EFL

Unbelievable – Enzo Maresca unhappy with gap in rest times for Midlands rivals

By Sports Desk December 02, 2023

Leicester manager Enzo Maresca said it was “unbelievable” his team were given less time to recover than opponents West Brom despite beating them 2-1 in a dramatic late finish.

The Foxes briefly extended their lead at the top of the Sky Bet Championship to four points after Harry Winks scored a stoppage-time winner to cancel out substitute Josh Maja’s 89th-minute equaliser.

Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall put Leicester in front after 72 minutes before unselfishly opting to set up Winks four minutes into time added on.

“It was a very difficult game because of them and because when you play Wednesday night and Saturday lunchtime it’s not easy, and they played Tuesday night, so they had 24 hours more to recover the energy,” said Maresca.

“For me it’s unbelievable when you play Wednesday night and Saturday – both teams have to play together (at the same time), not one on Tuesday and one on Wednesday because the difference is huge.”

Maresca claimed some of his players were tired during the game.

“Wilfred (Ndidi) came back from a long-term injury, we gave him some rest on Wednesday night but you could see he wasn’t fresh,” added the Italian.

“Wout Faes did a big effort to be there, and Jannik (Vestergaard), JJ (James Justin) the same.”

Dewsbury-Hall was Leicester’s standout player after scoring his sixth goal of the season and setting up the other, but Maresca wants more from him.

“In terms of goals, he is where he has to be, but with assists I’m not happy, because this one was quite easy,” he said. “He has to improve his last pass because he’s had many chances.”

Leicester led in the 72nd minute when Dewsbury-Hall headed home Ndidi’s cross.

Albion equalised in the 89th minute when Faes headed away Darnell Furlong’s throw-in and, when the ball came back in, Cedric Kipre helped it on and the grounded Ricardo Pereira could only tee up Maja to net his first Albion goal.

For the winner, Leicester broke following a long Albion throw-in and Kelechi Iheanacho found Dewsbury-Hall, who dribbled 40 yards before drawing Alex Palmer and slipping in Winks.

West Brom head coach Carlos Corberan admitted he had no regrets at going for broke instead of settling for a draw after the equaliser.

“We weren’t trying to defend the result – we were attacking how I think you need to attack, but prior to the throw-in we should have defended more calmly, not as aggressive so as not to give them the option to score,” he said.

“We attacked how we always attack. Sometimes to change something is negative.

“If I told my centre-backs not to go up (to join the attack), having scored a goal two minutes ago, at home, I’d have regretted this.

“There are many small aspects to correct – not just because we lost, but to not suffer transitions against opponents.

“The next time we have a throw-in, we must be prepared to not only try to score, but to try to score without the risk of suffering the transition.

“In the 93rd minute, sometimes you make mistakes because of the emotion, not even the emotion to attack, but the emotion to recover the ball, to help your team and to try to make a foul, to keep running.

“We are humans, this is why football is magic. These things happen.”

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  • Philippe Clement wants a reaction from Rangers after Ross County ‘off-day’ Philippe Clement wants a reaction from Rangers after Ross County ‘off-day’

    Philippe Clement has put Rangers’ historic defeat to Ross County down to an “off-day” that even the best teams in the world experience as he looks for a reaction against Dundee on Wednesday night.

    County’s 3-2 cinch Premiership victory on Sunday was the Dingwall club’s first win over Rangers in 25 attempts and dented the Light Blues’ title hopes.

    Rangers are four points behind Celtic, with their game in hand against Dundee at Dens Park getting the green light to go ahead after two previous postponements due to an unplayable pitch.

    Clement’s side have won just two in seven and taken four points from their last 12 but the Belgian was keen to isolate the County display as the first of its kind with deficiencies in structure, organisation and basics since he took over in October and insists such days happen at every club, including all-conquering Manchester City.

    “They were very disappointed in themselves and that is a positive thing,” said Clement, who revealed left-back Ridvan Yilmaz remains out along with midfielder Mohamed Diomande, while defender Leon Balogun is a doubt with illness.

    “I had some clear words after the game and then we had a good debriefing on what went wrong – individually and collectively – and how we can make it better.

    “It was an off-day.

    “It is the first time in six months that I have seen my team like that and I was disappointed. But I think every manager has moments like that, even with teams that win amazing things.

    “I have been watching the series of Man City’s treble last year and I saw quite a few of those moments.

    “It doesn’t mean that I want to see it back on Wednesday of course, but it is part of the game.

    “It’s not something that you want, not the players or manager, fans.

    “But the most important thing is how you react and I have a good feeling about that, that I will see the real face of my team tomorrow.

    “Motherwell (lost 2-1) was a freak accident, we could have won 6-1, we had a lot of chances but it wasn’t our lucky day.

    “The Celtic game (3-3) was a big game, we didn’t start well but we had a great reaction and we played a really good second half and I think it was a deserved draw.

    “But this one on Sunday was a bad one, that is true, so we have to react tomorrow.

    “Sometimes you need a knock on your head to remind you what you need to do to be strong.”

    Clement was pleased to see that the match between Dundee and Rangers is set to go ahead at the third time of asking after a pitch inspection at Dens Park.

    Rangers have already made the trip to the Scot Foam Stadium twice – on March 17 and April 10 – only for the pitch to be deemed unplayable, and contingency plans had been drawn up for the game to be moved to St Johnstone’s McDiarmid Park if the pitch failed its latest inspection.

    He said: “People who decided to play at Dens Park are sure that there will be a game tomorrow and that is a very positive thing.

    “They know the weather forecast probably and they are certain that the pitch will cope with that.

    “So it’s good for us to know where we will play and people from Dundee and Rangers are happy that we can finally play the game.”

  • Chance to do treble again an ‘inspiration and motivation’ – Bernardo Silva Chance to do treble again an ‘inspiration and motivation’ – Bernardo Silva

    Bernardo Silva is motivated by the prospect of making history as Manchester City chase an unprecedented second successive treble.

    City have put themselves in a strong position to retain the three trophies they won in glorious fashion last year after taking control of the Premier League title race at the weekend.

    Pep Guardiola’s side are now two points clear of rivals Arsenal and Liverpool with six games remaining.

    Their attention now switches to the Champions League and the second leg of a quarter-final tie against Real Madrid at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday that will begin with the aggregate score at 3-3. They then head to Wembley on Saturday for an FA Cup semi-final date with Chelsea.

    Midfielder Silva said of City’s triple target: “Of course it’s obviously (an) inspiration and motivation.

    “We want to create that legacy and win another Premier League, to do six in seven years and four in a row, and we want to win the Champions League, to do two in a row, that only Madrid did (with) three in a row. No-one else has won consecutive Champions Leagues, if I am not mistaken.

    “If we can win two trebles in a row, that no-one did, that would be legacy. That is definitely motivation.

    “It’s very difficult as in one week we could be out of all the competitions, but we are fighting for it and going to do everything in our power to be, each day, a step closer that goal.”

    Manager Pep Guardiola, who was speaking alongside Silva at a press conference, was more circumspect in detailing his ambitions but made clear his team will be giving everything to achieve the maximum.

    He said: “I am not going to say don’t feel this to my players when they feel this, but I have a different opinion. We are far away from those hypothetical dreams.

    “When we are in the final of the FA Cup, and (have) two or three games (to go in the Premier League) with an advantage, and in the final of the Champions League, I will start to think about that. But not before a game against Real Madrid.

    “We have a lot of difficult games. It is one game at a time and it is Real Madrid tomorrow. I started to think of the treble last season when we beat (Manchester) United in the FA Cup final.

    “The success for me this season is that we are still there, in this position four or five weeks away, still in contention. It’s incredible.

    “Now, extend the chance one more week, then one more week. This is what we try to do tomorrow and Saturday and the next games.”

    Guardiola, as a former Barcelona captain and manager, has had a fierce rivalry with Real Madrid throughout his career.

    This is the third successive year his City side have played Real in the Champions League knockout stages, with the Spanish side going through in 2022 but the Premier League outfit prevailing a year ago.

    And after last week’s pulsating draw in the Bernabeu Stadium, Guardiola is relishing another contest against Carlo Ancelotti’s team.

    Guardiola said: “Real Madrid in this competition is always a big game. It’s been special for me as a player and manager, but that doesn’t count. What counts is what we have to do to win tomorrow.

    “I don’t fear them but I respect them a lot.”

    City hope to have Kyle Walker back after five games out with a hamstring injury.

  • Hadad happy to pass the reins; says TTFA in good place to move forward Hadad happy to pass the reins; says TTFA in good place to move forward

    Robert Hadad, chairman of the Normalisation Committee, expressed satisfaction with the way in which they steered the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA), and is now happy that they turned over the reins to newly-elected president Kieron Edwards and his administration.

    Hadad, who was on hand when Edwards and his Team Progressive topped Colin Wharfe 38-19 at the recent TTFA's elections and Extraordinary Congress in Couva, is now delighted to move on with his personal life, having done enough for football in the twin island republic for the past four years.

    Edward's administration is the first self-governed TTFA in more than four years. This as William Wallace's administration was removed months after being elected in November 2019, as FIFA intervened and installed the Hadad-chaired Normalisation Committee in March 2020, citing financial concerns.

    “I have no intention of doing anything more. I am quite happy to move on with my personal life. I love fishing, I love the outdoors, and I’m going to continue in my quest for some personal, private time, without anything hanging over my head, like football," Hadad declared.

    That said, the local businessman, whose four years in charge was to oversee the liquidation of a multi-million TTFA debt that stood for decades, believed he did his best to complete the mandate given to him by FIFA.

    “I was very satisfied with what we were able to achieve. I think that the last four years have brought us (to) a better place and I’m content with that. I don’t think I can please everybody, and I don’t think I will ever please everybody," he said.

    “The Association, I would think, they are in a pretty good place. The Association is debt free, save an except for the financial arrangement with FIFA which will be paid off over the next ten years. The rest of it is up to Mr Edwards now and the membership, to take football forward,” Hadad added.

    While applauding the large turnout of TTFA delegates at Saturday's elections, Hadad, whose four years in charge was to oversee the liquidation of a multi-million TTFA debt that stood for decades, expressed optimism that football will not only move forward, but more importantly, impact lives enough to assist in decreasing the crime rate.

    “I’d like to congratulate the TTFA members. I think they were very professional coming out in their numbers, 100% attendance. The normalisation process is completed," Hadad said, adding that debtors had been paid, with the exception of disputed matters involving Englishmen Terry Fenwick and Peter Miller, which are before the local courts.

    “There are two matters before the court and those matters have to be resolved. The trustee Maria Daniel will continue working to bring those matters to a close,” he noted.

    Meanwhile, Edwards praised Hadad and his Normalisation Committee for the work done.

    “The Normalisation Committee played a crucial role in Trinidad and Tobago football. We need to understand that, and we need to acknowledge the service they would have given to Trinidad and Tobago football," the new TTFA president shared.

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