Tag Archives: hands

Suso shows off skills for Liverpool v Southampton

VIDEO: Is Suso the heir to Suarez's throne Spaniard shows off skills against Saints

By
John Drayton

PUBLISHED:

11:28 GMT, 5 March 2013

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UPDATED:

11:29 GMT, 5 March 2013

Liverpool fans worried about Luis Suarez departing for pastures new need fear no more.

The Uruguay striker has been linked with a 40million move to Bayern Munich at the end of the season.

But even if he does join Pep Guardiola in Germany, Liverpool look to be in safe hands. Step forward… Suso.

Potential: Suso showed why he might yet have plenty to offer Liverpool

Potential: Suso showed why he might yet have plenty to offer Liverpool

The 19-year-old Spaniard has yet to make an impact in the Anfield first team but showed a glimpse of his undoubted potential for Liverpool's Under 21 side in their 1-1 draw with Southampton last night.

The Saints went in front thanks to Vegard Foren, the Norwegian defender who turned down a trial at Anfield to sign for the St Mary's club before Krisztian Adorjan rescued a point for the visitors.

P.S. This one's even better…

Reading are in deep relegation trouble and could do worse than look at their own Under 21 side for reinforcements.

Dominic Samuel has made just one appearance for the first XI and spent the start of this year on loan at League One Colchester.

But he showed he has plenty to offer with this stunning solo goal in the Royals' 3-0 win over Manchester City.

Shay Given could earn Aston Villa recall

Given poised to come to Villa's rescue as Lambert bids to plug leaky defence

By
John Drayton

PUBLISHED:

20:15 GMT, 4 January 2013

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UPDATED:

23:52 GMT, 4 January 2013

Shay Given is in line for a recall to Aston Villa’s team to face Ipswich on Saturday afternoon.

Villa have conceded 17 goals in their last four Premier League fixtures and boss Paul Lambert is deliberating whether he returns at Brad Guzan’s expense.

Lambert said: ‘Brad hasn’t been at fault for any of the goals but Shay definitely comes into my thinking for this.’

Recall Shay Given (left) could replace Brad Guzman in the Aston Villa goal

Recall Shay Given (left) could replace Brad Guzman in the Aston Villa goal

'I think it might have been harder for Brad if he was a young guy, but Brad is a top professional and really mentally strong.

'From that point of view, yes of course it hurts losing goals, but I don't think it will affect him, not knowing him the way I do.

'I certainly wouldn't put Brad out of the team for what has happened.

'I don't think it's Brad Guzan's fault for the 17 goals we've let in. If it was not for Brad Guzan, it might have been 34.'

Guzan has been the only one stopping more of Villa's results from being embarrassing

Hands and knees: Guzan has been the only one stopping more of Villa's results from being embarrassing

Given made himself available this week to play for the Republic of Ireland again after announcing his retirement in the aftermath of the European Championships.

And Lambert believes the veteran is still playing well enough to represent his country.

He said: 'If that's Shay's thinking, then fine. For me, the way he's trained and the way he's played in the games has been excellent.

'He is no doubt good enough to come back and play for Ireland and has played well in the Capital One Cup matches.

'I'm just fortunate to have two such fine keepers available to choose from.'

Darren Bent playing for Villa

Gabriel Agbonlahor in action for Aston Villa.

Experience: Lambert will be boosted soon by the return of Bent and Agbonlahor

Lambert concedes that he would like to rest striker Christian Benteke once Gabriel Agbonlahor and Darren Bent return from injury.

Benteke has endured a heavy schedule and played in all four of Villa's games over Christmas and the new year.

Lambert said: 'I'd like to rest Christian because he's played a lot of games. He's played a lot of games for Belgium and his season with Genk had started before he joined us in August.

'But with Gabby and even Darren out injured, it has not been great. There have been a lot of injuries up front.'

Lionel Messi with son Thiago in Barcelona

A message to defenders across the world… Mini Messi is coming to get you

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UPDATED:

11:33 GMT, 13 December 2012

These pictures should melt the hearts of most people around the world – but they will send a chill down the spine of every young defender around the world.

Lionel Messi took his new baby boy Thiago on his first public stroll around the streets of Barcelona with his girlfriend Antonella. If Thiago's goalscoring form is anything like his father's, then the Messi dynasty is in safe hands.

The Barcelona talisman increased his record tally of goals scored in a calendar year to 88, after netting twice against FC Cordoba to secure a 2-0 win in the first leg of the Copa Del Rey tie.

Sealed with a kiss: The Barcelona star parades his new baby with girlfriend Antonella

Sealed with a kiss: The Barcelona star parades his new baby with girlfriend Antonella

The Argentina striker equalled and surpassed Muller's 1972 record of 85 goals in Sunday's 2-1 victory over Real Betis when he scored another brace. But he doesn't seem content with beating the great German hitman, as he marched on with another two goals last night.

When Thiago was first born, Manchester City striker and fellow Argentine star Sergio Aguero gave Messi a miniature iconic Blue and White-striped Argentina shirt for his then two-week-old son.

Aguero pledged to buy the kit for Messi's baby boy, as he tweeted a picture of the two friends holding up the kit accompanied with: 'Promesa cumplida!!/Promise kept!! #ThiagoMessi10'

Leo Messi

Leo Messi

Baby love: Messi took his new baby boy Thiago on his first public stroll around the streets of Barcelona

Promise kept: Sergio Aguero (right) bought his international team-mate Lionel Messi an Argentina kit for his two-week-old son

Promise kept: Sergio Aguero (right) bought his international team-mate Lionel Messi an Argentina kit for his two-week-old son

Aguero gave Thiago a No 10 shirt – the same number his father wears for both club and country.

Despite not being able to walk yet – let alone run – baby Thiago has already been made a member of Newell's Old Boys' supporters club, after an agreement was reached between the Argentina club and the infant's grandfather, Jorge.

Messi played at Newell's at youth level before making the trip to Barcelona, aged 13.

Sweethearts: The Argentina star and Antonella first met as children but only begun dating in 2009rgentina star eclipsed Gerd Muller's goalscoring record earlier this month

Sweethearts: The Argentina star and Antonella first met as children but only begun dating in 2009

How do you fold this again: Messi has to contend with every new father's nightmare... collapsing the buggy

Thiago, who was born on November 2, was issued with an official club membership card last week and will receive a kit from Newell's.

Messi was born in the Argentine city of Rosario, located 200 miles north west of Buenos Aires and remains a fan of Newell's, his hometown team.

At the double: Messi scored twice in Barcelona's win over Cordoba last night

At the double: Messi scored twice in Barcelona's win over Cordoba last night

Liverpool"s Australian goalkeeper Brad Jones signs new deal

Jones handed new Liverpool deal after Aussie's improvements impress Rodgers

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UPDATED:

15:53 GMT, 13 December 2012

Brad Jones has been rewarded by Liverpool for the improvement he has shown this season with a new contract.

The Australian international only had six months left on the deal he initially signed when moving to Anfield from Middlesbrough in August 2010 but Liverpool have moved quickly to offer Pepe Reina’s understudy new extended terms.

Jones enjoyed his longest run in the team this autumn when he made seven consecutive appearances as Reina recovered from a hamstring problem; during that sequence, he kept two clean sheets. In all during this campaign, the 30-year-old has made 10 starts.

Safe hands: Goalkeeper Brad Jones has signed a new deal with Liverpool

Safe hands: Goalkeeper Brad Jones has signed a new deal with Liverpool

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers
revealed before last week’s Europa League game in Udinese that he wanted
to keep hold of Jones and, at the time, he stated his admiration for
the way the stopper – who played at Wembley in the FA Cup semi-final
against Everton – has developed.

‘Brad is another one I would like to
keep,’ Rodgers said. ‘Of course you are always looking for talent but
what we have is one of the best No1 keepers in the Premier League and he
(Reina) is fighting to get to that level, which I think he is nearly
at.

‘Brad, who was a No3 or No 4 keeper
here, has really kicked on since the summer and in the games he has
played since the summer, showed he is very loyal and supportive No 2.

‘What is important in the dynamic of the group is that you have Pepe Reina, who is the No1 keeper clearly.

'Brad has then stepped up to the
plate and shown he is a very capable No 2 and our job then below that is
to ensure we have top young talents who can produce and challenge at
the top end.'

He may have grown up in Perth but
Jones has been a lifelong Liverpool supporter and when he was asked
earlier this season whether he would ever think about moving to a club
of a lesser stature to simply play games, his response was emphatic.

‘This was not just a move for me, it
was like an achievement,’ said Jones. 'There were two things I said when
I was eight years old; one was that I was going to play for Australia,
which I have, and the other was playing for Liverpool, which I’ve done
too.

'There is something about coming in (here) every day that makes everything you have sacrificed worthwhile.

'I would not walk away at all if I
was given the opportunity to stay. For as long as the manager wants me
at the club, I am willing to be here.'

Shane Warne has had his time and must forget Australia comeback – Martin Samuel

You've had your time, Shane. Don't fight the dimming of the light…

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UPDATED:

23:07 GMT, 9 December 2012

Alan Mullery tells a story of his last appearance in an England shirt. It came several years after he retired from football, in a match abroad, for the press team. Mullery says he got roped in as a favour for a journalist friend, much against his better judgment. He was no longer at a professional level of fitness and wore glasses, which he had to keep on during the match. Prior to kick-off, he told his less-than-athletic team-mates that they would have to deal with any balls in the air.

Then it started to rain. Mullery had no choice but to play on, wiping his lenses with the back of a hand during lulls in the action. At which point, the opposition got a corner. As the ball swung in, a career spanning close to 800 games told Mullery that there was no way a single colleague had read the play well enough to clear. This was his ball, glasses or no glasses.

He rose, a class above the rest even in his dotage, won the header and the ball flew clear. Unfortunately, his spectacles travelled with equal ferocity in the opposite direction, leaving him blearily without vision. As the play moved upfield, there was Mullery, 35 caps and a former captain of England, on his hands and knees groping blindly in the mud in the penalty area.

Some comeback: Shane Warne drops a catch off Faf Du Plessis during his Big Bash return with Melbourne Stars

Some comeback: Shane Warne drops a catch off Faf Du Plessis during his Big Bash return with Melbourne Stars

Some comeback: Shane Warne drops a catch off Faf Du Plessis during his Big Bash return in Melbourne

Some comeback: Shane Warne drops a catch off Faf Du Plessis during his Big Bash return with Melbourne Stars

Some England fans who had been passing were gathered behind the goal. ‘Look at that silly old sod,’ said one. ‘What does he think he’s doing’ Mullery never played football again. Not even for very good mates.

So Shane Warne should think carefully — very carefully — having last week declared his readiness to come out of retirement to help Australia regain the Ashes this summer.

The day after this grand pronouncement, Warne played his first game for Melbourne Stars in the Big Bash League — Australia’s equivalent of the Indian Premier League — against Melbourne Renegades. /12/09/article-0-1665434C000005DC-952_306x423.jpg” width=”306″ height=”423″ alt=”Warne bowls” class=”blkBorder” />

Warne with girlfriend Elizabeth Hurley

Half the bowler he used to be: Warne's couple of overs suggest he's better off spending more time with Elizabeth Hurley than making a comeback for Australia during the Ashes series in England next summer

Warne, who is captain of the Stars, won the toss and elected to bat. It was pretty much all downhill from there. Chasing an underwhelming target of 167-5, the Renegades set about their rivals’ bowling, until Warne introduced himself in the seventh over. Seven balls, including a wide, and 19 runs later, he withdrew. It had not gone well.

One of the Big Bash gimmicks is that Warne, as a captain and local legend, is wired for sound and can talk to the commentators during play. Having been steadily milked for three balls, he announced prior to his fourth that facing batsman Aaron Finch was not a good sweeper. The result: six runs. From the following ball: six again. At the end of a sobering over, Warne retreated to mid-wicket where he promptly dropped a dolly catch from Faf du Plessis.

It was the 14th over before Warne felt confident enough to return to bowl. This time, he went for 22. When the Renegades won with 10 balls to spare, with that lousy sweeper Finch unbeaten on 111, Warne’s figures read: 2-0-41-0.

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Where did it all go wrong Martin O'Neill

Ordinary life on Wearside is O’Neill’s dream

The day Martin O’Neill arrived on Wearside, he set out his aims. ‘I hope I can help Sunderland to a very successful period,’ he said.

Ellis Short, the owner, clarified the terms of this success. ‘During his time at Aston Villa, Martin established the club firmly in the top 10 of the Premier League year-on-year,’ he said. ‘This is something we are striving to achieve at Sunderland.’

A year on, his club sit forlornly in the bottom three. Turns out, ordinary is not as easy as it looks. Mediocre is pretty damn difficult, actually, because there is a glass ceiling above but a bottomless pit below. It is almost impossible for O’Neill to overshoot at Sunderland, but very easy for him to fall short and tumble into oblivion.

As a Premier League manager, he has been cursed by positions at clubs who are big enough to enjoy significant levels of expectation, but not so big that they can challenge the established elite. He was better off at Leicester City where 10th truly was an achievement and a relegation battle came with the territory. At Aston Villa, and now Sunderland, he can take the club only so far and once the players know it, vital momentum is lost.

Villa’s owner, Randy Lerner, pulled the plug on O’Neill’s previous project, calculating that his outlay to take the club to sixth would have to be spent again to reach fourth and then repeated to challenge for the title. Lerner began selling to recoup instead and O’Neill’s resignation pre-empted the inevitable decline. At Sunderland, he has not even got that far. This is a big club but without big resources and players quickly comprehend the limits of ambition. If the club are coasting, then they coast, too. Form slips, and the easy mid-table life quickly becomes a struggle for survival.

O’Neill’s position is now under threat, which seems unfair as there is hardly a queue of better candidates hustling for the job. Against that, without major investment, sometimes only a change of manager provides fresh motivation. O’Neill arrived, his usual whirlwind, but this time, there was a governor on the accelerator.

Short’s hope for consistent top-10 finishes told the story. Nothing wrong with executive realism, but it harbours its own problems. How does the pre-season address go at a club who are aiming for 10th ‘You were ordinary last year, lads — keep it up.’

AND WHILE WE'RE AT IT…

Blackburn fans should be careful what they wish for

Bryan Gunn was a hero to the supporters of Norwich City. When he was appointed manager in January 2009, the reaction was euphoric. Gunn surrounded himself with other local heroes, Ian Crook and John Deehan, and won his first game against Barnsley 4-0. At the end of that season, however, Norwich lost three straight games and were relegated.

The next campaign began with a 7-1 home defeat by Colchester United. Gunn was sacked six days later. Paul Lambert, whose playing career had never brought him closer to Norwich than the 363 miles separating the city from Motherwell, then took over, winning successive promotions and surviving a first season in the Premier League. Be careful what you wish for.

Plenty to ponder: Henning Berg has endured a torrid start to life as Blackburn manager

Plenty to ponder: Henning Berg has endured a torrid start to life as Blackburn manager

Henning Berg was a legend at Blackburn Rovers, too. A member of the team who won the title under Kenny Dalglish, his appointment as successor to Steve Kean was a populist move by unpopular owners Venky’s and their preposterous Global Adviser, Shebby Singh. Berg’s track record in management hardly made him the stand-out candidate.

Yet he was welcomed after the hated Kean, and took charge of his first game on November 3. Blackburn Rovers began that day in fifth position, having fallen from third in the month since Kean quit. With local hero Berg in charge, they have sunk to 13th. Berg has taken six points from eight matches, with just a single win against Peterborough United, the bottom club. The lowest crowd at Ewood Park for 19 years saw a 4-1 home defeat by Cardiff City on Friday, giving Berg the worst start of a Blackburn manager in 34 years.

Yet fans countrywide still persist in believing that the ideal manager is a club stalwart with 500 appearances and history coursing through his veins. Here’s another novel idea, one that Blackburn are yet to try: get someone in who knows how to run a football club. Oh, and ditch the Global Adviser. He’s plainly an idiot.

Smiling again: Chelsea's Fernando Torres

Smiling again: Chelsea's Fernando Torres

Credit Rafa

Last
week, it was only Nordsjaelland — now it is only Sunderland. People are
forgetting Fernando Torres looked like he could not score against any
opponent until Rafael Benitez turned up. This may say as much about a
self-absorbed player as it does about the methods of the interim
manager, but as the only real change is the presence of Benitez, credit
where it is due.

Buck stops at home for banned Bradford

Bradford City are to appeal against their expulsion from the FA Cup, for fielding an ineligible player in their second-round tie with Brentford. ‘The error was of an administrative, technical nature and not one to intentionally break competition rules,’ said a club statement. No matter.

Allow this, and ineligible players could appear in every tie, with the club blaming hapless administrative staff. Who can tell, with any certainty, a genuine mistake from an attempt to swing the lead The FA stance has to be black and white. It is the job of the club to get their house in order — the buck stops there.

England 15 South Africa 16: Penalty call haunts Red Rose again as fortuitous try seals Springbok win

England 15 South Africa 16: Penalty call haunts Red Rose again as freak try seals Springbok win

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UPDATED:

17:03 GMT, 24 November 2012

England's autumn is beginning to look as bleak as the Twickenham weather after Willem Alberts' fortunate try earned South Africa victory.

Stuart Lancaster's men now head into next weekend's appointment with world champions New Zealand on the back of narrow defeats at home to Australia and the Springboks.

England competed every step of the way with South Africa, matching the Springboks for intensity and desire and they battled back from 16-6 down with real heart.

Crucial score: Willem Alberts goes over the line for the only try of the game despite the attentions of Joe Launchbury

Crucial score: Willem Alberts goes over the line for the only try of the game despite the attentions of Joe Launchbury

They were the better team,
particularly in the second half when Owen Farrell came on, but their
undoing was a slice of bad luck just after the interval.

When Ben Youngs' hacked clearance
rebounded off JP Pietersen, the ball fell to Alberts who scored rugby's
equivalent of an open goal.

Farrell added three penalties to the
two struck by Toby Flood as England battled all the way to the death.
Lancaster will be encouraged by those qualities.

Family affair: Tom Youngs (left) attempts to intervene as Eben Etzebeth grapples with brother Ben

Family affair: Tom Youngs (left) attempts to intervene as Eben Etzebeth grapples with brother Ben

But assistant coach Graham Rowntree
himself said he was sick of talking about lessons learned and England,
despite Alberts' fortunate try, could have won the game.

Flood missed two first-half penalties
and again the spotlight will fall on a decision made by captain Chris
Robshaw when England were awarded a kickable penalty with just over a
minute remaining.

Last week, England were criticised
for not taking their points. Today, Robshaw changed his mind having
initially told Farrell to kick for touch.

Hands up: Chris Robshaw is closed down by Adriaan Strauss (left) and Francois Louw

Hands up: Chris Robshaw is closed down by Adriaan Strauss (left) and Francois Louw

Farrell slotted the penalty, but
England could not gather the restart and South Africa held on to extend
their unbeaten run in this fixture to 11 matches, dating back to 2006.

England had drawn heart from their 14-14 draw with South Africa in the third Test of the summer tour. Those lessons Rowntree referred to included the need to match the Springbok physicality.

Joe Launchbury was given his first international start while Alex Corbisiero, Tom Wood and Ben Morgan were brought back to bring some steel into the England pack. They all delivered.

Running free: Alex Goode breaks away from the clutches of Jannie du Plessis

Running free: Alex Goode breaks away from the clutches of Jannie du Plessis

Youngs justified Lancaster's decision
to promote him into the starting side with a clever display at
scrum-half, as did Mike Brown on the wing.

England reprised their tour tactic of
using two full-backs and the grim, wet conditions meant this was always
going to be an arm-wrestle in the rain at Twickenham.

England had to display their intent
from the outset and did, with Geoff Parling blocking Ruan Pienaar's box
kick and Robshaw pounced on Patrick Lambie to win the penalty.

Breaking away: Manu Tuilagi skips past Jean de Villiers

Breaking away: Manu Tuilagi skips past Jean de Villiers

Flood missed his shot at goal but England kept the pressure on as Brown claimed a confident high ball and escaped two defenders.

Parling and Morgan both piled forward
as England drove within five metres of the Springbok line. Chris Ashton
was wrapped up but England won a second penalty shot at goal for offside
and this time Flood made no mistake with the boot.

England defended resolutely when Flood
lost the ball as he tried to run from deep but Eben Etzebeth stole a
lineout and the Springboks earned a penalty which Lambie converted.

Clearing his lines: Ben Youngs gets a kick away despite the attentions of Duane Vermeulen

Clearing his lines: Ben Youngs gets a kick away despite the attentions of Duane Vermeulen

Flood returned from a brief spell in
the blood-bin to exchange penalties with Lambie but then missed a second
penalty shot at goal, earned by a strong England scrum.

Morgan crashed holes in the Springbok
defensive line but England could not capitalise and Lambie edged the
Springboks ahead for the first time in the match.

England came searing out of a scrappy
passage of play, dominated by the boot and some poor kick-chasing, with a
clean break from Alex Goode onto a clever ball from Ben Youngs.

Locked up: Joe Launchbury is tackled by Gurthro Steenkamp and Duane Vermeulen

Locked up: Joe Launchbury is tackled by Gurthro Steenkamp and Duane Vermeulen

But Flood's kick in behind skipped
dead in goal before Manu Tuilagi could get to it and England then wasted
a five-on-three overlap.

Just after the restart, South Africa extended their 9-6 half-time lead in a bizarre circumstances.
When Juande Kruger lost control as he
drove for the line, Ben Youngs tried to hack the ball clear but it
crashed into JP Pietersen.

The ball rebounded towards Morgan, who
could not gather it on his own line and Springboks flanker Alberts
pounced to score a try that was converted by Lambie.

Lancaster reacted to England falling 10 points down by sending on Farrell for Flood and they raised the intensity.

Off-balance: Toby Flood (front) and Ben Morgan get to grips with JP Pietersen

Off-balance: Toby Flood (front) and Ben Morgan get to grips with JP Pietersen

JP Pietersen could not take an
excellent box-kick from Ben Youngs and Morgan spread the play wide for
Tuilagi, who crashed through the South African defence.

A mistake from Farrell put England on
the back foot but they came storming out of defence with an interception
from Tuilagi inside his own 22.

Tuilagi powered downfield and then fed
Ashton but a poor pass to Brown, who should have come closer, checked
England's momentum and a promising move ended when Launchbury knocked
on.

Mixed fortunes: England were inconsistent in the line-out

Mixed fortunes: England were inconsistent in the line-out

England kept piling on the pressure,
helped by some poor South African kicking. Mako Vunipola crashed into
the Springbok 22 and England won another penalty when Francois Louw came
in off his feet.

Farrell converted it and then booted
England back into South African territory but again the Twickenham crowd
were left frustrated as Ashton knocked the ball forward.

England came again and, with a minute
remaining, earned the kickable penalty which Robshaw, eventually,
instructed Farrell to kick for goal.

John Ruddy helped Canaries sing again

Ruddy good show! How hot stopper John helped Canaries sing again

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UPDATED:

22:45 GMT, 18 November 2012

John Ruddy was entitled to bask in the glow of victory against Manchester United and he pumped his fists in the air as Carrow Road rattled to the sound of his surname.

Norwich leaked 17 goals in the first seven games in an awful start to their second season back at the top, with a new manager and various new defenders at the club.

But a corner has been turned and Ruddy was unbeatable against United as Chris Hughton’s team defended stoutly to protect the lead they took through Anthony Pilkington’s header. He became the first player to score against United and FC United.

Safe hands: John Ruddy was the star of the show as Norwich beat United

Safe hands: John Ruddy was the star of the show as Norwich beat United

The goalkeeper exuded authority, commanding his back four, even tipping one over from team-mate Sebastien Bassong as Roy Hodgson looked on from the stands three days after Joe Hart’s standards slipped on England duty in Sweden.

'I've been impressed with John, especially in recent games,' said Hughton. 'Against United, it wasn’t so much saving one-on-one efforts, or turning it around the posts, it was about making good decisions.

'That’s a mark of a really good keeper when you have to make good decisions in a game where you didn’t have a lot of one-on-ones to make.'

Norwich have gone 333 minutes without conceding in the Barclays Premier League and there has been a distinct change since the mid-October international break.

They leaked nine in two games before the break but one in five since. They have also knocked Tottenham out of the Capital One Cup.

‘The Arsenal game kick-started our season,’ said defender Steven Whittaker. ‘It gave us a boost. You need to believe.’

Sale 25 Saracens 23

Sale 25 Saracens 23: Miller strikes late to earn Sharks narrow win

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UPDATED:

22:22 GMT, 16 November 2012

Rob Miller's late penalty secured Sale Sharks' first triumph of this season's LV= Cup at the expense of Saracens at the Salford City Stadium.

Tries by Kameli Ratuvou and Joel Tomkins to go alongside 10 points from the boot of Nils Mordt gave Sarries a 20-12 half-time advantage, with Sale's response before the interval coming through Mark Cueto's score and a penalty try.

A Fraser McKenzie touchdown and a Danny Cipriani penalty took the Sharks into the lead before Ben Spencer's three-pointer edged the visitors ahead again, but Miller slotted a late penalty to earn the victory for the hosts.

Narrow win: Sale celebrate on their way to beating Saracens

Narrow win: Sale celebrate on their way to beating Saracens

With a vital Aviva Premiership encounter against Gloucester looming, Sale chose to select a weaker outfit to the one that had gone down 34-28 to London Irish the previous week.

However, it still looked stronger on paper than a Saracens team which rested the majority of their star players, particularly with Dwayne Peel and Cipriani starting at half-back for the hosts.

And the seven-times capped England international showed his quality from the off when a superb cut-out pass put Corne Uys in space.

The centre then produced a similarly sublime piece of skill to send Cueto away in the corner unopposed. Jordan Davies missed the conversion, but the home side led 5-0 after three minutes.

That advantage did not last long, though, as two scores in as many minutes put the visitors in front.

Firstly, Mordt slotted a penalty when Sale were penalised for holding on before a length-of-the-field move ended in Ratuvou touching down.

Instigated by Nick Auterac, the prop showed impressive pace to run 40 metres. Excellent support work and good hands from forwards and backs alike put the Fijian in space, and he did the rest.

Charge: Kearnan Myall of Sale Sharks is tackled by Ben Ransom of Saracens

Charge: Kearnan Myall of Sale Sharks is tackled by Ben Ransom of Saracens

It seemed to unsettle the Manchester-based outfit and Ben Ransom almost extended the away team's lead, but his jinking run was halted metres from the line.

That missed opportunity was to prove costly as the Sharks proceeded to go up the other end and score when referee Llyr ApGeraint Roberts awarded a penalty try for collapsing a maul.

But Saracens always looked dangerous with ball in hand. Another Ransom break set up a penalty opportunity which Mordt duly converted to take it to 13-12 in the visitors' favour.

Sarries full-back Ransom then rounded off an outstanding individual performance in the first half as a third menacing run allowed Tomkins to cross the whitewash, with Mordt adding the extras from out wide.

As conditions worsened for the start of the second period, the match became scrappy, but Eoin Sheriff offered the hosts hope after he was sin-binned for repeated team infringements.

And Sale took advantage of the extra man as McKenzie evaded two weak tackles to go over, Davies converting.

Cipriani and Spencer then traded three-pointers as Sarries held a one-point lead going into the closing stages, before Miller's late effort from the tee gave the Sharks victory.

BUMBLE"S TEST DIARY: How the utter madness of England sending in Jimmy Anderson left me calling for Sunny and Cher

BUMBLE'S TEST DIARY: How the utter madness of England sending in Jimmy left me calling for Sunny and Cher

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UPDATED:

13:38 GMT, 16 November 2012

SAME OLD WAY TO A SORRY DEFEAT

England must get away from their habit of ‘thinking English’. They need to think how India have tried things, such as opening the bowling with their off-spinner. In India’s innings, just three of the first 18 overs were bowled by the spinners and they were 84-0. In England’s innings, 13 of 18 overs were bowled by spinners and England are three down.

SOFT HANDS NEEDED TO AVOID SOFTER DISMISSALS

England haven’t got a clue how to move the fielders around the bat. The top three (Cook, Compton and Trott) are very static batsmen. Trott’s dismissal – pushing forward with his bat rigid straight and being caught at bat-pad – summed up the problem. They need to play with soft hands. The young lad Pujara has given England a lesson. He’s not a blaster, he just moved the ball around.

Bad Trott: England's top order, especially Jonathan Trott, must learn to play with soft hands (FILE IMAGE)

Bad Trott: England's top order, especially Jonathan Trott, must learn to play with soft hands (FILE IMAGE)

ENTER KP THE SCRIPTWRITER

England have talked a good game for months, saying their players are good players of spin, but we are seeing no signs of that. Only Kevin Pietersen has come up with a system. As soon as he came in he went down the pitch to the spinner. He found a way. The rest will get out if they just sit and block. This match is nailed on to finish in four days unless KP can write a different script.

Swashbuckling: It's all down to Kevin Pietersen now - he should have been promoted up the order in the final session (FILE IMAGE)

Swashbuckling: It's all down to Kevin Pietersen now – he should have been promoted up the order in the final session (FILE IMAGE)

MIND THE GAP

I talked yesterday of psychological pressure leading to players dropping catches. And it’s the same with scoreboard pressure. India racked up 520 and when England came out to bat it suddenly looks a different track, a different game…but the pitch has not changed. It’s just pressure which was created by MS Dhoni, with his declaration, opening with the offie, and crowding the bat.

More of this, please: England practise their catching last year (FILE IMAGE)

More of this, please: England practise their catching last year (FILE IMAGE)

And less of this: England rue another missed chance (FILE IMAGE - v South Africa last summer)

And less of this: England rue another missed chance (FILE IMAGE – v South Africa last summer)

SENDING IN JIMMY AN UTTER WASTE OF TIME

The nightwatchman is a total and utter waste of time. I was really disappointed when James Anderson came out. I turned to Nasser Hussain and said: ‘He won’t last three balls’. He lasted six. He’s also pushed Graeme Swann down to No 11. Madness. Instead of a nightwatchman, they should have promoted KP – he would have broken the shackles.

SOUND THE ALARM

I had a bit of a senior moment. I was convinced I’d set my alarm for 2.30am but, during one of my frequent bathroom calls in the night, I glanced at the clock and noticed it was 3am and I was due on air in half an hour! I then realised I had indeed set it for 2.30…but in the afternoon!

CHER-ING THE LAUGHS… I'VE GOT YUVRAJ

It’s a different atmosphere commentating from the studio here rather than at the ground. You struggle to ‘feel the game’. It’s a different discipline but we are determined to ensure we do as good job as possible. We still had our lighter moments yesterday, talking about our favourite lollipops, and when the great Sunil Gavaskar came on Indian TV, and they did their 'ask Sunny' segment, I asked him: ‘Where’s Cher'

Sunil Gavaskar

Cher in 1991

Sunny and Cher I: Indian legend Sunil Gavaskar (right) and songstress Cher (right)

Sonny Bono and Cher

Sonny and Cher II: Or rather the original husband-and-wife partnership belt outa tune in 1966

VIDEO: I've Got You Baby, by Sonny (not that one) and Cher…

David Lloyd misses Emmerdale star Chas Dingle – Bumble"s Test diary

BUMBLE'S TEST DIARY: England have picked the wrong team… but why I'm in a tizz over Chas

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UPDATED:

17:52 GMT, 15 November 2012

MONTY, WHERE FOR ART THOU, MONTY

England have picked the wrong team. Monty Panesar should be playing. It’s crying out for two specialist spinners. Samit Patel bowled 14 overs but he is only a supplementary option. Monty is the man for these conditions. England picked three seamers but conditions were against them, and Tim Bresnan only bowled 10 overs. India always play two seamers and two specialist spinners at home and England should have followed suit.

Watching brief: England's Monty Panesar during a nets practice session at the Sardar Patel Stadium, Ahmedabad yesterday

Watching brief: England's Monty Panesar during a nets practice session at the Sardar Patel Stadium, Ahmedabad yesterday

SWANN BESTA

Saying that, Graeme Swann has been exceptional. He is in exalted company now after overtaking one of the all-time greats yesterday, Jim Laker.

Swann is right up there, make no mistake. Some say Swann has picked up plenty of wickets because of DRS, but I'd counter that by pointing out that Laker played on uncovered pitches.

Fitness permitting, Swann will pass Deadly Derek Underwood and reach 300 Test wickets.

DROPPED CATCHES LOSE MATCHES

England can’t afford to keep dropping catches. Four chances were missed. I put it down to psychological pressure. It was the same against South Africa and the likes of Hashim Amla (in particular), Graeme Smith and AB de Villiers. The fielding mindset is ‘I can’t afford to drop this class of player’ and you find yourself snatching at chances or going with hard hands. Also, the continuity in fielding positions has not been there. England miss Paul Collingwood. Jimmy Anderson has had a go in the slips and now Jonathan Trott.

Another brick in the wall: Mumbai A's Cheteshwar Pujara earlier this month during England's tour

Another brick in the wall: Mumbai A's Cheteshwar Pujara earlier this month during England's tour

UH-OH THE INDIANS HAVE BUILT ANOTHER WALLL

If Virender Sehwag had a wish list, in first place would be ‘this pitch’. There is no movement, little pace or bounce and he’s just stood there and thought: ‘I’ll smash it everywhere.’

Conditions are 100 per cent in his favour. England will be relieved he ‘only’ got 117.

A quick word about this lad Cheteshwar Pujara, who has replaced Rahul Dravid at No 3. He’s controlled, careful and watchful – oh no, he's a ‘Junior Wall’!

/11/15/article-2233465-160C2F28000005DC-564_306x423.jpg” width=”306″ height=”423″ alt=”No wonder, Bumble misses Chas Dingle…: Emmerdale actress Lucy Pargeter poses in her lingerie” class=”blkBorder” />

No wonder, Bumble misses Chas Dingle...: Emmerdale actress Lucy Pargeter poses in her lingerie

No wonder, Bumble misses Chas Dingle…: Emmerdale actress Lucy Pargeter poses in her lingerie

Chastity Dingle (Lucy Pargeter) panics when she wakes up next to Colin McFarlane (Michael Melia) and discovers he's dead

Chastity Dingle

Just not cricket: Chastity Dingle (Lucy Pargeter,) panics when she wakes up next to Colin McFarlane (Michael Melia) and discovers he's dead (left) and posing all demurely (right)

EARLY START MEANS BEEFY'S FULL OF BULL

As you’d imagine, I had a full English (in a plastic carton) which was very nice. As I said, I woke up at 2am but I didn’t get my breakfast till 5.30am – that’s when the rest of the staff come in.

Sir Beefy took a different approach – he just had an inordinate amount of Red Bull!

AND WHILE I'M AT IT…

Petula Clark was 80 yeterday. I was a big fan back in the day. All together now: 'Downtown…'Finally, I read the other day that Frankel’s stud fee has been set at 125,000. Nice work if you can get it…

Petula Clark

Jockey Tom Queally kisses race horse Frankel, following the Champion Stakes (Class 1), British Champions Middle Distance race at Ascot, England on October 20, 2012

Star-studded: Happy 80th birthday Petula Clark (left), while Frankel (right) has has his stud fee set at 125,000

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