Tag Archives: arrogance

6 Nations: Alex Goode says England are always pantomime villains

The Six Nations has so much history… but England are always the pantomime villains

By
Alex Goode

PUBLISHED:

01:57 GMT, 2 February 2013

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UPDATED:

01:57 GMT, 2 February 2013

This is my first appearance in the Six Nations and I’m very excited to be involved in it at last.

The tournament has so much history and for as long as I can remember England have been seen as pantomime villains.

Part of the tradition seems to be for pundits from other nations to talk about how much they dislike the English and accuse us of arrogance, and that has happened again this week. I’m not sure why but it occurs in lots of sports. In football, everyone wants to beat Manchester United, for example.

Breakthrough: Alex Goode is getting ready to play in his first Six Nations

Breakthrough: Alex Goode is getting ready to play in his first Six Nations

It often comes across as if all the passion in these games comes from the other side, not England. People talk about all this passion Scotland have, but the English are passionate too. When we play against the Scots, of course we want to beat them. We would hate to lose against them. It’s not something we ever want to deal with. It’s the same with every team we play against.

I don’t have hatred for any other countries, but I definitely hate losing. I would hate to be involved in a game that led to stories in years to come when people talk about a famous Scottish victory against England. That would wind me up.

No-one likes losing and that can be what produces the passion. I know that me and Owen (Farrell), for example, are extremely competitive, whether it’s in training or playing for Saracens or England. We both hate to lose. We want to be the best and that drives us to try to get to the top.

Preparation: Goode (right) trains with debutant Billy Twelvetrees ahead of the Six Nations opener against Scotland

Preparation: Goode (right) trains with debutant Billy Twelvetrees ahead of the Six Nations opener against Scotland

We needed a bit of passion to beat New Zealand. I just remember how loud the crowd was that day, and I have never been part of a team that was more fired up. That showed we can be a passionate people too. That win against New Zealand was great, but we can’t make too big a deal of it.

As players, we would rather there wasn’t such a fuss because we want that standard to be our norm. We can only achieve that if we bring the same level of intensity to our performance against Scotland – an intensity they will struggle to match.

I’m relieved that I recovered from a shoulder injury to play. I was out for more than a month and the first reaction from the boys was that I had become ‘big-time’ and didn’t fancy playing in winter. When I used to play with Thomas Castaignede at Saracens, he would come out on a wintry day and say: ‘No electricity. No electrics in Thomas. Thomas don’t train!’ Then he’d walk back inside. So the lads said that about me and how I have changed!

Famous: Goode impressed during England's 38-21 win over New Zealand

Famous: Goode impressed during England's 38-21 win over New Zealand

It was tough when I realised the injury was worse than expected. It knocked me a bit, then it was a race against time, putting the hours in. Luckily, I came through a game for Saracens to prove my fitness.

You know there are always going to be people pushing you for that shirt. I’d had to wait longer than most to get my shot, before I made my Test debut in South Africa last summer, so I didn’t want to let it go. A year ago, I wouldn’t have imagined starting a Calcutta Cup game at Twickenham, but now I’m raring to go.

We have gone from being underdogs against New Zealand to favourites for this game. Everyone expects us to win – pundits and the public, but Scotland are bouncing back from a bad loss and they’ve got new coaches in Scott Johnson and Dean Ryan and they’ll be fired up to impress, which makes them dangerous.

This will be a dog-fight, but I’m hopeful we can win.

SIX NATIONS 2013: Andy Farrell – Jim Telfer "arrogant England" jibes are just a Scotsman trying to stir passion

Farrell: Telfer's 'arrogant England' jibes are just a Scotsman trying to stir up passion

By
Alex Lowe, Press Association

PUBLISHED:

16:15 GMT, 29 January 2013

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UPDATED:

17:53 GMT, 29 January 2013

JIM TELFER EXCLUSIVE

Lions legend: Jim Telfer was critical of England

England are too arrogant, pretentious and condescending to realise they're not as good as they think they are!

Click here to read the full explosive interview

Andy Farrell has insisted he does not recognise the accusation of 'arrogance' that has been levelled at the England squad by Lions legend Jim Telfer.

Responding to Sportsmail's exclusive interview with the former Scotland coach, Farrell revealed the players have laughed off the jibes, which he believes are designed to get the Scots fired up before their trip to Twickenham for Saturday’s Calcutta Cup showdown.

The England management under Stuart Lancaster have worked hard over the last 12 months to eradicate any sense of arrogance from the national team.

Big week ahead: The England squad in training at Pennyhill Park in Bagshot on Tuesday morning

Big week ahead: The England squad in training at Pennyhill Park in Bagshot on Tuesday morning

Farrell said: 'I definitely don’t recognise anything he has said.

'People say this every year about the English anyway. It has stuck now. That is why we take it tongue-in-cheek. We know exactly what we are about.

'A couple of the lads have seen it and they are all taking the mick out of each other. They think it’s quite funny about those who have been mentioned. There are a few jokes flying around the place.'

Telfer told Sportsmail that England, who beat New Zealand on the same weekend as Scotland lost to Tonga, are not as good as they think they are.

Impressionable England scrum-half Ben Youngs (above) and wing Chris Ashton (below)

Impressionable England scrum-half Ben Youngs (above) and wing Chris Ashton (below)

Impressionable England scrum-half Ben Youngs (above) and wing Chris Ashton (below)

He said: 'They are too arrogant, too pretentious and too condescending to realise they have a problem.'

Chris Ashton, Danny Care, Ben Youngs and Manu Tuilagi were named as 'very impressionable' players who let the All Blacks win go to their heads.

There was credit for England’s coaching team of Lancaster, Farrell and Graham Rowntree, who Telfer described as: 'All from the North and all down to earth.'

Lancaster’s first aim when he took interim charge of the England squad a year ago was to reconnect the national team to their roots.

On the ball: England backs coach Andy Farrell, and with captain Chris Robshaw (below) on Tuesday

On the ball: England backs coach Andy Farrell, and with captain Chris Robshaw (below) on Tuesday

Talking tactics: England backs coach Andy Farrell (right) with captain Chris Robshaw on Tuesday

Top post: England boss Stuart Lancaster

Top post: England boss Stuart Lancaster

In the wake of the 2011 World Cup disappointments, Lancaster wanted to restore a sense of pride in the jersey from within the squad and a sense of pride in the England team from the public.

England now prepare for the RBS 6 Nations in Leeds rather than in Portugal. They drew 6,000 to an open training session at Headingley and Lancaster last Friday held a seminar for 500 grass-roots coaches.

Telfer’s comments have certainly stoked the boiler ahead of Saturday’s Six Nations opener at Twickenham, where Scotland have not won in 30 years.

'He’s Scottish isn’t he, very passionate about his country and he wants to give his lads as much belief as he can,' Farrell said. 'He cares about his country.

'It is him trying to do the right thing by his own country, to try and motivate them.

'That is what he has always been about really – passion and stirring a few feathers up along the way. It is what you want, a bit of passion.'

Matt Barlow: Rafa Benitez will struggle to succeed under pressure

Chelsea are starting to thrive under Rafa… but it won't last so long as fans are ready to pounce if things go wrong

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UPDATED:

23:41 GMT, 27 December 2012

Ten games into the hugely controversial Rafa Benitez era at Chelsea and, after a wobbly start, the progress is clear, the banners have gone and the protest songs are fading. Six wins, two draws and two defeats and the players are thriving on his tactical detail.

But is it quite so simple The hardcore of opposition remains strong even if they no longer belt out: 'We don’t want you here' as they did at first.

What a run: Chelsea now sit four points behind Manchester City with a game in hand

What a run: Chelsea now sit four points behind Manchester City with a game in hand

TWITTER REACTION

Despite a string of good results – including an 8-0 home win over Aston Villa – a number of fans still refuse to accept Benitez.

@ianpearson1966 tweeted: It’s not
about results or success or winning and losing. Benitez made it
personal, the damage by him is done…

@cfcprop: 'the man is hated for the things he said his arrogant attitude and general smugness! hardcore will never accept

@cfccath: 'His arrogance knows no bounds. Our support can’t be bought by a pint in a Cologne bar!'

@easstudios: 'quite simple, results aren’t going to stop fans hating him. No need to even question it.'

@easstudios: 'the only impressive thing about yesterday was we won whilst playing poorly which we weren’t before.'

After daring to suggest Benitez might win over the fans following the 8-0 win against Aston Villa, there was
a flurry of reaction on Twitter from those insisting the former
Liverpool manager would never be accepted at Stamford Bridge.

There was more of the same after a 1-0 win at Norwich and still fans stand to salute Roberto Di Matteo in the 16th minute of each game. For some, the damage is too great.

Di Matteo was harshly treated after winning the Champions League and the FA Cup. In many ways, he was an ideal manager for Chelsea.

He understood the club and the fans. He accepted Roman Abramovich’s desire to drive the recruitment policy and he generated a good atmosphere within the training camp.

Results were pretty good too and only started to falter because he tried to satisfy the owners wish to produce free-wheeling cavalier football with a squad not really equipped to do it.

It is a compliment that Benitez has reverted to Di Matteo’s blueprint of last year, tightening up at the back and operating more on the counter-attack, but the Spaniard has also shown the value of experience at the elite level, where tiny factors will make a big difference, tweaking small things with considerable effect.

All smiles Rafael Benitez has guided Chelsea to some convincing wins in recent weeks

All smiles Rafael Benitez has guided Chelsea to some convincing wins in recent weeks

Returning: Frank Lampard has re-entered the fray and has put in some stellar performances

Returning: Frank Lampard has re-entered the fray and has put in some stellar performances

Winning over the players is one thing. Winning over the fans is another. There are more of them for a start.

Can Chelsea really succeed in the long-term against a backdrop of animosity (or even ambivalence) towards the manager

It never really worked for George Graham at Spurs, despite some success on the pitch. It ended badly for Steve Kean at Blackburn despite the support of the owners. The slightest downturn at Stamford Bridge will regenerate the protests.

What if Chelsea win the Premier League with the “interim manager” just as they won the Champions League with the last “interim manager” Will that change anything Will they embrace Benitez as one of their own Will they sing his name and support him to lead the club in the long-term Probably not, if those sample comments are anything to go by.

Animosity: Fans were widely opposed to Benitez's appointment after he replaced Roberto Di Matteo

Animosity: Fans were widely opposed to Benitez's appointment after he replaced Roberto Di Matteo

Animosity: Fans were widely opposed to Benitez's appointment after he replaced Roberto Di Matteo

Here are five reasons why Chelsea are better off under Benitez:

1. Fernando Torres
If you go into a campaign with only one centre-forward, he had better
play well and contribute. Torres may not be doing much different but he
looks happier and has seven in 10 (all comps) under Benitez compared to
seven in 21 under Di Matteo this season.

2. David Luiz

When
the Brazilian centre-half first arrived Carlo Ancelotti privately told
his coaching staff he thought Luiz’s best position might be as a
defensive midfielder but no-one tried him there until Benitez in the
Club World Cup.

He has been a revelation, easing the
problems in a position where Chelsea were short of cover and providing
an element of unpredictability in attack. As if by magic, the defence
also seems tighter.

Reformed: David Luiz has shone since being pushed up into midfield

Reformed: David Luiz has shone since being pushed up into midfield

3. Victor Moses
Has started seven of the last eight games adding strength and power to the supportive trio behind Torres.

Benitez soon realised Eden Hazard,
Oscar and Juan Mata as a unit did not offer enough without the ball.

Those three have only started together twice for Benitez. This change
has crystallised Mata’s role as the creative star.

Driving force: Victor Moses has given Benitez another dimension in attack

Driving force: Victor Moses has given Benitez another dimension in attack

Back on top: Fernando Torres has started scoring again under his former manager

Back on top: Fernando Torres has started scoring again under his former manager

4. Rotation

Benitez loves to tinker as Liverpool fans will recall. He claimed the
Chelsea squad was weary and unfit when he arrived, a legacy of playing
virtually the same team every week. He has sought ways to give players a
break.

So far so good. But he will need new
recruits in January if this is to continue without feeling a backlash of
results. Especially if they are planning a serious assault on the
Europa League.

5. Trust
It is something experienced managers find easier to command from top
players than those new to the rarefied air at the top of the Barclays
Premier League. Chelsea’s grizzled old stalwarts did not trust AVB. Nor
Avram Grant.

Trust for Luiz Felipe Scolari soon
vanished as they doubted his methods suited the Premier League. They
trusted Jose Mourinho implicitly and this did not make it easy for
Benitez but he seems to be slowly winning them around by organising the
team and making them better.

The time away in Japan at the Club
World Cup helped this bond develop. All players want to win and will
warm to managers who help it happen.

Togetherness: Chelsea have grown into a strong team unit since Benitez's arrival

Togetherness: Chelsea have grown into a strong team unit since Benitez's arrival

Euro 2012: England are arrogant, says Anders Svensson

England arrogance to blame for woeful record against Sweden, says Svensson

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UPDATED:

08:48 GMT, 14 June 2012

Arrogance is to blame for England's poor record against Sweden who plan to upset Roy Hodgson's side to put their Euro assault back on track, according to midfielder Anders Svensson.

The Swedes face the Three Lions on Friday night in a must-win game after they lost their Group D opener to Ukraine 2-1 on Monday.

Sweden have never been beaten by England in a competitive fixture – a sequence of seven World Cup and European Championship encounters.

Arrogance: Svensson (centre) has blasted England's attitude to Sweden

Arrogance: Svensson (centre) has blasted England's attitude to Sweden

Euro 2012 email button

And Svensson believes his country have the upper hand as England do not respect Sweden as much as they respect the likes of France and Brazil.

He said: 'I just think maybe you think you are a little bit better than you are and we are a little bit better than you think we are,' he said.

'Obviously you have got big, big names, big, big players.

'I think you have a great team but I think you don’t think that much about the Swedish team, never have.

'I think we are a good team and are on the same level as England and have been for a long time. I don’t think maybe England have the same respect for us as they do for France, Brazil.'

He added: 'They (England) are a difficult team to beat like we used to be. I think we need to win against England to go forward. It will be win or die. It’s two knockout games.'

Stalemate: England were held to a draw by Sweden when they met in Germany

Stalemate: England were held to a draw by Sweden when they met in Germany

Stalemate: England were held to a draw by Sweden when they met in Germany

Svensson also moved to dismiss claims that captain Zlatan Ibrahimovic was angered with some of his team-mates for speaking to their wives and girlfriends before warming down after Monday's defeat.

He described the story as 'b*******' and denied that there were rifts in the camp.

He said: 'We saw our wives, went up and had a talk. Some of the other guys came out, talked to their wives. We waited five or 10 minutes for the other players to come out.

'When all the players came out, the physio said, ‘Let’s start the warm down’. There was no frustration from any player. There was no problem at all.'

Final preparations: Sweden need to beat England or they could be out

Final preparations: Sweden need to beat England or they could be out

Meanwhile, defender Jonas Olsson has challenged Sweden to maintain their impressive record against England in Kiev on Friday evening – and keep alive their Euro 2012 hopes.

The West Brom player said: “Our good record against England is something that is nice to have in the back of your head.

'We've done well against them and hopefully we can keep that streak going for a few more years. It is quite a lot of matches and you never want to be in the team that sees such a streak end.

'We also know that we need a positive result on Friday if we want to stay in contention in the group and that drives you on.'

Ex-Tranmere starlet Jennings backs Bayern to topple Chelsea

Ex-Tranmere starlet Jennings backs Bayern to topple Chelsea in Munich

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UPDATED:

22:04 GMT, 18 May 2012

Confident: Dale Jennings

Confident: Dale Jennings

When it comes to stereotypes, arrogance and Germans often go together.

So when a Bayern Munich player talks of beating Chelsea easily there is no surprise.

Except this time the view is that of an Englishman.

‘They think they’ll win. In fact they think they’ll win easy,’ says Dale Jennings.

The 19-year-old winger moves quickly to qualify his statement. ‘It’s not arrogance, it’s more confidence in what they are capable of. The team is full of world-class players and if you can beat Real Madrid in Madrid you can’t be bad. That semi-final win really gave everyone here belief they can win the tournament.’

It is fitting that Jennings finds himself in a land often hailed as home to fairytales. His story is one most boys can only dream about.

After a breakthrough season in League One Tranmere Rovers’ first team he claimed Apprentice of the Year and the attention of Bayern Munich’s scouts.

Barely 11 months after his league debut, the Germans signed him for 1.8million.

Injuries have stalled his progress but he is eager to make a success of his German adventure.

He shares an apartment with girlfriend Holly and has been taking German lessons twice a week. ‘I was never the brightest at school,’ he admits. ‘I’ve been going to classes but am still struggling. I can barely speak a word.

‘I tend to keep myself to myself and just talk to the coaches or other lads about football really.’

Main men: Arjen Robben (left) and Franck Ribery will be key for Bayern

Main men: Arjen Robben (left) and Franck Ribery will be key for Bayern

He’s in pretty good company though. Apart from his Bayern Munich II coach Andries Jonker, Jennings has also been able to call on Germany goalscoring legend Gerd Muller.

‘I didn’t know who he was at first. He watched us train with his club jacket on and when the lads told me I had to look him up on YouTube. He wasn’t bad to be fair. It was his record of 67 goals in a season that Lionel Messi just broke.’

His mentors told him to study the first team and Jennings has become an affirmed member of the Franck Ribery fan club.

‘Being a winger myself, I just focus on him and watch what he does with and without the ball,’ says Jennings. ‘He’s world class and definitely one of the main threats to Chelsea.

‘He and Arjen Robben are always dangerous. Manuel Neuer, the keeper, is probably the best in the world. Philipp Lahm is Germany’s captain and then you have Mario Gomez who has scored 40 goals this season.

Warming up: Bayern train ahead of the final against Chelsea in Munich

Warming up: Bayern train ahead of the final against Chelsea in Munich

‘Chelsea may have an edge with the physical side but Bayern are still strong. The emphasis over here is different. Training is hard but 80 per cent of the focus is on keeping the ball. Teams come here to attack but they can’t get the ball.’

Liverpool fan Jennings dreamed of being Fernando Torres when he was younger but believes his idol will be on the bench. ‘Didier Drogba’s been the form man and I think he’ll play. I watched the FA Cup final and he was excellent although Liverpool were pretty poor. Torres will still come good though. His goals against Barcelona and QPR mean he can never be discounted but it may be next season before he looks a 50m striker again.’

Jennings will be at the Allianz Arena cheering on his new idols and team mates hoping that one day soon he’ll be playing alongside them.

‘That would be the dream. I have to pinch myself that I’m here sometimes but it’s a terrific opportunity for me.’

In their own backyard, Bayern will be thinking Saturday’s final is just that.

Joey Barton on Twitter

How will football cope without the spiteful rants of this humourless, angry little man

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UPDATED:

21:35 GMT, 26 March 2012

Some joyous news from Queens Park Rangers this week, amid the gloom of a relegation battle.

After being booed off by his own fans before his team-mates staged a remarkable comeback against Liverpool, then dropped for the 3-1 defeat by Sunderland on Saturday, Joey Barton has decided to take a ‘little Twitter sabbatical’.

The midfielder tells us he is anxious to avoid saying something he’ll ‘end up regretting’. Presumably he didn’t intend this to be a joke, but it is very funny. After 4,598 tweets it’s a bit late for that, Joseph.

Shouting his mouth off: Joey Barton has earned a reputation for making his voice heard on Twitter

Shouting his mouth off: Joey Barton has earned a reputation for making his voice heard on Twitter

We shall miss him, of course. We will pine for the incessant, sanctimonious musings of Twitter’s self-appointed sage. As Lent draws to a close, it is we who will be cast out into the wilderness without football’s unofficial spokesman and resident philosopher to show us the light.

Will the game be able to cope without born-again Barton taking a sip from his cappuccino and casting judgment on the burning issues of the day, trampling over those who disagree and basking in the unashamedly ego-stroking nonsense of it all We may not function properly without our all-seeing overlord.

In his attack on the media, published in The Times this year, a comically oblivious Barton wrote: ‘This is the medium of Generation Y, the kids today that will become tomorrow’s leaders. These are my people… I want to be one of them.’

It was a statement of such misguided arrogance it would have been amusing if it wasn’t so scary. Joey Barton, a convicted thug, the spokesman for my generation What a depressing thought. This is a man who wants desperately to be a football thinker, a voice of authority who speaks and people listen. But, instead of replicating the enigmatic brilliance of Eric Cantona, another footballer with a violent past, he is often just Vinnie Jones with Wi-Fi.

Benched: Barton has struggled for form in recent weeks and was booed by QPR fans against Liverpool

Benched: Barton has struggled for form in recent weeks and was booed by QPR fans against Liverpool

Enlarge

Joey Barton Twitter

Barton has tried hard, too hard, to shed the skin of the man who stabbed a lit cigar into a team-mate’s face at a Christmas party, served 74 days in Manchester’s Strangeways prison for assault and left another team-mate unconscious after a training-ground attack. The fact we still give his opinions credence is itself remarkable, but also a testament to his intelligence, determination and sheer gall. But, even today, it still takes more than a username, a password and a BlackBerry to change the world — and the world’s perception of you.

He wrote in The Times: ‘Last year I realised no journalist was going to tell my tale truthfully. So I’m doing it myself. Anything I said, anything I did, was given an angle to fit in with the bad-boy image.

‘They projected someone who was not the real me: it was the “me” that the press wanted to project. People are now beginning to see the man I am.’

Are we, though Is anyone capable of reflecting the ‘real me’ in 140 characters It is doubtful. The ‘virtual’ Barton is a different beast to the one described by those who know him well.

‘Generous’, ‘thoughtful’ and ‘good fun’ were just some of the words associated with a man capable of committing little acts of kindness — a round of golf here, a bottle of champagne there — without ego or ceremony. This is so far removed from the angry, humourless little man behind @Joey7Barton that it was hard to imagine we were talking about the same person.

Yet he is a Premier League footballer
who contributes a column to The Big Issue and a Liverpool-born athlete
who has used his 1.3million Twitter followers to campaign passionately
for justice for the victims of the Hillsborough disaster. He is the
capitalist with a conscience: the man who swapped a 170,000 Aston
Martin DBS for a Toyota Prius, a moped and an Oyster card, allowing him
to travel on London’s Underground network concealed by a pair of Harry
Potter glasses and a hat. He wears a 6 plastic watch instead of
500,000 of designer bling.

In action: Barton was named QPR captain after his move from Newcastle last summer

In action: Barton was named QPR captain after his move from Newcastle last summer

But, just as the newspaper interviews to which Barton now seems to object reflected journalists’ interpretations of the man, his Tweets project their own self-portrait.

He may decry the ‘bad-boy image’ he considers a media fabrication, but he repeatedly enhances that negative persona. If you do not like what you read in the papers it will always be somebody else’s fault, but you have no excuse if you actively celebrate the fact it is you, unfiltered, behind the Twitter avatar.

The result is certainly not pleasant. Barton comes across as a mean, dislikeable individual; the classic playground bully who revels in snide ripostes and stamping on those with a lower profile — simply because he can.

His tweets come like bullets, one after the other. He doesn’t interact; he just spews vitriol on the screen whenever he feels like it. ‘He tweets when he wants,’ sang the QPR fans. Don’t we just know it.

Barton’s behaviour was particularly
despicable when he insulted Neil Warnock earlier this year. The former
QPR boss said owner Tony Fernandes had been ‘slowly poisoned from
outside the club and no doubt from within the club as well’. Barton
responded by telling Warnock to ‘shut it’, calling him ‘embarrassing’
and comparing him to Mike Bassett, a fictional football manager and a
figure of fun.

Joey Barton

Joey Barton

Court dates: Barton was in trouble with the law during his spells with Manchester City and Newcastle

‘If I talked about Neil, he’d do well to get another job,’ added the player Warnock made captain of QPR after Newcastle United were so desperate to get rid of him they let him leave for free.

It was unprofessional and smacked of ingratitude, but it was typical of the way Barton responds to those who hit back. He simply dismisses them with utter contempt.

‘I don’t want or need ur advice, praise, negativity…or any other thing that u offer,’ he wrote. ‘U will never effect me. I am far to driven for u.’ Barton isn’t interested in dialogue. Monologues will do nicely, thank you very much.

‘Spineless maggots’ was the phrase he used to describe two journalists who dared to criticise him. ‘Numpty’ was another example. The fans who have paid good money to watch a string of average performances at Loftus Road from QPR’s No 17 this season are ‘bells’ and ‘trolls’.

As Barton himself has noted, form is temporary but class — or lack of it — is permanent. For all his highfalutin talk about freedom of speech and his undoubted intelligence, his responses are consistently shallow and insulting.

The anonymity of a Twitter account
encourages people to pour bile on you, unacceptably so, but ignore them
or argue coherently — do not retreat into a shell of abuse. We had just
begun to hope you might be better than that.

Never far from trouble: Barton (right) has hit the headlines both on and off the field this season

Never far from trouble: Barton (right) has hit the headlines both on and off the field this season

What do most other players think of his constant vitriol ‘I thought you journos liked honesty’ was one footballer’s response. The question jarred because, of course, we do. There is nothing more disconcerting than being presented with a series of prettily arranged clichs tied up in a ribbon of disinterest at 5pm on a Saturday.

The footballer was right — in theory, we should celebrate Barton’s decision to wax lyrical about whatever takes his fancy. In the increasingly sanitised world of top-flight football, it should be a refreshing and welcome injection of personality.

But it is not. His depressing diatribes came so thick and fast they rendered themselves almost irrelevant. It was just all too much; a bitter stream of consciousness laced with spite.

The direct channel Twitter gives Barton to talk to the outside world makes it a dangerous tool for him. QPR manager Mark Hughes has deep concerns about the midfielder’s incessant tweeting and rightly so: a description that came up frequently when talking to those close to Barton was ‘impetuous’; another was ‘instinctive’.

‘He does things without thinking,’ proved a common theme. @Joey7Barton will be back, all right. He won’t be able to resist it.

‘Some guys like a game of golf, some play snooker, Joey seems to Twitter all day,’ said Hughes.

Now, can somebody please pass him a seven iron

William Gallas tells Tottenham players they can win league

Gallas tells Spurs team-mates to forget third place and shoot for title push

William Gallas has implored his team-mates to forget battling for fourth or third place and instead set their sights on the title.

A double Premier League champion with Chelsea, Gallas believes Tottenham have it within them to lift the trophy this season.

Jermain Defoe said: 'When Gallas was at Chelsea under Jose Mourinho, they were unbelievable.

Win it: William Gallas says Tottenham can win the title

Win it: William Gallas says Tottenham can win the title

'They didn’t lose a game at home because they had that rock-solid belief.

'He passes that all on to us and tells us to stop settling for fourth place and qualifying for the Champions League, like we did two years ago.

'He tells us to think, first and foremost, about finishing top. Hopefully the top two will slip up. You never know what will happen between now and the end of the season.

'The other day, I was having a
conversation with him and he was saying that he doesn’t understand
anyone within the squad who thinks we can finish fourth or even third.

'If you look at the players we have got, the way we play and where we are in the League now, why can’t we win it'

Please: Jermain Defoe is hoping for a title win

Please: Jermain Defoe is hoping for a title win

The striker added: 'William has been there and he has done it.

'He told me about his time at Chelsea, where he and the other players had that arrogance in that, whoever they played against, they believed they could win.

'And he keeps saying that we need to really believe we can actually win it. Forget about finishing fourth.'

Harry Redknapp confirms interest in Eden Hazard

I want to sign Hazard: Redknapp admits Spurs interest in Belgian star

Spurs boss Harry Redknapp says the club are hoping to sign Eden Hazard from Lille in the summer.

The Belgium international is one of the most highly-rated young players in Europe, and has alerted some of the biggest clubs on the continent by announcing his intention to leave the French champions in the summer.

The player admitted recently that he was interested in joining the White Hart Lane club despite interest from Real Madrid, Chelsea and Arsenal.

Wanted man: Tottenham are keen on Eden Hazard

Wanted man: Tottenham are keen on Eden Hazard

'Hazard is a player that we have spoken about,' Redknapp said. 'He is a player who is definitely on our list.'

France Football have reported that Hazard has already agreed personal terms with Spurs, although concluding a deal could be complicated by the current uncertainty surrounding Redknapp’s future – with the former West Ham and Portsmouth manager strongly tipped to take over as England manager before the start of next season.

Former Chelsea midfielder Joe Cole has spent much of the current season on loan at Lille, and has likened Hazard to both Wayne Rooney and Lionel Messi.

Top target: Harry Redknapp has confirmed Tottenham's interest in Hazard

Top target: Harry Redknapp has confirmed Tottenham's interest in Hazard

'Hazard is different class. He’s still only 21 and has definitely got another few gears to go up. He’s got the same attitude as Rooney at that age – he’s fearless,' Cole said recently. 'He knows how good he is, and that’s a positive. All the top players have got that belief and a bit of presence and arrogance, and he’s like that.

'He’s a bit like Messi. There’s only one Messi and I don’t want to put pressure on the kid, but he’s like him – short, squat, powerful legs, great touch, he can finish, he’s got everything.'

Comment: Kenny Dalglish is reduced to a scowling, sneering bar-room bully

Comment: Dalglish is reduced to a scowling, sneering bar-room bully

Week upon week, the humiliation of
Liverpool FC increases. And
Saturday's events at Old Trafford
may trigger a significant reaction
from the club owners in Boston.

Once again, the usual suspects
were responsible for lowering the
tone, spirits and reputation of one of
our greatest clubs. Luis Suarez, a
dim and truculent provocateur,
lived down to expectations.

Low point: Luis Suarez snubs Patrice Evra

Low point: Luis Suarez snubs Patrice Evra

Luis Suarez of Liverpool refuses to shake the hand of Patrice Evra

Cool down: Referee Phil Dowd intervenes in his attempt to calm a furious Evra

Flash point: Evra grabs his arm (left) but ref Phil Dowd intervenes

After being scrupulously tried and duly convicted of racial abuse by an FA regulatory commission, there were those who believed he might reveal a touch of contrition on his first start following his return.

It was a foolishly optimistic view, one which he confounded within moments of his appearance on the pitch. The refusal to shake hands with Patrice Evra was more than a slap in the face for ordinary decency, it was a shabby affirmation that no lessons have been learned, no minds changed, no attitudes reconsidered after the events which provoked his downfall.

Even by the standards of the modern game, in which certain players believe themselves far beyond the reach of those rules which govern the rest of us, this was staggering arrogance. Indeed, at a time when football finds itself struggling with racial problems which it thought it had overcome, it might have been something worse than arrogance.

Final whistle: Evra celebrates the win as Suarez walks off

Final whistle: Evra celebrates the win as Suarez walks off

Undoubtedly, he has been
encouraged in his idiocy by attitudes
struck by manager Kenny Dalglish.
Throughout this depressing saga,
Dalglish has promoted a sense of
paranoia, a feeling that the club
have been hard done-by, ill-used,
savagely put-upon. He has conjured
the notion of a vast conspiracy
directed at Liverpool, without ever
explaining the logic or the motives
behind such a movement.

At its most crass, it was the T-shirt
worn to support Suarez, a gesture
so tasteless that a football manager
of even modest intelligence might
have rejected it out of hand.
Dalglish wore his daft little shirt
as if it were a badge of martyrdom,
utterly unaware of the ridiculous
figure he was cutting.

Most distressing was his welcome
back to Suarez, with the stubborn
insistence that, of course, he should
never have been away. A chance to
lay the issue quietly to rest was
thereby rejected, the affair was
given fresh legs. His post-match
interview with Sky TV yesterday
showed the man at his worst. In the
face of reasonable, courteous and
relevant questions about the handshaking
incident, he behaved like a
bar-room bully: 'You're bang out of
order … bit of banter … I never saw
it.'

In refusing to disown, or even
criticise, his player's conduct, he
allowed Sir Alex Ferguson to make
his contemptuous condemnation of
the miserable Suarez: 'A disgrace to
Liverpool Football Club,' he called
him and, of course, he is.

Standing firm: Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish

Standing firm: Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish

The rest of the nation has regarded
events at Liverpool with a mixture
of disdain and disappointment. This
is the club of Shankly and Paisley,
of St John and Keegan, of fine men
and great players. It is also the club
of Kenny Dalglish, a glorious
player who once represented
everything that was fine about
his club and his adopted city.

No longer. The man is reduced
to a scowling, sneering
presence. Every time he opens
his mouth, he seems to grow a
little smaller.

The men in Boston have
been remarkably patient with
his handling of a protracted
crisis. But patience has its
limits, and one senses that
they may be reaching them.

Former England coach Andy Robinson labels Johnson"s World Cup flops "arrogant"

Former England coach Andy Robinson labels Johnson's World Cup flops 'arrogant'

Andy Robinson, whose Scotland side face England on the opening day of the Six Nations championship next month, claims his opponents’ World Cup fiasco was a consequence of arrogance within Martin Johnson’s squad.

Robinson may bill himself as a ‘proud Englishman’, but nothing would please Scotland’s coach more than to make Stuart Lancaster’s task of rebuilding English morale that bit trickier by claiming revenge at Murrayfield on February 4 for the narrow victory in Auckland that ended Scottish World Cup dreams.

Scotland head coach Andy Robinson stands dejected with his team after the final whistle

Speaking out: Scotland head coach Andy Robinson says a number of England players displayed arrogance which made the whole squad look bad

While Calcutta Cup battles are never for the faint-hearted, Robinson, who helped guide England to become world champions in 2003 before losing his job as head coach three years later, stoked the passions with his analysis of where it all went wrong for Johnson’s side.

‘It’s important for any team to show humility, especially when you are winning,’ he said.

‘I thought a number of the England players undermined this in the arrogance they showed. They know who they are and it was not across the board, but, unfortunately, the whole squad got tarnished.

Martin Johnson looks at Mike Tindall after the 2011 Rugby World Cup pool match between England and Scotland at Eden Park, Auckland

Not impressed: Martin Johnson gives Mike Tindall a dirty look after another lacklustre World Cup showing in Auckland

‘You need self-belief in players, of course, but you also need to possess some humility, and a number of players overstepped the mark.’

Robinson, naturally enough, had sympathy for Johnson, who stood down from his manager’s job last month.

‘I sent him a text to say that if he wanted anything or just fancied a chat, he knew where I was,’ said the 47-year-old former England flanker.

‘He’s a quality person. Ten out of 13 wins last year was quite an achievement. He also won the Six Nations, don’t forget. So, yes, I wanted to get in touch.

English players react after their Rugby World Cup quarterfinal loss to France

Dejected: Robinson says some English players, seen here after crashing out of the World Cup against France, simply 'self-destructed'

‘International coaching is a tough job. You need to be able to handle a lot of aspects. But Test rugby, when it’s boiled down, is about results. You can get caught up in winning spirals and dragged down in losing spirals. If it gets out of control, as I discovered with England in 2006, you’re in trouble.

‘When you find yourself in that situation, you not only need to believe in yourself, but have a squad who have true values and are prepared to work for each other.

‘When my time ended with England six years ago, it was because we were losing Tests. They were mostly by small margins, but we were still losing.

‘What surprises me about England now is that they fell into a downward spiral while winning. It wasn’t results that undermined them but the other stuff. They self-destructed.’

Martin Johnson, (R) the England manager, announces his resignation as he faces the media watched by RFU director of Elite Rugby Rob Andrew

Head down: Martin Johnson announced his resignation last year after much criticism of his squad's behaviour in New Zealand

Which means Robinson expects a young and relatively inexperienced England team to be fired by the ills of the past few months when they run out at Murrayfield.

‘Oh yes, the players will be coming here with all that’s happened in their armoury,’ he said. ‘All the blood-letting, all the resignations and sackings, all the criticism.

They are a good side. With the resources England have, they are never a bad side, and while people refer to their inexperience, most of the team who beat us in Auckland then lost to France in the quarter-final will be on that pitch — players with a World Cup under their belt, 20 or 30 caps to their name.

‘More than anything else, more than it’s us and it’s the Calcutta Cup, they each have a big, big point to prove.’

Scotland head coach Andy Robinson (left) consoles Chris Paterson

Chin up: Robinson, seen here consoling Chris Paterson, said the World Cup loss to England was the ‘biggest disappointment of my life’

But England will discover they are not alone in that. Scotland have a point to prove, too, after Robinson described that World Cup pool defeat as the ‘biggest disappointment of my life’.

That is a big statement considering that the same proud Englishman was hounded out of his head coach role with England with boos from a disgruntled Twickenham crowd ringing in his ears.

‘I didn’t know who I was back then,’ said Robinson.

‘It took the success of 2003, the subsequent experience of failure and then months of reflection to start the process. I now know what I stand for, and what my values are.

‘I was depressed for a couple of weeks after New Zealand. I took a long, hard look at myself and the part I played. I make sacrifices, especially regarding family, but if you’re not prepared to push yourself then don’t do it.

‘The reason it hit me so hard, and why it was the biggest blow of my career, is because if you are well beaten you hold your hands up and realise there’s much work to be done. But we got ourselves into winning positions against Argentina and England, and lost.

‘I genuinely believed we were going to win the pool, and we got ourselves into positions to do just that. In fact, I believed we would reach the semi-final stage. Ultimately, we under-achieved. The feelings of “if only” and “what if” are the worst in the world.’

It is an emotion Robinson is determined not to experience again in the Six Nations. He is revered in Scotland for the good work put in, for beating South Africa and Australia at home and Argentina, twice, away.

But in his first two Six Nations, Scotland have promised much but delivered little — in fact, just two games won out of 10. Nobody is more aware of that than the head coach.

Mike Tindall of England (L) looks on during the IRB 2011 Rugby World Cup Pool B match between England and Scotland at Eden Park

Out with the old: The likes of Mike Tindall and co will be missing when Scotland face a new look England at Murrayfield

‘The players are not feeling hard done by. You deserve to lose a game because the score says you lost. They understand that. I have enormous belief in my squad, but we’re not where we want to be and that has to stop now.

‘Don’t think for a second the expectation in Scotland doesn’t match that in England. It does.

'The pressure’s the same. It is not a false belief when I say we’re good enough to beat every team in the Six Nations. I’ve had enough talking about potential. This time we must deliver. It starts against England.’

Something will have to give at Murrayfield on February 4, and if the rain and sleet returns to drive into the faces of 30 men on the pitch, it could prove to be particularly painful for those on the losing side.