Dunne blow for Aston Villa
Aston Villa have been hit by yet another injury setback with acting skipper Richard Dunne suffering a recurrence of a knee problem. The Ireland international is the 10th senior Villa player to join the injury list after his knee flared up during Saturday’s 2-2 home draw with Manchester United.
Dunne was initially sidelined with the setback for two games in mid-September.
Houllier said: “Richard’s knee has swollen up and it is a recurring thing. That is why he missed two or three games earlier in the season.
“He is important to us and I like the attitude of all my older players because they are good tutors.”
Platt defends Mancini
Manchester City assistant-manager David Platt has launched a passionate defence of Roberto Mancini. The Italian has come under fire for being too negative after successive goalless draws against Man. United and Birmingham.
Home fans reacted by chanting “what is going on” when Mancini opted to replace Carlos Tevez with Gareth Barry towards the end of City’s latest stalemate. Yet, Platt is quick to reject any notion of Mancini being a defensive coach.
“It is wrong for people to level at the gaffer that he is a defensive coach,” said Platt.
“He isn’t, in any way. People felt because we were playing Birmingham it was three points guaranteed... it is never like that in football.”
Bruce keen on loan duo
Sunderland boss Steve Bruce wants to keep Nedum Onuoha and Danny Welbeck after the pair played an influential role in their 3-0 demolition of Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
Onuoha, on loan from Manchester City, put the Black Cats on the way to victory with a stunning goal on the stroke of half-time.
Asamoah Gyan added a second before Welbeck, on loan from Manchester United, grabbed a third with three minutes left.
Bruce said: “The sad thing for me is how much will it cost now to buy them? They’re two loan players who have done fantastically well. They’ve got plenty of time. We’d love them to stay.”
Casillas supports Mourinho
Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas has defended manager Jose Mourinho after his side’s 1-0 win at Sporting Gijon on Sunday night.
Mourinho had been heavily criticised by Gijon boss Manolo Preciado in the build-up to the game.
Earlier in the season, Mourinho criticised Gijon for the side they fielded against Barcelona, with Preciado suggesting last week that had the Portuguese been coaching in England, his comments would have seen him “thrown in jail.”
“The game was complicated for many reasons,” Casillas said.
“Regarding what was said, I limit myself to defending my coach. I respect other opinions, but I do not share them. I stand by my coach, who is the best.”
Del Piero starts contract talks
Alessandro del Piero is seeking to extend his playing days at Juventus after reports said he has opened negotiations regarding a new contract.
La Gazzetta dello Sport reported there has already been a meeting between the two parties and although the financial side of things wasn’t discussed, the technical details of Del Piero’s future were up for discussion.
General manager Beppe Marotta was considering Del Piero’s departure at the end of this season but things have now changed and a one-year deal is likely to be on the table.
Del Piero, 36, has played regularly this season. He is being linked with a move to the US if negotiations with Juve fail.
Coach blasts 10-goal girls
China women’s football coach Li Xiaopeng lashed out at her team yesterday despite a 10-1 hammering of hapless Jordan in their Asian Games opener.
Li was furious that her defenders conceded a goal against the same side they crushed 12-0 at the Doha Games in 2006.
“Jordan’s one goal is more important than our 10,” said Li.
“I always tell my players to stay focused.
“We have one goalkeeper and four defenders but their carelessness let Jordan score. Our players didn’t pay any attention to her and this should be a lesson to be remembered.”
FC Dallas thwart Beckham title bid
FC Dallas shocked David Beckham’s Los Angeles Galaxy 3-0 on Sunday to reach Major League Soccer’s championship match.
David Ferreira scored one goal and created another for Dallas as they won the MLS Western Conference final to reach the MLS Cup. They will take on the Colorado Rapids on November 21 in Toronto.
The Rapids beat San Jose 1-0 on Saturday.
Beckham played all 90 minutes for the fourth time in five games despite suffering a groin injury.
“We saw right at the beginning of the game, probably 15 minutes in, that he had a problem,” Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said.
“We talked to him at half-time. There was a chance that we were going to take him off but he stayed in.”