Tag Archives: meetings

Juan Mata says he has reached new level under Roberto Di Matteo

Mata says he and Chelsea have 'reached a different level' under Di Matteo's leadership

|

UPDATED:

01:44 GMT, 10 November 2012

Chelsea midfielder Juan Mata believes both he and the club are reaching new heights under Roberto Di Matteo.

While the Blues, who face Liverpool in the Barclays Premier League, won the Champions League last season, their brand of football was far from universally admired.

That has changed this season, though, with former Valencia man Mata at the heart of their new dynamic style.

New heights: Juan Mata (left) believes Chelsea have vastly improved under Roberto Di Matteo

New heights: Juan Mata (left) believes Chelsea have vastly improved under Roberto Di Matteo

'I think the football we're playing has taken the club, and my game, to a different level,' Mata told the Daily Mirror.

'We are playing the kind of football I have always loved to play, with freedom up front, all of us trying to pass and create with quality.'

On manager Di Matteo he added: 'His speeches in team meetings are very clever. And it's true that he knows how to go into each player. He talks with each of us about our rivals and how important it is to win trophies for this club.

'With me, he always gave me confidence. Of course, when you are playing well you don't need that. But when you are in a bad moment, you do need it, and Robbie knows when he has to say something and always gave that to me.'

Individual: Mata believes his personal game has come on leaps and bounds under the Italian

Individual: Mata believes his personal game has come on leaps and bounds under the Italian

Roman Abramovich team-talk inspired Chelsea to Champions League – Salomon Kalou

Revealed: The team-talk from Roman that inspired Chelsea to European glory

|

UPDATED:

21:30 GMT, 20 October 2012

You can picture the scene: John Terry, Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole and Didier Drogba are sat in the team room, waiting for the owner, Roman Abramovich, to address his employees.

You can imagine one or two players might shift nervously in their seats as the Russian oligarch reminds them that his money brought them to the club and that he can just as easily dispense with them.

For six years, Salomon Kalou was an integral part of the squad and experienced almost all football has to offer, from the Champions League victory to the seven different managers; from the Premier League and FA Cup double to the fall-out from John Terry racially abusing an opponent.

Inspiring: Roman Abramovich spoke to the players before Chelsea's Munich triumph

Inspiring: Roman Abramovich spoke to the players before Chelsea's Munich triumph

But still, it is those team meetings with Abramovich that stand out most when Kalou, now in France at Lille, talks about his time at Chelsea.

‘That’s the role of the owner, to remind everyone that the only boss is him and we should be working for the best interests of the club — not individuals,’ says Kalou.

‘Roman always reminds us very well and it works every time. I remember he came twice to tell us — once in Carlo Ancelotti’s time and we won the double. And he came again after AVB [Andre Villas-Boas’s sacking] and we won the Champions League.’

They cannot have been comfortable encounters but Kalou insists the players were not fearful of Abramovich. ‘No,’ he says. ‘We weren’t scared. But he doesn’t speak all the time, so when he does you listen.

‘Maybe if he backs off, it won’t work. Because when you invest in ideas, you really want them to work. Sometimes you have to remind people, “I’m the one doing that. You have to do it the right way”. It’s important because people seem to forget when it’s difficult [and say], “Oh, Chelsea have been here for eight years. We don’t have to work hard, we will just play and I’m going to be playing anyway”.

‘So, if the manager doesn’t, it’s important for someone to remind the players, “You have been here for six years but I can change the team any time I want, so you better get back to the pitch and do the job right”.

‘I think, if you see the results, it is positive. He has the idea, “I want to run this club, I want things to work”. He wanted to win the Champions League and then he won it, so it was worth it — doing all that.’

Worth it, perhaps, but it is still not conventional man-management. /10/20/article-2220733-13323399000005DC-376_634x416.jpg” width=”634″ height=”416″ alt=”Parade: Chelsea players with their trophies from what was an amazing season” class=”blkBorder” />

Parade: Chelsea players with their trophies from what was an amazing season

‘Every time I got to the level where I had convinced a manager that I should be in the team and play regularly, the manager was sacked. So you have to go back to the beginning because you don’t have the stature that some players have when a new manager comes in [and] automatically he knows that he is going to need them to be in the team because they are the main players.

New role: Salomon Kalou is now one of the more experienced players

New role: Salomon Kalou is now one of the more experienced players

‘So you have to convince the new manager
and when you convince him at the end, he gets sacked again. You go
through the same emotion every season and you think it’s never going to
happen.’

Not so now. At Lille, French champions two years ago in a team in which Eden Hazard, Gervinho and Yohan Cabaye played, Kalou will be one of the senior players when they take on Bayern Munich in the Champions League this week. ‘I can say that my stature as a player has changed,’ he says.

‘I’m seen as more of a main player than I was at Chelsea. The players and coaches and fans expect me to bring that little something that can change the game. I have more responsibility.’

The almost constant state of crisis
management at Chelsea, from the air-rifle shooting in the dressing room
to managerial sackings, at least forged a team dynamic, according to
Kalou.

‘We constantly had
to cope with that and that made us stronger,’ he says. ‘If you are
talking mentally, the strongest team in England for the last six years
have always been Chelsea.

‘Any
issue that happened, we’re always going to talk about it. Because we
knew each other for so long and we have that relationship among each
other where we joke about stuff, we talk about everything. So we would
never get disturbed by any kind of situation.’

Nevertheless,
one issue remained undiscussed: Terry’s racial insult, directed at
Anton Ferdinand a year ago. Kalou says that was because he trusted
Terry. ‘Do I think he’s a racist No, because I never have that
experience with him personally,’ he adds.

‘When we saw it, we didn’t feel it
personally. We never went, “Oh, wow. Why did he say that” We never
talked about it because, for us, we judge him as he acted with us. I see
the person I go training with every day and how he treated me. I never
had a problem with him like that.’

Try and try again: Kalou had to make his mark on every new Chelsea manager

Try and try again: Kalou had to make his mark on every new Chelsea manager

Kalou’s only experience of racism, he says, was in Holland as a young player from some opposition fans. ‘When we played against other teams sometimes, we got it from the fans, they bully you and stuff. But in England, never.’

In contrast, life at Lille must seem sedate. The manager, Rudi Garcia, has been in place for four years; there are no race rows brewing and no youth team players have been shot in the dressing room.

‘That’s what makes Chelsea, Chelsea,’ says Kalou. ‘There is always something going on. If it isn’t on the pitch, it is off the pitch.’

For now, though, the soap opera is over and Kalou can focus on the football.

Craig Levein in final bid to keep his job

Last orders! As Scotland face crunch in Belgium, Levein makes final bid to keep his job

|

UPDATED:

23:05 GMT, 15 October 2012

Craig Levein insists he is still the man to lead Scotland from the international wilderness.

Under intense pressure to save his job by beating World Cup qualifying group leaders Belgium here on Tuesday night, the Fifer believes his side have one huge result in their locker.

Others remain unconvinced, however, with the clamour for the SFA to act certain to reach a crescendo if Levein fails to deliver a victory over the star-studded hosts in the King Baudouin Stadium.

Big ask: Craig Levein knows his job is under threat if results continue

Big ask: Craig Levein knows his job is under threat if results continue

Claiming that chopping and changing managers is not the answer to the nation’s woes, the 47-year-old maintained he is still the man to get results for Scotland — despite damaging evidence to the contrary so far.

Asked if he felt he was still the right man for the job, Levein replied: ‘Yes I do. I believe in what I am doing. Whatever happens will happen. It is outwith my control.

‘All I am saying to you is that I know how much work has gone into the point we are at now. And I just feel we are a small fraction away from the one result which turns everything.’

Levein insisted he is oblivious to the debate raging over his future in Scotland, which has hit fever pitch following the 2-1 defeat against Wales in Cardiff, and refuses to entertain any queries over his future.

‘I don’t even think about it,’ he said. ‘All I can do is concentrate on the games. After Friday night’s result, we had to get over the disappointment, get on to the training ground, have team meetings and focus on this next match.

‘To me, thinking about anything else, or worrying about anything else, is counter-productive. Those decisions (concerning his future) are not mine. I firmly believe in what we’re doing, I really do.

Controversy: Scotland were denied a clear goal before Gareth Bale's heroics

Controversy: Scotland were denied a clear goal before Gareth Bale's heroics

Controversy: Scotland were denied a clear goal before Gareth Bale's heroics

Controversy: Scotland were denied a clear goal before Gareth Bale's heroics

‘What I need more than anything else — to convince other people — is to get some results.’

The Scotland boss remains angered by the decisions of the German officials in Cardiff last Friday.

A disallowed goal for Steven Fletcher robbed the Scots of a two-goal lead with only 15 minutes remaining and pre-empted a Welsh comeback inspired by the brilliance of Gareth Bale.

Levein accepts that he will be judged by results but claimed that axing a succession of managers had done nothing to arrest the nation’s cycle of international decline in the last 14 years.

‘We have not qualified (for a major tournament) since 1998 — that’s a fact,’ he said. ‘And you can chop and change managers as many times as you want and say: “That manager didn’t work and that manager didn’t work and that one didn’t work”.

‘What happens then is you go out and look for another manager who is the Messiah and he is going to make everything work.

‘But I keep saying that the teams at the top of the tree are the ones that have actually put a system in place to produce players. This is me talking about the long game — this is not about just now.’

Robbie Grabarz wins Diamond League high jump

Grabarz seals Diamond League high jump title with second place finish in Zurich

|

UPDATED:

21:44 GMT, 30 August 2012

Robbie Grabarz won the right to compete at his first world championships in Moscow next year when he won the 25,000 prize as the season’s Diamond League champion in the high jump on Thursday night.

A wild card into the championships goes to the winner of each event’s overall winner of Diamond League titles, and Grabarz won by finishing runner-up to Olympic champion Ivan Ukhov in the penultimate League meeting in Zurich.

Winner: Robbie Grabarz competes in the men's high jump event

Winner: Robbie Grabarz competes in the men's high jump event

Grabarz, the Olympic bronze
medallist, had only to beat world champion Jesse Williams to lead the
points scorers, and that was confirmed when Williams crashed out with a
best of 2.25 metres while Grabarz achieved 2.28 at the second attempt.
Ukhov managed 2.31 at the third attempt.

Grabarz admits to having been
penniless in January after his Lottery support was taken away because of
poor performances last year and close to living off his credit card.
Now he has won 52,000 in Diamond League meetings alone, with three
first, two second and a third place.

‘European champion, Olympic medallist and Diamond League winner. I haven’t any words to describe my feelings,’ he said.

Success: Sanya Richards-Ross from the USA celebrates after winning the women's 400m

Success: Sanya Richards-Ross from the USA celebrates after winning the women's 400m

Britain's men's 4x100m relay team, led home by Adam Gemili, also put on a good performance to come home third behind the United States and Jamaica.

There was disappointment for Christine Ohuruogu in the women's 400m, with the Briton finishing last in a race won by American Sanya Richards-Ross.

Hannah England finished a creditable sixth in the 1,500m though, while British compatriot Laura Weightman crossed the finishing line in 13th.

Surprise: Ethiopian Mohammed Aman celebrates his victory over Kenyan David Rudisha in the 800m

Surprise: Ethiopian Mohammed Aman celebrates his victory over Kenyan David Rudisha in the 800m

In other events, Kenya's David Rudisha, who set a new world record on his way to Olympic gold in London, was pipped to victory in the 800m by Ethiopia's Mohammed Aman – who took the Diamond League series as a result.

Another Olympic champion, Jamaica's Shelley-Ann Fraser-Pryce, beat great rival Carmelita Jeter to win the women's 100m in 10.83s.

Tottenham boss Andre Villas-Boas to show FIVE the door

Gallas leads five out Spurs exit as AVB trims his squad to make room for Damiao

|

UPDATED:

21:45 GMT, 6 August 2012

Fantasy football 2012

Andre Villas-Boas will start his Tottenham cull this week after finalising a list players he deems surplus to requirements.

The Portuguese manager wanted to give each member of the Spurs squad a chance to prove themselves during the opening few weeks of his White Hart Lane reign.

Tottenham returned from their three-match US tour on Tuesday before beating Championship side Watford 1-0 in a pre-season friendly on Sunday.

Pastures new: William Gallas and Jermaine Jenas are among those leaving Spurs

Pastures new: Jermaine Jenas and William Gallas lead the names leaving Spurs

Pastures new: William Gallas and Jermaine Jenas are among those out of Spurs

And Villas-Boas has now decided which players he feels have no future at the club under his leadership.

The former Chelsea manager will inform the squad members who will be allowed to leave White Hart Lane ahead of the new season in a series of private meetings, which are understood to be planned for this week.

David Bentley, Jermaine Jenas, Sebastien Bassong, William Gallas and Kyle Naughton are all expected to be told they can leave this summer, while a number of the club's youngsters will be made available for loan.

Sandro, Steven Caulker and Gio Dos Santos will be given extra time to prove their credentials due to their involvement in the Olympic Games.

Looking to the future: Andre Villas-Boas wants to shape his squad

Looking to the future: Andre Villas-Boas wants to shape his squad

Meanwhile, Villas-Boas will step up his quest to strengthen the Tottenham squad this week.

The club are considering resurrecting their attempts to sign long-term target Leandro Damiao as they continue to be frustrated in their move to sign Manchester City striker Emmanuel Adebayor on a permanent deal.

Fulham forward Moussa Dembele is also interesting Villas-Boas.

Horse racing tips: Friday, Monday, June 25 2012

All the top tips and best bets for Monday, June 25

Your complete tipping guide for Monday's race meetings from Racemail's stable of speculators.

Horse racing

WORK WHISPER

GARMELOW GIRL (Thirsk, 6.20)

LAY OF THE DAY

CYRUS SOD (Chepstow, 3.00)

BURNT FINGERS

GEORGE BENJAMIN (Thirsk, 7.50)

CAPTAIN HEATH:

ROCKY REEF (Chepstow, 4.30)

FORMCAST SPECIAL BET

ELECTRIC QATAR (Wolverhampton, 2.45)

WIZARD:

AMIR PASHA (Thirsk, 6.30)

ROBIN GOODFELLOW SELECTIONS

Chepstow

2.30 Hamilton Hill

3.00 Bank Bonus

3.30 Hallings Comet

4.00 Viscount Vert

4.30 Rocky Reef

5.00 Full Shilling

5.30 Two Turtle Doves (nb)

Thirsk

6.20 Moss Quito

6.50 Strikemaster

7.20 Silken Express

7.50 Defence Council

8.20 Bavarian Nordic

8.50 Borderlescott

9.20 Fama Mac

Windsor

6.10 Al Aqabah

6.40 Front Page News

7.10 Heyward Girl

7.40 Presburg

8.10 Admiralty

8.40 Gabrial's King

Wolverhampton

2.15 Spartan King

2.45 Electric Qatar (nap)

3.15 Tiablo

3.45 Miako

4.15 Mugazala

4.45 Ishikawa

5.15 Yes Mam

5.45 Marksbury

London 2012 Olympics: Aaron Cook suffers setback

Cook running out of options after taekwondo star suffers double blow

|

UPDATED:

16:59 GMT, 23 June 2012

Aaron Cook's bid for a place in Great Britain's Olympic taekwondo team has suffered a double setback.

The British Olympic Association has rejected the latest evidence presented by Cook's representatives that the world No 1 should have been selected for London 2012.

Lutalo Muhammad, the world No 49, was preferred to Cook in the -80kg class following a controversial procedure which required three selection meetings.

Out of options: Aaron Cook looks set to miss out on the Olympics in London

Out of options: Aaron Cook looks set to miss out on the Olympics in London

Cook's camp warned they would take the case to the High Court or the Court of Arbitration for Sport if the BOA did not act on receipt of the pre-action letter.

The High Court now looks like the only option after the BOA declared that CAS was 'not the correct forum' because Cook had not been nominated for selection.

The BOA said in a statement: 'It is the view of the BOA that the Court of Arbitration for Sport is not the correct forum for Aaron Cook's claims to be heard, as the relevant provisions of the Olympic Charter regarding the jurisdiction of CAS and the Olympic Games relate primarily to athletes who have been nominated for selection by their National Governing Bodies.

'It is also the view of the BOA that the letter and evidence from Aaron Cook's attorneys does not provide sufficient new information for the BOA to direct GB Taekwondo to reopen its selection process.

'The BOA review was conducted by in-house and external counsel.'

Cook believes he has been 'cheated' out of his rightful place at the Olympics and that GB Taekwondo are 'bringing the sport into disrepute'.

Following advice from Michael Beloff QC, Cook's lawyers Harbottle and Lewis sent a pre-action letter to the BOA last week outlining their legal case.

That letter included fresh evidence
that Cook's camp believe showed the GB Taekwondo selection process to be
flawed, a claim the BOA have rejected.

Cook's representative Jamie Cunningham said last week: 'Until it's dead we are not giving up.

Best of the best: Cook (left) is ranked No 1 in the world

Best of the best: Cook (left) is ranked No 1 in the world

'It is a disgrace. We should be ashamed in this country that we have a world No 1 that is not going to the Olympics, particularly when UK Sport set a selection criteria about winning gold medals.

'We would prefer not to pursue any legal route. We urge the BOA to reconsider their position and their nomination.

'The BOA, we believe, knows that the British Taekwondo selection process was flawed.

'We will be writing a letter before action to the BOA. We urge the BOA not to make Aaron Cook a victim of a flawed selection process, which they may not have written but they did approve.'

Cook wrote to BOA chairman Lord Moynihan before the third GB Taekwondo selection meeting, expressing 'some worries that were all true' about the process.

That letter was copied to the sports minister Hugh Robertson.

Cook has called on the International Olympic Committee to get involved, and he has demanded UK Sport conduct their own inquiry and expressed his disappointment in the BOA.

'I feel they gave up fighting for me,' said Cook, who described the episode as the toughest experience of his life.

'I am really disappointed with UK Sport. As a UK taxpayer you expect lottery money to be involved in the correct processes.

'The reaction of the WTF has been to investigate British Taekwondo.

Chosen one: Lutalo Muhammad (right)

Chosen one: Lutalo Muhammad (right)

'This suggests UK Sport needs to urgently conduct their own full inquiry into what has happened and why. They just seem to be avoiding the whole issue.

'The sport of taekwondo needs a great Olympics given we have to reapply in 2013 to remain an Olympic sport.

'I am sure the IOC are looking at this whole situation and asking why the world's greatest taekwondo tournament does not include the world No 1.

'I would ask the IOC to consider my situation.'

Cook claimed his non-selection stemmed from his decision to leave the GB Taekwondo training programme 12 months ago to go it alone.

Since deciding to train in a home-made gym in his parents' back garden and assemble his own support team at the cost of 100,000, Cook has won nine of his last 12 tournaments and become the world No 1.

'I always thought it would be impossible for them not to pick me if I won the majority of the tournaments listed in their selection criteria, which I did,' Cook said.

'When I have put the results in I feel like I have been cheated.'

Cunningham called on the BOA and GB Taekwondo to publish the selection criteria, believing that would show their decision to be flawed.

He also urged the WTF to undertake their review into the selection process as quickly as possible.

Usain Bolt sets second fastest 100m this year

Brilliant Bolt flying as Jamaican sees off Powell for second fastest 100m this year

|

UPDATED:

08:53 GMT, 8 June 2012

Usain Bolt flies home to Jamaica on Friday to run in trials for his place in the island’s Olympic team, an
examination about as necessary as asking Stephen Hawking to resit his A
levels.

World champion Yohan Blake’s
challenge awaits him in Kingston — Blake races in New York on Saturday —
but in his present form Bolt is a shoo-in for the team his island will
send to London. After running 9.79sec in Oslo on Thursday, he owns the year’s
three fastest 100 metres times.

Laid back: Usain Bolt beat second-placed Asafa Powell (right) and Justyn Warner (centre), who finished fourth

Laid back: Usain Bolt beat second-placed Asafa Powell (right) and Justyn Warner (centre), who finished fourth

‘I am not yet in the shape where I can say, “Nobody can beat me”. My start is letting me down slightly still,’ said Bolt. ‘I can’t complain but the execution of my race was not perfect.’

For that he blamed shorter starting blocks, introduced by Omega this year to Diamond League meetings. They will be used in the Olympic Games.

‘Too small for my size 13 feet,’ he said.

Strike a pose: Bolt looks favourite for gold in London

Strike a pose: Bolt looks favourite for gold in London

His compatriot Asafa Powell, history’s
most prolific sub-10sec sprinter, clung to him longer than usual after
his superior start and finished with his year’s fastest time of 9.85sec
but that is his 11th defeat by Bolt in the 12 races in which both have
finished.

Britain’s Marlon Devonish came sixth but Mark Lewis-Francis was disqualified.

With Bolt, Blake and Powell now having run the year’s fastest times, the
Jamaican trials two weeks today will be an Olympic prequel. Don’t bet
any money against Bolt.

Friendly rivalry: Botl and powel pose post-race

Friendly rivalry: Botl and Powell pose post-race

Jessica Ennis, the world’s best heptathlete this year, rubbed shoulders
from the next lane in her heat of the 100m hurdles with the world’s best
sprint hurdler, Australian Sally Pearson. That was as close as Ennis got because all she saw of the world champion when the gun fired
was her fast disappearing back. Pearson, whose parents are both
British-born, won her first race of the Olympic summer in Europe in
12.59sec, while Ennis came home third in 12.83, the third fastest run
of her career.

‘Run it like it is two finals,’ were coach Toni Minichiello’s
instructions but Ennis did not get a chance. She was disqualified from
the final for a false start.

Pearson went on to run the year’s fastest time of 12.49sec, with British
record holder Tiffany Porter third in 12.70. There can only be one
winner of this event in London.

Trailing: Sally Pearson (left) won comfortably in a field containing Jessica Ennis (centre)

Trailing: Sally Pearson (left) won comfortably in a field containing Jessica Ennis (centre)

Ennis goes from a highly profitable payday here to an unpaid appearance
on Sunday in Bedford, where she competes in long jump and javelin. Two
weekends later she has her final Games dress rehearsal at the Olympic
Trials in Birmingham when she competes in four individual events.

Dai Greene wore the black and gold kit Nike have given to each of their
world champions but he ran like a man for whom Daegu is a distant
memory. He has a mountain to climb, or at least form to find, if he is
to add to his world, European and Commonwealth 400m hurdles titles in
London.

He was fourth in 48.98sec, fractionally slower than in his only other
race this summer before a summer virus forced him out of his scheduled
race in the Diamond League in Rome last week.

Driving seat: Bolt ran the year's second fastest time

Driving seat: Bolt ran the year's second
fastest time

More significantly, the Puerto Rican Javier Culson extended his lead at
the top of the world rankings with victory in 47.92, the first runner
this year to go under 48 seconds. Greene went into the race saying he
was not as fast as at the same time last year but he was stronger.
Perhaps the virus had sapped him but it was strength he lacked as he
faded in the final straight.

‘I went out aggressively but I struggled from the seventh hurdle on.
It’s disappointing, to be honest. I thought I’d run faster than that. I
wanted a lot more,’ said Greene.

One glorious reminder of potential denied came from Abi Oyepitan, now
32, who finished second in the 200m in 22.71sec, an Olympic standard to
add to the 100m time she had already run. It was her fastest run since
she qualified for the 2004 Olympic final, before a succession of
injuries led to surgery that nearly ended her career.

Popular support: Young fans scream at Bolt

Popular support: Young fans scream at Bolt

Blackpool 1 West Ham 2: Ricardo Vaz Te and Carlton Cole clinch instant return to Premier League

Blackpool 1 West Ham 2: Vaz Te strikes late to clinch instant return to Premier League

|

UPDATED:

16:19 GMT, 19 May 2012

Ricardo Vaz Te's late strike fired West Ham back to the Barclays Premier League after a dramatic play-off final at Wembley.

The Portuguese winger, a bargain 500,000 January signing from Barnsley, earned the Hammers an estimated 90million windfall with the goal which sank Blackpool.

Boss Sam Allardyce vowed to take the club back to what he calls the Promised Land at the first attempt following last season's relegation, and he was as good as his word as his side saw off Ian Holloway's play-off specialists.

Going up: Kevin Nolan lifts the play-off trophy at Wembley after Ricardo Vaz Te (below) sealed victory

Going up: Kevin Nolan lifts the play-off trophy at Wembley after Ricardo Vaz Te (below) sealed victory

Getting shirty: Ricardo Vaz Te started West Ham's Premier League party with a late winner

Match facts

Blackpool: Gilks, Eardley, Baptiste, Evatt, Crainey, Ferguson, Dobbie (Bednar 90), Angel (Dicko 90), Ince, Matt Phillips, Kevin Phillips (Sylvestre 71). Subs not used: Southern, Cathcart.

Scorer: Ince 48.

West Ham: Green, Demel (Faubert 57), Reid, Tomkins, Taylor, O'Neil (McCartney 53), Noble, Nolan, Collison, Cole, Vaz Te. Subs not used: Henderson, Maynard, Lansbury.

Scorers: Cole 35, Vaz Te 87.

Booked: Vaz Te.

Referee: Howard Webb.

Attendance: 78,523.

Carlton Cole had given them the lead in the first half, but Thomas Ince showed he has inherited his dad Paul's uncanny knack of irritating West Ham's fans when he equalised just after the break.

However, after an end-to-end second half it was Blackpool, who were unbeaten in their previous 11 play-off matches, who cracked as Vaz Te rifled in the winner four minutes from time.

They may have been short-priced favourites having put eight goals past Blackpool in their league meetings this season, but West Ham looked extremely twitchy in the opening stages.

After just three minutes Matt Taylor's attempt to chest the ball back to Robert Green fell short and Stephen Dobbie sneaked in behind the left-back.

Fortunately for Taylor, the angle was tight and Dobbie's shot was kept out by a combination of Green and the near post.

Back in the big time: West Ham players celebrate after the final whistle

Back in the big time: West Ham players celebrate after the final whistle

Party time: Hammers

Matt Phillips then twice squandered glorious opportunities to put the Seasiders ahead.

The winger latched onto a ball over the top only to shoot weakly at Green, and passed up an even better chance moments later when Guy Demel slipped, allowing him time to curl a shot narrowly wide.

West Ham eventually settled into the game and a slick move between Cole, Gary O'Neil and Vaz Te ended with the latter hitting the side-netting.

Close range effort: Thomas Ince beats Robert Green to fire Blackpool level

Close range effort: Thomas Ince beats Robert Green to fire Blackpool level

Cole then headed O'Neil's cross over before Jack Collison curled a shot just too high.

And the goal West Ham had been threatening arrived in the 33rd minute when Taylor robbed Ince and charged down the left before sending a cross towards Cole.

The striker took the ball in his stride, held off the challenge of Seasiders defender Ian Evatt and swept the ball past Matt Gilks and into the net.

Level-pegging: Ince levelled in the 48th minute

Level-pegging: Ince levelled in the 48th minute

Vaz Te could have doubled the lead before half-time but he dragged his shot wide.

Instead, two minutes after the restart Blackpool hit the Hammers with a sucker-punch.

Cole gave the ball away near the halfway line and Matt Phillips raced forward before swinging in a diagonal cross over the heads of the West Ham defence and right to the feet of Ince.

Opener: Carlton Cole beats Matt Gilks to fire West Ham into the lead

Opener: Carlton Cole beats Matt Gilks to fire West Ham into the lead

The winger, whose every touch was jeered by the Hammers fans who never forgave Ince senior for the manner in which he left the club some 23 years ago, still had plenty to do.

But he found a superb finish his dad would have been proud of, firing the ball across Green and inside the far post.

With West Ham reeling, Blackpool almost went ahead moments later when Kevin Phillips played in Alex Baptiste, who dinked the ball over Green only for Taylor to clear the danger on the line.

Sea of orange: Cole celebrates in front of the Blackpool fans

Sea of orange: Cole celebrates in front of the Blackpool fans

Back came West Ham and Collison poked Taylor's low cross wide before Gilks made a fine save low down to deny Cole, while at the other end Dobbie missed his kick in front of goal and also forced a fingertip save from Green.

The Hammers were inches away from taking the lead again when substitute George McCartney overlapped down the left and crossed for Nolan, whose first-time volley was tipped onto the crossbar by Gilks.

Running the show: Sam Allardyce and Ian Holloway study the match from the touchline

Running the show: Sam Allardyce and Ian Holloway study the match from the touchline

But the winner arrived four minutes from time in the most dramatic of fashion.

Nolan crossed from the left and Cole's attempt was blocked by Gilks but the ball fell kindly for Vaz Te, who crashed it over the grounded Gilks and into the roof of the net.

Up for it: West Ham fans celebrate Cole's goal

Up for it: West Ham fans celebrate Cole's goal