Tag Archives: apologies

Michael Carrick, Daniel Sturridge and Jermain Defoe injured for England v Brazil

Triple injury blow for Hodgson with Carrick, Defoe and Sturridge out of Brazil clash

By
Rik Sharma

PUBLISHED:

19:19 GMT, 3 February 2013

|

UPDATED:

19:19 GMT, 3 February 2013

Roy Hodgson has been hit with three injury problems ahead of England's friendly with Brazil at Wembley on Wednesday.

Michael Carrick, Daniel Sturridge and Jermain Defoe are all set to withdraw from the squad and miss the game after picking up problems during domestic fixtures this weekend.

Sturridge is suffering from a thigh problem which he sustained just before half-time in Liverpool's clash with Manchester City on Sunday night.

Blow: Daniel Sturridge will miss the prestige friendly against Brazil

Blow: Daniel Sturridge will miss the prestige friendly against Brazil

Withdrawal: Michael Carrick will also be out of Roy Hodgson's squad

Withdrawal: Michael Carrick will also be out of Roy Hodgson's squad

The Reds January signing excelled, scoring with a rifled shot which flashed past his countryman Joe Hart.

Manchester United midfielder Carrick is also unavailable, for an as yet unspecified injury.

Defoe picked up an ankle injury in the clash between West Brom and Tottenham at the Hawthorns on Sunday lunchtime in a challenge with Shane Long.

The striker hobbled off in obvious distress and will undergo further tests to determine the severity of the injury.

Agony: Defoe injured his ankle and could be out for up to three weeks

Agony: Defoe injured his ankle and could be out for up to three weeks

Another injury problem has afflicted Brazil legend Pele, who was set to watch the match but will not make the trip to England because of a hip injury.

'I'd like to send my sincere apologies,' Pele said.

'I will come visit England soon, and I also look forward to seeing all of you next summer here in Brazil [for the World Cup].

'I would like to wish The FA a very happy 150th anniversary.'

Problems: Roy Hodgson (right) will consider some new options for his squad following the injuries

Problems: Roy Hodgson (right) will consider some new options for his squad following the injuries

Leeds takeover imminent, confirm club and GFH Capital

Leeds takeover imminent after Bates receives proof of funds from Bahrain

|

UPDATED:

10:51 GMT, 26 October 2012

Bahrain-based investment bank GFH Capital are poised to complete their takeover of Leeds, the two parties said on Friday.

GFH Capital have provided Leeds owner Ken Bates with the necessary proof of funds to complete the transaction, which has been in the pipeline since May when talks between the two first began.

Speaking on Friday morning, Bates said: 'It's been a long road, but we are in a good place. Both sides have been in talks over the last few days to finalise this deal. We are keeping focused and hope to complete very soon.

Almost done: Ken Bates time as owner is nearing an end with a buyout imminent

Almost done: Ken Bates time as owner is nearing an end with a buyout imminent

'The inaccurate reporting of certain journalists who will remain unnamed does not help the situation.

'Their articles, based upon a lack of knowledge of the intricacies of the deal and the full facts of the positive intentions of GFH Capital, achieve little and lead only to retractions or public apologies at a later date.'

GFH Capital announced in October that they had signed an exclusive agreement to lead a takeover of Leeds after they had notified the Bahrain stock exchange.

GFH Capital's deputy chief executive officer David Haigh said: 'With the money in place, we are poised to make this deal happen pending agreements and arrangements which are in the interests of the future of Leeds United – we need to make sure all the finer detail is addressed before trading signatures.

'Despite what has been said recently in media, both sides continue to talk regularly and continue to work hard to get the job done.'

GFH Capital director and chief investment officer Salem Patel added clarification that the operation of the club would not be hindered by Shari'ah law, owing to GHF`s Islamic background, saying: 'We understand there is some concern related to how Leeds United would be run under our stewardship.

On the up: Leeds hope the buyout will spark a return to the Premier League

On the up: Leeds hope the buyout will spark a return to the Premier League

'It remains important to be clear that Shari'ah law will not hinder this transaction, nor will it affect the future operations of the club.

'Our intention is to provide investment which will facilitate a successful and sustainable future for Leeds United on and off the pitch.'

Former Chelsea chairman Bates, 80, who took control of Leeds in 2005, has become increasingly unpopular with a growing number of fans due to a perceived lack of investment in the playing squad.

In April last year Bates announced he had bought a controlling 72.85% stake of the club's shares from a Geneva-based company, Forward Sports Fund, while the club have made pre-tax profits of more than 10million since the summer of 2007.

Marvin Sordell: Millwall supporter sends letter of apology over Facebook "threat"

Millwall supporter sends letter of apology to Sordell over Facebook 'threat'

|

UPDATED:

15:58 GMT, 19 October 2012

The Millwall supporter accused of posting a sickening photo on Facebook which appeared to threaten the life of Marvin Sordell has written a grovelling letter of apology.

Sordell recently accused supporters at The Den of racially abusing him and three team-mates during Bolton's visit on October 6.

Soon after a mocked-up picture appeared on the social networking site which depicted a gun being pointed at the Trotters striker and blood splattered across his face and chest.

Disgraceful: This is the image posted on Facebook by the Millwall fan

Disgraceful: This is the image posted on Facebook by the Millwall fan

The picture carried the message: 'dont (sic) f*** with the millwall.'

In the letter the fan apologises for what he thought was a 'bit of fun', but has since realised the grave error of judgment made and offered his sincere apologies to the England Under 21 international and his family.

'I am sorry I have hurt and upset you and your family, I wasn't thinking at the time and it is now the most regretted thing I have ever done,' the teenager states in the letter.

'I did not see it as a death threat or racist abuse, all it meant to me was don't do anything to my club as I'm a loyal supporter.'

Sportsmail understands that Police are now investigating the matter.

Flashpoint: Sordell was in Serbia where England players were subjected to racist chanting

Flashpoint: Sordell was in Serbia where England players were subjected to racist chanting during the Under 21s Euro 2013 play-off

Jonjo Shelvey apologises for rant at Sir Alex Ferguson

Shelvey apologises for rant at 'grass' Ferguson after controversial red card

|

UPDATED:

16:35 GMT, 23 September 2012

Jonjo Shelvey aimed an angry rant at Sir Alex Ferguson after being sent off in Liverpool's clash with Manchester United and then took to Twitter to apologise.

The Liverpool midfielder was dismissed in the first half for a rough challenge on United defender Jonny Evans.

Shelvey tweeted after the
game: 'I apologise to the fans for getting sent off but no way was I pulling out of that tackle in a game of that importance. I'm sorry.

'I have also apologised to Sir Alex, just where I come
from people don't grass people up to get someone sent off.'

Stand-off: Sir Alex Ferguson and Jonjo Shelvey squared up on the sidelines

Stand-off: Sir Alex Ferguson and Jonjo Shelvey squared up on the sidelines

You said what Sir Alex Ferguson exchanges words with Jonjo Shelvey

You said what Sir Alex Ferguson exchanges words with Jonjo Shelvey

I enjoyed that... Ferguson affords himself a smile after his row with Shelvey

I enjoyed that… Ferguson affords himself a smile after his row with Shelvey

Tweets: Shelvey's dual apologies - he later deleted the one to Ferguson

Tweets: Shelvey's dual apologies – he later deleted the one to Ferguson

The tweet referring to Ferguson was later deleted by Shelvey, believed to be at the request of his club.

Shelvey, born in Romford and signed by Liverpool from Charlton in 2010, went in hard on Evans in a 50-50 tackle midway in the United half and was eventually sent off by referee Mark Halsey.

The Reds man was not happy with the decision and he was involved in spats with United players after being shown the red card.

As he left the Anfield pitch, the 20-year-old had a heated exchange with Ferguson on the sidelines.

Additional: Shelvey also tweeted a picture of the tackle, perhaps to signify Evans went in similarly to him

Additional: Shelvey also tweeted a picture of the tackle, perhaps to signify Evans went in similarly to him

Shelvey jabbed his finger in the direction of the United manager, who returned with some words of his own.

As Shelvey was guided down the tunnel by security, Ferguson was filmed smiling to himself. He will now be banned for three matches unless Liverpool decide to appeal his red card.

Seeing red: Liverpool's Jonjo Shelvey was sent off for his foul on Jonny Evans

Seeing red: Liverpool's Jonjo Shelvey was sent off for his foul on Jonny Evans

Reflecting on Shelvey's red card the Man United manager said: 'I thought it was a clear red card.

'I don't think he went for the ball –
Jonny Evans went for the ball and got the ball – and the boy's gone in
really dangerously and I don't think there's any other decision the
referee could have given.'

Ferguson was less impressed still with Shelvey's actions after he was dismissed.

'He blamed me! But he is young and he will realise the stupidity of it,' said the Scot.

'Jonny Evans went for the ball but Shelvey was nowhere near and could have given Jonny Evans a really bad injury – he was very lucky actually.'

'Once he looks at it he
can apologise if he likes. I think he should do that. He's responsible
for his own actions, I think there's no doubt about that.'

Red mist: Jonny Evans is flattened as Shelvey protests his innocence to ref Mark Halsey

Red mist: Jonny Evans is flattened as Shelvey protests his innocence to ref Mark Halsey

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers
predictably had a different view of the red card decision, and was
unhappy with the award of the late penalty while also feeling the hosts
were unlucky not to get one of their own.

'I thought the players were heroic in
terms of performance and the spirit,' he said. 'They were brilliant and
didn't get what they deserved.

Squaring up: Shelvey gives Rio Ferdinand his thoughts as the players surround Halsey

Squaring up: Shelvey gives Rio Ferdinand his thoughts as the players surround Halsey

'If Shelvey gets sent off for having both feet off the ground then Evans has to get sent off for that as well if you watch the replays.

'Jonjo is coming in from the side, it is a tackle the player has to go for and one the United player has to go for but the Liverpool player can't get sent off and the United one stay on the field.'

Nottingham Forest on the up – The Midlander

Whisper it quietly, but Forest could be on the road to success…

|

UPDATED:

11:00 GMT, 7 September 2012

The preferred route to success for any football club would be sustained and steady growth.

Planned development with one eye fixed firmly on the finances.

I make no apologies for saying this again – just like the model that is currently being followed at West Brom. There is another alternative, of course.

You can throw money at it (Aston Villa). You can throw money at it and then watch as it spectacularly implodes (Birmingham City). You can throw a finance house's cash at it, fail, drop down two leagues and still lose money (Coventry City). You get the picture.

And then we have Nottingham Forest.

Looking up: Nottingham Forest have made an encouraging to the the new season in the npower Championship

Looking up: Nottingham Forest have made an encouraging to the the new season in the npower Championship

More from Neil Moxley…

The Midlander: Thorn sacking is one of many strange decisions by Coventry
30/08/12

The Midlander: Lambert has work to do in the window to add the goals he craves
23/08/12

The Midlander: How West Brom emerged as the unlikely flag-bearers round here
16/08/12

The Midlander: Tremendous track record Solbakken faces test from the start
09/08/12

The Midlander: All change at Villa but fans will relish new era of Lambert's Lions
02/08/12

Season review part 1 – Aston Villa, Wolves, West Brom, Birmingham and Coventry
24/05/12

The Midlander: Solbakken faces uphill struggle to restore Wolves' fortunes
18/05/12

The Midlander: Council are the only ones who can revive Coventry
11/05/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

Nigel Doughty certainly threw his money at his favourite football club. Pretty much to no avail.

They couldn't get it quite right at the City Ground. If the manager was capable, (Paul Hart, Billy Davies) the players fell short. And if the manager was hopeless, (Joe Kinnear) the players fell even shorter.

And all the while the spectre of the director of football hovered over the manager. Was David Pleat a help or hindrance Should we spend money (Steve McClaren) Or not (again, Steve McClaren)
Mixed messages. Consequently, they just couldn't get it right.

Now the director of football has surprisingly disappeared, new owners have pitched up in the at Midlands and Nottingham Forest appear to be on the up again.

What struck the eye this week was a tweet from Nottingham Evening Post journalist Paul Taylor's tweet about the air of positivity encircling the club.

Eh Since when Since someone, somewhere took the decision to appoint a 'proper' football manager who certainly had done enough to warrant a crack at a club such as Nottingham Forest.

I took my annual break this summer just after the Al-Hasawi family assumed control.

After the excitement, there were names trotted out for the managerial post such as Glenn Hoddle. Ho hum.

Man in charge: New Nottingham Forest manager Sean O'Driscoll (R) has impressed at the City Ground

Man in charge: New Nottingham Forest manager Sean O'Driscoll (R) has impressed at the City Ground

Then Mick McCarthy – who has an excellent track record for leading clubs from the Championship on a budget – was mentioned.

Eventually, someone, somewhere (and I have a pretty good idea who) might have said to the owners: 'Listen, results picked up when Steve Cotterill brought Sean in.

'The players liked his training. Why don't we bring him back'

Hey presto. Unfortunate for Crawley Town, I accept that.

I suppose it was meant to happen sooner or later, but finally Nottingham Forest have a manager with the desire and ability to put XI players on the pitch who, at the very least, will play attractive, winning football. He's a Black Country bloke. I just wonder if Wolves may rue the day… but that's another story.

I like the smell around the City Ground at the moment. It's about as enticing as a whopping Sunday roast. Whisper it quietly, but it could be Forest's time.

But just don't ask them how they've done it – because I'm not exactly sure they know.

Ireland highlights positive signs at Villa

The reports from St James's Park were encouraging. Most commentators agreed that Villa were more than value for their point.

But, speaking to a colleague this week, the line: 'I've never seen Stephen Ireland work as hard as that,' was spoken.

Ireland has his own agenda – winning a new contract – but if Paul Lambert can get the talented ones to run around for 90 minutes, then that's certainly a positive sign.

Roy's tale of booze and football is a must-read…

Red card Roy: Ex-Colchester star McDonough tells all in his new book

Red card Roy: Ex-Colchester star McDonough tells all in his new book

The name of Roy McDonough won't be familiar to the current generation of Premier League followers.

But, back in the day, the man who amassed the most red cards in English football… well, let's just say he has lived the life – as his new autobiography reveals.

McDonough, now in his 50s, grew up in Solihull, so his roots are firmly embedded in the Midlands and started off life at Aston Villa as a kid and made his debut in the Football League with Birmingham City.

But his career really heads into a nose-dive after he signs for Chelsea and his tales of life in the lower leagues with Colchester, Southend, Cambridge and Exeter – among others, certainly puts the 'win or lose, on the booze' mentality into perspective. And then some.

I've read a few sports' autobiographies in my time – Paul McGrath's was as harrowing an account as they come. Niall Quinn's was excellent. As was Roy Keane's – apart from the nagging theme of self-justification which began to grate towards the end.

But this, ghosted superbly by Bernie Friend, is a real warts and all tale of football, wanton hedonism and, as the subject himself freely admits, self-loathing.

My favourite line Probably when he asks his physio at Southend whether drinking 70 pints of Stella every week is suitable behaviour for a professional athlete…

'Red Card Roy' is published by Vision Sports Publishing

London 2012 Olympics: Greek athlete kicked out for Twitter comments

You Twit! Greek triple jumper booted out of Games over immigration comments

|

UPDATED:

15:22 GMT, 25 July 2012

Olympics 2012

A Greek athlete was excluded from her country's Olympic team following a remark about African immigrants posted on her Twitter website.

The Hellenic Olympic Committee announced the decision despite an apology by the athlete, triple jumper Voula Papachristou.

In a statement, the Hellenic Olympic Committee said: 'Following the decision of the Hellenic Delegations' Administration Board, the triple jumper Paraskevi Papachristou, is suspended after her comments that go against to the values and ideals of Olympism.

Life's a beach: Greece's Voula Papachristou has been kicked out of the Olympics

Life's a beach: Greece's Voula Papachristou has been kicked out of the Olympics

'The athlete is not in London and was expected just before the beginning of the athletics events.'

In a message published earlier on her Facebook site, Papachristou apologised for her remarks.

She wrote: 'I would like to express my heartfelt apologies for the unfortunate and tasteless joke I published on my personal Twitter account. I am very sorry and ashamed for the negative responses I triggered, since I never wanted to offend anyone, or to encroach human rights.

'My dream is connected to the Olympic Games and I could not possibly participate if I did not respect their values. Therefore, I coul…d never believe in discrimination between human beings and races.

'I would like to apologize to all my friends and fellow athletes, who I may have insulted or shamed, the National Team, as well as the people and companies who support my athletic career. Finally, I would like to apologize to my coach and my family.'

Aston Villa, Wolves, West Brom, Birmingham and Coventry – season review

Season review part 1 – Aston Villa, Wolves, West Brom, Birmingham and Coventry

|

UPDATED:

23:17 GMT, 24 May 2012

Gone: Alex McLeish

Gone: Alex McLeish

It's that time of year folks…now that the season is over, it's time for yours truly to look back at the good, bad, indifferent and downright ugly during the past season of Midlands football.

It has not been a vintage year by any stretch of the imagination. Financial issues, managerial issues, player issues. Sadly for us all in this region, we haven't had a lot to cheer.

This week, I'll cover the west Midlands. The east is next week. Apologies in advance to Notts County, Walsall, Kidderminster etc. Sadly, I can't get around to you all.

I'm going to break down my ratings into three categories. The board, manager and players, giving marks for each. The other component of any club – its' support – is also mentioned, but not marked.

There is a reason for this. Every supporter, by default, gets a 'A+' rating, but I'd like to say a few words, particularly this season, as it's been a difficult one for our fans on a number of different levels.

Just to re-iterate the following as well. Stoke City are sited in north Staffordshire which is (as far as I'm concerned) part of the Midlands. But as the Potters are, historically speaking, covered from a national newspaper's Manchester offices, they are excluded. Sorry, not my fault.

So, we'll kick-off with the highest-placed Midlands team which is…

WEST BROMWICH ALBION

West Brom Albion's Graham Dorrans

All that has been missing from the Baggies' season is a decent cup run.

How fantastic is it to be able to write that about a team which, before Roy Hodgson turned up, found it a struggle to remain the Premier League

Despite a few hiccups at home, particularly in the early part of the campaign, there was little doubt that West Brom would stay up by some distance.

It really is a remarkable achievement for the Baggies to finish above Villa and come within a whisker of completing league doubles over both of their rivals in the top-flight. And Hodgson did it by backing his own judgement in the transfer market too.

Gareth McAuley, a free transfer, has particularly impressed. Shane Long will come good again, once he re-discovers his fitness. And the signing of Liam Ridgewell has been, pound for pound, one of the best pieces of business carried out in the past 12 months.

Some statement, I know. But just look at how adept Ridgewell is – as a former centre-half – at defending his back post and covering Jonas Olsson.

James Morrison has come on leaps and bounds. Ben Foster took a while to settle but he grew in confidence and was performing as well as he ever did at Birmingham City by the end of his loan spell.

All this without Peter Odemwingie reaching the heights of his first full season.

There has been a distinct change in the pattern of play. I lost track of the number of times that West Brom lost goals on the counter-attack during Tony Mowbray's season in the Premier League. And it was a characteristic under Roberto di Matteo, too.

That does not happen any longer. And Roy Hodgson has to be credited with that, as so much else. Just look at the number of club records that fell. First win over Villa since 1985, first win at Villa Park since 1979, first win at Anfield in 45 years….

As long as Foster returns and West Brom recruit a safe pair of hands as 'head coach', even with the squad they have now, it should be enough for them to be a top-flight team in 12 months' time.

Board – 4 Manager – 5 Players – 4

ASTON VILLA

Grant Holt of Norwich City battles with Eric Lichaj of Aston Villa

Oh dear. Where do we start

With the ill-judged appointment of Alex McLeish With a group of under-performing players With a 54m loss

It has to be with the cause of a great deal of the angst at Villa Park this season. McLeish's arrival from Birmingham City.

Five hundred people protested at Villa Park last summer. That should have given the powers-that-be a hint as to the depth of feeling.

But it went unanswered. Ignored even as business returned to 'normal.'

There was tangible evidence from the first pre-season friendly of the season, against Walsall, that McLeish would be up against it.

The supporters sang for the team. Not once for the manager.

It was to be the default setting for a season in which there was little cheer.

The highlight was the win at Stamford Bridge. It was followed 48 hours later by chants of 'You don't know what you are doing' as Swansea City took the pass at Villa Park.

From pretty much there on in, it turned increasingly sour.

Much as there was to admire about Alex McLeish's blind determination to ignore the reality of the situation, his responses in public undermined his credibility – and therefore his position – still further.

Eventually, the players were ground down by the negativity. Of course, injuries didn't help.

Having attended the majority of matches at Villa Park, I will take issue with anyone who says Villa's supporters did not give the manager a chance.

But he failed to take it. His signings, for instance, were (with the exception of Shay Given) poor.

In the end, there was a vicious maelstrom sweeping around the club.

There had to be a sacrifice. And it was a public one at that. Bolton at Villa Park was merely the hors d'oeuvres.

Carrow Road was the venue as Villa's fans signalled McLeish's end.

Look down the squad list and ask yourselves whether Villa should have won more than 38 points.

Look down the balance sheet and ask yourselves whether Villa should be paying 90 per cent of the club's turnover in wages.

Look at the manager and think: 'Was this the best appointment we could have made' Aston Villa have fallen short on every front this season. It cannot happen again.

Because next time, if they win 38 points, they might not be as lucky.

Board: 2 Manager: 1 Players: 2

WOLVES

Gary Caldwell of Wigan Athletic in action with Kevin Doyle of Wolverhampton Wanderers

What a bizarre season that was at Molineux.

Ultimately, it has to be seen as a write-off. When you finish bottom of the pile, it can't be seen as anything but.

Having said that…

There was a short spell – which lasted approximately 15 minutes – when I actually thought Wolves were onto something.

At the interval during the home derby against Aston Villa, it had all been going swimmingly.

Emmanuel Frimpong was providing drive and power in midfield, Karl Henry was snapping away and Michael Kightly was rolling back the years.

Wolves were leading 2-1 and were full value. Only what happened thereafter set the club on the road back into the Championship.

Frimpong was accidentally booted in the face by Stiliyan Petrov. Henry was sent-off for senselessly kicking out at Marc Albrighton and Kightly tired.

It fell to Robbie Keane to thump home a quite magnificent winner. And the campaign pretty much fell to pieces.

Just like at Villa Park, it was almost too painful to watch.

Mick McCarthy felt the full force of the South Bank's anger. Owner Steve Morgan then felt it necessary to speak to the fans after he copped an earful after he had caved in and sacked his manager – despite not having been present at the Black Country derby mauling.

Then it was Jez Moxey's turn. Quite what the chief executive had done wrong, I'm still trying to figure out…

The perfect storm was created after McCarthy's exit. Which wasn't helped by Roger Johnson's decision to stay out late after the five-goal thumping at Fulham.

Terry Connor did his best. Both to gather together a group of players and send Johnson to Coventry. (There's a thought)

It was never going to be enough. Wolves missed their big opportunity. Which was to strengthen last summer when, in all fairness, they stayed up by the skin of their teeth.

It's easy to say that now, of course. No-one was pointing that out to McCarthy. No-one questioned whether Johnson was a good signing at the time, for instance.

Yes, we are all professors in 20-20 vision.

But the board has to be applauded for running the club along strict financial lines.

If Wolves had stayed up, Morgan would be heralded as a visionary for trying to increase revenue streams by re-building the North Bank.

As it is, he's been accused of not spending enough cash on the team. It is a charge he denies.

Personally, I'd have kept McCarthy in charge. If only for the fact that with no possibility of bringing in playing reinforcements that no other boss could have got any more out of that group.

It matters not now. What happened was that a bitter fan-base struck out in pretty much every direction, hurt and upset at what was unfolding. It's never pretty but this was unedifying.

But things can change quickly in football. Stale Solbakken's arrival was left-field.

I just sense a tingle of excitement returning to the club. I think it's possibly fear of the unknown. I don't think there will be any half-measures next season. Morgan's first appointment could be very interesting.

Board 3 Manager 2 Players 2

BIRMINGHAM CITY

Henri Lansbury of West Ham holds off pressure from Wade Elliot of Birmingham

Shorn of its' manager, with its' owner on a charge of money-laundering and players leaving by the week to pay off debts, there was no doubt that this was a difficult situation to manage.

But, buoyed by a calm hand on the tiller, a few sensible purchases and – it has to be said – the makings of a competitive, if threadbare, squad that had been left behind, the good ship Birmingham City managed to sail to waters that few thought possible last August.

Chris Hughton was Capt. Sensible. He has maintained his composure and never once looked to forces outside his control for an excuse.

If any Birmingham City supporter had been canvassed as to their likely position come the end of the season, most would have shrugged their shoulders and said that staying in business and in the Championship would have been a result.

However, there was Europe to look forward to. And what a boon that turned out to be. For everyone. Players, supporters, the manager.

It provided a welcome distraction. And one of the best goal celebrations seen for many-a-year when Chris Wood poked home in the last few seconds against Club Brugge.

Sadly, it did not continue after the group stages. But it had drawn together a group of players who were languishing in 14th spot around Christmas.

With Steve Caldwell taking over as Mr Dependable at the back alongside a revitalised Curtis Davies and improved David Murphy, there were the makings of a back-four that wasn't going to give too much away.

Up front, Chris Burke – free from injury – and Marlon King – provided impetus when it was needed. It shouldn't be forgotten either that both of those signings were Alex McLeish's. Then, there is the likes of Nathan Redmond and Jack Butland in particular.

It wasn't to be in the play-offs. That may be a blessing.

The absence of any interference from above was an undoubted help to Hughton who has manfully stepped into the breach.

But the financial issues remain. And Hughton has now re-established credentials that were damaged – however unjustly – by his experience at Newcastle.

If a takeover is in the offing, as predicted by Peter Pannu before the Blackpool game, it needs to be swift and bloodless, to give the manager time to re-group before the players reconvene in July.

But this is Birmingham City. Nothing is ever simple. The Carling Cup final victory wasn't. Relegation wasn't.

The complicated make-up of the shareholding of parent company Birmingham International Holdings Limited may dictate that the coming weeks are difficult.

For Blues' fans, it's time to hold onto your nerve and trust in Pannu to get it sorted. Or else, with cash sure to be in an issue, it could all get very messy later this summer.

Board: 2 Manager: 4.5 Players: 5

COVENTRY CITY
Frank Nouble of West Ham is tackled by Richard Keogh of Coventry

IF Birmingham City supporters think they have it tough, they should just take a look down the A45.

Coventry City have been spinning around in ever-decreasing circles since they slipped out of the Premier League 11 years ago.

And now they will be repeating the feat – and let's not beat about the bush here – in Division Three.

As I wrote in a blog last week, it is difficult to see any other solution to the problem than someone with a nine-figure sum of cash to come in and wipe the slate clean.

However, such fairytales only happen in Manchester, or west London, it seems. (And, what a surprise, one won the Premier League, the other the Champions League, but I digress.)

Against that backdrop, it's difficult to judge just how good a job Andy Thorn did.

The fact that the Sky Blues were relegated with one game left to go is something. The club looked dead and buried at Christmas and the sale of Lukas Jutkiewicz seemed to be the final nail in the coffin.

But no. Coventry also have a habit of raising expectations before dashing them in spectacular fashion. And so it was here.

To Thorn's credit, the Sky Blues were competitive in most games. They did not suffer an out-and-out thumping.

If there is one criticism of his players, it's that they didn't learn from their mistakes.

It was almost painful to witness and read about on Sunday morning. It was like Groundhog Day.

In the end, even Thorn couldn't disguise his anger, sniping at a board that seems incapable of stemming a flow of cash away from the club.

Strategic problems remain at the Ricoh. Unless it is sorted, the club will continue on its' spiral downwards.

Several 'big' clubs have found it difficult to escape from League One, even if they present a united front.

It looks like being another hard season at the Ricoh. That division is no place for a financially-fractured club to plot its' return.

Board: 2 Manager: 3 Players: 3 Supporters: 5

Lewis Hamilton a changed man twelve months on from Monaco outburst

Why Hamilton is no longer the pits twelve months on from Monaco outburst

|

UPDATED:

22:40 GMT, 23 May 2012

A short drive down the coast from Monaco at the Cannes Film Festival, Sacha Baron Cohen has been busy promoting his latest movie, The Dictator, by cavorting in character with a bikini-clad actress.

Rewind to Monaco last year and it was Lewis Hamilton who was inadvertently publicising one of Cohen’s previous creations, Ali G, as the pressures of his professional and personal life culminated in meltdown.

Brash overtaking manoeuvres that resulted in a collision with Ferrari’s Felipe Massa and Pastor Maldonado of Williams led to a dressing down by the stewards.

Brit of all right: Lewis Hamilton signs autographs for fans in Monaco on Wednesday

Brit of all right: Lewis Hamilton signs autographs for fans in Monaco on Wednesday

This prompted Hamilton to make the ill-judged comparison between himself and Ali G, posing the question: 'Maybe it’s because I am black’

It wasn’t and humble apologies ensued. Thankfully, a year on, Hamilton certainly does not strike you as a man who will be losing his cool in the same fashion should things not go his way.

'I don’t want to speak too early but something has definitely changed this year,' said Hamilton. 'Whatever I’m doing is working. In life things are a lot better and that’s enabling me to get on with my job without any baggage.'

Having a word: Hamilton speaks with Formula One legend Michael Schumacher

Having a word: Hamilton speaks with Formula One legend Michael Schumacher

Even McLaren’s failure to iron out the mistakes which have cost their driver dearly in races — despite his strong qualifying displays — is not worrying Hamilton. Swapping Switzerland for Monaco appears to be a key factor in the dramatic improvement.

'I love it here,' he beamed. 'To be able to wake up in your own bed and drive just down the road and be at work is a fantastic feeling. I’m still in my twenties so I feel like I need to make sure I enjoy them and since I’ve been here, I’ve been much happier.'

A more thoughtful approach to his life and his work are certainly paying dividends. In this most unpredictable of Formula One seasons, Hamilton has cottoned on to the fact that consistency is key. And although he has yet to win, the 27-year-old sits just eight points behind joint championship leaders Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel.

There are worse places: Monaco looking serene on Wednesday ahead of the big Grand Prix weekend

There are worse places: Monaco looking serene on Wednesday ahead of the big Grand Prix weekend

The change in his demeanour both on and off the track has certainly not gone unnoticed by the voice of Sky’s Formula One coverage, Martin Brundle.

'I watch him very closely from beside the track and from the commentary box, I see him in the paddock, you chat away to him and I do sense a much calmer Lewis,' said Brundle.

'That is reflected in his driving. I think he had nine penalties last year but now you see him doing charity work for UNICEF with the kids and you just sense a much more mature Lewis.'

Patrice Evra hits out at Carlos Tevez over Alex Ferguson sign

Evra hits out at Tevez over disrespectful sign towards Ferguson

|

UPDATED:

09:27 GMT, 20 May 2012

Patrice Evra has hit back at former team-mate Carlos Tevez after he was pictured holding up a banner mocking Sir Alex Ferguson.

While Manchester City apologised for the sign, striker Tevez has refused to say sorry for the placard saying ‘RIP Fergie’ during Monday’s open-top bus parade to celebrate their Premier League title.

Evra said: 'I was very surprised by Tevez’s attitude against Sir Alex Ferguson.

No apologies: Manchester City's Carlos Tevez refused to say sorry for the sign

No apologies: Manchester City's Carlos Tevez refused to say sorry for the sign

'I’m not sure how the manager feels about it but I’m sure he won’t be impressed.

'It’s disrespectful. Tevez spent two years at this club and was treated extremely well by the manager so I don’t really understand his reaction or the truth about the situation.'

Tevez, 28, was still unrepentant when he landed in South America for a summer break later in the week.

Moment of madness: Tevez holds aloft the ill-advised banner

Moment of madness: Tevez holds aloft the ill-advised banner

City did issue a statement offering its 'sincerest apologies' and admitting their former skipper had made a 'significant error of judgment.'

But Evra reckons United’s rivals were equally guilty of bad taste when they put up a massive poster of Tevez with the message ‘Welcome to Manchester’ when the striker swapped clubs in 2009.

Not happy: Patrice Evra said Tevez was disrespectful towards Sir Alex Ferguson

Not happy: Patrice Evra said Tevez was disrespectful towards Sir Alex Ferguson

The French full-back, 31, added: 'The poster was in very bad taste, no one from Manchester United appreciated it.

'Tevez is an adult, he plays for another club and is responsible for his own actions.

'It’s a shame because he was always respected at Manchester United and remained in contact with some of the players.

'But I have no idea what will happen now.'

Kenny Dalglish admits he got it wrong over Luis Suarez

At last! Dalglish admits he got it wrong over reaction to Suarez race row

|

UPDATED:

16:57 GMT, 14 April 2012

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish has admitted he should have handled the Luis Suarez racism row in a better way.

The Uruguay international was banned for eight matches after being found guilty of racially abusing Manchester United defender Patrice Evra in a match at Anfield in October.

Between the offence being committed and the ban being imposed, Dalglish staunchly defended the striker as the whole club took a hugely defensive stance.

Main man: Luis Suarez (second right) helped Liverpool to the FA Cup final

Main man: Luis Suarez (second right) helped Liverpool to the FA Cup final

The manager and the players wore T-shirts in support of Suarez at their league match at Wigan in December and even when the punishment was handed out by an independent disciplinary commission the club showed few signs of contrition.

However, Dalglish has now recognised that the case could – and should – have been dealt with differently.

'It would be done completely differently if it ever happened again – and I hope it never does,' the Scot told ESPN.

'I wouldn't say publicly what I would do differently but I know what I would do differently. I would address that.

'If I have done something wrong I am not shy in saying I have done something wrong.

'If I can do something better I will try and do it better.

Row: Suarez racially abused Evra and then refused to shake his hand

Row: Suarez racially abused Evra and then refused to shake his hand

Flashpoint: Luis Suarez refused to shake the hand of Patrice Evra

'Everybody can look at themselves, whether they are good, bad or indifferent and say, “I could do things much better”.

'That is what I will try to do. I would certainly hope not to do things any worse.'

Dalglish and Suarez both eventually made public apologies as a result of their behaviour in the match at Manchester United in February.

It was Suarez's first away match following the end of his suspension and despite suggesting he would shake Evra's hand prior to kick-off he did not.

Dalglish then conducted a tetchy post-match television interview which appeared to inflame the situation further and ultimately, following intervention from the club's American owners Fenway Sports Group, led to him and the player saying sorry for their actions.

Controversial: Liverpool players wore t-shirts in support of Suarez

Controversial: Liverpool players wore t-shirts in support of Suarez

During Suarez's suspension the team had a run of indifferent results, losing 3-1 at struggling Bolton, and a record of only three league wins to date in 2012 has ended their hopes of Champions League qualification.

'You will never know how much the situation affected us,' added Dalglish.

'We will never know whether we would have won the games with Luis in or without him.

'But it happened. We had to deal with it and we did deal with it.

'We have to brush ourselves down, stop feeling sorry for ourselves and get on with it.

'I think Luis is doing that now. Everybody at the football club is doing it – and they have done it.

'We just have to get on with our life and make sure we learn our lessons from the past.'