Tag Archives: mystery

Aston Villa aim to ruin Harry Redknapp"s Loftus Road welcome party

Lambert ready to act the Villain for Harry's Loftus Road welcome party

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UPDATED:

20:51 GMT, 30 November 2012

Paul Lambert has warned Harry Redknapp that his Aston Villa side are happy to play party-poopers, saying: ‘We want to keep QPR down there.’

A narrow win over Reading on Tuesday has lifted a little pressure from the Scot’s own shoulders as the Birmingham club jumped out of the bottom three this week.

Three more points will lift Villa to within sight of mid-table and Lambert said that while he knows QPR will be boosted by Redknapp’s arrival, he has no intention of joining in the merriment.

Preparations: Gabriel Agbonlahor and Aston Villa in training at Bodymoor Heath on Friday

Preparations: Gabriel Agbonlahor and Aston Villa in training at Bodymoor Heath on Friday

‘Harry going in there will automatically give them a lift, as he is a brilliant manager,’ said Lambert. ‘It’s an extremely tough game for us. But we would be happy to win and keep them down there.’

He revealed Richard Dunne may have played his last game for Villa, given his mystery groin and hip problem. He is out of contract in the summer, so may move on in January.

Talking tactics: Harry Redknapp (left) at QPR training on Friday morning

Talking tactics: Harry Redknapp (left) at QPR training on Friday morning

Lee Clark and Nigel Clough up against it: The Midlander

Football is a results business… but it's never that clear cut for Clark and Clough

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UPDATED:

18:02 GMT, 15 November 2012

Results define a manager's success. Pretty obvious, that.

But perhaps following on from last week's theme regarding Martin O'Neill, it might be worth bearing that in mind when the relative merits of two of the region's other managers are discussed.

I'm referring to Birmingham City's Lee Clark and Derby County's Nigel Clough.

Up against it: Birmingham manager Lee Clark has not made the best of starts at St Andrew's

Up against it: Birmingham manager Lee Clark has not made the best of starts at St Andrew's

More from Neil Moxley…

The Midlander: Was O'Neill a good Villa boss Let's end this debate once and for all…
08/11/12

The Midlander: Coventry can begin to paint rosy future with morale-boosting Wembley run
19/10/12

The Midlander: Pearson deserves so much more as Leicester target the Premier League
12/10/12

The Midlander: Bent mystery at Villa making life under Lambert very interesting
04/10/12

The Midlander: Baggies crashed out, but at least they took the Capital One Cup seriously
27/09/12

The Midlander: Dan the Man will be a tough act to follow at West Brom
20/09/12

The Midlander: Birmingham need to avoid Paladini for their own good
14/09/12

The Midlander: Whisper it quietly, but Forest could be on the road to success…
07/09/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

We'll take a look at Clark first. Now, I'll be the first to admit that the Geordie's reign hasn't started well.

It's difficult to erase that performance against Barnsley from the memory, even now, two months later.

But it always struck me as odd why a manager who had a couple of years to size up players in League One wouldn't go there to breathe some excitement into a club in the Championship.

It would seem logical that Clark would pluck a couple of hungry youngsters from the third tier and give them a chance at a higher level.

Supporters of any club love to see players get a chance to prove themselves and here was an obvious opportunity to blood a couple.

Cash is too tight to mention at St Andrew's – a point I'll come onto in a minute – but the likes of Hayden Mullins, Darren Ambrose and Peter Lovenkrands aren't playing for nothing.

Hello, these are ex-Premier League players. And Ambrose cost a transfer fee, too.

It would have made sense for Clark therefore to have given a couple more, such as Swindon Town's Paul Caddis, the chance to earn themselves a reasonable increase in pay and the opportunity to advance their careers at a higher level.

Not so. Not so because the powers-that-be deemed that Clark should only sign players they had actually heard of.

Therefore, those with a Premier League profile were always going to find a way to St Andrew's, irrespective of whether they were, in fact, the type of players that the Geordie wanted in the first place.

Now, they might well have been. But
surely a manager has to have a say over who he brings into the club
After all, it's his neck on the chopping block.

Furthermore, evidence suggests that
the reason Clark was not able to re-sign Barry Ferguson was because
Fleetwood Town put together a more attractive package than the Blues for
the Carling Cup winner's services.

Hands tied: Derby manager Nigel Clough is also in a difficult position at times

Hands tied: Derby manager Nigel Clough is also in a difficult position at times

I know. Incredible, isn't it But that's the state of the club finances at the moment. Critical.

Which is why, in the absence of a credible buyer, (my hopes of substantial investment from overseas have diminished as the party concerned appears to have cooled any interest) the boost of new owners would at least bring an air of positivity to the place.

Over at Pride Park, Clough will not be in the least bit surprised that he once more finds his hands tied in the transfer market.

Despite the denials from the manager, my understanding is that the club has to make seven-figure cost savings in the New Year.

That means one of his youngsters – in all likelihood Will Hughes – will be sacrificed.

It is difficult for supporters to understand and appreciate the goings-on behind the scenes at any football club as the finances aren't always taken into consideration when the any boss, Clough in particular, has had a difficult job to do.

Only a horrible season in 2010-11 – one in which the Rams were beset by an horrendous injury-list – has he failed to improve the club's league position.

Supporters may think that four years is sufficient to make a mark. They might have a point. But the manager has had to operate against a backdrop of financial difficulty.

No return: Boss Lee Clark was unable to get Barry Ferguson back in a Birmingham shirt

No return: Boss Lee Clark was unable to get Barry Ferguson back in a Birmingham shirt

For instance, where is the logic in selling Jason Shackell, if Clough did not have to

Shaun Barker had a long-term injury. Before Shackell's knock it appeared that the Rams finally had a capable Championship pairing at centre-half.

But Shackell disappears to Burnley and, for the same money, Connor Sammon is recruited from Wigan.

Something doesn't quite add up. But – and here is the rub – if managers speak out about those problems they are immediately hauled in front of their superiors and told to keep their mouths shut – or they can be found in breach of their contract for talking about confidential business in public.

It's why neither Clark nor Clough will break ranks. Even if he the latter has to find 1.8m, he will remain tight-lipped and refuse to moan about his lot.

Price to pay: Youngster Will Hughes (left) could be sacrificed at Derby

Price to pay: Youngster Will Hughes (left) could be sacrificed at Derby

The alternative for both is to speak out, thereby jeopardising their position and give their own bosses the window of opportunity to sack them.

It is, after all, far easier to remove one manager than it is to dump and entire team of players.

In some ways, it's a classic middle-management problem, taking flak from all sides, yet you are still expected to achieve results.

So, even though any manager has to stand by his results on a Saturday afternoon, they may not paint an accurate picture.

In the oh-so-murky world of football, it's left to the rest of us to join the dots as best we can.

Ruud Gullit: Ditch Fernando Torres and sign Falcao

Ditch Torres and sign Falcao, says Gullit as former Chelsea boss hits out at 50m striker

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UPDATED:

23:13 GMT, 13 November 2012

Chelsea have been urged to ditch flop Fernando Torres and replace him with Atletico Madrid sensation Falcao.

That is the firm view of former Chelsea manager Ruud Gullit, who has called on the club to end the 50m striker's Stamford Bridge hell.

He said: 'If he can't still do it at
Chelsea, then they are going to have to look somewhere else. I think
Falcao is a very good striker.

Radamel Falcao

Fernando Torres

Change: Gullit has urged Chelsea to part company with Torres and sign Falcao

'I said at the beginning of the season that Chelsea might need another striker but obviously they wanted to give Torres a chance. If he has taken it, I don't know.'

Torres, the most expensive player in British transfer record history, has scored just 19 times since his move from Liverpool in 2011.

He has seen his performances questioned amid speculation that the club are finally losing patience with him, with Roman Abramovich said to be keen on splashing out 48m on Atletico ace Falcao.

And Gullit, also a former player at Stamford Bridge, has questioned whether Torres has really taken the chances given to him by the club.

'What he did in the past with Atletico, and Liverpool especially, was unbelievable,' Gullit added. 'For some reason he can't do it at Chelsea, it's a mystery to me.'

St Louis Rams cheerleaders visit Abbey Road

Abbey days as NFL cheerleaders Come Together to visit famous Beatles landmark

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UPDATED:

14:07 GMT, 24 October 2012

Anyone walking down the world-famous Abbey Road on Wednesday morning would have been left in no doubt that the NFL is back in town.

The glamorous St Louis Rams cheerleaders were spotted, like many a good tourist before them, walking in the footsteps of The Beatles across that iconic zebra crossing.

The Rams and the Patriots will go head to head at Wembley on Sunday in a regular-season game – the fifth time two American Football sides have crossed the Atlantic to do battle in London.

Look familiar The St Louis Rams mascot and cheerleaders cross Abbey Road on Wednesday

Look familiar The St Louis Rams mascot and cheerleaders cross Abbey Road on Wednesday

World famous: The iconic album cover for the Beatles' 1969 album, Abbey Road

World famous: The iconic album cover for the Beatles' 1969 album, Abbey Road

To celebrate their arrival on these
shores the Rams' cheerleaders were pictured aping the front cover of one
of the most celebrated albums of all time.

It was a fine way to Come Together
with their British cousins but were the girls heard exclaiming 'Here
Comes the Sun' In these grey October skies there's as much chance of
that as spotting an octopus in a garden.

Mystery tour: The St Louis Rams cheerleaders follow in the Beatles' footsteps

Mystery tour: The St Louis Rams cheerleaders follow in the Beatles' footsteps

Look familiar The St Louis Rams mascot and cheerleaders cross Abbey Road on Wednesday

Meanwhile, the Rams' players were
spotted further north stepping up their preparations for the big game at
Arsenal's London Colney training base.

And they had one particularly
interested spectator overlooking their training in the form of Arsenal
and England midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Football, but not as they know it: The Rams prepare for the game at Arsenal's training ground, London Colney

Football, but not as they know it: The Rams prepare for the game at Arsenal's training ground, London Colney

Football, but not as they know it: The Rams prepare for the game at Arsenal's training ground, London Colney

Football, but not as they know it: The Rams prepare for the game at Arsenal's training ground, London Colney

Since 2007, nine teams have played in London since the first annual game between the Miami Dolphins and the New York Giants.

And if the early signs are anything to go
by, London's NFL fans are guaranteed to enjoy a Fab Four quarters' worth
of rough and tumble, American style, on Sunday.

Star man: Rams quarterback Sam Bradford (second right) talks tactics with his team-mates

Star man: Rams quarterback Sam Bradford (second right) talks tactics with his team-mates

Catch it if you can: Running back Terrance Ganaway in action during training at London Colney

Catch it if you can: Running back Terrance Ganaway in action during training at London Colney

Interested observer: Arsenal midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (right) watches the NFL stars train

Interested observer: Arsenal midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (right) watches the NFL stars train

Robert Huth has suspected meningitis, Stoke report

Huth in hospital with Stoke reporting defender has suspected meningitis

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UPDATED:

23:23 GMT, 7 August 2012

Stoke defender Robert Huth has suspected meningitis, the club have announced.

The 27-year-old German was sent to hospital after reporting for training suffering from a mystery virus on Monday.

The club posted on their official Twitter account: 'The club can confirm that Robert Huth has suspected meningitis and that they are awaiting the outcome of further tests.'

Suspected meningitis: Robert Huth (right)

Suspected meningitis: Robert Huth (right)

Ravi Bopara in England Lions squad to face Australia A

Bopara set for quick return with Lions after mystery exit from England squad

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UPDATED:

18:15 GMT, 5 August 2012

Ravi Bopara is due to return to action for England Lions this week, after his last-minute defection from the squad to face South Africa in the ongoing Headingley Test.

Bopara was widely expected to bat at No 6 for England against the tourists in Leeds but pulled out of contention hours before the selectors announced their squad last weekend.

The England and Wales Cricket Board cited unspecified 'personal reasons' for Bopara's absence, and debutant James Taylor took his place.

I'm out: Ravi Bopara withdrew from the England squad for the second Test

I'm out: Ravi Bopara withdrew from the England squad for the second Test

But the ECB announced on Sunday evening that 27-year-old Bopara has been added to the Lions squad which will take on Australia A in an intriguing four-day fixture, starting at Old Trafford on Tuesday.

The Australian team contains several players expected to be in England again next summer for the Champions Trophy and Ashes – two campaigns in which Bopara too will still be hoping to be involved.

London 2012 Olympics: Mark Cavendish tweets picture of Bradley Wiggins

This man won the Tour de France! Cavendish tweets comical picture of Wiggins in mystery Games gear

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UPDATED:

11:03 GMT, 27 July 2012

British heroes Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish have barely had time to draw breath between the end of the Tour de France and the start of the Olympics, but they were able to share a laugh on Friday before they embarked on their individual quests for gold.

Cavendish posted a picture of Wiggins wearing a headband and shades with a mystery gold-lined Olympic tracksuit on – hinting at a role in Friday night's opening ceremony – while tweeting: 'This man won the Tour de France…..'

Going for gold: Wiggins in his Olympic tracksuit

Going for gold: Wiggins in his Olympic tracksuit

Wiggins became the first Brit to win the Tour last Sunday, while Cavendish won three stages to take his career total to an incredible 23.

The close friends, who rode together for Team Sky during the Tour, will now aim to cap off a memorable summer with Olympic golds.

Tour glory: Wiggins and Cavendish enjoyed success in France

Tour glory: Wiggins and Cavendish enjoyed success in France

Tour glory: Wiggins and Cavendish enjoyed success in France

First, Cavendish goes in the road race through Surrey on Saturday, before Wiggins takes part in Wednesday's time trial, which starts and finishes at Hampton Court.

Wiggins, 32, already has three gold medals to his name, while 27-year-old Cavendish is going for his first Olympic medal having been the only member of the British track team to miss out in Beijing 2008.

Going for gold: Wiggins (above) races on Wednesday, while Cavendish (below) races on Saturday

Going for gold: Wiggins (above) races on Wednesday, while Cavendish (below) races on Saturday

Going for gold: Wiggins (above) races on Wednesday, while Cavendish (below) races on Saturday

Southampton deal for Alexander Buttner falls through due to mystery third party

Southampton deal for Buttner falls through after 'demand' from mystery third party

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UPDATED:

15:30 GMT, 10 July 2012


No deal: Vitesse's Alexander Buttner

No deal: Vitesse's Alexander Buttner

Alexander Buttner's proposed move to Southampton from Vitesse Arnhem has stalled due to an unspecified 'demand' from an unnamed third party.

The 23-year-old defender had been linked with a move away from the Eredivisie side this summer, and last week it was announced he would be joining the newly-promoted Barclays Premier League outfit.

However, there now appears to have been an intervention by a third party which looks set to hold up the deal.

A statement by Vitesse Arnhem read: 'The transfer of Alexander Buttner to Southampton FC is now uncertain.

'Last Friday, Vitesse came to an agreement with Southampton about the transfer of Alexander Buttner to the Premier League club.

'Because Buttner himself also agreed on his personal conditions with Southampton FC, Vitesse was in the supposition that the transfer was a fact, with the proviso that Buttner would pass medical examination.

'However, this weekend the player informed Vitesse via his agent that a third party had a supplementary demand towards the club.

'Vitesse made it clear to the player that it would not comply with that demand, since it was applied in retrospect and Vitesse will not be pressurised.

'Vitesse is disappointed about the course of things, all the more because Vitesse negotiated with Southampton FC on the players request.

'Southampton FC has taken up an absolute correct position and is not to blame for the possible fall through of the transfer.

Disappointment: Southampton had thought they had landed the defender

Disappointment: Southampton had thought they had landed the defender

'Vitesse have also tried all possibilities to keep the set deal going through.'

Buttner, who can also operate at right-back, came through the youth system at Vitesse.

The Doetinchem-born player made 107 appearances for the Dutch club and had been named in Holland's provisional 36-man squad for Euro 2012, although did not eventually go to the finals.

Southampton were unavailable for any immediate comment this afternoon.
Meanwhile, Saints also look set to wait for the ratification of the proposed transfer of Rangers captain Steven Davis after international clearance was put on hold by the Scottish Football Association.

England v West Indies: Nasser Hussain – selectors right to rest Jimmy Anderson

England selectors are right to rest Jimmy the gem now

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UPDATED:

22:00 GMT, 6 June 2012

England are 100 per cent right to rest Jimmy Anderson from this Test – and if they choose to leave out Stuart Broad, they would have my total support too.

It’s all very well the old-timers saying these guys just need to keep bowling to stay fit, or arguing that fans who pay good money to support England are being deprived of watching the very best.

But the game's so much more intense than it used to be. And if England bowl Anderson into the ground and force him to retire in his early 30s, won’t that be depriving future generations even more

Well-earned rest: James Anderson will not play in the third Test at Edgbaston

Well-earned rest: James Anderson will not play in the third Test at Edgbaston

Anderson is a gem, and England need to look after him as carefully as they can. He turns 30 this month, which means he is at his peak as a fast bowler.

More from Nasser Hussain…

Nasser Hussain: We must hope there's not an ulterior motive to KP quitting ODIs
31/05/12

Nasser Hussain: West Indies must find room in young side for a few old hands
28/05/12

Nasser Hussain: I'm bowled over by the game’s top thinkers
27/05/12

Nasser Hussain: A swing mystery but England keep it short and sweet
25/05/12

Nasser Hussain: Windies will be blown away if Anderson and Co pitch it right
24/05/12

Nasser Hussain: Far from faultless, but just the sort of test England required
21/05/12

Nasser Hussain: England need to pitch it up to get on top of Shivnarine
20/05/12

Nasser Hussain: Hundred sets the tone for England's summer
18/05/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

The last thing England want to do is overuse Anderson so that he loses his nip and has to retire early.

Just look at recent history – Dean Headley played his last Test at 29, Angus Fraser at 33, Darren Gough at 32, and Matthew Hoggard and Andrew Flintoff at 31.

England owe it both to Anderson and the fans to keep him going for longer.

I know Sir Ian Botham is very passionate about English cricket and is the greatest all-rounder this country has ever produced.

But wouldn’t his record have been even better if he had been looked after properly – as the modern cricketer is – so that he could have carried on bowling at high pace right up until the end of his career

The other point is that Steven Finn and Graham Onions are high-class performers.

High-class: Graham Onions and Steven Finn bowling at nets at Edgbaston

High-class: Graham Onions and Steven Finn bowling at nets at Edgbaston

It’s not as if England will be drafting in some unknown from the Under 19s. I believe the crowd will be just as excited about seeing one of them steaming in against West Indies in the hope of making a point.

And don’t imagine Anderson won’t have a point of his own to make when he returns against South Africa. He’ll be fired up – and that can only be good for England.

Kevin Pietersen retires from ODIs – Nasser Hussain: We must hope for no ulterior motive

We must hope there's not an ulterior motive to KP quitting ODIs

By
Nasser Hussain

PUBLISHED:

21:30 GMT, 31 May 2012

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UPDATED:

21:30 GMT, 31 May 2012

I believe we can't judge Kevin Pietersen's decision to quit one-day international cricket – and with it Twenty20 internationals – until it becomes clear what his motives are.

If, as he says, his body needs a break, and if he wants to spend more time with his family in what is a punishing schedule, then I don't have a problem – although it's only fair to point he's not 32 until later this month, he's one of the fittest guys in the world game, and he recently spent three weeks at the IPL, when he could have been resting his body.

He can't have it both ways. But if he's retiring so that he can free up time to play in all the glitzy Twenty20 tournaments around the world and earn as much as possible, I'd be very disappointed.

I quit: Kevin Pietersen has retired from ODIs and T20s but wants to play Tests

I quit: Kevin Pietersen has retired from ODIs and T20s but wants to play Tests

More from Nasser Hussain…

Nasser Hussain: West Indies must find room in young side for a few old hands
28/05/12

Nasser Hussain: I'm bowled over by the game’s top thinkers
27/05/12

Nasser Hussain: A swing mystery but England keep it short and sweet
25/05/12

Nasser Hussain: Windies will be blown away if Anderson and Co pitch it right
24/05/12

Nasser Hussain: Far from faultless, but just the sort of test England required
21/05/12

Nasser Hussain: England need to pitch it up to get on top of Shivnarine
20/05/12

Nasser Hussain: Hundred sets the tone for England's summer
18/05/12

Nasser Hussain: Anderson is the key to trapping stubborn Chanderpaul
17/05/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

Some people will say the ECB are cutting
off their nose to spite their face, and – as someone who wants England
to do well – I can see where they're coming from.

But you have to remember that Andy Flower and Hugh Morris, the managing director of Team England, rightly believe in the principle of fairness.

They also want to avoid a situation in which their 50-over team starts to fall apart: if they allow one of their players to pick and choose his formats, what's to stop others They have to be seen to be fair: you can't run a team any other way.

To me, this whole business looks like a contractual stand-off. But I can see why Morris said he was 'disappointed' at Pietersen's decision. In less than four months' time England go to Sri Lanka to defend their World Twenty20 trophy. They still have a chance of success, but that chance is reduced by Pietersen's absence.

England will also now have to sort out yet another one-day opening partnership after Pietersen gelled so well with Alastair Cook in the UAE. That will really annoy Flower.

Much to ponder: Pietersen's future is far from clear after his shock decision

Much to ponder: Pietersen's future is far from clear after his shock decision

And there is an element of danger for Pietersen himself. The reason he regained his form earlier this year was because of those two one-day hundreds against Pakistan. By limiting himself to Tests and – who knows – the IPL and whatever else, he will have fewer opportunities to maintain that rhythm across the year that batsmen need as much as bowlers.

England have got a lot out of Pietersen, but they've also invested plenty in him. Right now, they may be wondering why he couldn't have hung on until after the World Twenty20 in September to make his decision.