Speaking after his Bluebirds side went down 2-0 at Aston Villa, Mackay was fulsome in his praise of Moody but less than forthcoming on his own plans. Just as he was after beating Swansea last weekend, the Scot was careful to speak well of everything at Cardiff except his own bosses, but was otherwise evasive. “I said our loss would be somebody else’s gain. I’m pleased that Iain is back in the game because he’s a talented individual and he’ll do well for them,” he said. “We chat regularly but he didn’t need my advice (about the Palace job). He’s an intelligent man.” Invited to clarify his own position once and for all, he added: “What do you want me to comment on? Yes or no (to leaving)? “I’m the Cardiff City manager and I’m proud to be the Cardiff City manager. “We’ve got a great group of players, staff, and the group of fans today…truly outstanding. “I’m the Cardiff City manager and, as I said, I’m proud to be that.” Mackay’s position at Cardiff has been under intense scrutiny since his trusted head of recruitment was ousted last month by owner Vincent and replaced by 23-year-old Kazakh Alisher Apsalyamov. Moody’s re-emergence at managerless Palace has led to inevitable speculation that Mackay, who appears far from content with recent events, will reprise their partnership at the London club. Cardiff boss Malky Mackay believes Crystal Palace have made a shrewd move by making his former right-hand man Iain Moody their new sporting director but has given no indication he is set to join him at Selhurst Park. Press Association Eagle eyed observers will surely spot the lack of a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ in that response and Mackay can expect more questions on the subject until Palace hot seat is filled. On the field, Mackay felt his side would have been worthy of a draw but had to accept that Leandro Bacuna’s free-kick – effectively the match-winner despite Libor Kozak’s subsequent second – was the difference. “I’m disappointed for the players, up to the free-kick we looked good value for getting something from the game,” he said. “We had plenty of the ball and were beginning to cause Villa some real problems. “But it was a top-class free-kick. At this level that happens. Players at this level, on any given day, can put the ball in the top corner or produce a free-kick like that. Mackay’s opposite number Paul Lambert was a relieved man after Bacuna’s intervention ended a seven-and-a-half hour goal drought. Villa had drawn four successive blanks prior to this match but the Dutch full-back – temporarily pushed into midfield by the time left David Marshall rooted to the spot in the 76th minute – produced an effort worthy of bucking the trend. “I thought Bacuna’s free-kick against Manchester City was world class, but this one surpassed it,” he said. “It was a terrific free-kick. We know he can do it, we’ve seen him do it in training. “When I watch him in training every time he hits one you think it’s going to hit the target. “He got it up and down very quickly and there wasn’t much room for him to aim at. It was just fantastic technique.” Kozak, only in the side because of injuries to Andreas Weimann and Gabriel Agbonlahor, headed his second goal for the club with six minutes left to secure the points.
Manager Sam Allardyce confirmed the defender will miss a significant chunk of the Hammers’ fight to avoid relegation. O’Brien landed awkwardly following an off-the-ball push from Chelsea defender Gary Cahill as the players positioned themselves at a corner, leaving the Hammers to defend stoppage time with 10 men. “The only disappointment for us today was the two injuries,” said Allardyce, following the 0-0 draw at Stamford Bridge. “Joey, unfortunately, has dislocated a shoulder, which is bad news for us. “That’s our third dislocated shoulder this season. I don’t think I’ve had three dislocated shoulders in my entire career, let alone three in one season.” Asked the likely length of absence, Allardyce said: “Ten to 12 weeks.” Mohamed Diame will be assessed ahead of Saturday’s home match with Newcastle after suffering a bang on the knee when he fell over the advertising hoardings and had to be replaced in the first half. West Ham defender Joey O’Brien faces an absence of around three months after dislocating his shoulder in Wednesday night’s Barclays Premier League draw at Chelsea. Press Association
Yaya Toure is determined to keep Manchester City powering on towards title glory. Press Association Toure set up the win by scoring the first two goals from the penalty spot and then curling home a sublime third at the Etihad Stadium. Fernandinho and Martin Demichelis added gloss to the scoreline late on. Toure, the former Barcelona midfielder who also scored a brilliant goal to help win the Capital One Cup earlier this month, told City TV: “I came to the club to make history and I hope to continue to the end of my contract. “I think the club and the fans need trophies, need history and need great players to come here and try to make this club great. “We have the team, we have the players, we have the manager as well. “I hope at the end of the season we lift this trophy for these fans who love City.” Toure’s treble took his tally for the season to 20. He is the third City player to reach that landmark this season after Sergio Aguero and Alvaro Negredo while Edin Dzeko, who missed the game through sickness, has 18. The Ivory Coast international attributes his fine goalscoring form this season to the confidence placed in his offensive ability by attack-minded manager Pellegrini. The 30-year-old said: “He gave me more freedom up front, he gave me more confidence to attack more. Toure, City’s midfield talisman, scored a hat-trick in Saturday’s convincing 5-0 win over 10-man, relegation-threatened Fulham. The victory lifted Manuel Pellegrini’s side to third in the Barclays Premier League, six points behind leaders Chelsea with three games in hand. “When you play full attack you can leave some space and it is very hard because when we win it is fine, but when we lose we get some criticism by some people who think they understand football more. “But that is part of the job, that is why we love football. We are very happy to score five goals in front of the fans and I hope we will continue to the end.” City were not at their best but were still far too strong for Fulham. They went ahead after Fernando Amorebieta kicked Negredo in the backside to concede, perhaps harshly, a penalty after 26 minutes. But there was no contesting Amorebieta’s second indiscretion as he felled David Silva early in the second half to give away another spot-kick and earn a red card. Toure sent goalkeeper David Stockdale the wrong way for a second time and City then cruised to victory. City have 10 league games remaining and their title credentials will be tested in two away games at Manchester United and Arsenal in the coming week. Goalkeeper Joe Hart is confident City have the belief and ability to achieve their aim. The England international said: “The fans, players, and staff – everyone needs to pull each other through if we want to get over the line first. “I do think we have the squad to win the league. We can’t get too wrapped up in the away games we still have to play. “We still have the chance to do something really special and do something this club hasn’t done for 44 years by winning two trophies in one season. “So we need to press on and try and create a bit of history.” Hart has now re-established himself as Pellegrini’s first-choice goalkeeper after a series of mistakes led to a spell out of the side earlier in the season. Yet he feels he has to constantly keep working to maintain his position and accepts Costel Pantilimon, who played the League Cup final, will also get opportunities. Hart said: “I don’t feel it’s a case of that side of things being really solved. “I’m still training hard – as I would be whether I was in or out of the team – and I’m always working to improve my game. “I don’t want it to seem as though everything is fine or that it was part of my life that I will forget, because I’m still living it and I am trying to live in the moment more recently. “The past is the past and we don’t know what lies ahead in the future so it’s better to live day by day. “We are going to get some wonderful opportunities at this club – some I will be playing in, some that I won’t – and I’m just trying to look at things the best I can.”
The RFU said in a statement: ” A new deal on European club rugby has been signed. All nine stakeholders have underlined their commitment to an invigorated competition that will start in the 2014/5 season and meets the requirements of all the parties involved.” The RFU statement added: “BT and Sky have reached an agreement in principle concerning arrangements for the European Rugby Champions Cup and the European Rugby Challenge Cup competitions, both of which would be broadcast jointly by BT Sport and Sky Sports.” Simon Green, Director of BT Sport said: “It is fantastic news for rugby fans that we have reached a deal with Sky Sports. The game of rugby had to come first and both companies have recognised that by showing a high degree of maturity and flexibility. We are delighted with the deal that has been struck and are hugely excited about bringing live action from both tournaments to our TV customers.” BT Sport and Sky have agreed a four-year rights-sharing deal, with both parties admitting compromise was in all interests. Allied to a second-tier Challenge Cup, there will also be a new, third-tier qualifying competition, expected to be held in September to feed teams into the Challenge Cup. The top six Premiership and Top 14 finishers this season will qualify automatically for next term’s Champions Cup, along with the top seven in the PRO 12. The final qualification berth will be taken by the winner of a play-off between the seventh-placed English and French league clubs, with exact details yet to be finalised. The two-year disagreement over the future of European club rugby has been resolved. An agreement for a new tournament to replace the existing European Cup structure has been signed, European Rugby and the Rugby Football Union announced on Thursday night. The 20-team Champions Cup will be the showpiece event of European Professional Club Rugby, the newly-established Switzerland-based organisers. Press Association
Skipper Fabricio Coloccini has moved to end speculation over his future by insisting he will remain a Newcastle player next season. The 32-year-old central defender looked to be heading away from Tyneside when he asked to leave because of personal problems in January last year. However, the Argentina international was held to the four-year contract extension he had signed in March 2012 by the Magpies and, despite suggestions that he would look to end his stay in England this summer, he has signalled his intention to stay. Coloccini told the Shields Gazette: “For sure. I’m going to be here.” The news represents a boost for beleaguered managed Alan Pardew, who is already facing a significant rebuilding job after a difficult season. He told Press Association Sport: “He is a Newcastle player and he will be next year.” Coloccini played in Saturday’s 3-0 Barclays Premier League victory over Cardiff as Newcastle ended a run of six successive defeats, with unhappy fans making their feelings abundantly clear. He turned in one of his better performances in recent weeks to remind supporters of the form which made him a favourite, prompting such concern when he expressed a desire to be allowed to return to South America. Argentinian club San Lorenzo waged a very public campaign to lure Coloccini home, but could not come up with the kind of finance they needed to persuade the Magpies to do business and it was left to Pardew to delicately re-integrate the player and help him through the issues behind his request. Coloccini said: “I had personal problems. Sometimes it’s tough. You have to decide between the problems and the work. “Sometimes it’s too difficult. Now it’s finished and next season, I will be here. I’m looking forward to improving. “We want the best for Newcastle United. This season, we finished top 10, and maybe we will bring some players [in the summer]. “We will try to do well and finish in the top eight or something like that. We will always try to improve.” Crystal Palace’s remarkable fightback against Liverpool on Monday night was not enough to maintain their faint hopes of forcing their way ahead of Newcastle in the league table as the final round of fixtures approaches and that means Pardew’s men will finish in the top 10, the point at which staff bonuses will be paid. They are currently in ninth place, but could yet be overtaken by Stoke on the final day, when they head for Anfield. Press Association
The Welsh outfit already have a new permanent manager in place with Garry Monk, in temporary charge since the dismissal of Michael Laudrup in February, signing a three-year contract last week. And with regard to what the coming weeks and months might hold for the Swans, Jenkins, quoted on www.walesonline.co.uk, said: “I think a shake-up is needed – and whatever number we manage to bring in, whether it’s two, three, four or five players, they need to be first-team starters. That’s where we are at. Press Association Swansea chairman Huw Jenkins feels a “shake-up” is needed at the club this summer, with players definitely good enough to be first-team starters coming in and “new motivation” being cultivated. They won five and lost six of their 14 top-flight games under Monk, with three victories coming in the final four matches. Squad modifications have begun, with the club on Monday confirming Leroy Lita, David Ngog and two players they have had on loan, Roland Lamah and Alvaro Vazquez, are to depart. The Swans have also announced they will be heading to the United States as part of their pre-season preparations. Monk’s men will be based in Chicago from July 6 – 20 and play friendlies against Chivas Guadalajara on July 16 and Minnesota United on July 19. “It’s all well and good having 20, 25 players in the squad, but we need to improve the starting XI – and I don’t think anybody would argue with that. “Some people have said we signed too many players from Spain last year, but ultimately it doesn’t matter where they come from, as long as they are good enough it will be fine. “I think the only thing you would say about the squad in general is that a lot of the players we brought in last year didn’t make the starting XI. The change we need to make is to ensure they are good enough.” He added: “We’ll always be looking in the market for players at the right price and we’ve got to judge, whether it’s a £2million Michu or a £12million Wilfried Bony (their record signing), whether it’s right for the club at the time. “We’ll always weigh up those decisions and take them as they come. “With the new management in place, there needs to be new motivation in the squad and we all need to be going forward in a different way next year. “We need to make sure we achieve that by getting the right mixture of the squad.” Swansea finished their 2013/14 Barclays Premier League campaign in 12th place, nine points clear of the relegation zone.
Manchester United have signed Spanish midfielder Ander Herrera after meeting the buy-out clause in his Athletic Bilbao contract. Press Association “I have joined United to do all I can to help the team reach the club’s objectives. Having arrived on Tuesday I’m excited to now be living in Manchester and I can’t wait for my first game in United’s famous red shirt.” Herrera is the club’s first major signing since Louis van Gaal was confirmed as manager. He has penned a four-year contract, with United holding an option to extend his stay for a further year. The Red Devils attempted to sign the talented playmaker last summer but failed to complete the deal on deadline day, with reports suggesting the transfer had been interfered with by pranksters pretending to act on the club’s behalf. Then-manager David Moyes instead bought Marouane Fellaini, who endured a disappointing debut campaign and failed to solve the team’s long-term problems in central midfield. Herrera, who scored 11 goals in 128 appearances for Bilbao, will be charged with bringing added control to United’s midfield, where he will compete for a place with the likes of Michael Carrick, Tom Cleverley and Fellaini. “Ander is a fantastic young player, with great energy and creativity,” assistant manager Ryan Giggs said. “We believe him to be one of the brightest young prospects in Spain and I am certain he will be a big hit with the United fans. “I’m delighted he has made the decision to come to Manchester and play his part in the club’s future. I’m looking forward to seeing him in action on our summer tour to America.” Herrera is yet to play for Spain’s senior team but has been capped at Under-20, Under-21 and Under-23 level. United had a bid of £28.85million for the 24-year-old rejected earlier on Thursday but an improved, though undisclosed, offer was enough to secure his signature. Herrera said: “Signing for Manchester United is a dream come true. I have played at Old Trafford for Athletic Club in the Europa League and it was one of the highlights of my career so far.
“I don’t regret the decision I have made up to now,” said the 24-year-old, who worked under Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers when the pair were at Reading. “Harry was a big part of me coming here. The things he said to me swayed my decision. “I spoke to both managers and everything the gaffer here said to me I liked, and that’s why I’m here now. “Coming to a new club you want to get your first game under your belt and I’m over the moon to get that first game out of the way. “The main focus for me now is to keep training hard week in, week out and give the manager a decision to make.” Rob Green has recovered from illness and could displace McCarthy against Villa. McCarthy is happy with the competition provided by the former England goalkeeper as he bids to match his manager’s prediction of future international honours. “I don’t know whether I’m playing or not,” he said. Alex McCarthy has no regrets about choosing Barclays Premier League basement boy QPR over Champions League club Liverpool. The Reds last Sunday inflicted a last-gasp defeat on QPR as McCarthy made his debut and Rangers endured a challenging week as a result of manager Harry Redknapp’s public spat with Adel Taarabt over the playmaker’s weight. Despite the week’s events, McCarthy, who signed from Reading in August, insisted he is happy at Loftus Road as he prepared for Monday’s Premier League clash with Aston Villa. “Me and Greeny have a really good relationship. We respect each other and we train hard and push each other as hard as possible. Whoever is playing, we support each other. “You want to play for your country, which would be an amazing feeling and achievement. “But my main goal is to keep playing week in, week out here and England call-ups will hopefully come along.” The QPR squad have been able to joke about Taarabt’s feud with Redknapp this week after the Moroccan dismissed his manager’s suggestion he was overweight. McCarthy added: “We’ve had a few laughs here and there about it, but Adel doesn’t take anything to heart. “It’s nothing to do with me – it’s to do with them. The whole team has been focused and it hasn’t affected anyone at all. “He has been out there but he’s had an illness the last couple of days so we haven’t seen much of him, but when he’s been out there he’s been good.” QPR have four points this term after beating Sunderland and losing to Stoke and are keen to extend Villa’s losing streak of four games to five. “It’s a good time (to play Villa), with the results, how they’ve been going,” McCarthy added. “We’ve been doing everything we can on the training pitch (and) there’s a lot of positives to take from last Sunday’s game that we can take into Monday’s game. “We’ve prepared right for Monday and we’re looking forward to the game.” Defender Nedum Onuoha (hamstring) and midfielder Sandro (groin) are doubts for Rangers. Midfielders Joey Barton and Jordon Mutch (both hamstring) remain out alongside long-term absentee Alejandro Faurlin (knee). Villa boss Paul Lambert is hopeful Philippe Senderos will be fit after the defender missed the 3-0 defeat at Everton with a thigh injury. England midfielder Fabian Delph is definitely out after he dislocated his shoulder last week having fallen awkwardly during training. Libor Kozak (broken leg) remains a long-term absentee but Christian Benteke is set to start again now he has fully recovered from a ruptured Achilles. Villa’s recent dip in form coincided with games against Arsenal, Manchester City, Chelsea and Everton. Lambert feels their run has been harsh, but believes they can recapture their early-season form. “The fixtures I think have been a bit unkind – eight fixtures and five against the top ones, one after the other,” said Lambert. “Normally you might get one or two and then have a bit of respite, but to have five of them on the spin has been really tough.” Press Association
Everton manager Roberto Martinez insists there is no issue with Kevin Mirallas missing a penalty which should have been taken by Leighton Baines. Baines has missed just one of his 16 spot-kicks for the Toffees but allowed Mirallas to have the honour against West Brom and watched as the Belgium international hit the outside of the post a minute before half-time. It was arguably Everton’s only chance in the goalless draw and a perfect opportunity to end a run of eight matches without a win but Martinez refused to apportion any blame. “He is the number one penalty-taker but if it has been the other way around and Leighton says no, the issue would be why Kevin was not allowed take the penalty. “We are a team that is very together. I expect a few players to be able to take penalties and convert them. “If you play this game 10 times it would be nine wins for us and one draw for West Brom. That is the moment we are in.” The situation was compounded by MIrallas’ withdrawal at half-time but Martinez dismissed any conspiracy theories. “When he gets into half-time and the body temperature changes he felt his hamstring was starting to give him a bit of a problem,” he said. “He has been carrying a problem in that area and that is why he didn’t start against Manchester City and West Ham. “He felt 100 per cent today but at half-time he felt that hamstring was starting to give him a bit of a problem and he wasn’t 100 per cent to start the second half.” West Brom manager Tony Pulis made it three matches unbeaten since taking over earlier this month and they have yet to concede a goal under him. “It was a resilient performance, the lads worked really hard,” said the Baggies boss, who revealed he will speak to chairman Jeremy Peace about whether to make an improved £4million bid for Wigan forward Callum McManaman. “We had good shape at times. We have to be better on the ball and it doesn’t come overnight. The midfielders gave the ball away too cheaply at times and they are good players. “We need to get good passes off to get us up the pitch. It was a fantastic effort, showing good resilience and I am really pleased.” “Kevin took the first penalty against West Ham in the (FA Cup) penalty shoot-out last Tuesday,” said the manager. “Normally Leighton takes the penalties but we have a few players in the squad capable of taking them. “Kevin has the quality and personality as an international footballer and is well capable of scoring penalties. “Leighton was quite happy to let him take it because he felt confident and right in that moment. “There is no big issue in that. It became an issue because he couldn’t find the back of the net.” Team-mates Steven Naismith and Romelu Lukaku appeared to try to tell Mirallas to hand the ball over to Baines but he refused, prompting England assistant manager Gary Neville, summarising for Sky, to label his actions “despicable” for going against team orders. But Martinez said that did not indicate disharmony within the squad. “Not really. If Leighton Baines is the one who wants to take the penalty he will take it,” he added. Press Association
“The mood has been fantastic,” Ramsey said. “They were quite a bit deflated at the end of the week because they thought they had done enough to win the game at the weekend. “But we’ve got people like Joey Barton, Clint Hill, Richard Dunne – they go around jollying people up and the other players too are making sure the chins aren’t too low to the ground. “Everyone is of the same mindset, we do believe we can stay up, we know it’s going to be difficult but everybody is up for it.” Press Association “You wouldn’t know that by the grit and determination he’s showed and the way he’s worked hard towards keeping us up,” Ramsey said. “He’s had a long-term injury which he’s been playing with. I’m very pleased he’s got himself out there to try to help us.” Ramsey added: “Bobby has a bad hip but he’s got a bad few things. “He’s a man who has taken a lot of bumps and bruises because he’s the one who is always in the battle. “It can be anything from ankle to hip to shoulder but whatever happens, I’m sure he’ll be involved again before the end of the season.” A late decision will be made on Zamora but it is hoped the experienced forward will at least be able to play a role off the substitutes’ bench at Anfield. Rangers will be also be boosted by the return to the starting line-up of Leroy Fer, who came on in the second half of last weekend’s goalless draw against West Ham after recovering from a knee injury. Ramsey admits the stalemate at Loftus Road leaves his side with an uphill task to avoid the drop but insists his players are optimistic with four matches remaining. QPR manager Chris Ramsey has revealed striker Bobby Zamora has been playing through the pain barrier to help Rangers in their fight against relegation. Zamora has only scored three goals this season but his physical threat and work rate could prove valuable as Rangers look to close a four-point gap between themselves and safety. However, the 34-year-old is struggling to be fit for Saturday’s visit to Liverpool as he wrestles with a hip injury that Ramsey says has been a long-standing problem.