Sunday, 4 May 2014

Giggs says new boss needs to solve United problems

Manchester United's caretaker manager Ryan Giggs leaves the field at the end of an English Premier League football match against Sunderland at Old Trafford in Manchester, northwest England on May 3, 2014Ryan Giggs, Manchester United's caretaker manager, conceded David Moyes's permanent replacement faces a difficult task in resurrecting the fallen Premier League champions next season.
Louis van Gaal, who is about to lead the Netherlands in the upcoming World Cup finals in Brazil, remains the hot favourite to be that man, with reports suggesting he would be officially appointed as early as Tuesday.
But after Giggs's second game as temporary manager ended in a humbling 1-0 defeat by Sunderland at Old Trafford on Saturday -- United's seventh home reverse in the league this season - the Welsh winger admitted his side have fallen dramatically short of the necessary standards.
"You need to improve all the time," said Giggs, English football's most-decorated player.
"Consistency obviously wins you trophies and titles and we were nowhere near that this season.
"That's obviously a problem. It's a problem that needs to be solved next year.
"I still believe there is quality here but we obviously didn’t show it today (Saturday).
"We’ve not shown it consistently over the season. Until we do that, we will carry on having results like today and that’s frustrating.
"I still believe there is quality in the dressing room. They showed that last week but didn't this week. Whether it be a lack of confidence or concentration I honestly don't know.
"We've shown it away from home, shown good form away from home, but it's been a problem at Old Trafford this year.
"In past seasons, there have been wave after wave of shots and saves, you could always see goals coming. This season, it just hasn’t happened.
"I can't tell you anything about the next manager, I am just concentrating on the next game."
That next game comes on Tuesday when Hull visit Old Trafford with United keen not to record an eighth home defeat of the campaign -- the seven suffered to date already representing the same total they suffered in the last four seasons, combined, of Alex Ferguson’s reign.
The last home game of this disappointing campaign will also be the final Old Trafford date for a number of players -- such as veteran defenders Nemanja Vidic and Patrice Evra and possibly even Giggs himself if he cannot negotiate a role under the new management.
"It’s the last home game so we want a positive result,” said Giggs.
"Vida (Vidic) has been a brilliant player over the years, probably the greatest defender I’ve played with and I’ve played with some good ones. He’s a brilliant player and will be sorely missed.”
Seb Larsson took advantage of some poor United defending to score the only goal of the game after half an hour but so impressive was Sunderland’s performance they also struck the woodwork twice in the closing stages.
- 'Miraculous' Sunderland -
Victory went a long way to assuring Sunderland of retaining their Premier League status, in addition to reaching the League Cup Final at Wembley where they lost to Manchester City.
More recently, victories at Chelsea and United, plus a league draw at City, have taken Sunderland to the brink of safety.
"What we've done over the past four games is unique and special," said Sunderland manager Gus Poyet, whose team have also beaten relegated Cardiff, in that spell.
"Apparently, every now and then miracles do happen. "We’re in a position now where if we win one of our two home games (against West Brom and Swansea) we are over the line.
"After we lost to Everton, we needed to win four games and had three at home and three away at very easy places -- Manchester City, Chelsea, Old Trafford!," the former Uruguay midfielder joked.
"But you need to expect the unexpected from us and that's because of the players.
"We have more than 10 players out of contract but they have not been thinking of next year or their next club.
"They have been fighting for the club, fighting for the fans because they don't want to accept it and go down. That makes me very proud."

City tops Premier League; Fulham, Cardiff down

Manchester City's Edin Dzeko, right, celebrates with teammate James Milner after scoring the second goal of the game during their English Premier League soccer match against Everton at Goodison Park in Liverpool, England, Saturday May 3, 2014. (AP Photo/Clint Hughes)Manchester City hurdled its last big obstacle en route to the English Premier League title by winning 3-2 at Everton, while heavy defeats condemned Fulham and Cardiff to relegation on Saturday.
Two home wins, against Aston Villa on Wednesday and West Ham on Sunday, separate City from a second championship in three years after coming from behind to win at Goodison Park — a stadium where it has traditionally struggled with just one victory from its last 15 visits.
Sergio Aguero's goal cancelled out Ross Barkley's brilliant 11th-minute opener for Everton, then Edin Dzeko scored twice in a five-minute span bridging halftime to help City go top — for a day at least — on goal difference from Liverpool, and two points clear of Chelsea.
All three teams have two games left, with Chelsea playing Norwich on Sunday and Liverpool at Crystal Palace on Monday.
"Three points is a huge step for us," City manager Manuel Pellegrini said. "It's a decisive moment, but we haven't finished yet."
Aguero gave City a scare by limping off in the 28th minute — soon after scoring his equalizer — but said on Twitter that he came off as a precaution and he was "fine."
Everton's defeat dealt a major blow to the title hopes of neighbor Liverpool, and ensured Arsenal clinched fourth spot and Champions League qualification for the 17th straight season.
Resurgent Sunderland's surprise 1-0 win at Manchester United pulled the team three points clear of third-from-bottom Norwich, gave interim United manager Ryan Giggs a reality check, and also consigned Fulham and Cardiff to the second tier.
Fulham lost 4-1 at Stoke, and Cardiff was defeated 3-0 at Newcastle, leaving both sides unable to climb out of the relegation zone.
"I have to apologize for not managing the situation. The club asked me to come — I tried," said Fulham manager Felix Magath, who was hired in February in an attempt to keep the club in the top division for a 14th straight season. "You can never say any player would like to see relegation, but they didn't fight enough, especially today."
Cardiff goes down after spending just one year in the Premier League, having also changed managers midway through the season in a bid to prevent the drop.
"I knew what I was coming into," Cardiff manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said. "I didn't make the impact I hoped for and I believed in."
Sunderland has taken seven points from trips to Man City, Chelsea and United in the past three weeks, with Sebastian Larsson's 30th-minute goal clinching a first league victory at Old Trafford since 1968.
United turned in a performance reminiscent of David Moyes' woeful 10-month tenure that was brought to an end last month, puncturing the optimism created by the team's 4-0 win over Norwich last Saturday in Giggs' first match in interim control.
"I feel flat," Giggs said. "The players were flat and I don't know why. . We were putting five- or 10-yard passes astray and if you do that in the Premier League you get punished. We've had a problem at home all season — it's not been good enough."
Already out of contention to qualify for the Champions League, United is also struggling to make the Europa League as it is six points behind sixth-place Tottenham, which lost 2-0 at West Ham.
Spurs went down to 10 men in the 25th minute when Younes Kaboul was given a straight red card for a professional foul, before an own goal by Harry Kane and Stewart Downing's free kick secured a victory that preserved West Ham's Premier League status for another season.
Aston Villa moved six points clear of Norwich after beating Hull 3-1 thanks to Ashley Westwood's goal after 58 seconds and a pair of headers from Andreas Weimann just before halftime.
Hull, a point behind Villa, was also unlikely to be hauled in by Norwich but its three-game winless run bodes ill for the FA Cup final against Arsenal on May 17. Regardless of that result, however, Hull will get the Europa League spot offered by the FA Cup courtesy of Arsenal securing fourth place in the league.
Southampton beat Swansea 1-0 away thanks to Rickie Lambert's injury-time goal.

Soccer-Cardiff and Fulham relegated, Sunderland near survival

Cardiff City manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (R) reacts at the end of their 3-0 English Premier League defeat against Newcastle at St James' Park on May 3, 2014The trap door closed on Cardiff City and Fulham as crushing away defeats condemned both to relegation from the Premier League on Saturday with Sunderland moving to the brink of survival.
Sunderland's surprise 1-0 win at Manchester United meant that Cardiff's 3-0 loss at Newcastle United ensured a return to the Championship for the Welsh club a year after returning to the top flight for the first time since 1962.
Fulham, members of the Premier League since 2001, were thumped 4-1 at Stoke City.
Sebastian Larsson's 30th minute winner for Sunderland at Old Trafford, where Ryan Giggs was in charge of United for the second time, meant Sunderland moved to 35 points, five more than Cardiff and four ahead of Fulham who both have one game left.
Peter Odemwingie, Marko Arnautovic, Oussama Assaidi and Jonathan Walters scored for Stoke while Shola Ameobi, Loic Remy and Steven Taylor were on target for Newcastle who snapped a bad run of form that prompted a fans' protest against manager Alan Pardew and owner Mike Ashley during the game.
Defeat for Norwich City (32) at Chelsea on Sunday would essentially relegate them too.
In an early kickoff West Ham United guaranteed their safety, reaching 40 points with a 2-0 win over 10-man Tottenham Hotspur - their third victory over their London rivals this season.
An own goal by Spurs striker Harry Kane and Stewart Downing's free kick put West Ham in control before halftime after Tottenham defender Younes Kaboul was red-carded for bundling over Downing who was racing towards goal.
Southampton won 1-0 at Swansea City with Rickie Lambert's stoppage time winner while Aston Villa, who began the day not mathematically safe, beat FA Cup finalists Hull City 3-1.
Later on Saturday attention turns to the title race when Manchester City take on fifth-placed Everton knowing a victory would put them top of the table, ahead of Liverpool, who play Crystal Palace on Monday, on goal difference.
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