Premier League – What the managers said

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A brief look at the reaction to Saturday’s Premier League games, with Guus Hiddink having little to complain about after Chelsea’s win over Aston Villa.

Aston Villa 0-1 Chelsea

Martin O’Neill: It sounds like an excuse but I do believe the three games in quick succession took their toll. At the beginning, we looked leggy and Chelsea got into their stride very quickly. We got a bit of momentum before half-time and had a lot of possession in the second half without creating too many chances. I am disappointed with the setback but we are far from finished. I suppose it is a sign of how far we have come that we are disappointed at being fourth in the table. We have some quality players. You get disappointments but we will bounce back and there is not a dent in our belief.”

Guus Hiddink: “I am satisfied with the performance and the result, especially against a team like Villa who have had a very good record recently. They have not been beaten in the league for a long time. In the first half we were very dominant and the only criticism is that we did not finish the game off. In the second half they came at us with their big strong guys in the air but we were also a bit too static when we had the ball in possession. We can improve a little bit but I am very pleased and satisfied to get that game in our pocket.”

Manchester United 2-1 Blackburn Rovers

Alex Ferguson: (On Morten Gamst Pederson’s penalty appeal for Blackburn, which was turned down) “The boy Pedersen dived. There is no question about that at all. Yet Cristiano Ronaldo gets booked for the same thing and Pedersen doesn’t. “Both cases were the same. You have to give either a penalty or a yellow card.”

Sam Allardyce: “As far as Pedersen goes, Sir Alex has his opinion, I have a different one. Unfortunately, most clubs might not get a decision like that here. It wasn’t a blatant one but it was a penalty. Pedersen got pulled and tugged.”

Arsenal 0-0 Sunderland

Arsene Wenger: “They tried to frustrate us and did that. We missed chances early and late in the game and we became nervous in front of goal. The attitude is very good among the players but in the final third we are not as efficient as we could be. Our passing is sometimes not incisive enough. Maybe the strikers are not alerted quickly enough. We were not quick or relaxed enough and, overall, it’s difficult. Teams come here and play just one colossus up front and we have got to learn to cope with that.”

Ricky Sbragia: “We are delighted. We had to work hard and we had a lot of luck as well. But I think we deserved a draw. The game plan was to frustrate them and make them play out wide and not let them play through us. We tried to play and get in their box and I thought my players’ energy and their physical side was fantastic.”

Bolton Wanderers 2-1 West Ham United

Gary Megson: “We seem incapable of going on to make it three or four goals after going 2-0 up. It happened against Tottenham and Blackburn and it happened again today. We showed apprehension and started playing differently. But it would be wrong to criticise the players. We have won what I felt was a vital game for us – our biggest of the season. We got off to a great start but we need to show more confidence in ourselves and a bit more belief. We have got good players.”

Gianfranco Zola: “After all the chances we had I thought we’d get at least one point. They had two chances they took, we didn’t – that’s something we’ll be working on in the next few days. Every moment in the game I had the idea that we were going to get something as the team were playing so well, they had problems handling us.”

Stoke City 2-2 Portsmouth

Tony Pulis: “It was two points dropped. When you go into injury-time leading 2-1 you are hoping to win the game but we’ve switched off and they’ve caught us. I didn’t think it was that great a game and it could have gone either way – and when they scored with 15 minutes to go I thought it would be difficult for us. But we came back with the two goals and were looking to see it out.”

Paul Hart: “I think we were unfortunate not to win. We scored a very good goal, had weathered the storm and defended like Trojans. But we didn’t have time to get into a defensive shape to defend before the penalty, which wasn’t a penalty, simple as that. Johnson has leant [towards the ball] but his hands are nowhere near. When you are faced with a decision that you feel isn’t quite the right one it knocks you back a bit and I think we were still reeling from that decision (when they conceded the second goal).”

Middlesbrough 0-0 Wigan Athletic

Gareth Southgate: “The only spell that disappointed me was the last 20 minutes when we were a bit fearful of going forward and making mistakes – we needed to be a bit braver. Wigan looked a solid team and we didn’t have the answers to break them down again. I thought (Lee Cattermole) played as he does – strong in the tackle and keeping his passing simple. If I’m on their side I’m thinking he’s timed the tackle about right to take everything.”

Steve Bruce: “We don’t want to see players (Middlesbrough’s Didier Digard) carried off but sometimes it happens. The tackle by Cattermole was for me, and I think later proved on television, to be a perfectly fair challenge. It was a strong challenge but that’s what Lee Cattermole is all about. He doesn’t want to deliberately hurt people but he’s a strong tackler and he epitomises this team. I thought the referee handled it well.”

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