Press Association The former England international denied the Liverpool captain twice, once from the spot, Jordan Henderson, Daniel Agger, Stewart Downing and Fabio Borini. And when Gareth McAuley headed home West Brom’s first effort on target in the 81st minute it set up their first league double over the Reds – having won 3-0 on the opening day of the season – since 1966-67, with substitute Romelu Lukaku’s 90th-minute striking giving the scoreline an unbalanced look. West Brom goalkeeper Ben Foster included a Steven Gerrard penalty among a string of saves which laid the platform for the Baggies to record a 2-0 win over Liverpool, their first league victory since Boxing Day. The visitors appeared more than comfortable in a disappointing first half which saw only Liverpool getting two shots on target. Jonjo Shelvey was given his first league appearance since Boxing Day, playing in the hole as Luis Suarez was restored to the out-and-out striker role but the pair failed to get in the way Sturridge has. The 20-year-old did put the ball in the net early on but was well offside, while Agger had a header tipped over by Foster, who also caught Stewart Downing’s stinging drive at the second attempt. The closest Liverpool actually came to scoring in the first half was when Steven Reid’s attempted left-footed clearance of Shelvey’s low cross cannoned off his standing leg and looped over the crossbar from four yards. Improvements were made by Brendan Rodgers for the second half as Downing had a shot blocked and Gerrard’s follow-up was crowded out before Henderson’s cheeky close-range backheel from Glen Johnson’s pass was stopped by Foster. More work was required and Raheem Sterling and Borini were sent on for Shelvey and the tiring Henderson. Borini was denied by a fully-stretched West Brom goalkeeper after lashing Downing’s lay-off goalwards, McAuley slid in to block Suarez’s shot, and the wrong-footed Foster stuck out a hand to stop Gerrard’s drive. Foster denied Gerrard again moments later from the penalty spot after Suarez tumbled a little easily under Jonas Olsson’s challenge, and Liverpool were made to pay when they were hit with the sucker punch nine minutes from time. Chris Brunt swung over a right-wing corner and McAuley had a free run in the area to power home a header. Liverpool went chasing the game and were exposed even later on when Lukaku, having originally been dropped to the bench, stroked home their second.
West Ham will today be officially confirmed as the anchor tenants for London’s Olympic Stadium. Under the agreement, West Ham will be given the right to use the stadium for all their matches under a 99-year deal. That will give the club long-term security but they will have no property interest in the stadium. The deal will protect public interest should West Ham’s owners sell the club for a large profit on the back of the move to the stadium – the LLDC would get a significant cut of any profit. A senior source told the Press Association: “One of the things that have agreed are arrangements that would protect the public sector should a sale of the club generate significant profit.” The LLDC will have the rights to the income from other events such as music concerts, and there will also be a legacy for athletics with a number of events for that sport maintained. The retractable seating should allow the stadium to be changed from a football venue – with seats on the running track – to one suitable for athletics or concerts within eight days and potentially even quicker. The revamp of the stadium will cost £150million and the Hammers are expected to be there for the start of the 2016/17 season. London mayor Boris Johnson is expected at the press conference near the stadium along with mayor of Newham Sir Robin Wales and LLDC chief executive Dennis Hone. Sports minister Hugh Robertson said he could not confirm a deal had been agreed but said it made sense for a football club to be the main tenant at the stadium – and believes that the venue can be used for the 2015 Rugby World Cup. The deal for a 99-year concession for the Hammers will be announced at a news conference when the details of the revamped stadium featuring retractable seating will be unveiled. The agreement should also open the way for the stadium to used as a venue for the 2015 Rugby World Cup. The negotiations between London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) and West Ham have been long and tortuous since the club was named preferred bidders in December but they have now finally been signed off by the corporation’s legal advisers, sources close to the process have confirmed. Press Association
Press Association QPR owner Tony Fernandes wants Harry Redknapp to remain in charge at Loftus Road if the club are relegated. Rangers’ Barclays Premier League future is looking bleak ahead of Sunday’s clash with Wigan as they sit seven points adrift of safety with only seven matches remaining. Speculation will shroud Redknapp’s position should they slip into the npower Championship, but Fernandes told London Call-In: “I want stability more than anything. I wanted it with Neil Warnock and Mark Hughes, so it’s third time lucky with Harry. I think he is the man.” He went on: “We understand each other well and he knows how committed the shareholders are. “He has a great coaching staff and philosophy – he’s a fantastic man and I would love to keep him as long as he wants to stay.” Fernandes has confirmed there will be departures from Rangers regardless of what happens over the coming seven games. “We will have to sit down with Harry and discuss who we want to keep and who would go,” he said. “Obviously there will be players that will go regardless of if we stay up or go down. We want players who can give a lot to the club for a long time. “I do see players going, but we do have the nucleus of a good squad now which we have had to rebuild. “Every single player who has left QPR has not stayed in the Premier League and I think that shows how much rebuilding we had to do.”
Ireland will face world and European champions Spain in New York this summer, the Football Association of Ireland have confirmed. Manager, Giovanni Trapattoni said: “I am looking forward to playing this match in New York. Our team is evolving and showing a lot of promise. “The recent games demonstrated that our players have serious potential. Matches against opposition like England, Georgia and Spain are very helpful to that development and great preparation for our important competitive fixtures in June, September and October.” Press Association Giovanni Trapattoni’s Boys in Green will play Spain at the home of the New York Yankees, one of the city’s Major League Baseball franchises, on June 11. It will be the last of four consecutive fixtures for the men’s senior team, with them also facing England at Wembley on May 29, Georgia in an international friendly in Dublin on June 2 and the Faroe Islands in a home 2014 World Cup qualifier five days later.
Press Association McLeish has top-flight managerial experience with Birmingham and Aston Villa, although he took the Blues down to the second tier on two occasions. The Scot has been eager to get back in to football since leaving Nottingham Forest in February, and Palace are one of the clubs on his radar. “There hasn’t been any contact yet but I am available as a free agent,” McLeish told Sky Sports News. “Crystal Palace are in a position that’s precarious for them but there’s still a lot of points to play for. “I’ve had those kind of challenges before and I’ve had some success and some failures, but if you’ve got a fighting spirit and good players playing to their strengths, then why can’t Palace stay up?” Coleman is yet to speak publicly on the idea of succeeding Holloway. However, the 43-year-old is yet to commit his future to Wales beyond November, when his contract expires, despite being offered a new deal. Coleman has strong links with Palace, having been a feted member of the playing staff for four years during the 1990s, but he is not the only candidate being considered. Alex McLeish has declared his interest in becoming the new manager of Crystal Palace. The odds on Wales manager Chris Coleman taking over at Selhurst Park have shortened dramatically in the last 24 hours following a flurry of bets, but McLeish has thrown his hat in to the ring for the position, which has been vacant since Ian Holloway’s departure last Wednesday. Holloway guided Palace in the Barclays Premier League through the play-offs, but lost the respect of the players and left by mutual consent with the team bottom of the table. Martin O’Neill and Tony Pulis are reported to have held talks with Palace, while Neil Warnock’s name has also been mentioned. Palace have confirmed that caretaker manager Keith Millen will be in charge for Saturday’s game against West Brom. Millen was in the dugout for last weekend’s 2-0 defeat to Arsenal – the Eagles’ eighth reverse of a season that has so far yielded just three points.
The England international has not featured this season after struggling with a foot injury but could come to Allardyce’s rescue as the club look to end a torrid week with a victory in south Wales that could take them out of the bottom three. Cup defeats at Nottingham Forest and Manchester City, by an aggregate score of 11-0, have piled the pressure on Allardyce. West Ham manager Sam Allardyce admits he will be taking a “calculated risk” if he involves Andy Carroll in the Hammers’ crunch Barclays Premier League meeting with Cardiff. A win would take West Ham above their hosts in the league though, Allardyce is prepared to take a chance on Carroll’s match-sharpness earlier than he would usually. “Andy’s training okay,” Allardyce said. “We have to talk to the lads who are looking after him. Whether he’s ready or not… it’ll be a calculated risk. “If everything goes okay and according to plan, I’ll make a final decision from the information I get. “He’s feeling fine and training well, but he’s not played since last May. He’ll not have his match-fitness. Ideally, we’d like to progress it a little slower but, based on the circumstances and where we are, it’ll be a calculated risk.” Carlton Cole and Modibo Maiga have managed just four Premier League goals between them so far this season so a return for Carroll, who moved to Upton Park on a permanent deal in the summer, would boost West Ham’s goal threat. But it is in defence where Allardyce has been plagued by injury in recent weeks. With James Collins, Winston Reid and James Tomkins all missing, the 59-year-old has had to resort to playing his squad out of position. The loan signing of Wolves’ Roger Johnson, as well as a timely return to fitness for Tomkins, means Allardyce has fewer worries at the back – although Joey O’Brien is now missing. “We’ll have James Tomkins back in the squad,” he confirmed. “James Collins is close but not quite there. But we lost Joey O’Brien on Wednesday night as well. “So it doesn’t clear our problems; they continue due to the number of games and fatigue. We get one back and lose another. Central defensive problems have been the biggest issue in terms of results.” With Johnson the only addition to his squad so far this month, Allardyce remains keen to add further players – with a striker still high on his agenda. Inter Milan’s Ishak Belfodil and Lacina Traore of Monaco have been strongly linked with loan moves in recent days and Allardyce hopes to be closing in on new recruits sooner rather than later. “We’ve been trying for several weeks,” he said. “I thought I’d be talking about one new player in the country and nearly signed, but that fell into some paperwork problems again on Thursday. “All the players you (the media) are talking about, we are interested in but we’ve not completed any of them yet. Traore is all about a work permit situation if that’s to progress. It would have to be a tribunal for that situation. That’s what we’re looking at progressing as quickly as possible.” Press Association
Aston Villa will take on Major League Soccer opposition as part of a two-match pre-season tour of the United States in July. “The facilities are really good, the weather will be warm as well and a lot of teams in the Barclays Premier League go to the US now for pre-season, so it will be good for us. “The Premier League is world-renowned and everywhere you go people know what it’s about. They’re getting into it now in the US, too, and it’s good for us to tap into that interest and to attract new fans to the club.” Villa will face FC Dallas at the Toyota Stadium on July 23 and Houston Dynamo at the BBVA Compass Stadium on July 26. Villa boss Paul Lambert said: “It’s a good place to go and play football. Press Association
“You have to see a game through. We know the size of this fan base. They won’t accept us sitting behind the game. I would rather try to win a game than not. “There’s no rocket science formula. You have to win football matches, keep a clean sheet and thrive on the atmosphere generated. It takes big players to play in front of a big fan base.” Fulham started with teenager Cauley Woodrow up front but manager Felix Magath introduced Rodallega at half-time and the Colombian repaid his manager’s faith. It was Rodallega’s first appearance since February, and his fifth goal in 13 games this season. Magath said: ” I was not always so lucky with him but he has shown in training he is in good shape. I asked him if he comes in will he be in good shape and he said yes and that he will score.” Rodallega dedicated his goal to the Fulham supporters, who travelled to Villa Park in large numbers and gave their team terrific backing. He told fulhamfc.com: “I’m happy because I waited a long time for the opportunity. Steve Sidwell told me, ‘Hugo, this is your 45 minutes’. “I tried to help the team and then when I scored I was so happy. I was thinking that my family’s there, with the supporters, and of course the fans. “The fans have been unbelievable with me. All the time they call my name. This is for the fans and I want to say, ‘Thank you’.” The striker suffered the injury in training this week, robbing Aston Villa of one of their key players for the end of the season and also denying Benteke a place in the Belgium squad in Brazil this summer. Belgium have qualified for the World Cup finals for the first time since 2002 and, with a generation of hugely-talented young players having emerged, the Red Devils have been tipped to do well. Paul Lambert expects Christian Benteke to have more chances to shine on the world stage after his World Cup dreams were ended by a torn Achilles. Villa boss Lambert said: ” No one knew the extent of the injury and we had to wait and see what it was. We were hoping it was just a strain but weren’t sure until he went to the hospital. “He’s okay at the moment but whether that’s just a feeling of shock I’m not sure. He knows he’s going to miss the World Cup but he’s in a generation of Belgium players you think will qualify for more tournaments.” Benteke’s absence, plus Gabriel Agbonlahor’s failure to recover from a stomach bug, meant Lambert gave Grant Holt only his second start for Villa in Saturday’s Premier League clash with Fulham. Holt scored with a second-half header but it was not enough to prevent Fulham, who began the day bottom of the table, claiming a crucial 2-1 victory. Kieran Richardson opened the scoring with a terrific strike into the top corner and, after Holt had equalised, substitute Hugo Rodallega headed the winner four minutes from time. It was Villa’s 10th home defeat of the season – only Fulham have lost more – and the fans made their feelings clear at the final whistle. Lambert said: ” We can’t keep doing this. We have to rectify the home form, there’s no two ways about it. “Away from home, it’s well documented we’ve had our best performances, but you can’t keep losing at home. Press Association
City scored four times in the final 26 minutes against Aston Villa on Wednesday to put themselves within touching distance of a second Barclays Premier League crown in three seasons. Pellegrini’s men, with a two-point advantage over Liverpool and much superior goal difference, effectively now need just a point from their final game at home to West Ham on Sunday to finish the job. Press Association Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini has urged his side to carry on where they left off in midweek and complete their title charge in emphatic style. The World Cup-bound Bosnian, inconsistent throughout his three years at City, has delivered in recent weeks during Aguero’s injury-enforced absence and following Alvaro Negredo’s loss of form. In City’s crucial last three games, when they have seized control of the title race from Liverpool, Dzeko has scored five – doubles against Villa and Everton, and another at Crystal Palace – and now has 26 for the season overall. Pellegrini said: “I think it was very important at the beginning of the season to have a good squad – more than a team – a squad. “At this moment Edin is in a very high level of performance, he is doing very well. “In other moments it was Alvaro Negredo or Kun Aguero, so I think all the players are involved.” Meanwhile, Sam Allardyce admits his future as West Ham manager is far from certain but is urging the Hammers to remember the club’s position when he took charge before they decide to pull the trigger. Allardyce arrived at Upton Park in June 2011 after the club had just been relegated to the Championship by finishing bottom of the Premier League. He guided the club back to the top flight at the first attempt and has overseen the team’s survival for two consecutive campaigns. Inconsistent results and a direct style of play however have drawn regular criticism from the club’s support this season, with reports emerging on Thursday Allardyce faces the sack following the final match at City. “Nobody ever knows when or if it’s going to happen to you, you just have to do the best you can with the resources you’ve got,” Allardyce said. “Everybody needs to remember this club was down and out when I took over. “It was in the Championship and historically it wasn’t guaranteed to get back into the Premier League at the first time of asking. “If you look at the number of teams that get back into the Premier League first time round it’s very few. “We’ve progressed from there and we are trying to establish ourselves as a Barclays Premier League club now.” But Pellegrini has no intention of settling for a draw and intends to play with the same attacking verve that has served his side so well for much of the season. City beat West Ham 6-0 on the London side’s last visit to the Etihad Stadium, in the Capital One Cup in January, and a repeat would certainly do nicely. Pellegrini said: “We beat them here in the Capital One Cup, it was a very good game and I hope we can repeat it, but the best way to do it is to play in the same way. “We did it especially against Aston Villa. I think that was one of the best games we played the whole year.” City’s 4-0 victory over Villa took their tally of league goals for the campaign to 100. Sergio Aguero – who has scored 17 of those goals, and is the club’s top scorer overall with 28 – could return after missing the midweek win with a groin injury. The Argentinian knows all about last-day heroics having scored the late winner against QPR when City snatched the title from Manchester United in dramatic fashion in 2012. Yet if he is not deemed ready to start, City certainly have another in-form striker to turn to who can keep the goals flowing in Edin Dzeko.
“That’s the way to do it and fingers crossed, hopefully we’ll both get to where we want to be.” Fulham’s relegation from the Premier League had already been confirmed by their 4-1 defeat at Stoke eight days earlier. They at least depart for the Sky Bet Championship with Chris David’s stunning stoppage-time equaliser the last meaningful act of their 13 years in the top flight. Felix Magath fielded a young team against Palace and the Whites boss declared the club would rely heavily on its academy in the Championship. “We know we have a lot to do and we’ll do it. We have to discuss and analyse the situation and team,” he said. “The team I selected against Crystal Palace is a sign that we’ll change something in the future. “I will take care of our youth players because we have a good youth academy, but in the last few years they haven’t played much for the senior team. We’ll bring the academy players into the Fulham team. “We have to look at the money because we are not able to pay players big wages. We are looking for young players now.” “If you’d said to me when I came in that the game against Fulham would decide whether we stay up, I would have taken it,” he said. “Actually, I’d have chopped your hands off. What we’ve done and what we’ve achieved has been absolutely remarkable. The supporters and players have been wonderful. “If you look at the stats from when I came in it shows what a great achievement this season has been. “But one stat not to forget is that we managed to finish 11th with the smallest budget in this league. “This football club has massively overachieved and everyone should take great credit, it has been a great ride.” Pulis has been linked with Newcastle amid reports he will replace Alan Pardew, but his immediate concern is discussing with chairman Steve Parrish how to take Palace forward. “I’m not in a position of power, I’m not after power, but there are certain things that must go on to make a club successful,” he said. “I had a good chat with Steve last Thursday and we’ll meet again this week and go through things. Press Association Tony Pulis has reflected on a “remarkable” achievement after guiding Crystal Palace to Barclays Premier League survival. When Pulis succeeded Ian Holloway at Selhurst Park in November, the Eagles had secured only four points and already seemed destined for relegation. Instead, Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Fulham completed an 11th-place finish with 45 points that Pulis – now a candidate for manager of the year – believes the club had no right to expect.