Tag Archives: dimitar

QPR have second bid for Brede Hangeland rejected by Fulham

Fulham reject QPR's second bid for Hangeland as Redknapp looks to shore up defence

By
Laura Williamson

PUBLISHED:

15:05 GMT, 30 January 2013

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UPDATED:

15:45 GMT, 30 January 2013

Fulham have refused an increased bid from Queens Park Rangers for captain Brede Hangeland.

Rangers are close to bringing in Christopher Samba to replace Ryan Nelsen but have still not given up their pursuit of Hangeland, 31, as Harry Redknapp looks to bring in at least one experienced Premier League defender.

Going nowhere: Fulham have rejected a second bid from QPR for Brede Hangeland

Going nowhere: Fulham have rejected a second bid from QPR for Brede Hangeland

The Norway centre half is out of contract at Craven Cottage in the summer and has so far delayed signing an extension to bring him in line with top earners such as Mark Schwarzer and Dimitar Berbatov.

Fulham, though, have so far resisted all Rangers' attempts to lure Hangeland to Loftus Road.

Tall order: Hangeland's contract is up at the end of the season

Tall order: Hangeland's contract is up at the end of the season

Manager Martin Jol said last week: 'He's our strength and we would be silly to get rid of him or sell him now.'

QPR missed out on another target as Porto defender Rolando opted to join Italian side Napoli.

Michu snubbed by Tottenham, West Ham, Aston Villa, Stoke, Fulham and Leeds before Swansea swooped

REVEALED: The SIX Premier League clubs (and Leeds United) who snubbed Michu before Swansea swooped for 2.2m bargain

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UPDATED:

22:10 GMT, 31 December 2012

If Roberto Mancini is having
sleepless nights over missing out on Robin van Persie, then one can only
imagine the mood at Tottenham's training ground every time Michu scores
for Swansea.

There,
at Hotspur Way, something of a dark comedy routine has been going on
this season between Pat Jennings and Tim Sherwood, an exchange that
usually ends with one telling the other: 'Don't mention Michu'. He's the
one that got away. Twice.

And once he was going for free. But Tottenham are not alone. Sportsmail understands
that Fulham, Stoke, West Brom, West Ham and Aston Villa were also told
by an independent agent in Spain about the 26-year-old in the summer and
encouraged to bid for a man who had just scored 15 goals in La Liga.

Summer steal: Michu has been a sensation since joining Swansea from Rayo Vallecano for just 2.2m

Summer steal: Michu has been a sensation since joining Swansea from Rayo Vallecano for just 2.2m

Who needs Michu

Michu has taken the Premier League by storm since joining Swansea in the summer. Here's how his goal tally compares with the leading scorers at the clubs he snubbed…

Premier League goals 2012-13 (as of Dec 31)

Michu – 13

Spurs – Jermain Defoe – 10

Aston Villa – Christian Benteke – 5

West Ham – Kevin Nolan – 5

Stoke – Jonathan Walters – 5

Fulham – Dimitar Berbatov – 6

West Brom – Romelu Lukaku – 6

And one in the Championship…

Leeds United – Luciano Becchio – 14

The fact that those goals came for
Rayo Vallecano, a struggling team that frequently couldn't afford to pay
their players, wasn't enough to coax an offer.

The
fact that most of the goals had come from midfield, and his release
clause was a relative snip at 3.2million, was seemingly also ignored.

In
Tottenham's case, the shame is a little deeper. Spurs were first
notified about Michu in the summer of 2011, when his contract at Celta
Vigo, who were then in the Spanish second tier, expired. It meant that
he was available on a free transfer.

At
the time, Michu was largely playing a deeper, more defensive role and
Tottenham snubbed the recommendat ion of Gerry Armstrong, a former Spurs
player-turned-Spanish football expert, to make a bid.

'Even
then, it was obvious this guy was a different class,' Armstrong said.
'He played a bit further back, but he was so comfortable on the ball.

Before he was famous: Michu in action against Real Madrid in September 2011 (when he was still up for grabs)

Before he was famous: Michu in action against Real Madrid in September 2011 (when he was still up for grabs), but Andre Villas-Boas, Paul Lambert and Sam Allardyce (below, left-right) all passed up the chance to sign him

Andre Villas-Boas

Paul Lambert

Sam Allardyce

'He
had brilliant vision, could win headers, could pass, could shoot. There
didn't seem to be anything missing.' It wasn't just a Premier League
thing. Leeds, along with the six top-flight clubs, were contacted by a
Spanish agent in the summer and, like the rest, did not act on the
recommendation. Swansea stumped up 2.2m.

The Bigger Picture

'He was offered, I think, to a lot of clubs in the summer,' Michael Laudrup told Sportsmail back in August.

'I think he will be a very good player here. I have a feeling that he will.

'There
is a lot of value in the Spanish market right now. There is not a lot
of money and you can get some very good deals. I think this is a good
deal.'

That conversation took place in the
week before Swansea opened their season against QPR – Michu's debut. He
scored twice in a 5-0 win. Then he scored again in their second game, a
3-0 win over West Ham.

'He can score goals, but I think he can do more,' Laudrup said in the summer.

Indeed,
he passes well, beats players, can poach and has a pile-driver in
either foot. In keeping with Swansea's modus operandi, he is comfortable
taking possession in small spaces, but he's also 6ft 1in and is superb
in the air, making him a target for long balls and crosses.

Laudrup
spoke of adding a Plan B and a greater goal threat in pre-season and
Michu has given him both. His Premier League tally stands at 13, one
short of Van Persie, who cost current leaders Manchester United 24m.

Paying attention: Spain's coach Vicente del Bosque says he will hand Michu his first international cap

Paying attention: Spain's coach Vicente del Bosque says he will hand Michu his first international cap

The Tale of the Tape

A week ago, Vicente del Bosque, the
Spain manager, took the unusual step of promising Michu his first
international cap, almost two months before of the world and European
champions' February 6 friendly with Uruguay in Doha.

Del
Bosque spoke out the night before Michu scored his 13th league goal of
the season in a 1-1 draw with Manchester United on December 23.

A
couple of days earlier, Sir Alex Ferguson had told his club's website
that he had not heard of the Spaniard prior to this season.

He
added that he would be having words with his scouting department.
Fergie won't be the only Premier League manager doing that. Or
Championship boss, for that matter.

Leading the way: Robin van Persie has scored the most goals in the Premier League this season

Leading the way: Robin van Persie has scored the most goals in the Premier League this season

VIDEO: Here's what all the fuss is about…

Dimitar Berbatov isn"t the first to send a message through his shirt

Putting their message across… after Berbatov's Keep Calm scribble, here's the best moments when footballers get shirty

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UPDATED:

13:40 GMT, 27 December 2012

Fulham star Dimitar Berbatov earned himself a yellow card against Southampton with a shirt emblazoned with the words 'Keep Calm and Pass Me the Ball.'

The stunt could be called arrogant, but he's hardly the first player to make a mistake as far as shirt decorations go.

Dimitar Berbatov shows off a shirt with the words 'Keep Calm and Pass Me the Ball' written on it

Arrogant: Berbatov rubbed some people the wrong way after scoring the first goal in Fulham's match against Southampton

Sportsmail took a look back at some of the more memorable messages that have been communicated through the use of a shirt.

Carlos Tevez – 'Feliz Cumple Mami'

Carlos Tevez sends his mother a birthday message using his shirt

Mummy's boy: Tevez showed off the message after scoring the only goal in Manchester City's 1-0 win over Chelsea

Tevez went for a home-made approach when he sent his Mum a birthday greeting in 2010. The words 'Feliz Cumple Mami,' which translates as 'Happy Birthday Mum,' had been scrawled on his shirt in black marker.

Mario Balotelli – 'Why Always Me'

Mario Balotelli reveals a message on his shirt that says 'Why always me' in Manchester City's clash with United

Feeling sorry for himself: The Italian revealed his shirt after scoring in the Manchester derby

After taking City ahead in last year's Manchester derby, the Italian lifted his shirt to ask the question 'Why Always Me' The message would have made more sense had the striker not spent the night before setting fire to his own home with some fireworks.

Paul Scharner – Albion crest

West Brom's Paul Scharner wore a shirt emblazoned with the Albion logo

Proud father: Paul Scharner was wearing a shirt designed by his children, who had supposedly drawn the Albion logo for luck

The West Brom midfielder angered Wolverhampton manager Mick McCarthy when he seemed to taunt Wolves fans with an Albion logo which had been drawn onto his shirt by his kids. McCarthy later apologised for accusing Scharner of 'taking the p***,' after realising what was on the shirt.

Samir Nasri – 'Eid Mubarak'

Nasri celebrated a goal against Southampton with the message 'Eid Mubarak' on his shirt

Celebration: Nasri followed Manchester City's third goal against Southampton with the words 'Eid Mubarak'

When Manchester City went 3-2 up against Southampton thanks to a strike from Samir Nasri, the French international treated watching fans to the traditional Eid festival greeting 'Eid Mubarak,' which means 'blessed festival'

Robbie Fowler – 'Support the 500 Sacked Dockers'

Robbie Fowler revealed a shirt in support of striking dock workers in Liverpool

Punished: Fowler was fined 2,000 Swiss Francs by UEFA's Control and Disciplinary Committee

The Liverpool striker was fined 2,000 Swiss Francs by UEFA after revealing a shirt that gave support to striking Liverpudlian dock workers in 1997. Liverpool were up against Brann Bergen in a European Cup Winners' Cup match and won 3-0 after a brace from Fowler.

Lee Trundle – Urinating on Cardiff shirt

Lee Trundle upset supporters in Cardiff with his offensive t-shirt

Arrested: The Swansea man was later taken into custody for a public order offence after complaints from fans, including supporters of Swansea

Trundle was arrested for a public order offence after angering Cardiff fans. During Swansea's 2-1 defeat of Carlisle in the Football League Trophy final in 2006, Trundle wore a shirt that depicted a cartoon man in Swansea kit urinating over a Cardiff shirt. He then paraded around with a flag that had 'F*** off Cardiff' written on it.

Paul Tait – 'Birmingham City S**t on the Villa'

Paul Tait caused offence with an expletive-covered shirt that said 'Birmingham City S**t on the Villa' after Birmingham's win over Carlisle United

Foolish: Tait claimed that the prank was banterous, but observers didn't see it that way

The Birmingham City midfielder was fined 3,000 for his stunt in 1995, which saw him wear a shirt emblazoned with the words 'Birmingham City S**t on the Villa.' City were up against Carlisle Untied in the Auto Windscreen Shield final and the 23-year-old scored the only goal of the match. Tait claimed that it was meant as a humourous prank, but the move received criticism from all sides.

Artur Boruc – 'God Bless the Pope'

Artur Boruc celebrated Celtic's win over Rangers with a shirt that said 'God Bless the Pope.'

'The Holy Goalie': Boruc celebrated Celtic's win over Rangers with a tribute to the Pope

The Poland international whipped off his shirt after Celtic's 3-2 win over Rangers in 2008, and was underneath wearing an undershirt featuring a picture of John Paul II and the words 'God Bless the Pope.' He was defended by manager Gordon Strachan, who said: 'If it was 'God Bless Myra Hindley,' I might have a problem.'

Liverpool – Luis Suarez support

Liverpool's Glen Johnson warms up while wearing a t-shirt bearing the name and image of team mate Luis Suarez

Defiant: Suarez had been banned for eight matches and fined 40,000 by the FA, but his teammates were determined to support his appeal

When Suarez received an eight-match ban by the FA for racially abusing Patrice Evra, there were some who felt his punishment was deserved. But not his teammates or his manager, as they donned T-shirts in support of the Uruguayan striker before Liverpool's clash with Wigan. Manager Kenny Dagliesh was in favour of the display, saying: 'It is a great reflection of the man as a character, a person and a footballer that the boys have been so supportive and so have the supporters.'

Danny Graham – 'Watford's Table Tennis Champion 2010/11'

Danny Graham boasted of his Table Tennis victory over teammate Don Cowie during Watford's 3-0 win over Portsmouth

Smug: Graham was proud of his ping-pong prowess

Danny Graham, in his days playing for Watford, managed to keep things friendly with his own comical shirt message. According to the forward the team used to enjoy a game table tennis after training sessions and Graham had emerged victorious from his most recent battle with Don Cowie. After scoring against Portsmouth in 2011 the cheeky Watford man proudly revealed a shirt on which he had written 'Watford's Table Tennis Champion 2010/11. Get Over It Lads!!!'

John Barnes: The truth about why I wore tights

John Barnes: My cheap tights came from C&A, but at least we didn't wear a snood like Thierry!

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UPDATED:

17:22 GMT, 12 December 2012

It's time to reveal a secret. I may have been the first man to wear tights during the Premier League era but it had nothing to do with reasons of fitness.

Quite simply, I wore those leggings for one, simple reason: to keep myself warm. It had nothing to do with keeping my hamstrings protected or to prevent muscle strains. All I wanted to do was protect myself against the elements.

I’ll explain. I didn’t come over to England from Jamaica until I was 13 and no matter what I tried, I just couldn’t get used to the cold. I was permanently freezing through winter. And when I was cold, I just didn’t feel comfortable playing football.

Not a fan of the cold: John Barnes admits he wore tights to keep him warm

Not a fan of the cold: John Barnes admits he wore tights to keep him warm

So in order to try combat things, I used to get a hot bath before kick-off to raise my body temperature. Gary Lineker used to something similar but whereas he used to only get into his waist, I would completely submerge myself.

That used to help during the winter months but when I got the chance to wear tights, I took the chance. I didn’t hesitate to wear gloves, either, though I never went as far as Thierry Henry and some others by wearing a snood.

Dimitar Berbatov

Clint Dempsey

Men in tights: Fulham's Dimitar Berbatov wore tights and gloves against Newcastle, while Clint Dempsey was fully covered up while training at Spurs last week

Emmanuel Eboue

Pascal Chimbonda

It's in the North (London): Former Arsenal defender Emmanuel Eboue and ex-Spurs defender Pascal Chimbonda wear tights in the Premier League

As you can imagine, being in a dressing room like Liverpool’s where there so many lively characters, I did get some funny looks but, thankfully, I managed to avoid the kind of ribbing that others might have got.

/12/12/article-2246807-167B33D0000005DC-228_634x441.jpg” width=”634″ height=”441″ alt=”All covered up: Thierry Henry has been known to wear a snood and gloves in the past” class=”blkBorder” />

All covered up: Thierry Henry has been known to wear a snood and gloves in the past

Ryan Giggs

Nigel Clough

Elder statesman: Ryan Giggs and Nigel Clough have also tried to keep their legs warm during games

Leading the way: Leicester's Keith Weller wore white tights during the an FA Cup game in 1979

Leading the way: Leicester's Keith Weller wore white tights during the an FA Cup game in 1979

And don’t think they were specially made for me, either. I’m sure now that all the sports manufacturers are producing leggings that cost hundreds of pounds but mine were nothing as flashy. If I remember rightly, mine came from C&A!

P.S. Football's men in tights are just one step away from being able to appear alongside this lot…

The Dynamic duo: Adam West and Burt Ward as Batman and Robin

The Dynamic duo: Adam West and Burt Ward as Batman and Robin

Men in tights: Robin Hood and his merry men

Men in tights: Robin Hood and his merry men

Dimitar Berbatov – why he is thriving at Fulham

You might think he is lazy… but Berbatov has grafted to become the king of Craven Cottage

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UPDATED:

16:20 GMT, 11 December 2012

When Martin Jol pulled off one of the surprises of the transfer window by singing Dimitar Berbatov from Manchester United many called it a masterstroke – but some questioned if the Bulgarian would be up for the challenge of playing down further down the Premier League with Fulham.

But 16 games into the Premier League season and Berbatov has more than proved any doubters wrong and has delivered more than even the most optimistic of Fulham fan could have dreamt of- even if he does wear tights.

The former golden boot winner has already chipped in with five goals this season, but he has contributed more than that, he has added style, adventure and leadership.

Man in tights: Dimitar Berbatov was one of Fulham's star performers against Newcastle

Man in tights: Dimitar Berbatov was one of Fulham's star performers against Newcastle

He may not have had his most accurate shooting boots on during Monday night’s 2-1 win over Newcastle, but he more than made up for it with his touch and vision.

And while jumping in the air for high balls does not appeal, why should it, when he simply plucks them out of the air with his feet and then plays the ball on the ground.

His somewhat laid back style of play at Old Trafford has not transferred to Craven Cottage where the Bulgarian seems to be thriving in the senior role at Fulham and is not afraid to get stuck in.

Good ball control: Berbatov keeps the ball in the west London derby against Fulham

Good ball control: Berbatov keeps the ball in the west London derby against Fulham

At times he may seem sulky and surly when the ball is not played to him at exactly the right time in the place that he wants it, but at others, he can be seen actively encouraging the younger players in the team, the likes of Alex Kacaniklic and more recently since his return from injury, Kerim Frei.

But it is not just the younger players; Berbatov makes himself available all around the pitch and for that reason is making more touches than most people remember him doing in his time with both Tottenham and Manchester United.

Berbatov touches v Newcastle.png

Berbatov heatmap v Newcastle.jpg

Getting everywhere: Opta stats show where Berbatov touched the ball against Newcastle and the areas of the pitch he was most active

Berbatov has often been accused of being a stroller, a player who does not move at speed, but watch him for Fulham this season and it is as if he has magnets in his boots.

If any criticisms are to be made, it is that possibly the Fulham players rely too much on him, by passing to him to get them out of trouble, but while he is willing then the problem is not so prevalent.

Naturally he has his own philosophy on how the game should be played, speaking ahead of the game with Newcastle in the programme.

Close control: Berbatov keeps the ball away from Fabricio Coloccini

Close control: Berbatov keeps the ball away from Fabricio Coloccini

He said: 'I like to play with beauty and grace – that has always been my philosophy from a young age.

'That’s how I play and that’s what football is about. Plenty of football players play like this and that is what I want to watch.

'I don’t want to watch players puffing around the pitch. You see games where the ball is flying from one box to another and it makes my neck hurt. That is not football for me.'

He may not want to see players puffing around the pitch, but don’t let that fool you that he is afraid of hard work.

Part of the team: Berbatov celebrates Fulham first goal against Newcastle with his team-mates

Part of the team: Berbatov celebrates Fulham first goal against Newcastle with his team-mates

Against Arsenal last month, with Fulham 2-0 down after 25 minutes he single handily dragged Jol’s team back into the game and earning a point by scoring two and creating the other one for Kacaniklic.

And back to Monday’s game with Newcastle, and it was probably not his favourite type of game, given its fast and frantic nature. But he did his best to lead the team and end Fulham’s seven game winless run.

And Jol was clearly pleased with the Bulgarian’s contribution, he said: ‘He didn’t score but he kept the team together in the hole and I was very happy with him.

'My squad realise that Berbatov is a key player. He is the one that keeps us together.

'He probably covered more ground than ever before. He’s a good number 10. After losing Clint Dempsey, I’m very happy that he came to this club.'

Jol is clearly delighted that his transfer window masterstroke is paying off and while it is, Fulham fans and football fans in general should enjoy it.

Berbatov

Fulham striker Dimitar Berbatov ambling star lights up Premier League

As ambling Berbatov lights up the Premier League, here's 10 more strolling stars who bossed the big stage

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UPDATED:

14:32 GMT, 11 December 2012

Dimitar Berbatov has two speeds. Slow and slower.

The Fulham striker is a throwback to the days when strollers were all the rage, playing the game at their speed and a style of play that was more pipe and slippers than blood and thunder.

There aren’t many left in this modern age of speed and dynamism, but Berbatov is in imperious form and showing there is still a place for his ambling style.

Scroll down for video

Berbatov signed for Tottenham in 2006 from German club Bayer Leverkusen and he scored 46 goals for Spurs,

Berbatov signed for Tottenham in 2006 from German club Bayer Leverkusen and he scored 46 goals for Spurs, including this penalty against Chelsea in the 2008 Carling Cup Final, before moving to Old Trafford in 2008

The Bulgarian signed for Manchester United on transfer deadline day in 2008 for a fee of 30million but he fell down the pecking order,

The Bulgarian signed for Manchester United on transfer deadline day in 2008 for a fee of 30million but he eventually fell down the pecking order, despite occasional flashes of brilliance such as this overhead kick against Liverpool

Berbatov has scored five goals this season since moving to Martin Jol's Fulham

Berbatov has scored five goals this season since moving to Martin Jol's Fulham

On a bad day, it would be described as being lazy, but former Manchester United striker Berbatov is having plenty of good days.

He’s a luxury player on top of his
game and he got us thinking of football’s other wandering minstrels. So
here are ten we have loved; let us know if you think of any others in
the comments below.

Matt Le Tissier

Criticised for playing a pass and then standing to admire it, he was good at both. Southampton’s ultimate stroller never left the South Coast, which implied he lacked ambition. But he is revered by Saints fans for his loyalty – like Sir Trevor Brooking at West Ham.

One club men are rare these days, but Le Tissier’s record of 162 league goals in 443 games suggests he was more than passing trend. He could pay and he could stroll.

Le Tissier spent his entire career at Southampton, scoring 162 league goals during his 16 years at the club

Le Tissier spent his entire career at Southampton, scoring 162 league goals during his 16 years at the club

The Guernsey-born forward retired in 2002 having made just eight appearances for England

The Guernsey-born forward retired in 2002 having made just eight appearances for England

Le Tissier's wonder goal against Newcastle in 1993

George Graham

The man they called stroller became a title-winning manager at Arsenal who earned a reputation for his discipline and Seargent Major style. It was at odds with his reputation as a player.

Journalist James Mossop once wrote of Graham’s playing style: ‘Stroller was a famous Scottish footballer who acquired that name through his gentle touch – a tender caressing of the ball as he stroked it around the pitches of the world with an art of his own.’

Graham’s playing career took him strolling from Aston Villa to Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester United, Portsmouth, Crystal Palace and, finally, to the California Surf.

Graham scored 60 goals during his six years with Arsenal and later went on to manage the Gunners

Graham scored 60 goals during his six years with Arsenal and later went on to manage the Gunners

He was part of Arsenal's double-winning team of 1971, a feat the Gunners repeated in 1998 and 2002

He was part of Arsenal's first ever double-winning team in 1971, a feat the Gunners repeated in 1998 and 2002

Stan Bowles

He’s best summed up in his own words. I was renowned for being arrogant. I wasn't really. I just knew what I was doing on the pitch. When I was on my game I felt unstoppable and I let them know.

I'd go past a fella trying to tackle me, look back at him and say, “Come on, get up, I'll let you have another go”’.

Stan had flair and talent and took his skills from Manchester City to Bury, Crewe, Calrilse, QPr – where he made his name and played in 315 league games – Nottingham Forest, Leyton Orient and Brentford.

He played only five times for England and was similar to Le Tissier in that he was mistrusted by his peers.

Bowles spent seven years at QPR and was part of arguably their greatest ever team when they finished runners-up in 1975/76

Bowles spent seven years at QPR and was part of arguably their greatest ever team when they finished runners-up in 1975/76

What a player: Bowles with model Jenny Clarke in 1976

What a player: Bowles with model Jenny Clarke in 1976

Glenn Hoddle

A brilliant playmaker for Spurs and Monaco, Hoddle was a bit
more than a stroller, but – like Berbatov – he could be annoyingly frustrating
and fade in and out of games.

Hoddle could chip the ball beautifully and scored
a series of sensational goals, played out on Match of the Day, including one
chip of Watford goalkeeper Steve Sherwood that became one of his most famous
strikes.

He later managed England and appeared on Top of the Pops. But the less
said about that, the better.

Hoddle spent 12 years at Spurs and was part of the 1981 FA Cup winning team

Hoddle spent 12 years at Spurs and was part of the 1981 FA Cup winning team

Glenn Hoddle and Chris Waddle on Top of the Pops

Jan Molby

He was brilliant inside the centre circle… and didn’t seem to go much further than that. He was the Berbatov of the midfield, the Berbatov of the 80s.

But if you look at the video below, you will see he could travel too – with a stunning run the length of the field and a screamer of a finish.

Maybe it’s this run that took so much out of him that he didn’t move much after it. Played over 200 league games for Liverpool before moving to Swansea, where he also managed. Also had spells at Hull and Kidderminster.

Molby joined Liverpool in 1984 and scored 44 league goals in his 12-year spell at Anfield

Molby joined Liverpool in 1984 and he scored 44 league goals in his 12-year spell at Anfield

John Sheridan

Leeds and Republic of Ireland midfielder, who could pass and stroll with the best of them. Showed the best form of his career at Leeds and Sheffield Wednesday in a career that took him strolling around to Manchester City, Forest, Birmingham, Bolton, Doncaster and Oldham too.

Sheridan also played 34 times for his country. He has also managed Oldham and Chesterfield.

Sheridan spent seven years at Sheffield Wednesday and scored a rocket against Manchester United in the 1991 League Cup Final

Sheridan spent seven years at Sheffield Wednesday and scored a rocket against Manchester United in the 1991 League Cup Final

Sheridan's winner in the 1991 League Cup Final

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Sweden’s favourite stroller, who recently destroyed England with four goals including his sensational propeller kick. He plays when he wants… and sometimes if he wants, he can really play.

We all know the CV: he’s strolled from Sweden to Holland to Italy to Spain, back to Italy and now to France and has wandered around (and produced explosive skills) for Malmo, Ajax, Juve, Inter, Barca, Milan and PSG .

Ibrahimovic has played for some of Europe's top clubs including Juventus, Internazionale, Barcelona, Milan and now Paris Saint Germain

Ibrahimovic has played for some of Europe's top clubs including Juventus, Internazionale, Barcelona, Milan and now Paris Saint Germain

Zlatan has scored 39 goals for Sweden in 85 caps including the overhead kick from 40 yards against England in November

Zlatan has scored 39 goals for Sweden in 85 caps including the overhead kick from 40 yards against England in November

Liam Brady

The brilliant Arsenal No7 was more than a stroller, but he could stroll. So we included him in our list. Brady played for four Italian clubs, including Juventus and Inter and they loved his style of play.

We did too. He finished his career at West Ham, playing 89 league games there. He strolled a lot at West Ham as his career drew to a close.

He then tried management at Celtic and Brighton, but that didn’t work out. He tried to be an agent, but that didn’t work out, either.

Brady scored 43 league goals in his seven years with the Gunners before moving to Juventus in 1980

Brady scored 43 league goals in his seven years with the Gunners before moving to Juventus in 1980

Adel Taarabt

QPR’s modern-day Stan Bowles. Taarabt has all the skills, but sometimes he doesn’t show them all the time.

When QPR were in the Championship, Jamie Redknapp once wrote of him: ‘Get along to see Adel Taarabt of QPR; there isn't a better footballer outside the Barclays Premier League.'

He sometimes needs a ball of his own, which is why Spurs let him go, but the Moroccan is a magician. Where does he play Everywhere! His positional discipline is not the best, but he has dazzling skills.

Moroccan Taarabt joined QPR in 2009 on loan from Tottenham

Moroccan Taarabt joined QPR in 2009 on loan from Tottenham and he was instrumental in Rangers' promotion season before moving to Loftus Road on a permanent deal in 2010

Gordan Cowans

We can hear the complaints. How can you have Gordon Cowans on the same list as Zlatan Well, Gordon could stroll too and was good at it for Aston Villa and England.

Graham Taylor once picked him for England, ahead of Paul Gascoigne.

But that didn’t end well. Cowans was a playmaker and could slow down the game with his passing skill during his career which saw him take his mullet hairstyle to Villa (three times!), Bari, Derby, Wolves, Sheffield United, Bradford, Stockport and Burnley.

Cowans had three spells at Aston Villa and he also played for Blackburn, Wolves, Derby and Sheffield United

Cowans had three spells at Aston Villa and he also played for Blackburn, Wolves, Derby and Sheffield United

Freddie Flintoff ranked 594th in heavyweight world standings

Onwards and upwards! Flintoff 594th in world heavyweight standings – just 522 places below Audley

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UPDATED:

12:31 GMT, 3 December 2012

Watch out Audley, Freddie Flintoff is coming after you!

The former England cricket captain has entered the world heavyweight rankings at No 594 after winning on his professional debut against Richard Dawson on Friday.

That places him one spot immediately below Dimitar Taskov, a Macedonian with two wins and two defeats, and one above America's Kalven Jenkins, who has won one, lost one and drawn two, in the BoxRec website's respected rankings.

Winning debut: Andrew Flintoff was celebrating after beating Richard Dawson

Winning debut: Andrew Flintoff was celebrating after beating Richard Dawson

Spirit: Flintoff bounced back from an early knockdown to beat Dawson

Spirit: Flintoff bounced back from an early knockdown to beat Dawson

It also leaves the 34-year-old a slender 522 places below free-falling Audley Harrison, who intends to fight on after his 82-second humiliation against David Price on October 13.

Price, incidentally, is ranked at 12, behind notable rivals Tyson Fury (7) and David Haye (5).

Flintoff recovered from a second-round knockdown to win a points verdict over Dawson in front of 6,000 fans in Manchester last week, but will not make a decision on a ring return until next year.

Stats official: Andrew Flintoff is ranked 594th in the heavyweight standings

Stats official: Andrew Flintoff is ranked 594th in the heavyweight standings

'Every time walking between the ropes has been an effort,' he said. 'The physical aspect is one thing but the mental aspect is another thing completely.

'I take my hat off to boxers and I give every credit to the hard work they put in.

'I put myself out to a degree but if I'd have been knocked out in the first round, everyone would have said, “Oh, he's just a big cricketer”.

'On a global scale, this comes nowhere near to my cricket career. I've had a novice heavyweight fight but I've had the chance to play for England in the Ashes and been successful.'

Fernando Torres hasn"t scored in 10 hours and 49 minutes for Chelsea and Rafael Benitez hasn"t yet got the best out of him

The stats staring at Torres: Chelsea's 50m flop barely touches the ball and hasn't scored in almost 11 hours

|

UPDATED:

14:29 GMT, 29 November 2012

Chelsea failed to score again. And again there's
Fernando Torres sunk to his knees on the turf. Head despairingly in
hands as he replayed another missed opportunity in his mind.

A second consecutive bore draw, against Fulham last night, left the Blues faithful wondering how, in the space of seven days, Rafael Benitez had transformed them from the Premier League’s most attractive attacking force to a blunt instrument.

Benitez is here to get the best out of the Spain striker but there have been no immediate signs of improvement – he clearly hasn't been instantly snapped out of the malaise he found himself in during the end of Roberto Di Matteo's tenure.

Torres hasn’t scored in the league in 10 hours and 49 minutes now, since he opened the scoring against Norwich on October 6.

You can accomplish a lot in that time –
watch five Shakespeare plays or the extended Lord of the Rings trilogy,
fly to Singapore or drive to the south of France, run three marathons or
make about a thousand cups of tea.

Defining image: The sight of Fernando Torres with his head in his hands has become an all-too-familiar one

Defining image: The sight of Fernando Torres with his head in his hands has become an all-too-familiar one

Golden chance: Torres saw this volley cleared off the line by Aaron Hughes as Chelsea were held 0-0 by Fulham

Golden chance: Torres saw this volley cleared off the line by Aaron Hughes as Chelsea were held 0-0 by Fulham

Imploring: Benitez demands more from his side as they struggle to break down Fulham

Imploring: Benitez demands more from his side as they struggle to break down Fulham

BARREN SPELLS

Drought One

February 6, 2011 – April 23, 2011

15 hours and three minutes

Drought Two

October 6, 2012 –

10 hours and 49 minutes

(and counting…)

Last night, he was outshone by Fulham’s Dimitar Berbatov, who has a (largely undeserved) reputation for being languid and lazy.

The Bulgarian had nearly double the touches of Torres – 62 to 34 (see the Touch Maps below) – and his contributions were spread across both penalty areas and both flanks. He outpassed Torres too – by 47 to 23.

The 50m man’s apologists will say
that had Aaron Hughes not blocked his goalbound volley in the second
–half, we wouldn’t be having this debate this morning.

But
looking back over his season, there’s no escaping the reality that
Torres is woefully underperforming. His barren run is creeping nearer
and nearer to the 903 minutes it took him to break his duck after
joining Chelsea in January 2011.

TORRES TOUCHES BERBATOV TOUCHES
Only 34 Almost double 62

Fernando Torres touch map v Fulham

Dimitar Berbatov touch map v Chelsea

Outshone: These touch matches from last night's game compare Fernando Torres (left) and Dimitar Berbatov (right). As you can clearly see, the Fulham forward saw more of the ball (62 touches to 34 for Torres) and was effective in more areas of the field, including both penalty areas and both flanks. Source: Opta

TORRES vs FULHAM

Minutes on Pitch: 90

Goals: 0

Shots: 2

Shooting accuracy: 100%

Goal assists: 0

Chances created: 1

Total passes: 23

Pass completion: 61%

Dribbles and runs: 2

Dribble completion: 0%

Fouls: 1

Offside: 2

Source: Opta

There’s perhaps a crumb of comfort in that Chelsea next face West Ham, the side against whom Torres scored his first goal for the club – on April 23, 2011 – 11 weeks after the 50m cheque was posted to Anfield.

His 1,194 minutes on the pitch in league action this season have yielded four goals, or one every 298.5 minutes. His chance conversion languishes down at 17% and he hasn’t created a goal either.

/11/29/article-2240291-1642B6EF000005DC-379_634x422.jpg” width=”634″ height=”422″ alt=”Head-to-head: Dimitar Berbatov (left) had a much more productive evening than Torres ” class=”blkBorder” />

Head-to-head: Dimitar Berbatov (left) had a much more productive evening than Torres

TORRES IN THE PREMIER LEAGUE THIS SEASON

Appearances: 14

Minutes on pitch: 1,194

Goals: 4

Minutes per goal: 298.5

Shots: 23

Shooting accuracy: 61%

Chance conversion: 17%

Goal assists: 0

Chances created: 17

Total passes: 291

Pass completion: 70%

Dribbles and runs: 51

Dribble completion: 39%

Fouls: 20

Offside: 15

Yellow cards: 1

Red Cards: 1

Source: Opta

A side that just last month looked like a well-oiled goal machine is now spluttering to a complete standstill, with another concern for Benitez being the reliance on Torres to supply the goals.

Had he been in the job a year earlier, he could have fallen back on the reliable Didier Drogba (13 goals and four assists in 2011-2012) to offer a finish to the abundant chances coming from the midfield.

But Drogba is on the opposite side of the world and his only manifestation at the Bridge is a bright orange banner perched on the upper tier that reads in block black capitals: ‘DROGBA LEGEND.’

It can’t help Torres that whenever he misses a chance, he glances up and sees the colourful tribute.

Not forgotten: The new tribute banner to Didier Drogba at Stamford Bridge

Not forgotten: The new tribute banner to Didier Drogba at Stamford Bridge

Benitez was in ebullient mood despite the derby draw with Fulham, suggesting that Chelsea can still win the title and that, on another night, Torres would have helped himself to two or three.

‘It wasn’t easy for him, or Hazard or Oscar,’ he said. ‘We were on top of them, regaining the game higher up the pitch, and might have won it in the last minute.’

But on a night when the home faithful again made their frustrations at Benitez known, there appears little, if any, appetite for a Rafalution – or his main henchman.

TORRES PREMIER LEAGUE COMPARISON – LIVERPOOL v CHELSEA

Liverpool

Games played: 102

Minutes played: 7886

Goals: 65

Minutes per goal: 121.3

Total shots: 291

Minutes per shot: 27.1

Shooting accuracy: 48.8%

Shot conversion rate: 22.3%

Assists: 12

Chelsea

Games played: 60

Minutes played: 3860

Goals: 11

Minutes per goal: 350.9

Total shots: 86

Minutes per shot: 44.9

Shooting accuracy: 45.35%

Shot conversion rate: 12.8%

Assists: 6

Source: Opta

Fernando Torres hasn"t scored in 10 hours and 49 minutes… You could watch five William Shakespeare plays in that time

Oh Fernando: Torres hasn't scored in 10 hours and 49 minutes… You could watch five Shakespeare plays in that time

|

UPDATED:

11:31 GMT, 29 November 2012

Chelsea failed to score again. And again there's
Fernando Torres sunk to his knees on the turf. Head despairingly in
hands as he replayed another missed opportunity in his mind.

A second consecutive bore draw, against Fulham last night, left the Blues faithful wondering how, in the space of seven days, Rafael Benitez had transformed them from the Premier League’s most attractive attacking force to a blunt instrument.

Benitez is here to get the best out of the Spain striker but there have been no immediate signs of improvement – he clearly hasn't been instantly snapped out of the malaise he found himself in during the end of Roberto Di Matteo's tenure.

Torres hasn’t scored in the league in 10 hours and 49 minutes now, since he opened the scoring against Norwich on October 6.

You can accomplish a lot in that time –
watch five Shakespeare plays or the extended Lord of the Rings trilogy,
fly to Singapore or drive to the south of France, run three marathons or
make about a thousand cups of tea.

Defining image: The sight of Fernando Torres with his head in his hands has become an all-too-familiar one

Defining image: The sight of Fernando Torres with his head in his hands has become an all-too-familiar one

Golden chance: Torres saw this volley cleared off the line by Aaron Hughes as Chelsea were held 0-0 by Fulham

Golden chance: Torres saw this volley cleared off the line by Aaron Hughes as Chelsea were held 0-0 by Fulham

Imploring: Benitez demands more from his side as they struggle to break down Fulham

Imploring: Benitez demands more from his side as they struggle to break down Fulham

BARREN SPELLS

Drought One

February 6, 2011 – April 23, 2011

15 hours and three minutes

Drought Two

October 6, 2012 –

10 hours and 49 minutes

(and counting…)

Last night, he was outshone by Fulham’s Dimitar Berbatov, who has a (largely undeserved) reputation for being languid and lazy.

The Bulgarian had nearly double the touches of Torres – 62 to 34 (see the Touch Maps below) – and his contributions were spread across both penalty areas and both flanks. He outpassed Torres too – by 47 to 23.

The 50m man’s apologists will say
that had Aaron Hughes not blocked his goalbound volley in the second
–half, we wouldn’t be having this debate this morning.

But
looking back over his season, there’s no escaping the reality that
Torres is woefully underperforming. His barren run is creeping nearer
and nearer to the 903 minutes it took him to break his duck after
joining Chelsea in January 2011.

TORRES TOUCHES BERBATOV TOUCHES
Only 34 Almost double 62

Fernando Torres touch map v Fulham

Dimitar Berbatov touch map v Chelsea

Outshone: These touch matches from last night's game compare Fernando Torres (left) and Dimitar Berbatov (right). As you can clearly see, the Fulham forward saw more of the ball (62 touches to 34 for Torres) and was effective in more areas of the field, including both penalty areas and both flanks. Source: Opta

TORRES vs FULHAM

Minutes on Pitch: 90

Goals: 0

Shots: 2

Shooting accuracy: 100%

Goal assists: 0

Chances created: 1

Total passes: 23

Pass completion: 61%

Dribbles and runs: 2

Dribble completion: 0%

Fouls: 1

Offside: 2

Source: Opta

There’s perhaps a crumb of comfort in that Chelsea next face West Ham, the side against whom Torres scored his first goal for the club – on April 23, 2011 – 11 weeks after the 50m cheque was posted to Anfield.

His 1,194 minutes on the pitch in league action this season have yielded four goals, or one every 298.5 minutes. His chance conversion languishes down at 17% and he hasn’t created a goal either.

/11/29/article-2240291-1642B6EF000005DC-379_634x422.jpg” width=”634″ height=”422″ alt=”Head-to-head: Dimitar Berbatov (left) had a much more productive evening than Torres ” class=”blkBorder” />

Head-to-head: Dimitar Berbatov (left) had a much more productive evening than Torres

TORRES IN THE PREMIER LEAGUE THIS SEASON

Appearances: 14

Minutes on pitch: 1,194

Goals: 4

Minutes per goal: 298.5

Shots: 23

Shooting accuracy: 61%

Chance conversion: 17%

Goal assists: 0

Chances created: 17

Total passes: 291

Pass completion: 70%

Dribbles and runs: 51

Dribble completion: 39%

Fouls: 20

Offside: 15

Yellow cards: 1

Red Cards: 1

Source: Opta

A side that just last month looked like a well-oiled goal machine is now spluttering to a complete standstill, with another concern for Benitez being the reliance on Torres to supply the goals.

Had he been in the job a year earlier, he could have fallen back on the reliable Didier Drogba (13 goals and four assists in 2011-2012) to offer a finish to the abundant chances coming from the midfield.

But Drogba is on the opposite side of the world and his only manifestation at the Bridge is a bright orange banner perched on the upper tier that reads in block black capitals: ‘DROGBA LEGEND.’

It can’t help Torres that whenever he misses a chance, he glances up and sees the colourful tribute.

Not forgotten: The new tribute banner to Didier Drogba at Stamford Bridge

Not forgotten: The new tribute banner to Didier Drogba at Stamford Bridge

Benitez was in ebullient mood despite the derby draw with Fulham, suggesting that Chelsea can still win the title and that, on another night, Torres would have helped himself to two or three.

‘It wasn’t easy for him, or Hazard or Oscar,’ he said. ‘We were on top of them, regaining the game higher up the pitch, and might have won it in the last minute.’

But on a night when the home faithful again made their frustrations at Benitez known, there appears little, if any, appetite for a Rafalution – or his main henchman.

TORRES PREMIER LEAGUE COMPARISON – LIVERPOOL v CHELSEA

Liverpool

Games played: 102

Minutes played: 7886

Goals: 65

Minutes per goal: 121.3

Total shots: 291

Minutes per shot: 27.1

Shooting accuracy: 48.8%

Shot conversion rate: 22.3%

Assists: 12

Chelsea

Games played: 60

Minutes played: 3860

Goals: 11

Minutes per goal: 350.9

Total shots: 86

Minutes per shot: 44.9

Shooting accuracy: 45.35%

Shot conversion rate: 12.8%

Assists: 6

Source: Opta

Arsene Wenger considers picking five defenders to boost Arsenal defence

EXCLUSIVE: Wenger considers scrapping classic back four in plans to reinforce defence

|

UPDATED:

01:09 GMT, 14 November 2012

Arsene Wenger is considering ditching his trusted 4-3-2-1 formation in an attempt to tighten up Arsenal’s leaky defence.

The Gunners manager is toying with the idea of playing with five defenders, similar to the formation Roberto Mancini has tried to introduce at Manchester City this season.

Torn to pieces: Dimitar Berbatov ran rings around Arsenal's defence, including Per Mertesacker (left)

Torn to pieces: Dimitar Berbatov ran rings around Arsenal's defence, including Per Mertesacker (left)

Sportsmail
understands Wenger planned on making the switch for last week’s
Champions League clash against Schalke after his side’s defensive
troubles during the 2-1 defeat against Manchester United.

The Frenchman held a training-ground meeting to discuss the idea with his coaching staff.

It was eventually decided there was not enough time to implement the system on the training field ahead of the clash in Gelsenkirchen.

But it is understood the change of formation is still very much in the forefront of Wenger’s thoughts as his side continue to struggle defensively.

When Arsenal’s first-choice defenders are fit, the back five would consist of: Bacary Sagna at right wing-back, Laurent Koscielny, Per Mertesacker and Thomas Vermaelen as the three central defenders and Kieran Gibbs as left wing-back.

In days gone by: Tony Adams and Wenger celebrate the 1998 Premier League title

In days gone by: Tony Adams and Wenger celebrate the 1998 Premier League title

Whether or not Wenger and his coaching team decide to press ahead with the change remains to be seen, but the mere fact he is considering such a shift in tactics underlines how concerned he is by the club’s creaky back line.

The Frenchman will have just two days to prepare his side for Saturday’s crucial North London derby due to the international break, which will cause major problems in trying to reshape his defence in time.

Shift: Arsene Wenger may play with five defenders

Shift: Arsene Wenger may play with five defenders

However, after conceding just one goal in their opening four games, the Gunners have shipped 15 in their last seven outings and Wenger knows improvements have to be made to rectify the problem.

Wenger admitted his defence looked ‘fragile’ after Saturday’s 3-3 home draw against Fulham.

Case for the defence: Mertesacker joined the Gunners in the summer of 2011

Case for the defence: Mertesacker joined the Gunners in the summer of 2011

And the 63-year-old will hope to have first-choice keeper Wojciech Szczesny and Gibbs back for Saturday’s clash against Andre Villas-Boas’ men as he looks to shore up his defence.

Meanwhile, Theo Walcott, who pulled out of the England squad with a glute injury, is expected to be fit.

Boost: Theo Walcott is expected to be fit after missing England duty with an injury

Boost: Theo Walcott is expected to be fit after missing England duty with an injury