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West Ham defender Daniel Potts leaves hospital after frightening head injury at Arsenal

West Ham defender Potts leaves hospital after frightening head injury at Arsenal

By
Jim Van Wijk, Press Association

PUBLISHED:

10:39 GMT, 24 January 2013

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UPDATED:

20:10 GMT, 24 January 2013

West Ham defender Daniel Potts has left hospital and returned home following the head injury he suffered in his side's 5-1 defeat at Arsenal last night.

Potts had replaced Jack Collison just after the hour mark at the Emirates Stadium, but suffered a nasty concussion following a heavy fall after an accidental aerial collision with Bacary Sagna.

The 18-year-old spent last night in hospital and underwent further scans and tests today, which came back positively.

Flat out: Daniel Potts was knocked unconcious following a clash of heads with Arsenal defender Bacary Sagna

Flat out: Daniel Potts was knocked unconcious following a clash of heads with Arsenal defender Bacary Sagna

Potts has expressed his gratitude for
the messages of support he has received and will undergo a period of
rest before being allowed to resume light training in the gym.

Potts received lengthy treatment from
medical staff, eventually being taken from the field on a stretcher, in a
neck brace, receiving gas and covered in an emergency blanket before
being transferred to a nearby hospital for observation.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter expressed backing for Potts, writing on Twitter: 'Best wishes & quick recovery to @DanPotts03. Concussion in football is a big issue that FIFA is taking very seriously.'

Unconscious: There were 12 minutes of injury time at the Emirates following the collision

Unconscious: There were 12 minutes of injury time at the Emirates following the collision

Danny Potts

Speaking after the match last night, Sam Allardyce
said: 'Potts was unable to give the correct answers to the questions the
doctor asked, which shows a concussion to the brain.

'They put him on the oxygen and strapped him, just to make sure there was no damage to the spine or the neck.

'He was out for a few seconds, maybe a minute, and was not fully conscious when he came off.

'We were concerned at how long it
took. They have to make sure they protect the spine the right way,
getting them on the stretcher – that is why it took the time it did.'

Out: Potts was released from hospital on Thursday

Out: Potts was released from hospital on Thursday

He added: 'Hopefully he will make a speedy
recovery. As he lost consciousness it is a minimum of two weeks, I
think, before he can play again.'

Jack Collison, who scored his first
goal since returning from lengthy injury, said losing
Potts would be a big blow.

'It's disappointing,' the midfielder
said. 'He's been magnificent for us these past few weeks. To get a
chance tonight at a place like this is what he's worked so hard for.

'We wish him a speedy recovery. I
think there was a clash, these things happen. You've got to say well
done to the medical team, they got in there and he's in the best hands.'

Mario Balotelli won"t leave Manchester City – Roberto Mancini

Mario's going nowhere, the Sheikh loves him too much, insists City boss Mancini

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UPDATED:

10:47 GMT, 31 December 2012

Roberto Mancini insists Mario Balotelli will not be sold by Manchester City – and claims owner Sheikh Mansour loves the Italian firebrand.

The controversial striker has failed to impress for the Premier League champions this season – scoring just one league goal- and continues to be dogged by disciplinary problems.

But Mancini remains defiant in his support of Balotelli – but has warned him to clean up his act.

Joker of the pack: Mario Balotelli (centre) has disappointed this season

Joker of the pack: Mario Balotelli (centre) has disappointed this season

'I think Mario will stay but the future depends mostly on him,' he told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

'Sheikh Mansour likes Balotelli because he recognises the talent and he exports the name of the City over the world.

'We need to consider that Mario was made as a major investment, and this is not a club that throws its capital through the window.'

Controversy: Balotelli stormed off after being replaced against Sunderland

Controversy: Balotelli stormed off after being replaced against Sunderland

Mancini admitted he has taken the 22-year-old to task in light of his performances on and off the field.

'The relationship between me and him is always good, even if one day he does something,' he added.

'I love him because for many years we live together. I've seen him grow. But the professional relationship is another thing and I've told Mario what I need from him.

Colourful: Italian Balotelli continues to make headlines off the pitch

Colourful: Italian Balotelli continues to make headlines off the pitch

'The time of cheap talk is over. Balotelli is 22 years old and now it's time to be professional. I ask from him seriousness and commitment in training, a more stable private life and correct behaviour on the pitch.

'[Roma forward Francesco] Totti is Mario's best example. If Francesco is able to have this continuity of performance at the highest level at the age of 36 years, it's because he has behaved as a professional.

'Mario now has returned to training and could be on the bench against Stoke. Otherwise, he could play against Watford in the FA Cup on January 5.'

Swansea fan arrested for alleged racist gesture towards Sebastien Bassong

Swansea fan arrested for alleged racist gesture towards Bassong after referee Webb reports incident to fourth official

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UPDATED:

23:12 GMT, 8 December 2012

A Swansea fan was arrested for allegedly making a racist gesture towards Norwich defender Sebastien Bassong.

The incident occurred during the second half of Norwich's 4-3 win at Swansea's Liberty Stadium after Robert Snodgrass had scored in the 76th minute to put the visitors 4-2 ahead.

Bassong immediately reported the incident to referee Howard Webb and a 23-year-old man was arrested and charged with a racially aggravated public order offence after TV footage of the incident had been examined.

Incident: The alleged gesture reportedly took place after Robert Snodgrass scored Norwich's fourth goal

Incident: The alleged gesture reportedly took place after Robert Snodgrass scored Norwich's fourth goal

Over to you: Bassong went to celebrate with his team-mates before motioning to referee Howard Webb, who reported the alleged gesture to the fourth official

Over to you: Bassong went to celebrate with his team-mates before motioning to referee Howard Webb, who reported the alleged gesture to the fourth official

A spokesman for Swansea said: 'An
incident happened after the fourth goal. Bassong made the referee aware
there was a racist incident towards him by a Swansea fan. Within 10
minutes the footage had been seen and the person had been identified and
arrested.

'We must stress that as a football club we abhor racism in any form and we work hard to make this a family-friendly club.'

Goalscoring defender: Bassong scored for the visitors before half time

Goalscoring defender: Bassong scored for the visitors before half time

Norwich manager Chris Hughton said:
'I've spoken to Seb and I know what the situation is, but Swansea dealt
with it in the correct manner. It's now in the hands of the
authorities.'

A police spokesperson said: 'South
Wales Police can confirm a 23-year-old Swansea man was arrested for a
racially aggravated public order offence.'

This is the latest in a spate of
apparent racist incidents. A man was recently arrested for allegedly
making monkey gestures towards West Bromwich's Romelu Lukaku in a match
at Sunderland and a Chelsea supporter was also arrested and bailed for
allegedly making a similar gesture towards Manchester United striker
Danny Welbeck.

The arrest will now sadly cast a shadow over a magnificent game of football that saw the fortunes of both sides swing back and forth before Norwich eventually triumphed.

Shame: The incident casts a shadow over a fantastic game of football at the Liberty

Shame: The incident casts a shadow over a fantastic game of football at the Liberty

Shame: The incident casts a shadow over a fantastic game of football at the Liberty

The Canaries had stunned their high-flying hosts with goals from Steven Whittaker, Bassong and Grant Holt giving them a 3-0 half-time lead.

Swansea rallied through strikes from Michu and Jonathan De Guzman, but Snodgrass made sure of the win with his excellent free-kick, before Michu netted again in stoppage time.

And Hughton was delighted with the character his side showed to stave off the Swansea fightback.

He said: 'The first half could not have gone better but it was always going to be difficult to sustain that.

'We did ourselves no favours by conceding so early in the second half, which was always going to give them a lift.

'But at 3-2 a lot of people who were not here would have expected it to go to 3-3 and become a Swansea win.

You again: Michu scored another goal to keep up his impressive strike rate

You again: Michu scored another goal to keep up his impressive strike rate

'We had to dig deep and the character we showed at 3-2 with 30 minutes to go was excellent as it was really tough.'

Swansea manager Michael Laudrup, meanwhile, was pleased with his side's reaction to a poor first half, but did not feel they deserved to get anything out of the game.

'We did not play well in the first half today. We were 3-0 down and obviously we came out and had a great reaction in the second half. We scored two and it could have been three but we had an equaliser disallowed.

'But overall we did not deserve it today after the first half. I knew there would be reaction one day after all the positive things people have been saying about us.

UEFA president Michel Platini considering goal-line technology

Platini in video technology U-turn as UEFA chief admits he's considering replays to rule on offside decisions

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UPDATED:

16:03 GMT, 28 November 2012

UEFA president Michel Platini has admitted he is considering the use of video replays to help referees rule on offside decisions for the first time.

It marks a dramatic turnaround from the head of European football, who has long been opposed to the use of goal-line technology and video in football to help referees make correct decisions, arguing they are unnecessary and slow the game down.

In fact, it was believed that even if English clubs had goal-line technology in place, he would insist that any clubs playing in the Champions League and Europa League turn OFF the hi-tech systems for those games.

Centre of attention: Platini is considering the use of video replays

Centre of attention: Platini is considering the use of video replays

Asked if he had changed his mind on the use of video by French newspaper Ouest France, Platini said: 'There is a complicated thing for which we might, and I say might, need video, it's offside. Because it is very difficult for the referees to rule on that.'

Since the European Championships in the summer, FIFA have jumped ahead of UEFA in their openness to using technology.

For FIFA president Sepp Blatter, the final straw came in Donetsk this summer, when it was not spotted by the officials that a shot from Ukraine forward Marko Devic had crossed the line before it was hooked away by John Terry.

Replays have established Devic had been offside earlier in the move, and that had not been spotted either. Yet at the time Platini uses that incident to underline why he does not want technology in the game.

Speaking in June Platini said: 'The goal between England and Ukraine: it was a goal. It was a mistake from the referee. But there was an offside before then.

'If the officials had given offside there wouldn't have been a goal. So why don't we have technology for offside decisions as well Where does it stop' 'It's not goal-line technology in itself,' said Platini.

'I am against technology coming into force to actually make decisions.

'It invades every single area. If tomorrow someone handballs it on the line and the referee doesn't see it, what then

'We can't just have goal-line technology. We also need sensors to see if someone has handballed it.

'We need cameras to see if it should be a goal or not.' During the summer it seemed there was even the possibility that Platini might look to prevent technology being used in UEFA's flagship tournaments even if FIFA decide to pursue the venture.

'We are going to see if this is suggested and proposed to all federations,' he said. 'The national federations will have then have the chance to decide whether they want goal-line technology.

'Mr Blatter knows what I think of this and I know his thoughts on the issue.'

Chelsea lodge FA complaint over Mark Clattenburg

Chelsea lodge complaint with FA about Clattenburg's 'racial abuse' of Mikel BUT drop allegation regarding Mata

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UPDATED:

19:39 GMT, 31 October 2012

Back so soon, lads

Chelsea and Manchester United lock horns again tonight in the Capital One League Cup – and you can follow the live action HERE

Chelsea have lodged a formal complaint with the Football Association which accuses referee Mark Clattenburg of using inappropriate language directed at John Obi Mikel during Sunday's Premier League defeat to Manchester United.

The club, though, say there is not enough evidence to support the second allegation of abuse towards Spanish midfielder Juan Mata.

The future of Clattenburg could come
down to whether he used the word ‘monkey’ in his exchange with Mikel.
The Consett official categorically denies the allegations.

In a statement on their website, Chelsea said: 'This is a result of a thorough investigation carried out by the club, and led by outside legal counsel, of all information available to us including interviews with a number of players and staff.

'Following Sunday's Premier League game against Manchester United, club board members were quickly made aware, upon entering the home dressing room after the final whistle, that there were allegations of inappropriate language directed at Chelsea FC players by Mr Clattenburg during the game.

Row: Chelsea have lodged an official complaint about the way Mark Clattenburg spoke to John Obi Mikel

Row: Chelsea have lodged an official complaint about the way Mark Clattenburg spoke to John Obi Mikel

Row: Chelsea have lodged an official complaint with the FA over the way in which Mark Clattenburg spoke to John Obi Mikel

'Board members began establishing the details of the allegations, speaking to all relevant players and staff.

'After those initial interviews it was clear that the matter had to be reported. The correct protocol for doing so was to report the incidents to the match delegate, and the club took immediate steps to inform him as soon as he was available. It was not a decision the club took lightly.

'Since reporting the matter to the delegate, the club and outside legal counsel have conducted further investigations. Having completed that process we have now followed the correct protocol and lodged a formal complaint with The FA regarding John Mikel Obi.

'There was not sufficient evidence to support a second claim to The FA with regard to the alleged verbal abuse of another first team player.

'We will cooperate fully with The FA and the Police as they each investigate the matter. As events on Sunday are now subject to those investigations we are unable to comment further until those processes are complete.'

Mikel was selected for Wednesday night's Carling Cup tie against Manchester United, and Roberto di Matteo said he had little doubt all his players would be able to focus on football.

He said: 'I am very confident we can fully focus on the game. I always speak to my players before the game and today they are OK to play. I hope we have the right motivation to go out and win this game.'

'We have some suspensions and injuries and it is a chance to refresh the team because we played with 10 and nine men [on Sunday], which cost us a lot.'

Sir Alex Ferguson added: 'I don't think Sunday will make any difference. It is a cup tie so hopefully we can navigate it and progress.'

The Sun newspaper has reported that Nigeria midfielder Mikel, who did not hear the alleged racist slur, was told by team-mate Ramires that he was a called ‘a monkey’ in the match against Manchester United on Sunday.

When Ramires told Mikel that he thought he’d been called ‘a monkey’, at least three members of the Chelsea playing and coaching staff asked: ‘Are you certain’.

Shocked: The initial claims regarding Juan Mata, though, will not be pursued by the club

Shocked: The initial claims regarding Juan Mata, though, will not be pursued by the club

Shocked: The initial claims regarding Juan Mata, though, will not be pursued by the club
CHELSEA STATEMENT IN FULL

'Chelsea Football Club today lodged a formal complaint with The Football Association regarding inappropriate language directed at John Mikel Obi by referee Mark Clattenburg. This is a result of a thorough investigation carried out by the club, and led by outside legal counsel, of all information available to us including interviews with a number of players and staff.

'Following Sunday's Premier League game against Manchester United, club board members were quickly made aware, upon entering the home dressing room after the final whistle, that there were allegations of inappropriate language directed at Chelsea FC players by Mr Clattenburg during the game.

'Board members began establishing the details of the allegations, speaking to all relevant players and staff. After those initial interviews it was clear that the matter had to be reported. The correct protocol for doing so was to report the incidents to the match delegate, and the club took immediate steps to inform him as soon as he was available. It was not a decision the club took lightly.

'Since reporting the matter to the delegate, the club and outside legal counsel have conducted further investigations. Having completed that process we have now followed the correct protocol and lodged a formal complaint with The FA regarding John Mikel Obi. There was not sufficient evidence to support a second claim to The FA with regard to the alleged verbal abuse of another first team player.

'We will cooperate fully with The FA and the Police as they each investigate the matter. As events on Sunday are now subject to those investigations we are unable to comment further until those processes are complete.'

He was questioned by team-mates and staff who asked if, with Clattenburg speaking with such a strong North East accent, the official had said ‘shut up, Mikel’, rather than ‘shut up, monkey’, which has been alleged.

Ramires, who does not speak fluent English is adamant that he heard the slur, although Clattenburg denies the claims and is supported by his two assistants.

Earlier on Wednesday, Sportsmail revealed Clattenburg has admitted privately that he wished he had not sent off Fernando Torres in Sunday's toxic fixture.

There is no facility for Chelsea to
appeal Torres' dismissal. Regulations stipulate that second yellow cards
cannot be rescinded. The Spain striker will, therefore, serve his
one-match ban tonight when the two sides meet again at Stamford Bridge
in the Capital One Cup.

In the days following the controversial match, Chelsea employed independent lawyers to investigate the claims, which included an allegation that Mata was called a 'Spanish t***'.

Chelsea have proceeded with the case, satisfied that the claims game will stand up to the FA’s burden of proof.

The club must satisfy an FA commission 'on the balance of probability', but they also have to negotiate the complexities of the Metropolitan Police’s investigation into the affair.

The Met confirmed they had acted on a ‘complaint’ from the Society of Black Lawyers after the European champions accused Clattenburg, who has been taken off the Premier League match list this weekend, of using racist comments.

There are suggestions of seething resentment in some quarters at the way Chelsea had made their complaint public and a desire to see strong action taken against them if the official was cleared.

The Metropolitan Police have became embroiled in their second high-profile football racism case in 12 months after the man behind the mooted black players’ breakaway union, Peter Herbert, wrote to them demanding they investigate Clattenburg.

Herbert defended his intervention, telling Sky Sports News: ‘What we don’t want is for it to be swept away under the carpet. It must be subject to a full and proper investigation. It is to lend some seriousness and some weight behind what is happening in football.’

Herbert admitted his complaint was based on reports rather than first-hand evidence but added: ‘We weren’t there but we don’t need to be there in order to report an incident.

Crucial moment: Clattenburg has admitted he wishes he had not sent off Fernando Torres

Crucial moment: Clattenburg has admitted he wishes he had not sent off Fernando Torres

Was there contact Torres was sent off for diving, but this screen grab seems to show Evans making contact

Was there contact Torres was sent off for diving, but this screen grab seems to show Evans making contact

‘This appears to have had some cogency and so it needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency. I think the Met Police have huge resources, expertise, and I have no doubt that this matter will be resolved and the truth will come out. If we’ve got this completely wrong then, of course, the police will tell us.’

But Professional Footballers’ Association chief executive Gordon Taylor said: ‘Involving police or waiting causes a massive festering of the issue, which has continued to cause problems and is not good for the image of the game.

VIDEO: Clattenburg and Mikel have words on the pitch…

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Mark Clattenburg minute-by-minute during Chelsea v Manchester United

Suddenly something changed Clattenburg's attitude

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UPDATED:

23:00 GMT, 29 October 2012

Mark Clattenburg was having a good game and then something changed his attitude and demeanour.

The condemnation of Clattenburg feels rather like throwing the baby out with the bath water. He was refereeing well, applying common sense and allowing a great game to develop until the law dictated he had to send off Branislav Ivanovic. Here are my notes on the game.

Opening passage of play: Fitness excellent and letting game flow. Surprised no action was taken when Ivanovic committed sliding tackle on Patrice Evra.

Issue: John Obi Mikel with Mark Clattenburg

Issue: John Obi Mikel with Mark Clattenburg

Minute-by-minute

22 minutes: Poor foul by Michael Carrick on Ramires. No caution but Clattenburg uses the rebuke to make Carrick and all players aware they are getting close to a caution. Good management.

43 minutes: Wayne Rooney gives away a free-kick and is booked. It is a routine caution and Chelsea score from the free-kick.

45 minutes: Fernando Torres kicks Tom Cleverley in the chest. Whatever his intention, the fact is that the challenge was likely to endanger the opponent and should have resulted in a red card. Clattenburg only gives a yellow, which I think is his only clear error in the first half.

53 minutes: Chelsea equalise. Thereafter I observe Clattenburg is running hard to get into optimum viewing positions and trying to keep players calm. His approach is working.

62 minutes: Young is tripped by Ivanovic when through on goal and Clattenburg gives free-kick. He is then seen to double check with his assistant that Young was through and had an obvious scoring opportunity. The assistant confirms this and Ivanovic is sent off. Correct decision.

Off you go: Clattenburg puts his card away after sending off Branislav Ivanovic

Off you go: Clattenburg puts his card away after sending off Branislav Ivanovic

68 minutes: Torres runs at Jonny Evans. Torres hits the ground and at full speed it looks like he’s gone to ground easily. There must be doubts for Clattenburg, who was in a great position. He shows Torres a second yellow and I feel he must have been 100 per cent sure that there was no contact.

74 minutes: Javier Hernandez scores and Clattenburg looks over to his assistant to check for offside. There is no flag so the goal is awarded.

76 minutes: Clattenburg, looking flustered, has an exchange with John Obi Mikel which results in the Chelsea man being cautioned for dissent. The home crowd are on Clattenburg’s case and he looks uncomfortable.

Late winner: Javier Hernandez celebrates his goal in front of Chelsea fans

Late winner: Javier Hernandez celebrates his goal in front of Chelsea fans

90+1 minutes: Antonio Valencia is cautioned for simulation; this looks like a tit-for-tat levelling up as there appeared to be contact.

Summary: A fine performance has been marred by an incorrect dismissal and an offside goal. The latter was out of his control but the Torres red card will be regretted.

Brendan Rodgers fears Luis Suarez could be victim of reputation

Rodgers fears Suarez could be victim of reputation after Reds striker denied another penalty

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UPDATED:

19:00 GMT, 30 September 2012

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers fears Luis Suarez has acquired a reputation for diving that will haunt him for the rest of his career.

Suarez put in a dazzling performance at Norwich on Saturday, scoring three goals and setting up another in the Reds' 5-2 win at Carrow Road.

But one thing tarnished the Northern Irishman's first victory – yet another refusal by the match officials to award Liverpool a penalty after a foul on Suarez.

Victim Luis Suarez was denied a penalty after Leon Barnett seemed to chop him down

Victim Luis Suarez was denied a penalty after Leon Barnett seemed to chop him down

Leon Barnett clearly barged Suarez
over and brought his elbow down on the forward's shoulder in the box,
but referee Mike Jones did not give the spot-kick despite strong
protests from the away players.

Last week Suarez was denied a penalty despite being fouled by Jonny Evans and the week before he received a yellow card for simulation against Sunderland, although replays confirmed the penalty shout was legitimate.

Some players in the Barclays Premier League have struggled to shake off their reputation for being a diver and Rodgers thinks the same may now happen to Suarez.

'There is that fear,' Rodgers said.

'I could tell you about three or four strikers who go down in the box with very minimal contact, and all of them have had penalties this year.

'Everyone in the ground saw it was a penalty. Apart from the referee.'

Rodgers' frustration with officiating in Liverpool's games so far this season came to a head earlier this week when he called referees' chief Mike Riley to complain his team were not getting enough correct decisions.

Hat-trick hero: Suarez scored three goals as Liverpool beat Norwich 5-2

Hat-trick hero: Suarez scored three goals as Liverpool beat Norwich 5-2

Hat-trick hero: Suarez scored three goals as Liverpool beat Norwich 5-2

He insists he cannot ponder on the matter for too long, however.

He added: 'I can't worry too much about it. It's something that hopefully the referees, when they analyse and assess their own performance, will have a look at.

'We just have to concentrate on building our game, developing our football, and hopefully these penalties that we don't get won't come back to haunt us.'

Liverpool's failure to sign a replacement for Andy Carroll on transfer deadline day had left Rodgers worried that he would not have enough firepower for the campaign ahead.

Suarez went some way to allaying those fears on Saturday by scoring three sublime goals and setting up Nuri Sahin for Liverpool's third.

The Uruguayan put Liverpool ahead after just 67 seconds and embarrassed Michael Turner by pinching the ball off the Norwich defender and then nutmegging him before beating John Ruddy to make it 2-0.

Steak over: Liverpool earned their first Premier League win

Steak over: Liverpool earned their first Premier League win

Suarez selflessly squared to Sahin for Liverpool's third and curled home a 20-yard strike in the second half to leave Rodgers purring with admiration well before Steven Gerrard added the Reds' final goal.

'Luis is a complete footballer,' Rodgers said.

'He's not just a No 9 box player who stands up there and waits for the ball.

'He has more tactical understanding of the game. He is clever in his technique… he moves well in and around defenders.

'All three were wonderful goals.'

Unlike Liverpool, Norwich never looked like ending their winless streak on Saturday.

With Grant Holt on the bench, the Canaries lacked penetration up front and they dearly missed the composure of Sebastien Bassong in defence.

First goals of the season for Steve Morison and Holt were the only positives for the Norfolk club, who now have the daunting task of facing Chelsea and Arsenal in their next two games.

Happy: Penalty claim aside, Rodgers was delighted with his side's win

Happy: Penalty claim aside, Rodgers was delighted with his side's win

Norwich performed better after their 5-0 hammering of Fulham on the opening day of the season and defender Russell Martin thinks Saturday's defeat was not a true reflection of the talents at Chris Hughton's disposal.

'The real Norwich is what you saw in the last three or four weeks – not what you saw against Liverpool,' Martin said.

'We are deflated at the moment, but we have a work ethic in that dressing room that has got us to where we are over the last few years and it remains the same.'

Some Norwich fans left after Liverpool's third goal went in even though the match was just 56 minutes old and they also booed their team off at half-time and after the final whistle.

'The fans pay good money and they have been unbelievable for the last few years so if they want to air their views then that's fine,' Martin said.

The Saturday debate: Is John Terry"s punishment of a four-game ban and 220,000 fine right?

The Saturday debate: Is John Terry's punishment of a four-game ban and 220,000 fine right

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UPDATED:

21:47 GMT, 28 September 2012

After Chelsea captain John Terry was found guilty by the FA of making racist comments to QPR's Anton Ferdinand he was banned for four games and fined 220,000, Sportsmail asks its panel of experts if it was the correct punishment.

MARK BRIGHT (Former Sheffield Wednesday striker)

We can all say John Terry has previous but in this particular case was there enough evidence I don’t think there was. Regardless what went on in the past, if someone’s been found not guilty in court, I don’t think there’s enough evidence.

CYRILLE REGIS ( Former West Brom striker)

A panel of knowledgeable people have gone through the due process and we have to trust they got it right. People are making comparisons with Luis Suarez, but he used the term negro seven times, whereas Terry was found guilty of using racist language once. I know he had already appeared in a court of law but this was a different charge. It was simply use of racist language and, having been found guilty, a four-game ban is about right.

Fined and banned: John Terry has had his punishment from The FA

Fined and banned: John Terry has had his punishment from The FA

NEIL ASHTON (Football news correspondent)

Four games is irrelevant. If it is confirmed in the FA’s judgment that John Terry was wrong to accuse Anton Ferdinand of inventing a racist allegation at Loftus Road last October, the biggest punishment for Terry is that he will have to live with that. It would be seen as an immoral tool that Terry used to try to wriggle out of the charges.

CHRIS WHEELER (Football reporter)

/09/28/article-2210270-13FE72BD000005DC-821_468x286.jpg” width=”468″ height=”286″ alt=”Flashpoint: The moment when Terry was accused of racially abusing Anton Ferdinand last season” class=”blkBorder” />

Flashpoint: The moment when Terry was accused of racially abusing Anton Ferdinand last season

SHAKA HISLOP (Former Newcastle keeper)

The FA are weak, biased and xenophobic. I have lost all faith in them. There are a number of ways you can abuse someone over their skin colour and John Terry went to one extreme. From now on, is it OK to shout racist abuse at someone, provided it finishes with a question mark Absolutely not. The FA are showing they are quite happy to stamp out racism, as long as it is not committed by an Anglo-Saxon English captain of the national team.

ALAN PARDEW (Newcastle manager)

You want to see consistency in the number of games and the fine and that needs to be looked at going forward because the fine should be heavy if he is guilty. I am not in possession of all the facts but I think the FA should explain why they have come to those decisions.

Kell Brook must ditch old habits

Buck up, Brook! Brave Kell knows he must ditch old habits to be a world beater

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UPDATED:

21:01 GMT, 8 July 2012

Kell Brook, having survived a dash to hospital as well as the biggest scare of his career, has some serious thinking to do once his head clear s completely.

If he is to live up to his Sky TV billing as Sheffield's new Naseem Hamed, then Brook must absorb not only the punches he took on Saturday night but the lesson they delivered.

Brave: Kell Brook won on points but lacked fight in the later rounds

Brave: Kell Brook won on points but lacked fight in the later rounds

Brook dispelled any doubts about his courage as he held on for a majority decision over Carson Jones.

This win took guts. But as ever in the fight game, one correct answer begs another question.

Brook must now ask himself whether he can fulfil his world title talent without making all the lifestyle sacrifices demanded of the champion prize-fighter.

Slightly fortunate: Brook celebrates beating Carson Jones after their IBF Welterweight Title Eliminator

Slightly fortunate: Brook celebrates beating Carson Jones after their IBF Welterweight Title Eliminator

He hinted as much when he questioned whether the fatigue which enveloped him in the second half of this 12-round test was a consequence of his diet.

Having the stomach for a fight is important.

So is what a boxer feeds into it – and at what time of the night he does so.

Clearly, Brook trained dutifully but stamina is rooted deeper in the day-to-day activities and sleeping patterns between fights.

Having blistered Jones with his Prince Naz-like hand speed in the first five rounds, a flagging Brook came under increasing pressure.

Missed: Brook (left) avoids a left from Jones in their bout at the Sheffield Motorpoint Arena

Missed: Brook (left) avoids a left from Jones in their bout at the Sheffield Motorpoint Arena

He had his nose broken in the eighth, kept losing blood and only clung onto the verdict by gasping up just enough of a second wind to edge a couple of late rounds.

Had Jones kickstarted his assault sooner, crisis might have mushroomed into catastrophe for the 26-year-old Brook's 29-fight unbeaten record.

Yet the sobering reality is that the Oklahama man – a brave and worthy scrapper – is not close to world class.

Early dominance: Brook (left) connects with a solid right

Early dominance: Brook (left) connects with a solid right

He had Brook in such trouble that the man who calls himself Special K might well have been on the wrong end of a Special KO had the referee not interrupted Jones' last-round onslaught for several seconds to warn him about some obscure infringement.

Brook was reeling and there was confirmation of his distress when he came over faint in the dressing room soon after.

It was just as well that the official came to his aid because his own camp was in some disarray.

It not ideal to score a fight through the prism of the television lens.

Bloodied but unbowed: Brook receives treatment

Bloodied but unbowed: Brook receives treatment

I had it 116-113 for Brook but watching on Sky offered a revealing view of his corner.

It was not a pretty sight.

Panic set in as the going got tough, just when Brook needed calm heads not chaos around him and buckets of ice dumped over his head.

There are issues to be addressed before Brook takes on Argentina's Hector Saldivia in a final eliminator for the IBF world welterweight title.

Fury impressive

Tyson Fury looked fitter and more impressive as he pulped Vinny Maddalone in five rounds.

As fit, strong and impressive as he should against any punch-bag. As a trial horse pre-Wladimir Klitschko, who flattened Tony Thompson in six on Saturday, Maddalone was no more relevant than an aging pit pony.

But Fury looks ready for sterner tests.

Power and the Fury: Tyson Fury (right) lands a right on Vinnie Maddalone

Power and the Fury: Tyson Fury (right) lands a right on Vinnie Maddalone

How Twitter has conquered sport

Sir Alex thinks it's a waste of time but Rio disagrees… how Twitter conquered sport

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UPDATED:

21:32 GMT, 1 July 2012

We have tweeted our way through a World Cup and Euro 2012 and, in 25 days’ time, we will experience the inaugural ‘Twitter Olympics’.

At a time when some athletes operate on a financial plane so alien to most, their stream of 140-character messages make them seem more accessible than ever.

Like it or not, Twitter has taken a powerful hold on sport: it’s the way many of us watch, listen, cover, read about and debate it. Sir Alex Ferguson may consider it a ‘waste of time’, but its influence has become impossible to ignore.

Main men: Lewis Hamilton and Rio Ferdinand are both avid tweeters

Main men: Lewis Hamilton and Rio Ferdinand are both avid tweeters

Fernando Torres’ goal for Chelsea at the Nou Camp last season prompted a record 13,684 tweets per second as millions of people all over the world discussed Barcelona’s exit from the Champions League. Manchester City connected fans using the hashtag ‘#together’ as they won the Premier League title.

It feels very different to having a chat with your mates in the pub but the network is just another platform for people with similar interests. National Basketball Association commissioner David Stern calls Twitter the ‘digital water cooler’ but its novelty is that you will probably never meet most of the people with whom you are exchanging views. Some would argue this is a little bit sad — a social network that requires no social skills — but others revel in Twitter’s power to connect.

This is why England players were not banned from tweeting during Euro 2012 and the British Olympic Association have told athletes to let their ‘personality shine through’ in a set of social media guidelines for the Games. The BOA have also advised that ‘correct spelling and grammar where possible’ may not be the worst idea.

Stuart Mawhinney, senior communications manager at the FA, said: ‘Other nations were saying no social networking (during the Euros) but we wanted our players to be open, positive and engage. It might only take 10 minutes but it can touch millions of people.’

This is my life: Lance Armstrong (left) reveals all about his lunch

This is my life: Lance Armstrong (left) reveals all about his lunch

When the first tweet was posted in March 2006, little did we think that, six years later, we would have a former England captain giving us his instant reaction to ITV’s This Morning. But Rio Ferdinand did just that a few weeks ago.

The Manchester United defender, 33, is as likely to share his love of crunchy apples or EastEnders as his thoughts on the FA’s new blueprint for coaching with his near three million followers. Seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong once tweeted about having lentil soup and salad Nicoise for his evening meal.

‘Why should we care’ is the obvious response. It plays to these high-profile athletes’ egos but their willingness to share the mundane, everyday details of their lives seems to narrow the gap between them and us. They are normal, after all. You might have been on the sofa watching the Eurovision Song Contest but so was Fulham goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer.

Lewis Wiltshire, Twitter’s head of sport for the UK, said: ‘Never before have fans had such direct access to their sporting heroes. Athletes answer questions, respond to “good luck” wishes, talk to fellow players and share behind-the-scenes perspectives. Twitter helps fans get to know athletes.’

Nothing to say David Beckham has yet to take to the world of Twitter

Nothing to say David Beckham has yet to take to the world of Twitter

Some, however, would prefer to keep their sporting heroes on their pedestals. Jack Wilshere had a whinge about the cost of nappies, milk and food for his son, Archie, and was immediately harangued for being ‘out of touch’. The Arsenal midfielder has since closed his account and called in police after accusations he had taken cocaine.

‘It’s a nightmare,’ said one communications expert. ‘Your clients need to have a presence on social media but you have to be very careful. Do we really want to spoil the illusion by telling people this famous sports star is popping out for a pint of milk You need to strike a balance.’

The most notable Twitter absentee is David Beckham. He has a Facebook page, which has attracted 19.4million ‘likes’, but leaves his wife, Victoria, to engage with her 3.9million Twitter followers.

Beckham has thought about joining, but lacks the time and inclination to commit to it properly. His four children and age — Victoria tweeted a picture of his cake for his 37th birthday in May — also mean he is less likely to join than, for example, Lewis Hamilton or Andy Murray, who are not fathers of four and have grown up with social media.

Yet Hamilton and Murray have ensured rocky relationships with Twitter. It can be time-consuming and distracting. Both have also encountered abuse, ranging from people accusing Murray of not ‘being British’ to sick messages about the tragedy in Dunblane, from where he hails. Murray was eight when Thomas Hamilton burst into his primary school and killed 16 children and a teacher.

Dark side: Andy Murray has suffered abuse over the Dunblane shootings

Dark side: Andy Murray has suffered abuse over the Dunblane shootings

The Scot told ShortList magazine: ‘There’s a lot of negativity and people can say anything. But if they saw you the next day they wouldn’t walk up and say what they said online. I don’t understand people going on there just to slam others.’

This slamming, though, is impossible to ignore if you look at your ‘mentions’ to respond to fans’ questions. Stan Collymore regularly flags up racist abuse he receives, Everton midfielder Darron Gibson closed his account after two hours and Sportsmail’s David Lloyd had a prolonged sabbatical after getting fed up with all the expletives.

After England’s Euro 2012 exit, the FA criticised the ‘appalling and unacceptable’ abuse directed at Ashley Young and Ashley Cole. Double Olympic gold medallist Rebecca Adlington spoke of her anger and frustration at internet trolls making hurtful comments about her appearance. You can understand Beckham thinking: ‘Why should I bother’

One source said: ‘They will get heightened praise and there’s a heightened level of vitriol, neither of which are healthy. Twitter needs to do more to moderate abuse and find a way to block users permanently.’

Yet athletes continue to set up accounts. So is it just another tool to line their pockets It is not uncommon to see a wily PR girl’s enthusiastic endorsement on a client’s Twitter page. Liverpool’s feed featured birthday wishes for captain Steven Gerrard in French and Thai ‘to communicate with #LFC fans across the world’. Andrew Flintoff often uses Twitter to promote his latest TV venture.

Free speech: Mark Cavendish (right) will not be told what to tweet about

Free speech: Mark Cavendish (right) will not be told what to tweet about

Phil Hall, chairman of PR agency PHA Media, said: ‘I think Twitter has huge commercial benefit. Look at the following some of the guys have: there’s a great opportunity for products and sponsors.’

But it’s a fine line. Plug too many products and you lose what is behind Twitter’s success: the feeling that two people, probably strangers, are speaking directly to each other. This is why 2011 BBC Sports Personality of the Year Mark Cavendish has vowed never to ‘commercialise’ his site.

‘I won’t ever let anyone tell me what to write,’ said Cavendish. ‘Everything is just me. The accessibility appealed to me. Cycling is a sport where you can touch the athletes. You’re not in an arena watching these gladiators. I got benefit from it because, with the trappings and success when you’re young, you can get a bad reputation. But Twitter takes out any middle ground. You can say what you want, when you want.’

This, however, can get you into trouble. Sponsorship deals have been lost and hundreds of thousands of pounds paid in fines as athletes have tweeted ill-advised messages in the heat of the moment. American National Football League players are banned from using social media from 90 minutes before a game until post-match interviews are complete. The instant, unfiltered nature of Twitter is an integral part of its success but could also be its downfall.

Abuse: Rebecca Adlington

Abuse: Rebecca Adlington

One FA employee described Twitter as ‘a growing headache’. The organisation are responsible for educating the players in the national sides, particularly the youth teams, and for disciplining those who step out of line. The FA also have their own feed, which has 190,000 followers.

Mawhinney said: ‘There are a growing number of young players who are joining without really understanding its reach. Some have had to learn the hard way but there’s now a sense among players Twitter is something you need to be aware of in the same way as giving a press conference.’

Yet football managers, mindful of the risk of players revealing injuries or discussing team selection or transfers, remain resistant to its charms. ‘Twitter is dangerous,’ said Newcastle United boss Alan Pardew.

Few managers have accounts. They do not have the time, while the potential to misinterpret a view written in 140 characters is huge. There is also a generational gap — in terms of technology and the usefulness of social media — between player and coach. One footballer mentioned the freedom Twitter gives: it feels like the one area the boss cannot control.

Perhaps the test of Twitter’s power in sport will be shown if prolific contributors like Ferdinand step into management themselves. Will they still be as keen to engage Or will we have become saturated with these details of daily life, longing for the days when sportsmen and women smiled for the cameras and concentrated on what they do best: winning matches and medals #weshallsee

Top sports stars on Twitter

FIVE GREAT TWITTER STORMS

CARLTON COLE

In March 2010 the West Ham striker joked that the England v Ghana friendly at Wembley was a trap set up by the Government to catch illegal immigrants. When his tweets received a furious backlash he wondered why people were being so sensitive — but later deleted them and was handed a 20,000 fine by the FA.

DARREN BENT

WHEN the striker’s move from Tottenham to Sunderland was stalling he took it upon himself to speed things along by posting a rant aimed at Spurs chairman Daniel Levy. He wrote: ‘Do I wanna go Hull City NO. Do I wanna go Stoke NO. Do I wanna go Sunderland YES. So stop ******* around Levy.’ He later apologised but got the move he wanted.

RORY McILROY

The golfer defended caddie JP Fitzgerald after he was criticised by commentator Jay Townsend, who had mocked McIlroy’s course management since taking on the bagman in 2008. McIlroy tweeted: ‘Shut up. You’re a commentator and a failed golfer, your opinion means nothing!’

Outspoken: Rory McIlroy hit out at commentator Jay Townsend

Outspoken: Rory McIlroy hit out at commentator Jay Townsend

KEVIN PIETERSEN

NOT one for holding his tongue, the England batsman has put out his fair share of Twitter rants. In 2010 he reacted to being dropped from the one-day squad by branding the decision a ‘**** up’. And this May the 32-year-old laid into Sky Sports pundit Nick Knight, who had questioned why KP was in the one-day side.

He wrote: ‘Can somebody please tell me how Knight has worked his way into the commentary box for Tests Ridiculous.’ The ECB fined him around 5,000 and said the comments were ‘not helpful’. Sky had just paid the ECB 260million for a four-year TV deal.

STEPHANIE RICE

The Australia swimmer paid the price for posting a homophobic slur after Australia’s rugby union team beat South Africa in September 2010. The triple Olympic gold medallist lost her lucrative sponsorship deal with Jaguar — including a car worth 59,255 — and after severe criticism issued a tearful apology in a press conference.