Tag Archives: department

Rafael Benitez crisis: Chelsea had Mourinho, Rodgers, Villas-Boas and Clarke – now they are full of resentment

Chelsea old boys Mourinho, AVB, Clarke and Rodgers are full of simmering resentment… is it any surprise after working at this club

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Roberto Di Matteo (Mar 2012-Nov 2012)
Rafa Benitez (Nov 2012- )

It was no surprise the combustible Villas-Boas and Mourinho fell out, but more damagingly Clarke and Rodgers now have one of the frostiest relationships in the game.

Clarke played a pivotal role in getting Rodgers’ career started at Stamford Bridge and was torn apart by the way he was treated by the Ulsterman when their paths crossed briefly again at Liverpool last summer.

Clarke, regarded as one of football’s nice guys, had put his own reputation on the line to get Rodgers a job at Chelsea.

Brendan Rodgers

Brendan Rodgers

Now and then: Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers was once youth and reserve-team boss at Chelsea

Can West Brom's grim reapers Bag another Chelsea manager's scalp

Rafael Benitez will not be happy to see Chelsea's next opponents are West Bromwich Albion – the grim reapers of Blues bosses.

The Baggies have hammered the final nail into the coffin of Benitez's two predecessors in the Stamford Bridge hotseat, Andre Villas-Boas and Roberto Di Matteo.

Villas-Boas' reign was ended after just eight torrid months following a dismal 1-0 defeat at West Brom in March 2012, in which Gareth McAuley struck the winner.

Chelsea

And Di Matteo saw his reign terminated, despite winning the Champions League just six months before, after an unacceptable run of results culminated in a 2-1 defeat at The Hawthorns in November last year.

Shane Long and Peter Odemwingie scored the goals as the Italian's fate was sealed even before the Champions League defeat against Juventus three days later.

Yet when Rodgers arrived on Merseyside
to succeed Kenny Dalglish as manager, Clarke – the club’s
assistant manager – learned about his dismissal with a phone call from
the club’s human resources department, rather than from Rodgers himself.

Fortunately for Clarke, he has been able to rebuild impressively his shattered career at West Brom this season with the club standing seventh in the Premier League, and is too polite to follow Benitez’s example and go public with his grievances.

But as he walks out at Stamford Bridge this weekend, he’ll undoubtedly cast his mind back to 2004 when he was Mourinho’s assistant manager at Chelsea and Rodgers an unknown 31-year-old whose playing career had been cut short by injury.

When a vacancy came up as youth-team manager, Chelsea playing idol Gus Poyet was the hot favourite until Clarke remembered the keen young coach he’d met on a pro-licence course and recommended him to Roman Abramovich.

The rest, as they say, is history. Rodgers learned avidly under Mourinho and used four years at Chelsea as a springboard for his own managerial career, at Watford, Reading, Swansea and currently at Liverpool.

In all that time, Clarke felt his early assistance went unappreciated.

‘Even at Liverpool, Brendan never spoke to him through the process of Steve leaving his job. They knew each other well but he left it to another department to sort it out,’ confirmed a friend.

‘The thing that hurts most is he never got a thank you. It’s an understatement to say he was badly treated.’

Rafa Benitez will know how he feels. It must be a Chelsea thing.

CHELSEA IN 2007: WHEN ROMAN COULDN’T MOVE FOR MANAGERS…

Glory days: Mourinho and Clarke formed a strong bond which brought huge success to Chelsea

Glory days: Mourinho and Clarke formed a strong bond which brought huge success to Chelsea

JOSE MOURINHO (manager)
The Special One led Chelsea to their
first title since 1955 but was sacked after a Champions League draw against
Rosenborg. Now in charge of Real Madrid but tipped for a return.

STEVE CLARKE (assistant manager)
A former Chelsea player, he was able
to teach Mourinho all about the club’s history and tradition. After
being a long-time No 2, will be back at the Bridge this weekend as West
Brom manager.

BRENDAN RODGERS (reserve-team manager)
Clarke gave him a reference to become
Chelsea’s youth-team manager and he was promoted to the reserves. Now in
his fourth managerial job, at Liverpool.

ANDRE VILLAS-BOAS (scout and cheerleader)
Mourinho’s close friend from Portugal,
AVB was often a hot-headed figure seen on the Chelsea bench. Now
reinvented himself as a great thinker, he failed as Chelsea manager but
doing well at Spurs‬.

Lee Westwood to play Greg Norman for short-game returns – Derek Lawrenson

Long-haul Lee swims with the Shark for short-game returns

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UPDATED:

22:30 GMT, 26 November 2012

Where next for Lee Westwood in his search for salvation on and around the greens Here’s an eye-catching name – Greg Norman.

Before anyone adds the Aussie great to the long list of hired help Westwood has acquired over the years in the short-game department, it should be said that seeing Norman will be more along the lines of two friends getting together for some social golf and bouncing ideas off one another.

‘Lee has always been an admirer of Greg’s short-game technique,’ said Westwood’s manager Chubby Chandler. So it is that when the Englishman begins his brave new adventure in Florida in January he will seek out a long-time pal and neighbour for some brain-storming.

Old pals: Lee Westwood (right) with Australian legend Greg Norman

Old pals: Lee Westwood (right) with Australian legend Greg Norman

Not just Norman, either. Nick Price, another legend with a gossamer touch, also lives in the vicinity. Then there are contemporaries Charl Schwartzel and Louis Oosthuizen, who are both moving to the same gated community as Westwood at Old Palm, near Fort Lauderdale. There’s also Ernie Els and Luke Donald.

This will be the first time in his career that Westwood will play some serious social golf against players of his own calibre. Up to now, he has always lived miles from anyone, in Worksop. Imagine what difference it might make to his short game mixing with the likes of Norman and Els, and playing regular $100 money games with a competitive edge.

It can only help in terms of sharpness, can’t it The Norman connection is particularly intriguing. One of the finest victories of Westwood’s career came as a young man playing against the Shark in his ferocious prime at the Australian Open. It gave Westwood the belief to go on an astonishing run that would see him claim 17 more victories over the next three seasons.

Fifteen years on, could the wily Norman prove the catalyst once more We can but hope.

More from Derek Lawrenson…

Derek Lawrenson: If Augusta can see sense on women members, why can't the R&A
12/11/12

Derek Lawrenson: It's already been a November to remember
05/11/12

Derek Lawrenson: HSBC Championship shows golf faces hurricane alert over fees
29/10/12

World of Golf: Rose blooming, so let’s not rake over the coals
22/10/12

Derek Lawrenson: Overpaid Most earnings aren't on a par with Rose's fortune
15/10/12

Derek Lawrenson: It's a Turkish delight as eight greats battle it out for big bucks
08/10/12

Derek Lawrenson: Why we should be saying Yanks for the memories to gracious losers
01/10/12

Derek Lawrenson: McIlroy a victim of trash talk in American press ahead of Ryder Cup
24/09/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

About time too

Given the chronic lack of tournament golf in England at a time of vast riches in the playing department, the idea of three events taking place in the country in 2014 is a pleasant one indeed.

Traditionalists too will be cheered immensely by the prospect of the Volvo World Match Play returning home, if only for one year. This event has been held in Spain for the last two years and will break new ground in Bulgaria next season. The idea after that is for it to rotate between three nations, with England next up.

If the plan comes to fruition, it would mean two events in England in May — the other being the flagship PGA Championship at Wentworth — alongside The Open at Royal Liverpool in July.

Quote of the week

‘Every goal I set myself at the start of 2012 I’ve achieved this year. It really doesn’t get any better than that and I’m already excited about 2013.’

How typical that while patting himself on the back with one hand, Rory McIlroy should be driving himself forward with the other. Rory’s era has begun in truly thrilling fashion.

Simply the best: Rory McIlroy has enjoyed a quite brilliant year on the course

Simply the best: Rory McIlroy has enjoyed a quite brilliant year on the course

Long putter: Open champion Ernie Els

Long putter: Open champion Ernie Els

Belly rumbles

Is tomorrow the big day in terms of a decision from the governing bodies regarding the vexed subject of the belly putter

Such were the whispers in Dubai last week. ‘We’re about to have some fun and games,’ said Luke Donald, smiling.

Rather than a straight ban, most of the money is on a form of wording that effectively prevents any player from anchoring a putter to his body. Which would be a smart way of effectively bringing in a ban while reducing the chances of this ending up in a messy court battle — the fun and games to which Donald refers.

No changes to the Rules of Golf can be introduced until the next review in 2016, but there is some talk it will be introduced in the professional game before then. Among the players who would be affected are three of the last five major winners — Keegan Bradley, Webb Simpson and Ernie Els.

Bold course for new ideas

Any talk of changes to the Old Course at St Andrews is always a move into ‘painting a moustache on the face of the Mona Lisa’ territory.

So it was that the Royal and Ancient Golf Club got another shellacking last week following the announcement, in conjunction with the St Andrews Links Trust who manage the course, of a number of changes before The Open is held there in 2015. It has to be said, some of the planned amendments sound positively radical.

Widening the Road Hole bunker and recontouring the area around it, for example; the first alterations to the 11th green for about 250 years.

Let’s go easy on the outrage, however, and have a little faith in the two bodies in question. After all, they have more to lose than anyone.

Mario Balotelli avoids row with Manchester City over Christmas baby

Here's an early Christmas present, City fans: Balotelli avoids daddy of all rows with Mancini by NOT asking for paternity leave

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UPDATED:

12:36 GMT, 6 November 2012

Manchester City have denied that striker Mario Balotelli will take two weeks' paternity leave over Christmas.

The Italian's model girlfriend Raffaella Fico is due to give birth on Christmas Day and it had appeared that Balotelli could be
heading for another row with Roberto Mancini if he decided he wants to
be at home in Italy when his baby is born during the busy festive period.

However, City said the club has checked with its human resource department, coaching staff and the 22-year-old's representatives.

A spokesman said: 'No request relating to paternity leave has been made by the player/his representative or received by the club.'

Row brewing: Mario Balotelli could decide to be in Italy over Christmas for the birth of his first child

Expecting: Raffaella Fico

Row averted: Balotelli has not asked to be in Italy over Christmas for the birth of his child with Raffaella Fico

The City striker, pictured on Monday
wearing boots embroiderd with ‘Super M Angel’, would miss a number of
games if he were to be by Fico's side for a prolonged period.

City are due to travel to Sunderland
on Boxing Day then head to Norwich on December 29, before hosting Stoke
at the Etihad Stadium three days later,

Meanwhile, AC Milan have subtly reopened their pursuit of Balotelli after the striker's latest spat with Mancini.

City slicker: Mario Balotelli is continuing to attract attention from his homeland

City slicker: Mario Balotelli is continuing to attract attention from his homeland

City slicker: Mario Balotelli is continuing to attract attention from his homeland

The Italian was hauled off after 70
uninspiring minutes of the champions' snore draw with West Ham on
Saturday, and was noticeably frustrated as he stormed back to his seat,
mouthing his angry feelings towards the manager.

Mancini pulled no punches after the match, hitting out at his 25million man.

The Italian said: 'I think that a player like Balotelli, when he has a chance like to today, he should score.

'Because when you are a top player, if you have a chance, you should score this – but I don't think he didn't want to score.'

On the player's reaction to being substituted, Mancini added: 'It's normal. A player is never happy to leave the pitch, but if Mario had scored he'd have stayed on the pitch.

'I'm the manager, I decide. I cannot play with four strikers.

'He should be disappointed with the chance he missed, not leaving the pitch in the last 25 minutes. It was a bad chance he missed.'

Balotelli moved to the Premier League from Inter in 2010 and has made several trips back to Milan, most recently to watch the city's big football derby.

Despite his connections to Inter, Balotelli left the club under a cloud and would have little concern joining their fierce rivals.

And it seems AC Milan chief executive Adriano Galliani is warming to the idea despite admitting it would be difficult.

Strop: Balotelli was unhappy with Roberto Mancini's decision to sub him after a poor show at West Ham

Strop: Balotelli was unhappy with Roberto Mancini's decision to sub him after a poor show at West Ham

Strop: Balotelli was unhappy with Roberto Mancini's decision to sub him after a poor show at West Ham

Speaking on Monday, he said: 'I have a profound love for Mario Balotelli, but many loves in life don't always end well.'

Galliani also took the opportunity to dismiss rumours in his homeland that AC Milan's star turn this season, Stephen El Shaarawy, would be making a move to the Premier League.

The Italy international, nicknamed 'The Pharaoh', has enjoyed a stellar campaign to date, scoring 10 times in 17 Serie A games.

But Galliani insists any talk of a switch for the 20-year-old is wide of the mark.

He added: 'Manchester City are interested in signing El Shaarawy Enough of this talk. He has contract with Milan until 2017, and soon he will sign an extension until 2018. He’s an enchanting player.'

Hot property: Stephan El Shaarawy has been in fabulous form for AC Milan

Hot property: Stephan El Shaarawy has been in fabulous form for AC Milan

Mark Clattenburg under siege as FA and police probe ref

Clattenburg under siege as police and FA probe race-row ref following Chelsea claim

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UPDATED:

23:37 GMT, 29 October 2012

Mark Clattenburg is fighting to save his career after the Football Association and police began formal investigations into allegations that he racially abused Chelsea midfielder John Obi Mikel.

Clattenburg has denied making any inappropriate comments and his account will be backed by assistants Michael McDonough and Simon Long, along with fourth official Mike Jones.

The referee, at the centre of the storm on Sunday following his handling of Chelsea’s 3-2 defeat by Manchester United at Stamford Bridge, complied with FA regulations by filing an ‘extraordinary incident’ report on Monday.

Scroll down for video

In the spotilight: Mark Clattenburg, leaves his home near Newcastle on Monday

In the spotilight: Mark Clattenburg, leaves his home near Newcastle on Monday

Grabbing a lift: Clattenburg jumped into a car with fellow ref Michael Oliver

Grabbing a lift: Clattenburg jumped into a car with fellow ref Michael Oliver

It relates to Chelsea allegations that he made inappropriate remarks to two of their players and was later confronted by manager Roberto Di Matteo, Mikel and chief executive Ron Gourlay.

Mikel did not hear the alleged abuse, but the account has been backed up by two Chelsea players — reported to be Brazilian duo Ramires and David Luiz — who are both prepared to make statements.

The 85,000-a-year official has been taken off this weekend’s Premier League match list as the FA compliance department begins a top-level inquiry.

Police will begin an investigation after Peter Herbert, chairman of the Society of Black Lawyers, wrote asking them to open up an investigation into Clattenburg’s conduct. That could damage the FA’s hopes of a speedy resolution — waiting for a police inquiry to end meant John Terry’s recent case ultimately took nearly a year to be decided

Accused: Clattenburg is alleged to have racially abused John Obi Mikel (right) during Chelsea's defeat

Accused: Clattenburg is alleged to have racially abused John Obi Mikel (right) during Chelsea's defeat

Dispute: Mikel complains to Clattenburg as his side slump to defeat at Stamford Bridge

Dispute: Mikel complains to Clattenburg as his side slump to defeat at Stamford Bridge

Meanwhile, the investigation will jeopardise Clattenburg’s standing in the game and could affect his chances of making it on to the FIFA list for the 2014 World Cup. In addition to Clattenburg’s initial incident report, which was studied by the FA’s governance department on Monday morning, he will be asked to provide a detailed statement of the controversial incidents.

Chelsea allege Clattenburg used ‘inappropriate language’ in two separate exchanges with Mikel and Chelsea winger Juan Mata during their first Premier League defeat of the season.

Assistants McDonough and Long — who both ran the line — and fourth official Jones will provide additional statements for the FA’s compliance department.

Marching orders: Referee Mark Clattenburg showed two red cards to Chelsea players on Sunday

Marching orders: Referee Mark Clattenburg showed two red cards to Chelsea players on Sunday

Marching orders: Branislav Ivanovic was sent off (above) while Clattenburg struggled to contain both sides

Marching orders: Branislav Ivanovic was sent off (above) while Clattenburg struggled to contain both sides

Fernando Torres of Chelsea talks to referee Mark Clattenburg

They wore ‘crystal clear’ wireless technology microphones which suppress crowd noise and allow officials to communicate without distraction. Although the conversations are not recorded, Professional Game Match Officials sources claim it is ‘inconceivable’ that the use of an offensive or inappropriate phrase would not have been heard by the officials.

A statement released on Monday said: ‘PGMO believe that, with any football match, the focus should not be on the officials but on the players and the game itself. Mark Clattenburg is one of the elite referees in world football and, in these circumstances, the intense level of scrutiny would detract from the match and be unfair to the clubs and the supporters of both sides.’

Tough time: Clattenburg was given a hostile reception by the Chelsea fans as he left the field

Tough time: Clattenburg was given a hostile reception by the Chelsea fans as he left the field

Winner: Javier Hernandez scores Manchester United's third goal (above) and celebrates (below)

Winner: Javier Hernandez scores Manchester United's third goal

 Javier Hernandez scores

VIDEO: Did referee abuse black Chelsea player See the John Obi Mikel incident here…

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Former heavyweight boxing champion Tyson barred by New Zealand after charity snub

Former heavyweight boxing champion Tyson barred by New Zealand after charity snub

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UPDATED:

05:50 GMT, 3 October 2012

Barred: Mike Tyson

Barred: Mike Tyson

Former heavyweight boxing champion and convicted rapist Mike Tyson has had his visa to visit New Zealand cancelled.

And a speaking tour for the former
heavyweight boxing champion was threatening to fall apart altogether as
Australian immigration authorities said they've yet to decide whether to
allow him into the country.

Tickets for appearances in New
Zealand and five major Australian cities in November are still being
promoted by a Sydney agency.

Tyson's 1992 rape conviction would
normally prevent his entry in New Zealand and could be grounds for
denial in Australia as well. He had been granted an exemption for New
Zealand before that visa was cancelled, days after the prime minister
spoke out against the visit.

Tyson was to speak at a November
event in Auckland, the 'Day of the Champions' which is being promoted by
Sydney agency Markson Sparks!

New Zealand's Associate Immigration
Minister Kate Wilkinson said she'd initially granted entry because a
children's health charity would get some of the proceeds from Tyson's
speech. She said in a statement her decision was 'a finely balanced
call' but that the charity that would have benefited, the Life Education
Trust, withdrew its support on Tuesday.

'Given that the trust is no longer supporting the event, on balance, I have made the decision to cancel his visa,' Wilkinson wrote in her statement.

The charity's chief executive, John O'Connell, however, said the charity had long ago decided not to accept any money from the event due to its concerns over Tyson's character, but that a volunteer trustee had mistakenly sent a letter to immigration authorities supporting Tyson's plans.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for Australia's Department of Immigration and Citizenship said: 'I can tell you that a decision is still pending' on Tyson's application for an Australian visa.

Big hit: Former heavyweight champion Tyson

Big hit: Former heavyweight champion Tyson

Tyson's criminal history could prevent him from obtaining an Australian visa. Would-be visitors normally must pass a character test. Those with a 'substantial criminal record' – which by the immigration department's definition includes people who, like Tyson, have been sentenced to more than a year in prison – would fail the test. But the department can still use its discretion to grant a visa.

Colorful promoter Max Markson said he'd been 'hoping it might be a smoother run with Mike Tyson' but that he remained confident Australia would grant Tyson a visa and that New Zealand would reverse its decision when he found another suitable charity.

'He'll only be in the country for 20 hours, I don't think he's a danger to anybody, and thousands of people want to see him,' Markson said of Tyson's planned New Zealand leg.

Markson said he's continuing to sell tickets to the planned speeches in both countries and that buyers will get a full refund if the shows are cancelled. He said he had immigration lawyers in Australia, New Zealand and the United States working on the case.

Speaking to the APNZ news agency this week from Las Vegas before his New Zealand visa was cancelled, Tyson said his tattoo was inspired by those worn by New Zealand's indigenous Maori.

In pre-European times, many Maori wore elaborate facial tattoos as a sign of their status in their tribe. Some Maori who identify strongly with their traditional culture get similar tattoos.

Tyson told the agency that, aside from their tattoos, he knew little about the Maori people 'so I'm looking forward to come down there and see them.'

Prime Minister John Key spoke against the planned visit this week, questioning the decision by immigration authorities and saying he personally disapproved of the visit given Tyson's conviction for such a serious crime.

Before his visa was cancelled, Tyson said: 'Fortunately, I am coming to New Zealand and there's nothing they can do about it and I'm so sorry, I'm sorry they feel disappointed and I'm just living my life.'

Tyson was sentenced to six years in prison for the 1991 rape of 18-year-old Desiree Washington in an Indianapolis hotel room. He served three years before being released on parole.

London 2012 Olympics: BBC triathlon coverage was poor

Goggle Eyes: The Triathlon was good… but the coverage could have been better

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UPDATED:

21:45 GMT, 7 August 2012

The swimming leg of Alistair Brownlee’s triathlon triumph was a complete non-event for viewers. There was no way of telling where the Brit boys were in the wash and the BBC graphics department — poorly served by the Olympic Broadcast Service (OBS) — never thought to help us all out. Poor show.

On his way: Great Britain's Alistair Brownlee (30) emerges from the swim phase

On his way: Great Britain's Alistair Brownlee (30) emerges from the swim phase

GRIPE II…

Everyone missed the moment of controversy in the triathlon when Jonny Brownlee was alleged to have jumped on his bike too soon. And we were still left wondering at the end of the day as the OBS and Beeb failed to broadcast a replay.

GRIPE III: FINAL ACT

Still with the triathlon, as Brownlee raced down the final 500m in the lead, the OBS director inexplicably cut to the race for fourth. Who cared about French duo David Hauss and Laurent Vidal Not even the French.

TRIATHLON PUNDITS’ PODIUM…

Chrissie Wellington: World ironman champ has the credentials and spoke eloquently about the technique of cycling in a rival’s ‘draft’. She was good on Jonny’s penalty, too.

Vicky Holland: GB triathlete lacked the confidence to deliver too much technical insight but was clearly delighted at the result and a little emotional at the finish. Infectious.

Steve Trew: Commentator rather than pundit but knew his stuff. Kept us informed despite lack of broadcast information.

Give us a kiss: Jake Humphrey (right) has impressed with his presenting

Give us a kiss: Jake Humphrey (right) has impressed with his presenting

THUMBS UP…

JAKE HUMPHREY: The 33-year-old expertly marshals the pundits when he’s anchoring live action and hosts round-up shows with a boy-next-door smile. On Tuesday, he rightly branded Laura Trott the 2012 Games’ Becky Adlington. Can’t disagree.

THUMBS DOWN…

BBC1 NEWS EDITOR: Phillips Idowu failed to qualify for the final of the triple jump at 11.25am. Viewers of the BBC1 main feed, watching the build-up to the triathlon, weren’t informed of the big news for almost 15 minutes. Not good enough.

VOLLEYBALL… IT’S A SCREAM

Japan's 3-2 victory over China was a cracking match and well worth its slot on BBC3. The shrieking and squealing from both sets of players, however, must have seen viewers reaching for the mute button.

A-HOY THERE, SIR STEVE

The magic moment of the day was when Sir Steve Redgrave gatecrashed Sir Chris Hoy’s post-race interview with Jill Douglas. ‘I’m coming back, that’s official. Will you be at Rio’ asked Redgrave, with five gold medals. ‘No, no, that’s me done,’ came the reply from Hoy with six.

LONDON OLYMPICS 2012: Sir Steve Redgrave wears special sideburns in tribute to Bradley Wiggins

Goggle Eyes: Sir Steve happy to pay special tribute to Wiggins

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UPDATED:

23:53 GMT, 2 August 2012

Sideburn rip-off

Sir Steve Redgrave was sporting his homemade pair of Bradley Wiggins sideburns, fashioned out of tape. The facial adornments certainly made the now second-most decorated British Olympian wince when he ripped them off. Ouch!

Special tribute: Sir Steve Redgrave at Eton Dorney on Thursday

Special tribute: Sir Steve Redgrave at Eton Dorney on Thursday

Ahead of the Games

The tennis schedule may have been disrupted by rain but the umpire in Andy Murray’s game was 90 years ahead of the rest of us. Wonder who will run the bid campaign for London 2102. Lord Coe might be a little past it…

Thumbs up for…

The yellow world record line:

This graphical device, labelled WR on screen, moves with the swimmers down the pool and indicates when they are on for a fast time. The Olympic record (OR) version may confuse the Beeb’s French viewers, however, if they think it refers to ‘gold’.

Thumbs down for…

Information blackout:

No on-screen cumulative scores during the boxing bouts and no on-screen information during the gymnastics to tell us a competitor’s name and their ranking. Why not If it is an attempt to create tension, it is frustrating. The Beeb’s graphics department is getting off lightly at the moment.

SAY WHAT
Hazel Irvine

‘If the scores are tied, there will be a sudden-death shoot-off’

Sounds a bit extreme, Hazel Irvine, even if we are talking about the shooting competition

PUNDITS’ FORM GUIDE…

John Lloyd, tennis ……….8/10

Called strength of Murray’s opponents well and dished the dry humour. ‘He’s made a Horlicks of that,’ said the
commentator. ‘Other branded messes are available,’ came Lloyd’s reply.

Helen Reeves, canoeing………….. 7/10

Suitably enthusiastic and easy to follow.

Nicola Fairbrother, judo…………………..5/10

Must have had an off-day on judo’s biggest Olympic occasion for many years. Normally excellent, but the phrase ‘waiting game’ was all she had for Gemma Gibbons’s fights.

Richie Woodhall, boxing……………9/10

Fantastic, concise commentary of Anthony Ogogo’s bout, adding zest to the upset.

London 2012 Olympics: Zara Phillips" magic moment – Mark Alford

Mark Alford's Goggle Eyes: Phillips becoming Olympics Princess

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UPDATED:

22:13 GMT, 30 July 2012

Magic Moment

Down-to-earth royal Zara Phillips
talking breathlessly after blazing around eventing’s cross-country
course. The crowd roared with delight at the end of her post-ride
interview. She’s quickly becoming the Olympics Princess.

Olympics Princess: Zara Phillips delighted the crowds

Olympics Princess: Zara Phillips delighted the crowds

The clothes show

After Carl Lewis’s flat cap debut late on Sunday evening, expectations were high for the Beeb’s wardrobe department. But by the pool and looking casual for the morning heats, Clare Balding’s turquoise polo shirt and Ian Thorpe’s ultra-tight, dazzling white top were almost enough to put this viewer off his sausage, egg and bacon buttie… Almost.

Row, row, know your boat

Best insight of the morning… take a bow, rowing pundit Gary Herbert. Ever wondered what those cyclists are up to following the rowers down the Eton Dorney course They are scouting the opposition, according to the 1992 gold medal-winning cox, timing the splits every 250m.

Spies: Coaches and scouts tracked rowers up and down the river

Spies: Coaches and scouts tracked rowers up and down the river

Thumbs up for…

Primetime crew: Gary Lineker is proving to be a consummate broadcaster… Sharron Davies coaxed an interview out of Lithuanian teenager Ruta Meilutyte… P.S. Karim Bashir coped well with the fencing sit-in strife.

Thumbs down for…

The schedulers: While viewers on BBC3 were treated to the thrilling medal-winning climax of Louis Smith and Co, the main BBC1 feed carried Britain’s beach volleyball thumping at the hands of Brazil.

Turn over: The gymnastics heroes were on BBC3

Turn over: The gymnastics heroes were on BBC3

Pundits form guide

Christine Still, gymnastics: 9/10

Authoritative, commands the airwaves and expertly called the team medal chaos.

Adrian Moorhouse, swimming 8/10

Erudite and lets the commentator do his job.

Shirley Robertson, sailing 7/10

Glamorous, fun and — crucially for covering Ainslie — knows what it takes to win solo gold.

Non Evans, weightlifting 6/10

Keeps it simple, keeps us informed.

Sir Steve Redgrave 5/10

Wooden delivery but knows the competitors well and clearly loves the sport.

Leon Taylor, synchro diving 3/10

Plumbed new depths for inanity: ‘If you’re wondering how they set off at the same time, it’s not telepathy, it’s 1-2-3 Go!’

Jack Wilshere could be out until October

Arsenal fear Wilshere could be out until October as crocked midfielder waits to kick ball again

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UPDATED:

08:16 GMT, 23 July 2012

Fantasy football 2012

Arsene Wenger has warned Arsenal fans that Jack Wilshere is still some way off a return to the first-team amid fears he could be out until October.

The England midfielder missed the whole of last season and suffered a series of setbacks during rehabilitation from an ankle injury, most recently when he was sent to Sweden for an operation on his knee.

Wilshere's progress is being carefully monitored by medical staff at the club, such as the fragility of the situation.

Lads on tour: Arsene Wenger is unsure when Jack Wilshere will play again

Lads on tour: Arsene Wenger is unsure when Jack Wilshere will play again

Wenger admitted he was wary of putting an exact return date on his star man's return considering he hasn't even kicked a football in the latest stage of recovery.

The Frenchman said: 'I am positive but a bit cautious because we had so much disappointing news with him. Everybody in the medical department says to me he’s doing very well.

'He is still in the gym. Any player still in the gym in July is not on the pitch in August, that is for sure. I don't want to give him any precise deadline because that would put him under huge pressure.

'At the moment, I’m trying to go step-by-step with him but the news is positive. I am more positive this time because there is no setback.

Missing you: Wilshere missed the whole of last season with injury

Missing you: Wilshere missed the whole of last season with injury

'He had his ankle problem and that reated a knee problem. He needed surgery on his knee tendon.

'The advantage of this was to heal completely the inflammation in the ankle. The ankle is perfect and the knee is doing very well. Normally he should go out again in a few weeks.

'It will take some time to come back but let’s not forget Jack is 20 and that means you recover quicker than when you’re 32. If he has no medical problem, he will come back very quickly.'

Wilshere's fitness is just one of many concerns for the Arsenal manager, who will have just one game in which to blood new signings Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud before the season starts.

The pair, along with Robin van Persie, Laurent Koscielny, Per Mertesacker, Bacary Sagna and Tomas Rosicky have all been left behind in London while the squad jet to the Far East for a pre-season tour.

Wenger added: 'It's a little bit of a concern we have players missing but there’s not much choice.

Want to wear: Wilshere hopes to be back kicking a ball in the coming weeks

Want to wear: Wilshere hopes to be back kicking a ball in the coming weeks

'After a World Cup or the European Championships you’re always in the same situation. The good thing for us is that the other clubs have the same problem.

'You want the players to do well in the Euros but you know those who go far take a while to recover and to get back their focus at the start of the season. You know you have to focus a bit more on the other players.

'We have a game against Cologne. We are also still looking to organise one game when we come back on the weekend when we should have gone to Nigeria. It will be behind closed doors.'

RFL investigate Clint Greenshields

Catalan Dragons star Greenshields investigated over 'retard' jibe at ref

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UPDATED:

12:01 GMT, 21 April 2012

The Rugby Football League are to investigate comments made by Catalan Dragons full-back Clint Greenshields on his Twitter account about the display of referee Ben Thaler in his side's 34-18 defeat at Leeds.

Thaler's performance drew some stinging criticism from Catalan players, with the injured Greenshields, watching the match on television from France, posting: 'Holy s*** thaler is retarded. F*** me!'

In trouble: Clint Greenshields hit out at the referee after Leeds defeat

In trouble: Clint Greenshields hit out at the referee after Leeds defeat

Dragons coach Trent Robinson was caught unaware by the comments during the post-match press conference.

He said: 'I haven't seen any of that stuff. There's always a danger with those sort of comments. It's tough watching – you get emotional. I don't think Ben is retarded.'

A RFL spokesman confirmed this morning that the matter has been referred to the League's compliance department for investigation.

Greenshields could face a fine or suspension if he is found to have breached the RFL's Respect policy.