Tag Archives: intensity

Hugo Lloris adapting to Premier League with Tottenam

Lloris reveals he's settling in at Spurs… now that he's AVB's No 1!

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UPDATED:

09:14 GMT, 21 December 2012

Main man: Hugo Lloris

Main man: Hugo Lloris

Hugo Lloris has admitted he has had to adapt to the English game after joining Tottenham from Lyon in August.

The Frenchman, who will face his former side in the last 32 of the Europa League, signed for 12million but initially struggled to displace Brad Friedel as Andre Villas-Boas’ No 1.

But Lloris is confident he is now up to speed with the Premier League.

‘Football is universal,’ he told the Times. ‘There are certain characteristics, such as crosses, high balls, duels on the pitch and fighting spirit which are part of the English football. Here it is faster, with higher intensity.

‘Being a keeper isn’t just about being a player,’ he said. ‘It’s about a mindset, being rigorous in your work, brave. I don’t like to wait for the game to come to me, to have it imposed on me. I like to attack the ball, to play quite high up the pitch and to close the attacking players down where possible.’

Lloris credited Lyon with developing his career but admitted he was ready to leave for a new challenge.

‘I needed to move on to the next stage in my career,’ he added. ‘Coming to Tottenham was a great opportunity for me. During my time at Lyons I developed as a man and a sportsman into what I am today.’

Everton boss David Moyes: I want to manage in Germany

Everton manager Moyes reveals desire to manage in Germany

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UPDATED:

22:00 GMT, 20 December 2012

David Moyes has revealed his ambition to coach in a European league one day – and named Germany as the most appealing option.

The Everton manager is a huge admirer of German football and has been studying the framework of the Bundesliga to try to improve himself as a coach, as well as his team's performance.

Ambitious Moyes, who is set for discussions with Everton chairman Bill Kenwright next month to extend his contract, said in an interview with France Football: 'I always had the hope of being a coach abroad. If I had the choice, I would probably go to Germany, in part because of the mentality, which is similar to mine. I'm also fascinated by what happens in German football.

Part of the furniture: Moyes has been at Everton for over ten years

Part of the furniture: Moyes has been at Everton for over ten years

'They seem to have found a way of producing young players. Look at Borussia Dortmund. I saw them against Manchester City this season. They were fantastic. They put this incredible intensity on their opponents to break the tempo. It adds a new tactical level.

'If I was not working as a coach, I think I would decide to go to South America: to Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, to see how they train young people out there. That would be my project: to understand football better.'

In his 11th year in charge of Everton, Moyes has overseen a decade of massive improvement and this season they are contenders to finish in the top four.

Kenwright continues to look for investors who could make a difference and Moyes does not think a massive amount of money is required to propel Everton forward.

Flying high: Everton have been transformed under Moyes

Flying high: Everton have been transformed under Moyes

'Everton have shown stability and are going in the right direction,' said Moyes. 'We do not need a billionaire… even if we have nothing against the issue of finding one. We are a club. We are a community. Everton are for the people, for the people of Liverpool.

'From the first day I wanted to change the perception of Everton. I do not know if I could one day take Everton as far as winning titles or playing in European Cup finals but I wanted people to say, “Things are getting better. Everton are a good club, a stable club”. I wanted to make an impact.'

Gary Neville behind the scenes at Sky Sports Monday Night Football

MNF star Neville takes Sportsmail behind the scenes of the TV show making fans fall in love with punditry again

|

UPDATED:

11:04 GMT, 19 December 2012

It is 4.30pm and although Gary Neville is midway through rehearsals for that evening’s Monday Night Football, he is still going through his first item in painstaking detail. Things have to be right and he is unapologetically demanding and meticulous in his preparation.

‘What do we think about this’ the former Manchester United full back asks producer Scott Melvin, as a chart flashes up on his touch screen. ‘I don’t think that’s good enough.’ He is over-ruled. ‘Fine,’ he says, but his arms are folded — it is clearly not fine.

‘Are we comfortable with that colour on this graphic’ is the next question. ‘It’s disgusting,’ Neville continues, without waiting for a reply. ‘I’m not a colours man but… can’t you change it’ It is duly changed.

Oh what a night: Sportsmail's Laura Williamson joined Gary Neville and Ed Chamberlain in the Sky studio to see how the hugely popular Monday Night Football has become such a big hit

Oh what a night: Sportsmail's Laura Williamson joined Gary Neville and Ed Chamberlain in the Sky studio to see how the hugely popular Monday Night Football has become such a big hit

Oh what a night: Sportsmail's Laura Williamson joined Gary Neville and Ed Chamberlain in the Sky studio to see how the hugely popular Monday Night Football has become such a big hit

Neville has been at Sky’s studios in
west London since 9.30am, but he is still like a man on fast-forward,
running ‘at 100 miles per hour’.

His intensity, willingness to work
hard and genuine vigour for his sport are startling. It seems the same
qualities that characterised him as a footballer are the ones that mark
him out as a pundit.

‘This is different to football,’ says
the 37-year-old, ‘but there is pressure — and I think that’s the thing
that keeps me excited and stimulated. It’s got to be right.

‘I think information and the detail
are the most important things for me. Nice goals or a lovely finish or
an incident, that will get done a thousand times by everybody else and
there isn’t really much more you can say.

‘I prefer information. I try to do it as if I was looking at it as a player or a coach rather than as entertainment.

‘I don’t think, really, I’m a perfect
broadcaster by any stretch of the imagination. I think it’s more around
the information for me. That’s all I can do. If you want a pretty face
or a nice voice then don’t come here.’

Ed Chamberlin, the host of MNF, laughs. ‘Well, I won’t argue with that,’ he says.

The pair have been working together
for barely 18 months but have taken the format made famous by Richard
Keys and Andy Gray and made it their own.

There is little ego or arrogance about
Chamberlin, who works without an autocue and fully understands his role
is to ensure Neville is the star of the show.

The presenter continually tries to
tease extra insight and information out of a right back who won 85 caps
for England, constantly asking ‘why’ and ‘how’, which seems to amuse and
frustrate Neville on alternate occasions.

Practice makes perfect: Chamberlain and Neville can be in the studio from 9.30am on the day of the game

Practice makes perfect: Chamberlain and Neville can be in the studio from 9.30am on the day of the game

NEVILLE'S MANIC MONDAY

9.30am Arrive at Sky’s studios in west London.

10am Production meeting. Neville has been feeding ideas to the production team since the previous Wednesday. They discuss what he wants to talk about and the order the pieces should run.

11.30am Neville goes through all the video clips, while Ed Chamberlin studies the running order and familiarises himself with all the links and music.

2pm Lunch.

3pm Rehearsals start on set.

6pm Make-up.

7pm On air. An hour of analysis from the weekend’s games and to preview that night’s Barclays Premier League fixture. Also includes interviews with the managers, live from the ground.

8pm Kick-off.

8.45pm Half-time analysis.

9pm Second half.

9.45pm Full-time analysis, a look back at the weekend’s goals and a Twitter Q&A.

11pm Off air.

‘Ed doesn’t offer opinions on
football,’ says Melvin. ‘It’s different with (Match of the Day
presenter) Gary Lineker. He was a footballer and you would never
begrudge him an opinion.

'But, for me, the presenter’s job is
to probe the guys who have played football. Ed drives it and keeps it
on the rails because otherwise, God knows what would happen.’

It is no mean feat keeping Neville in
check, that’s for sure. He revels in his Aladdin’s cave of touch-screen
boards, slow-motion clips, high camera angles, statistics and league
tables.

The former England defender even had a
screen installed in his Manchester home for nine days to practise
before he started at Sky, only to go bonkers when he found out they had
updated the technology when he arrived in London.

‘I’m obsessed with charts,’ Neville
says, laughing at the nerdy nature of his words. ‘I’ll say, “Make me a
chart, make me a chart”. They argue I don’t need one, just to say it,
but I want everyone at home to know those statistics are there.

‘Every time I do a piece I don’t just
get the clips, I get the statistics. I want statistics to back it up,
so it’s not just my instinct. It’s easy to get caught up in thinking,
“Arsenal are rubbish”. But where are they rubbish Why They can’t be
all rubbish, or all good.

‘You’ve got to offer some perspective. Everything’s so sudden, everyone’s always screaming.

‘I think that’s what people inside
football do better than people in the media because in the media there’s
a need to make everything so dramatic. But, inside football, you
analyse it. You look at it bit by bit and think that’s OK, that’s not
bad, rather than everything being bad or good.’

Neville’s proximity to the game, however, could easily compromise his willingness to say what he sees and how he feels.

He spent all his career at Manchester
United and has a four-year contract with the FA to work under Roy
Hodgson and coach the England senior team, after all.

Gary Neville gets ready for Monday Night Football

Gary Neville gets made up on Monday Night Football

Finishing touches: Neville is still new to football punditry but is brilliantly professional in his preparation

But as Neville watches Arsenal’s 5-2
win at Reading — from a ‘big, wide high camera angle’ because ‘that’s
the only way you can analyse it properly, you can’t watch the ball’ —
there is only a flicker of his allegiance to the national side. When
Jack Wilshere crumples to the ground in the build-up to Reading’s first
goal, Neville suddenly becomes even more animated.

‘Oh! Oh!’ he cries. ‘Wilshere’s done
his knee ligaments. Oh no. Or is it his groin Oh dear.’ Then, ‘Oh,
phew, he’s OK. What price 5-4 Reading now’

Neville’s affiliations make him more
accountable than most but he insists he remains deliberately detached
from the insular, pally world of football.

His reasoning is as clear as the
straightforward manner in which he is able to talk through a set-piece
or analyse the build-up to a goal: you cannot criticise someone on live
television one day and go for a pint with them the next.

‘I don’t speak to too many people,’
he says. ‘I think if you speak to too many people you become friendly
with them and it might not be as honest an assessment.

‘You get to know people — “All right,
how are you mate” — and a week later they think you’re stitching them
up. Don’t get too close. I do know people but I spent my life at one
club.

‘People at the start, understandably,
were asking how it would work, but I think I’ve been as honest as I
can be about United games and most people seem to have accepted the fact
that I’ve praised or criticised their team.

‘I think fans are pretty honest. They
don’t want rubbish. If their team play well they know they’ve played
well. If they haven’t, they know that, too. You try to show why or how
because they know the rest themselves. You’re always looking for the
most interesting bits. Less fluff, more gruff.’

And they're off: The show has received rave reviews this season thanks to Neville's expert analysis

And they're off: The show has received rave reviews this season thanks to Neville's expert analysis

The enjoyment Neville derives from his
new role is obvious, even if he can barely contain his energy, pacing
up and down during advertising breaks and badgering the producer with
ideas as early as the Wednesday before a show.

This opportunity to have the last
word on the weekend’s action is, after all, both the programme’s
strength and its continual challenge — how do you be significantly
different from what has gone before, on television and social media
and in the newspapers

Neville consumes information from all these outlets but still has to offer new insight on a Monday night.

As you can probably imagine, he is not
short of ideas, although the transition from player to pundit has not
been as straight-forward as you might think.

‘The more I relax, the more I become a
little lighthearted,’ says Neville. ‘But on the first show last year, I
was 100 miles per hour. I was like a train with no brakes. I used to
get an incredibly dry mouth because I was so nervous. I’ve not done
anything like this before in my life.

‘And my hands! Oh my hands. That was a
massive problem. What do you do with them when you’re standing at the
touchscreen Now I carry my pen with me because you’ve got something to
focus on.

‘I was everywhere — my hands were
terrible. I got a lot of feedback: hands and my hair, which is a
continual challenge — I’ve just given up on that.’

Giving up That must be a first for Neville, surely.

Sky Sports is the home of football
with more than 500 live matches every season including Barclays Premier
League, UEFA Champions League, internationals, the npower Football
League and more.

EXCLUSIVE: Gary Neville takes Sportsmail behind the scenes at Monday Night Football

MNF star Neville takes Sportsmail behind the scenes of the TV show making fans fall in love with punditry again

|

UPDATED:

23:31 GMT, 18 December 2012

It is 4.30pm and although Gary Neville is midway through rehearsals for that evening’s Monday Night Football, he is still going through his first item in painstaking detail. Things have to be right and he is unapologetically demanding and meticulous in his preparation.

‘What do we think about this’ the former Manchester United full back asks producer Scott Melvin, as a chart flashes up on his touch screen. ‘I don’t think that’s good enough.’ He is over-ruled. ‘Fine,’ he says, but his arms are folded — it is clearly not fine.

‘Are we comfortable with that colour on this graphic’ is the next question. ‘It’s disgusting,’ Neville continues, without waiting for a reply. ‘I’m not a colours man but… can’t you change it’ It is duly changed.

Oh what a night: Sportsmail's Laura Williamson joined Gary Neville and Ed Chamberlain in the Sky studio to see how the hugely popular Monday Night Football has become such a big hit

Oh what a night: Sportsmail's Laura Williamson joined Gary Neville and Ed Chamberlain in the Sky studio to see how the hugely popular Monday Night Football has become such a big hit

Oh what a night: Sportsmail's Laura Williamson joined Gary Neville and Ed Chamberlain in the Sky studio to see how the hugely popular Monday Night Football has become such a big hit

Neville has been at Sky’s studios in
west London since 9.30am, but he is still like a man on fast-forward,
running ‘at 100 miles per hour’.

His intensity, willingness to work
hard and genuine vigour for his sport are startling. It seems the same
qualities that characterised him as a footballer are the ones that mark
him out as a pundit.

‘This is different to football,’ says
the 37-year-old, ‘but there is pressure — and I think that’s the thing
that keeps me excited and stimulated. It’s got to be right.

‘I think information and the detail
are the most important things for me. Nice goals or a lovely finish or
an incident, that will get done a thousand times by everybody else and
there isn’t really much more you can say.

‘I prefer information. I try to do it as if I was looking at it as a player or a coach rather than as entertainment.

‘I don’t think, really, I’m a perfect
broadcaster by any stretch of the imagination. I think it’s more around
the information for me. That’s all I can do. If you want a pretty face
or a nice voice then don’t come here.’

Ed Chamberlin, the host of MNF, laughs. ‘Well, I won’t argue with that,’ he says.

The pair have been working together
for barely 18 months but have taken the format made famous by Richard
Key and Andy Gray and made it their own.

There is little ego or arrogance about
Chamberlin, who works without an autocue and fully understands his role
is to ensure Neville is the star of the show.

The presenter continually tries to
tease extra insight and information out of a right back who won 85 caps
for England, constantly asking ‘why’ and ‘how’, which seems to amuse and
frustrate Neville on alternate occasions.

Practice makes perfect: Chamberlain and Neville can be in the studio from 9.30am on the day of the game

Practice makes perfect: Chamberlain and Neville can be in the studio from 9.30am on the day of the game

NEVILLE'S MANIC MONDAY

9.30am Arrive at Sky’s studios in west London.

10am Production meeting. Neville has been feeding ideas to the production team since the previous Wednesday. They discuss what he wants to talk about and the order the pieces should run.

11.30am Neville goes through all the video clips, while Ed Chamberlin studies the running order and familiarises himself with all the links and music.

2pm Lunch.

3pm Rehearsals start on set.

6pm Make-up.

7pm On air. An hour of analysis from the weekend’s games and to preview that night’s Barclays Premier League fixture. Also includes interviews with the managers, live from the ground.

8pm Kick-off.

8.45pm Half-time analysis.

9pm Second half.

9.45pm Full-time analysis, a look back at the weekend’s goals and a Twitter Q&A.

11pm Off air.

‘Ed doesn’t offer opinions on
football,’ says Melvin. ‘It’s different with (Match of the Day
presenter) Gary Lineker. He was a footballer and you would never
begrudge him an opinion.

'But, for me, the presenter’s job is
to probe the guys who have played football. Ed drives it and keeps it
on the rails because otherwise, God knows what would happen.’

It is no mean feat keeping Neville in
check, that’s for sure. He revels in his Aladdin’s cave of touch-screen
boards, slow-motion clips, high camera angles, statistics and league
tables.

The former England defender even had a
screen installed in his Manchester home for nine days to practise
before he started at Sky, only to go bonkers when he found out they had
updated the technology when he arrived in London.

‘I’m obsessed with charts,’ Neville
says, laughing at the nerdy nature of his words. ‘I’ll say, “Make me a
chart, make me a chart”. They argue I don’t need one, just to say it,
but I want everyone at home to know those statistics are there.

‘Every time I do a piece I don’t just
get the clips, I get the statistics. I want statistics to back it up,
so it’s not just my instinct. It’s easy to get caught up in thinking,
“Arsenal are rubbish”. But where are they rubbish Why They can’t be
all rubbish, or all good.

‘You’ve got to offer some perspective. Everything’s so sudden, everyone’s always screaming.

‘I think that’s what people inside
football do better than people in the media because in the media there’s
a need to make everything so dramatic. But, inside football, you
analyse it. You look at it bit by bit and think that’s OK, that’s not
bad, rather than everything being bad or good.’

Neville’s proximity to the game, however, could easily compromise his willingness to say what he sees and how he feels.

He spent all his career at Manchester
United and has a four-year contract with the FA to work under Roy
Hodgson and coach the England senior team, after all.

Gary Neville gets ready for Monday Night Football

Gary Neville gets made up on Monday Night Football

Finishing touches: Neville is still new to football punditry but is brilliantly professional in his preparation

But as Neville watches Arsenal’s 5-2
win at Reading — from a ‘big, wide high camera angle’ because ‘that’s
the only way you can analyse it properly, you can’t watch the ball’ —
there is only a flicker of his allegiance to the national side. When
Jack Wilshere crumples to the ground in the build-up to Reading’s first
goal, Neville suddenly becomes even more animated.

‘Oh! Oh!’ he cries. ‘Wilshere’s done
his knee ligaments. Oh no. Or is it his groin Oh dear.’ Then, ‘Oh,
phew, he’s OK. What price 5-4 Reading now’

Neville’s affiliations make him more
accountable than most but he insists he remains deliberately detached
from the insular, pally world of football.

His reasoning is as clear as the
straightforward manner in which he is able to talk through a set-piece
or analyse the build-up to a goal: you cannot criticise someone on live
television one day and go for a pint with them the next.

‘I don’t speak to too many people,’
he says. ‘I think if you speak to too many people you become friendly
with them and it might not be as honest an assessment.

‘You get to know people — “All right,
how are you mate” — and a week later they think you’re stitching them
up. Don’t get too close. I do know people but I spent my life at one
club.

‘People at the start, understandably,
were asking how it would work, but I think I’ve been as honest as I
can be about United games and most people seem to have accepted the fact
that I’ve praised or criticised their team.

‘I think fans are pretty honest. They
don’t want rubbish. If their team play well they know they’ve played
well. If they haven’t, they know that, too. You try to show why or how
because they know the rest themselves. You’re always looking for the
most interesting bits. Less fluff, more gruff.’

And they're off: The show has received rave reviews this season thanks to Neville's expert analysis

And they're off: The show has received rave reviews this season thanks to Neville's expert analysis

The enjoyment Neville derives from his
new role is obvious, even if he can barely contain his energy, pacing
up and down during advertising breaks and badgering the producer with
ideas as early as the Wednesday before a show.

This opportunity to have the last
word on the weekend’s action is, after all, both the programme’s
strength and its continual challenge — how do you be significantly
different from what has gone before, on television and social media
and in the newspapers

Neville consumes information from all these outlets but still has to offer new insight on a Monday night.

As you can probably imagine, he is not
short of ideas, although the transition from player to pundit has not
been as straight-forward as you might think.

‘The more I relax, the more I become a
little lighthearted,’ says Neville. ‘But on the first show last year, I
was 100 miles per hour. I was like a train with no brakes. I used to
get an incredibly dry mouth because I was so nervous. I’ve not done
anything like this before in my life.

‘And my hands! Oh my hands. That was a
massive problem. What do you do with them when you’re standing at the
touchscreen Now I carry my pen with me because you’ve got something to
focus on.

‘I was everywhere — my hands were
terrible. I got a lot of feedback: hands and my hair, which is a
continual challenge — I’ve just given up on that.’

Giving up That must be a first for Neville, surely.

Sky Sports is the home of football
with more than 500 live matches every season including Barclays Premier
League, UEFA Champions League, internationals, the npower Football
League and more.

Brendan Rodgers says Liverpool forced Aston Villa defeat on themselves

Villa damage was self inflicted, says Rodgers after Liverpool stunned at home

|

UPDATED:

19:05 GMT, 15 December 2012

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers criticised his side's defending for a self-inflicted 3-1 defeat at home to Aston Villa.

Striker Christian Benteke scored twice either side of Andreas Weimann's well-worked goal before Steven Gerrard struck a late consolation as the hosts' three-match winning run was ended.

Rodgers felt his side should have been awarded a penalty for Ciaran Clark's pull on Daniel Agger's shirt early in the second half with the score at 2-0 but had no excuses for their defensive display.

Disappointed: Brendan Rodgers said Liverpool's mistakes and careless play let Aston Villa take the game

Disappointed: Brendan Rodgers said Liverpool's mistakes and careless play let Aston Villa take the game

'We are very disappointed and to be honest I didn't see that coming as our momentum and confidence coming into the game was probably as high as it's been,' said the Reds boss, whose side dominated before Benteke's 29th-minute opener.

'We probably got punished for our decision-making in that first 20 minutes, we were a bit careless.

'We could easily have been 3-0 up in the game and if we do that we can control it much better but we didn't have that final pass and bit of quality at the top end of the field.

'Then we went on to concede some poor goals. We weren't quite at it today with our intensity and pressure in the game and they were a threat on the counter-attack and got the goals.

'I thought we were flat. It was important for us to get the first goal – with them playing 3-5-2 – to open up the game but we had those chances early on and didn't take them.

'Once that happens, combined with sloppy play and giving the ball away in poor areas, we contrived to concede bad goals.

'Benteke was outstanding today but he got his shot in too easy for the first.

'The second goal we never tracked the runners into the box and then the third goal we've given it away in our half and he's broken through and nearly runs to the edge of the six-yard box before finishing.

'It was so unlike us because we're usually strong defensively. It was very much self-inflicted today.

'It was surprising because we haven't shown that in the last few months.'

On the penalty incident early in the second half Rodgers added: 'I thought when it was 2-0 we should have had a penalty so I'm not sure what we are going to have to do to get one.

'The referees are asked to look at the shirt pulling. I thought Agger was outstanding today but he gets pulled to the floor, it goes to 2-1 and you have most of the second half to apply the pressure.

'But as soon as the third goal went in we looked deflated and then Villa have no need to come out and go after the game and they just sat.

On fire: Christian Benteke (centre) pounced twice as the Reds lost at home

On fire: Christian Benteke (centre) pounced twice as the Reds lost at home

'For us it was a bad day at the office.'

It was the first time Villa had scored more than once in any half of league football this season and extended their unbeaten run to five matches with only a second away win in 17 away league games.

Only a fifth Anfield victory in 34 visits also almost doubled their league away goals tally, which now stands at seven.

'I think the whole performance was fabulous, the goals were excellent as was the way we defended,' said manager Paul Lambert.

'I thought we were excellent. The goals were brilliant: the second goal, with the movement and the backheel, especially.

Made to pay: Andreas Weimann struck the other as Villa ran out 3-1 winners

Made to pay: Andreas Weimann struck the other as Villa ran out 3-1 winners

'Benteke has been unbelievable while Andy Weimann knows where the goal is, he's a natural finisher and his enthusiasm and work ethic are second to none.

'The back three were terrific and put their bodies on the line when they had to.

'I am pretty sure Liverpool will give anyone a game here.

'It is just about trying to hold your nerve and trying to see it through, which is what we have done.'

India v England: India must improve – David Lloyd

BUMBLE'S TEST DIARY: A billion reasons why India must improve… (and leave Samit alone)

|

UPDATED:

11:54 GMT, 9 December 2012

England were a bit frenetic on the final morning but the bottom line is that India got a good hiding. The home side now need to show 1.1 billion people that they actually care.

We are talking about players who earn more money than Rooney, Balotelli and Lampard (via endorsements and sponsors) and their fans deserve more. I want to see a major reaction from their players but can't see them beating England unless they improve their skill levels and attitude infinitely.

Well beaten: India must improve to please their fans

Well beaten: India must improve to please their fans

PICTURE DISPUTE

We are unable to carry live pictures from the third Test in Kolkata due to a dispute between the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and international news organisations.

The BCCI has refused access to Test venues to established picture agencies Getty Images and Action Images and other Indian photographic agencies.

MailOnline consider this action to be a strike against press freedom and supports the action to boycott BCCI imagery.

Zaheer today, gone tomorrow

We now have back-to-back Tests and India had no real time to consider their defeat but they have still reacted and made several changes. But I am certain they have not picked better players.

Zaheer Khan may be a surprise omission to some but he looks out of condition. He's just one who showed no life or intensity in the field.

Jimmy back to his best

Nagpur is the venue for the final Test and the last three matches there have produced resounding results. India should produce a spinning pitch but they must bat better.

For England, they just pick the same team. It was absolutely right for Steven Finn to play in front of Stuart Broad and it was noticeable that Jimmy Anderson had more spark about him because the team had been freshened up.

Leave Samit alone

Get off Samit Patel's back. There is all sorts of Twitter and internet criticism over his ability and place in the team but just leave the lad alone.

He needs to do more, he'll know that, but he produced an attractive little innings in this Test and he'd also be a star fielder in this India team!

Under pressure: Patel has both Jonny Bairstow and Eoin Morgan waiting in the wings

Under pressure: Patel has both Bairstow and Morgan waiting in the wings

Get it done in four

It was terrific to hear captain Alastair Cook say that when you win, you go and have a good night. Just one personal wish though. I hope England wrap the next Test up in four days, these early-morning starts are killing me!

When it became obvious on Saturday that we'd have be back in for just an hour's work at 3am yesterday, Mike Atherton (who is in India) was quick to text and say 'good luck!'. So come on Jimmy, come on Swanny, pull your fingers out!

Bailed out

Finally, in all my years of watching cricket, I have never seen a bail fall from its groove as it did when Jimmy Anderson bowled Pragyan Ojha. The ball just clipped the bail which took an eternity to move but finally dropped…it was as though someone had wind!

England v New Zealand preview with Ben Kay

England must not be conned by All Black rope-a-dope tactics

|

UPDATED:

23:35 GMT, 30 November 2012

There are a lot of myths about the way the All Blacks play. People have this perception they’re an all-singing, all-dancing team who always have the ball and are always attacking, always expansive.

The truth is different. /11/30/article-2241211-16492714000005DC-110_634x422.jpg” width=”634″ height=”422″ alt=”Dan stays in the picture: The All Blacks most potent weapon, Dan Carter, checks out the news in Sportsmail, including pictures of his day out in London” class=”blkBorder” />

Dan stays in the picture: The All Blacks most potent weapon, Dan Carter, checks out the news in Sportsmail, including pictures of his day out in London

Steve Hansen’s side conceded the second-highest number of penalties and, when it came to time-in-possession stats, they were third of the four teams. The message is clear; it’s not about how much ball they have, it’s about what they do with it.

But there were several areas where the All Blacks were well ahead of the rest – passes completed, number of off-loads, defenders beaten, clean breaks, metres gained and tackle completion, highlighting their clinical work.

For a long time, New Zealand have been the finest counter-attacking side in the world. When they win a turnover, it’s as if they flick a mental switch. They all go up a gear, they raise their intensity levels. More often than not, they will score.

What the All Blacks do well is control and vary their pace. A lot of other nations play at the same high intensity, but they are one-paced, they lack that variety. New Zealand are able to operate and succeed with less possession. Their tackle-completion rates are really good, then when they get the ball, they immediately go up three gears.

Masters of the art: New Zealand are the best counter-attacking side in the world

Masters of the art: New Zealand are the best counter-attacking side in the world

Last weekend, Manu Tuilagi intercepted the ball and broke upfield against South Africa, but England were unable to take the scoring chance. In the same circumstances, the All Blacks would have flicked that switch and scored a try. The initial reaction is crucial. As soon as they see a turnover, the players all quickly get into position and flood through on the right support lines. In contrast, some of the England players might have seen Chris Ashton receive the ball from Tuilagi and subconsciously thought ‘he’s quick’ so they just watched him run.

New Zealand always ensure that as many players as possible work themselves into attacking positions. They would have had someone up in close support of a player in Ashton’s position, ready to take an off-load when he ran hard at the last defender.

Opta stats reveal that, of all the All Blacks tries since the World Cup, 44 per cent start when they regain possession in their own half. With England, that figure drops to about 20 per cent. New Zealand are always alert to potential try-scoring opportunities, even from deep.

It is like rope-a-dope – their ability to soak up pressure and pounce when chances come along. Their belief that they will always find a way to win borders on arrogance.

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They will look at the opposition and
think, ‘Whatever you do, we will surpass you’, which is the mindset we
had with England in the run-up to the 2003 World Cup. The All Blacks
believe they are bullet proof.

Another advantage they have over England and other sides is an innate willingness to take risks. They have so many supreme physical specimens who can dominate collisions, but they also have the mind-set to play positively – always looking to offload.

In England, if you throw an offload that ‘wasn’t on’, it can lead to heavy criticism and that can make players go into their shells. Perhaps we have to change our national psyche when it comes to risk-taking.

England captain Chris Robshaw has been slated for his decision to go for goal with a late penalty last weekend, but he made the right call. Stats show that from 40 attacking line-outs within 10 metres of the opposition line since the start of 2010, England have scored just four times.

Under pressure: Robshaw will come in for intense scrutiny on Saturday

Under pressure: Robshaw will come in for intense scrutiny on Saturday

If time is almost up, the defending side can keep infringing, knowing that the attacking team need more than a penalty to win the game. They basically have a licence to cheat.

My hope is that Robshaw can block out all the criticism the next time that he faces a similar scenario, but my fear is that all the stick he’s had will affect him.

On this occasion, there are no areas where England have a clear advantage. Rugby is a strange game, so all hope is not lost, but I think the All Blacks will win, say 29-13.

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Jamie Carragher insists Liverpool deserved point at Chelsea

Carragher insists Liverpool deserved point after spoils are shared at Stamford Bridge

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UPDATED:

19:07 GMT, 11 November 2012

Jamie Carragher believes Liverpool were worthy of the point they claimed with a 1-1 draw with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

The Blues took a first-half lead through John Terry, who then went off injured following an accidental collision with Luis Suarez, who later equalised for the Reds.

Carragher told Sky Sports 1: 'I think first half Chelsea were on top but in the second we came out and great credit to the lads.

Back in action: Carragher (centre) started his first Premier League game this season

Back in action: Carragher (centre) started his first Premier League game this season

'We probably deserved a draw in the end, the way we battled in the second half.'

It was Carragher's first start in the league this season and he said: 'The Premier League is a step up (from the cups) with all its intensity and Chelsea is a difficult place to come.

'If I am picked I give everything; it is down to the manager, he is the boss.'

When asked if not playing was frustrating, Carragher said: 'Yes and no. I want to play but I understand. I am never going to cause a problem.'

Reds team-mate Jose Enrique added: 'Most important is the performance from the team. Suarez is an amazing player, a key player for us.'

Point made: Suarez equalised late on

Point made: Suarez equalised late on

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers also believed changing the system at half-time resulted in a far more effective team after the break.

He told Sky Sports 1: 'I thought in the first half we were too tentative. Second half our attitude in the game was much better and we are better when we play fast football.

'Coming here is a very difficult place. I thought it was a great point for us. You have to give credit to the players, they were fantastic.'

Rodgers also hailed Carragher, adding: 'He is phenomenal, it's an absolute pleasure to work with him. His preparation is first class, he is always preparing himself well.

'Today he was exceptional, he is a real model professional for a young player.

Case for the defence: Enrique (left) was impressive for Liverpool

Case for the defence: Enrique (left) was impressive for Liverpool

'With everything he has won and achieved he could easily come and knock on my door but he is old school, he respects authority.'

Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo revealed the club did not know the extent of Terry's knee injury with the captain – returning after his racism ban – set for a scan on Monday.

Di Matteo told Sky Sports 1: 'He has a problem with his knee and will have an MRI scan tomorrow.

'At the moment we can't say, we'll have to wait for the scan which will tell us the extent of the injury. He is certainly a player that is influential for us. We will miss him.'

Scan: Terry left Stamford Bridge on crutches

Scan: Terry left Stamford Bridge on crutches

The Italian was frustrated by his side's inability to claim a second goal and ultimately allow the visitors back into the game.

'We controlled the game and had chances for a second goal and that is probably a disappointment, 1-0 is always dangerous,' he added. 'We needed to score a second one.

'He (Reds goalkeeper Brad Jones) made some very good saves and also some misses from us.

'We knew we needed a second goal and pushed it in the second half and we needed to take it.'

The talk is over… it"s time for England to deliver

The talk is over… it's time for England to deliver (starting with a big win over understrength Fiji)

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UPDATED:

23:15 GMT, 9 November 2012

England are in such a heightened state of readiness for this arduous autumn series that they even turned up for Test week armed with gift-wrapped soundbites. ‘It’s production time,’ said Stuart Lancaster. ‘Time to rebuild the fortress,’ said various players.

Quite right, on both counts. Management and squad are alert to the shifting of emphasis and mood since they were last at Twickenham.

Back in March, England were coming off a win in Paris and the warmth of the reception from the stands as Ireland were put to the sword was founded on the public’s support for a decent man as Lancaster made a promising pitch to retain his interim role long-term.

Driving forward: England captain Robshaw sets the

Driving forward: England captain Robshaw sets the

Back then, the host nation were still raw from the wounding aftermath of the World Cup, so the revival in the Six Nations created a bubble of relief and hope, especially as the players responsible were new and young and so evidently awash with pride and spirit. But times have changed. Expectation levels have increased.

Those who swarm into HQ today will bring with them a desire to see all the talk of progress writ large on the famous field. They will know that Lancaster is now in charge for the foreseeable future and that his coaching staff is complete. They will know that the ground-work in the championship was followed by a necessary quantum leap in intensity during the June series in South Africa, when England found out what was required to live with the southern hemisphere elite.

Going through the paces: The England players have a final practice at Twickenham

Going through the paces: The England players have a final practice at Twickenham

Lancaster is no fool, so he is aware that the stakes have been raised — hence the ‘production time’ remark. And his players know all too well that England’s stadium has been plundered far too often by southern visitors in the last nine years, having previously been a place even the All Blacks approached with caution. So re-establishing the ‘fortress’ aura is an urgent priority.

A sudden barrage of injury setbacks have been cruel to Lancaster, just when he thought he might have something approaching a first-choice team available, but that is no excuse.

All together: The England team gather during training at Twickenham

All together: The England team gather during training at Twickenham

England as a rugby nation of such bountiful resources should be able to absorb the loss of a few good men and still send out a line-up capable of mixing it with all-comers at home. So the loss of Dylan Hartley and Courtney Lawes, Ben Foden, Chris Ashton and Jonathan Joseph must be taken in stride.

There will be three debutants in white today — Tom Youngs starting at hooker and Mako Vunipola and Joe Launchbury on the bench providing cover at prop and lock or flanker respectively.

In addition, Joe Marler, Tom Johnson, Thomas Waldrom and Alex Goode will all be making their first Test appearances at Twickenham, but they have been in front of full houses there before, so the arena should hold no demons.

Running game: Tom Johnson runs with the ball during training

Running game: Tom Johnson runs with the ball during training

What’s more, Lancaster is adamant that the players he has brought in are the best available, in which case they must be judged without too much allowance for the naivety of youth.

The IRB rankings provide a constant backdrop this autumn, as countries jostle for position prior to the World Cup pool draw on December3. England are fourth on the list and Fiji down in 14th.

Enlarge

England Line up

The visitors have a swathe of newcomers in their squad, are unable to pick several leading players based at European clubs and did not even arrive in this country with enough appropriate kit. As ever, however, the Pacific Island side possess raw quality and a willingness to run from all parts.

They have ample power and a high-class flanker in Gloucester’s Akapusi Qera, but what they do not have is a promising record in this fixture. England have played four against Fiji and won the lot.

This time, England should be well capable of squeezing their opponents and building a steady lead before cutting loose when their superior fitness and collective understanding starts to tell.

What Lancaster really needs is a performance mixing power, precision and the hint of a swagger to set his team up for Australia, South Africa and New Zealand.

There will be plenty of focus on Tom Youngs, who could install himself as the preferred deputy to Hartley or even make himself a rival to the Northampton captain.

There will be an onus on Waldrom to impress, as Ben Morgan is breathing down his neck. The same could be said for Danny Care, who has Ben Youngs close behind.

Midfield has been a problem area for most of England’s recent history and the underlying issue now is how best to harness the brute force of Manu Tuilagi. Brad Barritt will today resume his quest to be considered the ideal foil for Leicester’s Anglo-Samoan wrecking ball, but the No 12 must offer proof that he can be a creative presence at Test level.

He must do so while confronted by a giant combination in midfield for Fiji — Sireli Naqelevuki of Exeter and Leicester’s Vereniki Goneva.

There will soon come a time when the England line-up must be settled and galvanised — preferably just before the All Blacks sweep into Twickenham on December 1.

Enlarge

Scouting report

Robin Van Persie celebrates goal against Chelsea: Image of the week Andy Hooper

Andy Hooper: My favourite image of the week… Van Persie celebrates his goal against Chelsea

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UPDATED:

16:24 GMT, 29 October 2012

This is Robin Van Persie celebrating his goal against Chelsea on Sunday where Manchester United won 3-2 in an action packed thriller.

There were 58 photographers at the game, spread around the pitch and fortunately I was in the right position to catch Van Persie after he scored after 12 minutes, seen here running towards the Chelsea fans.

The expression on his face is one of intensity and passion.

Camera data
Nikon D4
Lens 400mm
Exposure 1/1000 of a second at F2.8 ISO 1600.

Van the man: The Manchester United striker celebrates his goal against Chelsea to make it 2-0 early in the first half

Van the man: The Manchester United striker celebrates his goal against Chelsea to make it 2-0 early in the first half