Tag Archives: cards

Wayne Rooney remains an England enigma, 10 years after his spectacular start

Decade of hit and miss: Rooney remains an England enigma, 10 years after his spectacular start

but was his
first goal at a major international tournament for eight years.

Red mist: Rooney was sent off last time he played in Montenegro

Red mist: Rooney was sent off last time he played in Montenegro

Heads we win: Rooney returned to the team after suspension to score against Ukraine

Heads we win: Rooney returned to the team after suspension to score against Ukraine

Samba beaten: Rooney also scored in last month's friendly victory over Brazil

Samba beaten: Rooney also scored in last month's friendly victory over Brazil

Unfortunately, the red cards against Portugal and Montenegro spring more readily to mind.

He compares well with Owen, another teenage prodigy. Rooney has seven fewer goals in 10 fewer games, a ratio he should be confident of boosting tomorrow against San Marino, ranked the world’s worst international team by FIFA.

Beyond this, Rooney’s contribution cannot simply be calculated by goals. He has been up front alone, in a pair, in the hole off the front man and, occasionally, wide. You can even throw in the odd cameo in midfield.

He craves involvement, ever willing to do a job in a different system. It is still the way at Manchester United. Picked against Real Madrid away, he was dropped at home. Is this evidence of his slow conversion from playmaker to workhorse

Workhorse Are Rooney's talents being wasted

Workhorse Are Rooney's talents being wasted

Superstar: Rooney was the sensation of the tournament at Euro 2004

Superstar: Rooney was the sensation of the tournament at Euro 2004

New hero: Rooney's emergence suggested England possessed a world beater

New hero: Rooney's emergence suggested England possessed a world beater

International awakening: Rooney also excelled a year before that, on his competitive debut against Turkey

International awakening: Rooney also excelled a year before that, on his competitive debut against Turkey

Time to celebrate: Rooney has been a regular for England since that star turn against Turkey

Time to celebrate: Rooney has been a regular for England since that star turn against Turkey

Fabio Capello perhaps came closer than others to unlocking the secret for England. Rooney scored half of his 24 competitive England goals for Capello. Nine of them came in nine qualifiers for the 2010 World Cup, playing up front with Emile Heskey.

But he travelled to South Africa with questions surrounding his fitness and, it would later emerge, his head in a spin from personal issues.

Under the pressure of comparisons to Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, he cut an angry figure, swearing at a female linesman in a practice match, scrawling abusive messages on his golf shoes and sounding off into a TV camera about England fans who booed the team after a goalless draw against Algeria.

Rooney went a year without a goal for England while strike partners came and went: Bobby Zamora, Peter Crouch, Darren Bent, Kevin Davies, Ashley Young, Andy Carroll and Danny Welbeck have all had a go since the last World Cup.

Out of form: Ashley Young

Out of form: Ashley Young

Good foil Danny Welbeck

Good foil Danny Welbeck

Forgotten man: Darren Bent

Forgotten man: Darren Bent

When Hodgson took the job last year, he was unequivocal about his star man. ‘We all know Rooney is best as a No 10,’ he said.

‘The fact he’s such a good player and can play in other positions, that’s another matter. From my conversations with him, from all the games I’ve watched him play, he’s extremely dangerous as a second striker.’

Last month, in a friendly against Brazil, Rooney was the spearhead in a 4-3-3 shape designed to accommodate Jack Wilshere. The experiment worked well and the most encouraging aspect of the 2-1 victory was the way that Wilshere, Rooney and Tom Cleverley combined.

Will Hodgson stick to this shape with Wilshere injured or take a step back In two qualifiers with Rooney available in this World Cup campaign, he played in tandem with Welbeck against San Marino and Jermain Defoe in Poland.

Missing link: England are to be without Jack Wilshere

Missing link: England are to be without Jack Wilshere

Again, his flexibility does not help Rooney stamp his identity on an England team.

Gerrard may sympathise — it has happened to him too — and will have his own views on why the 17-year-old who made such an impact on his full England debut did not break into the world elite where Messi and Ronaldo reside.

At 27, Rooney can still leave his mark on international football and paste new images over those red-mist moments with some unforgettable goals.

Where better to start than San Marino Where better to prove a point on Tuesday than Montenegro, scene of his last England meltdown Where better to make an impression than a World Cup in Brazil

VIDEO: SCOTT PARKER DISCUSSES ENGLAND V SAN MARINO

Arsenal"s Jack Wilshere was forced off with a thigh injury against Sunderland

Arsenal face anxious wait over Wilshere as England star hobbles off at Sunderland

By
Thom Drake

PUBLISHED:

16:42 GMT, 9 February 2013

|

UPDATED:

09:54 GMT, 10 February 2013

Jack Wilshere was forced off during his Arsenal's 1-0 victory against Sunderland with a thigh injury after being bodychecked by Alfred N'Diaye.

There didn't seem to be a great deal
of contact from the new Sunderland signing, but it was enough for Wilshere to be replaced by Abou Diaby as Arsenal looked to keep hold of their lead.

Arsene Wenger was visibly furious with the physical nature of Sunderland's tackling, as his playmaker was left on the floor on more than one occasion.

After the match the Arsenal manager said that Wilshere 'can't walk properly now', but hopes he will only be out for around four or five days.

Down: Jack Wilshere was in distress when receiving treatment after the collision

Down: Jack Wilshere was in distress when receiving treatment after the collision

Furious: As Wilshere hobbled off, Arsene Wenger was irate with the referee

Furious: As Wilshere hobbled off, Arsene Wenger was irate with the referee

Laurent Koscielny, who was initially
named on the Arsenal teamsheet, had to be withdrawn just before kick-off
after limping out of the warm up with a calf injury.

He had passed a fitness test before
the game, but was unable to take to the pitch, meaning Bacary Sagna had
to play centre back and Carl Jenkinson came in at right back.

Arsenal were also made to play the last 30 minutes without Carl Jenkinson, who was sent off for two
yellow cards, the second being a silly lunge on Stephane Sessegnon.

He will be suspended for their FA Cup fifth-round clash against Blackburn on Saturday.

They
held on to pick up a 1-0 victory at the Stadium of Light after Santi
Cazorla had put the Gunners ahead in the first half with a low shot past
Simon Mignolet.

Fighting: Wilshere and N'Diaye go head to head for the ball

Fighting: Wilshere and N'Diaye go head to head for the ball

Smash: Bramble came in with a heavy tackle on the Arsenal midfielder

Smash: Titus Bramble came in with a heavy tackle on the Arsenal midfielder

Wilshere's injury comes the day after Wenger had said that the England star needed to be protected from burnout and future injuries.

He had played a leading role in their 2-1 win when Brazil visited Wembley, outshining the likes of Ronaldinho and Neymar.

However Wenger was more philosophical: 'It is not just the physical aspect, but the mental pressure every time he plays. We will have to manage him well physically to make sure he doesn't face that burnout.

'I had in fact expected Jack to play only a part of the game on
Wednesday, but it didn't happen and because of his quality he will be
exposed to that, the overuse of his quality, and you can understand that.

'He will have to be managed like everyone else.'

Competitive: Wilshere and Lee Cattermole getting to grips with each other in the middle of the park

Competitive: Wilshere and Lee Cattermole getting to grips with each other in the middle of the park

Winner: Santi Cazorla's strike was the only goal of the game

Winner: Santi Cazorla's strike was the only goal of the game

Darts: Scott Waites thrashes Richie George to reach world final

Ruthless Waites thrashes George to reach world final

By
Nick Metcalfe

PUBLISHED:

16:31 GMT, 12 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

17:46 GMT, 12 January 2013

Richie George saw his World Championship dream torn apart by Scott Waites on Saturday.

Waites completely dominated their semi-final clash at the Lakeside in Frimley Green, winning 6-1 to reach his first final

Richie is the son of the popular Bobby, a former world finalist and now BBC pundit.

Pure delight: Scott Waites celebrates his victory over George

Pure delight: Scott Waites celebrates his victory over George

Third seed Waites won the first 12
legs of the match to open up a 4-0 lead, with George missing a host of
doubles. When Waites won the fifth set as well, a humiliating whitewash
looked on the cards for George.

The youngster held his nerve to pull
one set back however, before Waites duly completed his win in front of
another full house in Surrey.

'You have to bully your opponent and that's exactly what I did,' said Waites afterwards.

'I was happy with the way the game went. I hit doubles early on – that put pressure on Richie.'

Not this time: Richie George throws during his semi-final match

Not this time: Richie George throws during his semi-final match

George said: 'I couldn't be happier. I had my chances and didn't take them, but Scott played brilliantly. It wasn't meant to be for me.'

Waites will now try to go one step further and win the famous old trophy in Sunday's final.

Cristiano Ronaldo snubbed by Pep Guardiola at Ballon d"Or

Shake, rattled and goal! Pep leaves Ronaldo hanging with cold snub at Ballon d'Or gala

By
John Drayton

PUBLISHED:

17:35 GMT, 9 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

17:35 GMT, 9 January 2013

Luis Suarez and Patrice Evra, John Terry and Anton Ferdinand, Samir Nasri and William Gallas, Terry (again) and Wayne Bridge, and now Pep Guardiola and Cristiano Ronaldo.

The snubbed handshake is fast becoming football's equivalent of unfriending someone on Facebook.

But while previous examples have had their origins in personal sleights, it seems the latest entry to the list has its origins in good old fashioned club rivalry.

Snub: Cristiano Ronaldo was left hanging by Pep Guardiola at the Ballon d'Or

Snub: Cristiano Ronaldo was left hanging by Pep Guardiola at the Ballon d'Or

Pep Guardiola

Cristiano Ronaldo

Tensions between Real Madrid and Barcelona are well known. Styles, cultures and attitudes both on and off the field are all wildly different, and with the competitive edge thrown in, it makes for a fractious relationship.

One can only speculate on the reason behind Guardiola's seemingly deliberate decision to ignore Ronaldo, though with the recent history in El Clasico gives a pretty large hint.

Red cards, close games, touchline clashes, title clinchers and cup finals have all made the meeting of Spain's top two the most enticing of matches in world football.

But when former Barca boss Guardiola was approached by Madrid ace Ronaldo, the Spaniard starred for a second before turning away, leaving the Portuguese's hand hanging.

The look on Ronaldo's face told a story of bemusement, while Pep went back to soaking up the atmosphere.

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Phil Neville plays 500th Premier League game

History boy Neville joins Premier League 500 club as Everton skipper faces Wigan

|

UPDATED:

16:07 GMT, 26 December 2012

Phil Neville made history on Boxing Day when he became only the seventh player to make 500 appearances in the Premier League.

The Everton captain’s landmark could have come sooner were it not for surgery to correct a knee problem in November.

He wasn’t going to allow for any further delays. The club advised that Neville, who turns 36 next month, would be sidelined for up to eight weeks following his operation.

500 not out: Everton captain Phil Neville (right) in action against Wigan on Boxing Day

500 not out: Everton captain Phil Neville (right) in action against Wigan on Boxing Day

Fergie's fledgling: Phil Neville was at United from 1995

Fergie's fledgling: Phil Neville was at United from 1995

End/start: Neville left Manchester United in 2005

End/start: Neville left Manchester United in 2005

Skipper: He has led Everton with distinction since 2007

Skipper: He has led Everton with distinction since 2007

NEVILLE IN NUMBERS

19: Seasons in the Premier League… 11 at United and eight at Everton

3: Red cards 82: Yellow cards 9: Goals scored
263: Matches for United 444: starts

MILESTONES

First game: United v Manchester City (February 11, 1995)

100th: United v Middlesbrough (May 9, 1999)

200th: United v Southampton (November 2, 2002)

300th: Everton v Tottenham (August 26, 2006)

400th: Everton v Aston Villa (April 12, 2009)

TOP 10 IN THE PREMIER LEAGUE

Ryan Giggs 607
David James 572
Gary Speed 535
Frank Lampard 531
Emile Heskey 516
Sol Campbell 503
PHIL NEVILLE 499
Paul Scholes 495
Jamie Carragher 491
Mark Schwarzer 486
*Brother Gary played 400

But the warrior player reported fit for duty against West Ham on Saturday, after just 36 days.

Fondly sometimes known as the quieter brother to Mail on Sunday
columnist Gary, Neville left Manchester United in 2005 – and Toffees
boss David Moyes has more than banked the value of his 3.5million
signing.

This achievement, by its nature,
intimates his best days are behind him. But Neville’s open-minded and
modest approach to his game is shown in the way he is constantly
striving to improve, a credit to footballers of all generations.

And as Moyes observes, it’s a quality he has had throughout his career.

‘People would be amazed by the amount of work and conditioning Phil has put in to get himself right,’ said Moyes.

‘He continually works hard. He is in
every morning at 8.30am, he doesn’t leave until late. The rehabilitation
work he puts himself through — never at any stage does he complain.

‘He just continually pushed himself
to try and get back. The biggest impact that it should have on everyone
is the manner of what he has done.’

In a sparkling career stretching over 19 years, the defender has won virtually every honour in the game.

With six Premier League titles, a
three-time holder of both the FA Cup and Charity Shield and the 1999
Champions League trophy and Intercontinental Cup in the same year, the
titles which have eluded him are of little concern.

Better together: His relationship with David Moyes has helped Everton thrive

Better together: His relationship with David Moyes has helped Everton thrive

In fact, Neville’s illustrious,
10-year spell with Manchester United can account for both the silverware
and his flawless attitude.

Moyes added: ‘It says a lot about
what he’s done. But it doesn’t surprise me because his mentality and his
attitude to the game have been great since he came from Manchester
United.'

Neville has six months remaining on his current contract but there are no clues as to where, or when he career may end.

Pedigree: The midfielder has played for England 59 times, though not since 2007

Pedigree: The midfielder has played for England 59 times, though not since 2007

‘He’s been a great signing,’ Moyes
said. ‘The best person to talk about (the future) is Phil because I’ve
already spoken to him and he just wants to see how his body is.

‘He's just back from a knee operation
and he would be the first one to say that we should just see how his
knee is. I don’t think he sees any great panic in it at this moment in
time.’

While Neville has always wanted to
lift a crown with Everton as a team, this great individual record will
certainly shine on as a highlight.

SPORTSMAIL'S FIVE FAVOURITE NEVILLE MOMENTS
Phil Neville's Manchester United debut v Manchester City (February 11, 1995)

Manchester United debut v Manchester City (February 11, 1995)

Neville played at right back (right) in the fabled defence that included Bruce, Pallister and Schmeichel, as Paul Ince, Andrei Kanchelskis and Andy Cole secured a 3-0 win.

Setting up Eric Cantona at St James’ Park (March 4, 1996)

His surge down the left flank and cross for Cantona led to United beating Newcastle 1-0 and the victory gave Ferguson’s side the impetus to go on to win the Premier League title. It was the first of Neville’s six gongs.

Winning goal at Chelsea (February 28, 1998)

Neville has only scored nine goals in his 499 appearances to date but this, in a 1-0 victory, was the pick of the bunch, a bending right-foot effort that gave Dmitri Kharine no chance.

Everton debut v Manchester United (August 13, 2005)

If there were any doubts Neville would
struggle to adjust to life after Old Trafford, they were banished in
his first Everton game. Everton may have lost 2-0 but he was
outstanding.

Season-changing tackle on Cristiano Ronaldo (October 25, 2008)

Everton were in the doldrums when they
faced his old side, and losing 1-0, but a thundering challenge on
Ronaldo (below) altered the course of the game – Everton drew 1-1 – and sparked a
run that carried them to fifth.

Phil Neville's season-changing tackle on Cristiano Ronaldo (October 25, 2008)

Everton captain Phil Neville set for 500th Premier League game, the seventh ever

500 club! Everton captain Neville set to become seventh man in illustrious group

|

UPDATED:

22:00 GMT, 25 December 2012

Phil Neville will add his name to an illustrious group on Boxing Day when he becomes only the seventh man to make 500 appearances in the Barclays Premier League.

During a career that spans 19 years, Everton’s captain has won almost every honour in the game and represented England on 59 occasions but his ambition and determination to make the most of every day means he is reaching the landmark figure quicker than expected.

Fergie's fledgling: Phil Neville was at United from 1995

Fergie's fledgling: Phil Neville was at United from 1995

End/start: Neville left Manchester United in 2005

End/start: Neville left Manchester United in 2005

Skipper: He has led Everton with distinction since 2007

Skipper: He has led Everton with distinction since 2007

NEVILLE IN NUMBERS

19: Seasons in the Premier League… 11 at United and eight at Everton

3: Red cards 82: Yellow cards 9: Goals scored
263: Matches for United 444: starts

MILESTONES

First game: United v Manchester City (February 11, 1995)

100th: United v Middlesbrough (May 9, 1999)

200th: United v Southampton (November 2, 2002)

300th: Everton v Tottenham (August 26, 2006)

400th: Everton v Aston Villa (April 12, 2009)

TOP 10 IN THE PREMIER LEAGUE

Ryan Giggs 607
David James 572
Gary Speed 535
Frank Lampard 531
Emile Heskey 516
Sol Campbell 503
PHIL NEVILLE 499
Paul Scholes 495
Jamie Carragher 491
Mark Schwarzer 486
*Brother Gary played 400

Neville, after all, only had surgery to correct a knee problem in November that should have meant he was laid up for eight weeks.

However, when he returned to Everton’s starting line-up at West Ham on Saturday, it was only 36 days after his operation.

Though he will be 36 in January, Neville’s enthusiasm remains undiminished and it has prompted Everton manager David Moyes — whose side will be aiming to consolidate their grip on a place in the top five with victory against Wigan — to label him as the model professional.

‘People would be amazed by the amount of work and conditioning Phil has put in to get himself right,’ said Moyes.

'He continually works hard. He is in every morning at 8.30am, he doesn’t leave until late. The rehabilitation work he puts himself through — never at any stage does he complain.

'He just continually pushed himself to try and get back. The biggest impact that it should have on everyone is the manner of what he has done.

'They might not say it but I think they would all have to have admiration for how he continually prepares himself and the way he goes about playing.

'It has helped him recover from this injury. We will have to look after him. He has had a bit of cartilage taken away, so we will have to be careful that it is not bone on bone in his knee. I might need to try to calm him down a bit!'

Cheers, bro: Neville remains close with his brother Gary, with whom he broke through at United

Cheers, bro: Neville remains close with his brother Gary, with whom he broke through at United

Better together: His relationship with David Moyes has helped Everton thrive

Better together: His relationship with David Moyes has helped Everton thrive

Very few players have left Old
Trafford during Sir Alex Ferguson’s reign and gone on to enjoy
successful careers elsewhere but Neville has been an integral part of
Everton’s development under Moyes, who hugely appreciates his captain’s
achievement in reaching 500 appearances.

'It
says a lot about what he’s done,’ said Moyes, who has certainly got
value for money from Neville since signing him for 3.5million in August
2005.

'But it doesn’t
surprise me because his mentality and his attitude to the game have been
great since he came from Manchester United.'

Pedigree: The midfielder has played for England 59 times, though not since 2007

Pedigree: The midfielder has played for England 59 times, though not since 2007

Neville has six months remaining on his current contract and Moyes added: 'He’s been a great signing. The best person to talk about (the future) is Phil because I’ve already spoken to him and he just wants to see how his body is.

'He's just back from a knee operation and he would be the first one to say that we should just see how his knee is. I don’t think he sees any great panic in it at this moment in time.'

SPORTSMAIL'S FIVE FAVOURITE NEVILLE MOMENTS
Phil Neville's Manchester United debut v Manchester City (February 11, 1995)

Manchester United debut v Manchester City (February 11, 1995)

Neville played at right back (right) in the fabled defence that included Bruce, Pallister and Schmeichel, as Paul Ince, Andrei Kanchelskis and Andy Cole secured a 3-0 win.

Setting up Eric Cantona at St James’ Park (March 4, 1996)

His surge down the left flank and cross for Cantona led to United beating Newcastle 1-0 and the victory gave Ferguson’s side the impetus to go on to win the Premier League title. It was the first of Neville’s six gongs.

Winning goal at Chelsea (February 28, 1998)

Neville has only scored nine goals in his 499 appearances to date but this, in a 1-0 victory, was the pick of the bunch, a bending right-foot effort that gave Dmitri Kharine no chance.

Everton debut v Manchester United (August 13, 2005)

If there were any doubts Neville would
struggle to adjust to life after Old Trafford, they were banished in
his first Everton game. Everton may have lost 2-0 but he was
outstanding.

Season-changing tackle on Cristiano Ronaldo (October 25, 2008)

Everton were in the doldrums when they
faced his old side, and losing 1-0, but a thundering challenge on
Ronaldo (below) altered the course of the game – Everton drew 1-1 – and sparked a
run that carried them to fifth.

Phil Neville's season-changing tackle on Cristiano Ronaldo (October 25, 2008)

Anthony Taylor West Ham Everton poor performance – Graham Poll

West Ham and Everton unite in disappointment at abject performance by ref Taylor

|

UPDATED:

23:34 GMT, 23 December 2012

The season of goodwill to all men started this weekend and referees tested that sentiment with a number of baffling decisions. Red cards and penalties were the main bones of contention but one assistant referee standing up to be counted in the battle against the holding and blocking at set pieces looked at odds with the rest of his colleagues.

Referees know that they will seldom drive home with praise ringing in their ears but it is unusual to incur the wrath of both managers and all 35,000 fans in attendance. However, Anthony Taylor managed exactly that after a poor display of officiating at Upton Park.

The red cards shown to Carlton Cole and Darron Gibson were, at very best, extremely harsh, particularly that of the West Ham striker who watched the ball through the air. Whilst his foot was high I could not see any reason to dismiss him. I think Taylor reacted too quickly to what he thought he saw rather than wait and reflect; the best referees, rather like the best players, appear to have more time than others.

Kicking up a stink: Darron Gibson and Carlton Cole were both sent off

Kicking up a stink: Darron Gibson and Carlton Cole were both sent off

Kicking up a stink: Darron Gibson and Carlton Cole were both sent off

Shocker: Few agreed with Anthony Taylor's decision to send them off

Shocker: Few agreed with Anthony Taylor's decision to send them off

More from Graham Poll…

Graham Poll: Clattenburg returns to the middle… and he'll be under extra scrutiny
20/12/12

Graham Poll: Halsey's poor positioning to blame for missing Fellaini's butt, elbow and slap combo on Shawcross
16/12/12

Graham Poll: How much are referees influenced by Ferguson
15/12/12

Graham Poll: Barry derby spat highlights Clattenburg's sensitivity after Mikel row
14/12/12

Graham Poll's official line: Ferguson might have felt he was playing against 12 men
09/12/12

Graham Poll: Diving Cazorla should be banned for three games, just like Wenger wanted
09/12/12

Graham Poll: Referees are at risk over Platini's proposed Euro 2020 plans
07/12/12

Graham Poll: Bale is not yet in Ronaldo's class (for diving) but he should have been sent off at Fulham
02/12/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

Taylor is a good referee who had a bad day and should look at his more experienced colleagues and learn from them – in particular Howard Webb, who is excellent at taking his time to give himself the best possibility of getting decisions correct – as he did at St Mary’s when waving away the home team's penalty appeals.

Mike Dean is another excellent referee enjoying a good season but he angered Reading boss Brian McDermott at the Etihad on Saturday. I had a little sympathy for McDermott who's team had battled well at the home of the Champions and deserved a penalty. McDermott wanted the kick for a block on Jay Tabb but I felt the penalty should have been awarded for handball by a City defender before contact was made with Tabb.

Of course, McDermott’s mood was not helped by conceding the only goal of the game to a Gareth Barry header. There was nothing wrong with Dean’s judgement with that goal despite McDermott’s insistence that Barry had climbed on Nicky Shorey’s shoulders. Barry was merely more determined to win the ball, which disappointingly Shorey made no attempt to play.

As usual the claim was made that the
referee was favouring the 'big team', a view which was unfounded at the
Etihad but did hold water up the road at Wigan. Roberto Martinez has
often complained about rough justice and after having a soft, but
correct, penalty awarded against him he was denied two, clearer
penalties for handball by referee Jon Moss.

High hopes: Gareth Barry rises to beat Nicky Shorey to the ball

High hopes: Gareth Barry rises to beat Nicky Shorey to the ball

Martinez is an intelligent manager who knows the laws and perceptively stated that neither Kieran Gibbs nor Thomas Vermaelen had their arms in natural positions when they blocked Wigan shots – exactly the phrase referees are asked to consider at possible hand ball situations.

Finally, we return to Upton Park, where the first decision of the game probably set the tone for the match when after just four minutes Everton had a goal disallowed for a block on the West Ham keeper. The offence by Victor Anichebe was a minor infringement and apparently given by assistant Gary Beswick, who was almost 50 yards away and looking through players and a goal post. Worse holding offences happened all over the country and went unpunished and Beswick must realise that a consistent approach is required.

Let’s hope that our beleaguered match officials get what they are hoping for tomorrow before returning to action on Boxing Day.

Wayne Rooney turns into elf in Christmas video

All I want for Christmas is Roo! United star Wayne posts hilarious festive family video

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UPDATED:

13:45 GMT, 21 December 2012

It's the season of mirth, joy, glad tidings and eggnog.

It's also the season of sending out Christmas cards with a cringe-worthy family photo on the front or, if you're Wayne Rooney, turning yourself and your family into an elf in an animated video.

The Manchester United star cast his wife Colleen and three-year-old Kai in an ElfYourself clip posted on his Facebook page today.

Kicking it Rooney style: Wayne posted an ElfYourself clip starring his family on his Facebook page today

Kicking it Rooney style: Wayne posted an ElfYourself clip starring his family on his Facebook page today

'Tis the season! The video stars his wife Colleen and three-year-old son Kai

'Tis the season! The video stars his wife Colleen and three-year-old son Kai

Slide to the left... The animation was created on the ElfYourself website

Slide to the left… The animation was created on the ElfYourself website

The animation sees Rooney and clan dancing around in elf costumes to a gangsta version of The Nutcracker.

There will be a fourth elf next Christmas with Colleen, 26, pregnant with a baby boy.

She tweeted today: 'Absolutely loved seeing our baby on the scan yesterday!!! We decided to find out the sex…… It's a ….. BOY!! So exciting @WayneRooney.'

You can ElfYourself here.

VIDEO: Rooney and family as elves…

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Mark Clattenburg returns for Liverpool v Fulham – Graham Poll on Premier League referee appointments

Clattenburg returns to the middle… and he'll be under extra scrutiny

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UPDATED:

07:30 GMT, 21 December 2012

Referees perform under massive pressure and very close scrutiny every weekend. I cannot think of another job where every single piece of work is analysed and rated with a mark.

There are two people who are in the stadium to assess and rate the team of match officials performance.

One acts as a referee observer and is usually a former top level referee who has the task of ensuring that the referee applies laws of the game as well as give feedback on the technical aspects of the four officials' performances.

The second is in attendance as a Professional Game Match Officials Match Delegate and they are former players, managers or administrators who are asked to look at the game from the ‘users’ perspective.

Back in action: Mark Clattenburg returns this weekend and takes charge at Anfield

Back in action: Mark Clattenburg returns this weekend and takes charge at Anfield

This weekend Simon Barker, Kenny Hibbitt and Iffy Onuora are among the former players and former manager Peter Shreeves are on duty.

They are supposed to give the referee a balanced approach; too lenient and the former referee will pull him up, too slavish to law and the former player will question the impact on the game.

It is an interesting system which I think applies too much pressure on an already beleaguered referee, who really just needs a friendly ‘coach’ who he can open and honest with.

They need to be able to develop their skill and overcome difficulties rather than two people there to award a mark, who will highlight deficiencies and will affect their grading and possible future appointments.

Ones to watch this weekend…

Tottenham Hotspur v Stoke City (Saturday, 3pm)
Referee: Lee Mason Games: 10, Yellow Cards: 29, Red Cards: 0.

WHO'S IN CHARGE…

Saturday
Man City v Reading – Mike Dean G11, YC39 RC1
Newcastle v QPR – Kevin Friend G9, YC33, RC1
Southampton v Sunderland – Howard Webb G12, YC45, RC2
West Brom v Norwich – Martin Atkinson G14, YC57 RC0
West Ham v Everton – Anthony Taylor G11 YC20 RC3
Wigan v Arsenal – Jon Moss G8 YC23 RC1

Sunday
Chelsea v Aston Villa – Phil Dowd G11, YC34, RC2

This weekend, the main focus will surely be on the holding and blocking ‘dark arts’ after the Marouane Fellaini head butt so where better to start than White Hart Lane.

Mason will be expected to do a better job at detecting and punishing holding at set pieces with Stoke City than Mark Halsey did last weekend.

Ryan Shawcross’ arms could be clearly seen across Fellaini’s waist as the Stoke defender held him from behind.

Making a point: Referee Lee Mason will have to keep on top of the 'dark arts' at White Hart Lane

Making a point: Referee Lee Mason will have to keep on top of the 'dark arts' at White Hart Lane

Halsey's ‘reward’ is to be fourth official at Wigan on Saturday and then drive to Carlisle United on Boxing Day!

I expect Mason to adopt the policy of delaying the taking of the kick from being taken while he warns players not to hold but that is proving ineffective.

Also, given that Stoke are the away team, it will be easier for Mason to award a penalty against them than if they were playing at The Britannia. I trust I don’t have to explain why…

Liverpool v Fulham (Saturday, 5.15pm)
Referee: Mark Clattenburg G8, YC31, RC4

Clattenburg steps back after two weekends as fourth official in which he failed to avoid controversy by reporting Gareth Barry for offensive language after the Manchester derby.

He comes back with a live game and will undoubtedly be under pressure to award Liverpool their first penalty of the season and will have to be on his best form to keep Luis Suarez out of his notebook.

The good news for Clattenburg is that however this game goes, he is appointed to another top flight game just four days later between Aston Villa and Tottenham… and that is another televised game!

Swansea City v Manchester United (Sunday, 4pm)
Referee: Michael Oliver G10, YC20, RC1

There will be plenty of interest in young Oliver's handling of Manchester United as he has unfairly been highlighted as one who favours them.

Although they lost at Wolves the first time he refereed the league leaders, he has refereed them three times since and they have won them all.

Nothing unusual there but with Oliver refusing to give a clear Fulham penalty in the 1-0 United win late last season at Old Trafford eyebrows were raised.

United stand: The spotlight will be on young referee Michael Oliver at the Liberty Stadum

United stand: The spotlight will be on young referee Michael Oliver at the Liberty Stadum

Then this season, Oliver gave United a penalty after a clear dive by Danny Welbeck in the home win against Wigan and rumours persisted.

It is really tough establishing yourself as a young official at this level and Oliver (who is an excellent referee) would like to lose this reputation, so he could do with an incident free game at The Liberty Stadium.

BUMBLE"S TEST DIARY: I"ve done "a Trott" and was not proud of it, but I"m less of a fan of

BUMBLE'S TEST DIARY: I've done 'a Trott' and was not proud of it, but I'm less of a fan of Captain Beefheart

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UPDATED:

15:43 GMT, 16 December 2012

Trott's shot was legal but against the spirit of the game, I'm sure he regretted it – just like I did

Jonathan Trott smacking that Jadeja delivery for four was not the right thing to do, it was against the spirit of the game. I did it once, thought it was a bit of laugh, but I regretted it straight away. The laws of the game say Trott had every right to hit it but the best thing would have been for the umpire to call dead ball.

Trott's shot was legal: Jonathan Trott was within his rights to hit Jadeja's delivery

Trott's shot was legal: Jonathan Trott was within his rights to hit Jadeja's delivery

India and Kohli need to remember it was their decision not to have DRS

India also thought they had Trott caught behind but the pictures showed he had not hit the ball. The BCCI insist they do not want the Decision Review System, they say they want the umpire’s decision to be final – well, could they please tell their own players, especially Mr Virat Kohli I have no problem with Kohli talking to Trott, he stands on his two feet there, but why he is constantly engaging the umpires is beyond me. I’ve seen enough of Kohli now (in England and India) to have him down as a jumped-up little twerp…and he may be the next India captain! If he confronted me – like he did the umpires – in Civvy Street, he’d better have something to back it up.

Keep your mouth shut: Virat Kohli must learn to not harass umpires

Keep your mouth shut: Virat Kohli must learn to not harass umpires

Time to bring in the card system – just like in football

My suggestion to the ICC that we should have yellow and red cards will not go away. Spectators watching will have been left wondering what was going on (and we may have to wait until the end of the game for the match referee’s decision) but in my system Kohli would have got a yellow card and everyone in the ground (and watching at home) would have been in the know.

Visible warnings: Cricket needs red and yellow cards - just like football

Visible warnings: Cricket needs red and yellow cards – just like football

Trott and Bell need to push on after early blockathon

I was nervous when England started batting when they got their tactics wrong, opting for a blockathon, but at the end of the day’s play Trott and Ian Bell had moved things on. England need to bat until 20 minutes after lunch and they will have won the series. The final-day situation is an ideal opportunity for the likes of Trott and Bell to be selfish and play for themselves. Trott will be desperate for a century while Bell can turn round what has so far been a terrible tour.

Time to cash in: Ian Bell needs runs to make up for his poor tour so far

Time to cash in: Ian Bell needs runs to make up for his poor tour so far

Compton must start scoring of risk Ashes place

Nick Compton’s position intrigues me. He is going along OK but he has got to find a way of turning survival into scoring. He’ll get another chance in New Zealand but at times it can be a bit of an ordeal watching him bat. If you want an early indicator for the Ashes next summer, I think England want to elevate Joe Root to open alongside Alastair Cook and bring in Jonny Bairstow at No 6, which means Compton, Eoin Morgan and Samit Patel will miss out.

Joe Root

Nick Compton

Time for a change: Nick Compton needs to get runs or Joe Root should be promoted to open for the Ashes

Captain Beefheart He's absolute pants

I was given a Captain Beefheart CD by my boss at Sky. He said it’s ‘very difficult listening but once you’ve heard it once or twice you’ll love it’. I didn’t have the heart to ask him: ‘Who the heck is Captain Beefheart!’ After some quick research with a journalistic colleague, we’ve concluded that he’s ‘absolute pants!’.

Not a fan: Captain Beefheart did not appeal to Bumble's musical taste

Not a fan: Captain Beefheart did not appeal to Bumble's musical taste