‘Crazy’ Venky’s: Salgado blows lid on Blackburn malaise

4/12/2013
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Former Spain full-back Michel Salgado has revealed the exact reasons behind his acrimonious exit from Blackburn Rovers, while launching a withering attack on the club’s controversial owners.

Much has changed at Ewood Park since Salgado’s release in January 2012, with the club swapping mid-table security in the Premier League for a relegation dog fight in the Championship.

The onset of Blackburn’s on-field woes can be traced back to the day the club were taken over by Indian poultry company Venky’s in November 2010.

The promise of a bright and successful future for the club, has proved anything but; suffering relegation at the end of their first full season in charge whilst overseeing a succession of managerial changes.

Four bosses have come and gone in that period including three this season alone. The constant upheaval has affected results on the pitch too, with Blackburn currently occupying a place in the bottom three of England’s second-tier with just six games remaining.

It is a situation that Salgado admits “saddens” him and he would like nothing more than to see his former club return to the Premier League. However that, he believes, will remain nothing more than a dream with the current owners at the helm.

“The only thing I have to say about it (Blackburn’s situation) is that it is outrageous,” Salgado told reporters at his unveiling as the Director of Football for Dubai Sports City.

“I speak to a lot of fans and from my point of view it’s very sad to see this amazing, historic club in this situation; facing a relegation battle in the Championship, when just two years ago they finished tenth in the Premier League with a promising group of players.

“I hope something happens where there are huge changes and Blackburn return to the Premier League. But the problem will not be fixed in a short time because so many changes have to be made.

“Blackburn’s situation really saddens me,” the 37-year-old added. “I loved my time at Blackburn, apart from the last six months, which had nothing to do with me or football.”

The final six months Salgado refers to are when he was omitted from the squad after just 13 games of the season having started nine of those. Due to a clause in his contract, Salgado would have been eligible for an extension had he featured a further nine times that season, but in an attempt to cut costs, the Blackburn owners decided he no longer had a part to play.

False dawn

It was a far cry from the promises of glory and European football Venky’s had pledged to deliver upon first receiving the keys to Ewood Park.

“To be honest, when they first arrived at Blackburn it was really exciting times,” recalls Salgado, who joined Rovers in 2009 after a decade with Real Madrid.

“All they spoke about was developing something really good for the future of the club. But everything changed in the space of two months; there were so many players in and out, the manager (Sam Allardyce) was replaced (by Steve Kean) and so many strange things began to happen at the club.”

Shedding light on his own demise at Blackburn, Salgado explained: “I remember my situation, along with three of four other guys; it was the game before Swansea in December.

“Suddenly on the Thursday before the game I got a call from the club saying they wanted to talk to me. I was playing all the games and was a key part of the club so from that day I couldn’t find an explanation as to why I was removed from the team.

“The squad was then almost totally dissembled and then you know the rest; Blackburn were relegated and everything is getting worse.”

He added: “I cannot understand why it has happened to a club like this when everything was running really well; the facilities, the fans, the history, the stadium – they have everything.”

Focus on job at hand

Venky’s came under renewed criticism on Tuesday when they summoned caretaker manager Gary Bowyer to India for talks, resulting in him missing two days of training in a critical stage of the season.

And the episode has enraged Salgado, who believes it is just the latest bad decision made by the owners which have helped put the club in the perilous position they find themselves in.

“I’m not surprised because the things that are happening are totally outside of football,” Salgado said. “The decisions are made in a different way to any other club in the world in terms of football.

“When you are playing for your life, like they are now in this relegation fight, they need to stick together, train more than ever, and prepare better than ever for the games. But instead of that, the manager is in Pune instead of being on the training ground.

“The decision makers should be heading over to England to talk to the manager so as not to disrupt the match preparations. It’s crazy and outrageous everything that has happened.”

READ MORE:

Real Madrid legend to head up Dubai Football Academy

 

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Predict360: Manchester derby opens door to chasing pack

4/12/2013
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It’s another huge weekend in the English Premier League with the race for Champions League places and to avoid relegation hotting up.

The title could all but be wrapped up come Monday night as the top two – Manchester United and Manchester City – do battle at Old Trafford.

Before then, though, the chasing pack in the Predict360 League can close the gap on leader and United fan Moe Anabtawi with second placed Simon Thurston (Tottenham) and Obaydah Al Namer (Liverpool) both in action on Sunday.

Ted Totsidis (Arsenal) is the only competitor in action on Saturday as his beloved Gunners travel to the Hawthorns to take on West Brom.

It’s a big weekend for more reasons than one. Good luck gents…

CURRENT LEAGUE TABLE (after 27 rounds)
Man United (Moe) – 26pts
Tottenham (Simon) – 23 
Liverpool (Obaydah) – 22
Man City (Darren) – 21 
Chelsea (Shivam) – 17
Arsenal (Ted) – 16
Everton (Mark) – 15

 

TED TOTSIDIS – @TedTots (Arsenal)
What went wrong last week? The only thing I can say went wrong was that I just missed out on my first perfect score prediction. I thought 3-1 would be realistic to predict and in hindsight, four would have been more appropriate. However, I’m wrapped we convincingly beat Reading and put ourselves in a solid position to move into fourth spot if other results go our way this weekend.

This week’s prediction: Today we travel to the Hawthorns for what will be a difficult match. I’m not sure if this is an omen or not, but the AFL team I’ve supported since a young lad is Hawthorn… or maybe I’m just reading into things too much!

Nonetheless, West Brom are tough to beat on a good day and at home they’re especially harder to play against, so the Arsenal will have to dig deep and go all out for the three points. As we approach the run home this season, it’s comforting to know that our focus will be set on winning all of our remaining matches and given that the teams above us have some very tough encounters in the following weeks, we stand in good stead to make the top four.

At this point nothing else really matters and hence why my prediction today see’s us winning this match; West Brom 1-2 Arsenal

 

SHIVAM MANGHNANI – @ShivamLM (Chelsea)
What happened last week? Maybe I was too optimistic last week. We were far too blunt upfront with Fernando Torres playing for 90 minutes without having a single shot. At 2-1 down Rafael Benitez decided to bring on Yossi Benayoun instead of Demba Ba who has three goals in his last two games against Southampton.

Ba proved that on Monday with a wonderful goal and it looks like it gave Torres a kick up the backside as he looked a lot more lively on Thursday night.

Prediction this week: Now I would have expected us to beat Sunderland comfortably with Martin O’Neill in charge, but with Paolo Di Canio you never know. New manager syndrome could kick in especially with the passionate Di Canio in the dugout.

But with Eden Hazard and Oscar suitably rested on Thursday night they should be fit and raring to go provided of course Benitez prioritises league position above a trophy. I think we will just shade this. Chelsea 2-0 Sunderland

 

MARK SCHUMANN – @MarkSchuey (Everton)
Missing in action this week. We await his prediction patiently.

 

OBAYDAH AL-NAMER – @LFCArabia (Liverpool)
What happened last week? Brendan Rodgers must work more on the backline because we seem to be vulnerable defensively although our attack is second only to the leaders which is a good thing given that Liverpool started the season with no out-to-out striker.

Coutinho is proving his worth while the evergreen Steven Gerrard is the only one I trust in taking a penalty, and he didn’t disappoint the travelling Kop faithful last week. All in all, it was great to come back against a team battling relegation, although damage was already done to our Champions league hopes when we lost to the Villains at Anfield!

My predictions for the week: I do not like Big Sam, but credit where credit is due, he’s the man to promote you back to the Premier League when you get relegated and he’s done a good job on saving the Hammers from relegation once again.

Anyway, we are on a high with Coutinho pulling the strings for us behind the strikers, his passes are neat and decisive. West Ham haven’t recorded a win at Anfield since 1963, and I don’t think they will do so soon, especially with a mere nine goals from 15 away games this season.

Rodgers is doing a good job in keeping the players motivated, we have nothing to win nor nothing to lose, but it’s good to avoid the free fall we suffered under King Kenny last season. A brace for Suarez and an Enrique goal will be enough to sink the Hammers. Liverpool 3-0 West Ham.

 

DARREN BALL – @AbuDhabiDaz (Man City)
What happened last week? City cruised to a very comfortable 4-0 win over Newcastle last week and even Nasri played well. With all the speculation surrounding big Yaya concluded with a new contract we need to ensure second place in the league and a FA Cup triumph.

Prediction this week: However, before the semi-final we have some serious business to take care of and a trip over the Manchester border to The city of Salford. This fixture last season certainly made the world sit up and listen to what City had to say.

Coming off a good performance against Newcastle and the chance for derby bragging rights I am hoping for a repeat of last season’s game. It will be difficult to see as the hosts will probably set out just not to lose. However, been the optimist I am my prediction is: Man Utd 1-6 Man City

 

MOHAMMED ANABTAWI – @MoeAnabtawi (Man Utd)
What happened last time? We got the three points against Sunderland with a relatively strong side. But the disappointment came on Monday with a 1 -0 loss to Chelsea. I know Sir Alex wants to secure the league title but when you are 15 points clear I was hoping that he would field the stronger team.

Credit to Petr Cech who was just amazing. Any other goalkeeper and that match should have been ours, but that is why he is one of the best in the world.

Prediction this week: The Manchester derby was always something I looked forward to even before Citeh was bought over by Sheikh Mansour. Local pride is kind of a big deal. “Stockport” as I like to call them are now claiming that they don’t care about the title and that they want to fight it out for the pride of the City.

I personally am looking forward to what kind of chants will be belted out towards Carlos Tevez come Monday night! Perhaps don’t cry for me argen-cleaner as “The Sun”s headline read?

The league is ours to lose and I am quite certain that Fergie’s consistent fielding of a strong squad in the league is intent enough to know that United will not take their foot off the pedal just yet.

Our key man will be Michael Carrick. My personal pick for Player of the Year, he is so underrated that he won’t even get a mention in the Premier Leagues team of the year.

I am not concerned with Robin van Persie’s sudden lack of goals. He will manage a goal vs City, you can just see it happening.

The opportunity to go 18 points clear at the top is there. Who would have thought that at the start of the season? Let us wrap it up. Manchester is Red! Man Utd 2-0 Man City

 

SIMON THURSTON – @SimonPThurston (Tottenham)
What happened last week? Another important three points – both for me and for Spurs – means with only seven league matches remaining its still all to play for.

For me, I still have a chance of catching the consistent Moe; and for my team, even third place is not out of the question.

Prediction this week: The run of ‘cup finals’ continues this weekend with the visit of Mark Schumann’s Everton, who themselves have dreams of Champions League football next season and are currently sitting in sixth place, just four points off the pace.

I really feel this is going to be a tough game, for a couple of reasons. Firstly, Everton always battle it out, have tremendous spirit and make it difficult. Also, Spurs are missing two of their most creative (and pacey) players in Bale and Lennon, and so others are going to need to step up to the plate.

We’re the only team in the league to have gained more points on our travels than at home, partly due to the style of football we play, but also down to the tactics of visitors to The Lane.

I think we’ll see more of the same this weekend. Everton will be tough to break down, even without Fellaini and Pienaar. For the sake of my team I hope I’m wrong, but I expect a stalemate this weekend. Tottenham 1-1 Everton

 

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Wahda boss cool on Al Kamali-Al Ahli deal talk

4/12/2013
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Al Wahda coach Branko Ivankovic has insisted defender Hamdan Al Kamali was in Dubai on Friday for treatment and not transfer talks with Al Ahli.

However, the Croatian coach said he would not be surprised if the Red Knights, or other Pro League rivals, were interested in signing the UAE centre-back.

Abu Dhabi Sports reported on Friday that Ahli had contacted Al Kamali about the possibility of moving to the Rashed Stadium for the start of the next season.

Ivankovic would be loath to lose the 23-year-old but admitted he was in the dark over his movements in Dubai.

Al Kamali, who spent the second half of last season on loan at French giants Lyon where he did not feature, is currently out of action with a knee injury and will not return to first-team duty for at least another week.

“I don’t know, I know he’s in Dubai to try and solve his injury problems at a medical clinic. I don’t know if he’s having negotiations with any club, with Al Ahli,” Ivankovic said after Wahda’s 1-1 draw with Al Wasl at the Al Nahyan Stadium.

“Of course it is normal, he is an excellent player, a national team player. So clubs want him, not only Al Ahli, but Al Ain, Jazira. Because he is an excellent player and everybody wants to have excellent players in their team.”

Earlier Ahli CEO Ahmad Khalifa Hammad refused to confirm or deny the club’s reported interest in Al Kamali, telling Koora.com to “ask Abu Dhabi TV”.

 

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