The Barclays Premier League leaders have been linked with Messi following claims in Spain this week that the 27-year-old’s relationship with Barca coach Luis Enrique has broken down. Assistant-coach Steve Holland believes the sums involved in luring Messi away from the Nou Camp make the transfer impossible for any club. Facing the media in place of absent manager Jose Mourinho, Holland said on Friday: “Jose has made it quite clear that in this window his expectation is that nobody comes and nobody goes. “I recall him this time last year saying a similar thing, but a couple of things happened that made us reactive. Manchester United made a huge bid for Juan Mata. Sometimes you have to react. “But the hope and expectation is that nobody leaves and nobody comes. We’re happy with what we have. “This club conforms with financial fair play – we’ve brought one or two players in over the last 12 months but it’s quite clear that players have been sold to balance the books. “When you look at the numbers being mentioned around the Messi deal, I think it’s almost an impossible deal for any club working within the restraints of financial fair play.” Holland spoke to the media after Mourinho had withdrawn from the press conference to preview Saturday’s Premier League clash with Newcastle at Stamford Bridge in response to be being charged with misconduct by the Football Association. Mourinho faces possible disciplinary action for the comments made about match officials after last month’s 1-1 draw with Southampton, in which he spoke of a “clear campaign” against Chelsea. The Portuguese claimed the campaign is being orchestrated by “people, pundits, commentators and coaches from other teams” and labelled the booking of Cesc Fabregas for diving at St Mary’s on December 28 a “scandal”. Holland insists Mourinho has not been affected by the possibility of facing disciplinary action and insists he has the full support of the club. “Jose has been fine, very focused on the game against Newcastle, as we all are,” Holland said. “There is a frustration with all of us, it’s not just Jose but the coaching staff and players, at the accumulation of events that surfaced at the Southampton game with the decisions over Cesc. And to compound that he received a booking. “The scrutiny managers are under these days… I spoke to another manager the other day about a different matter and he said he couldn’t remember there being such an intensive period of games as this season. “That’s a view I’d share. The amount of games has been relentless and there has been a small period of time between the games. “At Chelsea every match is high profile with many live on TV. It’s human nature that at times the leader has those moments. Jose’s had the right influence on the players and is a highly-experienced manager.” Chelsea have seen an eight-point lead at the summit of the Premier League reeled in by Manchester City and now top the table on alphabetical order alone ahead of Newcastle’s visit. “When you have a lead like we had, people make a lot of it. And when that lead goes, people make a lot of that,” Holland said. “Nobody here felt it was ever a conclusive margin that meant the story was over. This is the most competitive league in the world. At any moment points can be dropped. “We’re disappointed we don’t have more of a cushion now, but at the same time the players have had an incredible first half of the season.” Chelsea have distanced themselves from the prospect of making a £500million move for Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi. Press Association
Six men and four women teams from the four regions will be up for the challenge.Southern Region will have Koupa 2 and Koupa 3 for the men while women will be represented by PMSA.In the Momase region it will be the big guns Madang and LFA for the men’s and Lahi for the women.Madang has qualified as the runner-up for the Momase region after the Momase Regional Body found some technical errors for the participation of Situm Soccer Association in the Momase Regional leg.The Highlands will be represented by Hagen men and Goroka women while in the New Guinea Islands there will be defending champiosn Manus men and Kavieng Town Soccer Association women (KTSA).PMSA women who once clinched the title in 2013 and failed to participate in last year’s finals are now looking to bring the women’s title back to POM this year.All semi final matches will be played in both the Lae Football Association Park and Sir Ignatius Kilage Stadium while the grand final will played at Sir Ignatius Kilage Stadium.PNGFA general secretary Dimirit Mileng said the finals date had been moved forward due to the unavailability of the Kilage stadium on the earlier announced dates.He urges all teams qualified for the finals to prepare their travel arrangements before the date announced.
Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. It is his first Asiad as head of the country’s Olympic federation and he feels that if there are any faults, they should fall on the shoulders of sports officials, adding that the country can do a lot better if troubled National Sports Associations (NSAs) can clean up their acts.Weightlifting and skateboarding contributed a gold each to the Philippine cause and golf two. And one thing did not escape Vargas: The common denominator among nonperforming NSAs, not only in these Games, but in other regional competitions as well.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSGinebra beats Meralco again to capture PBA Governors’ Cup titleSPORTSJapeth Aguilar wins 1st PBA Finals MVP award for GinebraSPORTSTim Cone still willing to coach Gilas but admits decision won’t be ‘simple yes or no’Volleyball, badminton, shooting, swimming, aquatics, athletics, and even boxing where he is the president, performed below expectations, Vargas said.“There is a thing that is common to them,” Vargas said in an exclusive interview with the Inquirer, two days before the curtains fall on Asia’s version of the Olympics. “And that is, once in their history, there was a squabble within their NSAs.” Peza offers relief to ecozone firms Gov’t in no rush to rescue animals in Taal Vargas pointed out that athletics and swimming, being medal-rich sports, shouldn’t be shut out in events like this one. Volleyball, he said, despite its popularity, will come home very frustrated because the players realized that they are not ready for the Asian level yet.“I’m sure volleyball is feeling down because they are so popular [back home] and yet they can’t win here,” Vargas said as the women’s volleyball team, made up of the stars of two leagues back home, was waylaid by formidable teams here.“Their (NSAs) problem is that all of them are very exclusive,” Vargas said. “We have to talk to these NSAs to straighten things out within their organizations. Because I think we have better chances if they become more inclusive.“Being inclusive means they would widen their embrace and they can get more talent,” he went on. “We didn’t even come close to winning in most of their sports and our performances in these fronts certainly weren’t encouraging.”Women propped Filipino pride in the Asiad with golf’s LK Go, Bianca Pagdanganan and Yuka Saso, weightlifting’s Hidilyn Diaz and skateboarding’s Margielyn Didal bringing home golds.ADVERTISEMENT Judy Ann’s 1st project for 2020 is giving her a ‘stomachache’ LATEST STORIES Standhardinger suits up, powers Beermen From 22nd place in the 2014 Asiad, the Philippines improved by three notches to No. 19.Boxing, a gold hope, delivered one silver and two bronzes despite gutsy performances from its athletes—a theme that spread across all sports that the Philippines participated in.“Athletes have really been carrying us well in international meets,” Vargas said. “I think we should give every athlete all the support they need. They should be rewarded if they win because they get blamed when they lose. Our role as officials is to support the athletes. They are the most important part of the equation.”Athletes keep pouring their hearts out and somehow, politics gets in the way. Proof of what a cleaned-up NSA can do lies in the National Golf Association of the Philippines, which did away with politicking and favoritism to emerge with two golds and a bronze. (See related story on this page).And that’s the trend Vargas hopes will be the norm as the Philippines pushes toward the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next MOST READ DepEd’s Taal challenge: 30K students displaced ‘High crimes and misdemeanors’: Trump impeachment trial begins Palace OKs total deployment ban on Kuwait OFWs Lights inside SMX hall flicker as Duterte rants vs Ayala, Pangilinan anew JAKARTA—Like the rest of his countrymen, Philippine Olympic Committee president Ricky Vargas is happy how the athletes performed in the 18th Asian Games—medal winners or not.ADVERTISEMENT Gretchen Barretto’s daughter Dominique graduates magna cum laude from California college Will you be the first P16 Billion Powerball jackpot winner from the Philippines? INSIDE THE WATER JEEPNEY: Manila to Cavite in 20 minutes? PLAY LIST 03:47INSIDE THE WATER JEEPNEY: Manila to Cavite in 20 minutes?00:50Trending Articles00:50Trending Articles02:14Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard02:56NCRPO pledges to donate P3.5 million to victims of Taal eruption00:56Heavy rain brings some relief in Australia02:37Calm moments allow Taal folks some respite03:23Negosyo sa Tagaytay City, bagsak sa pag-aalboroto ng Bulkang Taal01:13Christian Standhardinger wins PBA Best Player award View comments