What they’re saying: Premier League managers reflect

Leave a comment

The first day of the Premier League season is in the books.

Goals, penalties, red cards, refereeing controversy and plenty more all came to the fore on a frantic and encapsulating opening day of action.

With six games down in the morning kick offs, let’s catch up with the men who make all the decisions and will either be reveling in victory, or wallowing in defeat as we speak.

(MORE: Premier League Roundup, Villa stun Arsenal, Saints, West Ham and Fulham also win)

We hear from every single Premier League manager following their teams first game of the 2013-14 season.

Here it goes. There will plenty of post-game chat from the gaffers in the coming weeks and months.

Arsenal 1 – Aston Villa 3

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger on spending more money: “I’m there to buy, if we find them we’ll do it. I’m not the only one working on that. It’s not my money, it’s the money of the club. Why should I resist (spending)? I just defend the idea that you spend the money you have and not the money you don’t have. For years I did that. Today we have more so we can spend more. It’s as simple as that. Of course I am excited by that prospect but what I want to convince you of is that we are ready to spend the money if we feel that the players makes us a better team tomorrow morning.”

Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert: “I’m proud of them, they deserve credit. The front three lads are a handful for any team. We’re a really young side with enthusiasm and hunger for the game and to do well. There’s a long, long way to go, we will have ups and downs, but after that I’m over the moon.”

Liverpool 1 – Stoke City 0

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers on the win: “It was a terrific performance all round – but of course, the goalkeeper gets the plaudits when he saves a penalty right at the end. Obviously when you don’t take your chances – and we created numerous chances and didn’t do that – and then get a penalty against you at the end, there’s sometimes that sinking feeling. I think from that, you also saw the spirit in the team, what we’re trying to cultivate here as well and the energy and attitude of the players.”

Stoke assistant manager Mark Bowen: “When you come to Anfield for the first game of the season you know it’s going to be tough but we can’t fault the way lads stuck at it. Some teams have been known to go under here but going into the last 20-25 minutes I thought we were in the ascendancy. When you come to places like Liverpool you know you are going to come under pressure but we coped really well. The lads are disappointed; that’s natural when you get a penalty so late on and don’t score.”

Norwich City 2 – Everton 2

Norwich manager Chris Hughton on Ricky van Wolfswinkel: “He’s certainly done today what we wanted him to do. That’s about working hard for the team. He certainly gave us a good outlet up front. He’s a willing runner up front and I’m really pleased for him. It was certainly a nice feeling to get a goal on his debut.”

Hughton on the 2-2 draw: “I think it was a fair result. They showed what a good side they are. They are seasoned side so we are delighted with the result. You want to win every home game but overall I am quite happy.”

Everton manager Roberto Martinez on the result: “Conceding two goals made it difficult but we created some good chances and showed some good signs. In general terms I am delighted. We looked like a team that could create enough chances. It was a very positive start from a tricky fixture.”

Sunderland 0 – Fulham 1

Fulham manager Martin Jol: “I think it was a perfect away result but not a perfect performance. We had to grind out the result. It was a very scrappy game for us. Sunderland put so many players up front – they had four attacking players. We didn’t do well at times. We have to try to control the midfield – we didn’t do that in the first half and couldn’t keep the ball. Against an energetic Sunderland team… it was a bit easier than we thought, in hindsight.”

Sunderland manager Paolo Di Canio: “We played attractive football and dominated but in this country more than any other, set-pieces can cost points. It wasn’t even an incredible challenge in the air. We played in their half for 80 minutes and delivered 30 balls into the opponents’ area but didn’t put the ball into the net. The only clear ball into our box cost a goal. I warned my players before – the players from abroad have to learn. If my players learn quickly why we lost the game, we will have a very good season.”

West Ham United 2 – Cardiff City 0

West Ham manager Sam Allardyce on Cardiff: “We came up to the Premier League having won more Championship games away than we did at home. But last year in the Premier League it was a huge task to pick up points on the road, we only won three games in the entire season away. Your home form is what you need to get right to stay in the Premier League. Hopefully with what Malky has brought to the club Cardiff will get the results they are looking for.”

Malkay Mackay on the defeat: “I thought we started the first 15-20 minutes slowly, after that we had plenty of possession. We knew we were coming to a good team, to play in a good atmosphere in a good stadium. And we knew we had to start better. They were clinical in the way they took that first goal. The last half hour of the first half we had a lot of possession but no penetration and a couple of shots that were blocked. But I cannot be too harsh on the players, overall it’s about learning and at times we gave a good account of ourselves.”

West Bromwich Albion 0 – Southampton 1

West Brom manager Steve Clarke: “I think it was (a harsh) result. We struggled to get into it in the first half but I think we had better control after the interval. The fans will be disappointed with me and the team. I’ll think about that (making new signings) more on Sunday. Today is all about disappointment. I’ve seen it. [penalty decision from referee] There’s no doubt in my mind, it’s a very soft decision.”

Southampton manager Mauricio Pochettino on the 1-0 win: “We are very pleased because the team performed very well and put in great effort today. I think we actually deserved to win 2-0 because we were disallowed a goal in the first half, which should have been allowed to stand. West Brom is a very difficult place to come against a very good team so overall we are very pleased.”

CCL wrap: FC Dallas disappoints; Club America struts (video)

Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The CONCACAF Champions League returned Tuesday with Toronto FC’s 2-0 quarterfinal first leg win in Colorado, and a trio of ties began Wednesday across Panama, Costa Rica, and Honduras.

[ WATCH: Fred’s vicious free kick ]

Tauro 1-0 FC Dallas

Veteran striker Edwin Aguilar scored a big goal, and goalkeeper Oscar McFarlane did plenty of good things as the Panamanian side struck a wild first blow against its MLS visitors.

Here’s a random fact underscoring how remarkable of a failure this would be for FC Dallas: Only six of Tauro’s roster members have their own Wikipedia page.

Deportivo Saprissa 1-5 Club America

Cecilio Dominguez and Mateus Uribe each bagged a brace, and Renato Ibarra also scored as the tournament’s top team sauntered into and out of Costa Rica on Wednesday. Club America has been to seven CCL finals, and one every single one.

Motagua vs. Club Tijuana — 10 a.m. ET

Honduran hosts hope to have a leg to stand on — pun intended — once the tie heads to Mexico.

West Ham to friendly neighbors Dag & Red: “Will help save our club”

Photo by Pete Norton/Getty Images
Leave a comment

English Conference Premier side Dagenham and Redbridge has seen better days, and is getting a hand from a Premier League pal.

[ WATCH: Fred’s vicious free kick ]

West Ham United will pay a visit to Dag & Red as part of the latter’s #SaveTheDaggers campaign, and the March 21 date will cost fans between $7 and $21 to see a top flight side at 6,000-seat Victoria Road.

Dagenham and Redbridge chairman Paul Gwinn said, “It really will help save our club.”

“So please come on down to the Chigwell Construction Stadium for an additional night of football. Bring a friend, or two, or more and we can use the gate takings to help get us back on track,” reads a press release.

Dag & Red was founded in 1992 and climbed as high as League One in 2011, and plays just 2.5 miles from West Ham United’s training ground. Newcastle’s Matt Ritchie and Dwight Gayle are among Dag & Red alums in the Premier League.

It’s a terrific gesture from West Ham, and is even more impressive in the United States where the growing club game is increasingly cutthroat (especially between non-synced leagues).

Angry Di Francesco extremely quotable after Roma loss

AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky
Leave a comment

AS Roma manager Eusebio Di Francesco absolutely roasted his charges after i Lupi tossed aside a Cenzig Under-inspired lead to fall 2-1 at Shakhtar Donetsk in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League Round of 16 tie on Wednesday.

Di Francesco had praise for Edin Dzeko, who assisted Under’s goal, as well as goalkeeper Alisson, but was mostly enraged by his side.

[ MORE: Recap + Fred’s vicious free kick ]

Rather than construct a narrative, we’re going to point out our five favorite selections from Di Francesco’s post-match talk.

4) “The difference was that in the first half we tried to hurt them while in the second we were looking to hold on – to what? I don’t know.”

— “To what? I don’t know” is hilarious. Di Francesco’s side has posted some serious wins this season, including killing off Chelsea 3-0 at home and coming back from 2-0 to draw the Blues at Stamford Bridge. He doesn’t preach sitting back.

3) “There were far too many schoolboy errors – even by players with a wealth of international experience.”

— Schoolboy errors!

2) “I saw two completely different teams out there today. There were lots of players I should have taken off after we conceded the first goal.”

— Again, one mistake by a number of players on Facundo Ferreyra is enough for Di Francesco. He’s not just happy to be here.

1) “I can’t imagine we’d get arrogant just because we’re winning an important game. It’s not as if Roma are used to reaching the final every year.”

— When you’re willing to essentially rip an entire club’s history — Roma’s been to just two UCL quarterfinals since losing the final to Liverpool in 1984 — you’re putting your footprints in new cement.

Europa League preview: Rating every second leg

Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Christian Pulisic and Borussia Dortmund are one of many teams with their UEFA Europa League fates realistically in the balance come Thursday’s second legs of the Round of 32.

[ MORE: Sevilla 0-1 Man Utd | Mourinho reacts ]

Aside from a sextet of big teams posting blowouts, there’s still hope for the Round of 16 and a step closer to an automatic berth in the 2018-19 UEFA Champions League.

Basically done

Atletico Madrid 4-1 Copenhagen — 1 p.m. ET
Sporting Lisbon 3-1 Astana — 1 p.m. ET
Arsenal 3-0 Ostersund — 3:05 p.m. ET
Milan 3-0 Ludogorets Razgrad — 3:05 p.m. ET
Athletic Bilbao 3-1 Spartak Moscow — 3:05 p.m. ET
Braga 0-3 Marseille — 3:05 p.m. ET

In four of these cases, the heavy favorites emerged with multiple goal leads and at least three away goals.

Actually done

CSKA Moscow beat Red Star Belgrade 1-0 on Wednesday to win 1-0 on aggregate.

Unlikely, but big club lurks

RB Leipzig 3-1 Napoli — 1 p.m. ET
Villarreal 1-3 Lyon — 1 p.m. ET

In the case of Napoli, their 3-1 home loss to Leipzig was stunning but it’s impossible to rule out a club with such firepower. Villarreal trails by two to Lyon, but is home and dangerous.

Advantage one side, but anyone’s guess

Lokomotiv Moscow 3-2 Nice — 11 a.m. ET
Lazio 0-1 FCSB — 1 p.m. ET
Zenit Saint-Petersburg 0-1 Celtic — 1 p.m. ET
Red Bull Salzburg 2-2 Real Sociedad — 3:05 p.m. ET
Atalanta 2-3 Borussia Dortmund — 3:05 p.m. ET

Salzburg’s two away goals in a draw feels like a one-goal lead, and the one-goal matches are especially interesting. In the case of Atalanta, 1-0 to the Serie A side could undo Michy Batshuayi‘s first leg heroics for BVB.

Wide open

Plzen 1-1 Partizan Belgrade — 1 p.m. ET
Dynamo Kyiv 1-1 AEK Athens — 1 p.m. ET

Yes, nil-nil will get it done for the hosts, but there wasn’t a 0-0 in the entire group of first legs.