that under Roberto that isn’t the case. We all hear rumours and hear stories about it not being a particularly happy camp. But as fans our interest is a successful football team, success and trophies, and under Roberto that is what we got. Of course we are disappointed we have not won a trophy this season but in the eyes of City fans, that is not failure.” Press Association
Young has been at the centre of more unwanted attention after apparently going to ground too easily to win his side a penalty against Real Sociedad in midweek. Moyes defended his player at the time. And the Scot is still doing so now. “No,” said Moyes, when he was asked whether he had spoken to Young. “The referee was two yards away from it and gave a penalty. If you need to talk to anybody, you should ask the referee. “I didn’t see an issue at all.” Moyes’ attitude may disappoint some, given he has spoken out against diving in the past and censured Young earlier this year, when the England winger was booked for simulation against Crystal Palace. However, in this instance, there was clearly contact, albeit minimal, and Italian referee Nicola Rizzoli was right on top of the incident. It leads Moyes to conclude Young is being judged on reputation rather than the actual event. “I do think a little bit of that,” he said. “I also think the referee made the decision. If he had been a long way away, you could have maybe said ‘what was it?’ “But he was two yards away. “He refereed the Champions League final so you are expecting him to be as qualified as anybody. “If anything you should be more talking about the referee than the player.” It had been claimed there was no need for Young to hit the deck in quite such a theatrical manner. However, Moyes was unrepentant, pointing out his long-held stance on diving as proof Rizzoli was the best placed person to judge. “The question is loaded towards the player,” said Moyes, when quizzed about Young’s conduct. “That is wrong. The question should be ‘did the referee get the decision right or not’. “He was two yards away from it. For me, where I was, I definitely thought it was a penalty. “Everybody can now stand back and watch it from TV. “I was one of many who said I would definitely have retrospective action for diving because it would make the referees’ job much better. “But on the night, if you had said, could you get the referee any closer, I don’t think you could.” Manchester United manager David Moyes has confirmed he has not spoken to Ashley Young in the wake of this week’s diving furore. Press Association
The 26-year-old, though, is only concerned with continuing his consistent form at Chelsea. “I see the interest of Real Madrid as a recognition of my good work in Europe, but I’m under contract with Chelsea and it would be unethical for me to comment (on their interest). For the moment, these are only rumours,” he said. “I am very happy here. I am respected and part of the club’s history. “If I leave, Chelsea would have to make the decision. Chelsea is one of the biggest clubs in the world. I have realised my dream here. “My goals are never personal, but collective. I want to continue to play football and help my team win titles. Collective success makes me stronger individually.” Chelsea and West Brom were involved in an altercation in the tunnel after the dramatic ending to Saturday’s match. Press Association Sport understands Mourinho came out of the home dressing room in response to hearing shouts from players, with the visitors unhappy at the manner of Chelsea’s late equaliser. There was then a frank exchange of views between the Blues manager and West Brom defender Jonas Olsson, before the situation was quickly diffused by club stewards and staff. The Football Association has confirmed the referee’s report did not include any mention of the fracas, and as such no action is anticipated from the governing body. Brazil midfielder Ramires is confident Chelsea can “win it all” under Jose Mourinho this season. Ramires feels Mourinho’s squad can continue to grow in the months ahead. Speaking to Brazilian website www.sambafoot.com, Ramires said: “The Premier League is one of the toughest competitions in the world, but we have the means to win. “Our team is very strong and we can win it all this season. “Winning the Champions League (with Chelsea in 2012) was one of the greatest moments of my career. “I think the only title that can compete with that is the World Cup in Brazil.” Ramires added: “Mourinho is a very decent coach. He is doing an excellent job. He manages to motivate his players and offers a chance to everyone. “I have evolved since his arrival. I hope to continue to help and doing what he expects of me.” Real Madrid are said to be interested in Ramires, who only last year signed a new contract extension. The Blues battled to a 2-2 draw against West Brom at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, but only after a controversial penalty deep into stoppage-time awarded by referee Andre Marriner when Ramires went down in the box following a shoulder challenge from Steven Reid. Following Arsenal’s defeat at Manchester United on Sunday, Chelsea are now just four points off the Barclays Premier League summit and have also recovered from a slow start to top their Champions League group. Press Association
Fulham have sacked manager Martin Jol after defeat at West Ham on Saturday extended their run of consecutive defeats to six games. “I thank Rene for accepting and now we move forward. I have great confidence in Rene and high expectations for our squad to respond.” Meulensteen is relishing his first crack at being a Barclays Premier League manager. The 49-year-old’s first match in charge will come when Fulham face Tottenham at Craven Cottage on Wednesday. Meulensteen said: “I appreciate the faith Mr Khan has put in me and will do my very best to honour his trust. “We aim to get Fulham back on track, starting Wednesday night.” Jol’s stint lasted almost two-and-a-half years, but the team struggled badly in his third term at the helm. They began the campaign by winning at Sunderland, but Stoke and Crystal Palace have been their only other league conquests. “It was a privilege to manage Fulham, one of the great clubs in the Premier League or anywhere in the world,” Jol said. “I am disappointed in this season but know there are better days ahead for Fulham and its supporters. I will always treasure my experience here and want to thank Mr Khan and everyone at Fulham for the opportunity.” Press Association The club announced Rene Meulensteen would take over responsibility for the first team, stepping up to the top job having only been recruited last month as head coach to assist Jol. Fulham were beaten 3-0 at Upton Park and after 13 games of the Premier League season they stand 18th, inside the relegation zone. Fulham chairman Shahid Khan said in a statement on the club’s website: “Today I spoke with Martin to thank him for his efforts on behalf of Fulham Football Club over the past three seasons and, in particular, since my becoming chairman earlier this year. “Martin was very gracious and I appreciate his understanding of the situation. There is no question Martin is an excellent football man and he has my utmost respect for the commitment he made to our club. “However, our poor form and results this season are undeniable, and Fulham supporters deserve better. With more than half the season still ahead, an immediate change was necessary.” Fulham’s dismal run has included Premier League losses to Southampton, Manchester United, Liverpool, Swansea and West Ham, and a Capital Oner Cup exit at Leicester. Many supporters had been on Jol’s back, calling for change, and Khan decided the London derby loss marked breaking point. Jol’s fellow Dutchman Meulensteen spent many years at Manchester United, initially working within the club’s academy but graduating to become first-team coach under Sir Alex Ferguson in 2008, a post he held until the Scot retired at the end of last season. A short stint in charge of Russian side Anzhi Makhachkala followed, and Meulensteen was strongly linked with Crystal Palace before Tony Pulis took over at Selhurst Park. “Rene Meulensteen was brought to Fulham to assist Martin and today was offered the challenge and opportunity to step in for Martin,” Khan said.
Reserve Kelvin Davis is also sidelined, so Argentine Paulo Gazzaniga looks set to step in for the visit of Aston Villa on Wednesday. “It is difficult to analyse how many weeks Artur will be out for,” Pochettino said at a press conference reported on the club’s official Twitter feed. French midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin will miss out because of a groin injury picked up on Sunday and Gaston Ramirez is also not yet match fit. Southampton will be looking for a response after successive away defeats to Arsenal and Chelsea, which has seen them drop out of the top four. Pochettino said: “We don’t have time to dwell on our two consecutive defeats because we are only thinking about tomorrow’s game. “We have lost on two very difficult grounds at Arsenal and Chelsea, so now we will try to impose our values and get the win over Aston Villa. “I am expecting a physical game. “Aston Villa are a strong side and very good on the counter-attack, especially away from home.” Southampton manager Mauricio Pochettino admits it is “difficult to analyse” how long his team must do without goalkeeper Artur Boruc because of a broken hand. Press Association The 33-year-old suffered the injury during the 3-1 Barclays Premier League defeat at Chelsea on Sunday. Given the hectic festive schedule, Boruc could miss some eight matches if he needed a six-week recovery time.
Press Association Tim Sherwood says he is proud and honoured to be the new head coach of Tottenham. The former England and Blackburn midfielder started off with a defeat to West Ham in the Capital One Cup, but four days later Tottenham beat Southampton 3-2. The Londoners played some of their most attacking football of the season as they came from behind to win at St Mary’s. That performance, and Sherwood’s commitment to playing attacking football, pleased chairman Daniel Levy, who had grown tired of watching Tottenham’s slow build-up play and lack of penetration under Villas-Boas. Levy believes Sherwood’s confident approach will give the players the push they need to finish in the top four this season and the new man at the helm certainly has complete faith in the expensively-assembled squad at his disposal. “We have good players here and if we apply ourselves well, get the players playing as they can and get the right players on the ball in the correct areas, then we can hurt any team we play against,” said Sherwood, whose first game as full manager comes on Boxing Day against West Brom. Some have questioned the wisdom of appointing Sherwood, but the man who brought him onto the coaching staff at White Hart Lane – Harry Redknapp – is sure Levy has done the right thing. Redknapp employed Sherwood as a part-time coach in 2008 and Sherwood then went on to take charge of the development side along with Les Ferdinand and Chris Ramsey, who have moved up to the first-team with the new boss. Redknapp took Spurs into the Champions League in 2010 and the QPR manager thinks Sherwood can achieve the same feat this year. Redknapp even thinks that Tottenham can catch second-place Arsenal, who have spent much of the season at the top of the Barclays Premier League. “I thought Tottenham were absolute certainties to finish above Arsenal at the start of the season,” Redknapp told talkSPORT. “Then Arsenal lost their first game of the season, but they have done fantastic since then. But they are only six points above Tottenham. “That’s nothing. That can be wiped out in a week, so Tottenham are still bang in there. “They have a good squad. I think Tim will get the best out of them. I wouldn’t write Tottenham off for a top-four position, they have got as good a chance as the seven teams that will be scrapping it out until the end of the season.” Sherwood says he will assess Mousa Dembele’s ankle over Christmas before deciding whether the midfielder should play against West Brom. Sherwood hopes his team can take advantage of the uncertainty surrounding the Midlands club, who sacked Steve Clarke on December 14. Sherwood said: “They’ve had some great results this season, they have an interim manager at the moment and hopefully that uncertainty can help put us on the right track and we can capitalise on that.” Sherwood played for Tottenham for four years and he has been part of the coaching set-up since 2008 though, so there is no doubt that the club is very close to his heart. He hopes his connection with Tottenham will help him navigate the difficult waters that lie ahead. Speaking for the first time since he signed an 18-month contract with the club, Sherwood told Spurs TV: “It’s an honour to be head coach of this top club. “It’s a club that means an awful lot to me and a proud moment. “If you cut me in half, I bleed the colour of the club. It means an awful lot to me. Blood is thicker than water, as they say. “I’ve known it from the grass roots right up to the first team, worked at every level of the football club and played here, so I know it better than most. “Hopefully that will stand me in good stead taking this club forward as head coach.” Sherwood was handed the role of interim manager following the sacking of Andre Villas-Boas last week. Spurs took the surprise decision to appoint Sherwood as Andre Villas-Boas’ successor on Monday. The 44-year-old has no experience of first-team management, but he was selected ahead of the likes of Louis Van Gaal, Fabio Capello and Frank De Boer, who had all been linked with the position.
It means he must now trust his present squad to haul themselves out of the hole they have dug for themselves with so many tepid performances this term, particularly on home soil. And, in his programme notes ahead of Tuesday’s encounter with Cardiff, Moyes has made it perfectly clear what should be driving United on. “I do believe now that we are playing for the Manchester United jersey and for pride in where we are,” Moyes told United Review. “There is still a long way to go this season and by the end of it we have to have shown we are much better than many people are making us out to be. “On the training ground and in the dressing room I see determined and committed players who are desperate to put things right.” Moyes revealed he had been made aware when he succeeded Sir Alex Ferguson last summer changes would be required, even if the scale of the task has caught many observers by surprise given United romped to the Premier League title by 11 points last term. Moyes added: “When I joined the club, I joined knowing I was taking over a great squad who had just finished the season as champions, but I was also made very much aware that there would have to be changes made. “Namely… a long-term plan and also looking within our own academy to introduce young players to the first team as often as we feel they warrant selection.” Press Association Manchester United manager David Moyes has challenged his players to prove their critics wrong. Moyes started his Old Trafford rebuilding job by smashing United’s transfer record to bring Juan Mata to the club from Chelsea. That £37.1million outlay is destined to be the last bit of significant business Moyes does in the current transfer window unless the Scot is given some unexpected encouragement with any of his other targets.
The 35-year-old American has been with the Toffees since 2006, initially moving on a loan basis from Manchester United before the clubs made the arrangement permanent. He was due to reach the end of his stay at Goodison Park at the end of the 2015/16 season but has agreed to a further two years. Martinez, whose team are vying with Arsenal for a Champions League place, told Everton’s website: ” It is fantastic news. To have Tim Howard performing as he has been this season, I cannot see past him to choose the best goalkeeper in the league. “For him, in such an important year with the World Cup around the corner, to commit his future for the long term is an incredible moment for the dressing room. “I am extremely proud of Tim’s achievements for the football club. On top of his goalkeeping it’s his overall demeanour and personality in the dressing room. He is a strong leader.” Press Association Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard has been hailed as the Premier League’s best goalkeeper by manager Roberto Martinez after signing a contract extension tying him to the club until 2018.
Press Association Both Swansea and Spurs are currently on a pre-season tour in America, which has been to Tottenham’s advantage in conducting negotiations. Davies played 45 minutes in a 1-1 draw with Chivas Guadalajara on Wednesday and was due to play in Swansea’s final tour fixture against Minnesota United on Saturday before the squad flies home. Garry Monk wants to use any deal with Tottenham to engineer a return for midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson, who scored seven goals in 18 league appearances during a five-month loan spell at the Liberty Stadium in 2012. The club are unlikely to pursue Sigurdsson as a stand-alone transfer, however, should Davies’ move to White Hart Lane fall through. When contacted on Saturday, Swansea were unavailable for comment. Swansea full-back Ben Davies is set to undergo a medical with Tottenham, Press Association Sport understands. Davies has been at the centre of an apparent transfer tug-of-war between Spurs and Liverpool, with both clubs seeing the 21-year-old as a long-term solution to their problems at left-back. The Wales defender was expected to choose Champions League football at Anfield and a reunion with former Swansea boss Brendan Rodgers but Tottenham have moved quickly since having a bid accepted earlier this week.
Press Association Although the Scot is expected to be named as the successor to Tony Pulis, who left the club last week, the only confirmed news coming out of the club was that caretaker boss Keith Millen would take care of pre-match media duties on Thursday. Betting was suspended by many bookmakers on the prospect of former Cardiff boss Mackay being appointed, and an announcement may still come before Saturday’s London derby at home to West Ham. With Palace chairman Steve Parish insisting he wanted a quick appointment, Mackay, 42, appears to have beaten former Tottenham manager Tim Sherwood to the position. The Palace press office confirmed in a routine media release that Millen is due to speak with the media at Selhurst Park ahead of the West Ham game. Millen could take charge of the side against the Hammers, even if the permanent replacement is named. The 47-year-old oversaw a narrow 2-1 defeat at Arsenal in Palace’s Barclays Premier League opener – a fixture which came less than 48 hours after Pulis departed by mutual consent following a breakdown in his relationship with Parish. He took charge in November with Palace the heavy favourites to fall out of the division, and led the Eagles on an inspired run which saw them finish 11th and remain in the Premier League for more than a solitary season for the first time. If appointed, Mackay could look to add to the summer signings of Chris Kettings, Fraizer Campbell, Brede Hangeland and Martin Kelly. Mackay would also again link up with Palace’s sporting director Iain Moody, reuniting the pair following stints together at Watford and Cardiff. Crystal Palace remained tight-lipped on Wednesday over the prospect of Malky Mackay becoming their new manager.