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Barcelona field La Masia team for first time in La Liga game… but how does the Premier League compare

The La Masia Dream Team: Barcelona field a homegrown side for the first time… but how do the English leagues compare

By
Adam Shergold and Liv Lee

PUBLISHED:

12:50 GMT, 26 November 2012

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UPDATED:

13:48 GMT, 26 November 2012

Any 4-0 victory away from home is satisfying, but the Barcelona coaching staff would have been more glowing than usual last night.

For the first time, Barca fielded an entirely homegrown eleven for much of the match at Levante, so this was as much a triumph for the club’s fabled La Masia academy as anything else.

The historic moment came in the 14th minute when the only outsider, Dani Alves, went off injured and was replaced by Martin Montoya.

Production line: For the first time, Barcelona fielded a side entirely made up of players from their famous La Masia academy (pictured), which produced the likes of Lionel Messi, Xavi and Andres Iniesta

Production line: For the first time, Barcelona fielded a side entirely made up of players from their famous La Masia academy (pictured), which produced the likes of Lionel Messi, Xavi and Andres Iniesta

And so the La Masia XI read: Victor Valdes, Martin Montoya, Carles Puyol, Gerard Pique, Jordi Alba, Xavi, Sergio Busquets, Andres Iniesta, Pedro, Lionel Messi and Cesc Fabregas.

Not too bad, is it

Of course, not every one of those players was born in the shadow of Camp Nou – Messi was born 6,500 miles away in Rosario, Argentina and Iniesta’s home village is geographically closer to Madrid.

Prodigy: Cesc Fabregas in action for Barcelona's youth team against Athletic Bilbao in 2003. The La Masia product was sold to Arsenal in 2003 before returning to Barcelona eight years later

Prodigy: Cesc Fabregas in action for Barcelona's youth team against Athletic Bilbao in 2003. The La Masia product was sold to Arsenal in 2003 before returning to Barcelona eight years later

And, as we know, many of them flew the nest after their football education – Gerard Pique to Manchester United, Cesc Fabregas to Arsenal and Jordi Alba to Valencia – only to return to familiar and friendly surroundings.

But the common thread is that their football skills were honed and their talent nurtured at La Masia.

For over 30 years, La Masia, which was an 18th-century country farmhouse, has been the heart of Barcelona’s legendary academy production line.

Aside from the current generation, previous graduates include Jordi Cruyff, Pepe Reina, Mikel Arteta and Thiago Motta.

Top class: former Manchester United defender Pique (back row, left), Arsenal's Fabregas (back right) and Messi (front right) during their time at La Masia

Top class: former Manchester United defender Pique (back row, left), Arsenal's Fabregas (back right) and Messi (front right) during their time at La Masia

Sing song: Bobby Robson, then Barcelona manage, next to young goalkeeper Pepe Reina and (second left) Andres Iniesta

Sing song: Bobby Robson, then Barcelona manager, next to young goalkeeper Pepe Reina and (second left) Andres Iniesta

While the operation has long since outgrown the dormitories of the farmhouse – there are 15 different squads beneath the B team and more than 300 talented hopefuls from all around the world – La Masia remains the spiritual home.

As Pep Guardiola, the manager who reaped the benefits most from La Masia’s magical conveyor belt of prodigies, said: ‘The player who has passed through La Masia has something different to the rest – it’s a plus that only comes from having competed in a Barcelona shirt from the time you were a child.’


THE PREMIER LEAGUE HOMEGROWN SHORTAGE

Sportsmail took at look at the homegrown talent on display in last weekend's Premier League clashes. Most teams had only one or two on the pitch.

Manchester United and Newcastle led the charge with four each, while six teams, including Chelsea and Manchester City, failed to turn out a single academy player.

None came close to rivalling the full house that Barca bred from its own esteemed training facility.

Still running: Paul Scholes was perhaps the most famous graduate of Manchester United's academy in the team that beat QPR on Saturday

Still running: Paul Scholes was perhaps the most famous graduate of Manchester United's academy in the team that beat QPR on Saturday

The full list:

Manchester United (4)

Jonny Evans, Paul Scholes, Darren Fletcher, Danny Welbeck

Newcastle United (4)

Tim Krul, Steven Taylor, Shane Ferguson, Sammy Ameobi

Aston Villa (3)

Ciaran Clark, Gabriel Agbonlahor, Marc Albrighton

Liverpool (2)

Steven Gerrard, Raheem Sterling*

Southampton (2)

Luke Shaw, Adam Lallana

Tottenham Hotspur (2)

Steven Caulker, Jake Livermore

West Ham United (2)

James Tomkins, Mark Noble

Arsenal (1)

Kieran Gibbs

Everton (1)

Leon Osman

Reading (1)

Hal Robson-Kanu

Stoke City (1)

Ryan Shotton

Sunderland (1)

Jack Colback

Swansea City (1)

Ben Davies

Chelsea, Fulham, Manchester City, Queens Park Rangers, West Bromwich Albion, Wigan Athletic (0)


Flying start: Liverpool have bright hopes for Raheem Sterling, one of two homegrown talents in the side that drew at Swansea

Flying start: Liverpool have bright hopes for Raheem Sterling, one of two homegrown talents in the side that drew at Swansea

*Sterling was on the books of Queens Park Rangers between 2003 and 2010, when he was signed by then Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez for 600,000. Sterling spent two years in Liverpool's youth teams.


Factory of football: The Nou Camp complex in Barcelona, comprising the main and B team stadiums and a number of training buildings and pitches

Factory of football: The Nou Camp complex in Barcelona, comprising the main and B team stadiums and a number of training buildings and pitches

Dwarfed: Despite being the oldest part of the Nou Camp site, La Masia is tiny compared to the high stands of the main stadium

Dwarfed: Despite being the oldest part of the Nou Camp site, La Masia is tiny compared to the high stands of the main stadium

THE CHAMPIONSHIP HOMEGROWN PLAYERS

In the Championship match-ups there was an even poorer show of youth academy players. Six teams fielded three, but not a single club managed any more than that.

Like the Premier League there were six teams without a single homegrown player on show.

Hot shot! Crystal Palace's Wilfried Zaha is being courted by a number of top flight sides after a blistering start to the season

Hot shot! Crystal Palace's Wilfried Zaha is being courted by a number of top flight sides after a blistering start to the season

The full list:

Wolverhampton Wanderers (3)

Carl Ikeme, Anthony Forde, David Davis

Blackburn Rovers (3)

Martin Olsson, Adam Henley, Grant Hanley

Bristol City (3)

Louis Carey, Joe Bryan, James Wilson

Derby County (3)

Mark O’Brien, Will Hughes, Jeff Hendrick

Leeds United (3)

Tom Lees, Dominic Poleon, San Byram

Middlesbrough (3)

Jason Steele, Seb Hines, Stuart Parnaby

Huddersfield Town (2)

Alex Smithies, Jack Hunt

Charlton Athletic (2)

Chris Solly, Danny Green

Watford (2)

Tommie Hoban, Sean Murray

Brighton (2)

Lewis Dunk, Dean Hammond

Burnley (1)

Chris McCann

Birmingham City (1)

Jack Butland

Crystal Palace (1)

Wilfried Zaha

Ipswich Town (1)

Luke Hyam

Leicester City (1)

Jeffrey Schlupp

Barnsley (1)

Reuben Noble-Lazarus

Cardiff City (1)

Ben Nugent

Peterborough United (1)

Joe Newell

Millwall, Blackpool, Bolton, Hull City, Nottingham Forest and Sheffield Wednesday (0)

Andre Wisdom can be a Liverpool legend, says Jamie Carragher

Carra's words of Wisdom: Andre can be a defensive giant for Liverpool if he heeds

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UPDATED:

00:59 GMT, 31 October 2012

One is a Liverpool legend, who has made 709 appearances and won 11 major trophies. The other has started to take his first tentative steps in the senior ranks, having graduated from the academy with honours.

Jamie Carragher and Andre Wisdom may be at different stages of their careers but they have found common ground in the Capital One Cup and this evening they are set to feature alongside each other in Liverpool’s fourth-round tie against Swansea.

Ahead of the tie, which will see Brendan Rodgers lock horns with Swansea for the first time since he left in May, Carragher and Wisdom sat down with Sportsmail to discuss how important the competition is for them and their club.

Best in class: Andre Wisdom (left) is happy to learn from Jamie Carragher

Best in class: Andre Wisdom (left) is happy to learn from Jamie Carragher

King: Jamie, you’ve lifted the League Cup three times and you made your debut in this competition in January 1997 at Middlesbrough. How much has it changed in terms of how clubs prioritise it

Carragher: A lot of players who come through tend to make their debut in this competition. Sometimes it gets a bit of criticism but as far as I am concerned it is not too far away (in terms of prestige) from the FA Cup. It is a great competition to be involved in and young players know they are going to get a chance. How many times do you get a chance to play at Wembley for your club A lot of the finals I played in were at the Millennium Stadium, which was great, but last season against Cardiff was something I will never forget.

King: For you, Andre, you will have your own special memories after making your second Liverpool start at West Bromwich Albion last month.

Wisdom: It was a great team performance. We got over the blow of conceding an early goal but we stuck to our game plan and we had a few experienced players to help us. Carra was in there, so was Stewart Downing but I think we did ourselves proud.

Baptism of fire: Wisdom fends off Magaye Gueye in his first Merseyside derby

Baptism of fire: Wisdom fends off Magaye Gueye in his first Merseyside derby

King: How has Jamie helped you settle into the team

Carragher: Remember what I told you to say!

Wisdom: It is always good to play alongside experienced players. Carra never stops talking. You need that in the game. It is different when you are playing in big games in front of big crowds. If you get 50 people for reserve games, you are lucky. It is very nerve- racking when you are playing for Liverpool.

King: How big an influence has Jamie been on you

Wisdom: I wouldn’t say I have modelled myself on him…

Carragher: You should have done!

Wisdom: . . . but he is someone I’ve looked up to ever since I was a young boy watching Match of the Day.

European experience: Wisdom vies with Anzhi Makhachkala's Russian forward Fyodor Smolov in the 1-0 Europa League win

European experience: Wisdom vies with Anzhi Makhachkala's Russian forward Fyodor Smolov in the 1-0 Europa League win

King: Is Jamie a good teacher

Carragher: Remember — I’m listening!

Wisdom: He may come across in the wrong way on the pitch when the adrenaline is flowing but he is definitely a good teacher. I haven’t had a major rollicking off him yet, anyway.

Carragher: You might after this!

King: Do you feel an extra responsibility helping the young players (Wisdom is 19) coming through, Jamie, as you are the elder statesman in Liverpool’s squad now at 34

Carragher: I’ve always tried to help whoever I’ve played alongside, no matter what their age. We’ve got a few players in the side now and it has taken me back to when I came through. You know what they are experiencing — the nerves, the feelings. When you are Andre’s age, you look after yourself. If you don’t do well when you get a chance as a young lad, you might not get another. But Andre has been excellent. He is a Liverpool player. He can pass the ball.

Vast experience: Carragher and Steven Gerrard savour Liverpool's sensational fifth European Cup victory

Vast experience: Carragher and Steven Gerrard savour Liverpool's sensational fifth European Cup victory

King: You played in Jamie’s testimonial, Andre, against Everton in September 2012 when you were still at the academy.

Wisdom: It was a big surprise when he asked me. We went for a meal with the squad before the game and I was looking around and seeing all these faces — Carra, Steven Gerrard, Michael Owen, Luis Garcia. It made me think that I wanted to be part of this for ever.

King: You seem to take everything in your stride, Andre.

Wisdom: You have got to do that. You can’t get too ahead of yourself. You have got to have confidence but it is just important to take everything as it comes, treat each game as you did your last.

Carragher: It’s good for them to be nervous. It shows they care. If I play against Swansea, I’ll be a little bit nervous as I want to do well. You should have belief in yourself but you need that edge. It keeps you on your toes. Obviously if the nerves go too far, it shows they are not up to it. But Andre has shown that he can. All the kids who have come in during the last 18 months have been the same. Jack Robinson, Jon Flanagan, Raheem Sterling, Suso and Andre — they have all done really well. I’m sure there will be others too. Conor Coady is pushing.

Bright future: Wisdom and Raheem Sterling lead an all-star cast of Liverpool's next generation

Bright future: Wisdom and Raheem Sterling lead an all-star cast of Liverpool's next generation

King: Looking at the Swansea game, it’s importance to Liverpool’s season should not be underestimated.

Carragher: I look at this and the Europa League as a chance to get games. This is something to focus on for me, as I know I’m not a Premier League regular any longer. But when I mentioned we were doing this interview to Andre, he said he didn’t want to do it as he plays in the Premier League now!

Wisdom: No, no, no!

Carragher: We are the holders and don’t want to give it away. Wembley was fantastic last season. This trophy is ours and we want to hold on to it. This is a quick-fire competition, and with the final being in February, you can achieve something very early. That’s what we want to do.

To join in the fan debate ahead of round four of the Capital One Cup, visit: facebook.com/capitaloneuk

Sam Allardyce says Kevin Nolan is his most important signing

Kev is my No 1: Allardyce hails Nolan as his most important signing

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UPDATED:

22:02 GMT, 26 October 2012

Kevin Nolan has been described as 'the most important signing I ever made' by manager Sam Allardyce.

The West Ham player is the highest-scoring midfielder in the Premier League this season with four goals in eight league games. Although Swansea star Michu has hit the back of the net six times, it has been as a withdrawn striker in Michael Laudrup’s team.

Two of Nolan’s strikes have been crucial – scoring the only goal of the game in their opening-day 1-0 win against Aston Villa and rescuing a point in the 90th minute with an equaliser against Sunderland.

Key man: Kevin Nolan is the most important signing Sam Allardyce has made

Key man: Kevin Nolan is the most important signing Sam Allardyce has made

He also started the scoring in their 3-0 win against Fulham and got the second in their 4-1 thrashing of Southampton, leaving West Ham in seventh after eight games of their return to the top flight.

And Allardyce said: 'Some 40 players left and about 26 or 27 came in during my time. Or since they have got relegated I suppose. I have always said Kevin Nolan was the most important signing I ever made.

'It wasn’t just about what he does as a football player on the field, it’s what he does as a captain. He unites dressing rooms by his experience and the fact that he is a leader of players.

Making his mark: West Ham manager Sam Allardyce praised Nolan's impact

Making his mark: West Ham manager Sam Allardyce praised Nolan's impact

He could lead that dressing room and he could pull them altogether. He started that from the day he came in and that has grown as we have come on.’

Nolan has hit doubles figures for goals in the previous three seasons including 18 in all competitions in 2009-10. But Allardyce believes it is a common misconception that he is a playmaking midfielder — he is a goalscorer.

The manager added: ‘As a goal-scoring midfield player, you have to look at his record. There are very few who have the same goal-scoring record on a consistent basis that Kevin has. It’s no fluke he has scored every year a considerable amount of goals, always very close to double figures or just past double figures.

'That perhaps shows you what an extraordinary player he is from a goal-scoring point of view as a midfield player. He is not a playmaker. People see him as one. He has never been a playmaker.

'Kevin gets on the end of other people’s good work in midfield. He gets on the end and supports the strikers. He gets into the box and does the hardest job in the game — which is to put the ball into the back of the net.'

Brendan Rodgers needs to reel in the soundbites – unlike Jose Mourinho

Mourinho's pupil Rodgers needs to reel in the soundbites in bid to steady Liverpool

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UPDATED:

00:24 GMT, 17 October 2012

Back in the day, when Jose Mourinho was Chelsea’s manager, Frank Lampard revealed that his players used to love watching his pre-match press conferences.

It is a common misconception to think that every week was pure gold with Chelsea’s manager, but the reality is something different.

After Mourinho arrival at Stamford Bridge, when he announced that he was ‘the Special One’, his career certainly had its moments.

Speaking out: Brendan Rodgers has offered plenty of soundbites so far

Speaking out: Brendan Rodgers has offered plenty of soundbites so far

More from Neil Ashton…

Ash Wednesday: Amnesty on football's ills Now that would be a good idea… until the next whistle blows
09/10/12

Ash Wednesday: Allardyce's Hammers play just like Real Madrid and Barcelona… but not how you think
02/10/12

Ash Wednesday: If Ferdinand lines up next to Cole again in an England shirt, trust them to put history to one side
25/09/12

Ash Wednesday: Sign up, Walcott… and focus on fulfilling your potential at Arsenal before it's too late
18/09/12

Ash Wednesday: Messi's dedication is what you need for greatness, Wayne
28/08/12

Ash Wednesday: Net pains for Liverpool could leaving Rodgers feeling numb in race for top
21/08/12

Ash Wednesday: Doors closing on Adebayor in his world where cash is king
14/08/12

Ash Wednesday: Without a home, Owen has the clock ticking on his career
07/08/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

In April 2007 he interrupted a Champions League press conference before the tie with Valencia to inspect the showers in the visitors’ dressing room when he was asked about claims he had tampered with the temperature settings.

He was usually at his best when Chelsea were chasing down Manchester United on the way to two Premier League titles.

There was much hilarity when he told an old Portguese proverb, about an old man attempting to swim for an island before running out of puff and drowning. He had twinkle in his eye and the analogy was obvious.

When Ricardo Carvalho criticised his manager when he was on international duty, Mourinho refused to pick him until the central defender apologised to the entire squad for disrespecting them.

‘Ricardo Carvalho seems to have a problem understanding things. Maybe he should have an IQ test, or go to a mental hospital, or something.’

There were some magical moments during Mourinho’s three-year stay at Chelsea, but he picked his moments.

At times he made himself unavailable to the media for weeks, sending out a player or his assistant Steve Clarke on a Friday afternoon.

A typical press conference with Clarke at the time went something along the lines of: ‘Steve, do you think Andriy Shevchenko will play tomorrow’

‘I don’t know, you’d have to ask the manager.’

‘But he’s not here.’

Then Clarke would shrug his shoulders. And that would be repeated for virtually every question thrown at him. It was excruciating at times.

Smooth talker: Rodgers learned many lessons from his mentor Mourinho during their time together at Chelsea

Smooth talker: Rodgers learned many lessons from his mentor Mourinho during their time together at Chelsea

Still, they kept on winning, lifting the Premier League in 2005 and 2006, along with the FA Cup in 2007 and the League Cup in 2005 and 2007.

Mourinho was Brendan Rodgers’ mentor at Chelsea, feeding the young coach titbits of information and allowing him into the kitchen cabinet at Cobham.

Rodgers responded, aligning himself with the manager as his career and his standing continued to rise during their success at Stamford Bridge.

Fast forward five years and Rodgers is the go-to man for media soundbites now that he has become the Liverpool manager.

His smooth-talking is straight out of Mourinho’s charm school and it is perfect for the media, but there is a clear difference in strategy.

Mourinho picked his moments, sometimes playing a subtle game for weeks before the shock value would send everyone into a tailspin again.

Rodgers is not the retiring type and barely a day goes by without the Liverpool manager raising eyebrows.

His recent assessment of Jamie Carragher – ‘I arrived here and heard these stories about him kicking the ball long up the pitch’ – caused bemusement at Anfield.

No-one has ever thought of the Liverpool defender as a long-ball merchant and Rodgers, who has been a student of the game since he was a teenager, should have known Carragher has never been in that bracket.

Rodgers added: ‘This is one of the best technical players we have – left foot, right foot, his touch on the ball, his reading of the game, his tactical intelligence.’

Must-win: Rodgers will hope his side arrest their alarming slump at home in the league this weekend - the Reds haven't won in four previous attempts at Anfield

Must-win: Rodgers will hope his side arrest their alarming slump at home in the league this weekend – the Reds haven't won in four previous attempts at Anfield

If Rodgers really believed all that, then surely Carragher, at 34 and with more than 700 appearances behind him, should still be in the team.

In recent days he has continued to defend Luis Suarez amid allegations of diving and has already spoken to Mike Riley, the manager of the Professional Game Match Officials Board about his treatment.

Even after Suarez’s ‘caterpillar’ move against Stoke City at Anfield, Rodgers continued to back the Uruguayan striker.

When Mourinho faced similar problems with Didier Drogba after his arrival in English football, the Chelsea manager spotted the danger signs and agreed to speak with his 24million striker.

Rodgers’ role at Anfield is also amplified by the Channel Five documentary Being:Liverpool and the decision to air the team talk the night before they were beaten 3-0 at West Bromwich on the opening day of the season.

Managers will always make mistakes, particularly when they are taking their formative steps in their career.

At youth team level with Chelsea, or managing Watford or Reading in the Championship, they are unlikely to be scrutinised.

After 38 games in the Premier League with Swansea, plus a handful at the very top with a club with the pedigree of Liverpool, every move is being monitored.

They play Reading this weekend and after four games without a win in the league at Anfield, it might be time for Rodgers to reel it in a touch.

Adam Hammill arrested for "attacking female paramedic"

Former England youngster Hammill arrested over alleged attack on female paramedic
Adam Hammill, 24, bailed following alleged assault outside Liverpool vodka bar

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UPDATED:

08:19 GMT, 9 October 2012


Adam Hammill pictured in action for Huddersfield

Adam Hammill has been bailed following allegation of assault. Above, in action for Huddersfield

Former England prospect Adam Hammill has been arrested over claims he attacked a female paramedic called out to an emergency outside a vodka bar.

Hammill was detained after allegations one of the ambulance crew was manhandled after being called out to treat another man in the street at 3.30am.

The 24-year-old former Liverpool Academy star was kept in custody for over 15 hours and was questioned on suspicion of common assault before being freed on police bail.

If charged and convicted he could face up to six months in prison.

The incident occurred after pub closing time in the early hours of Sunday when Hammill, on loan at Huddersfield from Championship rivals Wolves, was out at the Revolution Bar in Liverpool city centre.

Paramedics had been called out after another man had required treatment after falling ill outside the bar which had closed 90 minutes earlier.

But as the female paramedic tried to help him it was claimed she was 'assaulted'.

Dave Kitchin, from the North West Ambulance Service, said: 'The Trust can confirm that an ambulance crew attended an incident on Temple Court in Liverpool city centre in the early hours of Sunday morning and one of our staff was the victim of an assault.

Revolution Bar, in Temple Court, Liverpool

Revolution Bar, in Temple Court, Liverpool, where Adam Hammill was arrested following reports of an assault on Sunday

Winger Hammill formed part of Liverpool's 2006 FA Youth Cup winning side but failed to make a league appearance for the club at senior level

Winger Hammill formed part of Liverpool's 2006 FA Youth Cup winning side but failed to make a league appearance for the club at senior level

'Our ambulance crews work tirelessly
in all weathers, day and night, to come to the aid of people who need
our help and should be able to do so without fear of assault either
physical or verbal.

'We understand that the man has been released on police bail and we will do all we can to support their enquiry.

'Despite my many years working for
the ambulance service, I still find it difficult to comprehend why an
individual would set out to injure someone who is there to help and
treat them.'

A Merseyside Police spokeswoman said: 'A 24-year-old man from Bootle was arrested on suspicion of common assault in the early hours of Sunday, October 7.

'The man was released on police bail on Sunday night pending further enquiries.'

Winger Hammill formed part of Liverpool’s 2006 FA Youth Cup winning side but failed to make a league appearance at senior level.

He had loan spells at Dunfermline, Southampton and Blackpool before being sold to Barnsley in 2009.

He joined Wolves in 2011 and Huddersfield Town last August on a loan deal until 13 January 2013.

He has played for England Under 21s and was capped at Under-19 level. He now qualifies to play for the Republic of Ireland through his late grandfather.

Huddersfield chief executive Nigel Clibbens said: 'We have been made aware of an incident which has taken place in Merseyside involving Adam Hammill.'

Nigel Adkins relaxed about Southampton future despite Rafa Benitez and Harry Redknapp speculation

Adkins relaxed about Saints future despite Benitez and Redknapp speculation

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UPDATED:

20:26 GMT, 20 September 2012

Nigel Adkins insists he is ignoring rumours linking out-of-work managers to his job at Southampton.

Adkins’ newly-promoted Barclays Premier League team have yet to win a point, sparking speculation that chairman Nicola Cortese wants a change.

Rafa Benitez and former Southampton manager Harry Redknapp have been mentioned.

Tough run: Southampton are pointless after four games

Tough run: Southampton are pointless after four games

‘It doesn’t affect me,’ said Adkins. ‘I’ve got a great working relationship with the chairman here at Southampton and we share a common goal.

‘We’ve had a great couple of seasons and there is stability here at Southampton so we don’t even think about things like that.’

Ricky Hatton attacked by his dad

Hatton attacked by his own dad hours before announcing comeback

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UPDATED:

11:59 GMT, 15 September 2012

The father of former boxing champion Ricky Hatton was arrested for attacking his son the day before he announced his comeback, police sources said.

It is understood that Hatton, 33, had to protect himself after his dad Ray, 61, attacked him during a heated row in the car park outside his Manchester gym.

Police were called and Hatton senior was arrested and cautioned.

Attack: Ricky Hatton (left) was hit by his father Ray (right) in a car park

Attack: Ricky Hatton (left) was hit by his father Ray (right) in a car park

A spokesman for Greater Manchester Police said: 'Shortly before 11.45am on Thursday, police received reports that there had been a fight involving two men outside a health and fitness club on Market Street, Hyde.

'A 33-year-old man was assaulted by a 61-year-old man, who was arrested on suspicion of common assault and subsequently given a police caution.

'The 33-year-old man was not injured in the incident.'

On Friday, Hatton – nicknamed The Hitman – said he would strive to earn the nation's pride again after seeing his life 'turn to mush' in the three years since he last fought.

He's back! Hatton announced his comeback in Manchester on Friday

He's back! Hatton announced his comeback in Manchester on Friday

The Hyde fighter has suffered a series of well-publicised issues in his private life since his last fight saw him knocked out by Manny Pacquiao in their IBO light-welterweight title fight in Las Vegas.

Hatton insisted he did not want to see those demons tarnish his legacy in the sport, with another world title belt in his sights.

The fighter was the subject of allegations of cocaine abuse two years ago and within days he was admitted to a rehabilitation facility.

Drink and depression were major issues for Hatton at the time.

Flattened: Manny Pacquiao destroyed Hatton in his last fight in 2009

Flattened: Manny Pacquiao destroyed Hatton in his last fight in 2009

'I don't want people telling my kids that I blew it,' Hatton said as it was announced he would return to the ring on November 24 in Manchester.

'I want my kids to be able to say, 'He was a world champion, he had his problems, but my did he bounce back'.

'I want people to be proud of me again. I want British sport, my kids and my fans and my friends to be proud of me.'

Hatton's agent declined to comment on the incident.

Referees are in a no win situation – Graham Poll

Referees are in a no win situation… but they must stay strong and earn respect

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UPDATED:

00:05 GMT, 27 August 2012

Referees can’t win; that much we know. If they apply the laws then they are seen as pedants who need to use their common sense. When they show empathy they are accused of inconsistency. The problem is that common sense and consistency cannot work in tandem.

So referees are currently trying to follow the instruction of low involvement, only punishing the serious offences and particularly those which threaten the safety of opponents while turning a blind eye to the technical offences which, if applied, disrupt the flow of play and annoy players and spectators.

This attitude occasionally causes more problems than it solves and Mark Cattenburg fell foul of that at Carrow Road on Saturday.

Good save: John Ruddy denied Djibril Cisse from the penalty spot

Good save: John Ruddy denied Djibril Cisse from the penalty spot

After awarding a harsh but technically correct penalty to Queens Park Rangers he then turned a blind eye to encroachment at the taking of the penalty kick by at least seven players.

Usually when encroachment occurs it has no affect. Either the penalty is scored or the keeper saves and the ball is cleared. So why bother with the technicality of encroachment

The reason became clear at Norwich when one of the players who encroached, Bobby Zamora, scored from the rebound. A goal was scored which should not have been allowed.

Going in: Bobby Zamora scored the follow up for QPR but it should have been disallowed due to encroachment in the area

Going in: Bobby Zamora scored the follow up for QPR but it should have been disallowed due to encroachment in the area

More from Graham Poll…

Graham Poll: Moving ball is making it tough for goalkeepers – and it needs to be looked at to make it fair
26/08/12

Graham Poll: Rodallega was wearing traditional studs not blades
26/08/12

Graham Poll: Pardew can't be compared with Di Canio… but he must be punished
19/08/12

Graham Poll: Ronaldo penalty gaffe could easily have been avoided
28/06/12

Graham Poll: Italy have taken full advantage of weak refereeing
22/06/12

Graham Poll: England's lucky break will ensure goalline technology gets go-ahead
19/06/12

Graham Poll: England ref Rizzoli lacked fairness and balance despite Serie A experience
11/06/12

Graham Poll: Champions League final ref Proenca will show his softer side
17/05/12

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At this point let’s clarify law; if a defender or defenders encroach and a goal is scored it is allowed – if not then the penalty must be retaken.

The reverse applies if one or more attackers encroaches.

When a players from both sides encroach then irrespective of the penalty kicks outcome the kick must be retaken.

Referees are encouraged to stand a couple of yards inside the penalty area watching the ball and the penalty taker. If any players encroach far enough into the area to go past them then they act and if not they turn a blind eye.

Such slack application of law leads to just such incidents as seen on Saturday.

It was interesting to hear that the Football League chairmen have asked referees to be more vigilant with certain technical offences as they believe that ignoring them has affected the image of the game.

Allowing players to steal too many yards at throw-ins, standing on the ball to prevent free kicks being taken as well as diving were highlighted as offences that Chairmen no longer wanted ignored.

To have club chairmen telling you to tighten up your game is a sure sign that referees have allowed the pendulum to swing too far in the direction of tolerance and understanding.

Respect must be earned and strength is the only way to get it. Otherwise we all need to get used to the slack application of law that the 2012 Olympic final referee allowed at Norwich – and was not discouraged from doing so.

GOOD WEEK FOR…

…Michael Oliver who continues to impress and correctly dismissed Ciaran Clark for the denial of a goal scoring opportunity. Sure, the game looked over but law was applied as it should be. I told you common sense and consistency don’t go together and the referee should be right and not popular.

BAD WEEK FOR…

…West Ham United’s Ricardo Vaz Te who was caught on video blatantly diving at Swansea to win West Ham United a free kick and get opponent Jose ‘Chico’ Flores cautioned. Why can’t retrospective action be taken to help the fight against the cheats And why don’t MOTD highlight and shame the culprits

Lewis Hamilton close to signing new McLaren deal – Jonathan Neale

McLaren chief claims Hamilton is close to agreeing new deal

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UPDATED:

00:05 GMT, 15 August 2012

McLaren managing director Jonathan Neale says Lewis Hamilton is close to signing a new contract with the Formula One team.

Hamilton has been linked with several moves away from McLaren, but looks likely to stay on for at least another season.

The Englishman made his debut for McLaren in 2007, finishing second in the drivers' standings before taking the world championship the following season.

Deal: The McLaren chief says Lewis Hamilton is close to signing

Deal: The McLaren chief says Lewis Hamilton is close to signing

Neale said both McLaren and Hamilton were hopeful of reaching an agreement.

'We are closer and of course we are in dialogue,' Neale told Sky Sports.

'For obvious reasons I can't speculate more at the moment. We are working very hard to find a common ground.'

Fourth-placed Hamilton is 47 points behind world championship leader Fernando Alonso, but Neale believes with nine races to go there is enough time to chase down the Ferrari driver.

Possible: Jonathan Neale says Hamilton (right) can still win

Possible: Jonathan Neale says Hamilton (right) can still win

'Mathematically it is still possible, 25 points for a win and it doesn't take much to switch those,' he said.

'We have got a quick car. Our car was in better shape than Ferrari at the last race. He is a fighter, he loves a challenge. He just needs a sniff of it and to feel that the team is behind him and pushing.

'And I think if he feels we are pushing and bring the upgrades and dealing with the issues as they arise then he will be fighting for the title at the end of the season.'

London 2012: Grainger and Watkins hope close friendship can help them triumph

First mates! Grainger and Watkins hope close friendship can help them triumph

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UPDATED:

21:58 GMT, 25 July 2012

Olympics 2012

Katherine Grainger and Anna Watkins
teamed up more than two years ago as rowers in GB's double sculls boat
and have been unbeaten since, winning at the World Championships for
the past two seasons.

They are arguably the rowing team's firmest hope of a gold medal, and among the strongest contenders in any sport for GB.

Theirs would be a first rowing gold
for British women, which they are hoping to claim next Friday. Outside
the boat Watkins, 29, originally from Leek, Staffordshire, is married
while Aberdonian Grainger, 36, is single. But until the Olympics finish
they are the most significant partner in each other's life . . .

Making a splash: Watkins (left) and Grainger relax in Henley

Making a splash: Watkins (left) and Grainger relax in Henley

Grainger: I suppose we are a bit like a married couple . . .

Watkins: Yes, one that's been together for 20 years! Actually there are a lot of similarities and at the moment I see more of Katherine than I do of my husband. We are working towards a common goal, we need each other and it's in our interests to look after each other's physical and mental wellbeing.

Grainger: The good thing is we aren't just in this because we need to be but because we want to be. I think you could do this if you weren't close in a personal sense, but I do think it's a stronger partnership because we get on well.

Watkins: Katherine is the first person I turn to if I am having a hard time with something. She knows me the best of anyone in the rowing squad and I know she wants the best for me.

Grainger: The nature of what we do is that there are a lot of ups and downs, with things like injuries, selections or things happening away from the boat. It's nice that I've got the experience which means others will come and see me for a chat, although I don't know if I'm always much help!

Golden girls: Watkins and Grainger

Golden girls: Watkins and Grainger

Watkins: When I joined the team Katherine was already the top person, already a world champion and I was in a four for the GB Under 23s while she was preparing for Athens (in 2004). /07/25/article-2178973-0D345A8C000005DC-930_468x327.jpg” width=”468″ height=”327″ alt=”Golden girls: Watkins and Grainger” class=”blkBorder” />

Watkins: We've never got as far as a fallout, have we We've had good days, and bad days when we've said what do we need to fix Is it one of us or both of us And then there's Paul (Thompson, the coach). If there's a problem one corner of the triangle will sort it out.

Grainger: Technically we make a good team because we are a similar height, similar build, we have a similar length of stroke and we have a similar power output – we are both at the top end of the team on the physical side. Once you've got all those things matched up then the boat should go well, but there's an X-factor that makes a boat go really fast.

Watkins: From the start we've had this understanding of the mental side and technical side. I can shout something in the middle of the race that might sound really vague like 'feel the hull' and Katherine will know what I mean, even if nobody else would.

Grainger: We've done two World Championships and six World Cups together and woken up in the same room every time, so we know a bit of what to expect when we wake up on the morning of the Olympic final. Of course there will be massive nerves and adrenaline, but there's something really comforting about knowing the person that you are about to go out and tackle this thing with, you know you aren't facing the world alone. At that point it will feel like the two of us against the world. We won't need to say anything, it will just be a look at each other.

Watkins: It's more of a knowing look, the eye contact. We will both see it in each other's eyes, there won't be the need to discuss how we're feeling.