Premier League

Gourlay: Top four the priority

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Wed, 06 Mar 2013 09:44:00

Klaas-Jan Huntelaar has hinted that he could see out the rest of his career with his current club Schalke.

The Dutch forward, 29, recently signed a new deal at the German club which sees him contracted to the club until 2015 and has hinted that he may well retire there.

Last season saw the striker crowned top goal scorer in the Bundesliga and the former Real Madrid man appears to have settled with the Konigsblauen having scored 72 goals in only 112 appearances.

Despite a vast improvement on last season's 14th place finish, Huntelaar is not pleased with this current season as his team lie nine points off the Champions League places.

"It is very well possible that I sign another extension with Schalke. I could sign another contract here at the age of 32. Retiring here is an option for me," Huntelaar told Sport Bild.

"I am not satisfied with the way things have been going so far this season, both with my own performances and with the team's displays."

Cole returned to West Ham for a second spell in January, after two-and-a-half forgettable years at Anfield.

He concedes that he made a mistake in heading for Merseyside as a free agent in 2010, after seeing his contract run down at Chelsea.

Cole says he never adapted to life at Liverpool, but claims he was left with little choice but to make a move as he could not bring himself to turn out for Tottenham Hotspur.

The 31-year-old midfielder said in The Sun: "I can only play for teams that I'm passionate about and I think that's what went wrong for me at Liverpool.

"I didn't feel a connection with the club or the place that I had at Chelsea and West Ham.

"I had seven great years at Chelsea but the club wanted to go in a certain direction and I wasn't involved. So I was left with two real options - Liverpool or Spurs.

"Spurs was probably the best option because they were offering me a five-year deal and it meant I could stay in familiar surroundings.

"But I just couldn't do it, I just couldn't see myself pulling that Spurs shirt over my head. With the rivalry between Spurs and West Ham and Chelsea, it felt a bit mercenary."

Having re-joined the club that helped to launch his career, Cole is hoping to recapture his best form and hang up his boots as a West Ham player.

He added: "I was missing London and my family and I had a personal tragedy in December when my brother-in-law died.

"I got an opportunity to go back to West Ham and I don't want to move any more."

Rafael Benitez, whose side take on Steaua Bucharest in the Europa League on Thursday night, was appointed interim boss after the Blues became the first Champions League holders to exit the competition at the group stage earlier this season.

Former Liverpool manager Benitez was never a popular appointment at Stamford Bridge and confirmed last week he would be leaving at the end of the campaign, in order to encourage supporters to back the team, rather than barrack him.

That rant, coupled with his criticism of the 'interim manager' title, led to suggestions the Spaniard could depart prior to the end of the season, while speculation of a permanent replacement for Roberto Di Matteo has been incessant.

Gourlay, who was speaking in Kuala Lumpur while promoting the forthcoming tour, said the status quo remains for now, with Benitez on course to fulfil his brief.

"Achieving one of the Champions League qualification slots is very important to this football club," Gourlay said on Chelsea's official website.

"Our whole philosophy is based on success on the football field and we have been doing everything in our power to ensure one of these slots. We want to be pitting ourselves against the top clubs in Europe next season.

"We said from day one that Rafa was coming in as interim manager to the end of the season.

"It is important that we remain focused on the job in hand which is qualifying for the Champions League and then at the end of the season we will sit down, have a look at the situation and we will determine how we go forward."

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