English League 1

Grayson had to grasp chance

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Mon, 18 Feb 2013 19:16:00

Bayern Munich vice-captain Bastian Schweinsteiger believes there is an answer to those Arsenal fans pining for their past greats - Jack Wilshere.

Ahead of Tuesday night's first leg of the UEFA Champions League last-16 tie, Schweinsteiger has labelled Wilshere one of the best midfielders in the world.

And the Germany international believes Wilshere, 21, can be the cornerstone of a Gunners' resurgence after admitting they have lost ground on their European rivals in recent years.

"Yes the days are gone when they had players like Tony Adams or Thierry Henry - maybe they are still wishing for those players," he said.

"But they still have a good team. You only have to look at Jack Wilshere who is an excellent player.

"After he was out for so long, he is back now and showing his form.

"In his position, he is one of the best players there is."

Wilshere's long-awaited return to Arsenal ranks this season was celebrated by club and country after he missed more than a year with a persistent ankle problem.

Despite his tender years, Wilshere has been celebrated as one of the finest technical players to come out of this country in a generation and Schweinsteiger, who has 97 Germany caps, agrees.

"It has a lot to do with his size," he said.

"Your typical English player is over six foot - I would say that with Jack Wilshere he has different movements.

"He is dynamic, he has a good left foot and he has a good eye for his players around him. Those are his talents."

Schweinsteiger rubbished suggestions, however, that stopping Wilshere at Emirates Stadium on Tuesday night will be enough to shut down Arsenal completely.

Wilshere, who signed a long-term deal at Arsenal in December, came off the substitutes' bench in Saturday's 1-0 FA Cup defeat to Blackburn after watching his team-mates fail to break down Championship opposition.

"I don't think one player makes a team - they do have 10 other players," he said.

"He is a very difficult opponent. We will try and minimise his influence on the game, but don't forget Arsenal is a very good team.

"Arsenal is not your classic English team. They have more of a European style with (Santi) Cazorla in there.

"I don't know why they haven't won a title for so many years because they have the capabilities.

"I would say Arsenal are still amongst the top-10 teams in Europe."

Drama has never been far away from the Italian during a colourful career that began with Lazio nearly 30 years ago, and he wrote another chapter of his story when he released a statement saying he had resigned from his post.

The 44-year-old, who guided the Robins to promotion in his first season in charge last term, has grown increasingly tetchy about the boardroom goings-on at the County Ground and on Monday night decided enough was enough.

Town have been the subject of a takeover bid for some time and Di Canio, who claimed to have first tendered his resignation last Tuesday, had pledged to stay if the deal was ratified by the Football League by 5pm on Monday.

No transaction was confirmed, though, and the former West Ham striker issued a statement through his agent, Phil Spencer, confirming he had quit.

"Last Tuesday, 12th February, I formally confirmed my resignation as manager of Swindon Town Football Club with immediate effect," said Di Canio.

"There have been a number of broken promises made by the club over the time that I have been manager of Swindon Town.

"Despite these problems, I have delivered everything and more that was asked of me, by achieving promotion last year as champions and competing this season for promotion to the Championship and being just three points from top place a year earlier than expected.

"I did not resign immediately, nor publicise my resignation after I had formally confirmed it as I did not want to jeopardise the negotiations for the sale of the club and I wanted to listen to what the proposed new owners plans were.

"Following discussions, my representatives put forward a proposal that would secure my future at the club until at least the end of the season and quite possibly beyond as well.

"This proposal actually reduced the club's contractual liabilities to me in the interest of saving Swindon Town FC. At a meeting last Friday the proposed new owners accepted and said they were very happy with the new terms.

"I entered into a temporary arrangement with the proposed new owners to continue in my role as manager but all this was agreed subject to Football League approval for the purchase of the club being granted by 5:00pm on Monday 18th February.

"At the time of issuing this statement, I have had no further contact from the proposed new owners and I have been told that unfortunately Football League approval has not been granted yet and therefore my temporary arrangement has ended and my resignation stands."

When initally asked to clarify Di Canio's resignation, a Swindon spokesman said they were unable to expand on the statement.

One of Di Canio's bugbears was the sale of Matt Ritchie to Bournemouth without his consent, a move indicative of the simmering tensions in Wiltshire.

Di Canio's success in the dugout has shocked some, with a number of observers considering him too hot-headed to manage a team.

As a player he courted controversy by pushing referee Paul Alcock to the ground while at Sheffield Wednesday, while he also had a number of disciplinary issues when at Celtic.

He joined Celtic in 1996 after an 11-year spell in his homeland where he struggled to establish himself with the likes of Lazio, his boyhood team, and AC Milan.

He left Wednesday for West Ham where he became a legend in the eyes of the United fans, scoring one of the Premier League's most memorable goals against Wimbledon.

After parting company with the Hammers he went to Charlton, before an emotional return to Lazio, although his time there was stained by his support of fascist movements and his association with the club's Ultras.

He retired from playing in 2008 and leaves Swindon sixth in League One, three points off top spot.

Swindon's current board eventually acknowledged Di Canio's resignation via a statement posted on their official website just after 10.30pm on Monday night.

They gave a nod to the situation surrounding Ritchie and said that Di Canio's assistant, Fabrizio Piccareta, will take the team against Tranmere on Tuesday.

The statement added that Piccareta would be in charge until the ownership situation has been cleared up, possibly hinting that Di Canio could yet return.

The statement read: "The board are disappointed that Paolo Di Canio has made the decision to resign at such a critical time for Swindon Town Football Club.

"We are also disappointed that the sale of the club has yet to be approved, but we hope the outstanding issues with the Football League will be resolved within a short period of time.

"It is worth noting that Matt Ritchie was sold due to the tremendous financial pressure the club is facing and in order to continue operating whilst the sale of the club went through.

"We understand the prospective new owners had reached agreement with Paolo Di Canio on bringing in loan players to strengthen the squad for a final push for the Championship.

"Until the situation has been resolved, Fabrizio Piccareta will be in temporary charge of the team as we travel to Tranmere Rovers tomorrow, where a win would see Swindon become leaders of League One.

"The board shares the fans' tremendous frustration at the events of the last few weeks and is determined to resolve these issues to ensure the best outcome for the club."

The former Blackpool and Leeds boss was sacked by Huddersfield last month following a winless run of 12 league matches, despite leading them to League One play-off final glory at the end of last season.

While acknowledging the prospect of waiting for another job at Championship level, Grayson felt the chance to take up the reins as Graham Westley's successor at Deepdale was too good to turn down.

"I got sacked by Huddersfield a few weeks ago, I've had a break and had a bit of a holiday but in that period of time I've been looking to get back," said the 43-year-old. "I love football, I'm a football man and I got itchy feet.

"I had one or two other opportunities to go to other clubs and had enquiries about going to other clubs, but once I spoke to the owners here I found a club that could match my ambitions as well as me matching theirs.

"I'm delighted to be here, I know that the club's got a fantastic tradition and history and hopefully we can get back to those winning ways and take the club back to where it belongs in the Championship, and hopefully beyond some day.

He added: "That (waiting for a Championship job) was a possibility but you can wait too long, you can have a breather and be out too long and suddenly you get a little bit forgotten.

"So I thought coming to Preston North End fitted the bill with a lot of things and I'm delighted to have done that.

"If it was a club that didn't have the ambition of trying to be successful then I wouldn't be here but it certainly inspired me to come."

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