Premier League

Harry stands up for Odemwingie

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Sun, 03 Feb 2013 08:34:00

Roberto Mancini admits he is already in the process of drawing up summer transfer plans at Manchester City.

It is being suggested that City are plotting an elaborate spending spree, with it likely that there will be a number of comings and goings at the Etihad Stadium.

Mancini is said to have been left frustrated by the club's failure to land their top targets during the last two transfer windows, and he is now looking for considerable backing.

He is confident he will get that, with City having already identified those they will be setting their sights on.

Mancini said: "It's difficult in January to find really good players for us.

"Clubs don't want to sell now, but maybe they will in the summer. We need to work now, so that it is not like last year.

"Last year we didn't work well. It's important we start now. Now's the time we can close in on some good players for the summer.

"I have meetings with Txiki (Begiristain) every week and we talk about the summer.

"It will be easier to get players in the summer if we work hard, well and quickly now.

"You can't start looking at players in May because all the good ones are gone and it becomes impossible."

Balotelli



The biggest news to come out of City during the January window was the sale of Mario Balotelli to AC Milan.

Mancini, who stood by the fiery Italian forward throughout an eventful spell in England, admits he tried to persuade the 22-year-old to stay and believes the Premier League has not seen the last of an enigmatic character.

He said: "Why not? Mario is only 22, so I think so.

"Anyway, he'll probably miss the press and the paparazzi in the next year!

"For now it is easier for him in Italy. It's more important that he's happy and that he can play."

The 31-year-old becomes the first Derry player to be included in a national squad since Niall McGinn against Hungary in 2008.

The club posted on Twitter: "We are delighted to announced that Gerard Doherty has been called into the Northern Ireland squad for the Malta game. Gerard, called up for the first time, joins three ex City players: (Paddy) McCourt, (Kyle) Lafferty, McGinn in Michael O'Neill's squad for the friendly game this week."

Doherty said: "Delighted at being called into the squad for the game. I can't wait to meet up with the players and get stuck into a few days training and see what happens for Wednesday."

Four former England bosses have been asked who they think should be crowned England's finest from the last 12 months, with Steven Gerrard gaining two votes and Liverpool team-mate Glen Johnson one.

But Capello has gone for Cole, who won the award in 2010 and will join an exclusive band of players to gain 100 caps when he turns out against Brazil at Wembley on Wednesday.

Kevin Keegan - Glen Johnson.

Kevin Keegan: Glen he has been a model of consistency and, for me, just edges it over Joe Hart. The fact two of the five are defenders, and the goalkeeper is on there, tells you everything you need to know about last year. If you have two or three forwards on there, you know you've been scoring a lot of goals. Glen is a guy who's done his job, played very professionally, and looks very comfortable at this level.

Sven-Goran Eriksson - Steven Gerrard.

"It was very easy for me to have Steven Gerrard in my team. Working with him was very easy. He is a fantastic football player, he can attack, his passing is outstanding and he can score goals. He is one of the best midfielders in the world. Steven was captain for the first time under me and he has grown from that moment. He is a leader. When he speaks everyone listens.

Steve McClaren - Steven Gerrard.

Last year he was an integral part of England's progression through the group at Euro 2012. He produced the kind of performances in an England shirt that we are well accustomed to over many years with Liverpool. His assists in the first two games showed his influence. As England manager there are some players who you need to spend a lot of time with. Steven is probably one of the lowest maintenance players I have ever come across.

Fabio Capello - Ashley Cole.

Ashley won this same award for his performances in 2010. He is world class. He is always consistent, has fantastic energy, incredible experience and you can rely on him in any situation. His attitude matches his ability and he gives everything for the team.

The shortlist of five players voted for by fans on TheFA.com was Ashley Cole, Steven Gerrard, Joe Hart, Glen Johnson and Daniel Welbeck, with the outcome due to be announced at a ceremony at St George's Park on Sunday.

The 31-year-old striker had been a target of QPR throughout January and had repeatedly voiced his displeasure at not being allowed to leave.

When he drove to London and addressed a media scrum talking about a move to Rangers, it appeared a deal was on the table.

But Albion quickly released a statement saying Odemwingie was there without permission and QPR said they had stopped him from getting into their Loftus Road ground.

His actions were condemned by West Brom and he has been criticised in various parts of the media.

But writing in The Sun Redknapp stuck up for the striker, saying: "There have been countless players guilty of doing things a million times worse than Peter Odemwingie.

"But from the stick he's got over the past 48 hours, you would never believe it.

"And I really, genuinely hope that all those people having a pop at him now give the lad a break because, if he's guilty of anything, it's being too honest."

Redknapp, who suggested a proposed loan deal of a player from QPR to West Brom was the reason for the move breaking down, explained the day's events from his perspective.

"It looked as though the deal was going to happen," he said. "We had got a price off West Brom, the kid himself thought it was all on and obviously so did his advisors. So it wasn't out of order for him to jump in his car and head to London.

"Peter just wanted to make sure he was in the London area so the deal could go through before that deadline.

"It would have looked even worse if it had fallen through because he hadn't got here in time."

He added: "The one thing I think Peter did wrong in all this was to actually drive to the ground. If he'd parked down the road, no one would have been any the wiser and - as disappointing as it would still have been for all sides - no harm done."

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