Tag Archives: honesty

Santi Cazorla should face a three-match ban – Graham Poll

Diving Cazorla should be banned for three games, just like Wenger wanted



23:11 GMT, 9 December 2012

‘If an obvious dive is punished by a three-match ban, players would not do it any more’

Arsene Wenger, April 2012

Santi Cazorla should face a three-match ban for perhaps the most blatant dive of the season.

In the 26th minute of a tight match between Arsenal and West Bromwich Albion, Cazorla ran into the West Brom penalty area and went to turn past Steven Reid.

To be fair to referee Mike Jones, from one angle it looked as though there might have been contact.

Blatant: Arsenal's Santi Cazorla dived at the feet of Steven Reid

Blatant: Arsenal's Santi Cazorla dived at the feet of Steven Reid

Blatant: Arsenal's Santi Cazorla dived at the feet of Steven Reid

However, you have to be 100 per cent
sure to award a penalty and Jones should have had doubts which, had he
waited for a second or two, would have been confirmed by the players’

It may seem incongruous that players’ honesty should help determine what happened but at key moments their sense of fair play is easily detectable.

Video replays show that there was no contact, that Reid’s attempt to challenge did not cause the Spaniard to fall, and that Jones had been conned.

Arsene Wenger said he will have to look at the incident again before speaking to his player and the Frenchman may wish to remind himself of comments he made just a few months ago.

Lambasted: Reid makes sure Cazorla knows how he feels

Lambasted: Reid makes sure Cazorla knows how he feels

Back in April, after Manchester
United’s Ashley Young had come under fire, Wenger said: ‘If an obvious
dive is punished by a three-match ban, the players would not do it any
more. I would support it. It has to be obvious diving.’

Enter the custodians of the game, the Football Association. Why not introduce a retrospective ban when the act of simulation is so clear This is not a matter for FIFA, as the laws of the game are not affected. This is a disciplinary matter and I understand the German FA introduced a similar retrospective punishment for players who scored with illegal use of the arm — handball.

The result of the match would stand and there would be no condemnation of the referee for being duped. However, the player would be highlighted as one who dives and the ramifications of that are clear.

Liverpool need patience, says Brendan Rodgers

Patience key to success for this Liverpool team, says under-fire Rodgers



13:47 GMT, 10 November 2012

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers is convinced the good results will soon start to flow for his side.
The Reds have looked impressive at times under the guidance of new boss Rodgers but that is yet to translate into points in the Barclays Premier League.

After 10 games, Liverpool remain in the bottom half with just two wins to their name and 11 points, their chief problem having been goalscoring.

The Merseysiders have struck only 13 times and seven of those have come from talisman Luis Suarez, who is presently their only fit and available established striker.

Stuttering start: Liverpool are made a poor start to the season under Rodgers

Stuttering start: Liverpool are made a poor start to the season under Rodgers

Rodgers is well aware of the problem and has stressed he is just as concerned about results as he appears to be about the stylish way his team plays.

Rodgers said: 'The bottom line is results every week.

'I look at the result and there is absolutely no doubt we are in the business of winning. It is not the case where I override the result.

'But I am very optimistic in my professional life, I tend to take a lot of good aspects out the performance and break those down and analyse which is important, and improve the areas where we need to.

'I don't think there is a lot wrong with our game, that is the brutal honesty of it. We are up there with the top four teams in the country in terms of creating chances.

'The clear area we need to improve on is finishing, and getting the goals to finish off our approach play. I will never forget that.

'But if you are performing well, nine times out of 10 you will get a good result.'

Liverpool face a stern test this weekend as they travel to one of the country's form teams in Chelsea.
Although the Londoners were beaten by Manchester United a fortnight ago and then lost top spot after being held by Swansea last week, their attacking play has been formidable.

New signings Oscar and Eden Hazard have linked well with Juan Mata while former Liverpool striker Fernando Torres has struck seven times.

Rodgers said: 'Traditionally Stamford Bridge is a very difficult place to go and get a result but we are going there with great confidence.

'We know the offensive threats they have but our concentration will be on our own game.

'We have some really top players here that can hurt any opponent on a given day. That will be the objective. For us it is about collecting the points and collecting as many as we can.

Final preparations: Liverpool face Chelsea at Stamford Bridge this weekend

Final preparations: Liverpool face Chelsea at Stamford Bridge this weekend

Final preparations: Liverpool face Chelsea at Stamford Bridge this weekend

'Whether that is at Chelsea or wherever, it doesn't matter. We just look to keep our performance level up because it has been at a good level.'

Rodgers will revert to a more familiar line-up after resting a number of his leading lights for Thursday's Europa League clash against Anzhi Makhachkala in Moscow.

The likes of Suarez, Steven Gerrard, Joe Allen, Nuri Sahin, Martin Skrtel, Daniel Agger and Raheem Sterling were not required to travel to Russia.

England right-back Glen Johnson, who has often been deployed by Rodgers on the left, is also set to return against his former club after a fortnight out with a hamstring injury.

Johnson, who has also been named in England's squad for next week's friendly in Sweden, does get criticised for his defensive work but Rodgers holds him in the highest regard.

He said: 'I can only think of Daniel Alves and Glen Johnson as the two leading full-backs in world football.

'For me he is one of the top right-backs in the world, but has operated a lot at left-back and been outstanding. That shows the level of his game.'

Bouncing back: The Reds were defeated in midweek by Anzhi

Bouncing back: The Reds were defeated in midweek by Anzhi

Liverpool are actually now well served at right-back with Andre Wisdom breaking through this season in a position in which Martin Kelly and Jon Flanagan have also impressed.

That has in part influenced Johnson's switch to the left, where Jose Enrique has not always been in favour.

First-choice goalkeeper Jose Reina is also back in training after a hamstring injury but the game may come a week too soon for him.

Rodgers has fond memories of Chelsea after working on their coaching staff under recent managers Jose Mourinho, Avram Grant and Luiz Felipe Scolari.

The Northern Irishman said: 'I had some terrific experiences there both professionally and personally.

'I was privileged to part of a really exciting era at the club at the time. It was certainly those experiences that set me up for a career in management.'

Tiger Woods insists golf is too honest for Lance Armstrong-style controversy

Scandalous! Tiger sticks the boot in as 14-time major champ insists golf is too honest for Armstrong-style controversy



15:07 GMT, 24 October 2012

Tiger Woods knows just how far there is to tumble when a top sportsman falls from grace – but the American is convinced golf will never be hit by a Lance Armstrong-style scandal.

Armstrong has been stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and banned from cycling for life for his part in a doping conspiracy which rocked the sport.

Cycling's reputation has been left in tatters but Woods insists, due to the culture of honesty within his own sport, there is no need to worry about golf going the same way.

Safe: Tiger Woods insists golf will never suffer a Lance Armstrong-style scandal

Safe: Tiger Woods insists golf will never suffer a Lance Armstrong-style scandal

'We just implemented testing probably three years ago I think it is,' said Woods. 'I know we don't do any blood work like some of the other sports do.

'Right now it's just urine samples, but that's certainly a positive step in the right direction to try and validate our sport.'

He added: 'This is a sport where we turn ourselves in on mistakes. A ball moves in the trees, guys call penalties on themselves. Golf is a different sport.

'I think that's one of the neat things about our great game, and I think with the testing, it's only enhanced that respectability throughout all of sport.'

Woods, a 14-time major winner, also made
headlines for all the wrong reasons but it was over his behaviour away
from the course when it was revealed in 2009 that he had a string of

His wife Erin filed for divorce and Tiger lost several of his sponsors before undertaking a therapy programme.

High circles: Tiger played with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak during the pro-am ahead of this week's CIMB Classic in Kuala Lumpur

High circles: Tiger played with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak during the pro-am ahead of this week's CIMB Classic in Kuala Lumpur

Nike stayed with Woods despite the sex scandal but the American sports giant dropped Armstrong on the back of the drug revelations.

Rory McIlroy looks set to replace Woods as the main man with the company amid rumours of a 156million 10-year deal for the young Northern Irishman.

Woods never managed to get his hands on one of this year's majors and failed to win a match at the Ryder Cup but, with three PGA Tour wins to his name, he insists he is happy with 2012.

Speaking ahead of the CIMB Classic in Malaysia, he added: 'It's a really good year, no doubt, but winning a major championship just makes it a great year.

'The majors are such a different animal and different breed and we place so much emphasis on them.'

Disgraced: Armstrong has been stripped of his seven Tour de France wins

Disgraced: Armstrong has been stripped of his seven Tour de France wins

Happy with the progress he has made on the course and optimistic about what the future holds, it is off the course that still matters to him the most.

He trails the great Jack Nicklaus by four majors and, on 74 PGA Tour wins, is eight short of Sam Snead.

'Golf has always been a high priority in my life but family has been No 1, so that hasn't changed,' he said.

'I certainly want to break Jack's record and catch Snead's record, but being the best father I can possibly be to my two great kids, that is certainly number one in my life.'

Rory McIlroy puts Olympics decision on hold

McIlroy puts Olympics decision on hold ahead of bid to win $10m bumper bonus at FedEx Cup



21:32 GMT, 19 September 2012

Nine days on from the interview that caused a firestorm of protest back home and comment around the world, Rory McIlroy got the chance to offer his take on Wednesday.

Contrite might be the word for it. The Northern Irishman, brought up to respect the creed that honesty is the best policy, has learned the hard way that honesty doesn’t always pay.

In an interview with Sportsmail, McIlroy said that he felt ‘more British than Irish.’

Having his say: Rory McIlroy caused a storm after saying he felt more British than Irish

Having his say: Rory McIlroy caused a storm after saying he felt more British than Irish

A lot of reasoned voices had no problem with a man expressing an opinion. The xenophobe nutters who accused him of betrayal didn’t cause any lost sleep.

But it was the sense of hurt among from the thoughtful Irish masses, who have followed his progress from way back and enjoyed his rise to become one of the world’s best sportsmen, that this inherently decent 23 year old felt bad about.

‘Over the past week it has really hit home just how important my success is for a lot of people and what it means to them,’ he said.

‘I’ve had support from all sides, from people who call themselves Irish, from Northern Irish, to the whole of the UK, to people in America, and it would be terrible for me to segregate myself from one of those groups that support me so much.

‘It’s four years away before I have to decide about the Olympics, and after everything that happened last week, it definitely makes me reconsider my position and reconsider a lot of things.’

Does that mean he might play for Ireland, after all, in Rio As McIlroy said, let’s leave that one for four years and just celebrate Rory the golfer.

Shelving it: McIlroy says he will decide who to represent at the 2016 Olympics in the future

Shelving it: McIlroy says he will decide who to represent at the 2016 Olympics in the future

Shelving it: McIlroy says he will decide who to represent at the 2016 Olympics in the future

Here he is at the start of another momentous fortnight. Next week he will be a ‘marked man,’ in Jim Furyk’s words, at the Ryder Cup.

But first up is the chance to obtain another landmark in his wonderful year and claim the $10 million bonus that goes to the winner of the FedEx Cup.

This morning’s first round of the Tour Championship sees him, as so often during this four tournament race, play alongside the man he has usurped as the figurehead, Tiger Woods.

‘Morning, intimidator,’ said Tiger to Rory on the practice ground, a broad smile on his face.

This was Woods referencing some ludicrous remarks made by Greg Norman, in which he said that Woods was now feeling intimidated by McIlroy.

‘How can I intimidate Tiger’ said Rory. ‘The guy has got 75 US Tour wins and 14 majors, he’s the biggest thing to ever happen in our sport.

'How could some little 23 year old from Northern Ireland with a few wins intimidate him It’s just not possible. I don’t know where Greg got it from but it is not true.’

Woods’s response ‘It’s got to be Rory’s hair that does it,’ he said.

Intimidated McIlroy said there is no way he could faze the experienced Tiger Woods

Intimidated McIlroy said there is no way he could faze the experienced Tiger Woods

There was a more steely-eyed look, mind, when he was asked about McIlroy saying he would love to meet Tiger on Sunday at the Ryder Cup.

‘That would be fun,’ commented Woods, and there was no smile this time.

McIlroy comes here following a week’s holiday in New York, where he spent time with the New York Knicks basketball team.

The connection between the two is the fitness coach they share, Steve McGregor. McIlroy got to train with them and recharge following a fabulous run that has seen him win three of his last four tournaments.

‘It has been a long stretch of golf since the Open so it was an important week off to get myself ready for not only this week but next week as well,’ he said.

Having led the FedEx race for so long, is there any danger of going to the Ryder Cup feeling flat if he does not win it

‘There could be a little adjustment period but once you enter the team room it doesn’t take much to get the juices flowing,’ he commented.

Looking forward: Woods said it would be 'fun' if the pair were to meet at the Ryder Cup

Looking forward: Woods said it would be 'fun' if the pair were to meet at the Ryder Cup

Back home it has been an awful week, with the sporting world in the province shocked by the desperately sad death of Ulster rugby star Nevin Spence in a tragic farm accident.

‘I knew Nevin and have been around him a lot,’ said McIlroy. ‘To think that we are not going to see him again on the rugby pitch.

'It has been the first time really for someone my age to pass away and it’s tough. I have spoken to a few of the guys back home and I know it has hit Ulster very hard.’

So to the day job, where Thursday’s opening round will be all about him and Tiger.

But don’t forget Lee Westwood. A victory here, and he too would have every chance of walking off with the mammoth prize.

Scott Piercy sets course record in Ontario to lead Canadian Open

Piercy sets course record in Ontario to lead Canadian Open from Englishman Owen



05:34 GMT, 27 July 2012

Course record: Piercy shot 62

Course record: Piercy shot 62

American Scott Piercy held a one-shot lead over England's Greg Owen after an amazing opening day of record scoring and impressive recovery in the RBC Canadian Open.

Owen held the lead and a share of the course record after overcoming a nightmare start but an hour later Piercy's best of 62 at the Hamilton G&CC put him in charge.

'In all honesty I didn't feel like I had a very good feel for the golf course teeing up on the first hole today,' Piercy said.

'I flew in late on Tuesday, played the pro-am so I'm kind of jet lagged playing, and kind of scraped through yesterday.'

Piercy made five birdies, two eagles and just one bogey in the opening round, closing in 30.

Owen, who started his round on the back nine, dropped three shots in his opening two holes with a double-bogey on the par-four 10th followed by a bogey five on the 11th.

But he recovered to hit six birdies in his next nine holes and then an eagle three at the par-five fourth and another birdie at the fifth lifted him to six under. He went on to pick up another shot before completing his round.

In the hunt: Owen is just one shot off the lead

In the hunt: Owen is just one shot off the lead

But that was before Piercy came to the front with his course best round of 62.

Piercy finished the day on eight under, one shot ahead of Owen and American William McGirt. Robert Garrigus sat alone on six under.

Open champion Ernie Els finished on two over.

Shane Warne will give Michael Clarke Ashes information on England

Warne's a mole! Australian legend will be providing Clarke Ashes advice on England



11:02 GMT, 1 July 2012

Advice: Michael Clarke (above) will look to Shane Warne for information

Advice: Michael Clarke (above) will look to Shane Warne for information

Shane Warne has been exposed as the source of key information for Australia’s campaign to regain the Ashes in England.

The former Australian bowler and now respected television commentator is identified as a mole-like figure behind the scenes on Australia’s current five-match ODI series and next summer’s Ashes series.

Michael Clarke, leading Australia’s bid to level the 50-over series at The Oval after their innings defeat at Lord’s, has admitted for the first time the unofficial role Warne is playing behind the scenes in Australia’s bid to regain their supremacy as No1 Test nation.

‘Warne’s knowledge of the game is unrivalled,’ declared Clarke, who has already held an inquest on what went wrong at Lord’s two days ago with his self-appointed mentor and closest cricket friend.

‘I’ve been learning a lot from Warne about England since he captained Hampshire. Tactically, he is as good as anyone I have played with. I am very lucky for his help and guidance. He will always give me honesty.

Inside info: Warne (right) will give Australia some top tips

Inside info: Warne (right) will give Australia some top tips

‘I talk to Warne daily about life, about captaincy. He rings me. I ring him. If I have a sticky problem with a Test or one-dayer, I ring him overnight to help me find a solution.

‘The key for me is that he knows English conditions and players so well. He gets as close to England’s best players as anyone in his role as a commentator.

'This is useful both for this series and the Ashes. England are the No1 Test team in the world. They deserve a lot of credit. They will be very difficult to beat in the Ashes. They are very good in their own country and it’s my job to find out as much about them as possible.’

Michael Clarke was speaking on behalf of ASICS, the official footwear and apparel sponsor to Cricket Australia. www.asics.co.uk

Wales name unchanged side for third Test against Australia

Wales name unchanged side for final push at taking long-overdue Australian scalp



04:00 GMT, 21 June 2012

Wales have moved into the top four of the IRB world rankings for the first time in their history but a first win on Australian soil for 43 years would mean so much more.

Rob Howley has named an unchanged starting side for the final Test in Sydney and underlined his team’s determination to fly home with a southern hemisphere scalp.

There is one change on the bench where Scarlets hooker Ken Owens, who started the first Test two weeks ago in Brisbane, replaces Ospreys Richard Hibbard, who pays the price for giving away two costly penalties in the final minute of the second Test.

Preparations: Wales captain Sam Warburton (centre) in training in Sydney on Wednesday

Preparations: Wales captain Sam Warburton (centre) in training in Sydney on Wednesday

Howley said: ‘We know what we have to do to beat Australia, but there is a difference between knowing how to win and achieving that aim. This team was within around 30 seconds of beating the Wallabies and the challenge now is to go one better than that and make sure we are ahead on the scoreboard, not just when the hooter goes, but when the game finishes this weekend.

Wales team for the third Test:

Halfpenny; Cuthbert, Davies,
Beck, North; Priestland, Phillips; Jenkins, Rees, A Jones, Davies, AW
Jones, Lydiate, R Jones, Warburton (capt).

Substitutes: Owens, James, Charteris, Tipuric, Webb, Hook, Williams.

‘The players can take some credit for the way they have played but that will be scant consolation if we don’t come home with a win in this series.’
Lock Bradley Davies believes the squad are raring to go after some much-needed ‘R and R’ and a brutal honesty session.

‘Obviously the boys were devastated
after the game and the worst thing to do is try to train the next day so
it’s nice to have a break from it, spend some time with each other and
refresh,’ he said. ‘The rest was well needed.

‘As a pack of forwards we were
disappointed with how the game ended but I don’t thing it’s backs versus
forwards. We’re honest with each other. We have analyst sessions after
every week if you’ve done something wrong it’s going to be shown on the
video and you’ll be asked what you were doing. It’s tough, nobody’s
perfect and personally I’ve been in the situation where I’ve had a
rollocking after the game. It’s how you learn and adapt from that. We
played very well for 70 minutes and it’s about closing games out.

Last chance: Wales face Australia in the third Test on Saturday having already lost the series

Last chance: Wales face Australia in the third Test on Saturday having already lost the series

‘It’s tough to take on the chin sometimes but looking at your weaknesses is the only way you improve as a player. As a squad we’ve been on a long journey and seen a lot of lows, now we’ve seen some success, but I’ve never felt that bad before.

‘It is difficult to take as a player, now we’ve just got to make sure we finish on a high. It is important we at least finish the series with one win.’

Martin Samuel: If anyone can find a future for athletics, do tell me

If anyone can find a future for athletics, do tell me



01:43 GMT, 11 June 2012

Athletics Weekly is the world’s only magazine covering the sport with seven-day regularity. Its circulation Five thousand.

‘If it isn’t in AW, it hasn’t happened,’ commentator Alan Parry once said. He could now update that phrase: if it is in AW, it may as well not have.

The marketing and advertising department of AW say that 67 per cent of its readers are still athletic competitors and coaches, meaning that outside the sport, working off figures of 5,000, the world’s only specialist weekly athletics magazine commands the attention of 1,650 people that are not directly engaged in track and field.

Downbeat: Hurdle champion Lashinda Demus is not positive about the future of her sport

Downbeat: Hurdle champion Lashinda Demus is not positive about the future of her sport

The circulation is down 80 per cent from 1981, the year Sebastian Coe broke the 1,000 metres world record at the Bislett Games in Oslo.

There have been 64 other world records broken at Bislett, which has existed in various forms since 1924. Last week, Usain Bolt ran the fastest 100m in the history of the meeting: 9.79 seconds. In Britain, you could watch his feat on BBC3.

You know BBC3. It’s where comedy goes to die and news comes in 60- second soundbites. Tonight’s fare includes Don’t Tell The Bride USA and Snog, Marry, Avoid The target audience is 16-34: age or IQ we cannot be sure.

Lashinda Demus, of the United States, the women’s world 400m hurdles champion, was asked about the state of athletics in the modern age. Her response was shocking in its honesty. ‘Every time we compete at a track and field meeting, we know we’re in a dying sport,’ she said.

‘People are making $15,000 a year and calling themselves professional athletes. To me that’s not a good job.

‘We don’t have anyone pulling in viewers and our races aren’t on TV like other sports. It’s just less and less. The Diamond League meets can be seen on who knows what channel. We’re in the back somewhere. They say the drug thing hurts it and I think that does affect it, but people get caught doing drugs in baseball and it doesn’t really hurt them that much. More media time would help, more sponsors would help.’

Could this man be the saviour of the sport Usain Bolt celebrates winning the 100m

Could this man be the saviour of the sport Usain Bolt celebrates winning the 100m

As for broadcast profile, Demus thinks athletics meetings go on too long, but that does not explain why sports such as cricket, baseball and NFL are feted by television companies, or why the build-up and inquest around football and rugby matches now lasts longer than the game. If anything, athletics is a sport that is made for television. At the event, it is often hard to see field activities, which frequently take place at the same time as track races.

On television, the schedule of the different disciplines can be staggered, and viewed close up. Nobody has to choose between the high jump and the 800m, or strain to see the discus being thrown. There is absolutely no reason why major athletics meetings should be shunned.

The truth is athletics has been complacent for too long. Every drugs bust is a shock to its cosy cartel, the opportunism around issues of nationality is airily dismissed when it clearly concerns the public. The false-start shambles at the World Championships in South Korea was another turn-off.

The Olympics will present a false impression of the standing of the sport and for this reason right now those at the helm of it are feeling very important. Yet the Bislett Games and the fastest man that ever lived are jostling for airtime on the television station that is more comfortable showing Britain Unzipped.

Make the most of August everybody. Winter’s coming.

Former managers show solidarity for Hodgson

So far, we have heard from a number of former England managers on the John Terry-Rio Ferdinand conundrum and, to a man, they have supported Roy Hodgson’s decision. Steve McClaren and Sven Goran Eriksson have declared for Terry, and we can fairly much presume the views of Fabio Capello too. So, for such a controversial decision, that is 12 years of England bosses who would have made the same call.

Comments from Harry Redknapp, Hodgson’s rival for the job, suggest arrival at a similar conclusion. It is now said that Hodgson should have sat down with both players face to face before making a decision — yet there was little time for that, given the Football Association’s chosen timescale.

Backing: A number former England managers have backed Roy Hodgson over the John Terry-Rio Ferdinand debate

Backing: A number former England managers have backed Roy Hodgson over the John Terry-Rio Ferdinand debate

Parachuting a manager in was always going to be fraught with difficulty, but one window of opportunity was undoubtedly missed. On May 9, having been appointed manager of England but still in charge of West Bromwich Albion, Hodgson visited the St George’s Park complex at Burton-on- Trent. What was the point of that He has all summer to inspect where England will train next season. That day at Burton would have been the time, and perhaps even the location, to invite Terry and Ferdinand for a late afternoon summit. Hodgson missed a trick — but, given the hectic nature of his schedule, is that really surprising

Misguided: Daniel Pacheco

Misguided: Daniel Pacheco

Pacheco was insensitive with his remarks

Nobody can now be unaware of the layered meanings of the word negrito as a form of address in Rioplatense or Spanish dialect. Sometimes it is harmless, even genial, on other occasions quite sinister. When Liverpool forward Daniel Pacheco tweeted the message ‘Good luck Negrito’ to his team-mate Glen Johnson prior to Johnson’s departure for the European Championship, he clearly meant it in the friendliest terms. No doubt Johnson took it that way, too.

Yet, unless he is spectacularly unaware of his surroundings, Pacheco must have known how much trouble the alleged use of that word, or one like it, by Luis Suarez to Patrice Evra has caused his club this season.

So, whatever his subsequent justifications, it was either a deeply insensitive action or a purely mischievous one. And, if anyone at Liverpool still thinks the Suarez affair is suitable fodder for a bit of mischief, they really have not learned a thing.

Percentages don’t add up in favour of Barton — fact

Joey Barton still does not get it. ‘On ability I walk into the squad, on behaviour I don’t — fact,’ he tweeted in a spiteful little commentary on Jordan Henderson’s selection for England.

Yet a part of ability concerns behaviour. If there are two players of identical talent and one keeps getting sent off and the other does not, the one who stays on the pitch has the most ability. What ability does Barton think he possesses for Queens Park Rangers in their first 12 games next season when he is banned

The stats don't add up: Joey Barton is not as good as Jordan Henderson - according to the stats

The stats don't add up: Joey Barton is not as good as Jordan Henderson – according to the stats

An available Henderson has more usable ability in his little toe than the genius Lionel Messi if Messi is sitting in the stand. Anyway, Barton’s view of his contribution in central midfield is aggrandised, to say the least. He had a good spell at Newcastle United because Alan Pardew played him on the right and he can put in a reasonable cross. His form following the switch back to central midfield with Rangers, however, was poor.

Indeed, if he wishes to deal in facts, here’s a few from Opta that might be of interest. Pass completion rate last season: Barton (QPR): 75.2 per cent, Henderson (Liverpool) 83.9 per cent. Pass completion rate in opposition half: Barton 66 per cent, Henderson 79.3 per cent. So it’s not just behaviour that keeps Barton out of the England team; indeed, arguably, that’s the least of it.

All change: The new Cardiff red kit

All change: The new Cardiff red kit

Bluebirds aren't singing

Red is a lucky colour in Asia, yet Chelsea’s share of the market there continues to increase. In 2011, south-east Asia accounted for upwards of 350,000 hits on the club website and the main shirt sponsor is Samsung. Despite this popularity, they wear blue.

So quite why the Malaysian owners of Cardiff City — nickname the Bluebirds — believe the tradition-shredding switch to red shirts and black shorts next season will help them crack it in the east is a mystery. This is not the most sophisticated market.

Asia likes teams that win, players that are successful and famous names. David Beckham’s popularity will endure in Asia, but there will be more Manchester City and Chelsea fans after the end of this season than there were at the start. We’re not so different over here. We don’t know much about basketball but Michael Jordan we liked.

Red shirts and dragon motifs will not afford Cardiff world domination any more than the colour worked commercial magic for Middlesbrough or Nottingham Forest, Stoke City or Sunderland in the Premier League.

Winning football and winning footballers is what Asia desires. And teams that they know: because when Cardiff are playing Peterborough United while Chelsea are playing Arsenal, the new owners can paint the town, the shirts and the stadium as red as a fleet of fire trucks, they can bring forth dragons, they can hold a Chinese New Year parade straight down the middle of the pitch for all it will matter.

The only place that will care about Cardiff City will be Cardiff, which is a shame as that is the one set of people that have been ignored.

Snub for The Young Ones

It seems that David Beckham will get his farewell tour after all and is to be included in Great Britain’s Olympic football team. The crowd will not care that, like a Jubilee concert headliner, he cannot hit the high notes any more.

They will wave their Union Flags, as they did for Sir Paul McCartney and Sir Cliff Richard, and make believe nothing has changed. Yet, please, can we now retire the idea of some grand Olympic legacy

Allowing a 37-year-old footballer from an inferior league his last hurrah while better, younger players look on is the opposite of long-term thought.

Beckham’s selection goes nowhere and means nothing. The idea that he will breathe life into Olympic football in Britain is the biggest red herring of all.

Getting the call up: England's former captain David Beckham looks as though he will get an Olympic call up

Getting the call up: England's former captain David Beckham looks as though he will get an Olympic call up

In other countries, the Olympic football tournament has credibility because it is taken seriously. Teams are picked to win and the competition is designed to build the experience of the next generation. As the formation of the Great Britain team was regarded as a one-off from the start, we refused to consider this possibility.

Looking to the future, we could easily have introduced the precedent that any British Under 21 team qualifying for the Olympics — a top three finish at the European Under 21 Championship in 2011 was the criteria this time — would be allowed to compete under the umbrella of Great Britain and pick three over age players.

Instead, we did an old friend a favour with the result that Olympic football remains as worthless from a British perspective as it ever was.

Still, if you liked septuagenarian Sir Cliff singing The Young Ones at Buckingham Palace you’ll probably like this.

Redknapp delay could cost Spurs

No club that cares for its manager allows him to enter the final year of a contract. The delay in securing a long-term future for Harry Redknapp by Tottenham Hotspur is telling. Unease between Redknapp and chairman Daniel Levy has long been suggested, despite the feat in taking the club from the bottom of the Premier League to the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

Yet delaying on Redknapp could prove a huge mistake. Luka Modric plainly wants to leave, Gareth Bale is sure to come under offer soon.

Paying the price: Spurs could come to regret letting Harry Redknapp's contract talks drag on

Paying the price: Spurs could come to regret letting Harry Redknapp's contract talks drag on

Emmanuel Adebayor is already back at Manchester City. Tottenham need permanence. They need a manager who has a fighting chance of persuading the key players to stay, not one who does not even know what the summer holds. Messing Redknapp around may cost Tottenham much more than one very good manager.

Let's hope Portugal progress, for the sake of Ronaldo

Portugal did not deserve to lose to Germany and we must hope they quickly bounce back against Denmark this week. No football tournament has ever been improved by the early departure of Cristiano Ronaldo.

Sofa so out of touch

Alan Hansen says he did not tip Germany, Holland and Portugal for the semi-finals of the European Championship.

He merely made them three of the four teams he fancied to do well. It doesn’t matter. If all three teams are in Group B, they cannot all flourish.

There is a precedent for this. Before the 2006 World Cup, Mark Lawrenson nominated Argentina as winners, Holland as his team to watch and Ivory Coast as his surprise package. He would certainly have been startled by the make-up of Group C.

Basic mistake: The Match of the Day pundits, including Alan Hansen, have to do some more research

Basic mistake: The Match of the Day pundits, including Alan Hansen, have to do some more research

And each time this happens, it merely confirms the suspicion that the Match of the Day sofa is little more than the glorified stud bar of a very exclusive golf club whose members are so privileged they are actually paid to join.
Either the BBC’s experts need greater protection or they need to start paying attention: because it wouldn’t happen at Sky.

(Of course, here in Krakow, the Polish television station TVP2’s coverage of Holland versus Denmark was presented by a Charles Hawtrey lookalike in a bad syrup. So you can’t have it all ways.)

Poland is the safe bet for teams

There are 16 teams at this European Championship, 13 based in Poland, three in Ukraine, and one of this trio have already had half their squad felled by a stomach bug. Maybe Ukraine should have stayed in Poland, too.

Szczesny has to calm down

The sending-off of Poland goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny in the opening game of Euro 2012 has been an accident waiting to happen. Szczesny, 22, is an outstanding prospect, who will only improve and could be Arsenal’s goalkeeper for close to two decades. He does, however, tend towards impetuousness.

Red alert: Szczesny's foul on Dimitris Salpingidis

Red alert: Szczesny's foul on Dimitris Salpingidis

Gareth Bale and Luis Suarez got the blame last season for trying to win penalties against him, but on both occasions Szczesny invited trouble with reckless chasing from his line. A repeat in the opening game against Greece on Friday and, rightly, he was gone.

This has to be coached out of him at Arsenal next season. Had Poland’s reserve goalkeeper Przemyslaw Tyton not saved Greece’s penalty with his first touch, Szczesny’s rashness could have been fatal to the host nation’s chances — and it may one day prove equally harmful to Arsenal, too.

Nick Barmby sacked by Hull

Barmby sacked by Hull after criticising owners' ambition



14:56 GMT, 8 May 2012

Sacked: Nick Barmby's reign at Hull is over

Sacked: Nick Barmby's reign at Hull is over

Nick Barmby has been sacked from his job as manager of Hull City.

Barmby was suspended last month pending an internal investigation by owners, Assem and Ehab Allam.

The former England international, who has been in charge since Nigel Pearson's return to Leicester in November, questioned the Allam family's ambitions in a local newspaper article after narrowly missing out on the play-offs.

Ehab Allem, vice-chairman of the Tigers, released a statement on the club's website.

The statement read: 'Following recent speculation in the media Hull City can now confirm that following a brief period of suspension Nick Barmby has today been dismissed from his role as first-team manager of the club with immediate effect.

'The reason for the dismissal relates to certain comments made by Nick in recent interviews. The comments concerned were wholly misleading and implied that the board had not made funds available to Nick to strengthen the first-team squad during the January transfer window.

'Such is not only completely untrue, the comments made by Nick contradicted the board's publicly stated position that funds would be made available to Nick during the January transfer window.

'As stated in previous interviews, the board accepted every transfer request from Nick and in fact actively encouraged him to strengthen the squad should he feel it was necessary.

'The board consider the comments made by Nick unjustifiably cast public doubt on the honesty and integrity of the board and its members.

'The relationship between the team manager and the board is of prime importance to the success of any football club.

'In making the comments Nick made, he completely undermined the trust and confidence that needs to exist between the team manager and the board.

'The club sincerely hopes that its fans will recognise that the decision to dismiss Nick was not taken lightly. The decision was taken following meetings with Nick where he had every opportunity to state his case and make representations.

'The club feels that it has treated Nick entirely fairly and in the same way that it would have treated any other employee in the same situation.

'Having been prepared to give Nick his first opportunity in football management, and for it to end like this, has been a particular disappointment to the board.

'Notwithstanding the circumstances of this 'parting of the ways' the board wish Nick every success in his future career and thank him for the service he has provided to the club since his return to his home town in 2004.

'The club can confirm that the search for a new manager will begin immediately.'

David Moyes has to leave Everton

Ambitious Moyes has to move on to fulfil his potential



22:21 GMT, 15 April 2012

At full-time, David Moyes stood with his feet planted on the touchline, seemingly unable to move. His season had just ended in front of his eyes. Another year – his 10th – without a trophy.

The Everton manager is not to be blamed for this. His achievements at Goodison Park are far greater than those measured by cups in cabinets. Nevertheless, Moyes feels it dreadfully. This was his chance, he thought, to have another tilt at glory.

There were handshakes for his players and applause for his club's supporters who had travelled south to Wembley in such hope. In truth, though, he looked a little dazed.

Frustration: Moyes issues his orders at Wembley

Frustration: Moyes issues his orders at Wembley

Maybe he just feels what many onlookers feel. That it is, in all honesty, time for Moyes to move on. The Scot will be 49 this month. After a decade at Everton, he is at the peak of his powers and it is hard to escape the fact that he works for a club without the financial muscle to take him where he wants and deserves to go.

A loyal, driven man, Moyes will not leave his club easily. But in a summer when managerial change looks likely at clubs such as Tottenham, Chelsea and maybe even Aston Villa. Moyes's name will surely figure highly on shortlists being drawn up across the Barclays Premier League.

After Saturday's disappointment, Moyes perhaps sensed that the subject would be raised. This may be one reason why he took the unusual step of denying daily newspapers a post-match briefing.

His captain Phil Neville was asked the question, though, and Everton supporters will hope that the defender's take on the matter is accurate.

'The way he has managed us in the last month or two suggests to me that he is in it for the long term,' said Neville. 'He is ambitious and he wants to get to the top. He wants to do that with Everton.'

Adamant: Captain Phil Neville is sure Moyes will stay

Adamant: Captain Phil Neville is sure Moyes will stay

They have been at the top end of the League before, of course. In 2004, Moyes guided the club to the Champions League qualifying rounds. Five years later they lost the FA Cup final against Chelsea.

These achievements, though, have come against a background of uncertainty over Everton's future. Owner Bill Kenwright continues to try to sell the club Moyes's success is all the more notable for that.

Seemingly stuck with their atmospheric but dysfunctional stadium for the foreseeable future, it is difficult for Moyes to work properly in the transfer market. Understandably, it is this that frustrates him the most.

On Saturday at Wembley he saw his team beaten by a group of players from Liverpool assembled relatively expensively. Given 20million to spend, it is highly unlikely that Moyes would waste it on Stewart Downing.

That defeat by his neighbours will make it more painful. Moyes will perhaps deny it, but it means a lot to him to outwit the club from across Stanley Park. Despite their victory, Liverpool were typically modest in their performance and were there to be beaten once the excellent Nikica Jelavic gave Everton the lead.

Down and out: Distin apologises to Everton's fans after the final whistle

Down and out: Distin apologises to Everton's fans after the final whistle

Curiously, Moyes's players seemed to lack belief. Curious because man-management and motivation are particular skills of the Scot.

Everton retreated into themselves in the second half and once Liverpool equalised there only looked like being one winner.

Moyes will certainly ask himself why that was as he reflects on an afternoon when a golden opportunity slipped by. He said: 'The way we have been playing, I thought this was our chance. I am just really disappointed that I couldn't give those fans a final.'

Everton's supporters will forgive him that, of course, especially if he can finish above Liverpool in the League. Those same fans, though, must also understand if Moyes takes an opportunity to try his luck somewhere else.

It seems odd to say it, given Everton's rich heritage and their place in our game, but Moyes's talents are deserving of a bigger stage.