Rafa Benitez press conference: Chelsea manager defiant

Rafa responds! Defiant Benitez insists he wants the fans to back him and the team

: West Brom 1 Chelsea 0 (Gareth McAuley, 82)

The Portuguese was supposed to be given the freedom to overhaul an ageing squad, but with a place in the top four and Champions League football slipping from Chelsea's grasp, Villas-Boas was given his marching orders in early spring. Di Matteo was brought in and delivered the FA Cup and Champions League trophies.

ROBERTO DI MATTEO

November 17, 2012: West Brom 2 Chelsea 1 (Shane Long, 10, Peter Odemwingie 50; Eden Hazard 39)

After leading Chelsea to a first Champions League title while interim boss, the Italian's permanent appointment was short-lived. A 2-1 loss at the Hawthorns, the team's first away defeat of the league season, was followed by a European defeat at Juventus which sealed Di Matteo's fate and saw Benitez drafted in.

Tottenham and Arsenal warned about vile chants

North London rivals in vile chants threat: Yobs will be ejected from White Hart Lane

By
Sami Mokbel

PUBLISHED:

22:55 GMT, 28 February 2013

|

UPDATED:

08:00 GMT, 1 March 2013

Tottenham and Arsenal will issue a warning to supporters intent on using sick chants during this weekend’s north London derby.

Spurs will use Sunday’s programme and their official website to warn fans they will take a ‘zero tolerance’ approach to those found singing abusive songs, and fans who are caught doing so will be thrown out of the ground.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has been the target of disgusting abuse from Tottenham fans in recent matches.

Targets: Spurs' ex-Arsenal striker Emmanuel Adebayor and Gunners manager Arsene Wenger

Targets: Spurs' ex-Arsenal striker Emmanuel Adebayor and Gunners manager Arsene Wenger

Targets: Spurs' ex-Arsenal striker Emmanuel Adebayor and Gunners manager Arsene Wenger

Slated: Sol Campbell was the victim of abuse by Spurs fans after his switch to Arsenal

Slated: Sol Campbell was the victim of abuse by Spurs fans after his switch to Arsenal

Slated: Sol Campbell was the victim of abuse by Spurs fans after his switch to Arsenal

Likewise, former Gunners striker Emmanuel Adebayor has also been at the centre of vile chants from Arsenal fans since his acrimonious exit for Manchester City in 2009 and the club will also post a warning on their website.

Tottenham, meanwhile, are considering inviting Gareth Bale to the negotiating table to discuss improved terms as they seek to persuade him to stay for at least another season.

Bale has signed contract extensions in each of the last two summers and Spurs may try to persuade him to do so again. Bale is waiting to see if Tottenham qualify for the Champions League before making a decision.

Third time lucky Spurs are hoping that Bale will extend his contract once again

Third time lucky Spurs are hoping that Bale will extend his contract once again

Real Madrid will accelerate their efforts to lure Bale if Cristiano Ronaldo fails to sign a new contract. Real will only formalise their interest if Ronaldo indicates he won’t extend a deal that is due to expire in 2015.

Meanwhile, a UEFA security officer has been appointed for Spurs’ Europa League clash against Inter Milan at the San Siro on March 14.

Nine Tottenham fans were injured in attacks ahead of their clash in Lazio in November. And a group of Spurs fans were attacked last week ahead of their match in Lyon.

Crime scene: Spurs fans were attacked at the Smoking Dog pub in Lyon

Crime scene: Spurs fans were attacked at the Smoking Dog pub in Lyon

Steven Finn Watford football shirt

Finn when you're winning! England cricket star pays tribute to hometown club Watford on tour in New Zealand

By
Steven Donaldson

PUBLISHED:

00:50 GMT, 1 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

08:09 GMT, 1 March 2013

Steven Finn can be forgiven for smiling.

Things have been going pretty well for the England bowler of late.

Not only has he forged a reputation for himself as one of the most feared pacemen in world cricket, but his beloved Watford are closing in on promotion back to the Barclays Premier League.

Golden boy: Finn proudly shows off his Watford shirt in Queenstown

Golden boy: Finn proudly shows off his Watford shirt in Queenstown

Finn, born and bred in the Hertfordshire town, has made no secret of his love for his hometown club and he proudly tweeted this picture of himself with a Hornets shirt with his name on the back while on tour with England in Queenstown, New Zealand.

The 23-year-old has been rested for
England's only warm-up match before the three-Test series starting next
week in Dunedin, where Finn is almost certain to join James Anderson and
Stuart Broad in England's pace attack.

By
then Watford, currently second in the Championship, could have moved another step closer to the
Premier League with fixtures against Wolves and Sheffield Wednesday
coming up.

Flying Finn: The Middlesex seamer starred in the ODI series and is expected to play a key role in the Tests

Flying Finn: The Middlesex seamer starred in the ODI series and is expected to play a key role in the Tests

Flying Finn: The Middlesex seamer starred in the ODI series and is expected to play a key role in the Tests

Picture: Why is Arsenal star Emmanuel Frimpong waving a Spurs scarf ahead of north London derby?

Who is this Arsenal star with a Spurs scarf ahead of Sunday's north London derby

By
Dave Wood

PUBLISHED:

23:56 GMT, 28 February 2013

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UPDATED:

08:13 GMT, 1 March 2013

The build-up to this Sunday's eagerly-awaited north London derby is reaching fever pitch but it seems one Arsenal player may have lost all leave of his senses.

Bizarre images of Emmanuel Frimpong wearing a Captain America style mask and hat and waving a Tottenham scarf surfaced on the internet on Thursday night.

Star attraction: Frimpong entertains his fans with unusual outfit

Man overboard: Frimpong goads Spurs fans during live stream

frimpong

Centre stage: Frimpong took part in live stream with his cousin, rap star Lethal Bizzle

The midfielder, currently on loan at Fulham, donned the strange garb and goaded Spurs fans during a live stream with his cousin and rap star Lethal Bizzle.

Although it was a bit of light-hearted fun, Frimpong should really have thought twice about his internet show after being caught out using social media in the past.

He was fined 6,000 and warned over his future behaviour after admitting to a Football Association charge of improper conduct related to comments made on Twitter.

frimpong

Super hero Frimpong does his best Captain America impression

frimpong

Frimpong responded to a comment made by a Tottenham fan on July 15 and although he soon removed the tweet from the social networking site, it caught the attention of the FA.

The comment made by the Spurs supporter was retweeted by Frimpong, who also added the derogatory term that incurred the FA's wrath.

Sir Alex Ferguson wants to become director at Manchester United

Ferguson 'set to move upstairs' when United's legendary boss eventually calls it a day

By
Graeme Yorke

PUBLISHED:

02:11 GMT, 1 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

02:31 GMT, 1 March 2013

Sir Alex Ferguson has said he is keen on becoming a director at Old Trafford when he finally decides to quit management.

The 71-year-old Manchester United boss said that he is determined to stay at the club after initially intimating that he would step away.

Ferguson said: ‘There’s no getting rid of me. I’ll probably become a director. Nobody knows [my retirement date], neither do I. It won’t be a doctor that tells me to quit!’

Probable: Sir Alex Ferguson said he would probably become a director at Manchester United

Probable: Sir Alex Ferguson said he would probably become a director at Manchester United

As for his successor, he added:
‘They’ll ask me but I think it’ll be a club decision, not mine. With the
structure we have here, it can't be an impossible job.

Former United star Viv Anderson has
rejected the idea that Ferguson might be tempted to step down this
summer, even if they win the Champions League and Premier League.

Anderson, who played under Ferguson
from 1987-91, said: ‘There is no chance that Sir Alex will retire this
summer. He loves the club. He lives and breathes it.’

Not yet: Ferguson is still going strong at United

Not yet: Ferguson is still going strong at United

Success: Ferguson will go down as one of the most greatest managers of all time

Success: Ferguson will go down as one of the most greatest managers of all time

In his wide ranging interview with
twentyfour7 magazine, the United boss also discussed his deliberate
decision to use his former players among his staff.

The likes of Nicky Butt and Brian
McClair are already involved, and Ferguson has backed Paul Scholes, Ryan
Giggs and Darren Fletcher to follow suit.

He added: 'Looking at my present
crop, it's difficult, but the likes pf Giggs and Scholes wil be part of
the structure here. Darren Fletcher is a long term possibilty, and Nicky
Butt is with the reserves.

'We try to get as many former players in the set-up as we can, we've got a good back up.

'We look ahead because that is
succession planning in terms of structure – they've the experience of
being at the club, being a player here, knowing what it takes to be a
winner.'

Sunderland are to host "Nelson Mandela Day" when Manchester United visit

Sunderland to host 'Nelson Mandela Day' when United come to visit

By
Colin Young

PUBLISHED:

19:54 GMT, 28 February 2013

|

UPDATED:

20:33 GMT, 28 February 2013

Sunderland have become the first English football team to set up a partnership with the Nelson Mandela Foundation.

Sunderland, who this season started a new sponsorship deal with Invest In Africa, will support a number of fundraising initiatives on behalf of the Foundation.

The March 30 fixture against Manchester United has been designated ‘Nelson Mandela Day’ at the Stadium of Light.

International: At the start of the season Sunderland announced they were to be sponsored by Invest In Africa

International: At the start of the season Sunderland announced they were to be sponsored by Invest In Africa

Vice chairman, David Miliband, said: 'There is no more iconic figure in the world today than Nelson Mandela.

'His values of equality, justice and reconciliation are the inspiration to millions and this partnership is a wonderful symbol for Sunderland in Africa and a huge honour for our football club.

'As a club which prides itself on its commitment to charitable work, to the community as a whole through our own Foundation of Light, and to the pursuit of excellence in all we do, we see tremendous potential in working with the Nelson Mandela Foundation.'

Key: The match may be crucial in Sunderland's fight against the drop

Key: The match may be crucial in Sunderland's fight against the drop

Brazilian star Kaka should make summer move to United States, says his brother

Brazilian star Kaka dreaming of summer move to United States, says his brother

PUBLISHED:

20:13 GMT, 28 February 2013

|

UPDATED:

20:43 GMT, 28 February 2013

Real Madrid outcast Kaka has set his sights on a move to America, according to his brother Digao.

The former AC Milan playmaker has
been linked with a move away from the Bernabeu in the summer after the
Rossoneri failed to re-sign him in the January transfer window due to
financial reasons.

American dream: Real Madrid's Kaka could be on his way to MLS

American dream: Real Madrid's Kaka could be on his way to MLS

Kaka has expressed interest in moving to the MLS and younger brother Digao, a defender with the New York Red Bulls, has been taking steps to persuade him to join him.

'It's hard to say. Football changes very rapidly. It is a dream that he has, to come and play in the USA, and hopefully it will come true soon,' Digao told Goal.com.

'I think he's been very curious about football in the United States and New York and about my experience living here.

'I've been relaying good things to him. He's expressed his interest in one day playing in the United States.'

Swindon appoint Kevin MacDonald as manager

Swindon announce former Aston Villa caretaker MacDonald as Di Canio replacement

By
Jonathan Veal, Press Association

PUBLISHED:

20:35 GMT, 28 February 2013

|

UPDATED:

20:35 GMT, 28 February 2013

Maiden voyage: MacDonald becomes a permanent manager for the first time

Maiden voyage: MacDonald becomes a permanent manager for the first time

Swindon have appointed former Republic of Ireland assistant Kevin MacDonald as their new manager.

The 52-year-old, who was caretaker manager at Aston Villa in 2010, has been handed the reigns at the County Ground after Paolo Di Canio resigned last week.

MacDonald inherits a Swindon side who are fourth in npower League One and just three points behind leaders Doncaster and will be in charge of Saturday's trip to Coventry.

'This is a hugely important appointment at a significant moment in Swindon's recent history and we are delighted to appoint a football man of Kevin's calibre as our new manager,' said chairman Jed McCrory, who took over the Wiltshire club this month.

'This is a clear message that the new board is determined to drive on for promotion this season and continue to try and bring success to Swindon.

'Kevin has fantastic football credentials as a double-winner with Liverpool during his playing days and he is an excellent coach.

Stuttering: Swindon were beaten by lowly Bury in midweek and have picked up just one point from their last two games

Stuttering: Swindon were beaten at home by lowly Bury in midweek and have picked up just one point from their last two games

'He has great connections with top players and he is a proper football man. We have every faith for Kevin now to lead Swindon from the front at a pivotal moment in the campaign.

'It is a new start for Kevin and for our new board of Directors and we move forward together with every confidence.'

MacDonald, a midfielder in his playing days, was a member of the 1986 double-winning side at Liverpool, while he was involved with the Ireland set-up during Steve Staunton's reign.

FA Youth Cup: Liverpool 3 Leeds 1 – Steven Gerrard gives thumbs up to Kop kids

FA Youth Cup: Liverpool 3 Leeds 1 – Gerrard gives thumbs up to Kop kids

By
Dominic King

PUBLISHED:

20:56 GMT, 28 February 2013

|

UPDATED:

22:11 GMT, 28 February 2013

Liverpool's Academy is brimming with
talent and Jordon Ibe, one of its most gifted pupils, showed why he is a
name to note by firing his side into the FA Youth Cup quarter-finals.

Ibe, who was brought to Anfield in an
initial 500,000 deal from Wycombe Wanderers in December 2011, scored
twice as Liverpool ran out 3-1 winners against Leeds to set up a trip to
Hull City in the next round. Jack Dunn completed the scoring in injury
time after Lewis Cook had pulled one back.

Scroll down for video

Hot shot: Liverpool's Jordan Ibe scores the opening goal

Hot shot: Liverpool's Jordan Ibe scores the opening goal

Liverpool's Jordan Ibe celebrates his strike

Take that: Liverpool's Jordan Ibe celebrates his strike

Though Leeds – who had the backing off more than 250 hardy souls from Yorkshire – showed signs of promise in the opening exchanges and finished strongly, they had no answer when Ibe went impressively through the gears in the space of 10 first minutes to take the tie away from the visitors.

Frank McParland, Liverpool’s Academy Director, said: ‘It was a really physical game and I am just pleased we have come through it. Leeds were strong and had more experience and were older than most of our boys.

‘It is great to be in the next round and, of course, Jordon’s performance was excellent. He has been doing really well for the reserves this year and with him being 17, he can play in this competition next year. He took his goals really well.’

Playing on the left-flank and looking to dovetail at every opportunity with Jerome Sinclair – who became the youngest player in Liverpool’s history when he had a brief run out in the Carling Cup against West Brom last September – it was not difficult to see why Ibe is held in such regard.

High jump: Liverpool's Jordan Ibe tangles with Alex Mowatt

High jump: Liverpool's Jordan Ibe tangles with Alex Mowatt

Top man: Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard was at the match

Top man: Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard was at the match

He showed great poise in the 29th minute
to skip inside a challenge, after being teed up by Dan Trickett-Smith,
and rifle a shot through the legs of Leeds defender Afolabi Coker, that
left keeper Eric Grimes with no chance.

If the manner in which he dispatched that was impressive, his second
goal was even more so. When Liverpool midfielder Jordan Rossiter won a
challenge deep inside his own half, Ibe had no other option but to set
off on a run.

Such was his change of pace, though, he left Leeds’ Alex Purver trailing
before slaloming around Corey Roper to crack a drive past Grimes. Ibe
went on Liverpool’s tour to the USA last summer and, if he maintains
this progress, another call up to Brendan Rodgers’ squad will not be far
away.

This, however, was not a one-sided contest. Leeds, who came into this
tie having suffered just one defeat all season, started brightly and had
a goal correctly disallowed in the 24th minute when substitute Eoghan
Stokes was adjudged to have fouled Liverpool keeper Ryan Fulton.

Liverpool struggled to find a rhythm in the second half yet Leeds could
not make their domination of possession pay. Cook gave hope of a late
comeback when he cracked a shot past Fulton after being teed up by Alex
Mowatt but their pursuit of an equaliser left them susceptible to a
quick break.

So it proved in injury time when Dunn and substitute Kristoffer Peterson
combined to leave the first named with the easy task of finishing from
six yards.

Too much: Leeds' Lewis Walters was distraught at being substituted

Too much: Leeds' Lewis Walters was distraught at being substituted

Cool head: Kristoffer Peterson flicks the ball past Leeds keeper Eric Grimes

Cool head: Kristoffer Peterson flicks the ball past Leeds keeper Eric Grimes

Watching brief: Liverpool assistant manager Colin Pascoe

Watching brief: Liverpool assistant manager Colin Pascoe

Video: Ibe's sensational solo effort

Samir Nasri and Carlos Tevez relax in Manchester City training

Nasri and Tevez take weight of expectation in their stride as duo relax in City training

By
Graeme Yorke

PUBLISHED:

19:20 GMT, 28 February 2013

|

UPDATED:

21:06 GMT, 28 February 2013

Samir Nasri and Carlos Tevez appeared to be in high spirits today as Manchester City prepared for their trip to Aston Villa on Monday.

Fresh from beating top-four rivals Chelsea at the Etihad last weekend, Nasri, Tevez and the rest of the City squad were put through their paces at City's training base in Carrington.

And Tevez, who doubled City's lead over Rafa Benitez's visitors after Yaya Toure's opener, took the time to give the cameras a thumbs-up while he rested between training sessions.

Relaxed: Samir Nasri reclines in Manchester City's boot room at their Carrington training base

Relaxed: Samir Nasri reclines in Manchester City's boot room at their Carrington training base

Weight of expectation: Pablo Zabaleta puts a shift in as City prepare to take on Aston Villa on Monday

Weight of expectation: Pablo Zabaleta puts a shift in as City prepare to take on Aston Villa on Monday

No way: Joe Hart dives over a hurdle to keep the ball out as Costel Pantilimon (left) watches

No way: Joe Hart dives over a hurdle to keep the ball out as Costel Pantilimon (left) watches

Nasri, who made a late cameo appearance in the win which tightened City's grip on second place, but struck a pose for the club photographer while reclining in the bootroom.

City manager Roberto Mancini criticised Nasri's work ethic last week, claiming that the France midfielder only offers him 50 per cent.

In an exclusive interview with the Guardian, Mancini said: 'I think Samir has fantastic qualities

'With his quality, he should always play well. Every game he could be the difference. A player of this quality could be one of the best players in Europe. But it's not happening.

'Sometimes a player thinks it's enough what they did the year before and doesn't understand that every day they should improve.'

He added: 'You win the title, then you think it's enough to play 50 per cent and you don't arrive the next year.'

'If you are a top player you know you can improve until the last day of your career but sometimes you get players who think it is not important to work and this is their worst mistake.

'Samir can do better than this year. He is a top player but he has not been playing at his level.'

Pablo Zabaleta and Joleon Lescott undertook some weight training in their bid to be fully prepared for City's visit to Villa Park next week.

Goalkeepers Joe Hart and Costel Pantilimon were also pictured putting in a shift. Hart, who made an outstanding save from a Frank Lampard penalty to keep the game at 0-0 last weekend, dived over hurdles to keep the ball out in this afternoon's session.

Mancini will be desperate for his side to take all three points, as league leaders and cross-city rivals United could be 15 points clear at the top come Monday, provided they beat Norwich at Old Trafford on Saturday afternoon.

Having a breather: Carlos Tevez gives a thumbs-up to the camera

Having a breather: Carlos Tevez gives a thumbs-up to the camera

Focus: Joleon Lescott powers through his training session

Focus: Joleon Lescott powers through his training session

Game for a laugh: Javi Garcia (right) shares a joke with Zabaleta and David Silva (left)

Game for a laugh: Javi Garcia (right) shares a joke with Zabaleta and David Silva (left)