SAF: United ready for neighbours
Robin van Persie has insisted he had no hesitation in deciding
to join Manchester United in the summer after also attracting
interest from Manchester City.
Van Persie is preparing for his first Manchester derby on Sunday
after deciding to bring an end to an eight-year stint with Premier
League rivals Arsenal.
The Dutchman had the chance to sign for City but insists he is
happy with his decision to head to Old Trafford.
“I made my mind up very quickly and I am coming into work with a
big smile on my face every day,” Van Persie told
“It is not really work, it is my hobby – I love football. But
everyone has been so nice to me and I have been having the time of
my life here.
“So I don’t regret that – but of course in a derby you have lots
of people involved – the fans and the players.
“Everyone is really committed and wants their team to win and
we’ll do all we can to win too.”
Van Persie is eager to help United claim victory at the Etihad
Stadium and extend their advantage at the top of the table to six
He added: “Anything can happen but that’s the case with us every
week. We want to stretch our lead and keep our run going.”
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A unanimous decision from the London Legacy Development
Corporation board (LLDC) was to make Premier League club the
preferred bidder for the use of the Olympic Stadium.
Allardyce believes the relocation could be “outstanding” for the
Hammers but has issued a stark warning that the club must continue
to develop and progress to make the Olympic Stadium move work.
“There is one thing you have to bear in mind, you cannot build a
white elephant and the white elephant is a great stadium and no
team – disaster,” he said.
“We have to manage our finances carefully because of the
over-riding debt of the football club.
“I think what (co-chairmen) David Sullivan and David Gold do is
top that up with their own wealth but there is somewhere down the
line where they want to create a situation where that doesn’t
“The long-term future of the football club is not only a new
stadium but a new training facility that needs to go with the
stadium as well – there are years of good financial management
needed as well as success on the field.”
The 58-year-old Allardyce took charge at Bolton two years after
they had opened their new stadium and soon led the Trotters to the
Barclays Premier League.
The ex-Blackburn boss reckons his success in Bolton would not
have been possible if the club had not moved to their newer, modern
“There is always a lot of disruption when a club decides to move
form somewhere which has a huge history,” he said.
“It is always going to be upsetting to some of the very loyal
supporters we have but in the end, when you look to what happened
at places like Bolton, I couldn’t have built that sort of success
without those fantastic facilities – not that a facility has ever
produced a player but it doesn’t half help.”
Allardyce is also aware that the extra revenue that comes from
selling out a bigger stadium could make a difference in football’s
“I suppose it has got bigger facilities and could then create
bigger revenues and I think you have got to judge a football club
by its revenues these days – by its spending power,” he said.
“Its spending power is the ultimate now when we look at what
Roman (Abramovich) has done at Chelsea and certainly what Mr.
Mansour has done at Man City, so if you increase your spending
power you can increase the size of your football club.”
Sullivan and Gold have already backed Allardyce in the transfer
window and also stumped up the wages to bring Andy Carroll to the
club on loan.
The Liverpool striker has had some off-field distractions during
his career to date but, following accusations of attacking a
photographer in Dublin after the Hammers’ Christmas party,
Allardyce is not worried about Carroll’s reputation.
“We have got 25 players out there and this is just a little
minor blip for me that was caused by a photographer and not by Andy
Carroll,” he said.
“He just wants to get on with his football, he doesn’t get
distracted, he would prefer not to have it but like I said with the
way he is he has got to cope with it as best as he possibly
The Gunners may have bettered cash-rich Chelsea and Manchester
City in reaching the last 16 of the Champions League, but they
remain well off the pace in the Premier League, having slumped down
to 10th place ahead of Sunday’s clash against West Brom.
While Wenger accepts the club’s move to Emirates Stadium was
always going to restrict their spending power in the short term,
the French coach – who guided Arsenal through an unbeaten season as
they swept to the title in 2003/2004 – would loathe to see the
traditional elements of building a team over time fall by the
“I have big respect for the passion about the game in England,
but football is more than just splashing out,” he said.
“It is much deeper, much bigger than that – it is about sweat,
thinking, working hard. You have a big tradition of that in
“I am scared all these qualities today have less importance in
Wenger continued: “I don’t say that money doesn’t play a part in
it, but it is not only about that. We have to continue to believe
that it is not only about that because what is the game about
“Football has to be even, interesting, unpredictable – nobody
can tell you what will happen in Manchester City versus Manchester
United, but it has to be level chances as well.”
In recent seasons, Arsenal have sold their best players to
big-spending rivals, with former captain Robin van Persie joining
Manchester United in the summer for ?24million.
Wenger does have resources available to strengthen the squad in
January, should he wish to dip into his Emirates Stadium
He said: “It doesn’t mean we will not spend money. I am always
painted like a guy who refuses to spend money, I just think I act
like a responsible manager because we went through a period where
we had restricted funds and I acted in a responsible way.
“If needed, we want to be the best, but the best is not only
about buying players.
“We need to continue with what has made our strengths until
England forward Theo Walcott is the latest Arsenal player yet to
sign a new contract.
Wenger, however, rejected suggestions the club would rather cash
in on Walcott when the transfer window reopens instead of letting
him walk away on a free in the summer.
“If you ask me will we sell Theo in January? No. I have always
been hopeful he will sign,” Wenger said.
Three years ago, the Blues were just a noisy irritant to the
Manchester United boss.
Now, with an FA Cup and Premier League collected, City have
turned the volume up. And Ferguson is prepared for it.
“They’re screaming now,” he said ahead of Sunday’s derby at the
Etihad Stadium. “It’s great. Challenges are what we’re made of.
“I’ve been lucky that, in my time here, I’ve been involved with
great competitions against teams like Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea
and now City. There are no dull moments.
“We don’t run from challenges.”
There does seem something special about this particularly
The pain of that never-to-be-forgotten final day last season,
when United were technically champions when their last game was
completed at Sunderland, only to have the prize snatched away from
them by Sergio Aguero with virtually the last kick of the entire
campaign, was more acute for the fans because so many had to face
their City counterparts on the Manchester streets.
Even slightly detached in upmarket Cheshire, Ferguson lives in
close proximity to those of a blue persuasion.
Yet it seems the Scot has little interest in such niceties.
“I wasn’t happy to lose the title and I keep talking to the
players about that,” Ferguson said.
“But I have never entered into the revenge stuff – it doesn’t
“Let’s be straight. At this club you can’t enjoy losing to
anyone because the consequences are always huge.
“When we lose we’re front-page news. We get used to that but we
don’t like losing, no matter who it is to.”
And while Ferguson plays down the impact opening up a six-point
lead on City would have on a title race that will not be decided
for over five months, any advantage would be accepted because the
Scot is wary the positive spin-offs City may eventually get from
their unexpectedly early exit from Europe, having missed out on the
Europa League this season with their defeat to Borussia Dortmund on
“It’s obviously an advantage to City,” he said.
“Fewer games mean fewer chances of injuries and they get a full
week to prepare for games now.
“They do have a big squad – probably a bigger squad than most
teams – and they need to keep everyone happy.
“That, in itself, is a bit of an encumbrance in terms of the
manager picking the right teams and keeping everyone involved.
“And I do believe they’d rather have European football. That’s
the biggest disappointment for them.”