What the managers said March 26

FOCUSED ... Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew..
FOCUSED ... Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew..

TODAY sees the launch of our new What the managers said feature. Every week we’ll be bringing you the quotes that count from Premier League bosses.

NEWCASTLE United manager Alan Pardew is refusing to start dreaming of Champions League football next season.

The Magpies comfortably dispatched West Bromwich Albion 3-1 yesterday, but the Pardew is refusing to get carried away.

He said: “Are we Champions League contenders? I don’t think so. The last 10 games are the most important ones in any season and we’ve won the first two of those.

“There are a lot of games left, a lot of points. But I don’t think we’ve got the depth of squad to challenge for that (a Champions League place).

“I get told the fans might be thinking ‘this is on’ - but not me.”

Baggies boss Roy Hodgson tried to play down speculation linking him with the vacant England manager’s role, although speaking after his side’s 3-1 defeat against Newcastle he admitted it would be hard to turn it down if it were offered.

Hodgson said: “I can give you verbatim what I said. The radio guy said to me ‘if you were offered the England job, would you take it?’

My direct answer was: ‘It would seem to me as an Englishman, you would need a very good reason to turn it down.’ That’s what I said.

“What I’ve said all along is that the FA are going through the process and I just happen to be one of the people caught up in the speculation about what they are going to do.

“I find myself having to answer questions which really and truly don’t have anything to do with the job you are doing at this moment in time.

“My stance hasn’t changed at all. It is an important job, I wish the FA every success with their appointment.”

Sunderland manager Martin O’Neill was delighted with his team’s display in the 3-1 win over QPR, despite losing defender John O’Shea to a calf injury which will rule him out of Tuesday night’s FA Cup quarter-final replay against Everton.

He said: “I am just delighted to have won the game. It keeps the momentum going.

“Forty points on the board - if you had given me that in December I would have taken your arms off, for the end of the season, never mind anything else.”

The win took the Black Cats into eighth place in the table, just two points adrift of Liverpool in seventh, and sent QPR back into the relegation zone.

O’Neill said: “I genuinely hadn’t realised that. It was a surprise at Liverpool being beaten (by Wigan), but from our own viewpoint, it sets us up for Tuesday night, at least in terms of confidence.”

QPR boss Mark Hughes says his side will miss striker Djibril Cisse after he was sent off for the second time in four games.

The 30-year-old Frenchman will miss four of the club’s last eight Barclays Premier League fixtures for the straight red card he received for an ugly 55th-minute challenge on Sunderland’s Fraizer Campbell during this afternoon’s 3-1 defeat at the Stadium of Light.

Hughes said: “That’s going to hurt us because when we have been able to keep him on the pitch he has been excellent for us.

“He has scored something like three in five, but we can’t really dwell on it.

“It’s spilled milk from our point of view. We have got to get on with it. I have got to focus on the personnel who are available to me.

“It’s a crazy challenge by Djibril, and he knows that.

Arsenal boss Aresne Wenger has revealed the Gunners are closing in on German striker Lukas Podolski.

He said: “We want Podolski here.... and if we can find world-class players, we will.”

Meanwhile, the Arsenal boss is keeping his feet on the ground after a comprehensive 3-0 win over Aston Villa.

“We have come through a very difficult period. We have learnt from that and must keep our feet on the ground and focus on the next game [at QPR],” Wenger said.

“Let’s first see how we finish and then we analysis it all after the end of the season; just see if we have the quality to maintain this consistency until the end of the season and then we can say: ‘Okay, look’.

“That is not done yet, there are eight games to go and things can change.”

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish has cautioned against placing too much expectation on the club’s youngsters.

The performance of 19-year-old Jon Flanagan was one of few bright spots as the Reds went down 2-1 against Wigan, while the debut given to 17-year-old reserve-team prodigy Raheem Sterling six minutes from time, raised hopes among discontented fans who had been wanting to see him involved earlier in the campaign.

But Dalglish stressed he would not rush the club’s youngsters into action.

“You just need to draw your horses back a bit,” said the Scot.

“He wouldn’t have been there if we weren’t in the position we were in.

“It is nice to see the kids get a game but it is also better for us to look after them and manage them.

“We are not going to throw kids in and destroy them, but it is nice to see them on the pitch,

Wigan manager Roberto Martinez believes his side made a “major statement” by beating Liverpool at Anfield.

“Overall we deserved three points and that is a major statement when you consider who we are and who Liverpool are,” said the Spaniard.

“It is a huge boost. We played well in our previous six games – except for Swansea – and we never got the wins; we got four draws and that is eight dropped points.

“Eight points could put you halfway up the table but where we are now eight points are so difficult to get.

“Every win is extra important and in many ways it can give you belief and confidence and make things easier.

“But we need to forget about what is happening elsewhere, and focus on points we can get. It is about ourselves.”

Bolton manager Owen Coyle has revealed that Fabrice Muamba sent a good luck message to his team-mates on the eve of their 2-1 win over Blackburn at the Reebok Stadium.

Muamba remains in intensive care at the London Chest Hospital after he suffered a cardiac arrest at Tottenham seven days ago that stopped his heart beating for 78 minutes.

Thankfully, the 23-year-old has started to recover and was well enough to add his hopes for a positive outcome to an emotionally charged day.

Coyle said: “Fabrice managed to send us a message yesterday through one of the consultants to say he wished the lads well,” said Coyle.

“It was great when we heard that.

Rather than limit themselves to a minute’s applause, as had been stated in the schedule to the pre-match planning, Bolton’s supporters responded to the start of a montage being shown on a big screen before the players emerged from the tunnel.

The noise increased as fans sat opposite the main stand combined to hold up a massive ‘Muamba 6’ card and the 23-year-old’s name was sung immediately before kick-off, and then at the end as Bolton celebrated victory with a mass huddle.

“It is a private thing,” said Coyle, when asked what had been said.

“I wanted to thank everybody for their efforts.

Blackburn manager Steve Kean insists his side can rediscover the form that took them to the brink of Barclays Premier League safety after their 2-1 defeat against Bolton Wanderers.

“It is tight,” said the Rovers chief. “I always said that, which is why we weren’t getting carried away over the last number of weeks.

“We know there will be twists and turns but we can take massive encouragement from the fact that over the last number of weeks we have been picking up points at very difficult grounds against very difficult opponents.

“I am sure we can do that again.”

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