Tag Archives: mascherano

Luis Suarez banned for 10 games for bite on Chelsea"s Branislav Ivanovic

10 GAMES! Liverpool in the jaws of despair as Suarez slapped with huge ban for vicious bite on Ivanovic

11 MATCHES

Paolo Di Canio (Sheffield Wednesday): pushing over referee Paul Alcock in 1998

10 MATCHES

Kevin Keegan (Liverpool) and Billy Bremner (Leeds): fighting in the Charity Shield in 1974

David Putton (Southampton): pushing referee Alan Wiley in 2005

NINE MATCHES

Paul Davis (Arsenal): punching Glenn Cockerill in 1998

Steve Walsh (Leicester) discipline in 1987

Frank Sinclair (West Brom): clashing heads with the referee in 1992

EIGHT MATCHES

Luis Suarez (Liverpool): racially abusing Patrice Evra in 2011

Ben Thatcher (Manchester City): elbowing Pedro Mendes in 2006

Mark Dennis (QPR): banned in 1987 for picking up his 11th career red card

Liverpool themselves were left shocked by the decision, which sees Suarez banned for two games more than he received after being found guilty of racially abusing Patrice Evra in 2011.

The club's managing director Ian Ayre said: 'Both the club and player are shocked and disappointed at the severity of today's Independent Regulatory Commission decision.

'We await the written reasons tomorrow before making any further comment.'

The latest setback for Suarez means that since 2011, he has been banned for 26 matches, beyond the usual yellow and red cards.

He was hit with seven games at Ajax for biting Otman Bakkal, eight for the Evra incident, one more for flipping the middle finger at Fulham fans, and now 10 for biting again.

The tribunal took past behaviour and previous cases into consideration before reaching a
conclusion on Suarez, who was banned for seven games after he bit PSV
Eindhoven’s Otman Bakkal in November 2010.

Tottenham’s Jermain Defoe escaped a
long ban and fine in October 2006 as he was booked after biting Javier
Mascherano, then of West Ham. Had Suarez been booked last Sunday, the FA
would have still had the power to take him to task as the rules have
changed since then.

Having accepted the FA’s charge,
Suarez was already set to miss the trip to
Newcastle on Saturday, the Merseyside derby at Anfield on May 5 and
Liverpool’s visit to Fulham on May 12.

Liverpool were condemned for their stance over Suarez, having already been rebuked for failing to administer
their own suspension. The matter has been taken so seriously that the
Prime Minister entered the debate on Monday.

Follows him: Suarez's clash with Patrice Evra in 2011 resulted in an eight-game ban for the Liverpool man

Follows him: Suarez's clash with Patrice Evra in 2011 resulted in an eight-game ban for the Liverpool man

Follows him: Suarez's clash with Patrice Evra in 2011 resulted in an eight-game ban for the Liverpool man

GAMES SUAREZ WILL MISS

Luis Suarez will not play again for Liverpool this season. He will miss the trip to Newcastle this Saturday, the Merseyside derby at Anfield on May 5, and matches against Fulham and QPR.

Next season's fixtures are yet to be published, but it is expected that Liverpool will have seven games – six in the Premier League and one in the League Cup – by the end of September.

Suarez was fined an undisclosed amount – thought to be two weeks’ wages, a figure that equates to more than
200,000 – on Monday morning. He insisted that the money be donated to
the Hillsborough Families Support Group.

The 26-year-old was warned by Ayre that he was on his last chance at Anfield. The
Uruguay striker was found guilty by the FA in December 2011 of using
racially abusive language to Patrice Evra.

Liverpool have stressed that Suarez,
who has been strongly linked with Bayern Munich, will not be sold this
summer and have vowed to work with him to improve his behaviour.

Previous worst: (L-R) Duncan Ferguson, Ben Thatcher, Paolo Di Canio and Billy Bremner and Kevin Keegan

Previous worst: (L-R) Duncan Ferguson, Ben Thatcher, Paolo Di Canio and Billy Bremner and Kevin Keegan

Previous worst: (L-R) Duncan Ferguson, Ben Thatcher, Paolo Di Canio and Billy Bremner and Kevin Keegan

Previous worst: (L-R) Duncan Ferguson, Ben Thatcher, Paolo Di Canio and Billy Bremner and Kevin Keegan

Previous worst: (L-R) Duncan Ferguson, Ben Thatcher, Paolo Di Canio and Billy Bremner and Kevin Keegan

VIDEO Liverpool's Managing Director on Suarez controversy

Liverpool to stand by Suarez

DM.has('rcpv2317707275001','BC',
'renderConfig' :

'css' : “videoplayer-large”,
'autoplay' : false,
'muted' : false,
'title' : “Liverpool to stand by Suarez”,
'videoId' : 1006074,
'adsEnabled' : true,
'playerId' : “1989148206001”,
'playerKey' : “AQ~~,AAAAAFSL1bg~,CmS1EFtcMWELN_eSE9A7gpcGWF5XAVmI”,
'objId' : “rcpv2317707275001”,
'videoPlayer' : “2317707275001”,
'width' : 636,
'height' : 358,
'linkBaseURL' : “http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-2313963/Luis-Suarez-banned-10-games-bite-Chelseas-Branislav-Ivanovic.html”

});

Look, ref: Ivanovic shows his arm to referee Kevin Friend following the biting incident at Anfield yesterday

Look, ref: Ivanovic shows his arm to referee Kevin Friend following the biting incident at Anfield yesterday

Luis Suarez appears to bite Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic

DM.has('rcpv2316785228001','BC',
'renderConfig' :

'css' : “videoplayer-large”,
'autoplay' : false,
'muted' : false,
'title' : “Luis Suarez appears to bite Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic”,
'videoId' : 1006033,
'adsEnabled' : true,
'playerId' : “1989148206001”,
'playerKey' : “AQ~~,AAAAAFSL1bg~,CmS1EFtcMWELN_eSE9A7gpcGWF5XAVmI”,
'objId' : “rcpv2316785228001”,
'videoPlayer' : “2316785228001”,
'width' : 636,
'height' : 358,
'linkBaseURL' : “http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-2313963/Luis-Suarez-banned-10-games-bite-Chelseas-Branislav-Ivanovic.html”

});

Previous: Suarez bites Otman Bakkal of PSV while playing for Ajax

Previous: Suarez bites Otman Bakkal of PSV while playing for Ajax

Repeat The PSV star was as perplexed as Ivanovic by Suarez's behaviour

Repeat The PSV star was as perplexed as Ivanovic by Suarez's behaviour

It's not the first time Suarez has used his teeth

DM.has('rcpv2317391942001','BC',
'renderConfig' :

'css' : “videoplayer-large”,
'autoplay' : false,
'muted' : false,
'title' : “It's not the first time Suarez has used his teeth”,
'videoId' : 1006039,
'adsEnabled' : true,
'playerId' : “1989148206001”,
'playerKey' : “AQ~~,AAAAAFSL1bg~,CmS1EFtcMWELN_eSE9A7gpcGWF5XAVmI”,
'objId' : “rcpv2317391942001”,
'videoPlayer' : “2317391942001”,
'width' : 636,
'height' : 358,
'linkBaseURL' : “http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-2313963/Luis-Suarez-banned-10-games-bite-Chelseas-Branislav-Ivanovic.html”

});

OTHER SUAREZ CONTROVERSIES

Liverpool forward Luis Suarez is back in the spotlight after appearing to bite Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic on the arm during the 2-2 draw with Chelsea at Anfield, going on to score a late equaliser.

Here are some of the previous controversies surrounding the Uruguayan forward.

February 2007: Suarez made his international debut for Uruguay against Colombia but was sent off in the final minutes after being shown a second yellow card for dissent.

November 2007: Joined Ajax from Uruguayan side Nacional but he was later suspended by the Dutch giants after a half-time dressing-room altercation with team-mate Albert Luque.

July 2010: During the 2010 World Cup quarter-finals, Suarez prevented Ghana's Dominic Adiyiah from scoring in the final minute with a deliberate handball on the line and was subsequently sent off. A penalty was awarded but missed by Asamoah Gyan and footage showed Suarez celebrating on the sidelines. Uruguay eventually went through to the last four on penalties.

November 2010: Suarez was handed a seven-match ban by the Dutch FA and fined by his club for biting PSV Eindhoven midfielder Otman Bakkal during an Eredivisie match.

October 2011: Following his move to Liverpool in January 2011, he was involved in a tackle with Everton's Jack Rodwell and goes down with apparent minimal contact. Rodwell was then sent off.

October 2011: Suarez was alleged to have racially abused Manchester United's Patrice Evra during a Premier League match. Suarez was later found guilty by an independent regulatory commission and banned for eight matches and fined 40,000.

December 2011: Was seen making an offensive gesture towards Fulham fans. At this time he had already been charged by the Football Association over the racism incident, although not yet punished, but was handed a further one-match ban for the gesture.

February 2012: United and Liverpool met again at Old Trafford, but more controversy blew up as Suarez refused to shake Evra's hand before kick-off.

October 2012: Celebrated a goal against Everton by diving in front of Toffees boss David Moyes who had earlier claimed that 'divers' such as Suarez were putting fans off the English game.

January 2013: Handles the ball prior to scoring Liverpool's winner in the FA Cup third round tie at Mansfield.

April 2013: Bites Branislav Ivanovic on the arm but
escapes punishment on the pitch as the referee fails to see it, and
scores Liverpool's equaliser seven minutes into stoppage time as they
draw 2-2 with Chelsea at Anfield. Fined by club the following day and
charged with violent conduct by the FA. Subsequently handed a 10-match
ban by an independent regulatory commission.

Cesc Fabregas scores hat-trick but it"s Abidal who gets Nou Camp ovation with emotional return

Fabregas scores a hat-trick but it's Abidal who gets Nou Camp ovation with emotional return

PUBLISHED:

21:59 GMT, 6 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

22:42 GMT, 6 April 2013

Cesc Fabregas scored the first hat-trick of his career as Barcelona moved closer to the Primera Division title with a 5-0 victory over Real Mallorca, but the main story was the return to action of Eric Abidal after a year out following liver surgery.

The home side were also inspired by
head coach Tito Vilanova, who was on the Nou Camp touchline for the
first time since January after undergoing treatment for cancer.

Abidal's appearance brought the crowd
to their feet, with the Frenchman given a standing ovation when he
replaced Gerard Pique in the 70th minute.

Happy return: Barcelona's Eric Abidal received a rousing reception

Happy return: Barcelona's Eric Abidal received a rousing reception

The 33-year-old former France
defender, who was passed fit to return to training with his team mates
last month, is a huge favourite with the Barca fans.

In a pitch-side television interview with Spanish broadcaster Canal Plus, Abidal thanked the cousin who provided part of his liver for the procedure.

'It was a very special moment for me after a year out,' said Abidal, wearing a shirt with 'Merci mon cousin' on the front.

Merci: Eric Abidal wears a tribute to his cousin

Merci: Eric Abidal wears a tribute to his cousin

'I want to thank my cousin as without him I would not be here today. It is a unique moment,' he added.

Abidal's return is well timed as Barca centre backs Carles Puyol and Javier Mascherano and full back Adriano are all out injured at a critical stage of the season.

In the game itself, it was Fabregas who commanded the spotlight. In the injury-enforced absence of Lionel Messi, he scored three and
set up two for Alexis Sanchez as Barcelona romped home.

Man of the moment: Cesc Fabregas scored his first competitive hattrick

Man of the moment: Cesc Fabregas scored his first competitive hattrick

Mallorca held their own but it was no surprise when Barcelona made the breakthrough with two goals in two minutes.

Fabregas carried the ball from midfield and played a one-two with Alexis before steadying himself and coolly slotting the ball home across goalkeeper Dudu Aouate.

Mallorca's heads went down and in the 22nd minute they found themselves 2-0 adrift. This time Fabregas cut inside on the left of the area before unleashing a shot which Aouate pushed away from goal only for Alexis to follow up and fire home.

Happy return: Eric Abidal

Happy return: Eric Abidal

In the 37th minute an intricate passing move ended with Fabregas laying a first-time ball off to Alexis on the right of the area which he reciprocated for Fabregas to drill home.

The former Arsenal captain was involved everywhere and a minute later he provided a superb pass over the top for Alexis, who had got between two defenders, controlling the ball with his right before slotting home with his left.

Fabregas wrapped up his hat-trick seconds after the restart when he collected Iniesta's threaded ball and checked inside the defender before slotting home from close range.

PSG 2 Barcelona 2 – match report: Lionel Messi and Dani Alves goals canceled out by Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Blaise Matuidi

PSG 2 Barcelona 2: Late Matuidi goal gives French side hope as Messi and Co are held in Paris

PUBLISHED:

20:43 GMT, 2 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

21:16 GMT, 2 April 2013

Barcelona scored two away goals but were twice pegged back in a dramatic Champions League quarter-final first leg at the Parc des Princes.

Lionel Messi gave Barca a half-time lead, a goal owing much to Dani Alves' vision, before departing with a hamstring injury at the interval.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic controversially equalised against his former club and though Xavi's late penalty looked to have ensured a first-leg lead for Barca, Blaise Matuidi made it 2-2 with a deflected last kick of the match.

On target - again: Lionel Messi opened the scoring for Barcelona

On target – again: Lionel Messi opened the scoring for Barcelona

MATCH FACTS

PSG: Sirigu, Jallet, Alex, Thiago Silva, Maxwell, Beckham (Verratti 70), Matuidi, Lucas Moura, Pastore (Gameiro 76), Ibrahimovic, Lavezzi (Menez 66).

Subs not used: Douchez, Sakho, Chantome, Van Der Wiel.

Booked: Matuidi, Beckham, Ibrahimovic, Sirigu.

Goals: Ibrahimovic 79, Matuidi 90.

Barcelona: Valdes, Dani Alves, Pique, Mascherano (Bartra 84), Jordi Alba, Xavi, Busquets, Iniesta, Sanchez, Messi (Fabregas 46), Villa (Tello 81).

Subs not used: Pinto, Thiago, Montoya, Song.

Booked: Pique, Jordi Alba, Mascherano, Dani Alves.

Goals: Messi 38, Xavi 89 pen.

Attendance: 45,000

Referee: Wolfgang Stark (Ergolding)

The first chance fell to PSG with less than five minutes played. Ezequiel Lavezzi cut inside, sending Gerard Pique sliding the wrong way, and Barca midfielder Sergio Busquets stuck out a foot to stab the ball against the frame of his own goal.

Alex climbed highest to meet David Beckham's corner but headed well wide, and Victor Valdes then dived to save Javier Pastore's low drive and had to scramble to recover the loose ball ahead of the onrushing Alex.

It added up to an opening 15 minutes of Parisian dominance, though Andres Iniesta soon curled just wide at the other end.

PSG pressed again and when Pique flattened Ibrahimovic just outside the 'D' and was booked, Valdes had to push the Swede's fierce low free-kick around the post.

Ibrahimovic dragged a shot wide after a driving run from Lucas Moura but Barca began to make better use of their possession, with Alexis Sanchez's shot deflected wide before Messi opened the scoring eight minutes before half-time.

Alves curled a staggering pass into the box with the outside of his right foot and Messi ran on to the ball and fired first time inside the far post.

Easy does it: Messi runs off in celebration after making it 1-0

Easy does it: Messi runs off in celebration after making it 1-0

Celebration time: Messi celebrates with Daniel Alves and Xavi Hernandez after his goal against PSG

Celebration time: Messi celebrates with Daniel Alves and Xavi Hernandez after his goal against PSG

The Argentinian curled another effort millimetres over the bar but appeared to tweak his right hamstring in the process and was a passenger as half-time approached.

He was replaced by Cesc Fabregas upon the restart, and a Barca statement released during the second half confirmed he will undergo tests tomorrow to determine the extent of his injury.

Matuidi, impressive defensively in the first half, showed up in attack but was blocked off by Javier Mascherano as he pursued his own heavy touch into the penalty area, though no foul was given. Pique then prevented the all-action Matuidi from reaching Ibrahimovic's pass.

Not going to plan: Zlatan Ibrahimovic and David Beckham look dejected as Barcelona celebrate

Not going to plan: Zlatan Ibrahimovic and David Beckham look dejected as Barcelona celebrate

Beckham

David Beckham heads the ball

Getting stuck in: Beckham started for PSG and played for 70minutes before being replaced by Marco Verratti

Stars of the show: Messi is tracked by Beckham

Stars of the show: Messi is tracked by Beckham

Battle for the ball: Messi holds off the challenge of Beckham

Battle for the ball: Messi holds off the challenge of Beckham

Going in for the tackle: Beckham brings down Cesc Fabregas

Going in for the tackle: Beckham brings down Cesc Fabregas

In the book: Beckham is shown a yellow card by Referee Wolfgang Stark

In the book: Beckham is shown a yellow card by Referee Wolfgang Stark

The imperious Thiago Silva's clearance
denied Barca a second goal and Sanchez could not connect properly with
Fabregas' deep cross, shooting weakly at Sirigu.

Matuidi was booked for fouling Iniesta, ruling him out of the return leg, before Lavezzi was replaced by Jeremy Menez.

Alves
went close to a goal of his own when he curled a free-kick just wide
before Mascherano chopped down Menez to also earn himself a ban.

Take Zlat! Ibrahimovic makes it 1-1 with close range finish

Take Zlat! Ibrahimovic makes it 1-1 with close range finish

Eyes on the ball: Ibrahimovic made it 1-1 with his goal

Eyes on the ball: Ibrahimovic made it 1-1 with his goal

Menez's free-kick was deflected behind
and the resulting corner caused chaos. Jordi Alba and Mascherano
collided and were both prone in the six-yard box, playing three PSG
players onside as the half-cleared set-piece was returned into the box,
and Valdes was forced into a point-blank save from Ibrahimovic's shinned
effort.

Barca had to defend the next corner
with nine men and the controversy continued even after the pair
returned, Thiago Silva heading Menez's free-kick against the post before
the rebound was jabbed home by an offside Ibrahimovic.

Going down: Alexis Sanchez falls under the challenge of PSG goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu

Going down: Alexis Sanchez falls under the challenge of PSG goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu

Spot on: Xavi scores his side's second goal from the penalty spot

Spot on: Xavi scores his side's second goal from the penalty spot

Substitute
Kevin Gameiro was almost sent through by Ibrahimovic's flick-on, only
for the bounce to deceive the diminutive France international.

With a minute remaining, though, a penalty handed Barca the advantage in the tie once more.

Last kick of the game: Blaise Matuidi scores his side's second equalising goal late on

Last kick of the game: Blaise Matuidi scores his side's second equalising goal late on

Happy ending: Matuidi celebrates his goal late goal

Happy ending: Matuidi celebrates his goal late goal

Sirigu was booked for pulling down Sanchez and Xavi sent the keeper the wrong way from the spot.
Ibrahimovic
lashed another effort into Valdes' net but this time was correctly
flagged offside – but there was still late drama to come.

Ibrahimovic nodded the ball back and
Matuidi's shot was squeezed between the legs of substitute Marc Bartra,
wrong-footing Valdes and levelling the scores.

Barcelona lose to Real Sociedad after Gerard Pique red card

Barcelona stunned as Liga leaders unbeaten record unravels in Sociedad after Pique sees red

By
William Griffiths

PUBLISHED:

23:50 GMT, 19 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

01:17 GMT, 20 January 2013

Real Sociedad hit back from two goals down to end Barcelona's unbeaten Primera Division record in stunning fashion at the Anoeta this evening.

All looked to be going to plan for Tito Vilanova's visitors when Lionel Messi and Pedro Rodriguez put them 2-0 up within 25 minutes.

Not used to this: Barcelona kick-off during their 3-2 defeat to Real Sociedad

Not used to this: Barcelona kick-off during their 3-2 defeat to Real Sociedad

No you don't: Sociedad's goalkeeper takes the ball away from Lionel Messi

No you don't: Sociedad's goalkeeper takes the ball away from Lionel Messi

Get off the pitch: Gerard Pique (background) was dismissed by the referee

Get off the pitch: Gerard Pique (background) was dismissed by the referee

But Gonzalo Castro's brilliant strike gave Sociedad hope before half-time and then, after Barca had lost centre-back Gerard Pique to a red card, Castro's curling effort was deflected into his own net by Barca substitute Javier Mascherano.

That sent the home fans wild, but it got even better in stoppage time when Imanol Agirretxe poked Carlos Martinez's cross from the right past Victor Valdes to clinch a dramatic 3-2 win.

Best in the world Sociedad didn't care about Messi's reputation as they turned over the favourites

Best in the world Sociedad didn't care about Messi's reputation as they turned over the favourites

It started off so well: Barcelona went 2-0 up with goals from Messi and Pedro

It started off so well: Barcelona went 2-0 up with goals from Messi and Pedro

Barca had headed to San Sebastian having dropped only two points in La Liga this season – in October's 2-2 Clasico draw with Real Madrid at the Nou Camp.

Second-placed Atletico Madrid could move within eight points of the leaders if they beat Levante on Sunday, while third-spotted champions Real Madrid can get within 15 points if they overcome Valencia at the Mestalla.

Eyes on the ball: Tito Vilanova could do nothing as his side lost their unbeaten record

Eyes on the ball: Tito Vilanova could do nothing as his side lost their unbeaten record

Jamie Redknapp on Rafael Benitez: Chelsea players will look at him and think: "You"re not the man"

Extraordinary decision to hire negative Rafa, Chelsea players will look at him and think: 'You're NOT the man'

|

UPDATED:

21:33 GMT, 23 November 2012

If I was picking the next manager of Chelsea, Rafa Benitez would be at the back of the queue.

There is history between him and the supporters, not only because he seemed to be the one man who could stop the Jose Mourinho juggernaut and break Chelsea hearts, but because of how he went about it.

He was a successful Liverpool manager, but his teams played in a negative fashion.

Extraordinary: Benitez been handed the task of turning Chelsea's season around

Extraordinary: Benitez been handed the task of turning Chelsea's season around

The new Chelsea, with Juan Mata, Oscar and Eden Hazard, are not built to stop and spoil. But Benitez did deliver a winning Liverpool team. He is tactically aware and tactically obsessed.

Chelsea fans may not be too excited with the new man, but one man who will be pleased is Brendan Rodgers.

The Liverpool manager would have been aware of his presence. Benitez still lives in the area, has some support from the fans and would have been adding to the pressure on the current manager. It will feel like a monkey has been removed from Brendan’s back. Now he can get on with his job, without worrying about Benitez shifting around in the background.

I was critical of him as Liverpool manager and perhaps harshly so. Looking back, he achieved good things. Certainly, Liverpool – with Javier Mascherano and Xabi Alonso in midfield – were a better team then, than now. He was probably only two or three players away from winning the title.

He got lucky at times. He won the FA Cup against West Ham, because of Steven Gerrard. He came back from 3-0 down in the Champions League against AC Milan, because the players dragged Liverpool back into it (Gerrard again).

Tough ask: Benitez will attempt replicate the job he did at Liverpool: get the best out of Torres

Tough ask: Benitez will attempt replicate the job he did at Liverpool: get the best out of Torres

Tough ask: Benitez will attempt replicate the job he did at Liverpool: get the best out of Torres

Sure, he brought on Didier Hamman at half time in that game, but why wasn’t he playing from the start

This is a great chance for him. As a manager and a football man, he had to get back in. But with a caretaker role, you are naked in the dressing room. The players will look at him and think: ‘You are not the man’.

He will be expected to get Fernando Torres firing, but I’m not so sure.

He doesn’t have Gerrard creating chances, as he did when Torres was last prolific. If what I hear from the training ground – and can see with my own eyes – is right, Torres has lost a yard of pace and, crucially, lost some desire. He doesn’t look as interested.

Benitez will believe he can get him back to his best, but I’m not as convinced. Chelsea have trusted Torres, released Didier Drogba, signed creative players and given him his best shot. He hasn’t delivered.

Magic moment: Benitez was the beneficiary of a huge slice of luck to win the Champions League

Magic moment: Benitez was the beneficiary of a huge slice of luck to win the Champions League

Magic moment: Benitez was the beneficiary of a huge slice of luck to win the Champions League

Benitez may yet get the Christmas present every manager wants – the signing of Radamel Falcao.

With money to spend and a talented squad inherited, this is a chance for him to show he is still a good manager and Chelsea will compete, briefly, for the Premier League title that he missed out on at Anfield.

I do know he has the skin of a rhino, even though he is prone to an outburst in the press.

Whatever happens next, this has been an extraordinary decision to remove Roberto di Matteo and replace him with Benitez.

Merry Christmas: Falcao is top of every manager's Christmas wishlist

Merry Christmas: Falcao is top of every manager's wishlist

David Luiz, Gareth Bale, Rio Ferdinand, Vincent Kompany on lFIFpro list of world"s best defenders

What games have they been watching Luiz and Bale on FIFPro list of world's best defenders

|

UPDATED:

20:24 GMT, 22 November 2012

Chelsea's error-prone centre-half David Luiz and Tottenham winger Gareth Bale have been named on a 20-player list of defenders in contention to be named in a FIFPro World XI.

Chelsea and Barcelona have provided
entire back lines to a 20-player list of defenders in contention to be
named in a FIFPro World XI.

In the running;: Chelsea defender David Luiz (right)

In the running;: Chelsea defender David Luiz (right)

Barcelona has five candidates for
four places in the lineup: Dani Alves, Carles Puyol, Gerard Pique,
Javier Mascherano and Jordi Alba.

Chelsea captain John Terry is joined by Ashley Cole, Branislav Ivanovic and David Luiz.

Real Madrid provides Sergio Ramos, Pepe and Marcelo, while Manchester United has Patrice Evra and Rio Ferdinand.

Tottenham's Gareth Bale has also reached the defensive shortlist, despite playing the bulk of his games for club and country as a winger.

Interesting choice: Tottenham's Gareth Bale

Interesting choice: Tottenham's Gareth Bale

The shortlist also includes Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus), Mats Hummels (Borussia Dortmund), Vincent Kompany (Manchester City), Philipp Lahm (Bayern Munich) and Thiago Silva (Paris Saint-Germain).

The FIFPro World XI, chosen by 50,000 members of the global players' union, will be announced on January 7 at the FIFA Ballon D'Or gala in Zurich.

Rafael Benitez – can he get Fernando Torres scoring for Chelsea?

How Rafa's tough love fired up Torres at Liverpool… but can even he galvanise the 50m Chelsea flop

|

UPDATED:

12:50 GMT, 22 November 2012

The idea is simple. Having watched three managers fail during the course of two years to make Fernando Torres look a 50million striker, Roman Abramovich has appointed the man who made the Spaniard the most devastating forward in the world.

Where Carlo Ancelotti, Andre Villas-Boas and Roberto Di Matteo failed, surely Benitez will arrive at Chelsea, make a couple of adjustments and then, hey presto, Torres will be wreaking havoc again, as he did when the pair were last together at Anfield

If only things were so straightforward.

Happier times: Fernando Torres excelled at Liverpool under Rafa Benitez

Happier times: Fernando Torres excelled at Liverpool under Rafa Benitez

Happier times: Spanish hitman Fernando Torres excelled at Liverpool under Rafa Benitez

It may be true Benitez is the one coach in the world who knows Torres better than anyone but things have changed since their days on Merseyside and it is not a given that the goals will start flowing now he is in the Stamford Bridge dugout.

Here’s why: for starters, Benitez had been moulding his Liverpool team for three years before he signed Torres from Atletico Madrid. All along, he had been working meticulously, trying to find the right combinations. Before Torres arrived, he had tried five different strikers in the main role.

Djbiril Cisse, Milan Baros, Peter Crouch, Craig Bellamy and Fernando Morientes all had chances to thrive in front of what the Kop used to call 'the best midfield in the world' – Xabi Alonso, Momo Sissoko, Steven Gerrard and Javier Mascherano – but the magic only happened when Torres arrived.

For two seasons, with Alonso feeding Gerrard and Gerrard delivering balls to Torres, that triumvirate were practically unplayable. It wasn’t aesthetically beautiful football, like the kind Barcelona play, but it was devastatingly effective; relentless and ruthless. Torres loved it.

Hitman: At Liverpool, Torres regularly haunted opponents - including Chelsea

Hitman: At Liverpool, Torres regularly haunted opponents – including Chelsea

‘Rafa Benitez has been the most important coach in my career,’ Torres said in an interview with Esquire last year. ‘It wasn’t easy for me to leave Atletico, come to England and play in a much faster game that is more dynamic and physical than La Liga.

‘Rafa has been the only one who knew how to help me improve. His priority is the team but he adapts the conditions to make everyone fit in the team. That’s his secret.’

Chelsea clearly bought players this summer to get the best out Torres and di Matteo clearly set his team up to help Torres flourish but if the camaraderie and understanding isn’t there, no amount of money will fix things. Don not forget that some knee injuries Torres suffered may have taken a toll.

The other thing that Torres doesn’t have at Chelsea that he did at Anfield is that absolute, total love and affection from supporters. Torres was deified on Merseyside. He could flit in and out of games, knowing that there would never be a bad word or catcalls if he missed a chance.

He, in turn, loved the people of Liverpool. He wanted to score goals to repay their faith and, as a result, the atmosphere and environment was conducive to him succeeding. He will never get those conditions and Stamford Bridge and he has known that for quite some time.

Drought: Since swapping red for blue, Torres has failed to impress at Chelsea

Drought: Since swapping red for blue, Torres has failed to impress at Chelsea

Do not think, either, Torres will be afforded favouritism. Benitez has never been afraid to call Torres out if things were wrong, while Torres has not always agreed with Benitez: the day he was substituted at St Andrews, in April 2010, during a 1-1 draw with Birmingham is a case in point.

When Torres walked out the ground that afternoon, he was smouldering that Benitez had dragged him off when Liverpool needed a goal, so angry that he could barely speak, but the manager was unrepentant. Torres was not doing the job he wanted and that was enough to prompt a change.

‘Rafa taught me to demand the maximum of myself every day and never to relax,’ Torres once said. ‘When you are in a team that is doing well the players tend to relax, but you should always push yourself, never relax and try to give your maximum every day.

‘You can’t stop after scoring 20 goals and say “Done it, there you are”''

After scoring 20 goals for Benitez’s team, he comes to you in training and pushes you more every day, all week. He shows you more drills. There are days when you think ‘Good God, this bloke doesn’t let me breathe’.

‘There are times when you don’t realise that he only wants you to improve, to progress in life, to never stop. You need a person close to you to help you do it. You can’t do it any other way.’

With Benitez, it is all about tough love. Torres knows this will be no easy ride but, if the goals start flowing, the controversial appointment Abramovich had made will be vindicated.

Joe Cole Liverpool career not over yet

Get off his back and give him a break! Talented Joe Cole still has plenty to offer

|

UPDATED:

16:56 GMT, 9 November 2012

How do you solve a problem like Joe Cole It is a question that is being asked over and over, on Merseyside and beyond, as the Liverpool midfielder battles to recapture former glories.

No player in Brendan Rodgers’ squad currently evokes more opinion and discussion than the man who arrived at Anfield in the summer of 2010 as a high-profile Bosman signing, being touted as the player who would make Liverpool tick again.

If there was initial excitement at the thought of Cole linking seamlessly and thrillingly with Steven Gerrard, Javier Mascherano and Fernando Torres, it was soon replaced by apathy as his form plummeted and now the vast majority on the Kop would be keen to see him leave.

Scroll down to the read the reaction to Sportsmail's verdict on Joe Cole on Thursday night.

Joe Cole

Joe Cole

Game over Joe Cole has failed to rediscover his form since returning to Liverpool from a loan spell in France

There is little point Cole being at
Anfield on such a lucrative contract if he is not going to play and
Rodgers would not stand in his way if a suitable offer was to arrive in
January. In many ways, a move would probably suit all parties but not to
a place like Spartak Moscow, as was mooted in August.

Rodgers needs the money to bolster
his squad, Cole wants – and needs – to play regularly and there would be
little disappointment among Liverpudlians if the curtain was brought
down on his spell on Merseyside.

Rarely in football, however, are
situations so straight-forward, which is why there is some confusion
about what will happen next for the former England international.
Liverpool might want him to go but finding a club to take Cole is going
to require lengthy negotiations.

So what are Cole’s options

Rough and tumble: Cole was part of the Liverpool side who lost to Anzhi in the Europea League on Thursday

Rough and tumble: Cole was part of the Liverpool side who lost to Anzhi in the Europea League on Thursday

BE PRAGMATIC

Return to Lille. Newcastle midfielder
Yohan Cabaye caused a stir when he chose to offer Cole some career
advice on the pages of L’Equipe but there is substance to what Cabaye
says. Lille coach Rudi Garcia loved working with Cole last season during
his loan spell and would take him back in a flash.

‘It is important for someone like Joe
to come into a team and feel wanted,’ Garcia said after Cole made his
debut in Ligue 1 last September against St Etienne. ‘The player has got
to be confident. For the player to be confident, it is necessary for the
coach to give him that confidence.’

Lille have found things difficult
this season with Cole and Eden Hazard and they face a battle to get back
into the Champions League again. Cole, however, flourished in France
last season and benefitted from the slightly steadier tempo of the game.

Cole loved his year in France; his
young family settled well in Lille and embraced the adventure. The city
and club retain a place in their affections and if an arrangement could
be worked out, there is reason to believe something might occur.

Under fire: Cole (right) was also criticised for his performance against Swansea in the Premier League

Under fire: Cole (right) was also criticised for his performance against Swansea in the Premier League

BE ROMANTIC

Return to West Ham. If Cole was to go
back to the club where his career started, he would be guaranteed hero
status. They say you should never go back but Cole would be afforded
time to find his feet by West Ham’s fans and he is the type of character
with whom Sam Allardyce excels.

But how much would Allardyce’s style
of play suit Cole While it is difficult to dispute the allure behind
seeing Cole in claret-and-blue once again, would it be sensible to join a
team if he is not going to flourish in the system.

For all the talk of taking him back
to Upton Park, there has never been a concrete offer for Cole, who
celebrated his 31st birthday on Thursday.

Happier times: Cole thrived during a loan spell with Lille last season and could yet return

Happier times: Cole thrived during a loan spell with Lille last season and could yet return

OR BE TOUGH

Stay at Liverpool. Contrary to what
some may think, Cole is not content sitting back and collecting his
wages. It frustrates him that he cannot play regularly and frustrates
him even more when he gets a chance and the performance he wants to
deliver doesn’t follow.

Realistically, he is going to
struggle to get too many opportunities in the Barclays Premier League
under Rodgers – he has only racked up 32 minutes this season – but there
were brighter signs from him in Moscow on Thursday in the defeat to
Anzhi Makhachkala.

Until Cole is told otherwise, he do
all he can to try and turn his fortunes around at Liverpool, regardless
of how difficult that may be. Nobody is more frustrated than him that he
has not starred in a Red shirt but he won’t call it quits.

Whether
Rodgers sees that is another matter.

What you've been saying about Joe Cole:

Cole has plenty to offer…

Digger: 'Joe, as a Chelsea fan, you'll always be remembered, but you should have stayed in France where your play improved.'

tet1963: 'He should go back to Lille and enjoy his football at least he'd be playing for a good team!'

Charles Grey: 'Joe is one of those players who had his best years in his early to mid twenties and then hit south at about 28. His agent must be fantastic and Joe ought to be so grateful. To get him the deal he did at Liverpool was a master stroke.'

Wiff: 'JC was great at West Ham and Chelsea, and he has a fit wife. Leave the bloke alone!'

Wudi: 'He is in desperate need of some game time. There were glimpses of the old Joe, but that’s about it…'

Ben: 'We'll have him back at West Ham, Big Sam would
know how to get the best out of him, just like Andy Carroll. Form is
temporary, class is permanent.'

Robert: 'Comparing Joe to Shelvey! Do me a favour, Joe at 16 was head and shoulders above Shelvey's ability now. Feel very sorry for Joe, complete shadow. Take a wage cut (like free) and come back to the Hammers, get your form back and get a new contract. Tthat would be a dream.'

Cole He's past it…

chrisgray163: 'Anyone remember Harry Kewell Same thing with Cole: he came for the big money, got injuries and basically couldn't be bothered after a great earlier career.'

Gazza: 'Joe, you were rubbish last night (against Anzi), you just kept falling over at every opportunity, please go back to France and take a pay cut…'

Rhh83: 'Listen, I think that Cole is finished and the time cannot come quick enough until LFC get him off their wage bill’

Boyce Autos: 'As a Spurs supporter I'm glad he went to Liverpool for the money after turning his mentor Harry down. The guy has mentally burnt out and it shows in all aspects of his Liverpool career.'

JohnnyBravo: ''He will stay for the cash but he was a great talent and to be remembered that way he needs to move on quick and play every week,'

Jah Live: 'He should have stayed at West Ham. If he did have to move then he should have stayed in London…!!! The move to Liverpool was stupid…!'

Rupert: Sorry Joe, but you haven't impressed since you return.

Craig D: 'Go back to Lille, or Chelski! Joe Cole, you are not wanted in Liverpool.'

Celtic 2 Barcelona 1 – match report

Celtic 2 Barcelona 1: Wanyama and Watt sink Barca to celebrate Bhoys' 125th birthday in style

|

UPDATED:

22:26 GMT, 7 November 2012

Parkhead witnessed one of its greatest nights as goals from Victor Wanyama and substitute Tony Watt gave Celtic a momentous Champions League victory over Barcelona.

It was a Group G clash that the Hoops were not supposed to win but the east end of Glasgow exploded in the 21st minute when midfielder Wanyama headed in from a Charlie Mulgrew corner.

It was backs-to-the-wall stuff for most of the game for the home side as the star-studded visitors hit the woodwork twice and goalkeeper Fraser Forster pulled off a number of vital saves.

Disbelief: 18-year-old Tony Watt took 11 minutes before scoring against Barcelona

Disbelief: 18-year-old Tony Watt took 11 minutes before scoring against Barcelona

Keep your cool: Tony Watt (left) slotted home late in the game to put the result beyond doubt

Keep your cool: Tony Watt (left) slotted home late in the game to put the result beyond doubt

Flying start: Victor Wanyama wheeled away as Parkhead erupted early in the first half

Flying start: Victor Wanyama wheeled away as Parkhead erupted early in the first half

Mismatch: Wanyama out-jumped Jordi Alba to put the header beyond Victor Valdes

Mismatch: Wanyama out-jumped Jordi Alba to put the header beyond Victor Valdes

MATCH FACTS

Celtic: Forster, Matthews, Ambrose, Wilson, Mulgrew, Lustig (Watt 72), Commons, Ledley, Wanyama, Miku, Samaras (Kayal 79)

Subs not used: Zaluska, Fraser, McCourt, Herron, McGeouch

Booked: Miku

Goals: Wanyama 21, Watt 83

Barcelona: Valdes, Alves, Bartra (Pique 71), Alba, Xavi, Iniesta, Messi, Mascherano, Song (Fabregas 71), Sanchez (Villa 67), Pedro

Subs not used: Pinto, Montoya, Jonathan, Cristian Tello

Booked: Song, Alba

Goal: Messi 90

Referee: Kuipers

Latest Champions League results, fixtures and table

But in the 83rd minute 18-year-old
Watt, on for Mikael Lustig to make his debut in the competition, raced
away to score the second, leaving Lionel Messi's late strike a
consolation.

Celtic, with seven points from four
games, two less than leaders Barca, travel to Benfica before hosting
Spartak Moscow in their final group fixture and will surely fancy their
chances of reaching the knockout stages of the competition.

Regardless of the Scottish champions'
progress in Europe, the night will live long in the memory of the 60,000
who made their way to Celtic Park on a sodden night.

There had been some frenzied speculation as to who manager Neil Lennon would have available.

As it transpired, the former Celtic skipper suffered an unforeseen blow when skipper Scott Brown dropped out through illness.

Georgios Samaras, however, recovered
from an ankle injury sustained in the Nou Camp last month but as
expected Gary Hooper, Emilio Izaguirre, Thomas Rogne, James Forrest and
Lassad were all missing through various ailments, with Lustig, Efe
Ambrose and Miku also coming into the side which drew 2-2 with Dundee
United at Tannadice on Sunday.

Faces in the crowd: Rod Stewart was in Glasgow to cheer on his side

Faces in the crowd: Rod Stewart was in Glasgow to cheer on his side

Gotcha: Fraser Forster denies the diminutive Lionel Messi as Celtic battled to hold on to their lead

Gotcha: Fraser Forster denies the diminutive Lionel Messi as Celtic battled to hold on to their lead

Gerard Pique was added to Barcelona's
squad after returning from a foot injury but he started on the bench,
although the Catalan giants paraded their big guns in Messi, Andres
Iniesta and Xavi.

There was a card display before the
kick-off to celebrate Celtic's 125th anniversary which added to the
terrific atmosphere at kick-off time.

Stand-in captain Samaras led the line
for the home side supported by Miku, but like the rest of the Celtic
side they were soon chasing Barcelona around looking to gain possession.

Alexis Sanchez and Messi had early efforts for the visitors who soon fell into their familiar, dominating pattern.

Barca were perhaps fortunate in the
18th minute when midfielder Alex Song, earlier booked for a challenge on
Miku, fouled the same player and received no further punishment from
referee Bjorn Kuipers.

We are wailing: Emotions got the better of Rod Stewart as he burst into tears after the final whistle

We are wailing: Emotions got the better of Rod Stewart as he burst into tears after the final whistle

We are wailing: Emotions got the better of Rod Stewart as he burst into tears after the final whistle

However, the home fans were unconcerned about that when Wanyama gave them a sensational lead.

The Catalans had conceded from a
set-piece in the Nou Camp and looked equally ropey when the Kenyan rose
above rookie defender Marc Bartra at the back post to bullet in
Mulgrew's corner from the right.

Tito Vilanova's side went up a couple
of gears and hemmed Celtic in at the edge of their own penalty area and
in the 29th minute Iniesta set up Messi and his first-time strike
clipped the bar on the way over.

Celtic were under relentless pressure
and in the 33rd minute Jordi Alba fired the ball across the six-yard box
after being played in by Alexis Sanchez but found no takers.

Moments later, the Chilean forward glanced a header from a Dani Alves cross off the post and Celtic Park breathed again.

Swamped: Andres Iniesta (centre) is surrounded by Hoops players

Swamped: Andres Iniesta (centre) is surrounded by Hoops players

Tough luck: Forster pats Messi on the back after the forward fails to beat him

Tough luck: Forster pats Messi on the back after the forward fails to beat him

Five minutes from the break, with the
home side defending with equal measures of diligence and desperation,
Forster thwarted Messi as he attempted to get on the end of another
Jordi Alba cross.

The second half began in similar style to the first with Barca taking control, switching from left to right and back again.

Alves flashed the ball across Forster's six-yard box but again there was no one in blue and red to take advantage.

In the 56th minute Messi tried to beat
Forster with a left-footed curler from 20 yards but the England squad
member was equal to the task and soon made a good save from Alexis
Sanchez's angled drive after Messi had split open the defence.

Despite all their possession,
Barcelona looked vulnerable at the back and Mulgrew might have punished
them in the 63rd minute when he had a sight of goal but Bartra managed
to block. Song was allowed another foul on Miku to the anger of the
Celtic fans, before he was replaced by Cesc Fabregas, with Pique on for
Bartra and Watt on for Lustig.

Have that! Celtic players went berserk after Wanyama put the side into the lead

Have that! Celtic players went berserk after Wanyama put the side into the lead

Frustrating: Messi tried to sneak the ball round the corner to get Barca back into the game

Frustrating: Messi tried to sneak the ball round the corner to get Barca back into the game

Good to see: Fans of both Barcelona and Celtic soaked up the atmosphere in Glasgow's Merchant Square before the match

Good to see: Fans of both Barcelona and Celtic soaked up the atmosphere in Glasgow's Merchant Square before the match

Before the substitutions, Forster flew through the air to make a great save from Messi.

Beram Kayal replaced Samaras with 10
minutes remaining before Forster made yet another save from Messi, this
time from a 25-yard free-kick.

But there was much more drama when
Watt escaped the Barca defence and Xavi from Forster's long ball before
driving a right-footed shot past Victor Valdes to double Celtic's lead.

There was bedlam inside Parkhead which
gave way to some nerves when Messi scored from close range in the 90th
minute after Forster had parried a strike from Pedro, but it was to be
the home side's night, and a famous night at that.

CELTIC'S GREATEST EUROPEAN NIGHTS

Neil Lennon

Celtic's stunning 2-1 victory over Barcelona in Glasgow will rank among the greatest ever nights for the Scottish giants. Here Sportsmail looks at some of the other famous European results in club history.

Champions League, Nov 21 2006 – Celtic 1 Manchester United 0

Shunsuke Nakamura scored from an 81st minute free-kick to give Celtic a famous victory over Sir Alex Ferguson's men. The result sent Celtic through to the second round of the Champions League for the first time in their history.

Champions League, Oct 3 2007 – Celtic 2 AC Milan 1

Celtic stunned reigning European champions AC Milan on a rainy night in Glasgow. Kaka equalised an opener from Stephen McManus before Scott McDonald fired a late winner for the home side.

UEFA Cup, Mar 11 2004 – Celtic 1 Barcelona 0

Alan Thompson scored the winner and three players – Celtic's Rab Douglas and Barca's Thiago Motta and Javier Saviola – were sent off in a stormy Parkhead encounter. Celtic would cling on for a goalless draw in the second leg at the Nou Camp.

UEFA Cup, Mar 20 2003 – Liverpool 0 Celtic 2

Celtic moved into the UEFA Cup quarter-finals by completing a 3-1 aggregate win over Liverpool at Anfield. Alan Thompson and John Hartson gave the Scottish side a comfortable win.

European Cup, May 25 1967 – Celtic 2 Inter Milan 1

Celtic made history by becoming the first British team to be crowned European champions. The 'Lisbon Lions', as they came to be known, triumphed through second half goals from Tommy Gemmell and Stevie Chalmers.

European Cup, Apr 15 1970 – Celtic 2 Leeds 1

In a match played in front of 138,000 at Hampden Park, Celtic booked their place in their second European Cup final. John Hughes and Bobby Murdoch scored to give Jock Stein's men a 3-1 aggregate win.

Robin van Persie faces Arsenal as six players line up against former clubs

Don't worry Robin it's not just you: Six Premier League stars set to face former clubs

|

UPDATED:

12:19 GMT, 2 November 2012

It’s one of English football’s finest fixtures, but much of the focus on this Saturday’s clash between Manchester United and Arsenal at Old Trafford will centre on Robin van Persie as he prepares to face his former club.

It will be the first time the United striker lines up against the Gunners since he controversially departed the north London club last summer – but he isn’t the only one up against familiar opposition.

Five other Premier League stars are set to feature against former clubs this weekend, so Sportsmail assesses all six players and how they fared in the colours of the teams they represented earlier in their career.

Red alert: Robin van Persie has scored nine goals for Manchester United

Red alert: Robin van Persie has scored nine goals for Manchester United

Carlos Tevez (West Ham 2006-07)

Tevez arrived with a bang in the Premier League after joining West Ham along with Javier Mascherano in a shock double switch from Corinthians.

The forward struggled for much of the season in a team battling against relegation. But he scored his first goal in a 4-3 defeat against Tottenham in March 2007, before netting a further six in the remaining nine games to keep the Hammers up and become a cult hero in the east end.

Happy Hammer: Carlos Tevez's (centre) seven goals in his last 10 West Ham games helped the club avoid relegation from the Premier League

Happy Hammer: Carlos Tevez's (centre) seven goals in his last 10 West Ham games helped the club avoid relegation from the Premier League

What happened next After just one season, Tevez left for Manchester United where he would win the league title twice and the Champions League before controversially moving to Manchester City in 2009.

Robin van Persie (Arsenal 2004-2012)

In a team which still had Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp, Van Persie’s 2.75million arrival from Feyenoord was relatively low key for the 20-year-old – despite his promising potential.

Right from the start the Dutchman looked to fit the mould but consistent injuries meant the Gunners were often left wanting more. That was until last season when a rare injury-free campaign resulted in 37 goals from 48 games.

Fan favourite: Van Persie's goals helped him become a terrace hero at Arsenal

Fan favourite: Van Persie's goals helped him become a terrace hero at Arsenal

What happened next The 29-year-old decided not to extend his contract beyond next year after winning just the 2005 FA Cup at Arsenal. The Gunners cashed in and sold their prolific marksman to Manchester United for 24million last summer.

Peter Crouch (Norwich 2003)

Even Norwich fans may struggle to remember Crouch who featured in the Championship for the Canaries on loan from Aston Villa after struggling to break into the first-team at Villa Park.

Four goals (and a red card) followed in 15 appearances before the striker returned to the West Midlands before Christmas.

Standing tall: Peter Crouch (25) found the net four times while on loan at Norwich

Standing tall: Peter Crouch (25) found the net four times while on loan at Norwich

What happened next A move to Southampton in 2004 kick-stared his career before successful transfers to Liverpool, Portsmouth and Tottenham saw him represent England while at all three clubs. The 31-year-old joined Stoke last year and continues to prove a major attacking threat.

Darren Bent (Sunderland 2009-2011)

After a frustrating spell at Tottenham, Bent had a point to prove in the North East after moving to Sunderland for 10million. He took just one season to do it too, after rifling home 25 goals in his first campaign on Wearside.

The striker proved it wasn’t a fluke by netting 11 goals at the start of the 2010/11 season but the former Charlton hitman incurred the wrath of the Sunderland supporters after securing a shock 24milllion switch to Aston Villa in January last year.

Revenge: Darren Bent celebrates after scoring against former club, Tottenham

Revenge: Darren Bent celebrates after scoring against former club, Tottenham

What happened next Bent’s nine goals helped Villa comfortably avoid relegation but an injury hit first full season saw him score just 11 times. Playing under Paul Lambert, his third boss at Villa, Bent has recently lost his first-team place.

Craig Gardner (Aston Villa 2005-2010)

A product of the Villa youth academy, Gardner spent five years at the club featuring mainly as a utility player but he still played 80 times scoring six goals in the process.

After picking up an injury and featuring less for Villa under Martin O’Neill, the midfielder was granted a 3million switch to local rivals Birmingham City in January 2010 – the club he has supported since he was a child.

Euro star: Craig Gardner celebrates his only goal for Aston Villa in the 2008/09 season against Hafnarfjordur in the UEFA Cup

Euro star: Craig Gardner celebrates his only goal for Aston Villa in the 2008/09 season against Hafnarfjordur in the UEFA Cup

What happened next Gardner’s first full season at St Andrew’s was a bitter-sweet affair after the club were relegated from the Premier League just months after winning the Carling Cup. But Sunderland saw enough quality to pay City 6million for the 25-year-old last summer and he continues to feature.

Jose Enrique (Newcastle 2007-2011)

Sam Allardyce’s reign at Newcastle was short but one of his finest hours was securing a deal to bring a 21-year-old Enrique to Tyneside from Villarreal for 6.5m.

The left-back’s performances were inconsistent at first but more often than not he starred, even when the Toon suffered relegation from the Premier League in 2009.

The Spaniard stayed despite interest from the top flight and was a key player in helping guide Newcastle straight back into the Premier League and achieve a respectable 12th place the following season.

Tussle: Jose Enrique in his Newcastle days (right) battles Chelsea's Ramires

Tussle: Jose Enrique in his Newcastle days (right) battles Chelsea's Ramires

What happened next Enrique criticised Newcastle for selling first-team stars and left St James’ Park under a cloud before the start of last season. The 26-year-old joined Kenny Dalglish’s Liverpool for 5million where he won the Carling Cup earlier this year.