The importance of focussing on the strength of the collective was one of the main themes to come out the Post 2014 FIFA World Cup™ conference that concluded in Kuala Lumpur on Friday.

National coaches and technical directors from AFC and OFC member associations took time to reflect on Brazil 2014 where, from an Asian perspective, the results did not go the way of the four representative teams – Australia, Iran, Japan and Korea Republic – who all went home without a win.

“Our performances were OK but there is also an understanding that we weren’t good enough,” said Ange Postecoglou, coach of Australia, who were drawn in one of the toughest groups with Chile, the Netherlands and Spain.

“To bridge the gap with Europe and South America we have to come together and work collectively as a region. We need to elevate the status of our competitions like the Champions League and have more money coming into the game so that our best young players won’t necessarily feel the need to go overseas.”

Iran coach Carlos Queiroz echoed those sentiments while also emphasising the need to have a unique outlook. “If we take the Champions League as an example, we can’t simply copy the UEFA model,” said Queiroz. “In Asia we have major distances to cover geographically. We have to adapt our competitions, our programmes and our approaches to overcome the specific challenges.”

Iran arguably showed the most promise in Brazil and were moments away from getting a result against eventual runners-up Argentina but for an injury-time winner from Lionel Messi. “Despite the fact that we didn’t advance, the team brought pride, joy and honour to Iran and I think we also won a lot of respect from people around the world,” added Queiroz, who was assistant to Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United before going on to manage Real Madrid and his native Portugal.

To bridge the gap with Europe and South America we have to come together and work collectively as a region.

Ange Postecoglou, Australia coach

Representatives from the Japan and Korea Republic FAs were philosophical about their results. “It is difficult to explain the reasons,” said JFA technical director Masahiro Shimoda. “We faced the issue of having two or three key players not playing for their clubs in Europe in the build-up to the event.”

Meanwhile Young Soo Lee, chairman of the KFA technical committee, cited a lack of experience amongst the Taeguk Warriors as one of the contributing factors. “The average age was much lower than the average age in 2010 and plus we had two legendary players Park Ji-Sung and Lee Young-Pyo retire just before the World Cup,” said Lee. “Our main goal now going forward is to improve the creativity of the players and their scoring abilities.”

OFC were not represented in Brazil after the All Whites came up short against a strong Mexican side in the intercontinental play-offs. But there is an opportunity to rebuild and emulate their South Africa 2010 form in the future, particularly considering New Zealand will host the FIFA U-20 World Cup 2015.

“This competition is going to have a significant impact for New Zealand and also for Oceania since Fiji have qualified,” said New Zealand Football Technical Director Rob Sherman. “There’s a new generation of players coming through and this will be an opportunity for them to get experience at a major event.”

The three-day conference provided a platform to analyse the tactical evolution of the game while also looking at medical matters and developments related to refereeing such as goal-line technology, vanishing spray and the new structure of The IFAB. One of the highlights was the presentation by the German Football Association (DFB) delegation detailing their long road to success. Bernd Stöber, Head of Coach Education, and Markus Weidner, Head of Education and International Relations, shared insights into how the DFB patiently built-up programmes over the past 15 years to focus on youth development and player generation while working in close cooperation with the clubs and leagues.

Kuala Lumpur marked the end of the cycle of Post 2014 FIFA World Cup™ conferences jointly organised by FIFA and its confederations after Panama City (CONCACAF/CONMEBOL members, 11-12 September), Saint Petersburg (UEFA members, 16-17 September) and Cairo (CAF members, 30 September – 1 October).



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Here's the latest United stories from today's Daily Mirror...

Derby day

Tyler Blackett admits he has been getting stick from Manchester City fans ahead of Sunday's clash at the Etihad.

The United defender claims his native Hulme is split between Reds and Blues - but any comments are all good natured.

He said: "There are City fans where I live and I get a bit of stick now and again, but it's all good banter and good to be around it. There's a lot more of them now!

"Everyone in my family is a United fan and have always watched United over the years. With fans from both sides of Manchester being in the stadium, it provides an extra atmosphere to the ground. The derby is a great game to play in."

Silva ruled out

City star David Silva has been ruled out of the Manchester derby, writes our man David Anderson.

A scan revealed the Spaniard had suffered ligament damage meaning he is likely to spend three weeks on the sidelines.

Silva has started all but one of City's games this season and his absence is a real blow for Manuel Pellegrini.

On the contrary, the news will come as a boost to United boss Louis van Gaal who will be eager for his side to capitalise on City's shaky form.

Did you know we have a Manchester United page on Facebook?

Friday's Manchester United stories from other newspapers and websites

Battle for Pique

According to Spanish newspaper Sport, United are set to rival Chelsea and Manchester City for former defender Gerard Pique.

The Spanish defender has been far from his best at Barcelona in recent times and was again culpable in last weekend's El Clasico defeat.

And it is claimed the three Premier League clubs already have offers on the table - with Chelsea offering €30million, City €28million and United €25million.

It is claimed Chelsea would be favourites to land Pique, as the Blues look for John Terry's long-term replacement.

Getty

Return: Rooney is set to be brought back in by Van Gaal  

Captain fantastic

Former striker Andrew Cole believes Wayne Rooney can make the difference at the Etihad this weekend.

The United skipper has missed the last three games after his West Ham red card, with his return in doubt due to an injury blow.

However, Rooney trained has normal as normal in the past couple of days and Cole believes he will give his side a major boost.

He told the Manchester Evening News: "He is a professional footballer. When you miss games through injury or illness or suspension, you are going to be disappointed.

"I have no doubt he will be chomping at the bit now and ready to go having missed three games. It’s going to be a massive boost to have a player of his quality back."

Ghana star

Trabzonspor have confirmed United's interest in Ghana striker Abdul Majeed Waris.

The Red Devils sent scouts to check on the 23-year-old recently and the Turkish side insist there has been contact.

The Mail quote chief executive Burak Gurdal as saying: "We have not have any direct offers however, we know Manchester United are scouting Waris and keeping close tabs on him.

"We have not have any direct offers however, we know Manchester United are scouting Waris and keeping close tabs on him."

MORE: 10 things you didn't know about Abdul Majeed Waris.

 

They said it would not happen again. They vowed there would be no recurrence of their post-title nightmare from two seasons ago.

But history is threatening to repeat itself at Manchester City.

For the Blues' fans, this campaign is worryingly reminiscent of Roberto Mancini’s final months at the Etihad.

The parallels are clear.

Then, like now, City were stumbling in their defence of the Premier League title. Two seasons ago, it was all over when Manchester United won the derby at the Etihad in early December. Chelsea could end this weekend nine points clear of City.

The Etihad side also suffered a shock home defeat in the Capital One Cup. For Aston Villa then, read Newcastle now.

And there are echoes of 2012-13 not just domestically but in the Champions League as well, with City are on course to miss out on the last 16, just like they did under Mancini.

That debacle two seasons ago cost the Italian his job - just 12 months after leading City to their first title in 45 years.

The challenge for Mancini's successor, Manuel Pellegrini, is to ensure he does not suffer a similar fate as he grapples with the biggest crisis of his short reign.

Getty

Arrivederci: Mancini paid with his job after City's underwhelming 2012-13 season  

Make no mistake, the City natives are getting restless and defeat in Sunday’s derby would really crank up the pressure on the beleaguered boss.

City owner Sheikh Mansour and his right-hand man Khaldoon Al Mubarak are not axe-men but will act if they feel the club is going backwards.

Progress is their mantra and they want to see the Blues reach the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time this season and at least challenge for the Premier League.

Both look distant targets for Pellegrini as the former Real Madrid boss battles to stop the season disintegrating.

Pellegrini is not a divisive figure like Mancini, who contributed to his sacking by going to war with everyone and anyone at the club.

Manchester City's 2013-14 title victory parade:

VIEW GALLERY  

The Chilean is well liked and fits their holistic thinking, but this will not be enough to save him if the Abu Dhabi power brokers decide he has failed this season.

Like Mancini in the summer of 2012, Pellegrini’s signings from the last close-season have not worked. Fernando and Bacary Sagna have added little, if anything to the squad, while £32million defender Eliaquim Mangala looks lost in the Premier League.

Pellegrini did have to operate under the handicap of a £50m spending limit because of the club’s breaches of FFP, but not replacing striker Alvaro Negredo after loaning him to Valencia on deadline day was clearly a mistake.

Negredo netted 23 times by January last season before picking up an injury and losing form. With Edin Dzeko and Stevan Jovetic off colour, City are over-reliant on the delicate hamstrings of Sergio Aguero for goals.

Matthew Lewis

Teething troubles: £32m Mangala has not adpated smoothly to English football  

It wasn't just that Negredo scored a load of goals before Christmas last year. He lived up to his nickname as ‘The Beast’ - he made things happen and chased down lost causes. This term, nobody has stepped into the breach.

It’s also been noted that, since winning the title, the club has handed lucrative new contracts to five of their stars - Dzeko, Aguero, Samir Nasri, Aleksandar Kolarov and David Silva.

Jovetic, who has faded after a bright start to the season, admits City must score more as they prepare for Sunday's Manchester derby.

“We need to be more determined and we need to score goals, because we are a team that scores more goals than everybody,” he said. “When we don’t score we have problems - and it happened against Newcastle.”

Pellegrini is also worried about his defence. United’s star-studded attack will relish facing their fragile backline, which has leaked six goals in their last three games.

He admits the players’ confidence is low and this was evident in the second half of Wednesday’s Capital One Cup humiliation against Newcastle, when they appeared to give up.

Man City 0-2 Newcastle in pictures:

David Silva of Manchester City is tackled by Ryan Taylor of Newcastle United VIEW GALLERY  

“We’ve had three games in a week and they have been very similar,” said Pellegrini. “We conceded two goals in each too easily and had a lot of chances in the three games to score, but didn’t.

“So it’s a difficult moment. There is a lack of trust, but we are going to recover.”

Sunday’s derby has become huge for City, but Pellegrini says his players must prove themselves in every match.

“I think the test of character is not just one game, but the whole season,” he said. “I don’t want to think about negative things and on Sunday my only duty is to try to recover the trust of the players.”

Pellegrini must do that soon or risk the 2012-13 season replaying itself in full with him as the fall guy.

 

Here's all the latest Gunners stories from today's Daily Mirror...

More injury woes

Kieran Gibbs has deepened Arsenal’s defensive injury crisis, writes our man John Cross.

The England left-back damaged his hip at Sunderland  last Saturday and Arsene Wenger says he is a doubt for the Burnley game tomorrow.

Gunners boss Wenger is already without centre-back Laurent Koscielny and right-back Mathieu Debuchy in defence and if Gibbs misses out too then it would leave  the north Londoners  desperately short.

Midfielder Jack Wilshere also suffered a knock before his suspension and there have been fears he could also sit out the Clarets' visit, but Wenger is hoping he will make it.

If Gibbs does not recover in time, Wenger is likely to bring youngster Hector Bellerin in at right-back, with Calum Chambers pushing over to centre-back and Nacho Monreal to left-back.

Friday's Arsenal stories from other newspapers and websites

Vote for Pedro

Barcelona's Pedro is yet to pull the trigger on a move away from the Nou Camp.

Both Arsenal and Liverpool have been linked with moves for the 27-year-old , who has dropped down the pecking order following Luis Suarez's arrival.

The Uruguayan started in last weekend's El Clasico, with Pedro only used as a substitute.

However according to Fichajes, he is determined to fight for his Barca spot and assess the situation further come January.

Transfer advice

Ex-Gunner Perry Groves believes Arsenal can win the Premier League title - if they sign Sami Khedira in January.

The German World Cup winner was heavily linked with a move to north London this summer, with Chelsea and Manchester United also reportedly interested.

With his Real Madrid contract set to expire at the end of the campaign, Khedira has again been touted for a switch and Groves thinks he could make all the difference.

He told the London Evening Standard: "He would give Arsenal something different. A lot of their midfield players are very similar, very technically gifted players but Khedira will win the ball back to allow others to go and play.

"If they can get to within six or seven points by the time the January transfer window opens and then sign Khedira, they could win it."

Michael Regan

Target: Could Khedira make the move to north London?

Italian job

Arsenal's hopes of landing Roma striker Mattia Destro in January have been given a boost.

The Gunners and Chelsea have both been linked with moves for the youngster, who has found himself on the fringes this term.

And now Destro has hinted he would not spurn any interest from the Premier League duo.

The Express quote him as saying: "I try to score goals when I have the opportunity. [Should I be given] more opportunities by the coach? That’s up to the coach.

"I think with my head, I make decisions with my head. So we’ll see."

On the mend

Crocked playmaker Mesut Ozil is continuing his rehabilitation - and took to Twitter to show his exercises.

The German hasn't featured since the defeat to Chelsea and was immediately ruled out for 10-12 weeks with a knee injury.

But he gave Gunners fans a boost as he stepped up his recovery in the gym.

Ozil tweeted: "No, this is neither a red carpet nor a magic carpet. it is just the place where I'm working for my comeback."

Chambers' whirlwind start            

Calum Chambers admits he did not expect to be playing so frequently after his summer switch to the Emirates.                        

The 19-year-old has featured in nearly ever game for the Gunners, with injuries to Mathieu Debuchy and Laurent Koscielny denting Arsene Wenger's defensive options.                        

Chambers told Arsenal Player: "When you get the opportunity to come to a club like this you can’t turn it down. How quickly it has all happened for me, I have been a bit surprised [by that].

"At the start it was a whirlwind, it was all new. I had been at Southampton for 12 years, but I am starting to settle down now. All the lads and the staff at the club have been great towards me and I am really starting to find my feet."

 
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