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What the managers said April 16: Sunderland, Liverpool, Tottenham, Chelsea, QPR, Manchester United, Manchester City, Blackburn

SUNDERLAND boss Martin O’Neill talks about his side being booed off against Wolves, while a host of other top flight managers give their views on the weekend’s action.

MARTIN O’Neill had the unusual experience of seeing his efforts praised by the owner and his team booed off by the fans on the same afternoon.

The manager was hailed by owner-chairman Ellis Short in Saturday’s programme notes for producing ‘top six’ form since his arrival back in December.

But supporters showed their displeasure with the manger’s side when they failed to reproduce that form against Premier League whipping boys Wolves who arrived at the Stadium of Light on the back of a seven-game losing streak.

“The boos at the end?” said O’Neill. “Nothing surprises me in football.

“Maybe it’s because we’re playing Wolves, who are struggling, and people come expecting us to win the game.

“I wish it was as easy as that.

“And I have to remind myself that the last time we played Wolves, they turned the tables around and were above us in the league.

“So I’m pretty pleased at the way things have gone since then.

“I do feel though that now is the time to press on.

“But perhaps this run shows we have a lot of work to do.

Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp hit out at referee Martin Atkinson after he gave a controversial goal that should never have stood in this evening’s FA Cup semi-final defeat to Chelsea.

Chelsea were edging the contest at Wembley 1-0 thanks to Didier Drogba’s first-half opener when Atkinson awarded the Blues a second through Juan Mata in the 48th minute.

The Spaniard shot goalward through a crowded penalty box, but Benoit Assou-Ekotto cleared the ball with his feet while on the turf before the ball crossed the line.

Despite having a clear sight of the goal, Atkinson almost instantly blew his whistle to award the west London club the goal, a move which infuriated Tottenham’s players.

The ghost goal caused Redknapp to throw his players forward and, although they pulled one back, their over-exertion cost them and Chelsea went on the rampage to claim a 5-1 win.

“The second goal was a disaster,” said a disconsolate Redknapp.

“It was nowhere near a goal. It was a huge mistake.

“We looked too open after that and they picked us off. It was key.

“He’s (Atkinson) made a big mistake. I don’t see how he can give the goal. It’s nowhere near over the line.

“There were bodies on the line and the ball couldn’t possibly get over the line.

“He must have (guessed). He can’t have been sure.”

Stand-in Chelsea boss Roberto Di Matteo has only been in charge for 12 games and now has an FA Cup final against Liverpool to look forward to, not to mention Wednesday’s Champions League semi-final clash against Barcelona.

“My team played very well today,” the former West Brom boss said.

“It’s good to keep this positive momentum going. We go in to the Barcelona game with confidence now.

“It’ll be a different kind of game to tonight, but winning brings that positivity within the team. It makes everybody feel better.

“It’s not always been like that, our finishing. We were ruthless tonight, and scored some cracking goals. We always create chances, and tonight we were very clinical in finishing.”

Di Matteo may have to do without defender David Luiz for the Barca game after he was carried off on a stretcher in a challenge that lead up to Bale’s goal, however.

Di Matteo said: “He picked up a hamstring injury so we’ll have to assess him tomorrow, but it looks to be doubtful at the moment for the next game.”

Roberto Mancini refused to ponder what might have been had Carlos Tevez not gone AWOL after the striker inspired Manchester City to a 6-1 win at Norwich.

Tevez, starting successive Barclays Premier League games for the first time in 11 months, scored a hat-trick and Sergio Aguero also netted a fine double, with Adam Johnson getting the sixth.

Many City fans watching may have wondered where City’s title challenge would be now had the former Manchester United player buried the hatchet and returned earlier to help his struggling team-mates.

But Mancini said: “Carlos did not play for us for six months but it is only in the last month that we have come off the top of the league.

“Everyone makes mistakes. It’s important that when you do them you apologise.

“I am not frustrated (with him) because we lost Aguero for two games, Vincent Kompany for one match, and Joleon Lescott for four weeks too.”

For the first 20 minutes of the second half Norwich looked like drawing level after Andrew Surman had made it 2-1, but a spell of three goals in seven minutes killed the game off.

Canaries boss Paul Lambert said: “I am not going to criticise my team.

“We were right in it for 70 minutes of the game and the first two goals were absolute rockets.”

Gael Givet added to Steve Kean’s problems as the Blackburn manager was forced to leave him out of his side to face Swansea because he was “not in the right frame of mind”.

Without him, Rovers’ relegation fears deepened as they lost 3-0 at the Liberty Stadium.

Gylfi Sigurdsson curled in a superb opening goal for the Swans after 37 minutes and Nathan Dyer took advantage of poor defending to double the advantage just before the break.

Swansea’s third came just after the hour as the ball rebounded in off Scott Dann after Sigurdsson hit the post following good work by Scott Sinclair.

While Kean stopped short of saying Givet had refused to play, he said: “It was apparent when I spoke to Gael this morning he wasn’t anywhere near in the right frame of mind to play, whether starting or on the bench.

“I will speak to him again, and if he is in a better frame of mind then great, but he was nowhere near in the right frame of mind.

“I can’t get inside somebody’s head, I can only say how much we and his team-mates need him.”

QPR boss Mark Hughes told his side to improve their away form after they slipped to a 1-0 defeat at West Brom.

A 30-yard strike from Baggies midfielder Graham Dorrans midway through the second half proved decisive, and Rs boss Hughes said: “We can’t just wait and think our home form will be enough (to stay up).

“We’ve talked about it and know we need to improve the away form and pick up points.”

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish has urged the club’s supporters to keep their nerve as they plot a path back towards England’s elite.

The Reds are in line for a trophy double this term after booking an FA Cup final appearance at Wembley on May 5 with a 2-1 win over Everton at Wembley on Saturday.

And Dalglish is convinced his team are heading in the right direction, and wants the fans to keep the faith.

“We need to be confident enough in our own beliefs and the people who support us have to be strong in their knowledge that what we are doing is correct,” he said.

“This football club is a fantastic example to anybody else that wants to run a football club. When there is a wee bit of mud flying about we come together.

“That is the football club I used to know and that is the football club we are getting back to.”

Sir Alex Ferguson gave Wayne Rooney a ticking off despite his two-goal contribution to Manchester United’s 4-0 win over Aston Villa at Old Trafford yesterday.

Rooney converted the early penalty questionably gained by Ashley Young and doubled his tally 17 minutes before the end.

It took him to 31 for the season but Rooney did not looked particularly impressed when he was replaced immediately by Dimitar Berbatov.

However, Ferguson believed the performance had not been one of Rooney’s best and that he had been sucked into a rather lethargic display.

“He was careless,” said the United boss.

“Wayne has to play on the edge of a game, when it is really close and competitive.

“When the game gets to that casual bit, he is worse than the rest of them.

“He gets really casual about it. It is better when he is on the edge. Then he is a marvellous player.”

 

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