I Feel Warmth And Support From Manchester United – Van Gaal

Manchester Manchester United manager, Louis van Gaal, has revealed that he had the support of the club as his team prepare to face Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium on Boxing Day.

United have fallen out of the top four in the Barclays Premier League as well as exiting the UEFA Champions League in a run where they have won just three times in 13 matches.

Without a victory in any of their last six matches in all competitions, it is United’s worst winless run in a single season since December 1998, the campaign in which they went on to win an historic treble.

“I held meetings with the players with my members of staff, I hold a Christmas lunch, I did a speech and I feel the warmth and support of everybody in Carrington,” Van Gaal said Prior in a press conference he cut short after three questions. “But I didn’t feel that in the media.

“Of course I can imagine that you can write about that subject [our bad results] but you have to stick to the facts.

“Four weeks ago we were first in the Premier League and in about four weeks we could be back in that position.

“I only say now I am focused on Stoke City and that I help my players.”

Van Gaal will hope United can continue their fine record in Boxing Day fixtures, having won 18 and drawn one of their last 19 matches played on 26 December.

Stoke’s progress has slowed in recent weeks as they followed a run of five victories from seven league matches by only winning one of their last four, although that solitary triumph was a home victory over Manchester City.

Mark Hughes’ men have slipped to 11th, but are only six points adrift of United in fifth. Stoke’s Marko Arnautovic is the highest league goal scorer from either of the two teams with five and is optimistic about his side’s chances ahead of United’s visit.

“It is a huge game,” the forward told the Stoke Sentinel.  “They come to us and know it is going to be a difficult game in Stoke and we know they are a good side.

“Manchester United is always a top game and we will try and win this game. If we perform like the last week [against West Ham and Crystal Palace], but score the goals, then I think we can take the three points.”

Bastian Schweinsteiger is suspended, while United are also without Matteo Darmian and Jesse Lingard (both hamstring), although Van Gaal hopes the Italian will be back to face Chelsea on 28 December.

Stoke are still without Geoff Cameron (hamstring), Peter Crouch (groin) and Stephen Ireland (hamstring).

Mourinho Has Not Sealed Manchester United Deal – Mendes

mourinhoFormer Chelsea Manager, Jose Mourinho’s agent says Manchester United is yet to make an offer to the coach to take over at Old Trafford.

Mr Jorge Mendes’ comments came as speculation about Mourinho’s future persists off the back of United’s home defeat against Norwich on Saturday; their sixth consecutive game without a win in all competitions.

Louis van Gaal has admitted that his position in charge of the 20-time English champions will come under threat if their poor run continues, but Mendes has played down suggestions that Mourinho is being lined up to replace the Dutchman.

There are indications United’s hierarchy held a meeting on Tuesday in London, but it is understood Van Gaal’s future was not the reason for the gathering.

AFCON 2015: We Will Win This For Ghana – Ayew

ayewAhead of the Africa Cup of Nations AFCON 2015 final match that is to hold at the Bata Stadium on Sunday, the Ghanaian team are optimistic of the outcome.

Andre Ayew, the Ghanaian forward has vowed that the Ghanaian team will fight to win Sunday’s AFCON final match against Cote d’Ivore for the whole of Ghana.

The Ghanaian forward has shone in this competition, scoring three goals but he insisted it was the result of the confidence he has enjoyed both from his teammates and the coach.

“I have tried to raise my game because I have been given responsibilities both on and off the pitch. It is due to the group and the confidence from the coach,” he said.

He also blamed inexperience for the Black Stars loss at the 2010 AFCON final to Egypt saying that 14 players had been brought from the U20 World Cup and the team was in the final after three months of the tournament where they were attacking, but couldn’t score.

Ayew said, “I remember the red coat my father wore (sitting on the sidelines in the 1992 final). My father is a Ghanaian and so I want to win this cup for all Ghanaians.”

Ghana last won this competition in 1982 with Andre’s father, the legendary Abedi ‘Pele’ Ayew, one of the top stars from that triumph in Libya.

Ten years later, Ayew senior could not play another Africa Cup final after he picked up a second yellow card against Nigeria in the semi-final and Cote d’Ivoire went ahead to beat the Black Stars 11-10 on penalties after a goalless 120 minutes of action. “When you get to the final, you need to do everything to win the trophy,” he said.

Ghanaian Black Stars Captain, Asamoah Gyan, returned to training in Bata on Saturday ahead of the AFCON 2015 final against Ivory Coast.

Gyan did not join his colleagues during the team work out, but trained separately with physical trainer Jamie Lawrence due to his health status.

Gyan must pass a late fitness test to make Avram Grant’s starting line-up for the final against Ivory Coast.

The 29-year-old missed Ghana’s AFCON 2015 semi-final against Equatorial Guinea due to a hip injury he suffered against Guinea last Sunday.

Avram Grant, the black star coach also said that reaching the final of the AFCON tournament is as important to him as reaching the UEFA Champions league final.

“For me, I do not rate any final as the best; it’s a good achievement we have reached with these guys and all Ghanaian should get behind the team,” he said.

The former Chelsea boss took charge of the West African giants three weeks to CAF’s flagship competition, but has managed to reach the final of the competition.

Ivory Coast FA Boss Meets With Grant After World Cup Elimination

Ivory-CoastPresident of the Ivory Coast Football Federation, Sidy Diallo, has met with former Chelsea manager, Avram Grant, in Brazil following the departure of Coach Sabril Lamouchi, after the Elephants crashed out of the 2014 World Cup.

Diallo confirmed holding a meeting with the 59-year-old Israeli at a hotel in Fortaleza, where the Ivorian team lost their final Group C match to Greece 2-1 on Tuesday.

The Ivorian FA President also said that the FA was in urgent need to recruit a coach ahead of the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers set to begin in two months’ time.

Grant had shown interest in the Ivorian team some time past but no contacts or talks had been established between the concerned parties.

The former Chelsea manager also met with former player, Salomon Kalou, and they both had a long talk at the same hotel.

Lamouchi, a former French international had announced he would not renew his contract with Ivory Coast after failing to achieve set objectives of qualifying the team to a FIFA World Cup knockout stage for the first time.

Grant managed Chelsea between 2007 and 2008 before subsequently handling Portsmouth and West Ham.