Tag Archives: gloom

Harry Redknapp faces biggest challenge of career keeping QPR in the Premier League

Keeping QPR in the Premier League is Redknapp's biggest ever challenge… but will he make a dog's dinner of it

|

UPDATED:

23:50 GMT, 30 December 2012

Troubling times: On the evidence of QPR's capitulation to Liverpool on Sunday, Harry Redknapp is facing the ultimate challenge to keep them in the top flight

Troubling times: On the evidence of QPR's capitulation to Liverpool on Sunday, Harry Redknapp is facing the ultimate challenge to keep them in the top flight

Brendan Rodgers has been talking about getting the right ingredients in place to put on a decent meal for Liverpool’s fans.

At Loftus Road it was the turn of QPR’s supporters to discover what a dog’s dinner their team really is.

Harry Redknapp is convinced that three or four players are needed to save them from relegation, but the Rangers manager has undercooked it.

‘It could have been eight, like Aston Villa at Chelsea,’ he admitted. Next up for Rangers are Chelsea. After defeat against Liverpool, and the manner of it, the challenge to keep this club in the top flight is the biggest of Redknapp’s career. No question.

Bigger than the task to lead Tottenham into the Champions League when he accepted the call from Daniel Levy in October 2008.

Even bigger than Milan Mandaric’s mercy dash three years earlier, when Redknapp returned to Fratton Park to take over a Portsmouth team third from bottom of the Premier League. Then, as now, he promised big changes in the transfer window.

He shuffled the pack at Pompey, signing five players — Benjani, Pedro Mendes, Sean Davis, Noe Pamarot and Dean Kiely — in January 2006.

Incredibly they stayed up, finishing the season four points clear of danger.

Redknapp is still convinced QPR will remain in the Premier League, clearing the air with the players after another crisis meeting in the dressing room. He is sick of seeing some miserable faces moping around the place and is determined to lift the gloom before they travel to Chelsea on Wednesday. ‘One or two aren’t with me,’ he added, and it’s safe to say that Jose Bosingwa is one of them.

The 65,000 a week right back has had a diplomatic injury ever since he refused to be a substitute for Rangers’ first win of the season against Fulham on November 15.

Sure touch: Liverpool's Luis Suarez scored twice against QPR in the 3-0 win

Sure touch: Liverpool's Luis Suarez scored twice against QPR in the 3-0 win

‘I’ve told them if they want to leave they can come and see me first thing on Monday morning,’ he added, but finding clubs for players on inflated salaries will be a tough call.

In yesterday’s brutal post-match analysis he feared the worst, admitting that Rangers have been left short of quality all over the pitch.

To stay up they will need the presence of players like Bobby Zamora, back in training well ahead of schedule after a hip operation.

There will be a temptation to press gang the striker back into action after this woeful performance at Loftus Road. Zamora hasn’t played since late November and wasn’t expected to return to the Rangers team until February.

Suddenly there is a glimmer of hope that the big target man could be back before the end of January. Even then it is probably too late.

Too little, too late Injured striker Bobby Zamora has been limited to charity work lately, but he could return next month to help QPR's survival bid

Too little, too late Injured striker Bobby Zamora has been limited to charity work lately, but he could return next month to help QPR's survival bid

They need him — and others — if they are to have any chance of overhauling teams like Reading, Southampton, Aston Villa and Wigan.

The transfer window opens tomorrow and the temptation for QPR chairman Tony Fernandes to risk it all will surely be too much.

West Ham midfielder Mo Diame, so destructive against Liverpool at Upton Park on December 9 before he went off injured, is an option. Diame is back in training with West Ham and Rangers are prepared to activate his 3.5m release clause if he is willing to move to west London.

Judging by Rangers’ 12th Premier League defeat it is almost inconceivable for any player with pedigree to consider moving to Loftus Road.

East to West Mohamed Diame could be moving across London if QPR activate the 3.5m release clause in his West Ham contract

East to West Mohamed Diame could be moving across London if QPR activate the 3.5m release clause in his West Ham contract

They allowed Liverpool to look like world beaters, carved open by Luis Suarez in the opening half hour. Soon he will be joined up front by Daniel Sturridge, although Premier League rules will prevent him playing against Sunderland on January 2.

Instead the Chelsea striker will have to wait until Liverpool’s trip to Mansfield in the FA Cup on Sunday for his first start.

When he pulls on the red shirt, Sturridge will discover he has a team-mate who will put balls on a plate for him.

Unquestionably, something is cooking for Liverpool.

Exeter 30 Scarlets 20: Chiefs keep Amlin Cup hopes alive thanks to late Scaysbrook try

Exeter 30 Scarlets 20: Chiefs keep European hopes alive thanks to late Scaysbrook try

PUBLISHED:

18:14 GMT, 15 December 2012

|

UPDATED:

21:09 GMT, 15 December 2012

A late try by skipper James Scaysbrook secured Exeter's win and deepened the gloom for Scarlets.

Chiefs flanker Scaysbrook slipped through two minutes from time to leave Simon Easterby's side rock-bottom in Pool Five and facing a whitewash. It completed an historic double for Exeter following their first win in the Heineken Cup last week.

James Scaysbrook (L) of Exeter Chiefs powers his way through the Scarlets defence

Power house: Exeter's James Scaysbrook powers his way through the Scarlets defence

Ian Whitten crossed for the first
try before Gareth Steenson added the conversion and a penalty after
Wales wing Liam Williams was yellow carded early on.

Chiefs struck again through Simon Alcott. But Ken Owens then went over for the Welsh side to set up a second-half recovery.

Centre Scott Williams raced over for
their second try and Aled Thomas's conversion levelled matters, only for
Steenson to kick a third Exeter penalty before Scaysbrook's late try
denied Scarlets even a losing bonus point.

The Exeter Chiefs player celebrate as James Scaysbrook goes over to score a try on the verge of full itme

Touch down: Exeter Chiefs players celebrate as James Scaysbrook goes over to score a try in the final moments

Rafa Benitez in his own words (sort of)

Benitez in his own words (sort of) as new Chelsea manager makes a good first impression

|

UPDATED:

18:00 GMT, 22 November 2012

Rafa Benitez has a tough new job, a trigger-happy owner to please and a game against the unbeaten Premier League champions to kick off his Chelsea career.

But it's not all doom and gloom for the former Liverpool manager as he's been given the Darren Farley treatment.

Farley is known as 'the voice of football' for his impressions of some of the game's biggest names and has appeared on Sky Sports News, Soccer AM and numerous radio shows.

DM.has('rcpv1983739378001','BCVideo');

He's now made his Sportsmail debut with
this exclusive clip of what the new Blues boss – a favourite of Farley's
from his Liverpool days – might have to say for himself.

Log back on tomorrow to see what happens when Rafa is welcomed to Stamford Bridge by Jose Mourinho (kind of).

Yaya Toure says Manchester City are well prepared to face Real Madrid

We won't make the same mistakes as last year, says Toure as City prepare for Real test

|

UPDATED:

08:36 GMT, 17 September 2012

Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure says the club’s backroom staff have been so thorough in their preparations that he does not need to tap up his Spanish contacts for the lowdown on Real Madrid.

The Premier League champions travel to Bernabeu on Tuesday desperate to put in a better performance in the tournament than they did last season when they failed to get out of their group.

Toure was a European winner with Real’s rivals Barcelona in 2009 and is desperate to follow suit with City.

Ready to go: Yaya Toure says City are fully prepared to face Real Madrid

Ready to go: Yaya Toure says City are fully prepared to face Real Madrid

Bad start: Cristiano Ronaldo and Real Madrid have won just one game in the league this season

Bad start: Cristiano Ronaldo and Real Madrid have won just one game in the league this season

And he says they are looking to pour more misery on Jose Mourinho and his Real side who have one win in four after Saturday’s loss at Seville heightened their early season gloom.

Toure said: ‘I maintain contact with some ex-companions at Barca but I do not need their advice over Real.

‘The City staff have prepared for this match in great detail and that’s enough information for us.

‘Our last campaign was a disaster and we want to change all that.

‘To win in the Bernabeu is a unique experience, enough to put you on the front pages. We shall put in our maximum to achieve that.

‘So we shall be concentrating hard from the very first second.

‘For me, the key to the result means winning the midfield battles with Xabi Alonso, Mesut Ozil and Sami Khedira. This is the key for the match.’

Brendan Rodgers stars in US documentary

Review: Boss Rodgers is the star in US documentary look at Liverpool

|

UPDATED:

01:00 GMT, 11 September 2012

From the club who brought you the Boot Room, here is something all together less secretive.

Being: Liverpool is an American documentary billed as the first of its kind, a behind-the-scenes look at life at a major Barclays Premier League club.

If Brendan Rodgers was not keen on having his first strides at Anfield caught on camera then he did a good job of hiding it.

Behind the scenes: Brendan Rodgers (left) and Tom Werner (right) star in the US documentary about Liverpool

Behind the scenes: Brendan Rodgers (left) and Tom Werner (right) star in the US documentary about Liverpool

The television crew follow him everywhere, from his first meeting with the staff at the training ground to the passenger seat of his club Porsche and the living room of his enormous new house in Formby, where he awkwardly reveals through gritted teeth that the son of his assistant manager, Colin Pascoe, is dating his 16-year-old daughter.

The first episode of this fascinating series is a scene-setter that seems rather dependant on a happy ending down the line.

We are pitched into the gloom of Kenny Dalglish's final days as Liverpool manager, cutting from footage of their FA Cup final defeat by Chelsea to a scene in a Merseyside pub where the verdict is grim.

The narrator talks of a 'three-year lull of mediocrity for a club synonymous with glory' and the shot cuts to Tom Werner and John W Henry, the owners, as they attempt to explain from a couch how Dalglish's departure was part of a strategy that had been in place all along.

Henry says: 'When we first talked with Kenny he understood and we understood that there was going to be a time when he stepped aside when we found the right person for the long term.

'He said to me in our first conversation that he would be ready for that.'

That right person, they hope, is Rodgers. This series is dependant on him, seemingly both as the willing and able supplier of soundbites and also as the man who will deliver the contrast to the programme's introduction.

In terms of the soundbites, he has made a fast start. In discussing his family work ethic, he says: 'I wasn't born with a silver spoon in my mouth, I was born with a silver shovel'.

During some of the excellent scenes where he discusses his coaching philosophy, he says: 'You educate players, you train a dog.'

Slow start: Rodgers' Liverpool side have struggled so far this season

Slow start: Rodgers' Liverpool side have struggled so far this season

Board games anyone Luis Suarez (centre) is filmed playing Monopoly with team-mate Lucas Leiva

Board games anyone Luis Suarez (centre) is filmed playing Monopoly with team-mate Lucas Leiva

Later he says: 'Every player I see as a son.' The American audience will love it, which is largely the point, but it's also a risk.

Given the footage already accrued and, indeed, some of the David Brent-at-his-desk-style interviews with Rodgers, it won't be difficult to lampoon the manager if he isn't given the time to implement his brilliant playing systems.

The programme is about more than Rodgers. The first episode introduces characters from the club doctor and Rodgers' family to the players.

In one clip, during the club's pre-season tour to the US, the now departed Charlie Adam is having a 'conversation' with Boston Red Sox outfielder Cody Ross.

'Ever play cricket' asks Ross. 'No,' says Adam. And almost nothing else. Wonderfully awkward.

Face of a star: The scenes where Rodgers talks about his coaching philosophy are particularly revealing

Face of a star: The scenes where Rodgers talks about his coaching philosophy are particularly revealing

Steven Gerrard takes the crew inside his home and shows a bit of his frustration at living with four women but no son, while another scene shows Lucas playing Monopoly with Luis Suarez and discussing the need for the foreign players to stick together.

Fabio Borini, in a fascinating scene during his medical, tells the doctor about his difficulty sleeping during Italy's Euro 2012 campaign.

In all, it covers a lot of bases, as Henry would say.

*The first in a six-part documentary series airs in the US on Sunday.

Arsene Wenger already missing Robin van Persie

Wenger already feeling the strain of life without goal king Van Persie

|

UPDATED:

21:30 GMT, 19 August 2012

Fantasy football 2012

It did not take long for doubt to feast on the minds of those who thought good riddance to Robin van Persie in the belief that 24million for a 29-year-old determined to leave was sound business.

Confirmation that Alex Song was off to Barcelona deepened the gloom, as did the hint that Arsene Wenger’s spirit had been flattened by a turbulent week capped by a goalless draw against Sunderland.

The Arsenal manager accused his team of lacking creativity, perhaps a consequence of tightening up the defence, he said, and demanded more from new strikers Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud.

No way through: Arsenal dominated possession but were unable to force their way past Sunderland

No way through: Arsenal dominated possession but were unable to force their way past Sunderland

What they need in the window…

Arsenal: ‘More creativity,’ said Arsene Wenger, who is adding Nuri Sahin on loan, but Arsenal always seem to be crying out for more physical presence in the centre of the pitch.

Sunderland: Martin O’Neill said: ‘What we lack is some quality in major positions and I actually think the quantity too.’ First priority is a striker, perhaps Steven Fletcher.

Like a bad dream, Wenger finds himself at the tail-end of another slippery serpent in a never-ending game of snakes and ladders. Can he summon the energy to fashion new stars in the hope that, next time, they might repay his efforts with loyalty

‘We make the players here,’ said the manager. ‘All who have left were made here or made a name here or came here very young.

‘Fabregas, Clichy, Adebayor, Henry, Nasri, all of them. Song came at 17. He had a lot to do, but he did it. That is what we face today. I don’t think it is linked at all with winning something or not. Every case is individual.

‘Part of our club is to influence people’s lives in a positive way. You would prefer to influence it in a positive way for yourself but it doesn’t always happen.’

Much of the remodelling will focus on Santi Cazorla, Giroud and Podolski, who made their first Premier League appearances against Sunderland. Cazorla, in the hole behind the centre forward, impressed. His touch, vision and balance are delightful, and although his influence faded, he was responsible for the best chance, threading a pass to Giroud who sliced wide nine minutes from time.

Bright start: Lukas Podolski put in a solid hour-long shift up front for his new club

Bright start: Lukas Podolski put in a solid hour-long shift up front for his new club

‘It felt good,’ said Cazorla. ‘There’s
a faster rhythm, a higher tempo. In Spain, games are more cautious,
more tactical. Here, there is more to-ing and fro-ing, but I like it.

‘It’s overstated, the idea that
smaller, technical players can’t do well here. We have powerful players
in Spain, too. Being tall isn’t what makes you a good footballer and I
don’t think that’s the defining factor in English football.’

Having wasted the best chance to take
three points, Giroud was aware of inevitable comparisons with Van Persie
and asked for patience.

‘People are clever enough to know
Robin took a lot of space here,’ said Giroud. ‘His last season was
wonderful but before that he took time to settle. I’m just asking people
to be a little patient with me. I know Arsenal are a great club and
need a striker ready and efficient quickly. It is up to me to succeed.’
On the miss, Giroud added: ‘The coach told me I had more time. If I had
been on my left foot I would probably have taken more time.

Attacking threat: The likes of Abou Diaby, Gervinho and Santi Cazorla all banged on the Sunderland door

Attacking threat: The likes of Abou Diaby, Gervinho and Santi Cazorla all banged on the Sunderland door

‘It was on the right foot. I’ll have
to work on my right foot. It could have been the dream start but I am
not worried. I will have plenty of chances here and I will score.’

Podolski, having started at centre
forward rather than in his familiar position on the left, had a
disappointing debut. ‘I see him as a centre forward,’ said Wenger. ‘But
he has some work to do to change his game, make runs in behind and to
protect the ball and move around the box.

‘When you come from a wide position
it’s not easy straight away. I’m positive he will get there because he’s
a fantastic finisher.’

Running man: Theo Walcott was a thorn in the side of the visitors' defence for the most part

Running man: Theo Walcott was a thorn in the side of the visitors' defence for the most part

The Germany striker was happy with his
opening day, though, and said: ‘It was fun wearing the shirt. All those
big names, the crowd chanting my name. I enjoyed it.

‘It’s difficult playing against such a compact side. We should have scored an early goal, that would have made things easier.’

There is much for Wenger to study. He
is on the brink of signing midfielder Nuri Sahin on loan from Real
Madrid but the pain of Van Persie’s exit will linger.

‘It’s a major, major loss,’ said
Sunderland boss Martin O’Neill. ‘Anyone would suffer if they lost a
world-class player like that. I’m sure he would have preferred him to go
abroad — out of sight, out of mind — but he decides to go to Manchester
United and that’s as bad as it gets.

‘But you always feel that, when the season settles down, Arsenal have the quality.’

Don't forget us: Jack Colback was at the heart of the good things being done by the Mackems

Don't forget us: Jack Colback was at the heart of the good things being done by the Mackems

Wojciech Szczesny says Arsenal are stronger than last year

Szczesny says Arsenal are getting stronger… even if they lose RVP

|

UPDATED:

00:00 GMT, 31 July 2012

Fantasy football 2012

Wojciech Szczesny insists Arsenal boast a stronger squad than at this time last year even if they suffer the blow of losing Robin van Persie.

Arsene Wenger has added strikers Lukasz Podolski and Olivier Giroud and the goalkeeper expects to be part of a tighter defensive unit this season.

Wenger is also in pursuit of further recruits with Santi Cazorla and Nuri Sahin still in his sights.

Getting better: Wojciech Szczesny believes Arsenal are in a better position than they were last season

Getting better: Wojciech Szczesny believes Arsenal are in a better position than they were last season

'It will be disappointing if he leaves because Robin is our captain and he’s our leader,' said Szczesny. 'I’m very happy to have him at the club. He’s still an Arsenal player and we support him all the way.

'At the beginning for pre-season last year everyone was saying it was doom and gloom with everyone leaving the club. No-one’s left the club at the moment. We have new signings, we’re stronger defensively and so we’re in a better position.

'It was a bit different last year because we all knew Samir (Nasri) and Cesc (Fabregas) would be leaving but now we believe in the squad more. We’re more confident that the players we have are good enough to play for this club and challenge for trophies.

'Those who were lacking experience last year have that experience. We have a couple of signings, more players who can score goals.

Stronger: Arsenal have signed Lukasz Podolski this summer

Stronger: Arsenal have signed Lukasz Podolski this summer

'Podolski’s goal record speaks for itself. We’re strong offensively and and Steve Bould has been doing some fantastic work with the defence. That seems to be working very well. It all makes me believe we’ll be that little bit stronger.'

Bould has been promoted from his Academy role to replace Pat Rice as first team coach with specific responsibilities for reorganising a defence which leaked 49 goals in the Barclays Premier League last season.

'I don’t think we can concede more goals than we did last year,” said Szczesny.

'Hopefully the number will be much lower.

'I was the one in goal, I was the one conceding all those goals, so I can’t be angry at people.

Heading for the exit: Robin van Persie looks set to leave Arsenal this summer

Heading for the exit: Robin van Persie looks set to leave Arsenal this summer

'I’m just disappointed because it shows our defending was a big problem for us last season. We’ll do everything we can to make it better.

'This club always has the same aims and that’s winning trophies. We obviously haven’t done it in the last few years and that’s disappointing for the players and the fans but I believe we will be that little bit stronger than we were last year.

'We have a couple of quality signings already. We’re already sure of our place in the Champions League. And we’re confident we can fight for the trophies more than we did last year.'

Szczesny played in Sunday’s 2-2 draw against Hong Kong champions Kitchee, his first football since his red card playing for Poland in the opening game of Euro 2012.

On tour: Szczesny trains in Kuala Lumpur

On tour: Szczesny trains in Kuala Lumpur

'It was very disappointing for me,' said the Arsenal ‘keeper. 'It didn’t start as I wanted it to and it didn’t finish as I wanted either.

'Expectations were very high but I was sent off in the first game and dropped for the third game. We got knocked out but I’m proud of the way the country hosted the tournament.'

After Manuel Almunia’s departure, 22-year-old Szczesny will wear the No.1 shirt at the Emirates this season.

'It’s a big privilege for me to wear that shirt at such a big club,” he said. “I just hope I can prove I’m worthy of wearing it.

'I played my first full season last season and managed to play every single game. The manager has a lot of faith in me and I appreciate that.

'The competition is very tough. It’s easy to say I’m the established No.1 because I played every single game last season.

'Lukasz (Fabianski) and Vito (Mannone) are doing their very best to challenge me and I feel the competition.

'There’s no danger of being complacent. I’ve got the No.1 shirt and I want to prove to everyone I’m capable of wearing it.'

Euro 2012: Media laud Spain after triumph over Italy

We've won the impossible… Spanish media laud La Roja after third consecutive title

|

UPDATED:

08:30 GMT, 2 July 2012

There has been an understandably euphoric reaction from the Spanish media after the national side became the first side to win three major international tournaments in a row on Sunday night.

Spain retained their European Championship crown with a resounding 4-0 win over Italy in the final.

'Champions of Europe,' read the headline in El Pais. 'After a memorable game with the best of their style, La Roja crushed Italy and completed the triple crown of European Championship-World Cup-European Championship.

We've done it again: Spain celebrate their third title in as many attempts after beating Italy in Kiev

We've done it again: Spain celebrate their third title in as many attempts after beating Italy in Kiev

'With goals from (David) Silva, Jordi Alba, (Fernando) Torres and (Juan) Mata, Spain completed the biggest ever victory in a European Championship final.'

El Mundo similarly ran with: 'Legendary Champions.' Spain, they said: 'had changed football with their short passing style and domination of the ball in a style that everyone now wants to copy.'

Marca

Mundo

'Spain wins the impossible,' wrote La Vanguardia. 'La Roja completed the most successful cycle in the history of international football with its third title in six years.'

And there was special praise from the Catalan daily for one of their own, Xavi, who they said: 'showed a magisterial direction of his teammates with two assists.'

La Vanguardia

ABC

Madrid sports daily Marca thanked the players from bringing joy to the country at a time of otherwise economic gloom with their headline of 'Thank You, Thank You, Thank You'.

Both AS.com and El Mundo Deportivo both hailed La Furia Roja as 'Triple-champions'.

Barcelona based Sport declared Vicente del Bosque's men as 'Kings of football and kings of Europe', adding: 'The Spanish national team has its place in history and it was ruthless.

'With less suffering than expected, Del Bosque's men achieved a second consecutive European Championship.'

Euro 2012: Steven Gerrard reveals Wayne Rooney struggled to cope with pressure

We all expect far too much of Rooney, says Gerrard

|

UPDATED:

20:57 GMT, 30 June 2012

Pep talk: Gerrard encourages struggling team-mate Rooney

Pep talk: Gerrard encourages struggling
team-mate Rooney

Steven Gerrard has revealed that Wayne Rooney struggled to cope with the enormous pressure he was put under during the European Championship.

The England striker was compared with Pele by manager Roy Hodgson and considered to be the match-winner-in-waiting while he served a two-match ban in the group stages.

Rooney was also one of the first
players Hodgson spoke to after becoming England boss and the manager
made it clear that great things were expected of the Manchester United
player, a view shared by fans.

But captain Gerrard said it was a burden for the forward, who was unimpressive when he returned to action.

'At this level one of the biggest things is playing without expectation or fear,' he said.

'It is only normal if Wayne is weighed down with that feeling of expectation because everyone expects him to do well.

'Since he's been around, there's been
pressure because of his performances in 2004. Wayne is expected to come
to these tournaments and win them all on his own.

'The responsibility has got to be on all 23 players. It's unfair to
look at Wayne and say because he never played well, he's the reason why
we don't do well at these tournaments.'

Gerrard
also hit out at critics, including his Liverpool team-mate Jamie
Carragher, who claimed England will fail at the 2014 World Cup.

He said: 'Should we give up Should we not go because of what Jamie Carragher said

'Everyone is down, everyone's sad and there is doom and gloom about, but we will keep working and bounce back. Hopefully, we'll put it right.'

Martin Samuel: Aaron Cook the victim of sport"s secret society

Cook the victim of sport's secret society

|

UPDATED:

21:30 GMT, 3 June 2012

Those who know say that Aaron Cook will not be representing Britain in London this summer, despite the third meeting of British Taekwondo’s selection panel.

As it stands, the British Olympic Association is refusing to ratify Cook’s exclusion at the expense of Lutalo Muhammad, and are insisting on a representative in the room to ensure fair play when the panel reconvenes.

There will come a time, however, when the BOA will have to stand aside and let British Taekwondo do its duty.

Olympic battle: Taekwondo medal hopeful, Aaron Cook, continues to fight for his place at London 2012

Olympic battle: Taekwondo medal hopeful, Aaron Cook, continues to fight for his place at London 2012

There is no precedent for the BOA imposing an athlete on a national body, and no appetite for such an approach, either. The BOA insist their wish is not to interfere but to guarantee a transparent process.

If Cook is rejected a third time, as expected, there will be protests and maybe even a legal challenge from the athlete and his camp, but almost certainly the presence of a BOA man will bring their resistance to an end.

Unless British Taekwondo are foolish enough to appear cravenly corrupt before an independent witness, the BOA will back down and the decision of the selection panel will stand.

More from Martin Samuel…

Martin Samuel: Forget the doom and gloom… France aren't that good
03/06/12

Not just ANY buttie – it's an Olympic buttie
31/05/12

Martin Samuel: Why make excuses for Roy's team of winners
29/05/12

Martin Samuel: Roy, the sly old sausage, is flying in just under the radar
27/05/12

Martin Samuel: Vote today… and say NO to big goals and long balls
27/05/12

Martin Samuel: Roy is no fool… his new job is all about results
25/05/12

Rail companies and councils are raking it in from honest punters. Their ruse Make the rules impossible to understand
24/05/12

Martin Samuel: It's time Toure told this agent where to go… not the other way round
22/05/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

Gary Hall, Joseph Salim, Steve Jennings, Paul Green and Dr Steve Peters are the men responsible for picking Great Britain’s taekwondo team, not that the governing body has publicised this. Until the names appeared in a newspaper on Saturday, the identity of the selection panel was a mystery, despite their reliance on public money. Even the BOA initially struggled to discover the men behind Cook’s omission.

Why would British Taekwondo wish to keep its selection committee private Perhaps because it is made up of figures who are hopelessly compromised on the main issue surrounding Cook — his decision to opt out of their elite programme last year. Cook believed he wasn’t getting the right training, the right partners and was entering an insufficient number of competitive events.

After going out in the first round a couple of times — he left the World Championships at this stage, in tears — he decided to go it alone. Decamping to his garden shed and using sponsors to fund his work, he rose to world No 1 and became the only Briton to win back-to-back European titles.

He trains with Patrice Remarck, a former taekwondo champion from France, and Mike Clegg, a fitness coach who previously worked with Manchester United.

The suspicion is his success — and a tendency to publicise the reasons behind it — makes British Taekwondo look bad and being overlooked for the London Games is the payback.

Lutalo Muhammad, the man selected in Cook’s place in the -80kg category, is very much in the system. He is also a European champion, but ranked seventh worldwide, rather than Cook’s first. The men have fought each other twice, victories split.

The official, technical explanation for Muhammad’s selection concerns a rule change that awards higher marks for head shots and the selection panel say Muhammad will take greater benefit from this, being taller and more agile. Clearly, the BOA are sceptical.

High hopes: Cook has appealed the decision to snub him for Team GB

High hopes: Cook has appealed the decision to snub him for Team GB

And who can blame them For the personnel on the selection panel are hardly without ties.

There is Hall, British Taekwondo’s overall performance director whose methods Cook rejected. Salim is the high performance coach directly responsible for the -80kg programme and works frequently with Muhammad.

Jennings is one of their coaches, who is also married to Sarah Stevenson, a world champion, operating very much inside the programme. Paul Green is a former international taekwondo athlete once coached by Hall. Peters is a non-executive director.

To vote for Cook ahead of Muhammad would be tantamount to an admission that going outside their programme can produce better athletes.

The BOA, rightly, do not care about that. It is not their job to make government-funded bodies look efficient. They just want the best British athlete at the Olympics. It is a clash of cultures; of philosophies.

Taking his place: Lutalo Muhammad

Taking his place: Lutalo Muhammad

What is being discovered as the Games approach is that minority sports are quite often no more than tiny fiefdoms, ruled by a man or a clan. Remember when the light shone on British Wrestling and half the people at the top turned out to have the same surname

British Taekwondo might not be as incestuous as that but the make-up of the selection committee hardly suggests a level playing field. Do not forget that these names were unearthed, not announced. Despite using your money, they had no intention of letting you know how they make decisions. Muhammad has even had to put up with abuse from racist boneheads since the debate went public.

This is what happens when an organisation prefers to work in secret. It lets ignorance in.

And
where is UK Sport in all this Nowhere, because they are complicit.
They run the famous ‘no compromise’ high performance programme that
links funding to medals and resulted in the disastrous attempt by
British Wrestling to play the system with a team full of east Europeans.

It took the BOA, again, to slap that worthless programme down and cut wrestling’s contribution to the Olympics to one competitor: Olga Butkevych, from Ukraine.

British Wrestling is so proud of her that the athlete profile on their website gives her date of birth, weight class and no other information, like a soldier captured behind enemy lines during war. Not that there’s something to hide.

All we hear about is the governance and administration in major sports. A year cannot pass without the All-Party Parliamentary Football Group inviting their pet pontificators to tell them what they want to hear, so they can attract the usual headlines and produce the standard report that goes nowhere. If the Rugby Football Union or the England and Wales Cricket Board mess up, we get to hear of it.

Yet the Olympic sports, the under-the-radar sports, exist in their own little world. And it is only when a major event like London 2012 comes along and the public and media suddenly become interested that questions are asked.

And what we are finding, as more and more of these selection issues head towards courts of appeal — we’ve had one in rowing, and you wouldn’t believe what is going on in fencing — is that the presumed conspiracies at the average Premier League meeting are nothing compared to the cosy arrangements in sports such as taekwondo.

A Brit of a mystery: Olga Butkevych represented Team GB despite being born and raised in Ukraine

A Brit of a mystery: Olga Butkevych represented Team GB despite being born and raised in Ukraine

For what is at stake here is the livelihood of a man. Cook left taekwondo’s private club and made a success of his career and for this he should be denied a goal for which he has worked all his life

What would have happened had Chris Hoy not bought into cycling’s programme What would happen if any young athlete thought he knew best and was proved right

There are too many fretting about whether David Beckham can do his testimonial turn for the Great Britain football team and too few taking up the torch for Cook.

And when the BOA finally stand aside, as informed voices say they will, he is going to be left to battle the forces of vested interest alone: and that is one fight he can never win.

WTF: Dr Un Yong Kim

WTF: Dr Un Yong Kim

What the WTF president LOL

The World Taekwondo Federation was formed in South Korea on May 28, 1973. Its first meeting took place in Seoul with 35 representatives from around the world.

Dr Un Yong Kim, a former International Olympic Committee vice-president, was its inaugural chairman and he was no doubt satisfied with the way his new organisation’s acronym tripped off the tongue.

WTF: World Taekwondo Federation.

And then text speak came along. These days WTF means something rather different.

For delicate ears, shall we call it a strong expression of surprise

The current chief is Dr Chungwon Choue, who must thank his predecessors every day for the delight of being known as the WTF president.

One can only hope that during the Olympics he is given cause to make a strong statement on an issue, just to give editors a crack at the headline: ‘Aaron Cook not selected by Britain WTF, says WTF.’

GB in oars de combat

Great Britain’s rowers appear to have pulled a stroke over transportation times to the Olympic venue at Eton Dorney.

Original estimates of 30 minutes have been revised to one hour causing widespread disruption, which will not affect Team GB who secured Thameside accommodation and will travel to events by water. But rivals are furious, and understandably so.

Germany, Holland, the USA and Australia have lodged protests with the International Federation of Rowing Associations and the IOC.

The Canadians have even announced plans to cycle to the venue. Outrage would, however, be a particularly precious emotion from Canada, considering their conduct as hosts of the Winter Olympics in Vancouver in 2010.

Own The Podium was the motto, and visiting athletes were afforded very limited time to train on site, putting them at a disadvantage.

Perhaps Canada now comprehend why everybody was upset. For Olympic hosts, ethical behaviour should not be an option, but the minimum requirement enforced by the IOC.

Oar-some: Eton Dorney in Windsor will host the Olympic rowing events later this year

Oar-some: Eton Dorney in Windsor will host the Olympic rowing events later this year

No country should be allowed to own the podium, the places or the information.

The flip side of this is the decision to host a World Cup sailing event in the Olympic venues of Weymouth and Portland less than two months before the Games.

There have been grumblings from British sailors, among them two-time Olympic champion Iain Percy, that letting 700 competitors into domestic waters undermines home advantage. What would they rather we do, torpedo them

Two years are enough

The French Football Federation has set qualification from the group stage of Euro 2012 as a minimum requirement for manager Laurent Blanc. The message is clear: fail and lose your job.

Meanwhile, our Football Association gave Roy Hodgson a contract that lasts for three tournaments, before he had even bossed a game.

Clearly, he has taken the position in exceptional circumstances and had to be given a contract through to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Get the job done: France boss Laurent Blanc has clearly marked out targets for Euro 2012

Get the job done: France boss Laurent Blanc has clearly marked out targets for Euro 2012

Yet why do we insist on four-year deals for untried managers The job is a two-year cycle, the tournament being the proving ground.

Maybe there was anxiety that a foreign coach, like Fabio Capello or Sven Goran Eriksson, might return to a lucrative club post after a good campaign, causing embarrassment, but what English-born manager would turn his back on his country at the end of a positive tournament

One that did wouldn’t be the right man for the job anyway. A long contract is an unnecessary complication in international football, as England discovered after the last World Cup.

City fans pay up

Manchester City have increased season ticket prices by nine per cent for next season, following a six per cent rise a year ago. What did anyone expect

Financial fair play (FFP) regulations ensure the money required to fund continued success cannot come from the owners, so more must be squeezed from consumers. Another blindingly obvious consequence of FFP that UEFA president Michel Platini somehow did not anticipate.

Kean for help

Steve Kean has been trying to persuade Colin Hendry, the Blackburn Rovers legend, to join his coaching staff for next season. It is not known what Hendry’s official job title would be, but ‘Lightning Rod’ seems a fair guess.

Welcome return Colin Hendry has been approached by Steve Kean over a vacant position at Blackburn

Welcome return Colin Hendry has been approached by Steve Kean over a vacant position at Blackburn

Roman's ruin

As
Roman Abramovich continues to assemble next season’s Chelsea squad with
no consideration for his manager, it emerges that Andre Villas-Boas
received 12million in compensation following his dismissal.

It
has cost Abramovich 76m to sack managers in five years, which is
probably why they put up with the indignity of his interference.

The
only reason a coach of any standing would tolerate Chelsea’s politics
is because when Abramovich finally needs a scapegoat to pay for his
mistakes, he always makes it worth their while.

Money talks

Aston Villa believe they can exploit a
clause in Paul Lambert’s contract to avoid paying compensation to his
former employers, Norwich City.

No
doubt Lambert believes he has joined a much bigger club. The fact that,
as an opening gambit, mighty Villa are attempting to diddle Norwich to
get him on the cheap makes this doubtful.

Fun house

Chris
Ashton says he’ll never again celebrate a try with a swallow dive. Well
done all. We’ve finally managed to suck the fun out of him.

Overshadowed

Amir
Khan says his WBC world title fight with Danny Garcia on July 14 will
not be overshadowed by the freak show that is David Haye versus Dereck
Chisora taking place the same night. The winner of Britain’s Got Talent
was a dog act, mate. Sadly, it will.

No more jumping for joy: Chris Ashton has vowed to never do his famous swallow dive celebration

No more jumping for joy: Chris Ashton has vowed to never do his famous swallow dive celebration

Algerians in hot water

At the World Cup canoeing regatta in Duisburg on May 25, in the fourth heat of the men’s K1 1,000 metre race, Nasreddine Baghdadi of Algeria crossed the start line in lane five, but then pulled over and calmly paddled to the side.

No official explanation for his retirement was sought, or given, but it is strongly believed the competitor in lane three, Roei Yellin, provoked his withdrawal.

Yellin is from Israel.

Baghdadi is thought to have come under such intense pressure from above — all the way to national government level — that he felt unable to proceed.

He had been advised by fellow Algerian athletes that to compete against an Israeli would bring an adverse reaction from Hachemi Djiar, the Minister of Sport.

The fear is that at the summer Olympics, Algerian team members will be instructed to follow Baghdadi’s example if drawn against an Israeli. The International Olympic Committee have advised the Comite Olympique Algerien that this will not be allowed.

Not good enough. Not tough enough.

The advice should be that if one Algerian athlete refuses to compete against an Israeli, all Algerian entrants will be excluded, instantly, and the nation banned from future Olympic tournaments until its government provides a written guarantee of participation, regardless of the race, religion, politics or gender of rival competitors.

It is quite incredible that the IOC allows countries such as Saudi Arabia to discriminate against women, let alone trying the softly-softly approach to anti-Semitism.