Tag Archives: judgment

Robbie Rogers, once of Leeds, comes out as gay and retires aged 25

Former Leeds winger Rogers comes out but announces his retirement aged just 25

By
David Kent

PUBLISHED:

17:42 GMT, 15 February 2013

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UPDATED:

17:57 GMT, 15 February 2013

Former Leeds United winger Robbie Rogers has written a blog in which he comes out as openly gay and retires from the game.

The 25-year-old, who was released by Leeds in the summer and joined Stevenage on loan, becomes the first professional footballer in Britain to come out since Justin Fashanu in 1990.

He also played for America 18 times, including all three of their games at the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

Breaking new ground: Robbie Rogers, shown playing for Columbus Crew, has released a blog in which he comes out as openly gay, though confirms his retirement from football aged just 25

Breaking new ground: Robbie Rogers, shown playing for Columbus Crew, has released a blog in which he comes out as openly gay, though confirms his retirement from football aged just 25

Pedigree: Rogers has played for USA

Pedigree: Rogers has played for USA

In a blog entitled ‘The Next Chapter’,
Rogers writes: ‘Things are never what they seem. My whole life I have
felt different. To overcome your fears you must be strong and have faith
in your purpose.

‘For the past 25 year I have been
afraid to show who I really was because of fear that judgment and
rejection would hold me back from my dreams and aspirations. Fear that
my loved ones would be farthest from me if they knew my secret.

‘Life is only complete when your loved
ones know you. When they know your true feelings, when they know who
and how you love. Life is simple when your secret is gone. Gone is the
pain that lurks in the stomach at work, the pain from avoiding
questions, and at last the pain from hiding such a deep secret.

‘Secrets can cause so much internal
damage. Try explaining to your loved ones after 25 years you are gay.
Try convincing yourself that your creator has the most wonderful purpose
for you even though you were taught differently.

‘I always thought I could hide this
secret. Football was my escape, my purpose, my identity. Football hid my
secret, gave me more joy than I could have ever imagined… I will always
be thankful for my career.’

Rogers is from Southern California and
has more than 75,000 followers because of his profile playing for
Columbus Crew in America’s Major League Soccer.

He finishes his blog with: ‘I will
remember Beijing, The MLS Cup, and most of all my teammates. I will
never forget the friends I have made a long the way and the friends that
supported me once they knew my secret.

‘Now is my time to step away. It’s
time to discover myself away from football. It’s 1 A.M. in London as I
write this and I could not be happier with my decision.

'Life is so full of amazing things. I realized I could only truly enjoy my life once I was honest.

'Honesty is a bitch but makes life so
simple and clear. My secret is gone, I am a free man, I can move on and
live my life as my creator intended.’

Luis Suarez interview: Liverpool striker says people can call him racist, diver and cheat but he sleeps soundly every night

LUIS SUAREZ EXCLUSIVE: Racist Diver Cheat People can call me what they want but I still sleep soundly every night
The Liverpool star discusses what it is like to be one of football's most reviled figures in his first major interview
'What matters most to me is my family, the Liverpool fans and the team. Anything else that goes on is not my problem''Liverpool are the club I wanted to play for, and now that I’m here, I want to stay for a long time'

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UPDATED:

23:11 GMT, 22 December 2012

Luis Suarez never directly expresses his exasperation. He is polite, engaging and thoughtful. But he sits with arms folded for most of the interview, as though he fears that judgment has already been made and that nothing he can say will change the verdict.

The controversies are well recorded: his abuse of the Manchester United defender Patrice Evra, which the FA deemed a racial slur, a verdict Suarez still disputes; his reputation for too readily going to ground in the penalty area; his handball on the line that prevented Ghana from progressing to the 2010 World Cup semi-finals; and his general aggression on the pitch.

Suarez, 25, gives the impression that the insults which come his way as a result of his reputation are of no consequence and that the support of his family and his football club, Liverpool, are all he needs. Indeed, he is dismissive of the suggestion that, as a result of the Evra affair — for which Suarez served an eight-match ban — many would now regard him as racist, even though the FA Disciplinary Commission made it clear in their judgment that they did not.

At ease: Luis Suarez says he is unconcerned with the criticism he attracts

At ease: Luis Suarez says he is unconcerned with the criticism he attracts

‘I still sleep soundly every night,’ insists Suarez. ‘I’m not worried about everything people say. I don’t care what people outside Liverpool think.’

Suarez has always maintained that the Spanish word he admits using in his infamous clash with Evra, ‘negrito’, can, at times, be acceptable in his native Uruguay. Suarez now knows that it is not acceptable in England to refer to somebody’s race in this way, but he claims that he remains perplexed by the response to the incident.

‘I don’t understand, but that’s football,’ he says. ‘It’s in the past now. I fought hard to get where I am and now all I care about is playing football for Liverpool.’

He even remains outwardly unmoved by the fact that Chelsea’s former England captain, John Terry, received a four-match ban for racial abuse, half the punishment meted out to Suarez. ‘They’re different situations,’ he says. ‘Terry is Terry and Suarez is Suarez — they’re different issues, and I never cared about the Terry case.’

Yet, tellingly, when it comes to other aspects of the way he is perceived, Suarez does want to explain. On the diving, he wants people to know what it is like to have muscular 6ft 2in centre-halves bearing down on you as you run towards goal or attempt a cute turn.

Going to ground: Suarez falls after a challenge from Arsenal's Thomas Vermaelen

Going to ground: Suarez falls after a challenge from Arsenal's Thomas Vermaelen

‘Sometimes you’re standing there and someone comes flying in, so you move your leg out of the way or you go to ground because you’re scared of getting hit,’ he says. ‘If I leave my leg there so the referee can see it’s a foul, I risk suffering a big injury. That’s why sometimes your instinct tells you to go to ground. It’s a split-second instinct, not a conscious decision you make on the pitch. Of course, I don’t want people to go around saying “this guy just dives”.’

The swallow-dive celebration Suarez performed in front of David Moyes after his goal in the Merseyside derby in October was the Uruguayan’s response to pre-match accusations of diving from the Everton manager, a riposte made even more pleasing when Everton captain Phil Neville was booked for simulation in the same game.

‘Everton was a special case, because the Everton manager came out and spoke about me before the match, saying that people like me are going to turn supporters off going to matches,’ says Suarez.

‘And then, in the match, the Everton captain dived. So that’s why sometimes it’s better to keep your mouth shut. Moyes can talk about me if he knows me, or at least after the match, but before the match it’s not right.’

Courting controversy: Suarez celebrated his goal in the Merseyside derby with a dive in front of Everton boss David Moyes

Courting controversy: Suarez celebrated his goal in the Merseyside derby with a dive in front of Everton boss David Moyes

Suarez’s default position is a defensive one. ‘What matters most to me is my family, playing for Liverpool, the Liverpool fans and the team. Anything else that goes on is not my problem. I don’t read the papers or watch TV. Every time they boo me or chant something about me, it just gives me more confidence to keep playing. I’ve been booed in Holland and in Uruguay — as a professional footballer you need to have thick skin and just get used to it. But right now I’m at the club I wanted to play for, I’m really enjoying myself out on the pitch, because I fought for a long time to get here and I’m happy the club acknowledge what I’ve done, which is the only thing that matters to me.

‘If we’re playing away from home, I know I’m going to get booed. But I also know that if they boo me, it’s not only because of anything I’ve supposedly done, but also because they’re afraid, because they know I’m a player who is a threat to their team. And that’s why they try to unsettle me and keep me quiet in the game … almost. But I never let that happen.’

And he is a potent threat. The skill and the inventiveness were never in doubt but the finishing that seemed awry last year is now much improved, as 11 Premier League goals — including one in the 4-0 victory over Fulham — and three in cup competitions testifies. For some, he is the player of the season so far.

Intriguingly, though, he says he does want to change. Regarding diving, he says: ‘Yes, of course. I’m trying to change and to avoid doing it because I know that football is different here, and it’s helping me at the same time. I’ve discussed it with both managers I’ve played under here, Kenny Dalglish and Brendan Rodgers. Kenny also used to tell me not to protest so much, that I should focus more on playing football, that I have a lot of qualities and so should forget about referees. And Brendan has also told me a few things to help me improve.’

Lucky for some: Suarez hits his 13th goal of the campaign, adding the gloss to Liverpool's win against Fulham

Lucky for some: Suarez hits his 13th goal of the campaign, adding the gloss to Liverpool's win against Fulham

There is a familiar contradiction in sportsmen like Suarez, those who carry a reputation. The image they bear on the pitch is so far removed from their demeanour in everyday life that it is often difficult to reconcile the two. Suarez himself says so.

‘My wife always says that people must think I act crazy at home, too, but that’s not the case,’ he says.

‘Off the pitch I am nothing like the way I am on it. The passion I have for football, it’s very different, I’ve always expressed it like that, that’s the way I play, but I also understand that I need to change. Because it’s not nice to be constantly shouting and back-chatting, it’s not nice for the crowd and for children to see, and it’s not nice for me either. I understand that and I think I’ve made the effort to change a little over the last few months.’

There will not be an immediate transformation, he says, as he tries to strike the balance between retaining legitimate aggression and curbing what is unacceptable. ‘That’s why it’s really hard to change overnight, because of the passion you feel on the pitch. And I don’t like losing, I don’t like giving up a lost ball — say if the ball is going out and I know I can reach it, then I chase it down … that’s the passion you feel on the pitch.’

He draws a direct link between his upbringing and the way he plays now. ‘When you’re a kid, you play in the street, you need to have lots of ambition, drive and strength to play, and that’s what makes you act like that on the pitch.’

Flashpoint: Controversy has been no stranger to Suarez, with the Uruguayan getting an eight-match ban for this clash with Patrice Evra at Anfield last season

Flashpoint: Controversy has been no stranger to Suarez, with the Uruguayan getting an eight-match ban for this clash with Patrice Evra at Anfield last season

For his is that well-told story of the South American boy playing street football, first in Salto and later in Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay. His father left the family when he was nine years old and he was raised by his mother and grandmother, who provided financial help. He has two sisters and four brothers, one of whom, Paolo, plays for Isidro Metapan, the champions of El Salvador, while two others play professionally at a lower level.

In Suarez’s mind, he has had to battle constantly to be where he is now, playing football for Liverpool. ‘Some kids have things very easy here. They don’t go wanting for anything, their parents help them, and by 18 they already have their own cars. It’s not like that in Uruguay: you have to work really hard and for a lot of years. Even if your parents help you to have a car, you have to work and fight really hard, and show a lot of ambition and hunger to go far, which isn’t the case here.

‘In Holland (where he played for Groningen and Ajax) and it’s happened to me here, too, I would look at players who were moving up to the first team, and they already had expensive cars at the age of 18, which I found amazing. Back when I was in Uruguay, the club used to loan me a car, and it wasn’t until I moved to Holland when I was 20, and then when I moved to Ajax, that I could buy one myself.’

He was signed to Nacional, the Uruguayan champions, as a child but looked like missing the cut at 14.

‘I wasn’t on the path I wanted to be on. I was going out at night, I didn’t enjoy studying and I wasn’t dedicating myself to football. When I was a kid, there were some people around me who were a bad influence. When I met my girlfriend Sofia, who is now my wife, I think it all changed. She was very important for me, because she steered me back on to the path I wanted to be on.

Home team: Suarez is always calm and relaxed with wife Sofia and daughter Delfina

Home team: Suarez is always calm and relaxed with wife Sofia and daughter Delfina

‘When I was single, I would go out at night, but then when I had a girlfriend, I would always go to her house at the end of the night, so I had more peace of mind. So it’s about that, the everyday routine. She would also tell me to study and to focus on my ability to play football, and to forget about everything else.

‘I’m the one out on the pitch, but I think if she hadn’t helped me change my life, I probably wouldn’t have made it. Also, I wasn’t playing at Nacional, I was on the bench, some people told me to look for another club, but there were two people who told me to stay and helped me to get another chance. And then I met my wife and that’s when it all changed.’

At times he seems a throwback to the world of Diego Maradona, the street kid with the ball at his feet made good. In Uruguay they use the word ‘botija’ to describe a player like Suarez, the one with the skill, guile and what locals would call cheekiness.

‘Being crafty, a bit more streetwise than the rest,’ says Suarez, attempting an explanation. ‘That’s very common in Uruguay, just like in Argentina, I think because of the way you grow up as a kid.’

But does the phrase accurately describe Suarez ‘I think I am sometimes [that kind of player] but not always. I think maybe the example you’re trying to get at is my handball at the World Cup’

Indeed, it is. That was the day Suarez took a red card for the team and stopped Ghana scoring in the last minute of the quarter-final by blocking a goalbound shot with his hand on the line. The penalty was missed and Uruguay progressed to the semi-finals in the subsequent penalty shoot-out. ‘I think any player in the world would have done that,’ says Suarez. ‘It’s all part of being a little bit crafty, getting the upper hand.’

Public enemy No 1: Suarez attracted the ire of a continent after handballing Dominic Adiyiah's goalbound header off the line

Public enemy No 1: Suarez attracted the ire of a continent after handballing Dominic Adiyiah's goalbound header off the line

While his actions would not be
universally condemned in England — what wouldn’t we do to be in a World
Cup semi-final — it is pointed out that there would be a strong body of
opinion here that would consider such an unsporting act as plain wrong.

‘But if a player is running towards an open goal, you can haul him down
and injure him, and that’s acceptable’ argues Suarez. ‘I think that if
they were doing it for their country …’ he begins. Maybe, it is
suggested, a cultural difference. ‘Right,’ he says. ‘The culture is very
different.’

At Liverpool, the fear must be that he will soon outgrow them, now that they have ceased to become a regular Champions League club, but in August he signed a new five-year contract with the club.

‘All I can say is that my head is here now and for many years to come. My dream and desire is to play in the Champions League and achieve big things with Liverpool, because they’re the club I wanted to play for, and now that I’m here, I want to stay for a long time.’

He cites the club’s tradition and ‘amazing fans’ as the reason ‘we hope that over time, we can take Liverpool back to where they belong’.

He may need some patience for that. ‘Just like I waited to play in the Champions League with Ajax and I had that chance, now I hope the same thing happens with Liverpool,’ he says.

And his enthusiasm for the manager, the club, the city and its people seems genuine. His wife and two-year-old daughter, Delfina, are happy here. He even claims to understand Scouse accents: well, Steven Gerrard’s anyway. Jamie Carragher, he says, is still impenetrable. Some cultural chasms, it seems, are too wide to bridge.

Aston Villa 0 Arsenal 0: Match report

Aston Villa 0 Arsenal 0: Fans turn on Wenger chanting 'you don't know what you're doing'

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UPDATED:

00:38 GMT, 25 November 2012

With a wild, haunted look in his eyes, Arsene Wenger refused point-blank to explain the 86th-minute substitution which caused Arsenal fans to round on him and sing: 'You don't know what you're doing.'

The result was still in the balance against struggling Villa when the Frenchman took off his only striker, Olivier Giroud, and replaced him with midfielder Francis Coquelin.

It caused outrage in one corner of the ground, where Wenger's judgment call was openly dismissed and even mocked for the first time by his normally faithful travelling fans.

Frustration: Olivier Giroud could not get on the scoresheet before he was substituted

Frustration: Olivier Giroud could not get on the scoresheet before he was substituted

MATCH FACTS

Aston Villa: Guzan, Vlaar (Lichaj 51), Clark, Stevens, Lowton, El Ahmadi (Holman 63), Westwood, Bannan, Agbonlahor, Benteke, Weimann (Albrighton 90)

Subs not used: Given, Ireland, Delph, Bowery

Booked: El Ahmadi

Arsenal: Szczesny, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Jenkinson, Gibbs, Arteta, Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arshavin 77), Ramsey, Cazorla, Podolski (Gervinho 69), Giroud (Coquelin 86)

Subs not used: Mannone, Sagna, Vermaelen, Wilshere

Referee: Lee Mason

Attendance: 34,607

The latest Premier League results, fixtures and tables

In one of the most bizarre press
conferences of his career, he scoffed at the idea that the club's
supporters deserved an explanation, insisted that he was still at the
height of his managerial powers, and claimed the assembled media were
suffering from Alzheimer's disease if they thought differently.

If a meltdown was possible in freezing Birmingham, this was it.

Toothless Arsenal managed just one accurate shot, but Wenger was in no mood to appease anyone.

'I won't explain my decision to make that substitution, I don't have to explain every decision and substitution I make.'

Asked if the taunts had hurt him, he
turned on his interrogator and said: 'No. I have managed for 30 years at
the top and if I have to convince you I can manage a team, it would be
an insult to you.

'How long have you managed for How
many games have you managed If I come to see one of your matches I
promise you I'll sit in the stand and say, “You do know what you're
doing”.'

Battle: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain tries to wrestle the ball from Christian Benteke

Battle: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain tries to wrestle the ball from Christian Benteke

Race on: Olivier Giroud (left) is pursued by Ron Vlaar

Race on: Olivier Giroud (left) is pursued by Ron Vlaar

He is clearly wounded by the attacks,
because he reminded his critics how they had laid into him last season,
only for his team to recover sufficiently to make the Champions League.

'You forget what you wrote last September, October, November. You have a little bit of Alzheimer's.'

Yesterday there was almost nothing to forget.

But Wojciech Szczesny did save the
Gunners from total humiliation when he tipped Villa substitute Brett
Holman's powerful shot on to the crossbar.

Penetration: Oxlade-Chamberlain could not create the killer chance for Arsenal

Penetration: Oxlade-Chamberlain could not create the killer chance for Arsenal

Unlucky: Aaron Ramsey tries a flick in front of goal

Unlucky: Aaron Ramsey tries a flick in front of goal

But even a point at Villa could not
paper over the cracks as the visiting supporters repeated the
now-familiar refrain: 'We want our Arsenal back.'

Such an inept display in the final
third could hardly be explained away by Wenger's assertion that his side
were jaded after their recent Champions League exploits.

This side simply are not hitting the heights required to qualify for a 14th consecutive Champions League campaign.

Doubtless the fans were also frustrated by Wenger's failure to inject some late quality in the form of Jack Wilshere.

The manager said he wanted to protect the England midfielder in such harsh weather.

Asked if he or Theo Walcott might
play at Everton on Wednesday, Wenger snapped almost childishly: 'I'll
decide and I will not explain to you why.'

Villa certainly would not have been
disappointed that Wilshere sat out this match, as they were able to
press and unsettle their guests at will.

Manager Paul Lambert was serving a
touchline ban and admitted that he found the experience 'not great, when
I got punished for contesting something and I was right.

Dejected: Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker clap the visiting fans

Dejected: Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker clap the visiting fans

'But I thought we played really well
and I think we might have nicked it. Our defence was really strong and
offensively we were well in the game, too. We're a young side and we're a
threat.'

Santi Cazorla did show a rare flash
of brilliance soon after the interval, when he swerved past a couple of
defenders and shot narrowly wide.

Aaron Ramsey looked as though he might score, and even forced Brad Guzan to save with his leg.

Otherwise the Villa keeper was
largely untroubled, though Laurent Koscielny really should have beaten
him from six yards in the first half.

Instead, the central defender ballooned his effort over the bar.

Villa striker Christian Benteke had a
couple of chances to score with his head against the club he once
supported, but squandered both.

Stalemate: Brad Guzan kept a clean sheet

Stalemate: Brad Guzan kept a clean sheet

Settle for one Arsene Wenger's team could not get the breakthrough

Settle for one Arsene Wenger's team could not get the breakthrough

Gabriel Agbonlahor unleashed a
powerful shot at the Arsenal goal after Holman had dithered, but
Arsenal's rearguard were equal to the challenge.

And that's about the best that can be said about Wenger's team – they stopped a struggling team from scoring.

A stubborn man at the best of times,
Wenger is clearly rattled by the fact that others don't have as high an
opinion of his recent managerial achievements as he does.

He may very well be right when he
suggests that he will one day be sorely missed, if Arsenal and the
Champions League eventually begin to lead separate lives.

The problem is that it could well
happen on his watch – next season – unless there is a dramatic
improvement before it is too late.

Just about: Gabriel Agbonlahor felt he deserved a penalty, but Per Mertesacker got a toe on the ball in the box

Just about: Gabriel Agbonlahor felt he deserved a penalty, but Per Mertesacker got a toe on the ball in the box

Just about: Gabriel Agbonlahor felt he deserved a penalty, but Per Mertesacker got a toe on the ball in the box

Vincent Kompany injury latest: Manchester City captain leaves Etihad Stadium on crutches

Kompany doubtful for Chelsea clash as defender leaves Etihad on crutches

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UPDATED:

06:56 GMT, 22 November 2012

Manchester City's Champions League
exit could have a nasty postscript after skipper Vincent Kompany left
the Etihad Stadium on crutches last night.

Kompany took a knock during the
second half of the 1-1 draw with Real Madrid and, although the Belgian
was able to complete the game, he was not moving freely.

Manager Roberto Mancini can only hope
Kompany has not sustained too much damage, particularly with a visit to
Chelsea looming on Sunday.

Clash of the titans: Vincent Kompany went up against Cristiano Ronaldo

Clash of the titans: Vincent Kompany went up against Cristiano Ronaldo

'The opportunity to claim our place at the top of European football will come again,' said Kompany on Twitter.

'No sad faces, just the hunger to improve.'

Mancini is certain he will get the chance to implement the plans too, despite a second successive group stage failure.

Whilst not even winning the
competition last season has provided any security of tenure for Roberto
Di Matteo, it seems his fellow Italian is operating from a sturdier
platform.

Mancini rejected outright the notion that Sheikh Mansour would deliver a harsh judgment, saying:

'No. I don't fear this. Why

'We still have the Premier League and the FA Cup.

'If we think we can win the Champions League after two years we are crazy.'

Mancini's reasoning is that City require more experience at this level before they can truly compete for the greatest prize.

'Chelsea tried to win Champions League for 10 years,' he said.

'In the best moments, when Didier Drogba was young, they didn't win.

'They did it last year when no-one thought they could.

'We need to improve our team because there are a lot of teams better than us.

'I am not saying if you get to February you can't win. Anything can happen. But we didn't do that.'

Doubt: The City captain received treatment 10 minutes from time, but played the full 90

Doubt: The City captain received treatment 10 minutes from time, but played the full 90

Marvin Sordell: Millwall supporter sends letter of apology over Facebook "threat"

Millwall supporter sends letter of apology to Sordell over Facebook 'threat'

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UPDATED:

15:58 GMT, 19 October 2012

The Millwall supporter accused of posting a sickening photo on Facebook which appeared to threaten the life of Marvin Sordell has written a grovelling letter of apology.

Sordell recently accused supporters at The Den of racially abusing him and three team-mates during Bolton's visit on October 6.

Soon after a mocked-up picture appeared on the social networking site which depicted a gun being pointed at the Trotters striker and blood splattered across his face and chest.

Disgraceful: This is the image posted on Facebook by the Millwall fan

Disgraceful: This is the image posted on Facebook by the Millwall fan

The picture carried the message: 'dont (sic) f*** with the millwall.'

In the letter the fan apologises for what he thought was a 'bit of fun', but has since realised the grave error of judgment made and offered his sincere apologies to the England Under 21 international and his family.

'I am sorry I have hurt and upset you and your family, I wasn't thinking at the time and it is now the most regretted thing I have ever done,' the teenager states in the letter.

'I did not see it as a death threat or racist abuse, all it meant to me was don't do anything to my club as I'm a loyal supporter.'

Sportsmail understands that Police are now investigating the matter.

Flashpoint: Sordell was in Serbia where England players were subjected to racist chanting

Flashpoint: Sordell was in Serbia where England players were subjected to racist chanting during the Under 21s Euro 2013 play-off

How could Roy Hodgson get it so wrong over John Terry? Patrick Collins

How could Hodgson get it so wrong over toxic Terry

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UPDATED:

21:39 GMT, 29 September 2012

Roy Hodgson is not a man for the
dramatic phrase, so he was stepping out of character with this curious
offering: ‘You know when you take the job, you’re dead. All you can
hope is that you can enjoy that time on your death bed and that when you
are resurrected a few years later, people say: “You know, he wasn’t
that bad”.’

They do say that the England job drives them all mad in the end but usually it takes more than five months.

In
fairness, we should not set too much store by Hodgson’s muddled
metaphysical ramblings, yet they seem to suggest that the pressure is
getting to him, that calm, rational judgment is coming under pressure
from doubt and confusion. Which leads us to the England manager’s
ham-fisted contribution to John Terry’s squalid saga.

From the moment the mess was dumped on his desk, Hodgson’s decisions have seemed woefully ill-considered.

That's my boy: Roy Hodgson embraces John Terry after England's win over Ukraine at Euro 2012

That's my boy: Roy Hodgson embraces John Terry after England's win over Ukraine at Euro 2012

Fabio Capello lost his job through his
outrageous insistence that a man charged with racial abuse was entitled
to remain captain of England. Hodgson was equally perverse, equally
uncomprehending.

Although
Hodgson could not reinstate Terry as captain, he took every chance to
praise his attitude, to massage his ego. He even selected him for the
finals of Euro 2012 while leaving out Rio Ferdinand, ostensibly for
‘football reasons’. It was an implausible claim, widely and properly
derided.

Never did he grasp
the notion that Terry’s problems were of Terry’s making. This was a man
who had lost the captaincy not once, but twice, a man whose life was
lived in lurid headlines and a man, moreover, whose value as a player
was diminishing by the month.

Yet
this was the man for whom Hodgson was prepared to hazard his judgment
and alienate a swathe of public and professional opinion.

More from Patrick Collins…

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Yet still he refuses to acknowledge
the glaring reality. Last week, hours before the opening of the FA
hearing, and shortly after Terry’s retirement from international
football, Hodgson grew quite lyrical. He greeted the departure with a
eulogy to the player’s qualities. He spoke of his ‘good relationship’
with Terry, of his ‘disappointment’ at his departure, of his
‘reluctance’ to accept the decision. Indeed, it was widely reported, and
never denied, that he would welcome him back, even if he were to be
found guilty of racially abusing Anton Ferdinand. It was extraordinary
stuff from a sophisticated and vastly experienced manager; almost as if
he was embracing that ‘Captain, Leader, Legend’ tosh which plays so well
at Stamford Bridge. Because the truth is that he has no need to make
such undignified gestures.

In
the next 12 months, England will play their remaining eight World Cup
qualifying games: San Marino, Poland and Montenegro at home and away,
plus Moldova at home and Ukraine away.

Fans' favourite: Terry gives his boots to Chelsea fans after the 2-1 win at Arsenal

Fans' favourite: Terry gives his boots to Chelsea supporters after the 2-1 win at Arsenal

Does
Hodgson seriously imagine that Terry’s presence might represent the
difference between success and failure If so, then England’s situation
is a great deal more parlous than we had been led to believe.

Of course, he does not think that for a moment. But he says it, presumably, because he is anxious to retain unfettered control of selection, unhindered by intrusions from the outside world.

For Hodgson, I suspect, the right to pick Terry was of far more importance than the wisdom of reintroducing a divisive and possibly toxic presence to the dressing room. Terry’s pre-emptive flounce saved the manager from the consequences of such a decision but the fact that he may well have flirted with such a course is genuinely disturbing.

Renaissance man: Hodgson must move on from the Terry saga

Renaissance man: Hodgson must move on from the Terry saga

Most of us had considered Hodgson to be a more serious man than that. As it happens, Terry’s more deluded admirers need not completely abandon hope of seeing their flawed hero in the national shirt just once more. If, by some miraculous process, England should actually win the World Cup in the Maracana, then there must be a possibility that Terry will emerge from the crowd, tearing off his civilian clothes and leading up the lads, the way he does at Champions League finals.

But it is an unlikely scenario. For the fact is that the game has moved on, having made its civilised point on an important matter of simple morality. It is high time that Roy Hodgson moved on too. After five short months, his resurrection is already overdue.

No laughing matter as Pulis takes his cue from Groucho

‘These are my principles,’ said Groucho Marx. ‘And if you don’t like them, well, I have others.’ Now, it must be said that Tony Pulis does not enjoy Groucho’s way with a phrase but Stoke City’s resident humorist appears to share a similar philosophy.

Two weeks ago, Stoke’s Peter Crouch scored against Manchester City after handling the ball not once but twice. ‘It was basketball,’ said City’s manager, Roberto Mancini. But the Stoke manager was unrepentant. ‘It’s lovely for us, a smaller club, getting a decision against a bigger club,’ was his pragmatic assessment.

Double standards: Pulis

Double standards: Pulis

Last Saturday, Pulis worked himself into a splendid state over a spot of alleged ‘diving’ at Stamford Bridge. ‘It’s a part of the game that I don’t think we should stomach,’ he said. ‘It’s difficult enough to referee today without players doing that, I don’t think it’s fair on the referees.’ He thought that Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic should have been given a three–match ban for his theatrics and he contrasted the player’s attitude with that of his own Michael Kightly, who apparently stayed on his feet after suffering assault. ‘We think it’s the right way to do it but what other clubs do is up to them,’ he said.

It is a difficult ploy to master, that mixture of lofty self-righteousness and brazen inconsistency, but Pulis brought it off quite effortlessly. The famously principled Groucho would have been proud of him.

Garry back with the ultimate in daftness

Garry Cook was God’s gift to sports columnists. On slow weeks, we looked to the Manchester City chief executive for a cheery quip, a piece of unwitting daftness which cried out for preservation.

Turn of phrase: Cook

Turn of phrase: Cook

You will recall his remark on his chairman, the noted human rights abuser Thaksin Shinawatra: ‘Is he a good guy to play golf with’ Then there was his masterpiece of middle-management speak: ‘I want to central-entity the top 10 teams to create a global empire.’

Often he would recall his golden days as a glorified sneaker salesman: ‘At Nike, you don’t sit around saying “Can we” You say “We will”… I call it the cultural cascade.’

If David Brent had never existed, then Garry would have invented him. He left City in Brentian fashion, after an unfortunate incident involving an email.

But he hasn’t gone away. In fact, the great man has just been named as executive vice-president and managing director of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, the ongoing street brawl posing as a sport.

Garry says he is ‘delighted’. He calls it ‘an honour’ to be working in such a ‘dynamic and exciting industry’.

Soon, I suspect, he will be introducing organised violence to the mysteries of the cultural cascade. For Garry Cook is back. Living proof that, even in UFC, you can’t keep a good man down. Just you wait: ultimate fighting won’t know what’s hit it.

PS

So, farewell Steve Kean, forced to resign as manager of Blackburn.

His departure was inevitable but he was required to endure a parting shot from one Mark Fish, secretary of the so-called ‘Blackburn Rovers Action Group’.

Said the rancorous Fish: ‘The supporters are liberated and free of Steve Kean. I am just enjoying the fact that he has gone … I have longed for this.’

For Kean, the future may be uncertain but he no longer has to endure the insults of vengeful clowns like Fish. He should be duly thankful.

Arsenal 1 Chelsea 2: Match report

Arsenal 1 Chelsea 2: Mata curls home winner as Gunners lose unbeaten record

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UPDATED:

14:04 GMT, 29 September 2012

Chelsea captain John Terry came through a hostile reception at Arsenal as the Blues consolidated their lead at the top of the Barclays Premier League with a 2-1 win.

Fernando Torres fired Chelsea ahead following some poor marking by Laurent Koscielny and Juan Mata's free-kick squirmed in to secure three points for the European champions after Gervinho had equalised on the stroke of half-time.

Former England skipper Terry was earlier this week found guilty of using racist language towards Anton Ferdinand by a Football Association hearing, but is awaiting the full written judgment of the independent panel, before deciding whether to appeal a verdict which saw him banned for four matches and fined 220,000.

Winner: Juan Mata's free kick was enough to help Chelsea to victory over Arsenal at the Emirates

Winner: Juan Mata's free kick was enough to help Chelsea to victory over Arsenal at the Emirates

Match facts

Arsenal: Mannone; Jenkinson, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Gibbs; Diaby (Oxlade Chamberlain 17) Arteta, Ramsey (Walcott 66); Cazorla, Gervinho, Podolski (Giroud 66).

Subs not used: Martinez, Djourou, Santos, Mertesacker

Goal: Gervinho 42

Booked: Vermaelen, Ramsey

Chelsea: Cech; Ivanovic, Luiz (Cahill 80), Terry, Cole; Ramires, Mikel; Hazard, Oscar (Moses 72) Mata (Bertrand 84); Torres.

Subs: Turnbull, Azpilicueta, Romeu, Lampard

Goals: Torres 20, Mata 52

Booked: Luiz, Oscar

Attendance: 60,101

Ref: Martin Atkinson

Premier League results, fixtures and table

The 31-year-old has always protested his innocence and was found not guilty of a racially aggravated public order offence in a criminal trial during July.

Predictable chants of 'you know what you are' from the Arsenal crowd greeted Terry's first touch, as did jeers for former Gunner Ashley Cole.

However, the Emirates Stadium faithful had little to sing about as the match wore on.

While Chelsea came through their first real test of the new campaign, the Gunners again saw question marks raised over their defensive resilience.

Arsenal had made a lively start, with Ivory Coast forward Gervinho again deployed down the centre as contract rebel Theo Walcott watched on from the bench.

On 11 minutes, Abou Diaby created space for himself some 20 yards out and shot fiercely at Petr Cech.

However, the French midfielder's injury jinx appeared to strike again as he was soon replaced by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Opener: Fernando Torres connects with Juan Mata's cross to put Chelsea in front against Arsenal

Opener: Fernando Torres connects with Juan Mata's cross to put Chelsea in front against Arsenal

Chelsea took the lead on 20 minutes with a brilliant finish from Torres.

A free-kick from Mata on the right was floated through the Arsenal penalty area towards the far post.

Laurent Koscielny was wrestling with Torres, but the Spaniard was still able to hook the ball back into the net.

Off and running: Torres celebrates with John Terry after putting Chelsea in front

Off and running: Torres celebrates with John Terry after putting Chelsea in front

Before Arsenal could regroup, they were almost 2-0 down.

Torres robbed Koscielny out on the left and darted into the penalty area.

However, as the keeper came out and he shaped to shoot, the Spaniard tumbled, claiming his heel had been clipped by Koscielny. Referee Martin Atkinson, however, was having none of it.

Level pegging: Gervinho slams home the ball to score Arsenal's equaliser just before half time

Level pegging: Gervinho slams home the ball to score Arsenal's equaliser just before half time

Level pegging: Gervinho slams home the ball to score Arsenal's equaliser just before half time

Slowly Arsenal found their rhythm again.

Gervinho was picked out at the far post and headed back across goal instead of at it.

The Gunners' frustrations were starting to show as Aaron Ramsey was booked for a late tackle on Oscar in the 35th minute.

Pat on the back: Gervinho celebrates his goal for Arsenal with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

Pat on the back: Gervinho celebrates his goal for Arsenal with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

The Brazilian then also went into the notebook after another poor challenge on Mikel Arteta, who played a key role in the Gunners' equaliser after 42 minutes.

Patient build up from right-back Carl Jenkinson fed the ball back to Arteta, and he slipped Oxlade-Chamberlain down the flank.

His low centre across the six-yard box was collected by Gervinho, who had sidestepped Terry, with his back to goal – and he turned to blast a shot into the roof of the net.

Back in front: Mata's free kick evades everyone before nestling in the bottom of the net

Back in front: Mata's free kick evades everyone before nestling in the bottom of the net

Back in front: Mata's free kick evades everyone before nestling in the bottom of the net

Arsenal started the second half brightly, with Santi Cazorla snatching at an angled drive which flew wide.

However, the Gunners were undone again in the 53rd minute.

Once more Mata's curling delivery caused panic in the Arsenal penalty area – and a backtracking Koscielny helped the ball on with the slightest of touches into the corner past Vito Mannone's dive.

Arsenal had to regroup again, and were almost level when Cech brilliantly palmed away a looping header from Lukas Podolski.

Chance: Olivier Giroud missed an opportunity to level the scores in the final minutes

Chance: Olivier Giroud missed an opportunity to level the scores in the final minutes

Gutted: Mike Arteta is dejected after Arsenal lose for the first time this season at home to Chelsea

Gutted: Mike Arteta is dejected after Arsenal lose for the first time this season at home to Chelsea

Wenger had seen enough and made a double change after 66 minutes, bringing on Walcott for Ramsey and Olivier Giroud, who scored his first Arsenal goal in the midweek Capital One Cup win over Coventry, for Podolski.

Cech was on hand to palm away a deflected effort from Giroud as Arsenal looked for the equaliser.

Gibbs tripped Mata on the edge of the penalty area to give Chelsea another dangerous piece. This time, though, his shot went straight into the wall.

Backing: Chelsea fans showed their support for John Terry who gave his boots to young fans (below)

Backing: Chelsea fans showed their support for John Terry who gave his boots to young fans (below)

Here you go: John Terry gives a fan his boots after the game

Here you go: John Terry gives a fan his boots after the game

As the match entered the final 10 minutes, Arsenal continued to press for an equaliser, but were frustrated by a combination of poor passing and determined defence.

Giroud had a golden chance to snatch an equaliser in stoppage time, but was forced wide by Cech and could only smash his shot into the side netting.

Terry made a point of heading over to the travelling support at the final whistle, handing his boots to a couple of young fans.

Arsene Wenger: Trust me (but is Olivier Giroud the new Gervinho?)

Trust me, says Wenger… but is Giroud the new Gervinho

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UPDATED:

21:30 GMT, 26 August 2012

Arsene Wenger called for Arsenal's supporters to trust his judgment as Robin van Persie's departure was once more keenly felt at the Britannia Stadium.

Wenger's attack followed up last week's blank against Sunderland by firing another one in the Potteries during a goalless draw with Stoke as the replacements for the departed RVP failed to find their cutting edge.

Feeling the strain, Arsene: The Arsenal boss has called on fans to trust him

Feeling the strain, Arsene: The Arsenal boss has called on fans to trust him

Neither Lukas Podolski nor Olivier Giroud convinced and there was little from Gervinho on a day when defences were on top.

But Wenger asked for patience after the final whistle, saying the Gunners will make good that loss by several players chipping in, saying: 'I'm having the same questions now with Robin van Persie as I did when Thierry Henry left.

Under fire: But Wenger has eased the growing pressure on new boy Giroud

Under fire: But Wenger has eased the growing pressure on new boy Giroud

'Last season I had to answer, “Why do you play Van Persie as a centre forward” And you don't have to convince me that we have lost an exceptional player. I was the first to say that.

'We have to get around that by sharing more of the goals than we did before with Van Persie. If Giroud scores 20 and Podolski scores 20, we will get goals. I'm convinced about that.

New kid on the block: Podolski is still finding his feet at Arsenal

New kid on the block: Podolski is still finding his feet at Arsenal

'We have to share them around. But, a month ago, they did not know each other. The understanding is missing, but it will come.

'We have work to do on the training ground but you can feel the potential. The understanding can come quickly. But the more it is spoken about, the bigger the problem becomes.

'Giroud should not think he is a replacement for Van Persie in the number of goals. We want to play as a team and if we play well as a team, we will score goals.'

Olivier Giroud v Gervinho

The ill-will between the two clubs was never far from the surface but failed to flare up as the teams, well managed by referee Lee Mason, just about kept their tempers.

Stoke boss Tony Pulis said: 'I'm pleased with a point, although we were disappointing going forward. We looked unbalanced, but our commitment was first-class. As a club, we must never become blase about taking a point from the likes of Arsenal.'

Wimbledon 2012: Ivo Karlovic is in the wrong with foot faults

Don't cross the line: Karlovic is walking a tightrope with his foot faults

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UPDATED:

23:14 GMT, 28 June 2012

Tennis players accept that they are in the wrong when it comes to foot faulting about as often as a British man wins Wimbledon.

That is the context in which the complaints last night of Ivo Karlovic about the world’s premier tournament should be taken. It is simply an offence, usually a hairline infringement, which the perpetrators always find hard to believe they have committed.

Players struggle to accept this judgment call, even though it is really no different to a bowler overshooting the crease in cricket. And there are those in the locker room who actually think Karlovic gets away with it too often.

Don't stand there: The Line judge calls a foot-fault against Ivo Karlovic

Don't stand there: The Line judge calls a foot-fault against Ivo Karlovic

What was different about his tirade after the defeat by Andy Murray were the allegations of partisanship in the calls and the comparison of playing at SW19 with playing an away Davis Cup tie against some banana republic.

However, Wimbledon draws on a heavy international presence when picking its linespeople, with the global officiating community regarding a spot at the grass court Grand Slam as something to be treasured.

On some courts, 50 per cent of the line crews might be from outside the UK. Wimbledon generally cherry pick the best to work the event, and from them only the most highly-rated will be given a match on the Centre Court.

Watch the line: Karlovic was called up by the line judge

Watch the line: Karlovic was called up by the line judge

That said, Karlovic’s count was unusually high and the level of vigilance yesterday was perhaps the kind of break that Murray will need if he is to get through a fiendishly tricky part of the draw.

It undoubtedly helped spirit him over the line and allow him to repeat his ‘heavens’ gesture, which is believed to pertain to a health issue involving a friend.

Would he have needed a following wind anyway, given that he has taken care in the past of better, if not taller players than the 6ft 10in Croat

His record against those who tower over him suggests he would have prevailed. For instance Murray is 2-0 against 6ft 9in American No 1 John Isner, 5-1 against Argentina’s 2009 US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro and 5-1 over another massive Croat, Marin Cilic, who he could meet here in the fourth round.

Beady eye: The line judge watches for foot faults

Beady eye: The line judge watches for foot faults

Once the novelty value had worn off watching him fling himself all over Centre Court to try to land Karlovic’s serve back in, it became tense and a battle of mental attrition.

At 33, Karlovic is hardly the future of tennis, thankfully, but the game is moving in the direction of the tall men.

Only four players in the top 30 measure under six feet and the optimum height these days is reckoned to be at least the 6ft 3in that Murray stands.

Putting your foot in it.jpg

The great Arthur Ashe once said that he hoped he would never have to say to a talented boy or girl of diminutive stature that this is not the game for them but, as we come close to the 20th anniversary of his tragic passing, a lack of inches looks ever more a major disadvantage.

Karlovic’s first step is slow but he can create incredible angles for his serve. That Murray did such a good job in defusing it bodes well.

Patrice Evra hits out at Carlos Tevez over Alex Ferguson sign

Evra hits out at Tevez over disrespectful sign towards Ferguson

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UPDATED:

09:27 GMT, 20 May 2012

Patrice Evra has hit back at former team-mate Carlos Tevez after he was pictured holding up a banner mocking Sir Alex Ferguson.

While Manchester City apologised for the sign, striker Tevez has refused to say sorry for the placard saying ‘RIP Fergie’ during Monday’s open-top bus parade to celebrate their Premier League title.

Evra said: 'I was very surprised by Tevez’s attitude against Sir Alex Ferguson.

No apologies: Manchester City's Carlos Tevez refused to say sorry for the sign

No apologies: Manchester City's Carlos Tevez refused to say sorry for the sign

'I’m not sure how the manager feels about it but I’m sure he won’t be impressed.

'It’s disrespectful. Tevez spent two years at this club and was treated extremely well by the manager so I don’t really understand his reaction or the truth about the situation.'

Tevez, 28, was still unrepentant when he landed in South America for a summer break later in the week.

Moment of madness: Tevez holds aloft the ill-advised banner

Moment of madness: Tevez holds aloft the ill-advised banner

City did issue a statement offering its 'sincerest apologies' and admitting their former skipper had made a 'significant error of judgment.'

But Evra reckons United’s rivals were equally guilty of bad taste when they put up a massive poster of Tevez with the message ‘Welcome to Manchester’ when the striker swapped clubs in 2009.

Not happy: Patrice Evra said Tevez was disrespectful towards Sir Alex Ferguson

Not happy: Patrice Evra said Tevez was disrespectful towards Sir Alex Ferguson

The French full-back, 31, added: 'The poster was in very bad taste, no one from Manchester United appreciated it.

'Tevez is an adult, he plays for another club and is responsible for his own actions.

'It’s a shame because he was always respected at Manchester United and remained in contact with some of the players.

'But I have no idea what will happen now.'