Tag Archives: element

Winning managers can do what they like – Martin Keown"s Premier League bootroom

Premier League bootroom: Forget style, winning bosses can do what they like

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UPDATED:

00:02 GMT, 15 December 2012

Would you rather be shouted at in front of your team-mates or be quietly told how to improve
I know which I prefer, but it seems there is still room for both the nice, arm-round-the-shoulder approach and the nasty 'hairdryer' treatment in the Premier League.

Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini, for instance, doesn’t seem very loving towards his players.

The players will see their manager kicking every ball on the sideline and flailing his hands at every missed opportunity, and it will sink in. Last weekend’s defeat by United was the first time I’ve heard Mancini praise his side for a while.

Do it your way: Mancini and Ferguson have very different management styles

Do it your way: Mancini and Ferguson have very different management styles

What's the score With Alejandro Faurlin

City’s strikers seem to be suffering a goal drought, but they’re not short of talent. I just think they need to be reminded how good they are. They seem so desperate to win, it’s almost stopping them.

If you are uptight, it’s a lot harder as the tension strangles your desire, which is why I don’t think I’ve seen them play like champions until they were 2-0 down against United. Then, suddenly, there was an element of freedom about their football.

Two of the managers I worked under, George Graham and Arsene Wenger, were chalk and cheese. I remember coming in at half-time 2-0 up and George said we had been embarrassing. He went mad. I thought he was crazy, but he just wanted to make sure that we didn’t ease up.

Arsene, meanwhile, was always completely calm. When he first arrived, I thought: ‘Do nice guys win things We can’t be having this much fun and still win things.’

George always thought that we were too nice! I appreciated George’s will to win, but Arsene helped me become the best I could possibly be.

Liverpool against Aston Villa showcases two managers with very contrasting styles. Brendan Rodgers and Paul Lambert enjoyed great success with Swansea and Norwich last season but, while Brendan is very accommodating, Paul can be unapologetic.

I hear Brendan’s very hands-on on the training ground, but Paul comes alive on a match day. Paul also has a very young squad at Villa and he can manipulate them to play how he wants.

You would think a manager like Harry Redknapp, who is known for motivating players, would have sparked an upturn in fortunes at QPR, but he has not been able to do much, with three draws in his first three games. Maybe Mark Hughes was not such a bad manager, after all!

But then Mark did bring most of those players to the club – and maybe those players are just not good enough.

The Premier League incorporates managers with a whole range of different styles, but it only seems to matter when you’re not winning matches.

If you’re winning you can do what you like, although it helps if you’re a lucky manager, too.

Under the microscope: Wenger is coming in for huge amounts of flak this season

Under the microscope: Wenger is coming in for huge amounts of flak this season

Cup full of cheer

Spare a thought for Chelsea this weekend, who could kick off against Aston Villa a week tomorrow 16 points behind Manchester United — but as Club World Cup champions.

What a massive title that is to have to your name. I know where I would rather be. The tournament deserves respect because it brings the whole of world club football together, but we seem to disregard it in this country. It hasn’t got a memorable theme tune as the Champions League does, and it’s not a massive commercial success, but there is still real merit in winning it.

Just look at Corinthians. They went out early to acclimatise, have taken 20,000 fans and are talking about nothing else. When did it stop becoming a big deal for English football supporters

Up for the cup: Chelsea could become world champions if they beat Corinthians on Sunday

Up for the cup: Chelsea could become world champions if they beat Corinthians on Sunday

You read about him here first. So how much for Michu now

Don't say I didn’t warn you! Back in August, Michu made an instant impact for Swansea with two goals in their 5-0 win at QPR.

As I predicted, he is the bargain of the season at 2million. A player can start well but, after you’ve scored 10 goals, usually people find a way to stop you.

Not this guy — he’s the top scorer in the Premier League and still an unknown quantity, with 12 goals to his name already.

I was particularly impressed with the way he took responsibility for trying to get his team back in the game when they were 3-0 down against Norwich City last weekend. You could see how much he wanted it, and that he is a winner.

Other Premier League clubs will be after Michu in the summer, definitely. It will also be interesting to see if anyone tests Swansea’s resolve next month.

He cost only 2m, after all…

Pleased to Michu: The Swansea striker has illuminated the Premeir League this season

Pleased to Michu: The Swansea striker has illuminated the Premeir League this season

Bootroom

Bootroom

Roma fans arrested for attack on Tottenham fans in jail

Roma fans arrested for stabbing Spurs supporters remain in jail pending judge's ruling

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UPDATED:

17:33 GMT, 25 November 2012

A judge has ordered two Roma fans arrested after an attack on Tottenham supporters at a Rome pub to remain in jail pending a decision on whether to formally charge them.

Police had said on Friday that the two were accused of attempted murder, causing injury and causing a fight before the English club's Europa League match against Lazio.

Trashed: Fights broke out in this pub in Rome last week

Trashed: Fights broke out in this pub in Rome last week

But attorney Lorenzo Contucci, who is representing one of the men – Francesco Ianari – said the stiffest charge the men faced at a preliminary hearing Sunday was aggravated injury.

He said an anticipated charge of attempted murder, with an aggravating element for the racial character of the attack, 'disappeared.'

Controversy: Lazio fans allegedly taunted Spurs fans during the game

Controversy: Lazio fans allegedly taunted Spurs fans during the game

During the brawl early Thursday, witnesses quoted by Italian news reports said the attackers shouted 'Jew' at the Tottenham fans. Tottenham has a large Jewish fan base from north London.

Froch three fights Bute Ward Kessler boxing Powell Sky pay per view

Froch lines up hat-trick of classy fights as Sky get ready to go back into the ring with pay per view boxing

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UPDATED:

16:20 GMT, 1 November 2012

Carl Froch is planning an epic trilogy of fights next year which will cement his status as a ring legend.

Froch, not content with having come through the most demanding series of challenges in the history of British boxing, is closing in on deals to take on Lucian Bute, Mikkel Kessler and Andre Ward, starting next March.

The centrepiece will be the rematch with Kessler at Nottingham Forest football ground in high summer. Not only could that well be the sporting highlight of 2013 – a year devoid of major football tournaments as well as being a post-Olympics anti-climax – but it is likely to bring back boxing as a major pay-per-view attraction on Sky Television.

Froch on his way to defeat - one of only two in his career - to the outstanding Andre Ward (right) in Atlantic City in 2011

Froch on his way to defeat – one of only two in his career – to the outstanding Andre Ward (right) in Atlantic City in 2011

Froch (right) on top against Canada's Jean Pascal during the WBC super-middleweight title bout at the Trent FM Arena, Nottingham in 2008

Froch (right) on top against Canada's Jean Pascal during the WBC super-middleweight title bout at the Trent FM Arena, Nottingham in 2008


Jermain Taylor feels the force of Froch's power during their WBC Super Middleweight Championship bout at the MGM Grand in 2009

Jermain Taylor feels the force of Froch's power during their WBC Super Middleweight Championship bout at the MGM Grand in 2009

Sky have shied away from the pay TV element since the chronic disappointment of David Hayes' surrender to Vladimir Klitschko. But the high earning commercial element of pay-per-view for fighters is important to this hard old game.

With all that on the line, Froch insists there will be 'no complacency' when he defends his IBF World Super middleweight title in his home town, Nottingham, on Saturday week, November 17.

His American opponent, Yusuf Mack, is not widely known here, but the Cobra says: 'He is quick and a better fighter than people might imagine. Obviously, with so much else at stake, I'm setting about the job properly but then again I never do anything else. It's not in my nature.

'The one time I took training just a little easy early in my career, I really had to struggle. I learned that night that there is no half way in getting ready for any fight. You either do the work or you don't and if you don't, you can walk into a nasty surprise.'

Froch trains in Nottingham ahead of his fight against Andre Dirrell

Froch trains in Nottingham ahead of his fight against Andre Dirrell

After his stunning defeat of Bute in Nottingham to win the IBF belt – and join the elite club of three-time World champions – Froch is happy to go to the Romanian's adopted Montreal for the return match he promised.

Bute will have almost 20,000 roaring home fans but is bound to be psychologically weakened by the beating he took in Nottingham.

After that, Froch is eager to avenge his marginal defeat to Kessler in Denmark, the first of his two losses in a warrior career.

That fight was a dramatic thriller and Froch says: 'The rematch is perfect for a huge open-air crowd and a massive TV audience. I know that I can beat Mikkel next time.'

That will bring him to the more complex return fight with Andre Ward, by whom he was outpointed in America in the final of the Super Six series.

Ward is now ranked in the top five pound-for-pound fighters in the world. He is an exceptional defensive operator in the Floyd Mayweather idiom, and Froch says: 'I'm not stupid. I know that it will be the most difficult of all these fights, if not the most exciting spectacle because of his style.

It's not all about brute power: Froch at home with his son Rocco

It's not all about brute power: Froch at home with his son Rocco

Topless: Froch with his girlfriend Rachael in Nottingham

Topless: Froch with his girlfriend Rachael in Nottingham

'But although he is awkward, he is a world class fighter. However, I didn't perform at my best against him. If I am at the peak of my game, as I was against Bute, I believe I can avenge that defeat, also.'

Although 35, Froch adds: 'I didn't want to end my career on the defeat by Ward. Although people might say that it would be great to go out after winning these three fights we've got planned, I don't see it necessarily leading to my retirement.

'If I win and my body still feels good, I would want to defend the unified title. Why would I stop unless I have to I can look after my portfolio of properties in Nottingham and take the kids to school for plenty of years ahead.

'Like every other fighter, I can only box for so long. So the real question is why stop doing something you love'

With such a mouth-watering sequence of bouts now in the offing, the British public – who are at last giving Froch the recognition he deserves, we'll hope to see the Cobra spitting venom for two or three more years to come.

Froch talks at home to Sportsmail's boxing correspondent Jeff Powell.

Froch talks at home to Sportsmail's boxing correspondent Jeff Powell.

Liverpool fans back resignation of top Hillsborough cop Sir Norman Bettison

Liverpool fans back resignation of top Hillsborough officer who criticised fans after tragedy

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UPDATED:

21:09 GMT, 4 October 2012

Resigned: Sir Norman Bettison

Resigned: Sir Norman Bettison

The families of Hillsborough victims
have welcomed the resignation of a top police officer who criticised
Liverpool fans in the wake of the tragedy.

Sir Norman Bettison, then a South
Yorkshire Police chief inspector, sparked fury in 1989 when he said
supporters made policing 'harder than it needed to be'.

Now the Chief Constable of West
Yorkshire Police, he announced he will step down in March next year amid
an investigation by the police watchdog.

Margaret Aspinall, chairwoman of the
Hillsborough Families Support Group, said: 'Obviously I'm very, very
pleased. I'm absolutely delighted that he's going.

'But then he'll be going on his full
pension, and I'd like to know the full reasons why he's choosing to
retire as soon as this.'

A complaint was made to the
Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) that Bettison – who was
off duty on April 15 1989 and went to the match in Sheffield as a
spectator – had supplied misleading information after the disaster.

The IPCC also said there was a second element to the referral, which related to a statement the officer made last month following the report of the Hillsborough Independent Panel.

Aspinall, whose 18-year-old son James died in the tragedy, said: 'Why didn't he stay, then, until the IPCC came out with their investigation

'But he's decided to leave. I'm not arguing against it, because I'm thrilled that he is going, but if he's got nothing to hide, why is he retiring

Support: Liverpool fans hold up a mosiac spelling out 'justice' and 'the truth'

Support: Liverpool fans hold up a mosiac spelling out 'justice' and 'the truth' after report findings

'The man has got something to worry about.'

There were calls for Bettison to resign after his comments about the behaviour of Liverpool fans in 1989, but he responded with an apology and said his role was never to 'besmirch' the fans and added that the Liverpool supporters were in no way to blame for the disaster.

Later, he was involved in an internal inquiry held by the force in the aftermath of the tragedy.

He has denied any wrongdoing in relation to the disaster.

Questions about Bettison's role in the investigation of the tragedy have dogged him as he has risen through the higher ranks of the police – most notably when there were protests from the families of those who died when he became Chief Constable of Merseyside in 1998.

Bettison said in a statement: 'Recent weeks have caused me to reflect on what is best for the future of policing in West Yorkshire and I have now decided to set a firm date for my retirement of 31 March 2013.'

In a message posted on the West Yorkshire Police website, Bettison said he hoped his departure would assist the IPCC in its inquiry.

Tragic: Liverpool fans try to get away from the crush

Tragic: Liverpool fans try to get away from the crush

'I hope it will enable the Independent Police Complaints Commission to fully investigate allegations that have been raised about my integrity. They need to be fairly and fully investigated and I welcome this independent and formal scrutiny,' he said.

The damning report on the Hillsborough disaster laid bare a shocking cover-up which attempted to shift the blame on to its 96 victims.

The inquiry found that 164 police statements were altered, 116 of them to remove or alter 'unfavourable' comments about the policing of the match and the unfolding disaster.

Bettison previously defended his role in the aftermath of the tragedy, saying: 'I never altered a statement nor asked for one to be altered.'

He also said: 'I really welcome the disclosure of all the facts that can be known about the Hillsborough tragedy because I have absolutely nothing to hide.'

Anne Williams, whose 15-year-old son Kevin died on the Leppings Lane terrace, said the findings of the recent report left Sir Norman with no choice but to retire.

She said: 'I think the whole lot of them who have been involved for these 23 years should all go for the hurt that they have caused us for 23 years.

“I don't think he would have retired if it wasn't for the Hillsborough report.'

Trevor Hicks, who lost his two daughters, 19-year-old Sarah and 15-year-old Victoria, told ITV News: 'I'm glad he's realised his position is untenable. However, I'm determined that he does not escape his just desserts and I will make sure he's stripped of his knighthood.

'He should leave with nothing, like he tried to leave the families.'

Caroline Wozniacki wins Korea Open

Wozniacki gets Korea back on track! Former No 1 wins first tour title of the year

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UPDATED:

11:00 GMT, 23 September 2012

Caroline Wozniacki earned her first WTA tour title of the season with a crushing victory over Estonia's Kaia Kanepi in the final of the Korea Open.

The top seed needed just an hour and two minutes to see off Kanepi 6-1 6-0, the Dane allowing her opponent just one hold of serve which came in the fifth game of the match.

Wozniacki had needed three sets to defeat Russia's Ekaterina Makarova in Saturday's semi-final, but there was no element of fatigue holding her back.

Sealed with a kiss: Caroline Wozniacki celebrates winning the Korea Open

Sealed with a kiss: Caroline Wozniacki celebrates winning the Korea Open

The world No 11 said: 'Yesterday was a very difficult match, but the final is the final, and you just do anything you can to win.

'Today I did well at turning defence to offence and offence to defence. That's actually a strength of mine.

'I'm very pleased with how everything turned out.'

Winning feeling: Wozniacki beat Kaia Kanepi of Estonia in the final

Winning feeling: Wozniacki beat Kaia Kanepi of Estonia in the final

The Seoul title marked the former world No 1's first tour triumph since August 2011 but she was eager to play down talk of a swift rise back up the rankings.

'I want to enjoy it and be positive so that's what I'm thinking about right now,' she added.

'I want to build up for the next season and hopefully my results this week will help me move forward and get back to playing my best.'

Paolo Di Canio rants at keeper Wes Foderingham

He's the worst! Furious Di Canio hauls keeper Foderingham off after just 20 minutes

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UPDATED:

08:32 GMT, 3 September 2012

Swindon boss Paolo Di Canio launched into an astonishing rant at keeper Wes Foderingham after hauling him off during his side's 4-1 defeat to Preston on Sunday.

The 21-year-old was substituted after just 21 minutes with his side 2-0 down and headed straight for the tunnel.

Di Canio's public humiliation of Foderingham comes just a week after he went more than 1,000 minutes without conceding a goal.

Scroll down to watch the video

Rant: Paolo Di Canio hauled Wes Foderingham (right) off against Swindon

Rant: Paolo Di Canio hauled Wes Foderingham (right) off against Swindon

Football League blog

When asked why he withdrew Foderingham so early, the Town boss said: 'Because he was one of the worst players I have ever seen in a football match. He is a player like the others.

'Why can’t we change the goalkeeper Is the goalkeeper is an element who plays on with another team because he has a different colour on his shirt I know my players, I know Wes – he was the crappy player even against Stoke.

'Today what he did, it’s not only the mistake that can happen to everyone. The arrogance later, when he started moaning to the others, that was the worst thing for me because it let me realise that a player doesn’t recognise his mistakes that was clear miles away, that was a rubbish mistake.

'I said to him “now calm because we have to keep going”, we give the ball straight away to them and then start again moaning to the others.

'Today he started behaving as the worst professional; arrogant, ignorant in some way – not as a person, as an athlete – I have ever seen.

'If he doesn’t come out and say sorry to the fans, for the professionalism in general, he is out from my team. I don’t want any argument from the fans ‘we play Oxford, we have a season’ – no.

'I don’t mind because this is my rules and [Leigh] Bedwell did very, very well. Maybe he behaved like this because the window’s closed. Another question mark.

'I’m ready to bring in a goalkeeper. I’m ready to ask my chairman if he doesn’t go out and say sorry to everybody because this has to come from the stomach and from the heart.

'If he doesn’t think he made a mistake in the way he behaved he has to think who he is Cech

'He was nothing until the day he joined me, not the club but me. He didn’t have one second as a professional, nobody wanted him because he’s 181cm. In English football everybody want 199 like the f***ing Preston goalkeeper.

'He should have his career cut and you know that is true, but just because we believed in him and there is no importance in that because he is very good – thanks to him because he did well last year – he forgot everything. He is arrogant, he’s still 20. He thinks he’s untouchable.'

Foderingham was at fault for Preston's opener after five mintues when he failed to cope with a challenge from Stuart Bevon, allowing Akop Sodje to open the scoring.

Nicky Wroe added a second before Foderingham was replaced by 18-year-old Bedwell.

Beavon made it 3-0 just before the break before Raffaele De Vita pulled a goal back in the 57th minute.

John Welsh’s 30-yard effort sealed Preston’s win.

London 2012 Olympics: Gymnastics: Louis Smith unsure which routine to do on pommelhorse

Smith playing Russian roulette as gymnast will wait until last minute to decide which routine to perform on pommelhorse

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UPDATED:

22:00 GMT, 3 August 2012

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LIVE RESULTS |
EVENT SCHEDULE |
MEDALS TABLE

Louis Smith will wait until the very last moment to decide which one of three pommel horse routines is best suited to bring him the gold he has trained 19 years to win.

Smith goes last in Sunday's final, beginning at 3.41pm, and he will watch all his competitors complete their efforts before choosing between easier, moderate or harder options. He is not afraid to go for broke if required.

Each routine comes with a different starting difficulty and Smith’s privileged position, earned by finishing top in qualifying, means he can calculate, seconds before taking hold of the apparatus, which one should give him a winning score. ‘Only my coach will know,’ Smith, 23, told Sportsmail of the selection.

Good form: Louis Smith is unsure which routine he will do in the pommelhorse event

Good form: Louis Smith is unsure which routine he will do in the pommelhorse event

‘If my main rival, Krisztian Berki,
goes through his routine and puts in a high score, it gives me the
opportunity to think, “OK, maybe I need to try my harder routine.” My
easy routine is still the hardest in the world.’

The key part is the so-called
‘Russian’ element, which involves rotating on a single handle, legs
stretched out, face towards the pommel. It takes immense strength and
quick hands. A common fault is that the legs split, meaning deductions,
or worse still a fall, leading to a whole point being struck off and
almost certain defeat.

Most gymnasts go for a three-quarter
rotation but Smith does a minimum of one full circle. He can also do two
rotations – a Double Russian – or even three – a Triple Russian. It is
Russian roulette, of sorts.

Smith pulled off this toughest move at
the British Championships in June to record a huge 16.375 points, his
personal best and one of the highest scores ever achieved on pommel.

The pommelhorse is one of the toughest events in the gymnastics programme

The pommelhorse is one of the toughest events in the gymnastics programme

The pommelhorse is one of the toughest events in the gymnastics programme

He said: ‘That’s the key difficulty
stage. It’s just ridiculous. For me it’s probably got a 30 per cent
record of going clean, including training. So it’s not the easiest skill
to do, let alone at an Olympic Games final. But, you know, great risk
can bring great reward.’

In qualifying Smith played it slightly
safer, pulling off one full Russian to record 15.800, still well ahead
of France’s Cyril Tommasone, last year’s world championship silver
medallist, who qualified second on 15.333.

Berki, meanwhile, has become a
two-time world champion on pommel by executing simpler routines to near
perfection. In qualification the 27-year-old erred, though, scoring a
modest 15.033 to go into the final ranked fifth.

Smith told Sportsmail he wasn’t
surprised by the slip up because, despite his age, this is the
Hungarian’s Olympic debut. Smith expects Berki, who won the 2011 world
title with a 15.833 score, to be back with a vengeance when it matters.

Eyes on the prize: Louis Smith has been training for 19 years for this moment

Eyes on the prize: Louis Smith has been training for 19 years for this moment

Bronze not enough: Smith was delighted to win bronze in the team event, but is eyeing gold in the pommelhorse

Bronze not enough: Smith was delighted to win bronze in the team event, but is eyeing gold in the pommelhorse

‘It will be completely different in
the final,’ Smith said. ‘This is his first Olympic Games. When I went to
Beijing I quickly understood that nothing compared. There was no World
Championships or European Championships that could prepare me for an
Olympic Games.

‘So I knew when he competed at this he
was going to be feeling the pressure. He’s only here to do pommels. The
Olympics comes round every four years, it’s his first one.

'He missed
Beijing, he’s had to wait eight years to get to an Olympic Games and he
was feeling the pressure.

‘You know, he’s getting on a bit, I
don’t know how much longer he’s got in the sport. So it really was a do
or die situation for him. To be fair he did what he needed to do and
made the final. But I always thought he’d be a little bit shaky.

‘He’s going to feel massive relief,
he’s going to feel a lot less stressful now he’s in the final. You can
bet you’ll see a different Berki in the final.'

Do not interpret this as Premier
League mind games from Smith, he is merely speaking his mind.

He adds of
those who might challenge him for the crown: 'I don’t try and
interfere. I’ll just leave them to themselves, I’ll go and say good luck
and then just let them do what they need to do.

'If every single person in the final
goes through their routines, it will be a real fight for first place.
It's going to be intense, a real clash of the titans. Hopefully I can
get through my routine.’

Should he do that it will likely lead to Britain's first ever gymnastics gold medal at an Olympics.

Fabregas: Chelsea were lucky but they deserved to take our European crown

Fabregas: Chelsea were lucky but they deserved to take our European crown

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UPDATED:

09:12 GMT, 22 May 2012

Cesc Fabregas says 'lucky' Chelsea are worthy European champions.

The Barcelona and former Arsenal midfielder insisted that all good teams required an element of good fortune to be successful.

Victory parade: Chelsea celebrate their Champions League success

Victory parade: Chelsea celebrate their Champions League success

And Fabregas said Chelsea had enjoyed a huge slice of luck on their way to beating Bayern Munich on penalties in the Champions League final.

Barca saw their hopes of being the first team to win successive Champions League finals ended by Roberto Di Matteo's men in the semi-final.

Barcelona's Cesc Fabregas

Impressed: Barcelona's Cesc Fabregas

And Fabregas, speaking in the build-up to Barcelona's Copa del Rey final against Athletic Bilbao on Friday, said: 'People say they did not deserve it but when it's your year, it's your year.

'It's like when Andres Iniesta scored the goal against Chelsea in the last seconds at Stamford Bridge the year we won the treble.'

Fabregas also said Chelsea's success highlighted the strength of the Premier League.

'Chelsea had some luck but all the teams that win it need that, and you can only congratulate them,' he added.

'It says a lot for the Premier League that they have five or six teams that can beat anyone in the world, and next year it will be even worse. It will be tough for the rest.'

Tillekeratne Dilshan: I feel sure I didn"t edge it

Adamant Dilshan insists: I feel sure I didn't edge it

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UPDATED:

21:56 GMT, 6 April 2012

Tillekeratne Dilshan said he was '100 per cent sure' he didn't edge the ball after he was controversially given out caught at slip off Graeme Swann.

Dilshan, who had already been fined 10 per cent of his match fee for excessive appealing on the third day of the second Test in Colombo, risked another fine on Friday as he lingered at the crease after third umpire Rod Tucker upheld Bruce Oxenford's decision to give him out on 35.

Controversy: Dilshan asks for a review as England celebrate and replays can't prove he missed the ball

Controversy: Dilshan asks for a review
as England celebrate and replays can't prove he missed the ball

Controversy: Dilshan asks for a review as England celebrate and replays can't prove he missed the ball

The Sri Lankan hurled his helmet to the ground as he crossed the boundary, and coach Graham Ford stormed into match referee Javagal Srinath's room to demand an explanation after replays suggested there was at least an element of doubt over the decision.

'I was disappointed after getting out,' said Dilshan. 'I threw the helmet further than I meant to. I can't control the decision of the umpires, but I think the DRS should have Hot Spot – then the umpires could reach more correct decisions.

'I feel 100 per cent sure I didn't edge it. That's why I went for a review. But you have to respect the umpires' decision.'

Dilshan insisted that Sri Lanka, who at stumps on the fourth day led by only 30 with four second-innings wickets in hand, could still win the game.

He said: 'England couldn't chase 145 in the UAE recently, and if we bat for a session tomorrow (Saturday), it won't be easy for them.'

But England wicketkeeper Matt Prior said they had learned from that defeat earlier this year when they were bowled out for 72 by Pakistan.

'The best way to exorcise those ghosts is to have the opportunity to do it again,' he said.

'We back ourselves to get whatever they set us.'

Failure to win would cost England their No 1 Test ranking, and Prior said: 'Everyone wants to stay at No 1. We want to prove we're the best. We want to win every Test we play.'

SIX NATIONS 2012: England must avoid Ireland choke tackle, Ben Kay

Ben Kay: How bold England can avoid being choked against Ireland

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UPDATED:

22:01 GMT, 16 March 2012

Ireland caused big problems for England last season by using the choke tackle.

England struggled to counteract it in Dublin as the Irish would hold them up in the tackle, form a maul and then collapse it.

It was difficult for the referee to penalise them because he would have known it was in the interests of the attacking team to go to ground. Ireland were able to deny England quick ball and win turnovers.

For the first defender, the key is to stop the carrier’s momentum. Ideally, it is best to go higher than normal, and try to wrap up the ball to prevent the offload. The likes of Stephen Ferris, Sean O’Brien and Jamie Heaslip have great upper-body strength – they will try to tackle at ball-level or just below, then lift the attacking player and follow through, to alter the momentum in their favour.

Going in high: Ireland tacklers wrap up Ben Foden last yearGoing in high: Ireland tacklers wrap up Ben Foden last year

Going in high: Ireland tacklers wrap up Ben Foden last year

The job of the next one or two guys in is to arrive quickly and keep the ball up. They will aim to hold up the carrier, maybe lift up his legs and keep him off the floor, then brace themselves to withstand the hits that will come in from the attacking side. They have to win that contact. Overall, it’s a simple and very effective tactic, but there was an element of surprise last year which helped Ireland and they won’t have that in their favour this time.

In terms of how to negate the threat, England players should try to emulate Saracens hooker Schalk Brits, who is so good at avoiding the choke. He just keeps rolling through contact and doesn’t let opponents get a grip on him. The key for the attacking team is to get the first defender off balance with positive footwork before the contact.

The carrier must explode into the contact, take loads of tiny steps and win the collision. Then it is very difficult for the other team to produce an effective choke.

If he can’t break the tackle or offload, the carrier must point towards the ground. Even if he is held, he should never give up wriggling to get free again, as there will soon be support players flying in.

Master of the art: Ben Morgan hands off Imanol Harinordoquy last wekend

Master of the art: Ben Morgan hands off Imanol Harinordoquy last weekend

If all else fails, going to ground will allow the carrier to present the ball on his own side. But the best-case scenario is the offload, because the defending team will have committed three or four men to the tackle, so they will be short of numbers elsewhere.

If England can offload well, this could create opportunities, but the priority is to ensure quick ball, by not being choked again.

Three other key battles

Owen Farrell v Jonathan Sexton: Farrell has had rave reviews and last year Sexton was the one in that position. He has had to cope with second-season syndrome and now he’ll want to prove he’s the Lions No 10 in waiting.

They are both very driven, they deal with pressure well and are born leaders. Both are good positional kickers and goal-kickers, with an ability to release their back-lines and make astute decisions.

The back rows: This clash will have a major bearing on the outcome. Take Ferris against Tom Croft; they are different players but both are Lions candidates.

Lions contender: Tom Croft comes up against Stephen Ferris

Lions contender: Tom Croft comes up against Stephen Ferris

Ferris is the more physical flanker, but he’s not as quick and athletic as Croft. Both are very explosive in the tackle, but Ferris stays closer to the ball, while Croft is more at home in the wide expanses. Ireland’s trio have the edge on reputation, with one of the best back rows in the world.

Chris Robshaw, the England captain, needs a big game. He’s not had the impact that he has in the Premiership.

The scrums: A lot of people are talking up the Ireland scrum now, saying that it has become an area of strength, having previously been a weakness in their game. I’m not convinced though and England should be targeting it.

Last year in Dublin, they were not helped by the performance of referee Bryce Lawrence. Dan Cole will be out for revenge.

Ben Kay is a rugby analyst for ESPN’s Aviva Premiership Rugby coverage.