English League 2

Coleman eyes up 'biggest game'

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Wed, 19 Dec 2012 17:57:00

AC Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani has confirmed receiving a bid from an unnamed club for striker Alexandre Pato, as Robinho edges towards a January return to Brazil.

Reports in Brazil and Italy have linked Pato with a possible move to recent Club World Cup winners Corinthians in the transfer window, with fellow Campeonato Brasileiro side Santos publicly declaring their willingness to bring Robinho back to his boyhood club.

Galliani is eager to retain the latter but admits persuading the forward to stay in Italy will be a tall order.

He told the Corriere dello Sport: "Milan have received an offer for Pato.

"Meanwhile, I am doing everything in my power to keep Robinho, I don't know if I will succeed, but I will use all my powers of persuasion.

"Robinho is happy here. He has a good relationship with the coach and the team, but he has a wife and children who are back on the beaches of Santos right now.

"I hope to convince him to stay here. He hasn't asked vehemently to leave Milan, he's just asked to go back to his country."

The potential departure of a strike partnership that cost the Rossoneri a combined 30 million euros could free up space for long-term target Mario Balotelli, but Galliani would not be drawn on the Manchester City striker on Wednesday.

"If both Robinho and Pato leave, we will only buy one striker because we believe the right number of strikers should be five," he added.

"Is (Didier) Drogba possible? No. (Javier) Pastore? No, because we've asked Paris Saint Germain and they won't let him go."

Robinho, who originally left Santos to join Real Madrid in 2005, arrived in Milan following an unsettled two-year spell with Manchester City, but not before spending six months on loan back at Vila Belmiro in 2010.

Santos vice-president Odilio Rodrigues told UOL Esporte: "We are in negotiations. It will be difficult but we are are doing everything in our power to realise our fans' dream."

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Stuckmann was North End's penalty shoot-out hero against Bury on Tuesday night, superbly saving from Greg Wylde before Graham Cummins sealed a 5-4 spot-kick triumph on the back of a thrilling 3-3 draw in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy.

Graham Westley's men are now through to the northern area semi-finals of the competition against Coventry having already secured an FA Cup third-round tie at Millwall.

The Lions will be wary on account of Preston dumping Championship counterparts Huddersfield and Crystal Palace out of the Capital One Cup earlier this season, but the Deepdale outfit are without a win in five League One matches and floundering in 15th place.

"I really don't know," said the shot-stopper. "It's strange because we've showed some great character in the cup games all the time but we can't really put it in the league as well.

"It's a team which has a lot of new players. I know it's not an excuse but we all have to learn and everything needs to get together a bit more quickly.

"I know we can get a lot of confidence off this (cup) run. It's a busy Christmas week so we must take the confidence and get on a winning run."

Levein was "relieved of his duties" by the SFA on November 5 following a disappointing start to the World Cup qualifying campaign.

The SFA has confirmed Levein has now instructed his lawyers to serve a writ on the Association, who had offered to honour the remainder of his contract in full.

A statement from the SFA read: "Regrettably, the Scottish FA has received notification from lawyers representing Craig Levein that their client has served a writ on the Association.

"This notification has been received despite the Scottish FA's offer to honour Craig's contract in full, an offer that was made immediately upon the Board's decision to relieve Craig of his duties on November 5, 2012.

"The Scottish FA has since received notification that Craig has chosen to resign, thereby foregoing the offer made to honour his contract in full.

"In the notification received, failure to make a proposal in lieu of compensation has been cited.

"It is the view of the Scottish FA that no such offer is required given Craig's decision to resign, especially since an offer of mediation was rejected by his legal representatives.

"We will make no further comment at this time."

Levein had found himself under pressure after the Scots failed to record a single win from their opening four games of the current campaign.

Draws at home to Serbia and Macedonia, followed by defeats away to Wales and Belgium, left Scotland bottom of their group with little hope of booking their place at Brazil in 2014.

Those results ultimately sealed the fate of the former Hearts and Dundee United boss and his near-three-year tenure came to an end last month.

Under-21s boss Billy Stark was placed in interim charge while the SFA search for Levein's successor.

Carson also pulled off a string of impressive saves in a thrilling contest that ended 3-3 at full-time, but Hughes revealed Carson was briefly knocked out cold in the melee that led to North End's second goal and struggled with his vision immediately afterwards.

With no keeper named among the Shakers' substitutes, Carson elected to carry on but was found wanting when his fumble allowed Stuart Beavon to put the visitors in front for a third time.

"I think he made a few great saves before that," Hughes said of the late error. "He was sparked out. He was the one who said he'll carry on and that's the kind of person he is.

"It was before the second goal. When the second goal went in he couldn't see or anything like that.

"He's just got on with it and that shows good character about him so fair play to him.

"I said at the end I'd go in goal for him, nominated myself if he was struggling. I used to be a little bit of a 'cat' myself."

Bury boss Kevin Blackwell was less sympathetic over Carson's plight and joked: "The rule is if you've got concussion, there's three balls - go for the middle one."

Coleman, who recently held meetings with the club's disgruntled fans, has seen his side slip into the bottom half of the table and is keen to stop the rot following four straight defeats.

"I don't know about the players but Friday night is rapidly becoming the biggest game of my life and I hope the players appreciate that," he told the Manchester Evening News.

Dale have shipped 13 goals in their last four games and Coleman admitted big changes are needed in January if they are to save their season.

"I might have to have an overhaul of the squad and move people out," he added. "I haven't got enough quality in defence and I think it would be churlish of me to suggest otherwise, given what's gone on in the last four games.

"I have to live with that until January and then try to go and do something about it. I am not a mug, I have been in this game long enough and I've been through bad times before and come through them and I thoroughly expect to come through them this time.

"I possibly took a bit of a risk by having too many young players defensively at the start of the season and that has probably caught up with us.

"Sometimes you make an educated gamble and it hasn't paid off for me. I have to get it right in January."

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