Daily Archives: March 10, 2017

Chelsea to retain Antonio Conte beyond 2019

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Chelsea FC is set to extend Antonio Conte’s contract beyond its current expiration date in summer 2019.

The Blues intend to ward off lingering interest from Inter Milan in the process, but may choose to announce the deal only once the destiny of the Premier League title has become clear.

Conte signed a deal with Chelsea that runs to 2019 and is worth around £6.5m a year last summer in his first managerial role outside his homeland of Italy.

A new, longer contract will also see Chelsea increase the Italian’s salary, but, in keeping with Conte’s own mindset, are reluctant to announce anything that might serve as a distraction to the side’s title challenge.

There were also encouraging signs for Chelsea as Conte was begins to settle down to life in London. Although he said that his wife, Elisabetta, who is completing a university course, and young daughter, Vittoria, have been missing him but said they will finally move to London in the summer.

Chelsea are currently on course for a domestic brace of trophies, with Conte leading the team to their latest victory against London rivals West Ham on Monday, which in turn maintained their commanding 10-point gap on top of the Premier League table.

As the Blues welcome Manchester United at Stamford Bridge next Monday in the FA Cup, the Italian intends to select a strong side — which includes N’Golo Kante and Thibaut Courtois, as well as Gary Cahill and Cesar Azpilicueta. David Luiz and Marcos Alonso, both carrying slight injuries, could still be rested, though the latter has made clear his desire to feature.

Europa League: United claims away goal advantage against Rostov

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Manchester United was held to a 1-1 score by FC Rostov in the first leg of their Europa League last-16 tie in Russia, but claimed an important away goal advantage thanks to Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

The Red Devils faced a hard 3,750 mile to the Olymp-2 Stadium — which pitch conditions were criticised by United manager Jose Mourinho before the match. It was a tricky combination of high bounce, uneven turf and loose soil that could scatter whenever a pass was made.

The toll showed on the players as they could only produce a lacklustre showing in the first 30 minutes, but they got their goal as a fluid move began when record signing Paul Pogba turned infield and found Phil Jones.

The Englishman then swept the ball to Marouane Fellaini and the Belgian’s chested past a marker. When he recycled possession to Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the Swede’s pass to Mkhitaryan allowed the Armenian to beat keeper Nikita Medvedev with ease.

The former Swedish international himself then fired over the crossbar in the second half, before Rostov forward Aleksandr Bukharov pounced on to Timofei Kalachev’s pass for the equaliser. Both sides then registered chances but failed to convert them before the final whistle sounded.

“We have tried to win, we have played as good as we could on this pitch,” Mkhitaryan said after the game. “I do not want to speak about the pitch because it was awful for both. For those watching it was not a very interesting game.”

Mourinho, on the other hand, was far more optimistic about the result.

“It was a very good performance in relation to the conditions. It was impossible to play better, impossible to play a passing game. We played what the game demanded and we played well. We made one defensive mistake.”

“l remember as a kid some matches like this in Portugal – non-league and amateur pitches. To see my players coping with it and the humility to fight for every ball is a good feeling for me.”

“(Now) We have an open result for the second leg with a little advantage for us. (And) There are no injuries.”

Manchester United would play Rostov again in the second leg next Thursday, this time at the considerably superior conditions at Old Trafford.

Joe Hart believes himself ‘surplus’ to Man City requirements

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Joe Hart has revealed that he believes himself a ‘surplus to requirements’ at Premier League club Manchester city.

The England goalkeeper joined Torino in the Serie A on a season-long loan in August after being told he was free to leave City by manager Pep Guardiola.

Hart, 29, said that he saw the Spaniard’s decision to drop him coming, but believes the decision was “nothing personal” and said he respects Guardiola’s honesty.

“If you’re not going to win there is no point in fighting, especially someone as powerful as that,” he said. “He didn’t do it to ruin my life, he did it because he thought that was what was right for him to win as a manager.”

Claudio Bravo, 33, brought in by Guardiola for £15.4m from Barcelona in August as Hart’s replacement, has been peppered with criticism for his performances. Willy Caballero, 35, was now preferred in the Premier League and Champions League since 21 January.

Guardiola has said he will not make a decision on Hart’s future until the end of the season — but it is expected the keeper will leave the club for good in the summer.

Hart’s future is clouded further as he had “no communication with anyone” about a transfer after his loan spell at Torino ends in May. When asked about a return to the Premier League, Hart replied: “I know it really well but I wouldn’t say it was top of my wish list.”

“Top of my wish list is to play for a club that wants me to be their goalkeeper.”