Son shows faith in Conte 'because he's a winner'

By Sports Desk October 05, 2022

Son Heung-min has defended Antonio Conte's principles following recent criticism aimed the Tottenham head coach's way for recent results.

After seeing out a 0-0 draw with Eintracht Frankfurt in the group stages of the Champions League, Spurs are now without a win in their past four away matches in all competitions. 

Despite starting the season well, Conte has been questioned for the way he has approached recent fixtures, including a 3-1 defeat to fierce rivals Arsenal in the Premier League. 

However, Son does not see this as an issue and stated the importance of sticking with Conte and his ideas.

He said: "We saw last season that nobody believed we would be here right now. Last season nobody believed we'd be in the Champions League. 

"The gaffer always wants more, more, more and as [a player] I want to follow his way, or you know what's coming. If we don't follow him then you know you struggle.

"We have to follow, there is no option because he's a winner and I think this is what we do – sacrifice and do the hard things."

Spurs find themselves in second place of Champions League Group D, with their next European fixture coming against Marseille on November 1. 

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    Roberto Martinez has blasted the Belgian media for coverage of a "genius" French-based report detailing supposed unrest in the Belgium camp ahead of a huge World Cup match against Croatia.

    Belgium lost 2-0 to Morocco in their second Group F game and must now defeat the 2018 finalists to be sure of advancing to the knockout stage.

    The Red Devils' preparation for that fixture has been hampered this week by discussion of a rift within the team, first reported by RTL and L'Equipe.

    Belgium's players subsequently came together for a meeting – "it wasn't a crisis meeting, as we might have heard from some quarters," insisted Timothy Castagne – as they aim to "show more solidarity" against Croatia.

    Castagne added the reports had "exaggerated a lot" and he had "seen worse", before Martinez, appearing after the defender at a pre-match news conference, suggested his team now knew they were in Qatar "on our own".

    "For us, nothing changes. The standards come from within," the coach said.

    "We were not happy with our two performances. We got the result in the first game, but we were not happy with our performance.

    "The second game was the first time we lost a game by two goals in a major tournament. You can imagine we were not happy with it. We had to react.

    "Then you see the storm on the outside and realise maybe we were listening too much to the noise on the outside before the tournament.

    "You have some outlets in Belgium who are quite happy to jump on fake news. That's quite astonishing. It's made the group quite aware that the least you listen to the noise from outside the better.

    "It's the biggest sporting event in the world, and you can see there are many World Cups being played. Maybe a country like France did a very good job with a story that became the main talking point of some outlets.

    "There is more desire to find negative news around this team, rather than getting the nation together, supporting this team, enjoying the talent of the best generation we ever had in Belgian football.

    "Probably that was a lesson for all of us: we are here on our own. We are here to fight for what we believe. Hopefully the fans, the real fans of the Red Devils, can enjoy the process."

    Pressed on his suggestion the story had come out of France and been intended to hurt Belgium, Martinez replied: "I've got too many things to do in camp to think about where this story comes.

    "What is clear is whoever came up with it, whoever has done it has scored a great goal, an own goal for Belgium.

    "If I'm an opposition and I can weaken another side and get them out of the World Cup, I would do that as a journalist, I would love to win my own World Cup. Whoever's done it is genius."

    Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic said his side would not be "fooled" by the reports around the Belgium team, adding: "I don't have an opinion on them and what's happening there.

    "They are the second-best team in the world. That's all I care about. We are not focusing on any other aspects. We are focusing on Belgium, their quality.

    "They cannot forget overnight how to play football. They are a top-notch team. They're number two, and we're number 12."

  • Rumour Has It: Real Madrid identify Benfica's Enzo Fernandez as new top target Rumour Has It: Real Madrid identify Benfica's Enzo Fernandez as new top target

    Real Madrid have reportedly pivoted away from Borussia Dortmund's Jude Bellingham and are now treating Benfica's Enzo Fernandez as their top transfer target.

    Bellingham, 19, was considered the top priority for the Spanish giants, but a report from Marca claims they now believe he is destined for the Premier League and will instead focus their resources on 21-year-old Fernandez.

    Fernandez arrived at Benfica in June after they were able to pry him away from River Plate for a deal worth up to €18million including add-ons, but his exploits on the Champions League stage – including assists against Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus – have that price looking like a steal.

     

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    Fernandez was handed his international debut as a 20-year-old back in November 2021, and his continued growth on the European stage earned his spot in Argentina's World Cup squad.

    Not content to purely come along for the ride, Fernandez was brought on as a substitute in each of his side's first two group games, and against Mexico he became Argentina's youngest goalscorer at a World Cup since Lionel Messi in 2006.

    His ability to both break into and perform for such a quality international side – entering the tournament on a 35-match unbeaten streak before falling to Saudi Arabia – has reportedly sent Fernandez's transfer value through the roof.

    Marca's report claims he is now viewed as a €100m talent by Benfica, and they expect to field offers in that neighbourhood soon.

     

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    – According to Relevo, Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag views the Netherlands' World Cup hero Cody Gakpo as his ideal replacement for Cristiano Ronaldo.

    – Fichajes is reporting Liverpool, Chelsea, Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain are all showing interest in 22-year-old Ajax midfielder Mohammed Kudus amid his excellent performances for Ghana.

    Bayern Munich remain interested in Tottenham's Harry Kane and are working on an offer between €80-100m, per Sky Sports Germany.

    – The Sun is reporting Chelsea are not happy with both Edouard Mendy and Kepa Arrizabalaga and will look to bring in a new first-choice goalkeeper.

    – With Rafael Leao likely leaving Milan at the end of the season, Gazzetta dello Sport claims they will try to fill the void with RB Salzburg's 22-year-old Swiss international Noah Okafor.

  • 'Unplayable' Rashford must deliver every time he plays, says England team-mate Shaw 'Unplayable' Rashford must deliver every time he plays, says England team-mate Shaw

    Luke Shaw challenged Marcus Rashford to match his "unplayable" display against Wales throughout the rest of England's World Cup campaign.

    Rashford scored England's opener and their final goal in a 3-0 win over their British rivals at Ahmad bin Ali Stadium on Tuesday.

    The victory sent England into the last 16 as Group B winners, and they will now face Senegal for a place in the quarter-finals.

    Rashford, one of four new faces introduced by Gareth Southgate for the game, curled in a wonderful free-kick to break the deadlock early in the second half, before he doubled his tally with a low shot after a mazy run, with Wales goalkeeper Danny Ward allowing the ball through his legs.

    After becoming the first Manchester United player to score three goals at a World Cup since Bobby Charlton in 1966, when England won the trophy, Rashford must now replicate that level of performance time and time again, according to his club-mate Shaw.

    When asked by Stats Perform what he thought of Rashford's display, Shaw replied: "He's so good, the talent he's got, he can be unplayable. 

    "I think he needs to deliver that every single game he plays. He's got the quality that can make a difference, he's an unbelievable player and one that can make the difference for us.

    "Hopefully he can keep those standards high and keep doing it."

    Rashford, who finished with six shots, only one fewer than the entire Wales team managed combined, had scored eight times in 19 appearances for United this season heading into the World Cup, and Shaw has full faith the 25-year-old will keep up his form.

    "Very confident. I see it day in, day out – what he's doing, how he's training," Shaw added. "He took his chance, I think it was his time to start and for me he took his chance.

    "He needs to keep the standards high now, because he's a really important player."

    Phil Foden was a star of the show along with Rashford.

    Having faced criticism from some quarters for not bringing the Manchester City youngster on against the United States last week, Southgate started Foden in place of Bukayo Saka.

    While Foden took a while to get going, he clicked through the gears as the first half wore on and was on the end of a brilliant Harry Kane delivery to make it 2-0 just 98 seconds after Rashford's opener.

    "Not just the ones that started today, you look at the bench and the quality we have, we have World Class players who if they're not starting can come on and change a game," Shaw said when asked if Foden could be decisive in pushing England deep into the tournament.

    "Phil didn't get a chance against the USA but he came in and was the wonderful player we all know, getting on the ball, making things happen, scoring a very important goal at a crucial time and that’s what we want from all of them. We need them to be like that."

    Rashford revealed after the match that he had recently suffered the loss of a friend, and Shaw – whose grandmother passed away shortly before the World Cup – explained the unique unity of the England camp had been crucial in helping him overcome the loss.

    "One million per cent," Shaw said. "The togetherness is not something I've witnessed in a team before.

    "Everyone is so close together, we get on so well and push each other every day to get better and keep the standards high. It brings everyone closer together."

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