Tag Archives: landmark

West Ham captain Kevin Nolan presented with cake to celebrate 100th goal

Icing on the cake! Nolan celebrates 100th goal with treat baked by kit man's sister

By
John Drayton

PUBLISHED:

10:22 GMT, 26 April 2013

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UPDATED:

11:10 GMT, 26 April 2013

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Kevin Nolan notched up his 100th career goal last Saturday – and what better way for the West Ham captain to celebrate than tucking into some cake.

The 30-year-old midfielder scored in the hammers' 2-0 victory over Wigan at Upton Park to hit the century mark.

Landmark: Nolan was presented with a cake to celebrate scoring his 100th career goal

Landmark: Nolan was presented with a cake to celebrate scoring his 100th career goal

And yesterday he was presented with a cake baked by the sister of kit man James Saban to mark his achievement.

Nolan's 100th goal came almost 12 and a half years after his first for Bolton Wanderers in a 4-1 win over Crewe Alexandra in December 2000.

Let's celebrate: Nolan hit the century mark with his goal in West Ham's 2-0 win over Wigan last Saturday

Let's celebrate: Nolan hit the century mark with his goal in West Ham's 2-0 win over Wigan last Saturday

Benitez wants to keep Moses and Mikel for their cup ties against Southampton and Swansea

Benitez hoping to keep Moses and Mikel for crunch cup ties before they jet off to join Nigeria in the Africa Cup of Nations

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UPDATED:

15:53 GMT, 27 December 2012

Rafa Benitez wants to keep John Obi Mikel and Victor Moses for their cup ties against Southampton and Swansea before releasing them for the Africa Cup of Nations.

Mikel and Moses, integral players since Benitez took control at Stamford Bridge, are in the Nigeria squad which was due to report for a pre-tournament training camp in Portugal today.

The Chelsea pair have been granted permission to stay in London until after the New Year but Benitez is negotiating to keep them for as long as possible as his team become embroiled in a cluttered fixture list.

Victor Moses celebrates scoring against Leeds in the Capital One Cup

John Obi Mikel in then Club World Cup

Africa-calling: Both Moses and Mikel have had regular first team football under interim boss Rafael Benitez

The Blues launch their defence of the FA Cup at Southampton on January 5, four days before the first leg of the Capital One Cup semi-final at home to Swansea.

Interim manager Benitez accepts he is unlikely to have them around by the time they play Stoke in the Barclays Premier League on January 12.

'The tournament starts on the 19th, so they will go one or two weeks before,' he said.

'Maybe we can manage to keep them a little bit longer. We will talk with them. They know sometimes the players do not need to go early. But at least one week before the 19th, they have to be there.'

Benitez has several others who could fill in with Moses and Mikel gone

Options open: Benitez has several others who could fill in with Moses and Mikel gone

Nigeria’s first game of the tournament in South Africa is on Janaury 21st against Burkina Faso. The final is on February 10, four days before Chelsea are due to play in Prague in the Europa League.

Juan Mata celebrated a landmark game and goal in his Chelsea career before declaring he was hungry for even more.

Yesterday's 1-0 win at Norwich was Spain forward Mata's 50th appearance in the Barclays Premier League and came less than a season a half after he joined the Blues.

Carrow Road also witnessed his 13th goal in all competitions this term, already bettering his tally from the whole of the last campaign.

Rarely has a foreign player made such a seamless adjustment to English football as former Valencia star Mata, who has enjoyed the unwavering confidence of all three Chelsea managers he has played under.

Mata has outshone all his Chelsea teammates this campaign

Flying through the rain: Mata has outshone all his Chelsea teammates this campaign

Last season, he featured in 34 of Chelsea's 38 league games, while this term he has played a part in 16 of 18.

But
despite his 50 matches being the most of any outfield player at the
club over the same period, Mata had no intention of allowing his
team-mates to catch him up.

'I
want to play more, I want to keep playing, keep training, keep enjoying
this club and this Premier League,' he told Chelsea TV.

Modestly
describing his goals tally as 'not bad', he added: 'I'm very happy with
how it's going – the season – for me and for the team and I just have
to keep working.'

When Mata works, almost invariably so do Chelsea.

 Mata is just goal behind Fernando Torres and becoming Chelsea's to goalscorer of the season

Unstoppable: Mata is just goal behind Fernando Torres and becoming Chelsea's to goalscorer of the season

His six goals in eight games have co-incided with the club's revival under interim boss Rafael Benitez.

Mata's dip in form before that also tallied with the Chelsea slump that saw Roberto Di Matteo sacked.

Indeed,
the club were becoming too reliant on Mata's goals and assists under Di
Matteo and it is crucial they do not fall into the same trap again.

Benitez
appears to recognise the need to spread the load around the team, his
decision to move David Luiz from defence into midfield once again
proving inspired yesterday.

Mata said of the Brazilian's transformation: 'I'm not surprised.

'I know that he's a very, very good player, top player.

'He's able to play in different positions, at centre-back, in midfield.

'He's a complete football player.'

Mata stressed the importance of Chelsea keeping a clean sheet yesterday in what was only their second 1-0 win of the season.

'Our four defenders were really good,' he said.

'All the team played like a compact team, like Rafa wanted.'

He added of his goal: 'The most important thing is that it was the winning goal.'

That
winner saw Chelsea close to within four points of second-placed
Manchester City with a game in hand, while remaining 11 behind runaway
leaders Manchester United.

Mata said: 'These three points gave to us a lot of confidence to be closer to the Manchester clubs.'

Frank Lampard has plenty to offer Chelsea – Neil Ashton

To be Frank, Lampard still plenty to offer

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UPDATED:

22:16 GMT, 23 December 2012

With both ankles heavily strapped in gauze and white tape, Frank Lampard made a late run for the East Stand reception a few minutes before kick-off on Sunday.

He was clutching match tickets for friends, arriving just in time for them to take their seats to watch his 500th start in the Barclays Premier League. He marked the occasion with another trademark finish, arriving unannounced – as is the norm – on the edge of Villa’s penalty area.

It was Chelsea’s fourth goal, prompting the captain’s immediate substitution to save those aching limbs ahead of the Boxing Day trip to Norwich City.

Landmark: Lampard made his 500th Premier League start on Sunday

Landmark: Lampard made his 500th Premier League start on Sunday

/12/23/article-2252645-16A2CFB0000005DC-185_634x379.jpg” width=”634″ height=”379″ alt=”Trademark strike: Lampard fires home from 25 yards out” class=”blkBorder” />

Trademark strike: Lampard fires home from 25 yards out

‘I’m proud of what I’ve done in my Chelsea career and I will just continue working game by game because I believe I still have a lot left in me,’ said Lampard. ‘When the fans sing my name, it means everything because they are the club – and I love them.’

Back in 2010, after Chelsea had won the title under Carlo Ancelotti, the Italian told Lampard he could prolong his playing career at the club ‘until you are 38 or 39’.

They had mapped him in pre-season, bringing the techniques used at the famous MilanLab – the ones that kept Paolo Maldini going like an old shire horse until he retired at 41 – to Chelsea.

Since Lampard made his 11.5million move from West Ham in 2001, he has been one of the most distinguished and disciplined players in the Premier League. Even at his statesmanlike age, options are still emerging for him.

With every touch in his refined position just in front of Chelsea’s back four, Lampard has Victor Moses, Juan Mata, Eden Hazard and Torres in his field of vision.

Holding role: Benitez has been deploying Lampard in front of his back four

Holding role: Benitez has been deploying Lampard in front of his back four

Off the pitch, he is being seduced by his former coach Claudio Ranieri, now at Monaco, and by LA Galaxy after David Beckham left at the end of the MLS season.

Although Monaco, now in French Ligue 2, cannot match his 130,000-a-week salary, they can offer him a huge tax free income.

It is appetising, as is the offer to replace Beckham as one of the marquee signings in MLS.

Although LA Galaxy’s season does not get under way until March, Lampard will wait until his contract ends before moving to another club.

His young children live in London and he has always made it clear they are his priority, but it is understood a move abroad is no longer out of the question.

Holding role: Benitez has been deploying Lampard in front of his back four

Decision time: The veteran has plenty of options

As he ticked over in Chelsea’s midfield alongside David Luiz on Sunday, it has become clear that the countdown is on.

It is incredible to think Chelsea have allowed this situation to develop after Lampard’s 11 amazing years at Stamford Bridge.

Just days after they lifted the European Cup in May, chief executive Ron Gourlay publicly claimed that Lampard’s contract would be extended ‘by September’. At the time, it appeared to be nothing more than an administrative issue, a matter for Gourlay’s in-tray as Chelsea became accustomed to their new status as champions of Europe.

Instead, it is still pending, put off until the owner Roman Abramovich decides one way or the other.

‘The club’s position is the club’s position,’ added Lampard. Undoubtedly, Chelsea are leaving it a bit late.

Sachin Tendulkar is useless: The Little Master"s terrible run of form

THE USELESS COLUMN: If you have a shocker, beware…we'll be watching and branding men and women in sport Useless! Today it's the iconic Sachin Tendulkar

PUBLISHED:

12:23 GMT, 14 December 2012

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UPDATED:

12:38 GMT, 14 December 2012

Your striker fluffs a sitter, your keeper drops a clanger or
your team's opening batsman has been out for a pair… all together now: 'Useless!' Here, in Sportsmail's new 'Useless' column, we
highlight sportsmen and women who flop and deserve a panning from our man who delivers it best… Today the dubious honour goes to the greatest batsman still playing the game Sachin Tendulkar…

Before we get started: Yes, he's the Little Master. Yes, he's a living legend. Yes, he's one of the greatest batsman ever to have played the game…

But Sachin Tendulkar's current run of form is USELESS! He's Jimmy Anderson's bunny and England no longer fear him when he walks to the crease.

The 39-year-old maestro has not scored a Test hundred for almost two years – he made 146 against South Africa at Cape Town in the 2011 new year Test – his scores in 2012 read two, 76, eight, 13, 17, 19, 25, 15 and 41. Plenty of starts but no 'Daddy Hundreds' as Graham Gooch might say.

Time to wave goodbye, Sachin Indian great Sachin Tendulkar fell to England's Jimmy Anderson again today (FILE IMAGE)

Time to wave goodbye, Sachin Indian great Sachin Tendulkar fell to England's Jimmy Anderson again today (FILE IMAGE)

THE USELESS HALL OF SHAME…

Gervinho's miss v Bradford
December 12, 2012
Click here to read more

His form belies his status as one of the greats – if not THE greatest. Tendulkar has over 15,000 Test runs to his name at an average well above 50.

Those stats are sensational, but his record against England's Anderson are shocking.

The dismissal of Tendulkar today for the ninth time in Tests, means Anderson has broken Muttiah Muralitharan's record total (see panel below).

It's a landmark achievement for the England paceman, but another failure for Tendulkar has left some commentators to wonder if it's time for him to hang up his bat.

We're sorry to say it, Sachin, but for a great, great player this run of form is…

USELESS! Click to hear the verdict….

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JIMMY'S TENDULKAR HOODOO…
James Anderson

March 19, 2006, Mumbai
A rare false shot from Tendulkar gifted Anderson (right) his wicket for the
first time. Having made only one, the batsman drove loosely outside off
stump and the ball took the toe of his bat and went through to
wicketkeeper Geraint Jones.

July 20, 2007, Lord's
Umpire Steve Bucknor adjudged Anderson's full inswinger, which hit
Tendulkar on the pad as he looked to drive through the leg side, would
have clipped leg stump and sent him on his way lbw for 37.

August 10 & 12, 2007, The Oval
Anderson established his dominance over Tendulkar by taking his wicket
in each innings, first via a regulation edge to Andrew Strauss at slip
when on 82 and then bowled off the inside edge for one second time
around.

December 22, 2008, Mohali
Another loose edge saw Tendulkar depart for five, with Graeme Swann at gully the catcher on this occasion.

July 25, 2011, Lord's
Tendulkar's likely last innings at Lord's brought him just 12 runs
before Anderson nipped one past his inside edge to dismiss him lbw.

July 29, 2011, Trent Bridge
In the second Test of the same series, Tendulkar managed 56 in a forlorn
fourth-innings chase before shouldering arms to a big inswinger which
trapped him leg before once again.

December 5, 2012, Kolkata
Tendulkar made 76 before an excellent outswinger from Anderson caught
his outside edge and was held by a tumbling Matt Prior behind the
stumps.

December 14, 2012 Nagpur
Tendulkar made just two before Anderson got one to nip back off the
seam, deflect off a thin inside edge and on to middle stump.

Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson will be pulling out all the stops to beat Europe

I'll stop the rot, vows America's Ryder Cup captain Watson… and Tiger will be my No 1

|

UPDATED:

00:06 GMT, 14 December 2012

It all ended in tears the last time an iconic figure made it as far as the 80th floor of the Empire State Building and roared out a warning.

Nearly 80 years on from the movie King Kong, Tom Watson will hope his message to Europe’s Ryder Cup team from the same New York landmark doesn’t end with him shot down in flames.

‘I hope that by appointing me as America’s Ryder Cup captain we’re telling the Europeans we are pulling out all the stops to beat you guys,’ he said. ‘We’re saying that winning is the most important thing and we want to do it in style. I always say that early in my career I learned to win by hating to lose — and it is about time we stopped losing.’

Bullish: New USA Ryder Cup captain was in bullish mood in his inaugural press conference saying his team would 'pull out all the stops to beat you guys'

Bullish: New USA Ryder Cup captain was in bullish mood in his inaugural press conference saying his team would 'pull out all the stops to beat you guys'

Skipper: Watson posed for photographers on the observation deck of the Empire State Building...

Skipper: Watson posed for photographers on the observation deck of the Empire State Building…

...but still had time to act the tourist and take a picture of his own

…but still had time to act the tourist and take a picture of his own

And with that proclamation ringing in the ears it was time to light the most famous building in Manhattan in the obligatory red, white and blue. As befits the grace of the man himself, there was nothing garish about Watson’s appearance, save for the slightly unnerving lack of grey hairs on the 63-year-old’s head.

Speaking of icons, the news of Watson’s appointment had hardly been made official than Tiger Woods was sending his congratulations and saying what an honour it would be to play for him at Gleneagles in 2014. Two years ago, he and Watson had a major falling-out after the latter had gone public with some scathing criticism of Tiger’s behaviour. Now Watson is keen to emphasise it is ‘all water under the bridge’. He added: ‘I hope he is on my team and if for some unforeseen reason he isn’t, he’s going to be my number one pick. He’s perhaps the best player in the history of the game and brings a stature to the team.’

Struggle: Tom Watson stated that Tiger Woods (above) will be the first name on his team, but the former World Number 1 has an appalling record in the tournament

Struggle: Tom Watson stated that Tiger Woods (above) will be the first name on his team, but the former World Number 1 has an appalling record in the tournament

Given Tiger’s appalling Ryder Cup record, for a moment I thought he said statue.

In keeping with the startling nature of this extraordinary appointment, Watson revealed he was first approached 13 months ago. ‘It was a phone call that I had waited a really long time to receive,’ said the five-time Open champion, who was a winning captain at The Belfry in 1993.

‘I really wanted the challenge again. Here we are, just off Broadway and that’s appropriate because I look upon being captain as like a stage manager, getting everything ready so the actors, or in this case, the players, can go out and perform.’

Jose Maria Olazabal, Europe’s retiring Ryder Cup captain, said Watson was just the man to deal with some of the huge egos in the American team. As the fall-out from Medinah continues, others have pointed the finger at Olazabal’s counterpart, Davis Love. Trust Watson to cut through the bluster. What he will bring to the job is an enormous presence, and that shouldn’t be underestimated.

But let’s not forget that Love lost at Medinah by the narrowest of margins. Watson was quick to seize on the hope that he gets that elusive quality that deserted his predecessor. ‘What I need is a little bit of luck,’ he said.
It was fascinating listening to his brilliant analysis of that miracle in Chicago. How Ian Poulter’s five successive birdies on Saturday night brought a ‘cloud on to the horizon’; how Europe’s wonderful start on Sunday saw the cloud turn into a storm. ‘ US Ryder Cup player): ‘I
think he would be amazing. Such a remarkable player and person and he
demands respect just by the kind of player he has been. He’s like a
quiet lion. It would be an honour to play for him.’

BRANDT SNEDEKER (2012 US Ryder Cup player):
‘I am surprised but excited. Tom is a good friend of mine, one of the
best players to ever play the game who is instantly going to gain a lot
of respect and sway the homefield advantage for us in Scotland because
of his success over there.’

PAUL AZINGER (2008 US Ryder Cup captain): ‘Truthfully,
I am really surprised but I think it’s OK. There’s a philosophy of
picking contemporary players under the age of 50 that hasn’t really
worked. That would have been a great philosophy had we been winning, but
we haven’t, which makes Watson a good choice at this time.’

LANNY WADKINS (played under Watson in 1993):
‘Tom is just one of those guys who always believes. He doesn’t go out
there to have fun. He goes out there to kick butt and get the job done.
That’s really what the PGA of America, in my opinion, are thinking what
needs to happen.'

Alastair Cook factfile: England"s record-breaking run machine in figures

Captain Cook by numbers: The lowdown on England's record-breaking run machine

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UPDATED:

02:00 GMT, 7 December 2012

Alastair Cook's 23rd Test century is an England record, breaking a figure that had stood for 73 years — since Wally Hammond scored his 22nd ton against West Indies in 1939.

Since then, it has been equalled four times — by Colin Cowdrey (v Pakistan in 1969), Geoff Boycott (v India in 1981), Cook himself — on the second day of the Mumbai Test — and Kevin Pietersen, who followed his captain two overs later.

Top man: Alastair Cook

23 tons: Alastair Cook

Portrait of a master: The legendary Paul Trevillion captures Alastair Cook (left) alongside his 23 Test centuries

Cook was already the first player to make a hundred in each of his first four Tests as captain. At Nagpur, he will have the chance to stretch the record to six.Cook passed Ted Dexter’s mark for the most runs by an England captain in a Test series in India. Dexter made 409 runs in 1961-62.How Cook compares at 27 with the top Test run scorers

Cook……………………………………………….. 7,048
Tendulkar…………………………………………..6,720
Ponting……………………………………………..4,195
Dravid……………………………………………….3,322

When Cook moved to 88, he took Sachin Tendulkar’s place as the youngest player to score 7,000 Test runs. Tendulkar was 28 years and 193 days when he reached the landmark, Cook 27 years and 347 days. But Tendulkar needed only 136 innings to Cook’s 151. At the age of 27, Cook already has more runs than the top three all-time Test run scorers did at the same age.During the course of his unbeaten 136 on the second day, Cook’s Test average moved the right side of 50 for the first time in six years. Of the 10 English batsmen to have scored more than 7,000 Test runs, only Cook and Hammond have averaged over 50.Cook became the first England batsman to score 100 in three successive Tests since Andrew Strauss — who made 169 in Antigua in 2009, followed by 142 in both Barbados and Trinidad.Among non-Asian batsmen, only South Africa’s Jacques Kallis has scored more Test tons (eight) on this continent than Cook (seven).

I had the best seat in the house, says Nick Compton after watching Alastair Cook masterclass

I had the best seat in the house, says awe-filled Compton after watching Cook masterclass

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UPDATED:

22:02 GMT, 6 December 2012

Nick Compton spoke of the awe he felt batting alongside his record-breaking captain Alastair Cook as the pair put on 165 to kick-start England’s first innings in the third Test at Eden Gardens.

The Somerset batsman was at the other end when Cook became the youngest batsman in Test history to reach 7,000 runs — and again six overs later when he completed his 23rd Test hundred to pass an English landmark that was established before the war by Wally Hammond.

‘Standing out there today and looking up at the board and seeing the stats — 7,000 runs and the youngest ever player to do that — it was quite an amazing moment,’ said Compton.

In awe: Nick Compton (left) was inspired by Alastair Cook's performance (FILE PHOTO)

In awe: Nick Compton (left) was inspired by Alastair Cook's performance (FILE PHOTO)

‘I thought, I’m batting with this guy, and he’s just got another hundred. He’s the all-time leading English century-maker. A lot of players only manage to find their feet at my age, around 28 or 29, but the fact that he’s found his feet much earlier and done it over such a period of time speaks volumes.’

Compton scored his maiden Test half-century before he fell to a questionable leg-before decision by Rod Tucker. But he has now shared four partnerships of at least 50 in five innings with Cook — and some of his captain’s sang froid is evidently rubbing off.

‘Unflappable is a good way to describe him,’ he said. ‘He’s tough. Not a huge amount is said in the middle, but I feel like I’ve got a really good bond with him. Between balls there’s a little look and a little nod that we’re both in it together.

‘I’ve really enjoyed the time I’ve spent out there. For me it’s been easy just to have someone who’s so chilled out at the other end.’

Milestone: Cook became the youngest player to score 7,000 Test runs

Milestone: Cook became the youngest player to score 7,000 Test runs

For Compton, successive scores in this series of nine, 37, 29, 30 not out and now 57 are a reflection of the hard work he put in at the Lord’s indoor nets during the month before departure for India.

After averaging almost 100 during the first-class season, Compton attempted to adjust his game for Indian conditions, facing the spin-bowling machine Merlin on a special turning surface, and using the more conventional bowling machine to prepare for the different angles posed by Zaheer Khan from over and round the wicket.

Asked about his maiden Test fifty, he replied: ‘I’m dead chuffed. It’s easy to say it would have been nice to have gone on, but if you’d asked whether I’d have taken my maiden fifty today, I’d have taken that.’

Boycott: I should be on 23 too!

Geoff Boycott could not resist telling Test Match Special listeners about his own unofficial 23rd century. Boycott scored 157 at The Oval during an England v Rest of the World series in 1970, an innings recognised at first as a legitimate hundred but later disqualified by the ICC. Boycs (Test average 47) also accepted that Wally Hammond (Test average 58) ‘might’ have been a better player!

Patrick Collins: Premier League 5bn deal – what"s the point

What's the point of a 5bn league if England can't make it to the World Cup

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UPDATED:

22:51 GMT, 17 November 2012

When the last contract is sealed and the last hand is shaken, the Premier League’s new television deal will burst through the 5billion barrier.

The landmark will be celebrated in boardrooms up and down the land. Backs will be slapped, corks will explode and club owners will flash beatific beams as they settle into their seats on the gravy train.

And who will blame them The Premier League is an extraordinary commercial success. /11/17/article-2234562-1613F848000005DC-756_634x393.jpg” width=”634″ height=”393″ alt=”Everyone's invited: The Premier League continues to draw the big money, with a 5bn deal due” class=”blkBorder” />

Everyone's invited: The Premier League continues to draw the big money, with a 5bn deal due

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Small wonder the owners are beaming, for fortunes await them at every turn. Never in the history of British sport has a venture proved quite so profitable. So it’s trebles all round, and the toast is ‘To English football!’.

Which is probably an inconvenient time to bring up events in Stockholm the other evening.

Ah, Stockholm! The Friends Arena. When we hear the name, we shall replay in our minds that peerless goal, the one which Zlatan Ibrahimovic executed with such wit, agility and dramatic imagination. And as we remember the goal, the fact that England were beaten 4-2 will somehow pass us by.

It’s happened several times before, of course. Historically, Sweden and England are almost level pegging, so one more defeat came as no great surprise. But rarely have English expectations been quite so muted.

Fielding six debutants had something to do with it: Leon Osman, Raheem Sterling and Steven Caulker starting, with Carl Jenkinson, Ryan Shawcross and Wilfried Zaha arriving from the bench. It was a patent gamble, the football version of running up a flag to see if somebody might salute it.

Add Tom Cleverley, Jack Wilshere, Daniel Sturridge and Tom Huddlestone – all relatively untested – and the nature of the experiment becomes clear.

Consider those 10 players. Two, hopefully three, are likely to enjoy extended international careers, three or four will almost certainly fade, and the jury is out on the rest. Roy Hodgson will handle them with sympathetic skill, but he recognises reality and he knows how shallow is England’s pool of talent.

And a major reason for the perilous shortage may be found on that 5bn gravy train.

Currently, around 30 per cent of players starting matches in the Premier League are qualified to play for England. But as their numbers decrease, so their influence diminishes.

Once, they could benefit from the foreign players around them; now, increasingly, they are crowded out, allotted walk-on parts, fortunate to find a place in the average squad. For English football has become a kind of offshore haven, like Jersey or the Cayman Islands.

Outclassed: The beating England suffered in Sweden was met with a shrug of acceptance by fans

Outclassed: The beating England suffered in Sweden was met with a shrug of acceptance by fans

Outclassed: The beating England suffered in Sweden was met with a shrug of acceptance by fans

It offers its television paymasters compelling, custom-tailored entertainment. It strikes a bargain with the global game: you give us the stars, and we’ll give you passionate crowds, imposing stadia, illustrious tradition and weekends full of Super Saturdays or Soaraway Sundays.

No longer genuine contenders, England are reduced to the role of promoters; no longer a major football nation, merely a desirable venue. And the chickens may be hurrying home to roost.

In a week’s time, Hodgson will attend a football conference in Rio. While there, he will take the chance to look at hotels, training facilities, the places which the manager of a prospective World Cup finalist has to inspect.

But we know, beyond any doubt, that a fear lurks in a recess of his mind. Suppose the planning is rendered redundant Suppose it all goes calamitously wrong Suppose England should fail to qualify for Brazil

This week, they dropped into second place, two points behind Montenegro, who they still must play at home and away.

Their other four remaining fixtures include a trip to Ukraine and a home game with Poland. Nothing is certain, yet failure feels almost unthinkable.

Hodgson knows, though he cannot say,
that the 2014 World Cup trophy lies far beyond England’s reach, that the
likes of Brazil and Argentina, Spain and Germany do not consider them
serious contenders. But pride demands that England should at least
attend the party.

Should
the worst come to pass, there would be the usual search for scapegoats.
The manager would fall on his sword, while the players would express
their sincere regrets while sidestepping the consequences.

Generation game: Of the youngsters being given a chance, will Tom Cleverley and Jack Wilshere be among those to enjoy long and fruitful England careers

Generation game: Of the youngsters being given a chance, will Tom Cleverley and Jack Wilshere be among those to enjoy long and fruitful England careers

But somehow I doubt that the old hysteria would rage through the public at large. Not this time. Sure, the phone-ins would fulminate and the tweeters would wear their thumbs to the bone, but international failure no longer produces the same extremes of emotion, for they have seen too much and come too far.

The farce of World Cup 2010, with the surrender of Fabio Capello’s hapless crew, was possibly a step too far. Dear old Hodgson and his fuzzy-cheeked tyros seem unable to engage them.

Instead, they want what the Premier League has been providing these past 20 years: cosmopolitan slickness and choreographed conflict. Not so much a sport, more a media-friendly ‘product’.

They want tribal warfare waged by mercenaries, clad in the livery of United or City, Liverpool or Chelsea. In short, they want the kind of spectacle which sets the whole world watching at the cost of 5bn.

And unless the charmless confraternity of grasping players, greedy agents and megalomaniac owners should bring the whole edifice crashing around its ears, that is precisely what they will be given.

Wenger deserves this moment of high-wire success

Arsene Wenger enjoyed his dinner last night. Nobody insulted his ability or screamed for his head. Instead, he was treated like a man who knows his business. That is what happens when you win the North London derby.

Wenger would not have been impressed; he has never indulged fools, flatterers or fair-weather friends.

Instead, he would have thought about the next game, the next month, the next challenge to be negotiated in his ceaselessly challenging profession.

Just deserves: Arsene Wenger was, at last, the toast of north London once again

Just deserves: Arsene Wenger was, at last, the toast of north London once again

North London is red: Arsenal thrashed Tottenham

North London is red: Arsenal thrashed Tottenham

The Arsenal manager knows how it works. He knows that his team can be surprisingly attractive and miserably feeble. And he knows that, for much of this season, consistency has been a distant dream.

But if anybody deserves some indulgence from the fans, then Wenger is that man. For he produces football as we want to watch it. He embraces adventure and abhors cynicism. As such, he tends to walk the high wire, a stumble away from the next onslaught.

And those onslaughts have arrived at distasteful intervals this season.

Of course, the Arsenal fans have opinions to offer, especially when they pay the highest ticket prices in the land. But Wenger should have been spared the tedious yelping for ‘silverware’, the mindless prattle of self-publicists.

For the old chap has given the game and the club some service. Without benefit of sheik or oligarch, he is creating a team which could be on the verge of something interesting.

Above all, he has given Arsenal Champions League football for 15 straight seasons. Fifteen seasons!

It is a staggering achievement. Wenger deserves respect for that feat. He also deserved to enjoy his dinner last night.

[related

David Moyes admits relief at Everton win

Moyes admits relief as O'Neill groans: We should have been out of sight

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UPDATED:

18:24 GMT, 10 November 2012

Everton manager David Moyes admitted he did not think he would mark his 400th Premier League match with a victory but was not surprised by side's late turnaround.

Trailing to Sunderland winger Adam Johnson's first goal for the club on the stroke of half-time the Toffees struck twice in quick succession through Marouane Fellaini and Nikica Jelavic to clinch three points with 11 minutes to go.

Topsy-turvy: Nikica Jelavic celebrates as Everton dumped the game on its head to delight the home fans

Topsy-turvy: Nikica Jelavic celebrates as Everton dumped the game on its head to delight the home fans

Back on track: Marouane Fellaini equalises for Everton to start the turnaround

Back on track: Marouane Fellaini equalises for Everton to start the turnaround

MATCH FACTS

Everton: Howard, Coleman, Jagielka, Heitinga, Baines, Mirallas (Naismith 30), Osman, Neville (Vellios 73), Pienaar, Fellaini, Jelavic (Hitzlsperger 86).

Subs not used: Mucha, Oviedo, Distin, Gueye.

Booked: Heitinga

Goals: Fellaini 76, Jelavic 79

Sunderland: Mignolet, Gardner, O'Shea, Cuellar, Rose, Johnson (Vaughan 84), Larsson, Colback (Wickham 88), McClean, Fletcher (Saha 69), Sessegnon.

Subs: Westwood, McFadden, Kilgallon, Bramble.

Booked: Rose, Gardner, Vaughan

Goal: Johnson 45

Att: 35,999

Referee: Lee Mason (Lancashire)

CLICK HERE TO SEE THE LATEST PREMIER LEAGUE TABLE, FIXTURES AND RESULTS

It was Everton's first win in five
matches, keeping them in the top four, and ensured Moyes could end a
landmark game with a smile.

'I thought it was going to be one of
those days. It didn't look as if it was coming,' said the Scot. 'I
thought it looked like a 1-0 to Sunderland – but that was not for us not
trying to keep knocking at the door.

'In the end I think we got what we deserved because we kept at it.

'I thought we played quite well in the first half but found ourselves a goal down and a bit fortunate not to be two down.

'If that had been the case you would have to have said that was unjust.

'We didn't deserve that with our possession, we just hadn't created any clear-cut chances from our good play.

'We needed something because
Sunderland had the third-best defensive record in the Premier League and
they had showed that resilience and made it hard for us to score.

'I thought we kept going and the players showed great character to come from a goal behind.

'Maybe the amount of pressure we had told a little bit.'

Breakthrough: Adam Johnson celebrates opening the deadlock for Sunderland

Breakthrough: Adam Johnson celebrates opening the deadlock for Sunderland

Keeping it up: Tim Howard saw his side maintain their excellent record over Sunderland

Keeping it up: Tim Howard saw his side maintain their excellent record over Sunderland

Diving in: Steven Naismith tries to drag the ball away from the sliding Jack Colback

Diving in: Steven Naismith tries to drag the ball away from the sliding Jack Colback

Sunderland were eventually unpicked
by the vision of Leon Osman and Fellaini. Osman, who received his first
England call-up at the age of 31 this week, twice linked up with
Fellaini, who turned and shot for the first before playing a cheeky
backheel through the legs of John O'Shea for Jelavic to score.

Asked whether Osman warranted a start
against Sweden on Wednesday Moyes said: 'Roy Hodgson picks that team. It is hard enough picking this Everton team without picking Roy's
team.'

The one downside to the afternoon was
an injury to Kevin Mirallas, probably Everton's best player in the
first half hour, which forced the Belgium international off.

Effort: Hard workers James McClean and Seamus Coleman (left) vie for possession

Effort: Hard workers James McClean and Seamus Coleman (left) vie for possession

Well done: Players rush round Johnson to congratulate him on his first league goal

Well done: Players rush round Johnson to congratulate him on his first league goal

Tucked away: Johnson fires his strike past Tim Howard

Tucked away: Johnson fires his strike past Tim Howard

'It looks like he has a bit of a
hamstring injury and it was a miss because we were a bit stodgy after
that, we didn't flow as nicely as we had done,' added the Toffees boss.

Sunderland manager Martin O'Neill,
who thought his side would end their 11-year win-less run against
Everton, was frustrated with the result.

'We should have been out of sight at
half-time. Instead of being one up we should have been three up,' he
said. 'Having said that, the players played brilliantly away from home
against a side who have a great chance of being in the Champions League.

'It was a great performance by the players. To be fair I thought we were exhilarating in the first half.

'We knew we would be under pressure in the second half but I always thought on the break we looked dangerous.

'The second goal epitomised a bit of luck and a bit of misfortune. We are obviously very disappointed.'

Tussle: Sunderland's Danny Rose and Everton's Naismith (behind) battle for the ball

Tussle: Sunderland's Danny Rose and Everton's Naismith (behind) battle for the ball

Respect: Everton players applauding for Remembrance Day before the game

Respect: Everton players applauding for Remembrance Day before the game

Neymar scores stunning goal in 200th match for Santos

200 not out! Neymar caps landmark night for Santos with stunning solo goal

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UPDATED:

08:38 GMT, 18 October 2012

Santos striker Neymar, playing only one day after scoring twice for Brazil against Japan in Poland, shrugged off jet leg to score a stunning individual goal in a 2-2 draw with Atletico Mineiro.

The 20-year-old needed only 12 minutes of his 200th club appearance – a fact he celebrated by wearing a special 'No 200' shirt – to make an impact against Ronaldinho's Mineiro.

Neymar received the ball with his back to
goal just inside the opposing half, flicked it around the outside of
one marker and immediately slipped it past a second to leave both
players sprawling on the ground.

Scroll down to see video of Neymar's brilliant goal

Double up: Neymar celebrated his 200th game for Santos by wearing a commemorative shirt

Double up: Neymar celebrated his 200th game for Santos by wearing a commemorative shirt

He then carried the ball into the penalty area, cut inside another defender and fired a low shot into the corner of the goal to put his side 2-0 ahead.

Neymar only arrived in Brazil on the morning of the game after the 20-hour trip from Wroclaw where he faced Japan in a friendly.

He has missed several Santos games this season due to Brazil call-ups, including the Olympic Games in London, much to the regret of coach Muricy Ramalho.

'Unfortunately, he has not played much for us this year and has been greatly missed,' said Ramalho, whose side are ninth with 42 points from 31 games.

Argentine striker Ezequiel Miralles had put Santos ahead after only 20 seconds, but Atletico Mineiro hit back with goals from Bernard and former Manchester City forward Jo before the half hour.

Mazy: Neymar produced a stunning solo goal to cap what was a memorable night for the man

Mazy: Neymar produced a stunning solo goal to cap what was a memorable night for the man

I am not worthy: Neymar even had time to pay tribute to the man whose throne he's after, Ronaldinho

I am not worthy: Neymar even had time to pay tribute to the man whose throne he's after, Ronaldinho

The game lost momentum after play was halted for 10 minutes following an ugly clash of heads between Mineiro pair Rafael Marques and Leonardo Silva.

Players removed advertising hoardings to try and help the ambulance drive onto the pitch, but it could not get through and Marques had to be taken on a stretcher to the vehicle. He was taken to a hospital but Atletico said he was not seriously hurt.

Bernard also had to leave the pitch in the second half after another clash of heads but did not need hospital treatment.

Mineiro stayed second in the table, nine points behind leaders Fluminense, who drew 2-2 at home to third-placed Gremio despite Moreno's quick dismissal.

The Bolivian international, who played for his country the previous day in a 4-1 World Cup qualifying win over Uruguay, entered with Gremio 2-1 down and was shown a red card for elbowing Rafael Sobis in the 64th minute.

Former Brazil and Real Madrid coach Vanderlei Luxemburgo's side still managed to snatch a point with a 85th minute goal by Ze Roberto.