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Monday, October 20, 2008

Mourinho angling for return to England and Big Four

Jose Mourinho has fuelled the fires of speculation by saying he has unfinished business in England and revealed he expects to return to England when his time comes to an end at Internazionale.

Mourinho spent three years at Chelsea but unexpectedly left the post in September 2007 after a row with owner Roman Abramovich. Relations with the Russian are said to cordial again, especially after Abramovich bought Mourinho a £2 million limited edition Ferrari 612 Scaglietti in May.

Mourinho may well be interested in a job at Manchester United when Sir Alex Ferguson finally quits Old Trafford. The 45-year-old Portugese coach returned to management when he signed a three-year contract with Inter in June.

"I have a contract with Inter but when it ends I will probably return to the Premier League, a league I really like," he revealed.

Mourinho has made a solid start to life in Italy, and guided the Nerazzurri to the Serie A summit with Sunday's thumping 4-0 win at Roma

Liverpool character pleases Carra
Centre-back Jamie Carragher believes Liverpool are demonstrating the type of character needed to win the Premier League title.

The defender was a part of the side which came from behind to defeat Wigan 3-2 at Anfield on Saturday to maintain an unbeaten record this season.

Carragher was also involved as the Reds recorded turn-around wins against Middlesbrough, Manchester United and Manchester City this campaign, and the 30-year-old believes the successes are positive signs.

The games could be viewed as contests Liverpool - who have not lifted a league title in 18 years - would not have won in seasons past, and Carragher believes the improvement is down to the mental strength of his colleagues.

"We were always confident about turning things around against Wigan because we've done it a few times this season now," he told Liverpool's official website.

"There's a really good team spirit at the moment and that makes a big difference. You're going to need a lot of character to challenge for the league title over the next few months.

"We know we're a good side but only time will tell if we're good enough to go on and win the title. At this stage we're just happy that we're up there and challenging.

"The most important thing is to get the points on the board as soon as possible and that's what we're trying to do at the moment."

Carragher, though, is wary that Liverpool cannot afford to keep giving opponents a head start.

"It's not something you want to be doing in every game of the season because eventually you're going to come unstuck," added Carragher.

Winger Albert Riera - who moved to England from Espanyol in the summer - has echoed Carragher's sentiments.

"We just don't know when we are beaten, and that is a quality that was apparent to me the moment I arrived here," said Riera.

"It really is unbelievable. You get confidence from winning games. It demonstrates how good we are at reacting to adversity. That is so important and is the message that comes across loud and clear."

We can't take foot off pedal - Lamps
Frank Lampard has urged Premier League leaders Chelsea not to take their foot off the pedal following their unbeaten start to the season.

Chelsea have enjoyed a tremendous run under new boss Luiz Felipe Scolari and produced another eye-catching performance in the 5-0 triumph at Middlesbrough on Saturday.

The Blues are now odds-on to reclaim the Premier League title from Manchester United, with Lampard admitting they have a great chance of being champions again.

However, the experienced midfielder has sounded a note of caution by insisting Chelsea can not afford to let their standards drop in the coming weeks.

"Boro weren't at their best, they would probably admit that, and it is a bit strong to say we could beat any team if we played the way we did," said Lampard told Sky Sports.

"But if we are playing as well as we did, and we keep that up for the season, then we have a great chance. We can't take our foot off the pedal, because the moment you do that, things can change.

"At the moment we are full of confidence, we have such a strong squad that we are coping with the injuries we have got, who are all top players, and the attitude we came to Middlesbrough with after the international break was fantastic.

"'People might have expected us to have a dodgy start on the Saturday morning, but we came out of the blocks and we played fantastically."

Chelsea have already produced several notable performances this season, but Lampard ranks Saturday's at the Riverside as the best to date.

He added: "The way we set about the game right from the starting moment was brilliant with our movement and our passing.

"That is the best we have played for a long time. I have said that a couple of times already this season, but it's been true."

I was right to miss England - Terry
John Terry was 'gutted' to miss England's World Cup qualifiers, but says it was the right decision after he returned for Chelsea on Saturday.

England skipper Terry sat out the wins over Kazakhstan and Belarus earlier this month with a back injury, leaving Rio Ferdinand to captain the team in his absence.

But Terry was fit to play in Chelsea's 5-0 win over Middlesbrough on Saturday and he was happy to make a winning return to action after a frustrating week.

"Honestly, I was so gutted watching the England game on Wednesday. Especially being captain - it really hurt me," said Terry.

"I wanted to stay with the squad, but knew by Monday I wasn't right. When I was watching, my back was still hurting, so I knew it was the right decision.

"It was hard to sit it out, but this was a nice way to come back. We know it is never easy to come to a place like Middlesbrough and over the years they have made it very difficult for us. It was one of the best displays I have ever seen us put in, though.

"The manager is eager. He wants us to play from the back. One thing he has stressed right from the start is that we must work hard for each other.

"There are going to be games when we don't play well, but if we are fighting, working and moving for each other we have all the chance in the world."

The Chelsea captain also revealed that the players are enjoying the more attacking mentality adopted by manager Luiz Felipe Scolari.

He added: "In the first two years after Jose Mourinho took over we had a strong mentality where we would go to places and shut up shop to get the three points.

"But now we are ready to really push on and get that second goal and kill teams off. That is the difference between then and now."

Gunners have right mentality - RvP
Robin van Persie maintains Arsenal have the right "mental aspect" to last the distance in the race for the Premier League title

The Gunners showed plenty of the battling spirit they will need over the next seven months as they came from behind to beat Everton 3-1 at Emirates Stadium on Saturday.

After conceding an early goal to Leon Osman, Arsene Wenger's men found some urgency when England winger Theo Walcott was introduced at the break and a makeshift backline was rebalanced.

Samir Nasri equalised with a low effort from 20 yards before van Persie - who had already missed two gilt-edged chances - nodded them in front and Walcott wrapped things up with a well-taken goal in stoppage time.

Dutch international van Persie accepts there are more "big tests" ahead for the Gunners.

However, the 25-year-old maintains Wenger's squad have learned harsh lessons from the last campaign, when they swept to the top of the table only to fade in the run-in.

"You are playing at home with 60,000 people behind you and it is a bit disappointing when you go 1-0 down, but you have to think positive," he said.

"I missed a few chances and was not happy about that, but you have to keep going and that is one of the reasons why you play at the top."

Van Persie maintained: "At this time in football, the mental aspect is really important, maybe more than 30 or 40 per cent.

"If you look at the games we have played, like against Bolton and Blackburn, the mental aspect is more important than the way we want to play.

"I do not think it is a real big problem for us, but every single time we have to prove it again.

"Last season we played fantastic for three-quarters of the season and then suddenly everything fell down.

"I do not know if the reason is mentally, maybe it was a bit of everything, but we learned a lot from last year as well.

"The season is long, we lost some points, but we won some as well so we just have to stay positive.

"The whole squad realise that because we still have to play against the big teams and lots of big tests for us are on the way."

Reds ace Kuyt happy to front up
Dutch frontman Dirk Kuyt has vowed to continue scoring for Liverpool as Fernando Torres' stand-in whenever he is needed.

The hard-working striker scored twice to sink Wigan 3-2 in a thrilling encounter at Anfield.

Torres was watching from the directors' box as he nursed the hamstring injury that will keep him out of the club's next two away matches, the Champions League trip to Atletico Madrid and next weekend's clash at Chelsea.

A few weeks ago Kuyt was being reminded constantly that he had not scored in the league since last November and had managed only one this campaign.

Since then he has scored in three successive matches for the first time in his Liverpool career, including three crucial Premier League goals.

Being asked to step into Torres' scoring boots has not bothered him one bit and there is every chance that Kuyt will be asked to lead the line in Madrid and at Stamford Bridge.

He said: "Fernando is very important for us and it was a big blow that he wasn't on the pitch. But I tried to do my job when the boss put me up front, I just intended on scoring goals for the team.

"It does not concern me what position I play, I have enjoyed being played on the right, and I just want to be important for the team.

"I just hope Fernando is back quickly, but whenever the boss wants me up front, I will be ready.

"I do not think of where I play when Fernando is back. I feel I have been important on the right, scoring goals and with a few assists.

"The most joy for me is that we are winning more games and are at the top of the table."

Kuyt's double maintained Liverpool's unbeaten home league record this year - indeed they have lost just two of their last 58 home Premier League games - and this is their best start to a league campaign for 18 years.

But they had to overcome a tremendous display from Wigan, with Egyptian striker Amr Zaki scoring twice in the first period, his second a memorable scissor-kick into the Kop end.

Kuyt's first had kept Liverpool in the hunt, and only after Antonio Valencia's two yellow cards reduced Wigan to 10 men, did Albert Riera equalise and Kuyt grab the winner.

Kuyt added: "I was delighted with my two. But for me the most important thing is that we win games. Even if we did make it hard for ourselves.

"We did struggle a bit, but Fernando was not playing and several players were not 100 per cent fit.

"The most important thing after being away on international duty, is that you win your next club match because they are always more difficult.

"In these kind of games you have to show character. And that is the massive improvement from last season because in similar circumstances then we may have drawn or even lost this one.

"We took another step along the road, a test really. We won while not being at our best."

Kuyt, 28, said: "We knew that Chelsea were a few goals up when we started, so we knew we had to win to stay top with them. But it is really more important to concentrate on ourselves and win our own games, regardless, and then we will see where we are.

"Chelsea winning so emphatically does not put more pressure on us. We know we have to win every game to keep in touch with them, Arsenal are there and Manchester United too.

"The most important thing is to look at ourselves and what we do. But we know we cannot allow anyone to get half a dozen points away from us.

"We saw that situation last season. We lost too many points at the beginning of the season and that cost us dearly in the end.

"Now you can see that we are collecting the points all the time, that is vital."


Starting11 said...

Gotta love Mourinho. Not even on the job six months and he's talking about his next gig.