Tag Archives: fella

Harry Redknapp argues about Frank Lampard with a West Ham fan

You were spot on Harry! The moment Harry Redknapp backed Lampard to go 'right to the top' in 1996 row with West Ham fan

Sunni Upal


14:18 GMT, 3 January 2013



17:54 GMT, 3 January 2013

Harry Redknapp was spot on when he said that his nephew Frank Lampard would go right to the top.

In 1996, Redknapp had a row with a sceptical West Ham fan who thought Lampard wasn’t good enough and was being favoured for being family.

But how wrong could that supporter be…

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Prospect: Lampard during his West Ham days

Prospect: Lampard during his West Ham days

Winner: Frank Lampard salutes the fans after Chelsea won the title in 2004/05

Winner: Frank Lampard salutes the fans after Chelsea won the title in 2004/05

Awesome: Lampard's best season was in 2009/10 when he scored 34 goals during Chelsea's double-winnning campaign

Awesome: Lampard's best season was in 2009/10 when he scored 34 goals during Chelsea's double-winnning campaign

What happened next: Frank Lampard…

Lampard moved to Chelsea in 2001 for 11million and hit double figures for goals scored every year since 2003.

He has won three league titles, a Champions League, four FA Cups and Football Writers' Footballer of the Year award in 2004/05.

Then West Ham manager Redknapp said: 'I’m telling you now, and I didn’t want to say this in front of him, but he will go right to the very top.

'He’s got everything needed to become a top class midfield player.

'His attitude is first class, he’s got strength, he can play, he can pass it and he can score goals.'

After watching the video, former West Ham team-mate and Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand tweeted: 'Is the fella who was doubting Frank Lampards ability at a WHUFC Fans Forum yrs ago on twitter! Harry knows a player when he sees 1!'

Matt Holland…

Holland left West Ham for Bournemouth in 1995 before six-year spells at Ipswich and then Charlton. He then went into a career in media, appearing on Final Score and Talksport among others.

Lampard showcased his vast talent for nine years at West Ham before making an 11million switch to west London to join Chelsea in 2001 where his career scaled new heights.

He was ever-present in Chelsea’s dominant title-winning teams under Jose Mourinho in 2005 and 2006 and has gone on to become a club legend.

Scott Canham…

West Ham is as good as things got for Canham. He had spells at Brentford and Leyton Orient before dropping down even further to Woking, Farnborough, Grays and then Thurrock. Canham was also assistant manager at Leyton Orient but only for one season and he left in 2009.

For a midfielder, his goal-scoring record is imperious. Lampard has reached double figures every season since 2003 and he racked up 34 in the double winning season of 2009/10 under Carlo Ancelotti.

Lampard’s future may be uncertain but what he has achieved at Chelsea proves that Redknapp knew what he was talking about at a fans forum all those years ago.

Youngster: Lampard at the fans' forum in 1996

Youngster: Lampard at the fans' forum in 1996

Under fire Clark calls for more bravery from Birmingham players after latest home loss

Under-fire Clark calls for more bravery from Birmingham players after latest home loss



19:31 GMT, 6 October 2012

Under-pressure Birmingham boss Lee Clark called for his players to stand up and be counted and stop hiding behind him after City were again booed off following another home defeat.

A hurt Clark cut a frustrated figure following this afternoon's 1-0 defeat to former employers Huddersfield, leaving Blues fourth-bottom in the npower Championship.

Former Sunderland and Newcastle player Lee Clark

Under the spotlight: Lee Clark is feeling the heat after another home defeat

Blues' fifth defeat from 10 games was a second successive setback on home soil in the league for the first time in 19 months, and came after the abject 5-0 rout by Barnsley, the club's biggest home league defeat in 25 years.

Reports of a player revolt were dismissed this week but Clark saw his side put in a disappointing display, especially in the first half, and felt his charges handed the initiative to the visitors from the first whistle due to a lack of competitiveness.

Jermaine Beckford's 25th-minute strike settled matters for high-flying Huddersfield, while substitute Nikola Zigic was sent off 16 minutes from time for a high challenge on Callum Woods.

Clark said: 'It's our home, it's where the majority of our fans are. They come to see us and want to see a performance. Any football fan in the world wants to see a bit of drive.

'Some good tackles are as good as a good shot, they get the crowd lifted, they get them behind the team, they drive you forward.

Jermaine Beckford of Huddersfield Town scores a goal to make the score 0-1

Twisting the knife: Huddersfield's Jermaine Beckford scores to inflict another loss on Lee Clark – this time against his former club

'Football fans are working-class people, they want to see someone having a right good go for their team, in terms of tackling, heading, competing.

'You see the size of me, I'm not a big fella but I competed, I put my head in there, I put my foot in there. Maybe seven times out of 10 the opposition came through me with the ball but I was still putting some sort of challenge in.

'There were four of five players in the first half who never did that. They've got to stand up and be counted.

'Okay, I'm responsible but I can't keep saying that. Can they start taking responsibility

'I'm getting the flak from supporters, no problem I can take that. But I'm not sitting in the dressing room telling them not to tackle, to pussyfoot around, telling them to mis-place passes.

'They can't just hide behind me all the time, they've got to come out fighting.'

Huddersfield boss Simon Grayson backed Clark to turn things around at St Andrew's after watching his side end a run of back-to-back home defeats with a third successive win on the road.

It takes Town – who were impressive here, more so in the first half – up to sixth in the table.

'I think deservedly we got the win, getting any points in the Championship is never easy,' Grayson said.

'We started the game very well, very brightly, pressurised Birmingham when we needed to, played in the right areas with purpose and created some good opportunities. I'm delighted from that point of view.

'The back end of the game when Birmingham had nothing to lose we were resilient and withstood some pressure.

'To come here and get a result is satisfying from my point of view after two tough previous defeats.'

Demba Ba agent lashes out at Alan Pardew – Northern Exposure

Ba on his way out of Toon in January There's no smoke without fire…



16:45 GMT, 18 September 2012

The worry is there is no smoke without fire.

First Demba Ba has a pop, and now his agent decides to lash out because Alan Pardew has decided to leave his precious client on the bench.

When did players become automatic choices When was that written into their contract

Alan Pardew has done a pretty good job so far of picking teams. The fact that Newcastle’s worst performance under his tenure (his words, not mine) after he decided to leave Ba on the bench at Everton does give members of the Ba camp, and the player, ammunition.

Talking point: Demba Ba's agent revealed the Newcastle striker was unhappy after being named as a substitute before coming off the bench to score twice against Everton

Talking point: Demba Ba's agent revealed the Newcastle striker was unhappy after being named as a substitute before coming off the bench to score twice against Everton

But in going to Goodison, where Newcastle were easily beaten last season, and where David Moyes’s side have made a very bright start to the new season, Pardew decided, for once, to change his line-up and tactics. Ba was the sacrifice.

Quelling Leighton Baines and anchoring the midfield was made a higher priority than getting the ball near Tim Howard’s net, which was a feat Newcastle only really managed once in 45 lousy minutes with Papiss Cisse chasing lost causes.

And then Pardew changed it. His frustration at the first-half performance, his hands tied and backside fixed to the seat in the stands and his team selection exposed as a flop, the Newcastle boss made his feelings known to his players in the break.

He brought Ba on, made the tactical switch of the night swapping James Perch and Vurnon Anita, and saw a much-improved Newcastle match Everton in an enthralling second half. And Ba scored two goals. The player from the early part of last season – not the fella who couldn’t hit a barndoor for 14 games at the end of the last one – looks to be back.

He let his football and his goals do the talking, delivered the perfect riposte and reminder to his manager so he could have his little dance in the main stand. And he won Newcastle an excellent point. And until Pardew picks his team for Norwich’s visit on Sunday, when Ba will be back in the starting line-up, that should be the end of the matter.

At the double: Ba hit a brace to rescue a point for Alan Pardew's side at Goodison Park on Monday night

At the double: Ba hit a brace to rescue a point for Alan Pardew's side at Goodison Park on Monday night

More from Colin Young…

Northern Exposure: Forget Trapattoni's wrath, Twitter mischief-maker McClean must face O'Neill

Northern Exposure: Trapattoni ready to go against instincts and unleash McClean

Northern Exposure: Toon Army can look forward to more top trips around Europe

Northern Exposure: All eyes on the future after solid start for Newcastle

Northern Exposure: Promotion is a must this season for Middlesbrough

Northern Exposure: European adventure always welcome at St James' Park… and it is still St James' Park

Northern Exposure: O'Neill delves into his Clough memories in bid to lift Sunderland

Northern Exposure: All quiet in the north east… but things are about to get busy


But around the enigma of Ba, who declined the opportunity to be interviewed by the written press at Goodison, are meddlers and parties who can’t keep their mouths shut.

Brother Hamady had already had a go at Pardew – and we don’t know if his sibling was aware of his pre-match Tweet – declaring the manager 'crazy' for daring to leave Ba on the bench. The fact Cisse can play and score a bit too is irrelevant apparently.

Now, agent Alex Gontran has informed the world that his his client 'does not understand the management' of Newcastle.

'Since returning from the Africa Cup of Nations, Demba doesn't understand the management,' said Gontran.

'If he continues to be a substitute all season, we'll look at other solutions.

'How could you put your best striker with full confidence on the left wing

'The choice to put Demba on the left last season was good for the club, because Cisse scored 13 goals.

'But there was a lack of recognition for Demba. It is more difficult to play well when you don't have the confidence of your staff.

'Demba is happy at Newcastle. He is playing in the Premier League, with lot of fellow French speakers and he loves the club's supporters.

'He would like to start every game but he respects the choice of the coach, even if he does not always understand or agree.'

Presumably this is the same agent who let the world know that Ba, who Newcastle and Pardew took a risk on last season, was available if clubs were prepared to trigger a 9million release clause.

Presumably this is the same agent who might have benefitted somewhat financially if that clause had been released. It wasn't.

Presumably therefore, he still remains interested in seeing if other clubs are still interested in his client and if 'other solutions' could still give him, and others, a nice little pay day.

Ba may not be particularly happy at Newcastle the moment, and he might not be the only one.

But presumably he'd agree with me that he should let his manager do his job, and he should carry on doing his, without interference from mouthy advisers who don’t have to face Pardew or put in a shift in a black and white shirt.

Something's up with Sessegnon

Talking of unhappy players, what’s up with Stephane Sessegnon

Last season’s Sunderland player of the year is a shadow of the player who was such a livewire under Martin O’Neill in his first six months in charge.

On Saturday, in the first half against Liverpool, there was even a Sessegnon first. He lost complete control of a simple pass, allowing it to bounce of his shin as if he was a Sunday Pub League player, not one of the most skilful to come out of Africa. O’Neill was apoplectic by the dug-out.

Clearly it is a problem the Sunderland manager didn’t expect to have but the magician from Benin has become an additional problem for O’Neill to ponder as he works on the likes of Johnson, Fletcher and McClean for a sustained period.

Something's up: Stephane Sessegnon has struggled to get started so far this season at Sunderland

Something's up: Stephane Sessegnon has struggled to get started so far this season at Sunderland

He said: 'It’s just not happening for him at the moment. Some of things you can put down to lack of fitness, other things you can put down to not brilliant play, really, because some of the things that you expect of him, like being able to keep the ball not giving it away early in the game.

'It wouldn’t have anything to do with fitness, you know. So he just needs to get sharper in every aspect, sharper in fitness and sharper in the brain, because we know what he’s capable of doing. But it’s been a tough old time for him.'

Yeah, tough old time. Adored on Wearside, just signed a new contract, given the freedom of the Premier League by a manager who took to him from the day he took over and who keeps him in that difficult position to manage and defend against, behind the lone striker. The heart hardly bleeds for the lad.

Something isn’t quite right though.

I wonder if O’Neill might even be prepared to drop him – and take the wrath of brothers, wives and agents (and supporters) in the process

Tell us a story, Woody

Someone needs to have a word with Jonathan Woodgate.

The Middlesbrough defender has ruled out writing an autobiography when he finishes playing, which is a real shame.

He has undoubtedly had a colourful career on and off the pitch, and had his fair share of highs and lows.

But in an interview with the Boro matchday programme, Redsquare at the weekend, the former England international said he wouldn't be putting pen to paper.

Head boy: Middlesbrough defender Jonathan Woodgate doesn't plan to release a book when he hangs up his boots

Head boy: Middlesbrough defender Jonathan Woodgate doesn't plan to release a book when he hangs up his boots

As one of the best talkers in the game, and one of the most honest, fans will miss a treat.

When asked he had ever been tempted to write a book, he said: 'No it's not something I am tempted to do. I've enjoyed my time in football. My career has been up and down because I have had a lot of injuries but I've also had great days and great opportunities.

'I've been lucky enough to play for some of the best clubs in the world so overall I can't complain.'
If he can finish his career by helping his home-town club get back into the Premier League, maybe he will be persuaded to change his mind.

Kevin Pietersen scores 163 for Surrey against Somerset

Pietersen sends ECB reminder as he hits 163 for Surrey against Somerset



22:05 GMT, 28 August 2012

Timely reminder: Kevin Pietersen celebrates his century

Timely reminder: Kevin Pietersen celebrates his century

Kevin Pietersen took out his England frustrations on Somerset’s bowlers, blasting a superb 163 in the County Championship for Surrey.

While his estranged international team-mates crumbled against South Africa, Pietersen provided a robust reminder — as if it were needed — that his demotion has nothing to do with his batting ability.

In four hours of near mayhem, Pietersen — who has impressed Surrey insiders with his attitude since his return to the domestic arena — thrashed 20 fours and three sixes from 168 balls, scoring more than half the county’s runs in a total of 317. No one else made more than 34.

Somerset’s opening bowler Peter Trego tweeted: ‘After what I’ve just seen, KP and ENG need to kiss and make up, that fella is different gravy and people need to see him on the big stage!’

The innings, which followed his stunning unbeaten 234 against Lancashire at Guildford in July, took place while reports surfaced in Australia that Pietersen has put on hold plans to sign for the Sydney Sixers in the Twenty20 Big Bash League this winter.

With his England future in the balance after he was dropped for sending texts to South African players, Pietersen cannot yet commit to cricket which overlaps with the international schedule.

The England set-up have been tight-lipped about the timing of Pietersen’s meeting with Andrew Strauss, which will decide whether he can be welcomed back into the fold.

Strauss did little to quell talk that he needs more time to consider the matter by belatedly pulling out of Middlesex’s Championship game against Worcester.

Caroline Wozniacki hoping for the perfect anniversary present with an upturn in fortunes at Wimbledon

Wozniacki hoping for the perfect anniversary present with an upturn in fortunes at Wimbledon



15:18 GMT, 23 June 2012

Sport's most high-profile celebrity couple will celebrate their first anniversary together during Wimbledon.

But it’s not so much love match between Caroline Wozniacki and Rory McIlroy that will set tongues wagging this week as the duo’s current slump in form.

Wozniacki is a former world No 1 who has seen her world ranking slip to seventh while the Northern Irishman has failed to make the cut in four out of his last five tournaments, including last week at the US Open.

On the slide: former world No 1 Wozniacki has been seeded seventh for Wimbledon

On the slide: former world No 1 Wozniacki has been seeded seventh for Wimbledon

McIlroy himself dubbed the pair 'Wozzilroy'. But it’s been more of a case of 'Wozziswrong' after they hooked up at Easbourne this week.

No sooner had the Ulsterman exited the tournament at the Olympic Club when he jumped upon a plane to see his other half at the Aegon International.

And, even though football fan Wozniacki was nursing a sense of grievance at Denmark’s exit at Euro 2012, it seemed little else was wrong in her world. Or her fella’s.

They became an item after meeting at the Wladimir Klitschko fight against David Haye in July last year. But the current dip in form in their respective sports has led to suggestions that either one, or both, are losing focus.

'If you take the last 20 events when we started going out,' she said, 'Rory was in the top five in 15 of them and get to number one in the world.

'He didn’t enjoy the US Open. But when you have achieved so much at such a young age like he has, maybe everything has come so easily.

'I think it’s part of the learning curve in sport. I have found it myself. You realise sometimes, “I’m going to win this”, so you take a bit of time off.

'Sometimes, losses work for me. I want to get back. I need reminding that I need that blood on my teeth again – that hunger.

'I don’t think anything ever happens to you that you cannot take some good from.

'And unless you are Tiger Woods, you aren’t going to be No 1 in the world in your sport for 20 years. There are very few instances of that happening.

'People forget that Rory is only 23 years old as well. Most of the guys he is playing against are a lot older and have a lot more experience than him.

'I’m not worried about him. He will continue to do great.'

Courting: McIlroy and Wozniacki share a moment at Eastbourne

Courting: McIlroy and Wozniacki share a moment at Eastbourne

Wozniacki, 21, was clearly happy that McIlroy had made the effort to see her on the south coast last week.

'He’s out practising,' came the none-too-unexpected reply as to his whereabouts when the interview was being conducted.

And there was not a hint of frustration in the Dane’s voice when she was quizzed as to whether the pair have talked about their own recent form.

'If we need to talk, we can,' she said, 'but I don’t think there are big things for us to talk about.

'Of course, you can learn things from each other. For a start, both are individual sports.

'And you can see the parallels at times. For instance, when you are number seven or number one, you are near the top of these sports.

'But it’s the mentality where you can probably talk about the similarities.'

Wozniacki was matter-of-fact in her reply to her own current on-court issues. With a long-distance relationship to maintain and a healthy interests in other sports, there is little danger of an over-reaction to any of tennis’s mishaps.

'It’s been very important for me to enjoy my life off court,' she added, 'tennis is very important to me. I’m 100 per cent focused when I’m on court and practising. But it cannot be your whole life.

'You see some of the girls and if they are injured, it’s over. For me, I re-charge my whole batteries better off the court. If I can relax off the court, you can refresh your mind. I can go and play mini-golf and be fresh when I play.

'I don’t want to play for too long. I don’t want to keep playing forever. I would like to play for a couple of years. I want a normal career, give it my all then that that will be that. It’s not easy to travel all the time and to have to be 100 per cent all the time on the court. If you don’t get a good result everyone else says: “Oh no, this is a disaster”. I’m saying: “Relax, it’s not a disaster. I lost a tennis match”.’

Crashing out: Wozniacki lost at Eastbourne at the hands of Heather McHale

Crashing out: Wozniacki lost at Eastbourne at the hands of Heather McHale

One of her big interests is football. She is a big Liverpool supporter and well able to converse with some authority about the goings-on at Anfield. And at Swansea City, too where former Denmark golden boy Michael Laudrup has just taken over from Brendan Rodgers.

'It’s interesting,' she said about the new Reds boss, 'I don’t know much about him but he did a good job as the coach of Swansea, right I hear he has that Mourinho mentality. It’s going to be an interesting match-up. I think he can do some good things for Liverpool and the players.

'Of course, it’s interesting to see Laudrup at Swansea. He was an incredible player. He knows the game so well. But he needs a team where he will be able to play and not just kick it up the field. He likes the Barcelona style. I think Swansea will suit him.'

And with that, she smiles politely. There are mutual ‘Thank yous’ and she departs.

'I am going to play mini-golf you know,' she says by way of confirmation before leaving.

No prizes for guessing who with.

Video: Watch Wozniacki et al getting ready for events at SW19 and at the WTA's pre-Wimbledon party

Edge of the Box: Chelsea Champions League win was real drama

Chelsea show the rest how to do Saturday night drama… and prove Britain does have talent



19:05 GMT, 20 May 2012

The telly has always been a great thing to turn to if you’re looking for some heightened Saturday evening drama. Over on BBC1, it might come from the fictitious city of Holby, where a builder could well be reassuring his workmates ‘don’t worry lads. That roof looks like it will take all of our weight, no problem’.

Or perhaps on Channel 5, from within a house full of hopefuls, where you may find a skinny fella in even skinnier jeans called Max, clutching a bottle of beer and pouring out his heart to an orange-coloured girl called Minxy through a fringe the size of a 747’s wing.

Or it may even happen on ITV, where a performing dog called Pudsey has so captured the nation’s heart, a certain bear with an eye patch is furiously dialling his agent from his front room to find out if they can sue the multi-talented mutt for copyright, or unfair trading, or deformation of character, or something!

Real drama: Chelsea's players celebrate after winning the Champions League

Real drama: Chelsea's players celebrate after winning the Champions League

However, none of the above will ever likely match the real human drama that took place on Saturday evening inside a giant lampshade in Munich, when after a day of footballing thrills and spills, it came down to an extraordinary penalty shoot out to prove that Britain HAS Got Talent!

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Of course for both ITV and Sky Sports there were hours of fun to be garnered from their mutual coverage of the build up and Champions League Final game itself.

Of the former, the terrestrial channel had some really decent pieces, including Ned Boulting’s Arjen Robben interview, during which Ned told us Munich’s ‘flying wingers are barely on speaking terms’, that after Arjen had told him ‘I don’t want to talk about it’.

He does have an eloquent left foot though, Ned.

And there was also a really chirpy chat between Christine Bleakley’s ‘former TV husband’ Adrian Chiles and her actual boyfriend Frank Lampard.

Which had both men perched precariously on a massage table, during which a laughing Frank informed us ‘ear flicking has been around for ages’, whilst managing to resist leaning over and giving the Chiles lug hole a little tweak.

During the game itself, both Clive Tyldesley and Andy Townsend were as ever, on their game with the lead man prophetically suggesting ‘Chelsea really do need a hero now’ after the Bayern goal, and the former Chelsea man exclaiming of Drogba’s header ‘that is a bullet’, through what was left of the poor fella’s croaking voice’.

However, they couldn’t quite match Martin Tyler and Gary Neville’s response to the Chelsea equalizer over on Sky Sports.

Real excitement: Both ITV and Sky commentators showed their emotions when Didier Drogba leveled late on

Real excitement: Both ITV and Sky commentators showed their emotions when Didier Drogba leveled late on

Tyler managed to add at least 342 extra ‘a’s to the end of Didier’s surname, and was joined about half way through his ‘Drogbaaaaaaaa’ epic in near perfect harmony by the new England assistant coach, who let rip with the kind amazing primal scream that Tarzan would have been proud of.

Was it me, or were they quite excited

This sense of excitement, and indeed occasion was then owned, for me, by Sky’s men in the booth.

As Tyldesley rather abstractly threw to an ad break with the words ‘you won’t miss a single moment of the drama’, Sky’s anchor Jeff Stelling was setting up Jamie Redknapp, Ruud Gullit and Graeme Souness to bring a genuinely tense, emotional, first-hand insight into the theatre of the 12 yard stand-off.

Fully kitted out: John Terry wore his Chelsea strip to collect the cup despite being suspended from the game

Fully kitted out: John Terry wore his Chelsea strip to collect the cup despite being suspended from the game

Gullit admitted with a nervous laugh that he couldn’t stand ‘the walk from midfield to the penalty spot’, but added that when you get there ‘you must smash it as hard as you can’.

Souness then recalled that in his own Liverpool European shoot out experience, ‘(as) I put the ball down to take my penalty, I felt this is not a problem. Whether I was kidding myself..’

While Redknapp was analysing the players on the field and spotted an ailing Schweinsteiger: ‘(He’s) gone down with cramp. I’m sure he’ll want to take one (but) running up, I know it’s like a three or four yard run, but it’ll feel like a marathon’.

Heartbreak: Bastian Schweinsteiger is consoled after the game

Heartbreak: Bastian Schweinsteiger is consoled after the game

A ‘marathon’ in which, we soon discovered, the unfortunate German would fail to cross the finishing line.

From that point, both channels could of course share a fabulous kaleidoscope of images that ran through the full marathon of emotions: There was Schweinsteiger on his knees, head hidden in his shirt and buried in the grass.

Chelsea’s old guard of Lampard, Drogba and John Terry in an emotional hug (when I was a kid, I used to wear my kit under my clothes to go and watch football, too, JT).

Riding high: David Luiz and Fernando Torres celebrate on the crossbar of the goal

Riding high: David Luiz and Fernando Torres celebrate on the crossbar of the goal

Roman Abromovitch texting (‘on to Drogba’s agent’, quipped Neville).

Ivanovic riding the crossbar like it was a bucking bronco.

Ashley Cole, lip trembling, asserting ‘THIS is the reason I come here’;

Boswinga’s mambo through a Blue-shirted guard of honour; and Roberto Di Mateo lifted aloft by his players to hold the trophy even higher.

OK, so that little lot may not be a dancing dog, but it wasn’t half bad.


Tuesday morning on BBC News, and Dickie Bird was at the Palace picking up a much deserved OBE and apparently explaining the LBW law to Prince Charles in the process…

Wednesday on ITV’s London Tonight, and Perri Shakes-Drayton not only helped Will Smith improve his hurdling technique, she also delivered a pretty decent rendition of the ‘Fresh Prince Of Bel Air’ theme…

Friday on Sky Sports from Lord’s and Bumble – stylish new hairdo on show – explained to Nick Knight how he knew fans had been queuing outside HQ since 4.30 am: ‘I’m always up once or twice in the night – it’s me age’…

Andy Murray beats Alejandro Falla in Miami

Murray the Master in Miami as British No 1 dumps Falla to reach round three



16:59 GMT, 23 March 2012

Andy Murray bounced back from his Indian Wells disappointment with a comfortable straight-sets victory against Alejandro Falla in the second round of the Miami Masters.

The world No 4, who had a first-round bye, forced five breaks of serve against the left-handed Colombian and eased to a 6-2, 6-3 win in one hour and 16 minutes.

A victory at this event was long overdue for Murray after he suffered straight-sets losses at the first hurdle against Mardy Fish in 2010 and the unheralded Alex Bogomolov Jr last year.

Marching on: Andy Murray was too good for Alejandro Fella

Marching on: Andy Murray was too good for Alejandro Fella

And his mindset coming into the tournament would not have been helped by his surprise second-round defeat by Guillermo Garcia-Lopez at Indian Wells on March 11.

However, the presence of coach Ivan Lendl this week has boosted the Scot following his Indian Wells exit, and the 24-year-old was quickly into his stride against the world No 71.

After holding his opening service game Murray forced an instant break of serve to take a 2-0 lead.

Brushed aside: Falla could not cope with Murray

Brushed aside: Falla could not cope with Murray

Although Falla hit back in the next, getting back on serve with a break of his own, his respite was brief as Murray broke again to move ahead 4-2 before a third break wrapped up the opening set.

Murray continued to look in good touch at the start of the second set, moving a break up early on to establish a 3-0 lead.

However, as before Falla found a way to get back on level terms as he broke the Scot for a second time to trail 3-4.

Again, though, Murray's response was swift and decisive, breaking to love in the next to leave himself serving for the match, which duly did to set up a third-round clash against either Canadian 26th-seed Milos Raonic or French qualifier Arnaud Clement.

Lionel Messi, genius: Football world pays tribute

The genius of Messi! World of football pays tribute to Barcelona's 'Perfect 10'



23:12 GMT, 8 March 2012

Lionel Messi's phenomenal goalscoring had already put him among the game’s greats at the age of just 24. Then he became the first player to score five goals in a Champions League game as Bayer Leverkusen were humbled 7-1 on Wednesday night, taking his club tally to 228.

Despite Messi’s youth, that is just seven short of equalling the Barcelona scoring record and on Thursday it prompted the sport’s biggest names to claim he is now in a league of his own.

These experts – and statistics – explain why Magical Messi might just be better than Pele and Maradona….

Perfect 10: Lionel Messi became the first player to score five in a Champions League game

Perfect 10: Lionel Messi became the first player to score five in a Champions League game

Even they can't help it: Real Madrid supporting newspaper Marca heaped praise on their rivals' star man

Even they can't help it: Real Madrid supporting newspaper Marca heaped praise on their rivals' star man

Pep Guardiola, Barcelona coach

‘There is no other like him. The numbers speak for themselves. One day he’ll score six. We’ll never see a player like him again. We just try to make sure he gets the ball. After that our task is done. The throne belongs to him and only he will decide when he wants to relinquish it.’

Marca, Spanish newspaper supportive of Barcelona’s bitter rivals Real Madrid

‘The Little Hand of God.’

Eric Cantona, Manchester United legend

‘Messi is an exceptional player. When you watch him it is as if he has this child inside him and he is making some childhood dream come true. He doesn’t see himself as a star. This is a great player not only for today but for tomorrow.’

Gary Lineker, former Barcelona striker

‘The fella’s a genius! Best ever by a distance in my lifetime. Souness, Gullit, Venables and now Rooney agree Messi is the best they have seen. He plays a game with which we are not familiar.’

Five star: Messi has scored twice as many goals in Europe this season as his nearest rival

Five star: Messi has scored twice as many goals in Europe this season as his nearest rival

Wayne Rooney, Manchester United striker

‘Messi is a joke – for me the best ever.’

Alan Smith, former Arsenal striker

‘I had the pleasure of once sharing a pitch with Diego Maradona. Up until now, he is the best player I had ever seen. Yet Messi takes things further. The best ever.’

Demba Ba, Newcastle United striker

‘Is Messi a human being’


Messi has scored 97 goals in his last 100 competitive fixtures for Barcelona

This is the third season in a row that Messi has reached the 40-goal mark

Messi has won World Player of the Year in the previous three seasons

Messi has provided 77 assists in 265 La Liga and Champions League games for Barca

Messi has won every trophy possible at Barcelona, 18 in total, including three Champions Leagues and five La Liga titles

Messi’s Champions League goal tally of 12 this season is double that of his nearest rival

Franz Beckenbauer, German legend

‘Messi is a genius. On the one hand, he is very skilful and intelligent, with a left foot like Diego Maradona. On the other hand, he has some of the things of Bobby Charlton, in the sense that he is a real gentleman.’

Radamel Falcao, Atletico Madrid striker

‘Was that a (Champions League) game or a game of PlayStation for Messi Untouchable! If he scores six goals, does he get to take home two balls’

Xavi, Barcelona midfielder

‘Messi’s the best player in the world, and when his career ends, he’ll be the best in history. It is crazy what this guy does. No other player decides a game like him. If he doesn’t score, he is there to give the assist. He is a wonder. He’ll break all records and we should enjoy him.’

Honour: Xavi revealed his pride at being able to play on the same team as Messi

Honour: Xavi revealed his pride at being able to play on the same team as Messi

Terry McDermott, Liverpool legend

‘Messi is the best ever. I played in the great Liverpool team of the late 70s and early 80s that ruled Europe but I must say I think this Barcelona team would batter us.’

Robin Dutt, Bayer Leverkusen coach

‘There are really no words to describe his way of playing. His class is just extraordinary, there’s no discussion. Without Messi, Barca are the best team and with him they are in another galaxy.’

Nigel Doughty: Nottingham Forest chairman will be sorely missed

Doughty was Forest chairman, supporter, true Red and will be sorely missed

It would be remiss not to begin this week's Midlander without reference to the tragic news that broke on Saturday afternoon about Nigel Doughty.

It would be apt at this point if I could pay tribute to him as a person, a fella that I knew well.

But that wasn't the case. He did not need a profile. He did not want to interact with the media.

True fan: Doughty made huge efforts to make sure he watched every match

True fan: Doughty made huge efforts to make sure he watched every match

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I have had an outstanding request to speak with him for the past decade. There was never any chance whatsoever that it would be granted.

He only ever did one interview per season – on the phone – with the Nottingham Evening Post.

So what I'm about to say is taken from third parties who did deal with him on a regular basis. The media guys at Forest and Mark Arthur.

I certainly can recall several conversations with the chief executive which ended: 'That's not Nigel's style.'

What then was his style

According to the guys in the media who had to connect him up to the internet wherever he was in the world to watch Forest play, he was a fanatic.

I hope I'm not speaking out of turn, but Forest 'webmaster' Geoff Peabody told me on numerous occasions how difficult he found it sometimes to hook the chairman up to the 'net while he was on a yacht somewhere.

I'm sure one of those occasions was the Derby fixture – a lunchtime kick-off a couple of years ago when the late chairman was on holiday in the Caribbean and had to get up at 6am to get his Forest 'fix.'

No matter where he was, the owner would move heaven and earth to see his team.

There was a moving tribute to him paid by Alastair Campbell, about how proud this self-made man was to show off the replica European Cup in Forest's boardroom.

About how once he had pulled off a deal which netted him a cool 300m profit six years ago, he decided to pump yet more cash into his club.

He really didn't have to. He surely must have known by then what he had let himself in for. But no. He kept pumping in the cash, desperate to bankroll Forest's return.

I thought that David Pleat hit the right note.

'He was a thoroughly decent man,' he said. 'He had a passion for the club. He was generous and kind.

Tribute: Forest fans paid tribute to their former owner

Tribute: Forest fans paid tribute to their former owner

Tribute: Forest fans paid tribute to their former owner

'I have met many people in football and Nigel, for all his wealth, had real humility. I never saw him angry. And if he lost a football match, he did so with dignity.

'He loved Forest. It was his pride. He was determined to get the club back to the promised land.'

No matter what gripe anyone had with his leadership the fact that he lost with dignity and loved his football club will reach out to every single football supporter out there – not just Reds' fans.

So, to my mind it would be fitting if the club marked his contribution by naming a part of the ground or the Academy after him. I believe he paid off the outstanding debt on the Trent End, for instance.

At its' most basic level, Nigel Doughty's financial input was almost incidental.

He was part of the very fabric of Nottingham Forest. He was a supporter long before he made his money.

And, like any fan, it was part of him too. And, irrespective of his legacy, in the first instance his passing should be treated as such.

Nigel Doughty was a true Red.

What's in a late goal

Joy if you have just scored it, obviously. And frustration if you are on the receiving end.

The psychologists would have a field day explaining why it is that some teams manage to force the issue while others have it forced upon them.

And so we turn to two Midlands' teams this week for whom scoring and conceding goals late on seems to be more than just co-incidence.

For instance, at St Andrew's Chris Hughton's team have now found the net on a staggering 20 occasions when the game has been going into its' final last ten minutes.

Over 30 per cent of their total tally of 63 so far this season have been netted in that time. On countless occasions this season it has added one point, or maybe two, as it did against Portsmouth in midweek.

Flying high: City are right in the hunt for a promotion spot

Flying high: City are right in the hunt for a promotion spot

While at the Ricoh Arena, the opposite is the case.

Coventry City would be sitting in a far healthier position were it not for their repeated late collapses.

Twenty points have been tossed away – on occasion in the most ridiculous of circumstances.

Notwithstanding the almost farcical effort at Selhurst Park earlier this season (letting in two during injury time) they then show they have learned no lesson at all by falling to defeat at Bloomfield Road in pretty similar fashion.

Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse, Ipswich Town show that it is no fluke and take home the points with yet another late goal.

I know Andy Thorn has his issues but these late aberrations are costing his team hugely.

It's horribly demoralising for everyone concerned. But it's got to be pointed out and hopefully an issue made out of it for discussion because it's costing the Sky Blues hugely.

Snow joke: Coventry's late showing have seriously hampered their progress

Snow joke: Coventry's late showing have seriously hampered their progress

Finally, those who think Randy Lerner is just a figurehead at Aston Villa…read on.

The record-breaking shirt deal, signed with Macron this week, carried the proviso that Villa should be responsible for the distribution.

Lerner has decreed that this should be done by the club, enabling it to find out who and where its' supporters are.

It will be a labour-intensive process for merchandising boss John Greenfield and his team but the club will benefit from it in terms of its' marketing reach, hopefully boosting income streams.

He might have struggled with money going out, but it seems he is not so green when it comes to money coming in.