John Terry apologises to Chelsea fans and Roberto Di Matteo

Terry apologises to Chelsea fans and boss Di Matteo for Barcelona red card madness

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UPDATED:

14:49 GMT, 29 April 2012

Sorry: Terry apologised to fans after scoring at Stamford Bridge

Sorry: Terry apologised to fans after scoring at Stamford Bridge

John Terry has revealed he apologised to Roberto Di Matteo and his team-mates for getting sent off in Chelsea's staggering Champions League triumph over Barcelona.

Terry also used his programme notes for the Barclays Premier League game against QPR to say sorry to Blues supporters and pay tribute to the 10 men who produced a heroic comeback at the Nou Camp on Tuesday to reach next month's final.

The Chelsea captain wrote: 'I want to start my notes today by saying how sorry I am for getting sent off at the Camp Nou and for putting the players, the manager and the club in that situation so early on in such an important game.

'I apologised to Robbie, the players
and the staff after the game. I'm big enough to come out and man up when
I make a mistake and, clearly, I made a mistake on Tuesday.

'I'm sorry for that and I owe it to you, the fans, to come out and say so.

'After
that, for the boys to go and get the result they did, in the manner
they did, was honestly one of the best things I have seen since I have
been at Chelsea.

'It was not just the result, but the way they played. Just when it looked like everything was going wrong, for the 10 players on the pitch to stand up to one of the best teams ever to play the game, in their own stadium, was incredible.

'I was really proud to see the lads get through, because this football club and this group of players deserve the opportunity in the Champions League final.'

Terry marked his apology with a goal as the Blues routed their west London neighbours 6-1 to continue their stunning improvement under interim boss Roberto di Matteo.

The Chelsea captain nodded home from a few yards out to make it 2-0 before Fernando Torres scored a hat-trick, just days after his strike against Barcelona at the Nou Camp.

Marching orders: Terry was handed a straight red for kneeing Sanchez

Marching orders: Terry was handed a straight red for kneeing Sanchez

Fulham close on Nacer Chadli from FC Twente

Persistent Fulham set to beat Spurs to 3.5m Twente ace Chadli

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UPDATED:

21:00 GMT, 29 April 2012

Fulham are closing on a 3million deal for FC Twente's Nacer Chadli.

The Belgium international has been watched by several Premier League clubs including Tottenham.

However, Fulham had two bids rejected last summer and have maintained contact with the Dutch side.

Head boy: Belgium international Nacer Chadli (right) in action for Twente

Head boy: Belgium international Nacer Chadli (right) in action for Twente

The 22-year-old's agent Daniel Evrad said: 'He has a 99 per cent chance of leaving with Fulham his destination.'

Aston Villa join race to sign Mohamed Diame from Wigan

Aston Villa join queue of suitors lining up to sign Wigan midfielder Diame

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UPDATED:

21:00 GMT, 29 April 2012

Aston Villa are the latest club to show interest in Wigan midfielder Mohamed Diame.

The 24-year-old has come back from injury to play a strong supporting role in Wigan's fight against relegation but is out of contract this summer.

Chelsea, Arsenal and Newcastle have also monitored the Senegal international but they are waiting for other deals to fall into place.

Much admired: Mohamed Diame (left) is being watched by a host of clubs

Much admired: Mohamed Diame (left) is being watched by a host of clubs

London 2012 Olympics: 4 x 400m women finish fourth

British women suffer relay bad result as Olympic preparations suffer blow

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UPDATED:

20:50 GMT, 29 April 2012

Britain’s women’s 4 x 400 metres relay team came down to earth with a bump in their first outing together since winning the World Indoor title last month.

They finished fourth at the Penn Relays in Philadelphia with the same quartet of Shana Cox, Nicola Sanders, Christine Ohuruogu and Perri Shakes-Drayton who won the gold medal.

Worryingly for the four women, they were eclipsed by more than seven seconds by the victorious team from the United States.

Not this time: Britain's women were unable to repeat their world success

Not this time: Britain's women were unable to repeat their world success

Fabricio Coloccini insists Newcastle can still finish fourth

Fourth is still ours! Coloccini defiant in defeat as Newcastle chase 'dream' finish

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UPDATED:

21:30 GMT, 29 April 2012

Newcastle's stunning collapse at Wigan was just about the worst possible preparation for a trip to Chelsea on Wednesday, but captain Fabricio Coloccini insists they have not given up on their Champions League ‘dream’.

With Tottenham and Chelsea both winning yesterday, hopes of a top-four finish are fading for Newcastle after their run of six straight victories was ended by a Wigan side who once again belied their status as relegation strugglers by scoring four goals before half-time.

Alan Pardew’s side go to Stamford Bridge knowing that, even if they finish fourth, success for Chelsea in the Champions League Final on May 19 could deny them the chance to join Europe’s elite next season.

We can do it: Fabricio Coloccini still believes

We can do it: Fabricio Coloccini still believes

Newcastle end what has been an outstanding campaign with difficult games against Manchester City and Everton, but Coloccini believes a Champions League place is still within their grasp.

‘It’s like a dream for us, we still have a chance to fight for it,’ said the Argentina defender.

‘Yes it was disappointing and we played badly against Wigan. We have two days to have a look at where we went wrong here then try to get ready for the next game.

‘It’s a big game at Chelsea now. All we can do is make sure we take points from it.

‘We have a really difficult final three games but we just have to keep going. We’re having a great season so our confidence is still high. We know we have to get something at Chelsea.

‘We know the Europa League place is already in the bag so we can push for a top-four finish.’

Victor Moses scored twice in the space
of three minutes at the DW Stadium before fine goals from Shaun
Maloney and Franco Di Santo gave Wigan another big scalp following
recent wins over Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool.

Rout: Wigan walloped Newcastle

Rout: Wigan walloped Newcastle

Having kept a clean sheet for 411 minutes, shell-shocked Newcastle goalkeeper Tim Krul had let in four in just over half an hour, and there was no way back even though Papiss Cisse twice hit the woodwork in the second half.

However, Pardew insists his players’ confidence remains intact ahead of the trip to Stamford Bridge.

‘We’re still very much in it but we need to rebound on Wednesday,’ said the Newcastle manager. ‘We won’t go to Chelsea without confidence, I can assure you of that. I don’t think that’s a problem.

‘We’ve just got to make sure we are strong defensively and we stay in our roles and keep it tight because we score goals. For us it’s about the next three games now. This one’s gone and there’s nothing we can do about it.’

Pardew admitted that talk of a Champions League place may have got to his players.

‘Well it got talked about but I think there are about a million factors,’ he added. ‘Did it affect the players I don’t know but it is something that’s hanging over all the teams who are looking to finish fourth.

Faith: Coloccini says Newcastle will go to Chelsea with confidence

Faith: Coloccini says Newcastle will go to Chelsea with confidence

‘But I think it’s very important that we put this game in perspective. Wigan’s early goals really were the key.

‘We lost our way a bit in the last 20 minutes of the first half and that’s really unlike us. But when you’ve won six you think you’re going to get the game back. We chased it and that gave them the opportunity to get two more goals, and then the game really was gone.’

For Wigan, victory capped an extraordinary month that has seen Roberto Martinez’s side transformed against all the odds from near certainties to be relegated to a team three points clear of the danger zone.

With a visit to Blackburn and a home game against relegated Wolves in their final two matches, it now looks almost certain that Wigan will extend their stay in the Premier League into a seventh season. Martinez said: ‘In April, we had to deal with Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and now Newcastle.

’Forever the fans will look at this month and how we played against these sides, and I think it has been a turning point in our entire history.

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Liverpool join race to sign Olivier Giroud from Montpellier

Dalglish makes personal trip to watch 50m-rated striker Giroud in action

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UPDATED:

21:00 GMT, 29 April 2012

Liverpool have joined the list of clubs showing interest in Montpellier striker Olivier Giroud.

Manager Kenny Dalglish and assistant Steve Clarke watched Montpellier's 1-0 victory at Toulouse on Friday night and were joined in the stands by Arsenal scout Gilles Grimandi and Bayern Munich's general manager Christian Nerlinger.

Although there were other players on show that have attracted Liverpool's interest in the past year, including Toulouse midfielder Moussa Sissoko and Montpellier captain and defender Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, it is understood Giroud was the focus of Dalglish's attention.

Failed to impress: Olivier Giroud (centre) missed a penalty in front of Kenny Dalglish

Failed to impress: Olivier Giroud missed a penalty in front of Kenny Dalglish

However, the striker struggled to impress and missed a penalty.

Dalglish has identified a striker, right-sided midfielder and defender as his priorities for this summer.

Giroud is rated at 50m but is understood to have a release clause considerably lower at 13.5m.

The stumbling block though could be his desire to play in the Champions League.

Montpellier should qualify while Liverpool will be in the Europa League.

Manchester"s third club – Hyde

On the road: The Jekyll and Hyde club who are red… and blue

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UPDATED:

22:00 GMT, 29 April 2012

It has become known as the strange case of doctored Hyde: the club that was wound up, then saved by a bucket; the club which changed its name and its colours, escaped relegation and then zoomed to promotion. All in the last two-and-a-half years.

Manchester may be fixated with the City-United match on Monday night, but over in the east of the city, up the hill at Ewen Fields in Hyde, they are relaxed.

Their season’s work is done and in August Hyde will be playing in the Blue Square Bet Premier, one step from the Football League.

Comeback: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made his return from injury at Hyde's ground

Comeback: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made his return from injury at Hyde's ground

Hyde, formed in 1885, have never been in the League, they have never been as high as the Blue Square Bet Premier, not as Hyde, nor as Hyde United, the club’s name from 1919 to 2010.

But then Hyde have never been so close to Manchester City, so close that the City crest sits beside Hyde’s on the main stand, so close that the seats there are City blue, so close that the only advertising at the ground is for Etihad, so close that the magnificent-looking pitch was installed by City.

Football League blog

And, most controversially, so close that the red and white of Hyde United became the blue and white of plain Hyde.

Walking around the ground, Hyde’s club secretary Andy McAnulty explains the background.

‘We were wound up in September 2009 and City very kindly let us go to Eastlands for a Monday-night game for a bucket collection.

‘That brought us several thousand pounds and kept us afloat. We had been wound up but we managed to get it back on appeal.

‘We’ve always had a good relationship with City, their reserve side played here for a number of years. In close season 2010-11, the previous board reached an agreement with Manchester City that they would, in effect, renovate the stadium and change it from red to blue. City wanted it to be a home from home.

‘They pay us the going rate. At this level, anything helps. They pay for all the advertising around the ground and they sponsor the shirts.

‘They play 20 to 30 games a season here. We had the NextGen game between City and Barcelona here, then Carlos Tevez making his comeback a few weeks ago.’

Special guest: Carlos Tevez has also made a comeback of sorts at the ground

Special guest: Carlos Tevez has also made a comeback of sorts at the ground

Season 2010-11 also happened to be
Hyde’s 125th anniversary. They had been formed as Hyde but were known
for 90 years as Hyde United. They wore red.

For the anniversary season, they
reverted to the original club jersey, which was white. But navy shorts
and socks were added. Red went. ‘United’ went. In protest, so did some
of the 350 regulars.

Hyde avoided relegation from the Conference North on the last day of 2010-11. Eight days ago they won it. The co-incidence of City’s investment seems obvious. There is also a link to Glenn Hoddle’s Spanish academy.

‘People who say we are where we are because of City’s money are incorrect,’ says McAnulty. ‘It’s down to the management and players. We are in existence because of City’s money — but the budget is still tight. For us to do what we’ve done this season is phenomenal.

‘We’d be bottom-half of the division in terms of budget. Next season we’ll get more money but we’ll still be bottom-half. Fleetwood Town, we aren’t.

‘This is the highest position we’ve been in 126 years. To stay up next season, that’ll be our target, fifth- bottom. With all due respect you’re going from playing Vauxhall Motors to playing Luton Town.’

Link: Glen Hoddle's academy is linked with Hyde

Link: Glen Hoddle's academy is linked with Hyde

There will also be a derby with Stockport County. Not so long ago, Stockport used Hyde for reserve games too. But then so did Manchester United. Six years ago the big comeback story was not Tevez but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. That was at Ewen Fields.

With City’s massive training ground development underway, the contract with Hyde expires at the end of next season.

‘United’ could return.

But the Abu Dhabi City money means debts of 250,000 are now zero. A new clubhouse, 3G community pitch and academy are planned.

Rivals would love such good fortune. But it is not just shekels at Hyde, McAnulty is a volunteer like everyone else.

There are no staff, just graft and short-term contracts.

Plus, after that 125th anniversary season, the shirts went back to red. The blue shorts and socks stayed, though. In kit at least, Hyde have united the city of Manchester.

Mac men down and out

Hyde will play Macclesfield Town next season in another North West derby.

Fifteen years after Sammy McIlroy hauled Macclesfield to the Football League, they lost at home to Burton Albion on Saturday to seal relegation.

Brian Horton (former Manchester City manager) had been brought in for the last nine games to save the Silkmen.

It worked before, in 2004, but not in 2012.

Horton will leave Moss Rose, but Macclesfield still have a game on Saturday at Southend.

It is a big one, because if Southend win at home and Crawley and Torquay don’t win away Paul Sturrock’s side will leap into third place.

Automatic promotion is at stake and Crawley and Torquay will not be expecting a shock at Roots Hall. Macclesfield Town’s relegation came because they have not won once in 2012. Not once.

Shay Given calls for Aston Villa unity

Shay's plea for Villa unity before tricky Tottenham encounter

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UPDATED:

21:41 GMT, 29 April 2012

Alex McLeish’s players have made a plea for unity ahead of their crunch Villa Park clash with Tottenham.

So far this season, any public disquiet at McLeish’s reign has seen a few dozen disgruntled fans make their feelings clear on matchdays.

However, following the poisonous scenes at Villa Park in the wake of the home defeat by Bolton, Sunday’s game with Spurs could see far more vociferous demonstrations.

Plea: Shay Given wants a better atmosphere around the club

Plea: Shay Given wants a better atmosphere around the club

And, after a battling draw with local rivals Albion, both keeper Shay Given and defender Alan Hutton were keen to make their point.

‘Whatever their thoughts, the most important thing is that Aston Villa stay in the Premier League,’ said Given.

‘Of course, they were disappointed last Tuesday. We all were. It is important we stick together.

‘It’s not about the manager. It’s about the players. About Aston Villa as a club.’

Hutton added: ‘We know they are disappointed, but if they could put that to one side and get behind us for what is a huge game, it would be a massive help. It does give you a lift to have the crowd totally behind you, especially at such a big stadium as Villa Park.’

It was Given who produced a stunning stop in the dying seconds to prevent Peter Odemwingie snatching a win for Albion. ‘That’s what good goalkeepers do,’ said McLeish.

‘And for me Shay would rank among the best ever. I wouldn’t want to be as dramatic as to say it has saved us, but to lose in the last minute would have been utterly depressing.’

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Martin Jol to return to Fulham dugout v Liverpool

Jol set to return to dugout for Fulham's trip to Liverpool following chest infection

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UPDATED:

17:21 GMT, 30 April 2012

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Martin Jol is set to return to the Fulham dugout on Tuesday for their second match on Merseyside in four days.

Jol did not travel with the Cottagers squad on Monday for their Barclays Premier League game at Liverpool after missing Saturday's defeat at Everton with a chest infection.

But Sportsmail understands the Dutchman has been given the all clear to link up with them ahead of the match at Anfield.

Under the weather: Fulham manager Martin Jol has had a chest infection

Under the weather: Fulham manager Martin Jol has had a chest infection

Jol's presence appeared to be badly missed at Goodison Park as Fulham crashed to their heaviest away defeat since he was appointed manager summer, with first-team coach Billy McKinlay handed the reins.

Regardless of who is in the dugout, Fulham's players are determined to make amends for Saturday's defeat, which was a huge blow to their hopes of achieving the unthinkable and finishing above Liverpool in the table.

The sides had been level on points and almost level on goal difference before the weekend, but the ninth-placed Cottagers will need to produce their first ever victory at Anfield to move back to the same points tally as their opponents.

There has arguably never been a better time to go to the home of the five-time European champions, who have endured a miserable time in front of their own fans this season.

Fulham's Belgian playmaker Mousa Dembele believes a famous scalp is there for the taking, as well as an immediate chance to put things right on Merseyside.

Hope: Mousa Dembele (left) is confident Fulham can beat Liverpool

Hope: Mousa Dembele (left) is confident Fulham can beat Liverpool

'We can go level on points with Liverpool with a win, which is why I am so hungry to beat them,' he told the Cottagers' official website.

'We want to prove ourselves when we go back up to Liverpool because the Everton game was not our best performance.

'We still aim to finish above Liverpool so now is our chance to show them that we can.

'If we want to do that, we have to win this game and give ourselves the best chance of catching them in the league.'

Liverpool could also rest several players ahead of Saturday's FA Cup final against Chelsea.

But Dembele was not interested in playing a weakened side, insisting Fulham were good enough to shock their top stars.

Party time: Everton celebrate as they brushed aside Fulham at the weekend

Party time: Everton celebrate as they brushed aside Fulham at the weekend

'I want to play against the best Liverpool team, but if they don't play the best Liverpool team, we will still do our best to beat them as well,' he said.

'For me, I hope they play with their best players possible so we can show we can beat them.'

Dembele was also itching for the chance to banish the memories of Saturday's defeat, insisting he was more than happy to be playing again four days later.

'It's not disappointing that we have another game so quickly after the Everton match,' Dembele said.

'I'm happy to have the chance to play and forget about the Everton game and we can have a good feeling about the Liverpool game if we win this game, or play very well.'

Willie Manu to leave Hull

Hull resigned to losing Manu after forward is given permission to talk to other clubs

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UPDATED:

18:10 GMT, 30 April 2012

Hull have admitted failure in their battle to hold onto second row forward Willie Manu.

The 32-year-old Tonga international, who is out of contract at the end of the season, has been given permission to speak to other clubs after repeatedly turning down offers of a new deal from the Black and Whites.

St Helens and Catalan Dragons are thought to be competing for the signature of Manu, who has been a major success since joining Hull from Castleford in 2007 and is in the Exiles squad for the mid-season internationals against England.

Exit: Hull FC's Willie Manu will leave at the end of the season

Exit: Hull FC's Willie Manu will leave at the end of the season

Hull director of rugby Shaun McRae said: 'We're obviously disappointed that Willie has decided to finish his career away from Hull FC but we wish him well for the future.

'We made Willie a number of large offers that would have made him considerably one of the highest earners at the club but he has decided to look for a contact elsewhere.'

Although Hull were keen to keep Manu, they have a ready-made replacement in England international Gareth Ellis, who has agreed a three-year contract from 2013, and are hoping to tie his second-row partner Danny Tickle to a new deal.