Tag Archives: business

Sir Bobby Charlton says Sir Alex Ferguson will carry on at Manchester United "forever"

Fergie's time will never end: United legend Charlton backs Ferguson to 'go on for ever'

By
John Edwards

PUBLISHED:

14:25 GMT, 10 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

17:06 GMT, 10 April 2013

Sir Bobby Charlton fired an ominous warning to Manchester United’s main title rivals by insisting Sir Alex Ferguson looks like he will ‘go on forever.’

The United manager is closing in on his 13th Barclays Premier League crown at the ripe old age of 71, but any thoughts of bowing out after avenging last season’s late surrender to bitter rivals Manchester City could not be further from his mind, according to Sir Bobby.

‘There is nothing in his posture that suggests he is beginning to tire,’ said the United director. ‘Far from being tired, he has the same enthusiasm as ever. He is an unbelievable character, and I don’t see him ever losing that drive and enthusiasm.

Carry on, Fergie: Sir Bobby Charlton says Sir Alex Ferguson will go on for ever at Manchester United

Carry on, Fergie: Sir Bobby Charlton says Sir Alex Ferguson will go on for ever at Manchester United

‘He tried to retire once, and it was an absolute failure. Everyone wants to know the answer to that, because he can’t go on for ever. But I look at him and think that’s exactly what he will do.

‘He is a fantastic lover of football, and he is very clever when it comes to identifying a player he wants and coming to the board about it. He knows exactly what to do in those situations, and, to be fair, we try to give him exactly what he wants.

‘We haven’t got many directors at Old
Trafford, and we adopt the view that we need good players to be a top
team and that the manager is the best person to decide on who they
should be.

United heroes: Sir Bobby Charlton and Denis Law get together at Soccerex in Manchester

United heroes: Sir Bobby Charlton and Denis Law get together at Soccerex in Manchester

'We look after the business side of things, Alex the football side, and we give him what he wants. We leave pretty much everything to Alex, in a football sense.

‘The rivalry with City, and the way they have re-emerged, has probably provided him with an extra incentive. He just hates losing, no matter who the opposition are, and the defeat on Monday night will have hurt him.

'But the great thing is, he will pinpoint exactly why we lost and make sure it doesn’t happen again.’

Class of 68: Charlton exchanges shirts with former Benfica and Portugal legend Eusebio

Class of 68: Charlton exchanges shirts with former Benfica and Portugal legend Eusebio

A World Cup winner in 1966, Sir Bobby despairs of England ever lifting the trophy again.

‘When I’m asked about our prospects, I always feel obliged to say we’ve got a chance, but really it’s a fool’s errand,’ he said. ‘If so many places in Premier League teams are taken up by foreign players, we’ve got no chance.

‘Spain are absolutely my favourites for the finals in Brazil. Heaven forbid, but Germany are in with a chance as well, because they are so well coached, and Holland seem to be re-emerging as well.’

Harlequins captain Chris Robshaw ready for Munster Heineken Cup quarter-final

Robshaw revved up and ready to go as Quins prepare for Munster clash

By
Chris Foy

PUBLISHED:

21:00 GMT, 5 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

21:00 GMT, 5 April 2013

Raring to go: Quins and England captain Robshaw

Raring to go: Quins and England captain Robshaw

For England captain Chris Robshaw, watching football this week brought home just what a high-stakes occasion awaits Harlequins against mighty Munster on Sunday.

It is only the third time the London club have made it to the knockout stages of the Heineken Cup; their skipper is well aware of the import. ‘It is what you want to be part of, a Heineken Cup quarter-final,’ he said. ‘I was watching the Champions League and thinking, “That’s the level we are at in rugby”.’

With the LV Cup won, Quins remain on course for a historic Treble and Robshaw is bracing himself for the business end of the season, when every team will be hell-bent on denying the Premiership champions their target.

‘Since week one, we have been hunted, the team everyone raises their game for,’ he said. ‘It is an incredibly big challenge but you would not swap it for the world. These next eight weeks are the eight weeks you want. It could be nothing, it could be all.’

Lying in wait: Munster train in Cork this week ahead of their visit to London

Lying in wait: Munster train in Cork this week ahead of their visit to London

Munster come to the Stoop after a 51-24 mauling in Glasgow, but Quins expect the Irish province to be in full, fiery European mode.

England lock George Robson said: ‘Anyone who reads anything into their league results is missing a trick in terms of what the Cup means to the province. It is what they live for.’

Ronan O’Gara, the Munster fly-half, is, at 37, the only survivor from Quins’ 48-40 win in 1997. A repeat of that score may be unthinkable, but a home win by a similar margin is certainly not.

Michael Owen wanted by Strictly Come Dancing and I"m a Celebrity

Race to sign Owen hots up – but it's Strictly and I'm a Celebrity doing battle!

By
Paul Collins

PUBLISHED:

12:27 GMT, 3 April 2013

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UPDATED:

17:12 GMT, 3 April 2013

Michael Owen may have failed his screen test to head BT Sport’s new analysis team — but the BBC and ITV are still in a fight to sign him up.

It has been reported that the Stoke striker, who has recently announced he will retire at the end of the season, is at the centre of TV battle between the makers of Strictly Come Dancing and I’m a Celebrity.

Both networks are apparently trying to sign for the autumn series of both shows.

Dancefloor or jungle How Owen might look on Strictly (left) and I'm a Celebrity

Dancefloor or jungle How Owen might look on Strictly (left) and I'm a Celebrity

In demand: The clamour to sign up Owen is in full swing

In demand: The clamour to sign up Owen is in full swing

Retiring: The former England striker, now at Stoke, will call it a day next month

Retiring: The former England striker, now at Stoke, will call it a day next month

Owen is to become a BBC television and radio pundit in his retirement, having made occasional appearances on Match of the Day already this season.

BT Sport, who need a marquee signing from the dressing room to head the analysts team for their Premier League coverage next season, could have been expected to jump at the chance to sign such an illustrious footballer as Owen, whose services have been strongly touted to them.

But the word inside BT headquarters in the Olympic Park is that Owen’s ‘monotone’ displays on the BBC have been considered ‘poor’, although it will help Owen’s Beeb future that their lead presenter Gary Lineker has been supportive.

The first confirmed pundit appointment
for Owen is at Royal Ascot. Racehorse owner and breeder Owen is on a
panel of experts who will be giving tips to the 570-a-head patrons of
the prime Bessborough Restaurant on the Thursday of the Royal meeting in
June.

Owen is also planning to launch a player agency business when he retires from professional football at the end of this season.

Frozen out: Owen has had limited first-team opportunities at Stoke

Frozen out: Owen has had limited first-team opportunities at Stoke

Stoke City centre forward Owen, who has previously starred for Liverpool, Real Madrid and Manchester United, will hang up his boots at the end of his season, bringing the curtain down on a difficult few years in which he has sustained several serious injuries that have chronically limited his game-time.

In a blog on his website former England man Owen explained: ‘On July 1, I propose to set up Michael Owen Management Ltd. focusing on guiding young players through their careers and offering them advice at every juncture of what can be a career full of pitfalls.’

F1 Williams team leader Sir Frank gives job to his daughter

Mother's delight: Daughter Claire is Williams' new boss after mum's blessing

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Daddy's girl: Sir Frank Williams with his daughter Claire at the Spanish Grand Prix in 2012

F1

‘I think it will make team
principals’ meetings quite interesting having two women there — I don’t
know how, but it will change the dynamic,’ said Claire, who will
represent the team when Sir Frank, who is still team principal despite
turning 71 next month, does not travel to races.

‘While I am pleased to have got where I have as a woman, it should be about merit.’

Claire, 36, has come through the media side of motor racing after taking a politics degree from Newcastle University.

Immersed in the sport all her life,
she was a press officer at Silverstone before moving to Williams in
2002, and has now been handed her fourth promotion in three years.

Her last job was as director of
marketing and communications, a role that involved bringing in revenue.
All the team’s current backers have re-signed, several of them on
increased terms.

She will continue to look after the
business side of Williams — a team desperately striving to reprise the
glory days of the Nigel Mansell, Alain Prost and Damon Hill eras.

After a few depressing years, the team
staged something of a renaissance in 2012, but they have struggled
again this season — neither Pastor Maldonado nor Valtteri Bottas has
registered a point in the first two races.

Much to ponder: Williams team principal Sir Frank during a practice session

Much to ponder: Williams team principal Sir Frank during a practice session

Claire, whose boyfriend Andrew Murdoch
is Maldonado’s race engineer at the team’s Oxfordshire headquarters, is
unfazed by the flux of senior staff in the last year, drawing
inspiration from her stern apprenticeship.

‘Frank appreciates hard work,’ she said. ‘He whipped my a*** when I first came here.

‘He showed me no favours — quite the
opposite. I had to prove myself. If there is something that needs wiping
up you get the brush out yourself and do it yourself. That is the ethos
at Williams.’

Sir Frank, one of the paddock’s great fighters, will appreciate the sentiment.

LIVE STREAM: Daily Mail RBS Schools Rugby U18 Cup semi-finals

LIVE STREAM: Daily Mail RBS Schools Rugby U18 Cup semi-finals – watch the action unfold here

Daily Mail RBS Schools Rugby

PUBLISHED:

10:04 GMT, 2 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

10:05 GMT, 2 March 2013

The Daily Mail RBS Schools Rugby has officially entered the business end of the competition with the Finals at Twickenham now only weeks away.

Today, Sportsmail brings you LIVE action from the U18s Cup semi-finals at Broadstreet RFC in Coventry.

At 11am, Dulwich take on Hampton to get us underway, followed by Warwick versus Northampton School for Boys.

A place in the prestigious Final on March 23 is up for grabs. Who will be there Find out here and watch all the drama as it unfolds on the video player below…

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Billy Davies Nottingham Forest manager

Davies back as Nottingham Forest boss to replace McLeish

By
Graeme Yorke

PUBLISHED:

13:45 GMT, 7 February 2013

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UPDATED:

18:09 GMT, 7 February 2013

Forest return: Davies

Forest return: Davies

Billy Davies has returned to Nottingham Forest for a second spell as manager, becoming their third boss this season.

Davies and his representatives were in negotiations with Forest chairman Fawaz Al-Hasawi on Wednesday and the Championship club announced it on Thursday afternoon.

'I'm delighted to welcome Billy back to our club and really look forward to working closely with him,' chairman Fawaz Al Hasawi said. 'Billy has unfinished business with the Reds and we know how hungry he is for success. In returning to the City Ground we believe his leadership will help us fulfil our ambition of making it to the Premier League.

'Billy is a Forest legend who needs no introduction to our loyal fans. We know how excited he is to pick up where he left off last time and we will back him 110 per cent – this is a very exciting appointment for us.'

Davies described being back at the club as a 'dream come true' and is looking forward to officially beginning his role on Monday.

'It is a privilege and an honour to be back in charge of the Reds. As my new friend Fawaz says, I have unfinished business here at Forest and I am relishing this great opportunity to return Forest to its former glory.

'My tenure at the City Ground was cut short last time and I can't wait to get my boots back on and training the lads.

'We have a great squad and I know I can get the best from them. Coming home to the Reds is a dream come true.'

The 48-year-old Scot was dismissed by Forest's old regime in June 2011.

After steering the club away from relegation following his appointment in January 2009 and then masterminding successive play-off campaigns during his first spell at the City Ground, Davies is on record as stating that he has 'unfinished business' at the club.

Davies succeeds Alex McLeish and Sean O'Driscoll at the City Ground.

McLeish resigned his post earlier this week just over a month after taking over from O'Driscoll, who was sacked on Boxing Day.

Cricket: England lose to New Zealand in final Twenty20 warm-up match

Dernbach the weak link as England sink in final Twenty20 warm-up match

By
Paul Newman

PUBLISHED:

06:40 GMT, 6 February 2013

|

UPDATED:

08:03 GMT, 7 February 2013

SCOREBOARD

New Zealand 171-7 (Latham 64, Devcich 33)

England 170-5 (Morgan 51, Buttler 51)

New Zealand win by 1 run

Click here to see the full scoreboard

England received a second welcome fillip from their captain but have concerns about the man earmarked to bowl at the death in their Twenty20 series against New Zealand.

Another encouraging display from Stuart Broad in Whangarei was more important than defeat by a New Zealand XI in the second of England’s two warm-up games ahead of Saturday’s first Twenty20 international in Auckland.

Plenty to ponder: Stuart Broad looks on after his England side fall to defeat against New Zealand XI at the Cobham Oval

Plenty to ponder: Stuart Broad looks on after his England side fall to defeat against New Zealand XI at the Cobham Oval

Yet England must decide if they
retain faith in Jade Dernbach’s ability to exert control with his myriad
of variations when the tour’s serious business begins.

Broad followed his hat-trick in
England’s opening victory with another three wickets and conceded only
24 runs in his four overs as England slipped to a last-ball three-wicket
defeat against a young New Zealand side.

But Dernbach, who suffered a
miserable one-day tour of India and lost his place in the 50-over squad
for the three matches that follow the short-form series in New Zealand,
was again expensive, going at close to 10 an over.

Batter up: New Zealand XI's Tom Latham strikes on his way to the game's high score of 64 as England wicketkeeper Jos Buttler looks on

Batter up: New Zealand XI's Tom Latham strikes on his way to the game's high score of 64 as England wicketkeeper Jos Buttler looks on

Nifty fifty: Eoin Morgan impressed with a half century but his effort of 51 was not enough to save England from defeat

Nifty fifty: Eoin Morgan impressed with a half century but his effort of 51 was not enough to save England from defeat

At least Dernbach clawed back some
credit in a final over which almost clinched an unlikely win for
England, Andrew Ellis eventually hitting the winning run off the final
ball.

Broad arrived in New Zealand complete
with new cushioned bowling boots to help protect the damaged left heel
that forced him to return home early before Christmas from England’s
Test tour of India.

It is the latest in a long line of
injuries for one of England’s most important players and the Twenty20
captain will be pleased that he has been so effective and pain-free in
his first two outings of a crucial tour for him.

Fall guy: Alex Hales reacts with disappointment after being dismissed Matt Henry

Fall guy: Alex Hales reacts with disappointment after being dismissed Matt Henry

Up top: New Zealand XI captain Andrew Ellis celebrates with team-mates after taking the wicket of Luke Wright

Up top: New Zealand XI captain Andrew Ellis celebrates with team-mates after taking the wicket of Luke Wright

England will be enthused by another
half-century from Jos Buttler who hit 51 from 31 balls in a partnership
of 87 in 8.2 overs with Eoin Morgan that took England to 170 for five
from their 20 overs.

But England’s bowling was
disappointing and Tom Latham looked to be leading New Zealand to a
comfortable victory when he struck 64 off 38 balls.

Broad and Samit Patel, who conceded
just 20 runs, brought England back into the game and they made the home
side work hard for a win that emphasised that the short-form series
should prove a close affair.

‘I think it will be tight against New
Zealand,’ said England’s Michael Lumb, who ran into form at the top of
the order with 45. ‘A lot of people have written them off but it would
be foolish to do that.’

Up in arms: Jade Dernbach unsuccessfully appeals for the wicket of Anton Devcich as England were denied a late fightback

Up in arms: Jade Dernbach unsuccessfully appeals for the wicket of Anton Devcich as England were denied a late fightback

Ashley Cole deserves appreciation for reaching century of England caps v Brazil

Rival fans can't stand him and he even broke the heart of the nation's sweetheart Cheryl… but is it time we gave Ashley Cole a little love as he joins England's 100 Club

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Standing the test of time: Ashley Cole has turned in consistently excellent performances for England ever since his debut – against Albania in a World Cup qualifier back in March 2001. He is set to win his 100th cap – becoming the seventh player to do so – against Brazil at Wembley on Wednesday night.

THE 100 CAP CLUB

Peter Shilton – 125
David Beckham – 115
Bobby Moore – 108
Bobby Charlton – 106
Billy Wright – 105
Steven Gerrard – 100

They’re being told to just put aside for a few moments all that inherent, seething dislike of a man who’s been regularly vilified at grounds up and down the country for the best part of a decade, and show some appreciation, however forced, for a wonderful achievement.

Yesterday, fellow centurion Steven Gerrard had to appeal to the Wembley crowd to treat Cole with respect. The captain said that ‘nobody in the ground can take away that achievement’ and that the Chelsea player ‘deserves’ to be a hundred cap man.

Can you imagine a teammate having to go on the record to justify to England fans that Moore, or Charlton, or indeed any of the others, is ‘worthy’ of their accomplishment

As might be expected, the praise has been pouring in this week. Stuart Pearce called him the ‘best left-back that’s ever played for England’ and, continuing the theme, said that he would be ‘standing and cheering when his name gets announced.’

Best in the business: Cole has been hailed by a number of former England internationals as the best left-back to ever play for the national team

Best in the business: Cole has been hailed by a number of former England internationals as the best left-back to ever play for the national team

Glen Johnson said Cole was ‘one of the nicest guys you could ever meet’ and former Arsenal teammate Martin Keown said he was a ‘lovely fella.’

It’s extraordinary that Cole is so universally unloved that players past and present need to come out with such comments to justify why he’s deserving of a simple round of applause from a crowd of people.

Whatever Cole’s misdemeanours in the past, whatever his alleged shortcomings and infidelities as a person, husband, Twitter-user and work experience student mentor, nobody can dispute his status as a consistently world-class player.

The highs... Cole celebrates with David Beckham after the latter scored a free-kick against Ecuador at the 2006 World Cup

The highs… Cole celebrates with David Beckham after the latter scored a free-kick against Ecuador at the 2006 World Cup

And the lows... Cole is consoled by Roy Hodgson after England lose on penalties to Italy at Euro 2012

And the lows… Cole is consoled by Roy Hodgson after England lose on penalties to Italy at Euro 2012

You hear of Cole being run ragged by a winger or making a match-defining error so rarely that you’re led to believe that his performances have been flawless since the beginning of time. In a decade or more at the top of the game, Cole has faced all the best attackers in the world – and he’s never been mastered by any of them.

When these glamorous England friendlies roll round, it’s only natural to play that game where you try and fit English names into the opposition eleven. Who is good enough to play for Brazil, Argentina, France, Germany, Italy, whoever The truth is, all of those nations would love to have Cole in their team.

Cole’s reading of the game is second to none. His instinct to interpret and be in the right place at the right time is unrivalled. How many times has Cole saved Chelsea or England by winning a foot race to tackle a striker bearing down on goal, or been on the post to head the ball off the line

In Chelsea’s run to European glory last season, he cleared Christian Maggio’s goalbound effort from underneath the crossbar to prevent elimination to Napoli and he denied Barcelona a crucial away goal in the Stamford Bridge leg of the semi-final.

Indeed, his marshalling of Dani Alves in that game was up there with his shackling of Cristiano Ronaldo in the Euro 2004 quarter-final – both in Cole’s “pocket” as it were.

Shackled: Cole keeps a tight rein on Cristiano Ronaldo, then of Manchester United, in the 2007 Community Shield

Shackled: Cole keeps a tight rein on Cristiano Ronaldo, then of Manchester United, in the 2007 Community Shield

And in an age when wing-backs are expected also to fulfil attacking obligations, Cole excels. He tears up and down the flank tirelessly – a tackle here, an interception there, a whipped cross, a neat shimmy or flash of skill.

The breadth of his role on the left-side requires a slavish devotion to working on and developing every facet of his game. Cole’s professionalism in training and self-education in the ways of football have never been questioned.

Nor has his commitment. Unlike some others, he’s always been ready, willing and able to play for the national team. He’s never let the failures of the ‘Golden Generation’ discourage him from providing the kind of full-bloodied, lion-hearted performances England fans demand.

Medallion man: Cole (right) celebrates with Daniel Sturridge after winning the European cup for Chelsea last May

Medallion man: Cole (right) celebrates with Daniel Sturridge after winning the European cup for Chelsea last May

Cole has been rewarded handsomely for his ability, he’s won everything in the club game and it’s perhaps this doesn’t help his image. Cheats and ‘love rats’ seem to prosper, his detractors would say.

But Cole is having the last laugh. He’s long learned to live with the Pantomime booing on opposition ground and even from his own fans at Wembley – it doesn’t affect the consistently excellent performances he puts in. It doesn’t permeate the thick skin.

He can also retort by pointing to three Premier League, seven FA Cup, a League Cup and a Champions League winners medal in his collection with a smugness and a satisfaction.

And as he again soaks up the acclaim on this grand occasion of a century of caps, it’s time to get on our feet, applaud and cheer for one of the best left-backs the game will ever see. And mean it too.

Can we feel a bit sorry for unfaithful Cole Never, argues Liv Lee

Can you ever really appreciate a sportsperson purely for what they do on the field No.

No-one self-sabotages like a Premier League footballer.

They achieve it with impressive frequency. Admittedly, they have the eyes of the world on them, and when every mistake turns up the next day in national headlines, well, that can’t be easy.

So can we feel just a little bit sorry for Ashley Cole Absolutely not.

Split: Cole's reputation will always be tarnished by allegations he cheated on wife Cheryl

Split: Cole's reputation will always be tarnished by allegations he cheated on wife Cheryl

Everybody makes mistakes. Sleeping with someone who wasn’t his wife (allegedly) was probably a mistake, and he’s not the first person to betray a spouse. Sleeping with multiple people (allegedly), less so – unless you go down the Tiger Woods line of claiming an addiction to sex, multiple indiscretions can’t be ‘mistakes.’

But sleeping with people who he met in less than discreet circumstances and who went on to sell their stories in graphic detail (allegedly) – Phenomenally, unforgivably stupid.

He’s not the first. Wayne Rooney’s indiscretions have been made equally public, but when it comes to women paid for sex, you’d assume you were also paying for them to keep their mouth shut. Cole had no reason to expect that any one of his lovers would keep quiet.

And if only there was just the one reason to despise him.

Never forgiven: Cole helped Arsenal win silverware, but he's never been forgiven for the manner in which he left for Chelsea

Never forgiven: Cole helped Arsenal win silverware, but he's never been forgiven for the manner in which he left for Chelsea

‘I couldn't believe it when they [Arsenal] weren't prepared to pay me 60,000 a week.’ Need I say more

And he shot a work experience student. As I said, the capability to footballers to self-sabotage is just outstanding.

His achievements on the field will make sure he is remembered as one of the greatest players England ever bred. And his actions off the pitch don’t diminish those achievements in any way.

But the incidents surrounding Cole are inextricable from the man you see on the pitch. People love sport not only because of the basic viewing of a game, but also for the personalities involved, and the dynamic in teams and between oppositions that these personalities create.

It really would be great to love and respect that man for what he’s achieved, but he just makes it too damn hard.

Scott Parker desperate win an FA Cup winners medal

Parker's desperate to make a mark in the Cup he loves and add to his medal collection

By
Ian Stafford

PUBLISHED:

22:45 GMT, 26 January 2013

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UPDATED:

06:45 GMT, 27 January 2013

Scott Parker, 32 and with just one League Cup winners’ medal to show for 16 years in football’s top flight, insists that he is one player who still takes the FA Cup seriously.

‘I love the FA Cup as a competition,’ said the Spurs midfielder as he prepared for today’s fourth-round trip to face Leeds United. ‘It’s something I’m desperate to win.’

Parker’s solitary piece of silverware was won with Chelsea in 2005, though he actually missed the final in Cardiff through injury. Chelsea won the Premier League the following year but Parker missed out on a winner’s medal because he had not played in the minimum 10 matches.

Cup of joy: Scott Parker is desperate to win the FA Cup

Cup of joy: Scott Parker is desperate to win the FA Cup

Last year’s losing FA Cup semi-final, playing for Spurs against Chelsea, was as good as it gets, he says, which is why he is taking this afternoon’s fourth-round trip to Leeds very seriously indeed.

‘That semi-final defeat still rankles and I know I don’t have too long left to do it,’ admitted Parker, just back from a five-month lay-off following an achilles operation in the summer.

‘I understand why a top-four finish in the League is the priority for a club like Tottenham, but for me the FA Cup is just as important. Within three or four games you’re right in the business end of the competition and you can taste Wembley.

‘Maybe four or five years ago the competition was beginning to fizzle out a bit, with clubs sending weakened teams out to play, but this isn’t the case so much anymore and I, for one, am pleased about that.

‘There’s nothing better to play in or watch than a good old-fashioned English cup-tie between the big boys and a team from a lower division trying to seize the moment. The Premier League is great, of course, but my early memories of football are all to do with the FA Cup.’

Hard time: Parker won the a League Cup winners medal while at Chelsea

Hard time: Parker won the a League Cup winners medal while at Chelsea

A lifelong Spurs fan, Parker’s earliest recollection of the FA Cup was watching his beloved team lose the 1987 final to Coventry.

‘It’s not a happy memory,’ he says. ‘My favourite player at the time was Nico Claesen, but he was on the bench that day and came on too late for my liking. Then I watched them beat Forest in 1991 when Gazza was up to his tricks.

‘Even though I was far too young at the time to remember Spurs winning back-to-back Cups in the early Eighties, I did end up knowing all the words to Chas and Dave’s Tottenham songs, and had them as records.’

Snow joke: Parker training at Spurs ahead of the Leeds game

Snow joke: Parker training at Spurs ahead of the Leeds game

Being the football romantic that he is, Parker is also full of admiration for today’s opponents, Leeds, and recalls one happy memory nearer the start of his long career.

‘I scored an injury-time winner at Elland Road for Charlton after a mazy run,’ he says. ‘I don’t score many so that one has stuck. Some of the foreign lads in the Spurs team today may not understand how big a club Leeds still are.

‘They’ll look at the Championship table and not understand, but they will when they run out at Elland Road. There’s no way a team of Leeds’s stature should be where they are. To me they are still a massive, massive club, and you can expect the ground to be rocking.

‘Occasionally in the third and fourth round you can turn up and win being at 70 or 80 per cent. Well you can’t at Leeds. We’ll have to be at our best.

‘It will be a tough game. Their manager, Neil Warnock, will get them going and if we fall short of our best Leeds will win, which is why the television cameras are there. They sense there could be an upset. We’ll have to make sure it doesn’t happen.’

Dundee 0 Celtic 2: Samaras stunner sends Bhoys seven points clear at top

Dundee 0 Celtic 2: Samaras stunner sends Bhoys seven points clear at top

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UPDATED:

23:25 GMT, 26 December 2012

Temporarily freed from the heavy
demands of European football, Celtic are now beginning to fly. Not quite
yet a speck on the horizon as far as the rest of the SPL are concerned
but, to all intents and purposes, already safely out of reach.

For long enough, those titanic
tussles with Barcelona, Benfica and Spartak Moscow proved so taxing that
they left Neil Lennon’s men breathless and leggy for domestic duties.
Not now. Not since Spartak were dispatched earlier this month.

Spectacular: Georgios Samaras (left) puts Celtic ahead

Spectacular: Georgios Samaras (left) puts Celtic ahead

Match facts

Dundee: Douglas, Irvine,Lockwood, Benedictus, Gallagher, McAlister, O'Donnell (Boyle 83), McBride, Conroy, John Baird (Stewart 74), Nish. Subs Not Used: Alex Baird, McGregor, Easton, Reid.

Booked: Benedictus.

Celtic: Forster, Ambrose, Wilson, Mulgrew (Lustig 46), Izaguirre, Wanyama, Brown, Kayal (Forrest 60), Hooper, Samaras, Watt (McCourt 79). Subs Not Used: Zaluska, Miku, Nouioui, Rogne.

Booked: Hooper.

Goals: Samaras 16, Hooper 71.

Att: 9,276

Ref: Iain Brines (Scotland).

This was Celtic’s fourth straight win in the SPL since the Russians were put to the sword — with Hearts having been beatean prior to that European clash — and few would bet against the half dozen being racked up by the time the winter break arrives in a week’s time.

They made short work of their first trip to Dens on league business in eight years, goals from Georgios Samaras and Gary Hooper sending them seven points ahead of second-placed Inverness with a game in hand.

What is now a sizeable gap may quickly become a chasm. The expected script for the season is now being adhered to, albeit after a slight deviation from the plot.

The only possible blip for Celtic last night was an apparent elbow from Kelvin Wilson on Dundee’s diminutive striker John Baird as they chased the ball in the first half.

Referee Iain Brines missed the incident and, while the SFA may look at retrospective action, the height difference between the players may save the Parkhead defender from punishment.

Dundee have occasionally threatened to thumb their noses at what many believe to be the inevitable this season, but they are still down among the dead men in 12th place. What an effort it is going to require if they are to dig themselves out of this hole.

All pile on: Celtic celebrate Samaras strike

All pile on: Celtic celebrate Samaras strike

Losing to the Scottish champions was
not, in itself, a hammer blow last night but the points gained earlier
in the day by St Mirren and Ross Country were. Now nine adrift, Barry
Smith’s men will soon be looking for snookers.

The days of chopping and changing appear to be at an end for Celtic.
With the exception of Tony Watt’s introduction at the expense of Lassad,
Lennon stood by the men who dismantled Ross County last Saturday.

The only hint of experimentation was the 4-3-1-2 formation — with Hooper the link man between Watt and Samaras.

For Dens boss Smith, there are no such distractions in his battle to
survive in the elite division. Occasionally, some semi-desperate
measures are required and, with Nicky Riley absent through injury, he
was forced to throw in Stephen O’Donnell for his first start since
August.

O’Donnell was in the thick of it from the off, however. When Emilio
Izaguirre made a hash of a clearance, he seized possession on the edge
of the box and ignored the close attention of Charlie Mulgrew to drive
narrowly over.

Izaguirre redeemed himself further up the field with a peach of a cross
to tee up Watt. His volley forced veteran goalkeeper Robert Douglas to
paw the ball the ball away for a corner. With that, Celtic sparked into
life.

From Mulgrew’s corner, Efe Ambrose thundered a volley off the underside
of the bar. Victor Wanyama failed to control the rebound and fired
wildly over.

Hooper’s low strike then flashed a foot wide of the upright, but it
seemed that the first goal was becoming a matter of when, rather than
if.

Super: Gary Hooper lobs the ball over Rab Douglas to put Celtic 2-0 in front

Super: Gary Hooper lobs the ball over Rab Douglas to put Celtic 2-0 in front

Mulgrew’s consistency in delivering from set-pieces is one of the main
weapons in Celtic’s arsenal and last night his ability to land the ball
on a sixpence was a source of torment for the Dens men.

On 16 minutes, he arched his left foot around the ball and picked out
Watt with another heat-seeking missile. Douglas beat away the teenager’s
volley but with insufficient strength to clear the danger. With his
back to goal, Samaras caught the ball cleanly and found the back of the
net with a textbook bicycle kick despite the best efforts of Jim
McAlister on the line.

Were it not for Douglas, Celtic would have had the issue as good as
settled inside 22 minutes. Taking a pass from Samaras, Beram Kayal
bounded towards goal but slipped the Greek back in when he hit the edge
of the box. Samaras’s curling shot looked bound for the far post all the
way until the keeper extended an arm to flick the ball round the post.

Dundee just could not get out in the first half. Each time they looked
up, they were suffocated by a swarm of white shirts. Smith had bravely
opted to play two up front in Colin Nish and Baird to try to stretch the
game, but his pairing were starved of service and his midfield
over-run.

And Nish seemed taken by surprise when Dundee’s best chance of the
evening was put on a plate for him five minutes into the second half.
Ryan Conroy’s cross from the left was top drawer, as was Fraser
Forster’s reaction, but the lumbering striker ought to have given the
Celtic keeper no chance with his header from five yards.

With Nish playing deeper, Dundee improved. Kevin McBride worried Forster
with a low drive then Baird’s shot flew narrowly over after catching
Izaguirre’s shoulder.

Mikael Lustig had replaced Mulgrew at the break and, when James Forrest
stepped on to the turf to replace Kayal after an hour, Celtic’s
freshness down the right was eye-catching.

Their second goal stemmed from there, the ever-improving Lustig picking
out Hooper with a sweet ball over the top. The Englishman saw Douglas
half-a-yard off his line and embarrassed the former Celtic keeper with
an inch-perfect lob.

Coming just seconds after the former Scunthorpe man traded bookings with
Kyle Benedictus for squaring up, it was a sweet moment for the striker.

Dundee’s hopes of staging a comeback died when Forster backtracked to tip Nish’s header over the top with time running out.

The Dark Blues stuck with it and will take something from remaining in
the contest for so long. They know days like these won’t define the rest
of their season, but they can ill-afford to be cut further adrift.

For Celtic, the winter break suddenly looks like it’s coming at the wrong time.