Premier League – Managers: Unhappy Christmas

There was no Christmas cheer in the Premier League dugouts, with Arsene Wenger, Phil Brown and Joe Kinnear particularly angry.

2008-2009 Manchester City-Hull City Phil Brown delivers his half-time team talk on the pitch - 0

Manchester City 5-1 Hull City

Mark Hughes: “We needed to get our noses in front, that settled us down almost immediately and from that point onwards some of our attacking play was as good as we have produced this year. Obviously being on the front foot, the quality of our attacking play is there for all to see. But what we haven’t been able to do is produce that on a consistent basis. Now we have to make sure we do that from this point onwards.”

Phil Brown: “It was unacceptable behaviour, an unacceptable performance from a Phil Brown side and I am bitterly disappointed, to say the least. I thought it was nice and cold and I thought I would keep the boys alive because they looked as if they were dead. Let’s not read too much into it but I think 3,500-4,000 travelling fans deserved some kind of explanation for the first-half performance and it was difficult for me to do that from the confines of a changing room. For people to arrange their Christmasses and Boxing Days around a game of football, I think we owe them an apology for the first-half performance.”

Wigan Athletic 2-1 Newcastle United

Steve Bruce: “The vultures will be circling [around Emile Heskey] but we have done a good job turning the club around and the last thing we want is to dismantle it. But I have had no offers for any of our players. [On Amr Zaki being disciplined:] Whatever happens in the dressing room I’ll keep in-house. His daughter has not been well and he has had a difficult couple of months trying to settle.”

Joe Kinnear: “I can’t find words to express [referee Mike Dean’s] performance. If he gives a penalty for Heskey why couldn’t he for Andy Carroll. Heskey has done well, thrown himself and lost his balance. But he’s 6ft 3in for Christ’s sake. The referees fall for it. At the other end Andy Carroll’s got hacked down from behind. See it on TV, see it on the tape, it’s a clear penalty. Even Stevie Bruce said the same but we didn’t get it. That sums up his performance. In the last 15 minutes I always thought we’d get something out of the game. Then the penalty pops us, but you have to rely on officials to do their job, what they are supposed to do. They want respect in the game but what would you say after today. I’m too sick to say anything else.”

Stoke City 0-1 Manchester United

Tony Pulis: “Andy (Wilkinson) is a smashing lad and he’s had a great game but the second challenge was a poor challenge, he’s given the referee no option. Having said that, I thought his first booking was a poor decision by the ref. But the second one, you have to be thinking as well as playing. We were very much in the ascendancy before the sending-off. We’re very disappointed we’ve come away with nothing.”

Sir Alex Ferguson: “At this stage of the season they are all big wins when you get them. They’ve handled it (the Club World Cup) very well. Sometimes you have to be patient in games like this. It was worth it to get three points. I’m very pleased with that. Stoke are very resilient, determined and gutsy. However there is no question it was a sending off as it was a rash challenge by their player.”

Chelsea 2-0 West Brom

Chelsea assistant Ray Wilkins: “We are delighted to have Didier (Drogba) back. It is always nice to score early on and it was a classic centre-forward’s goal – a powerful header. It is lovely to have Didier fully fit although we took him off in the second half because he got a kick on the thigh. He is an exceptional centre forward and we are thrilled when anybody gets back to full fitness.”

Tony Mowbray: “The frustrating thing was the timing of the goals. We did try and frustrate Chelsea but to concede such an elementary goal so early was a blow for us. Going in at half-time 1-0 down would not have been the end of the world but to concede another in the 47th minute was very disappointing.”

Portsmouth 1-4 West Ham United

Tony Adams: “It was a strange game. We struggled to accept that it was a dull game and we were struggling to break them down, and we tried to throw everything at it to try and win. We opened up too early and seemed to be desperate for a result. There are some positives to be taken from it but we’re getting done on the counter-attack too often, which is worrying.”

Gianfranco Zola: “He (Craig Bellamy) scored two very important goals for us and hopefully he’ll keep scoring goals for us. There’s so much speculation but, as far as I’m concerned, he’s our player. It’s as simple as that. The club knows I don’t want to sell Bellamy and we have had a total understanding right from the start. With all the talking around him, another player might have been affected. But he’s a professional and is very good.”

Liverpool 3-0 Bolton Wanderers

Liverpool assistant manager Sammy Lee:Robbie Keane scored twice, that’s terrific, but I just like seeing any Liverpool player scoring goals. Keane, Kuyt, Hyypia, I don’t mind, just as long as they are Liverpool goals. We don’t feel that Robbie has been out of form, despite what people keep saying. He has been working hard, tirelessly for the team, and that is the measure of the lad that he has kept on going.”

Gary Megson: “That was a very disappointing result. We had set out to keep things tight early on, and hoped to catch them on the break. But we only troubled them in the opening few minutes. I was concerned by the manner of the goals we conceded. One came straight from one of our own corners, it went from their ‘keeper to the back of our net in about six seconds. To concede a goal like that is not acceptable at this level.”

Tottenham 0-0 Fulham

Harry Redknapp: “He’s (Heurelho Gomes) done well recently and for £10million he should be half decent. When he was as bad as he looked you were thinking ‘this can’t be right’. He’s now showing what we thought he could be – a top goalkeeper – and a lot of credit goes to Tony Parks who has been working hard with. He’s instilled confidence and we are starting to see the benefits.”

Roy Hodgson: “The players are working very hard in their defensive duties. In the second half we had an opportunity on the counter attack but were profligate with our passing.”

Middlesbrough 0-1 Everton

David Moyes: “The boys are doing unbelievably with no strikers and with Tim [Cahill] and [Marouane] Fellaini working together sometimes up front and sometimes in the middle. They really caused a lot of problems today. It’s terrific what the players are doing. If we get Victor [Anichebe] and Louis [Saha] back that’ll be a start and if we get a couple of additions that will give ourselves a powerful strong squad for the rest of the season.”

Gareth Southgate: “I only know one way of working in my life and in my seven years here and that is to take on every challenge and that’s the kind of determination we need – there’s no easy way out. The focus will come on us now and we’ll have a lot to deal with over the next few weeks but I’ve got to make sure that I take that pressure from the players and I’m more than prepared to do that.”

Sunderland 0-0 Blackburn Rovers

Ricky Sbragia: “The longer the game goes on, the one thing you don’t want to do is lose the game, that’s important. We were nearly caught in the last minute – thank God, he missed the target – but maybe we deserved that bit of luck. I thought overall, we deserved the draw – whether Sam would disagree with that, I’m not sure – but the longer the game went on, the draw looked a safe bet for me.”

Sam Allardyce: “To say the least, we are disappointed, all the players and myself, not to have take the three points after a very good second-half performance. We had not only good, solid, well organised defending, but also some good play in possession and creating some really good chances … We got Jason with an open goal and unfortunately, it just got a bobble on it and hit him on the shin instead of the side of the foot and went wide of the post. ”

Aston Villa 2-2 Arsenal

Martin O’Neill: “It’s very, very easy to say when you’ve got a late, late equaliser, but even if we were beaten today I would have said the character we’ve shown was unbelievable. We set out as you can see to try to win the game. We were vibrant, full of energy and showed a lot of great ability. We were knocked back so eventually getting something from the game when we were 2-0 down was not bad.”

Arsene Wenger: “It was a committed game. They could have scored in the first half. I feel in the second half they were never really dangerous and yet we conceded two goals in the half where we were never really troubled. [It was frustrating] because I feel we were 99 per cent there. We had too many back. We were not outnumbered, it was a throw-in for them.”

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