Moyes needed more time, says McLeish








22 April 2014
Last updated at
14:35














Former Scotland coach Alex McLeish believes taking on a title-winning team is what eventually

cost David Moyes his job

at Manchester United.

McLeish insists if Moyes’ predecessor Sir Alex Ferguson’s final tilt at the Premier League crown had fallen short, Moyes would have enjoyed more leeway.

“Nobody can see a project through in that amount of time,” McLeish said.

“I guess the difference was he came in on the back of a team winning the Premier League.”


McLeish, who played under Ferguson at Aberdeen, cited the revival of Liverpool as a reason for sticking with Moyes, with

United’s great rivals on the cusp of winning a first title in 24 years.

That would come at the end of Brendan Rodgers’ second season in charge at Anfield – an opportunity that Moyes will now not have at Old Trafford.

“In that league last season, Manchester City underachieved and Liverpool were starting to rebuild under Brendan,” said McLeish.

“You see the fruits of that this year with Liverpool riding high at the top of the Premier League.

“It’s amazing. You give Brendan a bit of time and he’s done what he’s done. Moyesy will feel he could have done that but we’ll never know.

“They [Manchester United] had already shown that they were a successful team and it would have been different if he had had to come in and build it again.”

McLeish managed in England’s top flight, first with Birmingham City and then in an ill-fated spell in charge of their city rivals, Aston Villa.

And he knows how Moyes will be feeling after the axe fell on his short but turbulent tenure.

“He’ll be absolutely devastated because he’d have wanted to get to the summer,” McLeish added.

“I’m absolutely convinced he couldn’t wait to get to the end of the season and start afresh. Perhaps he’ll feel gutted that he never ever got that opportunity.

“I would like to think he’d have had a better chance with picking his own players. People are saying he made a mistake with [Marouane] Fellaini, who hasn’t really shown that he can be a Manchester United player as yet.

“And David would certainly have wanted to atone in terms of bringing fresh quality into the club.”







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‘He’s Finally Gone’ | Moyes Sacked | Manchester United News

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Joe Mason: Bolton sign Cardiff striker on loan for second time








20 February 2014
Last updated at
12:54













Cardiff City striker Joe Mason has joined Championship side Bolton on loan for a second time and will remain with them until 12 April.

The 22-year-old

played eight games during a loan spell with the club

earlier in the season, scoring once.

Since returning to Cardiff, he has featured only once under new boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer –

a winner against Bolton in the FA Cup.

Dougie Freedman’s Bolton are 19th in the table and host Watford on Saturday.







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Man Utd boss left cursing his luck and Fergie Time in reverse








10 February 2014
Last updated at
06:45














After losing 10 games this season David Moyes is becoming accustomed to disappointment as the Manchester United manager who faces the arguably impossible job of replacing Sir Alex Ferguson.

Ferguson said in his recent autobiography that he used to point to his watch in games to spook opposing teams, as if to say “we’re coming for you”. Such was his team’s capacity to score late on, those added-on minutes even came to be known as “Fergie Time”.

But when Moyes’s side

conceded a 94th-minute equaliser

against bottom-of-the-table Fulham on Sunday, it was as if the concept was working in reverse.

This is the fourth time under Moyes that United have let in a crucial late goal. Southampton and Cardiff both earned last-gasp draws, with Swansea knocking them out of the FA Cup at Old Trafford courtesy of a 90th-minute effort.

No wonder the United manager wore the look of a man in disbelief, a man who has started to question whether there is some greater force at work.

Having completely dominated against Rene Meulensteen’s stubborn side, United eventually recovered from Steve Sidwell’s early opener to score twice in as many minutes through Robin van Persie and Michael Carrick.

Such was the relief after the most one-sided match at Old Trafford this season, Moyes and his assistant Phil Neville turned to the jubilant home fans and started double fist pumping the air.

It was similar to the celebrations displayed by Ferguson and his sidekick Brian Kidd when United scored in stoppage time in a 2-1 win over Sheffield Wednesday during their run to a first Premier League title in 1993.

It was to be beaten, though. Given that he worked alongside Ferguson for five years, Meulensteen probably has a better grip of “Fergie Time” than anyone in the Premier League and he got his taste of it from the opposition bench when he leapt to celebrate Darren Bent’s header.

“It’s been a bit like that this season so far,” Moyes admitted afterwards. “But today was probably as bad as it gets. We completely dominated the game and being 1-0 down was bad enough, but the amount of attempts and chances and the play we had, how we didn’t win the game comfortably, I’ve no idea.”

Conceding so late on is a troubling trend. But reaching a point where the manager cannot understand why his side is not winning must be becoming worryingly familiar for United fans. Moyes admitted a similar point when they lost at Stoke in their previous match.

Winning just three of nine games in 2014 has led him to a stage where he also confessed in his programme notes that his focus was now on next season’s Champions League.

That has seemed the limit of United’s ambitions for a while, but it is significant that, until now, Moyes has deflected questions about whether his side can still challenge for the title.

More concerning, however, is that even a top-four spot is looking increasingly out of reach.

Fourth-placed Liverpool are nine points ahead of their rivals from down the East Lancashire Road but that gap could increase this week.

The Reds visit Fulham on Wednesday, while Moyes takes his side to face Arsenal, who will be smarting from a

5-1 thrashing at Anfield.


When Moyes suffered consecutive home defeats by Everton and Newcastle in December, he said the team would turn their form around.

But mentions of his side’s misfortune have increased in volume since the turn of the New Year and reached their loudest yet after Sunday’s result.

Without question, United battered Fulham – but at what point does a performance stop being about luck and more about the approach?

Against Fulham, United sent in 81 crosses, the most in a Premier League match since 2006. Only 18 reached their intended target, though, as visiting centre-backs Johnny Heitinga and Dan Burn continually headed clear.

At one point Moyes had five attackers on the pitch as they chased the game, but two of them were 5ft 7in Juan Mata and 5ft 9in Javier Hernandez. English defender Burn is 6ft 6in.

Meulensteen said afterwards: “Their game plan was straightforward. They put crosses in from wide angles. We defended it well. If you are well organised, it can be easy to defend against.”

When I put it to Moyes that he might have considered a different approach, he bridled.

“I think if you are going to look at the stats and pick out the number of crosses, you need to look at the number of passes,” said the Scot. “I don’t think we just went out and crossed the ball.

“And a lot of people would say that one of the big things about Manchester United is that they do play with width, it’s in their genes here, so if we are talking football, I would probably discuss your point differently.”

United always relied on getting the ball to the flanks under Ferguson. But £37m record signing Mata is a player who shows his craft in the width of the penalty box. He is someone who can unlock the door with a neat one-two on the edge of the area.

In this United team he has been deployed in a wider position and has had to drop deep to get on the ball. Although he has only played three games, there are signs he is beginning to click with Van Persie and Wayne Rooney.

There are other issues that Moyes must address if his side is to challenge for fourth spot, though.

Nemanja Vidic returned from suspension but there were signs it might have been a good decision not to offer the Serb another contract after he was roasted by Fulham’s youthful strikers on more than one occasion.

Replacing the centre-back at the end of the season is a longer-term issue, but the more pressing concern is how Moyes can get his attacking players clicking. It could take a change to a 4-2-3-1 formation where his team can dominate midfield against better teams and get Mata on the ball more regularly.

The United manager still appears to have the support of the fans, who were fully behind the team as the club

again trialled their singing section, 

but there was a smattering of boos at full-time.

For a United team in transition, the disturbing aspect might be that with wholesale changes expected in the summer, it could get worse before it gets better and using luck as an excuse will have long worn out.

Especially if Moyes misses out on a Champions League spot.







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Man City v Chelsea: Time for Jose Mourinho to park the bus?








2 February 2014
Last updated at
19:35













Barclays Premier League

  • Venue: Etihad Stadium
  • Date: Monday, 3 February

Manchester City have swept all before them at Etihad Stadium in the Premier League this season, winning all 11 home games so far and scoring 42 goals in the process.

With the sort of attacking form they showed in

demolishing title rivals Arsenal 6-3

before Christmas, the feeling is City could steam-roll their way to the title.

Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho no doubt

sees things differently

but how can his side, who are only three points behind Manuel Pellegrini’s men in the table, stop them?

BBC Sport football pundits Robbie Savage and Mark Lawrenson consider Mourinho’s likely approach – and whether it will work.

Savage: Stifle City and cut off Silva service

To deal with Manchester City, I think Jose Mourinho will have to park the bus, sit deep and try to hit them on the counter.


Mourinho

spoke of West Ham playing “19th-Century football”

to stop his side in midweek.

In fact, as one historian pointed out

in an article on the BBC Sport website,

football from that era was actually very attacking – and I’d be surprised if it is the approach Chelsea adopt at City.

They will sit deep, as they did at both

Manchester United

and

Arsenal.

They came away with a clean sheet and a point from both those games, and a point at City will be a very good one.

Against United and Arsenal, Chelsea stifled the opposition midfield and it worked.

However, the Blues will still have to be careful if they employ that tactic on Monday because if City are forced to go wide, they can still cause problems with their dangerous full-backs.

Aleksandar Kolarov has vastly improved going forward while Pablo Zabaleta is a key weapon for them. So if you stifle the middle, you still have them to deal with.

Another danger with Manuel Pellegrini’s side is that if you do go at them, they can hit you on the counter-attack. I think Blues midfielder Ramires has the legs to track back with Yaya Toure, but City just have so many other options.

David Silva is a key player and when he gets in between the lines to play those dangerous through-balls, how do you mark him?

Chelsea’s best move, then, is to frustrate City but, when they do go forward, to prey on the left side of Manchester City’s central defence.

City are one player short in that position for me. I think that to go to the next step – to be real contenders for the Champions League – they need to improve that area of their team.

But overall, they just have too much for Chelsea and I think they will win 2-0.

Lawro: Mourinho will not fight fire with fire

Whenever a Jose Mourinho team is playing another top side away from home, he always lines them up the same way – in a 4-3-3 formation that can appear more like a 4-5-1.

The trio he uses in midfield are primarily sitters, not attacking players, and I don’t think Mourinho will go to the Etihad and fight fire with fire to try to combat Manchester City’s attacking power.

I think he will leave one of Oscar, Eden Hazard and Willian out of his starting XI and I also think he would take a point now.


Continue reading the main story


The difference could be David Silva. In this City team, he is sensational because he finds himself little holes in which to play



Mark Lawrenson


His thinking will be that given

Chelsea beat City at Stamford Bridge,

a draw on Monday will mean he takes four points out of six off his title rivals – and against all the top teams that seems to be the rationale that decides his approach.

Can he pull it off? I am not sure. City are just awesome at the moment.

Mourinho’s main aim will be to make things really difficult for City but, with the way Pellegrini’s men are playing, I am going to back City to win it.

The difference could be David Silva. In this City team, he is sensational because he finds himself little holes in which to play.

Silva makes it look so easy and creates so much time for himself that I don’t think there is another player quite like him in the Premier League.

Chelsea fans might say “we’ve got Eden Hazard”, but Silva is different. He turns so quickly when he picks up the ball that he always seems to be running at the opposition. He drifts past people and his vision is outstanding too.

When he is on song, fully fit and on his game then City go up a gear.

He is an absolute star and, when he isn’t in the team in the games against the really top teams, he is the player City miss the most.







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Vincent Kompany: Man City quadruple a matter of time








16 January 2014
Last updated at
18:18













Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany says it is only a matter of time before the club complete a record haul of four major trophies in a season.

City boss Manuel Pellegrini

wants to mark his debut season in England by securing all four trophies

they are in.

And Kompany, 27, says it is inevitable that City will do the quadruple at some stage in the near future.

“We can’t promise it will happen now, but eventually it will have to happen,” said the Belgium defender.

“We are the players at the moment who have been chosen to do it. If it’s not us then it will be other players.


“This club definitely has a target to win every competition possible.”

Pellegrini’s side are second in the Premier League table,

lead West Ham 6-0 after the first leg of their Capital One Cup semi-final

and face Barcelona in the Champions League last 16.

They progressed to the fourth round of the FA Cup on Wednesday with a

5-0 replay victory over Blackburn Rovers.

City’s neighbours Manchester United

secured the treble

of Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup in 1998-99.

Kompany also credits Pellegrini,

who replaced Roberto Mancini as manager last summer,

with the greater attacking intent City have shown this season.

City have scored 99 goals this season from 33 matches and average four goals a game at home, with 64 from 16 fixtures.

“He’s very offensive-minded and I think that’s shown in our results and the way we play,” Kompany said.

“I think we have been one of the best teams to watch in the Premier League so far.”







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Gus Poyet: Sunderland are running out of time in survival bid








21 December 2013
Last updated at
19:14













Sunderland are running out of time in their efforts to avoid relegation, says manager Gus Poyet.

The Black Cats will be bottom of the table on Christmas Day, and just one team – West Brom in 2004-05 – have avoided Premier League relegation in those circumstances.

“We are losing time, we are losing games,” Poyet said.

“I said we needed to win 11 games to think, ‘Can we get to 40 points?’, and we can’t win a football game.”


Sunderland

defeated Chelsea after extra time

in the Capital One Cup quarter-finals on Tuesday, but could only draw

0-0 with Norwich

on their return to Premier League action.

Just four of Poyet’s team’s 19 shots were on target and Wes Brown was sent off in injury time after a rash tackle on Ricky van Wolfswinkel.

Poyet said: “This is where we are. The quality is what you see, there is no more.

“I was not expecting this. I have always said I hate excuses. Until now for some reason, we have always had an excuse and people can use it.

“Today, we have not. Today was a day to win and we didn’t, so we are responsible for where we are.

“It’s getting more and more difficult, so who are you going to blame?

“It would be very nice if somebody could tell me why we are at the bottom, and if you think it’s because of me, I’ll take it if it’s not personal.”

Brown had Sunderland’s best chance, nodding the ball against the post after a goalmouth scramble. Phil Bardsley also had a good opportunity but headed straight at goalkeeper John Ruddy.

Poyet added: “I expect somebody to score. It doesn’t have to be Ki [Sung-Yueng] all the time, but it has to be somebody.

“The decisions in the last 30 metres were scary, and that was unexpected. Players who needed to have a shot were taking three touches; players who needed to take a touch tried to shoot when their backs were to goal.

“I have no explanation. There were things that happened on the pitch that are difficult to explain.”

The Uruguayan declined to comment on Brown’s sending-off but Norwich boss Chris Hughton thought referee Martin Atkinson made the right decision.

He said: “The challenge was certainly reckless.”







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