Jan 052016
Swans 'in no rush to replace Curtis'

Swansea City will not rush to appoint a permanent manager thanks to caretaker boss Alan Curtis’ performance, says the club’s former striker Lee Trundle.

Curtis, 61, has taken five points from five games since
Garry Monk’s sacking and it now looks likely he will remain in charge for the rest of the season.

Swansea are 17th in the Premier League, two points above relegation, after Saturday’s loss at Manchester United.

“It’s a massive decision that Swansea don’t want to jump into,” Trundle said.

“I think the board feel, with Alan in charge at the moment, they’re not in a position where they need to jump into something which could hinder the club in the long run.

“Alan has come in and done extremely well. All the lads instantly respect him.”

Swansea 'contenders'

David Moyes (top left), Marcelo Bielsa, Roberto Di Matteo, Gus Poyet, Brendan Rodgers and Ryan Giggs have all been linked with the Swansea vacancy

Former Sunderland boss Gus Poyet had been tipped to replace Monk, while Brendan Rodgers has been linked with a return to his old club, but Swansea ambassador Trundle believes more managers will be available in the summer.

“The board are doing what’s best for the club and you’ve got to respect that because, over the years, they’ve always got it right,” he added.

“If we can’t find that fit at the moment for both parties, you’ve got to keep searching.”

Swans chairman Huw Jenkins
travelled to South America last month as he stepped up his search for Monk’s successor, with Argentina’s Marcelo Bielsa then the favourite for the job.

Former Premier League manager Neil Warnock, who took caretaker charge of Championship side QPR before the appointment of Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, says there is less pressure on a temporary boss.

“Being an interim boss gives you freedom – I loved every minute of it,” Warnock told
BBC Radio Wales. “The problem Alan will have is if he gets the job.

“When you’re actually totally put in charge, it is a totally different ball game. That’s when results have to change.”

Swansea face Oxford United away in the FA Cup on Sunday before two crucial home Premier League games against fellow strugglers Sunderland on 13 January and Watford five days later.

Warnock feels it would “not be advisable” for Swansea to clarify Curtis’ future before those “two huge games”.

“I wouldn’t want it to consume Alan. He deserves better than that for the role that he’s done,” the 67-year-old added.

“It is a game of poker, these next few days, whether they will, whether they won’t.”

The influence of the transfer window

Former Wales striker Iwan Roberts believes the January transfer window will be a significant factor in Jenkins’ mind.

“It’s a massive decision to make because we all know how important this month is. Swansea need new players,” Roberts said.

“If Huw Jenkins is going to make that decision that Alan is the man until end of season, does he give Alan money, knowing that he’s not going to be manager next year?

“The one concern I have – it is just one win in the five games.”

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Jan 052016

Sunderland boss Sam Allardyce has accused the Premier League of devaluing the FA Cup.

He said it was “diabolical” that top-flight clubs have Premier League fixtures the Tuesday and Wednesday after this weekend’s third-round ties.

“Of course I’m going to make changes for our cup tie at Arsenal on Saturday,” Allardyce said.

“We’re flogging the lads. There are more and more injuries every year but it’s ignored by the Premier League.”

Sunderland, second from bottom in the league, are away to Arsenal in the FA Cup on Saturday (15:00 GMT) before they travel to fellow strugglers Swansea on Wednesday, 12 January.

He added: “If the Premier League decides to put a stupid fixture midweek when they don’t bloody need to, then I haven’t got much choice than to make changes.

“If you want us to respect the FA Cup, don’t put Premier League fixtures in the midweek just after new year.

“Don’t give me stick when I change the side at Arsenal. Give the Premier League stick, not the managers.”

The Swansea game was originally due to be played on Tuesday, but was moved back a day because the Swans’ FA Cup tie at Oxford United is on Sunday.

Allardyce was aggrieved by the switch because his side play at Tottenham in a Saturday lunchtime kick-off on 16 January.

“Making me play Wednesday and Saturday rather than Tuesday and Saturday is making it harder for me to get Premier League points,” he said.

“With having three away games in succession we’ve got around 2,000 miles of travel and the lunchtime kick-off means we’ve less than three days recovery for Tottenham.”

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Jan 052016
Zidane replaces Benitez as Real boss

Rafael Benitez has been sacked as manager of Real Madrid after just seven months in charge at the Bernabeu.

The 55-year-old Spaniard was relieved of his duties following a meeting of the club’s board on Monday.

Real’s B team coach Zinedine Zidane, 43, has been promoted to the role of first-team boss.

Frenchman Zidane, a former Real player and World Cup winner, said: “I am going to put my heart and soul into this job so that everything works out well.”

Benitez’s final game was Sunday’s 2-2 draw with Valencia, which left them third in La Liga, four points behind leaders Atletico Madrid.

The right replacement for Rafa?

For a man with no experience of managing at the top level, Zidane’s appointment could be considered a risk – but he has long been seen as a future Real boss.

Zidane has been coach of Real’s B team – who are second in the Spanish third tier – since 2014. Prior to that he was an integral member of the backroom staff under then Real boss Carlo Ancelotti, who led the side to ‘La Decima’ – the club’s 10th European Cup.

During his playing career, the Frenchman was one of Real’s key ‘Galacticos’ – a label given to the expensive players signed by club president Florentino Perez in the early to mid-2000s.

Zinedine Zidane

Zinedine Zidane is the first French manager in Real Madrid’s history

Real paid Juventus a then world record fee of £45.8m in 2001 for the midfielder, who had already won the World Cup and European Championship.

At the Bernabeu, he played alongside players such as Luis Figo, Raul and Ronaldo, and also featured in the same midfield as England captain David Beckham.

During a five-year stay, he helped the side win the Spanish league in 2003 and was named Fifa world player of the year for the third time that year.

But perhaps his defining moment came during the 2002 Champions League final, when he scored a stunning volley against Bayer Leverkusen at Hampden Park.

What next for Benitez?

Valencia supporters

Valencia fans unfurled a banner at the Mestalla on Sunday thanking their former manager

Benitez may be loved in Liverpool and Valencia, but his reputation as a manager has diminished in his past two jobs – at Napoli and Real.

The Spaniard
replaced Walter Mazzarri as Napoli boss in May 2013, and won the Coppa Italia in his first season in charge, but things soured in his second and final season.

Napoli failed to make the Champions League despite the big-money signings of Gonzalo Higuain, Jose Maria Callejon, Raul Albiol and Dries Mertens, with Benitez criticised for his rotation policy and stubborn adherence to a 4-2-3-1 formation.

Real lost just three of their 25 competitive matches under Benitez, but the club’s supporters quickly tired of what they regarded as a sterile and unexciting style of play.

West Ham co-chairman David Sullivan said last month that Benitez was
“two hours away” from being appointed Hammers boss before he took the Real job.

His trophy-laden CV map tempt other Premier League clubs to turn to a man whose family home is still in Liverpool.

And what next for Mourinho?

Jorge Valdano and Jose Mourinho

Jose Mourinho was named Real Madrid boss in May 2010

Real overlooked one of their notable former managers in turning to Zidane.

Jose Mourinho guided the club to the league title in 2012 and – following his sacking by Chelsea last month – is available.

He has unfinished business at the Bernabeu having failed to win the Champions League – a prize coveted perhaps more than any other by Los Blancos.

But there were reports his relationship with forward
Cristiano Ronaldo  broke down during his last spell in charge, while he also had high-profile clashes with fan favourites Sergio Ramos and Iker Casillas.

And following Mourinho’s departure from Chelsea, Perez said there would be
no imminent return to the Bernabeu for ‘the Special One’. 

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Stoke City v Liverpool

 Posted by at 1:29 AM
Jan 052016

Continue reading the main story

Daniel Sturridge will miss Liverpool’s League Cup semi-final first leg at Stoke on Tuesday after suffering a minor setback in training as he recovers from a hamstring injury.

The striker, 26, has been blighted by injuries, making only 19 appearances last season and six this campaign.

Reds boss Jurgen Klopp has only one fit striker, Christian Benteke, with Divock Origi and Danny Ings also injured.

Stoke’s Geoff Cameron is available despite being sent off on Saturday.

The USA defender’s red card in the 2-1 defeat by West Brom was
overturned on appeal, meaning his three-match ban was withdrawn.

‘Daniel had some problems’

Sturridge has not played since straining a hamstring against Newcastle on 6 December.

After his side’s 1-0 win over Leicester on Boxing Day, he
tweeted: “I’m back training and good to go!!”

But Klopp, speaking on Monday, said Sturridge “had some problems” which forced him to miss a training session.

He added: “What Daniel has to do at this moment is hard work to be prepared for the things we make in a football game. He had the last complete pre-season a long time ago.

“In pre-season we load our bodies with strength, energy, all we need for the games and then the problems start.

“It would be easy for me to say ‘Come on, let’s try, we have problems, we don’t score enough goals, let’s see what will happen’ but we have to wait and be patient.”

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson is likely to miss Tuesday’s match with the recurrence of a foot problem and fellow midfielder James Milner is still struggling with a calf injury.

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