Huddlestone certainly fits the bill as a player who can play as a midfield anchor who is also comfortable on the ball. Sunderland were also on the lookout for such a player and Black Cats boss Paolo Di Canio had upped his interest in Huddlestone only to see Hull make a more decisive move this week. Huddlestone, who made 209 appearances for Spurs in eight years since signing from Derby, revealed Bruce’s vision for Hull’s return to the top flight was crucial in persuading him to sign on. “It’s obviously very exciting times for the club, but for myself personally it’s been a frustrating couple of years at Tottenham whether it be [because of] injuries or team selection. Hopefully I can come here, cement my place in the starting 11, and do well for the club,” he told Tigers Player. “I know a few of the lads here already and they’ve only said good things about the manager and the club as a whole. “I had a chance to speak to Steve Bruce and I liked his ideas, his role for me within the team, and what he wants the team to do and the way he wants them to play. “Once I’d spoken to him my mind was made up really.” He added that “a few teams” had been vying for his signature but indicated that only Hull had matched Spurs’ valuation. “There was a few teams interested and obviously Tottenham accepted the bid,” he said. “It was a very difficult decision [to leave Spurs]. Having been at Tottenham for eight years and with the club in the situation they are now, it was a very difficult decision to make, but one based on footballing reasons. “With the club accepting the bid, then I kind of knew where I stood.” Despite arriving so late in pre-season, Huddlestone is ready to be thrown into the mix at Stamford Bridge this weekend. “I’ll be ready to train tomorrow and then we’ll see what the manager does for the game,” he said. “They don’t really come much bigger than Chelsea away, with Jose Mourinho returning and everything else that goes with it.” Press Association The Barclays Premier League new boys have agreed a three-year deal for 26-year-old Huddlestone, who arrives from White Hart Lane for an undisclosed fee. Fellow midfielder Livermore, 23, has joined the Tigers on a season-long loan. Hull have confirmed the double signing of Tom Huddlestone and Jake Livermore from Tottenham. A statement on club website hullcityafc.net read: “The Tigers are delighted to confirm the signing of England international midfielder Tom Huddlestone from Tottenham Hotspur. “We are also pleased to announce the loan signing of Tottenham midfielder Jake Livermore.” Huddlestone, capped four times by England, has been allocated squad number eight for the new season, which for Steve Bruce’s men gets under way at Chelsea on Sunday. The club did not disclose the fee agreed for Huddlestone or if it represents a new record buy, but Press Association Sport understands the fee at least matches their £5million record signing of Jimmy Bullard. Both Huddlestone and Livermore, who made 11 Premier League appearances for Spurs last season and has had spells on loan at Leeds and Ipswich among others, will join up with the Tigers’ squad for the first time at training on Thursday. Hull boss Bruce has been busy in the transfer market since winning promotion to the Barclays Premier League, with Wednesday’s double swoop taking the club’s summer signings to 10. Former Birmingham centre-half Curtis Davies, who came in for £2.25million, had been his most expensive addition prior to Huddlestone’s signing, with a combination of free transfers, loan deals and cheaper arrivals such as Yannick Sagbo and Allan McGregor ensuring Bruce has operated well within budget. Yet Bruce had made it clear that the midfield was an area which needed significant bolstering, especially since the departures of Corry Evans and Tom Cairney to Blackburn and a pre-season injury to Stephen Quinn.
Nolan wants them to make the step up in the coming games and he also hopes free agent Carlton Cole will play his part if he persuades manager Sam Allardyce to give him a short-term contract. “When your major signing cost £15million and he’s not playing, it’s going to affect you, but it’s down to the lads to step up to the plate,” Nolan added. “Mo [Maiga] has had a few chances on Saturday and he probably could have done better with a couple, but it wasn’t to be. “At the end of the day, we’ve just got to keep fighting and creating the chances and one of them will go in. “Mladen Petric is getting up to full speed with us and we’ve got Carlton Cole who is going to join in with us soon in training. “Hopefully we’ll start creating more and better chances and converting them.” West Ham have not put a date on Carroll’s return from an Achilles injury, but the striker has been keeping fans updated with his treatment through an online diary that charts his work with Belgian physio Lieven Maesschalck. Carroll praised West Ham fans for the support they have given him during his rehab. “I just want to say a big thanks to all our fans that are sending me good luck and supportive messages,” Carroll wrote in his latest diary entry. “It means a lot and I am looking to be back as soon as I can to do my bit for the team.” Kevin Nolan has told his West Ham team-mates they must not panic despite their poor start to the season. To make matters worse, fixtures against Tottenham and Manchester City are just around the corner, but the Hammers captain is not a concerned man. “We can’t afford to panic,” midfielder Nolan told West Ham’s website. “We understand the position we’re in. I’ve been in this type of position at this stage of the season before. “At the minute, things are just not falling for us and refereeing decisions are absolutely killing us. “Tottenham are in a great run of form but it’s a local derby and we’re going to go there with nothing to lose and have a good go at them. “Hopefully it’ll be the start of the little run that we need.” Carroll’s absence was felt more than ever during last weekend’s 1-0 defeat at Hull, where the Hammers lacked penetration in the final third. All West Ham’s goals have come from midfield with Modibo Maiga, Mladen Petric and Ricardo Vaz Te all failing to find the net in the Barclays Premier League. West Ham finished 10th last season but they have struggled so far this term, winning just one of their opening six fixtures. The absence of injured striker Andy Carroll has hit the east London club hard as they have only been able to find the net five times. Press Association
Lord Sugar, who has been a prominent critic of Villas-Boas on Twitter, told ITV1: “The fact is he’s gone. “With the greatest respect to the chairman I think it was the wrong move to appoint him. I think the guy showed he was unprofessional in spending that amount of money.” Former Tottenham midfielder Jamie Redknapp also had little sympathy for the Portuguese, questioning how he came to be installed at White Hart Lane after lasting just eight months at Chelsea. Redknapp, whose dad Harry was sacked last summer to make way for Villas-Boas, told Sky Sports News: “After the job he did at Chelsea he was incredibly lucky to get that job in the first place. “He had a nightmare at Chelsea and then they went and won the Champions League without him, but he finds himself as the manager of Tottenham with a squad of Modric, Bale and players like that. “Last year he did well with the previous manager’s team, but now he’s had his chance to do it, it hasn’t worked out for him. “When you get beat 5-0 at home it’s a bit of a tell-tale sign. It’s not something Tottenham fans are accustomed to and I feel sorry to a certain extent for the fans. “Having seen the team that was built – you look at Gareth Bale on the wing – and you’ve ended up with players who aren’t in the same league.” The 36-year-old had presided over Spurs for 18 months only for the club to confirm the “termination of his services” on their official website, a day after their 5-0 home defeat by Liverpool. The humiliation by Liverpool, which followed a 6-0 drubbing by Manchester City last month, appears to have been the final straw for Spurs chairman Daniel Levy, who delivered the news in person at the club’s training ground in Enfield. Press Association Sugar had become something of a nemesis for Villas-Boas in recent weeks, who had accused the businessman of driving an “agenda” against him. Sugar was unrepentant, telling Sky Sports News: “The writing was on the wall as far as I was concerned when he went out and spent like a a kid in a sweet shop, I mean you just can’t do that. “It doesn’t stack up, you just can’t go out and buy seven brand new players or whatever it was, stick them in and hope for them to play. “It showed immaturity.” Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini felt Villas-Boas was harshly treated. He said: “He didn’t have time in both clubs but I am absolutely sure he will continue his career.” Former Tottenham owner Alan Sugar questioned the appointment of Andre Villas-Boas after the Portuguese was sacked as manager on Monday morning.
Branislav Ivanovic believes Chelsea are ready and capable of stopping the Manchester City juggernaut as they prepare to travel to the Etihad Stadium in the Premier League and FA Cup. Oscar’s delightful free-kick earned a 1-0 win over Stoke on Sunday to set up an FA Cup fifth-round tie with City, Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho’s favourites for the Premier League title. Mourinho thinks City, who are in contention for an unprecedented quadruple, have it all to lose after their investments in recent seasons. But his Chelsea side are in a position to pressurise City, who put their 100 per cent Premier League home record on the line against Chelsea on February 3, after a seventh straight win saw them advance in the FA Cup. Ivanovic agrees with his manager that City, and not Chelsea, are the ones under pressure. “Manchester City are playing great football, especially at home,” Ivanovic said. “They must feel pressure. When you know a big game is coming up and you know you’re playing at home and must win, it’s a different kind of feeling and preparation for the game. We must use that (against them). “It’s going to be a big challenge for us, but we know what we have to do to stop them. It’s important we play as a team, to be on top of our game and show more than we do normally to be successful. “We stay in touch. We know how hard these games will be and how important they will be psychologically. We must be ready for that. “These are the games for big guys, big players.” Right-back Ivanovic is one of Chelsea’s leading performers and Nemanja Matic showed enough on his full debut after re-signing from Benfica to demonstrate he has the potential to be a key cog in Mourinho’s team for years to come. Asked about fellow Serb Matic, Ivanovic said: “He can be a very important player for us. “He has signed a five-year deal so his future is here, step by step, he will be one of the most important (players). “He has improved massively from the last time he was here. It’s great. “He is the one who is leading the game, he asks for the ball and looks to go forward. Defensively he has improved a lot too. “He was my best mate the last time he was here, he is like my brother. We do a lot of things together. It’s nice to have him here and it’s much easier for me as well.” Ivanovic bade farewell to another friend last week when Juan Mata left for Manchester United. “It was very sad and emotional for us because he was one of the loveliest guys in the squad,” Ivanovic said. “(But) this was the best thing for all sides. We will see in the future how important it was for us. “I think Chelsea did a great deal and let a player who is not playing at the moment leave for another club. Manchester United is important for him as a player.” Stoke’s attentions now turn to the Premier League, where they face Sunderland on Wednesday. The Potters are four points clear of the relegation zone entering the midweek fixtures following a five-match winless run in the Premier League which goalkeeper Asmir Begovic hopes will come to an end at the Stadium of Light. Begovic told Stoke Player: “We’re disappointed we’re out of the FA Cup. We’re going to shake it off pretty quickly. “I believe in the quality of the team. As long as we stick together and keep believing in what we’re trying to do, I think we’ll be fine.” Begovic made a number of fine saves against Chelsea on his return from a broken finger. He added: “The finger’s great. It doesn’t cause me any problems whatsoever. It was great to be back in action.” Press Association
Crystal Palace boss Tony Pulis admits a number of the club’s play-off heroes will remain in limbo over new deals as long as the Eagles’ Barclays Premier League fate remains undecided. Press Association “They have got a brand-new stadium and brand-new training facilities and had a team that won a major cup competition last year and finished comfortably in the Premier League. “They have some very good players, they have spent a lot of money and we expect it to be a very tough game. “They haven’t just thrown [money] into a team and forgotten about everything else – they have actually built the football club up as well. “They have got a good format to gain success and they have done that.” Pulis will be buoyed by a clean bill of health as Glenn Murray has recovered from a slight knock suffered in last weekend’s defeat to Manchester United and winger Jerome Thomas is available following a back injury. The likes of Julian Speroni, Mile Jedinak, Damien Delaney and Jonathan Parr are all out of contract in the summer but will have to wait for Palace’s top-flight fate to be sealed before new deals can be discussed. Goalkeeper Speroni suggested earlier in the week his 10-year stint at Selhurst Park could be coming to an end but Pulis remains adamant discussions regarding the future beyond the end of the season have yet to take place. “There are quite a few players who are out of contract,” he said. “I think the situation is that we don’t know whether we’re going to be a Premier League side or a Championship side at the moment, so it’s difficult to start any sort of negotiations because you have to work off two different pages. “I don’t know how long it’ll take to know our destiny, then the club can work towards that. “But I do say this, Julian has been magnificent for us since I’ve come here. He’s a top professional and he’s done brilliantly on the pitch as well.” Palace sit 16th, two points ahead of the relegation places but face a trip to Swansea on Sunday knowing a third away win of the season will lift them above Garry Monk’s side. Monk is the latest man charged with carrying on the footballing ethos now engrained in the south Wales club and Pulis is a keen admirer of Swansea’s achievements. “The success of Swansea over the past 10 years has been remarkable,” he said. “I think you have to give the chairman, Huw Jenkins, credit for how he has set up and run his football club.
Bony has arguably been Swansea’s most influential performer this season, and he will be critical to helping them collect the points they need to be safe from relegation. There could be few bigger games than Chelsea’s Liberty Stadium visit on Sunday for him to showcase his talent. “I think as players you always want to play in big games,” Bony said. “For me, being a big player means playing in the big games. I have 12 league goals and just five more (league) games left. Getting 20 league goals would be nice. I want to score more. “If you play bad people criticise you, if you score a hat-trick people sing your name, but the main thing is to stay yourself, do what you know and let other people talk. “We have five more games and I will try to do my best and we’ll see what will happen. “I have three years left on my contract at Swansea, we have five games left and then the World Cup and we will see what happens. What is more important is the final (league) position we have, and Sunday especially.” Wilfried Bony has set his sights on shooting down Barclays Premier League title contenders Chelsea this weekend – with possibly a little help from Stamford Bridge legend Dider Drogba. The fellow Ivorians are good friends, and Chelsea know they will need to keep Swansea striker Bony in check following his prolific form this season which has seen him amass 20 goals in all competitions. “I have not spoken to him (Drogba) yet, but maybe tonight or tomorrow I will,” Bony said. “We are playing against Chelsea, so he can tell me some things. “He is my friend, we are in touch, so I will talk to him for some advice. “I followed Chelsea when Didier was there. He was always with the national side, so we would see how they were doing. “I saw the Champions League final against Bayern Munich. It was fabulous for him in his last game with Chelsea. Chelsea are a big club in the Ivory Coast, and he did well with the national side, too, so he is a big personality there.” Former Chelsea hero Drogba has given Bony an insight into Blues manager Jose Mourinho, who remains on course to achieve a possible Premier League and Champions League double this term. “He told me he is a very good manager and that he is all about winning,” Bony added. “Sometimes they play well or sometimes they play bad, but the most important thing is to take the three points and then talk about what you can work on. “If you don’t win, that is not the point. That is the winning character he has.” Press Association
Sunderland head coach Gus Poyet is hoping to spring a surprise during the remaining days of the summer transfer window. Reports from Italy suggest the Black Cats have signed Inter Milan’s Argentina international winger Ricky Alvarez on a season-long loan deal, although sources on Wearside were insisting on Thursday morning that was not the case. However, Press Association Sport understands Alvarez is very much on the radar as Poyet attempts to put the finishing touches to his summer rebuilding programme. He has given little away about the men who remain in his sights, but told the Sunderland Echo: “We’re moving, we’re moving very fast because it’s getting close. I’m confident we’ll be doing something. “You’re going to be surprised.” Sunderland have spent much of the summer attempting to lure Liverpool’s Fabio Borini back to the Stadium of Light after his successful loan spell last season, but an increasingly frustrated Poyet indicated at the weekend that he would have to turn his attention elsewhere if he did not get a positive answer soon. Indeed, the club has also expressed an interest in Lille’s former Chelsea striker Salomon Kalou as a potential alternative. The left-hand side of midfield remains a major focus, as does central defence, where the Black Cats have been linked with Celtic’s Virgil van Dijk in recent days. Press Association
Press Association “We are in a difficult moment but that’s the great challenge for myself and the players. “We will look at it even harder and analyse it more just to ensure we keep it simple and keep to the values and ethics of this team – hard work, honesty and concentrating on our performance.” On Saturday Liverpool host West Brom, who were Rodgers’ first opponents when he took over in the summer of 2012. “There are similarities in that it feels like a new group again,” he added. “I’m not here to whine or complain about injuries. We just need to get on with working hard and go back to core principles which our good performances and wins were all about. “The job now is similar to then in terms of need to integrate all of that to create winning performances.” Rodgers will wait to see whether Daniel Sturridge is fit enough to be involved. The striker has missed six matches with a thigh strain and while he is edging closer to full fitness he has been left out of England’s 2016 qualifiers due to his lack of action. Defenders Glen Johnson, Mamadou Sakho (both thigh) and Jon Flanagan (knee) and midfielders Joe Allen (knee) and Emre Can (ankle) are all unavailable. Meanwhile, Baggies head coach Alan Irvine has warned his side they must be prepared to face Sturridge . Irvine feels the 25-year-old will be fit enough to play a part as West Brom look to add to the frustration around Anfield. He told a press conference: “I think he will be close. “Obviously he wasn’t able to go and play for Liverpool, in a very important game in the Champions League, but I think he’ll be close. “I wouldn’t be surprised if he turned up on the team-sheet, either starting or as a substitute.” The Baggies are chasing a fourth straight win in all competitions after their 4-0 victory over Burnley on Sunday. They go to Merseyside a point ahead of a stuttering Liverpool team, who are winless in their last three Barclays Premier League games. Albion are without strikers Brown Ideye (ankle) and Victor Anichebe (groin) and winger Silvestre Varela (hernia) but Irvine said the Baggies believe in themselves. “They are a very, very good team, they have got some top players without a doubt,” he added. “It will be extremely difficult to go there and win – but we can and we will go there feeling that we can. We went to Tottenham believing we could win. We really did, we didn’t go negatively. “We went to White Hart Lane with two strikers. If we had gone there believing we couldn’t win we would have gone with five midfield players but we went with two strikers. “I think that was borne out by the way the lads performed. We went into the game against Burnley with a different plan, but with the same kind of belief. “We will go to Anfield knowing it’s a really difficult place to go. But can we win there? Absolutely, of course we can.” The departure of striker Luis Suarez, integrating a raft of summer signings and injuries to a number of players have all contributed to a difficult start to the campaign. They have yet to reach anything close to the blistering form they displayed in the second half of last season having won just twice in the league and scored only eight times in six matches. Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers admits the team are back in a period of transition similar to when he first arrived at Anfield and accepts there will be more pain to come before things pick up again. Of greater concern is their defensive weakness with just one clean sheet in nine outings this season and only two in their last 18 games, which incorporates their scintillating displays which took them to a runners-up place in May. Rodgers denied, however, he was facing the biggest challenge of his managerial career after expectations were raised following last season’s second place. “No, not really. It’s an exciting challenge. This is an incredible job and nothing has changed,” he said. “The first six months were difficult here but for 18 months we’ve been on a magic carpet ride in terms of our performance level and everything improving. “For me it would have been a case of keeping the squad we had and adding a few bodies to thicken up the squad. “But that wasn’t the case. There was big change here in the summer and we lost a world-class player (when Suarez was sold to Barcelona). “We had to improve the squad and bring in a number of players and unfortunately we’ve lost a number of our key players to injuries. “It brings us into a little period of transition again.
And he insisted he wanted to pay back both the club and chairman Randy Lerner for their support and would not have been tempted to leave by extra cash. “It wouldn’t have sat right with me to leave the club, especially on a free, after the faith everyone involved in the club have shown me. For me, that’s just the way I am,” he said. “Going on a free I would have been better off but I’m a kid from Bradford, brought up on a council estate. I am not motivated by money, I look after my family. “Most people in my situation would be looking to move on. “I was never pushed. Conversations were going on for a while and I just needed to take my time. “For me it was more about repaying the faith in the chairman. “I feel like I’ve give 100 per cent week in, week out. “The chairman has been great. If you can imagine being a young boy and you’re injured and the guy who has invested in me is calling me and giving me a text. You can imagine what that meant to me.” Fabian Delph has revealed he would never have left Aston Villa on a free transfer and values loyalty over money. Delph has made 116 appearances, scoring six goals, since signing from Leeds for £6million in 2009 and is a key man for manager Paul Lambert. He had been linked with a move to Liverpool but insisted he did not speak to any other clubs as his mind was made up to stay at Villa Park. “I’m quite a straightforward person. I would never try to get into something like that,” said the 25-year-old. “We have agents for that. I told him to leave me alone as I want to focus on my football and get myself fit. “He did as he was told. He’s a great guy and a great friend. If I have a bit of respect from someone I seem to get that easy bond with someone. I’ve told him what my thoughts are. “I knew probably about a week into it (two months of talks) I wanted to stay here.” The midfielder has signed a new four-and-a-half year deal at the club and insisted he always saw his future at Villa. Delph suffered a cruciate knee ligament injury in 2010 but has since become an England international, making his debut against Norway last year. Press Association
But it will not stop him featuring against Southampton due to West Ham’s ongoing defensive injury situation as, with b oth James Collins and Winston Reid missing with hamstring problems, Allardyce expects Tomkins to once again partner stand-in Cheikhou Kouyate at St Mary’s. “He broke his nose but it’s not serious enough to keep him out,” Allardyce said. “From a challenge point of view I thought it was pretty naughty. He (Van Persie) had a look to see where the defender was and then took him out basically. “The assistant referee gave a foul but he didn’t think it was more serious. Tomkins should be fit to play tomorrow night which is the most important thing for us.” Tomkins said after the game against United that it was an innocent challenge from substitute Fellaini which actually did the damage to his nose – although he also questioned Van Persie’s motives. “The nose is a bit swollen,” he told national newspapers. “Fellaini was the second time in the match when I broke it. He has always got that about him when he goes up with his hands a lot,” Tomkins said. “It is tough to say he does it deliberately, but with the Van Persie one, I think he had a look at me first and then he has gone for me. I think that was more malicious than the other one, even though I came out worse the second time.” Press Association Neither Collins nor Reid will be fit in time for the trip to the south coast, with Kouyate stepping in well against United, scoring the opening goal and showing he is more than an able deputy. But Allardyce may be able to welcome back club-record signing Andy Carroll – even though that news has been tainted by a potential foot injury to captain Kevin Nolan. With a number of key players still absent, Allardyce is pleased with the momentum garnered from the draw with Van Gaal’s side a nd he stood by the long-ball claims he made in the post-match press conference following Daley Blind’s last-gasp leveller for the visitors. Allardyce said: “The media love a bit of a tale, something to write about. It (United’s long-ball tactic) was a fact and everyone loves facts. “On Sunday it was Man United playing direct football to try and overcome a defeat and it paid off for them. That’s how they got back into the game and sadly for us there wasn’t time for us to react. “We have to pick up from where we left off against United. They gave everything they possibly had and we want to maintain that level in every game for the rest of the season. “So Wednesday night is all about our attitude and determination. We’re going to need to push ourselves in order to win. We had a bit of a lull in our performances recently but to see us back to near our best was a big boost. We don’t want our season to fade away.” Allardyce also revealed he is hopeful of signing former Real Madrid midfielder Lassana Diarra after confirming the France international is training with the Hammers. Diarra, 29, has been without a club since leaving Lokomotiv Moscow in August but is not too far away from match fitness and could be turning out for West Ham inside a fortnight if the expected deal is completed in the coming days. “He is training with us,” Allardyce said. “I’m not so sure whether we have finalised a deal yet but he is doing a little bit of training with us. The deal is very close to being finalised and on the basis of where we are with our squad and the injuries, once we have him fit he will be a very good addition based on his previous record as a footballer.” Diarra’s spell in Moscow ended acrimoniously after reports he refused to train following a bust-up with manager Leonid Kuckuk but, despite not playing in almost nine months, Allardyce believes the former Chelsea, Arsenal and Portsmouth man could soon be part of his first-team squad at Upton Park. “He won’t be in any good shape in terms of being on the bench on Wednesday or on the bench on Saturday against West Brom,” said Allardyce. “But I certainly hope that, with a good few days’ training with the lads, he will be close in seven to 10 days if he finally signs the contract.” The Manchester United striker caught Tomkins with a stray arm in Sunday’s 1-1 draw at Upton Park, after which Allardyce labelled Louis van Gaal’s side as ”long-ball United”. Despite Van Persie avoiding punishment from referee Mark Clattenburg for catching Tomkins with his elbow, Allardyce called the incident a ”naughty” challenge – even though Tomkins himself revealed the break came in a separate incident with Marouane Fellaini. Sam Allardyce will field James Tomkins at Southampton on Wednesday despite the defender breaking his nose against Manchester United, with the West Ham boss claiming his player was also “taken out” in a separate incident with Robin van Persie.