Tag Archives: goalkeeping

Brendan Rodgers says Reading goalkeeper Alex McCarthy"s performance was the best he"s ever seen

McCarthy for England: Reading keeper's performance the best ever, says Rodgers

By
Riath Al-samarrai

PUBLISHED:

21:00 GMT, 14 April 2013

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UPDATED:

00:57 GMT, 15 April 2013

At least there is hope, and failing that the prospect of receiving a hefty transfer fee.

Reading looked just about ready for the Championship on Saturday with the exception of a stand-in goalkeeper whose remarkable performance drew statements that were grand even by Brendan Rodgers’ standards.

Initially, the Liverpool manager said Alex McCarthy should be in contention for England; then he went as far as to describe his efforts in the 0-0 draw amounted to the best display of goalkeeping he had ever seen.

Scroll down for highlights from the Madejski…

England contention: Reading goalkeeper Alex McCarthy (right) produced a stunning display between the sticks for the doomed club

England contention: Reading goalkeeper Alex McCarthy (right) produced a stunning display between the sticks for the doomed club

Not many at the Madejski Stadium disagreed. His 10 saves, especially those that stopped Daniel Sturridge in the first half and Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez in the second, looked out of place in a doomed side capable of coughing up so many chances.

Best ever: Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers said it was the best goalkeeping performance he'd ever seen

Best ever: Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers said it was the best goalkeeping performance he'd ever seen

It’s anyone’s guess what impact he might have made on the club’s season had he not missed the past five months with a shoulder injury sustained when he collided with a goalpost against QPR in November.

None of this would have been a surprise to Rodgers, who oversaw Reading’s youth department and later managed the first team when the 23-year-old was coming through the ranks. He said: ‘Reading have always produced good goalkeepers and Alex is one who is next in line for me, he really is a top goalkeeper.

‘I was aware of him just before I left [as youth coach], and when I came back as manager he was still young. Goalkeepers need that experience so he went out on loan but he was always one that the guys here felt was going to be a top goalkeeper and you saw today that he has all the qualities to succeed.’

Having spent time on loan at Woking, Team Bath and Cambridge United, among other sides like Ipswich and Leeds, McCarthy only got selected after Adam Federici aggravated his ankle injury.

Asked if it was the best goalkeeping performance he had seen, Rodgers added: ‘Yes. I was sat in the changing room with the staff and said I couldn’t remember being at a game where a goalkeeper has made a performance like that, either as a manager, coach or spectator.

Attributes: Rodgers, who managed McCarthy when he was Reading boss, says the goalkeeper has all the tools to be one of the best

Attributes: Rodgers, who managed McCarthy when he was Reading boss, says the goalkeeper has all the tools to be one of the best

‘Normally goalkeepers make one or two saves that make a difference, but he made an incredible number of saves and when he was beat it was cleared off the line. It was a brilliant goalkeeping performance.’

Reading manager Nigel Adkins said: ‘We have some excellent goalkeepers. We have Stuart Taylor, Adam Federici, Alex McCarthy, Mikkel Anderson.

‘They are out there and have good competition for places which is important. Alex had been out for a long time, but had the opportunity and made some great saves. Now we have to ensure there is a consistency in his game.’

Frustrated: Liverpool had to settle for a second successive goalless draw

Frustrated: Liverpool had to settle for a second successive goalless draw

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Steve Clarke and West Brom staff play powerchair football

It's West Brom's worst performance of the season… Clarke and Co were 'hopeless' against the Baggies' Powerchair team

By
Charlie Skillen

PUBLISHED:

16:54 GMT, 4 April 2013

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UPDATED:

22:48 GMT, 4 April 2013

West Brom manager Steve Clarke might have exceeded expectations in his first season in charge, but that was before he came up against his toughest opponents yet – the club's Powerchair Team.

Sporting Club Albion, run by the Midlands side's Albion Foundation, will take their place in EPFA Power Championships League, Powerchair's equivalent of the Champions League, in Paris this summer.

Powerchair football is for people with disabilities, who use powered wheelchairs, a regulation-size basketball court with goals, and a 13-inch ball.

We were hopeless: Steve Clarke admitted Powerchair football is harder than it looks, with him and his West Brom backroom staff taking on the club's Powerchair side

We were hopeless: Steve Clarke admitted Powerchair football is harder than it looks, with him and his West Brom backroom staff taking on the club's Powerchair side

Clarke

Powerchair

European adventure: Sporting Club Albion, with captain Chris Gordon shaking Clarke's hand, will compete in the EPFA Power Championships League this summer - the equivalent of the Champions League

European adventure: Sporting Club Albion, with captain Chris Gordon shaking Clarke's hand, will compete in the EPFA Power Championships League this summer – the equivalent of the Champions League

To warm up, they took on Clarke and his backroom staff, who have led Albion to eighth in the Barclays Premier League, in a game of Powerchair football.

Held at the club's Barclays Spaces 4 Sport Community Sports Hall, Clarke, his assistants Kevin Keen and Keith Downing, as well as goalkeeping coach Dean Kiely, took on the Powerchair side – with Keen seeing red for a professional foul.

Baggies boss Clarke admitted the sport was far tougher than it looked, saying his side were hopeless.

Inspire: Sporting Club Albion gave Clarke and Co a difficult time in their Powerchair football match

Inspire: Sporting Club Albion gave Clarke and Co a difficult time in their Powerchair football match

Red card: Clarke joked he was looking at disciplining assistant Kevin Keen after he was sent off in the match

Red card: Clarke joked he was looking at disciplining assistant Kevin Keen after he was sent off in the match

Tough battle: David Lewis of Sporting Club Albion holds off WBA goalkeeping coach Dean Kiely

Tough battle: David Lewis of Sporting Club Albion holds off WBA goalkeeping coach Dean Kiely

He said: 'I went to watch them training three weeks ago and was really impressed.

'I did think: “I can do that,” so I challenged them to a game against our backroom team.

'But if you have a go, it's really difficult.

'We were hopeless, and Kevin Keen was sent off which presents me with another internal disciplinary problem.

'The boys and girls make it look really easy. Believe me, it's not.'

Gary Neville backed by Sky and FA after Richard Keys attack

FA and Sky back Neville after former host Keys accuses pundit of having an agenda

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England expects: Neville is part of Roy Hodgson's staff, and was at Euro 2012

He faced criticism yesterday from England goalkeeping legend Gordon Banks, who said: 'I was very upset to hear Gary Neville talking about how the players were disgusted with him (De Gea), how they were looking at him after he hadn't punched the ball quite clear. I thought, “Hang on a minute, everybody makes mistakes in matches”.

'I found it a bit strange that he (Neville) was saying they'd go back in the dressing room and give De Gea a telling-off.'

Blackburn boss Henning Berg storms out of club Christmas party

Bah humbug! Berg storms out of Blackburn's Christmas bash after being made to dance with a stocking on his head

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UPDATED:

22:58 GMT, 18 December 2012

Furious Blackburn manager Henning Berg stormed out of the club’s Christmas party after he was made to wear a stocking on his head and dance on stage.

The humiliating incident on Monday night is bound to cast more doubt over Berg’s future at Ewood Park just seven weeks after he returned as manager.

Blackburn have recorded only one win from nine games under Berg, leading to speculation he could be sacked by Indian owners Venky’s if results do not improve dramatically.

Struggles: Blackburn have dropped to 15th since Henning Berg took over

Struggles: Blackburn have dropped to 15th since Henning Berg took over

Struggles: Blackburn have dropped to 15th since Henning Berg took over

It was hoped the party for the players and more than 200 staff in a suite at Ewood would lift morale but it backfired spectacularly.

When the DJ decided to play some games, one of the club’s executives volunteered Berg to go up on stage. The 43-year-old Norwegian reluctantly wore the Christmas stocking but grew visibly angry and uncomfortable when he was made to dance as well.

The final straw came when someone attempted to put a Michael Jackson wig on his head. Berg ripped off the stocking and left the stage.

He then made his excuses to guests at his table before making an early exit. Berg, who won the Premier League and League Cup in two spells at Blackburn, is understood to have become increasingly disillusioned with the job he has taken on.

On the day he was appointed, it was revealed the ex-Manchester United defender would be sacked if he failed to win promotion back to the Premier League this season.

However, after picking up just six points from nine games, Blackburn have slumped to 15th and face a battle to even make the play-offs.

Last week Berg was told to find an entire new backroom team, although it has since emerged that his assistant, Eric Black, first-team coach Iain Brunskill and goalkeeping coach Bobby Mimms may be given a stay of execution due to problems bringing in replacements.

No home comforts: Defeat to Cardiff at home left Ewood fans reeling

No home comforts: Defeat to Cardiff at home left Ewood fans reeling

There were suggestions of outside interference when he dropped former England goalkeeper Paul Robinson at Blackpool on Saturday, when his side suffered a fourth defeat in five games.

Robinson is one of several players expected to leave in January, with Tottenham’s Brad Friedel lined up to replace him.

Venky’s invested heavily in the summer, making Blackburn the highest-paid team in the Champ-ionship, and sources say failure to return to the Premier League at the first attempt would be a financial catastrophe.

The question is how long they will give Berg to turn the club round, though he may quit first.

Henning Berg forced to shake-up Blackburn backroom staff by club chief Shebby Singh

Berg loses his team as Blackburn club chief Singh forces boss into shake-up

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UPDATED:

22:30 GMT, 12 December 2012

Blackburn manager Henning Berg has been told to find a new backroom team to halt the club's slump, although his own job is not yet in jeopardy just eight games into his return to Ewood Park.

Rovers have won just once in that time, dropping to 13th place in the Championship, and the players will also be warned to improve performances or risk being sold in the January transfer window.

Plenty to ponder: Henning Berg has been forced to overhaul his backroom staff

Plenty to ponder: Henning Berg has been forced to overhaul his backroom staff

Berg's assistant Eric Black, first-team coach Iain Brunskill and goalkeeping coach Bobby Mimms are all expected to be axed, with Brad Friedel lined up to return to the club from Tottenham as player-coach next month and replace Mimms.

Friday's 4-1 home defeat to Cardiff was the final straw for club chief Shebby Singh who held crisis talks with Berg on Monday night.

'After a result like that it is inevitable there was going to be a post mortem,' said Singh.

Out of sorts: Blackburn have claimed one point from a possible 12

Out of sorts: Blackburn have claimed one point from a possible 12

'Decisive action was needed. Now we know the direction we are heading in and what decisions have to be taken.

'The pressure is on. We did not expect this to be easy, and it hasn't been, but the decisions have been made that need to be made.'

Rob Green: I"d joined QPR as No1 but Mark Hughes told me I could leave

Green: I'd joined QPR to be the No 1 keeper but then Hughes told me I could leave whenever I liked

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UPDATED:

23:27 GMT, 8 December 2012

Rob Green remembers the precise moment when his world turned upside down at Queens Park Rangers.

The England star's bag was packed and he was about to leave home for a Capital One Cup clash against Walsall in late August when he flicked on the television to catch up with the sports news and saw pictures of Brazil World Cup goalkeeper Julio Cesar arriving at Loftus Road.

Green, who had signed from West Ham just a few weeks earlier in the belief that he would be first-choice goalkeeper at Rangers, had heard rumours of Cesar joining but insists he had been assured by the club that it was just 'paper talk'. Now, in front of his disbelieving eyes, it had become reality.

Eye on the jersey: QPR keeper Rob Green

Eye on the jersey: QPR keeper Rob Green

As Green reflected on events that he says were the worst moments in his 16 years as a professional, he recalled his shock at realising the new challenge he had planned for himself at QPR was about to go horribly wrong.

'I came to QPR looking for a new challenge after six years at West Ham, a wonderful time capped off by promotion at Wembley,' said Green. 'Kevin Hitchcock, the goalkeeping coach at QPR, is an old mate and I came to work for him on the understanding that I was first choice. I'd played for England in May, I was in the European Championship squad and, at 32, I'm in the prime of my life.

'If he'd said to me we're also going to sign someone who's won Serie A five times and the Champions League and is one of the biggest names in South American football, I would have thought twice before signing.'

Out of luck: Mark Hughes was sacked as QPR boss

Out of luck: Mark Hughes was sacked as QPR boss

Green says that when he saw the news that Cesar was joining QPR, he rang the club and asked what was going on.

'I said I'd just seen Cesar turn up at the ground,' said Green. 'They replied, “Oh, is he here, then” I thought to myself, “OK, now I've got to get my head around this and go off and play a football match”.'

Hail Cesar: Julio Cesar in action for QPR

Hail Cesar: Julio Cesar in action for QPR

Ever the professional, Green did just that and QPR won comfortably on the night, but the goalkeeper still needed some answers.

'I'd read rumours in the press about Julio coming, but when I asked officials at the club they dismissed it as paper talk and said he wasn't going to sign. Now that the Brazilian had joined the club I needed to know where I stood.

'I asked (the then manager) Mark Hughes. He told me Julio was going to play, that I'd done nothing wrong and that he wanted two top keepers competing for the position. I replied, “Well, if he's going straight into the first team he's not really competing, is he Where does that leave me” Hughes replied, “You're free to leave whenever you want”. It wasn't quite what I wanted to hear.'

Green has known the highs and lows of professional football.

The
last-minute injury which ruled him out of the 2006 World Cup and the
blunder that allowed the United States to equalise in the 2010 World Cup
must be weighed against a long and successful career at Norwich and
West Ham and his 12 England caps. But Green says he had never
experienced anything like this.

'During
my talks with the club they admitted they had done this with not a
great deal of consideration of where it left me,' he said.

'It made me
realise that I would struggle to play because Julio is a couple of
months older than me, and anyone looking in would soon be asking why
their top Brazilian, signed on a four-year contract, was not playing. I
couldn't compete on a financial level and it was out of my control. I
also knew Mark Hughes traditionally stuck with his preferred goalkeeper
at all his previous clubs.'

Green has no quarrel with Cesar.

Out in the cold: Rob green (back, centre) was shunned by former QPR boss Mark Hughes (right)

Out in the cold: Rob green (back, centre) was shunned by former QPR boss Mark Hughes (right)

'The first thing Julio did on arriving at the club was to seek me out and shake my hand, which I appreciated,' he admitted. 'He's a nice fellow who hasn't done anything wrong. I remember saying to Brian Murphy, an Irish keeper also at the club, “This is going to make my situation even harder as Julio's such a nice guy”.

'The last game I played for QPR under the Hughes regime was our defeat at Manchester City, and by then I'd been told, even before the kick-off, that I would be dropped for him afterwards.'

Green's exile would last the best part of three months.

'In a 16-year professional career I'd been dropped twice for four-week periods. This was, by far, the longest out of first-team action. I made the most of it by clearing up niggling injuries, getting fitter with a personal trainer and joining a local gym to add to my daily training, analysing myself and others as keepers and realising that negative things have happened to me before and I've seen them out.' It was clear, however, that he was making no headway with his manager.

'The manager and I never spoke, but it was clear I wasn't happy,' he added.

In the hot seat: Harry Redknapp is the new manager of QPR

In the hot seat: Harry Redknapp is the new manager of QPR

Meanwhile, QPR slumped to the bottom of the Premier League with no wins, eight defeats and just four points from their opening 12 league games. The inevitable happened a fortnight ago when Hughes was sacked and Harry Redknapp became the new boss.

Green is not prepared to admit that the departure of Hughes gave him cause to celebrate, but the events hardly surprised him.

'It wasn't too difficult a decision for the board to make, was it' he said. 'We hadn't won a game. You've got to draw the line somewhere. I've seen 18 managers go at the clubs I've been playing for. It's a part of football, isn't it It's not like a steel worker in Sheffield getting a paltry pay-off and no new job prospects. I'm sure he was disappointed but he'll get another job in football.'

Nevertheless, Redknapp made an immediate impression on Green.

'At the end of his first training session Harry made a point of coming over to me. He had tried to sign me when he was at Portsmouth and Spurs, and it was good to hear him tell me how much he liked me as a keeper. It gave me a boost. That's why everyone in football likes him, and that's why he's a good manager. I said my bit about what had gone on and I told him all I wanted was a fair crack at it. He said it was a fresh start for everyone.'

Food for thought: Rob Green is keen to keep his QPR place

Food for thought: Rob Green is keen to keep his QPR place

Cesar started the next game, the draw at Sunderland, but he injured his groin and Green replaced him at half-time.

Green then played in the 1-1 home draw against Aston Villa, and the 2-2 draw at Wigan.

'I'm in the jersey now and it's up to me to play well enough to keep it,' said Green. 'I believe Harry when he says it's a fair fight on form alone so we'll see how it all turns out.'

Green believes that under Redknapp, and despite having a squad featuring 13 new signings still learning to gel, relegation is far from inevitable.

Man in possession: Rob Green in action for QPR against Wigan

Man in possession: Rob Green in action for QPR against Wigan

'I remember being at West Ham when we never got out of the drop zone all season under Avram Grant and the situation was only addressed 45 minutes after we got relegated when they got rid of the manager.

'It was a situation that needed to be addressed at QPR. How long do you leave these matters It hasn't helped having so many new players in the short term, even though I'm one of them.

'I don't want to sound like a member of UKIP but with so many different nations, cultures and languages there have been a lot of changes and it takes time to gel. I don't believe we've got close to our potential, the quality in the squad is high. Harry arriving has boosted us all, he has a track record of getting teams out of trouble, and with two or three wins we'd be out of this immediate mess.'

As for Green, his future at QPR is by no means certain. Cesar's injury is minor and he may even be back competing for the jersey next week. Green does not mind the competition.

'I back myself, I'm confident and I'm in great shape,' he said. 'Now that I've been assured it's a fair fight Julio will have to play well to get his jersey back.'

Harry Redknapp wants Rob Green to challenge Julio Cesar for first-team place

Redknapp challenges Green to wrestle No 1 jersey from Brazilian Cesar at QPR

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UPDATED:

16:41 GMT, 30 November 2012

Harry Redknapp has urged Rob Green to fight to become the No1 goalkeeper at QPR once again.

The former West Ham stopper has not started a Premier League match since September 1 but is set to line up against Aston Villa on Saturday because Julio Cesar has suffered a torn groin.

Green, who replaced Cesar at half-time in Tuesday’s 0-0 draw at Sunderland , is also highly rated by QPR’s goalkeeping coach, David Coles.

Challenge set: Harry Redknapp wants Rob Green (right) to compete for the No 1 spot at QPR

Challenge set: Harry Redknapp wants Rob Green (right) to compete for the No 1 spot at QPR

Rangers boss Redknapp said he had spoken to Green about the past few months, which saw him move to west London on a free transfer from West Ham only to be deposed as Rangers’ No1 by Brazilian Cesar following a humiliating 5-0 loss on his debut against Swansea City.

But Redknapp stressed all his players were starting with a ‘clean sheet’ after Mark Hughes’ departure and said he would select his goalkeepers ‘week by week’.

The QPR manager said: ‘I had a chat to Rob about his situation. He found himself in a situation he didn’t expect to be in when he came here but that’s it now.

‘We’ve got two top goalkeepers and it’s up to them to fight it out for the No1 spot. We’ll play it week by week. I’m very lucky to have two top goalkeepers.

‘Rob is fine. He’s a goalkeeper I’ve always admired; an England international goalkeeper. He didn’t have a lot to do against Sunderland the other night but he pulled off one world-class save.’

Hello son! Harry (right) was joined by Jamie (left) Redknapp at training today

Hello son! Harry (left) was joined by Jamie (right) Redknapp at training today

Hello son! Harry, who was joined by Jamie Redknapp at training today, wants Green to provide competition for Cesar, who arrived from Inter Milan in summer

Crunch time: QPR are looking for their first win of the season against Aston Villa at Loftus Road

Crunch time: QPR are looking for their first win of the season against Aston Villa at Loftus Road

All smiles: Shaun Wright-Phillips (centre) shared a joke in training

All smiles: Shaun Wright-Phillips (centre) shared a joke in training

Harry Redknapp has urged Rob Green to fight to become the No1 goalkeeper at QPR once again.

The former West Ham stopper has not started a Premier League match since September 1 but is set to line up against Aston Villa on Saturday because Julio Cesar has suffered a torn groin.

Green, who replaced Cesar at half-time in Tuesday’s 0-0 draw at Sunderland , is also highly rated by QPR’s goalkeeping coach, David Coles.

Rangers boss Redknapp said he had spoken to Green about the past few months, which saw him move to west London on a free transfer from West Ham only to be deposed as Rangers’ No1 by Brazilian Cesar following a humiliating 5-0 loss on his debut against Swansea City.

But Redknapp stressed all his players were starting with a ‘clean sheet’ after Mark Hughes’ departure and said he would select his goalkeepers ‘week by week’.

Sprawling: Green made an outstanding save to keep his side on terms at Sunderland in midweek

Sprawling: Green made an outstanding save to keep his side on terms at Sunderland in midweek

The competition: Julio Cesar was bought by Mark Hughes in the summer

The competition: Julio Cesar was bought by Mark Hughes in the summer

The QPR manager said: ‘I had a chat to Rob about his situation. He found himself in a situation he didn’t expect to be in when he came here but that’s it now.

‘We’ve got two top goalkeepers and it’s up to them to fight it out for the No1 spot. We’ll play it week by week. I’m very lucky to have two top goalkeepers.

‘Rob is fine. He’s a goalkeeper I’ve always admired; an England international goalkeeper. He didn’t have a lot to do against Sunderland the other night but he pulled off one world-class save.’

Manchester United"s Anderson hailed as "best in the world at running with the ball"

Anderson has his Ginola moment! United ace flashes toned stomach in swipe as fitness critics

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UPDATED:

18:22 GMT, 25 November 2012

From the sublime to the ridiculous, Anderson's Manchester United career has been a series of skillful peaks and fitness troughs.

Saturday was certainly the former. The Brazilian emerged from the bench with United trailing QPR, but within 13 minutes had turned a 0-1 into 3-1, claiming a direct assist for Javier Hernandez's decisive third.

And in an act reminiscent of David Ginola's famous shirtless celebration against Manchester City in 2000, Anderson seemed to take a subtle swipe at those who have questioned his fitness.

Game changer: Anderson turned the match around for Manchester United against QPR, and celebrated by lifting his shirt to reveal a toned torso

Game changer: Anderson turned the match around for Manchester United against QPR, and celebrated by lifting his shirt to reveal a toned torso

Game changer: Anderson turned the match around for Manchester United against QPR, and celebrated by lifting his shirt to reveal a toned torso

Lifting his shirt as part of the
Hernandez celebration, Anderson flexed an impressively toned torso, much
like Ginola had done in front of John Gregory after his manager had
referred to him as 'Mr Blobby'.

Rarely has Anderson managed two
high-class performances on the trot and even within games the
24-year-old is capable of going from the sublime to the ridiculous.

Of his seven Premier League
appearances this term, only one has been from the start and he has not
completed the full 90 minutes in a league match since September 2011.

Former United goalkeeping coach Tony Coton said on MUTV: 'Once they leave the training ground, you can’t go with them.

'I am not saying this is his
lifestyle, or it is a problem. But you can’t live with them 24 hours a
day so there may be something that is occurring out there that we don’t
know about.'

Anderson's performance against QPR
also attracted high praise from his goalkeeper, Anders Lindegaard, who
hailed the game-changer as one of the best players in the world when
runing with the ball.

Fats the way to do it: David Ginola famously did a similar celebration in 200

Fats the way to do it: David Ginola famously did a similar celebration in 200

He said: 'Anderson turned the match
around. He is one of the best players in the world at running with the
ball, passing it and keeping the dynamic motion. He is a brilliant
player.'

Meanwhile, Lindegaard's selection
ahead of David de Gea in goal suggested Ferguson is still not convinced
by the young Spaniard, even though, before having his wisdom teeth out
recently, it seemed he had again secured the number one berth.

'The tendency lately is that David
has played,' said the Dane. 'Unfortunately for him, he has been out
with a teeth problem which I am trying to benefit from.

'I still don’t see a clear picture on
how things are going to develop throughout the season. It is not more
than a week ago I read in a Danish paper that “Lindegaard had lost the
battle”, which says a lot about how ignorant they are.'

Newcastle players pose with snakes and spiders before bush tucker trials

Forget the celebs in the jungle, Newcastle start their very own bush tucker trials… before bringing out the snakes and spiders

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UPDATED:

17:07 GMT, 15 November 2012

Newcastle United players had their own bush tucker trials at the club training ground today.

In the latest theme day in the club restaurant, chef Liz Hornsby hosted her own I’m A Celebrity challenge, as a tribute to Toon fans ant and Dec.

The club’s younger players took part in a series of challenges and the senior players, and manager Alan Pardew, were introduced to a number of reptiles and tarantulas.

Team photo: Newcastle manager Alan Pardew coolly takes a snap of a tarantula on his arm

Team photo: Newcastle manager Alan Pardew coolly takes a snap of a tarantula on his arm

Act cool, lads: Steven Taylor holds a tarantula at the Newcastle training ground

Act cool, lads: Steven Taylor holds a tarantula at the Newcastle training ground

Groundsman Mick Curran bravely won
the competition, finding stars in a bucket of beetles, wriggling grubs
and underneath a tarantula. He also had a snake wrapped round his neck
and took a bite out of what he thought were kangaroo testicles (which
turned out to be pork balls). He also found a star in live maggots –
which turned out to be pearl barley.

Liz said: `The gaffer likes to hold
theme days once a month and this one was originally for Curtis Good but
he was on international duty and then I’m A Celebrity came on telly so I
thought it was a good idea to expand it.’

Experts from Arachnids R Us and
Dragons Den Exotics brought a number of animals in to the club and Steve
Taylor in particular had fun and games with his team-mates and
goalkeeping coach Andy Woodman.

The defender chased the former
Crystal Palace keeper out of the room with a tarantula and then
surprised Tim Krul as he was having a massage.

Sign him up, Alan The boss welcomes the spider

Regretting this Youth team kid Connor Newton holds a python

Write caption here

Grass snake: Groundsman Mick Curran happily poses with the python at the training ground

Grass snake: Groundsman Mick Curran happily poses with the python at the training ground

The canteen's gone downhill: Curran endures his bush tucker trial in front of the players

The canteen's gone downhill: Curran endures his bush tucker trial in front of the players

For more images from the day, go to Newcastle's website

Chelsea 2 Manchester United 3: Thrills, spills and heaps of ill will at Stamford Bridge

95 minutes of mayhem: Thrills, spills and heaps of ill will at Stamford Bridge

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UPDATED:

23:12 GMT, 28 October 2012

It was, in the interests of peace, a most orderly start to proceedings. Rio Ferdinand shook Ashley Cole by the hand and everyone but Ashley Young pulled on their T-shirts against racism.

Then off came the T-shirts, out spilled the rancour and the game ended with a steward being treated for crush injuries and an unruly exchange among the coaching staff.

Sir Alex Ferguson pursued a point with Steve Holland and Chelsea’s goalkeeping coach Christophe Lollichon stuck his oar in, as he is prone to do.

Shouting match: Sir Alex Ferguson (left) and Roberto Di Matteo argue as the fourth official looks on

Shouting match: Sir Alex Ferguson (left) and Roberto Di Matteo argue as the fourth official looks on

A few moments earlier, Ferguson had appeared dumbfounded as Roberto Di Matteo made as if to knock the ball from the hands of Antonio Valencia as he prepared to take a throw-in.

This was how far this game had descended from sanity in the space of 90+5 minutes.

The home crowd chased the officials into the tunnel with a barrage of abuse as United fans rejoiced in a chorus of ‘Viva, John Terry,’ their homage to Moscow.

Earlier, Ferdinand had raised his fist in triumph to the West Stand and held it aloft as he stared into the banks of those Chelsea fans who had sung: ‘One England captain’ in support of Terry. There were dives, poor decisions and two red cards and somewhere in the midst of this mayhem, the managers attempted to deploy tactics.

Making contact: Rio Ferdinand and Ashley Cole shake hands prior to kick-off

Making contact: Rio Ferdinand and Ashley Cole shake hands prior to kick-off

But, really, who plays chess in the middle of a bar-room brawl Ferguson fiddled again with his system, inspired no doubt by his new director of football, Margaret, the 80-year-old granny from Rochdale, who called MUTV and implored the manager to get rid of that ‘stupid diamond’.

Out went the diamond. This particular midfield formation is not for ever, regardless of Bond-fever, and United seized control, with Wayne Rooney an influential secret agent, deep in midfield.
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Rooney performed well, until the moment he chased Eden Hazard back towards his own goal and felled the Belgian on the edge of the penalty box.

No chance: David De Gea - who had an outstanding game - could do nothing to stop Juan Mata's wonderful free-kick

No chance: David de Gea – who had an outstanding game – could do nothing to stop Juan Mata's wonderful free-kick

From the free-kick, Juan Mata arrowed in his seventh goal in as many games and the Blues swung back into the game.

One of Chelsea’s worst habits in recent years has been to regress when the clocks go back and they opened sluggishly.

In Ukraine last week, Petr Cech was beaten in the second minute. At Stamford Bridge they resisted until the fourth before David Luiz deflected a goal past his own goalkeeper.

When Robin van Persie made it 2-0, United were shredding a Terry-less defence at will, although it is never quite so simple. Six days earlier, the Chelsea captain had been at the heart of a back four terrorised by Shakhtar Donetsk.

One-way traffic: When Robin van Persie made it 2-0, it looked to be all over

One-way traffic: When Robin van Persie made it 2-0, it looked to be all over

Chelsea are not watertight. They play a high-risk game and, though it is gloriously entertaining as demanded by the owner, against those teams capable of resisting their flair it is a dangerous policy.

For 30 minutes, United did this well. Rooney’s quick thought and vision became a vital pivot and Valencia against Hazard was a mismatch of defensive responsibilities, which exposed Ashley Cole.

If Chelsea’s creative forces find the groove, however, they can be devastating and when Ramires sprang above Tom Cleverley to equalise, they seemed about to put seven points between themselves and their visitors.

Then came the most chaotic 12 minutes of all, sparked by a red card for Branislav Ivanovic for tripping Young, when he was clear.

Lighting the touchpaper: Branislav Ivanovic was sent off for a foul on Ashley Young, sparking a wild 12 minutes

Lighting the touchpaper: Branislav Ivanovic was sent off for a foul on Ashley Young, sparking a wild finale

The Serb punched the wall of the tunnel as he disappeared from view and Ferguson saw his chance. Trust a Glaswegian to keep the clearest head as the alehouse atmosphere took a turn for the worse.

On went Javier Hernandez, which meant an even deeper role for Rooney, until he was in turn replaced by Ryan Giggs. Off went Fernando Torres. Not much goes his way these days.

Emotions soared, tempers frayed, out came the pro- and anti-Terry songs and disagreements continued in the tunnel. Then, at about 7.50pm, came Chelsea’s official complaint about the referee.

To paraphrase an old Fergie quote about Italians and pasta: when they tell you that peace has broken out, it’s worth a peek under the T-shirts just to be sure.

Mexican rave: Javier Hernandez celebrates his winner

Mexican rave: Javier Hernandez celebrates his winner