Hernanes: No Europa League would be failure for Inter

The Brazilian says Saturday’s game against Parma is a “final”, while admitting that he is also currently being driven by the prospect of a “magical” World Cup on home soil

Inter midfielder Hernanes believes that not making next season’s Europa League would constitute “failure” for a club that he feels capable of fighting for the Scudetto “inside two years”.

The Nerazzurri currently occupy fifth place in Serie A but are just two points ahead of Parma, whom they face away from home this weekend, while there is a chasing pack of three teams only three points behind the Gialloblu.

Consequently, while even sixth is almost certain to guarantee Europa League football next season, given third-placed Napoli are playing fourth-placed Fiorentina in the Coppa Italia final, Hernanes is treating the trip to the Ennio Tardini as a game Inter cannot afford to lose.

“The game against Parma will be a final,” the Brazil international told Tuttosport. “To not qualify for Europe would, for me, be a failure.

“Inter, technically, are very strong. We must, however, find consistency in the little details that have tripped us up too many times, particularly at San Siro.”

Despite the fact that there has been so much upheaval at Appiano Gentile this season, with Walter Mazzarri arriving as coach last summer before Erick Thohir completed his takeover of the club in October, Hernanes still has no doubts that he made the right choice in leaving Lazio for Inter in January.

“This year has been unique because at the start there was great uncertainty around the new project,” the 28-year-old mused.

“Much will depend on how we finish the season. If we do it in a certain way, it will give confidence to us and to the fans on the correctness of the chosen path.

“I am convinced that in two years we can be back fighting for the title … I came here to win the Scudetto, that great trophy that I’m lacking to make me feel complete.

“I experienced great emotions at Lazio winning the Coppa Italia with a derby win in the final.

“I had wanted to win the Scudetto in Rome, as there it would have been something even greater and more historic.

“However, I understood that it would not be possible and I decided to accept the offer from Inter.”

Hernanes is also hoping to finish the season as strongly as possible in order to secure a place in the Brazil squad for this summer’s World Cup and he freely admits that he is getting a little nervous – just because representing his country on home soil in the game’s grandest tournament means so much to him.

“I’m not worried, but neither am I calm,” the Recife native confessed. “This World Cup, for someone of my age … it has been a life project.

“Everything a person of my generation does has been programmed by the desire to reach the very top level for this tournament.

“A World Cup at home for a Brazilian is a unique event. It’s magical.  To have the opportunity to play in it … it would be a blessing.”

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Pochettino: Chelsea & Manchester United target Shaw going nowhere

The Southampton boss, who could also leave the south coast club, insists the England international is unlikely to leave despite interest from the pair and Manchester City

Southampton left-back Luke Shaw will remain at the club beyond the end of this season, according to manager Mauricio Pochettino.

Goal understand that Manchester City are readying a £30 million bid for the England international, while Manchester United, Chelsea and Spurs have also registered strong interest in the player.

Pochettino insists a decision on Shaw would be made by the club, but he expects his full-back to stay at Southampton.

“At the end of the day, Luke Shaw is a player that belongs to Southampton, and it will be the club that makes the decision as to what happens with his future,” he told reporters.

“Of course there will be interest for him, but right now he’s a player at Southampton and it looks as though it will continue that way.

“There are a lot of players who are under interest, but they are all very happy at the football club, and most of them are under long-term contracts.

“They understand the situation of what it means to be a professional player in the Premier League.

“There’s nothing really we have to speak about on that front. If there is any decision to be made, it is for the owners, not for me.”

Howard extends Everton contract

The veteran goalkeeper has agreed to pledge his future to the high-flying Toffees until the age of 39, much to Roberto Martinez’s delight

Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard has put pen to paper on a new contract with the club that will extend his stay at Goodison Park until 2018.

The American, who has been at the club since leaving Manchester United in 2007 and has seen increased competition for his place in 2013-14 following the arrival of Joel Robles, is now due to remain on Merseyside until the age of 39.

“He has been vital to our overall achievements,” Everton boss Roberto Martinez told The Guardian.

“It’s not just about his performances. As a goalkeeper, you have a big say about what happens in your own goal and to keep the amount of clean sheets that we have this season – which is already two more than last season when we had very good numbers defensively – is impressive.

“Then you see his human values and the way he affects youngsters; he is the perfect role model for our football club. We have a good group of young goalkeepers who can follow that sort of example and that is why it’s so significant he has agreed to stay with Everton for a long, long period.”

Martinez is adamant that there is no issue in handing such a lengthy deal to a 35-year-old, enthusing: “Being a goalkeeper is not like being an outfield player. It is a sport within a sport.

“Tim is a very fit 35-year-old and, as a goalkeeper you probably develop the best years of your career in your 30s because you can anticipate things, dominate your area and control the players in front of you.

“It is a very good age for Tim and I know he will play on beyond 40. He is a fit man and at the peak of his powers.

“He is a unique role model. Just to be a foreign goalkeeper with international experience, being a legend back home, then coming to the British game and playing over 10 seasons, that is remarkable.

“To do it in the manner he has done, always reliable, always accumulating incredible numbers, is phenomenal.”

Mata: Don't blame Moyes for Manchester United woes

The Spaniard gives his backing to the former Everton coach while also revealing that, when signing for the club, he was given assurances that several other players would be bought

Manchester United’s club-record signing, Juan Mata, has defended under-fire boss David Moyes and insisted that the Scot has the full backing of the squad.

The reigning Premier League champions have put up a limp defence of their title, lying in seventh place with five games left to play and almost certain to miss out on qualification for the Champions League.

MOYES’S MISHAPS

MAN UTD PREMIER LEAGUE RECORD
GAMES WON
GAMES DRAWN
GAMES LOST
GOALS SCORED
GOALS CONCEDED
POSITION
17
6
10
56
38
7th

But Mata, who moved to Old Trafford from Chelsea in January, argues that the Red Devils’ problems should not be solely blamed on Moyes’s struggles to adapt in his first season in charge and is keen for everyone associated with the club to remain united.

“We have to be together,” the Spain international told the Daily Mirror. “Now is not the time to blame anyone. Now is not the time to look for guilty people.

“Now is the time to stick together – with the manager, with his staff, the players and with the people on the board of the club. We need to carry on, to stay with the manager. We need to believe in him because, as players, we know we have to improve.

“It’s not just the manager, it’s not just the tactics. It’s all of us. It’s not the time to blame one person. We are all together in this.

“Some of my friends told me, if this situation was happening in another club in Spain, it would be different but the club and the players are behind the manager.

“We need to be strong as a team, as a dressing-room, and keep working hard. We need to improve, we know it, but we need to do it together.”

Goal revealed on Wednesday that Moyes had travelled to Portugal to watch Porto take on Benfica and assessed a number of scouting targets, including Jackson Martinez, and Mata has now revealed that, when discussing the move to United, he was told that the club would make significant moves in the transfer market as they look to rebuild the side.

“When I joined, in all my conversations with the board and the manager about next season, they were confident about getting the right players,” the attacker recalled.

“They know, and I know, we’re in a transitional moment but, in the summer, they’re going to try to sign a few players and I have the faith they are going to bring top players in.

“I’m sure this club is going to come back and fight for every trophy. Since I was a kid, Manchester United was fighting for everything and this moment is going to come back for sure.”

Monaco to sack Ranieri this summer

The Italian led the club back into Ligue 1 last season and they currently sit second in the standings – but Wednesday’s Coupe de France loss to Guingamp has sealed his fate

EXCLUSIVE
By Wayne Veysey in London and Simone Rovera in Paris

Claudio Ranieri is set to pay the price for Monaco’s trophy-less season by being axed as coach at the end of the season.

The big-spending French club are looking for a new boss as they prepare to make a concerted challenge to the growing dominance in France of Paris Saint-Germain, as well as establish themselves as a force in Europe.

Ranieri, who took over in 2012, steered Monaco to promotion to Ligue 1 in his first season at the helm and they currently lie second in the top flight. However, their French Cup semi-final defeat to Guingamp on Wednesday night means they will end the campaign without a major honour.

The Monaco hierarchy, led by Russian oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev, have decided to dispense with Ranieri as they set their sights on a coach who can make even more of the club’s vast resources.

With Rybolovlev’s backing, a huge recruitment drive has brought a series of marquee players to French principality, including Radamel Falcao, Joao Moutinho, Dimitar Berbatov, Jeremy Toulalan, James Rodriguez, Ricardo Carvalho and Eric Abidal.

The Monaco board had hoped that the team could present a greater challenge to league leaders PSG, who are 10 points clear in Ligue 1 with five matches remaining.

Ranieri’s job will be regarded as a plum post around Europe, with super-agent Jorge Mendes, who represents Falcao, Moutinho, Rodriguez and Carvalho, expected to be an influential voice in the selection of a successor.

Goal understands that former West Brom manager Steve Clarke is among those ready to throw their names into the hat to replace Ranieri.

Since being sacked by Chelsea in 2004, the 62-year-old Italian has coached Valencia, Parma, Juventus, Roma and Inter as well as Monaco.