Football News: Woodward defends Manchester United Signings, Afobe Responds To Not Trying Criticism From Wolves And More

 

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Woodward defends Manchester United Signings, Afobe Responds To Not Trying Criticism From Wolves And More
Image from: zimbio.com

1. Bojan gets new deal
Stoke City forward Bojan Krkic has been handed a new contract, with his previous one due to expire in the summer, tying him to the club until 2020. The diminutive Spanish forward started out at Barcelona, but injuries led to him being sold to AS Roma, there he struggled, spending time on loan with AC Milan before a return to Barca, who sent him on loan to Ajax. After his return they offloaded him to the Potters. "I am very happy and motivated," Bojan told the club's official website. "Stoke City gave me the opportunity to play in the most competitive league in the world, the Premier League, and I have only words of gratitude for their trust and for the way they have treated me since the first day I arrived in England. Mark Hughes convinced me to come to Stoke, he has helped me and showed his trust in me from the beginning, he followed closely the recovery process from my injury and there is no doubt I have signed an extension of my contract thanks to him."

2. Woodward defends United signings
With Leicester City sitting pretty on top of the Premier League, and playing some exciting football to boot, Manchester United investors were questioning executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward over his record in charge. The Foxes have spent just £40m to sit top of the league, while the Red Devils have spent some £300m to reach the heights of 5th under Louis van Gaal. "Leicester is a fantastic reference point for everybody this year," Woodward said. "I think the philosophy that we have is to target quality of players based on the huge amount of scouting that we do and analysis within the training ground. Then we try to do the best deal that we can. Some players are bought by other clubs with an eye to them developing into something special in a few years' time, whereas there's a bit more pressure perhaps on the bigger clubs to bring in players that are going to be hitting the ground running, and top players verging on world class almost immediately. So there is a slightly different market perhaps in which people are buying." United have posted a record revenue in the final quarter of 2015, but it is the decline on the pitch, not just in terms of results but also performances, which have been, in the main, turgid.



3. Wolves criticised for insulting Afobe
Former Wolverhampton Wanderers player Benik Afobe was furious after being accused of not trying for the club prior to his January move to AFC Bournemouth. Wolves head of recruitment, Kevin Thelwell, suggested the 22 year old, who they got from Arsenal's youth teams, was not giving his all after a summer move to Norwich City fell through. Afobe said on Twitter: "I wasn't going to comment but this is too shocking and very hurtful. I did my best it was hard for us all." After hash-tagging the word scapegoat, Afobe added: "Some people at Wolves are hanging me out to dry to save their own backs but I won't let my reputation be tarnished. I scored 10 and was [in the] top 5 goalscorers in the league before I left and accused of not trying. I am a pro and wouldn't disrespect my team-mates. End of! I asked to leave but only because I wanted to play in the Premier League but I never told my team-mates or disrupted the changing room. I won't be commenting anymore, I have a good relationship with everyone at Wolves and the fans. Wish them the best. All about afcb [Bournemouth] for me now." Thelwell had told the Express and Star: "You could list our entire first team squad and see that they were trying. Benik was no longer trying to play for us and that was undermining everything we were trying to achieve." Wolves chief executive Jez Moxey added: "We said publicly that Benik would not be sold at all this season. It was a statement of intent and the owner backed us completely. I wasn't speaking to the Wolves fans, I was speaking to Benik's family, Norwich and any other Premier League club who were trying to undermine our relationship with Benik. We wanted to underline his place in the Wolves team. The reality is that he didn't want to play for Wolves. We wanted him to maintain his commitment to us so he could help us reach our goals. He wanted to leave, his advisors, his agents, his family and Norwich did everything they could to get Benik out of the club. He is now [earning] four times his wage."

4. Payet close to new Hammers deal
West Ham United manager Slaven Bilic has said that Dimitri Payet is close to signing a new deal with the East London club. Rumours have been linking the French playmaker with a big money move to China, despite only joining the Hammers in the summer. "I think we are very close to signing a contract and I hope it's going to be done," Bilic said. "Both parties have the intention to stay at West Ham. When you are playing like he is playing many clubs are showing interest, but we are going to do everything we can to keep him with us. Every player has a price but the good thing is he is happy at West Ham, we are more than happy with him and I hope - and I really think - that he will play with us for a long, long time."



5. £68m debt converted to equity at Cardiff
Cardiff City's owner Vincent Tan, who has held almost James Bond villain-like status with supporters in the past, has begun a move towards making the Bluebirds debt-free. Tan, who has begun to change his image within the area in recent months, after accepting defeat in his attempts to change the club's first kit from blue to red, has converted £68m of the club's debt owed to him into equity with immediate effect. That is added to his agreement to write off a further £10m owed to him, after last season, when he wrote off £13m and converted a further £3m of debt into equity. The South Wales club now has an overall debt of £40m, which Tan has pledged to convert into equity over the next five years at a rate of £8m per year to leave them entirely debt-free.

6. Ranieri wants to challenge next season as well
Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri has said that he wants the club to maintain their position as a title challenger for future campaigns. Leicester are currently top of the league, five points clear, and will take on third placed Arsenal at the weekend. "We're doing well because the big teams haven't found their rhythm, but our plans won't change next year," Ranieri told the Italian newspaper Corriere dello Sport. "We must continue to build to target, in the next three or four years, the top spots in the Premier League and fighting for (a place in) Europe. I don't know if we will feel the pressure over time. I know there are so many points to win. I hope we don't feel this pressure," the Italian said. How long would they need to challenge at the top, before people will stop being so patronising about 'little Leicester up there with the big boys' and realise they are just a good team that has been well put together?

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7. Bilic adds his voice to calls for reduced ticket prices
West Ham United manager Slaven Bilic has insisted football is not a rich man's sport and prices should be kept at a level that reflects that. "If you go to shop and buy caviar and champagne it's expensive, it should be, but bread and milk is cheap," said the West Ham boss. "This is not Les Miserables, this is football." Bilic said: "It's business. Football clubs are businesses. On one hand I understand, on other hand saw great picture with one lady at Anfield with a banner saying: 'I'm not a customer I'm a fan'. You have to find a balance, especially in the Premier League where you are getting lots of money from TV and sponsorship so the tickets should be a good price for the fans. It's not polo, it's not golf, it's not a sport for upper class. it's the most popular sport and shouldn't be a privilege for a family to go and watch. It should be affordable. It should be like that with football. We are a good example, the board and club are progressing in that way. We definitely for next season will have cheapest season tickets and cheap tickets for under 16s. Club needs money but not from tickets. As far as I know clubs are not living out of ticket sales. They have much bigger income from other things. I think a balance can be found to keep fans happy. Otherwise we will have empty stadiums. We should keep the fans happy not only with the quality of the game but also with the prices of tickets." The Hammers have announced a season ticket that will cost £289 next season, which they claim is the cheapest in the Premier League.

8. Pardew keeping Jedinak
Yet another player being linked with a big money move to Chinese football is Crystal Palace captain Mile Jedinak. Palace manager Alan Pardew has dismissed the rumours surrounding the Australian midfielder. "I have heard nothing, not seen anything," said Pardew regarding Jedinak moving to China. "It seems to be a little agenda at the moment. The Chinese window is still open so we will probably get loads of it, all the Premier League clubs. It is now a significant market by the looks of it and it will impact on Premier League teams. It's not something we can take lightly, we need to keep an eye on that situation."



9. Oooops
Is there a more embarrassing way to give away a penalty?


10. Cracking scissor kick goal in the Copa Libertadores

Written by Tris Burke

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