Premier League

Walcott driven by fear of failure

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Wed, 15 May 2013 15:47:00

Middlesbrough defender Jonathan Woodgate has indicated he is looking to move into management once his playing days are over.

The former Leeds, Newcastle and Real Madrid centre-back has had an injury-ravaged career, but has still represented his country on eight occasions.

As he moves into the latter stages of his playing days, the 33-year-old is considering his options once he does hang up his boots.

"I've done OK in my career, I could have done a lot better," he told the club's official website.

"Football is the only thing I know. Hopefully one day I would like to be a coach or a manager. I want to be a manager and to get inside players' minds.

"Every manager I have played for has left an impression, good and bad. I have learned from every one of them, but you go in as your own person and do it your own way."

Having already done his level two badges after gaining experience with Boro's academy, Woodgate feels he is the right place to continue his development.

"This is the perfect place to do a coaching badge, with Dave Parnaby and his Academy," Woodgate added

"You have to understand the players, what makes them tick. You have to treat each of them differently."

The 35-year-old played a key part in the famous 2005 Champions League final victory over AC Milan but the top domestic prize just evaded his grasp.

The closest he came to it was in 2008/09 when the club's record Premier League points tally of 86 - a season in which they lost just two matches - was still only good enough for a runners-up place to Manchester United.

Since then Carragher believes the standard of the Premier League has dipped - along with Liverpool's chances of competing for the top four, never mind the title.

"I wish I'd have won the league but you've given it everything and done as much as you can in terms of what you put into it," said the centre-back, who will bow out at Anfield in his 737th and final match for the club against QPR.

"We weren't good enough, all of us. It's very simple, there's no fancy reason or excuse, other teams in that particular season were better than us.

"A couple of times we went close but it was Manchester United or Arsenal.

"It's not something I lose sleep over, I've been very lucky to achieve some of the things I have.

"If you look at everyone there's always something someone hasn't done.

"There's always more to achieve, whatever you've done. I'm pleased with how it's gone.

"If someone had offered me to be here until the end of my career - the trophies, the big games we've played and won, the stadiums I've played in - I'd have bitten their hand off for that."

Asked for his highlight, he stressed there was no contest.

"Istanbul, nothing will beat that - the Champions League final," he added.

"It's difficult to ever top that. We've never won the league, which is a disappointment; if we'd have won that maybe I could have compared the two.

"We've won FA Cups, Carling Cups, the UEFA Cup but nothing compared to the Champions League.

"It's the biggest and best trophy that you can win as a footballer in club football. It's what we achieved.

"It's a team game; there are different managers and coaches who have helped you along the way, you do your best - I've done all right."

Carragher will become a television pundit next season despite the widely-held belief he would move straight into coaching.

Liverpool chairman Tom Werner has left the door open for him to return by offering him a job in the future.

"I really hope we see him back at the club one day because with all that experience and knowledge we know he has so much to offer," he told the Liverpool Echo.

"Whether it's as a coach, an analyst or whatever, there will always be a job for him here."

Carragher, however, is determined to pursue his new career path - at least for the time being.

"I've never ruled anything out or in. I've gone down this road for a couple of years, I'll see if I enjoy it or if I'm any good at it and see where it takes me," he said.

"I've been playing football all my life and I'm looking forward to doing different things and seeing where it takes me."

The defender will miss the daily trip to the club's Melwood training ground but he does not expect to be returning on a regular basis as he eases himself into retirement.

"Once you're done, you're done," he admitted.

"I'm sure I'll be welcome to come in for my lunch one day and watch training but I don't think it's something I'll be doing.

"People automatically think of (missing) Anfield, I think of this place (Melwood).

"This is where you come every day, this is where I've been coming since I was nine years of age.

"Anfield is sort of the icing on the cake. It's special but this is where you come every day.

"It's probably coming here and the characters and people you meet every day. You'll have to fill that void in your life."

The Kop sing a song about a team of Carraghers. The defender was asked how that scenario would fare in the Premier League and joked: "There'd be a lot of nil-nils!".

The Gunners moved back above north London rivals Tottenham with a 4-1 win over Wigan at the Emirates Stadium on Tuesday night, which confirmed the FA Cup winners' relegation.

Arsenal now head to Newcastle on Sunday with their destiny back in their own hands, a point ahead of Spurs following a superb nine-match unbeaten run since losing at White Hart Lane on March 3, and could yet finish above Chelsea should the Europa League finalists slip up against Everton.

Walcott, who took his tally to 21 for the season with a crucial second goal last night, has every confidence Arsene Wenger's men can now finish the job at St James' Park and deliver a 16th successive shot at Europe's elite club competition.

"We just have great experience in knowing what to do when the time is right. It is funny. It happens every year," said Walcott.

"We tend to finish very strong. I think it is just because the players want it so much.

"It (Champions League football) is big for the future of the club and the players. We have been in it for the last 15 years and we don't want to be the players who are not part of that.

"We just need to show that in the mid-season and at the start and we could hopefully be even higher than we are and not have this situation we are in.

"But it is very positive, and we will be fighting strong on Sunday."

With Olivier Giroud serving the last of his three-match suspension, German forward Lukas Podolski was deployed in a central striker role, scoring the opening goal on 11 minutes and Arsenal's third just after the hour.

Walcott has made no secret of his desire to the lead the attack as he had done to great effect earlier in the campaign.

"Wherever the manager wants to play me, I will do that for the team. You can't fault Lukas at all - he grabbed two goals up front and I got one as well," said Walcott, whose close range strike put Arsenal back in charge after Shaun Maloney's superb free-kick had briefly given the Latics hope of pulling off another great escape.

"So if things are going well, there is no need to change anything, I believe. I'm the sort of player that if things are going well, don't change them.

"I am making runs in and the manager is playing me up front now and then.

"I can wander at times and it works - there is a lot of rotation in that front line so when it is working, don't change it."

Arsenal could be without midfielder Mikel Arteta because of a calf injury which could mean calling upon Jack Wilshere, the England international set for summer surgery to clear up a niggling ankle problem.

Whichever side he selects, Wenger is confident they will have what it takes to secure what would be a remarkable end to a campaign which had started so badly.

"We have dealt with nerves for a long, long time now. It is natural of course, because it shows that [the players] care, but this team is on an exceptional run and has an exceptional spirit," Wenger added on Arsenal Player.

"We have 70 points, the target is 73, so let's just go with the spirit and desire we have and I think we can do it."

Premier League chiefs are, meanwhile, crossing their fingers that they are not presented with a major headache if Arsenal and Chelsea finish the season level on points, goal difference and goals scored.

That scenario could happen if the Gunners win 2-1 at Newcastle and Chelsea draw 0-0 at home to Everton, which would make the sides joint third.

The London rivals would then face a play-off for the automatic Champions League qualification spot, causing a scheduling nightmare with the Blues set for an end-of-season trip to the United States and England playing two friendly matches.

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