Patience is a virtue - Fergie

Patience is a virtue - Fergie

Published Jan. 12, 2013 7:15 a.m. ET

Fulham manager Martin Jol has reiterated his plea for Brede Hangeland to sign a new contract and has called on his captain to 'put the money where his mouth is'.

Hangeland is out of contract at the end of the season and the 31-year-old has been linked with a move to Fulham's local rivals Queens Park Rangers.

The Norwegian defender has made over 220 appearances since joining Fulham from FC Copenhagen five years ago and Jol hopes the signings of the likes of Dimitar Berbatov will have convinced Hangeland of the club's ambition.

"We will try to do everything that we are capable of to keep him," said Jol. "There is a contract and the only thing for him to do is sign it.


"Players like Brede, if they have a decent history and are playing well for their clubs, then there will always be an interest.

"I thought he was quite happy to stay here. Of course, he wanted to know the mission of the club, who is coming in because there were quite a lot of players going out.

"Then Dimitar Berbatov, Mladen Petric and Hugo Rodallega came in and he was quite happy, but now it is three months on.

"There is still five months left and hopefully he will put the money where his mouth is, show everyone he is happy again and sign the contract."

Laudrup has made no secret of his desire to bring in some new faces to try and maintain Swansea's impressive start to the season, which has seen them climb into the top half of the Barclays Premier League and reach the last four of the Capital One Cup.

Real Betis midfielder Jose Canas, Celta Vigo striker Iago Aspas and Stoke forward Kenwyne Jones are all on the Dane's wanted list.

Betis are thought to be holding our for a fee of around ?1million for Canas, who is out of contract in the summer, while Aspas is understood to have an ?8million buy-out clause.

Stoke are also reported to be keen to recoup as much of the ?8million they paid for Jones if they are to allow him to leave the Britannia Stadium.

But Laudrup says he will be happy to wait until the summer to complete any deals, rather than pay over his own valuation now.

He said: "From the end of this month, we will be only playing at weekends, although obviously I hope there will be one midweek game because that will mean we are in the Capital One Cup final.

"But it means we don't need a player at the end of January. It might be that we just say we can wait until the summer.

"We don't need desperately for someone to come in on January 31 because from that date we will only be playing weekends.

"It is possible something can happen but I will not be the one who is saying we have to get somebody in with only two days left.

"We have some plans but if they don't come now they will wait until the summer."

Following their stunning Capital One Cup semi-final first-leg success at Chelsea in midweek, Swansea return to Premier League action at Everton on Saturday.

The Toffees triumphed 3-0 when the sides met at the Liberty Stadium in September, and Laudrup is keen for his side to make amends at Goodison Park.

"The first 30 minutes was very bad against Everton," he said.

"I remember I said to the players, 'don't give away any fouls' because with free-kicks they have (Marouane) Fellaini and (Leighton) Baines, but we gave them seven in the first 12 minutes. I will give the players the same message this time.

"We know what Everton will do. They will put us under pressure from the beginning.

"We have to find a motivating factor for every game and the motivation for the players who played in the home game is not to repeat that first half hour.

"If we do that then we will lose the game and we don't want to lose."

Torres was hailed as the club's saviour when he arrived at Stamford Bridge two years ago for a whopping ?50million fee, but he has struggled to live up to even the most mild expectations.

Part of the reason behind Benitez's appointment as Blues interim boss was to get the striker back to his best, but despite a slight improvement, Torres still looks a shadow of the hitman who tore the best defences in Europe apart while at Anfield.

Chelsea's fans had been patient with Torres up until Wednesday night, when he was sarcastically applauded off after 81 minutes following a poor display in which he touched the ball just 19 times and barely threatened the Swansea goal.

Benitez, who revealed illness had prompted Torres' poor performance, still thinks the former Atletico Madrid hitman can win the Blues faithful round, though.

"The fans loved Torres when he was scoring and giving everything," Benitez told a press conference.

"They will love him again when he starts scoring goals again. They will appreciate the effort."

Chelsea's supporters had called for the introduction of Ba, who scored twice on debut at Southampton last Saturday, for almost the entire second half on Wednesday, but he did not come on until nine minutes were left.

Benitez revealed on Friday he had delayed bringing Ba on as he was struggling with a hamstring injury. The Spaniard also confirmed Torres had been struggling with a stomach bug prior to kick-off, which explains his poor showing against the Swans.

"He (Torres) had a bug, a virus and needed tablets from the club doctor," Benitez said. "The other day he was sick on the bench (at Southampton). That was why he didn't play.

"He is feeling better now but he had the problem for a week or more. He was trying (against Swansea).

"He was there and making an effort just in case. Fernando concentrated on trying to do his job (despite his illness) and that is the sign of a great character."

But Lambert concedes he does not have the ?6million paid to Celtic for Petrov's signature six years ago to bring in any potential replacement and will have to "box clever" in the transfer window.

Petrov is currently in remission as he battles to overcome the illness which first became public nine months ago.

Lambert knows making a recovery health-wise is the priority for his former team-mate and close friend from their time together at Parkhead.

But he acknowledges how Villa have missed the presence in midfield of Petrov.

Lambert said: "You know something, I was with Stiliyan last night. The loss of him to this club has been more than people can imagine.

"The loss of him has been huge. His health is the most important thing. I was with him for a few hours last night, and that puts everything in perspective, hearing what he was saying.

"He's a top character. Even when he comes in here now, he's full of energy. He's a major loss to this club, major.

"We need those type of people in the dressing room. Whether young or not, you take that responsibility on yourself and you have to be loud in there."

When asked if he now has the kind of money to spend on a player that Petrov cost Villa, Lambert said: "It's probably fair say we've not got that.

"That type of player costs money so you have to box clever.

"A lot of things get dominated by finance. Petrov cost ?6million and the value of him to this club was incredible, the way he performed and the way he is as a guy.

"I know him because I played with him for eight years at Celtic so I know what type of a young guy he was."

Lambert added: "We need some strength in the side, especially in the middle of the pitch (midfield and defence), we need a bit of strength.

"The injuries we've had to people like Ron Vlaar have been too long. Richard Dunne has been out as well all season. We need to try and address that.

"We're trying to do something at this minute. We need to try and do something in this window. We have to try."

Villa owner Randy Lerner has continually offered financial support to a string of managers and two years ago spent a club record ?24 million on Darren Bent to stave off the threat of relegation.

But Lambert concedes that fans are in dreamland when expecting a player of the quality of Joleon Lescott or Scott Parker to be signed because of the finance that would be involved.

"Are fans in dreamland (regarding Lescott and Parker)? Yes, money, I think that's the reality of it. We can't do it."

One option would be for Lambert to off-load any players he thinks are surplus to his requirements.

But he said: "You can't do nothing if the phone doesn't go. It's not something where you pick up the phone to someone and say he's for sale or he's for sale.

"You don't do that. If a phone call comes in, then you deal with it."

Meanwhile, Lambert confirmed that winger Marc Albrighton could be out of action for up to two months with the broken metatarsal suffered against Ipswich in last weekend's FA Cup tie.

He said: "Marc has broken his metatarsal. It could be another eight weeks or so that he is out."

Hughes lost his job as Rangers boss in November after no wins in their opening 14 matches saw them prop up the Barclays Premier League.

His replacement Harry Redknapp has so far found victories easier to come by. Wins over rivals Fulham and Chelsea has moved Rangers to within five points off safety and Mbia is at a loss to explain why they could not register positive results under the previous incumbent.

"Should the players feel guilty about Mark Hughes' sacking? Yes, I think so," Mbia told the Daily Mail.

"He gave everything for everybody at this club. I think it's the players' fault. I think if the players had the same mentality under Mark Hughes they have now, we would not be in this position.

"The manager was never the problem. Mark Hughes has quality, Harry Redknapp has quality.

"Harry Redknapp gives the players confidence, but Mark Hughes is the same. But the players didn't want to give their best for Mark Hughes.

"I don't know why it's like that. We should have done the same when the previous manager was here. Maybe they are more afraid of Harry."

Since Rodgers' arrival in the summer the Reds have opted to sign young players with the likes of Joe Allen, Fabio Borini and Daniel Sturridge all yet to celebrate their 24th birthdays.

Gerrard, 32, is unsure whether that is the right policy to ensure Liverpool, currently eighth in the Premier League, get back to challenging for the Champions League places again.

The England midfielder cited the signing of Gary McAllister - who arrived at Anfield as a 35-year-old in 2000 - as crucial to his own development and believes balancing the age of the squad is imperative.

"I disagree with the policy to be honest," he told various newspapers.

"I've seen many signings throughout the world who have gone to clubs at the age of 28, 29 or even older and done fantastic jobs. Gary McAllister when he came here, for one.

"I can understand the policy that everyone wants young, bright, British players - but I don't agree 100% that that should be the only way.

"I learned bucket loads from Gary McAllister."

Liverpool are not the only club who have focused on youth this term with Chelsea yet to offer new deals to elder statesmen Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole, while Aston Villa's fight against relegation is being undertaken with a vastly inexperienced squad.

"The main example at the moment is if Chelsea don't keep Frank Lampard. Someone is going to get a bargain. What is he, 34?" Gerrard said.

"It's not my business what Chelsea do but if they don't renew Frank's contract someone else is going to get a really good player for a few years."

Liverpool's most obvious transfer success in recent years has been the signing of Luis Suarez - who arrived from Ajax as a 24-year-old in 2011 - and Gerrard believes he has surpassed Fernando Torres and England team-mate Wayne Rooney as the best striker he has teamed alongside.

Suarez has put the controversies that have followed him since his arrival in England aside to be the second leading Premier League goalscorer this term, with 15 strikes.

"Luis is the best centre forward I've played with," he said.

"He probably won't get the credit he deserves after everything that's happened and everything he's been through but he will from me. He's a fighter and he's a winner."

United manager Sir Alex Ferguson put in a personal call to Wenger as he aimed to push through a ?24million deal and beat bitter rivals Manchester City to the signature of the Dutchman.

City boss Roberto Mancini claims his side were "very close" to landing Van Persie, who has gone on to prove his worth with 20 goals already this season as United opened up a healthy lead at the top of the table.

Wenger was in no doubt that whichever of the Manchester clubs landed the Arsenal skipper would be in the driving seat for the championship.

"It was a very professional phone call (from Ferguson) and there was more than one. I will tell you the rest another day," said Wenger, whose side host City on Sunday.

"You know when you sell Robin van Persie to Manchester United, that (they lead the league) will be the case.

"Robin is one of the best strikers in the world and you know he will score goals for them."

Wenger added: "If he went to City he would have been just another striker in a bunch of world-class players."

Van Persie chalked up his 20th of the campaign when he came off the bench to net a superb stoppage-time equaliser in United's FA Cup third-round tie at West Ham, while his brace at Wigan in his previous league outing helped keep United seven points clear of City.

Wenger was always confident the 29-year-old could maintain his form from an outstanding final campaign with the Gunners.

"Robin is at the peak of his game. He has a high level of confidence in his qualities and knows his game well," Wenger said.

"He is more patient today than he was five or six years ago, now he can stay up front.

"Sometimes in games you don't see him for 20 minutes, but he knows he will get a chance at some stage and that he will use it.

"Before he always came back in midfield, but now he stays there and uses his killer instinct much better."

The champions have fallen seven points behind their neighbours at the top of the Barclays Premier League but are confident of clawing back the deficit.

City memorably recovered from eight points behind with just six games remaining last season and see no reason to panic with 17 left this time.

Mancini said: "Until now, United played very, very well.

"They deserve to be on the top, maybe not seven points more than us but this is football.

"There are some moments during a season that even a top team like United can lose points.

"It is impossible to win every game like last year. We should be ready when United lose a point.

"For this reason, it is important for us to go our way and to continue to win.

"We don't look at the table, in this moment the table is not important. We know we are in second position."

Sunday's action could have a key bearing on the title race, with United hosting fierce rivals Liverpool and City facing a tough trip to Arsenal.

The gap at the top could shrink to four points or grow to 10 but even if the outcome is the worst for City, Mancini claims he would not give up hope.

Such words contrast sharply with what the Italian said after a damaging loss at the Emirates Stadium last April, when City handed United that seemingly insurmountable lead during the run-in.

Mancini said: "Everything is possible but it doesn't change the situation.

"Last year United recovered when we were five points up and after Arsenal we went eight points behind. United recovered 13 points.

"So we can recover 10, it is not a problem."

City have not won at Arsenal for 37 years and their 1-0 loss there nine months ago, when Mario Balotelli was sent off, saw them written off by many, including Mancini.

Yet while Mancini publicly said the title was lost, he now admits that privately he was saying the opposite.

When asked if he really meant what he said then, Mancini said at his latest press conference: "No, no, never."

Mancini believes Arsenal remain formidable opposition, even without the player Mancini coveted in the summer, but lost out on to United, Robin van Persie.

He said: "Arsenal are always a good team.

"They lost an important player in Van Persie - for them he was the best.

"A player that scores a goal every game is very important. But this doesn't change (anything), they are a good team."

Rodgers' situation at Anfield has been likened to the one which Ferguson faced when he came south to take charge at Manchester United in 1986.

Then the United board kept faith with their man before the trophies start rolling in.

It seems Reds owner Jhn Henry needs to show similar resolve with Liverpool languishing in seventh spot, a massive 21 points adrift of their Premier League-leading rivals, who they visit on Sunday.

"Patience is a real commodity in football and if Brendan's getting that, then he's very lucky," said Ferguson.

"It's terrific if Liverpool fans are prepared to be patient because it's going to require it because it's a long way back to where they used to be.

"It is difficult to measure the Liverpool side of the moment against those teams of the past.

"They haven't won the league for more than 20 years. It's a long time for a club like Liverpool."

So, other than a fight to secure a top-four berth and a shot at next season's Champions League, pride is the motivating factor for a Liverpool side in which Luis Suarez can expect a hostile welcome as he returns to the ground where he snubbed Patrice Evra so publicly.

Trouble never seems to be far away from the 25-year-old, who was at the centre of more negative headlines at the weekend when he scored a goal at Mansfield that should clearly have been ruled out for handball.

"I didn't see the Mansfield game, so it's difficult to say if it was deliberate or not," said Ferguson.

"But I think the lad is laden with controversy. I don't know if he enjoys it or not."

Rodgers has already leapt to Suarez's defence, although Ferguson can see elements of his own management style in that.

"You're always going to support your own player," he said.

"That's not surprising from Brendan Rogers. I've done it myself.

"It's part of your loyalty and protection of the player."

Suarez's ability to attract negative headline contrasts sharply with that of Robin van Persie.

Both have made a significant impact this term, with Van Persie justifying Ferguson's gamble in spending ?24million to secure a player entering the final year of his contract, although not, according to the United boss, to keep him out of Manchester City's clutches.

"He (Van Persie) told me himself that he turned them down," said Ferguson.

"Juventus made a massive offer to the boy. I thought they were our biggest threat. But fortunately he signed for us."