Premier League

Moyes hopes to continue tradition

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Thu, 25 Jul 2013 15:42:00

Doncaster Rovers have signed former Manchester United defender Luke McCullough on a two-year deal.

McCullough, who has represented Northern Ireland at U17 and U19 level, had been on trial with Paul Dickov's side at the Keepmoat Stadium since the start of the pre-season.

He signed for United's Academy aged of 16 before going on to captain the youth side throughout the 2011/12 campaign.

The 19-year-old told Rovers' official website: "I heard Doncaster were interested in taking a look at me so I came across and I've not looked back since - I've really enjoyed every minute that I have been here.

"Pre-season has been tough but as the manager has said it will give us a good base to build upon going into the season.

"The manager seems to have a good plan and wants the boys to keep improving.

"The rest of the lads have been very friendly and have made me feel very welcome - there's a good team spirit here."

Aulas confirmed on Wednesday to French television channel Canal+ that Premier League side Newcastle are one of the clubs interested in the forward, who scored 16 goals in 37 games last season and has just one year to run on his current contract.

However, the Magpies look to have competition in their bid to sign the striker, with Aulas posting a message on Twitter stating three clubs have shown interest in the 27-year-old France international.

Replying to a question if there had been any interest for Gomis, Aulas said: "Yes at least 3".

It comes after Aulas told Canal+ that "there is an interest of Newcastle for Gomis. We wait from them to come to us with an offer".

Newcastle boss Alan Pardew was reported as saying earlier in the week that he is keen on the striker, although whether the decision of Magpies' frontman Papiss Cisse to wear the club's strip branded with a pay-day loan sponsor today will cool the interest is unknown.

The 25-year-old Irishman had spells with both Coventry and Hibernian before arriving at Sixfields and boss Aidy Boothroyd has been impressed with his performances so far.

"Gary is a player with a good pedigree and I am pleased to have signed him," said the Cobblers manager.

"He will give us bite and aggression in the midfield and he is a good blend with the midfielders we already have here.

"He has settled in well during pre-season both on and off the field and he is another good addition to the squad."

Europa League champions Chelsea were scheduled to take on Villa on Saturday, August 31, but now the match will be played 10 days earlier on August 21 as the Blues tackle Bayern Munich in Prague on Friday, August 30.

That contest pits former Real Madrid boss Jose Mourinho against ex-Barcelona head coach Pep Guardiola, who is now at Bayern and was rumoured to be Roman Abramovich's favourite for the Chelsea job before his move to Munich was confirmed.

It means Chelsea, who open the season on August 18 against Hull, will play two home games in four days before travelling to Premier League champions Manchester United on August 26.

The Premier League wrote on Twitter: "Chelsea v Aston Villa will now take place on Wednesday August 21 at 1945 BST. Chelsea v Aston Villa has been moved from August 31 because of the Blues' participation in the UEFA Super Cup on August 30."

Europe's ruling body confirmed that the Scottish Champions have to answer a charge which allegedly breaches articles 16.2 of UEFA's disciplinary regulations.

The Hoops won 2-0 against the Irish part-timers to go through to the third qualifier against Swedish side Elfsborg on a 5-0 aggregate with the first leg at Celtic Park next Wednesday night.

Celtic were been fined 25,000 euros (approx £21,000) for fans' misbehaviour in the Europa League game against Udinese in Italy in December, 2011.

After the 1-1 draw at the Stadio Friuli, the Parkhead club were charged with, "the displaying of a banner of an offensive nature and the setting off of fireworks by supporters".

In a statement, Celtic admitted the fireworks were used in a section of the stadium housing the Green Brigade supporters group, causing the referee to ask the club's safety officers to intervene.

The club said: "Three fireworks were exploded within Section 111, causing the Match Referee to require a stadium announcement to be made instructing such behaviour to stop.

"As a result of this unprecedented step by a match official, Celtic FC will now be the subject of a disciplinary action for contravention of the UEFA Safety and Security Regulations."

Article 16.2 decrees that "all associations and clubs are liable for....inappropriate behaviour on the part of their supporters and may be subject to disciplinary measures and directives even if they can prove the absence of any negligence in relation to the organisation of the match" relating to, among other things, the "lighting of fireworks or any other objects".

The Senegal striker had refused to wear the shirt bearing the name of the online loan company, claiming their business conflicted with his Muslim beliefs, as earning interest is forbidden by Islamic Law.

Photographs published in a national newspaper earlier this week showing the frontman at Aspers Casino did little to strengthen his case with gambling also prohibited by his religion.

But Newcastle are now believed to have reached an agreement with the 28-year old to settle the dispute.

The news will come as a major boost to manager Alan Pardew, who was already looking to recruit two strikers this summer before the Cisse problem emerged.

It coincided with speculation that Russian clubs Anzhi Makhachkala and Rubin Kazan were ready to make lucrative offers in a bid to lure Cisse to eastern Europe.

Cisse arrived at St James' Park in a £9million switch from German side Freiburg in January last year and was an instant hit as he scored 13 goals in his first 14 appearances.

However, he was only able to manage the same number for the entire campaign as the Magpies, who lost his strike-partner Demba Ba to Chelsea during the winter transfer window.

The club have been linked for much of the summer with Aston Villa's out-of-favour England striker Darren Bent, and more recently with Lyon's Bafetimbi Gomis.

Cisse is expected to rejoin the squad for full training having missed the tour of Portugal due to the issue.

In the shadow of the impressive 16th century Osaka castle on Thursday, five United players were greeted by 10 samurai warriors in traditional dress.

They looked a fearsome enough sight, although there was never any likelihood of weapons being drawn.

Instead, Moyes wants his players to take up the battle with Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal when his debut campaign as United boss is launched next month.

"Manchester United is a great football club that has been successful most years," said the Scot.

"The biggest strategy we have is to continue that.

"We want to be winners and with the group of players I have, I am sure that will happen."

The kit itself is similar to the away shirt of two years ago, except now the design is blue and black checks, rather than hoops.

Given their first opponents away from Old Trafford, Swansea, wear white, it is possible the shirt will get its first competitive airing at Liverpool on September 1, by which time Moyes will hope to have completed some key signings.

His only words on the Cesc Fabregas issue that has followed him throughout United's pre-season tour were to confirm the situation is "ongoing", with the Red Devils pondering a third bid for the former Arsenal skipper.

Moyes was more comfortable dealing with the latest fitness update, particularly as it was positive.

Given the Scot has been condemned for the fitness work he has done with Robin van Persie after the Dutchman suffered a thigh injury during Tuesday's defeat by Yokohama F Marinos, it must have been particularly pleasing to confirm the striker should be involved against Cerezo Osaka on Friday.

"We took Robin off as a precaution," said Moyes.

"I would expect him to play tomorrow."

The same assessment was made of Danny Welbeck, who trained in humid conditions this evening.

Michael Carrick and Jonny Evans were not involved with the main group.

Evans had an ice-pack applied to his ankle at one point, whilst Carrick was restricted to running only, although he appeared to be going at a fair pace.

"Michael had a tight groin," said Moyes.

"He is feeling better now. He probably won't figure tomorrow but he should be OK to resume training at the weekend."

There was good news on the home front too, with three of the players who were not brought to the Far East and Australia, and another who was, but departed less than 24 hours after arrival, all stepping up their fitness work.

"There was a practice match at the training ground the other day in which Nemanja Vidic, Antonio Valencia and Nani all got some playing time," he said.

"Wayne Rooney is running and is probably at the level we would have thought he would be.

"He has picked up his work again this week."

With two defeats from three games it has not exactly been the best of tours results-wise for Moyes as yet.

However, the form of Jesse Lingard, currently top scorer with three, and Adnan Januzaj has caught the eye.

And rather than send them out on loan, which had been established policy under Sir Alex Ferguson, Moyes is considering whether to keep them at Old Trafford to allow them to continue their development.

"Both have done well," said Moyes.

"They have adapted well and made contributions to the team.

"It's a tradition at United to try and get young players into the team and both have come through the system.

"Hopefully we can get both some playing time next season but both need to keep their levels up and keep making an impact in training and games."

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