Scottish Premier League

Lasley sets sights on second

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Fri, 05 Apr 2013 17:07:00

Paris St Germain manager Carlo Ancelotti has angrily denied suggestions he was forced by the club's owners to start David Beckham in their Champions League clash with Barcelona.

Beckham, who joined PSG in January on a deal until the end of the season, made just his second start in Tuesday's quarter-final first leg at the Parc des Princes.

The 37-year-old was singled out for criticism in the French press for his performance in the game, which ended 2-2 thanks to Blaise Matuidi's late goal for the home side.

"It is wrong to say that (the club's owners from) Qatar said 'Beckham to play'," said Ancelotti.

"Everyone must understand that club presidents are very intelligent and cannot force a coach to pick a player. Because in this case, the coach can say to the president: 'Okay, you're doing the coaching and I go home'.

"Never in my career has a president forced me to bring a player, whether Berlusconi (AC Milan president) Abramovich (Chelsea chairman) or Nasser (Al-Khelaifi, president of PSG).

"It annoys me that anyone would think that. I am not a supporter or friend of Beckham, I try to be objective.

"Beckham deserved to play even if he is 37-years-old.

"Criticism of him is abnormal and unjust, he had a very good game, he followed exactly the strategy I asked, giving the ball quickly.

"If Paris was good in the first 30 minutes against Barca it's because Beckham was good, because he sought to play fast."

With one game to go before the split, Stuart McCall's side are three points ahead of Inverness, who host St Johnstone on Friday night.

However, after initially battling to make sure Well finish in the top half of the table, Lasley is determined the Lanarkshire club remain 'best of the rest' behind inevitable champions Celtic ahead of their clash with St Mirren.

"Now that we have secured top six we have to focus on trying to get second," he said.

"Second-placed for us is a big achievement in terms of other clubs who have bigger budgets.

"It really is our focus, that is what we are aiming for now, no doubt, and if we weren't to get it, it would be a disappointment.

"We certainly don't have any given right to get it but we are certainly determined to give it our best shot.

"After the split all the teams have to play each other and it's going to be tight, as it has been all season, but that's the aim and if you don't achieve your aims then it is always a disappointment."

For his part, McCall is coveting a European place as reward for his side's efforts this season.

"If someone would have given us sixth before the season started I would have taken it," he said.

"I would be a liar to say we are not focused on getting second but I would be disappointed if we did not finish in the top three and get a European spot.

"It is all to play for. We are second at the moment but we still have a long job ahead of us to make sure we can cement that. There are some very difficult games coming up.

"Look at St Mirren tomorrow. Player for player they would say they have as good a squad if not better than ours so the lads' consistency this season has been really good."

Leaders Celtic can clinch the title tomorrow if they beat Hibernian at Parkhead and the Steelmen lose at home to St Mirren but former Rangers midfielder McCall is focusing only on his own team.

He said: "We knew before a ball was kicked that Celtic would win the league, there was no doubt about that but it doesn't come into my thoughts."

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