Tottenham Hotspur v  New York Red Bulls

Red Bulls’ Tim Cahill has wise words for Landon Donovan

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For years and years I have defended Landon Donovan. The man has the right to do whatever makes Landon Donovan happy.

Every human being should have that right, so long as they aren’t adversely affecting others along their happy way.

There is, however, another way to look at this place where life and career collide, where Donovan is having some difficulty dealing with it. And it comes from a man who knows Donovan a little – and who knows something of what the LA Galaxy star is going through.

(MORE: Donovan is returning – in late March)

New York Red Bulls striker Tim Cahill was a teammate as Donovan did two short tours with Everton. Not only that, but Cahill is among the top players of his generation from Australia, so he knows what it’s like to carry an enormous burden of hopeful expectations.

Therefore, when Cahill speaks on this sensitive subject, it’s coming from a better place compared to the rest of us. And his take on Donovan is pretty interesting (and wise), spinning this delicate egg around and observing from a different angle.

(MORE: Donovan speaks publicly for first time since December)

What the Red Bulls and Australian international striker told reporters following Saturday’s contest in Tucson in the Desert Diamond Cup.

Listen, I’m blessed to be a footballer. All I can say is people have to get up and go to work at 5 in the morning, like my parents. I always forget the hardship of people, what they go through mentally.”

“ … You’ve got to put things in perspective. [Donovan’s] got the world on his shoulders. It’s not a bad thing to have on your shoulders, is it? … It’s a compliment when everything’s thrown at you. When something goes wrong, it’s your fault.”

“ … You have to question why you play football. If it’s not for the right reasons, then stop. But if it is, then continue. He’s a good kid. He knows what he can do and what he can’t do, so I would just look at putting life into perspective. We’ve got a great job in the MLS. That’s the way I look at things.”

Agent: “There’s no hatred” between Bale, Ronaldo

Gareth Bale & Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid CF
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Gareth Bale doesn’t at all dislike Cristiano Ronaldo — or vice versa — despite what may seem a lukewarm on-field relationship between the two Real Madrid superstars, insists Jonathan Barnett, agent of Bale.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Instead, Barnett insists that the two men with very different personalities have a healthy relationship, and competition, that pushes each Galactico to be the best player he can be.

Barnett, on Bale’s relationship with Ronaldo — quotes from the Guardian:

“They don’t go out eating every night together, but it’s fine. There’s no hatred there. Gareth is a quiet guy. They’re complete opposites. But I think Gareth can learn a little bit from Ronaldo as well, interacting maybe a little bit. But he wants his own life and he lives it. Gareth is a great footballer, he doesn’t want anything more. He has some very good endorsements but his whole life is to be the best footballer in the world. I don’t think he wants to be the best model in the world or the best underwear seller. That’s not him.”

That’s a hilarious closing quote from Barnett, but he knows exactly how some folks are going to interpret it: “Bale thinks Ronaldo loves himself too much.”

[ MORE: Giroud: “I must harden myself” to unseat Walcott ]

There’s nothing better for the ultimate success of a team than healthy, friendly competition between teammates who are spectacularly talented as Ronaldo and Bale. The former will only be around to perform at his current level for so much longer, but at what point does the latter officially take the torch and supplant Madrid’s biggest star, and how accepting will he be of passing that proverbial torch?

Olivier Giroud: “I must harden myself” to unseat Walcott

Olivier Giroud, France
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Is it just me, or does the press really only ever get noteworthy quotes from players during international breaks?

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

I suppose it’s not surprising, given Premier League players get away from the mean ole British press, go back to their respective homelands and speak with journalists they’ve likely known since their early playing days, thus feel more comfortable opening up about key issues.

Anyway, today we have Olivier Giroud essentially calling himself out for having lost the starting striker’s job at Arsenal because he’s been outplayed of late by Theo Walcott. As discussed before, this is bad news for Giroud because he’s now falling down the depth chart for France with next summer’s European Championship on the horizon.

[ MORE: Aguero admits he wants Guardiola link-up ]

Giroud, on losing his place at Arsenal — quotes from the Guardian:

“At Arsenal, I am in competition with Theo for the striker position. But he is doing well at the moment, so there is no reason to change.

“Whether it was at Tours, Montpellier or Arsenal, I have never experienced a situation like this, I have often played from the start. I need to take positives and to harden myself mentally. It is something new for me.

“I was in [Walcott’s] place in previous seasons at Arsenal. I imagine what he must have been thinking. But I feel that the coach believes in me.”

Giroud goes on to cast into doubt his own confidence, stating in very certain terms he needs “to believe more in [his] abilities.” Giroud’s always come across as a bit of an existentialist, but it’s always strange to hear players publicly call themselves out — particularly their confidence — as if that’s not going to increase the pressure currently weighing down on them.

[ MORE: Rodgers reportedly chosen to take over at Aston Villa ]

The next eight months are going to be monumentally important in Giroud’s career, as the 29-year-old attempts to prove he’s worth keeping around at Arsenal and deserving of a place in the national team squad for next summer’s EUROs, which are to be played in France.