Casinos, poker, and Man Utd


In 2009, Federico Macheda made his Manchester United debut in one of the most memorable ways possible: by executing a drag-back turn and scoring a goal against visiting Aston Villa to help the Red Devils clinch top spot in the Premier League.

That one goal propelled the then-17-year-old striker into the spotlight. He even got invited to two of his teammates’ famous haunts – the exclusive Manchester casinos 235 and The Circle Club. Unfortunately (or fortunately) for Macheda, he was refused entry to both. Apparently, Man Utd legend and then-manager Sir Alex Ferguson had phoned ahead to remind casino security that he was still a few months shy of his 18th birthday.


CELTIC REJECT MACHEDA


Celtic have rejected suggestions that Federico Macheda could be set for a summer move to Scotland. Neil Lennon has been reportedly looking at the Manchester United striker, who has just a few months left on his contract.

The club only recently signed Neil Griffiths as a replacement for Gary Hooper, who was sold to Norwich city in the summer. However, it has been rumoured that Celtic are looking for someone who can be a backup to Griffiths. Macheda may prove to be a good signing for the club since he will be on a free transfer.

However, the youngster has been at a club where he is used to do winning trophies. After spending a few years at clubs like QPR and Sampdoria, Macheda finally seems to have found the best club for his style of football at Birmingham. He has been an impressive player for the blues since joining the loan deal a few months ago.

Celtic are also set to lose Greek striker Giorgios Samaras, which will be another blow to the team. The future of goalkeeper Fraser Forster has also been under speculation with the England international reportedly eyeing a move to the Premier league in the hope of securing a national team spot.

Lennon, though, has dismissed the rumours by stating that there is no truth in them.

"There is nothing in that story at all. We have been aware of his availability over previous transfer windows but have not pursued that. You never say never but it is just wild speculation at the minute. We have an extensive list of players that we are looking at with a view to bringing here in the summer. We are certainly looking at four or five positions. I am pretty sure that players will be leaving in the summer,” said Lennon.


NOT IN THE PLANS


There is no place for Federico Macheda in David Moyes near future plans as he already has the likes of: Wayne Rooney, Van Persie, Welbeck, Hernandez and Juan Mata at his disposal for selection and another forward is not what the Scottish coach is in need.

Since signing with Manchester United back in 2008, the Italian forward has made 19 appearances for the club but has enjoyed more time playing out on loan to different clubs as he has already been featured for Sampdoria, QPR, Stuttgart, Doncaster Rovers and the latest one that he joined on a loan deal is Birmingham City.

Federico Macheda expressed his emotion after completing his move to his new club, Birmingham City as the Italian player considers that move to be his best choice.

“This is a good club with a massive support, it’s a young team as well met the manager a few months ago, he made a good impression on me, it’s important to go to a club where I knew what I was going to do.

“It was the choice I made and I think it’s the best one. Yes, I could’ve gone back to Italy - but I won’t tell you the name of the team!

“I had the chance. But my priority was to stay in England, I love this country. I love football here. I’ve been here for seven years now, there’s no better place to play than in England.”

Even though Federico Macheda completed his loan deal to Birmingham City some weeks ago, the head coach of the club is still impressed by the talent that the young player has to offer.

“He came to the fore when he was young, he smashes one in against Villa in a high-profile game, and they are the aspects you have to deal with. There’s no doubting his talent. There’s no doubting what he is about. So we will just try and get the best out of him.”


NO HOLIDAYS


The boss of Doncaster Rovers Paul Dickov has insisted in saying that his squad will not have a single day off until their FA Cup match against Stevenage is concluded, as they are scheduled to face off on January 4.

“From Monday until after the Stevenage game the players are in every day. If they do well over this period they might get a bit of time off around February.” Dickov said.

Paul Dickov wants his side to end their current run of 3 consecutive defeats.

He said: “We’ve just got to work at it. There’s no point in hammering them, especially the back four with so many young kids in there.

“We’ve got to help them and go over the goals by watching them and working on the training ground. Sometimes mistakes can go in your favor because you learn from them.

The Manchester United youngster Federico Macheda believes that his side can push forward despite the past number of disappointing results which has caused them to fight for their lives on the Football League Championship as they are sitting on the last few bottom positions of the standings.

‘’If we stay together as a group I think we can do well. That is the most important thing for a team the unity, for people to think about the team first. That’s what makes a team special. So, I think if we can continue to work that way, we can do big things.” The 22 years old forward said.

Macheda has a loan deal with Doncaster Rovers that finishes at the end of this month and the Italian player is unsure on what his future holds for him.

“I’m on my final year of my contract at United so I’ll see what happens in January. I have to go back at the end of December but we’ll see what I am going to do after. I have not spoken to anyone.” The Italian said.

Macheda has spent the latest 2 years of his career playing from club to club, going from a loan deal to another one as Manchester United wants him to gain experience and feel that he still is not ready to play at the main squad.


Manchester United star likens Januzaj to a young Ronaldo


Former Manchester United player Quinton Fortune has likened the club’s new wonder kind Adnan Januzaj to a younger version of Cristiano Ronaldo when he first arrived at the club, following his impressive displays since making his debut for the club.

The Belgium born youngster scored twice on his full debut in the Premier League to rescue United from a losing position to a 2-1 win against Sunderland a few weeks back and has already made eight appearances for the club already.

And the 18 year old midfielder has made a great impression on Fortune, a former South African international who witnessed the development of the player first hand at the fabled Manchester United academy and reserve side during his time at the club while he was completing his coaching badges.

Fortune stated that everyone in and around the club knew that they had a special talent on their hands. He added that what set him apart from the other players were his self belief as well as confidence in his abilities and that is something he noticed during his two years with the youth development side and mentioned that although he is playing at a much higher level now, he is still a believer in those attributes.

He mentioned that the youngster has so much confidence in his abilities and admitted that these qualities are hard to find in young players these days before going on to state that he sees a young Cristiano Ronaldo in him, when he first arrived at the club as a 17 year old lanky youngster from Sporting Lisbon.

And Fortune also believes that under David Moyes, who is known to give young players their chances, Januzaj would go on to become a star for Manchester United for years to come and that is the best thing.


GREAT ITALIANS


Italian football has had some great players over the years, but it looks like most of the players who were part of the 2006 World Cup may not be playing with Italy anymore.

The likes of Alessandro del Piero and Francesco Totti have given a lot to the national team over the years, but their participation at the 2014 World Cup has been a major doubt. Italy manager Cesare Prandelli has said that he does not rule out recalling some of the former names. Totti may be coming to the end of his career, but he is still playing an influential role in the Roma team.

Doubts persist about the recall of del Piero because the former Juventus striker is currently playing in the Australian A-League. Cesare Prandelli has also not ruled out Antonio Cassano, who has not been selected for national team duty in recent times. Cassano was an important part of the team at the Euro 2012, but he missed the Confederations cup. Del Piero is close to retiring from football and the talk about his selection seems to be merely press talk. Italy are one of the favourites to win the 2014 World Cup after doing well in recent major tournaments.

“Everyone must think they can make the World Cup. Between late March and April we will try to understand those who have the best condition. Totti, Di Natale and we also add Del Piero to the conversation. You have to go with the best players. We must also follow Antonio Cassano who had an extraordinary European Championships, if he has a strong season with Parma and finds a good condition, it will definitely get him into serious consideration," said the manager, who has worked extremely hard in order to bring down the age of the team.


PRANDELLI MAKES CHANGES


The manager of the Italian football team, Cesare Prandelli, has said that there might be a few changes in the starting XI of Italy for their second Confederations Cup match against Japan which will be played at Arena Pernambuco on Thursday.

Italy made a good start to the ongoing Confederations cup by defeating Mexico in their opening match by 2-1 on Sunday. That was a mighty close game though and was heading towards a draw at one point of time, but, in the 78th minute of the match, Mario Balotelli with a fine strike gave Italy a match winning lead.

Prandelli looked quite happy with the way his players kept their nerves during the final moments in the match against Mexico. Talking to the reporters yesterday, he said, “The boys showed great character. Mexico is a quality team, we all know that. It was tough to compete against them. But, the boys hung in there and cashed on the opportunities that they got.”

When asked what would be the Italian starting line up for the game against Japan, Prandelli said, “I think there will be a few changes. In the training session tomorrow, I will see who is in good nick and then, will take any decision. Right now, I can’t tell you who will sit out and who will play.”

Mario Balotelli was shown the yellow card after scoring that match winning goal against Mexico because he took off his jersey while celebrating.

When asked about that incident, Prandelli said, “I have asked Mario not to do it again. He has already shown his muscles to the spectators several times. There is no need to do it again.”

“However, he deserves to be praised for his performance on Sunday. He was just sensational right through the game.”


PERMANENT MOVE RUMOURS


The German tabloid paper Bild has reported that the Manchester United striker Federico Macheda could be set for a permanent move to the German club Stuttgart. The Italian is currently on loan at the German club till the end of the season.

He arrived at Germany in January, and he has been impressive with his performance so far. Due to the fact that competition is high at Manchester United, it is highly unlikely that Macheda will be able to get first team spot at Old Trafford next season. As a result, the player is thought to be pondering a permanent move away from the club.

Even though Macheda is set to open his account for Stuttgart in the league, the player has already made six appearances for the team. The Italian striker made his debut for the team back in 2009, but he has since struggled of first-team opportunities partly because of his poor form and partly because of the presence of great strikers at the club. The arrival of Robin van Persie has only served to decrease his appearances. He has been unable to get even into the League Cup teams, which prompted the decision to move on loan. Now, it is thought that Stuttgart are keen on signing the striker, who has just over 12 months left on his deal.

This is not the first loan spell for Macheda, as the striker has already had loans spells at Sampdoria and QPR in the past. However, they have been unproductive loan spells because the striker once again spent majority of the season on the bench. The loan spell with Stuttgart, though, is turning out to be positive for the striker. After suffering four consecutive defeats, the German team finally managed to get a win under the belt that helped them move clear of the relegation zone.


West Ham United vs. Manchester United Preview


Saturday’s late afternoon kick-off in the FA Cup sees West Ham United host Manchester United.

Three times winners West Ham go in to the game on the back of their first win in five games, having beaten Norwich City 2-1 on New Year’s Day.

The Hammers will be without injured due Andy Carroll and Mohammed Diame, with Joey O’Brien also a doubt. Captain Kevin Nolan and James Collins both return following suspension, while Joe Cole is available after completing his move from Liverpool.

Cole, who began his career at Upton Park before moving on to Chelsea almost ten years ago is 17.0 (16/1) to open the scoring on his return.

Sam Allardyce’s men are widely available at 5.0 (4/1) to win the match, with Manchester United favourites at 1.75 (3/4). The draw is a 4.0 (3/1) shot with some firms.
No team has lifted the FA Cup more times than Manchester United, though they haven’t won the competition since 2004.

Tuesday’s victory over Wigan Athletic took them seven points clear at the top of the Premier League, and Bet Fred price them at 81.0 (80/1) to repeat their success of 1999 and complete a League, Cup and Champions League treble.

Defenders Phil Jones and Nemanja Vidic are set to return to the starting line-up, though Nani and Wayne Rooney will miss out.

Top scorer Robin Van Persie, who won the trophy in 2005 after beating United in the final on penalties is the 4.0 (3/1) favourite to get the first goal of the game.


LONG AND HARD SEASON


The Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has said that this season will be long and hard in terms of the title race. The Manchester United manager was speaking after the 1-0 win over West Ham that helped the team maintain their lead at the top of the table over the second-placed team and arch rivals Manchester City.

Robin van Persie scored the fastest goal so far in the season to help United on their course for a narrow victory over West Ham. This was the 12th goal of the season for the summer signing and it was an extremely deflected effort.

However, Ferguson did not complain about the result of the match as it helped them maintain the one-point advantage over Manchester City. They also increased their advantage over Chelsea to 7 points after the London team could only manage a 0-0 draw with neighbours Fulham. Still, Ferguson has said that he will not rule out Chelsea from the title race because it is still early in the season. Ferguson has also stressed the importance of winning matches 1-0 because it is all about three points in the end. United had a few scary moments, but they were extremely happy to come out the clean sheet in the match.

"The three points means we're still ahead in the league and, with Chelsea drawing, it draws us away from them a little bit further. But City are on our tails. It's going to be a long season. The importance of winning 1-0 in certain games is your opponents know the resilience is there. Our 1-0 that night won us the league. There are important 1-0 victories. We've had many of them," said Ferguson after the match. Van Persie is now one short of the goals scored by Luis Suarez in the Premier league.


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