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Saturday, May 03, 2008

Latest Football News

Curbishley can't wait for Old Trafford test
Alan Curbishley insists West Ham United will not be at Old Trafford just to make up the numbers on Saturday, when the 'whole world will be watching' as Manchester United look to close in on the Premier League title.

Sir Alex Ferguson's men are top of the table with just two games left and victory over the Hammers would all but secure the championship, given their superior goal difference over Chelsea, who play at Newcastle on Monday night.
However, Curbishley has masterminded three wins over United in their previous three meetings, including a famous triumph on the final day of last season which kept the Hammers up.

The West Ham manager knows the stakes are just as high this time around, but for United now rather than his 10th-placed side.
'The whole world will be watching the game on Saturday and we want to show what we can do,' Curbishley said.
'It is uncanny how the fixtures have worked out, similar to last year - although this time the tables have turned somewhat.
'The Premier League has been massively competitive, there are no 'gimmes'.
'If you look at why Man United are battling out this weekend its because Middlesbrough and Blackburn took them to the wire and Wigan came back in the last minute at Chelsea.
'The integrity of the Premier League has always been there and this is the most competitive I have ever been involved in.
'Man United thought they had it wrapped up a couple of weeks ago, but the resilience of Chelsea has been fantastic and they have kept going, so to the end it has been a fantastic struggle.'
The Hammers' campaign, though, petered out several months ago with mid-table security assured.
Curbishley, though, insists any suggestions staff are already thinking about the summer are wide of the mark.
He said: 'We have been accused of packing up and going on holiday and that sort of stuff - it is frustrating when comments like that come out.
'Every week we have had at least six or seven first-teamers out, and the players have done fantastically to get where they are and we want to stay there.
'There are a few things going on on Saturday, obviously one of them is getting that top-10 finish we want to secure and we want to go there and let people know who we are.'
Midfielder Freddie Ljungberg is the latest player to join an already crowded treatment room after the Sweden international cracked a rib following a collision with Newcastle's Steven Taylor last week.
Curbishley lamented: 'If sides like Blackburn, Man City or Everton and Portsmouth had six or seven first-teamers out every week, I think they would have found it difficult.
'The fans were frustrated and upset a week ago and they let us know - but when you sit down and analyse it, just look at the players we have had missing.'
Curbishley added: 'I have kept on about it for too long and it has turned into a bit of a negative. Hopefully we can get them fit and ready for pre-season.'

Geremi out to wreck title bid

NEWCASTLE midfielder Geremi insists Chelsea deserve to win the Premier League — but warned his Blues pals: “I won’t do you any favours.”
He won two titles at Chelsea before moving to St James’ Park last year.
And Geremi will be roaring his old side on as they bid for a Premier and Champions League double.
But ahead of Monday’s showdown in the North East, the Cameroon ace will only be thinking of helping Newcastle.
Geremi, 29, said: “Considering how Chelsea fought back from fourth to be in contention, it goes to show they have the strength to go all the way.
“No one gave them a chance five months ago but now it’s really exciting. It’ll be a deserved win if they manage
to keep up their momentum and win the league.
“United have also been in good form and that’s why they are the defending Premier League champions.
“But if Chelsea win, I’ll be happy for my friends there, and of course there are many of them in London.
“Personally, I don’t have to prove anything to Chelsea or anyone but rather to fight hard as a Newcastle player. I’m sorry for Chelsea but that’s football.
“It’s a very unfortunate situation for them because it’s our last game at home, against one of the big teams. We need the result and cannot come out second best.
“We’re not going to let them come here and win, that’s for sure.”

Pepe Reina hails Didier Drogba

Pepe Reina believes Didier Drogba is one of Europe's best - after the Chelsea striker fired two goals past him to reach the Champions League final.

And Liverpool keeper Reina says Drogba has now silenced his critics, including his own Reds boss Rafa Benitez.
Spaniard Reina said: "Drogba has surprised us with his goals.

"He has shown that he is one of the best strikers in European football. But to get this far in the Champions League and lose is very difficult to take because we have come so close again.
"We have gone out with a lot of pride. Now I want Chelsea to win because I feel they are better than Manchester United."

Chelsea's Essien gives Real Madrid short shrift

Chelsea midfielder Michael Essien has given Real Madrid short shrift.

Real Madrid sports chief Pedja Mijatovic was in London on Wednesday night for Chelsea's Champions League semifinal victory over Liverpool.
Mijatovic made contact with Essien's representatives, says DiarioSport, but received little encouragement with the Ghana international determined to stay at Stamford Bridge.

Real Madrid in talks with Chelsea's Carvalho

Real Madrid have held talks for Chelsea defender Ricardo Carvalho.
Real sports chief Pedja Mijatovic was in London on Wednesday night for Chelsea's Champions League semifinal victory over Liverpool.
DiarioSport says Mijatovic watched Carvalho in action and also held talks with his agent, Jorge Mendes, about a move to Madrid.

Chelsea watch as Aguero admits Atletico Madrid future out of his hands

Sergio Aguero accepts his Atletico Madrid future is out of his hands.
Chelsea are chasing the Argie whiz, who said: "I am very happy at Atletico, but anything can happen in football. If a club is willing to pay my buyout clause, whether it's 20, 30, 40 or £50 million, then there is not much you can do. The president will have to sell.
"But I am happy at Atletico and hope to have a great year next season."

Grant finished unless he wins final, says Ranieri
Former Chelsea boss Claudio Ranieri fears reaching the Champions League final will not save Avram Grant's job unless he beats Manchester United in Moscow.
Italian coach Ranieri was sacked in 2004 when owner Roman Abramovich decided to bring in Jose Mourinho from Porto and while Grant was chosen to succeed Mourinho early this season, speculation persists that he will be ousted this summer.
The Blues last night secured their place in the European Cup final on May 21 with an extra-time victory over Liverpool at Stamford Bridge and Ranieri, now coach of Serie A giants Juventus, was pleased for the Israeli coach.
'I think Grant deserved this victory,' Ranieri told BBC Radio Five Live.
However, asked what will happen if Chelsea fail to win in the final, the Italian said: 'This is a difficult answer but I think if Grant doesn't win, I think he's finished in the job.
'I think if Grant wins something, then okay, maybe he'll continue, but if not...I don't know the mind of Roman Abramovich, it's very difficult to know what he thinks.
'It is the first (European Cup) final of Chelsea's history, going to Moscow, it's fantastic for him. He'll be very, very proud.
'It's a great achievement for English football.'
Ranieri could return to the Premier League one day but insists he is happy at Juve for now.
'Why not?' he said. 'Now I have a very good job here at Juve. We are rebuilding the story of this great club. I hope to win something here.'