May 142016
Rafael Benitez is believed to have a break clause in the three-year contract he signed with Newcastle

Rafael Benitez says he could continue as Newcastle manager after holding “positive” discussions with the relegated Premier League club.

The Magpies’ second relegation to the Championship in seven years was confirmed on Wednesday.

Benitez, 56, succeeded the sacked Steve McClaren in March, winning two of his nine league games in charge.

“If I’m here and discussing it, it’s because there is a chance, we have to keep talking,” said the Spaniard.

“It could take a couple of weeks maximum.”

The ex-Liverpool, Chelsea and Real Madrid manager is believed to have a break clause in the three-year contract he signed after McClaren’s departure.

The club were 19th when he took over, but he could not save them despite claiming 10 points from nine games.

They were relegated by local rivals Sunderland’s victory over Everton on Wednesday.

Former Magpies captain Alan Shearer said on Thursday he would be “amazed” if Benitez was still in charge next season.

But Benitez offered hope that he might stay when asked about his future in a news conference ahead of Sunday’s final game of the season against Tottenham.

“We will have more meetings. The things that have been said have been positive and we will continue to have meetings,” added Benitez.

“I want the same as the fans – a successful team, a strong team and to get promoted to the Premier League as soon as possible.”

Powered By | Full Text RSS Feed

Derby County 0-3 Hull City

 Posted by at 8:45 PM
May 142016
Abel Hernandez scored first for Hull, netting his 22nd goal of the season

Hull City took a big step towards the Championship play-off final with a convincing victory at Derby County in the first leg of their semi-final.

Abel Hernandez scored from 25 yards and Moses Odubajo’s effort deflected in off Derby’s Jason Shackell as the Tigers took control before half-time.

Andy Robertson added a third on the counter-attack in second-half stoppage time.

The second leg will take place at Hull’s KCOM Stadium on Tuesday.

Derby were the only team to win a Championship game at Hull during the regular season, and must be victorious there again to stand any chance of reaching the play-off final at Wembley on 28 May.

Derby’s day to forget

Derby must overcome a three-goal deficit to reach a second play-off final in three seasons

The Rams lost in the last minute of the 2014 Wembley final and missed out on a top-six spot on the final day of the season a year later.

A tepid display in the home leg of their semi-final, against a Hull team over whom they completed a league double in 2015-16, left them with little chance of reaching the final.

For all of their early pressure, Derby were unable to test Hull goalkeeper Eldin Jakupovic – a late addition to the starting line-up after Allan McGregor suffered a back injury in training on Thursday.

Bradley Johnson gave away possession in the build-up to Hull’s first goal, while the second came with a degree of poor fortune as goalkeeper Scott Carson was powerless to keep out Odubajo’s hugely deflected shot five minutes before half-time.

Jacob Butterfield’s tame shot from distance was Derby’s first effort on target – with 10 minutes remaining – and was greeted by ironic cheers from the home supporters, who booed loudly as Robertson’s excellent finish almost put the outcome of the semi-final beyond doubt.

Hernandez hits form

Abel Hernandez has scored in five of his last six appearances for Hull City

Hull’s top scorer Hernandez scored his 22nd goal of the season to put his side ahead in their semi-final first leg.

The Uruguay international went through a lean spell, going nine appearances without a goal between February and April, but has returned to form in recent weeks.

Four goals in his last five outings of the regular season helped Hull finish fourth in the table, and the 25-year-old striker netted for his fourth game in succession to take the Tigers closer to an immediate return to the Premier League following relegation last term.


Steve Claridge, ex-Leicester striker, on BBC Radio 5 live:

“I am absolutely stunned. I thought this was going to be a close tie. Everything Hull have done has worked perfectly; everything Derby have done has just not worked.

“Hull are the team that have looked the more dangerous going forward. At 3-0 you fear for Derby in the second leg; there is nothing for them to play for.”

Manager reaction

Media playback is not supported on this device

Wassall on Derby County v Hull City

Derby head coach Darren Wassall: “It’s not the result we wanted and certainly not the result we expected, considering how well we’ve played at home over the last few weeks.

“We’ve got two choices – we can either throw the towel in now, which is not what we’re going to do, or we can regroup, show some character and resilience and dust ourselves down and go again on Tuesday.

“That is what we’re going to do because we can’t end the season on a performance like that.”

Media playback is not supported on this device

Bruce on Derby County v Hull City

Hull manager Steve Bruce: “In big games you want your big players to turn up and I thought today our experience certainly showed.

“It was a really, really good performance from start to finish – which in a big game is great to see.

“We know we’re capable of that but what we have got in our locker is complacency, and we’ve got to guard against that on Tuesday.”

Powered By | Full Text RSS Feed

May 142016
Scala was confirmed as Fifa’s audit and committee chairman in 2013

Domenico Scala, Fifa’s head of auditing and compliance, has resigned in protest at reforms at the governing body of world football.

Scala is angry the new Fifa council will have the ability to appoint and sack those in charge of its committees, including auditing, ethics and finance.

The council replaced the Fifa executive committee in the aftermath of a corruption scandal at the organisation.

Committees had been “deprived of their independence”, said Scala.

The Swiss added it would now be possible for the council to “impede” investigations by either dismissing committee members or “through the threat of a dismissal”.

This, he added, “undermines a central pillar of the good governance of Fifa and destroys a substantial achievement of the reforms”.

Scala has played a key role in pushing through reforms after the scandals that prompted the departures of former Fifa president Sepp Blatter and Uefa counterpart Michel Platini.

Blatter, who had led Fifa since 1998, stood down last year and was later suspended from football for six years for breaching ethics guidelines.

Platini announced earlier this week he would be stepping down after failing to have a six-year ban from football overturned by a Court of Arbitration for Sport panel.

The first Fifa congress led by new president Gianni Infantino, who succeeded Blatter in February, took place in Mexico City on Thursday and Friday.

During the congress, Fifa elected its first female secretary general with the appointment of Senegal’s Fatma Samba Diouf Samoura.

She succeeds Jerome Valcke, who in February was banned from football-related activity for 12 years.


BBC sports editor Dan Roan

“This is the last thing Gianni Infantino needed less than three months into his presidency.

“Domenico Scala has established himself as the architect of Fifa’s crucial reform programme and his decision to quit is a severe blow to the new leadership’s attempts to show the organisation has learned from the corruption crisis that led to Infantino’s election, and is finally serious about improving its governance.

“Scala is furious a surprise vote on Friday at the Fifa congress in Mexico City means he and other key corruption watchdogs who chair independent committees are now able to be sacked by the new-look Fifa council.

“This body was meant to be a less powerful version of the infamous executive committee it replaced, but the measure has actually given it even more clout than before.”

Powered By | Full Text RSS Feed

May 142016
Louis van Gaal has won 52 of his 101 matches in charge of Manchester United

Louis van Gaal thinks he will still be Manchester United manager next season.

The Dutchman has not been given any assurance on his future but he expects to be serving the final season of a three-year contract he signed in 2014.

He said: “I have said I shall be here, that is my opinion, so the board has to decide if it is like that.”

Van Gaal has been under intense pressure since December and former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho is known to have spoken with United officials.

United, who announced record third quarter results on Friday and said they expect overall revenue to pass £500m for the year, know they will miss out on the Champions League for the second time in three seasons if Manchester City avoid defeat in their final game at Swansea on Sunday.

With a place in the FA Cup final against Crystal Palace on 21 May already assured, Van Gaal says taking the battle for a top four place to the final game represents some degree of success.

“We can win the FA Cup,” he said. “And we are still in the race. How many teams can say that? Not many. Our aim was to qualify. Of course you can say Manchester United need to be champions, yes I know the expectations are like that but I don’t think that is realistic.”

Van Gaal repeated his assertion that the media “sacked” him six months ago.

And whether he stays or not, Van Gaal has already been heavily involved in planning for the 2016-17 campaign, reducing the club’s pre-season tour to six full days and two matches in China.

He also knows the area he needs to strengthen, having backed out of a potential deal for Renato Sanches, who joined Bayern Munich from Benfica on Tuesday.

“I don’t think we have to improve too much,” he said. “But we need fast, creative players in attack. That is what I said before this season.”

Never want to miss the latest Manchester United news? You can now add United and all the other sports and teams you follow to your personalised My Sport home.

Powered By | Full Text RSS Feed

Sheffield Wednesday 2-0 Brighton

 Posted by at 5:09 AM
May 142016
Ross Wallace put Sheffield Wednesday in front with a left-footed shot just before half-time

Sheffield Wednesday will take a two-goal lead into the second leg of their Championship play-off semi-final with Brighton after winning at Hillsborough.

After Wednesday’s Fernando Forestieri had seen a goal ruled out for offside, Ross Wallace scored from 25 yards.

The visitors lost four players to injuries, including top scorer Tomer Hemed and winger Anthony Knockaert.

With Brighton down with 10 men, Kieran Lee slotted in a second to stretch the Owls’ lead before Monday’s second leg.

Centre-back Connor Goldson and midfielder Steve Sidwell also left the field prematurely as the Seagulls, who narrowly missed out on automatic promotion by drawing at Middlesbrough on the final day of the season, saw their 14-game unbeaten run come to an end.

Forestieri flashpoint

Referee Andre Marriner correctly ruled out a Fernando Forestieri effort after Brighton protests

Hemed had already headed against the post for Brighton during a frenetic start before the biggest talking point of the first half.

Forestieri, standing several yards offside when goalkeeper Keiren Westwood cleared upfield, fired in low past Brighton’s David Stockdale for what he thought was the opening goal.

The home side were convinced that Gary Hooper had flicked the ball onto Forestieri – who by then had got himself into an onside position – but their protests were waved away by referee Andre Marriner, who consulted with his officials before deciding to disallow the goal.

Wednesday, in particular head coach Carlos Carvalhal, were incensed by the decision, which was later proved to be correct by television replays.

Injury woe for Brighton

Brighton’s Anthony Knockaert was carried off on a stretcher after he was injured in the second half

Wednesday had only lost twice in the league at Hillsborough all season and Brighton’s chances of a positive first-leg result in South Yorkshire were severely hampered by the loss of four key men to injuries.

Already without defender Lewis Dunk and Dale Stephens because of suspension, as well as injured veteran striker Bobby Zamora, manager Chris Hughton was forced into two first-half substitutions when Goldson and Hemed left the field within 30 seconds of each other.

Sidwell followed soon after the interval and Brighton were faced with the prospect of playing the final 30 minutes with 10 men when Knockaert had to be carried from the field on a stretcher.

Dunk will return from his ban for the second leg, which a depleted Brighton will enter needing to overturn a two-goal deficit to reach the play-off final at Wembley on 28 May.


Chris Waddle, ex-Sheffield Wednesday winger on BBC Radio 5 live

“This game’s not finished. Sheffield Wednesday could have put it to bed. Give Brighton credit, they’ve had a horrendous night with injuries and everything’s been against them.

“I thought Sheffield Wednesday were excellent in spells tonight. I just hope they don’t regret killing this game by three or four.”

Manager reaction

Sheffield Wednesday head coach Carlos Carvalhal: “I think we did one of our best performances of the season and if you exclude a moment when Brighton had a chance early on, I think we played very well.

“We are happy about the game and the score but we know we have won absolutely nothing – we have the advantage but we must understand that we can’t play thinking we are winning 2-0.

“The game will start at 0-0 and we will do our best to get a good result at Brighton.”

Brighton manager Chris Hughton: “The injuries were all substantial enough to go off and not one of them wanted to go off. At the moment I wouldn’t be too optimistic about all four of them.

“I’ve never been involved in a game like that. We’ve gone through a decent period with injuries after a really tough period in the first half of the season, and whether it’s the consistent games and the tempo we’ve had to play at in the last few weeks, I don’t know.

“We have to be realistic enough to know it’s going to be a tough task, but it is something that can be achieved.”

Powered By | Full Text RSS Feed