Tag Archives: concentration

Nacho Monreal – how did he fare on Arsenal debut?

How did Nacho Monreal fare on his Arsenal debut Sportsmail analyses his display

By
Sami Mokbel

PUBLISHED:

23:24 GMT, 3 February 2013

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UPDATED:

08:11 GMT, 4 February 2013

Nacho Monreal made a winning start to his Arsenal career as Lukas Podolski handed Arsene Wenger’s men a slender 1-0 win over Stoke.

So how did the 8.3million deadline day signing from Malaga, who is tipped to replace Kieran Gibbs as the club’s first-choice left back, cope in Saturday’s Premier League debut

Ball retention

Arsenal’s game is all about keeping the ball and Monreal will have no problem fitting into Arsene Wenger’s style. There was nothing extravagant about the Spaniard’s passing. He kept it simple, playing short passes inside to his centre backs or midfielders instead of attempting anything risky or penetrative.

His one-touch game is excellent and he looked comfortable in possession, but would you expect anything else from a Spain international

Team-mate Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain said: ‘He is very good on the ball, comfortable, technically brilliant and a very good defender.’

Comfortable: Nacho Monreal was happy to receive the ball to feet

Comfortable: Nacho Monreal was happy to receive the ball to feet

Going forward

The 26-year-old was sparing with his bursts forward, but when he did make a foray looked a real threat.

His pace over 10 to 20 yards had Stoke right back Ryan Shotton worried and his combination play with Jack Wilshere before putting in a cross that narrowly eluded Olivier Giroud will fill Arsenal fans with optimism.

Defending

Monreal will have more strenuous tests to come as Stoke struggled to carry a sustained attacking threat.

On the whole he was defensively sound. Competent in the air, particularly for a man under 6ft, and strong in the tackle, he knew when to clear or pick out a pass. Yet at times he allowed opponents too much space to cross.

Rearguard action: Nacho is little but a good addition to the backline

Rearguard action: Nacho is little but a good addition to the backline

Concentration

Intelligent enough to keep things simple on his debut. It was clear he was playing within himself, but there were a couple of lapses of concentration. The first came towards the end of the first half when, under no pressure, he let a routine pass slip under his foot and the ball rolled out. This was repeated in the last five minutes, with his side trying to protect their slender advantage, but this time the error occurred on the edge of his own box.

Physicality

Any fears Monreal would not be able to deal with the rough and tumble of the Premier League were dispelled during a bruising aerial duel with Jonathan Walters before half-time.

In going up for a header, the duo were involved in a nasty clash of heads. The Stoke forward needed treatment to a bloodied gash to his forehead.

Monreal remained on his feet, hardly flinching. ‘To see him win so many headers and hold his own was great to see,’ added Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Delighted: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is pleased Monreal has joined the squad

Delighted: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is pleased Monreal has joined the squad

Joe Hart will not let recent criticism get to him

Hart out to show mental strength by not letting recent criticism affect performances

By
Simon Stone, Press Association

PUBLISHED:

23:24 GMT, 10 January 2013

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UPDATED:

23:54 GMT, 10 January 2013

Joe Hart is determined not to beat himself up over the recent criticism of his performances.

After spending two seasons unchallenged as the best English keeper in the Barclays Premier League, suddenly a few flaws have been evident with the Manchester City man.

Most recently he was blamed for Adam Johnson's goal, which condemned City to defeat at Sunderland and left them trailing Manchester United by seven points heading into the new year.

Ignoring the criticism: Manchester City and England No 1 Joe Hart (pictured) will not let criticism affect his performances

Ignoring the criticism: Manchester City and England No 1 Joe Hart (pictured) will not let criticism affect his performances

Even with England, it was suggested Fraser Forster could be putting pressure on Hart for his shirt after his impressive Champions League performances against Barcelona earlier in the campaign.

But Hart has the mental strength to survive such sniping.

And he accepts there will be times when he doesn't reach the level he would wish.

Under-fire: Hart has been under pressure after some errors have entered his game, most recently in the defeat against Sunderland

Under-fire: Hart has been under pressure after some errors have entered his game, most recently in the defeat against Sunderland

'If you weren't doing well and winning things, people would not be interested in what you are doing,' he told Sky Sports News.

'People are paid to make comments.

'You have to be strong and give the best you can week in, week out.

'I work hard. Sometimes I don't save the ball. It is not through lack of effort or concentration.

You can't be perfect as much as you try to be. It is not going to happen.'

It has been suggested City's inability to get a regular defence on the pitch has had an effect, not just on Hart's form, but that of the team as a whole.

The criticism is one he refutes.

'It is definitely not the case,' he said.

'We are a close group and we all know how each other plays.

'It never feels foreign for anyone to come in.'

Under pressure: Hart's England spot is under pressure thanks to a string of outstanding performances by Celtic keeper Fraser Forster (centre)

No 2: Hart's England spot is under pressure thanks to a string of outstanding performances by Celtic keeper Fraser Forster (centre)

Rafa Benitez will add steel to Chelsea"s attacking flair

Man of steel Benitez can add to the artistry… and could lead Chelsea to title

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UPDATED:

23:42 GMT, 21 November 2012

Discipline. Roman Abramovich’s vision for Chelsea may be for them to sweep all-comers aside with a Latin swagger but without steel, the dream will never come true.

This is why Rafa Benitez could yet be the perfect fit for Abramovich. Nothing matters more to the Spaniard than discipline. He demands focus and intense concentration, to always be thinking about the next step. It is why you will never see him cavorting on the touchline celebrating goals.

‘I think the manager is eternally dissatisfied because he wants more and more and more,’ Benitez once said.

Tightening up: Rafa Benitez can help shore up Chelsea's defence

Tightening up: Rafa Benitez can help shore up Chelsea's defence

‘I’m this kind of manager. I like to improve, to do better every time. Sometimes you know that you will need more time so you have to be calm but still you have to improve.’

Fernando Torres knows this better than anyone. After scoring a hat-trick for Liverpool, he returned to the dressing room only to have Benitez point out the areas of his game which had been lacking.

Together: Benitez and Fernando Torres

Together: Benitez and Fernando Torres

There was nothing malicious, it was just typical Benitez, always wanting more. Such traits will undoubtedly have struck a chord with Abramovich and it is the reason he has turned to him to re-ignite Chelsea’s season.

Chelsea have artists such as Eden Hazard, Juan Mata and Oscar, but it is the team’s defence that ultimately cost Roberto Di Matteo his job — no clean sheets since the start of October — and this is the area Benitez will prioritise.

During the four-year peak of his reign at Liverpool, between 2006-2009, they never conceded more than 28 goals in the Barclays Premier League. If Benitez finds the right balance at the back — it would be no surprise if he tries to sign Martin Skrtel in January — he could, perhaps, deliver the title.

But can he restore Torres to former glories Benitez has a better chance than anyone but it is worth remembering that Torres also thrived on his rapport with Steven Gerrard and Xabi Alonso. He has not had that camaraderie with anyone at Stamford Bridge.

India v England first Test, day four – report

Cool Cook leads England with a captain's innings and gives tourists fighting chance

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UPDATED:

14:41 GMT, 18 November 2012

For so long this looked like the sort of full-time captaincy debut that would have had Alastair Cook, a man who never perspires, waking up in the middle of many a nightmare in a cold sweat. On Sunday, however, all that changed.

Instead of an innings defeat and crushing condemnation of England’s enduring incompetence against spin this, whatever happens on the final day, will go down as the day England’s new leader demonstrated his readiness for the top job.

It can only be imagined what went through Cook’s mind over the first three days of this first Test as all of England’s best-laid plans crumbled around him.

Leading by example: England batsman Alastair Cook batted the whole day

Leading by example: England batsman Alastair Cook batted the whole day

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This could have been a hugely damaging start to the new era and a defeat so big that it would probably have had massive implications for the rest of the series. As it is India went into the final day still as favourites to win but looking ragged with England having given themselves a fighting chance of a draw.

Cook will probably never be the type of captain who will change the course of a Test with a shrewd tactical move or inspire his team with a statesmanlike address but what he will do is lead by the most driven and thorough example.

No praise is too high for the monumental display of concentration and application that saw Cook bat for more than eight hours to reach 168, his 21st Test hundred, in an unbeaten sixth wicket stand of 141 with the excellent Matt Prior that had India searching in vain for answers for the first time in this match.

Main support: Matt Prior stayed with Cook in the middle with his knock

Main support: Matt Prior stayed with Cook in the middle with his knock

INDIA v ENGLAND

Click here to read the full scorecard

Graham Gooch, the England batting
coach who has played such a big role in Cook’s career, said that he had
never seen his charge bat better and, in truth, there can have been few
greater innings played by any Englishman in Asia. Cook announced he was
ready for the challenge before this Test and how he proved it.

Cook is rarely mentioned when
discussions are centred on England’s best players of spin but his
mastery of Ravi Ashwin in particular, who was wicketless from his 41
second innings overs at the end of the fourth day, could prove hugely
significant as this four-match series unfolds.

Cook’s methods are
uncomplicated but his mental strength is such that suddenly all the bite
seemed to have been extracted from both the bowlers and the dusty
Ahmedabad pitch.

Short stay: Kevin Pietersen was bowled out around his legs

Short stay: Kevin Pietersen was bowled out around his legs

How India, with delicious irony, must
rue their refusal to accept the decision review system as Cook was
absolutely plumb sweeping Pragyan Ojha when he had made just 41 on
Saturday but Aleem Dar, having a rare bad game, inexplicably said no. A
correct decision and it would have been game over now.

The umpires, in fact, appear to have
had their brains scrambled by the lack of technological assistance in
this match as both Dar and Tony Hill have been proven wrong by replays
on at least eight occasions here, with the bulk of the mistakes
favouring England. I am afraid even I will have to reconsider my
aversion to the system if its absence leads to this sort of error-strewn
officiating.

Unexpectedly, it was pace more than
spin that provided the problems for England as Nick Compton
saw his promising second innings contribution of 37 ended by Zaheer Khan
and Umesh Yadav strike twice in two deliveries with the old ball to
send back Ian Bell and Samit Patel.

Unlucky: Samit Patel was given out despite replays proving it was the wrong decision

Unlucky: Samit Patel was given out despite replays proving it was the wrong decision

While both Compton and Bell’s decisions were marginal but probably
correct Patel, for the second time in the match, was spectacularly sawn
off as Hill missed his inside edge onto pad. But as Patel was reprieved
earlier when clearly out Hill’s latest wrong probably proved a right for
India.

With Jonathan Trott falling to a good
delivery from the outstanding Ojha and Kevin Pietersen departing yet
again in horrible fashion to Ojha’s left-arm spin – the only consolation
from Pietersen’s indistinguished comeback is that we have been spared
Piers Morgan’s gloating for now – England were heading to that
ignominious innings defeat at 199 for five following their 191 all out.

That they avoided at least that is
down to the first captain who has scored a hundred in each of his first
three Tests in charge – Cook stood in for Andrew Strauss twice in
Bangladesh – and an innings of real maturity from Prior.

With captain and keeper coming
together in such a show of defiance memories inevitably went back to
Mike Atherton’s rearguard with Jack Russell in Johannesburg 17 years ago
that earned England an against the odds draw.

This one would be even more unlikely.
There remains surely no chance of England pulling off one of the most
unexpected victories in history as they do not have enough time to get
into a position to declare. But if they can bat until tea today then
they really will have pulled off one of the greatest of escapes.

Nick Faldo says Tiger Woods" issues have stopped him being best ever golfer

Woods' indiscretions have stopped him being the best ever golfer, says Faldo

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UPDATED:

14:31 GMT, 11 November 2012

Tiger Woods' extra-marital affairs have ruined his chances of becoming the best golfer in history, Nick Faldo has claimed.

The American was widely tipped to beat Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 major championships after making a stunning start to his career, but is still to win a major title after revelations about his private life emerged almost three years ago.

Woods took a four-month break from golf after admitting cheating on his wife, and he has struggled to impress since returning to action.

At risk: Tiger Woods chances of being the best golfer ever have been damaged, according to Nick Faldo

At risk: Tiger Woods chances of being the best golfer ever have been damaged, according to Nick Faldo

He has not added to the 14 majors he won before the sex scandal erupted and Faldo, himself a six-time major winner, thinks Woods stands next to no chance of eclipsing Nicklaus' record, which has stood since 1986.

When asked about Woods' chances of winning 18 majors or more, Faldo told BBC Radio Five Live's Sportsweek programme: 'I think it's slim. I would lean towards no.

'It has been four years since he last won at the US Open.'

Faldo thinks the psychological strife caused by the news of his affairs continue to haunt Woods three years on and he believes they will continue to do so for the rest of his life.

'(The revelations) have done more damage than people would give them credit for,' Faldo said.

Strong views: Faldo is a golf pundit and player

Strong views: Faldo is a golf pundit and player

'People thought he would deal with it and then get back on the golf course.

'It's wrecked that wonderful tranquility you get of going to a golf course, tipping out a bag of balls and hitting them from 9-5 and just thinking of golf.

'When you're a golfer that is great. But now… He has shattered that peace. He won't get that back. Once you lose that concentration and that ability to become completely engrossed in your golf… then slowly things have changed for him.

'His swing… physically, technically, mentally, karma… it's a harder climb right now. Sure, he could come back and do things, but he won't be dominant like he was.'

And with Woods turning 37 next month, Faldo thinks age is also catching up with the American.

'As you get older in this game, the little demons start to sit on your shoulders because you have seen one too many bad shots at the wrong time and it starts to eat away at you and I think he has a little bit of that going on,' Faldo added.

Feeling it: Woods turns 37 next month and Faldo says his age is catching up with him

Feeling it: Woods turns 37 next month and Faldo says his age is catching up with him

One man who has stepped in to the limelight as Woods has faded is Rory McIlroy.

Despite being 23, McIlroy has already won two majors and Faldo thinks the Northern Irishman is set for even bigger things, providing he resists the temptation to play in every lucrative tournament on the tour.

'I have been very impressed with Rory. He is a special kid,' Faldo said.

'There has only been Jack (Nicklaus), Seve (Ballesteros) and Tiger who have won two majors before they were 25, and now there's Rory.

'It puts him in a very special category. There always will be pitfalls for him. He is already feeling it. He is in demand. You can't please everyone.

'You have to be your own boss. He has to pace himself and do all the right things himself. He has 20-odd years left in the game.'

Alan Pardew refuses to blame referee after Fabricio Coloccini red card

Pardew refuses to blame ref after Coloccini red card in draw with Liverpool

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UPDATED:

18:58 GMT, 4 November 2012

Newcastle manager Alan Pardew was not willing to criticise referee Anthony Taylor after his side's 1-1 draw at Liverpool.

The Toon were denied all three points when Luis Suarez's well-taken goal cancelled out an equally impressive one from Yohan Cabaye.

They had to see things out with 10 men too after captain Fabricio Coloccini was sent off for lunging in on the impressive Suarez – even if he did not make as much contact as he looked set too.

Red card: Newcastle United's Argentinian defender Fabricio Coloccini is sent off by referee Anthony Taylor

Red card: Newcastle United's Argentinian defender Fabricio Coloccini is sent off by referee Anthony Taylor

Pardew questioned Taylor about the decision on the field afterwards but was happy to accept it, especially after a week which has seen officials feature heavily in the news.

'I thought he (Taylor) maybe got caught up in the emotion and I wanted to ask him before he'd had a chance to see replays,' Pardew told Sky Sports 1.

'He said he thought it was serious foul play. The morale of referees must be really low at the moment, because of constant criticism and the issues around them. We accept his decision and I thought he had a good day.

'I don't think there was any intent but we accept it.'

Despite Liverpool hogging possession and creating the majority of the goalscoring chances, Newcastle only ever really looked troubled when Suarez was on the ball.

'I felt we lacked concentration at 1-0. We were looking comfortable and I fancied we might have got a second,' Pardew added.

'The goal changed the proceedings of the second half. Suarez is a great player and kept causing us problems. If we could have wrapped him up, we could have won.'

Liverpool's equaliser means they are now five unbeaten in the league, although they have just two three-point returns to their name this season.

Manager Brendan Rodgers, though, could not find fault with his players.

'I thought we were outstanding with intensity and possession,' he said.

Harsh: Alan Pardew thought the red card was unfair

Harsh: Alan Pardew thought the red card was unfair

'We went to sleep just before half-time for their goal, but for every other moment I thought we were brilliant. We couldn`t put the chances away we had.

'At half-time I told them to stay calm. Sometimes when you dominate like we did and concede just before half-time, it can be very easy to play desperation football. It was important to keep playing how we were.'

Trickster: Luis Suarez is hard to handle

Trickster: Luis Suarez is hard to handle

Fortunately for Rodgers, he had Suarez to call on, with the Uruguay international pulling Jose Enrique's ball out of the sky and rounding Tim Krul to score.

'That was brilliant,' Rodgers added. 'He (Suarez) has been fantastic. It was a great ball and his first touch… it was an incredible piece of skill.

'I think most people in football know he`s a real threat in and around the box. He's world class.'

Arsene Wenger bans handshakes after Per Mertesacker struck down by virus

Fresh handshake snub! Wenger bans them after virus at Arsenal training

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UPDATED:

22:34 GMT, 5 October 2012

Arsene Wenger has stopped handshakes among his players and disinfected Arsenal's training ground to wipe out a virus which is spreading through the camp.

Per Mertesacker is the fourth player to be struck down recently by a coughing and sickness bug and faces a test to be fit for Saturday evening's game at West Ham.

Theo Walcott became ill after returning from international duty in Moldova, when the England squad used Arsenal's facilities.

Ban: Arsene Wenger has stopped handshakes at his training ground after Per Metesacker (left) is battling to shake off an illness

Ban: Arsene Wenger has stopped handshakes at his training ground after Per Metesacker (left) is battling to shake off an illness

Thomas Vermaelen and Francis Coquelin have also missed games and some staff have fallen ill.

Wenger has ordered the dressing rooms at the training ground to be washed with disinfectant. Notices have gone up reminding players how germs can be passed and he has stopped a pre-training ritual where players shake hands.

'It is a good excuse not to shake hands before the game,' said Wenger. 'If you shake hands the viruses go around the league.'

With Andy Carroll fit, West Ham will be dangerous – especially at set-pieces.

Wenger has won only 10 of his 24 duels with Sam Allardyce and his team have been defending poorly in the air.

'It was always intense,' said Wenger, when asked about his struggles against Allardyce's Bolton.

'It is a concentration challenge. You can have a virtual domination and lose the game.

'West Ham are well balanced, a good mixture between direct and technical play. He is a good manager because he lasts.

'Our relationship is all right. I respect everybody, even if I don't look like I do.'

Two years and eight months after Ryan Shawcross broke Aaron Ramsey's leg with a tackle Arsene Wenger branded horrendous, the Arsenal manager admits it may be time to forgive and forget.

The Stoke defender has been called into the England squad for the World Cup qualifiers against San Marino and Poland and Wenger said: 'What happened is what happened and it is down to Roy Hodgson to select the team.

Come here you: Lukas Podolski (left) was gearing up in training on Friday

Come here you: Lukas Podolski (left) was gearing up in training on Friday

In contention: Thomas Vermaelen (left) had missed games due to illness and in-form Gervinho (right) is ready to lead the line again

In contention: Thomas Vermaelen (left) had missed games due to illness and in-form Gervinho (right) is ready to lead the line again

'I think he (Shawcross) has improved as a player and he has cleaned up his act.

'You cannot convict a player for ever because of that.

'I didn't agree with the tackle. Again, it doesn't mean that the player has to suffer his whole life.'

Ramsey lost the Wales captaincy on Friday when Chris Coleman passed the honour to Swansea defender Ashley Williams as part of the change he promised would follow last month's 6-1 defeat in Serbia.

'I'm a little bit surprised because it's a big decision to take an armband away from a player,' said Wenger.

'I always felt he was a bit young to have such a responsibility but this could put maybe too much pressure on him.

'He will be a captain, for sure. He's at an age where you have to focus first on your game. Maybe this is a bit less responsibility and will help him play with a bit more freedom.'

Forgive and forget: Arsene Wenger says Ryan Shawcross (left) should not be condemned any longer for his leg-breaking tackle on Aaron Ramsey

Forgive and forget: Arsene Wenger says Ryan Shawcross (left) should not be condemned any longer for his leg-breaking tackle on Aaron Ramsey

Yohan Blake breaks car window as he hits cricket six

Sprint for cover: Olympics star Blake turns his hand to cricket… and ends up smashing car window!

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UPDATED:

13:06 GMT, 18 September 2012

If you thought Yohan Blake’s sole purpose in life was to wait for Usain Bolt to retire and take over the throne of sprint king, then think again.

The Jamaican took silver medal in the 100m and 200m behind his compatriot at London 2012 but he also has another passion in life, playing cricket – and he’s not too bad either.

Scroll down for videos

Oops: Yohan Blake hit a six... but in doing so damaged the car below

Oops: Yohan Blake hit a six… but in doing so damaged the car below

Oops: Smashed window of the car

In his first match since the Olympics,
Blake featured for Bartley XI in a Twenty20 game as they defeated
Correctional Services by 36 runs at the Prison Oval in Jamaica last
weekend.

Blake batted at five and scored 20 off 21 balls before being stumped on the last ball of the innings trying to dance down the wicket to hit a six.

It’s just as well he missed because an earlier shot he sent over the boundary not only cleared the ground but unfortunately smashed the rear view window of a parked car.

Speaking after the game, Blake explained that he was willing to discuss the cost of the damage with the owner while also commenting on the match where he opened the bowling for his side.

Start at 4:25 for Blake's six

Blake said: ‘I was a bit nervous as I haven’t batted in a while but I just had to play myself in and with 20 off 21 balls that’s what I did today.

‘The owner of the car said ‘that’s just cricket’ and I said ‘you know if anything, we can always talk’, it was a wonderful six but I know the owner of the car, he’s a good guy.

‘I’m working on the bowling, I start off
well but I tend to lose concentration later on. The skipper made me
change ends which I didn’t like but I go with it because I don’t want to
go against what the captain says.’

So serious is Blake on his cricket, he claimed he wants to quit the track in six years so he can play more of the sport.

Big hitter: Blake was good with the bat

Big hitter: Blake was good with the bat

The 22-year-old was also lost for words trying to describe the honour of ringing the bell at Lord’s last month in the third test between England and South Africa.

‘With this hard training in track and
field, I know that cricket training is not that hard and I can make the
team and it is my first love,’ Blake said. ‘I want to finish this
(athletics) as early as possible, so I can play my cricket, like
somewhere around 30, 29, 28, in that region.

‘To
be the first non-cricketer to ring the bell at Lord’s, the greatest
sports ground in the world, with two top teams and get a standing
ovation from the crowd, words cannot explain how I felt.’

Blake interview after the match

Blake’s first target would be to travel to Australia and play in the Twenty20 Big Bash League along with Bolt, who also has eyes on appearing for Manchester United.

He added: ‘Usain and I said let’s go to Australia and play some cricket, let’s check out the Big Bash and see what it is all about.

‘I know those guys are really quick, but I am always ready and I am always playing cricket. I have my bowling machine and my batting machine at home, so I have been practising and getting ready for that.’

Rory McIlroy says Olympic decision not yet made

What a furore! McIlroy feels the heat after GB dilemma causes a storm

PUBLISHED:

19:24 GMT, 10 September 2012

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UPDATED:

01:43 GMT, 11 September 2012

Rory McIlroy issued an open letter on Monday defending his thoughts about his Olympic allegiances, after Sportsmail's exclusive interview caused a backlash among some Irish supporters.

The world No 1 had admitted he would be in a delicate position when it comes to choosing whether to represent Ireland or Team GB when Rio 2016 rolls around – and he soon discovered exactly the depth of the issue.

He suffered abuse from a significant number of his 1.25million Twitter followers as well as criticism from established broadcasters on Irish TV.

Fine form: Rory McIlroy is destroying the competition

Fine form: Rory McIlroy is destroying the competition

In a wide-ranging interview on
Monday, the 23-year-old had spoken honestly for the first time about his
dilemma and admitted: 'The fact is I have always felt more British than
Irish.'

And the admission from a player whose
early golfing education was funded in part by the Golfing Union of
Ireland brought responses ranging from sympathy and understanding to
vile abuse.

The depth of feeling was such that
McIlroy, currently in New York, felt compelled to confirm what he had
said to Sportsmail and explain his position through his official Twitter
feed.

He said: 'Having just won three out
of my last four tournaments, including a second major championship, I
was hoping my success on the golf course would be the more popular topic
of golfing conversation today!

Concentration: McIlroy is focusing on the Ryder Cup

Concentration: McIlroy is focusing on the Ryder Cup

'However, the issue of my cultural
identity has re-emerged and with it, the matter of my national
allegiance ahead of the Rio Olympics in 2016.

'I am in an extremely sensitive and
difficult position and I conveyed as much in the interview. I am a proud
product of Irish golf and the Golfing Union of Ireland and am hugely
honoured to have come from very rich Irish sporting roots.

'I am also a proud Ulsterman who grew
up in Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom. That is my
background and always will be.

'As the world No 1 right now, I wish to be a positive role model and sports person that people respect and enjoy watching.

'I wish to clarify that I have absolutely not made a decision regarding my participation in the next Olympics.

'On a personal level, playing in the Olympics would be a huge honour.

Red hot: McIlroy had hoped people would be talking about his performances rather than his cultural identity

Red hot: McIlroy had hoped people would be talking about his performances rather than his cultural identity

'However, the Games in Rio are still
four years away and I certainly won't be making any decisions with
regards to participating any time soon.'

That may placate some of his critics, but McIlroy's fears that the issue would cause him a huge problem have been confirmed.

He may also have been exasperated at
the timing of the interview's publication – the day after his triumph at
the BMW Championship – but Sportsmail had held it back, aware of the
problems it might cause and anxious not to create a fuss that could
damage his performance during that tournament.

Leading Irish radio presenter Pat
Kenny of RTE had led the complaints during his programme, in
conversation with the station's sports reporter Paraic Lodge.

Clear skies ahead: The world No 1 says he has not made a decision on who he will represent at the 2016 Olympic Games

Clear skies ahead: The world No 1 says he has not made a decision on who he will represent at the 2016 Olympic Games

He said: 'He [McIlory] wasn't British when he was taking the help from the GUI, was he

'What a stupid thing to say. From a
PR perspective, I mean, what a stupid thing to say. I just think the
gloss has gone off his efforts for this island, shall we say'

That fuelled a fire that was already burning fiercely.

Typical reaction from his Twitter
followers came from Clodagh Donnelly, who wrote: '@McIlroyRory one word
traitor #playingforteamGB turn ur back on ur own country #disgrace
#rio2016'

And one under the pseudonym eire1916
wrote: '@McIlroyRory how about giving back the money you were happy to
take from the Irish sports council when it suited you.#dirtyhun

Andre Villas-Boas urges Tottenham fans to be patient

We're doing all we can! Villas-Boas pleads for patience while Spurs search for win

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UPDATED:

18:59 GMT, 1 September 2012

Fantasy football 2012

Andre Villas-Boas has called on Tottenham fans to be patient after his wait for a first win in charge continued with a 1-1 draw against Norwich on Saturday.

Villas-Boas had failed to excite the majority of Spurs fans during his first two games in charge and today's offering hardly set the collective pulse of the home crowd at White Hart Lane racing.

Tottenham lacked confidence and looked tense throughout a disappointing first hour which could have seen the home side go 3-0 down had it not been for some excellent goalkeeping from Brad Friedel.

Be calm: Andre Villas-Boas hopes the fans give him time

Be calm: Andre Villas-Boas hopes the fans give him time

Mousa Dembele opened the scoring on his debut with 22 minutes left, but Spurs crumbled under pressure for the third week running and conceded another late goal – this time through Robert Snodgrass – to leave with just a point.

The home fans made their feelings known by booing their team off the pitch.

Villas-Boas understands the fans' frustration, but insists he is doing everything he can to put things right.

'You have to accept their disappointment. It has not been the ideal start to the season, but it doesn't mean that we haven't been working hard to get the wins that our fans want,' Villas-Boas said.

'They have to understand that we are doing everything in our power to get that win.

'Obviously this is not the start we wanted and the start we deserve.

'We had two good games, Newcastle and West Brom, that we didn't win.

'Everybody wants to build more confidence but getting those first three points.

'Today it was disappointing for us to suffer again in the dying moments of the game and we have to work on our sharpness and concentration to make sure it doesn't happen again.'

Friedel's position in the first team has come under question after Villas-Boas signed Hugo Lloris from Lyon for a fee that could rise up to 12million.

And on today's evidence, the Frenchman will have a tough task on his hands to wrest the number one jersey off the American's back.

Bedding in: Mousa Dembele scored on his debut

Bedding in: Mousa Dembele scored on his debut

Friedel, 41, denied Snodgrass twice and also saved brilliantly from Anthony Pilkington to suggest that his run of 307 consecutive Premier League starts may not come to an end when Spurs take on Reading after the international break.

'Brad deserves to keep his place at the moment,' Villas-Boas said. 'In the first half he was outstanding.

'Brad deserves full credit for what he has been doing in pre-season and throughout his time in the Premier League.

'You also have to look into the future and we have done a good transfer in bringing Lloris in.'

Villas-Boas expressed his delight at both the performance of second-half substitute Dembele and the deadline-day capture of Clint Dempsey.

The Portuguese revealed a deal was also desperately close to conclusion for Porto playmaker Joao Moutinho.

'We agreed player terms late but there were situations regarding the contract that were not right so we didn't complete the transfer,' Villas-Boas said.

We deserved it: Chris Hughton says his side might have picked up three points

We deserved it: Chris Hughton says his side might have picked up three points

'We have enough cover without him. Moutinho's transfer not happening should not overshadow the fact we have pulled off one of the biggest coups of the transfer market with Clint Dempsey, who is a player who can really help us to go one step further.'

Villas-Boas' opposite number Chris Hughton has seen his team bounce back from their opening-day drubbing at Fulham with two consecutive draws.

The former Tottenham coach praised the performance of Snodgrass, who fired through a crowded penalty area five minutes from time to seal the draw following a sustained period of pressure which saw an experienced home defence buckle under pressure.

'Arguably we deserved to win,' Hughton said. 'This is a tough place to come but we created a lot of chances.

'The thing I was most pleased with was the response. We are playing quite well at the moment, but to go one behind here, not let our heads drop, force the equaliser and then have a chance to win at the end, speaks volumes for the team.'

Villas-Boas, meanwhile, looks set to appeal the red card that was issued to Tom Huddlestone for a foul on Jonny Howson.

'It was extremely harsh,' Villas-Boas said. 'We will probably look to appeal it.'