Tag Archives: disappointments

Alan Pardew describes Demba Ba"s agents as sharks

Bunch of sharks! Pardew slams middlemen chasing 5m from Ba sale

PUBLISHED:

22:30 GMT, 31 December 2012

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UPDATED:

22:56 GMT, 31 December 2012

Alan Pardew has torn into the agents chasing a staggering 5million in commission for the sale of Demba Ba, branding them 'sharks'. 'I think Demba's becoming a victim of a few sharks around him,' said the Newcastle boss.

Chelsea's attempts to make the Newcastle striker their first signing of the January transfer window hit trouble on Monday after 'unproductive' talks with Ba's representatives.

It is understood they are miles apart on the financial terms of any deal. That has left Pardew preparing to pick Ba against Everton on Tuesday with supporters angry at the Senegal forward for wanting to leave St James' Park.

Angered: Alan Pardew still hopes to hang onto his star striker Demba Ba

Angered: Alan Pardew still hopes to hang onto his star striker Demba Ba

Pardew turned his guns on the middlemen chasing levels of commission that could oblige the buying club to invest up to 28m in a 27-year-old who has a 7m release clause in his current contract and wants 90,000 a week.

Pardew added: 'I feel a little bit sorry for Demba because I think people (claim to) represent him who are not actually representing him.

'People out there are fuelling this who are not actually involved. But they want to be involved and that is the sort of world we are in.

'I can't remember a situation like this, with this level of speculation and information being put about. That's a frustration for us as a club, massively.'

Pardew believes Ba, scorer of 13 Premier League goals this season, is mentally tough enough to handle any abuse from Newcastle fans.

'Demba is as mentally strong a player as I have come across,' said Pardew. 'He's had to cope with injury earlier in his career and disappointments with the way some clubs have treated him. He can't be disappointed with the way we've treated him so I hope he rewards us by staying with us for the next couple of years.

'It's difficult for our fans to feel Demba is solid with the team, amid everything else that's going on. When he's played he's never represented that, he's always represented his full commitment to the team. 'But having said that our fans want loyalty. This is a big club and I think perhaps he needs to make a statement at some point.'

Pardew urged Ba to make up his mind soon about Newcastle's offer that remains on the table. 'He needs to make a decision fairly early,' he said.

Hitman: The prolific striker could be on his way to Chelsea

Hitman: The prolific striker could be on his way to Chelsea

Shake on it: Pardew tore into his agents for chasing the 5million commission

Shake on it: Pardew tore into his agents for chasing the 5million commission

'For everyone's sake, most of all himself. And especially for our fans – they need to know if he's going to be with us to the summer or not.

'We've had a few discussions but if he feels our offer isn't right for him, what can I do He has never said he wanted to leave the club.

'We've coped with it before and we'll cope with it again but ideally we want him to stay. In this window and in the situation we're in, I'd like to think he will stay. But that will be his decision.'

Lille defender Mathieu Debuchy is due at St James' Park tomorrow to complete his 5.5m move. He will be in the squad to face Brighton in the FA Cup third round on Saturday after Danny Simpson broke a toe at Arsenal last weekend.

Pardew added: 'A player of his quality will boost everybody. Defensively, we are so short.'

'Victim': Pardew believes Ba has surrounded himself with sharks

'Victim': Pardew believes Ba has surrounded himself with sharks

Hillsborough Disaster: Theresa May announces new police probe as High Court quash orginal verdict

A giant step to justice: Fresh police probe into Hillsborough Disaster launched as original verdict quashed

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UPDATED:

15:44 GMT, 19 December 2012

A new police investigation into the Hillsborough Disaster was announced by the Home Secretary today, as bereaved families of victims saw their long battle to uncover the truth of what happened take a historic step forward at the High Court.

The Lord Chief Justice Lord Judge and two other judges in London quashed the original accidental death verdicts returned after 96 Liverpool football fans died in the crush 23 years ago – and ordered a fresh inquest.

More than 40 families, who had travelled to London for the hearing, burst into applause when the judges granted an application brought by the Government's top law officer, Attorney General Dominic Grieve.

Scroll down for video

Delight: Trevor Hicks holds up a newspaper on the steps of the High Court in London earlier today

Delight: Trevor Hicks holds up a newspaper on the steps of the High Court in London earlier today

Joyous: Shadow Health Secretary and MP for Leigh, Andy Burnham (centre), Margaret Aspinall (right) and Jenni Hicks (left) show their delight after the hearing

Joyous: Shadow Health Secretary and MP for Leigh, Andy Burnham (centre), Margaret Aspinall (right) and Jenni Hicks (left) show their delight after the hearing

Lord Judge, announcing that there were 'good grounds' for the application, described what happened in 1989 as 'catastrophic'.

Referring to the families, many of
whom were weeping in court, he said there had been a 'profound, almost
palpable belief that justice has not been done and that it cannot be
done without and until the full truth is revealed'.

He said: 'We must record our
admiration and respect for their determined search for the truth about
the circumstances of the disaster and why and how it had occurred, which
– despite disappointments and setbacks – has continued for nearly
quarter of a century.'

When giving the ruling, Lord Judge
expressed regret that the process the families had gone through over the
years since the disaster had been “so unbearingly dispiriting and
prolonged'

The Lord Chancellor Chris Grayling
said: 'The victims' families and survivors of the Hillsborough tragedy
have seen their cause take another important step forward today.

'I will now do everything I can to help to get new inquests established quickly.

'I have received a request from the
Doncaster and Bradford coroners for a judge to be appointed to conduct
these inquests and I am today asking the Lord Chief Justice to make a
recommendation to me on suitable candidates as soon as possible.'

Trevor Hicks, chair of Hillsborough Family Support Group, spoke of his delight at the decision to quash the inquest verdicts.

Speaking outside the Royal Courts of
Justice, he said: 'Justice is on its way. Everything we've said has been
proven to be correct.'

Bitter-sweet: Aspinall lost her son James in the disaster, and had to be comforted outside court

Bitter-sweet: Aspinall lost her son James in the disaster, and had to be comforted outside court

KENNY DELIGHTED WITH DOUBLE RESULT FOR VICTIMS' FAMILIES

Former Liverpool player and manager Kenny Dalglish tweeted his delight after Lord Judge ruled that the original inquest into the deaths at Hillsborough were quashed.

Dalglish was also pleased to see that home secretary Theresa May had ordered a new police probe in response to the Hillsborough Panel's report.

He said: 'Two fantastic results today for the Hillsborough families. Your support has been unbelievable.'

Michelle Carlile, 44, clutching a
photograph of her brother Paul, 19, who died at Hillsborough, said of
today's decision: 'It is bitter-sweet. We have known the truth for 23
years.'

Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson said
after the decision: 'This is a watershed moment on the road to justice
for the families of the 96, and I share their overwhelming relief that,
after 23 very painful years, the inquest verdicts have been quashed.

'It is the only right and proper
decision that the High Court could make in the wake of the overwhelming
and compelling evidence uncovered by the Hillsborough Independent Panel.

'We must all keep up the pressure
that has driven the momentum over the last few months to make sure that
the families get the justice they deserve.

'I also welcome the new police
investigation, which we all hope will result in those that played a role
in causing the disaster and the monumental cover-up are brought to
account.'

Lord Judge said each of those who died in the tragedy was a 'helpless victim of this terrible event'.

He ruled that it was in the interests of justice to hold a fresh inquest.

He said the 'interests of justice must be served' – 'however distressing the truth will be brought to light'.

The main plank of the Attorney General's application related to crucial new medical evidence.

Giant step: The families celebrated what they saw as a victory outside the High Court

Giant step: The families celebrated what they saw as a victory outside the High Court

Address: Hicks and Aspinall spoke after Lord Judge had quashed the original ruling

Address: Hicks and Aspinall spoke after Lord Judge had quashed the original ruling

Address: Hicks and Aspinall spoke after Lord Judge had quashed the original ruling

Welcoming the decision, Mr Grieve
said: 'Thanks to the work of the Hillsborough Independent Panel it was
made clear that the medical evidence underpinning the original inquests,
and relied upon in subsequent reviews and inquiries, was fundamentally
unsound.

'In addition, the statements
concerning the actions of the police and emergency services, and the
original evidence concerning the alcohol consumption of the deceased,
give rise to questions that fresh inquests should address.

'I therefore believe the interests of justice require the 96 inquests to be quashed and for new ones to be held.

'Today, the Court has agreed with me.
These processes inevitably take time, but I share the hope that the new
inquests are held speedily as possible and I know that efforts are
being made to expedite them.

'The families' long and painful quest
for the truth reached a breakthrough with the publication of the
Hillsborough Independent Panel report.

'I hope and trust that new inquests
will provide a better understanding of how each of their loved ones
died, and bring closer the justice for which they have fought so hard.'

Around a dozen Hillsborough victims'
relatives and friends watched a live link to the events at the Royal
Courts of Justice from Courtroom 27 in the Liverpool Civic and Family
Court.

Speaking outside the court after the
hearing, the family of Hillsborough victim Gary Jones, 18, said today
was a major step forward.

Devastation: Anne Williams, who lost her son Kevin, arrives at court

Devastation: Donna Miller, holds a picture of the brother Paul Carlile

Devastation: Donna Miller, holds a picture of the brother Paul Carlile (right), as Anne Williams, who lost her son Kevin, arrives at court earlier in the day

Mr Jones's sister, Cathy, said she was 'delighted' by the words of the Lord Chief Justice.

She said: 'It's a step towards
justice and the truth. The last 23 years has been very difficult – every
day having to fight. Nobody should have to justify why somebody has
died and have to fight for their honour.'

Marion Brady, whose son Paul, 21, was
killed, said it was “absolutely wonderful” that a new police
investigation had been instigated, and added: 'It's been very hard. We
have had knockback after knockback. I just hope I live to see it all
come to fruition.'

Ian Daley, 48, who was at
Hillsborough and lost his friends Graham Wright, 17, and Gordon Horn,
20, said: 'The truth is out now. It's only what the families deserve.
They've had to wait for a long time.'

Stephen Kelly lost his brother Michael, 38, in the disaster, describing him as '38 going on 15'.

He said: 'I'm absolutely over the moon. It's a brilliant result today, we've justified our actions for all these years.

'We've really worked hard for this, and Hillsborough wasn't an accident, it was a disaster waiting to happen.

'But it's been proven today and the inquest has been quashed. I'm really pleased with that.

'It's clearly been stressful at the least, but we got here, and everybody who supported us all these years – this is for them.'

Search for justice: Theresa May has announced a new police probe into the Hillsborough disaster

Search for justice: Theresa May has announced a new police probe into the Hillsborough disaster

Swift: Home Secretary Theresa May wants a 'thorough response' to the findings of the Hillsborough Panel

Swift: Home Secretary Theresa May wants a 'thorough response' to the findings of the Hillsborough Panel

Former Durham Chief Constable Jon
Stoddart, meanwhile, will lead the new police inquiry, which will focus
specifically on the deaths of Liverpool fans at the FA Cup semi-final in
1989.

Barry Devonside, 65, lost his son Christopher, 18, at Hillsborough.

Today, he welcomed the legal ruling and called for criminal prosecutions if there is evidence against police officers.

He said: 'One thing that doesn't change is that our son is not with us. This is a legal issue and history has been made today.

'If there is sufficient evidence to
bring charges against those who were in the wrong then they have to be
held accountable in law.

'I am not on a witch-hunt and I don't
want people locked up for the sake of it, but if there is evidence they
should be before a court.

'There was serious medical evidence to show at least 41 people could have survived.

'When Bolton Wanderers player Fabrice
Muamba collapsed on the pitch he was clinically dead for 78 minutes but
he survived because of the immediate help he got.

Solidarity: Hicks lost two daughters at Hillsborough and was in London today

Solidarity: Hicks lost two daughters at Hillsborough and was in London today

'If they had got the lines of ambulances on to the pitch at Hillsborough, so many people might not have been lost.

'And we might not have lost our son.'

Anne Williams, 60, whose 15-year-old
son Kevin died at Hillsborough, has been one of the loudest voices
throughout the campaigners' efforts for justice.

Suffering from cancer, she attended today's proceedings in a wheelchair.

She applauded Mr Grieve as 'a man of his word'.

'He did what he promised,' she said.

'I am glad we never gave up. It has
been hard, but we wouldn't have been here today. I'd like a corporate
manslaughter verdict in the inquest, it's the least for what they have
done.

'It's a long process. God willing, I will be here, it has been a long wait to see justice.

'I am so glad I could be here today to hear it for myself.'

Face in the crowd: MP for Leigh Andy Burnham arrived at court to support the cause

Face in the crowd: MP for Leigh Andy Burnham arrived at court to support the cause

Referring to the cover-up that
shifted blame away from the authorities and on to the victims, she said:
'I can't forgive them the extremes they went to. Why didn't they just
give us the truth

'The way they twisted and turned
things, like the lies I was told about Kevin being dead by 3.15pm when
he died at 4pm… This hasn't sunk in yet.

'I keep thinking somebody is going to step in and ruin it.'

Liverpool Walton MP Steve Rotheram
said: 'This verdict marks the beginning of the end of the Hillsborough
disaster. At long last, the families have achieved their ultimate goal,
which is to change the verdict on the death certificates.

'The families have been an inspiration to Britain as they have fought their 23-year dignified campaign.

'Now that the fresh inquests have
been ordered, it would be wrong for the families to have to pay for a
second inquest. They should not have to bear the financial penalty of
the Establishment's mistakes in 1989.

'The Chancellor should also take this
opportunity to waive the VAT on the Justice Collective Hillsborough
tribute single so that every single penny raised can support the
families in the legal costs in the fight for justice.'

Support: A Liverpool fan campaigns for justice outside the High Court in London

Support: A Liverpool fan campaigns for justice outside the High Court in London

Former Durham Chief Constable Jon Stoddart, meanwhile, will lead the new police inquiry, which will focus specifically on the deaths of Liverpool fans at the FA Cup semi-final in 1989.

Home Secretary Theresa May said: 'I am determined to see a swift and thorough response to the findings of the Hillsborough Panel to deliver justice for the 96 football fans who died and the families who have fought so hard on their behalf.'

Mr Stoddart will be able to recruit investigators and staff to his team, but he will not be allowed to employ officers or former officers with any prior connection to the Hillsborough disaster.

He is also unable to recruit any officers or former officers who worked in the West Midlands, South Yorkshire or Merseyside police forces.

Mr Stoddart will also work closely with the previously announced Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) investigation into police conduct in the aftermath of the disaster.

He said: 'I am aware of the great significance and personal responsibility which comes with leading this criminal investigation.

'My first priority is to meet with as many of the families as possible and to establish a working open relationship with them throughout the investigation.

'I have held a number of meetings already and have been struck by the families’ humility and steadfast determination to see justice delivered for their loved ones.

'My role is to ensure that we determine exactly what happened in the lead-up to and on the day of the disaster and establish where any culpability lies.'

Horrific: Former Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish and former Nottingham Forest boss Nottingham Forest were escorted from the grisly scenes at Hillsborough in 1989

Horrific: Former Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish and former Nottingham Forest boss Nottingham Forest were escorted from the grisly scenes at Hillsborough in 1989

Justice for the 96: Floral Tributes outside Hillsborough Football Ground in Sheffield

Justice for the 96: Floral Tributes outside Hillsborough Football Ground in Sheffield

Carnage: 96 people died after the crush at Hillsborough on April 15, 1989

Carnage: 96 people died after the crush at Hillsborough on April 15, 1989

VIDEO Outside court. Inquest verdict quashed for 96 Hillsborough fans

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Rafa Benitez threatened to sue me the last time I crossed him, says Neil Warnock

Benitez threatened to sue me the last time I crossed him! Warnock reveals motivation ahead of Chelsea clash

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UPDATED:

09:41 GMT, 18 December 2012

Neil Warnock is looking forward to squaring up to Rafa Benitez as the last time they went head to head the Spaniard threatened to take him to court.

Warnock was Sheffield United manager in 2007 when he admitted he would 'never forgive' Benitez for picking what he deemed a weakened team in Liverpool's final away game of the season against Fulham.

The Blades needed Benitez's Reds to get a result against Fulham, who were in the relegation zone, but the Londoners won the game 1-0, a result which saw them survive at the expense of United.

Head to head: Rafa Benitez and Neil Warnock (right) have a history

Head to head: Rafa Benitez and Neil Warnock (right) have a history

Warnock's criticism of Benitez led to the Spaniard's legal team sending an email warning of possible legal action were he to be mentioned again.

Warnock, preparing his Leeds side to take on Benitez and Chelsea in the Capital One Cup on Wednesday night, said: 'The last time I heard from Rafa he was threatening to sue me in an email if I mentioned it again.

'Enough water's passed under the bridge. I don't want to give you any more ammunition than you've already got.

'It's
one of those things that disappoints you in life and you have to get on
with it really, but you get disappointments in every walk of life and
I've made my feelings clear on how my feelings have been over the last
few years and nothing will change that.

Back on track Chelsea travel to Elland Road after a 1-0 loss to Corinthians

Back on track Chelsea travel to Elland Road after a 1-0 loss to Corinthians

'I
think it (the email) had his name on, I think it was his solicitor on
who was threatening legal action and I've got it in a scrapbook at home.

'I've no idea (if they will shake hands), I haven't thought about it yet, I was too worried about Ipswich (last Saturday).'

Warnock also believes there is no loyalty to managers in football, but has no regrets about turning down the Chelsea job in the early nineties to remain at Notts County for that very reason.

Ken Bates – Warnock's current chairman at Leeds – offered Warnock the job in 1991, but after guiding Notts County to the top flight following successive promotions, he decided to stay put. Warnock was sacked two years later.

'I don't have any regrets really because your life shapes around decisions really and I was a northern lad and I thought going beyond Watford was the end of the world in those days,' he said.

'I went down twice, once to the ground and once to Ken's farm in Beaconsfield and I was stuck on the motorway for five hours on both occasions and it didn't seem to be me really, so there are a lot of issues.

Game on: Warnock hasn't always seen eye to eye with Benitez but he thinks the Spaniard was right to take the Chelsea job

Game on: Warnock hasn't always seen eye to eye with Benitez but he thinks the Spaniard was right to take the Chelsea job

'I wanted to stay loyal to a group of players who had been fantastic for me.

'If it was a different way round, why do managers say loyal, you get the sack anyway, why not go and take the opportunity Good luck to you. I've nothing about this loyalty thing now. My advice to young managers is if you get the chance, go.

'You get kicked in the teeth if you stay so you can't win either way.'

After going through nine managers since Roman Abramovich bought the club from Bates in 2003, the Blues are seemingly the perfect example to illustrate Warnock's point.

Benitez has been hired as manager on
an interim basis until the end of the season, but with the Spaniard
being out of work since he left Inter in 2010 Warnock feels he was right
to accept the role.

'I don't blame Benitez for taking the job,' Warnock added before saying tongue-in-cheek.

'He'd been out of work for quite some time, if it were me I would be there like a shot.

'I
wish I could have had Chelsea now, yes, I should have got it this time!
After Roberto left, he hasn't had an Englishman in the job, has he'

Shay Given set for Aston Villa return in Capital One Cup clash with Norwich

Lambert to hand Given a go as Villa boss leads new side back to Norwich for cup clash

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UPDATED:

23:11 GMT, 10 December 2012

Shay Given will make a rare appearance for Aston Villa but his involvement is likely to be overshadowed by Paul Lambert’s return to Carrow Road.

The former Republic of Ireland goalkeeper will get a chance to stake his claim for a regular spot in place of Brad Guzan as Villa’s boss perseveres with his rotation policy in the Capital One Cup quarter-final.

If Villa manage to repeat their feat of three seasons ago and reach the final, the American could miss out again.

Take your chance: Shay Given will feature for Aston Villa in the Capital One Cup

Take your chance: Shay Given will feature for Aston Villa in the Capital One Cup

Norwich v Aston Villa

Against Manchester United in 2010, Guzan made way for Brad Friedel. It rankled that Martin O’Neill ditched his own policy of swapping keepers, according to the club’s current No 1.

'It was one of the biggest disappointments of my career,' said Guzan. 'It was a bitter pill to swallow. But it has made me stronger.'

Lambert heads back to Norwich following three fine seasons there. The arbitration hearing over his summer move to Villa Park will be held in the new year and the Scot is unsure of the reception he will receive.

'Other people will make more of it than I will,' he said. 'I'd like to think sensible supporters might think, “He's done all right”. The sad thing is people don’t know what’s been going on.

Hands up who loves me: Paul Lambert is going back to his old club with Villa

Hands up who loves me: Paul Lambert is going back to his old club with Villa

'I believe we’re playing very well,' he added. 'Norwich are going fine themselves but we’ll be a threat, that’s for sure.'

Meanwhile, police are investigating an allegation that Norwich’s Sebastien Bassong has been racially abused by a fourth individual on Twitter.

They arrested a man for allegedly making a racist gesture during Saturday’s 4-3 win at Swansea and are already looking into two other Twitter messages directed at Bassong.

Manchester City will always be Manchester United"s little brothers – Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

Solskjaer taunts City with 'little brother' jibe ahead of season's first Manchester derby

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UPDATED:

08:31 GMT, 7 December 2012

Manchester United legend Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has ramped up the tension ahead of Sunday’s derby by belittling rivals City as United’s ‘little brother’ who will never take their place as the ‘big brother’ in the relationship.

The first Manchester showdown of the Barclays Premier League season is already being billed as a key match in the title race ahead of the busy Christmas schedule.

The pair have already established a massive advantage at the top of the table over third-placed Chelsea.

Taunt: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (left) raised tensions ahead of the derby

Taunt: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (left) raised tensions ahead of the derby

City won the title last season in virtually the last minute of the last game, in one of the most spectacular days in Premier League history.

But Solskjaer, who scored 126 goals in 366 appearances in an 11-year career at Old Trafford, believes the 19-time English champions will remain the dominant figure in the relationship.

He told the BBC’s Football Focus: ‘Manchester United have always stood up again and bounced back, it’s just in the DNA.

‘When you get disappointments you bounce back.

Bouncing back: Manchester United were beaten in midweek while City also suffered European disappointment

Bouncing back: Manchester United were beaten in midweek while City also suffered European disappointment

Down and out: Manchester City also suffered European disappointment

‘It’s always this thing about being the big brother and the little brother coming to try to overtake the big brother.

‘That always happens in families and in clubs – the young player hoping to take the old player’s position – and City are hoping to overtake United. I don’t think they’ll ever be able to.'

Solskjaer, the super sub who has become a successful manager with Norwegian champions Molde, believes United will show enough of their traditional fight to wrestle the title back off their noisy neighbours.

‘The start of this season has been good, not brilliant, but United are always improving throughout the season,’ he said.

Rivalry: Sir Alex Ferguson and Roberto Mancini will face each other once more on Sunday

Rivalry: Sir Alex Ferguson and Roberto Mancini will face each other once more on Sunday

‘Man United have over the years, and through their history, won in dramatic fashion and in the club’s history you’ve had so many disappointments, like the [Munich air] disaster, and they have always stood up again and bounced back.’

Meanwhile, Ryan Giggs has admitted both Manchester clubs head into Sunday's derby showdown still struggling to recapture last season's form.

United are three points ahead of unbeaten City, who themselves are seven clear of third-placed Chelsea.

On top: Manchester City won the last derby on their way to clinching the Premier League title

On top: Manchester City won the last derby on their way to clinching the Premier League title

Manchester City's Belgian captain Vincent Kompany (C) prepares to lift the Premier league trophy

Yet the duo have come in for strong criticism, which has intensified this week following the Red Devils' woeful defending at Reading and the Blues' dismal Champions League exit on the back of the worst performance by an English team in the competition's history.

'We are both in a similar situation,' said Giggs

'We are in a good position in the league but haven't hit the form we did in parts last season.

'That can be frustrating because we want perfection.

Knockout: United's only derby victory last season came in the FA Cup

Knockout: United's only derby victory last season came in the FA Cup

'We want to be the best team and each individual wants to be the best player.

'We must be doing something right because we are in a good position and there is the belief we can score goals.

'But that doesn't mean we should neglect our defending and not try and stop the goals we are leaking because we need to stop conceding them.'

Cesc Fabregas happy to fight for Barcelona place

I'm going nowhere! Fabregas up for Barca fight as he eyes Champions League revenge

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UPDATED:

06:15 GMT, 17 September 2012

Cesc Fabregas has backed himself to win his fight for a place in the Barcelona starting line-up, quashing speculation he could leave his boyhood club.

The former Arsenal captain moved back to the Nou Camp in 2011 for 35million, and despite a flurry of goals early his career, his form has slipped and he is back on the fringes of the first team.

Fabregas recently allowed his frustrations to show in an interview with Catalan radio, leading to talk that he could return to the club where he spent eight years of career.

Not so mellow yellow: Cesc Fabregas is ready to fight for his place at Barcelona

Not so mellow yellow: Cesc Fabregas is ready to fight for his place at Barcelona

However, the 25-year-old was aware the switch back 'home' would represent a major challenge and he insists he is ready for the fight.

He said: 'I said when I signed here that it was going to be the most exciting and difficult challenge of my life. I knew I was coming to compete for a place against the best players in the world. But I like big challenges.

'If I didn’t I would have stayed at Arsenal where I was the captain, where I played every game and where I was treated so well.

'I have a big heart, a strong character and I have the courage to carry on competing for my place.'

Fabregas moved to the then Spanish champions confident of winning silverware, something which alluded him for much of his time in north London.

Disappointments: Fabregas was the main man but won little at Arsenal

Disappointments: Fabregas was the main man but won little at Arsenal

However, Barca were beaten to the La Liga
title by Real Madrid and missed out on a place in the Champions League
final to Chelsea in what proved to be the final straw for Pep Guardiola.

The former manager was Fabregas' idol
growing up at the famed La Masia academy, but now he works under Tito
Volanova and has every hope that his team can avenge their shock
semi-final exit to the 10 men of Chelsea this time around.

Speaking to The Sun, he added: 'To play in the Champions League final at Wembley would be a dream. I would love to be there, that would be something very special.

Frustrations: Fabregas was part of the Barca side knocked out Europe by Chelsea

Frustrations: Fabregas was part of the Barca side knocked out Europe by Chelsea

'Special for me because I love London so much and had eight happy years there. But special for Barcelona too because we have very happy memories there.

'Wembley is a big part of our history. It was at Wembley in 1992 that Ronald Koeman’s free-kick won Barcelona the European Cup for the first time.

'And last year Barca beat Manchester United at Wembley to become the champions of Europe again. People said it was the perfect performance, they praised the “beautiful football”.

'In an ideal world it would be great to play Chelsea in the final and get revenge for last season. That would be unbelievable.'

Tour of Britain 2012: Mark Cavendish wins stage three

Cavendish brushes aside Team Sky exit talk to win Tour of Britain stage three in Dumfries

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UPDATED:

14:46 GMT, 11 September 2012

Team Sky rider Mark Cavendish won a sprint finish to take stage three of the Tour of Britain in Dumfries.

The 2011 world road race champion, who is hoping to negotiate an amicable split from the successful British team, had suffered a crash in the closing stages of the opening round and finished second best in a dash for the line at Knowsley Safari Park.

However, after the peleton – lead by Team Sky colleagues Jeremy Hunt and Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins – had finally reeled in the breakaway group heading into the final two kilometres, the Manx Missile was not to be denied as he sprinted clear.

More to follow…

Victory! Cavendish has finally won a Tour of Britain stage after two disappointments

Victory! Cavendish has finally won a Tour of Britain stage after two disappointments

Jermain Defoe says he is driven by summer tragedies

Summer of sadness is driving me, insists Spurs striker Defoe

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UPDATED:

22:16 GMT, 4 September 2012

From the darkness of personal tragedy comes Jermain Defoe, a new man and a new footballer with a determination to savour every second of his career at the top.

It has been a sad summer for Defoe, first the death of his father at the age of 49 and then his cousin, just days before her 21st birthday and it has, he believes, changed his outlook on life and football.

‘I am living the dream,’ said Defoe. ‘When I was a kid I always wanted to play for my country and now I am here I will enjoy it. That’s it. Life is short. While you are here it is important to enjoy the good times.

Driven: Jermain Defoe wants to enjoy every moment at the top

Driven: Jermain Defoe wants to enjoy every moment at the top

‘When you are young nothing is more
important than football but as you get older, you get married, have kids
and lose people. Then you realise your family is more important. This
comes with age.

‘Family is important, especially when you have lost your dad and your cousin. It’s normal to think like that.’

As Defoe prepared for the European
Championships at England’s training base in Hertfordshire, in May, he
would visit his father Jimmy each day in hospital in West London, where
he was being treated for throat cancer.

The squad were in Krakow, in Poland,
when he died, just a few days before England played France in their
opening game of the tournament. Defoe flew home before returning for the
game in Donetsk and came on as a second-half substitute.

He flew home for the funeral after the
final group game against Ukraine and then joined the team again for the
quarter-final against Italy in Kiev.

‘It happens in life,’ said Defoe. ‘You
get disappointments in life and then everything turns good but it has
been difficult for my family. It’s been hard, especially with my dad.

‘From day one, when he was diagnosed, I
was with him from the first meeting in the hospital. I am only 29 and
to deal with that was quite difficult. I had to tell dad: “It will be
okay and be positive, keep praying and have faith”.

‘We had a training camp and every
afternoon I got a car to go to the Royal Marsden, where I’d spend a few
hours with my dad. The manager said: “Make sure you see your dad every
afternoon and be back for the meetings.” That was really nice.

Keep the faith: Defoe told his dad to stay positive

Keep the faith: Defoe told his dad to stay positive

‘I’ve always known about cancer but to
be around someone who has cancer and to see what it does in such a
short space of time was mad. It makes you think about your life.

‘I have a big family and we have
always been close. It does make you think about life and what is
important. If you have an argument with someone and you sulk, sometimes
you don’t want to speak to them. But it is important to keep your
friends close to you and do the right things.’

It was not the first time the family
had been hit with tragedy. Two years ago, Defoe’s half-brother Jade was
killed in a street attack at the age of 26. Then the curse struck again.

Defoe was on tour with Tottenham in
the United States when he heard of his cousin Hannah’s fatal accident.
She had been on holiday in the Caribbean when she jumped into a swimming
pool and was electrocuted.

‘I have never heard of that before,’
said Defoe. ‘She was only 20 and when that happened you start to ask:
Why is this happening You have to be strong. I was in America and had
to fly home again to be with my family. It has been hard.

History: Defoe's family has been hit by tragedy before

History: Defoe's family has been hit by tragedy before

‘The only time I am really at peace is
when I am training and playing. Obviously when you are on your own you
start thinking stuff. You think about your life. You don’t know for sure
whether you will be here tomorrow.’

When Defoe scored the winner in last
month’s friendly against Italy, in Switzerland, he dedicated the goal to
Hannah. It would have been her 21st birthday on the day of the game.

It was his 16th goal for his country
in only 17 starts but it was his 49th appearance overall and he will
take great pride if he reaches the half-century in Moldova on Friday.

With Andy Carroll and Wayne Rooney
out, he might start for the first time in two years, since he suffered
an ankle injury in Switzerland four days after he struck a thrilling
hat-trick against Bulgaria at Wembley.

‘To win 50 caps would mean the world,’
said Defoe. ‘It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while,
speaking with my family and stuff. It’s a good achievement. Not many
players can say they’ve done that.

‘I can remember the first one, coming on against Sweden away when we lost 1-0, and my first start in Poland, when I scored.

‘It’s been ups and downs. At times it
has been frustrating and I’ve had great moments. Scoring the hat-trick
for my country was fantastic and 50 caps is a dream.’

Jenson Button doubters can forget commitment fears – Martin Whitmarsh

McLaren chief Whitmarsh tells Button doubters they can forget about commitment fears

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UPDATED:

22:55 GMT, 23 July 2012

After watching Jenson Button bounce back at Hockenheim, McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh declared: 'Anyone who doubted Jenson's hunger can put that now to the back of their minds.'

Those words were a response to paddock whispers that, having won the title in 2009, with plenty of money in the back and a beautiful girlfriend to keep him company in his Monaco home, Button had perhaps been taking recent disappointments a little too well.

Not so. Publically Button was simply putting on a brave face but privately, after picking up just seven points from six races prior to the German Grand Prix, the 32-year-old was certainly hurting.

Back in business: Jenson Button came third in Germany

Back in business: Jenson Button came third in Germany

‘It was frustrating and getting more frustrating,’ conceded Button of his poor run. ‘It wasn’t that I was just not quick, it was that everything seemed to be going against us – having failures, unlucky in qualifying, pit-stops.’

There was little else Button could do but put on a brave face. Addressing those who had questioned his motivation, Button said: ‘It made me smile because I knew it would turn around.

Phil Duncan F1 blog

‘You cannot control everything, so you just have to wait and keep doing the best you can and wait for some luck. We didn’t get lucky in Hockenheim but we did a great job and this is because we all stayed strong.’

Even so, Button knows both he and McLaren will need to get even stronger if they are to claw back a 86 point gap to championship leader, Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, in the second half of the campaign.

Button may have finished third in Germany, before being promoted to second thanks to the penalty picked-up by Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel for his illegal overtake, but it was Alonso who crossed the finish line first for the third time this year.

The enormity of the task is not lost on Button who admitted he will need to perform as he did in during his championship winning year to challenge Alonso. Even so, he is intent on doing his best to upset the Ferrari applecart.

Support: Martin Whitmarsh backed Button

Support: Martin Whitmarsh backed Button

‘We might have to repeat 2009 in reverse — win six out of seven races in the second half of the season,’ conceded Button. ‘That might have to be the case to challenge Fernando but it can happen.

‘Look how he has picked up so many points, but that can soon turn around. They (Ferrari) have had the consistency but suddenly when you have a fifth or sixth place, that can disrupt the organisation and make a big difference to strategy and things go up in the air. Hopefully, we can push them into that situation.

‘You never know. If you start putting yourself in a position that Fernando does not expect. Even if you have a big margin it still hurts to see another guy so strong.

‘Anything is possible. It is never easy when you are that far behind but I am never going to give up, I am going to fight all the way. We are going to keep improving the car. We want to win grand prix and when you do that, it takes a big chunk out of the other guys.’

Tour de France 2012: Bradley Wiggins overjoyed with impending win

It doesn't get bigger than this! Ecstatic Wiggins thrilled with impending tour victory

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UPDATED:

16:33 GMT, 21 July 2012

An emotional Bradley Wiggins was overjoyed after closing in on becoming the first British winner of the Tour de France with an imperious victory the stage-19 time-trial to Chartres.

In the 99th edition of the sport's most fabled race, the 32-year-old Londoner is poised to ride Sunday's 120-kilometre 20th stage from Rambouillet to the Champs-Elysees in Paris knowing he will return home victorious.

Tour delight: Bradley Wiggins celebrates after stage 19

Tour delight: Bradley Wiggins celebrates after stage 19

Wiggins, a three-time Olympic champion, began the 53.5km time-trial from Bonneval to Chartres with an advantage of two minutes five seconds over Team Sky colleague Chris Froome and enhanced his hold on the maillot jaune with a scintillating display against the clock to take a 3mins 21secs lead into tomorrow's final day.

Wiggins, who crashed out of the 2011 Tour with a broken collarbone as Cadel Evans triumphed, said: 'It's the Tour. It doesn't get much bigger than this.

'You couldn't write a better script. What a way to finish.

'I wouldn't say it was a lap of honour, because it hurt. But I just wanted to finish the job off in style.

So close: Wiggins is virtually assured of victory

So close: Wiggins is virtually assured of victory

'There was a lot of emotion in the last 10k. Everything was going through my mind.

'All the years of getting to this point, my family, disappointments, crashing out the Tour last year, watching Cadel in this very position a year ago in Grenoble.

'I always imagined what that would feel like and now I know.'

Wiggins completed the route in one hour four minutes 12 seconds.

Froome was 1min 16secs slower in 1.05:29 to place second on the stage and all but confirm second place overall, while Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) is set to complete the podium despite not being in contention on Saturday.

The Italian finished in 1.07:51 to place 16th on the stage, 3:38 behind Wiggins, to fall 6:19 adrift overall.

Triumphant roar: Wiggins celebrates after crossing the line

Triumphant roar: Wiggins celebrates after crossing the line

The margin of Wiggins' victory answered many of those who questioned why Froome, who appeared marginally stronger in the mountains, was not Team Sky's Tour leader.

Team Sky were launched in 2010 with the stated aim of winning the Tour with a British rider within five years – it is a target Dave Brailsford and his squad, through Wiggins, are set to achieve in three.

Wiggins said: 'The time-trial is what I do best. Perhaps I'm not the best climber in the race, but I've always been a good time-triallist who gets his weight down and climbs well.

'Today was a superb performance. I really wanted to get out there and finish with a bang. Fortunately I managed to do that.'