Tag Archives: fortune

Nacional unfurl world"s largest flag during Copa Libertadores win over Toluca

Now that is what you call a banner! South Americans unfurl giant 600m sign that needed an army of fans to march it into stadium

By
Matt Fortune

PUBLISHED:

14:58 GMT, 5 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

15:08 GMT, 5 April 2013

Three years after the first seeds of a world record idea were planted in the minds of Nacional fans, the Uruguayan club have made history.

On Thursday, during their Copa Libertadores tie against Mexican club Toluca, fans around three-quarters of the 25,000-capacity stadium were engulfed by a 600mx50m flag, the largest ever unfurled at a football match.

Record breakers: Fans of Uruguay's Nacional display the biggest flag ever seen at a football match during their Copa Libertadores

Record breakers: Fans of Uruguay's Nacional display the biggest flag ever seen at a football match during their Copa Libertadores

Record breakers: Fans of Uruguay's Nacional display the biggest flag ever seen at a football match during their Copa Libertadores

Record breakers: Fans of Uruguay's Nacional display the biggest flag ever seen at a football match during their Copa Libertadores

The white, red and blue banner swept down the steep banks of the Parque Central stadium in Montevideo, covering the Colombes, Olympic and Amsterdam stands, setting the tone for a pulsating match, won 4-0 by the hosts.

Festivities started earlier in the afternoon when fans gathered in the city to help carry the enormous flag, which took a year and half to make once a design had been decided upon, to the stadium.

Whole day's work: Fans spent much of the afternoon carrying the banner to the stadium through Montevideo

Whole day's work: Fans spent much of the afternoon carrying the banner to the stadium through Montevideo

Whole day's work: Fans spent much of the afternoon carrying the banner to the stadium through Montevideo

Whole day's work: Fans spent much of the afternoon carrying the banner to the stadium through Montevideo

Whole day's work: Fans spent much of the afternoon carrying the banner to the stadium through Montevideo

Manchester City v Reading, Tottenham v Stoke, West Ham v Everton, Newcastle v QPR, West Brom v Norwich, Southampton v Sunderland live

PREMIER LEAGUE LIVE: All the action from around the grounds as it happens

|

UPDATED:

16:06 GMT, 22 December 2012

Follow Sportsmail's coverage of the Barclays Premier League as Manchester City host Reading in one of six games kicking off at 3pm. Elsewhere it is Newcastle v QPR, Southampton v Sunderland, Tottenham v Stoke, West Brom v Norwich and West Ham v Everton. Send me your thoughts on the action at [email protected] or contact me on Twitter @Ripinho.

Live scores

Click here for the live goals as they go in

Manchester City 0-0 Reading

Newcastle 0-0 QPR

Southampton 0-1 Sunderland

Tottenham 0-0 Stoke

West Brom 1-1 Norwich

West Ham 1-0 Everton

Wigan 0-1 Arsenal FT

Click here for the live Premier League table

All the latest from the Championship

All the latest from League One

All the latest from League Two

All the latest from the SPL

16.05: Everton nearly find an equaliser at Upton Park but Nikica Jelavic wastes a good chance by firing straight at Jussi Jaaskelainen.

16.04: Just the one change at the break with West Brom sending Graham Dorrans on for Marc-Antoine Fortune.

16.01: Just the four goals in the first half but games have a tendency to open up in the second period when it's like this, so expect much more in the next 45 minutes.

15.58: From InfostradaLive:

Zoltan Gera scored his fourth PL goal of the season. Only once has he scored more in a single season – six for West Brom in 2004-05.

15.55: Biggest surprise of the half has to be Reading keeping a clean sheet at the break against a Manchester City side that has scored in their last 40 home games.

Biggest confusion has to be Everton's disallowed goal. I'm still scratching my head at that.

West Ham have dropped deeper since scoring with Everton having the majority of the play.

15.52: From InfostradaLive:

In top 5 leagues (PL/Liga/Bundesliga/Serie A/Ligue 1), only Barcelona (16) are on longer unbeaten league run than Norwich (10).

15.49: It's half-time across the board in the Premier League.

15.46: Claims for a Southampton penalty as Emmanuel Mayuka is body-checked by Carlos Cuellar but nothing is awarded by the referee – I've seen those given.

15.45: GOAL! WEST BROM 1-1 Norwich

The Baggies have pressed for an equaliser and finally get one. Olsson's header is tipped on to the crossbar by Mark Bunn but Zoltan Gera converts the rebound.

Back on form: Steven Fletcher (right) pounced before the break to give Sunderland the lead

Back on form: Steven Fletcher (right) pounced before the break to give Sunderland the lead

15.44: GOAL! Southampton 0-1 SUNDERLAND

James McClean plays through Sessegnon, but although the forward scuffs his shot, the ball falls for Steven Fletcher who makes no mistake from six yards out.

15.42: A disappointing spectacle at St James' Park. Newcastle are on top but Green has hardly been tested in the QPR goal as Demba Ba wastes successive free-kicks from promising positions.

15.40: Decent stop from Reading keeper Adam Federici, who manages to keep out Gareth Barry's header following a Carlos Tevez cross.

15.38: Nearly a trademark Spurs goal. Dembele releases Bale down the left wing but his cross for Emmanuel Adebayor is headed over by the striker. Best chance of the game.

15.35: Reading have impressed me in that they have held out for this long, but to their credit they have shown ambition going forward too.

Kolo Toure's clearance is brought down by Jobi McAnuff, who lays the ball off for Jem Karacan to shoot just over the crossbar from 25 yards.

15.32: Newcastle are on top against QPR but haven't found a breakthrough as yet as Robert Green punches clear a Vurnon Anita corner.

15.29: From OptaJoe:

5 – Robert Snodgrass has scored (3) and assisted (2) five goals in his last five Premier League appearances for Norwich City. Form.

Set-piece special: Norwich celebrate after Robert Snodgrass's (second right) free-kick handed them the lead

Set-piece special: Norwich celebrate after Robert Snodgrass's (second right) free-kick handed them the lead

15.26: GOAL! West Brom 0-1 NORWICH

Peter Odemwingie gives away a free-kick and from the set-piece, Robert Snodgrass fires into the top corner.

Ben Foster thinks he should have saved it but that doesn't change the fact that the Canaries are once again in front in the Premier League.

15.24: You sense Manchester City will score at any moment as they lay siege to the Reading goal. Javi Garcia sees a shot deflected over.

15.21: Maybe a bit too much scrutiny…

From Sportsmail's Laura Williamson at the Lane:

'Steven N'Zonzi and Mousa Dembele have clashed twice already. The Stoke man's very fortunate the ref didn't see his elbow in holding off Dembele earlier.'

15.19: Interesting scenes at Tottenham by the way. As Spurs go to take a long throw, the referee stops play to have a word with Ryan Shawcross about his shirt pulling. The defender looks to be under heavy scrutiny from referees now following that headbutt from Everton's Marouane Fellaini last week.

15.18: From Sportsmail's Laura Williamson at White Hart Lane:

At #THFC, feeling a bit sorry for Aaron Lennon whenever either side have a corner. Still 0-0. #landofthegiants

Taking advantage: Carlton Cole pounced to fire West Ham ahead against Everton

Taking advantage: Carlton Cole pounced to fire West Ham ahead against Everton

15.15: GOAL! WEST HAM 1-0 Everton

Well wouldn't you know it. Football can be a cruel game and here is proof as the Hammers go straight up the other end and take the lead through a neat Carlton Cole strike.

15.13: Everton are very unfortunate not to be in front. Leon Osman thinks he has converted a chance at the back post from a corner, but the goal has puzzlingly been ruled out – the midfielder (and David Moyes) look furious.

Moments earlier, Victor Anichebe headed a Leighton Baines free-kick off the ground and over the crossbar for the Toffees.

15.11: Back to St Mary's but this time it's a chance for the hosts as Rickie Lambert's free-kick is deflected just wide by Sunderland's Craig Gardner.

15.08: West Brom are another home team on the back foot. Jonas Olsson's headed clearance only falls as far as Robert Snodgrass, but the Norwich midfielder rifles straight at Ben Foster.

15.05: So much for that tense start on the south coast too. Sunderland's Stephane Sessegnon lets fly from 30 yards out, with Southampton stopper Kelvin Davis tipping over the bar.

15.03: Stoke nearly score within seconds of kick-off. Kyle Walker plays a disastrous ball across goal that is intercepted by Kenwyne Jones, but the Stoke striker fires off target. Huge let-off for Spurs and especially the full-back.

On the charge: Manchester City's Sergio Aguero (left) battles with Reading's Mikele Leigertwood

On the charge: Manchester City's Sergio Aguero (left) battles with Reading's Mikele Leigertwood

15.01: Away we go then folks.

14.59: Finally as the teams make their way out, check out Martin Keown's preview of the weekend's action with his Boot Room.

14.56: And finally from the Hawthorns where West Brom will try and end Norwich's unbeaten league record that stretches back to the start of October:

West Brom v Norwich
West Brom: Foster, Jones, McAuley, Olsson, Popov, Morrison, Brunt, Odemwingie, Gera, Dorrans, Lukaku. Subs: Myhill, Ridgewell, Rosenberg, Long, Jara Reyes, Tamas, Fortune.

Norwich: Bunn, Whittaker, Bassong, Turner, Garrido, Snodgrass, Tettey, Hoolahan, Johnson, Pilkington, Morison. Subs: Steer, Martin, Howson, Jackson, Elliott Bennett, Barnett, Kane.

Referee: Martin Atkinson (W Yorkshire)

14.53: Are we set for a nervy contest at St Mary's Both sides playing on the south coast today hover narrowly above the relegation zone:

Southampton v Sunderland
Southampton: Kelvin Davis, Clyne, Yoshida, Fonte, Shaw, Puncheon, Cork, Schneiderlin, Mayuka, Lambert, Ramirez. Subs: Boruc, Hooiveld, Steven Davis, Rodriguez, Do Prado, Richardson, De Ridder.

Sunderland: Mignolet, Gardner, Cuellar, O'Shea, Rose, Johnson, Colback, Larsson, McClean, Sessegnon, Fletcher. Subs: Westwood, Bardsley, Campbell, Wickham, McFadden, Vaughan, Bramble.

Referee: Howard Webb (S Yorkshire)

14.50: Manchester City hand an unexpected Barclays Premier League debut to defender Karim Rekik as bottom side Reading visited the Etihad Stadium.

The 18-year-old Dutchman started in the absence of injured left-backs Gael Clichy and Aleksandar Kolarov while senior centre-halves Vincent Kompany and Joleon Lescott only make the bench.

Kolo Toure and Matija Nastasic are the centre-back pairing.

Reading make four changes following their 5-2 defeat by Arsenal earlier in the week with Jem Karacan returning from injury and Chris Gunter, Ian Harte and Alex Pearce also coming in.

Star showing: Adel Taarabt helped QPR on their way to their first Premier League win last weekend

Star showing: Adel Taarabt helped QPR on their way to their first Premier League win last weekend

14.48: Interesting fixture at St James' Park. Can the Hoops record back-to-back wins after picking up their first victory of the season last weekend Or can the Toon arrest an alarming slide down the table:

Newcastle v QPR
Newcastle: Krul, Simpson, Coloccini, Williamson, Santon, Anita, Tiote, Perch, Gutierrez, Ba, Cisse. Subs: Harper, Bigirimana, Marveaux, Shola Ameobi, Obertan, Sammy Ameobi, Ferguson.

QPR: Green, Da Silva, Ferdinand, Nelsen, Hill, Mackie, Mbia, Granero, Faurlin, Taarabt, Cisse. Subs: Murphy, Diakite, Traore, Derry, Wright Phillips, Onuoha, Hoilett.

Referee: Kevin Friend (Leicestershire)

14.45: Spurs have been one of those teams you just can't trust this season, but they have the chance to end the day in third with a win over Stoke at White Hart Lane:

Tottenham v Stoke
Tottenham: Lloris, Walker, Dawson, Caulker, Vertonghen, Lennon, Sandro, Dembele, Bale, Defoe, Adebayor. Subs: Friedel, Parker, Gallas, Naughton, Sigurdsson, Livermore, Townsend.

Stoke: Begovic, Wilkinson, Shawcross, Huth, Cameron, Shotton, Nzonzi, Whelan, Etherington, Jones, Walters. Subs: Sorensen, Palacios, Whitehead, Upson, Kightly, Crouch, Jerome.

Referee: Lee Mason (Lancashire)

14.42: QPR defender Jose Bosingwa is missing from the 18 at Newcastle today after being fined for refusing to sit on the bench last week.

It is understood the former Chelsea full-back, who was said to be injured yesterday, was punished for his reaction to being left out for the victory over Fulham, and he does not figure at St James' Park as Anton Ferdinand, Fabio da Silva and Esteban Granero are drafted into the starting line-up.

Newcastle boss Alan Pardew names the same side which started against Manchester City on Saturday after James Perch recovers from a neck problem.

14.39: It's full-time at the DW Stadium, where Arsenal have managed to hold on and secure a 1-0 win at Wigan – the Gunners move into third in the table, the Latics remain 18th and in the relegation zone.

14.37: Full line-ups from Upton Park where Everton will hope to record an away win that could see them end the day in a Champions League spot:

West Ham v Everton
West Ham: Jaaskelainen, Tomkins, Collins, Reid, O'Brien, Noble, O'Neil, Taylor, Nolan, Jarvis, Cole. Subs: Spiegel, Collison, Maiga, Diarra, Spence, Moncur, Lletget.

Everton: Howard, Heitinga, Jagielka, Distin, Baines, Osman, Gibson, Neville, Pienaar, Jelavic, Anichebe. Subs: Mucha, Oviedo, Naismith, Hitzlsperger, Barkley, Vellios, Duffy.

Referee: Anthony Taylor (Cheshire)

Left out: Gael Clichy (right) is replaced in the Manchester City starting line-up by 18-year-old, Karim Rekik

Left out: Gael Clichy (right) is replaced in the Manchester City starting line-up by 18-year-old, Karim Rekik

14.34: And here is the full team news from the Etihad Stadium:

Man City v Reading
Man City: Hart, Zabaleta, Toure, Nastasic, Rekik, Barry, Javi Garcia, Toure, Silva, Aguero, Tevez. Subs: Wright, Kompany, Lescott, Milner, Dzeko, Sinclair, Razak.

Reading: Federici, Gunter, Pearce, Mariappa, Harte, McAnuff, Leigertwood, Karacan, Tabb, Kebe, Pogrebnyak. Subs: Taylor, Shorey, Le Fondre, Hunt, Gorkss, Robson-Kanu, Guthrie.

Referee: Mike Dean (Wirral)

14.31: West Brom keeper Ben Foster returns after a seven-game absence with a groin injury in place of Boaz Myhill for the home Barclays Premier League clash with Norwich.

Albion boss Steve Clarke makes two other changes with midfielder Graham Dorrans and striker Romelu Lukaku replacing the suspended Youssouf Mulumbu and rested top scorer Shane Long respectively.

Norwich make one enforced change with striker Grant Holt ruled out with a hamstring injury and replaced by Steve Morison.

14.28: Some interesting team news coming from Manchester City as 18-year-old Karim Rekik makes his first start for the club at left-back in place of Gael Clichy.

14.27: Southampton's Emmanuel Mayuka is handed his first Premier League start in this afternoon's clash with fellow strugglers Sunderland.

The Zambia international comes in for injured captain Adam Lallana and his inclusion is one of two changes to the side that beat Reading 1-0 last time out, with Gaston Ramirez replacing Jay Rodriguez.

Steven Fletcher, Adam Johnson and Danny Rose all overcome knocks to start for Sunderland at St Mary's.

14.24: Everton captain Phil Neville makes a surprise return from knee surgery for today's Barclays Premier League game at West Ham.

Neville was ruled out for up to eight weeks just over a month ago but he is back in the side this afternoon, with David Moyes also handing a rare start to Victor Anichebe and recalling Johnny Heitinga.

West Ham draft in James Tomkins in the only change to their starting XI.

Attacking boost: Gareth Bale is a key player in Andre Villas-Boas' Tottenham side

Attacking boost: Gareth Bale is a key player in Andre Villas-Boas' Tottenham side

14.21: Gareth Bale and Michael Dawson return to Tottenham's starting XI as Andre Villas-Boas looks to move his team ahead of Chelsea in the Barclays Premier League with a win over Stoke at White Hart Lane.

Emmanuel Adebayor overcomes a hamstring problem to start up front while Scott Parker has to settle for a place on the bench.

Ryan Shotton comes in for Charlie Adam, who has been given compassionate leave due to the death of his father, while former Spurs striker Peter Crouch is named among the Stoke substitutes.

14.18: First up though we have one game already underway as Wigan and Arsenal are currently doing battle at the DW Stadium.

There is just over 15 minutes left and there has been one goal so far. Click here to see who has got it and to follow our live coverage with Martin Domin.

14.15: Yesterday may have been the start of the great Christmas get away for a well deserved break (or sadly not).

But it's business as usual if you happen to be a professional footballer (or not if you play in the Football League).

It's a full programme in the Premier League though, with the usual bunch of six afternoon games coming at you (seven if you if you include today's 5.30pm kick-off) and the team news for them is on the way.

Christmas crackers: Manchester City, Newcastle, Tottenham and West Ham are in action from 3pm

Christmas crackers: Manchester City, Newcastle, Tottenham and West Ham are in action from 3pm

Liam Ridgewell pictured wiping his backside with 20 notes

Ridgewell's bum note: West Brom star apologises after being pictured wiping his backside with pile of 20 notes

|

UPDATED:

10:09 GMT, 2 December 2012

West Brom defender Liam Ridgewell has apologised after an embarrassing picture emerged of him wiping his backside with a wad of 20 notes.

The former Aston Villa and Birmingham defender claims the picture was taken to wind up a friend after he won a bet and he never intended on it becoming public.

Ridgewell told The Sun: 'The photo was taken in the privacy of my home around eight months ago as a joke to wind up a mate, who I had just won a personal bet with.

Blunder: Liam Ridgewell was pictured wiping his backside with 20 notes

Blunder: Liam Ridgewell was pictured wiping his backside with 20 notes

'I only intended him to see the photo but now it’s public, I can understand how it will be viewed. I am sorry for any offence it causes.'

The picture showed the 28-year-old squatting over a toilet with nearly 1000 worth of 20 notes scattered over the floor.

Apology: Ridgewell has said sorry for any offense caused

Apology: Ridgewell has said sorry for any offense caused

The West Brom player earns around
20,000-a-week and the picture is sure to anger fans – especially as
that is the average annual salary in the West Midlands – one of the most
deprived areas in the country.

The picture was sent to the newspaper by a fan who asked not to be named, he said: 'The people of West Bromwich earn a fraction of what this idiot earns yet he makes a mockery of his good fortune like this. It makes me sick.

'We’ve always thought footballers were arrogant, overpaid buffoons and this just proves it.’

The club distanced themselves from the issue saying it was a private matter.

They told The Sun: ‘This is a private issue for Liam that has become public.

'It does not put the club in a good light and we will deal with the matter internally.

'Since Liam joined us 11 months ago, his conduct on club duty has been exemplary.'

Cazorla: We can"t go on dropping points like this and expect to get near the title

Cazorla: We can't go on dropping points like this and expect to get near the title

|

UPDATED:

23:37 GMT, 1 December 2012

It is rare for Santi Cazorla to frown. Everything is perceived in a positive light in Cazorla's world, even the freezing weather, which reminds him of home in Asturias, a mountainous region in Spain notorious for its hard winters.

Only when the topic of Arsenal's recent form – the dropped points against Fulham, Aston Villa and Everton followed by yesterday's 2-0 defeat at home to Swansea – comes up, is there a degree of tension.

'We don't know exactly what the problem is,' says Cazorla. 'It's true that we're inconsistent. I believe that to challenge for the Premier League, those games can't get away from us. Take the Fulham game, we were 2-0 up. You can't then be drawing within five minutes. Those points aren't coming back.

Troubled times: The talented Santi Cazorla is having a difficult debut season at Arsenal

Troubled times: The talented Santi Cazorla is having a difficult debut season at Arsenal

'And the other day against Aston Villa, there's a game which I believe we really had the desire to win, because these are points that we can't let get away. Then you see City, United winning on those days. That's the difference. To fight for the title, it's about taking points from those teams.

'It's a little bit frustrating. We're a good team, good players, training well. But there are moments in those games when we don't know how to control them. There's a significant gap between us and United and City. They've got away a bit. We have very little margin for error.'

This is not Cazorla's usual demeanour. Most of the time he looks as though he is thoroughly delighted with life. He's one of those footballers who seem to take a genuine pleasure in his trade and to appreciate his good fortune.

Video: A piece of Cazorla magic

DM.has('rcpv2001978733001','BCVideo');

It could be because he is 27 but only now playing at a major European club despite being one of the world's finest midfielders. At 21, Cesc Fabregas was a global icon at Arsenal, while Cazorla had failed to make a breakthrough at Real Villarreal and was being loaned out to Recreativo de Huelva. The equivalent in England would be a spell at Blackpool.

It might be that, at 5ft 6in, he is grateful to play in an era when height and strength are not prerequisites for success. Even in Spain, the land that pioneered a generation of diminutive footballers who changed the way the game is played, he was almost passed over.

'There was an era when everything was
more physical,' he says. 'There were lots of Spanish teams who didn't
want to sign me because of my height when I was 15, 16 years old.
Football has changed now. It's not so focused on height but on
technique.'

Disappointment: Santi Cazorla and Mikel Arteta of Arsenal during Saturday's defeat by Swansea

Disappointment: Santi Cazorla and Mikel Arteta of Arsenal during Saturday's defeat by Swansea

But probably his attitude is because his parents have impressed on him the privilege of his profession. He comes from the small village of Lugo de Llanera in Asturias, a region in northern Spain famed for its mining and which is suffering immensely in the recession. He met his girlfriend, Ursula, there at school and they have been together since they were 18. And his father, who died at 48 of a heart attack, worked as a coal-miner.

'I value what I have a lot more because of the sacrifices made by my mother and father,' says Cazorla. 'I'm lucky to have football. My father was 16 when he worked in the mines. That's practically a child, going down the mines. That's like another era. That's hard. That's something that made a big impression on me to value the opportunity I had to play football. It's very hard work. I understand how hard and dangerous it is.'

He undoubtedly takes a joy in what he does. If you search YouTube, you can find one of the more outrageous nutmegs you will ever see, performed by Cazorla on Giourkas Seitaridis, mention of which makes him laugh, but with pleasure rather than spite. Cazorla flicks the ball up with one foot and then jabs it with the other through the legs of Seitaridis. It all happens so quickly, it requires slow motion to appreciate the skill. 'I've tried it very often but it hasn't always come off!' he says, smiling.

On the ball: Cazorla has impressed this season

On the ball: Cazorla has impressed this season

He laughs often, while vigorously disputing the widely held belief that he tells the worst jokes in the Spanish national team. Cazorla played in the 2008 and 2012 Euro triumphs but missed the World Cup win through injury. He has 50 caps, but the era of Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Fabregas, David Silva and Juan Mata means he is engaged in the world's most competitive fight for a starting place.

'We're very conscious of that, and that being a part of this national team is a privilege. Getting a game is tough. You have some of the best in the world in your position. You don't go thinking you're not going to play but you know what the situation is. That means you value your opportunities.'

Nothing will temper his enthusiasm. Even mention of the departures of the likes of Robin van Persie and Fabregas, the fact that many believed Arsenal could not meet their trophy-winning ambitions is turned into a positive. 'Van Persie and Fabregas, they might have been thinking that way. If I remember right, it's eight years without a title. Then when clubs like Barcelona and United come along, these are big clubs.

'But so are Arsenal, they are always in contention for the Premier League, for the Champions League. At a club like this, you always think you can win titles. Hopefully, we can. The squad are capable of it.'

England, it seems, suits him. He enthuses about his new home in Hampstead and the opportunities for playing football on the heath with his two-year-old son, Enzo. He is even genuinely enthusiastic about playing Stoke away. 'Lots of people told me about Stoke, with their long throw-ins, and that the ball would be in the air all the time,' he says. 'There are teams who build their game around the physical aspect.

'Against Everton last week, a lot of the play was based around getting the ball up for Fellaini. It's as physical here as I imagined it would be, but it's great football.'

He recently spoke to Swansea's Michu and Pablo Hernandez, close friends and yesterday's opponents, about their new environment. 'We're delighted with the Premier League,' he says. 'It's faster, maybe more lively. In Spain, the game is more tactical. What you don't see here are matches like some of Barcelona's, when the other team is defending almost all the time with 11 men.'

And with his move has come new status back home. 'It's hard to explain,' he adds. 'My friends and my family in Spain tell me there's so much more about me in the papers now than when I was actually there,' he says.

'Sometimes you are valued more when you're away than when you are in your own country.'

No such problems in England. Most recognise him as one of the most gifted performers in the Premier League. And if he can help Arsene Wenger's side through their current slump and, ultimately, end that eight-year trophy hiatus, that would surely erase any frowns at Arsenal.

Queens Park Rangers, Manchester City and Liverpool pay highest agents" fees

EXCLUSIVE: Man City, Liverpool and rock bottom QPR top chart of highest fees paid to agents

|

UPDATED:

18:03 GMT, 30 November 2012

The Premier League club payments to agents over the last two transfer windows demonstrate the extent of the desperate financial gamble to keep QPR in the Premier League.

QPR paid out an astonishing 6.8million to the middle men – the third largest figure behind PL champions Manchester City (10.5m) and Liverpool (8.6m) – and a rise of 300 per cent from the last agents accounts (2.5m) which has still left them marooned at the bottom of the table.

Sky high: Julio Cesar joined Queens Park Rangers this summer after Inter Milan sought to offload him because of his lavish wage packet

Sky high: Julio Cesar joined Queens Park Rangers this summer after Inter Milan sought to offload him because of his lavish wage packet

New boy: Javi Garcia joined Manchester City from Benfica

New boy: Javi Garcia joined Manchester City from Benfica

THE FULL LIST OF CLUBS' FEES TO PLAYERS' AGENTS

1. Man City 10,537,982
2. Liverpool 8,600,444
3. QPR 6,818,688
4. Tottenham 6,595,905
5. Chelsea 6,490,382
6. Arsenal 5,580,873
7. West Ham Utd 4,436,992
8. Manchester Utd 3,681,580
9. Newcastle Utd 3,485,503
10. Everton 3,092,891
11. Aston Villa 2,730,539
12. Fulham 2,581,208
13. Sunderland 2,173,762
14. Reading 2,167,833
15. Wigan Athletic 1,974,305
16. Stoke City 1,717,266
17. West Brom 1,341,301
18. Norwich City 1,248,725
19. Swansea City 1,100,845
20. Southampton 646,106

TOTAL………………. 77,003,130

The combined 20-club fortune ending
up in the pockets of agents from October 2011 to September 2012 was 77million
-an increase from the 71.8million going out of the game from the previous
two windows.

During the elapsed period, there were 806 transactions in the English top-flight, however not all of which would have included agents' fees.

There is not much surprise that the
Abu Dhabi-owned Manchester City head the agents fee table.

But more so
that Liverpool outspent Chelsea (6.4m) and Manchester United (3.6m)
by considerable amounts.

Tottenham, who just
missed out on Champions League football were the fourth biggest
beneficiaries to the agents with a 6.6m outlay.

In contrast to the clubs bankrolling
the agents to the tune of multi-millions, Southampton only handed over
646.106 whose chairman Nicola Cortese is the hardest of negotiators.

Surprised Tottenham came in fourth in the agents' fees list after signing the likes of Mousa Dembele

Surprised Tottenham came in fourth in the agents' fees list after signing the likes of Mousa Dembele

Import: Esteban Granero joined Rangers from Real Madrid

Import: Esteban Granero joined Rangers from Real Madrid

Another one: Brazil right back Maicon (left) also left Inter for the Premier League

Another one: Brazil right back Maicon (left) also left Inter for the Premier League

Ian Poulter says he doesn"t need a sports

Poulter: I know how to climb the rankings… and it isn't by using a sports psychologist!

|

UPDATED:

22:30 GMT, 21 November 2012

Picture a press centre enthralled to see what happened next after Ian Poulter was asked whether he had ever thought about seeing a sports psychologist.

Heavens, It must be Poults’s obvious lack of self-belief that prompted the question. All those vital putts he leaves short at a Ryder Cup.

For a few seconds the Englishman appeared to be weighing up how he could reply politely. ‘Do you honestly think I need a sports psychologist’ he began.

Are you crazy Ian Poulter responded to questions about whether he needs a sports psychologist

Are you crazy Ian Poulter responded to questions about whether he needs a sports psychologist

‘Are you crazy Wow. I think there are people in this game who would pay me a fortune to be their sports psychologist.’

Indeed they would, given there’s hardly anyone in the history of the sport who’s got more out of his game, and is less in need of the dark science.

The 36 year old is right in his pomp just now, of course, still on a high from his stunning contribution to the miracle of Medinah and playing some of the best golf of his career. In three events since the Ryder Cup Poulter has won one, finished runner-up in another and fourth in the third.

‘It just shows what golf can be played when I focus my mind and I am going to work hard in my little head to keep the focus the same as it was at the Ryder Cup,’ he said. ‘I know I am dangerous when I have that frame of mind.’

Could it be that seeing all those UK boys dominating the top five in the world rankings and the headlines also brought out the competitor in him

'I would say that I am good friends with a lot of guys who were playing a lot better golf than I was playing, so it did spur me on,’ he admitted.

‘It told me that I was capable of playing better golf but hopefully I’ve changed that picture now and it is time to kick on from this position.’

Poulter, currently ranked 13th in the world, certainly has the chance to kick on at the tour’s grand finale, the Dubai World Championship, where the presence of every other member of Europe’s Ryder Cup team means there are oodles of ranking points on offer.

Close call: Poulter missed out on the Australia Masters after losing to Adam Scott

Close call: Poulter missed out on the Australia Masters after losing to Adam Scott

Close call: Poulter missed out on the Australia Masters after losing to Adam Scott

He then has a couple of limited field events to play before a six or seven week off-season where he will try to improve a few areas of his game in time for the Masters in April.

‘I would like to drive the ball a bit further than I do, and my mid-iron play could get a little better,’ he said.

‘Most of all I need to be a little more consistent with my putting and putt like I have been doing for the past month over a longer period. Look at Luke Donald.

'He has putted consistently well for 18 months and look what that has done for his world ranking.

‘The main goals next season will be all around the majors. I’ve played well in three of them this year, three top 10s, and I’d like to get a lot closer.

'I would think coming down the stretch, if I was in contention, I’ve got a lot of self-belief in me that can hopefully get me over the line. But we will just have to see. They are hard to win, as you know.’

Star of the show: Poulter was in fine form for Europe at the Ryder Cup in Medinah

Star of the show: Poulter was in fine form for Europe at the Ryder Cup in Medinah

Poulter finished as he began, his eyes glazing over at another baffling question. An American journalist used a baseball analogy.

Seeing Poulter’s bemused response, the writer concluded: ’Living in Florida, you know baseball….’

That was enough for Poulter to knock the question out of the room for a home run.

‘I’ve never watched a full game of baseball,’ he said. ‘You want to sit there for four and a half hours eating a hot dog and a coke Really I’m sorry.

'I’ve been living in America for four years and I have never watched a full game. In fact I can’t think of many sports where I’d sit there watching for four and a half hours. Unless it was the Ryder Cup, of course.'

Hopefully, it will be a good few Ryder Cups yet before he is reduced to watching. Or playing the role of sports psychologist.

Inside crazy world of Roman Abramovich"s Chelsea: Trophies, turmoil and constant sackings

Trophies, turmoil and constant sackings! Inside the crazy world of Roman's Chelsea

|

UPDATED:

13:20 GMT, 21 November 2012

Money talks, as they say, but it doesn't always make sense. Roman Abramovich has spent his entire adult life proving the first point and the best part of a decade giving just as much credence to the second.

Publicity-shy Abramovich must have done something right when he turned his entrepreneurial skills to Russia's oil fields and began amassing a personal fortune that topped 8billion at the last count.

Ruthless Rom: Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich decided to axe Roberto Di Matteo after defeat by Shakhtar Donetsk on October 23

Ruthless Rom: Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich decided to axe Roberto Di Matteo after defeat by Shakhtar Donetsk on October 23

The crazy stats of Roman

Chelsea have spent approximately 86m since 2004 in compensation for managers – more than Everton’s entire net spend since the Premier League began.

Chelsea had eight managers in their first 70 years from 1905 to 1975, they are now going for a ninth in nine years.

Since failing to escape their Champions League group in 2005, Sir Alex Ferguson has won four Premier League titles, one Champions League and three League Cups with United.

Abramovich has now had as many managers in his nine-year reign as United have had since 1937.

Chelsea have sacked seven managers since 2005 and won seven trophies.

The average life span for a manager under Abramovich is eight months. Only Mourinho and Ancelotti lasted more than a year.

It left him with enough spare change to buy Chelsea for 140million in July, 2003, but if there was admiration, however grudging, for his singular approach to succeeding in the business world, approval rating for his football acumen hasn't reached quite the same heights.

Sacking Roberto Di Matteo six months after he delivered the prize Abramovich craved most is like a snapshot of the Russian oil magnate's whole turbulent rollercoaster reign.

As he came face-to-face with Abramovich at the Champions' League final presentation ceremony, high up in the stand at the Allianz Arena, Di Matteo clenched his fists and beamed: 'I've done it.'

Abramovich nodded, with a smile nothing like as radiant as his manager's, and you could almost hear him thinking: 'Yes, you've done it now, all right.'

Di Matteo fell into the job, as assistant promoted to caretaker after Andre Villas-Boas' dismissal last March, but never quite matched the Abramovich identikit of a sharp, incisive coach who could produce a team from the same mould.

Euro king: Di Matteo delivered the prize Abramovich craved... and was still sacked six month later

King for a day: Di Matteo delivered the prize Abramovich craved… and was sacked six months later

He was always on borrowed time, but sacking a Champions' League winning manager might have been deemed excessively harsh, even by Abramovich's standards. There had to be a stay of execution, but the reprieve did not last long. A couple of Barclays Premier League defeats, and a Champions' League setback in Turn, and the latest instalment in the mad world of Chelsea's reclusive but ruthless owner was duly enacted.

Boardroom bosses with a merciless streak are nothing new in football. Fifty years ago, Bob Lord, a local butcher by trade, ruled Burnley with a rod of iron. His antipathy towards television coverage was such that when Match of the Day was launched in 1964, he banned the cameras from Turf Moor for five years.

The BBC's pioneering sports executives weren't the only ones to cross him at their peril. Taking exception to articles he perceived as a personal slight, he banned three newspapers and six individuals from the Turf Moor press box in a dictatorial reign that earned him the nickname 'the Khrushchev of Burnley.'

Down the road at Ewood Park, in the 1990s, legend has it Roy Hodgson's second season in charge of Blackburn came to an abrupt halt after the equally blunt-talking Jack Walker peered at the television screen, after a home defeat, and muttered: 'Bloody 'ell, we're bottom. I'm not 'aving that.'

Close eye: Abramovich oversees a training session by former boss Andre Villas-Boas

Close eye: Abramovich oversees a training session by former boss Andre Villas-Boas

Abramovich may well chuckle at mention
of his fellow-Russian Khrushchev. He might also reflect on how Lord
earned the sobriquet and conclude that this dinosaur from a bygone age
could actually be considered a role model.

There has been more than a touch of the iron fist about his stewardship since he targeted Stamford Bridge and struck a deal with Ken Bates, another to include eccentricity in his approach to running a club after paying 1 for Chelsea in 1982 and subsequently threatening to build electric fences to keep fans off the pitch.

No-one can deny supporting Chelsea is more rewarding these days, even if it has come at a cost to all concerned. The matchday experience at Stamford Bridge takes a hefty chunk out of most weekly pay packets, while Abramovich is estimated to have parted with around 1billion in transfer fees alone.

There are some who may question that sentiment, though, not least some of the players and managers who have passed through during the last nine and a half years. Chelsea had gone precisely 50 years without a League title when Jose Mourinho delivered it in 2004-05.

For good measure, he added another the following season, but it still wasn't enough to save him after Abramovich reinforced the image of Chelsea being a plaything by deciding he wanted success with a bit more style.

Axed: Di Matteo was fired after 'unacceptable run of results'

Axed: Di Matteo was fired after 'unacceptable run of results'

Coaches of similar standing, in Big Phil
Scolari and Carlo Ancelotti, and one from the new breed, in
Villas-Boas, went the same way, while even the most senior players have
had to contend with the incongruous sight of their chairman calling them
together at the training ground for a Monday morning dressing down, if
standards have dropped over the weekend.

And who's to argue This is a self-made multi-billionaire who is impervious to any sort of comeback. He is the world's biggest spender on luxury yachts, with one evidently fitted with an anti-paparazzi photo shield and another claiming to be the longest in existence at 557ft.

Gratifyingly, there is at least one example of the all-powerful oil magnate failing to get his own way. When he attempted to dock the 557-foot long Eclipse in Europe's biggest yachting harbour, Millionaire's Quay on the French Riviera, he found that the only space large enough was already taken by Saudi Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal Alsaud.

With the Prince ranked 26th in the world's rich list, with 12.3bn, and Abramovich trailing behind in 53rd place, the disgruntled Chelsea boss could hardly pull rank and had to settle for anchoring several hundred feet out to sea and transferring to shore on a motor boat.

It was, as anyone with Stamford Bridge connections will readily agree, a rare occurrence. One of the more tiresome terrace chants these days focuses on any given player and ends with 'he does what he wants.' They could adopt that in the Chelsea dressing room and direct it at Abramovich. Just not within earshot, though.

Fernando Torres: Chelsea must improve

We must improve, says Torres after Chelsea's late victory over Shakhtar Donetsk

|

UPDATED:

13:17 GMT, 8 November 2012

Fernando Torres warned Chelsea could not keep relying on luck to stay in the Champions League after another dose of outrageous fortune helped get their title defence back on track'.

Wednesday night's last-gasp 3-2 win over Shakhtar Donetsk proved providence was still smiling on the Blues after last season's astonishing triumph as they survived a Stamford Bridge onslaught to snatch a vital three points.

Scroll down for video

On target: Torres scored the opening goal in Chelsea's win over Shakhtar

On target: Torres scored the opening goal in Chelsea's win over Shakhtar

Defeat was rough justice for a Shakhtar side that dominated much of a thrilling game and arguably deserved to complete a home-and-away double over the holders.

The Ukrainian champions, who had not lost in almost a year prior to last night, were badly let down by their goalkeeper, who gifted Torres the opening goal when the striker charged down his clearance and was also lobbed by Oscar after racing off his line to head away a harmless cross.

Torres admitted Chelsea could not keep relying on such lucky breaks if they were to hold onto their place in the top two in Group E after their upcoming trip to Juventus.

He said: 'I'm happy with the result but we know we must do much better.

All smiles: Chelsea salvaged a late victory to keep their Champions League destiny in their own hands

All smiles: Chelsea salvaged a late victory to keep their Champions League destiny in their own hands

'We know we have to improve. We have been creating problems for them, pressing and creating chances from their mistakes, but not when we have the ball like we're used to.

'This kind of situation cannot happen again because, especially in the Champions League, at times like these you can be out.'

Torres insisted he would rather Chelsea were lucky than unlucky and hailed the never-say-die spirit which played just as big a part in last season's Champions League triumph and was in evidence again last night.

Head boy: Moses scored a late winner at Stamford Bride on Wednesday night

Head boy: Moses scored a late winner at Stamford Bride on Wednesday night

'When we needed to win, we did,' he added. 'We did it against Valencia, Napoli and Barcelona – also the final against Bayern Munich. 'This was really the first big test of the season and we did it as well.

'We were a bit lucky – I think maybe the draw was the more fair result – but Chelsea has this special thing that no-one can buy.

'That's good. We have to keep the good luck on our side.'

Defender Gary Cahill admitted Chelsea had been under siege last night.

'At times, there were four, five players up front,' he said. 'They've got a lot of pace in the team as well, so I'm glad we don't play against them every week because they really impressed me.

'It makes the win even sweeter in the last minute of the game. It's a massive three points for us.'

He added: 'We knew leading into the game how big three points would be. The manager stressed that to us.

'We keep pushing and pushing and pushing. We never know when we're beaten.'

Looking ahead to the penultimate Group E game in Turin, in which victory would seal Chelsea's qualification, Cahill said: 'It's important we keep our foot on the pedal.'

VIDEO: di Matteo thinks Chelsea deserved to win…

DM.has('rcpv1954992048001','BCVideo');

Abu Dhabi Grand prix: Lewis Hamilton bemoans Sebastian Vettel"s fortune: "He must be the luckiest man in Formula One":

'He must be the luckiest man in Formula One': Hamilton bemoans Vettel's fortune

|

UPDATED:

22:42 GMT, 4 November 2012

Lewis Hamilton has suggested Sebastian Vettel is 'the luckiest person in Formula One' after his remarkable pitlane-to-podium drive in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Phil Duncan F1 blog

Vettel was forced to start from the Yas Marina circuit pitlane after Red Bull were found guilty by the stewards of a fuel irregularity issue following qualifying.

But despite requiring a front-wing change early in the race, Vettel managed to avoid the bulk of the mayhem that unfolded throughout, and which forced team-mate Mark Webber into retirement, to claim third.

Hamilton, by contrast, suffered his second retirement in five races in his McLaren at a time when he was leading and in command.

Glad to see the back of Abu Dhabi: Lewis Hamilton's race turned sour

Glad to see the back of Abu Dhabi: Lewis Hamilton's race turned sour

'I'm gutted,' said Hamilton. 'I had really good pace all weekend and I feel certain we could have won, but I had a fuel-pressure problem which was very sudden. I was entering a corner and the car died on me.

'Up until then everything had been going really well. The car was a dream to drive, I was cruising and still pulling away when I had my problem.

'It was still a good weekend for me. It was a shame I couldn't have continued because I think we were on for the win, but I was unlucky.

'I then got to watch the race and it was incredible how Sebastian came up from the pit lane. He must be the luckiest person in Formula One.'

Fortune favours the brave: Sebastian Vettel is on course for his third straight title after a blistering drive in the desert

Fortune favours the brave Sebastian Vettel is on course for his third straight title after a blistering drive in the desert

Benefiting from Hamilton's misfortune, Kimi Raikkonen went on to claim his first win in F1 for just over three years as Lotus finally made it on to the top step of the podium this year.

'Congratulations to Kimi, he really drove a fantastic race,' added Hamilton.

'I knew at some stage Lotus would win a race this year, so also big congratulations go to them.'

Chib Chilaka helps Harrogate Town reach FA Cup second round

Michael Walker: It's Harro-great! Chib Chib hooray for Yorkshiremen with battle against Hastings to follow

|

UPDATED:

00:22 GMT, 5 November 2012

Chib Chilaka has a smile so big you can hear it. And on Saturday night the noise was loud. England’s Riviera had heard nothing like it. But then no-one had.

When Chilaka’s 20th-minute shot cannoned in off a Plainmoor post, 98-year-old Harrogate Town were on the way to the FA Cup second round for the first time in their history. A club who could have folded 18 months ago are experiencing a glorious renewal.

‘Why am I playing football’ was a question 26-year-old Chilaka asked on Saturday evening. He and Harrogate had just got their answer. Their collective joy on the final whistle was sincere and touching.

Smiles better: Chib Chilaka celebrates Harrogate's famous FA Cup win

Smiles better: Chib Chilaka celebrates Harrogate's famous FA Cup win

There were moments of Yorkshire good fortune as freezing rain swept across this corner of Devon, but Harrogate acknowledged that. There were three goal-line clearances in the second half.

Yet, no fewer than 56 places separate the non-League Conference North club from League Two Torquay United, hitherto unbeaten at home this season, and Harrogate had only begun to think of this game late last Wednesday night when they overcame Hyde in a rearranged replay that went to extra time. What followed on Friday was a six-hour bus journey south. It meant some players asking for a day off work.

ROAD TO WEMBLEY

Michael Walker has followed the competition from the beginning

Aug 11 — North Shields 1 Birtley Town 1 (Birtley won replay).

Aug 25 — Birtley Town 1 West Auckland 4.

Sep 8 — Ashington 2 West Auckland 3.

Sep 22 — West Auckland 2 Harrogate Town 2 (Harrogate won replay).

Oct 6 — Harrogate Town 3 Frickley Athletic 2.

Oct 20 — Hyde 1 Harrogate Town 1 (Harrogate won replay).

Nov 3 — Torquay 0 Harrogate Town 1.

So everything was stacked in favour of Torquay. This was their first FA Cup tie of the season; it was Harrogate’s fourth. West Auckland, Frickley, Hyde and Torquay have been seen off — three of them away games — and the prize in yesterday’s draw was a home tie against Isthmian Premier Division side Hastings United. There is also the 18,000 for winning here.

‘That’s welcome, but it’s not just about the money,’ said Tad Nowakowski, one of the directors who stepped in when it seemed Harrogate were about to be demoted three leagues in 2010.

‘What we’re trying to do is build a
community club. An awkward thing about us coming in was that Simon
Weaver is the manager and his father Irving was asked to take over from
the previous board. Irving asked me to join him, which was again
awkward, because my son plays for the team.

‘We didn’t want to get involved, we just wanted to go and watch. We had nothing — no experience, and no kit. I’m a retired police officer and teacher.

‘That’s where we’ve come from. You have to give a lot of credit to the Weavers, father and son.

‘Adam, my son, was the only local lad, now there are six. That’s part of our ethos. We’re trying to become a family club — players not swearing, good behaviour, we’re into that. It’s not just about being a good player, it’s about being a good character.’

Chilaka is one of those. Harrogate Town back up their words with deeds, as Chilaka explained.

On target: Chilaka celebrates his goal

On target: Chilaka celebrates his goal

‘In the Harrogate area there’s a little scheme where they try to help out recovering drug addicts and alcoholics. They use sport as a way to get out of addiction. I started by doing one session, just a pure football session. And they really enjoyed it. So I was asked to keep it on and on Thursdays we do it. It’s all age groups, 16-year-olds to 45-year-olds, men. They’re doing well.’

Chilaka is qualified. Not only has he tasted the professional game with Bradford City, he has two degrees.

‘I’ve got a Bachelor’s in human
biology and a Masters in business — why am I playing football! My Dad
asks me that all the time. They are very different degrees.’

Chilaka studied at Leeds Metropolitan
University. While there, he got a trial with Bradford and on the day he
handed in his Masters thesis, he received a phone call.

‘It was from Peter Taylor saying,
“We’re going to sign you”. It was a very special day in my life. I
signed a one-year deal, built up my fitness and confidence, but the team
were having a tough time.

‘The manager was reluctant to throw me
in when there was talk of relegation. I still thought they would keep me
on but financially Bradford were struggling. They were close to losing
the stadium and so 12 of us had to move on.’

Chilaka was at Braintree last season but this is his second spell at Harrogate and he said January’s return was ‘like coming home’.

‘It’s like a family,’ he said. ‘The manager is big on that atmosphere. We stayed in a hotel last night, we were all together, all ate together, had a walk together and some fun and games on the tennis court, all together. It clicks.

‘And you see that on the pitch. When someone makes a mistake we don’t get on to each other. I hope people notice that.’

People have taken notice of Harrogate Town — Torquay’s fans clapped them off on Saturday. Now for Hastings.