Found November 21, 2012 on Fox Soccer:
Andre Villas-Boas takes his Spurs team to Rome to face Lazio on Thursday targeting the victory that will guarantee they qualify from their Europa League group. Lazio are top of the group and a draw for Spurs in Rome and then a win in the final game against Greek side Panathinaikos would be good enough for Villas-Boas' men too. But Villas-Boas - who won the tournament two years ago with Porto - does not want to leave it until the final match. "It's all about this game," said Villas-Boas. "It will be important for us to win and qualify. It will give the squad an important feeling of beating a great team away from home." Paul Gascoigne, a hero to both sets of fans, will be guest of honour at the match. Gascoigne became a cult hero at Spurs after four successful years at White Hart Lane and he then went on to achieve similar status at Lazio after moving to the Italian capital in 1992. Gascoigne will defy his fear of flying to make the game, when he is expected to be paraded on the pitch where he won a place in the Biancocelesti fans' hearts by scoring a late winner in the Rome derby during his first season at the club. Spurs defender Steven Caulker is a big admirer of 'Gazza'. He said: "He is a Spurs and England legend. He was a fantastic footballer. As a football fan, him coming to the game is extremely special and there are a lot of footballers here who want to be just as good as he was." Benitez replaces Roberto Di Matteo, who was sacked on Wednesday morning following Chelsea's disappointing 3-0 defeat at Juventus which leaves them on the brink of being knocked out of the Champions League. Former Liverpool boss Benitez cut short an engagement in the Middle East to fly to London for talks and he has been appointed as "interim" manager until the end of the current campaign. A statement on the club's website said: "Chelsea Football Club can confirm Rafael Benitez has been appointed interim first-team manager until the end of the season. "The owner and the Board believe that in Benitez we have a manager with significant experience at the highest level of football, who can come in and immediately help deliver our objectives. "The 52-year-old Spaniard is due to meet the players at the training ground in Cobham tomorrow (Thursday). "The two-time UEFA Manager of the Year comes with outstanding pedigree. He began his managerial career in his homeland, most notably at Valencia where he built a reputation as one of Europe's top coaches by winning the Spanish League twice and the UEFA Cup. "He then spent six years at Liverpool and led them to their fifth European Cup and an FA Cup." The Spaniard becomes the ninth manager under Russian owner Abramovich. An extraordinary 24 hours started with Di Matteo axeing Fernando Torres from his starting XI in Turin. Di Matteo was then fired on Wednesday morning, with Benitez appointed in the early evening. And the new man will now be reunited with Torres, the striker he turned into a ?50m player at Anfield. Approaching his 71st birthday, and with over 26 years' service as United boss behind him, Ferguson's achievements at Old Trafford will be acknowledged on Friday with the unveiling of a statue of the Scot outside the stand that also bears his name. Amid other little signs, including the health scare Ferguson suffered in May, it has been suggested it could be part of the end of his reign, and this season will be his last. But those who know him best do not give that impression. And Charlton, who travelled back from Turkey with Ferguson after Tuesday night's defeat to Galatasaray, is putting no timescale on the departure, knowing just how difficult he is going to be to replace. "When we made the decision to go for him we didn't in our wildest dreams think that it would last as long as this," said Charlton. "But from the beginning he obviously made people aware of what he did and how he did it with regard to controlling players and how to work with [the club] management which is also very, very important. "I won't see his like again, I'm certain of that. "We're really lucky, and people are really envious of us. He was born to do this job and he's going to be with us as long as he wants. "He's just a sensational manager, I keep repeating it, [but] others must look on in envy." As someone whose entire professional career has been played out under the guidance of one man, midfielder Paul Scholes is aware the time is drawing near when a change has to be made. Some of the game's most famous names have been linked with the job. However, Scholes accepts, no matter who it is, they have enormous boots to fill. "Somebody's going to have to come in one day and manage this team and if they do half as well as he does they'll be successful," said the former England man. "There's nobody like him I know that - but somebody's got to give it a go. "He has been brilliant for every single player that's worked for him. "There is such a hunger and desire about him that really drives his players on - he knows how to keep you motivated throughout a season, it's something that he's managed to do for the last 20 years and I'm sure he'll carry on doing it for the next few years as well." Ferguson insists he has mellowed down the years but the hairdryer treatment is the stuff of legend. Yet such extreme behaviour is born of a determination to succeed former Prime Minister Tony Blair believes makes Ferguson the ideal man to have in the trenches. "He is one of these people that has a strength of character that immediately marks him out as a leader of people," said Blair. "He's a great competitor but he's also got huge integrity, to himself and to what he believes in. "That's quite unusual in life to find people like that and when you find them they're very special. "If you're in a tough situation and everything is coming down on top of you and you feel you're slowly getting surrounded by the people that want to put you in a deep dark pit, Alex is the type of person you'd want standing alongside you because you'd know you were [then able] to give whoever came after you a good fight." Jose Mourinho is one of those mentioned as a potential alternative. The pair are believed to have met on Wednesday ahead of Real Madrid's encounter with Manchester City. And it is clear the affection is immense. "He's unique, especially in the modern day," said the former Chelsea boss. "If you go back many years then you will find somebody like him, but, [it's amazing] in the modern day at the highest level, where it is really difficult to survive in our job. "He's absolutely incredible at what he does and we can't even imagine when he'll stop, he's unbelievable." Former Hearts forward Templeton has been out since mid-September with an ankle injury and hamstring problem and is likely to miss the Irn-Bru Third Division clash at Borough Briggs. "Temps has been back training and he's coming along nicely but I'm not sure about the weekend," McCoist told Rangers' official website. "It's getting to that point where I'm looking at the timescale but I know that his fitness is of paramount importance so we won't rush him back." Defenders Ross Perry, Sebastien Faure and Emilson Cribari remain out. McCoist added: "Ross had a hernia operation yesterday and Sebastien is recovering from the same procedure at the moment. "Emilson is still struggling with a grade one tear on the lower calf, at the top of his Achilles so we don't really have much in the way of good news in that area. "In terms of the time scale for them all coming back it's certainly going to be weeks rather than days." Striker Francisco Sandaza remains out, while Andy Little has been playing through a foot problem. McCoist said: "Andy has been playing with some severe bruising on his foot which isn't easy, but his goal on Saturday helps that. "Fran's in a different position in respect of us looking after him because if he got the slightest knock it could have repercussions. "He has been out training with us and that's great because he's really enthusiastic and bursting to get back but it's a different injury to the rest and we have to be extremely careful."
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