Football Round-up

TEARFUL SAMI THANKS LIVERPOOL FANS

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Sami Hyypia admitted he found it hard to hold back the tears during his emotional Anfield farewell on Sunday and thanked the Kop for their magnificent support.

The big number four was given the captain’s armband when he came on for skipper Steven Gerrard in the 84th minute and the standing ovation he got told its own story. Before kick-off a mosaic in the Kop paid tribute to a man who has given 10 years wonderful service to Liverpool Football Club. Hyypia admitted it was a moment that moved him. “It was fantastic and I would like to thank the fans for that and for their wonderful support to me during the 10 years I have been at the club,” Hyypia told Liverpoolfc.tv. “There were a few tears at the end and I was surprised I managed to keep them inside until then. That was a sad moment for me. “I’ve always had a really good relationship with the fans. They have treated me as their own from day one and that will never change. I will miss them. “Goodbyes are never easy but life goes on. Now I’m looking forward to a new challenge in Germany but I’m leaving Liverpool behind with great memories but sad feelings.” Hyypia almost made it the perfect send-off when he saw a stoppage time header saved by a combination of Gomes and Modric. “It would have been the icing on the cake but it wasn’t to be,” he added. “It was a good ball in from Fabio but Tottenham scrambled the ball away.” The big Finn has also backed Rafael Benitez’s side to sustain another title challenge next season and sees no reason why the Reds can’t win number 19. “We just fell a little bit short this season but I’m sure next season the team will take a lot of confidence into it from the experience we had this year,” he said. “We had a lot of draws this season and United turned them into 1-0 wins, but hopefully it will be different next season.”

REACTION: IN CONTROL

Guus Hiddink

Guus Hiddink enjoyed the atmosphere of his final Premier League game, and praised his players for their committed performance. In bright sunshine, we were 3-2 winners up at Sunderland with Nicolas Anelka helping himself to the division’s Golden Boot, firing home his 19th league goal of the season from long range. It was a strike that took the French forward back ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo, and Hiddink explained the tactical changes that allowed it to happen, right at the beginning of the second half. ‘That’s very enjoyable to see and we talked about that at half-time. First of all we are here for the win, second if we can help him to get the Golden Boot that would be good for everyone and we talked a bit about that,’ he began. ‘If you are too eager to get something then it normally will not happen, so we said we have to play a little bit differently, more off the ball, and in the first action Drogba went off the ball and not towards the ball, created space for Anelka and at that moment he had to execute it and I think he did it with a world class goal.’ That was the first of five second half goals that kept the home support on the edge of their seats as they searched for the point that would guarantee their safety. In the end they didn’t need it as Newcastle and Middlesbrough surrendered to defeats, allowing for a party in the Stadium of Light.

‘I feel that this team is moving forward’

On finishing the season with a flourish…
“It was good to let the team get some credit. I believe we played during the whole season in a difficult position but overall it was good to finish well and have the crowd happy before we start next season. At Man United and today it was important for us not to play sloppy and to give a message out that we can come back next year and be strong.”

On the season as a whole…

“The difficult thing for a manager is feeling that the team has stood still. I feel that we had to re-find a balance after the departures of Hleb and Flamini and the injury to Rosicky. We had a little bit of a dodgy start but in the last 23 games we only lost once against Chelsea here.”

On possible squad additions…
“I feel the team is moving forward but the question we have to analyse now is are we strong enough to win the League next year? If not, what do we need to add to the squad? That is the basic question we have to answer. There is some great quality here, that is for sure. The squad is very young, that is for sure as well.”

Gibson aims high

Manchester

Darron Gibson says his match-winning goal at Hull was the perfect way to cap a memorable season for the young midfielder.
Gibson’s 25-yard screamer gave an under-strength United side all three points at the KC Stadium in what was the Irishman’s 14th appearance of the 2008/09 campaign. “This season has been brilliant for me,” he told MUTV. “I’ve got a lot of experience and played a lot more games than I thought I would. “I’ve really enjoyed it and I’m looking forward to next season where I’ll try and push for a regular spot in the first-team. That’s the aim.”

Shearer – No Complaints

Alan Shearer

AN emotional Alan Shearer was left to reflect on the “worst moment of his career” as Newcastle United were relegated from the Premier League following Sunday’s 1-0 defeat at Aston Villa. A draw would have been good enough to see the Magpies escape the drop with relegation rivals Hull City beaten at home by Manchester United. But United failed to find that elusive leveller as they slipped into the second tier of English football for the first time in 16 years. Afterwards, gaffer Shearer said: “This is the worst feeling of my career. “It’s painful and it hurts.

A Club Feeling Pain

Gareth Southgate - Photo-Getty Images

Gareth Southgate insists he very much wants to be part of that future and spoke of the acute pain being felt by everyone.
“I know there’ll be a large element of supporters who want change in that area (manager), but when you’re relegated you have to take the abuse which comes your way. “My heart is in this club, I’m determined to fight and repay the faith shown in me, but we have to make significant changes. There are some huge lessons to be learned, we have an enormous fight on our hands and we need fighters to take that challenge on. “It’s unbelievably emotive right now.” The ultimate penalty after setting a series of unwanted records during a wretched season was dealt in warm early summer sun in East London yesterday afternoon.
But it’s over the course of 38 games that a team’s worth is measured, this team, sadly, proved it wasn’t good enough to stay in the top-flight for next season.

Jonno ready for Championship challenge

Jonathan Greening

JONATHAN Greening believes fellow relegated clubs Newcastle and Middlesbrough will start next season as favourites for automatic promotion – but insists Albion will give them a run for their money. The former Boro midfielder skippered the Baggies to the Championship title last season. And he is hoping to make a swift return to the Barclays Premier League after bowing out of the top flight with an encouraging goalless draw at Blackburn yesterday. “It was always going to be a difficult game because we were already relegated,” said Greening, who missed a glorious chance to pinch all three points against Rovers with a last-gasp header. “The atmosphere for the retiring Tugay was good so we just tried to dictate the tempo on a hot day. “I had a good chance at the end and Brunty had a volley which produced a great save, so we should have won it, really. “There was nothing for us to play for other than pride and I thought we showed a lot of people that we are good enough to play Premier League football. “We showed what a good team we are. “With Newcastle and Boro coming down, next season will be interesting – especially because Newcastle are such a big club. “I think Newcastle and Boro will be favourites to come back up. “They have big players on big money so they start favourites. “We just have to try and keep as many of our players as we can. “If we do that, we can push on and do well next season. “I don’t think there will be any extra pressure on us. “We will attack teams as we have this season and last. “Hopefully, we will take the league by storm – as we did last year. “The expectation doesn’t change – we still want to come straight back up.” The 30-year-old midfielder was full of praise for Albion’s near-3,000 travelling support who made the trip to Ewood Park knowing Albion were already down. And he was amused by their final away-day theme as they paid tribute to the manager by donning Tony Mowbray masks. Greening quipped: “I loved the masks – they were great! “We had the super-heroes theme last year and now this. “I signed a few gaffer face masks outside – but I was careful not to sign the real one!”

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~ by awbroady on May 25, 2009.

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