Tag Archives: dedication

Bournemouth sack Paul Groves and assistant Shaun Brooks

Groves and assistant Brooks axed by Bournemouth after poor start to season

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UPDATED:

12:31 GMT, 3 October 2012

Axed: Bournemouth have sacked Paul Groves

Axed: Bournemouth have sacked Paul Groves

Bournemouth have parted company with manager Paul Groves and his assistant Shaun Brooks.

Cherries chairman Eddie Mitchell released a statement announcing the departures less than 24 hours after the 3-1 defeat to Crawley, which sent Bournemouth fifth from bottom in npower League One.

In his statement, Mitchell praised the duo for their hard work since taking over in May.

He said: 'I would urge our supporters to recognise the time and effort that Paul and Shaun invested in the first team and their unwavering determination to produce an attractive brand of football.

'As chairman of AFC Bournemouth, I have personally recognised the direction in which they were trying to take the team in terms of tactics and style of play, and throughout their time in charge they have had my full support.

Football League blog

'However, I believe that luck has not been on their side during their short period at the helm. As we know, football is a results business, but most people will be unaware of the hard work and dedication that they put in behind the scenes to help this club move forward.'

He added that both Groves and Brooks personally asked him to thank the fans for the support they gave the management team during their time in charge.

Jack Wilshere thought he would never make it back

Jack 'thought he'd never get back': Returning Wilshere frustrated by rate of recovery

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UPDATED:

22:06 GMT, 21 September 2012

After more than a year on the sidelines, Jack Wilshere's journey back to Arsenal's first team is almost complete.

Arsene Wenger admitted on Friday that
there were times when the midfielder, who has not played a Barclays
Premier League game for Arsenal since a 2-2 draw with Fulham on May 22
last year, feared he might not make it and was angry at the time it has
taken to recover from operations to his ankle and knee.

But Wilshere's hard work and
dedication is about to pay off and Wenger is convinced the talented
20-year-old will be razor sharp in the centre of midfield within weeks.

In the thick of it: Jack Wilshere (right) has returned to full Arsenal training after 14 months out

In the thick of it: Jack Wilshere (right) has returned to full Arsenal training after 14 months out

Getting stuck in: Wilshere (centre) will be eased back into Arsene Wenger's first team plans

Getting stuck in: Wilshere (centre) will be eased back into Arsene Wenger's first team plans

The Arsenal manager, preparing for Sunday's league clash at Manchester
City, said: 'He has had ups and downs, maybe more downs over the past
14 months.

'We have to be cautious because he has been out for a long
time and it takes a while to get back to match fitness.

'I have never
had any doubts, but when you are so young, and to be out for that length
of time, is a good test of mental strength. 'I didn't doubt he would be
back, but you would have to ask him if it crossed his mind – I would
say yes.

'I am certain he will be a better player. If you have this type
of injury after the age of 25 it is different. 'After three months
competition I am sure he will be back to his best. It takes time to find
that little burst again.'

Wilshere will continue to work at Arsenal's
training ground in the coming days and will play in a development match
for the Under 21 team when he is fully fit.

That is for the future, but
Wenger is still juggling off-field matters with his players ahead of Sunday 's match against champions City.

Although Wenger insisted on Friday that Theo Walcott's continued absence from the starting
line-up has nothing to do with his aborted contract talks, the issue is
no closer to being resolved.

The Arsenal winger, a regular last season,
has been on the bench ever since he refused to sign an extended and
improved offer to stay at the Emirates.

Happy lads The Walcott (left) could leave team-mate Wilshere (centre) in January

Happy lads The Walcott (left) could leave team-mate Wilshere (centre) in January

There is now a serious danger
that he could be left behind by this improving Arsenal team and Wenger
will consider selling the 23-year-old in January if they have not made
progress.

The Arsenal manager added: 'I still hope he will sign, but the
longer the situation lasts the more difficult it will be.'

'In terms of
January, it will depend on the needs of the team and the club whether
we sell him.

'We can afford to go to the end of the contract if needed.'

Walcott is expected to be on the bench again tomorrow as Arsenal aim to
continue their sparkling early-season form against City after wins at
Liverpool and Montpellier, along with last weekend's 6-1
victory over Southampton at the Emirates.

Main man: Arsenal will look to Lukas Podolski (right) to fire them to victory over Manchester City

Main man: Arsenal will look to Lukas Podolski (right) to fire them to victory over Manchester City

VIDEO: Wenger is preparing for the Manchester City game on Sunday

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Cristiano Ronaldo backed by ex-Barcelona chief Joan Laporta

Former Barcelona chief Laporta leaps to Ronaldo's defence over Madrid dispute

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UPDATED:

09:25 GMT, 12 September 2012

Under-fire Cristiano Ronaldo has received an unlikely ally in former Barcelona president Joan Laporta.

Ronaldo has been caught in a storm
after being accused of trying to engineer a new 20m a year deal at
Barca's arch rivals Real Madrid by publically claiming he's unhappy in
the Spanish capital.

Unhappy: Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo

Unhappy: Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo

But Laporta feels that the Portugal forward is under a lot of pressure and it is up to Real Madrid to 'make him happy again'.

'Everyone is going over the top on him. We must understand he's under a lot of pressure and is human, because we all are affected by everything around us,' Laporta was quoted as saying by Spanish website AS.

'He said something without realising the impact it would make. That's happened to me as well in the past. The important thing is that he said it because that's how he feels.

Welcome break: Cristiano Ronaldo, left, in action for Portugal against Azerbaijan on Tuesday

Welcome break: Cristiano Ronaldo, left, in action for Portugal against Azerbaijan on Tuesday

'Cristiano is a great professional. It's not easy to speak up and say how you feel when you're clearly under a lot of pressure. It's up to Madrid to make him happy again in the best way possible.'

Real defender Alvaro Arbeloa has also defended Ronaldo, insisting none of his team-mates doubt his commitment to the club.

“Nobody is going to doubt his dedication and commitment to Real Madrid. I think that the fans are very grateful to Cristiano for his hard work and for his goals,” he said.

Brett Hodgson is equal to the challenge after inspiring Warrington"s cup triumph

Battered Brett is equal to the challenge after inspiring Warrington's cup triumph

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UPDATED:

18:35 GMT, 26 August 2012

An hour after enjoying the adulation
of nearly 80,000 fans, Brett Hodgson, Lee Briers and coach Tony Smith
were among a Warrington party that re-emerged from the Wolves dressing
room and took in the views of an empty Wembley.

They carried a crate of beer into the stands, sat down and soaked up the impact of their Challenge Cup triumph after a 35-18 victory.

Glory boy: Brett Hodgson holds the Challenge Cup

Glory boy: Brett Hodgson holds the Challenge Cup

Cheer we go: Warrington players celebrate their third try scored by Chris Riley during the Carnegie Challenge Cup Final at Wembley

Cheer we go: Warrington players celebrate their third try scored by Chris Riley during the Carnegie Challenge Cup Final at Wembley

It was the perfect end to a weekend that started with a behind-closed-doors training session at Wembley, and finished with an intensely private moment of reflection that will surely form the basis of Warrington’s motivation for a domestic double that has not been achieved since St Helens’ remarkable campaign in 2006.

Nobody embodied the Wolves’ determination more than Lance Todd Trophy winner Brett Hodgson, who at 34 remains the classiest full back in British rugby league — and by far the toughest.

Hodgson was left flattened by Kylie Leuluai’s thunderous challenge early in the second half, but somehow lifted himself — and his team-mates — with two brilliant passes that set up tries for Chris Riley and Ryan Atkins before claiming his own score six minutes from time.

Touching down: Warrington's Riley goes over for his try

Touching down: Warrington's Riley goes over for his try

Touch the sky: Try hero Riley celebrates with a personal dedication at Wembley

Touch the sky: Try hero Riley celebrates with a personal dedication at Wembley

The full back, only the fourth
Australian to secure the Lance Todd Trophy, was praised by team-mate
Briers, who described his performance as ‘one of the best I’ve ever
seen’.

Briers added: ‘He got absolutely creamed. People only saw him get
smashed by Leuluai and get knocked out, but he couldn’t see at
half-time. He had double vision.’

Hodgson received 27 out of 36 votes for the man of the match, but
appeared shell-shocked at the whole thing. ‘It’ll sink in over the next
few days,’ he said, before clearing Leuluai of any wrongdoing in the
biggest tackle in recent Challenge Cup history.

Clash of the titans: Leeds' Ryan Bailey squares up to Warrington's Garreth Carvell

Clash of the titans: Leeds' Ryan Bailey squares up to Warrington's Garreth Carvell

page61 - 5 reasons.jpg

Cup cracker: Five reasons it was a classic

He said: ‘There was nothing wrong with it. I put my hand up; he got me a good one.’

The Wolves full back even took responsibility for Ian Kirke’s try that
pulled Leeds level at 6-6 after Joel Monaghan’s opener, saying: ‘It was
a pretty soft tackle.’

Trent Waterhouse forced his way over the line to give Warrington the
lead at half-time, but two Kevin Sinfield penalties kept the gap at just
two points. The Rhinos thought Brett Delaney had scored after Leuluai’s
tackle dislodged the ball from Hodgson, but video referee Phil Bentham
ruled a knock-on.

Making a fist of it: Leeds' Ian Kirke scores their first try but it was not enough for the defeated Rhinos

Making a fist of it: Leeds' Ian Kirke scores their first try but it was not enough for the defeated Rhinos

Warrington then pulled clear, with Riley, Atkins and Tyrone McCarthy crossing in 10 minutes.

Kallum Watkins’s late double salvaged some pride for Leeds, but
Hodgson’s score and Briers’s drop goal ensured the Rhinos became the
first team to lose three successive Wembley Cup finals.

Jamie
Jones-Buchanan, a Headingley stalwart over the last decade, said: ‘The
lads are looking at each other, saying, “What do we need to do to win
it” It’s becoming a bit of a demon.’

Done and dusted: Warrington's Ryan Atkins scores their third try to put them on their way to a famous victory

Done and dusted: Warrington's Ryan Atkins scores their third try to put them on their way to a famous victory

Up for the cup: Warrington captain Adrian Morley (L) lifts the trophy alongside Lee Briers and Ryan Atkins

Up for the cup: Warrington captain Adrian Morley (L) lifts the trophy alongside Lee Briers and Ryan Atkins

Champagne moment: Warrington's players burst out at the bubbly to toast their memorable win over Leeds

Champagne moment: Warrington's players burst out at the bubbly to toast their memorable win over Leeds

Warrington 35 Leeds 15: Wolves win Challenge Cup at Wembley

Warrington 35 Leeds 18: Agony for Rhinos as Wolves toast famous Wembley triumph

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UPDATED:

15:55 GMT, 25 August 2012

The heartache goes on for Leeds after they made Wembley history with a third consecutive Carnegie Challenge Cup final defeat as Warrington lifted the trophy for the third time in four years.

The Rhinos threatened to end their 13-year wait to get their hands on the famous silverware when they led 8-6 after 23 minutes, but a scoring burst of three tries in 10 minutes early in the second half provided decisive.

Leeds are masters of the Super League, with five Grand Final wins in eight years, but the Challenge Cup continues to elude them as they succumbed to a sixth final defeat since their 1999 win over London Broncos.

Cheer we go: Warrington players celebrate their third try scored by Chris Riley during the Carnegie Challenge Cup Final at Wembley

Cheer we go: Warrington players celebrate their third try scored by Chris Riley during the Carnegie Challenge Cup Final at Wembley

The game, which drew a 79,180 crowd,
had been fiercely contested and was finely balanced until Warrington,
having benefited from a crucial decision by video referee Phil Bentham
to disallow a Leeds try early in the second half, cut loose with veteran
full-back Brett Hodgson leading the way in a man-of-the-match
performance.

Hodgson supplied the final passes to
the key tries and scored the last of his side's six touchdowns as well
as kicking five goals to claim the prestigious Lance Todd Trophy, three
years after he was on the losing side in Huddersfield's Wembley defeat
by the Wolves.

The Rhinos fans must have feared a
repeat of their 30-6 mauling from 2010 when Warrington winger Joel
Monaghan opened the scoring just six minutes into the action.

Touching down: Warrington's Riley goes over for his try

Touching down: Warrington's Riley goes over for his try

Touch the sky: Try hero Riley celebrates with a personal dedication at Wembley

Touch the sky: Try hero Riley celebrates with a personal dedication at Wembley

Smart offloads from Ben Harrison and
Chris Hill created an opening for scrum-half Richie Myler, who had the
vision to spot Monaghan in space out on the right flank and found him
with a pinpoint kick.

Hodgson's angled conversion made it
6-0 and they might have doubled their score had the full-back provided a
more accurate final pass to second rower Ben Westwood after piercing
the first line of defence.

But Leeds had already shown signs
that this was not going to be a walkover, with former England captain
Jamie Peacock setting a tremendous early example with two storming runs
through the heart of the Wolves defence.

Back-to-back penalties got the Rhinos
into the danger zone and substitute forward Ian Kirke took skipper
Kevin Sinfield's pass to barge past three defenders and stretch out of
the tackle to score his first try for 14 months.

Clash of the titans: Leeds' Ryan Bailey squares up to Warrington's Garreth Carvell

Clash of the titans: Leeds' Ryan Bailey squares up to Warrington's Garreth Carvell

Sinfield levelled the scores with the
conversion, just before a torrential downpour, and edged his side in
front four minutes later with a penalty awarded for a punch by Paul Wood
on Carl Ablett.

The rain threatened to ruin the game,
with Warrington's Hill and Trent Waterhouse both spilling possession,
but a run of penalties against the Yorkshiremen helped produce another
momentum shift.

As the rain disappeared as quickly as
it had arrived, slick handling by Michael Monaghan and Myler got
Waterhouse into his stride and he proved unstoppable from 10 metres out.

Hodgson's second goal made it 12-8
but Sinfield pulled two points back with a second penalty on the stroke
of half-time and Leeds thought they had re-taken the lead early in the
second half.

Making a fist of it: Leeds' Ian Kirke scores their first try but it was not enough for the defeated Rhinos

Making a fist of it: Leeds' Ian Kirke scores their first try but it was not enough for the defeated Rhinos

When Hodgson lost possession in a
crunching tackle from Rhinos prop Kylie Leuluai while attempting to
clear his line, second rower Brett Delaney picked up the loose ball and
touched down.

The video referee ruled out any foul
play but disallowed the try for a knock-on and Warrington made the most
of the let-off with two quickfire tries, with Hodgson quickly recovering
from the heavy blow to supply both final passes.

Leeds found themselves under
intolerable pressure after conceding successive goal-line drop-outs and
it told when Hodgson combined with Ryan Atkins to get winger Chris Riley
over on 49 minutes.

Done and dusted: Warrington's Ryan Atkins scores their third try to put them on their way to a famous victory

Done and dusted: Warrington's Ryan Atkins scores their third try to put them on their way to a famous victory

Five minutes later, following another
drop-out, Warrington again attacked the Leeds right and Hodgson's long
pass enabled Atkins to go over.

The Wolves were oozing with
confidence by then and four minutes later substitute Tyrone McCarthy
went over for his side's fifth try after Westwood squeezed out a pass
from a tackle close to the line.

Briers put his side four scores in
front with a drop goal and Hodgson went through a tiring Leeds defence
for a deserved try, rendering later tries from Rhinos centre Kallum
Watkins little more than consolation.

London 2012 Olympics: Tom Daley aiming for Rio peak

Bronze boy Daley aiming even higher with Rio Olympics in his sights

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UPDATED:

10:14 GMT, 12 August 2012

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LIVE RESULTS |
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MEDALS TABLE

Tom Daley has set his sights on Olympic glory in Rio de Janeiro after securing bronze in the 10 metre diving on Saturday night.

The 18-year-old led the field going into the final dive but was overtaken by eventual champion David Boudia of the USA and China's Qiu Bo.

But far from being disappointed, Daley was overjoyed by his achievement, which came after he failed to finish on the podium in the 10m synchro with Pete Waterfield.

Achievement: Tom Daley earned his bronze medal on Saturday night

Achievement: Tom Daley earned his bronze medal on Saturday night

'I'm over the moon with the way it all went,' he told Radio 5 Live. 'To finally have something to show for all the hard work, dedication and sacrifices I've had to make – it feels so good to have a medal right now.

'It was an amazing moment after all the things I've been through. All the hard work and all the things I've done… along with my dad. I wish he was there to see it but I know he'd be proud of what I've done.'

And Daley, who only qualified through the preliminary round in 15th place, believes his best is yet to come.

'Most people peak in diving at about 22, that's just in time for the Rio Olympics so that'll hopefully be my performance peak,' he said. 'I've got four more years, it's about building strength, building consistency and getting even better.'

Aims: The youngster wants to do even better in Rio

Aims: The youngster wants to do even better in Rio

Daley mid-dive

Daley dedicated his first Olympic medal to his late father Robert after a dramatic and controversial final.

While American David Boudia snatched
gold from the Qiu Bo, the swell of emotion inside the Aquatics Centre
centred on home-favourite Daley.

The 18-year-old had led going into the final dive, with Boudia and Qiu deadlocked just 0.15 points behind.

Daley managed a single score of 10 for his final back dive, but when Boudia and then Qiu both nailed more difficult leaps he was relegated to third.

The Plymouth diver hardly cared though as he jumped into the pool, with his team-mates and coaches, to celebrate a success overwhelming for his family tragedy.

Daley was at the bedside of his father at their family home in Plymouth last May when he lost his long battle with brain cancer aged 40.

Robert Daley had been a constant at poolside during his son's career and had pledged to battle the disease for long enough to see him compete in London.

Celebration: Daley and his coaches made a splash after the event

Celebration: Daley and his coaches made a splash after the event

'I dedicate this medal one for my dad,' he said.

'After losing my dad and all the tough times – it's about time my family had some good news.

'It's really tough not having him here, but I'm so happy for the fact that all the hard work we put in together, all the ups and downs, I know if he was here he'd be very proud.

'I wish he was here to be honest, but I know he's not. To make up for it all my family and friends are here.

'All the lessons in life he's taught me. It's been tough but I've come out the other side and have something to show for it.

'Although it's a bronze medal for me it's a gold medal.

'It's a symbol of all the effort I've had to put in. All the pressure that I've had on me going into this competition has been overwhelming to say the least.'

Arsenal"s Thomas Vermaelen becomes Shaolin warrior

Shaolin soccer! Vermaelen takes up Chinese art as Arsenal prepare for far East tour

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UPDATED:

10:22 GMT, 18 July 2012

Just when you thought you had seen everything in pre-season, Arsenal look to have taken it a step further.

In an effort to combat a leaky defence that conceded 49 goals in the Premier League last season, the club seem to have dabbled in the arts of Shaolin – with Thomas Vermaelen leading the way.

Scroll down for video

Arsenal's new third kit Thomas Vermaelen poses as a Chinese warrior

Arsenal's new third kit Thomas Vermaelen poses as a Chinese warrior

The defender, fully clothed in the attire, looked a natural learning the discipline which is enough to make any striker worried about facing the centre-back next season.

But fans concerned that becoming a Chinese warrior is taking defensive duties a bit too far can relax as the art is only a tribute to Arsenal’s fans in the Far East.

Chinese supporters greeted the Gunners team on a pre-season tour last year by unveiling a banner with the Belgian dressed as a warrior.

In focus: Vermaelen was dressed as a warrior to pay tribute to fans in China

In focus: Vermaelen was dressed as a warrior to pay tribute to fans in China

In focus: Vermaelen was dressed as a warrior to pay tribute to fans in China

Under the tutelage of Shaolin Kung Fu master Shifu Shi Yan Kun, Vermaelen is (with the assistance of some creative editing) captured completing a range of traditional moves that are intended to reflect his style of play on the pitch.

Vermaelen, who liked the supporters' artwork of him so much he asked to take the banner home with him, said: ‘The welcome we had on tour last year was just amazing.

‘Those banners of us all as ancient warriors – and the work that must have gone into making them – summed up the dedication of the fans we met all over.

‘Making this video, and learning some of the moves from Shifu Shi Yan Kun was just a small way to try and thank them for that, and to get supporters ready for our return next week.’

Arsenal will return to China when they face Manchester City on June 27 inside Beijing’s Bird’s nest Stadium.

London 2012: Yohan Blake gunning for gold thanks to rival Usain Bolt

Blake gunning for Olympic gold thanks to sprint rival Bolt

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UPDATED:

11:31 GMT, 17 July 2012

Yohan Blake insists he will remain great friends with sprint rival Usain Bolt regardless of the outcome of their duel at London 2012.

Blake fired a warning to the reigning Olympic champion by winning both the 100m an 200m at Jamaican trials.

Focused: Jamaican sprinter Yohan Blake

Focused: Jamaican sprinter Yohan Blake

But Blake told the BBC: 'Win, lose or draw we are friends, even though it is business and he wants to win and I want to win.'

Blake is the reigning 100m world champion after world record-holder Bolt was disqualified for a false start in the final at n Daegu in 2011.

Six days later Bolt stormed to victory in the 200m to underline his status as favourite for both sprint titles in London.

Blake believes that his decision to leave his school coach in October 2008 and join Bolt under coach Glen Mills at the Racers Track Club in Kingston has helped him.

'Every time in training I want to win but he's always there. So I say “OK, how am I going to win on the big day”' added Blake.

'That's why some of the time I tend to be at the front so when I get on the track I can say “OK, I beat him in training”.'

Blake beats Bolt at the Jamaican trials

Warning: Blake beats Bolt at the Jamaican trials

Far from resisting Blake's rise, Bolt has been key in helping to develop the man he has dubbed 'the Beast' and tipped as a future rival back in 2009.

'He will say to me: “Yohan, look, you're not doing this for the people, you're not doing this for the fans, you're not doing this for your family, you're doing this for yourself.” He can motivate me,' added Blake.

Motivation is not something that Blake has ever appeared to lack.

The 22-year-old is famed for his serious-minded dedication to training harder in stark contrast to Bolt's light-hearted confidence.

Bolt jokes that he is nervous about tipping Blake as the man to win gold if he cannot at the Olympics.

'We train every day, I know how hard he works, so I would love for Blake to win if I wasn't in the 100m, but let's not ask this question again please, let's not jinx me on that one,' he said.

Alan Pardew: Newcastle should be top of the Premier League every year

We should be at the top of the Premier League every year, claims Toon boss Pardew

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UPDATED:

14:47 GMT, 7 May 2012

Newcastle boss Alan Pardew is already turning his attention towards establishing Newcastle as permanent members of the Barclays Premier League's top six.

A 2-0 home defeat by leaders Manchester City yesterday dealt a blow to the Magpies' hopes of Champions League qualification, but as things stand, they could end the campaign anywhere between sixth and third with one game still to play.

In Toon: Pardew has taken Newcastle to the brink of Champions League qualification

In Toon: Pardew has taken Newcastle to the brink of Champions League qualification

hatever happens next weekend, when only victory at Everton will give Pardew's men any hope of a top-four finish, they have enjoyed a remarkable season having managed 12th place 12 months ago following their return to the top flight.

Even sixth place could hardly be regarded as anything other than a resounding success, but the manager will spend the summer attempting to ensure it is not a flash in the pan.

He said: 'Our fans are realistic, they know we have come a long, long way this year. The task now is to stay there.

Blue moon: City are just one win away from winning the Premier League title

Blue moon: City are just one win away from winning the Premier League title

'The fabric of this club, the history, the tradition it has, it should be at the top of the Premier League every year.

'That's the job in hand for me now, to make sure these players come back and put in the same dedication they have this year because they have earned big reputations now and now they need to fulfil them.

'Our fans have been absolutely brilliant, make no mistake. There's no way we would be in this position if it wasn't for them.

'We would be seventh, eighth, maybe. They make a big, big difference.

'We need them back next year and we need to give them something to come back for.'

Legend: Newcastle unveiled a statue of Sir Bobby Robson before the defeat

Legend: Newcastle unveiled a statue of Sir Bobby Robson before the defeat

A crowd of 52,389 packed into St James' Park to witness what they hoped would be the crowning glory in a season which has defied expectation from the off.

Ultimately, Newcastle were to succumb to two goals from Yaya Toure, whose promotion to an out-and-out attacking role with 28 minutes remaining was the turning point in an entertaining contest.

He finally beat Tim Krul from 25 yards with 20 minutes remaining and, with the Magpies going for broke as time ran down, cemented the win with a second a minute from time.

But on a day when the club unveiled a new statue of former manager Sir Bobby Robson, the home fans stayed behind to salute the efforts of Pardew and his players as they marked the end of their home campaign with a lap of appreciation.

Pardew said: 'There's a lot of criticism about the Premier League, but I thought the conduct of the players on the pitch, the two staffs, was exemplary.

'They conducted themselves in a great manner, we applauded them off, quite rightly, and the whole day was a great advert for the Premier League.

'The best team won – and I don't like to say that because my team wasn't the best team – but I thought it was a good day.'

If Pardew has been delighted with his players, they too recognise his input to what they hope will be a watershed season for the club.

French midfielder Hatem Ben Arfa, whose form in recent weeks has been a key factor in Newcastle's late surge, was quick to pay tribute to the 50-year-old.

He told NUFC TV: 'He has lots of experience as a coach and he has brought that to Newcastle as a team. 'Where Newcastle are today is because of him, partly.'

Ben Arfa was understandably disappointed with the result, but quickly turned his attention to next weekend's events at Goodison Park.

He said: 'It's a disappointment. We could have drawn, we could even have won – but I hope to win the next match.

'It was an absolutely great atmosphere and it was a shame we couldn't win to share it with everybody.'

Ben Arfa, of course, was used sparingly during the first half of the season after recovering from long-term injury – he suffered a double leg fracture in a challenge by City's Nigel de Jong in October 2010 – but has ended the campaign fit, in form and hoping for a call-up for France's Euro 2012 finals campaign.

He said: 'I have got my fingers crossed that I will be playing for the French team.'

Bubba Watson will keep going for "miracle shots"

Masters champion Bubba promises to keep going for 'miracle shots'

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UPDATED:

17:36 GMT, 25 April 2012

Bubba Watson has promised to keep on going for the 'miracle shot' like the one that won him the Masters.

'When it comes to creativity on the golf course, that's just who I am,' said Watson, who is back in action this week defending the Zurich Classic title in New Orleans.

The 33-year-old American was in the trees on the second extra hole against Louis Oosthuizen in the play-off at Augusta, but hooked the ball some 40 yards off pine straw and onto the green for a winning par.

Back in action: Bubba Watson will defend his Zurich Classic title this week

Back in action: Bubba Watson will defend his Zurich Classic title this week

'That's just what I've done, so that doesn't scare me,' he said. 'It thrills me because then I can pull off some shots. That's more exciting.

'I don't care if the fans were there or what. If I was just playing with my buddies I'd want to pull that shot off.

Celebrity: Bubba with Tim Tebow

Celebrity: Bubba with Tim Tebow

'I'm just Bubba from Bagdad, Florida. I play golf because I love the game of golf, because it's fun.

'Every day is different. Some days it's windy, some days it's not. Some days the ground is firm, some days it's wet.

'You always challenge yourself and set goals for yourself. I think it resonates with everybody because I'm from a small town, I played public golf courses growing up and I think that everybody can see that my swing is homegrown.

'That means everybody has a chance to do it. Hard work, dedication, practice and the drive to do it – and not worry about what other people say.

'Where I grew up with plastic golf balls I just learned to hit in the trees, through the trees, over the trees, under the trees.'

On the shot for which he is now most famous, Watson added: 'As a child I was used to seeing shots like that. To get that close was very special – when I saw it I go “Phew, I'm pretty good”.

How did he do it Watson hits his 'miracle' shot that led to a Masters win

How did he do it Watson hits his 'miracle' shot that led to a Masters win

'But I try to pull off the amazing shot, just like we've seen [Phil] Mickelson and Tiger [Woods] pull off shots – everybody that's won you've seen pull off shots like that.'

Watson suddenly finds himself the top attraction in a field that also includes England's Luke Donald and Justin Rose and Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell.

With Rory McIlroy not having played since the Masters concluded on April 8 – he is back at next week's Wells Fargo Championship – Donald will go back to world No 1 with a top-seven finish.