Abeid joined the Magpies from Lens in July 2011 and was handed a senior competitive debut in a Carling Cup fourth-round victory at Nottingham Forest in September of the same year. However, having made only three first-team appearances during the first half of last season, he was sent on loan to Scottish side St Johnstone in January with manager Alan Pardew admitting some of his young players had not developed as he would have liked. Panathinaikos have announced the signing of Newcastle midfielder Mehdi Abeid on a season-long loan deal. The 20-year-old, who was born in France to Algerian parents, will spend next season in Greece after failing to make his mark at St James’ Park. A statement on the Greek club’s official website, www.pao.gr, said: “Panathinaikos FC announces that it has entered into an agreement with Newcastle United for the one-year loan of Algerian international footballer Mehdi Abeid.” Press Association
Press Association Condon said: “I’m very happy with her. She won a Listed race over an inadequate trip at Tipperary and she will be more comfortable over seven furlongs. “I think she has improved since, but she will need to if she is to be involved. She is in good form and I’m expecting her to run well. “I booked Johnny on Wednesday when I knew Shane Foley wouldn’t be available.” Foley will partner Glassatura for his boss Mick Halford, a filly who made a winning debut at the Curragh before finishing fourth in a Listed heat at Naas. Halford said: “She is in good form, she’s had a nice break since her last run. She has been working well and I’m hoping for a good run.” As is so often the case, the contest is dominated by Aidan O’Brien. The master of Ballydoyle has saddled eight previous Debutante winners and is this year represented by Tapestry (Joseph O’Brien), Minorette (Michael Hussey) and Perhaps (Seamie Heffernan). The field is completed by Paul Deegan’s Avenue Gabriel. The daughter of Haatef came right back to five furlongs to claim the Listed Tipperary Stakes a month ago, her second career win from four juvenile appearances. She will be partnered by Johnny Murtagh as she faces six opponents at Group Two level this weekend. Ken Condon believes a step up to seven furlongs will bring out the best in Sacred Aspect in the Friarstown Stud Debutante Stakes at the Curragh.
Christian Eriksen has revealed it was the personal touch of Daniel Levy and Franco Baldini that persuaded him to sign for Tottenham. Eriksen’s Tottenham career may just be 71 minutes old, but the playmaker is already a fans’ favourite following his impressive debut in the 2-0 win over Norwich. The Dane became the seventh and final signing of a busy summer for the north London club when he completed an £11.5million move from Ajax on the Friday before the transfer window shut. Levy has become renowned for his love of a last-minute deal, but the Tottenham chairman resolved to get his squad in tip-top shape early on in this transfer window to offset the damaging loss of Gareth Bale to Real Madrid. Gone are the days when Levy would launch last-gasp raids for cheap signings, such as he tried to do with Phil Neville and Charlie Adam in the Harry Redknapp era. This time, he and technical director Baldini sought to wrap up Eriksen’s signing quickly by flying to Amsterdam to negotiate with the Dutch club and the move paid off. “I talked a little bit with the manager but I had more to do with the chairman and the director Baldini. They were they guys who really had the right words,” Eriksen said. “The first contact was with my agent and then my agent talked to me and I said, ‘Go on, I really want to hear what they have got to say’. “The day after my agent was (in London) to look around and see everything and talk with the big men, then the day after, they all went to Amsterdam to negotiate with Ajax. “The next day, I was here for a medical. It went really quick. Just four days. “It really impressed me that they wanted it so badly and wanted to do it so quickly.” Press Association The “right words” that came out of Levy’s mouth centred around Tottenham’s ambitions. “The club wants to be in the Champions League next season, for sure, and then we have, of course, to become champions,” the 21-year-old said. “That is why he spent so much money on good players and that is just the sort of thing I want to be part of.” Although the season is still in its early stages, the early signs are that Tottenham are well-equipped for their assault on the top four. Eriksen’s ability to link play between midfield and attack has given Spurs something they have been lacking since the departure of Rafael van der Vaart. Roberto Soldado’s ratio of four goals in five games has been encouraging while Erik Lamela is yet to start a game following his £26million move from Roma. Arsenal sat above Spurs at the top of the Barclays Premier League table on Sunday night, but Eriksen hopes that will soon not be the case. “We will have to turn that around for a start,” he said. “Overall our chances look really good. It is different. We are in a new squad and still have to learn about everything and everybody, but, we have had a good beginning.”
City lost 1-0 at Sunderland for the fourth successive season on Sunday afternoon and have now taken only four points from a possible 18 on the road during the current campaign. Pellegrini was at a loss to explain exactly how his team had come away from the Stadium of Light empty-handed after dominating for long periods, but admitted their hopes of glory could be dashed unless they can arrest the trend. Manuel Pellegrini has warned that Manchester City’s bout of travel sickness could derail their Barclays Premier League title challenge. He said: “I am concerned because we are losing too many points away and, of course, that’s very difficult if you don’t win away to try to fight for the Premier League. “But I don’t think we are playing badly, so we must have a reaction, we must improve to make sure we are going to win.” Former Manchester United full-back Phil Bardsley’s 21st-minute strike – his second goal in five days – proved enough to claim three priceless points for the Black Cats after he shrugged off James Milner and curled a shot across keeper Costel Pantilimon and inside the far post. The Romanian was once again preferred to England international Joe Hart and Pellegrini refused to be drawn on where he currently ranks his goalkeepers. He said: “At the moment, of course, Pantilimon is playing. He hasn’t had any problems in the three games he has played.” Pellegrini introduced Jesus Navas as a half-time substitute and later added Edin Dzeko to the mix as he sought a way back into the game. But with Sunderland keeper Vito Mannone and a defence marshalled superbly by Wes Brown – starting his first league game in almost 22 months – holding firm, there was no way through. The City manager said: “The reaction is very similar to the other games that we have lost away. It’s incredible the way we lost this match. “Sunderland played really well also defending. The team is not in a good position, so I understand the way they played. “But they had just one shot on our goal. We had the possession, we had the chances and we didn’t score.” Sunderland boss Gus Poyet was thrilled by a win which gave the Black Cats’ survival hopes a major boost, but did his heart little good. Asked if that was the biggest victory of his managerial career to date, even eclipsing a 2-1 defeat of arch-rivals Newcastle, he said: “Yes, probably. “I know that for the fans, for the club, for the history, it’s always more important to beat the biggest rivals without any doubt. That’s when you have to win. “But in terms of opposition, quality, world-class players, this is the biggest of my career, so it’s going to be a good evening tonight without any doubt. “I don’t know how my heart is right now. I don’t want to check it just in case it’s bad news, but it’s going to be a great evening. “I am so pleased for the players. They need to believe. It’s easy to talk – we can say things and you can write. But at the end of the day, it’s the players on the pitch who need to be convinced that this new way of playing football and defending is working, which is great for the future. “So let’s see if we can keep this going. It’s a good time to go into the international break.” Sunderland remain three points adrift of safety, but having won their last three home games, two of them in the league, the table makes for much more satisfying reading. Poyet said: “Right now, yes. Three hours ago? I’ll tell you what, when I looked at that table, it was awful – and we were playing Manchester City. “But that’s the key. It’s the feeling that you are sending to the rest above you. I would be thinking, ‘They are coming’.” Press Association
Chasing 139 after Gary Wilson’s half-century and 47 from Kevin O’Brien, the UAE were bowled out for 133 one ball from the end of their 20 overs. A third win in succession leaves Ireland two points ahead of their opponents at the group summit, with Hong Kong also two points behind and with a game in hand. Ireland lost Paul Stirling and Niall O’Brien in the fourth over and William Porterfield was then run out, but Kevin O’Brien and Wilson put on a decisive 92 in a fourth-wicket stand lasting almost 13 overs. Kevin O’Brien’s run-a-ball innings featured two fours and a six but ended when he was caught by Rohan Mustafa in Manjula Guruge’s final over. Wilson remained unbeaten on 53 from 44 balls, with three boundaries. Muhammad Azam hit the second ball of the UAE reply for six but then holed out off the next, but Shaiman Anwar and Khurram Khan put on 53 for the second wicket to put the home side on top. Max Sorensen (two for 17) made the vital breakthrough when Khan (35) was caught by John Mooney and Paul Stirling soon removed Anwar as the match swung. George Dockrell removed Swapnil Patil and Muhammad Shafiq for figures of two for 21 but t wo sixes from Amjad Javed put the game back in the balance, with Mustafa going well at the other end. But Trent Johnston’s yorkers caused problems and after two run-outs and with six needed from two balls, Guruge was bowled for a golden duck and Ireland snatched the win. Ireland moved top of ICC World T20 Qualifying Group A with a tense five-run win over the United Arab Emirates in Abu Dhabi. Press Association
Former Liverpool striker Michael Owen believes his old club have the credentials to not only secure a Champions League return but to win the Barclays Premier League title this season. Press Association “Liverpool are fully deserving of being labelled title contenders,” he wrote in a blog on Sportlobster. “The Reds are firmly back in the big time. “The noises I am hearing are that (Brendan) Rodgers has money to spend this coming window and should he unearth another couple of gems, I certainly wouldn’t back against them lifting some silverware come May.” Managing director Ian Ayre flew to Barcelona to speak to Uruguay international Suarez’s agents about the possibility of a new deal, Press Association Sport understands. It seems unlikely the 26-year-old will agree to extend his stay beyond the 2016 end of his current deal until he knows whether the club have qualified for the Champions League. Even then that may not necessarily be enough to keep him but, having previously pledged his support until the end of the season, the league’s leading scorer seemed fully focused in restoring Liverpool’s place among Europe’s elite. That is a far cry from the summer when he was very outspoken with his frustrations about not being allowed to leave for a Champions League club, especially after Arsenal lodged a bid of £40,000,001 in the mistaken belief it would trigger a release clause. But while everything seems relatively stable with Suarez at the moment, former Reds midfielder Dietmar Hamann believes the club need a long-term personal commitment in addition to any new contract. “What must not happen is we have a situation next summer as we had last summer,” said the German, a Champions League winner with Liverpool in 2005. “He could sign a new contract now, take the £200,000 a week, the team finishes outside the top four and you have the same shenanigans. “I want him to stay but there needs to be clarity. He has got to understand what it means to commit. “If there is a clause that he can go for £60million, £80million and someone pays it, that is obviously fair enough, but you can’t have a situation again like you had last summer.” Suarez has scored 17 goals in 11 matches this season since returning from a 10-game suspension, carried over from the previous campaign, for biting Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic. The free-scoring Reds are currently second in the table and would take over from Arsenal, for two days at least, with victory over Cardiff at Anfield on Saturday. And with preliminary talks about a new contract for 17-goal striker Luis Suarez mooted on Wednesday, Owen can envisage manager Brendan Rodgers lifting a trophy come the end of the season.
Press Association “Nevertheless, England was a great experience.” Sherwood looked to have the perfect chance to start his reign at Spurs with a win on Boxing Day, but his team came up short against strugglers West Brom. The Londoners looked vulnerable at the back and had to settle for a 1-1 draw after Jonas Olsson equalised Christian Eriksen’s opener. Given that Sherwood has been thrown into the job during the hectic festive period, midfielder Lewis Holtby believes the new manager and his coaching staff must be given time to adapt. “The (coaches) who are in, they’ve only had a short time. It’s not that easy for them to come in and show you a different style,” Holtby said. “We’re trying to adapt that as quickly as we can and I think we’re positive about the coming weeks. I think we can get there quickly. “I think they’ve done a really good job coming in here in a very hectic period of the season, and we just have to follow their lead and try to do everything they say.” Sherwood bristled at suggestions that he is keeping the manager’s seat warm for a more experienced coach following Thursday’s game. He will have little time to gather his composure as his team face Stoke on Sunday afternoon before travelling to Manchester United on New Year’s Day. Then Tottenham have the small matter of an FA Cup tie against bitter rivals Arsenal three days later. Still, Holtby is glad that the uncertainty surrounding the club’s future direction has been put to bed. The German said: “In football it’s always very important that you have a structure and you have a plan, and it’s good that we have these guys in now and, with everything they’re showing us, we’re trying to adapt as soon as possible.” ends That much was evident on Boxing Day when a group of home fans at White Hart Lane booed their team off following an underwhelming 1-1 draw against West Brom. Villas-Boas, speaking for the first time since his dismissal, is disappointed that he could not repeat the success he enjoyed at Porto, where he won three trophies during his first and only season in charge. “I wish I could have responded to the confidence shown by the fans with a trophy,” Villas-Boas told Portuguese newspaper O Jogo. “I had great ambitions to win a trophy this season.” With his reputation in England having taken a big hit, Villas-Boas looks set to be planning a return to the management on the continent. The 36-year-old was not short of offers last summer. He rejected overtures from Paris St Germain while Real Madrid were also said to be interested in his services. He has recently been linked with AC Milan. In the interview he refers to his time in England in the past tense, and talks of “re-positioning” his career, suggesting that he will not be looking for a new post in the Barclays Premier League any time soon. “This is a time of reflection for me and my staff, and for repositioning of our careers,” he said. Andre Villas-Boas rues his failure to deliver at Tottenham and has dropped a heavy hint that his next job in management will not be in England. After lasting less than nine months at Chelsea, Villas-Boas had a chance to rebuild his reputation at Tottenham, but the Portuguese was sacked last week following a humiliating 5-0 defeat to Liverpool. Many Tottenham fans were annoyed at the sacking of Villas-Boas, and the appointment of managerial novice Tim Sherwood as his replacement.
Hazard, who has worn the number 17 since signing for the club in 2012, confirmed the switch on Chelsea’s official website. The 23-year-old has been persistently linked with a move to Paris St Germain in recent weeks, but his comments suggest he will be going nowhere. Eden Hazard has dropped a big hint that he will be remaining at Chelsea next season by announcing he will wear the number 10 shirt at Stamford Bridge. “I am very pleased to be able to wear the number 10 for Chelsea,” Hazard said. “It is my favourite number and is one I am used to wearing for the national team, as well as the one worn by some of my heroes from when I was a kid, like Zinedine Zidane. “I hope it brings me a lot of luck in the future and I look forward to the fans seeing me in it next season.” Hazard, who was crowned Chelsea Player of the Year last month, takes over the number 10 shirt from Juan Mata after the Spaniard moved to Manchester United in January. Press Association
Manchester United are set to announce the signing of former Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes on an 18-month contract. Press Association When asked in October whether he would consider signing Valdes if he returned to full fitness, Van Gaal gave a cryptic hint that it might be a possibility. ”Manchester United has always their eyes open,” the United manager said. Van Gaal’s backup goalkeeper Anders Lindegaard was linked with a move away from United in the summer and is yet to play a first-team fixture this season. United’s other two reserve options are Sam Johnstone, who is on loan at Doncaster, and 24-year-old Ben Amos, who was criticised by the United boss for letting in Miralem Pjanic’s 60-yard lob against Roma in pre-season. United will face a Friday night FA Cup assignment against Cambridge. The fourth-round match at the Abbey Stadium on January 23 will be televised by BBC One and kick off at 7.55pm, the Football Association announced. And Press Association Sport understands the 20-time English champions will now sign the Spanish World Cup winner to provide competition for first choice David de Gea. It is understood an agreement with Valdes is close and an announcement could be made shortly by the club. Barca youth product Valdes left the Nou Camp last year after spending almost two decades at the club. While at Barcelona the goalkeeper won six domestic titles, three Champions Leagues and also lifted the Copa del Rey on two occasions. The goalkeeper also won the World Cup with Spain in 2010 and the European Championship two years later. Valdes was an ever-present throughout his spell at the Nou Camp, but he will find it hard to break into the United first team because of De Gea’s superb form this season. The former Atletico Madrid goalkeeper has excelled in several matches, most notably against Everton, Tottenham and Stoke. But United manager Louis van Gaal knows Valdes well – he gave the Spaniard his debut during his second spell as Barca boss – and views the player as an excellent potential addition to his squad, particularly when he is available on a free. Valdes has been a free agent since leaving the Catalan giants last summer. The 32-year-old has been training with United for three months in order to help him recover from the anterior cruciate ligament injury he suffered in March.
Carver has made no secret of the fact he wants the job and is expected to remain in charge for Saturday’s trip to Chelsea and the following week’s home clash with Southampton. Newcastle have reportedly made contact with former Lyon boss Remi Garde over the vacancy but he remains just one of a number of candidates noted by chief executive Lee Charnley. “There’s all this talk that the club is happy to sit in the top 10. But no – set your marker as high as you can and if you can get there then what an achievement. “We’ve proved we’re capable of that when we had our recent run of six wins on the bounce.” Despite the links with Garde, Carver is adamant he still has time to make his case and that wrapping up a famous league double over Jose Mourinho’s men could sway United managing director Lee Charnley. Carver added: “That’s the unfortunate thing about being caretaker-manager – you are on interview all the time. “It’s a bit unfortunate because normally a new manager is given time to put his ways across. “I know the pitfalls and what comes with it. It hasn’t been a great few days. But I love it. I still want to do it and I have the drive and enthusiasm to do it.” Carver said: “The dressing room is settled at the moment but the longer it goes on it can become unsettled. I’ve been in this situation before and it can affect people. “If you don’t do something about it in a short space of time you can end up drifting. And what this football club can’t be doing is drifting so a decision has to be made sooner rather than later. “When I had the conversation with Lee I said, ‘I want to throw my hat in the ring – you want the right coach and you can’t allow this to go on and on and on. “What they’re not going to do and rightly so is make a rash decision and say ‘we’ll take him’. They need time and I understand that. He trusts me to do the job while they can have their thinking time.” Carver’s audition did not get off to the best of starts with last week’s FA Cup defeat at Leicester after which he was criticised for naming a weakened team. Carver maintained a number of top stars including Moussa Sissoko, Fabricio Coloccini and Daryl Janmaat were injured, but all three will be fit to return at Stamford Bridge. But Carver remains bullish about his side’s hopes of success this season, even hinting at an improbable challenge for a UEFA Europa League spot. Carver added: “We finished fifth a couple of years ago and that was fantastic – so why can’t we push fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth? Newcastle caretaker boss John Carver has warned the Magpies risk “drifting” if they do not act swiftly to appoint a permanent successor to Alan Pardew. Press Association