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Sunderland Steven Fletcher and Lee Cattermole ruled out for season with injury

Fletcher and Cattermole ruled out for rest of the season in massive blow for Sunderland

By
Colin Young

PUBLISHED:

14:54 GMT, 27 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

18:04 GMT, 27 March 2013

Sunderland manager Martin O'Neill was this afternoon dealt a devastating double blow when it was confirmed that both Steven Fletcher and Lee Cattermole will miss the rest of the season.

Leading scorer Fletcher suffered ankle ligament damage on international duty with Scotland last week, and midfielder Cattermole had surgery on a persistent knee problem earlier today.

Cattermole, meanwhile, has not played
for Sunderland since the 1-0 home defeat by Arsenal on February 9.

Agony: Fletcher was injured 90 seconds into Scotland's clash with Wales on Friday

Agony: Fletcher was injured 90 seconds into Scotland's clash with Wales on Friday

Lay-off: Sunderland now fear their top scorer could miss the rest of the season after an initial scan

Table

The statement added: 'Cattermole
underwent an operation on his knee earlier today and Fletcher sustained
ankle ligament damage whilst on international duty with Scotland.

'It is not known at this stage if
Fletcher will require an operation, with the injury requiring further
assessment in the coming weeks.

'Both players will play no further part in the Black Cats' 2012-13 Barclays Premier League season.'

The news could hardly have come at a
worse time for O'Neill, whose side find themselves firmly entrenched in
a battle for top-flight survival with eight games to
play.

They face leaders Manchester United
at the Stadium of Light on Saturday desperate to end a run of seven
league games without a victory, which has yielded just three points and
left them only four clear of the drop zone.

Fletcher in particular will be a huge
loss as he is top scorer with 11 goals.

However, having scored five in his
first four games for Sunderland following a 12million move from Wolves, he has managed only one in his last
seven, with the supply lines having dried up alarmingly.

Long-term absence: Lee Cattermole (left) has not played for the Black Cats since February

Long-term absence: Lee Cattermole (left) has not played for the Black Cats since February

Miliband stays at Sunderland

David Miliband is to remain a member of the club's board despite stepping down as MP for South Shields.

The former Labour Foreign Secretary has announced he is leaving UK politics to
take up a post with the US-based charity the International Rescue
Committee.

However, Mr Miliband, who joined the board as vice-chairman and
non-executive director in 2011, will maintain his links with the club.

Chief executive Margaret Byrne told Sunderland's official website: 'David's knowledge and experience have been a tremendous
benefit to Sunderland AFC.

'Naturally we are delighted that he is to continue in his role at the
club, and we also wish him every success with this new chapter of his
life.'

The 26-year-old was injured just two minutes into Scotland's 2-1 home defeat by Wales in Friday night's World Cup qualifier at Hampden Park and was carried from the field on a stretcher.

If he does need surgery, player and manager alike will hope he can return in time for the start of the new campaign.

O'Neill at least has January signing Danny Graham, who has played alongside Fletcher in recent weeks, at his disposal.

Cattermole has been plagued by injuries for much of his time on Wearside and has managed only two senior appearances since the end of November.

He had an injection in his injured knee several weeks ago in a bid to solve the problem once and for all, although O'Neill admitted at the time that an operation was a possibility.

Having visited his specialist again, the decision was taken to perform the surgery and write off the rest of the campaign.

France v Spain preview – Giants prepare to meet in crunch clash in bid to reach World Cup

Le Crunch: All eyes on Paris as France host stuttering Spain in World Cup clash that could send champions tumbling towards play-offs

quarter-final in Donetsk” class=”blkBorder” />

Killer blow: Xabi Alonso opens the scoring for Spain against France in the Euro 2012 quarter-final in Donetsk

All-time Record

Played 32
Spain wins 11
France wins 14
Drawn 7

Real Madrid centre-back Raphael Varane could win his second cap by virtue of his more intricate knowledge of the Spanish forwards.

The Spanish – as is their way – will take nothing less than three points to recover the initiative in Group I with three matches remaining.

'The only thing that changes is that a draw with France now isn't enough,' Cesc Fabregas said. 'But the idea was always to go to France aiming for a victory.

'We will be highly motivated and we will have to bring out the best in ourselves.'

Draw is not enough: Cesc Fabregas, in action here in the return fixture in Gijon, says Spain will be going all out for the win

Draw is not enough: Cesc Fabregas, in action here in the return fixture in Gijon, says Spain will be going all out for the win

European World Cup qualifying Group I

Turning possession into goals is Spain's priority and the country's all-time leading scorer David Villa, who netted on their last visit to Paris in a 2-0 friendly victory in 2010, was confident of success.

'We were going there for a win anyway and now we do so with a stronger motive,' the Barcelona striker said after the Finland game.

'Our way of playing is always the same. Even if we had beaten Finland we would have played the same in Saint-Denis. We aren't thinking of the playoffs, or anything else beyond getting a win against France on Tuesday.'

When Spain beat Italy to win their third straight major title at last year's European Championship, it was unthinkable they could be absent from the Rio football carnival.

Following a run of 24 consecutive qualifying wins, they have slumped to back-to-back draws with France and Finland, having beaten Georgia and Belarus earlier in the campaign.

For once, Spain appear to be there for the taking, though much will depend on striker Benzema, who has scored just three times in his last 23 outings for France.

Certain sections of the French media have called for him to be dropped as a result, but Deschamps has no such intention.

'I believe in Karim,' he said unequivocally.

Thankfully for Deschamps, other sectors of the French attack are in full flow, with winger Franck Ribery and attacking midfielder Mathieu Valbuena in excellent form – particularly Valbuena, who scored a great goal against Georgia and created the other two.

'We ask attacking players to be decisive, and Valbuena is just that,' Deschamps said. 'He's full of confidence and it shows.'

Jubilation: Mathieu Valbuena and Franck Ribery celebrate after the former scores against Georgia

Jubilation: Mathieu Valbuena and Franck Ribery celebrate after the former scores against Georgia

Dropped points: Cazorla and teammates at the end of Spain's 1-1 draw with Finland on Friday evening

Dropped points: Cazorla and teammates at the end of Spain's 1-1 draw with Finland on Friday evening

Deschamps has high praise for Giroud, too, but suggested he could be more useful using his aerial threat against a tiring defence.

'He has that ability, and that's a weapon I can obviously use at any time,' Deschamps said.

Spain's Santi Cazorla knows all about Giroud, playing alongside him for Arsenal, and considers him to be an equal threat to Benzema.

'They are very different. Olivier has killer instincts, a penalty box player,' Cazorla said. 'Karim is a playmaker, he enters in open play more. They are two great players.'

Probable teams:

France: Hugo Lloris; Christophe Jallet, Mamadou Sakho, Raphael Varane, Patrice Evra; Moussa Sissoko, Blaise Matuidi, Yohan Cabaye, Mathieu Valbuena, Franck Ribery; Karim Benzema

Spain: Victor Valdes; Alvaro Arbeloa, Sergio Ramos, Gerard Pique, Nacho Monreal; Xabi Alonso, Sergio Busquets, Xavi, Andres Iniesta; Cesc Fabregas, David Villa

New footage of Webber cutting up Vettel in dangerous move AFTER the race. Watson says ban Vettel

Fresh footage shows fuming Webber cutting up Red Bull team-mate Vettel in dangerous move after Malaysia mayhem

By
Phil Duncan

PUBLISHED:

13:23 GMT, 25 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

15:34 GMT, 25 March 2013

Dramatic new footage has emerged revealing just how serious the feud is between Red Bull team-mates Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber after the Australian pulled a shockingly dangerous maneouvre after the Malaysian Grand Prix had finished.

Red Bull are in turmoil today after Vettel ignored their clear instruction not to challenge Webber at the climax of the race, and the German was forced to issue an apology for undermining the order which has left his colleague considering his Formula One future.

VIDEO: Scroll down to watch the astonishing footage

Chequered flag: Sebastian Vettel slows down after crossing the finishing line in Malaysia

Chequered flag: Sebastian Vettel slows down after crossing the finishing line in Malaysia

Who's that coming up Mark Webber's car zooms into the corner of the camera

Who's that coming up Mark Webber's car zooms into the corner of the camera

Dangerous: Webber steers into the path of Vettel at a furious pace as the German slows down

Dangerous: Webber steers into the path of Vettel at a furious pace as the German slows down

Best of enemies: Webber then speeds off into the distance leaving Red Bull red-faced

Best of enemies: Webber then speeds off into the distance leaving Red Bull red-faced

New footage reveals just how angry
Webber was in the aftermath of the race as he dangerously cuts across
Vettel at high speed to display his fury, only missing his team-mates
car by a matter of inches.

Former McLaren driver John Watson, a
winner of five grands prix, believes Red Bull must take immediate action
against their three-time world champion.

‘The question is, what are the team
going to do to sanction Sebastian Vettel And the only solution I would
find is suspending him for next grand prix,’ Watson told BBC Radio 4.

Dangerous: Mark Webber (left) swerved in front of Sebastien Vettel to show his anger

Dangerous: Mark Webber (left) swerved in front of Sebastien Vettel to show his anger

Punishment: Sebastian Vettel deserves a one-race ban, claims John Watson

Leading the way: Webber was ahead of Vettel until his team-mate's late surge

Leading the way: Webber was ahead of Vettel until his team-mate's late surge

VIDEO: Watch Webber's dangerous move

Out of options: Watson says a fine would do nothing and removing the points is not viable

Out of options: Watson says a fine would do nothing and removing the points is not viable

‘You can’t take the points away from
him and give them to Mark Webber, a fine would be irrelevant, so the
only purposeful way to bring him to book is to say “you will stand out
one race”.’

‘I know that if other drivers in other teams disobeyed a team order they would be suspended or even fired.’

Red Bull cancelled their victory photo
in the aftermath of yesterday’s controversy while it has been reported
that Webber needed to be persuaded to participate in the podium
ceremony.

Usurped: Mark Webber would have won the race had Vettel not disobeyed team orders

Usurped: Mark Webber would have won the race had Vettel not disobeyed team orders

Watson says Red Bull team principal Christian Horner must take action or risk his position being undermined by Vettel.

‘If Christian Horner doesn’t reassert his authority in the team – because he has been totally subjugated by Sebastian Vettel yesterday – then his position in the team is not exactly the role it is designed to be,’ added Watson.

‘The only conclusion I can reach is that Vettel should be suspended for the next grand prix.’

Rafael Nadal inspired by Ronaldo

Nadal takes inspiration from Ronaldo after Brazil legend watches Rafa's winning return

By
Mike Dawes

PUBLISHED:

16:52 GMT, 18 February 2013

|

UPDATED:

16:52 GMT, 18 February 2013

Rafael Nadal is drawing inspiration from Brazilian football great Ronaldo to continue his successful return from injury.

With Ronaldo watching, Nadal took an important step on Sunday by winning the Brazil Open for his first title after a seven-month layoff to treat his left knee. Now he wants to repeat the Brazilian’s successful story of recovery from much more serious injuries.

Nadal said Ronaldo is “an example” to be followed because of his determination to rebound from a series of knee injuries that threatened his career.

Fan: Former footballer Ronaldo (left) watched Rafael Nadal with Brazilian mixed martial artist Anderson Silva

Fan: Former footballer Ronaldo (left) watched Rafael Nadal with Brazilian mixed martial artist Anderson Silva

Despite winning again, the Spaniard is still bothered by his knee and said he is far from fully recovered, although he hopes the victory in front of Ronaldo will mark a new beginning in his career.

'Ronaldo is an example to a lot of people because of all that he was able to achieve despite what he had to go through with all the knee problems in his career,' Nadal said. 'He is definitely an example to me. He’s an example of determination and hard work.'

Ronaldo ended his career as one of the world’s top strikers after overcoming three serious knee operations. The former Barcelona, Real Madrid, Inter Milan and AC Milan striker won two World Cups with Brazil and remains the tournament’s all-time leading scorer with 15 goals.

Nadal said he has always admired Ronaldo, and as a kid proudly took a photo with the striker when he played for Barcelona in the late 1990s.

'He was unstoppable, one of the best players of all time despite all the bad luck he had with the knee,' Nadal said.

The Spaniard was out of action since last year because a torn and inflamed tendon in his knee, an injury that he says is improving but still bothers him from time to time. He downplayed his difficulties compared to Ronaldo’s, but said he now has a better understanding of what the Brazilian had to go through.

'I didn’t have so many problems, I never needed the surgeries,' Nadal said. 'But I can imagine how hard it must have been for Ronaldo with the complicated surgeries that he had to go through.'

Taste of victory: Nadal bites the trophy of the Brazil Open after beating David Nalbandian

Taste of victory: Nadal bites the trophy of the Brazil Open after beating David Nalbandian

Nadal beat former world No. 3 David Nalbandian of Argentina 6-2, 6-3 in Brazil on Sunday, winning his 51st career title and first since beating Novak Djokovic to lift his seventh Roland Garros trophy last June.

The Brazil Open was Nadal’s second tournament since his return. He played at the VTR Open in Chile the week before, losing the singles and doubles final. The final in Brazil was only his eighth singles match since the comeback. He withdrew from the doubles in Sao Paulo to rest his knee for the singles tournament.

Nadal looked far from his best in his first two tournaments and said that the knee injury still limited him physically.

'There are days that the knee still hurts and it’s very complicated,' he said. 'I need some time to keep improving and become more competitive again. Let’s see how it goes.'

Road to recovery: Nadal found some form in Sao Paulo yesterday

Road to recovery: Nadal found some form in Sao Paulo yesterday

The 11-time Grand Slam champion admitted that the level of the competition in Brazil was not as high as in other tournaments but said that it wasn’t bad either, giving him the perfect opportunity to put his knee to test.

Nadal will play another clay-court tournament in Mexico later this month and the goal is to be fully fit again by the time Roland Garros arrives in May, although his future schedule will depend on how the knee holds up. He had intended to play in Indian Wells in March, but on Sunday said that he won’t know whether he will make it until closer to the tournament.

'We are thinking day-to-day, week-to-week,' the 26-year-old Nadal said. 'We’ll see how I feel before making a decision on where I’ll be playing in the near future, it will depend on how the knee improves.'

Match of the Day debate – what needs to change to close the gap on Sky Sports

Colin Murray has gone… but does Match of the Day need a proper shake-up to close the gap on the champions at Sky Sports

.

But pillorying MOTD is no fun. For many of us, it was the football programme to watch when we were growing up; the first show of each new season was eagerly anticipated and some of the analysis and comment provided has stood the test of time.

Remember when Alan Hansen famously declared that 'you will win nothing with kids' back in August 1995 about Manchester United Hansen may have been proven wrong but that is exactly the type of thought-provoking, headline grabbing conjecture it needs to regain.

So after jettisoning Murray how does the BBC, whose first live football commentary – a game between Arsenal and Sheffield United at Highbury – was broadcast 86 years ago today, continue to make the improvements required that will get the MOTD brand back to the required standard

Flagship: Jimmy Hill presented Match of the Day when it was THE show to watch

Flagship: Jimmy Hill presented Match of the Day when it was THE show to watch

Flagship: Jimmy Hill presented Match of the Day when it was THE show to watch

For starters, let the pundits argue. It is tedious letting a presenter ask questions to one man; let the pundits ask questions of each other, let them get wound up. It will show the audience they care and are taking their duties seriously. Nobody ever wants to hear one side of the story.

How about actually sending one of the pundits to a game and doing a brief video diary, getting their reaction immediately after a goal has been scored or a red card has been shown The footage could then be shown after the highlights on MotD and debated accordingly.

Biggest of all, though, why not have a proper shake up of the pundits Some, plainly, are not doing enough. Others state the obvious and making banal observations. If they are not taking their role seriously, find someone who will – and there will be fresh options available next summer.

Leading the way: Gary Neville, Graeme Souness and Jamie Redknapp are key to Sky's success

Leading the way: Gary Neville, Graeme Souness and Jamie Redknapp are key to Sky's success

Another idea would to bring the time the show starts forward; why not aim for 9pm or earlier Let’s be honest, losing Casualty from a prime time slot would not be greeted with dismay – seeing Match of the Day continue to dwindle, however, would be cause for sorrow.

At least in wielding the axe on Murray, a man for whom the mute button was invented, the BBC have recognised that a revamp is required and Chapman, who has a great sporting knowledge and is a journalist, will ask proper questions.

But if the questions that are being aimed at MOTD are to go away, losing Murray cannot be the only change.

So, how would you fix Match of the Day Sportsmail's experts give their verdict…

Charles Sale

There's
a big need for BBC to freshen up the pundits on both Match of the Day
shows . If Liverpool’s insightful Jamie Carragher decides to retire at
the end of the season, he would be an excellent signing for the Beeb but Sky, BT Sport and ITV will also be chasing him.

Follow Charles Sale on Twitter @charliesale

Matt Barlow

Never mind the face for radio and nasal northern tones, Mark Chapman's direct style is the perfect antidote to the failed Murray experiment. He will not sneer and swerve the news issues in an effort to ingratiate himself to famous people on the sofa and he chairs Five Live's Monday Night Club superbly, balancing the weekend issues with the week ahead.

Support him with stronger pundits, pitch for topical guests and generate proper debate. Assuming they can't poach Gary Neville or Graeme Souness from Sky, at least try to bring back Lee Dixon from ITV.

Maybe give Jamie Carragher a whirl. Drop the goofy cartoons and the obsession with big names with bland opinions and dull delivery like Alan Shearer and Michael Owen.

Follow Matt Barlow on Twitter @Matt_Barlow_DM

Insight: Jamie Carragher

Legend: Jamie Carragheris nearing retirement at Liverpool

Insight: Jamie Carragher could fancy a pundit's role when he finally retires at Liverpool

Neil Ashton

Ray Wilkins. Any former player turned professional analyst who takes the time out to go to a match unpaid to watch a player specifically to gen up on them merits a place on the sofa of any football programme.

Wilkins did just that last Saturday, heading to Selhurst Park to watch Wilfried Zaha in action for Crystal Palace against Bolton: 'I've never seen him and when I'm asked about him on Sky I want to be able to be able to talk from a position of strength,' he told me.

It was impressive, if only because it is so rare (Jim White on Sky Sports News is also fanatical about detail and goes to games whenever he can). This should be normal practice for any television football analyst.

Match of the Day could improve their coverage no end by making their analysts go to matches and heading back to the studio full of enthusiasm. It would give them the chance to speak to people at the game from 'their world' – coaches, managers, scourts and former players – and pick up the insight and gold dust that the viewers are begging for in the modern era. Sitting in front of a bank of television screens watching a game does nothing to motivate the guests – get them out there.

Follow Neil Ashton on Twitter @neilashton_

Dedication: Ray Wilkins does his research when it comes to analysing players

Dedication: Ray Wilkins does his research when it comes to analysing players

Talent: BBC's presenter Dan Walker

Talent: BBC's presenter Dan Walker

Laura Williamson

Lighten things up, add a bit of humour and make MOTD2 distinct from Saturday's show by all means, but the programme's aim is to show football highlights, not launch careers in daytime TV.

The excuse for the dire levels of 'analysis' on Match of the Day is the number of games and the lack of time, but there's no such get-out clause on a Sunday night.

A decent pundit like Lee Dixon could really make a name for themselves, but they need a journalist in the presenter's chair to help them do that. Just please, BBC, do not let Robbie 'For me' Savage or Alan 'I'm only here on a Sunday because I went to Anfield yesterday' Hansen anywhere near that studio in Salford. Freshen things up a bit.

Dan Walker would be an ideal presenter but he chooses not to work on Sundays and Jack Humphrey has joined BT, so Mark Chapman does fit the bill.

Less 'Chappers' and more 'Mark' and I might finally be able to stop fast-forwarding the inane chatter between matches.

Follow Laura Williamson on Twitter @laura_mail

Mark Alford

Adrian
Chiles. There I've typed it. His stint on MOTD2 was arguably the best
broadcasting of his career. He actually challenged those tired old pros
to deliver some proper analysis. And his on-screen chemistry with wee
Gordon Strachan made Sunday nights less sermon, more fun.

I'd
also bring back L

ee Dixon – top insight, clever analysis, decent bloke –
and create a special ref's room for Sportsmail's Graham Poll to deliver
his 'official line' on contentious incidents (just keep him focused on
the officials). Oh, and Beckham's free, isn't he I'd be interested to see if there's anything in there…

Follow Mark Alford on Twitter @AlfieDM

Ian Ladyman

My ideal anchor would be Mark Chapman so am delighted to see that he has been given the job. He has the right touch, understands his football and has enough confidence to guide and control his guests rather than indulge and pander to them as others have.

In the experts’ chair I would throw money at Gary Neville and if that didn’t work – which it probably wouldn’t – I would ask Graeme Souness and Lee Dixon if they fancied being the regulars. I would abandon recent attempts to use current players and managers as they rarely say anything of note.

I like Mark Alford’s suggestion of having a referee on hand to explain contentious decisions.

Follow Ian Ladyman on Twitter @Ian_Ladyman_DM

Official line: Graham Poll could offer his expertise on referee decisions

Official line: Graham Poll could offer his expertise on referee decisions

Heads up: Phil Neville has shown potential as a pundit

Heads up: Phil Neville has shown potential as a pundit

Matt Lawton

I’m a bit of a traditionalist when it comes to Match of the Day. For me there’s nobody better than Gary Lineker when it comes to anchoring the show. But I would mix things up a bit on the sofa.

If we accept that Gary Neville, Jamie Redknapp and Graeme Souness are lost to Sky forever, I’d bring in guys like Phil Neville more regularly. Jamie Carragher would be brilliant. You want good talkers with great knowledge and strong opinions.

Follow Matt Lawton on Twitter @Matt_Lawton_DM

Sami Mokbel

Lee Dixon and Ian Wright. Both played for Arsenal, but couldn't be different in terms of their TV personas. Dixon was analysis brilliant during Euro 2012 and he has continued that on ITV this season. But given the channel's lack of live football, he is severely underused. His insight is first class.

Wright, on the other hand, is impulsive, open to snap judgements and uncomfortable to watch at times. But he is compulsive viewing. Together they would be an MOTD match made in heaven.

Follow Colin Young on Twitter @SamiMokbel81_DM

Could you handle it Ian Wright divides opinion on the TV

Could you handle it Ian Wright divides opinion on the TV

Lee Clayton

There
IS quality in the existing MOTD team, they just need to freshen it up.
How many of its viewers have seen Hansen or Lawrenson play Sky add
Jamie Redknapp then Gary Neville and will freshen it up again this
summer. They have the best live coverage, the best highlights programme
(Goals on Sunday) and the Beeb has been left behind.

More analysis,
insight and use of Prozone or Opta stats to back up their argument. Gary
Lineker is still the No 1 football presenter, but Mark Pougatch from 5 Live would be ahead of 'Chappers' in my line-up. Or if you want a
completely different programme on Sunday nights for the follow-up, how
about Danny Baker Excellent broadcaster, football fan and all-round Mr
know-it-all.

Follow Lee Clayton on Twitter @LeeClayton_

Colin Young

Put Goals On Sunday on BBC1 on Sunday night, the programme fronted by Jeff Stelling with his enthusiasm and love of the game alongside Chris Kamara. Kammy's insight and analysis of games and key incidents is always well researched, spot on and interesting.

The array of his Sunday guests would be welcome on the MOTD sofa too but the pick of the pundits right now is definitely Gordon Strachan. Hope he can manage Scotland as well as he can talk.

Follow Colin Young on Twitter @cyoungdailymail

Passion: Danny Baker

Passion: Chris Kamara

Passion: Both Danny Baker (left) and Chris Kamara love the game and have a huge following

Neil Moxley

I'd
like to see a former pro in the hot-seat a la Lineker. I think the BBC
should look towards Matt Holland, clearly a little bit above the norm as
far as ex-footballers go. Lee Dixon should be the MOTD2 analyst.

Then
I'd like to see some input from the officials – either a current or
former ref – but only for them to provide insight on refereeing
decisions – any other comments would leave them open to claims of bias.
Finally, get a current manager or player to fill in the line-up.

Follow Neil Moxley on Twitter @Neil_Moxley_DM

Paul Newman

The thing about Match of the Day 2 is
that it dared to be different and certainly should be different to the
Saturday show. The sight of Alan Hansen on there this season has made my
heart sink. Colin Murray might not be everyone's cup of tea but I liked
the irreverence. Adrian Chiles was at his best when he presented the
programme.

Follow Paul Newman on Twitter @newman_cricket

Guiding hand: Adrian Chiles (right) was lured to ITV from the BBC

Guiding hand: Adrian Chiles (right) was lured to ITV from the BBC

Les Snowdon

It is time for the Beeb to build this increasingly important programme around a retired pro with genuine insight and opinion.

Step forward Jamie Carragher…the presenter needs to be a journalist who is not afraid to pursue genuine news lines and who can tease the best out of Carragher.

Luke Benedict

Gabby Logan. This is an opportunity to give MOTD2 the makeover it so desperately needs. In the modern Premier League era, Sunday hosts the bigger, better matches yet the flagship highlights show has descended into fluffy guff. Cut the painful, MTV-style build-ups and just show us the highlights. Then talk about it.

The programme needs to be anchored by a specialist broadcast journalist who can bring the expertise out of former players turned pundits – who otherwise revel in banal banter if the studio descends into an old boys' club.

Follow Luke Benedict on Twitter @L_Benedict_DM

Mike Anstead

Match of the Day is stale. Gary Lineker is a good presenter but he is let down by tired, cliched pundits like Alan Hansen and Mark Lawrenson. They look like they are bored of football. Most viewers are bored of them.

Losing Lee Dixon was a big blow. He brought intelligence analysis and insight. You could tell he had done his research. Perhaps they need to bring him back.

Sky hit a crossroads when Andy Gray and Richard Keys left. But they tackled the problem head-on by going for Gary Neville and promoting bright young talent like Ed Chamberlain. The BBC are also at a similar junction – but they need to attack the root of the problem.

Michael Owen and Phil Neville both have potential, but they'd need tough training and commitment like Neville at Sky. You'v

e got to want to be a pundit. And how about James Richardson as host I last saw him presenting World's Strongest Man. What a waste.

Follow Mike Anstead on Twitter @mike_anstead

Alex Kay

Gary Richardson. He asks probing, intelligent questions every Sunday morning on the radio. It is rare a news line does not come out of his show. We want proper analysis and journalism – not quirky, patronising nonsense.

Follow Alex Kay on Twitter @Alex_Kay_DM

Laurie Whitwell

He
would probably think it the worst idea initially, but if Paul Scholes
could be convinced how valued his opinion would prove I would switch on
each week. He knows the game inside out, has played in all manner of
situations, and in my eyes is the most talented player Englishman of his
generation.

So his
insight and knowledge would prove fascinating. He would be able to
disect match action with precision and perhaps provide dressing room
tidbits. Once he retires for good, of course.

Follow Laurie Whitwell on Twitter @lauriewhitwell

Phil Gradwell

I would get Lee Dixon back. I feel he is marginalised at ITV and is not really suited to the pre-match/half-time/full-time pundit role, especially when ‘straight-talking’ Roy Keane takes over. Dixon is much better when he has had time to analyse a match and can pick out incidents and make you see something slightly differently.

At the moment, I rarely watch the analysis on MOTD as I don’t think they’ll tell me anything I didn’t already know, whereas Dixon does.

Follow Phil Gradwell on Twitter @GraddersOnline

Chris Cutmore

The last thing Match of the Day needs is another matey-matey, back-slapping host to massage the egos of the old boys by bringing up their past glories. It needs someone not afraid to ask real, probing questions, a journalist rather than an ex pro – how about the superb Ian Dennis of 5Live

But, frankly, a new presenter isn’t enough to shake MOTD out of its slumber (Alan Hansen certainly sleepwalks his way through each episode). So let’s take a broom and clear out the tired old pundits and the squeaky, hyperventilating commentators while we’re at it.

Follow Chris Cutmore on Twitter @Chris_Cutmore

James Andrew

James Richardson is the man the BBC need to breath new life into Match of the Day. The presenter was hugely popular as the face of Football Italia in the 90s. His relaxed style of presenting would suit the MOTD2 format yet he is informed enough to ask the key questions.

As for pundits, a younger breed is needed, people who can relate to the game today, not the 1980s. Danny Murphy is being groomed by Sky and is someone who is intelligent and articulate, so if the BBC could poach him he could provide fresh insight.

Follow James Andrew on Twitter @JamesAndrew_

Alex Horlock

I'd give Mark Pougatch a shot at hosting. He's been in the game for years on BBC 5Live and has done a tremendous job time and again. He's been covering the live football to an incredibly high standard with the Beeb and has proven how capable he is to entice listeners. What little he's done on television, he's looked assured. To accompany him, I'd keep Alan Hansen and make sure Pat Nevin was on the panel every week – he's a near-flawless pundit.

Follow Alex Horlock on Twitter @alexhorlock

Daniel Sturridge and Thomas Ince move closer to Liverpool switch

Sturridge and Ince edge closer to Liverpool switch as Rodgers plans 18m winter raid

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UPDATED:

00:16 GMT, 12 December 2012

Liverpool will unveil a new 18million strike force in January after taking significant steps to securing deals for Daniel Sturridge and Thomas Ince.

It has been Brendan Rodgers wish for Liverpool to get their business in the New Year done early and they now are on the brink of landing their two prime targets.

Chelsea forward Sturridge is expected to cost Liverpool in the region of 12million, while they will have to pay Blackpool in the region of 6million to take Ince back to Anfield 18 months after letting him leave for 250,000.

Double bubble: Sturridge and Ince look set for a switch to Anfield

Double bubble: Sturridge and Ince look set for a switch to Anfield

Double bubble: Sturridge and Ince look set for a switch to Anfield

Sturridge, who is currently in Japan with Chelsea at the Club World Cup, almost joined Liverpool in August but did not want to move on an initial loan deal. Rodgers, though, has remained an admirer and his transfer will be completed when the window opens.

Ince, meanwhile, will also be brought in to ease the burden on leading scorer Luis Suarez. He left Anfield in August 2011 and has since made eye-catching progress at Bloomfield Road, winning five England Under 21 caps this season.

Rodgers said last month he was looking for players “who would really help take the club forward” and both 20-year-old Ince and Sturridge, 23, fit the criteria of players who Liverpool look to buy. Rodgers remains keen on Arsenal’s Theo Walcott but he would be a signing for next summer.

It promises to be a significant transfer window for how Rodgers shapes Liverpool’s squad. He remains on the look-out for a left-back, as Stewart Downing has been told he is free to leave if they receive a suitable offer.

But whether Joe Cole follows suit is not certain. The former England midfielder made a significant contribution to Sunday's 3-2 win at West Ham, scoring Liverpool’s crucial second goal and Rodgers has challenged Cole to maintain that form.

'I'm just going along game by game,’
said Rodgers. ‘It's not just about the games. Every player gets a chance
every single day to show what they are all about. Joe just has to
continue to look to get that consistency in his fitness. He's a terrific
lad and I feel for him at times. He's working so hard.’

Short on options: Liverpool are relying heavily on Suarez with Carroll out on loan

Short on options: Liverpool are relying heavily on Suarez with Carroll out on loan

Short on options: Liverpool are relying heavily on Suarez with Carroll out on loan

Cole has never given any indication that he wants to leave Anfield and has stated several times his determination to become a success on Merseyside. He hopes to use his performance at Upton Park as a catalyst for a prolonged spell in the squad.

'I am going in every day and just giving my all,’ said Cole. ‘That is all I can do. When I am called upon, I will do the best job that I can. My only focus is on the next game and trying to keep my place in the squad for when we play Aston Villa.

'We are trying to push on to get our third win in a row and take the club forward. The goal meant a lot to me because it came at a crucial time in an important game.

'It has been difficult recently but I have scored in my last two appearances and I want to keep the sequence going if I can.'

Attacking options: Rodgers knows he has to boost his front line

Attacking options: Rodgers knows he has to boost his front line

Justin Rose in contention at Australian Open

Rose in contention in Sydney but blows chance to share lead with Senden

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UPDATED:

11:28 GMT, 8 December 2012

Justin Rose will head into the final round of the Australian Open two strokes off the lead after a late stumble cost him a share of the overnight lead at The Lakes in Sydney.

Rose had held a two-shot advantage in the afternoon but spoiled his round with consecutive bogeys on the final two holes to finish the day on five under overall.

Despite that the world No 4 remains firmly in contention to end 2012 on a high with his third-round two-under-par 70 leaving him in second place behind local hopeful John Senden.

In with a chance: Justin Rose is two shots behind the leader at the Australian Open

In with a chance: Justin Rose is two shots behind the leader at the Australian Open

It is the second consecutive year Senden has held the 54-hole lead at the tournament and Rose is expecting a tough battle when they are paired tomorrow with high winds expected.

'I hear the wind's going to switch and blow just as hard,' Rose said.

'Whoever literally stands up could win the golf tournament, it could be last man standing.

'I think it's going to be a battle – but I'm excited, as long as it doesn't get out of control and blow too hard, it's going to be a fun day to try and hit some shots.

'It's going to be my last round of the year and I'd like to go out on a high note.'

Senden, who had led after the opening round, had to withstand a shaky start today as he bogeyed his opening two holes to fall behind a cluster of seven players who briefly held the lead.

Leading the way: John Senden is top of the leaderboard going into the final round

Leading the way: John Senden is top of the leaderboard going into the final round

But the 2006 Stonehaven Cup winner made his charge on the back nine, producing an eagle on the par-five 11th and adding consecutive birdies from the 13th to card a two-under 70 and sit at seven under overall.

'It was a day of just trying to do my best to stay up there and it's nice to be leading the golf tournament,' Senden said.

'I thought the last two holes were pretty much close to the edge – it was so windy out there it was hard to hit the ball straight.'

Matt Jones (69), Peter Senior (69) and Kieran Pratt (70) are level in third place a shot behind Rose.

Pratt stole the outright lead with spectacular eagle at the 11th but his stint at the top of the leaderboard ended on the very next hole with a bogey.

Champion in 2001, Stuart Appleby and his American playing partner Kyle Stanley both posted two-under 70s to be three under for the tournament alongside Cameron Percy (72).

Home favourite: Adam Scott ponders his options during the third round

Home favourite: Adam Scott ponders his options during the third round

Pre-tournament favourite Adam Scott is a shot further back among a group of nine players in a share of ninth after posting his second straight 71.

Scott burst out of the blocks with consecutive birdies but had given both shots back by the fifth hole to make the turn in level par.

He mixed two bogeys and three birdies on the way home and will need something special on Sunday to claim his second Australian Open title, trailing by five shots.

Scott Gardiner fired the low round of the day, a four-under 68, to sit a further shot back alongside amateur Cameron Smith (69) and defending champion Greg Chalmers (69).

Geoff Ogilvy is also at one under after carding an adventurous 70 that included an eagle and a double bogey.

Struggling: Tom Watson had a round to forget in Sydney

Struggling: Tom Watson had a round to forget in Sydney

Meanwhile, veteran Tom Watson made a move in the wrong direction with a six-over 78.

'It was ugly out there today for me, very ugly,' Watson said immediately after his round.

'I struggled on the practice area warming up, I didn't have any feel for the club and didn't put the clubface on the ball.

'I'm not blaming anything but I woke up at 3 o'clock this morning and couldn't go back to sleep and I'm jetlagged pretty good coming back from South Africa.'

Premier League Golden Boot race – Who"s the most clinical of Demba Ba, Michu, Luis Suarez and Robin Van Persie

The Premier League's top scorer race is hotting up… But who's the most clinical of Ba, Michu, Suarez and Van Persie

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UPDATED:

12:36 GMT, 6 December 2012

We may be about to enter the deep freeze of winter, but the race for the Premier League’s Golden Boot award is hotting up.

Four players are currently tied on ten goals apiece – Demba Ba of Newcastle, Michu at Swansea, Luis Suarez at Liverpool and Manchester United’s Robin Van Persie – as they jostle to be the league’s top scorer.

Suarez was out in front entering the weekend but his failure to score against Southampton allowed Michu, who grabbed two late strikes at Arsenal, and Van Persie, who scored the winner at Reading, to pull level.

And then on Monday night, Demba Ba's double in Newcastle's 3-0 win over Wigan allowed him to catch up.

Marksmen: Four players - (left to right) Luis Suarez, Michu, Robin Van Persie and Demba Ba - are now locked on ten goals apiece at the top of the Premier League top scorers chart

Marksmen: Four players – (left to right) Luis Suarez, Michu, Robin Van Persie and Demba Ba – are now locked on ten goals apiece at the top of the Premier League top scorers chart

THE CURRENT CHART

Ten Goals
Demba Ba (Newcastle United)
Michu (Swansea City)
Luis Suarez (Liverpool)
Robin Van Persie (Manchester United)

Nine Goals
Jermain Defoe (Tottenham Hotspur)

Eight Goals
Marouane Fellaini (Everton)

Seven Goals
Carlos Tevez (Manchester City)

Six Goals
Gareth Bale (Tottenham Hotspur)
Edin Dzeko (Manchester City)
Steven Fletcher (Sunderland)
Rickie Lambert (Southampton)

Poised just behind them ready to strike are Tottenham’s Jermain Defoe on nine goals and Everton’s Marouane Fellaini on eight.

But when our four ‘Perfect Ten’ leading goalscorers are broken down and analysed, very different styles and patterns emerge in the way they grab their Premier League goals.

Of the four, it’s only Suarez that has a mixture of goals from inside and outside the penalty area. The Uruguayan is almost as equally capable of hitting the target from long range than finishing from inside the area – four of his ten have come from outside.

The other three, by contrast, are more poacher-like – Michu and Ba can claim just one from beyond 18 yards, while all of Van Persie’s have come from close range.

Michu, who certainly wins the ‘Best Value’ contest at just 2m, also springs a surprise with four headed goals this season, though the other six have been with his favoured left-foot.

Van Persie is the most ambidextrous, scoring six with his left, three with his right and one with his head. Ba and Suarez have two headers apiece.

It’s clear that Suarez is carrying the Liverpool attack in a good number of games – he has vastly more touches of the ball than the others. His total of 906 in the 15 matches so far is a long way ahead of the second-placed Michu, on 670.

Back of the net: Luis Suarez of Liverpool knows where the goal is, having scored ten already this season in the Premier League

Back of the net: Luis Suarez of Liverpool knows where the goal is, having scored ten already this season in the Premier League

Revelation: 2m summer signing Michu has netted ten times for Swansea this season, including twice against Arsenal last weekend

Revelation: 2m summer signing Michu has netted ten times for Swansea this season, including twice against Arsenal last weekend

CONTRIBUTIONS

Ba – 10 of Newcastle's 17 league goals (59%)

Suarez – 10 of 19 (52%)

Michu – 10 of 23 (43%)

Van Persie – 10 of 37 (27%)

A lot of those do seem to come in the
danger areas, however, with 19 per cent of Suarez’s contributions inside
the area compared to 12.7 per cent of Ba’s and 12.6 per cent of Van
Persie’s.

The Dutchman does seem to be the most unfortunate, with four efforts coming back off the woodwork.

So who can claim to be the most deadly In terms of shooting accuracy, that would appear to be Ba who has a good ratio of 55.1 per cent on target, but his shots to goals ratio is down at 20.4 per cent.

Clinical: Robin Van Persie scores the winner in Manchester United's 4-3 win at Reading on Saturday

Clinical: Robin Van Persie scores the winner in Manchester United's 4-3 win at Reading on Saturday

Lethal: Demba Ba, who also has ten goals this season, celebrates opening the scoring for Newcastle against Wigan on Monday night

Lethal: Demba Ba, who also has ten goals this season, celebrates opening the scoring for Newcastle against Wigan on Monday night

Suarez struggles to make an impression in terms of the stats but this is because he has far more chances that the others – his shooting accuracy is 37.7 per cent and his shots to goals is 14.5 per cent.

Michu edges out Van Persie in both the shooting accuracy percentage and the shots to goals ratio, suggesting the Spaniard is more likely to tuck away a chance when it comes his way.

The statistics in full (Source: Opta)

Enlarge

Premier League Top scorers statistics table

Luis Suarez poses with 10-goal Golden Boot award in front of Bill Shankly"s famous message

Suarez collects goal trophy in front of a famous Shankly message: 'Hold your head up high and share the glory'

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UPDATED:

15:14 GMT, 30 November 2012

PREMIER LEAGUE'S TOP SCORERS

Luis Suarez (Liverpool) Goals: 10
Robin van Persie (Man United) Goals: 9
Demba Ba (Newcastle) Goals: 8
Michu (Swansea) Goals: 8
Jermain Defoe (Tottenham) Goals: 7
Marouane Fellaini (Everton) Goals: 7

It was a famous quote from Bill Shankly that sits on the wall at the Liverpool training ground.

It displays his love for 'the Liverpool family' and the success he created.

Another man who has taken to life at Anfield like a duck to water is Luis Suarez.

Striker Suarez has won the Barclays Race for the Golden Boot ‘10-goal’ award after being the first player this season to reach 10 goals in the Premier League.

Proud: Luis Suarez holds up his award for the Race For The Golden Boot

Proud: Luis Suarez holds up his award for the Race For The Golden Boot

Leading the way: Suarez (right) was in training this afternoon

Leading the way: Suarez (right) was in training this afternoon

FROM SHANKLY TO SUAREZ…

Luis Suarez stood, proudly holding his trophy, in front of a renowned Bill Shankly quote emblazoned on the wall.

The quote from the legendary former manager of the club references a desire to be remembered as a man of the people of Liverpool.

It reads: 'Above all, I would like to be remembered as a man who was selfless, who strove and worried so that others could share the glory, and who built up a family of people who could hold their heads up high and say “We’re Liverpool”.'

On receiving the award Suarez was
quick to praise Brendan Rodgers for the award — believing the ‘free
number nine’ role the new manager has given him has made him so
effective.

‘The manager has been a huge
influence, not just on me but on every single player at the club this
season. The position I am playing now is really the one I like the most —
a free number nine.

‘The manager tells me I can score goals and fills me with confidence to do well for the team.’

Without Luis Suarez, who tops the scoring charts with 10 goals and also has two assists, Liverpool would be second bottom.

They would only have one win to their credit instead of three and 10 fewer points. More worryingly, they would have lost 10 matches and be in real trouble.

Suarez has earned Liverpool at least a
point on six occasions in the league this season. Without the
Uruguayan, Brendan Rodgers would be in serious peril.

Opta
statistics show United are just as reliant on Robin van Persie. Without
the Dutchman's nine goals, United would have just three wins instead of ten, and
seven draws instead of none.

Their
goal difference would be just +2 instead of a healthy +14 and they’d
have half the points of bitter rivals Manchester City.

Suarez will be hoping to stay ahead of the chasing pack this weekend as Liverpool welcome Southampton to Anfield. Newcastle's Demba Ba and Swansea's Michu trail Suarez and Van Persie with eight goals each.

All smiles: Suarez was sharing a joke as he prepared with his team-mates for the visit of Southampton

All smiles: Suarez was sharing a joke as he prepared with his team-mates for the visit of Southampton

SUPER SUAREZ IN NUMBERS THIS SEASON

Proud: Luis Suarez

Team: Liverpool
Appearances: 14
Minutes On Pitch: 1,257

Goals: 10
Minutes per goal: 126
Shots On Target: 25
Shots Off Target: 41
Shooting Accuracy: 38%
Chance Conversion: 15%

Blocked Shots: 18
Assists: 2
Chances created (inc. Assists): 36
Mins per chance created: 35
Total Passes: 494
Pass Completion: 76%

Dribbles & Runs: 135
Dribble Completion: 36%

Liverpool’s record with Suarez’s goals and assists:
Pld 14 W 3 D 7 A 4 F 18 A 18 (0) Pts 16

Record without Suarez:
Pld 14 W 1 D 3 L 10 F 6 A 18 (-12) Pts 6

Andreas Granqvist wanted by QPR

QPR want 4.5m Swedish star Granqvist to shore up defence for relegation battle

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UPDATED:

08:43 GMT, 20 November 2012

Rock-bottom QPR are eyeing a January swoop for Genoa's Swedish international defender Andreas Granqvist.

The 27-year-old had an unsuccessful season at Wigan back in 2007-08 but he has emerged as one of the leading centre backs in Serie A after moving to Genoa in June 2011.

Highly-rated: Granqvist (right) has emerged as one of the leading defenders in Serie A

Highly-rated: Granqvist (right) has emerged as one of the leading defenders in Serie A

International: Granqvist has 27 caps for Sweden

International: Granqvist has 27 caps for Sweden

Mark Hughes is hanging on to his job
at Loftus Road by the skin of his teeth after last weekend's 3-1 defeat
at home to Southampton, but he is hopeful of persuading owner Tony
Fernandes to sanction a 4.5million move for Granqvist.

A Daily Mirror source
said: 'There is an interest from Queens Park Rangers for Granqvist, but
Liverpool and Newcastle are also considering doing something in
January.'

Granqvist impressed during Sweden's 4-2 win over England last week.