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Chelsea out to maul Black Cats

Chelsea 15 hours ago
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By ESPN Staff
Dec 14, 2007

Rijkaard says he only has eyes for Barcelona

MADRID, Dec 14 (Reuters) - Barcelona coach Frank Rijkaard has said he intends to see out the remaining one and a half years on his contract, despite increased criticism and reports of interest from other top European clubs.

The Dutchman, who took the helm in 2003 and led them to back-to-back league titles and a European Cup triumph in 2006, has been under pressure this season for the side's inconsistent away form and his laid back style.

'I am happy here. I am not thinking of anything else. If they don't get rid of me I'm staying,' Rijkaard told Catalunya Radio.

Barca face a tricky away game against Valencia on Saturday and the following weekend host arch-rivals and league leaders Real Madrid in the Nou Camp.

They are second in the standings, four points behind the champions.

'It is the moment we need to convince our fans. (If the results don't go our way) then everyone will talk about me a lot but I accept that because it is part of the job. It's usual for them to pile the blame on me,' he added.

The 45-year-old went on to praise Ronaldinho for his improved performances in the side's last two matches.

The Brazilian forward's commitment and fitness have been under scrutiny this season and he has often been substituted during games.

'Ronnie has reacted (to his critics). It's necessary to congratulate him but now is not the moment for him to stop. He has to continue,' Rijkaard said.

'I believe he can return to be the player he was but we have to be aware that players change as they grow older. However, he still has the quality, strength, potency and speed to play with the same explosive style he had before.

'But he has to continue working to be able to maintain the same rhythm for the full 90 minutes.'