Tag Archives: mental

Wilfried Zaha can prove himself before he joins Manchester United, says Stuart Pearce

Zaha will show he can handle the big time ahead of United move, says Pearce

and has yet to score but Pearce is set to play him as a central striker in tonight’s friendly against Romania at Wycombe.

The past few months have been high pressure for Zaha. He made his senior England debut in Sweden, joined Manchester United for 15million, was loaned straight back to Palace and earlier this week he was banned for one game by the FA after making an offensive gesture to Leeds supporters.

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Supported: Stuart Pearce is confident Wilfried Zaha can impress

Supported: Stuart Pearce is confident Wilfried Zaha can impress

Pearce, though, has no concerns about Zaha’s mental strength and is expecting him to play a significant role at Euro 2013.

‘We asked Wilf to play centre forward
(against Sweden) last month rather than his natural wide position and we
might do on that again,’ said Pearce. ‘I have to bear in mind that a
lot has happened to Wilf in a short space of time.

‘He’s still one of the younger boys
and will be involved in the next qualification campaign. I’m delighted
with how he’s come in, he seems happy.

Under pressure Zaha's profile has grown considerably this season

Under pressure Zaha's profile has grown considerably this season

ENGLAND UNDER 21 v ROMANIA

ENGLAND (4-2-3-1): Butland; Smith, Dawson, Wisdom, Bennett: Henderson, Shelvey: Sterling, Lansbury, Townsend: Zaha.

Kick-off: 7pm, Adams Park

Referee: Jonathan Lardot (Belgium)

TV: LIVE on ESPN from 6.30pm

'I’m seeing the same kid as I did a
couple of months ago. I think Wilf is one of those nice easy going lads
and not much worries him.

‘That’s the impression I get. We see
exactly the same in him as his football.

'Whether he’s gone to United or
stayed at Palace I’ll view him as the same player that’s learning,
maturing and will get better and better.’

It is likely Pearce will play a strong
team tonight and that will include Danny Rose, who will win his first
cap since being sent-off during the Euro 2013 qualifier against Serbia
in October; the Sunderland defender was also subjected to horrific
racial abuse that evening.

Centre forward Pearce says Zaha may have to play through the middle

Centre forward Pearce says Zaha may have to play through the middle

‘What went on in Serbia had nothing to
do with me not picking Danny,’ said Pearce. ‘I just needed to look at a
couple of others. He is suspended for the first game of the
Championship so we’ll have to start with another left back.

‘But he’s too important to me to leave
him out (this summer) for one game. We have Tom Ince missing the first
game, too, but the only way I’d leave someone out is if they were
suspended for all three group games.

'We are playing to win, so I’m
planning to play five games.’

VIDEO: RAHEEM STERLING SCORES TWO WONDER GOALS IN ENGLAND U21S TRAINING

Paul Gascoigne: The drink nearly killed me but I wont give up

Gazza: The drink nearly finished me off this time, but I won't give up the fight

By
David Kent

PUBLISHED:

12:31 GMT, 3 March 2013

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UPDATED:

12:31 GMT, 3 March 2013

Paul Gascoigne has revealed he came close to death after his latest drinking binge.

The former England star was admitted to a clinic in the United States last month after his celebrity friends came together to fund his 6,000-a-week treatment.

And the 45-year-old insists he is determined to finally conquer his demons.

Emotional: Paul Gascoigne suffered a public meltdown in Northampton

Emotional: Paul Gascoigne suffered a public meltdown in Northampton

‘The drink nearly finished me off this time,' he told Jimmy 'Five Bellies' Gardner.

'I know I’ve never been as bad as this before. But I’m not ready to give up the fight. I’m getting better now. I’m not there yet, but I’m getting there.’

Gardner, who revealed to the Sunday Mirror that he had spoken to Gascoigne, said: ‘Paul sounded frail and weak and scared. But I could hear something else in his voice too.

'I could hear grit and determination. No one knows Paul like I do and I can tell you, he’s not for throwing in the towel.’

Rehab: Gascoigne has since been flown to America for treatment

Rehab: Gascoigne has since been flown to America for treatment

Gascoigne had a public meltdown at a charity function in Northampton in January with pictures showing him looking bloated, sobbing and unable to stand or speak.

Video footage also emerged of the former Tottenham midfielder at the depths of his alcoholism and mental torment.

He was drinking two litres of
gin and 15 cans of Stella Artois a day before he was rushed to a rehab
clinic, a former friend claimed.

One
time housemate Shane Abbott, 36, has also said he was taking up to 30 antidepressant Valium pills a day and
injecting cocaine.

He was rushed
to intensive care from the Cottonwood Clinic in Phoenix, Arizona when doctors feared he
could have suffered a major organ failure after having a seizure due to
alcohol withdrawal.

Heyday: Gascoigne was one of the best players of his generation

Heyday: Gascoigne was one of the best players of his generation

Celebrities
such as Chris Evans, Alan Shearer, Alan Sugar and Ronnie Irani have
lent support to a Twitter campaign to raise the 100,000 needed to cover his treatment.

English players Frank Lampard, John
Terry, Wayne Rooney and Jack Wilshere had contributed funds, while FA
Charity the England Footballers Foundation also contributed 40,000 from
the national team.

Gascoigne is expected to be alone for two months during his rehabilitation.

GASCOIGNE’S PROBLEMS WITH ALCOHOL

June 1996:
An alcohol-related 'dentist-chair' stunt in a Hong Kong bar during
England's Euro 96 preparations puts Gascoigne on the front pages of the
newspapers back in Britain.

August 1998:
Gascoigne's marriage to Sheryl ends after she is granted a quick
divorce. The player left his wife with a black eye and badly bruised
face and arm after he attacked her in a drunken rage in Gleneagles,
Scotland.

October 1998: The 31-year-old is admitted to the Marchwood Priory hospital to receive treatment for stress and drink problems.

June 2001: Gascoigne admits himself to an alcohol rehabilitation clinic in Arizona on his Everton manager Walter Smith's insistence.

May 2007: Undergoes emergency surgery for a perforated stomach ulcer.

February 2008: Gascoigne is arrested in Newcastle and detained under the Mental Health Act.

June 2008:
The former England footballer is sectioned under the Mental Health Act
following reports that he was acting strangely in Hemel Hempstead.

Joe Hart will not let recent criticism get to him

Hart out to show mental strength by not letting recent criticism affect performances

By
Simon Stone, Press Association

PUBLISHED:

23:24 GMT, 10 January 2013

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UPDATED:

23:54 GMT, 10 January 2013

Joe Hart is determined not to beat himself up over the recent criticism of his performances.

After spending two seasons unchallenged as the best English keeper in the Barclays Premier League, suddenly a few flaws have been evident with the Manchester City man.

Most recently he was blamed for Adam Johnson's goal, which condemned City to defeat at Sunderland and left them trailing Manchester United by seven points heading into the new year.

Ignoring the criticism: Manchester City and England No 1 Joe Hart (pictured) will not let criticism affect his performances

Ignoring the criticism: Manchester City and England No 1 Joe Hart (pictured) will not let criticism affect his performances

Even with England, it was suggested Fraser Forster could be putting pressure on Hart for his shirt after his impressive Champions League performances against Barcelona earlier in the campaign.

But Hart has the mental strength to survive such sniping.

And he accepts there will be times when he doesn't reach the level he would wish.

Under-fire: Hart has been under pressure after some errors have entered his game, most recently in the defeat against Sunderland

Under-fire: Hart has been under pressure after some errors have entered his game, most recently in the defeat against Sunderland

'If you weren't doing well and winning things, people would not be interested in what you are doing,' he told Sky Sports News.

'People are paid to make comments.

'You have to be strong and give the best you can week in, week out.

'I work hard. Sometimes I don't save the ball. It is not through lack of effort or concentration.

You can't be perfect as much as you try to be. It is not going to happen.'

It has been suggested City's inability to get a regular defence on the pitch has had an effect, not just on Hart's form, but that of the team as a whole.

The criticism is one he refutes.

'It is definitely not the case,' he said.

'We are a close group and we all know how each other plays.

'It never feels foreign for anyone to come in.'

Under pressure: Hart's England spot is under pressure thanks to a string of outstanding performances by Celtic keeper Fraser Forster (centre)

No 2: Hart's England spot is under pressure thanks to a string of outstanding performances by Celtic keeper Fraser Forster (centre)

Kaymer on his magic moment: "That Ryder Cup putt? My whole career rested on it"

Kaymer on his magic moment: 'That Ryder Cup putt My whole career rested on it'

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UPDATED:

22:54 GMT, 20 December 2012

In the days following the holing of the five-foot putt of a lifetime and the jubilation expressed by his Ryder Cup team-mates and Europe’s disbelieving supporters, Martin Kaymer described it as one of those putts where you feel the hero if you make it and an idiot if you do not.

But, as the days have turned to weeks and the full impact of what he achieved during Europe’s 14-13 victory has sunk in, the thoughtful German has come to look upon that short putt that realised the Miracle at Medinah in even more stark terms.

‘Now I honestly feel like my whole career might have been on the line,’ he said.

Zero to hero: Martin Kaymer salvaged a poor year with the winning putt at Medinah

Zero to hero: Martin Kaymer salvaged a poor year with the winning putt at Medinah

‘I sometimes think about what would have happened if I had missed it. Would I have had the mental strength to recover from thinking I had let down a whole continent

‘I had a similar putt to win my first major, the US PGA Championship in 2010, but the feeling was completely different.

‘If I had missed that one it would have been my own fault and I would have moved on to the next major.

‘But letting down so many people That doesn’t bear thinking about.’

The other side of the coin, of course, is the confidence that has flowed from making it.

‘Up to that point it hadn’t been a good year for me, I would have given it about a three or four at best out of 10,’ he said. ‘Then, all of a sudden, you feel a lot happier about matters. On paper you’d probably still only give the year a three or four but mentally it had suddenly gone up a few marks.’

No pressure then: Kaymer watches his putt find its way toward the hole on the 18th

No pressure then: Kaymer watches his putt find its way toward the hole on the 18th… before sparking wild celebrations (below)

Celebration time: Europe claimed a remarkable victory

That much was obvious in his final event in South Africa, where it looked like the Kaymer of a couple of years back as he held off the local favourite, Charl Schwartzel, to win his first tournament of the year.

Now he’s enjoying some downtime and the celebrity twirl that follows on from being the man who completed the comeback.

There was an appearance on one of the biggest television shows in Germany, for example. It is called I Bet That I Can, in which members of the general public bet they can do certain unlikely things and Hollywood and sporting stars have to decide whether they can or not.

Nothing put in front of Kaymer by Joe Public could have been as unlikely as the idea that he would end up on Sunday at Medinah as the man feted by all and sundry.

Who would possibly have bet on that on Saturday, when Kaymer sat out both sessions and, on the advice of assistant captain Darren Clarke, sought out his hero, Bernhard Langer, for some serious counselling.

‘I hadn’t played well on Friday and was desperate to show what I could do on Saturday, so you can imagine how I felt when I was told I wasn’t playing,’ he said.

‘Bernhard was a huge help. He reminded me in no uncertain terms what team play is all about.’

Trophy life: Graeme McDowell, Kaymer and Justin Rose enjoy one of the more remarkable comebacks in Ryder Cup history

Trophy life: Graeme McDowell, Kaymer and Justin Rose enjoy one of the more remarkable comebacks in Ryder Cup history

As Sunday afternoon unfolded dramatically, it began to dawn on Kaymer that he might end up in the spot occupied by Graeme McDowell last time. From the forgotten man the previous day, he had become the one all his team-mates were relying on.

‘I think for the last 90 minutes I knew that it would probably come down to my match,’ he recalled.

‘On the 14th I was looking at the board and I was all square, Francesco (Molinari) in the last match against Tiger Woods was all square and I was counting the points we had got.

‘I could see that something huge was potentially unfolding. One, two, three, four points, on I went but I knew we needed at least a point from me, or two half-points from Francesco and me.

‘The last three holes were great, the excitement was beautiful. On the 17th I had a four-footer that I had to hole and, when that went in, it gave me a lot of belief.’

It is entirely typical of Kaymer that he admits feeling uncomfortable at the amount of praise that has flowed his way.

‘I was a little surprised afterwards at how many people came up and congratulated me,’ he said.

Trump card: Ian Poulter gave Europe a glimpse on Saturday afternoon as five birdies ensured a point in the fourballs to make it 10-6

Trump card: Ian Poulter gave Europe a glimpse on Saturday afternoon as five birdies ensured a point in the fourballs to make it 10-6

‘Obviously I made the last putt but at the end of the day I got only one point and I played in only two matches. There were other guys, they inspired the team a lot more than me. I mean, what Ian Poulter did on Saturday afternoon is very difficult to put into words. He deserves a lot more credit than anyone else.'

So to the 18th hole and that cauldron of noise. Kaymer must still be able to hear the cries of ‘Miss it! Miss it!’ even now.

‘I
could hear people trying to put me off but it wasn’t distracting me,’
he said. ‘You are so much in the moment. I thought of what Jose Maria
(Olazabal) had told me in very straightforward, very strict sentences.
This is why I want you on the team. We need your win, so please
deliver.’

And deliver he did, with two perfect blows to strike fear into the heart of his opponent, Steve Stricker.

Then, after the putt Kaymer couldn’t believe travelled fully five feet past the hole, came the one that will define him.

In the weeks that have followed,
Kaymer has watched it countless times. ‘I’m a great believer in watching
things that make you happy,’ he said.

‘It was a great party on the green there, wasn’t it’

Joe Allen and Raheem Sterling need to be rested – Brendan Rodgers

Allen and Sterling are exhausted but I can't afford to rest them, admits Rodgers

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UPDATED:

08:52 GMT, 17 December 2012

Brendan Rodgers has admitted a lack of options in his squad is preventing Raheem Sterling and Joe Allen being given the rest they need to recapture top form.

Sterling, 18, and Allen, 22, had their least ineffective games of the season during Saturday’s 3-1 defeat against Aston Villa at Anfield and the Liverpool manager accepted the pair’s level of play has started to taper off.

Since making his full debut against Manchester City in August, Sterling has played 1,411 minutes in the Barclays Premier League, while Allen has been on the pitch for all bar 25 minutes of Liverpool’s 17 games. Both men have also had varying international commitments through the campaign.

Breaking point: Liverpool's Joe Allen (left) is in need of a rest

Breaking point: Liverpool's Joe Allen (left) is in need of a rest

The dilemma facing Rodgers, though, is difficult to solve. He does not have another player with Sterling’s speed and skill to make a like-for-like change, while Rodgers feels Allen fulfils a crucial in helping Liverpool retain possession. Ideally, however, both would currently be on the bench.

‘I think there is an element of (fatigue) but not with (someone like) Luis (Suarez),’ said Rodgers. ‘He’s at his best when he is playing regular. He will tell you himself, if he was playing one game a week he would lose his rhythm – he likes to play lots of games.

‘But I think there are others we need to give a break. There is no doubt Raheem is one who does need that breather. I've thought about it over the past couple of weeks. In order to do that you need to have that depth to take him out and put somebody else in.

Young gun: Raheem Sterling has been a regular for the Anfield side

Young gun: Raheem Sterling has been a regular for the Anfield side

‘That's something I'm thinking about – who to put in. He's a naturally very, very fit boy but he needs that mental rest as well. For the kid as well, it's about efficiency as well, tactically he's still very young. That time will come and he will get the breather soon enough.

‘There is no doubt after working with Joe (before at Swansea) and seeing him (now), he’s another one. If we're honest, there are a few who could do with that breather, especially mentally. It's something for sure I need to have a wee look at.

‘This was a game where we had to get an early goal and make Villa come out. We had a wee bit of lethargy. I don't know why because it's one of the first weeks we've had without a midweek game, and we couldn't have had a better week.’

Main man: Christian Benteke secured Aston Villa's win over Liverpool

Main man: Christian Benteke secured Aston Villa's win over Liverpool

Liverpool’s charge towards the top six was unceremoniously checked by a vibrant Aston Villa side and they had no answer to the power and presence of Christian Benteke, who scored two goals and set up the other for Andreas Weimann.

Steven Gerrard’s consolation at least spared Rodgers the ignominy of being on the end of Liverpool’s worst Anfield defeat since October 2005 but it was scant consolation for Rodgers, who said he had never felt more disappointed during the six months he has been in charge.

‘I find it hard to know where that performance came from to be honest,’ said Rodgers. ‘In some ways it was the most disappointing game we've had since I came here. We couldn't have arrived in the game on a better moment.

‘But we must learn from this that no matter which team you play against, you have to be right on it. We weren't we were careless in our play. In the opening period if we take a couple of them chances it's a different game. We didn't we were punished. We must learn.’

Shaun Murphy took inspiration from late great pal Paul Hunter in thrilling York comeback

Murphy took inspiration from late great pal Hunter in thrilling York comeback

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UPDATED:

15:48 GMT, 8 December 2012

Shaun Murphy has been inspired by memories of Paul Hunter as he closes in on williamhill.com UK Championship glory.

Hunter was one of his sport's most popular figures but died of cancer in October 2006 at the age of 27.

In York over the past week Murphy has had his old friend on his mind, and he considers the Leeds man to have been the perfect model of a player who knew how to stay cool in the heat of battle.

Most famously, Hunter employed a 'Plan B' during the interval in his first Masters final, as he returned re-energised from spending the break with his girlfriend and future wife Lindsey in their hotel bedroom. Hunter beat Fergal O'Brien 10-9 from 6-2 behind.

Comeback win: Shaun Murphy (left) saw off Ali Carter to reach the UK Championship final

Comeback win: Shaun Murphy (left) saw off Ali Carter to reach the UK Championship final

Murphy's mental strength has shone through at the Barbican Centre where he has won final-frame deciders against Luca Brecel and Ali Carter to clinch a place in the title match. He insisted last night that there had been no 'Plan B' in operation during the Carter match.

The 30-year-old will tomorrow have a shot at the 125,000 top prize and his second UK title, four years after the first.

And when Murphy has had to fight to stay composed, three-time Masters champion Hunter's attitude has come to mind.

'I'm very strong technically and my shot selection has been good over the years, but what I've been able to do recently is hold myself together,' Murphy said.

'And I remember the great Paul Hunter, that was his best strength. Under pressure he was able to chill out and you'd never know with Paul whether he'd won or lost. I've tried to take that on board and use it to the same effect.

'I see the funny side of things rather than banging my cue on the table and in the last few frames against Ali I didn't feel any pressure at all.'

Inspiration: The late Paul Hunter had an astonishing temperament

Inspiration: The late Paul Hunter had an astonishing temperament

From 8-4 behind against Carter, Murphy won five frames in a row to prevail 9-8, and after making a recent bad habit of losing in ranking event semi-finals he is thrilled to be challenging again for one of the most prized trophies in snooker.

He said: 'I think what's happened this week is that all the little pieces of the experience that I've gathered over the last few years have all come together.

'Win, lose or draw on Sunday I've had a really great week. I've gone back to my attacking play, my long potting has been good and I've had a bit of nous here and there which I never used to have.

'I've played quite clever snooker at times. But the biggest thing for me is that I've been able to keep my composure.

'Never at any time has my head gone down. I've not been stomping around and I've not been sulking. I've just got on with it.

'I'm going into the final having already won this tournament, so I feel I probably won't be under much pressure. I've got a free crack at it.'

There was disappointment for Murphy at the beginning of the year when he was beaten in the Masters final by Neil Robertson, and that is a title he has yet to claim.

He will have another chance next month at Alexandra Palace, but for now Murphy's focus is on lifting the UK trophy.

'It'd be nice to have one of the big three,' said the player who is based in Sale, Greater Manchester.

'I had a great chance in January to win the Masters and complete my set of 'BBC' majors, that didn't happen but to have another good run at this tournament and another crack at the trophy is very, very exciting.'

Brendan Rodgers hires cycling psychologist to give Liverpool edge

Rodgers brings in revered cycling psychologist to give Liverpool an edge

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UPDATED:

23:54 GMT, 23 November 2012


Import: Steve Peters is credited with helping British Cycling have such a successful Olympics

Import: Steve Peters is credited with helping British Cycling have such a successful Olympics

Brendan Rodgers has moved to improve Liverpool’s mental strength by appointing Dr Steve Peters, the man credited with British Cycling’s revolution.

Peters has just started to visit Melwood once a week for sessions with Rodgers and his squad.

Though it is not unusual for clubs to work with sports psychologists, the recruitment of Peters is significant.

British cycling supremo Dave
Brailsford has regularly described him as ‘the best appointment I have
ever made’ and Rodgers believes his input will give Liverpool an edge.

Idea: Brendan Rodgers brought in the psychologist

Idea: Brendan Rodgers brought in the psychologist

‘We have brought in a guy who is the
top guy in his field, one of the leading guys in the world in what he
does, and it is a real coup for us to get someone like that in,’ said
Rodgers, who returns to Swansea this weekend for the first time since his
departure last May.

‘I see it as a part of the development of the player. The modern game in particular is very much about the psychological aspect of it. I will do lots of technical, tactical and physical training but sometimes what gets bypassed is the mental tuning for players at the top level.’

Martin Samuel: Premier League"s greedy owners the only winners

Greedy owners the only winners if you curb these players' wages

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UPDATED:

23:30 GMT, 18 November 2012

Nobody has ever bought a ticket to watch a bloke in a suit balance the books. Not that it wouldn’t be interesting.

Whoever managed to juggle Chelsea’s numbers so they bought the best part of a new team and still turned a 1.4million profit over the last financial year On paper, that must have been one hell of a show.

Same with the Arsenal board meeting in which chief executive Ivan Gazidis explained why he was worth a 24 per cent pay rise for selling Arsene Wenger’s captain at the end of every season. Now there is a world-class performer at the top of his game.

They're not here for you, Arsene: Ivan Gazidis and his equivalents across the land bring in the big bucks

They're not here for you, Arsene: Ivan Gazidis and his equivalents across the land bring in the big bucks

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Sadly, the fans don’t agree. Players. That’s what they like. How quaintly retro of them. They don’t get that football’s modern world is all about leveraging the brand and maximising revenue streams, economic reality and financial fair play.

A paying fan wouldn’t have written the newspaper headline that described Tottenham Hotspur chairman Daniel Levy as a genius at the weekend. Gareth Bale against Inter Milan two seasons ago. That was genius.

So when the Premier League chairmen sat down last week to consider next season’s 5billion television windfall, they wanted to prioritise the people who really deserved it.

Them.

Not players. Good lord, not sweaty old players. Having built the self-styled greatest league in the world on the talent of men such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Dennis Bergkamp and Thierry Henry, the owners have decided enough is enough.

They fear players will recognise some correlation between increased TV revenue and the stars the people are tuning in to watch. How presumptuous.

It would be like David Letterman thinking that what made the David Letterman Show special was David Letterman, and asking to be paid accordingly. Get real, Dave. Do you seriously think they’re watching it for you

Chairmen aren’t brave enough to explain this leap in logic to the players’ representatives. So what they will do is hide behind new rules.

We’d like to give you the money, they will say, but we can’t, you see. It’s the law. If it was up to us, well of course. There’s nothing we’d enjoy more than sharing our bounty with your client. But our hands are tied. We can’t even invest any of our own money these days. It’s just not allowed. Damn these rules. Damn these silly, silly rules. I don’t know why we voted for them.

Worth a pay rise Player of the year candidates Robin van Persie and Juan Mata wont get a cut of TV cash

Worth a pay rise Player of the year candidates Robin van Persie and Juan Mata wont get a cut of TV cash

Worth a pay rise Player of the year candidates Robin van Persie and Juan Mata won’t get a cut of TV cash

So who reaps the dividend Not you, that’s for certain. To date, there is no record of an owner saying he will use the double whammy of proposed spending restrictions and hugely increased revenue to suppress admission charges, cut prices in the club shop or end the tyranny of the new strip released every year. You still pay. They now don’t.

There are some very clever operators behind this, and a fair few dopes, too. The shrewd cookies are the elite clubs who have worked out that, far from benefiting all grades of the game, those at the top stand to profit greatly if spending is linked to income.

An existing club in the Champions League will have at least 30m more than a rival whose ambition it is to enter the top four.

It is no surprise that Manchester United and Arsenal are driving this proposal: the biggest grounds, the most consistent Champions League performers, they are as good as enshrining their right to have the most to spend.

The dopes would include those supporting the rule change at, for instance, West Ham or Tottenham. Why are clubs that are looking to grow limiting the ability to do so

We don’t want another Portsmouth or Leeds United, the mediocre minds insist. But why are the options competitive torpor or going skint Why can’t a club expand with optimism, ambition and calculated risk, without throwing the lot on red

At last week’s Premier League meeting, 16 of 20 clubs asked chief executive Richard Scudamore to press ahead with detailed proposals for financial restrictions. They can’t be trusted to simply show restraint; it has to be placed upon them by force.

Everyone's invited: As TV money tots up, still the stadiums are filled with expensive tickets

Everyone's invited: As TV money tots up, still the stadiums are filled with expensive tickets

'We are looking at financial fair play rules and introducing them for the good of everyone in the Premier League and for the good of the game,’ said Swansea chairman Huw Jenkins, who would obviously know what was best for the Premier League having been part of it for a mighty 18 months.

The real brains trust proposal comes from Sunderland owner Ellis Short, who wishes to limit annual increases to the wage bill, as a means of depressing salaries. So each club would only be able to increase wages by, say, five per cent each season.

Fine for Manchester United as five per cent of quite a lot is quite a lot more. And fine if you’ve already been throwing money up the wall like Chelsea, as you could continue to do so incrementally.

Yet what of the well-run club that had lived within their means, suddenly experienced a degree of success, and wanted to take a leap forward

Suppose West Bromwich Albion got into Europe and wished to invest in a bigger squad. They would be pegged at growth of five per cent. All Short is proposing is a way of saying ‘no’ to agents without getting into a heated argument.

The alternative is to grow a pair and pay only what you can afford, while respecting the right of all clubs to embrace ascent to the next level.

Resisting all this nonsense, bless them, are Fulham, Everton, West Brom and Manchester City, although Randy Lerner of Aston Villa has serious reservations, too, as do Chelsea, unless they can tailor the proposal to a way that leaves them unaffected.

Reaping rewards: West Brom's break-even model is perhaps the Premier League's most sensible

Reaping rewards: West Brom's break-even model is perhaps the Premier League's most sensible

City and Fulham rely on rich benefactors, while limits on owner investment would make Everton considerably less attractive to potential buyers. West Brom have a break-even model, and a damn good one, but chairman Jeremy Peace simply believes each club should run their business as they see fit. Like grown-ups.

‘It is not trying to restrict teams competing for players,’ said Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward. No, it’s just trying to guarantee that, when they do, they’ve got less money than you.

‘We are trying to impose some parameters, so we don’t end up with a lot of clubs making annual and regular losses,’ added the man from the club who are 359.7m in debt, and based in the Cayman Islands.

So if fans aren’t due a rebate and the players don’t deserve a rise, who does

Step forward: Gazidis, Roman Abramovich, the Glazer family, Mike Ashley.

It’s Super Sunday, folks, live from the offices of PricewaterhouseCoopers. That’s entertainment.

Overcrowding in the old Globe

Louis Burton, a French sailor competing in the Vendee Globe solo round-the-world yacht race, collided with a trawler 460 miles off the coast of Lisbon.

His accident came a day after compatriot Kito de Pavant was forced to retire after a trawler damaged his boat 80 miles from the Portuguese port of Cascais.

The Vendee Globe is a uniquely challenging event that makes incredible physical and mental demands of its competitors. Even so, not exactly Piccadilly Circus out there, is it

Purple pain

Memo to Stuart Lancaster and all at the RFU: if we can’t play like England’s rugby team, at least try to look like England’s rugby team.

AND WHILE WE'RE AT ITIt's the winning just by taking part

One of the important things in life is to know when you’ve won. The day AFC Wimbledon entered the Football League, having progressed through the pyramid system from their beginnings in the Combined Counties League, they won.

They overcame the idiocy of the Football Association commission that had branded their phoenix club not in the wider interests of football.

More importantly, they exposed the great lie at the heart of Peter Winkelman’s theft of the original Wimbledon. They proved that Milton Keynes could, after all, have earned its League club the legitimate way, with promotion through the many tiers of English football.

The right way: After Peter Winkelman stole their club, AFC Wimbledon rose from the ashes

The right way: After Peter Winkelman stole their club, AFC Wimbledon rose from the ashes

The right way: After Peter Winkelman stole their club, AFC Wimbledon rose from the ashes

Peter Winkelman

Winkelman did not have to steal Wimbledon and spirit it north as Milton Keynes Dons. With investment in Milton Keynes City of the Spartan South Midlands Premier Division, he could have grown his hometown club organically. He could have tried it the proper way, as AFC Wimbledon did.

And Wimbledon are still winning. When they play Milton Keynes Dons, as equals, in the FA Cup second round on December 2, that will be a small victory, too. As is the fact that every neutral fan in the country wants them to overturn big odds and win.

A decade ago, interest was scarce but now everyone seems to know the story of English football’s greatest injustice.

Wimbledon directors are not going into the boardroom at stadiummk, supporters have discussed taking food and printing an independent match programme to avoid giving the club they call Franchise FC money. Others will boycott the tie entirely.

All fine acts of protest. Wimbledon remain unshakeably atop the moral high ground. But they should know when they’ve won. Goodwill is easily surrendered if justified grievance becomes spiteful venom. Foul chants and abuse, collateral damage.

What the FA allowed to happen to their club should never be forgotten; but there are some good people at MK Dons now, too.

Dan Micciche, who runs the academy, is one of the most imaginative youth coaches in the country, and anyone below a certain age in the crowd will simply have grown up supporting the local team, not comprehending their horrible history. They were simply too young to appreciate the controversy surrounding Winkelman’s creation.

What is it boxing referees require A good, clean fight That is what the supporters of AFC Wimbledon must provide next month. Keep it dignified, keep it civilised.

They have considerably more to lose than a Cup tie, if they forget that this was their victory long ago, regardless of the result of a single match.

Not losing may not be enough for Rio, Roy

And very quietly, as we entered the winter hiatus, Montenegro took a two-point lead at the top of World Cup qualification Group H, as expected, by beating San Marino.

England are second on eight points. If Poland win their game in hand, they will have eight points, too.

/11/18/article-2234863-16079D7A000005DC-881_634x419.jpg” width=”634″ height=”419″ alt=”Exposed: England are in a fight to secure a place at the World Cup in Brazil in 2014″ class=”blkBorder” />

Exposed: England are in a fight to secure a place at the World Cup in Brazil in 2014

Put like that, trailing Montenegro, having won two games in four and even then only against San Marino and Moldova, doesn’t seem so hot.

Roy Hodgson is still unbeaten in competitive matches but this was always going to be his problem. Being good at not losing only gets a team and a manager so far and cannot be mistaken for winning.

England have gone out of World Cups unbeaten previously; technically, Hodgson was unbeaten at the 2012 European Championship, too.

Nobody is allowed to utter the name Harry Redknapp, because football’s confederation of bogus clever dicks are still pretending that England and Tottenham Hotspur are better off without him (and didn’t they look it on Saturday, when Emmanuel Adebayor got sent off and Andre Villas-Boas looked at his little book of brilliant tactical plans for 20 minutes as Arsenal scored three goals).

But the fact is that Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s hat-trick was the least of England’s problems last week.

Second place could bring a play-off against the likes of Israel, Norway or Bulgaria but equally Portugal, Sweden, France or Belgium.

Meanwhile, the troublesome visit to Montenegrin capital Podgorica is two competitive games away. England improve under Hodgson in the second half of this season or their World Cup campaign ails, perhaps fatally.

Manchester United rattled by bully Christian Benteke

United rattled again by big bully as Benteke tramples over Smalling and Ferdinand

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UPDATED:

00:35 GMT, 12 November 2012

After the general euphoria of a stunning second-half Manchester United comeback had died down, Sir Alex Ferguson will have left Villa Park on Saturday night with a familiar feeling.

It wasn’t the satisfaction of knowing that a trip to this happiest of hunting grounds for him had yielded three points in the most dramatic fashion.

Never mind that Manchester United’s manager departed Villa Park undefeated for the 17th time in succession, his 11th victory in that sequence having been chalked up courtesy of the half-time introduction of Javier Hernandez, the catalyst for the triumph.

SCROLL DOWN TO WATCH THE HIGHLIGHTS FROM SATURDAY'S GAME

Head and shoulders above: Aston Villa striker Christian Benteke (top) gets the better of Chris Smalling

Head and shoulders above: Aston Villa striker Christian Benteke (top) gets the better of Chris Smalling

No, for at least the third time this season, he spent a rather uncomfortable 90 minutes watching a big striker torment his centre halves.

It was a trend started by Marouane Fellaini at Everton. Then Rickie Lambert pushed Southampton within sight of a victory at St Mary’s.

On Saturday evening it would not be stretching a point to say that young Belgium forward Christian Benteke smashed Rio Ferdinand and Chris Smalling all around Villa Park.

It is a theme that is almost becoming as common as United’s rousing call to arms.

This wonderful fightback was the eighth time this season that Ferguson has watched his side claw their way to victory from a losing position.

While that speaks volumes for the character and mental strength that is an essential part of the make-up of any player who crosses the threshold at Old Trafford, it would be easier for everyone concerned had the problem not arisen in the first place.

In the continued absence of Nemanja Vidic, neither of Ferguson’s centre halves on Saturday relished the prospect of going head to head with a player whose strength and aerial ability unsettled them from the first whistle.

Indeed, it was almost comical when
Smalling attempted to use his upper body strength to knock Villa’s
targetman off balance in the final minute of the first half.

The
former non-League defender lay sprawled on the turf, clutching his
shoulder in a lame attempt to spare his embarrassment as Andreas Weimann
swept home Benteke’s subsequent cross for Villa’s first goal.

Too strong: Benteke (left) and holds off Manchester United centre-back Rio Ferdinand

Too strong: Benteke (left) and holds off Manchester United centre-back Rio Ferdinand

Five minutes into the second half, Benteke had pulled away from both players — presumably neither fancied coming second best to him for the umpteenth time — allowing Stephen Ireland to send Gabby Agbonlahor away to set up Weimann to score Villa’s second.

That should have been that.

But Paul Lambert’s side remain a work in progress and Hernandez exploited a lack of know-how in the home ranks. There had been no urgency prior to the Mexican’s introduction at half-time for the woefully ineffective Ashley Young.

Ferguson’s situation will be improved when Phil Jones returns to training this morning. Jones will certainly be a more viable alternative than using Michael Carrick as a stand-in defender, as Manchester United’s manager has in the past.

Poacher: Javier Hernandez's predatory instincts rescued three points for United at Villa Park

Poacher: Javier Hernandez's predatory instincts rescued three points for United at Villa Park

Moreover, it is a weakness that will have been noted at Carrow Road where Grant Holt will have watched Saturday’s proceedings with interest.
Roberto Mancini might also now be wondering if he should be unleashing Edin Dzeko against the neighbours at The Etihad next month.

At least Hernandez has caught the eye in United’s attack. He looked sharp, hungry and capable of getting behind a Villa defence which had looked comfortable with the play in front of them during an impressive first-half show by the hosts.

‘It’s Manchester United’s lucky story,’ said Hernandez, who left clutching the match ball after scoring twice and forcing a Ron Vlaar own goal with a shot across goal.

‘You know that. Every time you never want to give up, not until the end because the games are 90 minutes and you need to fight until the last minute.

‘It was unbelievable to score three goals. This is one of my best moments at the club. But we need to improve. We are conceding a lot of goals.’

It goes without saying the striker’s observation will not be lost upon Ferguson.

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Kenny Dalglish hits out at Brendan Rodgers

Dalglish barb at Rodgers: People think they can reinvent the game. No chance

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UPDATED:

22:18 GMT, 3 November 2012

Brendan Rodgers has revealed he avoided watching any of his much lampooned appearances on the club's reality TV show, Being: Liverpool.

The new Anfield manager was compared in some quarters to David Brent from The Office during the fly-on-the-wall documentary's recent run on Channel 5, and ridiculed for a scene in which he pulled out three envelopes in front of his players claiming they contained the names of players who would 'let us down this year'.

Thinly veiled dig: Dalglish

Thinly veiled dig: Dalglish

But the 39-year-old could not miss
criticism of his new-broom approach from his predecessor Kenny Dalglish,
who pointedly said in a radio interview last week: 'There is no need to
reinvent the game. People think they can reinvent it, no chance.'

Rodgers, who found filming had
already started when he arrived at the club, insists he has the mental
toughness to overcome the mickey-taking.

Liverpool face Newcastle on Sunday
in the bottom half of the Premier League table and still reeling from a
midweek Capital One Cup defeat by Swansea City which had fans of
Rodgers' old club mockingly singing to him: 'You're getting sacked in
the morning.'

'You have to be a certain breed to be a manager,' said Rodgers of his difficult start at Anfield.

'As long as my employers and my own supporters recognise the job I am doing, that is the most important thing for me.

Lampooned: Brendan Rodgers is struggling

Lampooned: Brendan Rodgers is struggling

Disco moves: Ricky Gervais as David Brent

Disco moves: Ricky Gervais as David Brent

'In terms of the television
programme, I never watched it. It was up and running when I came in so
it was something I had no choice in.'

The Liverpool manager is trying to
dampen expectations after breaking up the team that won the League Cup
under Dalglish and admits this could be a 'transition season'.

But Rodgers says a lot of work has
to be done after Dalglish's 70million spending on Andy Carroll, Jordan
Henderson and Stewart Downing – none of whom he sees as first-team
players now.

The club are also lumbered with Joe Cole's 100,000-a-week wages as they seek bargains in January.

'The investment as everyone knows
over a small period of time was very big for the club so this was always
going to be a season of assessment and bringing in players that fit the
model,' he said.

'I think it will be a great day when
Liverpool can compete for 20m players again because that is where the
club should be. But the reality is where we want to be and where we are
at is two different places.'

Goalkeeper Pepe Reina and full-back
Glen Johnson face late checks on hamstring injuries before Rodgers names
his side to face Newcastle.

LIVERPOOL v NEWCASTLE 4pm, Sunday, Sky Sports 1