The 51-year-old has endured a difficult few weeks on Tyneside as his side has slipped down the table to the point where it faces a very real fight for top-flight survival. “It’s a big, big club and we don’t want to be playing, with all due respect to the Championship, in the Championship,” Pardew said. Press Association Newcastle boss Alan Pardew is determined not to ruin his CV by adding another relegation from the Barclays Premier League to it. “Hopefully we get the result we need or two results or three, whatever it is. It is in our hands. We have a five-point cushion, although Wigan have a game in hand, and that’s a significant cushion at this stage. “We need to increase it and if we increase it, it will be very difficult for Wigan to catch us.” It has all been in stark contrast to his first 18 months at St James’ Park, which saw him steer the Magpies to mid-table safety in their first season back in the Premier League and then roar to a fifth-place finish and European qualification last time around. Whatever happens between now and May 19, Pardew will sit down with owner Mike Ashley and managing director Derek Llambias at the end of the season to discuss what went wrong and the implications for the future. In some ways, it will be an uncomfortable conversation with mistakes having been made at boardroom and managerial levels as well as on the pitch. But against the backdrop of claims of disunity within the dressing room, which have been vehemently denied by Newcastle, and mounting pressure on the manager from outside the club in the wake of thumping home defeats by derby rivals Sunderland and Liverpool, Pardew is concentrating solely on football. He said: “There’s no point having an inquest at the moment because it’s no good to anybody. The most important thing is getting ourselves safety in the Premier League, and that’s what we will try to do.”
He added: “It was important to me to leave an organisation in the strongest possible shape and I believe I have done so,” he said. “The quality of this league winning squad, and the balance of ages within it, bodes well for continued success at the highest level whilst the structure of the youth set-up will ensure that the long-term future of the club remains a bright one.” Ferguson has had a career the like of which will never be seen again. He won his 49th trophy in United’s 20th league championship and seemed set to extend his career into next season, confirming as much in his programme notes ahead of Sunday’s encounter with Chelsea. Instead, with a hip operation booked in for August, this weekend’s Old Trafford encounter with Swansea, that will be followed by a trophy presentation, will be his last home game in charge. He leaves behind a club in good shape. “Our training facilities are amongst the finest in global sport and our home Old Trafford is rightfully regarded as one of the leading venues in the world,” said Ferguson. “Going forward, I am delighted to take on the roles of both Director and Ambassador for the club. With these activities, along with my many other interests, I am looking forward to the future. “I must pay tribute to my family, their love and support has been essential. My wife Cathy has been the key figure throughout my career, providing a bedrock of both stability and encouragement. Words are not enough to express what this has meant to me. “As for my players and staff, past and present, I would like to thank them all for a staggering level of professional conduct and dedication that has helped to deliver so many memorable triumphs. Without their contribution the history of this great club would not be as rich.” Now, for the first time in over a quarter of a century, United are on the hunt for a new manager. David Moyes, out of contract at Everton, and Jose Mourinho, who is expected to leave Real Madrid at the end of the season, are the obvious favourites, although Borussia Dortmund’s highly-regarded coach Jurgen Klopp and Bayern Munich’s 67-year-old outgoing boss Jupp Heynckes will also come into contention. Ferguson’s last game in charge will be at West Brom on May 19 and he will join the club’s football board. “The decision to retire is one that I have thought a great deal about and one that I have not taken lightly,” said Ferguson. “It is the right time.” Press Association Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has confirmed he is to retire at the end of the season, ending his history-making spell at the club.
Persistent rain saw conditions officially changed to ‘soft’ ahead of the Betfred Derby Trial Stakes at Lingfield, leading to the withdrawal of likely favourite Greatwood and leaving the way clear for yet another Aidan O’Brien winner of a Classic trial this week in Nevis. Like Ruler Of The World and Magician at Chester, Ryan Moore did the steering and he soon had the son of Dansili at the head of affairs. Negotiating the downhill turn with what looked like real aplomb, Moore always had matters firmly in control and the 4-9 favourite readily asserted from three furlongs out, slamming Elidor by nine lengths. Kevin Buckley, Coolmore’s UK representative, said of the winner: “The ground changing wasn’t ideal, but he had travelled a long way and there was no point not running. He handled it OK, and he won decisively. “It will be up to Aidan what he does once he has seen the rest of the trials.” Luca Cumani said of Greatwood: “We didn’t run because of the ground and he will either go for the Dante and then the Derby, or the old Predominate at Goodwood then miss the Derby and go to Royal Ascot.” Press Association
Press Association Stuart Pearce’s stinging criticism of Phil Jones has not put the Manchester United man off playing for England. But it has not dampened his enthusiasm for England duty. Speaking on a visit to his old school, Balshaw’s CE High School in Leyland, to deliver football equipment he helped pay for as part of a combined initiative involving the Premier League, PFA and Manchester United, Jones said: “It is an honour to represent your country at any level and I will continue to enjoy that experience when it happens. “I have represented the Under-19s, the Under-21s and the seniors. I said from the first day I pulled on an England shirt, it sent shivers down my spine. “How he can come out and say I didn’t want to play for the Under-21s is beyond me. “It wasn’t nice to read what he said and I am sure Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is thinking the same thing.” Having missed the first three months of last season, and another six-week period between the middle of February and the beginning of April with a knee injury, then-United boss Sir Alex Ferguson wanted to protect Jones. In addition, England boss Roy Hodgson would not countenance any player chosen for the post-season trip to Brazil to also be selected for Under-21 duty. Hodgson informed Pearce he wanted Jones with him in Rio and the former Blackburn man subsequently completed the full 90 minutes in a 2-2 draw at the Maracana Stadium, having played the second half of a Wembley encounter with Republic of Ireland just four days earlier. “It was totally out of my hands,” said Jones. “Roy Hodgson came out prior to the Under-21 tournament and said he regarded me as a senior player. “I went on to play against Ireland and Brazil, so it wasn’t a waste of time going with the seniors. “Probably if I had been on the bench I could have seen where he (Pearce) was coming from but I got a lot of experience from those two games. “Don’t forget also I had just come back from a knee injury, for the second time, and I had to manage it in the right way, control it and make sure I wasn’t overusing it. “That’s why I am really disappointed in these comments.” Pearce this week singled out Jones and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain as two players who missed the European Under-21 Championships because he believed they felt dropping back down from the senior squad was beneath them. Jones has insisted Pearce’s claims are not true but it underlines the problems that can arise when players put themselves up for national selection.
Press Association “I spoke to David about this after the Liverpool game. We’ve gone there over the years 20-odd times and played worse than that and won games and I can’t believe the criticisms of United in that game. “I thought David was right. We deserved more.” Ferguson also denied suggestions he may have had influence over referees during his decorated career. Comments from former official Mark Halsey this week, in which he referred to having a “good relationship” with the Scot, led to claims Ferguson may have had undue influence during his long stay in charge of United. Ferguson denied any wrongdoing, though, and said the extent of his relationship with Halsey had been to support him during his battle with cancer. “I can’t believe… obviously there is an Alex Ferguson element in (Halsey’s) book, he thought was important,” he said. “Most of the managers, particularly in the north west, supported (Halsey), and a lot of players by the way, when he had the cancer, him and his wife, it was a terrible period for the lad and quite rightly the football fraternity got behind him and supported him. “We gave him jersey after jersey for the dinners he was having and of course a Manchester United strip figures greatly in these auctions, a signed strip from all the players.” Ferguson was no stranger to rows with officials during his time in the dugout, and added: “The laughable part for me was how I (supposedly) influenced the refereeing fraternity. “This is a guy who has the worst record of any manager in the history of English football, fined £100,000 by them, suspended so many times, that’s some influence, I must say. It’s a little bit Walter Mitty.” Sir Alex Ferguson believes Wayne Rooney will have an important role to play at Manchester United this season after claiming the striker is back to his best. Rooney appeared set to leave United in the summer with reports that a fractured relationship with Ferguson – before his retirement at the end of last season – had been at the centre of his discontent. Chelsea made bids for Rooney but the striker refused to hand in a transfer request before the end of the window, indicating he may be happy to stay at Old Trafford in the longer term. Ferguson has now weighed in by underlining his support for the 27-year-old, who scored twice on Tuesday night as United opened their Champions League campaign with a 4-2 win over Bayer Leverkusen. “Wayne’s performance was fantastic, I was pleased to see that,” Ferguson told MUTV. “He’s got his energy back, the determination, his purpose to attack players, (it was) was all very encouraging to me. Being a director I’m delighted to see that, he’s back to what we always remember. “We will have a fantastic chance (of success) because in (Robin) van Persie and Rooney you have forwards who can win you games.” Ferguson also offered his backing for David Moyes, who he has been in contact with since his start to life as his successor as United boss. The former Everton manager won the Community Shield to start his reign before overseeing a 4-1 win at Swansea in his first Premier League game in charge. While a defeat at arch-rivals Liverpool followed, Ferguson believes United were unlucky that day. “I loved the Swansea game, United were terrific but the Liverpool game was agony,” Ferguson said.
Greg Dyke has moved to try to end the revolt that has engulfed the Football Association by announcing Rio Ferdinand and Roy Hodgson will join his England Commission. “Like many who have spoken out I want to see the commission be successful in its mission to strengthen the future talent pool for the England team. However, the issue of real diversity, and the insight that can bring, is still not fully resolved nor are the exact terms of reference of the commission and the continued absence of the Premier League from its membership.” The appointment of England manager Hodgson had been delayed until after the end of the World Cup qualifiers. Dyke said: “It is important Roy can offer his views as the current manager of the national team and share the knowledge he has gained when working for many years in a number of countries. I wanted the international fixtures to be completed before announcing this to avoid any distractions for Roy at such an important time.” The Commission will now start to gather evidence and information and canvass opinions from “numerous people in football and sport”, said Dyke. He added: “It is important we do not lose sight of the Commission’s main purpose. That is – finding a way of delivering long-term success for the England men’s senior team, particularly by identifying ways to increase the number of players available to the national team playing regularly at the highest level of English football or abroad.” Former England manager Glenn Hoddle, already announced as a member of the commission, welcomed the new members. Hoddle told Sky Sports: “I think people like this (being involved), it’s going to be invaluable. “Rio is a very astute guy to be putting on there with his experience. He is still playing and has a lot of respect in the game. It will be lovely to hear his perspective.” Piara Powar, executive director of the European anti-discrimination body FARE, questioned why the commission was still all-male. He said on Twitter: “Still can’t work out why no women on this important body. Even if it only looks at men’s football, should draw on insight from the women’s game.” Dyke’s first crisis since he took over as FA chairman came after FA board member Heather Rabbatts publicly criticised the all-white and all-male make-up of the commission. Rabbatts was backed up by anti-discrimination groups, with sports and equalities minister Helen Grant also expressing concern, and it led to a frantic weekend for the FA before it finally was able to announce the appointment of Manchester United defender Ferdinand and England manager Roy Hodgson. Press Association Dyke is understood to have emailed all board members to consult them about the appointments – something he was criticised for failing to do before announcing the first eight names on his commission, none of whom were from an ethnic minority. The appointment of Ferdinand – who was an outspoken critic of the handling of the John Terry racism case – can be seen as a victory for Rabbatts, though Dyke insisted that the FA had been in talks with Ferdinand for some time. Dyke said: “Rio’s vast experience as a player developed through West Ham’s successful youth system, winning Premier League and European titles with Manchester United and representing England at World Cups means he has a huge amount to offer to the debate. “We have been speaking to Rio and Manchester United for some time about him joining the group – before we named the other members of the commission. “However, as he is a current Manchester United player we needed to be sure that Rio had the necessary time to fully participate on the Commission and not impact on his day job. It has been agreed he does. “As a current player with forthright views and opinions on the game, we can look forward to Rio providing significant insight and experience.” Rabbatts, who had suggested Reading striker Jason Roberts as a suitable candidate, has sought further assurances from Dyke that other people may be appointed onto the commission, but has been unable to secure any guarantees. Rabbatts said: “While I can appreciate the appointment of Roy and Rio and of course welcome a degree of diversity, there are still questions which remain about the work and role of the FA Commission.
The Black Cats turned in one of their most enterprising displays of a difficult season to date on Wednesday night to push Chelsea all the way to the final whistle. However, they ultimately came away on the wrong end of a 4-3 scoreline and empty-handed at the end of a night of mixed emotions at the Stadium of Light. It was he who crossed for Frank Lampard to level just three minutes later, and then fired the visitors ahead eight minutes before the break with a superb individual effort. John O’Shea levelled five minutes into the second half, but an equally impressive finish by Hazard restored Chelsea’s lead before Sunderland full-back Phil Bardsley managed to score at both ends within a minute at the death. Both Jose Mourinho and Poyet saluted Hazard’s brilliance after the game, and for Dossena it will be a relief not to have to face the Belgian again on Saturday, when Tottenham head for Wearside. He said: “Hazard had a fantastic game and you don’t come up against players like him or (Juan) Mata every week. “We know Chelsea are a great team – I know Tottenham are good, but I don’t think they’re as good as Chelsea. “We have to show the same heart and same character because it’s a very important game.” The defeat was Sunderland’s first on their own pitch under Poyet, but they were applauded from the pitch by fans who recognised both the effort and commitment which had gone into a performance which came up only just short, and further evidence of a recovery under the Uruguayan. More of the same is exactly what will be required if they are to dent Tottenham’s hopes of breaking into the top four this season. Poyet knows what a big ask that will be with his players feeling both the physical and psychological effects of their showdown with Mourinho’s men, but that is exactly what he will demand of them. He said: “Now we need to make sure we recover because it was a massive effort. If you could see the players in the dressing room, they gave everything. “But we don’t have another team to go and play on Saturday, so we need to recover well and I need to pick the right team to beat Tottenham.” That result left Gus Poyet’s side rooted to the foot of the Barclays Premier League table and five points adrift of safety, but Dossena is confident the belief within the dressing room is strong enough to fuel a fightback. He said: “We are frustrated because we scored three goals and came away with zero points. But this team has great character. “Okay, we lost, but there is a long way until May and the other teams are not a long way in front of us. “We have got another chance on Saturday to close the gap on the teams in front of us. “We kept going (against Chelsea) night because the mentality here is perfect. The fans are behind us and we want to win for them. “At the end of the day, we didn’t get them any points, but the mentality here is strong.” Manager Poyet emerged from the dressing room to insist he is more confident than ever that Sunderland can turn their season around after seeing them initially take the game to the high-flying Blues, and then stubbornly refuse to allow them to run away with it as they turned the screw. Jozy Altidore’s first league goal for the Black Cats had given them a 14th-minute lead, but it was then that Eden Hazard took over. Sunderland defender Andrea Dossena is convinced the Wearsiders have got the mental strength to dig themselves out of relegation trouble. Press Association
Ireland’s second one-day international at home to Sri Lanka has been abandoned due to rain, meaning the visitors win the series 1-0. Press Association The game at Clontarf in Dublin was called off after a pitch inspection at 1400. Ireland lost the first match on Tuesday by 79 runs.
“They signed really good players this year but to build a team is not so easy,” Ancelotti told a press conference on the eve of Real’s friendly against United in Ann Arbor. “The Premier League is a very competitive league and it will not be easy to win it the first year because there are a lot of teams who are really competitive and they want to win.” Ancelotti dodged a question on whether he was approached by United following Moyes’ sacking. “These are rumours that usually happen to the manager,” he said. The former Chelsea manager thinks the United hierarchy chose wisely when they appointed Van Gaal, though. “He is a good, very experienced manager,” Ancelotti added. “He had a fantastic experience in all the countries he worked in and he will do a fantastic job at Manchester United. “He had a fantastic World Cup with Holland and is a manager that doesn’t have anything to learn.” Van Gaal has been tasked with bringing the glory years back to United following last year’s seventh-place finish under David Moyes. Ancelotti did the double in his first season at Chelsea but, even though he rates Van Gaal highly, the Italian thinks it will be difficult for the Dutchman to lift the trophy at the first time of asking. Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti has told Louis van Gaal he will find it extremely hard to win the title with Manchester United next season. The build-up to Saturday’s game has been dominated by talk of potential incomings and outgoings at the European Champions. Ancelotti said there was “no news” about Angel Di Maria, the Argentina winger who has been linked with United and Paris St Germain. “Angel will come back on August 5 as was scheduled before the World Cup,” Ancelotti said. The Italian dodged questions about the futures of goalkeeper Diego Lopez, who could leave if, as expected, Keylor Navas signs for the European champions. The former Chelsea boss also refused to give any details about Raul, Real’s record-appearance maker, who is reported to on the verge of rejoining the club in an executive role. “I don’t have any news about Raul or this topic,” Ancelotti said. Ancelotti did, finally, relay some information to the gathered media – about Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese will not play against his former employers, Ancelotti said, as he is still lacking fitness following a month off. “We want to use him in the Super Cup so we won’t risk him (on Saturday),” the Real Madrid manager said. Saturday’s game against the Red Devils on the outskirts of Detroit seems somewhat inferior to the clashes Ancelotti has enjoyed against United with Chelsea, Juventus and AC Milan. But, given that over 109,000 are expected to attend, Ancelotti is looking forward to what he expects to be a tough match. “It is never a friendly with Manchester United,” the 55-year-old said. “We are happy and honoured to play. It’s the last game of our tour. “We want to go finish well and go back to prepare for the Super Cup. “We need to play a good game on Saturday because we are playing a really fantastic team.” Press Association
West Brom captain Chris Brunt has signed a new three-year contract with the Barclays Premier League club. Earlier this summer, the Baggies had activated a 12-month option on the 29-year-old midfielder’s previous contract, but he has now agreed improved terms until 2017. Albion head coach Alan Irvine said: “I’m delighted we have extended Chris’ contract by a further two years. Press Association “He’s our captain, has great quality and experience and is clearly a very, very important player for us. “Chris is an influential figure both on and off the pitch. He has the respect of all the players and staff and is a top class professional.” Brunt, who moved to the Hawthorns in August 2007, is one match away from his 250th competitive appearance for the club. He took over the captaincy during the 2010/11 season, and earlier this week Irvine had confirmed he would retain it for the coming season, meaning he had served as skipper for four different managers – Roy Hodgson, Steve Clarke, Pepe Mel and Irvine. Brunt joins England goalkeeper Ben Foster in signing a new deal after a busy summer which has already seen Craig Gardner, Joleon Lescott, Chris Baird, Brown Ideye, Cristian Gamboa, Jason Davidson, Sebastien Pocognoli and Andre Wisdom join the Baggies.