Tag Archives: ambitions

Spurs are competing with Fiorentina to sign Dutchman Jordy Clasie

Spurs eye Dutch talent Clasie but Fiorentina first to table offer

By
David Kent

PUBLISHED:

11:00 GMT, 30 March 2013

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UPDATED:

11:00 GMT, 30 March 2013

Tottenham will have to make their move soon if they want to sign Feyenoord playmaker Jordy Clasie before Serie A outfit Fiorentina.

The 21-year-old, who has been called the Dutch Xavi by some, has been attracting interest from Europe's top clubs, but the Viola appear to have been the first to table on offer, according to the Metro.

Clasie has already played a handful of games in the national side, and could be a perfect fit next to Sandro in the heart of Spurs' midfield.

Wonderkid: Feyenoord playmaker Jordy Clasie is one of Europe's rising stars

Wonderkid: Feyenoord playmaker Jordy Clasie is one of Europe's rising stars

Wanted: Feyenoord are realistic in their attempts to keep him in Holland

Wanted: Feyenoord are realistic in their attempts to keep him in Holland

If a move to White Hart Lane was successful, it could mean the end of Scott Parker's career in North London, with a switch to Fulham, or even QPR if they stay up, on the cards.

Feyenoord's technical directior Martin Van Geel said: 'We do not need to sell him, nor do we
particularly want to, but we have to think of the player’s ambitions and
evaluate the offers from other clubs.

‘There is an offer from Fiorentina, but
we’ll only discuss it at the end of the season. Right now the players
must focus only on Feyenoord.’

Getting on: Scott Parker could be on his way out if Clasie signs for Tottenham

Getting on: Scott Parker could be on his way out if Clasie signs for Tottenham

Amir Khan hopes to "laugh in Kell Brook"s face" by proving he has more fans in Sheffield

Khan hopes to 'laugh in Kell Brook's face' by proving he has more fans than his rival does in his home town of Sheffield

By
Declan Warrington

PUBLISHED:

00:49 GMT, 6 March 2013

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UPDATED:

02:11 GMT, 6 March 2013

Amir Khan has revealed he cannot wait to fight in Sheffield – because he wants to ‘laugh in Kell Brook’s face’ about having more fans than Brook does in his home town.

The former world champion is to fight Mexican Julio Diaz in Sheffield’s Motorpoint Arena on April 27 at a catchweight of 143lbs, and though he is adamant he will return to 140lbs to avenge defeats against Lamont Peterson and Danny Garcia, he couldn’t resist a dig at welterweight Brook, his long-time rival.

'We’ll show him how we sell tickets,' said Khan, whose fight against Diaz is his first in the UK for two years.

Last laugh: Amir Khan believes he will sell out the Motorpoint Arena because he has more Sheffield-based fans than Kell Brook

Last laugh: Amir Khan believes he will sell out the Motorpoint Arena because he has more Sheffield-based fans than Kell Brook

'It’ll show that I probably have more
fans than him in his home town. That’s a laugh in his face, really. But I
don’t think about fighting him yet – he has to prove himself.'

Brook is to fight Devon Alexander for the IBF welterweight title in May and, if victorious, interest in a fight between he and Khan is certain to grow, something the latter says he will welcome once he has achieved his ambitions as a light welterweight and moved up to the 147lb division.

'I have nothing against Kell Brook,' says Khan. 'I don't care about him or think about him. He has to prove himself. At the moment he's not on my radar or anything.

'Spectacular': Julio Diaz was impressed with Khan's performance against Carlos Molina

'Spectacular': Julio Diaz was impressed with Khan's performance against Carlos Molina

'If I move up to 147 then definitely I would fight him, but it's six to nine months before I do move up. When I do, I'm not someone who says no and I would take that fight.

'I still want to fight at 140 and win titles at that weight and then move up to 147 as a world champion.

'There are still two fights out there at 140 against Petersen and Garcia – they are fights I want and that are there for me, so I don't see why I should move up.'

Battle of Britain Interest in Kell Brook fighting Amir Khan continues to grow

Battle of Britain Interest in Kell Brook fighting Amir Khan continues to grow

Juan Manuel Marquez and Timothy Bradley were among those mentioned as potential opponents for Khan, with Peterson and Vyacheslav Senchenko, who retired Ricky Hatton in November, understood to have rejected official offers to fight him. As a consequence Diaz has been viewed as an underwhelming opponent, but he is one Khan is adamant will not be easy.

'We got the fight I wanted,' he said. 'Not many would take this fight on so I have a lot of respect for Diaz for taking it.

'People will turn us down because they know this is a tough fight, even though last year wasn't our best. We tried with some and it didn't happen, which is why I left England for a training camp without doing any press as I didn't have a secure opponent.'

Back on form: Khan followed two straight losses with a 10th-round stoppage of Molina

Back on form: Khan followed two straight losses with a 10th-round stoppage of Molina

For Diaz, the next fight represents the biggest of his career after his last was a draw against Shawn Porter on the undercard of Khan's 10th-round stoppage victory over Carlos Molina, the 2004 Olympian's first with trainer Virgil Hunter, and one in which the Mexican felt Khan simply could not be criticised.

'I have to say he was spectacular,' Diaz said. 'He looked a whole different fighter. Virgil has done a very good job with him, but I have a very good team and, when I get in the ring in Sheffield, it will be a very proud moment.

'Amir has been a superstar since he started and has been treated like one. I’ve struggled to get attention by winning performances and knockouts, but it’s just made me work harder.'

Tickets for Amir Khan vs. Julio Diaz can be purchased from www.motorpointarenasheffield.co.uk or by calling 0114 256 5656.

Michael Appleton settled at Blackburn Rovers

He's the only manager to have been in charge of three different teams in the FA Cup in the same season… but stability is the key for roving Blackburn boss Appleton

By
Neil Ashton

PUBLISHED:

22:17 GMT, 15 February 2013

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UPDATED:

08:50 GMT, 16 February 2013

In the car park at Blackburn’s fabulous training complex, a white painter and decorator’s van from Clitheroe is occupying the space of global adviser Shebby Singh.

‘I’m not sure what Shebby’s doing at the moment, but if he’s global advising he’s not advising me,’ admitted Blackburn’s new manager Michael Appleton. ‘I’ve not had any contact from Shebby since I’ve been here. He knows my number, he knows where I am.’

Appleton is already making his mark, a forward-thinking manager with ambitions to reach the highest level with Rovers. The interference from above, the comical sideshow that turned Blackburn into a laughing stock before he arrived on January 11, is no longer an issue.

Shake on it: Michael Appleton is building bridges at Blackburn

Shake on it: Michael Appleton is building bridges at Blackburn

He answers to Derek Shaw, Blackburn’s managing director, as the pair stabilise the club after a chaotic couple of years under Venky’s. They feel like a football club again, aiming for the Championship play-offs and proudly travelling south on Saturday for an FA Cup fifth-round tie against Arsenal.

When Appleton, 37, took charge of Blackburn against Derby in round four, he unwittingly became the subject of a pub-quiz question. ‘That’s right — I’m the only manager to have been in charge of three different teams in the FA Cup in the same season,’ he said.

He began the season with Portsmouth in League One, throwing together a team each week as the financial excesses of the previous regime continued to bite. Then it was on to Blackpool, replacing Ian Holloway until he left for Rovers after just 65 days.

New challenge: Michael Appleton made Blackburn his third club this season

New challenge: Michael Appleton made Blackburn his third club this season

He wasn’t aware of the financial restrictions under Blackpool chairman Karl Oyston until he began.

‘Karl admits he runs the club a certain way,’ said Appleton. ‘It was a slightly more attractive opportunity than at Pompey.

Next up: Appleton joined Blackpool

Next up: Appleton joined Blackpool

‘I wouldn’t have left Blackpool if I was completely happy, or felt I could take the club to the next level and keep it there. The club is certainly day to day. You can’t argue in a way, because Karl can say it’s been successful like that. We argued constantly, but Karl quite liked that. There was a mutual respect. We told each other what we thought, even if it was about each other, but it became a frustration.

‘I can see the talent they’ve got in the squad, the potential at the club, and the first XI is as good as any in the division. But with that you need the right infrastructure, training ground and facilities, and for things to be done in the right way so the players feel loved.’

Blackburn have the infrastructure and Appleton has had an impact. There is a feel-good factor again, a genuine buzz. They are six points off sixth in the Championship.

Appleton added: ‘I had to build bridges between the management and above, with the fans and the owners.There wasn’t a lot of stability: we had 12 people wanting to play the No 10 role. It’s a difficult job, but I didn’t know when an opportunity to take over a club as big would come along again.

‘Look at the facilities. They’re first class — it’s a nice place to work — and what you’d expect of a club who have competed for so long in the Premier League. We’ve steadied the ship, tried to be a lot more solid, and we have a goalscoring machine in Jordan Rhodes who can nick a win for us at any time.’

Rhodes has scored 20 since his 8million move from Huddersfield at the start of the season and, like the rest of the squad, is responding to Appleton’s influence. The manager said: ‘All I want now is stability. I’d love to put my stamp on the football club.

Goal machine: Jordan Rhodes has been in fine form for Blackburn

Goal machine: Jordan Rhodes has been in fine form for Blackburn

‘The frustration at Portsmouth was that no one saw what we were trying to do behind the scenes. I found it difficult to do at Blackpool, which is why I’m here. I’d love to be at Blackburn long enough for people to see the work we’re putting in. As difficult as the job is going to be, I didn’t expect it to come so quickly.’

As they head to Arsenal on a five-match unbeaten run, things are already happening fast for Appleton.

Pep Guardiola wants Premier League move to put Chelsea and man City on alert

I'm ready to manage in Premier League, reveals Guardiola to put Chelsea and City on alert for swoop

By
Matt Barlow

PUBLISHED:

22:00 GMT, 15 January 2013

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UPDATED:

08:08 GMT, 16 January 2013

Pep Guardiola has fuelled the intrigue surrounding his future by stressing his desire to work in England.

Guardiola sent a message of congratulations to the Football Association as they prepared to launch their 150th anniversary celebrations in London on Wednesday.

And just like Jose Mourinho, who sent a similar message 24 hours earlier, he outlined his ambitions to coach in England, comments sure to alert the biggest clubs in the country.

Scroll down for video

On his way: Pep Guardiola revealed his Premier League dream in a video for the FA

On his way: Pep Guardiola revealed his Premier League dream in a video for the FA

On his way: Pep Guardiola revealed his Premier League dream in a video for the FA

'As a player, I couldn't realise my dream to play there,' said Guardiola.

'But I hope in the future I have a challenge to be a coach or a manager there and feel the experience of all the coaches and players that have been there.

'It is unique, to play in that league. I want to feel the supporters, the environment, the media and the style of the players.

'I am still young, just 41, so I hope in the future I could train there and enjoy that. I have always found English football very fascinating. The support of the home team is amazing.

Star man: Guardiola built one of the world's best teams while at Barcelona

Star man: Guardiola built one of the world's best teams while at Barcelona

'In Italy, Latin people will support you when you are playing and when you lose, they kill you. In England, I'm always surprised people always support everything and that is nice. That's why I hope to have the challenge to train there.'

Guardiola has been coveted by the biggest clubs in the world since stepping down as Barcelona coach last year after creating one of the best teams of all time.

He has spent much of his time in New York, improving his English, and Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United and Arsenal have all been linked with a move for his services.

Anniversary: The Football Association are celebrating 150 years

Anniversary: The Football Association are celebrating 150 years

His plan is to return to work this summer and speculation this week linked him with Bayern Munich, but the Catalan told the FA of his special bond with England and Wembley.

He added: 'I had the opportunity to play two finals at Wembley and that's why my relationship with England is pretty close.

'I played there twice, once as a player when I was 19 and it was my first Champions League as a player, as Barcelona finally won the Champions League. It was a huge honour to play at the old Wembley.

'When I was manager of Barcelona, for our second Champions League in three years, it was a real pleasure to play in the new Wembley.

'Congratulations on this huge anniversary, because 150 years is a lot of years. 'Also because they created the rules of football and have a responsibility for the game. They have been important in the development of our beautiful, beautiful game.'

Video: Pep reveals his desire for English football

Manchester City and Chelsea on alert as Pep Guardiola reveals Premier League dream

Manchester City and Chelsea on alert as Guardiola reveals Premier League dream

By
Matt Barlow

PUBLISHED:

22:00 GMT, 15 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

22:35 GMT, 15 January 2013

Pep Guardiola has fuelled the intrigue surrounding his future by stressing his desire to work in England.

Guardiola sent a message of congratulations to the Football Association as they prepared to launch their 150th anniversary celebrations in London on Wednesday.

And just like Jose Mourinho, who sent a similar message 24 hours earlier, he outlined his ambitions to coach in England, comments sure to alert the biggest clubs in the country.

In demand: A host of Premier League clubs are interested in Guardiola's services

In demand: A host of Premier League clubs are interested in Guardiola's services

'As a player, I couldn't realise my dream to play there,' said Guardiola.

'But I hope in the future I have a challenge to be a coach or a manager there and feel the experience of all the coaches and players that have been there.

'It is unique, to play in that league. I want to feel the supporters, the environment, the media and the style of the players.

'I am still young, just 41, so I hope in the future I could train there and enjoy that. I have always found English football very fascinating. The support of the home team is amazing.

Star man: Guardiola built one of the world's best teams while at Barcelona

Star man: Guardiola built one of the world's best teams while at Barcelona

'In Italy, Latin people will support you when you are playing and when you lose, they kill you. In England, I'm always surprised people always support everything and that is nice. That's why I hope to have the challenge to train there.'

Guardiola has been coveted by the biggest clubs in the world since stepping down as Barcelona coach last year after creating one of the best teams of all time.

He has spent much of his time in New York, improving his English, and Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United and Arsenal have all been linked with a move for his services.

Anniversary: The Football Association are celebrating 150 years

Anniversary: The Football Association are celebrating 150 years

His plan is to return to work this summer and speculation this week linked him with Bayern Munich, but the Catalan told the FA of his special bond with England and Wembley.

He added: 'I had the opportunity to play two finals at Wembley and that's why my relationship with England is pretty close.

'I played there twice, once as a player when I was 19 and it was my first Champions League as a player, as Barcelona finally won the Champions League. It was a huge honour to play at the old Wembley.

'When I was manager of Barcelona, for our second Champions League in three years, it was a real pleasure to play in the new Wembley.

'Congratulations on this huge anniversary, because 150 years is a lot of years. 'Also because they created the rules of football and have a responsibility for the game. They have been important in the development of our beautiful, beautiful game.'

Andre Villas-Boas on target to take Tottenham into Champions League

Villas-Boas is right on target for Champions League… but now his players want more

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UPDATED:

22:30 GMT, 30 December 2012

The owners’ original target, he revealed, was a return to the Champions League and Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas is warming to the idea. But his players have even bigger ambitions now.

The 2-1 victory at Sunderland on Saturday was a good win for AVB’s players, if overshadowed by Martin Atkinson’s booking of Gareth Bale for a perceived dive, the third such punishment for the Welshman in little over a month.

The north London club dominated but fell behind to John O’Shea’s first Sunderland goal. They dominated some more in the second half and thanks to 90 seconds of horrific Sunderland defending, won it thanks to Carlos Cuellar’s own goal and a fine Aaron Lennon strike.

Euro vision: Tottenham head coach Andre Villas-Boas congratulates Gareth Bale on a brilliant performance in the 2-1 win at Sunderland on Saturday

Euro vision: Tottenham head coach Andre Villas-Boas congratulates Gareth Bale on a brilliant performance in the 2-1 win at Sunderland on Saturday

It further cemented their challenge for a return to the Champions League next season — putting them third until overtaken by Chelsea yesterday.

And it has provided further evidence that Daniel Levy may have got it right with his controversial sacking of Harry Redknapp and backing of Villas-Boas so soon after the Portuguese had been discarded by Chelsea.

There are signs that the majority of the Spurs players are growing in comfort and confidence with the Villas-Boas methods which were prematurely curtailed by Roman Abramovich last March.

Despite that very public setback, the coach has never lost faith in himself, or his belief in delivering for an expectant White Hart Lane hierarchy.

‘I’ve always believed in my ability as a manager,’ he said. ‘Football is unpredictable, but you just have to keep going because you can’t live on mid-term success. You have to take it up to the finishing line.

‘The Champions League is the objective, but we’ve only just finished the first half of the Premier League, so there are still a lot of games to be played and the problem with the league this season is that everybody is very tight together.

‘We’re still rebuilding a team that lost very, very important players, but that’s what makes us tick.’

Frustration: Martin Atkinson books Bale for diving, earning him a one match suspension for accumulating five yellow cards this season

Frustration: Martin Atkinson books Bale for diving, earning him a one match suspension for accumulating five yellow cards this season

Scott Parker returned briefly on Saturday but in his absence Sandro has set a standard to ensure the England midfielder has a fight on his hands to play for the new-look Tottenham.

Not only does the Brazilian exemplify the improvement in the side, but he embodies the ambition which he believes makes Spurs title contenders.

He said: ‘Everybody talks about Manchester United and Manchester City and even Chelsea for the title, but never Spurs. Why not Spurs

‘We can go for the top. Why not Spurs at the top this season We have a good coach, a good squad and everything is working well.

‘Nobody is speaking about Spurs. And that suits us. But we are not content to just be a top-four side. We are looking up, not down.

‘I hope it carries on with nobody talking about Spurs as champions right until the end of the season. Then bang, we win. They will all be talking about Tottenham then.’

Ambition: Tottenham's Sandro questioned why the club are never considered for the Premier League table

Ambition: Tottenham's Sandro questioned why the club are never considered for the Premier League table

Although substitute Clint Dempsey’s unnecessary late debate with coach Steffen Freund suggests not all the new recruits are happy with life, one notable performer was French keeper Hugo Lloris.

The 12million summer signing has played the last nine Premier League games, kept four clean sheets and conceded just seven goals, including two against Arsenal.

He was rarely tested by Sunderland, and made a superb reflex save to deny Steven Fletcher before O’Shea hammered home the rebound. His main preoccupation was punching the home side’s relentless aerial bombardment as far from his goal as possible.

Villas-Boas said: ‘It was a big, big performance from him, with difficult balls into the box, a proper English fixture, a difficult team, strong in the air, big players and he handled it fantastically well.’

Top form: Goalkeeper Hugo Lloris has played the last nine Premier League matches, keeping four clean sheets

Top form: Goalkeeper Hugo Lloris has played the last nine Premier League matches, keeping four clean sheets

Another player very much a part of Villas-Boas’s plans is defender Danny Rose, who was sorely missed by temporary club Sunderland. The left back has been so outstanding fans have been chanting for Martin O’Neill to sign him permanently.

For now, O’Neill is just pleased to have secured an extension to the loan until the end of the season. He can concentrate on other targets this week and vowed to work on Rose’s future in the summer.

The Sunderland manager said: ‘I was really disappointed he (Villas-Boas) said he will have Danny back.

‘Lots of things can change: if we put in an offer of 38million that might change things, I think he would taxi him up here.’

GRAHAM POLL'S OFFICIAL LINE: BALE'S REPUTATION GOES BEFORE HIM

Players often complain that their reputation goes before them and having received his third caution of the season for simulation, Gareth Bale will probably claim just that.

However, Martin Atkinson is a very experienced Premier League and international referee who was absolutely sure that Bale dived. Looking at replays, there is contact but only after Bale’s leg is crumbling.

I understand that Andre Marriner had a meeting at Tottenham’s training ground to discuss this recurring problem with Bale, who now has five cautions for diving since the start of last season, but this meeting does not appear to have had the desired effect.

Andre Villas-Boas and Bale himself both feel sure that he is merely trying to avoid injuries and not seeking to con the referee. However, three referees this season cannot see their point of view.

Sam Warbuton will stay loyal to Cardiff Blues

Warbuton will follow Cuthbert's lead and stay loyal to Cardiff

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UPDATED:

22:30 GMT, 22 December 2012

Sam Warburton is set to emulate Alex Cuthbert by securing his future in Wales with Cardiff Blues.

The Wales captain has been reassured over the club’s ambitions after they tied down Cuthbert for the next three years and he says he is ready to commit to his home team ‘for life’ when his current deal ends after next season.

Warburton, 24, said: ‘I would love to stay at the Blues for life and have my testimonial here.

Set to sign: Sam Warburton will commit his future to the Cardiff Blues

Set to sign: Sam Warburton will commit his future to the Cardiff Blues

‘In France you can earn three or four times what you get in Wales, but I would also rather play somewhere I’m happy and getting looked after.

‘It will be interesting to see the detail in the new WRU plans and what incentives they come up with to keep players at the regions.’

One of the main aims of the newly formed Professional Regional Game Board in Wales is to help the four Welsh teams hold on to their top players.

Newport Gwent Dragons director of rugby Rob Beale says they could help the club keep Toby Faletau, who will also be out of contract after next season.

Beale said: ‘If that is a stated aim then they have got to be involved in how we set about keeping Toby.’

Brian O"Driscoll: I"d rather not be a Lion than lose in Australia

I'd rather not be a Lion than lose in Oz… After three torrid tours, Ireland legend
O'Driscoll says winning really IS everything

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UPDATED:

00:05 GMT, 19 December 2012

Brian O'Driscoll has no hesitation in turning an old sporting maxim on its head. It’s about winning, not just taking part.

Ireland's convalescing captain has no appetite for merely representing the Lions, he wants the series win which has eluded him.

The 33-year-old king of centres is recovering from ankle surgery and hopes to return to action with Leinster in early-to-mid January. Beyond that, he has his sights on leading his country into the Six Nations. Then and only then, the Lions tour to Australia next summer will loom large on his radar.

Leading light: Brian O'Driscoll is in the frame to be British and Irish Lions captain once again

Leading light: Brian O'Driscoll is in the frame to be British and Irish Lions captain once again

Leading light: Brian O'Driscoll is in the frame to be British and Irish Lions captain once again

But even at this stage of the season, his thoughts about the 2013 crusade under Warren Gatland’s command are clear. His ambitions are set in stone, certainly the one which overrides the rest.

O’Driscoll has already done the full cycle of Lions trips — to Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. He has savoured the occasions for their own sake, now he wants the prize. He has no desire to be a loser left with the consolation of more caps and tarnished memories.

‘It’s not a matter of just making a Lions squad,’ he said. ‘If you said, “You can go on the trip, but you are not going to win the series”, I would have no interest in going. The only reason to go on another Lions trip would be to win the series — to do something I haven’t done before.

‘I’ve been to Australia before, I’ve seen the places, it’s great. But I can go on my holidays and do that. It’s all about winning the series. I have one Lions victory in six Tests, which isn’t anything to shout about. I don’t want to go on four Lions tours and win none of them. People don’t remember losing Lions tours, they only remember winning tours.’

O’Driscoll acknowledged that his own mindset is a reflection of his status as a veteran who has been there and done it all as a Lion – almost. ‘Different guys will go at different stages of their careers and some will go with the excitement of the trip, but I’ve had that,’ he added. ‘I just want to win one. We need to win one. They are wonderful trips, but they are unsustainable if the home nation always wins.’

Wizard of Oz: O'Driscoll burst onto the scene with the Lions during the Tour to Australia in 2001

Wizard of Oz: O'Driscoll burst onto the scene with the Lions during the Tour to Australia in 2001

In his view, the challenge is greater now for the hastily-prepared tourists than it ever was but O’Driscoll is adamant that the squad who head Down Under have it in them to beat the Wallabies.

After all, he was part of the team so agonisingly denied by the Springboks in 2009 — suffering narrow defeats in Durban and Pretoria before winning the finale in Johannesburg without the Irishman, who had gone home injured.

Four years earlier, O’Driscoll was captain, but his series against the All Blacks amounted to less than one minute before he was brutally spear-tackled by Tana Umaga and Keven Mealamu in the first Test in Christchurch. Now, his name is once again being mentioned among the potential skippers.

If asked to take on leadership duties again, as only the second man after Martin Johnson to land the job twice, he would do so, while mindful of the burden that goes with the role.

‘It would be impossible to turn down the opportunity if I was asked to be captain again,’ said O’Driscoll. ‘It’s too great an honour to contemplate turning down, but there is a lot of pressure on the Lions captain. Having been captain on a tour, then toured when I’m not captain, it is very different.

Ill-fated: The Irishman led the Lions in New Zealand in 2005 but was injured after just one minute of the first Test

Ill-fated: The Irishman led the Lions in New Zealand in 2005 but was injured after just one minute of the first Test

Agony: O'Driscoll was carried off after a shocking spear tackle by Tana Umaga and Keven Mealamu

Agony: O'Driscoll was carried off after a shocking spear tackle by Tana Umaga and Keven Mealamu

VIDEO: The shocking spear tackle on Lions captain O'Driscoll

‘It was a lot more relaxing just being another player, I was able to enjoy it, there was less scrutiny. It is tough, being captain, but you have to try to enjoy it and just be yourself. Whoever does the job this time, he has to use the leadership group around him. Your captain needs to be starting in the Test team, and it is difficult to say at this stage that there is anyone in Britain and Ireland who is guaranteed to be starting.’

It was on the Lions tour to Australia in 2001 that O’Driscoll burst to wider prominence with his try-scoring contribution to victory in the series opener in Brisbane. But he had already announced his Test emergence with a hat-trick for Ireland in Paris in 2000. His Test debut came at the age of 20, as abundant promise was recognised by the-then national coach — Gatland.

Knowing the Kiwi so well, O’Driscoll is convinced the Wales coach can galvanise the best of British and Irish into a winning combination.

‘Warren has earned his stripes, with Wales at the World Cup last year and coming off the back of that with a Grand Slam,’ he said. ‘He has won two Slams with them. He has also been successful with Wasps, then went back to New Zealand and won an NPC, so he deserves that Lions role. Gats is a confident guy. He will instill a belief in his team and he’ll get them in the right place to win the series.’

In vain: The centre was brilliant in South Africa four years ago but the series ended in defeat again

In vain: The centre was brilliant in South Africa four years ago but the series ended in defeat again

In time, O’Driscoll will give careful consideration to his plans, to the tricky decision about whether to retire at the end of this season or play on. Even though he relishes the daily fun of being a ‘33-year-old kid’, he knows that the next World Cup in 2015 is beyond him, but the Lions tour certainly isn’t. When he is back in action, he will set about reminding Gatland of his enduring class, but with a view to winning in Australia, not just taking part.

Brian O’Driscoll was speaking on behalf of HSBC. As proud Principal Partner of The British & Irish Lions on their tour to Australia next year, HSBC is offering all customers an exclusive 30% discount on the official replica Lions jersey at https://store.lionsrugby.com/discount

VIDEO: Kevin Quigley's photoshoot with O'Driscoll

Brendan Rodgers not worried about Liverpool delay

Rodgers not worried about flight delay as Liverpool prepare for Hammers test

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UPDATED:

08:57 GMT, 8 December 2012

Brendan Rodgers has expressed confidence that Liverpool’s delayed return from their Europa League trip to Italy will not compromise their ambitions at West Ham tomorrow.

Liverpool were due to fly home straight following their 1-0 win over Udinese on Thursday night but they were grounded in Trieste airport after a problem was detected with their aircraft, while it was taxing to the runway.

Rodgers and his squad were kept on the plane for more than an hour while investigations were carried out before engineers confirmed that the fault in the left engine could not be repaired, forcing them to stay overnight in Italy.

No worries: Brendan Rodgers expects Liverpool to be ready for West Ham

No worries: Brendan Rodgers expects Liverpool to be ready for West Ham

A new aircraft was sent out to Trieste to collect them yesterday and the party arrived touchdown at John Lennon Airport at 3.30pm, some 15 hours later than had been scheduled.

There will be little chance for them to rest, as Liverpool will today (SAT) travel to London for their game at Upton Park but Rodgers does not feel his preparations have been overly-effected by the unforeseen issue.

‘It doesn’t overly affect us really,’ said Rodgers, whose side made it through to the Europa League’s last 32 as winners of Group A thanks to Jordan Henderson’ s goal. ‘It’s not ideal, of course, but we still have one more session before we play West Ham and we’ve been able to recover well.

‘The players had a good rest overnight, even though we only got back into the hotel late, at about 2.30am. The day after game it’s about the nutritional needs and physical needs of the players – they are what is important. But we could take care of that in the hotel.

Marching on: Liverpool beat Udinese to progress in the Europa League

Marching on: Liverpool beat Udinese to progress in the Europa League

‘It’s only an issue if you make it an issue. Sometimes it’s like how life is; it’s not always plain sailing – especially when you’re flying! It’s one we cannot control but we can control our mind-set and how we recover. Our recuperation has been fantastic.’

An added bonus for Rodgers is his squad will be bolstered at West Ham by the return of Steven Gerrard, who never travelled to Italy with illness, and Daniel Agger and Lucas Leiva, both of whom were rested in midweek.

Rodgers added: ‘We will have a final session tomorrow and will go to game on Sunday with no excuse. We have finished top of our group in a European tournament – for us we’re in a good moment and we’ll take it into Sunday’s game.’

Andre Villas-Boas to be given 20million by Daniel Levy

Villas-Boas to be handed 20m to pursue Willian, Moutinho, Dzagoev or Eriksen in January

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UPDATED:

23:09 GMT, 20 November 2012

Andre Villas-Boas will be handed 20million to revive Tottenham's faltering Champions League ambitions.

Spurs have lost four of their last five Premier League games, a sequence that has cast serious doubt over their top four chances.

But chairman Daniel Levy will make significant funds available in the January transfer window, knowing the current squad needs strengthening.

Wanted man: Shakhtar's Willian is top of Andre Villas-Boas' hitlist

Wanted man: Shakhtar's Willian is top of Andre Villas-Boas' hitlist

Villas-Boas wants to sign a left-back, central attacking midfielder and a striker at the turn of the year, with Willian, Miralem Pjanic, Christian Eriksen, Alex Dzagoev and Joao Moutinho all on the hitlist.

Tottenham's chosen agents have already begun work on trying to lure the club's top targets to London.

Levy's decision to give Villas-Boas money to spend in January will come as a major boost to the Portuguese who is starting to come under pressure due to his side's sorry run.

Meanwhile, Tottenham will revive their attempts to sell defender Michael Dawson in January.

Villas-Boas tried to offload the defender during the summer transfer window, but moves to Stoke and Queens Park Rangers failed to materialise.

Not bad either: Porto's Joao Moutinho is also being mooted

Not bad either: Porto's Joao Moutinho is also being mooted

Gift: The Tottenham manager has been handed 20million to pursue his targets

Gift: The Tottenham manager has been handed 20million to pursue his targets