Premier League – What the managers said

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The reaction from the dugouts after the opening day of Premier League action.

2008 Chelsea Luiz Felipe Scolari - 0

Chelsea 4-0 Portsmouth

Luiz Felipe Scolari: “[Ballack] played very well, but he had something with his ankle and it was impossible for him to continue. Now we have to discuss him with [Oliver] Bierhoff and Joachim [Loew] from his national team. We hope that next Wednesday [for Germany against Belgium] or next Sunday [at Wigan Athletic] he’s in condition to play, but I think it will be difficult. I think the owner is happy. Portsmouth didn’t think we would play like we did and we were more aggressive than last season. I think they were surprised by our team. I only give the players the freedom to play and allow them to express their style.”

Harry Redknapp: “You’re not going to break into the top four. No one is this year. Spurs have got a squad and can’t even win at Middlesbrough, so you start forgetting about them. The top four are on another level. We’ve improved our standard in the last three or four years but, today, you step up into a different level.”

Manchester United 1-1 Newcastle

Alex Ferguson: “We played well in the first half and their goalkeeper made several good saves to keep them in the match. But as soon as we lost Ryan Giggs to a hamstring injury and Michael Carrick with an ankle, which is swollen up badly – he’ll be out for two to three weeks – we lost a bit of our experience in midfield. We had possession of the ball but didn’t make it count at times – but in light of the people we had missing, it was a creditable result for us.”

Kevin Keegan: “That was a good performance from us and we thoroughly deserved a point. Of course you are going to have to ride your luck when you come to a place like this and we did, but no one can say we got more than we deserved. Newcastle fans will go away saying how they witnessed a team playing for the supporters, playing for the badge, playing for the club – and that’s what they deserve.”

Aston Villa 4-2 Manchester City

Martin O’Neill: “I am delighted. It was a big victory for us and we played particularly well going forward. I was disappointed that we were not ahead at half-time but we had a great second half. It was as important for us to stay tight defensively but I knew that we would create things in attack.”

Mark Hughes: “We were very much in the game when we levelled and we could have gone on from there and won it. We had conceded early on in the second half but we showed good character to come back. But then we had 10 minutes of madness. We made some bad decisions at the back and stopped defending set-plays – and you cannot afford to do that against Villa.”

Sunderland 0-1 Liverpool

Roy Keane: “I’m delighted with the performance – generally speaking I thought the players did very well. It’s a fine line at this level and we saw what Torres is capable of. When we played Liverpool last year I was hopeful of a result, today I was confident – that’s progress.”

Rafa Benitez: “You could see the team was really focused. We want to concentrate on winning, and the best news for our supporters is to win games. In the first half, they were attacking; the second half, we were on top and attacking – and continued until the end. We had chances. Torres is a key player and he can change games. For the team, it’s really important to have these sorts of players.”

Arsenal 1-0 West Bromwich Albion

Arsene Wenger: “It’s a first game of the season and we had a physical match on the Wednesday night and I was a little bit worried before that we would not be very sharp, but we started well and were in control and we just couldn’t finish them off. You have that old story that you feel you probably deserved to be punished in the end – but I am pleased we did not let in a goal.”

Tony Mowbray: “We could have had a good hiding and after four minutes, that was always going to be a possibility. But we worked very hard all over the pitch and as the game wore on we started posing a real threat and looked as if we could have scored a goal. If the goalkeeper hadn’t pulled off some good saves and for a clearance off the line, we might have been sitting here at 1-1.”

Everton 2-3 Blackburn Rovers

David Moyes: “Our defending at times was rubbish. We had experienced players, internationals, who were not at the races today. We gave away a daft free-kick for their winner, and even then Ryan Nelsen was offside when the ball came into the box. It was hard for the linesman to see that, but Nelsen had moved from an offside position to head against the bar.”

Paul Ince: “I do not want to keep saying this, but nobody is going to be leaving the club. We want to keep our best players, be it Santa Cruz, Warnock or McCarthy and any one of a dozen players. Let’s dispel all this. No-one is leaving the club, we have had a really good start in this game. We have won at Everton and not many teams do that apart from the top four. It was a great achievement.”

Hull City 2-1 Fulham

Phil Brown: “The spirit of the football club was there for everybody to see. The fitness levels in the second half were incredible, as was the passion and the drive. The character was tremendous. Before the game we said to the players that Fulham didn’t travel too well last season, and we tried to exploit their weaknesses.”

Roy Hodgson: “It became a fight at both ends in the second half, and in those circumstances it was always possible a defensive error would settle the match, which is what happened. It’s tough to come away without a result after the first half performance, but Hull were very motivated in the second half, they chased things down, and we made some mistakes as a result.”

Middlesbrough 2-1 Tottenham Hotspur

Juande Ramos: “For the moment Berbatov is a Spurs player. We are happy with him, he is part of the Spurs squad and there is nothing to say about it, I don’t have any comment to make on it. We actually opted for Giovani [dos Santos] because we thought that his speed would be something that would trouble Middlesbrough. However, as Middlesbrough tired in the game we thought it might be the right moment in the game to throw on Berbatov.”

Gareth Southgate: “Spurs are a good side, they obviously had a couple of players in their team who haven’t played in the Premier League before. We watched their pre-season games and we felt no-one had pressed them the way that we intended to and nobody had got at them in the way we intended to.”

Bolton Wanderers 3-1 Stoke City

Gary Megson: “We made a lot of changes in the summer both on and off the field and you hope things go as planned. In fact we had such an exceptional week’s training I said to my wife I had nothing to moan about. So for things to go like the did today, you have to be pleased because Stoke caused us a lot of problems.”

Tony Pulis: “We were looking fine in the first 25 minutes but we dropped our heads after the first goal. The other two goals were disappointing. They came from set-pieces – were were naive in both situations. I think the scoreline is a bit harsh as one or two things did not go our way.”

West Ham 2-1 Wigan Athletic

Alan Curbishley: “Obviously Dean [Ashton]’s got to be picked for England yet – but if he is and he’s pain-free in the morning he will be available to play. We’ve just got to hope it’s only cramp. With Craig Bellamy and Kieron Dyer still out it’s the last thing we need from our point of view – to see Deano out as well.”

Steve Bruce: “Arguably we should have got something out of it. Palacios was superb, the kid has got everything you want in a footballer and if he keeps playing like this he’ll be a fantastic one. It was Arsene [Wenger] who recommended him. I was trying to sign Mathieu Flamini for Birmingham at the time and couldn’t get him but Wenger said ‘I’ve got this lad from Honduras on trial and he’s worth a look’.”

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