Tag Archives: animosity

Marco Fu beats Mark Allen at UK Championship

Fu denies grudge over 'cheat' claim after win against Allen at UK Championship

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UPDATED:

23:51 GMT, 2 December 2012

Mark Allen suffered a sore first-round defeat as Hong Kong's Marco Fu knocked the Northern Irishman out of the williamhill.com UK Championship.

Allen predicted he would win if Fu decided it was a 'grudge match', following comments made by the man from Antrim during the World Championship in April when he claimed tonight's opponent had cheated in the past.

There appeared little animosity between the pair as they shook hands following Fu's 6-3 victory at York's Barbican Centre.

Winner: Marco Fu came through against Mark Allen

Winner: Marco Fu came through against Mark Allen

But on a day when it emerged the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA) had written to Allen to ask him to explain his comments of last Wednesday, when he reiterated that he believed Fu had cheated in the past, it was a tough loss for the world No 8.

Allen's timing in repeating his view about Fu was unfortunate, as it came a day before the six-month probationary period on a suspended three-month ban was due to expire.

Fu has denied ever cheating and has never been found guilty of any related offence.

Fu tonight insisted he did not want Allen to be banned and Allen does not expect to face punishment.

Asked whether he anticipated a fresh charge, Allen said: 'No, I don't.'

Allen said he had sought out WPBSA chairman Jason Ferguson to discuss the comments he made in an interview last week, believing he had been misrepresented.

Claim: Allen accused Fu of cheating earlier this year

Claim: Allen accused Fu of cheating earlier this year

He added: 'I'm pretty happy where I stand with Jason and Jason's pretty happy with where I stand in the game so I don't think I have any problems.'

Allen said of his loss: 'I'm obviously disappointed to go out of such a tournament so early but I just got completely outplayed.

'Marco started really well and I never really recovered. If he plays like that he's got a chance of winning the tournament.'

Asked about the situation with Fu, and whether there was any 'grudge' aspect, Allen added: 'It was just another match. We've both moved on. People make mistakes and I make mistakes like anyone else. It's just one of those things.'

When asked last Wednesday about his 'cheating' claims, Allen said: “It was a comment that I still stand by.

'I'd never said anything about Marco as a person. Marco as a person is one of the nicest people you'd ever meet.

'Obviously people make mistakes on the table. But aside from that, Marco is a great snooker player.'

A World Snooker spokesman said: ‘His comments have been looked at and he has been asked to explain what he said.’

Liverpool 1 Manchester United 2: A minor skirmish but it mattered – Martin Samuel

A minor skirmish – but it mattered: Liverpool and United's animosity resurfaces

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UPDATED:

08:19 GMT, 24 September 2012

It was a day of numbers: 96, 19, 12, zero and ultimately the 11 versus 10 that decided the outcome of the football match.

Anfield remembered, the visitors crowed. The ceremonies to mark the final emergence of the truth about the Hillsborough tragedy and its toll of 96 dead were impeccably observed, but once hostilities commenced it felt foolish to have ever imagined this would be anything more than the most famously bitter rivalry in English football. A watershed moment of realisation, a change of mood, of direction

Much hope was placed on this encounter and when Sir Bobby Charlton presented red roses to Ian Rush — they were later placed with the other sacred debris on the shrine to victims of official incompetence and the extremes of fate — and Luis Suarez warmly clasped the hands of Patrice Evra pre-match, it was possible to imagine, for a moment, that this was the start of a new era.

Respect: Bobby Charlton (left) hands a bouquet of 96 roses to Liverpool's Ian Rush

Respect: Bobby Charlton (left) hands a bouquet of 96 roses to Liverpool's Ian Rush

And then the game began. It was not especially poisonous and the reaction to it nothing exceptional: but it wasn’t a dawn of enlightenment, either.

The 19 titles won by Manchester United, overtaking Liverpool’s 18 (Ryan Giggs has won 12 to Steven Gerrard’s nil to put the modern era in sharp relief), has increased the intensity of this match like at no time in history.

We might as well organise a charity fund-raiser for Rangers at Parkhead as hope the animosity between Liverpool and Manchester United could be driven underground for long.

There was nothing too outrageous here — the worst excesses amounted to little more than 10 idiots being antagonised by 10 mugs — but nor were too many bridges left standing by the end.

Liverpool supporters did not mention Munich but United’s did, taunting them in hope of drawing an outrageous response. When the ground had emptied they mockingly chorused ‘Always the victims, it’s never your fault’, the song that had caused such embarrassment and anger at Old Trafford last week.

Well behaved: The fans of both sides were largely respectful throughout

Well behaved: The fans of both sides were largely respectful throughout

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How can Liverpool recover from their poor start
Since the start of 2012 Liverpool have won only two of 12 home games. Are they unlucky or is there a more fundamental problem

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They did so in response to another outburst of indignation fromLiverpool, a skirmish bearing scant comparison to the battle for the truth about Hillsborough, although it must be said that in both cases much of the protest was justified.

The home team thought Manchester United could have had a man sent off (which they could), they thought they should have had a penalty (which they should) and that United’s penalty winner was a harsh call (which it wasn’t). So, two out of three: and those numbers changed the game.

Even with 10 men, though, Liverpool were the better team, and had their ranks stayed even would probably not have been so stretched for United’s winner. It came from a penalty converted by Robin van Persie, but the damage was done on the break when Liverpool’s numerical disadvantage left them exposed to the counter attack.

It seems crass to speak of injustice when the last 23 years at the club has been spent fighting a system considerably more sinister than a referee’s call, but in strictly sporting terms Liverpool were hard done by here.

In the 39th minute, Jonjo Shelvey and Jonny Evans were competing for a 50-50 ball. Neither went in entirely fairly. Shelvey was late, high and second in the race, Evans was first but two-footed and out of control. Both were reckless. Evans came out worst.

Early bath: Jonjo Shelvey was sent off for Liverpool as they lost to Manchester United

Early bath: Jonjo Shelvey was sent off for Liverpool as they lost to Manchester United

Too late: Glen Johnson (right) tackles Antonio Valencia to concede a penalty

Too late: Glen Johnson (right) tackles Antonio Valencia to concede a penalty

Referee Mark Halsey produced a red card and dismissed Shelvey, who went cursing Rio Ferdinand and Sir Alex Ferguson. Evans stayed on after treatment, unpunished. It wasn’t right. Either both players should have gone, or Halsey should have traded yellows; either he misjudged what he saw, or he reacted purely to Evans’s injury.

The result was that Liverpool played the remaining 58 minutes of the game, including added time, a man down. Unsurprisingly, against United, they lost.

The result leaves them in a poor state but a Liverpool win, not even a draw, would have been the fairest result. ‘The best team lost,’ said manager Brendan Rodgers, and he was right.

If there was poetic justice, the winning goal would have been scored by Liverpool captain Gerrard after 46 minutes. The pure abandon of his celebration suggested his young cousin Jon-Paul, who did not return alive from Hillsborough, was on his mind. And yes, it may seem perverse to equate winning a football match with a duty performed in the memory of the dead, yet what else is there for Gerrard to do These people were fans, in the days when it wasn’t easy to follow a team around the country.

Obtaining tickets, particularly those for FA Cup semi-finals, meant physically going to a ticket office and standing in line, not clicking a button on a computer, credit card at the ready. The dead were some of those who were first to the ground. They loved football. They loved Liverpool.

Looking to the heavens: Steven Gerrard (right) celebrates scoring the opening goal for Liverpool

Looking to the heavens: Steven Gerrard (right) celebrates scoring the opening goal for Liverpool

Gerrard isn’t a lawyer, or a prosecutor. The best he can do is score a goal that wins a match that would have made the fans happy. So that is what he did. And then his fine deed was overtaken.

Rafael equalised, a cracker, but then Glen Johnson brought down Antonio Valencia with a rashly attempted challenge from the wrong side. The nudge unsettled the Manchester United man who lost his footing — as many did on a pitch that may have been overwatered — and Halsey pointed to the spot.

Underlining the sense of outrage, a very slow and detailed replay showed that Suarez had been fouled by Evans in the penalty area previously. A theatrical jerk of the head by the Uruguayan as he fell had probably convinced Halsey of simulation. Had Suarez simply fallen with natural momentum, the referee probably would have pointed to the spot.

So justice was not served. Yet, at this of all times, it is important to keep such matters in perspective.

There is the loss of a football match and the loss of life. At Anfield, they are only too aware of that painful difference, and will surely remember it when looking at the league table on Monday morning.

The management cannot rely on this raw perspective to stave off the tough questions forever, though. The football matters around these parts, too. Just as it mattered to the 96.

Hillsborough and Munich chants must be stopped

EXCLUSIVE: Stop this hate! Hillsborough and Munich chants must be stopped

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UPDATED:

22:02 GMT, 12 September 2012

Manchester United and Liverpool supporters have been urged to stop singing songs mocking the tragedies that have afflicted both clubs following Wednesday's dramatic revelations about the death of 96 fans at Hillsborough.

Sandy Busby, son of the late United manager Sir Matt, and Liverpool legend Robbie Fowler both welcomed the conclusion by the Hillsborough Independent Panel and immediately called upon fans to put an end to the vile chants heard in recent times.

Cut it out: Jamie Carragher (centre left) and Kenny Dalglish (left) were among those to pay their respects on Wednesday

Cut it out: Jamie Carragher (centre left) and Kenny Dalglish (left) were among those to pay their respects on Wednesday

A minority of United fans still sing about the 1989 Hillsborough tragedy, while some Liverpool supporters – and indeed those from other clubs – continue to mock the 1958 Munich air disaster that claimed the lives of 23 players, staff and journalists.

Last night Busby – whose father survived the crash in Munich – said: 'My heart goes out to the Liverpool fans who were affected by Hillsborough because I know what it's like.

'You think about it every day. The pain never really goes away. The anniversaries are still upsetting and every day something reminds you of the terrible thing that happened.

'Maybe after this some of the Liverpool fans, and of course the families, can take some comfort that the correct things have eventually been said.

'All I hope now is the two sets of fans – the minorities that are still out there – can stop these awful songs. It's sick and it's sad and it's a shame.

'People think it washes over you but it doesn't. If the people who sing them could stand in the shoes of the relatives of those who died in these tragedies then maybe they would think twice.'

Fowler, who scored 128 goals in 266 appearances for Liverpool, added: 'There is a lot of animosity in football these days but there is no place for that kind of chanting. We have all heard the songs but, thankfully, the majority of fans would never sing about tragedies and we can only hope they set the example going forward.

Not forgotten: There are still vile chants which a minority of fans deem acceptable after the Hillsborough and Munich disasters

Not forgotten: There are still vile chants which a minority of fans deem acceptable after the Hillsborough and Munich disasters

Solidarity: Liverpudlians turned out for a vigil in their city after the truth was finally uncovered

Solidarity: Liverpudlians turned out for a vigil in their city after the truth was finally uncovered

'You have seen what Liverpool is about as a city in the last 24 hours. Yes, people have their differences but they come together at difficult times and Liverpool and Everton, the clubs and the supporters, will always be there for one another.'

Both United and Liverpool have made attempts to dissuade their fans from singing distasteful songs, with varying degrees of success.

Fans from other clubs also sing about the tragedies from time to time. But with the two North West giants due to meet at Anfield in the Barclays Premier League next week, all eyes will be on both sets of fans once again.

Busby added: 'I remember my dad and Bob Paisley holding hands on a bus at Wembley before the (1983) Charity Shield game.

'It was designed to show the fans that the two clubs could stand side by side off the pitch and support each other and have a warm feeling for each other. It was a great idea but some people don't want to listen do they'

Tributes: Across Liverpool people have showed their support for the victims' families after the fateful day in 1989

Tributes: Across Liverpool people have showed their support for the victims' families after the fateful day in 1989

After thousands gathered in the city centre last night for a vigil in memory of the Hillsborough victims, Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers said: 'I was incredibly moved by the vigil. The courage and dignity displayed by the families and survivors is truly humbling.'

Commenting on the report Liverpool's managing director, Ian Ayre, added: 'It's vital (that the public know) because even in recent times we've seen people still stick to this myth that Liverpool fans were responsible for this tragedy.

They now know what we've known for 23 years, which is that Liverpool fans weren't responsible. We've exonerated ourselves and this report has exonerated them.'

Ayre said the phrase which struck the biggest chord with him in Prime Minister David Cameron's speech was 'double injustice' and he said: 'Not only the fact these people died unnecessarily, but the fact a process ensued and dragged their names through the mud.'

Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert hits back at Robbie Savage relegation tip

Let's wait and see, Robbie… Lambert hits back after Savage tips Villa for drop

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UPDATED:

13:48 GMT, 17 August 2012

Fantasy football 2012

New Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert has hit back at Robbie Savage's claim that Aston Villa will get relegated this season.

Lambet leads Villas for the first time on Saturday at Upton Park with an opening day trip to Barclays Premier League new boys West Ham.

Former Birmingham player Savage, now a BBC pundit, tipped Villa for relegation but Lambert is confident things won't pan out to be a disaster this season.

Lambert said: 'I never saw what he
said until this morning. I don't bother with it to be honest. Listen,
Robbie is entitled to his opinion but let's wait and see.'

Wait and see: Paul Lambert has hit back at Robbie Savage's claim that Aston Villa will get relegated this season

Wait and see: Paul Lambert has hit back at Robbie Savage's claim that Aston Villa will get relegated this season

Lambert admits Villa's history 'raises the bar' in terms of what is expected from his first season in charge.

The former Norwich boss is striving to bring the good times back to Villa after two seasons of underachievement under Gerard Houllier and Alex McLeish.

Lambert has been welcomed by Villa fans with open arms after the animosity shown towards former Birmingham boss McLeish.

But he has urged Villa supporters to stick with the team through the ups and downs that will lie ahead during the next nine months.

Lambert said: 'The history of Villa, that raises the bar because of that side of things and the expectancy level.

Controversial: BBC pundit - and former Birmingham star - Savage has backed Villa to go down

Controversial: BBC pundit – and former Birmingham star – Savage has backed Villa to go down

'When you go to any club it's hard. It's not an easy job, football management, and Norwich was tough to turn around.

'But Villa is a huge club and I can't wait for the season to start now, the atmosphere, the adrenalin rush, and trying to win as many games as we can.

'We have to hit the ground running and that is what we will try and do. You have to be ready. There is no turning back now.'

Lambert added: 'The crowd have been great. It makes you humble. People seem happy that you are here. I know I have to try and get results and we will give it a right good go.

'But we are going to need the crowd through good and bad times. We will make mistakes, like everyone else, because they are young, and if the crowd stick with it, we will be alright.'

Lambert is looking forward to trying to bring the best out of playmaker Stephen Ireland.

Ireland was voted the fans' player of the year last season after a difficult first campaign at Villa.

Lambert said: 'He is a really talented footballer. From the day I walked in here, I thought he is a talented footballer.

'For some strange reason, he has found it difficult here the last couple of years.

'It is up to me to get the best out of him to see if he can perform.'

Great expectations: Lambert hopes Darren Bent can have a successful season

Great expectations: Lambert hopes Darren Bent can have a successful season

Lambert hopes Ireland can link up effectively with striker Darren Bent who is back to fitness after missing the final third of last season – and Euro 2012 – with an ankle problem.

He said: 'You look at the two names (Bent and Ireland) and the careers they have had, and they are big, big players. We have to try and utilise them the best.

'Darren has done alright, he's done really fine. He missed a lot of football because of his injury but he is a goal threat.

'Everyone on the planet knows he can score and hopefully if he is playing, everything goes well for him.

'I saw the injury when it happened and Villa really missed him when he went out injured. It is a big bonus to have him back. I knew he was a top goalscorer, he'd done it for England and had a great time for Villa here.

'There is a lot on his shoulders but there is a lot on everyone's shoulders. You can't rely on one person.'

Villa summer signing, Brett Holman, has shaken off a knee problem and the midfielder is included in the squad for the trip to Upton Park.

Other newcomers, central defender Ron Vlaar, right-back Matthew Lowton and midfielder Karim El Ahmadi, are also in contention.

Striker Gabriel Agbonlahor (knee), defender Richard Dunne (groin) and winger Marc Albrighton (foot) are still sidelined.

Tyson Gay ready to forget Justin Gatlin animosity – London 2012 Olympics

Gay ready to forget Gatlin animosity as American rivals team up for relay

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UPDATED:

12:27 GMT, 10 August 2012

Olympics 2012

Tyson Gay has admitted he will have to suppress any animosity he feels towards drug cheat Justin Gatlin for the benefit of the US 4x100m relay team.

Gay, 30 on Friday, missed out on bronze in the individual 100m final by just one one-hundredth of a second to compatriot Gatlin, also 30, who is competing in London after returning from a four-year ban.

Gay, the second fastest man ever, has been vocal in his opposition to athletes who take performance-enhancing drugs and struggled to hide his distaste that Gatlin had denied him a first Olympic medal.

Missing out on a medal: Gay finished fourth in the 100m final

Missing out on a medal: Gay finished fourth in the 100m final

The pair join up as part of the US sprint relay team, which competes in the first round on Friday at 7.45pm.

'It's tough,' said Gay, who has fought back from a serious hip injury earlier in the season.

'Everybody knows my stance on drugs. I work real hard so I don't want to be cheated out of nothing. Nobody does.

'I really have no choice at this point to speak (out) because we're in the relay together. I can't be having animosity, a lot of hatred – I don't want it to affect the team. We're a team when we run the 4×100.

Out of the running: Gatlin pipped countryman Gay to a bronze medal

Out of the running: Gatlin pipped countryman Gay to a bronze medal

'I speak to him. I'll put a lot of things to the side for the team. At this point there's really nothing I can do about it. My personal coach has to talk to him, my personal coach has to put him on the relay.

'So I can't really say it's a conflict of interests it's just something that has to happen. I can't really go around being mad, not speaking to this guy because it would add more stress on me which is unnecessary.'

Speaking on behalf of his sponsor Omega, Gay added: 'I've already got a lot going on in my life as well. It's one of those things where you have to roll with the punches. It's something that has already been accepted by America and a lot of the other athletes and I just kind of roll with it.'

Sam Allardyce: There have been times when West Ham have played like Swansea

EXCLUSIVE: Sam Allardyce – there have been times when we've played like Swansea

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UPDATED:

22:00 GMT, 29 March 2012

Sitting comfortably: Sam Allardyce faces down his critics

Sitting comfortably: Sam Allardyce faces down his critics

Lee Clayton interviews the West Ham manager as the promotion dogfight reaches a critical stage, with his team taking on Reading at home on Saturday…

'We need a win, this is killing me,’ Sam Allardyce says in a telephone call. It’s 10.17 on the morning of a fixture at Peterborough this week. He’s in his hotel, sounding relaxed and in control. It is 23 days since West Ham last won a football match.

Half-time: Peterborough 0 West Ham 0.

‘Paolo Di Canio,’ sing the large West Ham following at London Road, after just 17 minutes. It’s followed by: ‘We’re West Ham United, we play on the floor.’

He’s a confident man, Big Sam. There is a clause in his two-year contract that determines he can leave for the England job and he was 25-1 on the day Fabio Capello departed. He also has tickets to take his 11-year-old grandson to Amir Khan’s world light-welterweight title fight in Las Vegas on May 19, the same day as the play-off final. Allardyce expects to be in Vegas.

The style of football, a lack of goals, a dip in form… it’s all getting a bit bumpy. It was meant to be a romp through the division and big attendances bring big expectations. There were 6,000 away fans at Peterborough, for a midweek game.

At London Road, West Ham win 2-0 to move within a point of the top two. Still, it’s not good enough for some. Allardyce calls his critics ‘deluded’.

One supporter writes on Twitter: ‘Witnessing the animosity, the writing is on the wall for Big Sam.’

Another: ‘He has mocked the West Ham Way. A little more respect for the club would have served him better.’

Crunch time: If West Ham beat Reading, Allardyce's side will be back in the automatic promotion places

Crunch time: If West Ham beat Reading, Allardyce's side will be back in the automatic promotion places

Personally, I find his touchline swagger compelling and enjoy his disdain for West Ham’s past failings. What is the West Ham Way No automatic promotion since 1981. No trophy since 1980. David Sullivan and his partner David Gold are propping up West Ham with their personal fortune. They have gambled on Allardyce and they like what they see.

Sullivan says: ‘The fans have always sung for Paolo. One day, they might get him. In five years’ time, perhaps. We like him, but only after Sam wins promotion, takes West Ham into Europe and then leaves for the England job.

‘Myself and David Gold stand 100 per cent behind the manager. It’s hard to play in the Championship. Teams shut you down, there is no time to play. This happened at Peterborough, but in the second half we played magnificent football. Now it’s on to Reading.’

The win at Peterborough is a first in six games, but it’s a result that means positives can now be accentuated; West Ham haven’t lost since January 31 and are 11 unbeaten. They have equalled the club record for away wins in a season, previously achieved in 1923 and 1958 (both promotion years).

Beat Reading at home and they are back in the top two. Di Canio, who excited many, but not all, as a player at Upton Park, can stay in Swindon for a bit longer. The subject seems a good place at which to start.

How does it feel when you are standing out in the technical area and the Di Canio chants start

SAM ALLARDYCE: ‘I accept that we haven’t delivered recently. You have to take it on the chin. In adversity, when we were down to 10 men, the supporters were, wow . . . magnificent. And the players responded: three times we went down to 10 men and we won seven points.

‘Against Watford, we had 11 men, we were drawing and one guy ran down with five minutes to go and said, “F*** off back up north, you ****”. I’m from Dudley in the Midlands. It’s not the north! I’m proud of coming from Dudley. It’s where Duncan Edwards came from.’

First win in six: The smiles return at Peterborough

First win in six: The smiles return at Peterborough

There has been a lot of criticism.

SA: ‘Yes, but when we won at Peterborough, the supporters were singing my name. Thousands of them went up there, took over the place. It was uplifting for the players and we gave them a performance, a win. That’s what they want.’

West Ham fans are demanding…

SA: ‘I don’t mind that. I’m not stupid. I have been a manager for 20 years and I came here knowing what the fans expect. I know about the history of the club. I know where they want to be, but I also know how few times they have been there. It excites me that I am the man trying to take them there. I want them to go home happy. If we are not delivering, they will criticise. Fair enough.’

Championship: How they stand

But the fans want to be…

SA: ‘…excited. I know. That’s what we have to do. We are here to create, inspire, to fulfil people’s dreams. That’s what I am about. I am a creative person. My mind doesn’t think about boring logistics. I want to do something different. Footballers respond to atmosphere. Atmosphere comes from bums on seats. Bums on seats create expectation. We have to deal with that. People are impatient, everyone is. I had a 10-year contract at Bolton, a blank piece of paper with little or no expectation.’

But West Ham…

SA: ‘There isn’t the same time here. I am trying to turn around a relegated club quickly. We have equalled a record, of away wins, but it’s the wrong one! You want to break records for home games, but opponents have made life difficult. We are a scalp in this division, teams come to stop us. If we can overcome that, we will get promoted. It may happen, it may not. But it has been exciting and, in a short space of time, I have started to enjoy where I work.’

Enjoyment: Allardyce's short stint at Upton Park has not been short of incident

Enjoyment: Allardyce's short stint at Upton Park has not been short of incident

You seem confident

SA: ‘I have the evidence. I know if we have played well, I know if we have been better than the opposition. You will ask me about the style of play now. People usually do. I’ve had it all my career.

‘The negativity came in at Bolton. It was a shock. I don’t blame the media or the fans. It was the other managers, they were embarrassed. We were walking in someone else’s garden and they didn’t want us there.

‘We would beat Arsenal, Liverpool. Bolton shouldn’t be around the top six, they said. I didn’t want managers telling TV how well we had played after beating us 3-0 and talking bull**** before coming into my office. Arsene Wenger didn’t like playing us — and he didn’t come into my office! I wanted them to go and moan because I’d just beaten them. Unfortunately, the legacy…’

What is the legacy

SA: ‘Look, it took 24 seconds at my first West Ham press conference for someone to ask me about the style of play.’

On the battle for promotion

'I have tickets for Amir Khan’s next fight. It’s the same date as the play-off final. I expect to be in Las Vegas that day'

What did you say

SA: ‘I asked, “What style do you want” I’d done my homework. I don’t want conflict. I can’t fight it. I can’t stop it. I just get on with it. I can tell you what I think the West Ham Way is… win and they’re happy. You can’t get more entertainment than the Peterborough game: for 30 minutes they were really into us and then it was deplete, punish and then totally destroy your opposition.’

What is the style

SA: ‘I change the style depending on who we are playing, the players we have available. I look for a winning style.’

Everyone is talking about Swansea in the Premier League. Could you play like that

SA: ‘We have played like Swansea. At Watford (4-0), at Nottingham Forest (4-1), Portsmouth at home (4-3), the second half at Peterborough.’

Earlier in the season, the Brighton fans shouted ‘hoof’ throughout the game because of the long balls.

SA: ‘We didn’t hoof it. We sat in and played on the break, won 1-0, did them tactically. So when Gus Poyet criticises us, he’s done well. Fabulous. Let’s see him in 20 years.’

Winner: Kevin Nolan slots home to give west Ham the three points against Brighton

Winner: Kevin Nolan slots home to give west Ham the three points against Brighton

But Rickie Lambert has 24 League goals. The top scorer at West Ham is Kevin Nolan with 10.

SA: ‘There are two things that make a difference: clean sheets and a goalscorer. We have kept clean sheets.’

What about the other end Carlton Cole has scored once in 2012.

SA: ‘That’s been the problem. Not enough goals. They’ve all dried up, all the forwards. Kevin Nolan’s goal at Burnley — he is a midfield goalscorer of the highest level — was brilliant. He’s not a creative midfielder, his talent comes alive in the opposition penalty area. Ten goals. That’s been critical to us. If we had a 15-goal striker, we would be up and away. We have to put it right, but I don’t think it will stop us.’

On his brand of football

At Peterborough the other night, it was deplete, punish and then totally destroy the opposition. I look for a winning style

James Tomkins has had a very good season.

SA: ‘Mark Noble has done very well too. James reminds me of Phil Jones and Chris Smalling at Manchester United. He has their quality. He has played at the back and in midfield for me. He can play in the Premier League. Can he play for England He has to answer that with his performances.’

Where are you at now

SA: ‘Loving the challenge of taking West Ham to where it needs to be, as quickly as possible. We have good owners, the fanbase and that has an appeal, doesn’t it I want that promotion. I’m hungry for it. After the high of taking Bolton into Europe, my career hasn’t gone where I wanted it to. Newcastle was the right club at the wrong time, then came the damage of the sack. It was damage to the progress of my career. I want to talk about damage to a manager, actually.

‘Lee Clark is a great young manager, only three defeats in 55 games and then sacked by Huddersfield! It will take him time to recover from that. He won’t get linked with the better jobs until he puts that right and becomes fashionable again. I know how that feels, the bruising. It hurts us all. You can come back, though. Look at Alan Pardew. And I’m here.’

Strong season: Mark Noble has impressed for West Ham in midfield

Strong season: Mark Noble has impressed for West Ham in midfield

Will West Ham go up

SA: ‘I know what I think. These are high stakes. We are where everyone expects us to be so nobody praises us. Southampton, Reading, Brighton… they get the praise. West Ham On the BBC, on Sky — Steve Claridge and Don Goodman — I’ll be seeing them. It’s all negatives, which feeds back to the supporters.

‘Style of play Do you think I am here wanting to play long ball I am not daft. I’ve been a manager for 20 years. I’m not here thinking (stands up, puts on an accent), “Hit it, lump it up”. I want us to win matches. Let’s start with the Reading game and then see where we go. I’d like to make that Amir fight. He’s a good lad, worked with my sports science team at Bolton and I don’t want to let down my grandson.’

Roberto Mancini"s faith in Carlos Tevez pays off – Martin Samuel

Mancini act of faith has its reward as Tevez rises to the challenge

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UPDATED:

00:15 GMT, 22 March 2012

For Carlos Tevez and Manchester City this was the best of all possible worlds. The winning goal would have been too much. Redemption should not be that easy, the past not so conveniently erased.

Had Tevez scored the goal that defeated Chelsea with five minutes remaining there would have been a fair few reaching for the sick bag, even while in the throes of raucous celebration.

So this was a reasonable compromise. Tevez not the main part, but an essential component, providing an exquisite little pass to tee up Samir Nasri’s finish. The player could leave with head held high, the fans could celebrate without guilt and the man who emerged strongest of all from Tevez’s return was Roberto Mancini, the manager. Just as it should be.

In charge: Roberto Mancini has dealt with the Carlos Tevez situation with dignity from start to finish

In charge: Roberto Mancini has dealt with the Carlos Tevez situation with dignity from start to finish

Mancini’s name was loudly sung immediately after Tevez’s 66th-minute introduction — as if the locals wished to make it plain whose side they were on, still — and by the end there was no doubt Mancini was the winner.

The manager deserves enormous credit for his managerial acumen here. He put the needs of his team before any lingering animosity, he eschewed the opportunity for petty point scoring or a final twist of the knife. He was a grown-up. He has always been a grown-up. That is what set him apart from the other side.

Mancini had other striking options available when Gary Cahill scored for Chelsea. He could have brought on Edin Dzeko or switched a few around and introduced James Milner wide. Instead, he did what was right.

No sooner had the ball squirmed its way around Joe Hart than the order came. Warm up, strip off, get ready, Mancini told his problem child. This time there was no dissent. Tevez obliged instantly, without fuss. If only he had done so in Munich. Would City’s season have needed this reboot

Level terms: Sergio Aguero equalised for Manchester City from the penalty spot

Level terms: Sergio Aguero equalised for Manchester City from the penalty spot

And, because supporters are fickle creatures at the best of times, and utterly desperate in moments of crisis, there was an immediate smattering of cheers and applause. It did not last, this gratefulness. When Tevez came on, for Nigel de Jong, there were boos, too, from those with memories longer than the recent blip or a deflected Cahill shot; but the dissent evaporated as quickly as it rose. If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all, is the advice and most City fans followed it.

They offered no judgment either way, beyond hard stares. It was the same when Tevez had appeared before the game. They cared too much about winning to hound the player before such a crucial match, but they were not going to treat his unpermitted absence as water under the bridge, either. This made it initially quite awkward when Tevez was on the ball, too.

Winner: Samir Nasri clips the ball past Petr Cech after collecting a delightful pass from Tevez

Winner: Samir Nasri clips the ball past Petr Cech after collecting a delightful pass from Tevez

Chasing the game, City needed encouragement, enthusiasm, not the uneasy silence that greeted Tevez in possession. He looked reasonably fit, he looked a fine player — let’s face it, his talent has never been in doubt — yet as City flagged and perspired, one could not help but think what pressure his temporary departure had placed on this forward line, particularly the key to it all, Sergio Aguero.

Tevez’s compatriot stood up boldly to convert the equalising penalty, but for much of the rest of the game he looked flat. Tevez should have taken up an additional 10-matches slack by now. What a difference that would have made.

This is why, for some, any contribution from Tevez to City’s success in the final months of the season will always seem unpalatable. They would rather the club had gone it alone, even stumbling in Manchester United’s wake, than welcomed Tevez back. These folk are neutrals, obviously.

Party time: Tevez celebrates after helping City to a vital three points in the race for the title

Party time: Tevez celebrates after helping City to a vital three points in the race for the title

Those who remember City in tier three of English football, who laughed hollowly through the years when Sir Alex Ferguson referred to their stadium as the Temple of Doom, who have visited Old Trafford when the famous ticker recording City’s years without a trophy was on display, who have endured sneers and mockery, jokes and ridicule, those folk will take the 2011-12 Premier League title any way it comes, and if Tevez is part of the celebrations on the final day, well they’ll live with that, too. There is no rule stating the title can be won only by model professionals — or model citizens for that matter.

This was a huge result for City, have no doubt of it. At a goal down, Mancini would have felt the prize slipping from his grasp. Having once led the league by seven points, he was suddenly looking at a four-point gap trailing Manchester United. It was a dire situation. United could have afforded to go to City in April and lose and, providing they got the right results in other matches, still win the league. City’s destiny would potentially have been out of their hands.

Job well done: Tevez is congratulated by David Platt after City beat Chelsea at the Etihad Stadium

Job well done: Tevez is congratulated by David Platt after City beat Chelsea at the Etihad Stadium

It was at this point that Mancini sent for Tevez. Some would say he had no choice, but that is not true, either. He could have chosen stubbornness and resentment. He could have chosen a sly vendetta. He could have reasoned that bringing Tevez close again was a giant gamble and could undermine City’s season.

What if he was petulant What if he acted up What if he scored and made his contempt for his employers known Mancini did not listen to those voices of doubt. He was comfortable in his skin, and in his role as decision maker. He trusted that Tevez’s contrition since his return was genuine. And his faith was rewarded, in victory. It really was the best of all possible worlds; and among the best of all possible title races, too.

Steve Kean will take charge of Blackburn on Boxing Day

Kean gets stay of execution and will take charge of Blackburn on Boxing Day for Anfield trip

Steve Kean is set to receive a stay of execution and will be in charge for Blackburn’s trip to Liverpool on Boxing Day.

Though it is recognised Kean is a dead man walking following Tuesday’s ruinous 2-1 defeat to Bolton, Blackburn’s owners Venky”s will at least allow him to remain in charge for the first of the club’s Christmas fixtures at Anfield.

It does, however, remain a question of ‘when’ not ‘if’ the axe will fall on Kean’s miserable year-long reign at Ewood Park and discussions have started about who will replace him.

Agonising reign: Steve Kean

Agonising reign: Steve Kean

Former manager Mark Hughes has so far been reluctant to consider a return, while Alan Shearer has doubts about the club’s structure. Meanwhile, Graeme Souness – who led Blackburn to their last trophy in 2002 – has not been contacted about a second spell.

That leaves Steve Bruce, Dave Jones, Peter Reid and Avram Grant in contention but Venky”s remain unconvinced whether a suitable replacement is among them.

Venky”s have been shocked by the level of animosity shown to Kean and, with the club rooted to the bottom of the table, they accept it is time to act but, for the moment, the beleaguered Scot must trudge on.

He will have to endure more discord from Blackburn’s travelling fans at Anfield but Kean, at least, found on ally on Merseyside yesterday when Everton manager David Moyes spoke of his admiration for the way his fellow Scot has conducted himself.

Moyes was on a scouting mission at Ewood Park on Tuesday night but left the game with Bolton at half-time in protest – along with Stoke boss Tony Pulis – as he was so appalled by the levels of abuse that were aimed at Kean from Blackburn’s fans.

‘Steve stood on the touchline and took it all, he was brave and man enough to do that,’ said Moyes. ’I just felt if they had supported their team instead they might have got a result. I couldn’t believe the criticism they gave their manager.

Cauldron of fear: Blackburn fans vent their anger at Kean - but their protests were not acceptable to David Moyes

Cauldron of fear: Blackburn fans vent their anger at Kean – but their protests were not acceptable to David Moyes

‘I left at half-time because I was so disgusted. His family were there, and it would be terrible knowing your wife was in the stadium listening to that. Tony Pulis walked out as well.

‘Blackburn is not my club so I cannot comment too much of what the supporters think. Maybe he could do with the owners coming out and standing there, being there in the same way. He’s not ducked away, that’s for sure. I’ve not spoken to him about it but I felt for him.’

Moyes is acknowledged as having one of the most secure positions in the Barclays Premier League and has an outstanding relationship with his chairman Bill Kenwright but the situation at Blackburn has made him recognise how quickly things can change.

‘It made me feel that could quite easily be me or any other Premier League manager,’ Moyes added. ‘I was disgusted with how those supporters treated Steve. I genuinely felt Blackburn needed their supporters to support the team as it made it harder for the players to perform.’