Tag Archives: favours

Madness at Chelsea! Suggs visits Blues

It really is Madness at Chelsea! Superfan Suggs drops in to visit Blues

PUBLISHED:

13:35 GMT, 1 March 2013

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UPDATED:

13:35 GMT, 1 March 2013

There was more Madness at Chelsea on Friday morning as superfan Suggs turned up at their Cobham training ground.

The players are preparing to face West Bromwich Albion at the end of an eventful week which saw interim boss Rafa Benitez launch an extraordinary attack on the club's fans and owner Roman Abramovich.

Benitez slammed the supporters after Wednesday's win at Middlesbrough, claiming they were not doing the team any favours by continuing to boo him.

Our house: Suggs paid a visit to Chelsea's Cobham training ground

Our house: Suggs paid a visit to Chelsea's Cobham training ground

But Suggs' commitment to the Stamford
Bridge outfit can never be doubted. The 52-year-old, who has a string
of hits under his belt with Madness and as a solo artist, reached No 22
in the charts in 1997 with Blue Day, the song he recorded with the
players for the FA Cup final.

The west Londoners beat Middlesbrough
2-0 in the Wembley showpiece with former manager Roberto Di Matteo
scoring after 42 seconds.

Thew club's official Twitter page
said this morning: 'We've been fortunate enough to welcome legendary
Chelsea fan Suggs to Cobham this morning! #CFC #BlueDay.'

Sam Allardyce calls for instant replays

Big Sam calls for instant replays after referee blunders mar Everton clash

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UPDATED:

22:00 GMT, 23 December 2012

Seeing red: Allardyce

Seeing red: Allardyce

Sam Allardyce has called for technology allowing managers to appeal decisions instantly during matches to be introduced and blasted senior figures in football for their ‘antiquated’ approach to the game.

West Ham and Everton will on Monday appeal against the straight red cards given to Carlton Cole and Darron Gibson by referee Anthony Taylor for similar challenges on Saturday.

Both players were sent off for raised feet but neither Allardyce nor David Moyes agreed with the decisions.

The referee’s actions were considered so poor even the home fans booed when Gibson was shown the second red card in injury time.

But it had a much greater impact on West
Ham who went ahead through Cole’s early strike but lost him in the 67th
minute. Three minutes previously Victor Anichebe had headed Everton
level and the numerical advantage helped the away side nick the game
through Steven Pienaar’s scrappy winner.

When asked if he would like a system similar to cricket or tennis where they can appeal decisions instantly and have replays looked at and decisions overturned, Allardyce replied: ‘Yes – the technology today means it’s done in less than two minutes at the absolute most. We used to have two TVs in the dugout. It used to be a big help with referee decisions.

Harsh call: Carlton Cole is given his marching orders

Harsh call: Carlton Cole is given his marching orders

‘The only way to make it better for us all is to bring technology into it. I’ve always said two or three challenges would be in our favour if we were allowed it. Forget about Platinis who are antiquated. I know they’re in strong positions and they affect the game, but they’re not doing us any favours by not allowing technology into the game. They affect the result. There’s 65million coming next year [if we stay in the Premier League].’

Allardyce spoke to Taylor after the match, an official he complained about to Premier League referee chiefs in 2010 when he was managing Blackburn Rovers in a match against Fulham. The Hammers boss watched replays of the incidents on a laptop straight after the match but Taylor could not review his decisions.

And Allardyce said: ‘Unfortunately [the referee] hasn’t got that privilege so it’s hard for him. He can only go from what he can remember from a split decision. It’s very difficult for him to explain why he did it and what he saw.

Double trouble: Taylor also sent off Everton's Gibson

Double trouble: Taylor also sent off Everton's Gibson

‘The referee’s should have their own laptop in their room. Then he could have a better discussion about decisions. And then move. But at the end of the day you can go and see him and it’s not going to make any difference.’

West Ham were already short of options in attack before the match and Allardyce is now relieved their Boxing Day fixture against Arsenal is postponed due to a planned Tube strike.

The 58-year-old added: ‘I haven’t got a team to play Arsenal, so it’s worked out all right in the end. We’ll count up the bodies [today], do no training and see how packed the medical room is. Losing Cole him for three games would be a severe blow which we can’t cope with.’

THE APPEALS PROCESS

HOW IT WORKS IN TENNIS…

Players can make three unsuccessful
appeals per set and get an extra one if it goes into a tie-breaker. They
have to appeal straight away to the umpire and Hawk-Eye replays
accurately a virtual version of what happened. If an appeal is
successful, it does not use up their quota. Out of the four major
tournaments only the French Open does not adopt the system because the
ball leaves marks in the clay.

HOW IT WORKS IN CRICKET…

The umpire Decision Review System was
first introduced in 2009 and allows both teams to make two unsuccessful
reviews of incidents per innings. A third umpire then watches video
replays and has access to technology, including Hawk-Eye, to make a
decision. Regardless of appeals the umpire can also refer to the third
umpire at any time for assistance.

HOW IT COULD WORK IN FOOTBALL…

Each manager could be allowed three
unsuccessful appeals per match, with an added appeal if a game goes into
extra time. A manager would have to appeal the decision straight after
it happened and the referee – who is already connected to the other
officials in the match with microphones and headsets – could refer to
another official with access to video replays and technology.

Just how important is Luis Suarez to Liverpool? Without him they"d be bottom on two points

Just how important is Suarez to Liverpool Without him they'd be bottom on two points

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UPDATED:

23:11 GMT, 10 November 2012

Key man: Luis Suarez of Liverpool

Key man: Luis Suarez of Liverpool

Manager Brendan Rodgers has warned Liverpool they cannot afford to lose Luis Suarez like they did Fernando Torres – and well he might because without the Uruguayan, his club would be struggling even more than they are now.

In fact, if you take out Suarez's goals and assists, Liverpool would be bottom of the league, with no wins and just two points.

Here, former Arsenal midfielder STEWART ROBSON analyses why Suarez is so important.

Master of the unexpected

Defences are set up to play against the kind of passing football Rodgers favours and his side do not play quickly enough to unbalance them. Suarez is the one player who can provide the unexpected because he can go past defenders in tight areas with changes of direction, play the ball between players' legs or manipulate it on unusual angles.

Slow, slow, quick, quick, quick

Suarez is not hugely quick but he has the ability to change the tempo of a move. His speed of movement and thought to get away from markers is so impressive, and only appreciated by watching him live.

Luis Suarez of Liverpool in action during a training session

What a combination

He can combine with others to good effect, either by playing wall passes, one-touch through-balls or dropping deeper to play in runners behind defences. Without his individual brilliance, Liverpool are easy to negate.

But he needs help

For Liverpool to become a good side again, Rodgers needs two more strikers to link with Suarez. He knows the system well from playing in a front three at Ajax, but the players either side of him need to be forwards who can drift wide. They must have pace to exploit the space behind defences when he drops deeper. Borini doesn't look good enough while Suso is more of a midfield player.

Bolton 2 Nottingham Forest 2: Andy Reid rescues a point for Forest

Bolton 2 Nottingham Forest 2: Reid rescues a point for Forest and frustrates Wanderers

PUBLISHED:

20:37 GMT, 24 August 2012

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UPDATED:

20:57 GMT, 24 August 2012

The season may still be in its infancy, but Owen Coyle will already have concluded there can be no easy route back to the Premier League for Bolton.

Already on the wrong end of an opening-day defeat by his old club Burnley, Coyle saw his current side outplayed for most of the first half and go behind to an unstoppable long-range effort from Lewis McGugan.

A stirring recovery, capped by goals from Chris Eagles and Marvin Sordell, looked to have put them in charge, only for a revitalised Forest to storm back with a 57th-minute equaliser from Andy Reid.

Pure delight: Andy Reid celebrates after his goal levelled the match at 2-2

Pure delight: Andy Reid celebrates after his goal levelled the match at 2-2

Lewis McGugan's early goal of the
season contender gave Forest a 15th-minute lead and Bolton's haphazard
approach to possession allowed them to dominate the opening half hour.

Eagles scored his second goal in four
days to level after Kevin Davies' header came back off the post and,
when the veteran striker pounced on an error from Greg Halford, strike
partner Sordell scored his first Bolton goal four minutes into the
second half.

But Reid brought Forest back on terms
with a clinically-taken equaliser shortly before the hour and despite
the best efforts of both teams, a winning goal was not forthcoming.

O'Driscoll can look with satisfaction
upon an opening of four league and cup games without defeat and,
although opposite number Owen Coyle might have hoped for a better return
than four points from the first three npower Championship matches,
Bolton have themselves recovered well from a chastening opening loss at
Burnley six days ago.

Done no favours by a playing surface
subjected to a pre-match downpour, Bolton skipper Davies was booked for a
meaty challenge on Forest full-back Dan Harding inside the opening
seconds.

Eye for goal: Marvin Sordell scores Bolton's second

Eye for goal: Marvin Sordell scores Bolton's second

The visitors started the brighter of
two unchanged sides as McGugan, Simon Cox and Dexter Blackstock all
caused problems for the Bolton defence, meaning due warning had been
served when the opening goal arrived in spectacular fashion. Blackstock
touched the ball infield to McGugan, who let it roll across his body
before unleashing an unstoppable 30-yard drive past Wanderers goalkeeper
Adam Bogdan via the underside of the bar.

McGugan's next contribution was
almost as sumptuous – a defence-splitting pass played with the outside
of his right foot that sent Cox into the area, only for Mark Davies'
last-ditch challenge to force a corner. Bolton belatedly made inroads,
but Sordell and Kevin Davies were both well marshalled by Halford when
attacking crosses from the left.

The equaliser arrived from the same
source six minutes before half-time as Kevin Davies nodded a cross from
full-back Sam Ricketts against the post and Eagles drilled in the
rebound.

Having appeared close to disarray
moments earlier, Bolton had Forest in plenty of trouble before the
interval. Reds goalkeeper Lee Camp was at full stretch to keep out
Sordell's header from another Ricketts centre and Halford had to hack
out of the six yard box after Tyrone Mears was released down the right.

Halford's first contribution of the
second half was far less beneficial for his side as he hesitated in
dealing with Ricketts' speculative ball forward, allowing Davies to
steal in a tee-up Sordell to prod home off the post.

Frustrated: Bolton boss Owen Coyle saw his side draw on Friday night

Frustrated: Bolton boss Owen Coyle saw his side draw on Friday night

Sordell might have extended the lead
when he blazed Eagles' cut-back over and Forest appeared to be on the
ropes when Camp misjudged a 55th-minute corner from the former Burnley
playmaker and a goalmouth scramble ensured.

Moments later, for the second time in the match, an equaliser arrived against the run of play.
Blackstock knocked down a long ball to Cox and his smart lay-off allowed Reid to crisply find the corner.

Befitting of the game's thrilling
end-to-end nature, Mark Davies almost restored Bolton's lead
immediately, but his diving header from Eagles' left-wing cross flashed
past the near post.

Namesake Kevin was the next Wanderers
player to waste the chance of a winner, cushioning a volley over when
left unmarked from Lee Chung-Yong's corner. A set-piece at the other end
almost handed Forest the points, but Mears found a vital touch as Cox
stood was poised to convert Halford's flick-on.

Fabio Borini set for Liverpool as Andy Carroll future is unclear

Carroll blow as Liverpool go for 10m Roma striker Borini

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UPDATED:

21:40 GMT, 9 July 2012

Fabio Borini is set to become Brendan Rodgers' first signing, as the Liverpool manager challenges Andy Carroll to show he can be part of the new Anfield regime.

Having worked with the Italy striker at Chelsea and Swansea, Borini has been on Rodgers' wanted list for some time, and Liverpool have held lengthy discussions with his current club Roma over a deal that could be worth 10million.

Borini was co-owned by Roma and Parma last season, but Roma concluded their own 3.95m deal to take full ownership of his contract last month, which has made Liverpool's negotiations for the 21-year-old go more smoothly.

Wanted: Liverpool are hopeful of sealing a deal for Italy striker Borini (left)

Wanted: Liverpool are hopeful of sealing a deal for Italy striker Borini (left)

It is, however, a surprise that Borini is set to move to Anfield as he said last month that he was 'a Roma player' and 'it's not my business that there is talk about whether I go there (to Liverpool) or stay.'

Rodgers wants to bring in 'three or four' additions, but aims to do that 'without throwing wheelbarrows full of money at it'.

He is also confident of getting improvement out of the Liverpool players he inherited, Carroll included.

Centre of attention: Carroll is yet to return from his holidays

Centre of attention: Carroll is yet to return from his holidays

The England forward has endured a turbulent 18 months since his 35million move to Anfield from Newcastle and it had been assumed that Carroll – who is being linked with a loan switch to AC Milan – will struggle to adapt to the intricate system Rodgers favours.

Though Rodgers has not handed Carroll any assurances about where he will fit into the team, he is prepared to give him the necessary chances.

'Andy is a player I want to assess and speak with,' said Rodgers, who received confirmation yesterday that Luis Suarez and Sebastian Coates will represent Uruguay in the Olympics.

Welcome to Anfield: Rodgers was officially unveiled on Monday

Welcome to Anfield: Rodgers was officially unveiled on Monday

Suarez will be given the honour of carrying his country's flag at the opening ceremony.

'Andy Carroll is away on his holidays but we have already had a good chat. There have been many inquiries about our players so I will assess them and hopefully put together a group to help us challenge.

'He's a very, very good player. He's shown that in his short career already. He did fantastic with Newcastle, he's done well at times with England.

'He's made a massive move to a world-renowned football club and there was always going to be a time of adaptation. You sometimes forget how young these people are. They're not machines.'

Your country needs you: Suarez has been called up by Uruguay for the Olympics

Your country needs you: Suarez has been called up by Uruguay for the Olympics

Carroll looked burdened at times last season with the weight of expectation that accompanied his colossal transfer fee, but he finished the campaign in a positive fashion and the goal he scored for England against Sweden at Euro 2012 typified all that is good about him.

'Andy is no different to any player we have here,' said Rodgers, whose squad embark on a tour of North America next week.

'It's a wee bit unfair for him to get labelled any other way. We will just see how the formation of the group shapes up over the next month. Time will tell for him and all the players, but my job is to build a group that can challenge.'

Liverpool have been linked with Zenit St Petersburg's 16m-rated midfielder Igor Denisov, but the 28-year-old is not the type of player Rodgers is looking to sign.

Australia 25 Wales 23: Wallabies snatch series victory with last-gasp penalty

Australia 25 Wales 23: Wallabies snatch series victory with last-ditch penalty

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UPDATED:

12:36 GMT, 16 June 2012

Substitute Mike Harris broke Welsh hearts with an injury-time penalty to snatch a dramatic win for Australia in Melbourne.

Wales appeared on course to keep the series alive with an historic first win over the Wallabies in Australia since 1969 as the faultless boot of Leigh Halfpenny kept the Grand Slam champions in front.

But with the clock in the red New Zealand referee Chris Pollock penalised Wales after Australia launched a powerful rolling maul and Harris showed nerves of steel to crush Welsh dreams.

Kicking king: Mike Harris of the Wallabies slots home the winning penalty goal

Kicking king: Mike Harris of the Wallabies slots home the winning penalty goal

Wales, accused of making a slow start last week, came flying out of the blocks with a series of powerful pick and drives.

Mike Phillips, Halfpenny and Alex Cuthbert were all prominent in the build up as Wales roared into the Wallabies half before George North powered over from close range.

Halfpenny, who kicked all before him in Brisbane, maintained his 100 per cent record Down Under to stretch Wales' early lead to seven points.

Party time: Australia celebrate after recording their second victory over Wales

Party time: Australia celebrate after recording their second victory over Wales

Wales continued to dominate the early
exchanges but the Wallabies fought their way back into the encounter and
began to strangle the visitors of possession.

Berrick Barnes, who only rejoined the Wallabies squad four hours prior to kick-off following the birth of his first child, Archie, hit back for the hosts and added a second penalty on the half-hour mark to cut Wales' lead to one point.

Wales did themselves no favours and lost a succession of lineouts on their own throw as the pressure mounted.

Flying: Rob Horne of the Wallabies scores a try against Wales in Melbourne

Flying: Rob Horne of the Wallabies scores a try against Wales in Melbourne

They looked to have survived unscathed
after Phillips burst out of his own half with a trademark break. He
found Rhys Priestland in support but the fly-half was unable to release
Sam Warburton for the try.

Wales were penalised at the following
phase and after pouncing on loose ball from the ensuing lineout,
Phillips handed the Wallabies another opportunity to attack after his
box-kick went out on the full.

And the Tri-Nations champions took full advantage with Barnes beating Warburton on the outside and dummying past Ashley Beck to release Rob Horne for the crucial try.

Going nowhere: Australia's Digby Ioane (C) is tackled by Wales' Ashley Beck

Going nowhere: Australia's Digby Ioane (C) is tackled by Wales' Ashley Beck

Barnes added the extras on the stroke of half-time as Wales entered the interval trailing 13-7.

But the Dragons again started the half
firing and an uncharacteristic mistake from last week's Wallaby hero
Will Genia gave the opportunity to score.

The livewire scrum-half threw an
aimless pass which was hacked through by Beck and Jonathan Davies beat
Rob Simmons in the foot race to score.

Halfpenny expertly slotted the conversion to regain the lead, and the full-back exchanged penalties with Barnes as Wales kept their noses in front.

False dawn: Wales' Jonathan Davies scores a try against Australia

False dawn: Wales' Jonathan Davies scores a try against Australia

Barmes knocked over another penalty
but Australia were dealt a blow when Cooper Vuna was sent to the sin-bin
after a clumsy challenge on Halfpenny in the air.

The diminutive full-back came crashing
down to earth but got straight back to his feet and slotted a monster
penalty to regain the slender lead.

Barnes hit-back after Bradley Davies
was penalised at the break down but Halfpenny was again on target after
the Welsh pack flexed its muscle at scrum time.

Wales continued to dominate the battle up front but they fell foul of the scrum lottery and Barnes stepped up to slot the simple penalty.

Chance: Wales' Alex Cuthbert (left) and George North (right) congratulate Jonathan Davies

Chance: Wales' Alex Cuthbert (left) and George North (right) congratulate Jonathan Davies

But amazingly the fly-half, who
appeared to be carrying a knock, pushed his effort wide and quickly
departed to be replaced by Harris.

Australia frantically hammered at Wales but Rob Howley's men held strong as mistakes creeped into the Wallabies game.

But Wales were penalised with the
clock ticking and Australia kicked to the corner. They launched a
rolling maul and Wales were penalised, with New Zealand-born fly-half
Harris writing his name in Wallaby history.

In his wake: Wales' Mike Phillips avoids a tackle during the defeat to Australia

In his wake: Wales' Mike Phillips avoids a tackle during the defeat to Australia

French Open 2012: Andy Murray makes a meal of injuries, blasts Virginina Wade

Drama queen! Murray makes a meal of injuries, blasts Wimbledon legend Wade

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UPDATED:

23:45 GMT, 31 May 2012

Andy Murray hit back at Wimbledon
legend Virginia Wade after she accused
him of acting like a 'drama queen'
during his remarkable comeback win in
the second round of the French Open.

The British No 1 was angered by her commentary
after he suffered back spasms during his
1-6, 6-4, 6-1, 6-2 victory over Jarkko Nieminen
and said: 'She has no idea how I was feeling on
court. She doesn't know what was happening 20 minutes before when I went out on court. I
know how I felt on the court.

In trouble: Murray received treatment in the first set after struggling with back pain

In trouble: Murray received treatment in the first set after struggling with back pain

'And then you
have people like that who always come out
and say something controversial, when
really they should be supportive or maybe
ask me a question before commenting.

'I've known her since I was really young, so that's quite disappointing. I don't see what the point would be in play-acting, going down 6-1, 4-2.'

Murray woke with a stiff back and suffered spasms after he got up from his chair for the fourth game. The effects took around an hour to go and he maintained he had nearly not started the match and was close to quitting after the first set.

Flat out: The British No 1 lost the opening set 6-1

Flat out: The British No 1 lost the opening set 6-1

But Wade, the last Brit to win a Wimbledon
singles title, felt he was overplaying his
discomfort. She said on Eurosport: 'I have
sympathy that his back is bad but I have
more for the other guy as you cannot play
against someone who is being a drama queen.
I don't think it is intentional, but he feels so
sorry for himself he has no control over the
fact he is not acting in an adult way.

'I would like him to deal with it
without looking like he was quitting.
It does not do him any favours to
then annihilate his opponent.
Nieminen got distracted.'

Back from the brink: Murray came from behind to beat Nieminen at Roland Garros

Back from the brink: Murray came from behind to beat Nieminen at Roland Garros

Concern: Kim Sears watches her partner play on

Concern: Kim Sears watches her partner play on

Martin Jol will be out to get one over Tottenham, says Harry Redknapp as former boss returns

Jol will be out to get one over Tottenham, warns Redknapp as former boss returns to the Lane

PUBLISHED:

13:51 GMT, 12 May 2012

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UPDATED:

13:53 GMT, 12 May 2012

Harry Redknapp thinks Fulham manager Martin Jol will be out to prove a point when he visits White Hart Lane for the first time since he was sacked as Tottenham boss.

Jol became a fans' favourite at the north London club after guiding Spurs to two consecutive fifth-place finishes, but he was controversially sacked in 2007.

Juande Ramos claimed he was made a 'dizzying offer' to take over at White Hart Lane while Jol was still in place and the Dutchman heard of his sacking via a text message from his nephew shortly after the club's defeat to Getafe.

Hard feelings: Martin Jol watches Spurs lose to Getafe in his final match in charge

Hard feelings: Martin Jol watches Spurs lose to Getafe in his final match in charge

Jol has since gone on to have successful spells at Ajax, Hamburg and now Fulham, who have claimed 52 points – one short of the club's Premier League record – under his leadership.

The game is of huge significance to Tottenham as the outcome could determine whether they qualify for the Champions League, but current boss Redknapp is not expecting to receive a helping hand from his opposite number.

Redknapp said: 'Martin Jol was the manager here so he will want to come back and do well with Fulham.

He won't want to do us any favours, that is for sure. Fulham are playing really well at the moment so it will be a very difficult game for us but we have to win it.'

Fight to the finish: Harry Redknapp and Spurs are pushing for a Champions League spot

Fight to the finish: Harry Redknapp and Spurs are pushing for a Champions League spot

Should Tottenham win they will seal a fourth-place finish in the Barclays Premier League for the second time in three seasons under Redknapp.

Such a feat would normally secure Champions League football, but Spurs need to finish third to guarantee their passage to Europe's top club competition as Chelsea will take the fourth qualifying spot if they beat Bayern Munich in the European Cup final.

To finish third Spurs will have to beat Fulham and hope Arsenal drop points at West Brom while Newcastle also have an outside chance of gate crashing the top four as they are one point behind Redknapp's team ahead of their visit to Everton.

Spurs striker Jermain Defoe insists his team will not be distracted by all the permutations surrounding Sunday's games.

'We can't think about the other games and all the other permutations, we just have to think about ourselves. That will be our approach,' he told Spurs TV Online.

Lofty ambitions: Jermain Defoe will just concentrate on Spurs' performance

Lofty ambitions: Jermain Defoe will just concentrate on Spurs' performance

'It's like a cup final for us on Sunday. Finishing fourth was the goal at the start of the season and if you look at our squad we should be finishing in the top four.'

Spurs produced some stunning displays against Inter and AC Milan last season as they defied the odds to reach the quarter-finals of the Champions League in their debut season in the competition.

Defoe was a spectator for much of the European campaign due to an ankle injury, making his desire to qualify for the competition next year stronger.

'We want to be in the Champions League. It's the elite competition,” the 29-year-old said.

'I was injured in first part last year but was involved in the last part.

'I loved everything about it – that music, playing against the best players and the best teams in world so it's important for the whole club to get back in it.'

Joey Barton plotting to spoil Manchester City title party

You haven't won it yet! City old boy Barton plotting to spoil title party

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UPDATED:

08:43 GMT, 9 May 2012

QPR captain Joey Barton has said he 'cannot wait' to take on former club Manchester City on Sunday as Mark Hughes' side look to prevent the Premier League title from heading to the Etihad Stadium while confirming their own safety.

Barton came through the ranks at City – making 130 appearances for the club between 2002 and 2007 before leaving to join Newcastle – but he made it clear he will not being doing them any favours as they go in search of their maiden Premier League crown.

Plenty to play for: Barton's QPR take on Man City on Sunday

Plenty to play for: Barton's QPR take on Man City on Sunday

Comeback kid: Barton was booed by his own fans against Liverpool

Comeback kid: Barton was booed by his own fans against Liverpool

The incentive for Rangers is clear – if Bolton win at Stoke on Sunday then they will need a point to secure safety, and Barton is relishing the challenge.

'I can’t wait for the game – I can’t wait to go to Man City,' he said. 'They expect us to turn up and them to probably stuff us and go on and win the league.

'If that is their attitude, they will get a reality check. It’s 11 men against 11 men, there is a lot of pressure out there – I can’t wait for it.

'We have one game to go and we are masters of our own destiny.'

Barton, 29, was booed by Rangers fans during the win over Liverpool in March, but he has since won over the Loftus Road faithful as they have put together a run of five wins in nine games.

The midfielder admitted he hit 'rock bottom' after being booed, but he believes he has turned a corner with his performances.

'I’m strange – I’m one of those players who needs a rocket up my backside all the time,' he added.

'It’s six weeks since the Liverpool game – that implosion moment when you hit rock bottom.

'I dug in and was always confident in my own ability. I’ve played as well at this football club in these last six weeks as I have at any period.'

Six Nations 2012: England midfield conundrum

England's midfield conundrum: Should Stuart stick or twist against Wales

Stuart Lancaster and his coaching team have a big decision to make over who should fill England's midfield against the gigantic Wales back line.

KEEP THE FAITH

10 Hodgson, 12 Farrell, 13 Barritt

Lancaster favours consistency and doesn’t want people playing with the fear of being dropped, but although these three have played only two games together they have offered very little creative spark – in fact the chargedown has been their best attacking weapon. Brad Barritt makes hard yards and tackles harder, but running straight at these Wales centres won’t get you very far.

Better together: England's Owen Farrell (left) and Charlie Hodgson

Better together: England's Owen Farrell (left) and Charlie Hodgson

BRING BACK MANU

10 Hodgson, 12 Farrell, 13 Tuilagi

Switching outside centres would be a sign of intent – an exercise in damage rather than damage limitation. Barritt is a defensive maestro but offers little potency in possession. Manu Tuilagi is sometimes juvenile in his organisation – breaking the line for a big hit – but is England’s most destructive ball carrier.

DROP CHARGE DOWN CHARLIE

10 Flood, 12 Farrell, 13 Barritt

Comeback: Manu Tuilagi

Comeback: Manu Tuilagi

Charlie Hodgson would feel aggrieved if dropped after successive match-winning charge-downs, but Toby Flood would have played from the outset if fit. At his best he stands flatter and encourages runners to hit lines off him. Could flourish now out of Jonny Wilkinson’s shadow.

IN LEICESTER WE TRUST

10 Flood, 12 Farrell, 13 Tuilagi

Drop the Saracens pair and bring back the Leicester Tigers. A possible trio for the 2015 World Cup. Arguably Flood’s best game in an England shirt came at the Millennium Stadium in last year’s Six Nations and all three are proven performers on the big stage.

FARRELL AT FLY-HALF

10 Farrell, 12 Barritt, 13 Tuilagi

If Barritt’s defence is considered too important against the Welsh monsters, then Farrell could always shift to fly half – his long-term ambition – with Tuilagi offering a threat further out. But it puts huge responsibility on Farrell’s shoulders without a natural playmaker outside him.

(10 is fly half, 12 inside centre and 13 outside centre)