Tag Archives: emergence

Wayne Rooney remains an England enigma, 10 years after his spectacular start

Decade of hit and miss: Rooney remains an England enigma, 10 years after his spectacular start

but was his
first goal at a major international tournament for eight years.

Red mist: Rooney was sent off last time he played in Montenegro

Red mist: Rooney was sent off last time he played in Montenegro

Heads we win: Rooney returned to the team after suspension to score against Ukraine

Heads we win: Rooney returned to the team after suspension to score against Ukraine

Samba beaten: Rooney also scored in last month's friendly victory over Brazil

Samba beaten: Rooney also scored in last month's friendly victory over Brazil

Unfortunately, the red cards against Portugal and Montenegro spring more readily to mind.

He compares well with Owen, another teenage prodigy. Rooney has seven fewer goals in 10 fewer games, a ratio he should be confident of boosting tomorrow against San Marino, ranked the world’s worst international team by FIFA.

Beyond this, Rooney’s contribution cannot simply be calculated by goals. He has been up front alone, in a pair, in the hole off the front man and, occasionally, wide. You can even throw in the odd cameo in midfield.

He craves involvement, ever willing to do a job in a different system. It is still the way at Manchester United. Picked against Real Madrid away, he was dropped at home. Is this evidence of his slow conversion from playmaker to workhorse

Workhorse Are Rooney's talents being wasted

Workhorse Are Rooney's talents being wasted

Superstar: Rooney was the sensation of the tournament at Euro 2004

Superstar: Rooney was the sensation of the tournament at Euro 2004

New hero: Rooney's emergence suggested England possessed a world beater

New hero: Rooney's emergence suggested England possessed a world beater

International awakening: Rooney also excelled a year before that, on his competitive debut against Turkey

International awakening: Rooney also excelled a year before that, on his competitive debut against Turkey

Time to celebrate: Rooney has been a regular for England since that star turn against Turkey

Time to celebrate: Rooney has been a regular for England since that star turn against Turkey

Fabio Capello perhaps came closer than others to unlocking the secret for England. Rooney scored half of his 24 competitive England goals for Capello. Nine of them came in nine qualifiers for the 2010 World Cup, playing up front with Emile Heskey.

But he travelled to South Africa with questions surrounding his fitness and, it would later emerge, his head in a spin from personal issues.

Under the pressure of comparisons to Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, he cut an angry figure, swearing at a female linesman in a practice match, scrawling abusive messages on his golf shoes and sounding off into a TV camera about England fans who booed the team after a goalless draw against Algeria.

Rooney went a year without a goal for England while strike partners came and went: Bobby Zamora, Peter Crouch, Darren Bent, Kevin Davies, Ashley Young, Andy Carroll and Danny Welbeck have all had a go since the last World Cup.

Out of form: Ashley Young

Out of form: Ashley Young

Good foil Danny Welbeck

Good foil Danny Welbeck

Forgotten man: Darren Bent

Forgotten man: Darren Bent

When Hodgson took the job last year, he was unequivocal about his star man. ‘We all know Rooney is best as a No 10,’ he said.

‘The fact he’s such a good player and can play in other positions, that’s another matter. From my conversations with him, from all the games I’ve watched him play, he’s extremely dangerous as a second striker.’

Last month, in a friendly against Brazil, Rooney was the spearhead in a 4-3-3 shape designed to accommodate Jack Wilshere. The experiment worked well and the most encouraging aspect of the 2-1 victory was the way that Wilshere, Rooney and Tom Cleverley combined.

Will Hodgson stick to this shape with Wilshere injured or take a step back In two qualifiers with Rooney available in this World Cup campaign, he played in tandem with Welbeck against San Marino and Jermain Defoe in Poland.

Missing link: England are to be without Jack Wilshere

Missing link: England are to be without Jack Wilshere

Again, his flexibility does not help Rooney stamp his identity on an England team.

Gerrard may sympathise — it has happened to him too — and will have his own views on why the 17-year-old who made such an impact on his full England debut did not break into the world elite where Messi and Ronaldo reside.

At 27, Rooney can still leave his mark on international football and paste new images over those red-mist moments with some unforgettable goals.

Where better to start than San Marino Where better to prove a point on Tuesday than Montenegro, scene of his last England meltdown Where better to make an impression than a World Cup in Brazil

VIDEO: SCOTT PARKER DISCUSSES ENGLAND V SAN MARINO

Mousa Dembele doesn"t fear for his place when Scott Parker is fit again

Great Scot's return is super for Spurs! Dembele doesn't fear for his place when Parker is fit again

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UPDATED:

00:02 GMT, 18 December 2012

GREAT SCOTT! PARKER MAKES GOALSCORING RETURN

CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL STORY

Mousa Dembele does not feel threatened by Scott Parker's return from injury.

And the Tottenham midfielder believes tough competition for places in central midfield will benefit the team.

Parker came on in injury time against Swansea on Sunday, his first action since representing England against Italy at the Euros in June.

Dembele doesn't feel threatened by Parker's return from injury

Dembele doesn't feel threatened by Parker's return from injury

Following that match he had achilles surgery and was out for seven months.

Since then Andre Villas-Boas brought in Dembele who has struck up a partnership with Sandro in the middle.

And with the emergence of youngster Tom Carroll to the first team and Tom Huddlestone and Jake Livermore also available has meant competition is fierce.

But Dembele said: '(Parker's return is) very important. If you see him in training you can see he can be very important, he’s a very organised guy, very professional.

'He knows what he can do and I think he is an unbelievable player as well so it’s good for the team that there are a lot of rivals (in midfield) because it makes everybody sharp.

'I know if I play one bad game then Jake Livermore, Scott Parker, Tom Huddlestone, Tom Carroll, there are a lot of good players who are behind me to come in and who can do well.

'So we have to keep playing and that keeps the level high in this team.'

Lance Armstrong revelations cast cloud on Bradley Wiggins, Chris Hoy and everyone else – Dave Brailsford

Armstrong revelations cast cloud on Wiggins, Hoy and everyone else, admits British Cycling chief Brailsford

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UPDATED:

23:47 GMT, 11 October 2012

British Cycling head Dave Brailsford has admitted that Lance Armstrong’s emergence as a confirmed drugs cheat could lead the public to doubt the achievements of riders such as Bradley Wiggins and Sir Chris Hoy.

Brailsford is the man who masterminded Wiggins’s Tour de France triumph this year and led Team GB to eight gold medals in the London Olympics and the Beijing Games of 2008.

And although there is no suggestion that his riders are not clean, Brailsford admitted on Thursday night that the public now has the right to question every achievement they have witnessed in the sport in recent years.

Scroll down for video

Dark: Bradley Wiggins achievements have had a shadow cast over them by the Lance Armstrong revelations

Dark: Bradley Wiggins achievements have had a shadow cast over them by the Lance Armstrong revelations

Competition: Wiggins (left) racing next to Lance Armstrong

Competition: Wiggins (left) racing next to Lance Armstrong

‘We set this team up as clean and our job is to make them go faster,’ said Brailsford. ‘But some of the tentacles of the past are impacting. In cycling we’ve got a past, a present and a future. Generation EPO is now the past. We can’t deny it.

‘So when people see the huge advances we are making, because of what happened, it is understandable that people are sceptical. It is understandable now for people to look at any results in cycling and question them.

Doubts: Sir Chris Hoy is another great rider who may be unfairly tarnished by the revelations, says Dave Brailsford (below) with Roberto Mancini

Doubts: Sir Chris Hoy is another great rider who may be unfairly tarnished by the revelations, says Dave Brailsford (below) with Roberto Mancini

Brailsford shows Mancini around

‘It completely and utterly lost its way and I think it lost its moral compass. What we want to work towards is a future where there is no doubt, so that when someone moves performance forward nobody questions it.

‘I’ve been thinking about Armstrong a lot. The more you read, the more the jaw drops. But let’s accept it happened. Now we have the present. It’s up to us to change people’s views.’

The world of cycling — and sport in general — is still coming to terms with the fact that one of the greatest stories of triumph over adversity has been built on artificial substances and lies.

Disgraced: Armstrong's career achievements have been tarnished

Disgraced: Armstrong's career achievements have been tarnished

USADA's reasoned decision

Click here to read the reasoned decision from the USADA

Armstrong’s recovery from cancer to
win the Tour de France seven times now counts for very little after a
report from the United States Anti-Doping Agency revealed hard evidence
that all of the 41-year-old’s triumphs came with the help of performance
enhancing drugs.

Brailsford added: ‘I think there are plenty of people out there who saw this guy and what he did as an amazing achievement.

‘He is one of the first cyclists that maybe transcended the sport and became a hero beyond cycling.

‘It was an amazing thing and people got behind that. So to now find out what was behind it is, of course, disappointing.’

The achievements of British cyclists such as Wiggins and Hoy have inspired a new wave of athletes to take up the sport.

Hoy appealed to them to stick with cycling and implored them to use Wiggins — not Armstrong — as their role model.

Lying again: Armstrong has a medical test before the 2002 Tour

Lying again: Armstrong has a medical test before the 2002 Tour

Shock, anger and revulsion

It sends a message that no matter what you have achieved and how you have done it — karma will come and get you
Mark Webber, F1 driver

We did our best to test and bring samples to labs according to rules, but I’m speechless about the systematic use
Martin Bruin, ex doping inspector

Sad to read about how Lance Armstrong cheated for so many years. So many people idolised him. It’s sad for sport
Dai Greene, 400m hurdles world champion

It’s what [these revelations] could do in terms of tarnishing the sport. It could put us all out of not just our jobs but doing what we love
Alex Dowsett, Team Sky rider

Important they are clamping down on that sort of thing. This is a negative thing for Lance but his books are great and you can still take a lot from them
Jenson Button, F1 driver

Revelations beyond depressing for those who love sport
Jonathan Edwards, Olympic triple jump gold medallist

Hoy said: ‘On the Tour de France every
day for three weeks you’re struggling with physical and mental
challenges. It’s an extremely arduous event, probably the most arduous
event in the world of sport.

‘Bradley Wiggins was frustrated during
the Tour de France and he had a couple of outbursts about it. But his
frustration is with the previous generation who have let down the
public.

‘Bradley winning the Tour clean, that
has to be the inspiration for the next generation to see that this is
terrible. We’re not proud but it happened in the past and we’re moving
on. I think it’s the scale of it that’s really shocked people as well
as who it is. The number of people involved, it’s on a huge scale.

‘In that era, there were a lot of
people testing positive. The guys who were coming second and third
behind Lance were testing positive so there was an element of suspicion
surrounding him, but I always try and give people the benefit of the
doubt.’

One of the team-mates who testified
against Armstrong was Michael Barry, who admitted to doping while a
member of Armstrong’s US Postal Service team and who rode under
Brailsford for Team Sky from 2010 until his retirement this year.

Brailsford said: ‘During his time at
Team Sky, we have had absolutely no cause for concern. There has never
been any question in terms of his performances, his training, his
behaviour on the team. There have never been any issues. But ultimately
he lied.

‘We set out with a zero-tolerance
policy, so we said that anyone who has had a doping conviction or proved
to have been involved in doping hasn’t got a place on Team Sky. That is
our policy. When you take someone you ask them a question and if
someone lies to you and you find out later it’s disappointing.’

LANCE ARMSTRONG FACTFILE

1971: Born September 18, in Dallas.

1991: Signs with Subaru-Montgomery and becomes US national amateur champion.

1993: Crowned US national champion. Wins first stage in Tour de France but fails to finish. Beats Miguel Indurain to win world championship.

1994: Wins Liege-Bastogne-Liege spring classic.

1996: October 2 – Diagnosed with testicular cancer. The disease later spreads through his whole body. Founds Lance Armstrong Foundation for Cancer.

1997: Declared cancer-free after brain surgery and chemotherapy. Signs with US Postal Service team after being dropped by Cofidis.

1998: Wins Tours of Holland and Luxembourg.

1999: Claims first Tour de France title, winning four stages.

2000: Wins second Tour. Secures time-trial bronze in Sydney Olympics.

2001: Victorious in Tour of Switzerland.

July 29: Becomes only the fifth rider to win three Tour de France titles in a row.

2002: Wins Dauphine Libere and Midi Libre.

July 28: Becomes only the fourth person to win four successive Tour de France titles.

Lance Armstrong and Floyd Landis

2003: Equals the record of five victories in the Tour de France, but is pushed to his limit by German Jan Ullrich, who finishes just 61 seconds off the pace.

2004: July 25 – Clinches record sixth Tour de France victory.

2005: July 24 – Wins his seventh Tour de France, two more than anyone else, before retiring.

September 6 – Claims he is considering coming out of retirement after being angered by drug allegations against him.

2008: September 9 – Announces he will return to professional cycling and will attempt to win his eighth Tour de France in 2009.

2009: March 23 – Suffers a broken right collarbone when he crashes out on stage one of the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon in Spain.

May – Appears in first Giro d'Italia, finishing 12th. Tour is somewhat marred by financial cloud over Armstrong's Astana team and the American is linked to a takeover.

June – Astana's financial issues are resolved and Armstrong is named in the Tour de France team, but with 2007 champion Alberto Contador of Spain as leader.

July – Contador and Armstrong endure a fractious relationship. Contador claims a second Tour title, while Armstrong finishes third. Armstrong announces he will launch his own squad in 2010, Team Radio Shack.

2010: January – Team Radio Shack make their debut at the Tour Down Under in Australia. Armstrong finishes 25th overall.

Lance Armstrong riding on the Champs Elysees

May – Armstrong's former US Postal team-mate Floyd Landis, who was stripped of the 2006 Tour de France title for doping, launches allegations at the Texan.

June 28 – Announces that the 2010 Tour de France will be his last.

July – Finishes final Tour in 23rd place, 39 minutes and 20 seconds behind winner Contador.

2011: February 16 – Announces retirement for second time.

May – Forced to deny claims made by former team-mate Tyler Hamilton that they took performance-enhancing drugs together.

2012: February 4 – An investigation into alleged doping by Armstrong is dropped by federal prosecutors in California.

June 13 – The United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) confirm they have initiated legal proceedings over allegations of doping against Armstrong.

June 30 – The USADA confirm they will file formal doping charges against Armstrong.

July 9 – Armstrong files a lawsuit in a US federal court asking for a temporary restraining order against the agency. Armstrong also claims the USADA offered “corrupt inducements” to other cyclists to testify against him.

July 11 – Armstrong refiles lawsuit against the USADA after initial lawsuit was dismissed by a judge as being a “lengthy and bitter polemic”, designed to attract media attention and public sympathy.

August 20 – Armstrong's legal action against the USADA dismissed in court.

August 24 – Armstrong announces he will not fight the doping charges filed against him by the USADA, saying in a statement he is “finished with this nonsense” and insisting he is innocent. He is stripped of all his titles banned for life from cycling by USADA.

October 10 – USADA claim 11 of Armstrong's former team-mates have testified against him. The organisation say the US Postal Service team “ran the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme that sport has ever seen”, with “conclusive and undeniable proof” of a team-run doping conspiracy.

VIDEO: USADA explains drug test procedures

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Shola Ameobi pleased to prove worth to Newcastle

Ameobi delighted to show his worth as he fires Newcastle to easy Bordeaux win

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UPDATED:

22:28 GMT, 4 October 2012

Shola Ameobi was pleased to prove his worth to the Newcastle side after scoring the opener in their Europa League Group D win over Bordeaux.

The striker will not score an easier goal in his career, turning into an empty net following good work by Girondins old boy Gabriel Obertan.

Brazilian defender Henrique put into his own net before Papiss Cisse's tremendous finish in the second half sealed a comfortable 3-0 victory for the Toon.

Keep on trucking: Shola Ameobi says he will try to break into the side

Keep on trucking: Shola Ameobi says he will try to break into the side

Ameobi has been a peripheral figure on Tyneside since the emergence of Cisse and Demba Ba but was glad to remind manager Alan Pardew of his all-round capabilities.

'As a striker you want to get off the mark as quickly as possible at the start of the season,' he told ESPN.

'I'm just delighted to get a chance there today. The strikers at the club are doing very well at the moment and I have to take my chances when I get them.

'I just thank God that the chance fell to me and I couldn't have scored an easier goal. The team were fantastic.'

Midfielder Yohan Cabaye was also glad to see Newcastle emerge victorious and go top of the group.

'We played well,' he said. 'It was very important to get the three points tonight to get the first place in the group.

'Every player played well and we must have a quick turnaround because it's going to be a tough game (against Manchester United) on Sunday.'

Pardew was delighted with the performance of his side, who comprehensively ended Bordeaux's 17-game unbeaten run in all competitions – a run stretching back to April 8.

Newcastle have only been beaten once in the Barclays Premier League this season but have been largely lacklustre.

On this evidence, however, Pardew feels they have now turned a corner.

Close range: Ameobi scored the opener

Close range: Ameobi scored the opener

'What pleased me most was that we played with verve and energy again and we looked more like ourselves from last year,' he said.

'The performance level was fantastic and that's a good side, trust me. We had to play very, very well to make it as comfortable as it was.

Threat: Papiss Cisse scored as well

Threat: Papiss Cisse scored as well

'I can't say the result flattered us because in the end I thought we deserved to win by a distance.

'We knocked the spirit out of them in terms of the goals, the clinical nature of them.

'Our passing in the second half made it very difficult for them to get back in the game and that's something we've been working on, controlling games.

'That's a team that haven't been beaten in 17 games or something. I'm telling you that's a great result for us.'

Patrice Evra vows to fight for Manchester United place

I will never stop fighting for my place, Evra warns Manchester United new boy Buttner

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UPDATED:

09:29 GMT, 25 September 2012

Warning: Alexander Buttner, who was at an MTV event in Manchester with his girlfriend, has been told by Patrice Evra that he faces a battle for a first-team place

Warning: Alexander Buttner, who was at an MTV event in Manchester with his girlfriend, has been told by Patrice Evra that he faces a battle for a first-team place

Patrice Evra admits the emergence of new signing Alexander Buttner has made him realise more than ever he must fight for his place at Manchester United.

Buttner arrived from Dutch side Vitesse Arnham in the summer and impressed on his Old Trafford debut, scoring a stunning solo effort against Wigan.

Although Evra has started every game for Sir Alex Ferguson's men since, the Frenchman insists he will not take his place for granted with Buttner looking to impress again in the Capital One Cup on Wednesday against Newcastle.

'You have to fight for your place every day,' said Evra.

'Last season I played a lot of games and maybe if I play well these days people just accept that as normal. But it is not normal playing well for Man United.

'When you play a bad game people criticise you too quickly. My target is simple: Football is like a pyramid and I want to stay on the top. It is easy to reach the top of the pyramid but to stay there is the hardest part.

'I always try to stay on the top. I tried last year, I will try this year and the year after that.

'I have been really happy with my form. I am confident with myself and with my quality. I’ve been here six years and I want to be the best. That is my target every year.'

Evra, who joined United in January 2006 from French outfit Monaco, has vowed to keep fighting for his place as a first-team regular, remembering how he saw off the threat of other team-mates in the past.

'My biggest challenge is from myself,' Evra added.

'I am not being arrogant but I am my biggest challenge. People forget very quickly how I got to become United’s left-back. There was Gabriel Heinze and Mikael Silvestre.

Up for the fight: Evra remains confident he is first choice at Old Trafford

Up for the fight: Evra remains confident he is first choice at Old Trafford

'When I hear people say Patrice never had someone to fight him for his place I just say they have to remember I fought with two great left-backs. They have bad memories!

'I will keep doing fighting too. It is too easy for people to say that now we have bought another left-back, “Oh yes Patrice Evra will have to fight for his place now.” Patrice Evra has always fought for his place.

'It doesn’t matter if someone is there or if they’re not, I will fight because you have to respect the shirt. When you play for Man United that is the big challenge.'

Kenny Miller shocked by Hampden Park atmosphere

We need to pull in the same direction! Miller shocked by Hampden boo boys

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UPDATED:

22:34 GMT, 11 September 2012

Scotland striker Kenny Miller admitted the team 'severely under-performed' in their 1-1 draw with Macedonia – but he felt unusual negativity around Hampden did not help.

Miller levelled for Scotland 43 minutes into a first half dominated by Macedonia, who took an early lead through Nikolce Noveski.

The draw leaves Scotland with two points from two home games in World Cup qualifying Group A, with manager Craig Levein under pressure to take points from away fixtures in Wales and Belgium next month.

Take that: Kenny Miller punches the air after scoring

Take that: Kenny Miller punches the air after scoring

Miller has seen his hero status with the Tartan Army diminish suddenly over the past week, mainly because of the emergence of Jordan Rhodes, whose name has been chanted before coming on as a substitute against Macedonia and Serbia.

But there was widespread and general booing early in tonight's game and Miller, despite admitting the team had themselves to blame for failing to raise the tempo of their play, was disappointed with the feeling among the 32,400 crowd.

'There has obviously been a lot of negative things from Saturday, rightly or wrongly, it's not up to me to say, but it's definitely a stranger atmosphere than I've ever played in at Hampden,' Miller said.

'You (normally) have everyone pulling in the same direction and for whatever reason it didn't seem like that tonight.

Unsatisfied: Craig Levein was booed by fans at Hampden

Unsatisfied: Craig Levein was booed by fans at Hampden

'I have never played at a game at
Hampden when they have not been behind us. I'm not having a go at the
fans, I understand the frustrations.

'We had two home games and were looking for six points and if not four, so I can understand the frustration.

'But I think that can be let known towards the end of a game but not during a game. It can transmit down to the pitch.'

Miller, who slotted home from a Jamie Mackie pass before going off in the 58th minute, added: 'Listen, I'm not making excuses. But any other game the fans are there to the end and the Tartan Army have been superb in my time as an international.

'Tonight it was a different feeling. I don't know if they have turned against the manager or turned against the team or whatever, but there was definitely a different feeling and that maybe transmitted on to the pitch.'

No excuses: Miller says he can understand the fans' frustration

No excuses: Miller says he can understand the fans' frustration

Miller backed Levein, who bore the brunt of the jeers towards the end of the game.

'That doesn't change since I spoke about it yesterday just because we put in a poor performance,' the Vancouver Whitecaps player said.

'We believe in everything that he's doing, be it systems or personnel. He freshened it up tonight and other lads were given a chance.

'We believe what we're doing is the right way to go but it's up to us to do that. Once we cross that white line it's up to us to go out and perform and for some reason tonight we severely under-performed.'

Gavin Henson"s London Welsh coach tries the straight talking approach

You've wasted years, Henson! Coach takes hard line with wayward Welsh star

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UPDATED:

21:34 GMT, 20 August 2012

As the man aiming to revive Gavin Henson’s career in the wider interests of keeping London Welsh in the Aviva Premiership, Lyn Jones showed that he is ready to adopt a straight-talking approach.

The former Ospreys coach, who presided over Henson’s emergence as a richly talented prospect more than a decade ago, offered a succinct, blunt assessment of the former Wales centre’s fall from grace in recent times.

‘Gav has had three or four years of fannying around and not being serious about his rugby,’ he said at the official launch of the 2012-13 Premiership season. ‘He has grown up and he realises now he has four or five years left in the game and he wants to give it his best shot. He is training hard and he’s enjoying himself.’

Time to get serious: Gavin Henson congratulates team mate Tom Baldwin after his try in a pre-season game

Time to get serious: Gavin Henson congratulates team mate Tom Baldwin after his try in a pre-season game

Henson is undoubtedly the highest-profile addition to the Exiles’ ranks this summer, since their promotion to the top division was belatedly confirmed following an appeal against the decision to reject them for not fulfilling the Minimum Standards Criteria.

If Welsh are to have any hope of survival on the back of an accelerated period of recruitment and preparation, the celebrity who will wear their No 10 shirt must rediscover some of his old creative spark and defensive clout which contributed to two Grand Slams for his country, in 2005 and 2008.

Since leaving the Ospreys in 2009 and taking an extended sabbatical from rugby, Henson has drifted around Europe, to Saracens in England, on to Toulon in France and back home to Wales for a brief stint with Cardiff Blues.

Controversy has stalked him and in April he was released by the Blues following the latest in a series of alcohol-related incidents. The decision by London Welsh to sign him this summer has been widely regarded as a calculated gamble, but Jones was adamant that it is one which could pay off for the club.

Controversial: Henson was sacked by Cardiff Blues for drinking and 'behaving inappropriately' on a flight from Glasgow to Cardiff

Controversial: Henson was sacked by Cardiff Blues for drinking and 'behaving inappropriately' on a flight from Glasgow to Cardiff

‘There’s a chance and a risk in everything you do in life,’ he said. ‘Gavin is no different from any other player we’ve signed this year — are they going to play well and react well I don’t know.

‘My best guess is that he will do well. He is a player with potential who hasn’t reached it yet. He realises that and wants to do well, and it’s my job to give him as much opportunity as possible to express himself as an outside half.

‘When someone has been in the game for as long as he has, he just needs a comfortable environment to come in and perform. All we can do is offer him an opportunity to come and enjoy his work and I’m sure the Aviva Premiership will benefit from having someone of his quality in the league.’

The glory days: Henson played a key role in helping Wales win the Grand Slam in 2005

The glory days: Henson played a key role in helping Wales win the Grand Slam in 2005

Asked if history suggests that he is perhaps the only coach who can bring out the best in Henson, Jones said: ‘I’ve no idea. Relationships are important in rugby and Gavin has had a difficult 18 months, so he just needs to settle down with us, which is what he’s doing.

‘We’ll just see what happens. The one thing we can say about him is he’s as good a defensive outside half as Jonny Wilkinson was.’

The coach who can help Henson give new purpose to a career which had seemed to be ebbing away to nothing is determined not to look back and try to understand where it began to go wrong. ‘I don’t know and I don’t care,’ said Jones. ‘What’s happened has happened, we’re just looking to the future.’

If Henson himself can replicate that attitude, there may be hope for him and Welsh yet.

Galatasaray withdraw Dimitar Berbatov interest

Berbatov blow after Galatasaray rule out 5m bid for wantaway United striker

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UPDATED:

14:17 GMT, 30 July 2012

Fantasy football 2012

Dimitar Berbatov's escape route to Turkey has been closed off by Galatasaray after they withdrew their interest in the wantaway Manchester United striker.

The 31-year-old revealed earlier this month he is desperate to quit Old Trafford where his first team opportunities are limited under manager Sir Alex Ferguson, just two years after his 30.75million summer deadline day arrival from Tottenham.

Frustrated: Dimitar Berbatov wants to leave Manchester United this summer

Frustrated: Dimitar Berbatov wants to leave Manchester United this summer

The emergence of Danny Welbeck and Javier Hernandez behind leading striker Wayne Rooney has pushed the former Bulgaria international down the pecking order and United are willing to offload him for around 5million.

Galatasaray appeared to be willing to match that fee after revealing their interest but they have now denied making a bid.

Get me out of here: Turkish giants Galatasaray have ruled out a move for the former Bulgaria captain

Get me out of here: Turkish giants Galatasaray have ruled out a move for the former Bulgaria captain

A club statement from the Turkish giants read: 'There have been some reports in the media that Dimitar Berbatov will be transferred to our club.

'The club would like to declare that there is no transfer and no attempt has been made in that regard.'

West Ham and Paris Saint-Germain have also been linked with Berbatov, who appears stranded at United for the time being.

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Sam Allardyce takes to Steve Kean to High Court over video rant

Allardyce takes Kean to the High Court after Blackburn boss' rant at old pal was caught on video

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UPDATED:

14:14 GMT, 18 July 2012

Sam Allardyce is heading for a High Court showdown with Steve Kean over the Blackburn manager's video rant at his former boss.

West Ham chief Allardyce has issued a claim against his old club Blackburn and their manager over comments his successor at Ewood Park is alleged to have made about him.

Disgruntled fans from The BRFC Action Group claimed responsibility for posting a video clip of him on the club’s pre-season trip to Hong Kong last summer.

Speaking to supporters in a bar, Kean appeared to make unguarded comments about Allardyce in which he questions the integrity of the man who appointed him as first-team coach at Blackburn.

Scroll down to watch the rant – WARNING EXPLICIT LANGUAGE

Steve Kean

Sam Allardyce

Fall-out: Steve Kean (left) and his former boss Sam Allardyce

Video nasty: Kean was filmed by fans

Video nasty: Kean was filmed by fans

Allardyce instructed his
lawyers to sue Kean for slander. He is taking legal action against
Blackburn as well because Kean is an employee who was on club business
at the time.

Asked about
his relationship with Allardyce since he replaced him as manager in
December 2010, Kean is allegedly heard saying: ‘I haven’t spoken to him.
He mullered me so I said f*** him.

‘I worked my b***s off for him and then he had a go at me so f*** him.’

The
44-year-old Scot appears to claim the credit for Phil Jones’s emergence
from Blackburn’s academy before he was sold to Manchester United for
16.5million last summer, as well as telling the fans that his team
would finish in the top half of the table and win the Carling Cup.

Blackburn were eventually relegated from the Premier League and replaced by Allardyce’s West Ham this weekend.

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West Ham eye Manchester United striker Dimitar Berbatov

West Ham move for Man United striker Berbatov after Carroll bid rebuffed

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UPDATED:

06:39 GMT, 17 July 2012

West Ham are ready to offer Dimitar Berbatov an escape route from his Manchester United misery.

The Hammers have switched their
attention to the Bulgarian striker after their bid to sign Andy Carroll was rebuffed by the Liverpool forward, reports the Daily Mirror.

Time to say goodbye: Dimitar Berbatov is looking to leave Manchester United this summer

Time to say goodbye: Dimitar Berbatov is looking to leave Manchester United this summer

Berbatov, 31, has revealed his desire to quit the Reds in search of regular first-team football next season.

But United have taken out an option
to extend his contract by another 12 months in the hope of landing a fee
for the 5m-rated striker.

West Ham would prefer a season-long loan and believe former Spurs hitman Berbatov would be tempted by a return to London.

On the bench: Berbatov was not used a lot by Manchester United last season

On the bench: Berbatov was not used a lot by Manchester United last season

Signed for 30m from Spurs four years ago, Berbatov hit 14 goals in his first season at United and 12 in his second.

In his third, he rattled in 20 Premier League goals to share the Golden Boot with Carlos Tevez of Manchester City.

However, the emergence of both Danny
Welbeck and Javier Hernandez at United, has since seen Berbatov
restricted to a bit-part player.