Gallery

Gallery

Europa League on Ferguson’s radar now  

Alex Ferguson has said his remark that having to play in the Europa League was Manchester United's "penalty" for not reaching the Champions League knockout stage was not a criticism of the second-tier competition and they wanted to win the trophy.

"When I say it's a punishment for us to be in the Europa League what I mean by that is for 20 years what this club has only thought about is the Champions League. All we've thought of is winning that European Cup.

"So that's the punishment in the sense of it's a big disappointment of not challenging for (that trophy) this year, having been in three finals in the last four years.
"It's not a slight against the Europa League because it's a competition we want to win. We're in it and we'll try and win it," he added.

UEFA president Michel Platini had criticised Ferguson's comment that United had been penalised by dropping into the Europa League, saying it was an "amazing" competition.
"You shouldn't criticise the Europa League just because you've played in three Champions League finals," the Frenchman said. "The Europa League is a brilliant competition. It's amazing.”

London organisers look for men with rhythm

Organisers LOCOG said in a statement that more than 10,000 hopefuls had auditioned over the past month for roles in the ceremonies, expected to draw a global television audience of around four billion people in more than 200 countries.

The first round of auditions closed last week and more will take place in February after a January deadline to sign up. "We need more men — particularly if you have rhythm," organisers said in a casting information note on the official London 2012 website (www.london2012.com).  "This means those of you who can dance but also drum, or do any sport, job, or hobby that involves keeping to time."

LOCOG chairman Sebastian Coe urged anyone with "huge amounts of energy and a willingness to perform in front of a stadium audience and billions of people around the world" to sign up.

Oscar winning film maker Danny Boyle is artistic director for the opening ceremony on July 27.

Bayern turn focus on local talent

Bayern Munich have stopped signing young players from South America, and will instead scout locally in Bavaria.

"That's where our attention is at the moment, and that means fewer young players from other countries and continents," German media quoted chief executive Karl-Heinz Rummenigge as saying.  "We will not sign any more young players from South America, that doesn't make sense," added Rummenigge.

Bayern have only three South Americans in their squad at present, Brazilians Breno, Rafinha and Luiz Gustavo -- all defensive players -- while Argentine defender Martin Demichelis left the club last season.

Veron to stay on for six more months

Juan Sebastian Veron has delayed plans to end his glittering career until the close of the Argentine season after being persuaded to change his mind by Estudiantes team mates and fans.

Veron, who shone in Europe for a decade with Sampdoria, Parma, Lazio, Manchester United, Chelsea and Inter Milan, was set to play his last match for Estudiantes against Union on the final weekend of the Apertura championship on Sunday.
Instead, the 36-year-old who has been plagued for months by ankle problems, said he would play for another six months and finish when the Clausura championship ends in June.

"I've taken the decision to carry on. I'm happy to stretch it to six more months at the club," said Veron, who last Sunday had told about 500 fans chanting "Veron's not going"that he would think about staying on.

Veron returned home to Argentina in 2006 and has led Estudiantes to two league titles and their fourth South American Libertadores Cup crown adding to the three his father Juan Ramon was involved in between 1968 and 1970.

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