Tag Archives: flight

Swansea 0 Southampton 0 match report: With nothing to play for Swans and Saints play out draw

Swansea 0 Southampton 0: With nothing to play for Swans and Saints play out draw

PUBLISHED:

15:52 GMT, 20 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

17:08 GMT, 20 April 2013

Southampton edged closer to Premier League survival as they ground out a goalless draw in a lacklustre encounter at Swansea.

The Saints may feel aggrieved they did not leave south Wales with all three points after Adam Lallana had an effort ruled out for handball after an error by Michel Vorm just before half-time.

Nathan Dyer went closest for the hosts as Maya Yoshida cleared his effort off the line, but in truth neither side showed sufficient quality in the final third to craft a winner in what was, for large parts, a tepid game.

Chalked off: Adam Lallana (right) sees his goal disallowed for a foul on Swansea goalkeeper Michel Vorm

Chalked off: Adam Lallana (right) sees his goal disallowed for a foul on Swansea goalkeeper Michel Vorm

MATCH FACTS

Swansea: Vorm, Rangel, Chico, Williams, Davies, Britton, de Guzman, Hernandez (Ki 61), Michu, Dyer, Moore (Routledge 46).

Subs Not Used: Tremmel, Taylor, Monk, Shechter, Tiendalli.

Southampton: Boruc, Clyne, Yoshida, Hooiveld, Fox, Schneiderlin, Cork, Steven Davis, Lallana (Puncheon 77), Rodriguez (Mayuka 88), Lambert (Ramirez 63).

Subs Not Used: Kelvin Davis, Fonte, Ward-Prowse, Shaw.

Att: 20,561

Ref: Mark Halsey (Lancashire).

Latest Premier League table and results

Not that Southampton will mind too much.

Mauricio Pochettino's side are now eight points clear of the drop zone, and are well-placed to secure survival having been written off in some quarters at the start of the season.

Swansea can also look forward to another top-flight season, but Michael Laudrup will be concerned that their campaign is tailing off as they equalled their previous longest winless run in the Premier League of five games.

Swansea had made a promising start, with their movement causing the visitors problems without creating any clear-cut opportunities.

The best early chance fell to Jonathan de Guzman. Pablo Hernandez's pull-back fell behind Michu to the Dutch international, but several Southampton defenders were out quickly to block.

Doing the splits: Swansea's Chico Flores (right) tackles Southampton captain Lallana

Doing the splits: Swansea's Chico Flores (right) tackles Southampton captain Lallana

Racing away: Nathaniel Clyne takes on Swansea full back Ben Davies

Racing away: Nathaniel Clyne takes on Swansea full back Ben Davies

Luke Moore then narrowly failed to get on the end of Dyer's cross as Saints struggled for a foothold in the early going.

But Pochettino's men grew into the game, with the industrious Jack Cork forcing Vorm into the game's first save with a hopeful effort from the edge of the box.

Vorm made an excellent stop to deny Jay Rodriguez after 25 minutes, getting down low to hold the volley after Rickie Lambert had teed up his colleague.

I'll have that: Southampton goalkeeper Artur Boruc (centre) claims the ball ahead of Luke Moore

I'll have that: Southampton goalkeeper Artur Boruc (centre) claims the ball ahead of Luke Moore

Vorm continued to be the busier
goalkeeper and had to be at full stretch to deny Lambert his 15th goal
of the season, the Dutchman tipping over a free-kick that was arrowing
into the top corner.

But the keeper blotted his copybook
seconds later, failing to hold a simple Rodriguez cross for Lallana to
bundle in, only for the whistle to go for handball against the Saints
midfielder.

Laudrup removed Moore at the break and introduced Wayne Routledge in a bid to find some inspiration.

Why Lallana asks the linesman why his goal was disallowed

Why Lallana asks the linesman why his goal was disallowed

PREMIER LEAGUE – AS IT STANDS

PREMIER LEAGUE TABLE

The change almost paid dividends just two
minutes after the resumption, but Michu could not keep his header down
from the winger's cross.

Hernandez engineered another promising situation on the hour as he skipped past Nathaniel Clyne and put a teasing ball across the six-yard box, but there were no white shirts lurking to tap in.

Swansea went closer still six minutes later.

Lallana let the ball run loose inside his own area and Michu pounced to set up Dyer, but Yoshida got himself in the right place to clear off the line.

Southampton dropped ever deeper and packed midfield as the pressure increased and Daniel Fox survived an ambitious handball appeal as he blocked substitute Ki Sung-yueng's volley.

Artur Boruc then made two excellent saves as he denied De Guzman and Dyer when the pair were in on goal.

And with time running out the visitors almost snatched a winner.

Ki was muscled off the ball by Steven Davis, but Vorm sharply held Emmanuel Mayuka's effort.

Well defended: Flores steers Jay Rodriguez away from danger

Well defended: Flores steers Jay Rodriguez away from danger

Tricky: Former Southampton trainee Nathan Dyer (left) cuts inside of Steven Davis

Tricky: Former Southampton trainee Nathan Dyer (left) cuts inside of Steven Davis

BT complain after SKY refuse to show adverts for new sport channel

Sky are a rottweiler and we are a newborn puppy! BT complain after rivals refuse to air their ads for new sport channel

By
David Kent

PUBLISHED:

11:48 GMT, 8 April 2013

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UPDATED:

16:29 GMT, 8 April 2013

With all eyes on the Manchester derby a brand new Premier League rivalry is kicking off behind the scenes between rival networks Sky Sports and BT.

BT bosses have accused BSkyB of being a like a ‘rottweiler running away from a newborn puppy’ after the long-standing network refused to air BT’s new advertising campaign.

The adverts are for BT’s new multi-million-pound network to promote its coverage of the Premier League and other sports beginning in the summer.

Sky Sports

BT Sport

Rivalry: Sky refusing to show BT Sports' advert is like a 'rottweiler running away from a newborn puppy'

Signed up: Gareth Bale will be a pundit for BT once they get underway next season

Signed up: Gareth Bale will be a pundit for BT once they get underway next season

Jeff Stelling

Jake Humphrey

Famous faces: Jake Humphrey (right) will be presenting BT's content, rivaling the likes of Jeff Stelling (left)

BT have now lodged an official complaint with regulators Ofcom claiming that BSkyB have shown ‘undue discrimination’ against them by refusing to run the campaign of adverts.

John Petter, managing director of consumer for BT Retail, told the Guardian: ‘We are happy to take Sky’s advertising but they seem afraid of taking ours. It’s like a rottweiler running away from a newborn puppy.’

Host: BT will be home to some of the biggest games in the Premier League

Host: BT will be home to some of the biggest games in the Premier League

BT spent 738million to take 38 top-flight games next season after the channel launches in July and will also air Premiership Rugby and European Rugby.

But a key part of their strategy of growth is to raise awareness of their new channel by advertising on Sky Sports channels.

The broadcast code states that 'a radio broadcaster must not unduly discriminate between advertisers that seek to have any commercial communication included in its licensed service.'

COMPLAINT FROM BT AGAINST SKY

Ofcom has opened an investigation following a complaint from BT against Sky under Ofcom’s Code on the Prevention of Undue Discrimination between Broadcast Advertisers (“the Code”). Rule 4.1 of the Code states:

'A television broadcaster must not unduly discriminate between advertisers that seek to have advertising included in its licensed service.'

Under section 319 of the Communications Act 2003 ('the Act'), Ofcom has a duty to set standards for the content of programmes to be included in television and radio services, in one or more codes.

Under section 319(2)(k) of the Act, one of the standards objectives Ofcom must secure through such codes is that 'there is no undue discrimination between advertisers who seek to have advertisements included in television and radio services'.

Neil Warnock won"t be missed by referees – GRAHAM POLL

Bully Warnock behaved like a spoilt kid in a supermarket… I'm glad he's gone

By
Graham Poll

PUBLISHED:

21:41 GMT, 4 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

22:00 GMT, 4 April 2013

Top-flight referees up and down the country will be breathing a sigh of relief at the prospect of Neil Warnock delivering on his threat to retire from management.

Warnock has been the bane of referees’ lives; almost imploding on the touchline when a throw-in went against his team and never failing to blame the official whenever his team lost.

He used to try to justify these attacks by claiming he was a qualified referee. Well, taking the exam is one thing but unless you are officiating matches regularly, you are not a referee.

Firebrand: Neil Warnock (right) protests his dismissal to Graham Poll (centre) in 2006

Firebrand: Neil Warnock (right) protests his dismissal to Graham Poll (centre) in 2006

Firebrand: Neil Warnock (right) protests his dismissal to Graham Poll (centre) in 2006

Bully: Sportsmail's Poll beileves Warnock at times behaved like a spoilt child

Bully: Sportsmail's Poll beileves Warnock at times behaved like a spoilt child

Of course, Warnock and I have
history. He was the manager at Old Trafford when his Sheffield United
side lost 1-0 to Arsenal in an FA Cup semi-final in April 2003.

According to Warnock, that defeat was
my fault, of course. I was also the referee who dismissed Warnock at
Bramall Lane in 2006 when the Blades were playing Leeds United.

Warnock should have been celebrating
his team winning promotion, which would allow him his first opportunity
to try his methods at the top level; where, of course, he has never
succeeded.

Instead, after a tackle from a Leeds
player, I heard him shout out to one of his team: ‘Next time break his
legs,’ referring to Gary Kelly.

I asked him to leave the technical
area, and he was suspended from the touchline for three games, two of
which would be his first in the Barclays Premier League.

Regular: Warnock would remonstrate with officials when things went against him. Here, as QPR manager during their match against Middlesbrough in 2010

Regular: Warnock would remonstrate with officials when things went against him. Here, as QPR manager during their match against Middlesbrough in 2010

Seriously An as Sheffield United manager after a match against Reading in 2005

Seriously An as Sheffield United manager after a match against Reading in 2005

A friend of mine is a Leeds fan and
went up to Elland Road for the game against Millwall. He and his son
could only laugh at Warnock’s antics that day.

And this is the point.
Warnock became a pitied parody of his former self — referees appeared to
allow his tantrums to go unchecked as they became less and less
effective.

The once-feared bully, who
successfully led teams to play-off glories, had become more like a badly
behaved child in a supermarket. Observers walked past shaking their
heads in disbelief at the sad spectacle.

It has become patently clear in his
later career that the aggressive and outdated approach to management
simply didn’t work in the top flight. Indeed, his powers seem to have
been on the wane for some time, with Leeds’ mid-table position only
serving to disguise the precarious position of the club from which he
has walked away.

Spoilt: Poll is glad Warnock's antics will not be a part of the game any longer

Spoilt: Poll is glad Warnock's antics will not be a part of the game any longer

Referees, fans and — most importantly — footballers just didn’t react in the same way to his smart-alec persona.

Back in April 2003 after that
semi-final defeat, Warnock came into my dressing room to have his
customary complaint; he came into referees’ rooms after virtually every
game.

He ended his tirade by stating to
fourth official Alan Wiley and me that he looked forward to retirement
as he would no longer have to put up with officials like us.

The feeling was mutual, but both of
us retired well before our sell-by date expired. I wonder if, when
reflecting on what has been a successful managerial career, Warnock will
be able to say the same.

Wilfried Bony West Ham transfer a possibility

West Ham move is a possibility, admits 12m-rated Ivorian striker Bony

By
Andy James

PUBLISHED:

07:05 GMT, 3 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

07:05 GMT, 3 April 2013


Prolific: Bony has scored 27 league goals this season

Prolific: Bony has scored 27 league goals this season

West Ham target Wilfried Bony has admitted that a summer move to Upton Park is 'a possibility'.

The 12million-rated Ivory Coast striker has scored 27 goals in just 25 games in the Dutch top flight for Vitesse Arnhem this season.

Bony's goalscoring exploits have attracted admiring glances from across Europe, and he has admitted that a move to the Premier League appeals to him.

‘If I go to England, that would be perfect because of the competition, atmosphere, though Germany and France also appeal,’ he told Metro.

International: Bony has netted six goals in 18 games for Ivory Coast

International: Bony has netted six goals in 18 games for Ivory Coast

When asked about West Ham's well-documented interest, Bony added: ‘I know only by hearsay, nothing is concrete, but [a move there] is certainly a possibility.’

Bony made his name playing for Sparta Prague before moving to Holland in January 2011.

Montrose 0 Rangers 0 – match report: Ally McCoist"s men crowned Irn-Bru Scottish Third Division champions

Montrose 0 Rangers 0: McCoist's men crowned champions despite goalless draw

By
Lisa Gray, Press Association

PUBLISHED:

15:22 GMT, 30 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

02:00 GMT, 31 March 2013

Rangers clinched the Irn-Bru Third Division title on Saturday to complete stage one of their journey back to the top of Scottish Football.

The Light Blues were held to a goalless draw at Montrose in a noon kick-off but were confirmed as champions three hours later when a Stuart Leslie penalty secured victory for Elgin over Queen's Park.

The result at Hampden means nearest rivals Queen's cannot catch the Ibrox outfit in the title race, as Ally McCoist secured his first piece of silverware as Rangers manager.

Get the party started: Rangers players pose after winning the Third Division

Get the party started: Rangers players pose after winning the Third Division

Goaless: Rangers' Kane Hemmings tussles for the ball with Cammy MacDonald

Goaless: Rangers' Kane Hemmings tussles for the ball with Cammy MacDonald

His side have looked unconvincing at
times this term but have done enough to force themselves over the
finishing line with several games to spare, following their demotion to
the bottom tier of Scottish football after being consigned to
liquidation in the summer and losing their top-flight status.

Rangers made two changes following last week's drab stalemate against Stirling at Ibrox for the clash at Montrose.

David Templeton and Ian Black returned
from injury and suspension respectively to start, with Barrie McKay and
Fraser Aird dropping to the bench.

Rangers were handed a tough match the last time they visited Links Park in December, leaving with a hard-fought 4-2 win.

Chalked off: Montrose's Martin Boyle has finds the net only to have his goal ruled out

Chalked off: Montrose's Martin Boyle finds the net only to have his goal ruled out

This time around, they started sharply
with efforts from Robbie Crawford and Lee McCulloch blocked in quick
succession, before Kyle Hutton eventually rifled wide.

Templeton tested the goalkeeper when
he collected a Kane Hemmings header before unleashing an impressive half
volley that stung the palms of John Gibson.

The winger was threatening again when
he cut inside from the left before having another crack at goal but
Stephen McNally blocked for a corner.

Templeton then turned provider for Lee
Wallace and his effort was touched onto the bar by the keeper, as
Rangers kept up the pressure.

At the other end, a Paul Watson strike from distance took a massive deflection and spun just past the upright.

Champions elect Ally McCoist side could still become champions if Queens Park slip up against Elgin City

A matter of time: Ally McCoist side could still become champions if Queens Park slip up against Elgin City

Bolstered by the chance, the home side carved out another couple of decent opportunities.

David Gray – who has netted home and
away against Gers this season – forced a save from Neil Alexander,
before Alan Campbell glanced a header inches wide.

Montrose should have taken the lead
through Martin Boyle but his back post header was off target when he
should have had the net bulging.

The home side picked up where they
left off in the second half when Gray pounced on a poor clearance from
Emilson Cribari and lashed narrowly over the crossbar a minute after the
restart.

Crunch: Ian Black takes a tough challenge from Montrose's Terry Masson

Crunch: Ian Black takes a tough challenge from Montrose's Terry Masson

Rangers had a good chance of their own when Wallace's cut-back found Hemmings and his shot forced a decent save from Gibson.

Montrose thought they had taken the lead when they had the ball in the net after 65 minutes.

Alexander fumbled an awkward cross
that fell for Terry Masson. His shot was saved but the keeper could not
hold that ball, which was turned into the empty net by Boyle.

But the goal was disallowed by referee Kevin Clancy for a foul on Alexander.

It looked to be a controversial
decision and a let off for Rangers, whose celebrations came later in the
day as they made the trip back to Ibrox and took a major step in their
road to recovery.

Mark Halsey referee Callum McManaman tackle Massadio Haidara pulled from Premier League

Ref Halsey DROPPED to League One after Haidara horror tackle at Wigan

By
David Kent

PUBLISHED:

01:43 GMT, 26 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

07:59 GMT, 26 March 2013

Mark Halsey, the official who did not send off Callum McManaman for his high tackle on Massadio Haidara, has not been given a Barclays Premier League game to referee this weekend.

Halsey did not issue a red card to Wigan striker McManaman during his side's 2-1 win over Newcastle on March 17 because, he said later, his view of the challenge on Haidara was blocked.

Shocker: Halsey failed to punish Wigan's Callum McManaman for this 'challenge' on Massadio Haidara

Shocker: Halsey failed to punish Wigan's Callum McManaman for this 'challenge' on Massadio Haidara

Dropped: Halsey will take charge of Friday's League One clash between Coventry and Doncaster

Dropped: Halsey will take charge of Friday's League One clash between Coventry and Doncaster

Because of the international break, this weekend will be the first round of Premier League fixtures since the incident, and Halsey's only top-flight outing will be as the fourth official for Reading's trip to Arsenal.

McManaman's tackle was greeted with outrage, but could not be punished in retrospect by the Football Association because one of Halsey's two assistants saw the incident, provoking a debate about the merits of disciplinary system.

Halsey will referee Friday's npower League One game between Coventry and Doncaster.

Wilfried Bony chased by West Ham, Fulham, Stoke and Everton

Trio of Premier League sides join West Ham in race for 12m-rated Ivorian hitman Bony

By
Andy James

PUBLISHED:

23:00 GMT, 24 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

13:20 GMT, 25 March 2013

Premier League clubs are bettling each other race to sign scoring sensation Wilfried Bony, who is pushing for a move to the English top flight next season.

The Ivory Coast striker, rated at around 12million, has been in prolific from for Vitesse Arnhem this season and is the top scorer in Holland with 26 goals in 24 league games.

His contract runs until 2015 but Sportsmail understands his agent is in talks with at least four Premier League clubs — West Ham, Fulham, Stoke and Everton — and hopes to complete a deal by the end of the week.

Strike rate: Bony (right), seen here in action for Ivory Coast, has scored 26 goals in 24 games this term

Strike rate: Bony (right), seen here in action for Ivory Coast, has scored 26 goals in 24 games this term

Eredivisie: Top 5

The 24-year-old tried to leave Vitesse
in January, but the club held firm and insisted he continued to help
the club push for a Champions League spot for next season.

Since his 4million move from Sparta
Prague at the beginning of 2011, Bony has scored 46 times in 63
appearances for Vitesse — including an amazing recent run which has seen
him net 10 goals in his last six games.

Were West Ham to land him for around
12m it would smash their previous transfer record of buying Matt Jarvis
from Wolves for 10.75m.

Bony learned the game by playing
street football called ‘Maracana’, competing in city competitions before
spending three years at the Cyrille Domoraud football Academy located
in the city of Bingerville, in south-east Ivory Coast.

Options: Sam Allardyce will be looking for more firepower, with his side netting just 32 goals this season

Options: Sam Allardyce will be looking for more firepower, with his side netting just 32 goals this season

Rickie Lambert agrees new deal with Southampton until 2016

Lambert 'over the moon' after agreeing new two-year deal with Southampton

By
Simon Peach, Press Association

PUBLISHED:

18:40 GMT, 21 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

23:47 GMT, 21 March 2013

Southampton striker Rickie Lambert has extended his stay at the club until 2016.

The 31-year-old has established himself as a firm fans' favourite at St Mary's since joining from Bristol Rovers in August 2009.

Lambert has scored 101 goals for Southampton and his 13-goal haul this season makes him the top English scorer in the Barclays Premier League.

Delight: Rickie Lambert was 'over the moon' to agree a fresh deal with Southampton

Delight: Rickie Lambert was 'over the moon' to agree a fresh deal with Southampton

The striker's contract had been due to expire at the end of next season but has now been extended by a further two years.

'I'm over the moon to sign with Southampton for another three years,' Lambert told the club's official website.

'I am already enjoying myself massively at this club and the aim now is to stay on for another three years and help push the club on further than where it already is.

'There is a lot of ambition in this club for the next few years and that is one of the main reasons that I have signed the contract – and that is why I want to end my career here.

'The core of players who have been together for two or three years are going to be here for another three or four years and that is a really good feeling.

'We all have the same ambition and [executive chairman] Nicola Cortese's ambition for this club drives us all on as well, so it really helps the club with where we are now and it will help with where we want to go.'

Lambert's contract extension follows recent new deals handed to Morgan Schneiderlin, Jason Puncheon and Kelvin Davis – others to have played a key part in Southampton's rise from npower League One to the top flight.

'Rickie Lambert is a very special player for Southampton Football Club,' Saints manager Mauricio Pochettino said.

Goal scorer: Lambert's strike against Liverpool on Saturday was his 13th in the Premier League this season

Goal scorer: Lambert's strike against Liverpool on Saturday was his 13th in the Premier League this season

Lambert

He added: 'To have scored over 100 goals is a remarkable achievement, and one which he has made possible thanks to hard work and dedication.

'In my time at the club I have been impressed by his mentality and commitment to improving himself in training – attributes that have allowed him to adapt to the Premier League so well.

'I am delighted that Rickie has committed himself to the club for a further three years, and have no doubts that he will continue to deliver for Southampton as we look to push on to the next level.'

The Footballers" Football Column – Luther Blissett: Gianfranco Zola has established Watford as a force really quickly

LUTHER BLISSETT: People say Watford have exploited a loan 'loophole' but Zola has established us as a force really quickly

PUBLISHED:

10:56 GMT, 13 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

18:15 GMT, 13 March 2013

Luther Blissett

Luther Blissett played more than 500 games for Watford and helped them to promotion from the fourth division to the top flight between 1975 and 1982. He won 14 caps for England, scoring a hat-trick on his debut at Wembley. Blissett also had a spell in Italy at AC Milan before playing for Harry Redknapp at Bournemouth and short loan at Ossie Ardiles’ West Brom in the early 1990s. In his debut Footballers’ Football Column he looks at Watford’s promotion challenge, defends the club's controversial loan signings and looks at racism in the game….

Footballers Football Column with Luther Blissett

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I’m very pleased to see Watford challenging at the top of the Championship. For all the years I have been associated with them, they have been successful club. Either challenging for promotion or the top spot, so it is great to see Gianfranco Zola’s side continue that tradition.

When they whole takeover by the Pozzo family came about, there were people who were worried that their Watford was going to drastically change.

And yes, there have been changes, but there is a long-term plan and the success we are having this season so far has been welcomed by everybody. It has opened a few people’s eyes and even the sceptics have come round to thinking, ‘Wow this is amazing.’

On the up: Marco Cassetti and Almen Abdi have helped Watford become promotion challengers

On the up: Marco Cassetti and Almen Abdi have helped Watford become promotion challengers

Loan star: Ikechi Anya is one of the players on loan from Grenada who have helped Watford into third

Loan star: Ikechi Anya is one of the players on loan from Grenada who have helped Watford into third

Hornets are buzzing: Matej Vydra's 20 league goals have been crucial for Watford

Hornets are buzzing: Matej Vydra's 20 league goals have been crucial for Watford

It has been great for the town and everybody connected with the club and hopefully they can carry on and see the job all the way through to the Premier League.

There has been a lot of talk about the way the club have operated in the transfer market and particularly the loan signings from Serie A side Udinese and Spanish club Granada who are also owned by the Pozzo family.

But the talk has only really come about in the last month or so since we played Crystal Palace and Ian Holloway spoke about it. But we are two-thirds of the way through the season and they have been here since the start, so why is it only an issue now

Giampaolo Pozzo

Gianfranco Zola

Working together: Watford owner Giampaolo Pozzo and manager Gianfranco Zola are aiming for promotion

More from The Footballers' Column…

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Curtis Davies – The Footballers' Football Column: I knew I'd score against Blackpool, I always get goals when I play the B-teams
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The Footballers' Football Column – Mark McChrystal: I haven't given up hope of winning my first full cap… And don't judge James McClean unless you know him or understand Northern Ireland
05/03/13

Ruud Gullit – The Footballers' Football Column: German teams are doing better in Champions League because they have homegrown players… English clubs have too many overpaid foreigners
02/03/13

The Footballers' Football Column – Brian Clark: Newcastle's 28m super scout on discovering the Ameobi brothers… oh and a chubby lad called Gascoigne
28/02/13

The Footballer's Football Column – Carolyn Radford: Life in non-League It's all fast cars and 70-year-old club secretaries
25/02/13

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VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

The opportunity was there for Watford to sign these players on loan, the rules allowed the club to do it. People are calling it a loophole now because Watford, in their eyes, have benefited from it, but the interpretation of the rules is the most important thing and the owners have looked at it and thought that this would be a good way of establishing Watford as a real force in this division really quickly.

When the takeover happened and the links with the two clubs were made clear, it as one of the fears among the fans that we would not see any of our own players and the club would lose its identity, but the blend has been very good between the home-grown players and the loan players.

You have the skills and the technique of the players who have come in and then you have the understanding of what the Championship is all about, plus their own ability from the home-grown players, so it has been very good.

It is a case of now trying to carry that on into the Premier League, if we get there, then trying to build on that and be able to hold our own in that league and become an established Premier League team.

I believe we can win promotion and I have felt that way since around October time. Our away form has been phenomenal, so if we can get our home form to match that then I think we have a very good chance.

Gianfranco Zola has done a great job. I speak to fans at game and they are blown away by the style of football we are playing at the moment.

The football they are producing and the quality of players we have at the club has really struck a note with the supporters and you just hope that it is the start of something big.

If Watford are promoted, it will be interesting to see if we will be playing against QPR and my old manager Harry Redknapp. QPR’s win over Southampton a few weeks ago was massive, not just for the points but for the belief it has giving them, they will now be thinking, ‘We can do this’.

They still have an awful lot to do and they still are relying on other teams dropping points, but the belief is there.

I played under Harry at Bournemouth at the beginning of his managerial career and I don’t think he has changed in that time.

The thing that struck me about him when I played under him is that he is very good man manager.

He does not take the training sessions. He is like a chef, a chef will get all the right ingredients to make a dish work, Harry is the same, he is very good at getting the right players together and then the coaches put the finishing touches in place.

Starting out: Luther Blissett played under Harry Redknapp at Bournemouth

Starting out: Luther Blissett played under Harry Redknapp at Bournemouth

Still the same: Blissett says Redknapp has not changed during all his years in management

Still the same: Blissett says Redknapp has not changed during all his years in management

But Harry makes sure all the right pieces are there and guide them in the right direction.
That is Harry’s biggest strength, being able to spot the pieces of the puzzle and put them together.

Talking of managers, I was very pleased to see the appointments of two managers last month, Paul Ince at Blackpool and Chris Kiwomya at Notts County. It is a step, only a small step, in the right direction for black managers in this county.

When I think back to when I started playing at the end of the 1970s, I knew wanted to be a manager, so I took my first coaching badges at 17 to give myself the best possible chance to be a manager when I finished playing.

I always believe a job should be given to someone based on their ability, not the colour of their skin or who you know someone who knows someone. Football has been like that for too long and too many managers have got jobs based on that.

Dream debut: Blissett scored a hat-trick for England during the 9-0 win over Luxembourg at Wembley

Dream debut: Blissett scored a hat-trick for England during the 9-0 win over Luxembourg at Wembley

Luther Blisset of Watford

Luther Blissett, AC Milan

Making his way in the game: Blissett made his name at Watford before moving to AC Milan

I have not been a fan of something like the Rooney Rule but if it gets black mangers an interview where in the past they were not getting that opportunity, then it is a step in the right direction. I used to send off applications for jobs and occasionally I would get a letter back saying they are looking for someone more experience.

I used to wonder how much experience the people who were sending letters to me had How many games had they played I have played in different leagues and in different countries and then when someone tells me I don’t have the experience is an insult.

What about the first person who managed a football team, the first person who managed a big business What experience did they have You learn on the job but you have to be given that chance first time by someone.

Chris Kiwomya

Paul Ince

A step forward: Blissett was pleased Chris Kiwomya got the Notts County job and Blackpool appointed Paul Ince

I watch Match of the Day and I hear pundits talk about certain players and say: ‘He’ll make a great manager when he retires’ and I just think ‘Why Because you know him and he played for the same club as you’

That is their premise. How many of those pundits have ever said that about someone like Ince or Sol Campbell You hear them tipping certain players, but it is never a black player.

It is not the pundit being racist or prejudice, it is because it is not in their psyche to see a black manager. It is an unconscious thing. That needs to change.

That said, the problem with racism is better now than when I started playing in the 70s. Racism was a problem then, not just in football but in society, there were TV shows like Love Thy Neighbour in which racism was normal.

Time to move on: Blissett says racism was worse in football and society in the 1970s when shows like Love Thy Neighbour were on television

Time to move on: Blissett says racism was worse in football and society in the 1970s when shows like Love Thy Neighbour were on television

Kevin-Prince Boateng

Kevin Prince Boateng

Doing the right thing: Blissett praised Kevin-Prince Boateng for walking off when he was racially abused

Staying on: Samuel Eto'o was racially abused while playing for Barcelona but was persuaded not to walk off by team-mates and officials

Staying on: Samuel Eto'o was racially abused while playing for Barcelona but was persuaded not to walk off by team-mates and officials

I was abused at every stadium I went to, not just by fans but by opposition players as well. At 17-18 it had an affect on me.

But when I was in Italy at AC Milan it was bad as well, but they are making some progress, after all they were the first players to walk off the pitch.

When
Kevin-Prince Boateng was abused in a friendly game playing for AC Milan
and he booted the ball into the crowd and walked off, I thought it was
brilliant. And what made it better was that all his team-mates went off with him. That was fantastic.

Not dealing with the issues: Blissett would like to see the authorities really clamp down on racism rather then fine players like Nicklas Bendtner for showing a sponsor's name on his pants

Not dealing with the issues: Blissett would like to see the authorities really clamp down on racism rather then fine players like Nicklas Bendtner for showing a sponsor's name on his pants

Years ago Samuel Eto'o was going to do
the same thing when he was playing for Barcelona and he was persuaded by
his team-mates to stay.

PROSTATE CANCER UK

When I was a player at Watford, Graham Taylor created a family club and encouraged us to help in the community.

I
have lost members of my family to cancer. So if I am able to do
anything to help raise money or awareness then I am more than happy to
do so. It is something that everyone will be touched by.

250,000
UK men are currently living with the disease, and every year over
40,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer that is unbelievable.

So
along with Prostate Cancer UK, who are The Football League’s official
charity, we are doing a bike ride from London to Amsterdam and keen to
get fans to come along and join us and raise money, it will be an
amazing experience. I need to get on my bike and practise, it is the
saddle soreness I need to get used to more than anything, but I am
looking forward to it.

CLICK HERE to find out more about the London to Amsterdam bike ride.

If those players at that time had walked off then it would have sent a massive message out across the world.

Players have to realise they are in a very powerful position. If you were abused like that in any other profession, nobody would think any ill of you walked away, so why shouldn’t footballers do the same

The people who run football always go on about ‘the beautiful game’ and make a point of respect in the game. Where is the respect for the players who are abused like this

It is all well and good having T-shirts with ‘Respect’ on them and it ticks a box for the authorities. But when it comes to actual incidents they are the ones who have to take firm action, they just walk away from it.

Yet they will fine a player like Nicklas Bendtner for showing his pants with a sponsor on them. It’s madness.

Where were the UEFA officials at the U21 game when the England players were being abused in Serbia When you look at the people who run the game and they decide to punish the players who have been abused for the last two hours, as they did with the England players, then it shows they have no idea what racism is.

These people who run the game really need to get some education and learn about racism.

Brian McDermott sacked by Reading

McDermott SACKED by Reading with strugglers four points adrift of Premier League safety

By
John Drayton

PUBLISHED:

17:32 GMT, 11 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

17:50 GMT, 11 March 2013

Brian McDermott has been sacked as Reading fight to avoid relegation from the Barclays Premier League.

The Royals suffered a demoralising 2-1 home defeat against drop rivals Aston Villa on Saturday to push them deeper into trouble.

And McDermott has paid the price as they bid to avoid an immediate return to the Championship.

Roberto Di Matteo and Paolo Di Canio are among the early frontrunners to take the post.

*Scroll down to watch highlights of McDermott's final match in charge

Sacked: McDermott guided Reading to the npower Championship title last season

Sacked: McDermott guided Reading to the npower Championship title last season

The bottom six of the Premier League

The bottom six of the Premier League

A statement from Reading read: 'Reading Football Club has announced today the departure of Manager Brian McDermott.

'Owner Anton Zingarevich wishes to place on record his thanks to Brian who had achieved great success with the club since taking over as Manager in December 2009.

'Brian gained promotion to the Barclays Premier League last year for only the second time in the club’s history thanks to a remarkable run at the end of last season. However, in our current situation, owner Anton Zingarevich felt that a change was necessary.

Struggling: Reading have lost five games in a row in all competitions

Struggling: Reading have lost five games in a row in all competitions

Ruthless: Zingarevich (left) showed no quarter in sacking McDermott

Ruthless: Zingarevich (left) showed no quarter in sacking McDermott

'The search for a successor will start immediately and it is hoped that a new Manager will be in place as soon as possible to lead the fight against potential relegation.'

Reading are four points from safety with nine matches remaining to secure their top-flight status.

McDermott took Reading up last season as champions but they have struggled to make an impact in the Premier League.

Russian owner Anton Zingarevich has
now acted to save their season – with the new manager set to start with
an away match against title favourites Manchester United on Saturday.

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