Tag Archives: captain

Arsene Wenger tells Arsenal fans to respect Robin van Persie

Show some respect! Wenger tells Arsenal not to boo Van Persie on Emirates return

By
Sami Mokbel

PUBLISHED:

08:43 GMT, 26 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

09:05 GMT, 26 April 2013

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Arsene Wenger has demanded Arsenal supporters respect Robin van Persie when the former captain returns to the Emirates.

Wenger sold Van Persie to United for 24mllion last summer and the Dutchman went on to win the Premier League title at Old Trafford.

And ahead of his first return to the North London club, Wenger has pleaded with the Emirates fans to be respectful.

Show some respect: Arsene Wenger wants Arsenal fans not to boo Van Persie

Show some respect: Arsene Wenger wants Arsenal fans not to boo Van Persie

He said: 'I can only reiterate I want the
player to be respected. I've said that for every player who has left,
even players who have left in more controversy than RVP.

'RVP has a massive talent an is a
world class player. Fantastic technique and has plenty of experience.
He's played in a World Cup final.

'You don't focus on what we've lost.
We just want to get round it. We always miss a big player. It took us a
while to get round it, but we've scored a similar number if goals this
season.

'It's always difficult to lose big players

Wenger confirmed that the Arsenal players will give the United players a guard of honour ahead of kick off and says he hopes it will spur his side on to challenge for the title next season.

He added: 'They have been remarkable, especially at home. They've won it in a convincing way.

'What we know is that we will need a great performance to beat Manchester United. That's what we will focus on.

'I have a respectful relationship with Sir Alex. We spoke personally about RVP, that's the only way the deal could be done.

I'm French, but I want the English tradition to be respected. I hope we can have a guard of honour next year.

'We can only focus in out own performance. We are on a good run'

As for the remainder of Arsenal's season, Wenger says the Gunners must focus on making the top four and qualify for the Champions League.

He added: 'We can only focus in out own performance. We are on a good run.

'I'm confident we will make top four. But we need total focus and willingness to do that. We have no room to drop points.'

On the subject of Liverpool striker Luis Suarez's 10-game ban for biting Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic, Wenger believes the Uruguayan's previous indiscretions worked against him.

He added: 'What has gone against Suarez is his history. That's the only explanation I can find for the severity of the punishment.'

Steven Gerrard to be sidelined with shoulder operation – EXCLUSIVE

EXCLUSIVE: Liverpool and England blow with Gerrard set for shoulder op

By
Neil Ashton

PUBLISHED:

21:41 GMT, 23 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

15:06 GMT, 24 April 2013

Steven Gerrard faces an operation on a shoulder injury that could rule him out of England's friendlies against the Republic of Ireland and Brazil.

Sportsmail revealed this morning that the England captain, 32, has been advised to have surgery after Liverpool's final Barclays Premier League game of the season against QPR on May 19.

Gerrard's ongoing problem with his shoulder will come as a massive blow to England's manager, Roy Hodgson, ahead of the two glamour games.

Steven Gerrard

Steven Gerrard

Blow: Steven Gerrard is expected to miss England's game against Brazil in June with his shoulder injury

He is expected to play in Liverpool's final four games of the season against Newcastle, Everton, Fulham and QPR before using the summer to recover.

The news has since been confirmed by Reds first team coach Mike Marsh.

'It's looking more and more likely that he might require surgery,' Marsh told Liverpoolfc.com.

'He has been playing with a shoulder injury for quite a while now. We'll try to find the right time for him to get it fixed properly.

'It's not ideal timing, it's going to take quite a while for him to heal. It's a funny injury – it's pretty similar to Joe Allen (who has already had surgery which has ruled him out for the remainder of the campaign).

'If it needs repairing, it needs repairing and when he's back fit, he's back fit. There's not much we can do about it.'

If, as expected, he undergoes an operation Gerrard is likely to miss internationals against the Republic of Ireland at Wembley on May 29 and Brazil in Rio de Janeiro on June 2.

England play the Republic of Ireland at Wembley on May 29 and then travel to Rio de Janeiro to play Brazil in the Maracana on June 2.

Hodgson insisted after last month's disappointing draw against Montenegro in the World Cup qualifiers that he would pick his strongest squad for the two friendlies and he wants Gerrard, who has 102 caps, for both matches.

Steven Gerrard

Steven Gerrard

International duty: Gerrard is still expected to play in Liverpool's remaining four games of the season

England's manager is reluctant to pick young or inexperienced players for the games because he doesn't expect them to be selected for next year's World Cup in Brazil.

Despite Gerrard's commitment to his country, the Liverpool captain has been urged to have the operation at the end of the Premier League season.

Gerrard has played in all 34 games for Liverpool this season and scored nine goals.

He remains a crucial part of Brendan Rodgers' planning and is scheduled to return from the operation in time for pre-season.

Show: The Liverpool skipper is hopeful of being fit for his testimonial at the beginning of August

Show: The Liverpool skipper is hopeful of being fit for his testimonial at the beginning of August

Gerrard also hopes to be fit for his testimonial game against Olympiakos, which has been scheduled for August 3 at Anfield.

Hodgson already has an eye on the end-of-season fixtures and sent his assistant Ray Lewington to Old Trafford on Monday to watch a number of players.

Rio Ferdinand was a substitute for Manchester United as they beat Aston Villa and secured the Barclays Premier League title.

Road to Rio: Roy Hodgson could hand Ferdinand a recall to the England setup despite turning his back on his country

Road to Rio: Roy Hodgson could hand Ferdinand a recall to the England setup despite turning his back on his country

Ferdinand turned his back on his country last month and went to Qatar to work as an analyst for Al Jazeera.

Incredibly, Hodgson is preparing to offer the Manchester United defender another chance to resume his England career next month.

John Terry snubs David Bernstein as Chelsea hand back the Champions League Trophy to UEFA

Champions of Europe, we know what we were: Chelsea boys feeling blue as they hand back trophy… and axed England captain Terry snubs handshake from FA chief Bernstein

amidst racism allegations made against him after a clash with QPR defender Anton Ferdinand in October 2011.

The 32-year-old defender later retired from international football in September 2012 after being charged by the FA for the incident after he had been found not guilty of racist abuse in court.

Snub: The moment Chelsea captain John Terry (second left) sensationally snubbed FA Chairman David Bernstein (second right) by refusing to shake his hand

Snub: The moment Chelsea captain John Terry (second left) sensationally snubbed FA Chairman David Bernstein (second right) by refusing to shake his hand

Walking away: After Bernstein talks with Branislav Ivanovic and Petr Cech Terry walks away to avoid having to speak with him

Walking away: After Bernstein talks with Branislav Ivanovic and Petr Cech Terry walks away to avoid having to speak with him

Snub: Chelsea captain John Terry (right), pictured with UEFA President Michel Platini, sensationally snubbed FA Chairman David Bernstein (below, right) by refusing to shake his hand

Snub: Chelsea captain John Terry (right), pictured with UEFA President Michel Platini, sensationally snubbed FA Chairman David Bernstein (below, right) by refusing to shake his hand

Didn't notice: FA Chairman David Bernstein (right) said he wasn't aware he had been snubbed

Didn't notice: FA Chairman David Bernstein (right) claimed he wasn't aware he had been snubbed

Charles Sale predicted trouble

In his Sports Agenda column, Charles Sale revealed that Terry and Bernstein were set to share the stage together. Click here for the story.

bernstein has been speaking to Terry's Chelsea team-mates Branislav Ivanovic and Petr Cech, but when it was his turn, Terry took a step away to avoid speaking to the FA chairman.

Asked about the incident, Bernstein told Sky Sports News: I didn't notice anything, my relationships with everyone in here are really fantastic so I didn't notice a thing. I

'think we should talk about more positive things than that sort of nonsense'

When asked about his relationship
with Terry, Bernstein – who leaves his post as FA chairman in July –
added: 'A little distant.'

He seemed cool on making any attempt to kiss and make up with the Chelsea captain.

'I'm not really terribly concerned,' he add. 'I have other things to think about. In my last three months, I have other priorities.'

Terry was joined by team-mates Frank
Lampard, Fernando Torres and Branislav Ivanovic as Chelsea handed back
the trophy they famously won last May.

We'll have that back: Eleven months to the day after their famous night in Munich, Chelsea have returned the Champions League trophy to UEFA

We'll have that back: Eleven months to the day after their famous night in Munich, Chelsea have returned the Champions League trophy to UEFA

Terry is also unhappy with Bernstein's role in his court case last year where he was cleared of a racism offence though later banned for four matches by the FA.

Terry, also speaking to Sky Sports News, said: 'No, listen it's a difficult one for me. Obviously, he was the one who spoke about me in the court case and said things I don't want to talk on air. It's probably a subject that we should maybe just avoid.'

Asked if he shook Bernstein's hand during before the ceremony, Terry replied: 'No.'

Say goodbye: Chelsea players Petr Cech, John Terry, Fernando Torres and Branislav Ivanovic (left to right) with UEFA President Michel Platini (centre)

Say goodbye: Chelsea players Petr Cech, John Terry, Fernando Torres and Branislav Ivanovic (left to right) with UEFA President Michel Platini (centre)

Perfect Moment: Didier Drogba hits the penalty that won Chelsea the Champions League last season

Perfect Moment: Didier Drogba hits the penalty that won Chelsea the Champions League last season

It was the moment that all Chelsea fans have been dreading, but 11 months to the day after Didier Drogba's penalty completed the most famous night in their history, Chelsea finally relinquished their hold on the Champions League trophy.

In an official ceremony in London, members of the Blues' heroic squad, John Terry, Frank Lampard, Petr Cech, Branislav Ivanovic and Fernando Torres, gave the trophy back to UEFA President Michel Platini ahead of the 2013 final that will be played at Wembley on May 25.

Since that night Chelsea have undergone a tumultuous transformation.

Jubilant: Chelsea players celebrate their victory in Munich

Jubilant: Chelsea players celebrate their victory in Munich

Drogba, the talismanic striker who scored the equalising goal in the dying minutes of normal time before scoring the winning penalty, left the club along with Salomon Kalou and Jose Bosingwa, who played prominent roles in the final, and Raul Meireles, who was excellent in the semi-final win over Barcelona in the Nou Camp, as Chelsea looked add youth to an ageing squad.

Of course, Chelsea also got rid of their Champions League winning manager, Roberto Di Matteo, just six months after lifting the trophy in Germany.

What should have been a glorious campaign as Champions League holders became a disaster for the club as they crashed out of the group stages, becoming the first holders to ever exit the competition that early.

Gone but not forgotten: Roberto Di Matteo (centre) was sacked from the Chelsea jobs just six months after lifting the trophy

Gone but not forgotten: Roberto Di Matteo (centre) was sacked from the Chelsea jobs just six months after lifting the trophy

Mr Chelsea: John Terry was banned from the final but that didn't stop his exuberant celebrations

Mr Chelsea: John Terry was banned from the final but that didn't stop his exuberant celebrations

The board's decision to replace Di Matteo with former Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez was met with loud opposition from Chelsea fans.

Benitez had appealed to fans to get off his back and support the team, and this seems to have happened in recent weeks, leading to an upturn in league form – Chelsea now sit third in the table with a game in hand over fourth placed Arsenal.

Chelsea travel to Anfield this weekend in what will be an emotional return for the current manager – he spent six years at Liverpool, winning the Champions League trophy in 2005 after one of the best comebacks ever seen against AC Milan in Istanbul.

Preparation: Rafa Benitez (second left) prepares to take a team to former club Liverpool for the first time on Sunday

Preparation: Rafa Benitez (second left) prepares to take a team to former club Liverpool for the first time on Sunday

No bearing: Benitez has said that his ties with Anfield will have no bearing on the match - he will be going for three points

No bearing: Benitez has said that his ties with Anfield will have no bearing on the match – he will be going for three points

But Benitez has insisted that his emotional ties with Liverpool will have no bearing on him going for the three points.

I will try to do the best for my team and that is Chelsea,’ said Benitez. ‘I am a professional and that is what I have to do. I cannot forget the time I spent there and the feeling, the atmosphere, the success, the link with the fans and the city — it is my home — but I will try to win. That is what I have to do.

‘This will be quite emotional but I have to concentrate. It will not be easy when you see so many friends around but I will try to concentrate on the game. The players have to believe I can manage the situation and give them help if they need it. Normally, I am not too emotional but now I’m getting older it happens sometimes.’

PS.

This isn't the first time Terry has been involved in handbags over a handshake, although he's usually on the receiving end of the snub…

Wayne Bridge and John Terry

Anton Ferdinand snubs John Terry

Who could forget Wayne Bridge snubs a handshake from Terry after rumours Terry had had an affair with Bridge's former fiance Vanessa Perroncel (left); and Anton Ferdinand snubs Terry after last year's race storm

Football's other hand-shaking controversies

WAYNE BRIDGE & JOHN TERRY: In January 2010 claims Terry had had an alleged relationship with the former partner of one-time team-mate Wayne Bridge emerged, despite Terry being behind a gagging injunction. He was axed as England captain and Manchester City defender Bridge quit international football saying his position in the team – potentially alongside Terry – was 'untenable and potentially divisive'. The teams met just a few weeks later on February 27 but in the traditional pre-match handshake, Bridge refused Terry's outstretched hand.

QPR & CHELSEA: The teams met at Loftus Road on October 23, 2011, after which Terry was accused of racially abusing Ferdinand. The sides were then drawn to face each other in an FA Cup tie in January 2012 with intense focus on whether the pair would or would not shake hands. The then QPR boss Mark Hughes held a meeting with his players and officials over the handshake. Ultimately, the FA decided to scrap the ritual. The Premier League took the same action in April in the first league game between the two since the original incident after Ferdinand's lawyers advised him not to shake Terry's hand. In September 2012, Ferdinand snubbed both Terry and Ashley Cole, who testified for the former at his trial, as did Park Ji-sung, former team-mate of Rio Ferdinand.

PATRICE EVRA & LUIS SUAREZ: Liverpool striker Suarez was given an eight-match ban after being found guilty of racially abusing Manchester United defender Evra in October 2011. The Reds were vocal in their defence of the Uruguayan, a move that did little to endear either them or the player to the general public. Suarez's first start after the suspension happened to be at Old Trafford but it was he who refused the hand of Evra. The Red Devils captain offered his hand to the Uruguay international but he bypassed the Frenchman. Evra did not accept that and attempted to grab Suarez's arm to complete the formalities, but the striker shrugged him off. Rio Ferdinand, further down the line, then refused to shake Suarez's hand.

JOHN TERRY & DAVID BERNSTEIN: Terry's simmering resentment showed itself again today as he confirmed he had rejected the FA chairman's attempt to shake hands. Bernstein was the man who stripped Terry of the England captaincy and despite being cleared at Westminster Magistrates' Court of making a racist insult, he was charged by the FA and banned for four matches. Bernstein insisted he was unaware of the Chelsea player's snub while admitting his relationship with Terry was 'a little distant'. He told Sky Sports News: 'I didn't notice a thing and I think we should talk about more positive things than that sort of nonsense. I'm not really terribly concerned.'

Fulham 0 Chelsea 3: Premier League match report – David Luiz and John Terry strike to give Blues victory

Fulham 0 Chelsea 3: Luiz rocket and Terry double give Benitez's boys derby day spoils and Champions League advantage

PUBLISHED:

20:53 GMT, 17 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

20:53 GMT, 17 April 2013

David Luiz scored one of the goals of the season and captain John Terry added a further two to give Chelsea a convincing victory and the advantage in the race for the Champions League.

Rafa Benitez's team climb to third ahead of rivals Arsenal and Tottenham and are strongest placed of the three to seal third place.

More to follow…

All smiles: John Terry's double has boosted Chelsea's Champions League hopes

All smiles: John Terry's double has boosted Chelsea's Champions League hopes

MATCH FACTS

FULHAM: Schwarzer, Riise (Rodallega, 67), Senderos, Hangeland, Riether, Karagounis (Frimpong, 76), Emanuelson, Enoh, Berbatov, Petric (Frei, 82), Ruiz

Subs not used: Etheridge, Richardson, Hughes, Manolev

Booked: Senderos, Ruiz

CHELSEA: Cech, Ivanovic, David Luiz, Terry, Bertrand, Ramires (Mikel, 75), Lampard, Mata (Ba, 80), Moses, Hazard (Oscar, 69), Torres

Subs not used: Turnbull, Azpilicueta, Benayoun, Ake

Goals: Luiz 30, Terry 43, 71

Booked: Ivanovic

Att: 25,002

Referee: Mike Dean

CLICK HERE TO SEE THE PREMIER LEAGUE FIXTURES, TABLE AND RESULTS

.

Spectacular: David Luiz had opened the scoring with a stunning finish

Spectacular: David Luiz had opened the scoring with a stunning finish

Leader: Terry then leapt highest to double Chelsea's lead

Leader: Terry then leapt highest to double Chelsea's lead

.

Time to celebrate: Chelsea looked rather safe after scoring their second goal

Time to celebrate: Chelsea looked rather safe after scoring their second goal

Masked marksman: Fernando Torres was again lively

Masked marksman: Fernando Torres was again lively

Returning to form The Spaniard set up Terry's second goal with this header

Returning to form The Spaniard set up Terry's second goal with this header

Great Britain v Russia – Davis Cup: Dan Evans and James Ward both lose singles matches in five sets

Britain's Davis Cup hopes in tatters after two five-set defeats… and rebel Evans admits he doesn't try hard enough

By
Mike Dickson

PUBLISHED:

18:17 GMT, 5 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

23:47 GMT, 5 April 2013

Great Britain's Davis Cup hopes are close to being extinguished for another year after two epic near-misses against Russia on Friday and a disarming admission from No 2 player Dan Evans.

Having come so close to producing another heroic performance for GB, the 22 year-old did not hold back on why his ranking remains so stubbornly low, conceding that he simply does not put enough effort into his tennis.

He played far above his world ranking of 325 to push world number 67 Dmitri Tursunov desperately close before succumbing 6-4 6-7 6-4 5-7 6-4 in just under four hours, and later was blunt about his stalling career.

Dejection: Great Britain's Dan Evans lost in five sets to Dmitry Tursunov

Dejection: Great Britain's Dan Evans lost in five sets to Dmitry Tursunov

Marathon: Russian Tursunov prevailed in just under four hours in Coventry

Marathon: Russian Tursunov prevailed in just under four hours in Coventry

'It's because I don't train hard
enough and don't work hard enough day in and day out. I know that's the
reason. I'm obviously pretty bad at my job,' he said, amid various moans
about the costs associated with playing the tour, and an admission that
he gets 'distracted' at more obscure events.

'There are other things in life. I'm from a pretty working class background and I just go out. It's nobody else's fault.'

His defeat was compounded by James
Ward going down 4-6 4-6 7-5 6-3 8-6 to world No 80 Evgeny Donskoy. Both
matches were far closer than rankings predicted but ultimately only a
win in Saturday's doubles will keep Euro/Africa Zone tie at Coventry's
Ricoh Arena alive.

Try harder: Evans, who was called up to the squad at late notice, admits he doesn't work hard enough

Try harder: Evans, who was called up to the squad at late notice, admits he doesn't work hard enough

In the absence of Andy Murray, British
captain Leon Smith originally picked national No 3 Jamie Baker for this
tie, only to dump him on Wednesday evening for the errant 22 year-old
Evans, source of so much frustration for a variety of British coaches
over the years.

Yet when Evans gets in front of a
crowd and, crucially, has the guidance of Smith at every changeover, he
is transformed into someone in the tradition of Tim Henman, an elegant
all-court player with wonderful touch at the net. You hope one day he
will get his kicks from winning.

While some in the British game felt
that picking Evans, who has been stuck in a constant revolving door in
and out of official LTA training programmes for years due to his
questionable commitment, sent the wrong messages out to other players it
was clear why Smith took the gamble – and it nearly paid off.

Blown: James Ward let a two-set lead slip in his defeat to Evgeny Donskoy

Blown: James Ward let a two-set lead slip in his defeat to Evgeny Donskoy

Blown: James Ward let a two-set lead slip in his defeat to Evgeny Donskoy

Big-serving Tursunov won the first
set with relative ease but Evans took the next 7-5 in the tie-break and
levelled for 2-2 when he snuck in a late break.

Ultimately his lack of a single big
shot to gain cheap points hurt him, as did a tendency to throw in
untimely double faults. An anxious Tursunov finally asserted his class
to serve it out once he had made the key break for 4-2 in the decider.

Against the highly-rated but initially
nervous Donskoy, world No 214 Ward led 2-0 in the third set but could
not sustain his early level of serving and consistent depth, losing
after being broken at 6-6 in the decider.

Joy: Russia celebrate a perfect first day as they took a 2-0 lead

Joy: Russia celebrate a perfect first day as they took a 2-0 lead

Heineken Cup quarter-final previews 2013

Your weekend guide to the Heineken Cup: Three English sides in the last eight

By
Rob Wildman

PUBLISHED:

21:00 GMT, 5 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

21:00 GMT, 5 April 2013

Harlequins, Saracens and Leicester will be flying the flag for the Aviva Premiership in the Heineken Cup quarter-finals this weekend.

Here, Sportsmail tells you everything you need to know ahead of one of the most eagerly anticipated weekend's of the season…

Flying the flag: Manu Tuilagi starts for Leicester against Toulon

Flying the flag: Manu Tuilagi starts for Leicester against Toulon

Clermont Auvergne v Montpellier

(Saturday: Stade Marcel Micheli, 3.40pm, live on Sky Sports 1)

Clermont are favourites to extend a run of 58 successive home wins. Wales’ Lee Byrne and Scotland’s Nathan Hines face Scot Johnnie Beattie.

PREDICTION: Home win.

Harlequins v Munster

(Sunday: The Stoop, 2pm, live on Sky Sports 2)

England captain Chris Robshaw returns for Quins’ bid for a first semi-final. Munster are boosted by return of lock Paul O’Connell and wing Simon Zebo.

PREDICTION: Home win.

Home tie: Owen Farrell is in the Saracens side to face Munster at Twickenham

Home tie: Owen Farrell is in the Saracens side to face Munster at Twickenham

Saracens v Ulster

(Saturday: Twickenham, 6.30pm, live on Sky Sports 1)

Saracens opt for fly-half Owen Farrell over Charlie Hodgson. They also recall Scotland flanker Kelly Brown. Ulster welcome prop John Afoa.

PREDICTION: Home win.

Toulon v Leicester

(Sunday: Stade Felix Mayol, 4.30pm, live on Sky Sports 2)

Leicester name same starters for third week running. Toby Flood faces former Newcastle colleague in Jonny Wilkinson. Prop Andrew Sheridan starts.

PREDICTION: Away win.

Amlin Challenge Cup — quarter-final

Bath v Stade Francais

(Saturday: The Rec, 1pm, live on Sky Sports 1)

Bath move Horacio Agulla to centre for Matt Banahan. Nick Abendanon returns on wing. Italy captain Sergio Parisse is in a Stade team alongside ex-Wallaby flanker David Lyons.

PREDICTION: Away win.

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.

Steve Clarke and West Brom staff play powerchair football

It's West Brom's worst performance of the season… Clarke and Co were 'hopeless' against the Baggies' Powerchair team

By
Charlie Skillen

PUBLISHED:

16:54 GMT, 4 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

22:48 GMT, 4 April 2013

West Brom manager Steve Clarke might have exceeded expectations in his first season in charge, but that was before he came up against his toughest opponents yet – the club's Powerchair Team.

Sporting Club Albion, run by the Midlands side's Albion Foundation, will take their place in EPFA Power Championships League, Powerchair's equivalent of the Champions League, in Paris this summer.

Powerchair football is for people with disabilities, who use powered wheelchairs, a regulation-size basketball court with goals, and a 13-inch ball.

We were hopeless: Steve Clarke admitted Powerchair football is harder than it looks, with him and his West Brom backroom staff taking on the club's Powerchair side

We were hopeless: Steve Clarke admitted Powerchair football is harder than it looks, with him and his West Brom backroom staff taking on the club's Powerchair side

Clarke

Powerchair

European adventure: Sporting Club Albion, with captain Chris Gordon shaking Clarke's hand, will compete in the EPFA Power Championships League this summer - the equivalent of the Champions League

European adventure: Sporting Club Albion, with captain Chris Gordon shaking Clarke's hand, will compete in the EPFA Power Championships League this summer – the equivalent of the Champions League

To warm up, they took on Clarke and his backroom staff, who have led Albion to eighth in the Barclays Premier League, in a game of Powerchair football.

Held at the club's Barclays Spaces 4 Sport Community Sports Hall, Clarke, his assistants Kevin Keen and Keith Downing, as well as goalkeeping coach Dean Kiely, took on the Powerchair side – with Keen seeing red for a professional foul.

Baggies boss Clarke admitted the sport was far tougher than it looked, saying his side were hopeless.

Inspire: Sporting Club Albion gave Clarke and Co a difficult time in their Powerchair football match

Inspire: Sporting Club Albion gave Clarke and Co a difficult time in their Powerchair football match

Red card: Clarke joked he was looking at disciplining assistant Kevin Keen after he was sent off in the match

Red card: Clarke joked he was looking at disciplining assistant Kevin Keen after he was sent off in the match

Tough battle: David Lewis of Sporting Club Albion holds off WBA goalkeeping coach Dean Kiely

Tough battle: David Lewis of Sporting Club Albion holds off WBA goalkeeping coach Dean Kiely

He said: 'I went to watch them training three weeks ago and was really impressed.

'I did think: “I can do that,” so I challenged them to a game against our backroom team.

'But if you have a go, it's really difficult.

'We were hopeless, and Kevin Keen was sent off which presents me with another internal disciplinary problem.

'The boys and girls make it look really easy. Believe me, it's not.'

David Beckham: I will decide my Paris Saint-Germain future in the summer

Beckham: I will decide my Paris Saint-Germain future in the summer

By
Ian Ladyman

PUBLISHED:

21:06 GMT, 3 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

01:07 GMT, 4 April 2013

David Beckham has not ruled out staying for another season at Paris Saint-Germain and has had talks with the club’s owners.

The former England captain made a return to the Champions League on Tuesday, playing the first 70 minutes of PSG’s 2-2 draw with Barcelona at the Parc des Princes.

Now the 37-year-old is being asked if he will extend the short-term deal he signed at Christmas. ‘We’ll see. I’ve spoken to the owners and I’ve spoken to the manager, I know how happy they are with me, and they know how happy I am here,’ Beckham said.

Staying put: David Beckham could be set to extend his stay in Paris

Staying put: David Beckham could be set to extend his stay in Paris

‘But I’m not getting any younger, so I’ll enjoy the rest of the season and then we’ll talk.’

Beckham’s performance in Paris certainly didn’t seem that of a man in any rush to retire and was mostly well received across Europe.

Fellow midfielder Blaise Matuidi is suspended for next week’s return leg in the Nou Camp, giving Beckham a decent chance of featuring on the ground where he won the Champions League with Manchester United in 1999.

‘If I start, then great,’ he added. ‘If I don’t and come on then I’ll try and make an impact. It’s always good at the Nou Camp. It’s even better when you win there. Winning the European Cup wasn’t against Barcelona but that’s my
greatest memory of playing there.

Top level: David Beckham continues to look comfortable against some of the world's very best

Top level: David Beckham continues to look comfortable against some of the world's very best

‘And when we [Real Madrid] beat them there 2-1, the first time Real Madrid had beaten them there for a few years, was special too.’

Despite a role as an impact player and turning 38 next month, Beckham revealed his training regime hasn’t changed much over the years.

‘At my age usually you change things,’ he said. ‘But I’m still training the same as the rest of the players and the team, work as hard as them and don’t want to be treated any differently, even at my age.’

Robin Van Persie hails Manchester United"s team of winners

Van Persie hails United's team of winners as they edge closer to title

PUBLISHED:

15:35 GMT, 30 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

20:23 GMT, 30 March 2013

Manchester United moved another step closer to the Barclays Premier League title as they won 1-0 at Sunderland, and striker Robin van Persie was quick to praise the attitude of his team-mates.

United are 18 points clear of nearest rivals Manchester City as a result and it would take a collapse of dramatic proportions for them to throw the title away.

Van Persie claimed the only goal today, although replays suggested his shot was not going in until Titus Bramble put it into his own net, but the striker was not too concerned.

Almost there: Robin Van Persie celebrates United's win

Almost there: Robin Van Persie celebrates United's win

Get in there: Robin Van Persie celebrates with team-mates

Get in there: Robin Van Persie celebrates with team-mates

'We got the three points, we knew it would be tough because Sunderland work hard and we had to dig in, but we deserved it,' he told Sky Sports 2.

'It didn't matter who scored today, it was all about the three points.

'This team is full of winners, everyone knows what they have to do and it was never in doubt for me. I was confident we would win.'

A title coronation seems inevitable in
the next couple of weeks and midfielder Michael Carrick is anticipating
winning another medal.

'We played some good football today, even if we didn't get as many goalscoring opportunities as we'd have liked,' he added.

'It was all about coming here and winning. We're getting closer and it's one game less. We have to keep going.'

Keeping an eye on it: Van Persie sees his goal go in off Bramble

Keeping an eye on it: Van Persie sees his goal go in off Bramble

Eyes on the ball: Sunderland captain John O' Shea tackles Manchester United's Van Persie

Eyes on the ball: Sunderland captain John O' Shea tackles Manchester United's Van Persie

United next face Chelsea in the FA Cup replay on Monday and Van Persie has warned fans not to expect a classic.

It is the kind of scheduling that has England's European counterparts scratching their heads in bewilderment.

And Van Persie points out it is difficult for the players to reach a high level of performance twice in such a short period of time.

'It is not ideal,' he told MUTV.

'Normally on the second day your muscles are quite bad but now we have to play at this certain time.

'It is a shame but we can't do anything about it because there are Champions League games in midweek and Chelsea are still in the Europa League.

'We just have to deal with it.

'People have to realise they can't expect a great game of football because it is not possible.

'If it happens I am glad, but don't expect it because these games are just too close to each other.'

Hectic schedule: Jonny Evans admits United are heading into the unknown during their packed Easter period

Hectic schedule: Jonny Evans admits United are heading into the unknown during their packed Easter period

Van Persie was speaking after
United's 1-0 win at Sunderland, which maintains their 15-point advantage
over Manchester City with just eight games remaining.

City will be the opponents for
Monday's victors at Stamford Bridge, with Van Persie eager to get his
hands on a trophy he won with Arsenal but United have not lifted since
2004.

'It has been a while,' he said.

'It has been nine years since we last won it and we want to win the double.

'We made a big step today but we want to go for both. We have a chance to reach the semi-final against City.'

Jonny Evans admitted Manchester
United will head into the unknown as they attempt to book an FA Cup
semi-final place just 48 hours after strengthening their grip on the
Barclays Premier League title.

Evans said: 'I have never really been in that situation before, so it will be new to probably most of us.

'It's
just all about tonight. We will probably go back and get a good
recovery session in and make sure we have done everything we can
physically to make sure we are right for the game on Monday.'

Evans
will make the trip to Stamford Bridge hoping for a start after getting
his chance on Wearside as a first-half substitute when full-back Rafael
da Silva limped off.

Chris
Smalling moved from central defence to right-back to accommodate the
25-year-old as aUnited defence which had been criticised earlier in the
campaign recorded its sixth successive league clean sheet.

Diving in: Alex Buttner slides in on Sunderland's Simon Mignolet

Diving in: Alex Buttner slides in on Sunderland's Simon Mignolet

Asked about the difficulty of
competing with Ferdinand and Vidic for a place in the heart of the back
four, he said: 'You are always competing.

'Even if one of those two isn't fit,
you have got Chris Smalling, who started at centre-back today. I'm sure
he was disappointed to get moved to right-back, it's not his favourite
position, but for the sake of the team, he did that.

'Phil
Jones is another one. The competition is all over the pitch. You look
at the players who didn't start today or have been left behind – it's
some team, really.'

Monday
night's game represents an opportunity to keep hopes of yet another
Double alive with United marching inexorably towards the league title.

Their
recent surge – they have now lost only once in 22 games in all
competitions, and that in controversial circumstances to Real Madrid in
the Champions League – has been based on defensive resilience rather
than attacking flair, and Evans admits it is a pleasant change for the
men at the back to receive the plaudits normally reserved for their
attacking colleagues.

He said with a smile: “You have probably noticed we haven't scored as many goals. It's getting that fine balance.

'We will take it the way we are at the minute. Especially as a defender, it's better to keep clean sheets than having the forwards getting all the glory, I suppose, so we are just happy.

'Clean sheets, that's what we want as defenders, so we are delighted with that.'

Sir Alex Ferguson used the depth of his squad at the Stadium of Light with Ferdinand, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Wayne Rooney not even making the 18.

Da Silva must be a doubt after being unable to continue against Sunderland, while Vidic was left clutching his back after a rugged challenge with striker Danny Graham, although he made it through to the final whistle.