Scottish Premier League

Anderson urges fans' patience

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Fri, 26 Apr 2013 17:04:00

Tito Vilanova has denied Barcelona's heavy defeat at the hands of Bayern Munich this week signifies 'an end of an era'.

The Catalans suffered a 4-0 UEFA Champions League first-leg semi-final defeat in the Allianz Arena leaving Vilanova's side with a mountain to climb at Camp Nou on Wednesday if they are to progress to the Wembley final.

While the defeat has left some to speculate to 'an end of an era', Vilanova does not agree.

"They talk about that all the time, but at the highest level of competition, like in the league or the Champions League, to win is always very difficult," he said.

"Barca have continued to win for the last three seasons, but in the past we have not won the league nor the Champions League.

"If we win the title this year then we will be back to winning trophies and we have done that for four of the last five seasons. I do not think that will be done again.

"We have reached the semi-finals of the Champions League for the last six years. I certainly do not think that this is the end of an era."

Meanwhile Vilanova, who recently returned to the dugout after cancer treatment, insists that he is fit and ready to stay on as head coach after the club announced he would continue at the helm next season.

"I have a real desire and drive to carry on next season," he said.

"Now I am great after the process that I have been through. I did not come back earlier because of the side effects, but I feel better every day. I really want to train again and to be in the press room.

"On the subject of me staying on I feel strong and am looking forward to next season. At no time have I thought about leaving. When I have time off I get bored. This is my life and I do not feel under any pressure."

UEFA insist that Premier League, FA Cup and Capital One Cup matches should not take place on the same nights as Champions League and Europa League games but fixture congestion has led to that rule being broken on a number of occasions in recent seasons.

As a result, the Football Association has agreed to pay 50,000 euros (?42,000) and that a further 1.3m euros (?1.1m) of solidarity payments that has been withheld by UEFA be distributed to other European countries.

UEFA said in a statement: "The control and disciplinary board also issued a decision concerning the proceedings initiated against the English Football Association (FA) regarding calendar clashes relating to the 2010/11 and 2011/12 seasons.

"Accepting a resolution of the case between the parties, the FA will pay 50,000 euros and the 10 oer cent of the UEFA Champions League distribution payment for 2010/11, which was withheld, will be added at the end of the current campaign to the pot for distribution to the respective clubs in the relevant remaining UEFA member associations.

"In addition, UEFA will now establish a working group, which will involve representatives of the FA, in order to avoid calendar clashes in future."

Monkey chants appeared to be aimed at several Tottenham players during the last-16 tie at the San Siro on March 14, notably goalscorer Adebayor, while a fan was seen with an inflatable banana.

Earlier in the season Lazio were also fined for racist chanting in their Group J tie at White Hart Lane in September and were reprimanded again for racist behaviour in November's return game.

Earlier in the season Lazio were also fined for racist chanting in their Group J tie at White Hart Lane in September and were reprimanded again for racist behaviour in November's return game.

An FA Regulatory Commission handed the Uruguay international a lengthy suspension for the incident, missed by referee Kevin Friend but subsequently reviewed using television evidence, in last weekend's 2-2 draw at Anfield.

Suarez decided not to appeal against the sanction, seven matches more than the statutory ban for violent conduct, having read the reasons of the panel which have now been made public.

"We believe it is our duty to discourage any players at any level from acting in such a deplorable manner or attempting to copy what they had seen on the television," said the report. "The incident of biting an opponent is alien to football and must remain so."

The panel also stated that Suarez had failed to "fully appreciate the gravity and seriousness of this truly exceptional incident.

"It is completely unacceptable and such truly disgraceful behaviour could also lead to possible health issues.

"This truly shocking incident had been seen by millions of viewers both domestic and overseas, as well as generating a great deal of interest and debate amongst countless numbers of people.

"Whilst we accepted that Mr Suarez's reputation had been impacted, these unsavoury pictures would have given a bad image of English football domestically and across the world alike.

"All players in the higher level of the game are seen as role models, have the duty to act professionally and responsibly, and set the highest example of good conduct to the rest of the game - especially to young players.

"In this regard and on this occasion, Mr Suarez's conduct had fallen far below the standards expected of him.

"We took into consideration Mr Suarez's apology, his personal statement, supporting letter from Mr Brendan Rodgers and the letter from Ms Zoe Ward (Liverpool's secretary).

"But when these were read in conjunction with Mr Suarez's denial of the standard punishment that would otherwise apply for violent conduct is clearly insufficient, it seemed to us that Mr Suarez has not fully appreciated the gravity and seriousness of this truly exceptional incident."

Suarez had previous history of biting an opponent, PSV midfielder Otman Bakkal, for which he served a seven-match ban immediately before he left Ajax to join Liverpool in January 2011.

In a separate matter, he was also banned for eight matches last season after being found guilty of racially abusing Manchester United's Patrice Evra.

However, the commission paid no heed to either of those in deliberating his case.

"We did not take into consideration any previous disciplinary records of Mr Suarez and considered the offence in isolation," said the report.

The panel, comprised of chairman Thura KT Win, JP, Roger Pawley and Brian Talbot, said of Suarez's bite "it would be preposterous to conclude that it was not an intentional act".

But they disagreed with the Football Association's suggestion the striker had done so to provoke a reaction from Ivanovic in an attempt to get the defender sent off.

"We found that biting an opponent in itself was extremely shocking, unexpected and truly exceptional," said the report.

"The participants in a game of football do not expect to be bitten by another participant when they come to play football.

"In this incident, Mr Ivanovic would not, and should not, have been expected to be subject to such a shocking and reprehensible action.

"The incidents of biting an opponent in football are very rare at the moment and we need to ensure that it will remain so."

In a statement earlier Suarez said he did not appeal against his ban because he realised his behaviour was unacceptable.

"I am truly very sorry about the incident with Branislav Ivanovic. I hope that all the people who I have offended at Anfield last Sunday will grant me forgiveness," he said. "I know that all the things that are happening to me in England will help me improve my conduct on the field.

"Right now I just want to focus on becoming a better footballer on and off the field.

"I would like to explain to everybody that I decided to accept the ban because whilst 10 games is clearly greater than those bans given in past cases where players have actually been seriously hurt, I acknowledge that my actions were not acceptable on the football pitch so I do not want to give the wrong impression to people by making an appeal.

"I really want to learn from what has happened in the last two and a half years, many things have been said and written about me, I just tried to do my best on the field. I hope to come back early to play."

Liverpool managing director Ian Ayre continued his support of the striker, who he revealed made the decision himself not to appeal.

"We are all disappointed at the severity of the punishment and in particular the differing standards that have been applied across various previous incidents.

"Luis is an important member of our team and nothing has changed in that regard.

"We are committed to helping him improve his conduct and he will be given our full support."

Manager Brendan Rodgers, who was highly critical of the disciplinary process and the length of the ban on Thursday, added: "We can't hide our disappointment at the outcome of this situation, but we have to move on and support Luis in his decision.

"He will be missed for the remainder of this season and the early part of next, but we will have the opportunity to welcome a better person and player when he returns."

The sides have produced three draws in their previous meetings this season and only four points separate them with Caley Thistle occupying the crucial third spot in the SPL ahead of their trip to Perth.

"It's set for a titanic battle. I'm sure it will be uncompromising and tough, but both teams are well capable of playing some good football," said Butcher.

"Both teams have players who can be match-winners.

"Meaty, I think I would call it. It could be potentially very meaty. Not for the faint-hearted.

"It's two teams scrapping it out, going toe to toe. It's last-man standing in a way.

"It's a great game to look forward to. St Johnstone last year got Europe and want a repeat of that. We're in uncharted territory.

"If we play the way we like to play and get stuck in as well and match St Johnstone's physical attributes, then we have players who can win games as well."

One of those players is Andrew Shinnie, who is looking to cap a memorable week with three points.

The 23-year-old playmaker, who has netted 15 goals this season, confirmed a summer move to Birmingham on Monday before being named in the four-man shortlist for the PFA Scotland player of the year award.

His brother, Inverness left-back Graeme Shinnie, said: "I'm delighted for him. It's good for the club that players from Caley Thistle are up for this nomination. Hopefully he can go on and win it, it would be brilliant for him.

"People know he's leaving now so for him to go out as player of the year would be fantastic."

The Shinnie brothers share a flat and when asked if he would miss his older sibling, Graeme said: "Not round the house because he's lazy. But as a player we'll miss him massively.

"He's been a vital part of the team this season and for a lot of players round about him. Billy (McKay) scoring over 20 goals, I'm sure Andrew has had a big part in that.

"We'll miss him but next year it gives other boys the chance to go out and do what they have been doing this season already."

Shinnie junior joked this week that he had already replaced his brother with a less messy companion in Oscar, his pet boxer dog.

The 21-year-old said: "I think the missus will be a bit disappointed that I haven't mentioned her. So it will be me, her and the dog."

The Dons were hampered by a familiar lack of creativity as supporters endured their seventh goalless draw of the season when McInnes took charge of them for the first time on Monday at Easter Road.

And, ahead of their first home match in charge against Kilmarnock, Anderson believes it could be the start of next season before McInnes and assistant Tony Docherty can truly make their mark after replacing Craig Brown and Archie Knox.

"From inside the club there have been noticeable changes," the centre-back said.

"They have got their own ideas for training from what we have seen.

"For the supporters to see any difference, I think it might take a little bit longer for the manager to get his ideas across and for them to stick with the players.

"We will be using between now and the end of the season (to do that) and we'll start to see a difference perhaps in the way the team plays."

Several players are trying to earn new contracts, but Anderson stressed that no-one should feel safe.

"If we don't keep our eye on it, I'm sure next season might not be here for some players," the 34-year-old said.

"Everyone is really in the same boat, whether they're in contract or not. They are still trying to prove to the manager they deserve to be in the team next season.

"Even if you have a contract, if you don't impress the manager there will be plenty of players that will come in and take your place in the team.

"It happens every season, whether or not it was the current manager or the old manager."

One player who need not worry about his place in the team is Niall McGinn, who was this week named on the PFA Scotland player of the year shortlist.

The former Celtic player has scored 18 of Aberdeen's 38 goals in the SPL and Anderson admits they could not have done without him.

"If you take Niall's goals out of our team this season, we would have really struggled," Anderson said.

"You can see how many goals he has scored. He has been really important for us this season, everyone can see that.

"That's obviously the reason he's been nominated for the award.

"He has got as good a chance as anybody. Obviously I've got the benefit of seeing him week in, week out, as opposed to the other players where you only see the highlights.

"I'm biased, but I think he deserves to win it."

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