Tag Archives: decade

Luke Donald misses the cut in Malaysian Open

Donald loses proud record as his Masters build-up takes knock in Malaysia

By
Derek Lawrenson

PUBLISHED:

11:49 GMT, 23 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

19:49 GMT, 23 March 2013

Poor form: Luke Donald missed the cut in Malaysia

Poor form: Luke Donald missed the cut in Malaysia

They were playing in tournaments thousands of miles apart, but Luke Donald and Phil Mickelson headed home united by one common thought: with the Masters less than three weeks away, they have plenty of work to do.

Donald crashed out of the Malaysian Open at the halfway stage on Saturday to spoil one of the things he was most proud about in his career.

It was the first time he had ever missed a halfway cut in a European Tour event.

'I guess all good runs come to an end eventually, but I'm hugely disappointed,' he said.

Mickelson looked positively shattered after running up a horrific 79 in the second round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

'I just played terribly,' he said. Only three times in his last 12 Masters appearances has the three-time champion finished outside the top five, but the gifted lefty sounded like a man who did not expect to keep that remarkable run going.

He also had a dig at the PGA Tour for changing the schedule this year. Instead of the Houston Open – a tournament Mickelson loves – being the event before the Masters, it will be the Texas Open.

'Personally, I like playing on a course the week before that's similar, but the Texas Open layout is tight and it's windy, and that's not conducive to getting ready for Augusta,' he said.

'That makes it difficult for me. I find when I take a week off I come out and play like I did here – not mentally sharp. That's not good at the Masters, where you have to be sharp out of the gate.'

Donald's first missed cut on the European Tour came in his 119th start, stretching back a decade, and followed poor rounds of 74 and 73 to fall short by three shots as he struggled to read the slow greens at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club.

'I've got two weeks at home now and I'm going to have to be diligent in my Masters preparation,' he said.

Two up: Kiradech Aphibarnrat of Thailand claimed a two shot lead in the second round

Two up: Kiradech Aphibarnrat of Thailand claimed a two shot lead in the second round

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'It's true we've all seen players
who are seemingly out of form go and have a good week at the Masters,
but I need my scoring clubs – from 100 yards and in – to be better than
they have been.'

Meanwhile, as the third round of the
Arnold Palmer Invitational got underway at Bay Hill yesterday, Lee
Westwood did not improve his position among the back markers with a 72,
while Graeme McDowell is almost propping up the field after a 75.

One of the best early moves came from
Scot Martin Laird, a former winner of this event, who shot 68 to leap
up 35 places into the top 40.

Englishman Justin Rose began his third round tied for the lead with American Bill Haas, while Tiger Woods was four back.

Here in style: Charl Schwartzel of South Africa arrives in a helicopter on Saturday

Here in style: Charl Schwartzel of South Africa arrives in a helicopter on Saturday

Canada's Mike Weir, winner of the 2003 Masters, withdrew with a rib injury.

Weir, who was looking forward to
celebrating the 10th anniversary of his only major win at Augusta next
month, walked off the Bay Hill course after going four over through 11
holes.

Playing on a career money earnings
exemption after three barren injury-plagued seasons, Weir had begun to
show signs of turning his game around after making the cut for only the
fifth time in a PGA Tour event over the past three years.

Three of those have been this season, with a best finish of tied 50th at Pebble Beach.

'I'm feeling closer,' he said after his opening round on Thursday.

'It's not easy, but it's part of the game. I want to compete and that makes the hard work easier. I still love the game.'

Weir had been scheduled to play the Houston Open next week in his final competitive tune-up before the year's first major.

Premier League January transfer window is in its tenth year

Stick or twist, buy or sell The January transfer window is in its tenth year and has become the last chance saloon for top clubs

: 60m

Sir Alex Ferguson hates it and has publicly said so. His actions back up his words. In a decade he has forked out 36million in total, or one Andy Carroll, in the winter.

True, he has parted with 15m for Wilfried Zaha from Crystal Palace this month but that is a long-term strategy which sees the winger return to Selhurst Park on loan anyway.

Harry Redknapp, on the other hand is king of the January sales. Nose pressed up against the door, elbows at the ready, QPR boss Redknapp is still unlikely to beat his 2009 Tottenham high of 48m, however.

Not surprisingly, Spurs, Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool have tended to go for it over the last 10 years.

Roman Abramovich has dipped his hand into his pocket to the tune of 126m, which means Chelsea are top of the table at something. City are second on 109m, Spurs third on 91m and Liverpool fourth having spent 81m, which is 34m more than fifth-placed Aston Villa.

Consider 2003. The whole of the Barclays Premier League only managed to cough up 35m.

And compare that with 2011 when the deafening sound of cash registers in England could be heard all over the world as the clubs paid out an astronomical 225m.

Big spender: Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich has shelled out 126m on January signings over the last decade

Big spender: Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich has shelled out 126m on January signings over the last decade

Last year it was back down to 60m, as common sense and the UEFA threat of financial fair play prevailed. Think Carroll and Fernando Torres and think folly.

Going back to 2003, a total of 925m has been spent in January yet this window continues to be the baby brother of the summer marketplace where a staggering 3,955m (3.95billions) has been spent.

JANUARY TRANSFER WINDOW FACTS AND FIGURES

Biggest average PL spenders in
January: Chelsea 12.3m, QPR 11m, Man City 10.9m, Tottenham 9.1m,
Liverpool 8.1m, West Ham 5.71m.

Smallest average PL spenders in
January: West Brom 0.67m, Swansea 1m, Everton 1.4m, Fulham 2m,
Sunderland 2.29m, Southampton 2.33m.

Largest amount spent by one club: Chelsea, 75m, 2011

Biggest buy of first window in 2003: Jonathan Woodgate (Leeds to Newcastle) 9m

Most expensive player: Fernando Torres (Liverpool to Chelsea) 50m

Most expensive British player: Andy Carroll (Newcastle to Liverpool) 35m

TEN YEARS OF THE JANUARY TRANSFER WINDOW

2003

Total spent: 35m

Wallet breaker: Jonathan Woodgate (Leeds to Newcastle) 9m

Spot on: Stephen Clemence, who joined Birmingham in a 900,000 deal from Spurs and proved to be a stalwart under Steve Bruce

Oh dear: Lee Bowyer arrived at West Ham from Leeds United for about 100,000 and was heralded as the man who could save them from relegation. The fans disagreed, and protested against the signing outside Upton Park. Nagged by injuries, Bowyer made just 10 appearances and did little to prevent West Ham’s relegation.

Big spend: Newcastle paid 9m to bring defender Jonathan Woodgate in from Leeds United in the first January transfer window back in 2003

Big spend: Newcastle paid 9m to bring defender Jonathan Woodgate in from Leeds United in the first January transfer window back in 2003

Deepest pockets: In a precursor of big-spending to come, Man City brought in Robbie Fowler from Leeds United for 6m and David Sommeil from Bordeaux for 3.5m as they sought to preserve their Premier League status. OK, I lied, it wasn’t big spending at all, but it was much more than everyone else.

Trolley dash: Steve Bruce went to town, signing five players for Birmingham City – they were Christophe Dugarry (loan), Clemence (900,000), Jamie Clapham (1.3m), Matthew Upson (3m) and Piotr Swierczewski (loan).

If the shirt fits: Robbie Fowler joined Man City from Leeds United for 6m in a bid to boost City's chances of staying in the Premier League

If the shirt fits: Robbie Fowler joined Man City from Leeds United for 6m in a bid to boost City's chances of staying in the Premier League

Tight wads: Anyone doing half-all right, really – Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool saw no need to spend a penny during January.

Ticking clock: Woodgate’s was a deadline day move, as was Michael Ricketts’s 3.5m switch from Bolton to Middlesbrough.

2004

Total spent: 50m

Wallet breaker: Jose Antonio Reyes (Sevilla to Arsenal) 19.5m

Spot on: The arrival of record buy Reyes proved to be the final piece in the jigsaw as Arsenal leapfrogged Manchester United to win the title

Oh dear: Middlesbrough fans who remembered the magic of Juninho would have been giddy with excitement when Steve McClaren brought World Cup winner Ricardinho to the Riverside – and for a negligible fee. Three months later he was off, having completely failed to play any first team football or show any appetite for being on Teesside.

New surroundings: Jose Antonio Reyes was the final piece in Arsenal's title-winning jigsaw in 2004

New surroundings: Jose Antonio Reyes was the final piece in Arsenal's title-winning jigsaw in 2004

Deepest pockets: The Reyes fee eclipsed the spending of most clubs, but, unlike 12 months earlier, the big guns were willing to shell out. Man United, concerned about Arsenal stealing their title, paid 12.8m for Louis Saha, and Chelsea flexed their newly bulging financial muscles again by buying Scott Parker for 10m.

Trolley dash: Definitely West Ham, who acquired Andy Melville on a free from Fulham, Nigel Reo-Coker from struggling Wimbledon and got Bobby Zamora from Spurs when they sold Jermain Defoe.

Better late than never: Jermain Defoe's transfer from West Ham to Tottenham was finally completed on February 2

Better late than never: Jermain Defoe's transfer from West Ham to Tottenham was finally completed on February 2

Tight wads: Liverpool again saw no need to open their wallets.

Ticking clock: The 7m Defoe switch dragged on even beyond the conventional window – being completed on February 2.

2005

Total spent: 50m

Wallet breaker: Jean-Alain Boumsong (Rangers to Newcastle) 8m

Spot on: Mikel Arteta said ‘Hola!’ to the Premier League in January 2005, joining Everton on a six-month loan from Real Sociedad. He liked Merseyside so much, he stayed.

Oh dear: Nigel Quashie – With plenty of experience of relegation battles, Harry Redknapp raided old club Portsmouth to bring Quashie along the south coast to Southampton. ‘I am certain we will stay up,’ said Quashie in a fan-friendly soundbite. ‘I would have not have come here if I had any doubts about that.’ Five months later, they were relegated.

Vamos! Mikel Arteta joined Everton in the 2005 January transfer window, initially on loan, and then made the deal permanent that summer

Vamos! Mikel Arteta joined Everton in the 2005 January transfer window, initially on loan, and then made the deal permanent that summer

Deepest pockets: Newcastle spent more than anyone else, over 10m on Boumsong, Celestine Babayaro and Amady Faye.

Trolley dash: Newcastle aside, it was probably Spurs, who acquired four players, including two on Deadline Day. The first two were loan moves, for Mounir El Hamdaoui, who never made a competitive appearance, and Mido. Then, they gave Nottingham Forest a combined 8m for Andy Reid and Michael Dawson.

Tight wads: Man United saw no need to sign anyone, nor did Jose Mourinho want to upset the balance of his title-bound squad.

New one-two: Tottenham brought in Mido (centre) and Michael Dawson (right) during the January 2005 window

New one-two: Tottenham brought in Mido (centre) and Michael Dawson (right) during the January 2005 window

Ticking clock: It was a very busy deadline day, with plenty of cash being spent. Other than the aforementioned Spurs signings, Man City offloaded Nicolas Anelka to Fenerbahce to 7m, Celtic took Craig Bellamy on loan, Barry Ferguson went from Blackburn to Rangers for 4.5m and Jermaine Pennant went on loan to Birmingham from Arsenal.

2006

Total spent: 70m

Wallet breaker: Three at 7m. Dean Ashton, Norwich to West Ham; Emmanuel Adebayor, Monaco to Arsenal; Nemanja Vidic, Spartak Moscow to Manchester United.

Spot on: Manchester United who ‘only’ bought two players, Vidic and Patrice Evra (Monaco) for 12m and look how they turned out.

Defensive wall: Nemanja Vidic and Patrice Evra proved to be excellent buys for Manchester United in 2006

Defensive wall: Nemanja Vidic and Patrice Evra proved to be excellent buys for Manchester United in 2006

Oh dear: Emmanuel Olisadebe arrived at Fratton Park for an undisclosed fee from Panathinaikos. The Nigerian-born Poland striker, who had question marks over his real age, was crocked almost from the start and released in the summer.

Deepest pockets: Arsene Wenger (seriously), Arsenal. 15m total on Adebayor, Theo Walcott (Southampton) 5m and Abou Diaby (Auxerre) 3m. (Walcott and Diaby eventually cost 12m & 6m respectively)

Trolley dash: Harry Redknapp, Portsmouth – nine players for a total of 12m, a year after he recruited five when he was Southampton manager.

Pleased as punch: Emmanuel Adebayor joined Arsenal in January 2006

Pleased as punch: Emmanuel Adebayor joined Arsenal in January 2006

Tight wads: Aston Villa, Middlesbrough, Newcastle

Ticking clock: DJ Campbell, who worked in a warehouse a year earlier, joined Birmingham City from Brentford in a 1m deal right on deadline. And Danny Murphy completed a 2m midnight switch from Charlton to Tottenham.

2007

Total spent: 62m

Wallet breaker: Ashley Young (Watford) to Aston Villa 8m (rising to 10.65m)

Spot on: Young, brought in on deadline day with John Carew (swap Milan Baros, Lyon), the winger proved that Martin O’Neill was right to take the gamble.

Oh dear: Lucas Neill, wooed by 75,000-a-week wages, snubbed Liverpool to make the most of Alan Curbishley’s panic buying spree at West Ham, and was injured on his debut.

Good business: Both Watford and Aston Villa were pleased with their transaction for Ashley Young

Good business: Both Watford and Aston Villa were pleased with their transaction for Ashley Young

Deepest pockets: West Ham 16.5m. Matthew Upson (Birmingham) 6m, Luis Boa Morte (Fulham) 4.5m, Callum Davenport (Spurs) 3m, Nigel Quashie (West Brom) 1.5m, Neill (Blackburn) 1.5m.

Trolley dash: Liverpool. Seven players to pip West Ham, but only one purchase, Alvaro Arbeloa (Deportivo) 2.6m but including loan deals for Javier Mascherano (West Ham), Emiliano Insua (Boca) and Daniele Padelli (Sampdoria).

Tight wads: Chelsea, Arsenal

Ticking clock: Tottenham pulled the plug on the 4m sale of Mido to Manchester City just before midnight.

2008

Total spent: 160m

Wallet breaker: Nicolas Anelka (Bolton) 15m who went to Chelsea

39 reasons to smile: Nicolas Anelka joined Chelsea from Bolton for !5m in 2008

39 reasons to smile: Nicolas Anelka joined Chelsea from Bolton for !5m in 2008

Spot on: Gary Cahill was snapped up by Bolton from Aston Villa for 4.5m and has since joined Chelsea and played for England .

Oh dear: Felipe Caicedo, who became the biggest transfer in Swiss League history when he joined Manchester City from Basle for 5.2m. Sven Goran Eriksson apparently ‘won the race’ for the Ecuadorian with Valencia, Atletico Madrid, Juventus and AC Milan.

Deepest pockets: Chelsea, 27.5m on Anelka, Branislav Ivanovic (Lokomotiv Moscow) 9m and Franco Di Santo (Audra) 3.5m.

Record breaker: Basle received the highest fee ever for a club in the Swiss League for Felipe Caicedo

Record breaker: Basle received the highest fee ever for a club in the Swiss League for Felipe Caicedo

Trolley dash: Derby boss Paul Jewell, fighting a losing relegation battle, brought in eight players for 3.8m including Robbie Savage, Danny Mills, Hossam Ghaly, Laurent Robert and Roy Carroll.

Tight wads: No-one

Ticking clock: Brazil striker Afonso Alves completed a 13.5m move from Heerenveen to Middlesbrough after winning his appeal for a work permit.

2009

Total spent: 180m

Wallet breaker: Midfielder Nigel de Jong (Hamburg to Man City) 16m

Spot on: Jermain Defoe has scored 68 goals in his five seasons at Spurs since this January move.

Oh dear: Savio Nsereko. Who Ugandan-born German, bought by West Ham for 9m to replace Craig Bellamy and who was shipped out to Fiorentina very quickly.

Twin buys: Manchester City splashed out on Craig Bellamy and Nigel de Jong in the 2009 transfer window

Twin buys: Manchester City splashed out on Craig Bellamy and Nigel de Jong in the 2009 transfer window

Deepest pockets: It was a 48m tie between Tottenham’s Harry Redknapp and Manchester City’s Mark Hughes. Spurs forked out 3m on Pascal Chimbonda (Sunderland), Jermain Defoe (Portsmouth) 15m, Wilson Palacios (Wigan) 14m and Robbie Keane (Liverpool) 16m. Hughes bought De Jong (Hamburg) 16m, Craig Bellamy (West Ham) 12m, Wayne Bridge (Chelsea) 12m, Shay Given (Newcastle) 8m.

Trolley dash: Portsmouth spent 7.6m on six players including Nadir Belhadj (Lens) and a loan for Jermaine Pennant from Liverpool.

Joy of six: Nadir Belhadj was one of half a dozen players signed by Portsmouth in 2009's winter transfer window

Joy of six: Nadir Belhadj was one of half a dozen players signed by Portsmouth in 2009's winter transfer window

Hands in pockets: Liverpool

Ticking clock: Snowstorms hit England, which saved the day as far as Andrey Arshavin was concerned. The Russian was allowed to complete his 15m move to Arsenal 24 hours late.

2010

Total spent: 30m

Wallet breaker: Younes Kaboul (Portsmouth to Spurs) 11m

Spot on: Stoke paid 3.25m for Portsmouth goalkeeper Asmir Begovic and, although he had to wait for his chance, the Bosnian has emerged as a top Premier League player

Oh dear: Benni McCarthy, who cost West Ham 2.5m from Blackburn. Injured on his debut and fitness and attitude questioned.

Safe hands: Stoke bought goalkeeper Asmir Begovic in 2010 and he's turned into one of the Premier League's best

Safe hands: Stoke bought goalkeeper Asmir Begovic in 2010 and he's turned into one of the Premier League's best

Deepest pockets: In a recession-hit year, Tottenham bought Kaboul back from Portsmouth and signed Eidur Gudjohnsen on loan to be top spenders

Trolley dash: Wigan spent 3.5m on five players including Gary Caldwell (Celtic 1m) and Victor Moses (Crystal Palace 2.5m)

Tight wads: Aston Villa, Chelsea

Ticking clock: Robbie Keane left Tottenham for Celtic on loan after a call at 5pm on deadline day

2011

Total spent: 225m

Wallet breaker: Fernando Torres (Liverpool to Chelsea) 50m

Spot on: Luis Suarez, who arrived at Liverpool for 22.8m with 35m Andy Carroll.

Oh dear: Would it be terribly obvious to suggest Torres

Great expectations: Fernando Torres moved to Chelsea for 50m, the biggest ever transfer fee in this country

Great expectations: Fernando Torres moved to Chelsea for 50m, the biggest ever transfer fee in this country

Deepest pockets: Chelsea who spent 50m on Torres and 25m on David Luiz (Benfica)

Trolley dash: Gerard Houllier was given the go-ahead to buy big as Aston Villa fought relegation. He brought in four players including 18m (up to 24m) on Darren Bent (Sunderland) and 6m to Lyon for Jean Makoun.

New kid in town: Gerard Houllier brought in Darren Bent in an attempt to save Villa from relegation

New kid in town: Gerard Houllier brought in Darren Bent in an attempt to save Villa from relegation

Tight wads: No-one

Ticking clock: Charlie Adam thought he was set for a move to Liverpool from Blackpool. He had to wait until the following summer.

2012

Total spent: 60m

Wallet breaker: Papiss Cisse (Freiburg to Newcastle United) 10m

Spot on: Gary Cahill proved 7m well spent for Chelsea, putting in a succession of solid defensive performances as the Blues ended the season as surprise European champions. Also, Cisse returned an incredible 13 goals in just 14 games for Newcastle, including that incredible strike at Chelsea.

Great buy: Papiss Cisse scored 13 goals in 14 matches after joining Newcastle

Great buy: Papiss Cisse scored 13 goals in 14 matches after joining Newcastle

Oh dear: Marvin Sordell, 3m from Watford, was only given three matches for Bolton in their bid to avoid relegation. If he was the solution to their problems, it was a funny way of showing it.

Deepest pockets: Chelsea spent in the region of 20m on Kevin de Bruyne, Cahill, Lucas Piazon and Patrick Bamford.

Trolley dash: QPR brought in seven players to try and prevent their Premier League return lasting just a single season. Among them were Bobby Zamora, Djibril Cisse and Nedum Onuoha.

Shrewd signing: Gary Cahill joined Chelsea last January for 7m and ended up a European champion

Shrewd signing: Gary Cahill joined Chelsea last January for 7m and ended up a European champion

Tight wads: Stoke brought in nobody.

Ticking clock: QPR left it late, with the Cisse and Zamora moves going through at the eleventh hour.

Victor Valdes is refusing to sign a new contract at Barcelona

Valdes refusing to sign new contract fuelling rumours he will join Guardiola at Bayern

By
Graeme Yorke

PUBLISHED:

23:21 GMT, 17 January 2013

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UPDATED:

08:13 GMT, 18 January 2013

Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes is planning to leave the Spanish giants after he had turned down the chance to sign a new deal.

Valdes, who has spent his entire professional career at the Nou Camp, is contracted to Barcelona until the end of the 2013/14 season.

His representatives – Gines Carvajal is his principal agent – confirmed in a statement to Spanish national news agency Efe that Valdes intends to depart.

Victor Valdes will always be a favourite of Barcelona fans

Solid: Victor Valdes will always be a favourite of Barcelona fans

The statement read: 'The agents of Victor Valdes have communicated to Barcelona in a meeting held this afternoon the irrevocable decision of the player to not renew his contract.'

The 30-year-old has recently suggested he would consider a move to another league. With former Barcelona head coach Pep Guardiola heading to Bayern Munich next season, Valdes may become an early target of his old boss.

Valdes has been Barcelona's number one throughout the last decade, winning a host of trophies and earning recognition with Spain, however Real Madrid's Iker Casillas has remained the regular international goalkeeper.

Valdes has had to play second fiddle for Spain behind Iker Casillas

Too much quality: Valdes has played second fiddle for Spain behind Iker Casillas

On the road: O"Driscoll is quickly forgotten as McLeish checks in

On the road: O'Driscoll is quickly forgotten as McLeish checks in

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UPDATED:

22:34 GMT, 30 December 2012

The accusation levelled so often at Nottingham Forest this last decade and more is that the club have taken up residence in their past.

As they sang of the old mist rolling in from the Trent on Saturday, pre-match screening of goals from the likes of Martin O’Neill and John Robertson only lent weight to that impression. The City Ground can look worn on bleak days like this, not quite Ashton Gate, but not quite Old Trafford either.

And yet in another way Forest are thoroughly modern. Now foreign-owned, they are ambitious, fast-moving, scything down managers.

New man in the dugout: Alex McLeish is presented to the Nottingham Forest fans

New man in the dugout: Alex McLeish is presented to the Nottingham Forest fans

Ask Sean O’Driscoll. A week ago O’Driscoll was preparing Forest to defeat Leeds 4-2 on Boxing Day; on Saturday Alex McLeish was introduced as the 12th Forest manager since Pierre van Hooijdonk went on strike and they were last in the Premier League, in 1999.

McLeish waved, 23,000 applauded, for this was a more than cordial welcome, unrecognisable from the hostility that greeted McLeish at Aston Villa.

/12/30/article-2254988-16AF8AD4000005DC-311_468x329.jpg” width=”468″ height=”329″ alt=”Leveling up: Billy Sharp scores the equaliser for Forest” class=”blkBorder” />

Leveling up: Billy Sharp scores the equaliser for Forest

The club will have, in that tedious phrase, moved on. As soon as the football starts rolling this is what can happen, the present scurries by and demands attention.

On Saturday, as Crystal Palace swept the ball around having taken a ninth-minute lead through the lithe Glenn Murray, home thoughts turned not to whether the new manager was up to it but to whether the Forest players would get the ball back.

McLeish was in the directors’ box, having agreed that coach Rob Kelly would pick the team.

It was a good Championship game between two sides committed to passing the ball and Billy ‘Razor-sharp’ Sharp, as Ian Holloway called him, hit the post with a header on the half-hour.

Forgotten man: Sean O'Driscoll was sacked after Forest's win over Leeds

Forgotten man: Sean O'Driscoll was sacked after Forest's win over Leeds

In first-half injury time Forest’s Andy Reid, who outshone substituted Palace forward Wilfried Zaha, delivered a bullet of an equaliser.

That teed up an ebb-and-flow second half and Murray looked to have nicked it for the visitors nine minutes from time with an improvised header that again demonstrated what a striker the 29-year-old has become — a Rickie Lambert level of development.

Imagine what a late Palace winner would have done for McLeish. No manager needs to begin on the back foot, so when Reid’s persistence yielded one last chance, and Sharp took it, the City Ground roared and McLeish sighed with relief.

He was able to discuss the ‘brilliant reception’ he received and his new players’ ‘great character’, though he was irritated by a question about maintaining Forest’s traditional style.

Holloway was also irritated — by speculation about Zaha that the manager himself brought up.

Stop the speculation: Palace boss Ian Hollowat is annoyed with the talk linking Wifred Zaha with a move away from the club

Stop the speculation: Palace boss Ian Hollowat is annoyed with the talk linking Wifred Zaha with a move away from the club

‘We almost won a game without him, that would have been a shock to you lot, wouldn’t it’ Holloway said of Zaha in response to a question about Murray.

No-one mentioned Sean O’Driscoll. The Forest owners felt no need to offer an explanation for his departure in the match programme. The present was scurrying by.

So has just over half a season. That becomes the preoccupation: Forest are one place and three points off the play-offs, Palace are two places and four points off automatic promotion.

Thick and fast: tomorrow Palace host tumbling Wolves and Forest travel to managerless Blackburn Rovers.

Leaders Cardiff, meanwhile, are at Birmingham City.

Cardiff’s relentlessness — they have won eight of their last 10 games — is giving the others jitters. Holloway made the telling comment about squad strength and referred to Leicester’s new signing Chris Wood.

‘Look at Leicester, I think they’ve already secured two signings,’ Holloway said.

‘Their owners have got more money than other owners.’

How much Forest’s new owners possess will help dictate whether McLeish is regarded as a success or not.

Assessing that, though, is not straightforward.

‘Should I really talk about owners and their aspirations’ Holloway said. ‘Not really, not if you can win 4-2 and lose your job.

‘Even if you win these days, you don’t keep your job.’

McCarthy has last laugh

Winning return: Ipswich manager Mick McCarthy won at his old club Wolves

Winning return: Ipswich manager Mick McCarthy won at his old club Wolves

What Wolverhampton Wanderers didn’t need was Mick McCarthy.

That is the conclusion the Wolves board reached in February, when the team were 18th in the Premier League.

Wolves had won five games last season until that stage; they did not win one once McCarthy had gone.

They finished 20th and were relegated.

What Wolves’ new manager Stale Solbakken did not need on Saturday was McCarthy returning with his new club Ipswich Town and winning 2-0.

The result left Wolves 17th with three wins from their last 15 matches, and nine defeats. Ipswich are now one point behind.

Wolves are at Selhurst Park tomorrow. They are then at Luton Town in the FA Cup third round on Saturday.

Where will Solbakken be next Monday

Roberto Martinez backs David Moyes for European role

Martinez hails rival Moyes as he backs Everton boss for successful stint abroad

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UPDATED:

22:00 GMT, 25 December 2012

Roberto Martinez believes that Everton manager David Moyes would be a success if he pursued his ambition to manage abroad.

Moyes, whose fifth-placed team host Martinez’s Wigan on Boxing Day, said last week that he would one day like to test his abilities in a European league, citing the Bundesliga as a preferred option.

Euro adventure: Roberto Martinez says David Moyes would be a success abroad

Euro adventure: Roberto Martinez says David Moyes would be a success abroad

Euro adventure: Roberto Martinez says David Moyes would be a success abroad

And Martinez is convinced that he would prosper after a decade at Everton overcoming the Premier League’s challenges.

He said: ‘David has been there 11 seasons, a man of knowledge and experiences that he’s built up over the years — and always finding the solutions to have a competitive team reaching the target that they need to achieve.

'It makes him capable of going anywhere in the world, that’s very clear.'

Jonny Evans signs new Manchester United contract

Ferguson backs Evans to lead United for next decade after defender pens new deal

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UPDATED:

13:09 GMT, 21 December 2012

Sir Alex Ferguson expects Jonny Evans to be a mainstay in the Manchester United defence for the next 10 years after the centre back signed a new three-and-a-half-year deal with the Old Trafford club.

The 24-year-old Northern Ireland international made his United debut as a teenager in the League Cup against Coventry in September 2007 and has now committed to the club until June 2016.

And Ferguson hopes he will remain with the club for the rest of his career.

Done deal: Jonny Evans (right) has signed a new contract at Old Trafford

Done deal: Jonny Evans (right) has signed a new contract at Old Trafford

'Jonny Evans has signed a new contract. We’re very happy
about that and it’s in keeping with our normal policy that when the younger
players get to the second last year of their contract we have to do something
about it,' Ferguson said.

'He’s had a fantastic career for us, progressing all the
time. He’s had one or two injury situations that are hopefully behind him now.
He’s fit for Sunday’s game [against Swansea].

'He fought his way in with his performances last year and when him and Rio played consistently our results improved. We spoke about losing the goals against Manchester City and the leaking of goals at that particular time and those two playing regularly and improved that.

Main man: Evans has grown into his defensive role at Manchester United

Main man: Evans has grown into his defensive role at Manchester United

'Jonny has been
with us since he was a kid. When he was 12 he was at our school of
excellence in Belfast and he always had a talent. When he was younger I
wasn’t sure if he’d be a midfielder or a centre-back because he was a
really good footballer.

'He’s
played over 140 games now and he is established but he’s still young. A
centre-back at 24, he should play for the next 10 years and hopefully
it’s at United.'

Evans added: 'I'm delighted to sign my new contract. I am so proud to play for such a great club, and there's no better feeling than playing football in this team and winning games.'

He added: 'I would love to play here throughout the rest of my career.'

Everton boss David Moyes: I want to manage in Germany

Everton manager Moyes reveals desire to manage in Germany

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UPDATED:

22:00 GMT, 20 December 2012

David Moyes has revealed his ambition to coach in a European league one day – and named Germany as the most appealing option.

The Everton manager is a huge admirer of German football and has been studying the framework of the Bundesliga to try to improve himself as a coach, as well as his team's performance.

Ambitious Moyes, who is set for discussions with Everton chairman Bill Kenwright next month to extend his contract, said in an interview with France Football: 'I always had the hope of being a coach abroad. If I had the choice, I would probably go to Germany, in part because of the mentality, which is similar to mine. I'm also fascinated by what happens in German football.

Part of the furniture: Moyes has been at Everton for over ten years

Part of the furniture: Moyes has been at Everton for over ten years

'They seem to have found a way of producing young players. Look at Borussia Dortmund. I saw them against Manchester City this season. They were fantastic. They put this incredible intensity on their opponents to break the tempo. It adds a new tactical level.

'If I was not working as a coach, I think I would decide to go to South America: to Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, to see how they train young people out there. That would be my project: to understand football better.'

In his 11th year in charge of Everton, Moyes has overseen a decade of massive improvement and this season they are contenders to finish in the top four.

Kenwright continues to look for investors who could make a difference and Moyes does not think a massive amount of money is required to propel Everton forward.

Flying high: Everton have been transformed under Moyes

Flying high: Everton have been transformed under Moyes

'Everton have shown stability and are going in the right direction,' said Moyes. 'We do not need a billionaire… even if we have nothing against the issue of finding one. We are a club. We are a community. Everton are for the people, for the people of Liverpool.

'From the first day I wanted to change the perception of Everton. I do not know if I could one day take Everton as far as winning titles or playing in European Cup finals but I wanted people to say, “Things are getting better. Everton are a good club, a stable club”. I wanted to make an impact.'

Jamie Carragher: Champions League needs change

Jamie Carragher
Jamie Carragher exclusive column: How I would save the Champions League, by the Liverpool defender (who won the competition in 2005)

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UPDATED:

11:55 GMT, 5 December 2012

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The Champions League, for the last decade, has been the best tournament in world football. In my opinion, it has been superior to both the World Cup and European Championship.

Those high standards would be under threat, though, if it was to expand from 32 teams to 64, as Michel Platini has suggested might happen.

Football is always evolving and I understand that new ideas have to be implemented from time to time but increasing the numbers competing in the Champions League is not the way to go.

Every game should count: Arsenal fielded an understrength side in their defeat to Greek side Olympiacos because they had already qualified

Every
game should count: Arsenal fielded an understrength side in their
defeat by Greek side Olympiacos because they had already qualified,
while Manchester City (below) fell to Borussia Dortmund

End game: Manchester City crashed out of Europe after losing to Dortmund

If you look at the way the group stages have fizzled out over the last couple of years, you will see that more teams won’t raise the quality. Interest in the group stages has been dwindling and it has only been at the quarter-final stages that the competition has come alive.

So how does Platini make the Champions League exciting right from the start

Apart from winning the tournament in 2005, the best experience I had in the competition came during the 2001-2002 season when there were two group stages.

On the brink: Chelsea face an early exit from the Champions League just months after winning the Final in Munich

On the brink: Chelsea face an early exit from the Champions League just months after winning the Final (below)

Drog days are over: Chelsea beat Bayern Munich to win last season's Champions League

After getting through the first phase, when Liverpool were drawn with Boavista, Borussia Dortmund and Dynamo Kiev, we were paired with Barcelona, Galatasary and Roma.

That type of group is what the Champions League is about. Every game meant something, every goal that was scored mattered.

We only ended up getting through to the quarter-finals by beating Roma 2-0 in the last game at Anfield. It was the night Gerard Houllier returned to the dugout after he had suffered a heart attack.

Part of the plan: Carragher's concept for change would see the first knockout round of the draw seeded so the likes of Barcelona and Real Madrid would avoid each other early on

Part of the plan: Carragher's concept for change would see the first knockout round of the draw seeded so the likes of Barcelona and Real Madrid would avoid each other early on

WHEN THE EUROPEAN CUP WAS A KNOCKOUT…

Brian Clough guided Nottingham Forest to their first European Cup win 1979 as 'Old Big Ead's' men negotiated their way through a tough knockout format en route to glory.

Here's how they did it…

First round: v Liverpool, won 2-0 (1st leg: 2-0; 2nd leg: 0-0)

Second round: v AEK Athens, won 7-2 on agg (1st leg: 2-1; 2nd leg: 5-1)

Quarter-final: v Grasshopper, won 5-2 on agg (1st leg: 4-1; 2nd leg: 1-1)

Semi-final: v Cologne, won 4-3 on agg (1st leg: 3-3; 2nd leg: 1-0)

Final: v Malmo, won 1-0

Euro star: Brian Clough

Of course, the obvious problem with two group stages would be fixture congestion. I read with interest Martin Samuel’s observations in his column on Monday, about returning the competition to pure knockout football all the way through.

My idea would be to strike a balance – keep 32 teams but start things off with a knockout round, with all qualified teams needing a win to get through. So this year, for instance, Manchester City, Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea would have to have to win through a high-stakes knockout round first.

The draw for the knockout stage would be seeded, so you would never get a situation where Barcelona faced Real Madrid.

Some people might say that is unfair to the smaller teams and nations that Platini wants to get involved. He should be credited for trying to help them but it is taking things away from the group stage.

Surely the minnows in the competition
should want to prove that they belong in the competition Wouldn’t that
create more excitement But with so much to lose, you could guarantee
that all the seeded teams would be fully committed, regardless of who
they were playing. That, in turn, would lead to better games.

You
would then be left with four groups of four, with the top two going
through to contest the quarter-finals. You could almost guarantee that
every game in the group stage would mean something and be of a high
quality.

Over to you: Jamie Carragher believes UEFA president Michel Platini should change the format of the Champions League

Over to you: Jamie Carragher believes UEFA president Michel Platini should change the format of the Champions League

Wouldn't it be great if all the groups were of the quality of the one this season that contains Real Madrid, Dortmund, Ajax and Manchester City

The problem when you have a 32-team group stage is that a lot of fixture can be monotonous. The World Cup group stage, for instance, doesn’t have the same intensity as the European Championship.

Sealed with a kiss: Jamie Carragher celebrates Liverpool's 2005 Champions league success with Steven Gerrard in Istanbul

Sealed with a kiss: Jamie Carragher celebrates Liverpool's 2005 Champions league success with Steven Gerrard in Istanbul

Of course, the idea might get opposition from the big clubs, who would be fearful of falling out at the first hurdle and missing out on the subsequent revenue but wouldn’t that make things more interesting and exciting

The aim for the Champions League has to be for every group game to mean something but, at the minute, they do not – just look at some of the matches that were played this week.

When the Champions League was revamped in 1992, nobody would have envisaged teams playing weakened sides. That, however, is now the reality.

Jamie Carragher was talking to Dominic King

Ali Carter has UK Championship title in his sights after beating Mark Joyce

Ali has diet for success: Carter has his eyes on UK Championship title

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UPDATED:

00:45 GMT, 5 December 2012

Ali Carter reached the World Championship final in May on a diet fuelled by carrot juice, but curry and beer could carry the Crohn's disease sufferer to UK glory in York.

The 33-year-old Essex man has been struggling to stay on top of his condition for the last decade, and has recently ditched pills due to the fear they would cause him long-term health problems.

However, Carter has no problem sinking pints, providing they are low in wheat and gluten, and mild curries go down a treat with the two-time Crucible runner-up.

Going through: Ali Carter on his way to victory over Mark Joyce

Going through: Ali Carter on his way to victory over Mark Joyce

Now he has the williamhill.com UK Championship title in his sights after knocking out world No 1 Judd Trump's conqueror Mark Joyce 6-2.

Former world champion Shaun Murphy, in-form Basildon potter Stuart Bingham and Welshman Matthew Stevens were also winners at the Barbican Centre as the quarter-final line-up began to take shape.

Going by the wayside and out of the tournament were a despondent Graeme Dott and his fellow Scot Stephen Maguire, along with Marco Fu.

With a curry house just over the road from the tournament venue, Carter, a trim cueman who is also a keep-fit fanatic, does not need to look hard for a curry fix.

Inspired by Peter Ebdon, who has committed to a strict vegan diet in recent seasons, Carter downed glass after glass of carrot juice in Sheffield this year, and reported it had a hugely positive impact on his well-being.

Not going to plan: Mark Joyce looks on as he goes out to Carter

Not going to plan: Mark Joyce looks on as he goes out to Carter

'But I wouldn't necessarily go out and buy myself some carrots and stick it in a juicer,' Carter said. “It was just something Peter was doing, I was part of it and we were all having a laugh and it was good.

'I've stopped red meat, which I like, dairy, wheat and gluten. When I'm at home I eat well, salads and fish. I eat curries if they're not too spicy and not too much cream, but it's just a nightmare.

'A curry and a lager, yeah. But I try to get in the gym and keep myself trim. I don't live on curry and lager, believe it or not.'

Such an indulgence would make Carter sound like a caricature of an old-school snooker player, yet life on a busy sporting tour inevitably means he spends much of his year living out of a suitcase and eating in restaurants.

It makes dealing with Crohn's disease, which also afflicts Manchester United and Scotland midfielder Darren Fletcher and causes inflammation of the bowels, particularly difficult.

Carter thought about retiring a year ago, and said after seeing off Joyce: “I don't feel that well presently.

Eyes on the ball: Carter on his way to victory

Eyes on the ball: Carter on his way to victory

'I'm looking forward to better days to come with my stomach.'

In the quarter-finals, Carter will tackle Bingham, who was terrific in seeing off Maguire 6-4 this evening, firstly going 4-2 ahead before being hauled back to 4-4 and then responding with a break of 120 followed by a match-clinching 54.

Bingham, due to marry fiancee Michelle at the end of the season, has taken the Australian Open and Premier League titles this year and amassed over 150,000 in prize money.

This is an outstanding opportunity to land silverware in one of snooker's premier events, and Bingham said: 'A lot of my success has been overseas and to do it in the UK is massive.

'I'm very happy with my game. I came up against a really good opponent today and came through. I'm over the moon with the result.'

Stevens was also a 6-4 winner, surviving a gruelling match against Hong Kong's Marco Fu.

Stevens, now 35, won the UK title in 2003 but had not reached the quarter-final stage again until now. He will face John Higgins or Mark Davis next.

He said: 'I'll have to play a lot better than that if I'm to go any further.'

Murphy impressed this evening in a 6-2 win over his fellow former world champion Dott.

The 30-year-old world number four had a total clearance of 130 in a victory that sets up a quarter-final against Mark King or 17-year-old Luca Brecel, who knocked out Ricky Walden last night.

Dott was dismayed by his own performance, with the 35-year-old Scot saying: 'I just don't think I'm the same player I was. I don't think there's anyone else in the top 16 that can play as badly as I can play.

'It's not good enough.'

Dott, Crucible champion in 2006, added: 'Hopefully it's not just because of my age. I'd don't know if I've had it. Maybe I'm finished.'

The Larkhall man was quick to stress that did not mean he would be retiring, adding: 'Maybe it's just a bad patch but it doesn't feel that way.'

UK Championship 2012: Judd Trump rues first round exit to Mark Joyce

You'll never see a world No 1 play as badly as that: Holder Trump rues first round UK Championship exit to qualifier Joyce

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UPDATED:

09:19 GMT, 3 December 2012

Judd Trump panned his own performance as the world No 1's title defence at the williamhill.com UK Championship was halted at the first hurdle by qualifier Mark Joyce.

A year after landing the biggest title of his burgeoning career at York's Barbican Centre, Trump was on the painful end of one of the biggest upsets in the tournament’s history, the world No 1 losing 6-5 to 50th-ranked Joyce after at one stage holding a 5-2 lead.

Trump said: 'I should never play that bad. You’ll never see another world No 1 play as badly as that.'

Staring at defeat: Holder Judd Trump after losing his first round match of the William Hill UK Championships at York Barbican Centre

Staring at defeat: Holder Judd Trump after losing his first round match of the William Hill UK Championships at York Barbican Centre

He had made a 104 break in the second frame and was doing enough, it seemed, to set up a second-round clash with Ali Carter, but Joyce had other ideas and the long road back from the brink of defeat had the biggest victory of his career at its end.

'It’s just a bad performance. It was going to come sooner or later,' said 23-year-old Trump, the man tipped in recent days by many, including Stephen Hendry, to be the dominant force in snooker for the next decade.

'He played all right in the last four frames but he’ll have to raise his game a lot to get close to Ali Carter.'

Over the moon: Qualifier Mark Joyce was delighted after his win

Over the moon: Qualifier Mark Joyce was delighted after his win

Trump’s defeat means Mark Selby can reclaim the number one ranking by reaching next Sunday’s final, while Joyce can target the quarter-finals for the second time in his career.

The Walsall man, now 29, knocked out Carter first and then Trump to reach the last eight in 2010, the last year that Telford staged the UK Championship, and the draw has convinced him he might be fated to do the same again.

'I'm over the moon. It wasn’t a vintage performance by any means,' Joyce said.

'It’s the hardest game in the world when you’re under pressure and every shot looks hard, every shot’s a pint of blood.

'I’ve got Ali Carter now and I beat him two years ago so hopefully I can do him as well.'

Joyce has recently revealed how he sustained the arm injury that sidelined him soon after his run in Telford, setting his career back.

'Just after the UK two years ago I got attacked and had a fractured elbow and a fractured eye socket, which ruined the rest of that season,' he said.

'Physically it cost me four months but mentally it cost me a lot longer.'

Carter was a scrappy winner against Steve Davis, coming through 6-2 against the man who won this tournament six times in the 1980s.

Both men struggled for fluency, Carter’s highest break of 88 and an 85 from Davis in the seventh frame out of keeping with the flow of the match.

Yet Carter was the more consistent of the two, with the 33-year-old from Tiptree too strong for the 55-year-old Brentwood veteran.

Davis, competing in his 33rd UK Championship, lamented his own performance but said: 'Ali’s a potential winner of the tournament so I shouldn’t moan.'

Snooker loopy: Trudd slammed his performance after crashing out in York at the first hurdle

Snooker loopy: Trudd slammed his performance after crashing out in York at the first hurdle

China’s last hope Cao Yupeng became the third player from snooker’s boom nation to make a first-round exit.

Cao tumbled out 6-1 against 40-year-old Hastings potter Mark Davis, completing a casualty list of Chinese players that began with yesterday’s defeats for Liang Wenbo and former UK champion Ding Junhui.

With soaring interest and money flooding into the game from China, there are more major tournaments staged in the country than in the United Kingdom, but on the table there remains a gulf in standards.

Mark Davis plays John Higgins next, on Wednesday evening.

Mum's the word: 2008 winner Shaun Murphy is keen to win more titles

Mum's the word: 2008 winner Shaun Murphy is keen to win more titles

Shaun Murphy was UK champion in 2008 and the Manchester-based 30-year-old began another campaign with a comfortable enough 6-3 win over Gloucester’s Robert Milkins.

Seven years have passed since Murphy made his big breakthrough by winning the World Championship.

He has four major ranking titles in all, and was a beaten finalist at the Masters in January, but the trophy tally should be higher according to the world No 4 – and his mother.

'My mum keeps telling me I should have won more and mums are normally right,' Murphy said.