Premier League

Time is tight for Pochettino

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Sat, 19 Jan 2013 10:39:00

Joleon Lescott has shrugged off speculation surrounding his future and claims he is fully committed to Manchester City.

Reports during the winter transfer window have suggested that Lescott could be allowed to leave the Etihad Stadium, with Roberto Mancini currently favouring other centre-half options.

A switch to Aston Villa has been touted, with Lescott having grown up supporting the Birmingham-based club.

The England international is aware of the reports, but insists there is no substance to them.

He has offered no indication that he is looking for a move and maintains that he is prepared to stay at City and fight for a starting spot.

Lescott told the Daily Telegraph: "I came to the club to win trophies. I have done that and I feel there is a chance to win more this season.

"So I am more than happy to stay and fight for a place in the team.

"I went to see the manager about my situation and what we said will stay between us, but we both came out of the conversation happy and content with what we spoke about.

"While I would like to start every game, I am also aware that, with the strength of the squad, that just isn't going to happen, but I am more than happy to play my part whenever needed."

The MLS outfit have been strongly linked with the England international ever since it became apparent that Lampard would not be offered a contract extension at Stamford Bridge.

The Galaxy have a place available in their squad for a 'designated player' following the departure of David Beckham.

Lampard has been touted as an ideal candidate to fill the void, and Arena concedes that the 34-year-old does appeal.

He has been reluctant to speculate on the likelihood of an agreement being put in place, but has fanned the transfer flames with his latest comments.

Arena said: "I wouldn't be surprised if over the next week or so we're going to have some sort of decision with a designated player.

"We wouldn't rule a move for Lampard out. It's always a possibility."

Lukaku will be looking to continue his impressive form during Saturday evening's Barclays Premier League derby with Aston Villa at the Hawthorns.

The 19-year-old has already indicated he would like to remain at Albion for a second season and has impressed Foster with his desire and hunger to learn.

Foster said: "This last month, it's like the penny's dropped with Rom and he has been superb.

"It was probably the inexperience, about getting used to playing Premier League football week in and week out, knowing what you are going to be coming up against, knowing your role as a striker.

"He's found that. He uses his strength to hold players off and he's starting to get into the box to get on the end of things. He's got everything.

"He will be ready for Chelsea when he goes back, without doubt, whether that is next season or whenever.

"Chelsea paid so much money for him, and they know what they've got now, and I'm sure they're very happy with him.

"But Rom just looks settled and enjoying his football so I don't see any reason why he wouldn't want to come back here."

Foster is relieved Chelsea opted not to recall Lukaku during the current transfer window.

He said: "I started hearing a few whispers that there was a possibility of it happening especially with the way Chelsea were going and with Torres misfiring.

"It screamed out for him to go back. I think it would have been a huge loss for us. We would have been gutted to lose him.

"He is not only a good asset on the pitch. He is such a good lad to have around the place. He's very level-headed, has no ego to him and is always the last one off the training pitch."

Despite being strongly linked with a move to the Barclays Premier League, specifically Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United, Guardiola has instead decided he will join the German giants when he ends his sabbatical at the end of the season.

Ferguson is believed to have spoken to Guardiola on a couple of occasions in New York recently, with his own job said to be one of the issues under discussion.

However, within 24 hours of the release of an interview with the Football Association underlining his wish to work in England, news that the former Barcelona coach had signed a three-year contract with Bayern was confirmed.

"I am surprised because I didn't see it coming," said Ferguson.

"All the time the speculation was about clubs in England."

Yet the United boss can also see the sense in Guardiola's decision.

For someone used to stability at the Nou Camp, life in Munich is a much neater fit than the constant upheaval at Chelsea in particular.

"But if you assess it as a coach, Bayern Munich is hard to turn down because they are one of the best run clubs in Europe," Ferguson added.

"They have a fantastic city, a fantastic stadium, good players and good history.

"The place is loaded with players who made the club's history.

"You have Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, Uli Hoeness, Gerd Muller and, I think, Sepp Maier. And I'm not sure what role Franz Beckenbauer has now either.

"They have always been that way.

"With all these aspects, it is very easy to choose Bayern Munich."

The former Argentina international will take his first training session on Saturday after being recruited in controversial circumstances.

Nigel Adkins was sacked by the Saints on Friday, despite leading Southampton from League One to 15th in the Barclays Premier League with back-to-back promotions.

Southampton's decision promoted a furious reaction from supporters and former captain Matt Le Tissier said the club had become a "laughing stock".

Adkins retained his dignity and he left a message of encouragement to the squad which read: "Keep smiling. Have faith and belief that you are doing the right thing. Keep looking to improve."

Adkins' last game in charge was a 2-2 draw with European champions Chelsea which extended Southampton's unbeaten run in the Premier League to five matches.

Pochettino's immediate task is to maintain that momentum, a task which could be harder given he hardly speaks any English, but he is excited by the challenge.

"I'm an aggressive manager, in the positive sense, and I like to play dynamic, pressure football with an attacking nature that the fans can be proud of watching their team," he said.

"The biggest challenge is to win all the games that are ahead of us.

"That is the mentality that we need to have going into the games as a team.

"In the background there is a project and we'll keep on growing together as a club with one of the best academies in the country."

Adkins was such a favourite at St Mary's that Pochettino is well aware he will have to win over the angry supporters.

"I hope I can convince them with hard work, honesty and that they enjoy the way the club plays and they feel honoured and proud how the team is playing," he said.

Pochettino could have defender Vegard Forren available on Monday after the Norwegian international joined the club from Molde.

"When I was told of the interest from Southampton, straight away I wanted to come and talk to the chairman," said Forren, the Norwegian player of the year.

"There is a good, young squad here and the way they play fits me well, so I hope I can join the team and get some good results."

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