Tag Archives: losing

Sir Alex Ferguson is as hungry as ever at 71

'Grumpy Scot' Ferguson won't go quietly from United… and he's proving to be as hungry as ever at the age of 71

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UPDATED:

22:31 GMT, 30 December 2012

Steve Clarke called him 'a typical grumpy Scot'. One half of Ant and Dec accused him of losing the plot. Others will be less kind. As he turns 71 on Monday, Sir Alex Ferguson couldn't care less.

Manchester United are top of the Barclays Premier League and halfway towards reclaiming the title. They head for Wigan on Monday seven points clear of Manchester City and with their manager in the rudest of health.

Referee Mike Dean and his assistants discovered that to their cost on Boxing Day. Newcastle manager Alan Pardew complained and Ferguson responded by not only belittling Pardew but the whole of Tyneside just for the hell of it.

Rant: Sir Alex Ferguson labelled Newcastle a 'wee club' after blasting officials at Old Trafford

Rant: Sir Alex Ferguson labelled Newcastle a 'wee club' after blasting officials at Old Trafford

Fergie is at that age when you no longer have to care. Anyone who thought he would let the furore over his 'wee club in the North East' comment get in the way of securing another win for his team was fooling themselves.

Granted, the United boss was conspicuous by his absence on the touchline for 70 minutes of Saturday's 2-0 win over West Bromwich Albion.

Rarely had he played such a minor role at his Theatre of Dreams, preferring to let assistant Mike Phelan venture occasionally into the technical area. But when United needed him, when the flow of the game changed and West Brom began to press for an equaliser, Ferguson couldn't help himself.

He stepped forth into the wind and rain to rally his players and turn up the heat on referee Jon Moss and his assistants.

At one point, as he berated Andy Garratt for awarding a throw-in against his team, the linesman skipped sideways down the touchline towards him and patted Ferguson playfully on the back without taking his eyes off the game.

The manager's scowl immediately dissolved into a smile. It was a wonderful moment. For all that Ferguson undoubtedly got wrong with his behaviour on Boxing Day, it was a reminder that good man-management can defuse the most heated situation.

Others are less prepared to tolerate Fergie's outbursts. TV celebrity and Newcastle fan Declan Donnelly took to Twitter to condemn what happened last week.

Gentle side: Ferguson was laughing before his team's victory over West Brom

Stern: Ferguson stands in front of fourth official Phil Dowd

Stern: Ferguson stands in front of fourth official Phil Dowd (right) and shows his gentler side (left)

Passion: Ferguson, who turns 71 on Monday, is as hungry for success as he ever has been

Passion: Ferguson, who turns 71 on Monday, is as hungry for success as he ever has been

Escaped: Ferguson wasn't punished by the FA for ranting at the linesman and referee

Escaped: Ferguson wasn't punished by the FA for ranting at the linesman and referee

Escaped: Ferguson wasn't punished by the FA for ranting at the linesman and referee

'Has anyone seen his plot' asked Dec. 'He seems to have lost it. Majorly. Lost huge respect for him, both for his actions during and words after the #nufc game…the beginning of the end methinks.'

West Brom boss Clarke has been there from the start. Three months after Ferguson came down from Scotland to take over at Old Trafford in November 1986, Clarke left St Mirren for Chelsea.

The 49-year-old has faced his fellow Scot as a player and coach at Chelsea, Newcastle, West Ham and Liverpool on countless occasions since.

'He's a typical grumpy Scot,' said Clarke. 'He likes to go chasing. He hasn't lost his hunger or his desire. I worked with Sir Bobby Robson at a similar age. He was maybe not quite as aggressive but he was the same. He had that determination and will to win. It's great to see.

'I don't know if I'd last until 71. I think it would be great to think there could be someone like that in the future, someone who has that longevity, but the way the game has gone, it's more short-term. 'It will be really difficult, if not impossible, to match his achievements,' Clarke added.

Typical: West Brom manager Steve Clarke described his counterpart as a 'grumpy Scot'

Typical: West Brom manager Steve Clarke described his counterpart as a 'grumpy Scot'

Ferguson will not dwell on Saturday's win or his 71st birthday any more than he did the events of last week. It's just not in his nature.

The next game is all that matters and Ferguson and his players do not need reminding that, on New Year's Eve last year, United lost at home to bottom-of-the-table Blackburn Rovers, or that another shock defeat at Tuesday's opponents Wigan in April triggered their collapse in the title race.

'We have to use the bad experiences we had last year,' said defender Patrice Evra ahead of their return to the DW Stadium.

'We lost at this time against Blackburn and I remember when we lost 1-0 at Wigan, we showed nothing. It was a really bad performance.

'This year, there will be no excuse. We will just go there, play like Manchester United and make sure we get the three points because it's really important we do that.'

Cruising: United eased past West Brom to stay seven points ahead of Manchester City

Cruising: United eased past West Brom to stay seven points ahead of Manchester City

Cruising: United eased past West Brom to stay seven points ahead of Manchester City

England paceman Stuart Broad to have second scan on heel injury

Broad suffers setback with England paceman to have second scan on heel injury

PUBLISHED:

07:17 GMT, 11 December 2012

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UPDATED:

07:50 GMT, 11 December 2012

Stuart Broad was sent for a scan on Tuesday after a recurrence of his heel injury.

England's Twenty20 captain suffered
more discomfort in the Nagpur nets, where the tourists are
preparing for the final Test against India.

Setback: Stuart Broad has been troubled by a heel injury

Setback: Stuart Broad has been troubled by a heel injury

England have two Twenty20 matches next week to round off their tour before Christmas. Eoin Morgan is the Twenty20 vice-captain.

Broad, who first had a scan on the problem during England's second tour match in Mumbai last month, went on to play in the first two Tests before losing form.

An update on the injury to his left heel is expected later on Tuesday.

More to follow

Ireland 46 Argentina 24: Gilroy announces himself as super Ireland thrash lacklustre Pumas

Ireland 46 Argentina 24: Gilroy announces himself as super Ireland thrash tame Pumas

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UPDATED:

18:06 GMT, 24 November 2012

Ireland reacted to a potentially critical moment in Declan Kidney's reign as coach by posting a record victory over feeble Argentina at the Aviva Stadium.

The seven-try rout of opposition that clearly had nothing left in the tank after a long year guarantees Ireland's place among the second seeds for the 2015 World Cup draw.

It also concluded their five-Test losing streak – their worst sequence of results since 1998 – and relieved the pressure on under-fire Kidney.

A star is born: Craig Gilroy shone on his Test debut for Ireland

A star is born: Craig Gilroy shone on his Test debut for Ireland

A star was born in the shape of Ulster 21-year-old Craig Gilroy, who capped an outstanding Test debut with a brilliant finish for injury-depleted Ireland's opening try.

Either by using slick footwork or bulldozing through tackles, Gilroy tormented Argentina throughout and was involved in the build-up of three more tries.

Jonathan Sexton crossed twice and skilfully directed a dynamic attacking display by Ireland that will have done his chances of becoming the Lions' Test fly-half no harm.

Two up: Tommy Bowe scores his second try of the game for Ireland

Two up: Tommy Bowe scores his second try of the game for Ireland

Winger Tommy Bowe also finished with two tries and there were further touch downs for hooker Richardt Strauss and full-back Simon Zebo.

The scoreline surpassed Ireland's previous best against Argentina – a 29-9 triumph at the same venue in 2010 – and represented one of their finest moments in one of Test rugby's unlikeliest rivalries.

It was exactly the result and performance they needed after facing criticism for their collapse in their Guinness Series opener against South Africa.

The opening 90 seconds were little indication of what was to come as first Sexton's kick-off failed to travel 10 yards and then they conceded a penalty at the breakdown.

An 11th-minute scrum provided the platform for Ireland to take the lead with Gilroy supplying the magic.

Running the show: Ireland fly-half Jonathan Sexton scores a try

Running the show: Ireland fly-half Jonathan Sexton scores a try

The 21-year-old came racing off his wing to take an inside pass from Sexton around the 22 and beat three defenders as he weaved a path to the whitewash.

It was proving a dream debut for Gilroy, who continued to break tackles before Ireland regrouped and redirected their assault down the left flank.

Centre Gordon D'Arcy passed back inside to Sexton and the Leinster fly-half showed strength as he broke two tackles to crash over.

Both conversions were landed by Sexton, but with Sanchez slotting two penalties, Argentina remained in touch.

The Pumas suffered a blow when Sanchez departed for the concussion bin and their situation deteriorated further when Ireland produced a third try.

Slippery: Ireland's Craig Gilroy tries to shake off a tackle

Slippery: Ireland's Craig Gilroy tries to shake off a tackle

Once more it came from the set piece with Strauss coming up with the ball following a line-out drive and touching down in the right corner.

For the first time Ireland came under serious pressure and they responded with Bowe and Zebo executing a try-saving tackle on scrum-half Martin Landajo.

Sanchez, who had returned after passing his concussion test, ensured the attack went rewarded by kicking his third penalty.

Ireland were soon back on the offensive, however, when Bowe caught a high kick to initiate a passage of play that ended when Sexton sent Zebo a missed pass with the Munster full-back diving over in the left corner.

When Sanchez landed his fourth penalty shortly after half-time, a Pumas comeback looked a possibility.

Breaking through: Ireland's Donnacha O'Callaghan crosses the gainline for Ireland

Breaking through: Ireland's Donnacha O'Callaghan crosses the gainline for Ireland

But those hopes were soon dashed as their scrum back-pedalled furiously, presenting Sexton with a shot at goal that he steered between the uprights.

Argentina's collapse continued unchecked as Ireland ran in two more tries in quick succession with Sexton heavily involved in both scores.

First the 27-year-old produced the chip kick that enabled Bowe to gather and touch down before finishing himself with Donnacha Ryan supplying the scoring pass.

Also playing a key role in the tries was the superb Gilroy, whose side-step and ability to break the first tackle set up the initial field position on both occasions.

Frustrated Argentina prop Maximiliano Bustos was sent to the sin bin for throwing the ball into the face of opposite number Cian Healy.

The final Irish try arrived when Bowe pounced on Keith Earls' chip kick, but substitute Tomas Leonardi and Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe scored late tries to give Argentina some respectability on the scoreboard.

Andrew Flintoff: My battle against bulimia

My battle to beat bulimia, reveals Flintoff as cricket hero sheds the pounds for start of his boxing career

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UPDATED:

08:57 GMT, 15 November 2012

England cricketing hero Andrew Flintoff has revealed how he battled with bulimia in the early stages of his career.

The 34-year-old told how he began throwing up in cricket grounds and restaurants after he piled on the pounds.

Flintoff, who has embarked on a sporting comeback as a heavyweight boxer and is set to fight on November 30, revealed his eating disorder in a documentary to be screened later this month.

England cricket star Freddie Flintoff, leaving the Punch Bowl pub in Mayfair with his wife Rachael Wools

England all-rounder Andrew Flintoff tucks into a curry in Durban

Honest: Former England cricketer Andrew Flintoff, left with wife Rachael, and right tucking into a curry during his playing days, has revealed how he suffered from Bulimia

He said: ‘I used to be a really skinny kid, I used to be tall and skinny and I didn’t drink, I didn’t do much.

‘Then I started putting weight on. My lifestyle was great, granted, when I started living on my own. I got to about 19 and a half to 20 stone.

‘It was all a bit deeper than that because to lose the weight, I wasn’t really sure how to go about it. I started being sick, I was sick a lot. I would eat and I would be sick.

‘I would be doing it myself. I would put my fingers down my throat and everyone within the team hierarchy thought it was great because I was losing weight.’

Flintoff, who was instrumental in two Ashes victories against Australia, said he was often called ‘fat lad’ and faced jibes such as ‘who ate all our pies’ He added: ‘I’ve thrown up in cricket grounds around the world, in restaurants, all sorts, and I lost about 15kg by doing that.

‘It’s not the right way to go, which I am very aware of. You start off doing it if you have a bad meal, you eat something you don’t think you should have eaten or you have drunk too much.

‘Then before you know it, even good meals you are getting rid of. It becomes a real habit. The only way really to lose weight is to train more and eat less, eat the right things.’

Andrew Flintoff poses during his boxing training

Back in the day, a larger Flintoff

Lean and keen: Flintoff, left, poses for a shot during his boxing training, and right, sporting a 'fuller figure' during his playing days

All change: As he embarks on his new sports career as a boxer, Flintoff has revealed he used to have serious issues with food

All change: As he embarks on his new sports career as a boxer, Flintoff has revealed he used to have serious issues with food

He hopes that speaking about his battle will raise awareness about bulimia.

A spokesman for the National Centre for Eating Disorders said: ‘It is well known that men get eating disorders, too – look at John Prescott (Mr Prescott revealed he had suffered from bulimia during his time as Deputy Prime Minister). This is a condition more likely to occur in someone who has poor body image or shaky self-esteem.’

The documentary Flintoff: From Lords to the Ring, to be screened on Sky1, details the sportsman’s career change from cricket to boxing. Flintoff also uses the programme to criticise former England team-mates who have since taken up careers in cricket commentating. He said: ‘I could have taken the easy option, saying ‘‘Coming into bat for England at No 3’’. But no, I go and get my head kicked in instead.’

Flintoff has been criticised for entering the sport of boxing as a ‘publicity stunt’.

Andrew Flintoff revealed he has struggled with his weight

Flintoff has yo-yo'd with his weight

Out in the open: Flintoff often received criticism from rival supporters over his weight as a professional cricketer – and now he has revealed how deep the problems went

But the cricketer, who lost 45lbs during a gruelling four-month training camp filmed for a three-part series to be screened on Sky1HD, insists his motives are honourable. ‘You couldn’t go through this for a TV stunt,’ he said. ‘I’m hoping this is something where boxing is celebrated.’

Flintoff was born Andrew but nicknamed ‘Freddy’ after Fred Flintstone. He married Rachael Woods in 2005 and has three children – Holly, eight, Corey, six, and Rocky, four. He announced his retirement from cricket in September 2010.

He is not the only sportsman to suffer from bulimia.

Footballer Paul Gascoigne detailed his battle with the condition in his 2006 autobiography ‘Being Gazza: Tackling My Demons’.

Cristiano Ronaldo loses sight in both eyes

It's a Real worry! Ronaldo out of Portugal friendly after losing sight in both eyes following elbow from Navarro

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UPDATED:

13:35 GMT, 12 November 2012

Cristiano Ronaldo is out of Portugal's friendly with Gabon on Wednesday after 'losing the vision in both his eyes' following an elbow in the face during Real Madrid's win over Levante.

Ronaldo was due to have tests at a Madrid hospital after being caught by defender David Navarro in the opening exchanges of last night's clash.

Ronaldo returned to the action after being patched up on the sidelines and even managed to score Real's opener in the 21st minute.

Scroll down for video footage of Ronaldo's injury

Cut up: Cristiano Ronaldo was left bleeding after being caught by an elbow from David Navarro (below)

Cut up: Cristiano Ronaldo was left bleeding after being caught by an elbow from David Navarro (below)

Clash: David Navarro's elbow catches Ronaldo

However, the former Manchester United star was unable to return for the second half and coach Jose Mourinho said that his star forward 'lost vision in both eyes and couldn't go on'.

Ronaldo arrived at the Portugal team hotel in Lisbon on Monday but he will play no part against Gabon in Libreville.

Spanish champions Madrid, whose title defence got off to an erratic start, are third on 23 points, five behind Atletico Madrid in second and eight behind unbeaten Barca.

In the dark: Ronaldo, arriving at the Portugal team hotel on Monday, briefly lost sight in both eyes

In the dark: Ronaldo, arriving at the Portugal team hotel on Monday, briefly lost sight in both eyes

National service: Ronaldo arrives at the Portugal team hotel on Monday

'It was a difficult match for everyone,' Mourinho told a news conference. 'We adapted to the conditions and it was an honest battle between serious people who gave everything in search of a result,' he added.

'The team had to draw on all its character and strength and we were deserved winners. I had never won here and they are three extremely important points.'

Mourinho even suggested some may have enjoyed the spectacle of the players trying to cope with the ball holding up on the sodden surface.

Eye eye: A patched-up Ronaldo celebrates scoring against Levante

Eye eye: A patched-up Ronaldo celebrates scoring against Levante

Treatment: Real Madrid's medical team attended to Ronaldo after he was caught by Navarro

Treatment: Real Madrid's medical team attended to Ronaldo after he was caught by Navarro

Mobbed: Real Madrid players congratulate Ronaldo after his goal against Levante

Mobbed: Real Madrid players congratulate Ronaldo after his goal against Levante

'For all of us who have played football, whether well or badly, it was a party when you played in the rain as a kid and I think that in their way, people like it,' he said.

'The more technical side and the referee have more problems, the fans too because it's cold and raining. That's part of football too and you have to adapt.'

Spanish media reported that Levante captain Sergio Ballesteros had clashed with Real defender Pepe near the dressing rooms after the game and police officers had to intervene to calm down officials and players from both teams.

Henning Berg wants 12th man brought on if team goes 4-0 down

You'll fit right in! Prospective new Blackburn boss Berg wants 12th man brought on if team goes 4-0 down

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UPDATED:

11:59 GMT, 30 October 2012

Wacky proposal: Berg

Wacky proposal: Berg

Potential new Blackburn manager Henning Berg has thrown his support behind a Norwegian FA idea to allow youth teams to bring on a 12th player if they fall 4-0 behind in a match.

Berg – who has been installed as the favourite for the vacant managerial post at Ewood Park – supports the proposal that is designed to even out one-sided matches by giving the losing team an extra man.

'It’s a good rule that will lead to more even matches,' said Berg, a former Blackburn and Manchester United defender who was capped 100 times by Norway.

'It’s no fun to lose 17-0. It’s no fun to win 17-0 either.'

The 43-year-old became the new favourite for the job after former team-mates Tim Sherwood and Billy McKinlay were refused permission to leave their coaching roles at Tottenham and Fulham respectively.

Names as diverse as Harry Redknapp and Diego Maradona have been considered by Blackburn's eccentric Indian owners to replace Steve Kean – who departed last month – but it is thought that they want a former Rovers player to guide them back to the Premier League.

Case for the defence: Berg in his playing days for Blackburn (above) and United (below)

Case for the defence: Berg playing for Blackburn (above) and United (below)

Case for the defence: Berg in his playing days for Blackburn (above) and United (below)

Norwegian Berg – who won the Champions
League with United in 1999 – fits the bill perfectly as he was part of the title-winning Blackburn
side of 1994-95 and has previous managerial experience in his homeland
with Lyn and Lillestrom.

Berg was a crowd favourite at Ewood Park during his four years at the club from 1993 to 1997, but Rovers fans are unlikely to be too enamoured with his wacky 12th man proposal.

Sean Dyce and Steven Pressley favourites for Burnley job

Dyche and Pressley emerge as favourites for Burnley hotseat after Howe exit

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UPDATED:

17:53 GMT, 24 October 2012

Sean Dyche and Steven Pressley are battling it out for the managerial vacancy at Championship club Burnley.

After losing Eddie Howe to his old club Bournemouth earlier this month, Burnley’s board sifted through a long list of candidates to replace him before finally whittling it down over the weekend.

Sportsmail understands former Watford boss Dyche and current Falkirk manager Pressley figure prominently on it and are uppermost in Burnley’s thoughts.

Sean Dyche

Falkirk manager Steven Pressley

In the running: Sean Dyche (left) and Steven Pressley are wanted by Burnley

Appointing Dyche would prove straightforward, given his availability, and his record at Watford has made him one of the favourites for the job.

A popular figure at Vicarage Road, he steered Watford to 11th in the Championship, their highest finish in four years, before being controversially sacked to make way for Gianfranco Zola in July.

Pressley is forging a reputation for himself at Falkirk, and Burnley are mindful that the last time they appointed a manager from the Scottish First Division, in Owen Coyle, they ended up being promoted to the Barclays Premier League.

Danny Ciprian set for Salerecall against Montpellier in Heineken Cup

Cipriani's recall as Sale freefall: Danny gets the nod for Montpellier clash after match-winning cameo

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UPDATED:

22:00 GMT, 17 October 2012

Danny Cipriani’s match-winning intervention for Sale last weekend has earned him a starting recall for Sunday’s Heineken Cup clash with Montpellier in France, but the man who has picked him faces an increasingly uncertain future.

The 24-year-old fly half has been languishing among the reserves for his new club in recent weeks, after struggling to make an impact in a losing team following his summer arrival from Melbourne Rebels.

However, four days ago, Cipriani scored one try and created another to spark a stunning comeback against Cardiff Blues for the Sharks’ first win of the season.

Touching down: Danny Cipriani scores against Cardiff Blues

Touching down: Danny Cipriani scores against Cardiff Blues

Now, Sportsmail has learned that the one-time England No 10 prodigy has been given a chance to maintain his personal revival with a return to the starting XV. Yet, this encouraging development for Cipriani comes amid signs that there may be further turmoil within the upper reaches of the Aviva Premiership’s bottom club.

In the aftermath of the sacking of forwards coach, Steve Scott, it emerged that ex-All Blacks coach and Sale player, John Mitchell, was being lined up as a consultant. The Kiwi, renowned for his abrasive approach, is due to be in attendance in Montpellier as he prepares to re-join the club, and the latest indications are that he could be put in charge of team affairs soon.

Doubts: Bryan Redpath

Doubts: Bryan Redpath

Bryan Redpath, Sale’s director of rugby, reflected on the torrid start to the season and how it has led to doubts about his job. ‘Of course I was nervous about my position,’ he said.

‘There has been a lot of chat about
John. I have no issues with him and he’s got a wealth of experience. If
and when we get things sorted, I will tap into that as much as possible.
Steve and the owners have to make decisions for this club. The club is
bigger than me.

‘My role won’t change, it will be
supported with someone else. Every coach needs someone to bounce stuff
off and John has been through a lot himself. We’ve got to knuckle down.
Our egos have to be put to one side. I’ll worry about the next few
months later. It’s just about getting through each day and each week.’

Asked if rugby is becoming more like
football in terms of the ruthless hiring and firing of coaches, Redpath
added: ‘I think it is. Sadly, that’s the way the game has gone. I don’t
think it is healthy all the time, but I understand that’s the nature of
the game.’

Sale’s Scotland lock, Richie Gray, is wearing a surgical boot to protect damaged ligaments in his right ankle and the injury is likely to keep him out of action for three weeks – meaning he is in grave danger of missing his country’s Test against the All Blacks on November 11.

Injury concern: Richie Gray

Injury concern: Richie Gray

Leicester admitted that their England flanker, Tom Croft, won’t play any part in the autumn internationals, as his neck injury is taking longer than expected to heal.

‘Tom had an X-ray and the repeat graft is going very well, but not quite as quick as we would like,’ said the Tigers’ director of rugby, Richard Cockerill. ‘He could be six weeks away which is a bit behind schedule, but there is no rush for Tom, as it was a pretty serious injury and he will make a full recovery.’

Ashley Williams surprised to take over as Wales captain from Aaron Ramsey

Williams surprised to win Wales captaincy as he thought Ramsey was doing good job

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UPDATED:

16:23 GMT, 11 October 2012

Wales captain Ashley Williams admits he was surprised to be asked to lead the side again and has revealed he received congratulations from his predecessor Aaron Ramsey.

Dragons boss Chris Coleman opted to switch the armband from Arsenal midfielder Ramsey to Swansea skipper Williams ahead of the current international break, in which Wales play a double-header of World Cup qualifiers against Scotland at home on Friday and Croatia away on Tuesday.

Williams, 28, has captained his country on four occasions but after Ramsey had been named as skipper in 2011 at the age of 20, the Swans centre-back did not think he would get another opportunity.

Surprise: Ashley Williams (right) was not expecting to captain Wales again

Surprise: Ashley Williams (right) was not expecting to captain Wales again

Asked if had believed the armband would come his way again, Williams said: 'Probably not to be honest, because I thought Aaron was doing a good job.

'I was just concentrating on trying to play my best for Wales. So probably not, but I'm happy.

'He (Coleman) asked me if I wanted to do it – he didn't tell me I had to.

'He called me and said he had spoken to Aaron. Obviously I was over the moon, and he just said we would have a chat when we got to camp.'

Asked about Ramsey's reaction, Williams said: 'I have spoken to Aaron and he said congratulations.

'We kind of laughed and that was it really – no big deal. We get on fine.'

Wales head into the Scotland clash bottom of Group A having lost their first two fixtures, a 2-0 home reverse to Belgium and then a humiliating 6-1 defeat in Serbia.

Those results last month extended the Dragons' losing streak since Coleman was appointed as manager to five games, including the 1-0 defeat to Costa Rica in the Gary Speed memorial match.

Williams feels Friday's contest at Cardiff City Stadium is 'definitely a must-win match' and has stressed that the players want a victory for their manager, on whom the pressure has been increasing.

Referring to Coleman, Williams said: 'After the results I think you are always going to get criticised like that, especially him – being the manager, it is obviously going to fall on his shoulders.

'But I think all the boys really like him and we have enjoyed working with him.

'We really want to win for him as well – I think that is true in this case.

'He is going to be criticised and we would like to turn that around for him because I don't think it's really deserved.

Deposed: Ramsey has lost the Wales armband

Deposed: Ramsey has lost the Wales armband

'I think we have kind of let him down on the pitch and we would like to put that right.”

Scotland opened their own campaign in somewhat disappointing fashion with two home draws, 0-0 with Serbia and 1-1 with Macedonia.

It means the heat has also been on their manager Craig Levein, although Coleman is adamant both he and his opposite number can handle the criticism.

'Craig is a big boy like me,' Coleman said. 'We know as soon as you walk in the door, especially if it is an international job, there is more scrutiny on the games because there are fewer of them and less time to get things right.

'It is a nation looking at you. Craig can handle that, the same as I can.

Good job: Williams said Ramsey was doing a good job

Good job: Williams said Ramsey was doing a good job

'Once you start looking at the negative side of things, it stops you making decisions and it is finished for you.'

Serbia currently top Group A with four points, the same amount that Belgium and Croatia have, while Macedonia have one.

Assessing the situation, Coleman said: 'In terms of us doing a bit of damage in this group, then we have to get a win as quickly as we can.

'There is a game tomorrow night, so why not then Scotland are coming down and they are not going to lie down for us – they are under their own pressure.

'They have a good squad and it is going to be a typical British game I imagine – fast, probably aggressive, and with a fantastic atmosphere. We have to try to use that for our own benefit.'

Coleman confirmed wide man Gareth Bale, who has been nursing a heel complaint, would be taking part in full training today, but the manager does not expect defender Adam Matthews (ankle) to be fit to play in Friday's match.

Patrick Collins on the Kevin Pietersen saga

Redemption KP's been there, done that and got the T-shirt…

PUBLISHED:

22:05 GMT, 6 October 2012

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UPDATED:

22:05 GMT, 6 October 2012

On a steamy day in distant Colombo,
Giles Clarke wore a silk suit, a club tie and a superior stare. He
delivered his statement slowly, portentously, as if it were a prize-day
oration at one of our more expensive public schools. And, in truth, it
was priceless stuff.

‘In our society,’ said the ECB
chairman, ‘we believe that if an individual transgresses, and the
individual concerned recognises that and apologises for what they may
have caused to those involved, then it is important, and a fabric of our
society, that the individual should be given a real opportunity to be
reintegrated into our society.’

The ‘individual’, Kevin Pietersen, was
sitting a few feet away. His face was a bewildered question-mark: ‘Is
he talking about me’ And he wasn’t sure that he’d like the answer.

Not in the script: Kevin Pietersen reacts to Giles Clarke in Coilombo

Not in the script: Kevin Pietersen reacts to Giles Clarke in Coilombo

What he’d expected was a light rap
across the knuckles, followed by an assurance that he’d be back in the
England side as soon as they could fix it without losing face. Broady,
Swanny and all those other blokeish nicknames would promise to stop
laughing at him, while he would stop texting the opposition with
‘provocative’, but not ‘derogatory’, messages about his team-mates.

As a result he, KP, would intensify
his efforts to become richer and more famous, and everyone would be
friends for ever and ever. Or at least until the next time. That was
what was supposed to happen.Instead, he found Giles Clarke expounding
penal policy under the guise of a cricket decision.

KP’s advisers, who
have always done such a great job for him, hadn’t prepared him for
this. He glanced at his own script, so bland and vacuous that he might
almost have written it himself. There was that remark about how ‘playing
cricket for England was the pinnacle of any South African cricketer’s
career’.

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Patrick Collins: Big-spending elite must heed Wenger's demand for sanity
01/09/12

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He hoped he’d got that right. And he
really liked the bit about ‘drawing a line’ and ‘time to move forward’.
He hoped he hadn’t used it when he fell out with Natal and Notts and
Hampshire. Hard to remember. The rest of us wondered why the chairman
refused to come clean. After all, he knows that England are making a
special case of Pietersen. The player may be disruptive, narcissistic, a
royal pain in the neck, but he is an extraordinary talent whose absence
leaves a gaping hole in the middle order. And so they are bending the
rules to accommodate him.

But that was not what the man in the
silk suit was saying as on he ploughed, all wobbling jowls and
lugubrious vowels. No, he was wagging his finger, speaking very slowly,
emphasising selected words: ‘The ECB and Kevin will consider the matter
as closed, and no … further … questions … on … the … subject … will …
be … taken.’

The newly reintegrated Pietersen tried
to appear inscrutable but it didn’t work. He may not be the sharpest
knife in the box, but he has been here before.

The ECB may think it’s all over, but KP knows it has only just begun.

Tiger's Ryder Cup gesture made a perfect day even better

The back of the 18th green at Medinah last Sunday evening was the most privileged position in the whole of sport. From a range of just a few feet, we could study the stress on familiar faces, hear the faint click of ball on putter, enjoy the dawning realisation that the apparently impossible would soon become reality.

And almost as stirring as the unfolding drama was the gesture of Tiger Woods, who conceded a problematical putt to Francesco Molinari and gave Europe the victory by a point. Had Molinari missed the putt, then the match would have been drawn. Woods later explained himself by saying: ‘It was already over. We came here as a team, this is a team event. And the Cup was retained by Europe, so it was already over.’

Great gesture: Tiger Woods halves with Francesco Molinari

Great gesture: Tiger Woods halves with Francesco Molinari

In other words, Europe held the trophy and they would retain it through either a win or a draw. He was criticised in some bloodless quarters, yet it felt like a vaguely noble gesture, the act of somebody who understands the art of gracious defeat. So we were given drama and nobility, the very stuff of great sport. It seemed that the occasion was just perfect. Until we heard the yelps of the bookmakers.

Woods, it appears, was not a lofty idealist, but a base villain. It was the bookies who said so. You see, very few people place their money on a tie, which means that the tie would have been the ideal result for the corporate vultures. Tiger’s magnanimous gesture had cost them a good deal. Just how much we cannot say, since in these cases they tend to think of a figure and double it. One bunch of chancers claimed a loss of 800,000, another put their damage at a mere 650,000 and a couple more reported around half a million.

An ‘independent expert’, asked for an estimate of their total losses, came up with the sum of 10m, which is the kind of random figure your pet parrot might be ashamed to utter.

Whatever the real figures, these charmless characters, who make their money through a tax on stupidity, had caught a considerable cold. And suddenly, on the back of the 18th green, a perfect day got even better.

Football just can't get enough of Ridsdale

Football is the most generous, warm-hearted, endlessly forgiving of sports. I cite the one and only Peter Ridsdale.

A decade ago, Ridsdale was the man who ‘lived the dream’ as chairman of Leeds United. It was a golden era, with money spent as if there were no tomorrow. Unfortunately, tomorrow arrived too soon. Leeds collapsed with debts of more than 100million, and the dreamer was forced to seek alternative employment.

Dream on: Peter Ridsdale

Dream on: Peter Ridsdale

He found it at Barnsley, Plymouth and Cardiff, where his Midas touch was much coveted. Sadly, that touch deserted him again when chairman of Cardiff. A company he owned while working for Cardiff City went into liquidation owing 442,353 in unpaid tax and VAT.

‘He acted improperly and in breach of his duties,’ said the Insolvency Service. As a consequence, he has just been disqualified from acting as a company director for the next seven-and-a-half years.

But you can’t keep a great man down, and Ridsdale is now Preston North End’s chairman of football. And nobody seems to think this an odd state of affairs.

Indeed, the mood is articulated by the eminent pundit Paul Merson.

‘He must be doing something right to keep getting offered so many jobs in football,’ said Merson. ‘I’ve only met him once and I thought he was a lovely bloke. We chatted for about half-an-hour, and he was as nice as pie.’

That’s football for you: a game of warmth, generosity … and a wonderfully short memory.

PS

A few weeks ago, as the nation basked in its Olympic glow, Roy Hodgson admitted that football had a lot to learn from the spirit of the Games.

He spoke, a shade enviously, of the civilised behaviour of the players and the watchers.

‘A benchmark has been set and we must accept that we’ll be under a little more of the spotlight,’ he said.

Golden days, indeed, and Hodgson will surely recall how London’s mayor, Boris Johnson, expressed the prevailing mood.

‘These are extraordinary times,’ said Boris. ‘Why, total strangers have been talking to each other on the Tube.’