Paper News and Gossip: Pellegrini Blasts Barcelona Referee, Pep Backs Wenger

Ian RodgersWorld Football Staff WriterFebruary 19, 2014

Paper News and Gossip: Pellegrini Blasts Barcelona Referee, Pep Backs Wenger

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    Clint Hughes/Associated Press

    Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini hogs the back-page headlines on Wednesday after his comments in the wake of the 2-0 defeat to Barcelona.

    The Etihad Stadium boss fumed over the choice of referee for the game after Martin Demichelis was sent off for a foul on Lionel Messi which lead to the Argentina star opening the scoring from the penalty spot.

    Bayern Munich head coach Pep Guardiola has leapt to the defence of Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger after comments made by Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho.

    But who else is making the headlines on Wednesday? Read on to find out more.

Manuel Pellegrini Rage at Referee Choice for Champions League Loss to Barcelona

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    Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini launched a scathing attack on the choice of Swedish referee Jonas Eriksson for the Champions League last-16 first-leg defeat by Barcelona.

    David Anderson of the Daily Mirror reports that the Etihad Stadium boss could be facing disciplinary action by UEFA for his comments with regard to the dismissal of Martin Demichelis for his foul on Lionel Messi, which lead to Barcelona's opening goal from the penalty spot.

    Pellegrini is quoted as saying:

    There is more important football in Europe than Sweden. A big game with two important teams, that kind of game needs a referee with more experience.

    This referee whistled the Barcelona-Milan game and he made an important error against Barcelona. Today he rearranged it.

    The referee decided the game. Before the penalty, it was a foul on Navas when he was three metres from the play so he could see it.

    From the beginning I felt the ref was not impartial to both teams. And after it was not a penalty, it was outside the box, the contact is outside the box.

    City captain Vincent Kompany dismissed Barcelona's display in the game as he claimed the La Liga champions were not the best team he had faced this season, according to another Anderson article in the Mirror.

Bayern Munich Boss Pep Guardiola Backs Arsene Wenger in Mourinho Row

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    Bayern Munich head coach Pep Guardiola has backed Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger in his row with Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho, reports Alyson Rudd of The Times (subscription required).

    The Gunners manager and his Stamford Bridge counterpart have been involved in a war of words recently, but Guardiola believes Wenger deserves respect for the work he has done at the North London club.

    Wenger returned the compliment by declaring Bayern the best team on the planet ahead of the Champions League tie between the two clubs, as John Cross of the Daily Mirror reported:

    They won the World Club Cup [last December], they won the European championship, so I would have to say yes (Bayern are best in the world).

    Maybe in the style there is always room for improvement, but if they just do the same achievements this season they can say they have improved because it’s more difficult to do it again.

    We know we face the favourites of the competition. But we have belief. We are in a much better mental shape than a year ago.

    We have a strong team spirit, that is for sure, and a strong desire to do well and a united team.

    We did not always have the belief, because belief is built by the results and on that front we are stronger.

Juan Mata Insists Manchester United Will Still Attract Top Players in Summer

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    Manchester United midfielder Juan Mata insists the club still have the pulling power to attract quality players in the summer, despite a disappointing season under David Moyes, reports Rhys Turrell of the Daily Star.

    United are 11 points off the Champions League places in the Premier League, and face a daunting task in clawing their way back into contention.

    But Mata is convinced world-class players will still be tempted to Old Trafford for next season:

    I don’t know what will happen in the summer but the manager said the other day at a press conference that he’s going to be signing players.

    I think this club is at a stage of change, a bit of change in the project, but as I’ll tell you, at this club the best players in the world will always arrive.”

    The objective is to get to the Champions League spots. It’s difficult because Liverpool are doing well, so are Arsenal, as well as Tottenham and Everton, who are all clubs also fighting for them, but I think we have a team who can do it.

    This is Manchester United. When this club wins two, three or four matches in a row, it has a very important mental strength, a winner’s mentality.

    We are coming and I think we can do it, but we have to win a lot of games first. This is a club that should always be fighting for the Premier League.

    But United are facing competition from Manchester City in the chase for Porto defender Eliaquim Mangala, reports Liam Prenderville of the Daily Mirror.

    David Wright of the Daily Express reports that Sporting winger Carlos Mane is a summer target for United.

Arsenal to Hijack Newcastle United Move for Striker Loic Remy in Summer

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    Arsenal will attempt to hijack Newcastle United's hopes of landing Loic Remy on a permanent basis from Queens Park Rangers, reports Ben Jefferson of the Daily Express.

    According to the aticle, the Gunners have contacted the striker's agent with regard to a possible move for the player, who is currently on a season-long loan with the Magpies.

    Meanwhile, Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud has attempted to clear up any uncertainty over allegations about his private life, reports David Kent of the Daily Mail.

Cesare Prandelli Linked with Tottenham Head Coach Role

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    Italy head coach Cesare Prandelli has emerged as a potential new manager for Tottenham Hotspur, reports Ed Aarons of The Independent.

    The former Roma and Fiorentina boss is a close friend of Spurs technical director Franco Baldini, according to the article, and would welcome the chance to manage in the Premier League.

    Aarons also notes that Ajax head coach Frank de Boer and former Holland manger Louis van Gaal have been linked with the role currently occupied by Tim Sherwood.

    Meanwhile, Tottenham goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes has been linked with a move to Leeds United, claims Andrew Bontiff of the London Evening Standard.

Michael Laudrup Hits out at Swansea over Sacking

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    Former Swansea City manager Michael Laudrup remains baffled at the circumstances of his dismissal from the club earlier this year, reports Pat Sheehan of The Sun (subscription required).

    Garry Monk has replaced the former Denmark international on an interim basis at the Liberty Stadium, but is still confused by the events leading up to his firing by Swansea chairman Huw Jenkins.

    Laudrup is quoted as saying:

    Before my last game against West Ham, I was told the club were not satisfied with the backroom staff — but I didn’t agree with  what was being said.

    After losing at West Ham, I got another message that I should really, really,  really consider changing staff and we agreed to have a meeting on Tuesday  but my mind hadn’t changed.

    If you agree they can change your staff, what next?

    I said it would be a big mistake to talk about this at this moment because it  was in the week before one of the most important games — against Cardiff.

    We ended up saying we had to stay together. We shook hands and he said thank  you very much for the work I was doing for the club.

    Later, while I was talking on the phone, I received an email saying that due to a breach of contract, it was terminated — just a few hours after shaking hands! I was very confused.

    I said, by the way, what does breaches mean? He could not explain that.

    He didn’t really know and while I was on the phone to home, my wife Siw said  the fact I was sacked was already on the internet!

    The following day an employee brought my stuff to my home.

    I said it was very sad that I could not say goodbye to all the players before I left but I got a call back to say the chairman thought it was a very bad idea.

Bits and Pieces: Liverpool Monitor Muriel, Roy Hodgson's Worry for England Fans

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    Liverpool will turn their attention to Luis Muriel if Luis Suarez leaves the Anfield club in the summer, reports Charles Perrin of the Daily Express.

    The article claims the Udinese forward has been considered by the Reds before, and is a possible target if the Uruguay international is the subject of a multi-million offer.

    Newcastle United have denied that World Wrestling Entertainment chief executive Vince McMahon is considering a buyout of the club, reports Ian Murtagh of the Daily Star.

    England manager Roy Hodgson has expressed his fears for fans travelling to the World Cup in Brazil, according to George Scott of the Daily Star.

    Fulham have finally confirmed the departures of Rene Meulensteen, Ray Wilkins and Alan Curbishley from the club, reports Neil Rowlands of the Daily Mirror.

    And Charles Sale of the Daily Mail reports that Wilkins has revealed he is suffering chronic bowel condition ulcerative colitis to counter claims he had been drinking ahead of the recent match against Liverpool.