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Fernando Torres has been ruined by Chelsea – Mauricio Pochettino

Chelsea have ruined the striker who once tormented me, says Saints boss Pochettino

By
David Kent

PUBLISHED:

09:01 GMT, 30 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

09:02 GMT, 30 March 2013

Southampton manager Mauricio Pochettino believes Chelsea might be responsible for the decline of striker Fernando Torres.

During his time at Espanyol, Pochettino was pitted against a fearsome Torres when he broke into the Atletico Madrid first team and the 41-year-old remembers being tormented by the young striker.

Torres left Atletico for Liverpool in
2007 and took to Premier League life exceptionally well. But since a
50million move to Stamford Bridge, the Spain international has
struggled to recapture the devastating form shown in Madrid and on
Merseyside.

Superstar: Fernando Torres burst onto the scene at Atletico Madrid

Superstar: Fernando Torres burst onto the scene at Atletico Madrid

Shell: Torres has been in decline ever since joining Chelsea from Liverpool for 50million

Shell: Torres has been in decline ever since joining Chelsea from Liverpool for 50million

Pochettino, whose Southampton side aim to topple Chelsea at St Mary’s this afternoon, believes Torres has not looked at ease since moving to west London.

'I have played against Torres many times and he scored some goals against me,’ Pochettino told The Daily Star.

'I remember him being a quality player, full of strength and a player who knew which spaces to run into to create chances.

'Sometimes it happens where a player is comfortable and feels happy at a certain club as he was at Atletico and at Liverpool.

'But when you leave that club and join a new team maybe you do not feel as comfortable and as happy and that can affect your performances.

Candid: Pochettino remembers being terrorised by Torres during his time at Espanyol

Candid: Pochettino remembers being terrorised by Torres during his time at Espanyol

'I do not know if Torres will leave Chelsea but what is clear is there is no doubting his quality.'

Jack Cork further stoked the fires before this afternoon’s match by saying he would not swap Saints’ top goalscorer Rickie Lambert for Chelsea’s World Cup winner.

The 31-year-old Liverpudlian has scored 13 goals in his debut Premier League season, whereas Torres has only netted seven times this campaign.

Cork, who spent 14 years at The Bridge, said: ‘Rickie has been different class for us for the last three or four years.

'For someone of his build, his touch is unbelievable. He is great to have in your team.

'Torres and Demba Ba have scored lots of goals in their careers and you don’t pay 50m for someone who isn’t any good.

No way: Jack Cork says he would not swap Torres for Saints striker Rickie Lambert (second right)

No way: Jack Cork says he would not swap Torres for Saints striker Rickie Lambert (second right)

'But if you asked who I’d rather have in my team, I’d say Rickie.'

Cork, 23, heads into this afternoon’s match to face the club he left in 2011, having been at Chelsea since the age of eight but never making a senior appearance.

He added: 'Chelsea was massive for me and from the age of eight it was my dream to play for them. It was frustrating towards the end but I loved it when I was there.

'We had a good set of young players who have all gone on to play a high standard. That was when Chelsea were doing well and winning titles — so I can understand why nobody was given a chance.

'With the managers chopping and changing there is always a lot of pressure on them to win games, so it’s tough to blood youngsters.'

Heavy heart: Cork (left) left Chelsea after 14 years at Stamford Bridge

Heavy heart: Cork (left) left Chelsea after 14 years at Stamford Bridge

Timmy Weah, son of George, is on trial at Chelsea

Which former world player of the year's son is on trial at Chelsea

By
Rik Sharma

PUBLISHED:

23:06 GMT, 28 March 2013

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UPDATED:

00:24 GMT, 29 March 2013

Chelsea are giving a trial to the son of legendary Liberian hitman George Weah.

Timmy, 13, wanted to play in London for the same team his father signed for in January 2000.

Weah joined on loan from AC Milan and scored against rivals Tottenham on his debut. He was only too happy to bring his son to London for a trial.

Tribute: Weah, pictured with the FA Cup in 2000, had a message for his baby son on his shirt

Tribute: Weah, pictured with the FA Cup in 2000, had a message for his baby son on his shirt

'He is talented,' Weah told Talksport.
'We just wanted to give him the opportunity and we also want him to
enjoy the game he has passion for.

'I brought him to Chelsea just for a trial and for a different experience.'

He
added: 'When I left London, I kept ties with Chelsea and when my son
wanted to come to England to play, the first person I called was my
daddy, Gary Staker [the club's liaison officer].

On target: Weah only played for a short while at Chelsea but showed his nose for goal

On target: Weah only played for a short while at Chelsea but showed his nose for goal

'Gary made it happen and Timothy is enjoying it. He has started training already and he is happy.'

Timmy wants to make his own way in the football world and not purely rely on his father's name.

He told Tropigol: 'My dad was one of the greatest players and I want to follow in his footsteps.

'But I also want to make a name for myself. I want to be Timothy Weah, be myself, play my game and still follow in his footsteps while I’m doing that.'

Weah, who played for Monaco, PSG and Man City among other sides, won FIFA World Player of the Year in 1995, and was voted African Player of the Century.

At home: A few pictures of Weah at his home in west London that he occupied whilst with the Blues

At home: A few pictures of Weah at his home in west London that he occupied whilst with the Blues

Sofa king

Weah looking out of his window and on to the Thames

Fulham stalwart Brede Hangeland signs two year contract extension

All smiles as Fulham stalwart Hangeland finally puts pen to paper on new deal, ending years of speculation surrounding his future

By
Sportsmail Reporter

PUBLISHED:

19:25 GMT, 28 March 2013

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UPDATED:

19:25 GMT, 28 March 2013

Fulham captain Brede Hangeland has ended speculation surrounding his future by signing a two-year contract extension at the club.

The 31-year-old's new deal includes an option for a further year, which if exercised would see the Norway international remain at the London club until the end of the 2015/16 campaign.

All smiles: Hangeland had been linked to moves away from Craven Cottage on several occasions.

All smiles: Hangeland had been linked to moves away from Craven Cottage on several occasions.

A statement on Fulham's website confirmed: 'Fulham Football Club is delighted to announce that captain Brede Hangeland has signed a two-year extension to his current contract, with an option for a further year, which will keep the defender at the club until at least the summer of 2015.'

Hangeland, whose existing deal was due to expire at the end of the season, joined Fulham from FC Copenhagen in January 2008 and has since made 233 appearances for the club in all competitions.

'I'm so happy, delighted,” Hangeland said on fulhamfc.com.

'It's taken a long time but we're there now and I hope the club is happy – I'm certainly really happy to have signed.

'I've loved my time with Fulham. It's been a little over five years and I've felt right at home from the very first game.

'I couldn't really see myself leaving, so to finally have signed gives me a great feeling.'

Hangeland was linked with a move to QPR in January, but Fulham rejected two bids from their West London rivals.

He featured in every Premier League game last season for Martin Jol's side, and has appeared 23 times this campaign.

Fulham currently have several players whose contracts are up in the summer, including Mladen Petric, Mark Schwarzer, Chris Baird, Mahamadou Diarra, Giorgos Karagounis and Neil Etheridge.

Mainstay: Hangeland has made 233 appearances for the Cottagers since joining in January 2008

Mainstay: Hangeland has made 233 appearances for the Cottagers since joining in January 2008

Fulham goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer.

Contract up: Goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer (left), forward Mladen Petric (centre) and midfielder Giorgos Karagounis (right) will leave the club in the summer if their contracts are not renewed.

Mladen Petric of Fulham

Greece's Giorgos Karagounis

Jack Wilshere and Theo Walcott out of Arsenal"s Premier League clash with Reading

Crocked Wilshere STILL missing for Arsenal and Walcott is out, too… but Wenger confident Gunners will finish in top four

By
Sami Mokbel

PUBLISHED:

09:56 GMT, 28 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

10:17 GMT, 28 March 2013

Jack Wilshere has been ruled out of Arsenal's Barclays Premier League clash with Reading on Saturday.

The Arsenal midfielder hasn't played for the North London outfit since he injured his ankle in their defeat at Tottenham earlier this month.

Theo Walcott, who picked up a pelvic muscle tear on international duty, will also miss the visit of the relegation-threatened club this weekend.

Sidelined: Jack Wilshere will not be fit to face Reading at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday

Sidelined: Jack Wilshere will not be fit to face Reading at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday

Theo Walcott

Theo Walcott

Blow: Theo Walcott left the England camp early after picking up a groin strain before the San Marino clash

'Wilshere is still out,' said Wenger. 'Walcott is an accident that could have happened.'

The Arsenal boss also insisted he had no issue with England manager Roy Hodgson.

'When it’s competitive for England, like it was in the last two games, the manager has to pick his best team,' added Wenger.

'There's no ideal way when your
international manger is under pressure to deliver. There can be
complications between the two medical departments – because you can send
a player who is half-injured and they still play, so it is about
communication. But we have a good relationship with England.'

Arsenal host Reading on Saturday four
points adrift of rivals Tottenham having played one game less, and
despite the injury concerns at Arsenal, manager Arsene Wenger remains
confident the Gunners will qualify for the Champions League.

'There are nine games to go, five at
home and four away, and with the form we showed at Bayern Munich and
Swansea, I think we have a very good chance of finishing in the top
four.

'We have a special desire to be together at this club. This is a good opportunity for us and we want to grab this chance.'

Reading will arrive at the Emirates
seven points adrift of safety and under a new regime after former
Southampton boss Nigel Adkins was appointed earlier this week.

'We may play a team who are fighting
not to go down, but we fight to get in the top four so those games are
just as important for us, too,' added Wenger.

More follows…

Paula Radcliffe may never compete again

Radcliffe: Foot injury that ruled me out of London 2012 may stop me from competing ever again

with a foot injury and she has not run since.

End of the road Radcliffe has been out injured for eight months

End of the road Radcliffe has been out injured for eight months

Finish line: Radcliffe may not compete again

Finish line: Radcliffe may not compete again

The Brit was hoping to compete in a 10km race this month but she has ruled out that possibility as she continues to suffer complications from her injury.

'Targets have gone out of the window,' Radcliffe told BBC Sport.

'I'm very much in that limbo where I know and accept that realistically it may not be possible.

'But at the same time I have a little window of hope and I would rather be able to finish my career in a race, rather than a race I can't actually get to the start line of.'

Radcliffe has world marathon champion in 2005 and has won two world cross-country titles.

SJA awards: Lawrence Booth wins scoop of the year for Kevin Pietersen texts

Sportsmail's Booth wins scoop of the year at SJA awards for revealing Pietersen texts

PUBLISHED:

22:41 GMT, 25 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

08:10 GMT, 26 March 2013

Sportsmail's Lawrence Booth picked up a prestigious gong at this year's Sports Journalists' Association awards.

Our cricket reporter – who is also the editor of Wisden – led the way with his brilliant story about Kevin Pietersen's text-message scandal last summer.

This was recognised as the scoop of the year at the awards night in London on Monday night.

LAWRENCE BOOTH

Neil Ashton

Recognition: Sportsmail cricket writer Lawrence Booth (left) won the scoop of the year and Neil Ashton (right), Jeff Powell (bottom left) and Jonathan McEvoy (bottom right) were highly commended in their categories

JEFF POWELL

Jonathan McEvoy

Pietersen was revealed to have sent text
messages to members of the South African dressing room about his then
captain Andrew Strauss – later described by Pietersen himself as
'provocative' – which caused an almighty schism in the team's dressing
room.

The scandal led to England's star
batsman being exiled from the squad for the rest of the Test series
defeat against the Proteas. It was also the final straw for Strauss, who
resigned the England captaincy soon after and retired from all cricket.

Meanwhile, Sportsmail's football news correspondent Neil Ashton was highly commended in the specialist correspondent category at the awards, while Jonathan McEvoy was highly commended as a sports news reporter. Boxing correspondent Jeff Powell was highly commended in the feature writer award.

The Mail on Sunday also picked up two prestigious awards, with Patrick Collins named as the columnist of year, while Martha Kelner won the young sports writer award.

Read Lawrence Booth's scoop of the year and his latest Top Spin column
EXCLUSIVE: KP text alert! Pietersen sent messages to opposition during Test

CLICK HERE to read the full award-winning story

The Top Spin: It's the end of an era as throwback Blackwell calls it a day (and ensures he will be a permanent one-cap wonder)

CLICK HERE to read the full column

And don't forget to read Lawrence Booth's latest Top Spin column on Tuesday morning at www.dailymail.co.uk/sport

Ledley King backs Tottenham to win Premier League

Spurs can be Kings of England in two years, says former skipper Ledley

By
David Kent

PUBLISHED:

07:59 GMT, 21 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

11:49 GMT, 21 March 2013

Ledley King believes Tottenham could win the Premier League within two years.

The former Spurs defender, who works as an ambassador at the club following his retirement through injury, is impressed with manager Andre Villa-Boas and his squad.

And King has forecast exciting times ahead for the north London club.

On the up: Tottenham are enjoying a successful season at home and abroad

On the up: Tottenham are enjoying a successful season at home and abroad

'I rate the current Spurs team very highly,' he told the BBC.

'I think we've got a young and ambitious manager who's great and is going to do well for the club.

'I think we've got a great group of players at a good age where they're improving all the time and reaching their peak.

'The way the team are progressing at the minute, hopefully in the next year or two they will be really challenging for the Premier League.'

Heady heights: Ledley King (right) believes Spurs can challenge for the title

Heady heights: Ledley King (right) believes Spurs can challenge for the title

Tottenham are currently fourth in the Premier League as they fight for a place in next season's Champions League.

'It's a big club and you've got to make sure it's not just a one-off, you've got to keep doing it,' King added.

'Hopefully we can qualify this season and continue doing that for the future.'

Arsene Wenger will seeks talks with Roy Hodgson over Jack Wilshere"s use in England"s end-of-season friendlies

EXCLUSIVE: Wenger's friendly fire! Arsenal boss wants showdown talks with England manager Hodgson over Wilshere's use

By
Sami Mokbel

PUBLISHED:

23:00 GMT, 20 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

02:00 GMT, 21 March 2013

Arsene Wenger will seek talks with England manager Roy Hodgson over his use of Jack Wilshere during the end-of-season internationals.

England face the Republic of Ireland on May 29 – 10 days after Arsenal’s final game of the season against Newcastle – before travelling to Rio de Janeiro to face Brazil on June 6.

Both games are friendlies and Arsenal manager Wenger is keen to liaise with Hodgson and the FA to establish a clear plan of how his midfielder should be utilised.

Sidelined: Jack Wilshere hasn't played since suffering an ankle knock in the north London derby

Sidelined: Jack Wilshere hasn't played since suffering an ankle knock in the north London derby

Engine: Wilshere is already a key man for England despite playing for the national side just seven times

Engine: Wilshere is already a key man for England despite playing for the national side just seven times

Wenger was disappointed Wilshere played the full 90 minutes of the 2-1 friendly win over Brazil in February and, understandably, wants to avoid a similar scenario during the summer internationals.

Despite 17 months out with foot and ankle problems, Wilshere has been Arsenal’s best performer this season but Wenger wants Hodgson to go easy during the end-of-season international period, given Wilshere will have featured in what is likely to be an intense race for a top-four spot.

Wenger also wants Wilshere to have maximum rest ahead of next season, which looks set to be one of the most important in the Frenchman’s long tenure at Arsenal.

Wilshere is already showing signs of this season catching up with him. He is currently on the sidelines with an ankle injury picked up in the 2-1 defeat by Tottenham on March 3.

Wenger sent him on a mid-season break to Dubai to aid his recovery from the injury but the trip was also designed to recharge his batteries after a tiring 28-game season. Arsenal hope Wilshere will be able to return to first-team action for the visit of Reading on March 30 but it is more likely the 21-year-old will make his return against West Bromwich Albion on April 6 or Norwich seven days later.

Wenger faces more problems after Wojciech Szczesny’s father accused the manager of making his son a scapegoat and claimed Arsenal ‘played’ with the keeper’s fitness last season.

Szczesny, 22, was dropped for Arsenal’s
Champions League match against Bayern Munich last week after Wenger said
he had been mentally affected by his form, casting doubt over his
future.

Talks: Arsene Wenger will seek clarification from Roy Hodgson on Wilshere's role in friendlies

Talks: Arsene Wenger will seek clarification from Roy Hodgson on Wilshere's role in friendlies

Benched: Wojciech Szczesny's (right) dad Maciej criticised the Arsenal boss

Benched: Wojciech Szczesny's (right) dad Maciej criticised the Arsenal boss

His father, Maciej, who also played for Poland, told Polish newspaper Przeglad Sportowy: ‘Wenger already started to look for the scapegoat. It is not the way the boss should behave. Wojciech has had two serious injuries. He played with one in April and May (last year). He shouldn’t have agreed to play that time, but the coach insisted.

‘Wenger was playing with the young man’s good health and Wojciech agreed foolishly.

‘In my opinion Mr Wenger messed up a lot in April and May.

‘Then in August there was a foot (ankle) injury, after which he played almost instantly. After seven weeks out Wojciech trained for just seven days and played. How on earth can he be on his highest form’

Szczesny Snr added: ‘This last period has not been successful, however, I think my son can be the No 1 goalkeeper over 10 years. He just needs to come back to form.’

VIDEO: Interview with Arsenal and England star Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

Six Nations 2013: Brian O"Driscoll banned for three weeks after stamp on Simone Favaro

Ireland star O'Driscoll given three-week ban for stamping on Italy openside Favaro

By
Rob Wildman

PUBLISHED:

15:08 GMT, 20 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

21:57 GMT, 20 March 2013

Brian O’Driscoll was yesterday banned for just three weeks for stamping on Italy’s Simone Favaro due to his exemplary disciplinary record.

A Six Nations disciplinary panel reduced an intended ban of five weeks after hearing mitigation from the veteran Ireland centre, who said it was only his second yellow card in a 14-year professional career.

Ouch: Brian O'Driscoll was sin-binned for this stamp during Ireland's final Six Nations clash

Ouch: Brian O'Driscoll was sin-binned for this stamp during Ireland's final Six Nations clash

Cooling off: O'Driscoll spent ten minutes watching the match

Cooling off: O'Driscoll spent ten minutes watching the match

O’Driscoll, who can appeal, will miss Leinster’s Amlin Challenge Cup quarter-final at Wasps on Friday, April 5.

The 34-year-old, who has indicated he
may retire following the Lions tour, was yellow-carded after he stamped
on the chest of Favaro in Italy’s win over Ireland in the Six Nations
last Saturday.

At the hearing, the 2005 Lions captain admitted he had committed an act of foul play but denied it warranted a red card.

Sendoff O'Driscoll could have appeared for the final time in the Six Nations

Sendoff O'Driscoll could have appeared for the final time in the Six Nations

However, the panel, chaired by Welsh
official Robert Williams, upheld the citing complaint and decided the
offence should have been punished with a sending-off.

Meanwhile, London Irish centre Jonathan Joseph will join Bath at the end of the season.

Gareth Bale has banana thrown at him – police to investigate

Police hunt for supporter who threw banana at Bale during Tottenham's win over Arsenal

By
Laurie Whitwell

PUBLISHED:

12:07 GMT, 4 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

14:03 GMT, 4 March 2013

Police have launched an investigation after a banana was thrown at Gareth Bale during the north London derby.

Officers are working with Tottenham staff and reviewing CCTV to establish the identity of the supporter who launched the fruit at Bale from the Arsenal section as the forward attempted to take a corner in the 27th minute.

Assistant referee Darren Cann picked up the banana and removed it from the pitch but no further action appeared to be taken at the time.

Incident: The assistant referee holds the banana thrown at Gareth Bale as he went to take the corner

Incident: The assistant referee holds the banana thrown at Gareth Bale as he went to take the corner

Bale and the banana incident

Bale and the banana incident

Targeted: Ex-Arsenal striker Emmanuel Adebayor (right) was also a target for abuse from Gunners fans

Targeted: Ex-Arsenal striker Emmanuel Adebayor (right) was also a target for abuse from Gunners fans

The Metropolitan Police will prosecute the person responsible if located, given it is an offence to throw an object on to a football pitch.

Usually such action carries racist overtones, as when Mario Balotelli was taunted with inflatable bananas during the recent Milan derby, but in this case the yob supporter seemed to be mocking Bale’s appearance.

Those with Arsenal allegiances flocked to Twitter to give misguided congratulations to the culprit.

User ‏@jackAFCmartin posted: ‘The best moment of the match. When an Arsenal fan threw the banana skin at Gareth Bale #Chimp’

Happy days: Bale and Emmanuel Adebayor as Tottenham beat Arsenal at White Hart Lane

Happy days: Bale and Emmanuel Adebayor as Tottenham beat Arsenal at White Hart Lane

Danny O’Reagan wrote: ‘Whoever threw that banana at Gareth Bale is a legend.’

But Robin Bylund provided a reasoned voice when he replied sarcastically: ‘Arsenal “fans” throwing a banana towards Gareth Bale. How classy…’

The FA say they are awaiting a report from their crowd control adviser, who is likely to have noted down the incident, and will make every effort to identify the person responsible.

The act somewhat marred a thrilling game, which Spurs won 2-1, with striker Emmanuel Adebayor also taunted over the horrific shootings in Angola while on international duty with Togo in 2010.