Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : December 24th 2014 Contents A61
Wednesday, December 24, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
Manchester United manager
Louis van Gaal has refused to
answer any questions on
whether he is preparing to
make a record bid for Gareth
Bale during the January transfer
The Welshman has been
linked with a move back to Eng-
land, with more than one news-
paper reporting recently that the
Reds are lining up a £90m swoop
for the Real Madrid player.
But the Dutchman was not
ready to be drawn into any spec-
ulative conversation with the
press at an Old Trafford news
conference yesterday, saying: "I
cannot discuss that with you.
"I discuss that with my CEO
(Ed Woodward) and not with
anyone of the media."
And Bale s representatives
have told Sky Sports News HQ
that reports linking him with a
move to Old Trafford are "irre-
The straight-talking Van Gaal
also said that despite United s
excellent recent run in the Pre-
mier League, he is trying to instil
a style a play into his squad that
will help them to dominate for
longer spells in matches.
Since losing at home to
Swansea on the opening day of
the Premier League campaign,
United s form at Old Trafford
has been good---with seven wins
from eight---but Van Gaal
believes there is still much
improvement to be made.
He added: "It s a pity when
we came back from the United
States (pre-season), where we
won everything, and then lost
our first game in the Premier
"We want to build a fortress
at Old Trafford and have done
that already because we have
won a lot and I m happy with
that. But in the Premier League
it is not easy to win your games.
"My record in away matches
is not too bad as a coach, when
you compare it with home
matches because in away games
(outside England) teams wanted
"But here they want to defend
and that s why it is more difficult.
So we have to develop a certain
way of playing so we can dom-
"Every week we are dominat-
ing for 45 minutes, or 60 min-
utes, so now we have to dom-
inate for 90 minutes. We did it
against Hull City---that was a
And the 63-year-old reiterated
that the United squad will be
stretched thin over the Christmas
period with four games in 10
Among those currently out
injured are Luke Shaw, Ander
Herrera, Marouane Fellaini and
Asked about who could pos-
sibly return for the games against
Newcastle on Boxing Day and
Tottenham two days later, he
went on: "The problem is I have
a lot of injured players, which is
the problem of these matches in
the coming weeks.
"No. No. They are (Shaw, Her-
rera and Fellaini) not coming
back. Chris Smalling maybe. I ll
take a look on Wednesday.
"For a few players this period
is fun because they are recovering
quickly but you also have players
who are not recovering so quick-
ly, so I have to rotate."
Meanwhile Van Gaal appre-
ciates Sir Alex Ferguson s praise,
but admits he will always be
under pressure to match the
Scot s achievements at Man-
Ferguson won 38 trophies dur-
ing his tenure at the club, so
anything short of a golden run
will be viewed as a success by
the Dutchman, who has won
leagues in Spain, Holland and
United s greatest ever manager
lavished praise on Van Gaal this
week, telling BT Sport: "He s a
great coach, he will do well...
When he gets the best players
back, you watch United go."
While Van Gaal appreciates
the endorsement of a man held
in the highest regard by United
fans, he concedes such words
put him under pressure to deliv-
"It s fantastic," Van Gaal said
when asked about Ferguson s
"When you come here, you
hope---because I know Sir Alex---
that he shall support you.
"And this week is not the first
time he has showed a lot of con-
fidence and belief in me, and
that I need as trainer-coach.
"As manager of Manchester
United you need belief and sup-
port of managers such as Sir Alex
but also (directors) Bobby Charl-
ton and David Gill.
"They have the belief and I m
happy with that, then you can
work in an easier way.
"But it is also a pressure
because he believes in you and
it gives you that pressure that
you have to get results. It is not
so easy to win Premier League
Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli s "sincere and
honest" mitigation over his posting of an anti-
Semitic and racist image persuaded an independ-
ent disciplinary hearing to punish him with only
a one-match ban.
Written reasons into the decision revealed the
Football Association would have recommended a
two to three-match suspension had it not been for
the Italian s "forceful" submission.
Balotelli s legal team also produced evidence of
comparative cases and suggested any ban would
not be proportionate but that was not taken into
account by the panel.
The commission was "not influenced by the
submissions regarding comparative cases but
believed that the other parts of Mr Balotelli s sub-
missions were sincere and entirely honest".
In his submission Balotelli said he was shocked
to find the image was offensive because, out of
sheer naivety, he had not understood the implication
of the comments which appeared on the image.
The written reasons noted: "In his letter, Mr
Balotelli also said that he had suffered from racism
on a great number of occasions. He added that he
is of Ghanaian heritage and that his maternal grand-
mother was Jewish and had escaped Nazi Ger-
"Mr Ives (from the FA judicial services depart-
ment) informed us that under the guidance for
this type of offence the minimum sporting sanction
therefore for consideration was a one-match ban."
Balotelli was charged by the FA after posting a
picture of Super Mario on his Instagram page which
contained racist and anti-Semitic language as it
contained the phrases "jump like a black man and
grab coins like a Jew."
MONROVIA---Former soccer star George
Weah held a commanding lead over the
president s son in the most high-profile
contest of Liberia s Senate poll, which was
delayed twice because of Ebola.
Originally scheduled for October, the
elections were pushed back to December
16 as Liberia struggled to contain the Ebola
epidemic, which has killed 3,376 people in
the country according to the World Health
Organization. Officials then pushed the
polls back four more days to Saturday.
Turnout was 27.9 per cent, said Jerome
Korkoya, chairman of the National Elections
Commission, as he read out provisional
results Monday night. Results had been tal-
lied from 1,636 of 4,701 polling places across
In the 11-candidate contest for Monrovia s
Montserrado County, Weah, FIFA s Player
of the Year in 1995, had so far received 79.7
per cent of the vote. His rival Robert Sirleaf
was running in a distant second in the 11-
candidate race with 11.2 per cent.
Weah won the first round of Liberia s
2005 presidential race but he lost the runoff
to Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. In 2011, he was
the vice presidential candidate for his Con-
gress for Democratic Change political party,
losing the first round and boycotting the
Weah s supporters have already begun
celebrating his Senate win, though the elec-
tions commission has two weeks to release
Christopher Neyor, former president of
the National Oil Company and a harsh critic
of the current government, is one of two
candidates that have conceded defeat to
"We must work together to curtail the
cancer of corruption in our governance
structure and effectively manage the natural
resources God has given us to break the
chain of abject poverty in our country,"
Ebola has killed more people in Liberia
than in all the other countries hit by the
current outbreak, the worst on record. But
the disease is now spreading fastest in Sierra
Leone, which has the highest tally of cases.
The number of confirmed, probable and
suspected deaths in the three countries
most affected---Guinea, Liberia and Sierra
Leone---now stands at 7,518, the WHO said
Monday. The number of cases in those
countries is now 19,340.
Gabriel Agbonlahor s red card against Man-
chester United has been overturned after Aston
Villa won their appeal.
The striker was dismissed in the second half of
Villa s 1-1 draw with United on Saturday after a
50-50 tackle with former Villa teammate Ashley
Young but is now available to face Swansea on
Villa, though, have been charged by the Football
Association with "failing to ensure that its players
conducted themselves in an orderly fashion" during
the game and have until 6 pm on December 30
But manager Paul Lambert was delighted at
Agbonlahor s reprieve after he was dismissed---for
the first time in his career---by referee Lee Mason.
He said: "It is great for us. I said at the time
I didn t think it was a red card and everyone s
assumption was the same.
"Ex-referees have come out and said it was-
"So your own common sense told you it wasn t
a red card.
"Gabby is playing really well at the minute so
we hoped it would be rescinded.
"We are still without a few---Westy (Ashley
Westwood), Nathan (Baker), (Philippe) Senderos
and (Kieran) Richardson---so we didn t want anoth-
er one out.
"Not one of your big players."
The red was Villa s second in two games after
Richardson was dismissed in their 1-0 defeat at
Richardson is still suspended but Villa have Alan
Hutton back after a ban for their trip to the Liberty
Stadium while Tom Cleverley is also available fol-
lowing his fifth yellow card of the season.
Liberia: Ex-soccer star takes lead in Senate race
Van Gaal quiet
on Bale rumours
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