Premier League – Managers: Ferguson gamble pays off

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Managerial reaction to the weekend’s Premier League matches, with Sir Alex Ferguson breathing a sight of relief after his gamble to bring on 17-year-old Federico Macheda paid off in Manchester United‘s 3-2 win over Aston Villa.

FOOTBALL 2008-2009 Premier League Manchester United Man United-Aston Villa Ferguson - 0

Manchester United 3-2 Aston Villa

Sir Alex Ferguson: “In those situations, I gamble. Winning is the name of the game at this club. Risks are part of football and this club has been that way for a long time.

“I love to see that kind of adventure. Yes, there are times when we don’t defend properly – and we didn’t defend well today – but there is always a goal threat. There is always a chance we can win the match – and that is more exciting than anything.”

Martin O’Neill: There was a foul on Ashley Young before the goal. The officials also got three offside decisions wrong when we were clean through. The thing is we can take great heart from the performance.

“But we are really disappointed with the result because I didn’t feel we deserved that. You are never comfortable against United but I felt we were in commanding form and looked as though we could withstand anything.”

Everton 4-0 Wigan

David Moyes: “The Champions League is still there for us, we are not going to give up. Arsenal have got the points and are coming into form with players back from injury. We are not going to give up, but realistically it will be a tough call to catch them now.

“We have got the defeat at Portsmouth out of our system. I was worried about that, but we were back to our best.”

Steve Bruce: “Anyone who has known me over the years knows that I have never publicly criticised another footballer. In this case, though, I find it ridiculous that this club who have given (Amr Zaki) his chance in England – and pay him very well I might add – are not being treated properly.

“We are not being shown any respect, it is totally nonsensical. We believe he has a hamstring (injury), but we do not know how bad because we have not been able to assess him. We have had some sort of fax or e-mail to our medical people about it, but how bad it is we will not know until he reports back. He is still in Egypt and may be back some time in the week but we do not know when. This is not the first time. It is the fifth time and it cannot go on.”

Newcastle United 0-2 Chelsea

Alan Shearer: “I am optimistic still, I am still confident that we can avoid the drop and my players are too, which is more important. One game in football is a hell of a long time – we have got seven. I am sure there are going to be twists and turns between now and the end of the season. Results-wise, other teams – that’s gone against us as well, but we know we are in a fight and we will give it a fight.”

Guus Hiddink: “With the coming of Shearer we knew it would give a lot of energy and we wanted to spoil the party. Alan Shearer knows, because of the great experience of his in the Premier League, that it is not always when you have eight games to go that you are very optimistic. But he is also very realistic to say that you cannot win (all) eight games and if you play Chelsea as Chelsea played today, then it’s difficult to get the points.”

Fulham 0-1 Liverpool

Rafael Benitez: “(Benayoun scored) a very, very important goal at a crucial time. There was relief. You cannot say you will score in the last minute but we always play to the end. We have the winning mentality. It is better not to say things but to do things and the players always believe they can score in the last minute… Hopefully tomorrow (Manchester United) can make a mistake and we can stay at the top of the table.”

Roy Hodgson: “It’s a bitter blow to lose in injury time after such a battling performance against an in-form team. That is frustrating and disappointing. We had dangerous situations. They had more possession but we dealt with things reasonably well. I cannot fault the players for their commitment. But when you can bring on players like (Ryan) Babel and Benayoun it is a great advantage. Benayoun’s goal was a bit fortunate but he took it very well.”

Arsenal 2-0 Manchester City

Arsene Wenger: “If we had won two more games, we could have been challenging, but the other teams could maybe say that as well. We are 17 unbeaten, but we lost five of the first 14 – you can’t do that and win the league. However, it shows that when a team is young, they can improve and they are showing that now. We are not the same team that was playing in the autumn.”

Mark Hughes: “We did not have enough power and presence on the field, but were compromised by the changes we had to make because of injuries. In the end we just did not have enough to get back at a very good Arsenal side. But we have got to pick ourselves up now because we have got a huge game on Thursday in the UEFA Cup against Hamburg.”

Bolton 4-1 Middlesbrough

Gary Megson: “Obviously it is a great result. We have played that game today with the knowledge if we put in a good performance and get a good win this was a really defining Saturday. We are eight points above the relegation zone with probably a better goal difference than most in there so it is going to be difficult [to be caught]. But I don’t think we can turn around and say if we finish on 37 points that will be enough.”

Gareth Southgate: “We didn’t do enough of the things we need to do to win football matches. We defended really poorly and we haven’t done enough to deserve anything from the game. To come here and lose 4-1 is very disappointing. We didn’t start very well defensively as a team, we were second to too many things, but we always looked like we would be a threat on the break.”

Hull City 0-0 Portsmouth

Paul Hart: “I think we have got to be happy with a point overall. A lot of our players have had a difficult week playing around the world or two games for England. Sometimes that takes its toll because we are not in a position where we can rotate the whole team. We have to ask the players to play under all circumstances and they do so willingly.”

Phil Brown: “There is a possibility Glen Johnson could have received a second yellow in the first half. You witnessed a very motivated England international, sometimes over the top. He spilled over and got himself a yellow card and then seconds later could have been sent off, but I thought that was fantastic refereeing. I don’t like to see players sent off.”

West Ham 2-0 Sunderland

Gianfranco Zola: “It’s amazing to see our young players doing so well.We need their energy and strength. We will need them to help us achieve our goals. When you have a great team spirit it’s easy for whoever comes in to do a good job.”

Ricky Sbragia: “It’s going to be difficult, we need a win badly. We have to play Manchester United next which will be difficult. We can’t depend on others. I thought we gave our all today but the first goal was always going to be crucial and unfortunately we conceded it.”

Blackburn 2-1 Tottenham Hotspur

Sam Allardyce: “Injuries to Morten and Jason meant we had to put Chris Samba up front. It paid off, though, for us. He was excellent and upset two good centre-halves. But we cannot afford Morten and Jason to be injured for too long. We have not got a lot to work with at the moment. We will worry about that tomorrow and enjoy tonight. It was not our best performance, I know that. But our battling qualities, our determination to go right to the end got us the victory.”

Harry Redknapp: “It was a diabolical sending-off. (Wilson Palacios) never made contact with him (Dunn) for the second card. He was our best player but even with the sending-off we should have shut the game out. But it gave them a lift. I cannot believe what happened. I could not see them scoring. We were in complete control and I was looking for us to get a second.”

West Brom 0-2 Stoke City

Tony Mowbray: “This is a huge disappointment. We talked about having two big home games against Bolton and Stoke and we have taken one point. It makes life very difficult for us. To give Stoke a goal start after two minutes is the scenario we didn’t want.”

Tony Pulis: “Every game is going to be important. This was going to be difficult for us, a local derby, and with West Brom desperate for the result as well – so it was an important result. But we have got to keep our feet on the ground. There is still a way to go yet.”

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