Tag Archives: creature

Pepe Reina must prove he"s safe hands

Reina must prove he's safe hands as Liverpool stopper's form begins to raise questions

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UPDATED:

21:30 GMT, 21 September 2012

For a man who is a creature of habit and exceptionally superstitious, the demolished petrol station on the road to Anfield will be troubling Pepe Reina.

Liverpool's goalkeeper follows a bizarre pre-match routine that involves him stopping at the same garage before every home game, regardless of whether he needs one litre or a couple of gallons, to ensure his tank is full to the brim.

This summer, though, the forecourt that has been as vital psychologically to Reina's preparations as any warm-up drill has disappeared.

Questionable: Pepe Reina's form has been erratic in recent weeks

Questionable: Pepe Reina's form has been erratic in recent weeks

Sadly for the Spaniard, so has his form. Mistakes against Hearts and Arsenal have highlighted the problem, but he would be the first to recognise that standards have slipped in the last two years.

Given Reina's iconic standing among Liverpool supporters and the outstanding reputation he holds within the game, that appraisal may seem harsh but just consider this self-assessment he gave during an interview with Sportsmail in December 2010.

'I'm not happy at all,' he said. 'I can be better in many ways. I'm disappointed because you always want to be really consistent and helping the team. I want to improve.'

Managers have changed since then but were you to ask him for a synopsis of how he has started this campaign, the answer would be the same.

As much as Liverpool need to beat Manchester United on Sunday, Reina needs a big performance in a big game.

Only a couple of years ago Reina,
whom Rafa Benitez signed from Villarreal for 6.5million in 2005,
smashed a club record for keeping 100 clean sheets in less than 200
appearances and crowned his first three campaigns by winning the Golden
Gloves.

So what has gone amiss There are a
number of theories.

The first is that there is a lack of competition for
a starting place as Reina's deputies Brad Jones and Peter Gulacsi are
not up to playing regularly in the top flight.

Come on! Some believe the frequent changes of coaching staff at Liverpool could be a factor

Come on! Some believe the frequent changes of coaching staff at Liverpool could be a factor

Secondly, there is a perception that he has become frustrated by Liverpool's inability to compete.

Perhaps the most significant point, though, centres on the coaching he is receiving.

Reina had a close bond with Jose Ochotorena when he first arrived and the rapport continued with Xavi Valero.

Any chance Although first choice at Liverpool, Reina is behind Iker Casillas and Victor Valdes in the Spain pecking order

Any chance Although first choice at Liverpool, Reina is behind Iker Casillas and Victor Valdes in the Spain pecking order

Since then he has worked with Mike Kelly – Roy Hodgson's long-time ally – and, currently, the former Tranmere keeper John Achterberg.

Many wonder whether the changes are impacting on Reina. There have been stories that the 30-year-old will be moved on but he has no desire to leave.

Just as importantly, Brendan Rodgers wants him to stay. 'I've never had a problem with Pepe,' said Rodgers. 'He's a key member of the squad.'

But until he recaptures his top form, questions will keep being asked. What better place to start answering them than in the biggest game of all.

Rebecca Adlington to take part in charity bike ride

Adlington ready to swap freestyle for freewheeling as Olympic champion targets fresh challenge

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UPDATED:

11:38 GMT, 29 May 2012

When the 2012 Games come to a close on August 12, double Olympic champion Rebecca Adlington will set her sights on sunnier climes – and a 280-mile bike ride across Zambia.

The 23-year-old will be joined by Olympic bronze medallist Jo Jackson, former Commonwealth champion Ross Davenport and ex-swimmer Mel Marshall as they look to raise 50,000 for Sport in Action, a non-governmental organisation that looks to inspire change in impoverished communities through sport.

On a mission: Rebecca Adlington, Ross Davenport, and Joanne Jackson.

On a mission: Rebecca Adlington, Ross Davenport, and Joanne Jackson.

Leaving Britain on October 3, the quartet will set out from Livingstone on a four-day Bike for Africa challenge, supported by British Gas and UK Sport, to the capital Lusaka.

En-route they will visit a number of projects, also supported by UK Sport, such as 'Go Sisters' which empowers girls and women through sport.

Conditions will be hot and dry but there will be no creature comforts or five-star hotels. Instead, they will stay with local families.

Once in Lusaka they will give swimming lessons at a pool that has been renovated with 13,000 raised at a charity ball by Marshall and where sport sits side by side with AIDS education workshops in a country experiencing a HIV/AIDS epidemic.

The target is to raise at least 50,000 which is earmarked for the construction of a physio wing alongside an already existing AIDS hospital.

The aim would be to offer patients physiotherapy but also provide sports physio in the same place in a bid to reduce the stigma attached to AIDS.

Golden girl: Adlington has high hopes

Golden girl: Adlington has high hopes

The challenge is the brainchild of former world, European and Commonwealth medallist Marshall.

The 30-year-old became a Sport in Action ambassador following her retirement after the 2008 Olympics.

On visiting the project, she made a pledge to president Clement Chileshe that she would 'make a difference' with the aim of undertaking a significant project every four years in line with the Olympics.

It has become a passion for the City of Derby coach and when approached by Marshall, all three swimmers jumped at the opportunity to participate.

Adlington, already an ambassador for the Encephalitis Society, said: 'I didn't even have to think about it, it was such a great idea.

'It is totally out of our comfort zone – well, certainly out of my comfort zone, I've not been on a bike for 10 years – so it is very, very new.

'It's a very different challenge – it's not going to be easy, it's going to be extremely tough but we're perfectly willing to do it for the greater good.'

It will be a whirlwind two months for Adlington who will attempt to defend her 400m and 800m freestyle Olympic crowns before performing bridesmaid duties at the wedding of best friend – and Olympic open water champion – Keri-anne Payne to fellow swimmer David Carry in mid-September and all the while training for the ride.

And she is planning to call on the expertise of a fellow Olympic champion.

The Mansfield-born swimmer joked: 'It's funny because after Olympics I am going into training for the bike ride so I'll have to get Chris Hoy to give me some tips and help me out. Hopefully I can go up to Manchester and go on a bike ride with him one day.'

For Adlington, though, the most daunting aspect of the ride will be the creepy crawlies.

Team mates: Adlington and Jo Jackson

Team mates: Adlington and Jo Jackson

'Awful, I think that is going to be the worst thing, the bugs and stuff,' she said.

'Things like spiders I just can't deal with so that is probably going to be the most difficult part for me.'

Olympic bronze medallist Jackson is also expecting it to be a shock to the system.

'I think it is going to be quite emotional, especially when we go to the hospitals and see what it's like,' she said.

'I think it is going to be emotionally and physically hard for us.

'But even if we just put a smile on the kids' faces when we are teaching them to swim then we've definitely done something.

'And it's something I never thought I would do so I am really excited, I was honoured to be asked.'

Davenport admitted the challenge came at a good time knowing the emptiness that can follow the high of the Olympics.

'You've been in a close-knit community with the Olympic team for three weeks and you've gone along this journey for eight, 10, 12 years.

'So as soon as that is finished there is going to be a massive void in our lives.

'It's nice we can quickly challenge ourselves and mentally prepare for something that is a very worthy cause.'

To donate visit, http://www.justgiving.com/ZambiaCycle or Text 70070 – code TPDF50 & amount http://www.sportinaction.org.zm/index.htm