Tag Archives: diamond

Aussie super-horse Black Caviar to retire after 25-race unbeaten run

We want her to bow out at the top! Aussie super-horse Black Caviar to retire after 25-race unbeaten run

PUBLISHED:

06:21 GMT, 17 April 2013

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UPDATED:

06:53 GMT, 17 April 2013

Unbeaten Australian mare Black Caviar will retire after winning 25 consecutive races, with her trainer Peter Moody admitting that the super sprinter 'has done everything we asked her to do.'

Moody, appearing at a news conference in front of Caulfield race track on Wednesday, where the six-year-old mare will make a farewell appearance for race patrons on Saturday, said he and the ownership group led by Neil Werrett had discussed Black Caviar's future over the past few days and 'we decided at lunch today' to announce her retirement.

Fond farewell: Black Caviar is paraded in front of the media with strapper Donna Fisher

Fond farewell: Black Caviar is paraded in front of the media with strapper Donna Fisher

Emotional: Trainer Peter Moody announces retirement of Black Caviar

Emotional: Trainer Peter Moody announces retirement of Black Caviar

Race team: Black Caviar and her connections at the press conference

Race team: Black Caviar and her connections at the press conference

'She has done everything we have asked her to do,' trainer Peter Moody said.

'We
thought long and hard about racing on but believe she has done
everything we asked of her and felt it was the right time to call time
on her wonderful career.

'She's in great shape and that's the way we wanted her to bow out. We just thought the time was right – it was a hard decision.

'She brought interest to our sport that hasn't been there for decades.'

Final flourish: Black Caviar, ridden by Luke Nolen, wins the TJ Smith Stakes

Final flourish: Black Caviar, ridden by Luke Nolen, wins the TJ Smith Stakes

Stunner: Black Caviar (left) wins the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot in 2012

Impressive: Black Caviar (left) wins the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot in 2012

Black Caviar, purchased by Moody for
$225,000, won $8 million in prize money, including an Australian-record
15 Group One wins, most over distances around 1,200 meters.

She'll now have some time being spelled in a paddock before being bred.

'We hope that in three years, Peter
Moody will be training a progeny of Black Caviar,' said Werrett, his
voice breaking at times during the retirement announcement.

Black Caviar, ridden by her regular
jockey Luke Nolen, won her 25th race last Friday in the T.J. Smith
Stakes at Royal Randwick by two lengths. It was the sprinter's third win
since coming back in February from an eight-month injury layoff.

Storming finish: Luke Nolen rides Black Caviar to victory in the TJ Smith Stakes at Royal Randwick

Super horse: Black Caviar claimed a Australian-record
15 Group One wins

No stopping her: Black Caviar again showed who's boss in the Sydney showdown

Money spinner: Black Caviar won $8 million in prize money

Black Caviar narrowly won the Diamond
Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot, England last June and faced possible
retirement after tearing a quadriceps muscle at Ascot.

But laser therapy and exercise
enabled her to return to the track for another – and what turned out her
final – abbreviated season.

There were suggestions as recently as
the weekend that she'd race again at tracks in Brisbane or Adelaide, or
perhaps return to Royal Ascot.

'Black Caviars don't come along every day,' said Moody. 'It's time to call it a day.'

Triumph: Jockey Nolen celebrates the win - making it 25 out of 25 victories

Triumph: Jockey Nolen celebrates making it 25 out of 25 victories

That's my girl! Black Caviar trainer Peter Moody celebrates with and strapper Donna Fisher

That's my girl! Black Caviar trainer Peter Moody (centre)

BLACK CAVIAR'S VICTORIES

2yo Hcp Restricted, Flemington (18 Apr 2009)

Blue Sapphire Stakes, Caulfield (2 May 2009)

Crockett Stakes, Moonee Valley (22 Aug 2009)

Daneholl Stakes, Flemington (5 Sep 2009)

Australia Stakes, Moonee Valley (22 Jan 2010)

Schillaci Stakes, Caulfield (9 Oct 2010)

Schweppes Stakes, Moonee Valley (23 Oct 2010)

Patinack Farm Classic, Flemington (6 Nov 2010)

Lightning Stakes, Flemington (19 Feb 2011)

Newmarket Handicap, Flemington (12 Mar 2011)

William Reid Stakes, Moonee Valley (25 Mar 2011)

T J Smith Stakes, Randwick (9 Apr 2011)

BTC Cup, Doomben (14 May 2011)

Schillaci Stakes, Caulfield (8 Oct 2011)

Schweapped Stakes, Moonee Valley (22 Oct 2011)

Patinack Farm Classic, Flemington (5 Nov 2011)

Australia Stakes, Moonee Valley (27 Jan 2012)

C F Orr Stakes, Caulfield (11 Feb 2012)

Lightning Stakes, Flemington (18 Feb 2012)

Robert Sangster, Morphettville (28 Apr 2012)

Goodwood Handicap, Morphettville (12 May 2012)

Diamond Jubilee Stakes, Ascot (23 Jun 2012)

Lightning Stakes, Flemington (16 Feb 2013)

William Reid Stakes, Moonee Valley (22 Mar 2013)

TJ Smith Stakes, Royal Randwick (13 April 2013)

London Welsh 25 Sale 26: Danny Cipriani edges out Gavin Henson in relegation battle

London Welsh 25 Sale 26: Cipriani comes edges out Henson in relegation battle

By
Rob Wildman

PUBLISHED:

17:57 GMT, 17 February 2013

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UPDATED:

00:06 GMT, 18 February 2013

Gavin versus Danny proved to be an evenly-fought sideshow at the Kassam Stadium on Sunday in a raw relegation battle.

Sale edged the tussle thanks to tries either side of half-time which helped them to only their fourth Premiership win of the season.

If their careers had gone to plan Gavin Henson and Danny Cipriani would have been preparing for Six Nations games rather than being rival club fly halves as they attempt to rebuild careers.

Fluency: Sale's Danny Cipriani was the linchpin in a vital win for the Sharks over their fellow relegation strugglers

Fluency: Sale's Danny Cipriani was the linchpin in a vital win for the Sharks over their fellow strugglers

Both enjoyed impressive games. Henson
took the London Welsh sponsor’s man-of-the-match award, but it was
Cipriani’s Sale who emerged victorious in a fraught, penalty–strewn
game.

‘Relief, that’s the best word,’ said
Steve Diamond, Sale’s director of rugby. ‘But we are still bottom and
have Harlequins and Leicester to come in the next two weeks so we are
not out of the mire.’

Yet Sale are daring to hope at the
bottom of the 12-team competition. This was a second successive win,
following a similar triumph over Exeter, and four points here put them a
point behind 11th-placed London Irish and three off Welsh.

Battle: London Welsh's Jonathan Mills is tackled by Sale Sharks' Dan Baird

Battle: London Welsh's Jonathan Mills is tackled by Sale Sharks' Dan Baird

And there is
no doubting that in Cipriani they have an attacking No 10 who could yet
lead them to safety.

He helped make a crucial try for
scrum-half Will Cliff just before half-time, producing the acceleration
and distribution, alongside wing Charlie Amesbury, which gained him
England recognition.

He also kicked 13 points before being
replaced by Nick Macleod who is considered to be more dependable and a
better defender for such tense finales.

Offload: Sale's Danny Cipriani passes under the attention of London Welsh's Adam Balding

Offload: Sale's Danny Cipriani passes under the attention of London Welsh's Adam Balding

Henson, playing his first full game in
three months due to injury, also produced play that brought back
memories of his best days for Wales. He landed one long-distance penalty
attempt and set up wing Phil Mackenzie for his team’s only try in the
48th minute.

It was a beautifully-timed pass by
Henson whose conversion put Welsh 22-20 ahead. He then banged over a
second penalty to increase the lead to 25-20 only for Cipriani to reply
in the 60th minute.

It was Cipriani’s last contribution,
Macleod kicking the penalty nine minutes from time which put his team a
decisive 26-25 ahead.

Strike: Gavin Henson scored eight points for Welsh, but that was not enough

Strike: Gavin Henson scored eight points for Welsh, but that was not enough

Stopped: London Welsh's Julio Cabello falls short of the line as Welsh looked to get a late winner

Stopped: London Welsh's Julio Cabello falls short of the line as Welsh looked to get a late winner

Welsh’s head coach Lyn Jones said: ‘We
just did not take our chances when we had them.’ After Cipriani put
Sale ahead in the ninth minute, Welsh fed off Sale’s poor discipline
for Alex Davies to kick three penalty goals followed by Henson’s
long-distance toe-bunger.

But it was a series of rash Welsh errors which allowed Sale back.

Cipriani kicked another penalty and then escaped down the right, with Amesbury, to make Cliff’s try

Sale continued on the attack after the
break and Dan Braid, an impressive arrival from New Zealand, scampered
in for the second try.

Welsh regained the lead when Henson made Mackenzie’s try but Sale held their nerve.

Five points: Phil MacKenzie of London Welsh dives over to score their only try of the match

Five points: Phil MacKenzie of London Welsh dives over to score their only try of the match

Sale 21 London Irish 9: Danny Cipriani helps Sharks to first win of the season

Sale 21 London Irish 9: Brilliant Cipriani helps Sharks to first win of the season

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UPDATED:

00:45 GMT, 3 November 2012

Danny Cipriani inspired Sale Sharks to their first Aviva Premiership triumph of the season with victory over London Irish at the Salford City Stadium.

The first half was dominated by Cipriani and the Sale forwards. The one-time England international set up Nick Macleod and Johnny Leota's tries in the opening period, as well as adding a conversion. Irish's response before the break came through a penalty from Ian Humphreys.

Humphreys kicked two more three-pointers in the second period to reduce the deficit, but two late Cipriani penalties sealed the victory.

Looking good: Danny Cipriani was in fine form for Sale

Looking good: Danny Cipriani was in fine form for Sale

Sale went into the game on the back of yet another difficult week which saw the removal of Bryan Redpath as director of rugby. Redpath was then installed as head coach on Wednesday with chief executive Steve Diamond putting himself in charge of first-team duties.

And that indecisiveness off the field translated to the team early on in this encounter. Straight from the kick-off Cillian Willis was charged down which allowed the visitors to build an attack in the opposition 22.

Topsy Ojo used his searing pace to scythe through the hosts' defence, but he failed to spot the overlap and the move eventually broke down. Despite their edgy opening, solid set-piece work allowed the Sharks to gain a foothold in the match. After they had stolen an Irish lineout, Sale drove impressively and forced the Reading-based outfit to infringe.

Macleod kicked the resultant opportunity as the home team led 3-0 with eight minutes gone. It seemed to settle them down and they added to that lead soon after when fly-half Cipriani sent the full-back over.

On the run: Sale's Tom Brady makes a break at Salford City Stadium

On the run: Sale's Tom Brady makes a break at Salford City Stadium

If anything, it was London Irish who looked like the side who had gone on a horrendous run of defeats with the back three struggling to deal with the wet conditions. They did reduce the arrears when Humphreys kicked three points, but it was the Sharks who continued to threaten when Leota charged through the defensive line.

Although that did not come to fruition, it was not long before the Samoan outside centre was crossing the try-line. Once again instigated by Cipriani, the stand-off's wonderfully delayed pass sent Leota through a gap and he shrugged off two would-be tacklers before touching down.

The hosts' fly-half converted to extend their advantage to a deserved 15-3 scoreline at half-time. But with a team that was so low on confidence, it was never a comfortable lead, especially when Humphreys ate into it just after the interval with a second three-pointer.

On the ball: Irish fly-half Ian Humphreys in action on Friday night

On the ball: Irish fly-half Ian Humphreys in action on Friday night

Even though the second period became mainly scrappy, it was the visitors who began to create opportunities. After Humphreys had broken the gain-line, Sale conceded a penalty which the fly-half duly converted.

Irish pressed but the hosts remained composed and Cipriani sealed the victory with successive penalties from the tee.

Bryan Redpath removed as Sale director of rugby

Redpath removed as Sale director of rugby, but offered role as backs coach

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UPDATED:

14:55 GMT, 30 October 2012

Sale Sharks chief executive Steve Diamond has confirmed he will be in charge of the team for the remainder of the season following the removal from the position of director of rugby of Bryan Redpath, who has been offered a role on the coaching staff.

Following reports that the Scot had lost his job on Monday, Sale – who are bottom of the Aviva Premiership having been defeated in all of their opening seven league fixtures this term – released a statement which said Redpath had not been dismissed by the club.

Moving across: Redpath has been removed as director of rugby at Sale

Moving across: Redpath has been removed as director of rugby at Sale

His role, at the very least, looks
set to be redefined, though, with Diamond
understood to be taking over team affairs for Friday's home clash with
London Irish, with input from John Mitchell, the former All Blacks coach
who has been working as a consultant at Sale and is widely expected to
be Redpath's permanent successor.

Diamond is due to address the media at a press conference shortly.

Redpath took over at Sale in June, signing a four-year deal, after leaving Gloucester.

The appointment of the 41-year-old former scrum-half, who played for the north west club between 2000 and 2005 and was capped 60 times by Scotland, was part of a radical overhaul of Sale over the summer as they left Stockport for the City of Salford Stadium.

Moving forward: Sale are currently adrift at the bottom of the table

Moving forward: Sale are currently adrift at the bottom of the table

Big-name signings including Danny Cipriani and Richie Gray followed, but the results have not, with only a single Heineken Cup victory over Cardiff Blues in the wins column.

Sale are currently eight points adrift at the foot of the Premiership table and speculation about Redpath's job has intensified after last Friday's 23-16 loss to Worcester.

80-year-old granny slams Sir Alex Ferguson"s diamond formation

Sir Alex receives hairdryer treatment from 80-year-old granny upset at diamond formation

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UPDATED:

10:57 GMT, 29 October 2012

He'd never actually admit to it, but Sir Alex Ferguson is more open to suggestions about Manchester United's tactics than you might think.

So when an 80-year-old gran from Rochdale turned the 'hairdryer' on the manager during a TV phone-in, Fergie had no choice but to listen.

Margaret, as the caller was known, blasted United's 'winger-less' midfield formation in the midweek Champions League match over Braga.

Hairdryer: Fergie's tactics have been slammed by an 80-year-old United fan

Hairdryer: Fergie's tactics have been slammed by an 80-year-old United fan

She called the diamond set-up favoured by Ferguson in the 3-2 win 'stupid' and said she could have a heart attack if United keep having to come from behind in games.

And Fergie was obviously listening, because the diamond was ditched for Sunday’s 3-2 win at Chelsea in favour of a conventional line of four.

Margaret rang United's in-house television station, MUTV, where former players David May and Quinton Fortune were hosting a Thursday night chat show.

And despite United coming from two goals down to win against Braga, Margaret was not amused.

'Please don't play the diamond at Chelsea,' she said. 'If you want me to have a word with the manager, I will.

'I’ve seen every good player you’ve ever had. And they weren’t that stupid, giving goals away, at the beginning.

'Have you not noticed all the goals you're giving away are when you're playing that stupid diamond position We have to go back to playing normally and catch up.'

When May, who made gate-crashing Champions League celebrations cool long before John Terry, started bantering with her, she turned the barrels on him.

Caught napping: Braga were two ahead after 20 minutes in midweek

Caught napping: Braga were two ahead after 20 minutes in midweek

Caught napping: Braga were two ahead after 20 minutes in midweek

'It isn't entertaining when you're 80 years old to watch goals going in from the other side,' said Margaret.

'I don't like it. It's going to give me a heart attack and I’m 80. You wouldn't like to give me a heart attack.

'I have an opinion and it's certainly not the diamond. They don't know what to do – they run around like lost sheep.'

Ferguson even mentioned Margaret’s scathing comments in his press conference before the Chelsea game, promising to drop the diamond.

'I'd better not upset her,' he said. 'Did you hear her on MUTV She's 80, phoned up and said “I'm fed up watching this diamond”.

'She said “Tell that manager to stop playing that diamond”. So I better not play it.'

And Margaret might expect a direct line to the manager now, after United's win at Stamford Bridge.

Winning ways: United won the hotly-contested clash at Stamford Bridge

Winning ways: United won the hotly-contested clash at Stamford Bridge

Umbro over – end of an era for England kits

End of an era as England prepare to wave goodbye to Umbro kits in favour of Nike

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UPDATED:

13:45 GMT, 11 October 2012

It is the brand more intimately associated with the
immortal moments of football than any other.

When Blackpool and Bolton Wanderers contested the
Matthews Final in 1953, they did so wearing Umbro. When a 17-year-old Pele
entered the world stage at the World Cup in 1958, he did so in Umbro tailoring.

When Bobby Moore lifted the Jules Rimet trophy for
England in 1966, he wore a red Umbro shirt, and when Celtic and Manchester
United pioneered European club success for Britain in the sixties, they were
head to toe in Umbro.

Thing of the past: There will be no more Umbro kit launches for England as Nike take over kit supply from next year

Thing of the past: There will be no more Umbro kit launches for England as Nike take over kit supply from next year

When Banks made that improbable save in 1970, when Gazza
wept, when Butcher bled, when Southgate failed and when Beckham kicked out – it
was all in Umbro attire.

But for the brand once described as the ‘Dior of the football
world’ a slow and sad end is nigh.

The company that in 1966 kitted out 15 of the 16 World
Cup competitors and at their peak catered for 85 per cent of the English league
has been consumed in the global sportswear arms race between Nike and Adidas.

From next year, this once proud institution will sew and
stitch for only Nottingham Forest, Huddersfield Town and Blackburn Rovers.

Last few contracts: Nottingham Forest and Blackburn Rovers are two of the few remaining clubs supplied by Umbro

Last few contracts: Nottingham Forest and Blackburn Rovers are two of the few remaining clubs supplied by Umbro

Since Nike acquired Umbro for 377m in 2008, it has been
a matter of time before the famous diamond logo is replaced by the swoosh on
the strips of their greatest asset – the England national team.

And sure enough, from next year, that’s what we will see.
Friday night’s World Cup qualifier at San Marino will be one of the last times
Wembley sees England play in Umbro kit.

Not only does the change mean the thousands of England
fans who have forked out upwards of 40 for their replica shirts will have to
dig deep again, but it means the severing of a proud 58-year association
between Umbro and the Three Lions.

Aside from a decade of Admiral kits between 1974 and
1984, England have worn Umbro since 1954.

Revolutionary: Billy Wright models a v-necked England jersey in 1954

Revolutionary: Billy Wright models a v-necked England jersey in 1954

It also means the last stitch for a company founded in
the back room of a pub in Wilmslow, Cheshire by a young tailor called Harold
Humphreys inspired by the White Horse Cup Final of 1923.

Shortly after the Nike buy-out, Umbro signed a fresh
nine-year deal to supply the national side but a combination of the Recession,
England’s abject form and the ruthless price war between retailers like Sports
Direct and JJB Sports has meant the 20m-a-year tie-up just hasn’t worked.

So Nike, to save face and money, is to pinch Umbro’s one
remaining crown jewel. Come the World
Cup in Brazil, England will just look the same as everyone else.

MEMORABLE ENGLAND
MOMENTS IN UMBRO

1966 – These
were halcyon days for the Umbro brand, with 85 per cent of English clubs
supplied by them. Before the World Cup finals in England, John Humphreys, son
of founder Harold, travelled to each of the participating countries and agreed
a kit deal with all but one. So there was an excellent chance that the winners
of the tournament would be wearing the brand. As we know, the winners were
England, and the image of Bobby Moore lifting the Jules Rimet trophy in an
elegant and simple red jersey has become one of the most iconic of all-time.
England were in their change colours because West Germany were the designated
‘home’ team in the format of the competition.

Top of the world: England won the Jules Rimet Trophy in their change colours of red in 1966

Top of the world: England won the Jules Rimet Trophy in their change colours of red in 1966

1970 – With
the 1970 finals to be held in Mexico, Sir Alf Ramsey had concerns that the
traditional shirt materials would be unsuitable in the sticky heat and so he
ordered Umbro to manufacture a new set of kits from Aertex, a lightweight
material designed for hot climates. Accordingly, England wore all-white
throughout the tournament, with goalkeeper Gordon Banks in a blue top when he
made that iconic save from Pele. The legendary striker got Moore’s shirt after
the game as this famous photo shows.

Iconic image: A touching moment of mutual appreciation between Pele and Bobby Moore... and a swap of Umbro shirts

Iconic image: A touching moment of mutual appreciation between Pele and Bobby Moore… and a swap of Umbro shirts

1986 – After a
brief change to Admiral kits, Umbro was back as the England kit supplier by the
time of the next World Cup in Mexico in 1986. Again they faced a challenge to
make a shirt that would not hinder the players in the extreme heat. So Umbro
used a lightweight, ventilated fabric, removed the cuffs and opted for a shadow
stripe design. The kit perhaps saved England from sweating, but it couldn’t
save them from the Hand of God.

Classic kit: Gary Lineker and Peter Beardsley after England's 3-0 win over Paraguay at the 1986 World Cup

Classic kit: Gary Lineker and Peter Beardsley after England's 3-0 win over Paraguay at the 1986 World Cup

1989 and 1990 – /10/11/article-0-0032C7AC00000258-191_634x763.jpg” width=”634″ height=”763″ alt=”That'll need washing: A blood-stained Terry Butcher after England qualified for the World Cup in 1990 by drawing against Sweden” class=”blkBorder” />

That'll need washing: A blood-stained Terry Butcher after England qualified for the World Cup in 1990 by drawing against Sweden

1996 – The year
football came home and another tournament of heartbreak for England. Umbro
released a kit with a faint stripe and collar in two shades of blue. For the
first time, patches were worn on the sleeves and numbers on the front as well
as the shorts. But Umbro weren’t fooling anyone with the grey dishwater away
kit, which they branded as ‘Indigo’ with flashes of red. It was memorably worn
when England bowed out to Germany on penalties at the semi-final stage.

Feeling the blues: Dejection as England lose to Germany on penalties again in 1996

Feeling the blues: Dejection as England lose to Germany on penalties again in 1996

1998 – The home
strip for the World Cup in 1998 continued the established palette of white and
navy, with a splash of red on the buttoned collar and bold side panels. There
were little design features like a mini flag of St George on the collar and the
Umbro logo spelt out as a word was well established by now. The Three Lions
crest was re-done in a lighter blue. In the fateful quarter-final with
Argentina, memorable for Owen’s wonder goal and Beckham’s dismissal, England
wore all white.

Familiar feeling: Changes to the Umbro kit didn't mean a change in England's fortunes at the 1998 World Cup

Familiar feeling: Changes to the Umbro kit didn't mean a change in England's fortunes at the 1998 World Cup

2001 – England
played through the Sven Goran Eriksson era in a smart looking white and navy
kit, but with the addition of a red stripe on the front. When England beat
Germany 5-1 in Munich, they won the right to play in home colours while the
Germans played in green.

All stripe on the night: Steven Gerrard puts England in front in their 5-1 win over Germany in Munich

All stripe on the night: Steven Gerrard puts England in front in their 5-1 win over Germany in Munich

Rio Ferdinand hailed by Manchester United stars

Are you watching, Roy United stars hail Ferdinand performance in win at Newcastle

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UPDATED:

15:11 GMT, 8 October 2012

Rio Ferdinand may be surplus to requirements for Roy Hodgson, but his Manchester United team-mates are thankful to have him around.

Again left out of the England squad for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers, Ferdinand was on the right track in Newcastle on Sunday.

The 33-year-old showed all the old poise to stroll through a 3-0 win over Alan Pardew's men that kept United in touch with early Barclays Premier League pace-setters Chelsea.

Afforded more protection by United's new diamond formation than he got the previous weekend against Tottenham's speedsters, Ferdinand showed he remains a class act.

Case for the defence: Ferdinand impressed for United on Sunday

Case for the defence: Ferdinand impressed for United on Sunday

Not that the United dressing room ever felt otherwise.

'Rio is quality,' said defensive colleague Jonny Evans.

'He is so experienced. He cruises through games.

'He comes off at the end and there is not a bit of sweat on him. It looks like could play on and on.'

That is the style Ferdinand adopts when he is at his best.

It is the reason why there were calls for him to be recalled by Hodgson for the forthcoming games with San Marino and Poland.

Sir Alex Ferguson is doubtless glad Hodgson has chosen a different route given the delicate nature of his defensive resources, even when Chris Smalling gets ready to return from his broken metatarsal after the international break.

Nevertheless, the defence of Hodgson's position, if not by him then by others who share the same opinion, has brought criticism Tom Cleverley cannot fathom.

Back to winning ways: United put their defeat to Tottenham behind them

Back to winning ways: United put their defeat to Tottenham behind them

'Rio has had one bad game in six months,' said the midfielder, who scored United's brilliant third, even if his manager insists he did not mean in.

'We have conceded a few goals and made a few silly mistakes this season.

'But I couldn't believe some of the stuff I have read about Rio in midweek.

'He has definitely not deserved that.'

Repelling the threat of Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse should provide a welcome confidence boost for United after their disastrous attempts to subdue Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon during that damaging home defeat by Tottenham eight days previously.

The ease with which Spurs cut straight down the middle of United's midfield at Old Trafford prompted a tactical rethink from Sir Alex Ferguson that involved Wayne Rooney adopting a deep-lying midfield role.

And it seems to be working, even if Ferguson accepts there are issues that have to be taken into account.

'The diamond closes off the midfield,' he said.

New role: Rooney was asked to play deeper by Ferguson

New role: Rooney was asked to play deeper by Ferguson

'Your only problem is when the ball goes out wide because you need to be aware of how far your midfield gets separated.

'But if you try to keep the tightness in midfield, the opposition has to go wide.'

Even at this early stage of the season, it was a big win for United.

Going into the game seven points behind Chelsea, whom they visit on October 28, they knew anything other than a victory would put them in trouble.

'Seven points is a big gap and if we had dropped more points it would have been a big task,' said Evans.

'Although it is still early on in the season, you don't want to give a team that kind of advantage.'

There was an additional piece of good news for United today with striker Robin van Persie not facing any sanction for his second-half clash with Yohan Cabaye during Sunday's game.

Referee Howard Webb reviewed the incident again this morning after initially missing it and decided it was not worthy of a straight red card.

Roy Hodgson must be like Fabio Capello as England play Moldova: Martin Samuel

No mess, no fuss, be just like Capello

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UPDATED:

22:19 GMT, 6 September 2012

Diamond lights. It wasn’t just Glenn Hoddle who got a kick out of them. For the last 20 years or so, the majority of England managers — with a discreet veil drawn over Steve McClaren — have relished visits to iconic ex-Soviet or East European stadiums, like the Zimbru in Chisinau, capital of Moldova.

Give them floodlights, a night game, a running track, a giant radio mast and a noisy main stand populated by large swathes of soldiers and, strangely, English players feel right at home.

This is the tradition Roy Hodgson must maintain, as he begins a campaign he hopes will end in Brazil in 2014. He needs to recreate the no mess, no fuss qualifier of the Fabio Capello or Sven Goran Eriksson eras. England’s foreign coaches were masters of the unfamiliar. Belarus, Bulgaria, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, get the job done, grab the first flight out in the dead of night, don’t look back. Capello even returned to Croatia, graveyard of McClaren’s dreams, and took the hosts apart.

Job done: Fabio Capelllo congratulates Theo Walcott after England's 4-1 victory in Zagreb

Job done: Fabio Capelllo congratulates Theo Walcott after England's 4-1 victory in Zagreb

Hoddle is the only England manager to visit this specific region, however. His first game as England manager was in Moldova in 1996, a comfortable 3-0 win made noteworthy by the debut of David Beckham.

Hoddle knew his way around the outer reaches of a World Cup qualifying campaign, too. He won in Georgia and Poland on his way to topping Italy’s group in 1997.

‘When you come to places like this, it’s horses for courses,’ Hoddle once said in the Georgian capital Tblisi, justifying a conservative team selection. ‘No, mate,’ said the gentleman from The Guardian. ‘When you come to places like this, it’s horses for main courses.’

Up and running: Nick Barmby hits the first goal of the Glenn Hoddle era against Moldova

Up and running: Nick Barmby hits the first goal of the Glenn Hoddle era against Moldova

Things have certainly changed in Moldova in 16 years, but the grim realities remain.

The Soviets left this country dirt poor when they pulled out in 1989 and Moldova is still the most impoverished nation in Europe. In sporting terms, it represents the classic awkward away trip. A long flight, an inconsistent pitch and unfamiliar opposition. The only players in the home squad who turn out in leagues beyond the former Russian republics or the Soviet bloc play in Israel and Denmark.

Hodgson has not seen Moldova live but
has studied footage and sent his scout John Marshall, ex-Fulham and a
long-standing FA employee, to watch their friendly against Albania,
which ended 0-0.

Foreign field: The England squad assemble on the Chisinau pitch

Foreign field: The England squad assemble on the Chisinau pitch

England should win comfortably. Even so, Hodgson was loath to presume too much on the eve of the game. It is less than a year since a single Klaas-Jan Huntelaar goal was all that separated Moldova from Holland in Rotterdam. England will expect more, as ever, but Hodgson would probably buy that result now.

The comedian Tony Hawks, watching England beat Moldova 4-0 in 1997, bet his friend Arthur Smith he could beat the entire Moldovan team individually at tennis. He wrote a book about his efforts to track them down and prove this. Hodgson is not quite as adrift in the unknown but nor was he entirely convincing in his knowledge.

‘The danger is that we assume and make judgments on how Moldova will play without seeing them,’ he said. ‘This is another campaign and they may use different players with a new coach. We think we know as much as you’re likely to gather from studying. We know the individuals and the type of player they have, but it’s still work from video. For me, video never compares to what you see yourself. It never gives me the same satisfaction as sitting in the stand. And that I haven’t done.’

Solid start: Roy Hodgson's England must get their World Cup qualifying campaign off on a positive note

Solid start: Roy Hodgson's England must get their World Cup qualifying campaign off on a positive note

Hodgson talked about playing the right way, in other words the winning way. So why did Capello and Eriksson have such success in qualifying matches

Both men identified a clear shape and method and left the players in no doubt of it. This enabled England to adopt a default and resilient winning position in cities as diverse as Minsk and Baku. Clearly, the opposition are inferior here, too. Moldova’s only recent victory of note came against San Marino. It is more the location that leads to uncertainty and it is for Hodgson to demonstrate he is capable of matching Capello’s clarity.

‘We will play a type of football that suits our players,’ said Hodgson. ‘We don’t have a conventional centre forward, so we have to play to our strengths: play to people’s feet, not resort to long-ball tactics. But, if the pitch isn’t particularly good and they pressurise, it might make that type of game difficult.’

It could be a long, hard winter for Hodgson if England shrink under the lights at the Zimbru.

Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake win in Zurich

Bolt and Blake cruise to victory in Zurich as Jamaican duo set meeting records

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UPDATED:

20:23 GMT, 30 August 2012

Yohan Blake and Usain Bolt were once again the star attractions at a cold and drizzly Diamond League meeting in Zurich.

Jamaican Blake, double Olympic silver medallist at London in the sprints, benefited from a false start by American rival Tyson Gay – and subsequent disqualification – to win the 100 metres in a time of 9.76 seconds.

Stroll: Usain Bolt cruises to victory in the 200m in Zurich

Stroll: Usain Bolt cruises to victory in the 200m in Zurich

Winner again: Usain Bolt celebrates after winning the men's 200m at the Diamond League in Zurich

Winner again: Usain Bolt celebrates after winning the men's 200m at the Diamond League in Zurich

Compatriot Nesta Carter was a distant second in 9.95secs with Ryan Bailey of the United States third.

Bolt was then pushed hard by Jason Young in the 200m but eventually eased away over the last 50 metres to take the plaudits in 19.66s.

In front: Yohan Blake (left) stormed to victory in the 100m in Zurich

In front: Yohan Blake (left) stormed to victory in the 100m in Zurich

Yohan Blake celebrates

Greg Rutherford considering 100m switch

Could Rutherford take a leap into the unknown Golden boy considering 100m switch

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UPDATED:

08:22 GMT, 15 August 2012

Golden boy Greg Rutherford is considering competing in the 100metres at a major athletics meeting following his heroics at the London Olympics.

Rutherford cemented his place in history after becoming the first British athlete to win the long jump in almost 50 years.

Leap of faith: Rutherford was crowned Olympic champion earlier this month

Leap of faith: Rutherford was crowned Olympic champion earlier this month

And according to the Sun, the Milton Keynes star is now considering a move from the sandpit to the track, with his eye om the 100m B race at the Diamond League meeting in Brussels next month.

Rutherford, 25, has a personal best of 10.2 seconds, but wants to trim down his time in a bid to land a place in Team GB's 4x100m relay squad or individual squads.

Rutherford is set for a return to the track at the end of the month when he goes head-to-head with Olympic triple jump gold medallist Christian Taylor at the Birmingham Grand Prix.

Flying high: The 25-year-old is considering running in the 100m

Flying high: The 25-year-old is considering running in the 100m