International News - Issue 224

Ferdinand Labels Moyes’ Tactics “Embarrassing”
Former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand has heavily criticised former boss David Moyes for his “negative vibe” and “embarrassing” tactics when in charge at Old Trafford. Ferdinand, who recently left the Red Devils for QPR, worked under the Scottish manager last season, as United finished a dismal seventh place in the English Premier League standings. And the defender did not hold anything back in aiming harsh criticism at his former boss. “He tried to impose a vision but never seemed to be completely clear what that vision should be,” Ferdinand said in an extract from his autobiography #2Sides, which is being serialised in The Sun. “Unintentionally, he created a negative vibe where, with Fergie [former United coach Alex Ferguson], it had always been positive. It was always how to stop the other side. Moyes set us up not to lose. We’d been accustomed to playing to win.” The experienced defender questions the tactics Moyes tried to instil at the Theatre of Dreams. “Moyes’ innovations mostly led to negativity and confusion,” he revealed. “The biggest confusion was over how he wanted us to move the ball forward. Often he told us to play it long. Some players felt they kicked the ball long more than at any time in their career. “Sometimes our main tactic was the long, high, diagonal cross. It was embarrassing. In one home game against Fulham we had 81 crosses! I was thinking, why are we doing this? Andy Carroll doesn’t play for us! “The whole approach was alien. Other times Moyes wanted lots of passing. He’d say: ‘Today I want us to have 600 passes in the game. Last week it was only 400’. Who cares? I’d rather score five goals from 10 passes.”Ferdinand faced a humbling return to Old Trafford as his new side were convincingly beaten 4-0 by his former employees over the weekend, leaving QPR in 16th position on the log with just three points from four matches.

Zimbabwe’s bid to host the 2017 CAF Africa Cup of Nations finals has received a major boost following the commitment by two ministries to support the venture in cabinet. The minister of sport and culture, Andrew Langa and the minister of hospitality and tourism Walter Mzembi have both pledged to give the bid the backing in cabinet for the much needed government guarantees. “This is an opportunity we cannot afford to miss. We will back the bid in cabinet,” says Mzembi, who is also dreaming of Zimbabwe hosting the 2034 World Cup. The Zimbabwe Football Association are considering replacing Libya who have withdrawn from hosting the competition for security reasons. Initially Libya were supposed to have hosted the 2013 tournament but then chose the 2017 contest for the same reasons. South Africa then stepped in to host the 2013 finals which were won by Nigeria. The Confederation of African Football has given September 30 as the last day for prospective candidates to submit their bids, and the Zimbabwe Football Association are hoping to get the government guarantee by the end of this week to submit an official bid. Zimbabwe won the right to host the 2000 Africa Cup of Nations but the tournament was taken away by Caf on the grounds that the small southern African nation’s football stadiums were not up to standard to host such a competition. Zimbabwe has not hosted any major international football competition apart from the regional Cosafa Cup which they hosted and won in 2009, and the East and Central Africa Challenge way back in 1985. The only major international event Zimbabwe has hosted was the 1995 All Africa Games whose football section was won by Egypt. South Africa are the only southern African nation to have successfully hosted the Africa Cup of Nations after doing so in 1996, 2010, and 2013.

Ghana coach Kwesi Appiah has been axed from his position, after being in charge for two-years, for failing to guide the national team out of the group stage at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. According to media reports the Ghana Football Association says it "agreed to mutually part ways" with Appiah at a meeting on Friday. Ghana picked up just one point from three matches and failed to get out of its group for the first time at a World Cup.

Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal has revealed that he allowed England striker Danny Welbeck to leave as he did not quite make the grade at Old Trafford. Welbeck, who sealed a deadline-day transfer to Arsenal, is a youth product of the Red Devils, and scored 29 goals in 142 matches since his senior debut at United in 2008 – a record which the new Dutch coach was unimpressed by. “Danny Welbeck was here since he was nine,” van Gaal said. “He plays three seasons at Manchester United after [a loan spell at] Sunderland but he doesn't have the record of Van Persie or Rooney. That is the standard but that is why we let him go because [of] Falcao but also the youngsters who can fit in.” Manchester United have brought in world-renowned frontman Radamel Falcao, who has scored 155 goals in 200 games in European football, on a season-long loan, and van Gaal is excitedly awaiting the Colombian’s official debut in England. “When you can hire or buy a player like Falcao, I don't have doubts because he is for me one of the best strikers in the world and when you see his record it is unbelievable,” the United boss beamed. “He confirmed it in his first training session with me. Today in training he got one ball and it was in the goal."

Belgium goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois has penned a new deal at English club Chelsea, keeping him at Stamford Bridge for the next five years. The 23-year-old, who had spent the last three seasons on loan at reigning La Liga champions Atletico Madrid, extended his current deal with the Blues on Thursday, and was delighted with his new contract. Courtois looks to have replaced regular shot-stopper Petr Cech in the Chelsea goal, with the Czech glove-man remaining in London despite interest from across Europe in the transfer window. Courtois’s extension may result in the veteran keeper looking for a way out of the Bridge come January.

Portugal are on the lookout for a new coach after Paulo Bento tendered his resignation. The 45-year-old has come in for severe criticism after a 1-0 home Euro 2016 qualifier defeat to lowly Albania, which came on the back of a woeful World Cup in Brazil. The Portuguese Football Federation (FPF) confirmed the news, saying: “We appreciate all that Paulo Bento did for the Seleccao, particularly in getting Portugal to Euro 2012 and World Cup 2014. “The FPF is already working on a structured solution to address our team and that will be known soon. Thanks again to Paulo Bento."

Manchester United reported a record £433.2m in annual revenue and profits of £23.8m for the year 2013/2014. Despite United's struggles on the pitch last season - which saw them finish seventh in the league and fail to qualify for European football for the first time since 1990 - the Red Devils enjoyed a financially productive year. United vice-chairman Ed Woodward said: "We are very proud of the results achieved in fiscal year 2014 as we once again generated record revenues. "With Louis van Gaal at the helm as manager, and the recent signing of some of the world's leading players to further strengthen our squad, we are very excited about the future and believe it's the start of a new chapter in the club's history. The English giants appointed Louis van Gaal as manager in the off-season following David Moyes's ill-fated 10-month reign at Old Trafford.

Former Leeds United striker Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink is interested in the managerial vacancy at the Championship club following David Hockaday's sacking last week. Hasselbaink guided Antwerp to a seventh-placed finish in the Belgian second division last season, while he also coached briefly at Nottingham Forest in 2011. The 42-year-old, who scored 42 goals in 87 games for Leeds between 1997 and 1999, told TalkSPORT: "Leeds United is a wonderful big club where I had two great years. If they want to talk to me, of course I would talk [to them]. Another ex-Whites forward Robbie Fowler has also been linked with the job at Elland Road. Caretaker manager Neil Redfearn is expected to remain in charge for Saturday's trip to Birmingham.

Arsene Wenger could throw inexperienced youngster Hector Bellerin into Arsenal’s starting line-up after injuries and illness may have ruled out a trio of defenders.  Mathieu Debuchy suffered ankle ligament damage in Saturday’s draw with Manchester City, which could keep him sidelined for two months. Meanwhile, Nacho Monreal did not travel with the squad due to a back complaint, while Calum Chambers is a doubt with tonsillitis. The absentees could force Wenger to turn to Bellerin, who has featured just once for the Gunners as a late substitute in last season’s Capital One Cup victory over West Brom. The 19-year-old spent the second half of last term on loan with Watford, where he made just eight appearances in the Championship. “I don’t feel we are stretched. The Debuchy injury put us in a position where we do not want more and hopefully we have good news after the scan today that he can be back soon,” said Wenger.  “We have Chambers who can play in different positions, Monreal who can play centre-back and Bellerin, who I think now is ready to play. He is a boy with personality. He’s not fazed by the pressure. That’s important when you’re a young boy. His transitional game is fantastic. He’s quick and his final ball is good. He lacks a bit of experience but he’s very dangerous.”

 Borussia Dortmund boss Jurgen Klopp has revealed that Manchester United legend Sir Alex Ferguson has admitted he failed to get the best out of Shinji Kagawa during his spell at Old Trafford. The Japanese international arrived in England with a big reputation, but endured a miserable time in Manchester, making most of his United appearances from the bench and scoring only six times in 38 games for the club. Ferguson, who signed the 25-year-old playmaker, told Klopp he was disappointed things didn’t work out for Kagawa in England and accepted some of the blame ‘Shame we [United] didn’t manage this well so that it worked out for him [Kagawa]. We were satisfied in the first year,’ he told the German manager. ‘In the second year you usually make the next step but he didn’t manage to do it. We should have made it work.’ Ferguson may well be right to regret not getting the best out of Kagawa, as the midfielder enjoyed a dream return to Dortmund, capping off an excellent all-round performance with a goal.

Mesut Ozil was so excited about meeting Hollywood star Samuel L Jackson at the weekend that the midfielder praised the actor on social media for being an Arsenal fan – before doing a U-turn upon realising he is actually a Liverpool supporter. Jackson was at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday to watch The Gunners take on Manchester City – a game that ended 2-2 – before meeting several of the Arsenal players after the clash. And after getting a photo with the A-list actor, Ozil quickly took to Twitter to show the snap to his followers alongside the caption: “Samuel L Jackson: he doesn’t only know a lot about good movies, but he also supports the best football team! ;) #AFC”.

Unfortunately for the Germany international, he later realised that Jackson is not an Arsenal fan but instead a supporter of the club’s Premier League rivals – Liverpool – which resulted in Ozil having to re-post the tweet with a different caption. It seems nothing is quite going right for the little German…

Tottenham Hotspur fans flocked to social media on Monday evening to express their bemusement at Younes Kaboul being named as the club’s new captain – ahead of Hugo Lloris and Jan Vertonghen. Spurs announced that coach Mauricio Pochettino had decided to appoint the 28-year-old as the team’s new skipper – with goalkeeper Lloris and striker Emmanuel Adebayor being named as vice captains. The Tottenham boss revealed he had chosen Kaboul because he had shown him ‘all the values needed to be a captain’ and said the Frenchman had ‘the character to lead’ the team. While the player himself expressed his pride at being given the captaincy of the club that he has been at since 2007, the decision to pick Kaboul over France captain Lloris and fellow defender Vertonghen resulted in a mixed response from fans on Twitter.

Chelsea are close to making Eden Hazard their highest-paid player after offering the Belgium international a new £200,000-a-week, five-year contract – double his current weekly salary. Negotiations between Hazard’s lawyer and Blues bosses are at an advanced stage, with the 23-year-old expected to put pen to paper on his new big-money deal within the next few weeks, according to The Mail. The Belgian’s new contract will be worth about £10million over the next five years, and has been offered to the player in a bid to ward off interest from suitors Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid. Hazard joined Chelsea from French side Lille for £32million in 2012 after some impressive displays for Les Dogues in Ligue 1. The winger has since gone on to become an important component of The Blues’ team – and was named the club’s player of the year last season.

Barcelona star Pedro has put Arsenal and Liverpool on red alert after reports surfaced that the winger is ready to quit the club in the new year after growing concerned that he’ll be left as a luxury back-up to Luis Suarez. The Spaniard, who has not completed 90 minutes for Barca this season, is believed to be worried that he will sink even further down the Barcelona pecking order when the Uruguayan returns from suspension, and claims that the 27-year-old would be keen to listen to offers from both the Gunners and Brendan Rodgers’ Reds when the transfer window re-opens in January. Arsene Wenger has tried to lure Pedro to the Emirates before, and the attacker would certainly relish the prospect of teaming up with former colleague Alexis Sanchez in the Gunners’ attack. Liverpool, meanwhile, would see the Spanish winger as an ideal replacement for the departed Suarez, and Pedro has the Champions League pedigree the Anfield club are looking for having returned to the competition.

Former Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez has revealed that Fernando Torres played a key role in convincing Raheem Sterling to swap QPR for Liverpool. Liverpool started trying to persuade Sterling to move to Anfield when he was just a 16-year-old schoolboy, and Benitez believes that a chance meeting between the England youngster and Torres was what sealed the deal. “We invited Raheem to Melwood and had a meeting with him and his mother,” the now-Napoli manager said. “I walked around the complex with them and was showing them the facilities and we got as far as the physio’s room. Fernando was there – and I think Steven Gerrard, too. But definitely Fernando. I explained what Raheem and his mum were doing and I told Fernando what we thought of the young player we had brought in. He had a quick chat with him, asking how he was getting on. He was interested in him.” Torres was at the peak of his goal-scoring powers at the time, and Benitez is in no doubt that speaking to such a player helped lure Sterling to Liverpool. “Raheem was really pleased – and you could see his mum was, too – really impressed that the club’s biggest players had made a fuss of him,” he added. Sterling went on to sign for £400,000 and, although Torres incensed Liverpool fans when he left for Chelsea, this parting gift he left may turn out to be one of the biggest bargains in recent memory.

QPR defender Rio Ferdinand has called Chelsea captain John Terry ‘the biggest idiot’ for his role in the race row involving his brother Anton, with the former-Manchester United man also admitting that he is no longer on speaking terms with Ashley Cole. The bad blood between the former England colleagues stems from an incident that took place in a Premier League clash between Chelsea and QPR in October 2011, when Terry was accused of racially abusing Rio’s brother Anton. Ferdinand has spoken publicly about the issue for the first time in his autobiography #2sides, and has revealed that he cannot forgive Terry for not putting a stop to the matter by saying sorry. “He [Terry] never apologised to me or to Anton. And he has never hinted that he has ever had a moment of understanding over the damage his stupidity had inflicted on everyone,” Ferdinand says. “For me, the biggest idiot will always be John Terry. As England captain and my centre-back partner he could have saved everyone a lot of pain by admitting immediately he used the word in the heat of the moment, but was not racist. I think that’s probably what happened and what the truth is. Anton and I would’ve accepted that – instead he never gave us a chance. That was the betrayal. He tried to run away from what he had done.” Ferdinand has also directed his anger at his childhood friend Ashley Cole, who he feels betrayed him and Anton by giving evidence to help clear Terry of the charge of racial abuse. Although Terry was found guilty by the FA to the tune of a £45,000 fine, Ferdinand has said his friendship with Cole ended the day he gave evidence in Terry’s favour. “Ashley Cole had long been a friend of mine. We’ve known each other since we were kids,” Ferdinand said.  “But for me it ended the day he decided to go to court in support of John Terry. Anton rang me and my head nearly blew off. He was betraying Anton, who he’d also known for years.” Ferdinand does concede that he was wrong to brand Cole ‘a choc-ice’ for his decision to support Terry over the Ferdinand family, but suggested that he couldn’t help himself. “I shouldn’t have done it, but it’s what I felt at the time”, Ferdinand admitted.