Premier League

Moyes predicts Mirallas impact

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Fri, 05 Apr 2013 17:09:00

Valencia have confirmed that Manuel Llorente has resigned as president of the La Liga club.

Llorente, who will continue as a director, announced the decision at a board meeting today, reportedly in protest at boardroom changes at the club.

The club also confirmed Jose Antonio Garcia Moreno had resigned as vice-president.

"Today I informed the board of my resignation from the presidency of Valencia. I go with the conscience of a job well done," Llorente, who became president in June 2009, was quoted as telling a press conference.

Valencia lie sixth in the Primera Division table.

The 72-year-old takes charge of his final game on Saturday before making way for Derek McInnes, and the SPL clash with Dundee United at Tannadice is a must-win match for both teams.

Even then the winners need Kilmarnock to drop points at home to bottom club Dundee to ensure a top-six finish.

Brown said: "Normally it would be a very good fixture, the local derby, but it's now even more important because there could be something at stake.

"If Kenny Shiels' team does its job with a home victory it won't matter really, but it will matter for us from a point of view of pride and eventual league position so it's a good end to the season.

"It's not as good as we would have hoped but it's acceptable.

"We have to say Kilmarnock are favourites, then Dundee United with home advantage, then ourselves and Hibernian.

"It's a cup final. We've got to try and get a victory. We have to go and challenge them to defend because we're very good when we attack and United will know that."

When asked about the prospect of going out on a high with the help of former club Dundee, Brown said: "It would perhaps be a fairytale, but I think it's not out of the bounds of possibility.

"I thought at one point with the fixtures in front of me, that it was a possibility Kilmarnock could end up with two draws.

"If you were a betting man you would bet on Kilmarnock, but what we have to do is make sure that Aberdeen are the team that will be there if they slip up."

Brown took some time to look back on his reign, drawing satisfaction from stabilising the club after taking over in December 2010 when they were struggling near the foot of the table.

And he added that his major disappointments were losing to Hibernian in the William Hill Scottish Cup in the last two seasons.

"My major regret is that in the Scottish Cup semi-final we were beaten and I feel quite disappointed for the Aberdeen fans but also a bit angry that the inefficiency of an assistant ref cost a winning goal," he said.

"I didn't say that at the time but I thought it was quite apparent that (Garry) O'Connor was offside when he passed the ball to (Leigh) Griffiths.

"I'm not saying we would have won that game but we looked to be in the ascendancy and that was a big regret that that goal beat us.

"The goal that beat us at Easter Road this year was a good one but we missed a penalty and we should have had another one.

"So these are regrets, major ones, but you can't live in the past and be moping about it, you've got take it on the chin.

"Because I've had many pleasurable times to more than compensate for these disappointing times."

Brown insisted he had not had the time to reflect too much on the end of his managerial career.

"This is a 24-7 job," the former Scotland boss said. "It's next week I will feel the difference.

"If you ask me a week today, I would think there will be a void in my existence then, although I might be nipping off to the Masters next week.

"At the moment I don't feel anything in terms of sadness or emotion but there might be next week.

"I've not felt too much emotion but I've felt a contentment because the good will is quite exceptional.

"They (fans) have given us gifts and cards and lovely emails and messages and the only payback we can give them is if the team performs well at Tannadice and gets the required result."

The former Ibrox midfielder, 28, is in his second spell at the Easter Road club which brought him through its ranks but does not fear falling victim to the usual Old Firm abuse.

Hibs need to win and hope results involving Aberdeen and Dundee United, who play each other, and Kilmarnock, who play bottom side Dundee, go their way in order to clinch a top-six spot in the SPL

Celtic, though, will retain the championship with a win as long as Motherwell lose at home to St Mirren and that scenario may well preoccupy the Hoops fans.

"I think the Celtic fans will be more bothered about other things rather than me," the former Middlesbrough player said.

"I don't think they will give me a second thought.

"I will just go there, hopefully enjoy the game and hopefully put on a good show.

"Old Firm games are brilliant, probably the best game you can ever play in.

"I was fortunate enough to have a good record against Celtic when I was at Rangers although I had a couple of disappointing results when I was at Hibs the first time.

"It is a difficult place to go for any team - you seen the top European sides struggle in the Champions League.

"So we are under no illusion, it is going to be a difficult game.

"The boys need to enjoy it first and foremost, and not get caught up in the atmosphere.

"But we need to go there believing. What's the point of going there thinking you can't get anything out of it?

"That's not the way I play football. I will be telling the boys that we fancy our chances and try to get them up for it.

"Neil Lennon will be the same, he will have them up for it. But it is a chance for us to go there and spoil the party."

Thomson admits he is enjoying his football again after a traumatic two-and-a-half years at Boro, which was ruined by injury and ended with him becoming a target for the boo boys.

After leaving by the Championship club in January, he agreed to forego wages to re-join Hibs until the end of the season and he is glad to be back at a club where he feels appreciated six years after leaving to join Rangers.

"It has been great," he said. "It is always nice to be somewhere where you are appreciated.

"I was appreciated here, then appreciated at Rangers and then for some reason I never got going at Middlesbrough and I had a bit of bad luck.

"I came back here and the reception I have had from the fans has been brilliant."

Bale was carried off on a stretcher during the dying seconds of Spurs' 2-2 draw against Basle on Thursday night, prompting fears the 22-goal striker could be out for a lengthy period.

The Welshman, Aaron Lennon and William Gallas - who also had to come off during last night's Europa League quarter-final first leg - all underwent scans today and the news was positive for the London club.

A Spurs statement read: "The club can confirm that Gareth Bale (sprained ankle ligaments), William Gallas (calf strain) and Aaron Lennon (soft tissue contusion below the knee) all underwent scans today (Friday) after being forced off with injuries during our Europa League quarter-final first leg draw with Basel last night.

"The results of these scans have indicated that all three players are expected to return to training within two weeks.

"Bale, Gallas and Lennon have all commenced their treatment today (Friday) and are responding positively."

Many thought Andre Villas-Boas was just being optimistic when he claimed last night that Bale would be out for a short time of around three weeks.

The way that David Degen trod on the 23-year-old's standing ankle, twisting it almost at a right angle to his right leg, led to a shriek from the player and Spurs fans inside White Hart Lane started to fear the worst.

Yet the results of Friday's scan are even better than expected with the Welshman possibly missing two matches - next Thursday's second leg against Basle, which follows Sunday's visit of Everton in the Barclays Premier League.

He is scheduled to return to training before Tottenham's crunch match against Barclays Premier League champions Manchester City on April 21.

There are many statistics that can be used to highlight just how important Bale has been to Tottenham's success this season, the main one being that he has already found the net 22 times.

Many of those goals have been crucial ones that have decided the outcome of matches that seemed lost before he took them by the scruff of the neck.

Yet Lennon's contribution on the right flank has been almost as important, with the England winger finding the best form of his career under Villas-Boas, whose team sit third in the league with seven games of the season left.

Villas-Boas spoke confidently about Bale's situation after last night's game.

He said: "Gareth will definitely play again this season.

"We will know better (on Friday) but I'm pretty confident.

"From the medical department's first analysis, everything is positive.

"It shouldn't be as bad as it looks because Gareth has torn that ligament before and there's nothing to tear now."

Spurs fans will no doubt be hoping Gallas is not rushed back in to action too soon.

The 35-year-old endured a torrid night against the Swiss and looked well off the pace in the previous round against Inter Milan.

The Dark Blues, who are 14 points adrift at the foot of the SPL, could go back down to the First Division if they lose and results elsewhere do not go in their favour.

Brown, though, does not want any negative thoughts to enter his players' heads against Kenny Shiels' men - regardless of last week's 3-0 home defeat by Motherwell.

Brown said: "We have to think positive.

"There is nothing else for it in our position.

"There is no point thinking of certain things which might happen because that won't help.

"We all know it's a big ask but that won't stop us from trying.

"We're looking forward to the game and want to get the three points.

"Our players have worked hard all week and want to bounce back from the disappointment of losing at home to Motherwell last weekend."

Brown was disappointed with his central defence in the Well defeat and does not want to see them repeat their costly mistakes.

He said: "It was two lapses in concentration from the two central defenders for their first two goals.

"They were killers from our point of view.

"You would expect your centre-half to be closer to their man.

"We let ourselves down defensively from a lack of basic centre-half dominance."I've spoken to them and told them what's required."

Brown has urged his players to make amends to the loyal fans who sat through last Saturday's defeat.

He said: "People pay good money to watch them every week.

"So the players have a duty from now to the end of the season to give every ounce of effort.

"Now if it comes down to quality which beats us then fair dues and we'll hold our hands up.

"But it won't be through lack of effort."

Dundee defender Gary Irvine is still suspended as he serves the second game of his two-match ban.

Long-term injury absentees Stephen O'Donnell (knee) and Jamie McCluskey (Achilles) are still out while goalkeeper Rab Douglas is carrying a thigh injury.

Adkins inspired Saints to back-to-back promotions but was axed from his role on January 18 by chairman Nicola Cortese and was immediately replaced by former Espanyol boss Mauricio Pochettino.

At that time, Southampton were three points clear of the relegation zone, while under Pochettino they have only moved one further point clear of the bottom three to sit in 12th place.

However, despite this, Davis believes a fresh approach was needed and that has been provided by Pochettino.

He told BBC Radio Solent: "The manner in which he has come in and lifted the club to a new level shows it was a decision that's been proved right.

"We are in a state of mind where we can feel we can win every game at the moment and we will go there (to Reading tomorrow) to do that.

"There's certainly been a raising in player performance. The lads have reacted positively to it (his arrival).

"Mauricio and his staff have come in and communicated very well and everything they are trying to pull off the lads are soaking up and fortunately we are putting that into our performances."

The trip to Reading means Southampton come up against Adkins, who was appointed Royals manager on March 26 and will now be looking to engineer their top flight survival.

Reading are rock bottom of the Barclays Premier League standings, seven points adrift of safety with seven games remaining.

Davis is not surprised to see his former boss take up another post so quickly.

"I'm sure he wanted to get back into football as soon as he could, most managers that move on from a club want to stay in the game," he said.

"From that side of it, it doesn't surprise me.

"We achieved a lot while he was at the club in a short space of time and the club is continuing to grow without him now."

A ?6million arrival from Olympiakos last summer, the Belgium international has shone at times.

His brilliant match-winner against Stoke last weekend was an obvious example of Mirallas' class, taking him up to six goals for the season.

However, the 25-year-old has also been limited to 25 games for the Toffeemen after being struck down by hamstring and groin complaints.

It is a groin injury sustained against Stoke that makes Mirallas a doubt for Sunday's trip to fellow Champions League contenders Tottenham.

With Marouane Fellaini and Steven Pienaar already ruled out through suspension, Moyes is crossing his fingers another key figure in his squad does make it.

Whether that comes to pass or not, the Everton chief is convinced Mirallas will be a better player for this season's experiences.

"Kevin is coming to terms with a groin strain but hopefully he will have a good chance," said Moyes.

"But generally he is finding the whole Premier League a strain. Quite regularly he is struggling to complete games.

"Hopefully he will be better for it next year and he will understand the level of fitness that is going to be required because he has the ability to win us games."

Crowned manager of the month for March after three straight wins at Goodison Park, Moyes' team must maintain their winning form if they are to retain any chance of sneaking into a Champions League berth.

With trips to Arsenal and Chelsea still to come, Moyes knows it is not going to be easy.

However, a win at White Hart Lane would reduce the gap on their hosts to just three points, with their task made significantly easier by the almost certain absence of Gareth Bale, who was carried off with an ankle injury towards the end of last night's Europa League encounter with FC Basel.

"We are moving to Plan B," said the Scot.

"It is unfortunate. We don't want good players to be out because they are what makes the Premier League so special.

"But when you are the opposing manager against arguably the best player in the league at this moment in time, it is not a bad thing to have him out."

Bale's injury is a reminder of the increased demands European football can bring.

It is where Moyes wants to manage though. And a plan is already formulating in his mind about how to deal with it.

"You hear me keep talking about how much I want to be back in Europe all the time," he said.

"Europe does take its toll in league fixtures and if we made it, we would have to find a way of dramatically getting more players into our squad.

"But it can galvanise your club as well.

"Tottenham have had some unbelievable results in Europe and some great nights. Think about their games against Inter Milan.

"Unfortunately Tottenham have lost a couple of players to injury. But that can happen to anyone."

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