Tag Archives: grudge

Carlos Tevez wants to regain cult status with Manchester City fans

I will win fans over! Fallen idol Tevez wants to regain cult status among City faithful

By
John Drayton

PUBLISHED:

10:59 GMT, 3 March 2013

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UPDATED:

11:04 GMT, 3 March 2013

Carlos Tevez claims he is a different man to the one that walked out on Manchester City to return home to Argentina last season, but admits he still has work to do in winning back the club's fans.

Tevez has re-established himself as a regular in Roberto Mancini's side this season, something that was almost unthinkable last year as he went on unauthorised leave in his homeland for several months, apparently ready to quit the game.

'I knew it wasn't going to be easy to come back,' Tevez told the Sunday Times. 'I'd left City and you could almost say I'd left through the back door. But it is almost like there are two Tevezes. There's the Tevez before, who had a problem, and there's the Tevez now, who no longer has problems.'

Back on form: Tevez has netted 11 times for City this season in his 33 appearances

Back on form: Tevez has netted 11 times for City this season in his 33 appearances

Tevez said the key has been getting his family back together. Tevez had requested a transfer from City prior to his walkout when his wife and children returned to Argentina, but now they are all back in England Tevez said he has a different perspective on his football.

'It totally changes everything, your disposition, your humour, just having them close,' he said.

'If I wasn't selected in the past I'd be in a terrible mood. Now I'm still gutted but I go home, see my daughters, it takes my mind off it and I feel better.'

The 29-year-old has 11 goals this season, not quite matching the outstanding return of his pre-walkout days but still a highly valuable part of Roberto Mancini's strikeforce.

Letting fly: Argentine Carlos Tevez smashed home Manchester City's second against Chelsea

Letting fly: Argentine Tevez smashed home Manchester City's second against Chelsea

Despite that, a sizeable number of City fans still bear a grudge after last season, with Tevez's goals often met with a more muted celebration than those of his team-mates.

Tevez can understand that, but is still working to win them over with his new attitude.
'I knew it would be difficult for the fans to accept me again,' he said. 'But I hope, little by little, match by match…you give everything for the shirt and win them over through hambre de gloria (hunger for glory). I was once a real idol for these fans, they were so supportive of me. I hope I'm able to win them back.'

While his standing with the supporters still needs work, Tevez is adamant he and Mancini are now “fine”, their once fiery relationship 'a lot calmer now'.

Vital: Tevez's return proved pivotal in bringing the Premier League title to the Etihad Stadium last season

Vital: Tevez's return proved pivotal in bringing the Premier League title to the Etihad Stadium last season

'It might be down to maturity,' he added. 'Maybe, before, I was under a lot more pressure. I was a leader of the team. People would often say, 'If Carlos has a bad day, City have a bad day'. Maybe you just reach a point where there's worse things in life than disappointment in football.

'If I come off the bench and score but I'm not in the next starting line-up I'm a lot more accepting.'

Dereck Chisora applying for new boxing licence

Chisora applying for new British boxing licence and hopes to be back in the ring this year

By
Martin Domin

PUBLISHED:

17:07 GMT, 11 January 2013

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UPDATED:

17:33 GMT, 11 January 2013

Dereck Chisora is re-applying for his British boxing licence after it was revoked following his disgraceful brawl with David Haye in Hamburg last February.

The London heavyweight settled his differences with Haye at Upton Park in July when he was stopped in the fifth round of an entertaining grudge match.

That controversial fight took place under the auspices of the Luxembourg Boxing Federation but Chisora, 29, will now make his case to the British Boxing Board of Control (BBBoC).

Flashpoint: Chisora and Haye came to blows in Munich last year

Flashpoint: Chisora and Haye came to blows in Munich last year

If successful, he plans to make his return on the undercard of George Groves' clash with Mohamed Ali Ndiaye for the vacant European super-middleweight title. World champions Nathan Cleverly and Ricky Burns will also be in action on the same night.

Sportsmail understands that the BBBoC are yet to receive Chisora’s application and therefore cannot predict when a decision will be reached.

But after stripping him of his licence in March, the Board’s general secretary Robert Smith said: ‘There has been no set period when (Chisora) can re-apply for his licence.

'He no longer is a licence-holder with the British boxing board. Any person is allowed to re-apply at some point. Obviously the board will consider any application.

Down and out: Chisora lost the subsequent bout with Haye at Upton Park

Down and out: Chisora lost the subsequent bout with Haye at Upton Park

'What happens in the future, I do not know. But what we're obviously talking about is a few years.'

Prior to his bust-up with Haye, Chirosa slapped Vitali Klitschko at the weigh-in for their WBC world heavyweight title clash before spitting in Wladimir Klitschko’s face prior to the first bell.

It was at the post-fight press conference that he brawled with Haye, having lost to Vitali by unanimous decision.

Inside the ring, Chisora has lost his last three fights including a hotly-debated split-decision defeat to European champion Robert Helenius in Finland. He also surrendered his British and Commonwealth titles to Tyson Fury at Wembley Arena in 2011.

Should he be granted his licence, Chisora could target an all-British clash with David Price who faces American Tony Thompson in Liverpool on February 23.

Previous: Chisora slapped Vitali at the weigh-in before their fight in Munich

Previous: Chisora slapped Vitali at the weigh-in before their fight in Munich

Rio Ferdinand uses Twitter rival Bubbly to rally fans ahead of Liverpool clash

Rio signs up for Twitter rival and issues a rallying cry to United fans ahead of grudge match against Liverpool

By
Liv Lee

PUBLISHED:

11:46 GMT, 10 January 2013

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UPDATED:

12:08 GMT, 10 January 2013

Rio Ferdinand has issued a rallying cry ahead of Sunday's crunch match against arch rivals Liverpool and called for fans to back Manchester United.

‘Huge game. Make sure you’re behind us,’ said the defender on new voice blog website Bubbly.

‘Yes everyone, hope you’re all well
and buzzing,’ he said. ‘Got a match again coming up at the weekend
against yes, you know who it is, Liverpool FC.

Popular: Ferdinand has more than three-and-a-half million followers on Twitter and is now on rival Bubbly, too

Popular: Ferdinand has more than three-and-a-half million followers on Twitter and is now on rival Bubbly, too

'We’ve
got to make sure we beat them. They’re a team who we’re big rivals with
– loads of history, loads of massive games and goals in the past. And
hopefully we can add some more to that and make sure we get the three
points on Sunday.

‘We’re confident. The training and the focus starts to begin for this weekend.’

Ferdinand is a prolific user of social networking sites, especially Twitter, but is expanding his interest to Bubbly.

Effectively a talking Twitter, it allows
users to record short voice messages and post them on their profile.
Ferdinand has been building his page on the site for a few days and so
far has more than 150 followers.

Get behind us: Ferdinand asked fans to back Manchester United as they face Liverpool this weekend

Get behind us: Ferdinand asked fans to back Manchester United as they face Liverpool this weekend

Admittedly that is not quite as
impressive as his near 3.8million Twitter followers but it probably
won’t be long before he sees them transfer to his Bubbly profile en
masse.

The Manchester United defender has so far left a welcome message and discussed their 2-2 FA Cup third-round clash with West Ham.

Luis Suarez"s behaviour unfortunate, says Sir Alex Ferguson

Suarez's behaviour last year was 'unfortunate', says Fergie as United and Liverpool prepare for grudge match

By
Paul Collins

PUBLISHED:

16:00 GMT, 9 January 2013

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UPDATED:

16:00 GMT, 9 January 2013

Sir Alex Ferguson says the behaviour of Luis Suarez during last season’s clash with Liverpool was ‘unfortunate’ and hopes both clubs can put recent hostilities behind them for the clash at Old Trafford on Sunday.

This fixture marked marked the low point in the row that followed Luis Suarez’s racist slur of Patrice Evra at Anfield the previous October.

Having informed manager Kenny Dalglish he would shake Evra’s hand, the Uruguayan then refused, triggering a furious reaction from the Frenchman and subsequent apology from Suarez.

Saga: Suarez and Evra's infamous spat overshadowed last seaason

Saga: Suarez and Evra's infamous spat overshadowed last seaason

Saga: Suarez and Evra's infamous spat overshadowed last seaason

Saga: Suarez and Evra's infamous spat overshadowed last seaason

Evra then shook hands with Suarez at Anfield this season, leading Ferguson to conclude the action will be confined to the actual match this weekend.

‘There will always be a certain build-up to a Manchester United-Liverpool game, simply because of the history between the two clubs, the two most successful in the country,’ he told Inside United.

‘It brings its own agenda in terms of profile and pre-match discussion.

‘Last year it was unfortunate with the Suarez behaviour. I think hopefully it is behind both clubs now and we can just look forward to the game.’

Ferguson was also full of praise for Cristiano Ronaldo, who he believes has turned into ‘the complete player’ since his departure from Manchester United in 2009.

Ronaldo has once again been overlooked for the Ballon D’Or in favour of Lionel Messi, who has now collected the prestigious award on four consecutive occasions.

Missing out: Ronaldo was pipped to the Ballon d'Or by Lionel Messi once more

Missing out: Ronaldo was pipped to the Ballon d'Or by Lionel Messi once more

However, the Portugal superstar, who won it in 2008 in recognition of his phenomenal 42-goal contribution to United’s Champions League and Premier League double, remains Messi’s closest challenger.

And, for the first time since he brought Ronaldo to Old Trafford, Ferguson will have to find a way of stopping the 27-year-old next month given Real Madrid lie in wait in the Champions League.

It will not be an easy task.

Ferguson spoke to his protege in Manchester ahead of City’s encounter with Real in November, then went to the Etihad Stadium to see the winger take the Blues apart in the opening stages of what ended up being a 1-1 draw.

And the Scot has no doubt the improvement he oversaw during Ronaldo’s six-year stint at United has continued since his arrival in Spain.

‘Maturity brings many things,’ Ferguson told Inside United.

Protege: The Portuguese made his name under Ferguson

Protege: The Portuguese made his name under Ferguson

‘When I went to see them play against City, some of his decision-making in terms of passing was brilliant. One-touch passing, good crosses.

‘In the six years we had him, you just saw his game grow all the time, and he was a fantastic player.

‘Now you see the complete player.

‘His decision-making, his maturity, his experience, plus all the great skills he has got, they all make him the complete player.’

Ferguson is trying not to think about the best way to combat Ronaldo, preferring instead to concentrate on the players in his own squad and exactly who will be fit for the first leg at the Bernabeu on February 13.

‘Obviously you hope that when you draw Real Madrid it’s in the final,’ he said.

‘It will be a big, big event – we’re the two most high-profile clubs in the world and I think they will be great games.’

John Terry could make Chelsea comeback at Leeds

EXCLUSIVE: Terry could make shock return at Leeds as Chelsea skipper travels north for League Cup tie

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UPDATED:

15:55 GMT, 19 December 2012

Chelsea captain John Terry has travelled to Leeds, raising the possibility he will play some part in tonight's Capital One Cup quarter-final grudge match.

Terry arrived at the team hotel near Elland Road where supporters are also staying, after travelling up as part of the club’s official party.

The players arrived earlier on Wednesday afternoon to rest up ahead of the tie.

Big call: John Terry could be in line to return for Chelsea against Leeds

Big call: John Terry could be in line to return for Chelsea against Leeds

Fans and players have been warned to be on their best behaviour by local police as this fixture has been marred by trouble and bad blood in the past.

Terry has travelled to matches before when he’s not been involved in the match, but they have usually been higher-profile clashes.

He returned to training earlier this week, but hasworking on his own at Cobham and manager Rafael Benitez said he would be unavailable.

It was thought that Terry could have made a return by last week’s Club World Cup semi-final against Monterrey, but Benitez was unwilling to rush his central defender back and did not take him to Japan.

Working hard: Blues skipper Terry is put through his paces at Cobham

Working hard: Blues skipper Terry is put through his paces at Cobham

The former England international has been sidelined since a 1-1 draw with Liverpool on November 11.

Reds striker Luis Suarez landed awkwardly on Terry’s knee after an accidental slip.

The defender was left writhing on the floor and had to be carried off after he had opened the scoring at Stamford Bridge.

Wes Thomas gets revenge on Ian Holloway

On the road: Ollie gets payback for an old rejection as Blackpool scrape point

By
Riath Al-samarrai

PUBLISHED:

22:35 GMT, 9 December 2012

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UPDATED:

22:35 GMT, 9 December 2012

It's a hell of a thing to carry a grudge for seven years against a man who doesn’t recall ever having met you.

Wes Thomas wasn’t shy last week in talking about the deeper meaning to his appearance on Saturday for Blackpool against Crystal Palace.

He had a score to settle with Ian Holloway, he said — and to judge from his bulging eyeballs as he mocked Palace’s fans 89 minutes into the game, he felt the mission was successful.

Revenge mission: Wes Thomas was released by Ian Holloway at QPR

Revenge mission: Wes Thomas was released by Ian Holloway at QPR

Blackpool’s striker, borrowed from Bournemouth three weeks ago, had just created the late equaliser for Nouha Dicko with a delightful run and cross from the right. For Blackpool it meant a point from a 2-2 draw; for Palace it meant two dropped in pursuit of Cardiff.

For Thomas it meant a smidgen of revenge against the man in charge when he was cut from QPR’s youth ranks as an 18-year-old.

‘Ian Holloway is the one who released me when I was at QPR, so Saturday is a game I’m really looking forward to,’ Thomas had said ahead of the match. ‘I took it quite hard. It’s my chance to show Holloway I’m back.’

Thomas, 25, went on to speak about the pain of rejection, the uncertainty he felt as he fought his way back to the professional game via Waltham Forest, Fisher Athletic and various other non-League sides. It was a touching tale.

Alas, Holloway said: ‘Don’t know him at all. But he looks a good player.’

Thomas would have stood out to Holloway even if he was lousy. Of the 14 players Blackpool used on Saturday, Thomas was the only one who did not work under Holloway in his three-and-a-half years at Bloomfield Road, a relationship that ended on November 3 amid some mystery.

Holloway’s line has been that he
fancied a fresh challenge and a move back to his family in the south;
others suggest he was unhappy with elements of his rolling contract.

Familiar faces: Ian Holloway welcomed his old side to Selhurst Park

Familiar faces: Ian Holloway welcomed his old side to Selhurst Park

What was initially presented as an amicable split — or as amicable as these things ever are — has recently evolved via insider testimonies into something a little more strained.

Ian Evatt did not play for Blackpool on Saturday because of a knee problem but he was there through Holloway’s best years in management, when he took them up to the Premier League in 2010, came within a whisker of keeping them there, and then reached the play-off final last season.

Evatt’s still there now, playing under Michael Appleton and a fortnight ago offered an intriguing and alarming insight into the final months of the Holloway regime. ‘I think we both needed a change,’ Evatt said. ‘In the last couple of months, we hadn’t really done much training. We had numerous days off — anything from two to five or six at a time.

‘It was as surprising to the lads as
anyone else. We’re an honest bunch of players and we want to work hard,
but at times we weren’t doing that.’

For their part, the Blackpool fans were largely respectful.

They clapped Holloway on and they
clapped him off. But in between, when Blackpool took the lead through
Nathan Delfouneso, they sang: ‘Ollie, Ollie, what’s the score’

‘They weren’t singing that when we went 2-1 up,’ Holloway said later.

Party time: Michael Appleton celebrates after Blackpool equalise

Party time: Michael Appleton celebrates after Blackpool equalise

There was an element of anger in his tone but not as much as he reserved for a member of Appleton’s staff.

‘I didn’t like the reaction of one of the men on their bench,’ he said. ‘One of the new fellas looked straight at me when they equalised. It’s a war out there, and I carried my shield very proudly.

‘He didn’t stare me out. No one can stare me out. I know Michael wouldn’t have done something like that. He’s got more about him than that. But I didn’t look round at them when we scored, did I

‘I was at Blackpool a long time and had great times, but you have to move on.’

Easier said than done. Just ask Wes.

Whither Wilfried now

Where will Wilfried go next It’s a question Stephen Crainey, Blackpool’s left back, struggled with for the better part of 90 minutes on Saturday.

It was not Zaha’s best game for Palace — not by a long shot — but most of his errors only came after he skinned his marker and had plenty of time to decide what to do next.

He really is a wonderfully exciting talent and one with a very bright future. But the feeling is that Saturday’s performance, in particular during the second half, was better than most he has managed since his England call-up to face Sweden last month.

Waiting game: Wilfried Zaha (right) has a number of Premier League admirers

Waiting game: Wilfried Zaha (right) has a number of Premier League admirers

Holloway seems to blame the dip on speculation surrounding the 20-year-old, with some reports claiming Arsenal are close to signing him, while one on Sunday said Manchester United are preparing a 10million January move that would see Zaha loaned back to Palace for the rest of the season.

Holloway said: ‘The last thing we need is for him to get confused about how good he is and what he can do. He just has to start concentrating on what he was doing well this year.’

Crainey will testify that he’s very close to finding his best form again.

By the way…

It's clear AFC Wimbledon were right to be wary of the hype surrounding the FA Cup clash with MK Dons. They know their real challenge lies in League Two, and their failure to win on Saturday leaves them just one point clear of the relegation zone.

MK Dons 1 AFC Wimbledon 1: match report

MK Dons 2 AFC Wimbledon 1: Ecstasy to agony for travelling fans as cheeky late winner ends dream grudge match victory

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UPDATED:

15:17 GMT, 2 December 2012

Jon Otsemobor scored a last-gasp winner to send MK Dons into the FA Cup third round at the expense of bitter rivals AFC Wimbledon.

Jack Midson's diving header had looked set to earn Wimbledon a replay after cancelling out Stephen Gleeson's stunning opener, but Otsemobor flicked home in the last minute to break the visitors' hearts.

The match was the first between the two clubs since 1988 FA Cup winners Wimbledon FC were uprooted from south west London in 2003 and moved over 50 miles north of the capital to the Buckinghamshire town, before being renamed MK Dons the following year.

Stranded: Jon Otsemobor flicked home the winner for MK Dons in the dying minutes

Stranded: Jon Otsemobor flicked home the winner for MK Dons in the dying minutes

Match facts

Milton Keynes Dons: Martin, Otsemobor, Kay, Williams, Lewington, Gleeson, Potter, Bowditch, Chadwick, Balanta (Ismail 66), Lowe (Smith 80).

Subs not used: McLoughlin, Doumbe, MacDonald, Chicksen, Sekajja.

Goal: Midson 59, Otsemobor 90

AFC Wimbledon: Sullivan, Osano, Fenlon, Antwi, Mambo, Luke Moore (Johnson 81), Gregory, Long, Ajala, Harrison (Strutton 71), Midson.

Subs not used: Jaimez-Ruiz, Balkestein, Mitchel-King, McNaughton, Djilali.

Booked: Midson, L Moore, Ajala.

Goal: Gleeson 45.

Referee: Scott Mathieson (Cheshire)

Angry Wimbledon FC fans subsequently formed AFC Wimbledon from scratch in the Combined Counties League before enjoying a rapid rise up the football pyramid, and are now just one division below npower League One promotion challengers MK Dons.

The bad blood between the clubs was in evidence throughout, with both sets of fans goading the other, but in the main the match passed off without incident, save for a brief pitch invasion following Wimbledon's equaliser.

The hosts controlled the first half but they struggled to create clear chances in the face of a disciplined Wimbledon rearguard action.

Angelo Balanta came close when he curled the ball just wide of the post after a neat turn on the edge of the box before Gleeson broke the deadlock on the stroke of half-time, blasting a 30-yard shot into the top-right corner.

MK Dons burst out of the blocks after the break and skipper Dean Lewington had a 25-yard free-kick pushed over the crossbar by Neil Sullivan before Balanta and Dean Bowditch both lashed strikes into the side-netting.

Mobbed: MK Dons celebrate their last-gasp winner which dumped AFC Wimbledon out of the FA Cup

Mobbed: MK Dons celebrate their last-gasp winner which dumped AFC Wimbledon out of the FA Cup


In front: Stephen Gleeson opened the scoring for MK Dons with a stunning strike

In front: Stephen Gleeson opened the scoring for MK Dons with a stunning strike

Happy days: Gleeson celebrates with his team-mates after scoring the first goal

Happy days: Gleeson celebrates with his team-mates after scoring the first goal

But Midson made the most of a rare
Wimbledon counter-attack to equalise after 59 minutes, glancing a fine
diving header past David Martin from Toby Ajaya's cross.

A number of Wimbledon fans spilled onto the pitch following the goal, but stewards quickly restored order.

In a frantic finale, Ryan Lowe had a
goal ruled out for offside for Milton Keynes and Wimbledon skipper
Steven Gregory was denied by Martin before Otsemobor hung out a leg to
backheel substitute Zeli Ismail's mis-hit shot over Sullivan to spark
wild scenes of celebration for the hosts.

Level pegging: Jack Midson equalised for AFC Wimbledon (above) before celebrating with team-mates and fans

Level pegging: Jack Midson equalised for AFC Wimbledon (above) before celebrating with team-mates and fans

Players and fans celebrate as Jack Midson of AFC Wimbledon scores their first goal

Players and fans celebrate as Jack Midson of AFC Wimbledon scores their first goal

Crunch: Ryan Lowe of MK Dons is tackled by AFC Wimbledon's Luke Moore

Crunch: Ryan Lowe of MK Dons is tackled by AFC Wimbledon's Luke Moore

On the run: AFC Wimbledon's Stacy Long (right) sets up another attack for the visitors

On the run: AFC Wimbledon's Stacy Long (right) sets up another attack for the visitors

Battle: Luke Chadwick (right) and Steve Gregory fight for possession at stadium:mk

Battle: Luke Chadwick (right) and Steve Gregory fight for possession at stadium:mk

AFC Wimbledon v MK Dons – fans clash

We are Wimbledon! Fans stake claim for 'real Dons' tag during FA Cup grudge match

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UPDATED:

13:39 GMT, 2 December 2012

As the MK Dons and AFC Wimbledon battled it out on the field in their FA Cup grudge match, both sets of fans did likewise in the stands.

The two sides met for the first time at stadium:mk, nine years after Wimbledon moved 54 miles to Milton Keynes and 10 years after AFC Wimbledon were formed.

The build-up to the clash surrounded the fight over who can lay claim to the achievements of the original 'Dons' and that trend continued on Sunday afternoon.

Clash: Both AFC Wimbledon and MK Dons claim to be the true heirs to the original Wimbledon side

Clash: Both AFC Wimbledon and MK Dons claim to be the true heirs to the original Wimbledon side

MK Dons

Despite threatening to boycott the match, AFC Wimbledon fans packed into the stadium although the promised radiation suits looked to be absent.

The visiting fans want MK Dons to drop the second part of their name but their supporters made it clear they have no intention of ceding to that request.

Making a point: A banner was flown over the stadium in support of AFC Wimbledon

Making a point: A banner was flown over the stadium in support of AFC Wimbledon

Up in arms: AFC Wimbledon fans made their feelings towards their hosts clear

Up in arms: AFC Wimbledon fans made their feelings towards their hosts clear

AFC Wimbledon fans hand out stickers

Hitting back: MK Dons fans responded to the jibes from the visiting fans

Hitting back: MK Dons fans responded to the jibes from the visiting fans

Milton Keynes Dons fans hold up a banner that reads' 'We're Keeping the Dons... Just Get Over It!'

Luis Suarez storm: Ashley Williams plays down row ahead of Swansea v Liverpool

Williams says sorry to Suarez for revealing he'd like to 'knock out' striker ahead of Liverpool showdown at Swansea

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UPDATED:

17:55 GMT, 23 November 2012

Brendan Rodgers has revealed Ashley Williams has apologised to Luis Suarez for referring to the Liverpool forward as 'a serial diver' and wanting 'to knock him out'.

The Swansea captain caused a stir in midweek when an extract from his book, My Premier League Diary, was published and it contained a less than glowing testimony of Suarez following a 0-0 draw at Anfield last November.

Williams went as far as saying that Suarez was 'streets ahead' of anyone who he had disliked in the top flight and the nature of his comments were looked at by the Football Association, as they could have been construed as bringing the game into disrepute.

Grudge match: Luis Suarez and Ashley Williams will resume hostilities on Sunday

Grudge match: Luis Suarez and Ashley Williams will resume hostilities on Sunday

However, ahead of Liverpool’s trip to the Liberty Stadium on Sunday, Rodgers confirmed that that Wales international had contacted both him and Suarez to clear the air and, as far as Liverpool’s manager is concerned, that is the end of the matter.

‘I’ve spoken to Ash and Ash has spoken with Luis so there’s no issue there,’ said Rodgers. ‘When I saw it I was surprised because in my time there, knowing his character, he’s a good man with good intelligence and maturity.

‘Ashley is a terrific football player and when I saw those comments I found it hard to believe. I got the full explanation about how it seemingly got out there and he was very quick to apologise for that. That’s gone now and there is no problem there.

On the comeback trail: Lucas Leiva played for Liverpool U21s on Friday

On the comeback trail: Lucas Leiva played for Liverpool U21s on Friday

‘I’m sure they will shake hands on Sunday and get on with it.’

Rodgers returns to Wales for the first time since he quit the Liberty Stadium to succeed Kenny Dalglish with Liverpool defending a seven-match unbeaten run in the Barclays Premier League that stretches back to September.

The irony of the situation, though, is that Swansea are actually better placed going into the game but Rodgers, who will make several changes to the side that drew 2-2 with BSC Young Boys in the Europa League, feels Liverpool are starting to make significant progress.

What’s more, Rodgers is soon set to welcome back key midfielder Lucas Leiva. The Brazilian played for 62 minutes of the Under 21s 1-0 win over Middlesbrough this afternoon and showed his fitness was good. The original plan had been for him to play just 45 minutes.

‘We are chipping away that was the idea this season,’ said Rodgers. ‘We had to manage and navigate through a lot of games. Where we finish at the end of the season is the most important thing. For us it’s just about continuing our improvement.

‘I think in the second half of the season we will get even stronger. We will get better in our ways of working and better in our understanding in terms of what we’re trying to achieve. We have a strong mentality in the league at the moment – that momentum is coming together.’

Wimbledon fans threaten to boycott the ultimate grudge match against MK Dons

Wimbledon fans threaten to boycott the ultimate grudge match against MK Dons

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UPDATED:

08:30 GMT, 14 November 2012

Hundreds of AFC Wimbledon supporters are set to boycott their FA Cup second-round clash with MK Dons.

The fixture Wimbledon were dreading
became a reality last night when MK Dons beat non-league Cambridge City
6-1 in their first-round replay.

Dilemma: Wimbledon fans have mixed feelings about cup tie against Mk Dons

Dilemma: Wimbledon fans have mixed feelings about cup tie against Mk Dons

HISTORY LESSON

Read about the background of the grudge match here

Next month's clash will be the first time the teams have met since the original Wimbledon, FA Cup winners in 1988, were relocated to Milton Keynes 10 years ago.

AFC Wimbledon, who formed in 2002 in the wake of that controversial move and have since been promoted five times to reach League Two, have already said they will grudgingly fulfil the fixture.

But Simon Wheeler, chairman of the Independent Wimbledon Supporters Association, will not be there to see it.

Wheeler said: 'This has reopened a lot of scars. We never wanted this to happen and frankly I feel numb.

'I won't be going and I know lots of other fans won't be going. Personally I would rather take my girlfriend's mother to the garden centre than go to that game.

Wrap it up: Adam Chicksen celebrates scoring the sixth goal for his side

Wrap it up: Adam Chicksen celebrates scoring the sixth goal for his side

Tussle: Wimbledon's Steven Gregory is challenged by Danny Kearns of York

Tussle: Wimbledon's Steven Gregory is challenged by Danny Kearns of York

'Other fans will have to take a long
look at themselves and make a personal, informed decision. We'll talk to
the fans and to the club.

'We didn't ever want this to happen
but it does highlight the phenomenal success of AFC Wimbledon from
having had everything ripped out.'

MK Dons chairman Pete Winkelman has described the historic meeting as a 'potentially fantastic tie'
But Wheeler added: 'MK Dons might say how much they are looking forward
to the game but actually they are probably rather embarrassed. The
frenzy of support Pete Winkelman had envisaged has not materialised and
frankly they have an identity crisis. They still call themselves Dons,
not Milton Keynes.

'But we have to fulfil the fixture. I believe a group of AFC Wimbledon
players will play the game then get back on the bus to Wimbledon and
carry on with our season.

'The result does not matter. We've already won just by being in the Football League.'

Good day at the office: Karl Robinson's side were comfortable winners

Good day at the office: Karl Robinson's side were comfortable winners

Spot on: Shaun Williams fires home the fourth with a penalty kick

Spot on: Shaun Williams fires home the fourth with a penalty kick