Tag Archives: fortunes

Nico Rosberg gives Lewis Hamilton"s Mercedes a boost after third day of test in Jerez

From Silverstone to Spa! Rosberg puts in the mileage to give Hamilton's Mercedes much-needed boost in Jerez

By
Simon Cass

PUBLISHED:

19:08 GMT, 7 February 2013

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UPDATED:

19:50 GMT, 7 February 2013

Lewis Hamilton has new teammate Nico Rosberg to thank for getting Mercedes' pre-season plans back on track after the German driver reeled off a staggering 148 laps of the Circuito de Jerez on Thursday.

Rosberg's Herculean effort – he put a much needed 407 miles on the new Mercedes W04, the equivalent of two grand prix distances – means it should be all systems go for Hamilton on Friday as he brings to a close the opening test of the 2013 season.

The mammoth stint was in stark contrast to the two previous days of running for Mercedes during which they managed to complete just 29 laps in total.

Going long into the night: Nico Rosberg gave Mercedes a much-needed boost in Jerez on Thursday

Going long into the night: Nico Rosberg gave Mercedes a much-needed boost in Jerez on Thursday

New team: Lewis Hamilton, who completed 14 laps yesterday, speaks to Rosberg

New team: Lewis Hamilton, who completed 14 laps yesterday, speaks to Rosberg

On Tuesday, Hamilton suffered a heart in the mouth moment when his brakes failed as he slowed from almost 200mph. After hitting the tyre wall the damage to Hamilton's car was enough to end his day's work after just twenty minutes behind the wheel.

Rosberg fared little better on the first day of action in Southern Spain, an electrical fault which sparked a small fire bring the Mercedes to a premature halt.

Delighted at the change in fortunes, Rosberg said: 'The last two days we were unlucky because they were small things but we were unable to solve them in a day.

Off track: Jenson Button spent most of the morning in the garage before a wobbly wheel forced him to park his McLaren

Off track: Jenson Button spent most of the morning in the garage before a wobbly wheel forced him to park his McLaren

'Today we really made up for it and put a smile on everyone's face. And it was a fantastic achievement to drive from Silverstone to Spa distance-wise with an F1 car with no problem what so ever. We were very consistent and I am feeling good because I can push it straight away.'

It was a day of mixed fortunes for McLaren as Jenson Button got off to another slow start, spending more of the morning in the garage than on the track.

And after returning to the circuit to complete 83 laps, the 2009 world champion brought the day's events to a close five minutes early when a wobbly rear wheel forced him to park his McLaren MP4-28 between turns seven and eight.

Alerx McLeish quits as Nottingham Forest boss after just 41 days

McLeish does a Clough and walks out on Nottingham Forest after just 41 days

PUBLISHED:

11:16 GMT, 5 February 2013

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UPDATED:

11:34 GMT, 5 February 2013

Alex McLeish has left Nottingham Forest by mutual consent, the League Managers Association says.

The Scot was in charge of the Championship side for just 41 days and seven games, winning only one and losing four.

Gone: Alex McLeish has left Nottingham Forest manager

Gone: Alex McLeish has left Nottingham Forest manager

It is thought the reason behind McLeish's decision to leave Forest is interference from the club's Kuwaiti owners, the Al-Hasawi family, in team affairs.

McLeish, who replaced Sean O'Driscoll as manager on December 27, said via a statement on the club's official website, nottinghamforest.co.uk: 'I am extremely saddened to be leaving after such a short period.

'But even so, it has been a privilege to be manager of such a fantastic football club and I want to thank the players, staff and fans for their support and wish Nottingham Forest the best of fortunes ahead.

'Both parties entered into the relationship in good faith. However, there was a difference in the understanding of the development strategy of the football club and it was felt by both parties that we should part company.'

Forest chairman Fawaz Al Hasawi had denied claims that there was a bust-up with manager Alex McLeish following the club's lack of transfer activity on deadline day.

Reports circulated that McLeish, who did manage to secure the services of Kuwaiti goalkeeper Khaled Al-Rashidi, was unhappy after George Boyd's proposed move collapsed at the 11th hour over what Peterborough described as an 'inconclusive eye test'.

Chairman Fawaz Al-Hasawi said: 'I'm bitterly disappointed – as is Alex – that it has not worked out as we had hoped when he became our manager and I would like to put on record my thanks for his services to the Club and wish him every success in the future.'

McLeish's turbulent reign at the City Ground rekindled memories of Brian Clough's disastrous 44-day spell at Leeds United.

Clough was famously sacked by the Yorkshire club after falling out with the players and board but went on to lead Nottingham Forest to league and European Cup glory.

More to follow

Stewart Downing says Liverpool revival is down to Brendan Rodgers

Downing: Rodgers fallout and being told I could leave inspired my Liverpool revival

By
Press Association Reporter

PUBLISHED:

16:13 GMT, 24 January 2013

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UPDATED:

17:58 GMT, 24 January 2013

Liverpool winger Stewart Downing admits a difference of opinion with manager Brendan Rodgers over where his future lay sparked his revival in fortunes.

The England midfielder was told a couple of months ago he could leave in the transfer window if the right offer came in as he was not a regular under the Northern Irishman.

Downing, however, saw it differently and, helped by injuries and unavailability of other players, got a chance to earn a run in the team and his performances in the last six weeks have shown a marked improvement.

Settled: Downing is happy again at Liverpool

Settled: Downing is happy again at Liverpool

'It was very open,' the 28-year-old said of his discussion with Rodgers. 'I wasn't in the team or playing and he said to me maybe I could look elsewhere because I need to play at my age.

'I didn't totally agree but I understood where he was coming from.

'Obviously he needs players who are going to play and not be sat about, but I thought in the back of my mind if I get a chance I can prove myself
to him.

'Luckily enough I did in the next week or so after that.

Open: Rodgers had told Downing he could leave

Open: Rodgers had told Downing he could leave

'Our conversations have been very open. If I'm doing well he will say so and if not, I'll be pulled and told what I need to do.

'It's the same for all the players. It's good for me and that's how I like it, to be told if it's right or wrong.

'At the moment it's all going well and he's pleased with me, so I have to keep it going.

'I said to him I'd love to stay and if I keep playing well, then hopefully it can continue into the seasons after.

Hotshot: The form of Raheem Sterling was one reason Downing was not a regular

Hotshot: The form of Raheem Sterling was one reason Downing was not a regular

'I've still got a few more years on my contract so I'd like to see it out if that can happen, and the only thing I can do is play well and he'll keep me in the team.'

Downing believes his recent performances have been the most consistent of his 18 months at Anfield.

He also feels it helps the team have put in some positive displays which have boosted confidence all round.

'The first season was patchy, I was in and out, but this year since I came back into the side it's been consistently quite good,' he told liverpoolfc.com.

Competition: Suso was another to keep Downing sidelined

Competition: Suso was another to keep Downing sidelined

'It's probably because the team is playing quite well that it has all come together.

'A good run of games has been good for me. I think I've proven in my career that if I play regularly I tend to give good and consistent performances.

'It was disappointing because I was in and out, in and out and it was becoming a bit frustrating at times, but the best thing is playing in a winning team and playing with good players helps.

'There's consistency in the whole team, which is helping my game as well.

Provider: Downing has contributed to Sturridge's scoring start

Provider: Downing has contributed to Sturridge's scoring start

'My aim every game is to make the manager not leave me out. The only way to do that is to perform well.

'I've basically had nothing to lose in games and I think that's helped me over the last few weeks and long may it continue.'

Liverpool's pursuit of Inter Milan's Philippe Coutinho rests on whether the Italian side are prepared to accept what amounts to a final offer for the midfielder.

Targeted: Coutinho could yet join Liverpool

Targeted: Coutinho could yet join Liverpool

The Merseyside club have made a bid approaching 8million for the Brazil man, who is keen on a move to Anfield despite previous comments suggesting he was happy in Italy.

However, Rodgers has no inclination to pay above his valuation for the 20-year-old and will not be persuaded otherwise, despite reports Southampton are interested.

Fulham need Dimitar Berbatov to be happy, says Martin Jol

Boss Jol admits only a happy Berbatov can help struggling Fulham prosper again

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UPDATED:

22:00 GMT, 25 December 2012

Fulham's fortunes have fluctuated this season, almost in time to the mood swings of Dimitar Berbatov.

Manager Martin Jol wants to see his striker smiling again and he admits that it may require a nudge in the ribs to achieve it.

Fulham were thumped 4-0 by Liverpool on Saturday and another defeat at home to Southampton could see them sucked into a relegation battle.

Smile, it's Christmas: Dimitar Berbatov is without a goal since early November

Smile, it's Christmas: Dimitar Berbatov is without a goal since early November

Berbatov is without a goal since the start of November and Jol is clearly concerned.

'If things are going well then everyone will be happy with him but if things are not going well then he can be unhappy,' said Jol.

'He is almost used to winning at the clubs where he was [before] so we have to talk to him.

'He has to put in the same attitude and work rate that he always did. When he does that there’s no problem but he is a player who we have to keep on his toes. We were very happy with him for the first couple of months and we have to keep each other happy.'

Jol confirmed he is interested in Derby’s young midfielder Will Hughes but is unsure of winning the 10million race to buy him.

'He’s a wonderful talent. Believe me there is probably at least 10 clubs out of the Barclays Premier League having a look at him,' he said. 'We’ve been really stretched in the last few weeks so I feel that we will have a good look at the transfer market.'

Southampton’s search for points is even more urgent but manager Nigel Adkins wants entertainment too.

Adkins was unhappy with his side’s dour performance in the home defeat by Sunderland, when Southampton failed to score for only the fourth time in 18 Premier League games.

He said: 'I hope the Fulham game will be more entertaining. I get frustrated when the games aren’t entertaining.'

Leeds and Chelsea roll back the years in an old-fashioned cup tie at Elland Road

Memories… Great rivals roll back the years in an old-fashioned cup tie at Elland Road

By
Chris Wheeler

PUBLISHED:

00:00 GMT, 20 December 2012

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UPDATED:

00:00 GMT, 20 December 2012

At Thorp Arch on Monday, as we waited for Neil Warnock to offer his thoughts on an explosive League Cup encounter, the issue of Chelsea’s exhausting schedule was brought up and, more specifically, the time difference between Yokohama and Leeds.

‘Thirty years,’ came the reply.

It was, of course, meant as a joke. But there were moments last night it really did feel as though we were stepping back in time: to the 1960s and 70s when men with names like wrestlers, men like Norman ‘Bites Yer Legs’ Hunter and Ron ‘Chopper’ Harris, literally kicked lumps out of each other to get their hands on two points.

The good old days: David Webb celebrates after his goal won Chelsea the 1970 FA Cup

The good old days: David Webb celebrates after his goal won Chelsea the 1970 FA Cup after a replay

When the violence off the pitch when Leeds met Chelsea could rarely match the violence on it.

It is frankly amazing that this rivalry has endured for so long, given that these two teams have not played each other in eight-and-a-half years.

Many of the younger fans spitting venom at each other across the length of a packed Elland Road last night were probably not even born when Chelsea won that infamous FA Cup final replay in 1970.

Enemies: The Chelsea and Leeds (pictured) teams of the 70s were huge rivals

Enemies: The Chelsea and Leeds (pictured) teams of the 70s were huge rivals

They probably don’t realise that, even in an era of wildly contrasting fortunes for these clubs, the visitors’ win still leaves them trailing Leeds by five in the overall stakes.

But all the old favourites were back. The home support sang about ‘getting their father’s gun and shooting the Chelsea scum’.

Barely a minute had gone when the away contingent broke into their time-honoured chorus of ‘We hate the Leeds’ to the tune of The Dam Busters.

Ah, you could almost feel Christmas in the air.

Leed's stiker Luciano Becchio

Chelsea's Jaun Mata

Luciano Becchio (left) gave his side the lead after 37 mins, before Juan Mata equalised just after half-time

Outside beforehand, massed ranks of police had come prepared in their riot helmets to make sure that the two sets of fans were kept well apart, helped by mobile CCTV units monitoring their every move.

Inside, the matchday announcer’s proud reminder that Yorkshire had been chosen as the start of next year’s Tour de France — for God’s sake, let’s hope Chelsea don’t come up for the day — was drowned out by the taunts going in both directions.

West Yorkshire Police had even gone to the length of telling both managers to warn their players about their conduct so as not to further inflame emotions.

Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic

Victor Moses of Chelsea celebrates

Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic extended Chelsea's lead on 64mins and Victor Moses added another after 66mins

Warnock and Rafael Benitez, who have a festering disagreement dating back to 2007, may have surprised some people by shaking hands before referee Andre Marriner started proceedings but they were fooling no-one.

After emerging into a cold, wet Yorkshire night, Chelsea’s foreign contingent must have realised people weren’t exaggerating when they warned them about this one.

‘To be honest it was so difficult,’ said Juan Mata afterwards, with a pained smile.

Chelsea's Eden Hazard

Chelsea's Fernando Torres

Hazard (left) added a fourth and Fernando Torres rounded off the scoring with his 13th goal of the season

When Cesar Azpilicueta approached the Leeds fans to take a corner in the seventh minute, he was met with a cacophony of boos normally reserved for someone lining up a penalty.

Deafening: Leeds manager Neil Warnock said he'd 'never heard anything like' the noise inside Elland Road

Deafening: Neil Warnock said he'd 'never heard anything like' the noise

Credit to Chelsea, they gave as good as they got. Within the first 15 minutes, David Luiz squared up to Michael Brown, and then Frank Lampard went straight through the back of El Hadji Diouf.

Warnock was off his seat as well but not half as animated as he was when Luciano Becchio struck in the first half. The Leeds manager just about refrained from directing his two-fisted celebration in the direction of Benitez.

The explosion of noise around the stadium was deafening, the nature of the celebrations reminiscent of the 70s and 80s. ‘I’ve never heard anything like it,’ admitted Warnock.

Then it all went wrong. Another explosion followed Mata’s equaliser.

It was a smoke bomb that sent a plume rising up into the dank night from where the Chelsea fans were gathered in the John Charles West Stand.

A flare greeted the second from Branislav Ivanovic. By the time the fifth went in, the box of tricks was empty.

The scoreline was harsh on Leeds, but they had played their part on a night when football rolled back the years.

And it was quite an experience to take the journey with them.

Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke backs under-fire manager Arsene Wenger

We're sorry! Gazidis apologises as Arsenal owner Kroenke backs beleaguered Wenger to solve mounting problems

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UPDATED:

23:47 GMT, 12 December 2012

Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke has given his total backing to under-fire manager Arsene Wenger amid the backdrop of training ground tensions.

While being aware of the unrest among supporters after Tuesday night's embarrassing defeat against Bradford, the club's American owner is unequivocal in his belief the Frenchman remains the man to lead the Gunners.

Kroenke will back up his support with a massive January transfer budget and will tell Wenger to spend heavily in a bid to transform the club's faltering season.

Light at the end of the tunnel: Kroenke is backing Wenger to turn Arsenal's fortunes around

Light at the end of the tunnel: Kroenke is backing Wenger to turn Arsenal's fortunes around

Wenger's current contract expires in 2014 and there is currently no thought in the mind of Kroenke and the Gunners board to terminate the deal.

Kroenke, chief executive Ivan Gazidis and the club's key decision makers still view Wenger as one of the best managers in world football.

In fact, Sportsmail understands it will be left to Wenger to decide whether he wants to extend his tenure at the Emirates Stadium once his current deal expires.

On Wednesday, Gazidis told members of Arsenal Supporters Trust: 'I am frankly tired of getting up here and delivering the same message. Last night was not good enough and it made us all upset and angry.

'I would like to apologise to all of you, especially the fans who travelled up there. It was unbelievable support, as ever, and you deserved better.

'We all work here and are desperate to deliver the success and trophies we all want. Look into the eyes of the staff here, look at the way they talk. We will get this right. That is something we will work hard to put right.'

Arsenal fans have become increasingly frustrated at how far their team are off the pace this season

Arsenal fans have become increasingly frustrated at how far their team are off the pace this season

However, tensions at Arsenal's London Colney's HQ have piled on the problems for Wenger as he faces the biggest fight of his 16-year spell at the club.

Concerns are emerging over the Frenchman's working relationship with assistant manager Steve Bould, who only joined the coaching set-up in the summer.

Sources claim Bould has become increasingly marginalised during the club's training sessions in recent weeks.

It is believed Bould, who replaced the retired Pat Rice as assistant manager at the end of last season, has grown frustrated at his lack of input into first-team matters.

Meanwhile, certain players are also understood to want more regular defensive-based training sessions.

Sources claim assistant manager Bould (left) is frustrated with his lack of input into first-team matters

Sources claim assistant manager Bould (left) is frustrated with his lack of input into first-team matters

Speaking yesterday former Arsenal player Stewart Robson, who was employed by the club until last year, added weight to the talk of training ground problems.

'Arsene Wenger, because he has got a massive ego, because he's a dictator when it comes to Arsenal Football Club, he’s not allowing Steve Bould to do any work,' said Robson.

'He’s got a reputation for developing players. Maybe he did that six or seven years ago. He’s actually putting players backwards now.

'I’ve seen Gervinho play for the Ivory Coast before he came to Arsenal, he was a good player. I saw [Andrey] Arshavin play for Russia and Zenit St Petersburg, he was a good player. I've seen [Aaron] Ramsey play for the Welsh Under-21s, he's a good player.'

Out of sorts: Gervinho has misfired since joining Arsenal and the striker had another night to forget on Tuesday

Out of sorts: Gervinho has misfired since joining Arsenal and the striker had another night to forget on Tuesday

Delight: Bradford celebrate their memorable win over the Gunners to advance to the semi-finals

Delight: Bradford celebrate their memorable win over the Gunners to advance to the semi-finals

He added: 'Arsene Wenger is not doing enough on the training field. He’s not coaching the players, they have got no game strategy and, because he won't let anyone else do it, Arsenal are going backwards and some of their players are going backwards.

'Sir Alex Ferguson is not a coach. He doesn’t know how to put on a session, so people tell me. But what he does know is about the game, and he realises that, to get the best out of his players, he has to get the best coaches.

'That’s why he’s had some Dutch coaches underneath him. He’s made sure his number two is not just a yes man, which Arsene Wenger likes to appoint.

'He’s appointing people that are going to be tactically superior, who are going to take all his players out on the training field and work hard tactically and technically with the players.'

Steve Clarke wins Premier League manager of the month and Marouane Fellaini wins player of the month

Winter warmers: Everton star Fellaini and Baggies boss Clarke pick up Premier League awards for November

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UPDATED:

16:54 GMT, 11 December 2012

Steve Clarke has won the Barclays Premier League manager of the month award after guiding West Bromwich Albion to four victories in their five league games in November.

Marouane Fellaini picked up the player of the month award as a reward for scoring four goals for Everton last month, taking his goal tally to seven for the season by the end of November.

West Brom manager Clarke oversaw four consecutive wins for West Brom, including a memorable 2-1 victory over Chelsea at the Hawthorns.

His side also secured victories over Wigan, Southampton and Sunderland in November, and Clarke was pleased to see his team’s efforts recognised.

Scroll down for video

Clarke has got off to a flying start in his managerial career with West Brom 6th in the Premier League

Clarke has got off to a flying start in his managerial career with West Brom 6th in the Premier League

WEST BROM IN NOVEMBER

Mon 5 Nov (H) 2-0 v Southampton

Sat 10 Nov (A) 2-1 v Wigan

Sat 17 Nov (H) 2-1 v Chelsea

Sat 24 Nov (A) 4-2 v Sunderland

Wed 28 Nov (A) 1-3 v Swansea

He said: 'It’s a good reward for a good
month in November. It’s a good reward to pick up, but it’s a reward for
the work of my staff and the players.

'The players have done exceptionally well in November. We had a great run and four victories in a row in the Premier League is difficult to do. We managed to do that.

'This trophy is a little reward for them. We wanted to start well and try to build on it. Up until November, we have done really well.'

However, the Baggies’ boss is aware that his team ended the month with a 3-1 defeat to Swansea, which has been followed up by defeats at home to Stoke and away to Arsenal. Nonetheless, West Brom remain 6th in the Premier League and Clarke remains relaxed about the club’s change of fortunes.

He added: 'We have now lost a couple and it’s a different challenge for us and a different pressure. We’ve always said that there will be good moments in the season and there will be bad moments and you have to stay level-headed and remain objective over the course of the season.'

For Everton, Fellaini has been integral to another impressive month for the Merseyside club, scoring two goals in the draw at Fulham, as well as the equalisers in the draw at home to Arsenal and the 2-1 win over Sunderland at Goodison Park.

The Belgian midfielder celebrates scoring against Everton in a 2-2 draw at Craven Cottage

The Belgian midfielder celebrates scoring against Everton in a 2-2 draw at Craven Cottage

Fellaini's four goals this month have been vital for Everton's European aspirations and the Toffees lie 4th in the table

Fellaini's four goals this month have been vital for Everton's European aspirations and the Toffees lie 4th in the table

And Fellaini is keen for his team to continue their progress, revealing that the squad are desperate for a shot at the Champions League.

The Belgian midfielder said: 'I work hard. I work every day. I try to give my maximum every game. I’m happy but the most important for me is the team.

'Everybody wants to play in the Champions League next season so everybody works hard for this and I hope that at the end of the season we can finish in the top four.'

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Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas impressed by record of David Moyes

Spurs boss Villas-Boas impressed by record of rival Moyes

|

UPDATED:

18:19 GMT, 8 December 2012

Andre Villas-Boas has revealed his
deep respect for Everton boss David Moyes as he prepares to do battle
with the man many thought deserved to become the next Tottenham manager
in the summer.

Bookmakers installed Moyes as the
odds-on favourite to replace Harry Redknapp in June, but Daniel Levy
appointed Villas-Boas ahead of the Scot despite his excellent record at
the Merseyside club.

Tottenham Hotspur manager Andre Villas-Boas

Tottenham Hotspur manager Andre Villas-Boas

Everton had come dangerously close to relegation through the back end of the 1990s, but Moyes' appointment in March 2002 signalled a huge turnaround in the club's fortunes.

The Scot, whose only previous experience in management had come at Preston, led the Merseysiders to fourth in 2005 and has only finished outside the top eight twice during his nine full seasons in charge.

Villas-Boas, who takes his team to Goodison Park, thinks Everton would be in a much worse position had the 49-year-old not taken the helm 10 years ago. 'He has done tremendously well,' the Tottenham manager said.

'He has changed the mentality of the club. They went through incredibly difficult situations financially and has always built strong teams.

Everton manager David Moyes

Everton manager David Moyes

'His scouting is perfect, his training is perfect, the way he motivates his players also makes a difference as you see them on the pitch and they are extremely competitive.

'His teams always seem to improve year after year and that is not always the case. Going to Goodison Park is one of the toughest games.'

Villas-Boas has bad memories of visiting the Toffees. Last season his Chelsea team lost 2-0 at Goodison Park and little over three weeks later the Portuguese was sacked.

But after a shaky start, Villas-Boas has started to rebuild his reputation at Tottenham, who are now firmly in the hunt for a Champions League place following a run of three straight Barclays Premier League wins.

Confidence is high in the Spurs squad, but Villas-Boas knows it is vital his team maintain their good form going into the festive period.

'The Premier League is very, very tight between third and 10th,' the former Chelsea boss said.

'Obviously we want to do well at Everton but understand that it is going to be extremely difficult.

'It is one of the most difficult grounds to go to, they are fully rested, but we have played in midweek.

'But we want to do well and take something out of there and continue with the momentum we have going.'

Everton have only lost one of their last 10 games, although their last three results have been draws.

Marouane Fellaini's eight-goal scoring spree from midfield has played a big part in Everton's good form this season, and Spurs defender Kyle Walker knows shackling the Belgian will be key to the visitors' chances of success.

'Marouane Fellaini is a real handful,' the England right-back said.

'He's mobile for a big guy, gets the ball down and they go through him.

'They've good players, lots of internationals and it will be difficult. Ever since I've played in the Premier League, Everton is always one of the tough games.

'But our centre-backs Jan (Vertonghen) and Steven (Caulker) are fantastic and hopefully if we can keep a clean sheet then Jermain (Defoe), Emmanuel Adebayor or Clint (Dempsey) can go and get us a goal.

'If we continue playing how we've been playing and those three keep scoring, then we've got every chance.'

Villas-Boas looks set to recall Hugo Lloris in goal after giving Brad Friedel a run out in Tottenham's Europa League win over Panathinaikos on Thursday.

Gareth Bale is unavailable due to a hamstring injury and Michael Dawson also looks unlikely to play due to a similar concern.

Dempsey will probably start in Bale's place on the left, leaving Adebayor and Defoe free to resume their partnership up front.

Martin O"Neill tells Sunderland players not to take Premier League spot for granted

Don't take top flight spot for granted, O'Neill tells Black Cats

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UPDATED:

22:37 GMT, 30 November 2012

Martin O'Neill has warmed up for his one-year anniversary as Sunderland boss by warning his players not to take their place in the Barclays Premier League for granted.

Twelve months ago this weekend, the Northern Irishman agreed to succeed Steve Bruce with the aim of turning around the fortunes of the club he supported as a boy.

But when Sunderland head to Norwich on Sunday, O’Neill knows his team could be in the bottom three — if both Aston Villa and Southampton win — after winning just two of their 13 League matches.

Vigilance: Martin O'Neill told his players not to take their Premier League place for granted

Vigilance: Martin O'Neill told his players not to take their Premier League place for granted

Such a run was the same as Bruce achieved at the start of last season and O’Neill thinks the club has to realise it can take time to become an established top-flight force.

‘It bothers me that you spend two or three years in the Premier League and suddenly you are a Premier League side,’ said O’Neill, who was forced to scotch rumours he had quit after the 4-2 loss to West Brom.

‘I had this conversation with the chairman at Stoke (Peter Coates) a few months ago. Never for one minute does he think Stoke are an established Premier League side. It is always a fight.

‘We need points on the board. But that is cheap talk, you have to go out and do it in every single game.’

O’Neill heads in to his anniversary without Lee Cattermole. The dressing-room leader is expected to be out until the new year with medial ligament damage in his knee.

And O’Neill, who suggested he is looking to add to his squad in January, added: ‘A year in charge Sometimes I feel like it has been three months and other times, of course, it seems as if it has been a decade.’

Blow: Lee Cattermole is out until the new year

Blow: Lee Cattermole is out until the new year

Alex McLeish linked with Wolves job

McLeish could complete unlikely trio of Midlands jobs as pressure mounts on Stale at Wolves

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UPDATED:

22:46 GMT, 30 November 2012

Alex McLeish has emerged as a surprise contender for the Wolves manager’s job if Stale Solbakken fails to reverse the club’s fortunes.

The former Scotland, Birmingham and Aston Villa manager was at last week’s home game with Nottingham Forest.

McLeish, who has been out of work since being sacked by Villa in May, was spotted in the directors’ box as he took in the game. He retains a base in Warwickshire. He guided Birmingham to promotion from the Championship in 2008.

Closing in: Alex McLeish is in line for the Wolves job if Stale Solbakken gets the chop

Closing in: Alex McLeish is in line for the Wolves job if Stale Solbakken gets the chop

After failing to win any of Wolves’ last nine matches, Solbakken is under pressure. Although Wolves’ owner Steve Morgan has refused to ditch his bold plan after appointing the first continental coach in the club’s history, defeats against Bristol City and near neighbours Birmingham next week could see the supporters turn.

Vandals have already targeted Solbakken’s car — tipping paint over his black BMW.

However, unless there is an upturn in fortunes soon some unwanted modifications to his car will be the least of his worries.