Tag Archives: outlook

England fail to punish India"s MS Dhoni and leave the door ajar after first day in Nagpur: Nasser Hussain

Careless England fail to punish defensive Dhoni and leave the door ajar

|

UPDATED:

21:32 GMT, 13 December 2012

Negative outlook: MS Dhoni opted for caution in Nagpur (FILE PHOTO)

Negative outlook: MS Dhoni opted for caution in Nagpur (FILE IMAGE)

England went into the fourth Test promising they would be ruthless but they were not as clinical as they might have been on the first day and ended it having left the door slightly open for India.

India picked the wrong side —they really needed two seamers on that pitch — and lost the toss but England failed to take full advantage and will have been just the unhappier of the two sides going into the second day.

Yes, that was a very difficult pitch to score on and MS Dhoni immediately went on the defensive, which didn’t exactly help, but was it a hard pitch to survive on Was it a difficult pitch to play spin on Not really.

If the tourists had lost three or four
wickets to reverse swing I would have understood but the truth was that
they gifted India three and Alastair Cook will be thinking that the
close score could easily have been 200 for three.

Jonathan Trott and Ian Bell will both be disappointed with the way they got out and, while Kevin Pietersen batted well and I could understand him wanting to be assertive, he got out in the end to nothing more than a soft chip.

Cheap dismissal: Jonathan Trott will be angered with the loss of his wicket (FILE IMAGE)

Cheap dismissal: Jonathan Trott will be angered with the loss of his wicket (FILE IMAGE)

In the end the 21-year-old debutant in Joe Root showed, with a bit of that over-my-dead-body Yorkshire spirit, that you could survive and also play a few shots.

Graham Thorpe rates Root highly and you could see why here in the calm, composed and organised way he went about his business.

I have often said that you should pick on character and Root’s character immediately looks right.

Keeping his head: Joe Root made an impressive start to his Test career in tough circumstances (FILE IMAGE)

Keeping his head: Joe Root made an impressive start to his Test career in tough circumstances (FILE IMAGE)

I wasn’t surprised that England chose to replace Samit Patel — if he is not going to bowl then you can’t consider him one of England’s six best batsmen — but I was surprised they chose Root over Jonny Bairstow.

It is a brave call, and one that probably reflects England’s reservations about Bairstow’s playing of spin at this stage of his career, but so far it is one that you have to say they got right.

Northampton 6 Ulster 25: Saints and Dylan Hartley face early exit

Northampton 6 Ulster 25: Future bleak for Saints and Hartley as early exit looms again

|

UPDATED:

23:36 GMT, 7 December 2012

Northampton's hopes of avoiding a
second successive Heineken Cup pool-stage exit were all but extinguished as they were smashed aside by unstoppable Ulster.

Six days after England managed to end
the All Blacks’ 20-match unbeaten run, one of the Aviva Premiership’s
leading sides emphatically failed to end another double-digit streak.

Catch me if you can: Ulster wing Andrew Trimble scored a try in a brilliant performance at Franklins Gardens

Catch me if you can: Ulster wing Andrew Trimble scored a try in a brilliant performance at Franklins Gardens

Their Irish opponents came to Franklin’s Gardens on the back of a dozen consecutive victories this season, and having already beaten Glasgow away from home, this bonus-point triumph in a traditionally inhospitable arena leaves Ulster firmly on track to top Pool Four.

The runaway leaders of the RaboDirect Pro12 league gave a vivid display of the power and cohesion which has swept all before them. Up front, they had the likes of Iain Henderson and Chris Henry providing the strong-arm graft, while Ruan Pienaar and Paddy Jackson pulled the strings cleverly and Jared Payne ran amok from full back.

For Northampton, this was a damaging indignity, inflicted on their first-choice line-up. Visiting teams don’t tend to come to these parts and dominate so emphatically. In theory, Jim Mallinder’s chastened side go to Belfast for the reverse fixture next Saturday with the their qualification prospects still alive.

In reality, they are surely sunk, as it was at Ravenhill where their local rivals Leicester suffered a record defeat last season.

Just to add to the bleak outlook, Saints captain Dylan Hartley appeared to use his forearm in an altercation with Ulster hooker Rory Best which is bound to attract scrutiny from the citing officer. Northampton could do without losing him to a ban so soon after his return from injury.

Hartley dismissed suggestions of anything untoward, saying: ‘I don’t think it was an incident.’

Try time: Jared Payne of Ulster races clear to score in the heavy defeat of Northampton

Try time: Jared Payne of Ulster races clear to score in the heavy defeat of Northampton

But the Saints skipper was brutally
honest in assessing his team’s performance, adding: ‘They are unbeaten
but we made them look very good. It’s all about intensity — we can’t
just go out there and expect things to happen. We need to sort our form
out for next week but we are capable of going there and winning.’

In the 10th minute, the visitors gave
an illustration of their form and confidence. When Ben Foden sliced a
clearance kick, Ulster’s pack rumbled forward from the lineout. Their
dynamic maul was stopped just short of the home line but the reprieve
was fleeting. The ball was shipped left, Paddy Jackson sent a delicate
chip to the corner and Andrew Trimble nipped in to touch down.

Jackson missed the conversion and the kicking difficulties continued on
both sides, with Ryan Lamb landing only two of his five first-half
shots.

His Irish counterpart slotted one penalty of his own and six minutes
before the break, Ulster struck again. Pouncing on loose ball from a
Northampton lineout, they battered the ramparts and forced a breach.
After Henderson and Trimble were kept at bay on the left, good hands
took the ball to the far flank where Tommy Bowe stormed over.

Ulster turned around 13-6 ahead and within four minutes they were out of
sight. Lamb’s high kick was taken by Payne, who ran back strongly.
Darren Cave burst clear down the right and after Henry drove on,
Trimble’s superb flat pass released Payne again. The Kiwi’s dummy
wrong-footed Foden and he ran clear to touch down. Jackson’s conversion
went over to make it 20-6.

Following sustained Northampton pressure at the other end, Payne sent
Dan Tuohy over in the right corner to clinch the visitors’ bonus point
and complete a miserable night for the Saints.

Putting the boot in: Paddy Jackson kicks a penalty for Ulster as they put the English side to the sword

Putting the boot in: Paddy Jackson kicks a penalty for Ulster as they put the English side to the sword

Salt in the wounds: Dan Tuohy of Ulster dives over for a last minute try on Friday night

Salt in the wounds: Dan Tuohy of Ulster dives over for a last minute try on Friday night

Bradford 46 Castleford 32: Troubled Bulls enjoy boost after flying start

Bradford 46 Castleford 32: Troubled Bulls enjoy boost after flying start

|

UPDATED:

21:21 GMT, 4 June 2012

Bradford did their best to leave their off-field troubles behind with a blistering first half against struggling Castleford.

Stand-off Ben Jeffries caused most of the damage as the Bulls raced into a 34-16 lead, laying on four of Bradford’s six scores in a crazy opening 40 minutes.

Against the backdrop of continuing financial difficulties, this was a perfect fillip for Super League’s crisis club.

Touching down: Bradford Bulls' Shaun Ainscough runs in to score a try

Touching down: Bradford Bulls' Shaun Ainscough runs in to score a try

But two points against Yorkshire rivals Castleford will not solve the Bulls’ bigger problems. Club director Stephen Coulby has warned that they still need another 1.2million to avoid administration, despite raising 500,000 two months ago.

Former Bradford chairman Peter Hood has released a statement denying the bleak outlook, but the pair are simply arguing over scale. That, though, was forgotten as the Bulls ran riot during the opening period.

Keith Lulia got things started, reading Karl Pryce’s flick pass from Jeffries’ well-placed kick to touch down in the corner.

Jeffries and half-back partner Luke Gale then sent Brett Kearney racing to the posts. Castleford’s Jordan Thompson stepped through from Rangi Chase’s long pass, but the hosts kept the momentum.

John Bateman crawled over despite two Cas defenders doing all they could to stop him, before Olivier Elima charged on to Bryn Hargreaves’ delayed pass.

The Tigers got close as Chase’s footwork split Bradford, but two tries in three minutes for Shaun Ainscough kept the visitors at bay.

Even Nathan Massey’s try just before half time did little for 12th-place Castleford. On-loan winger Rhys Williams scored two tries early in the second half, but Kearney kept Bulls safely ahead before
a converted Chase try reduced the gap to eight.

Ainscough then added his third try, and the win means Bulls knock Leeds out of the top eight play-off positions.

Fabrice Muamba set to leave London

Muamba set to leave London as Bolton remain hopeful he will one day make comeback

|

UPDATED:

22:19 GMT, 8 April 2012

Fabrice Muamba is expected to return north this week for the first time since he suffered a cardiac arrest on the pitch at Tottenham last month with Bolton increasingly hopeful that he will make a Premier League comeback in the future.

They remain cautious because the 23-year-old midfielder is still in stable condition in intensive care at the London Chest Hospital, and there are several medical issues still to be resolved before they can be sure about the long-term outlook.

But crucially Muamba's heart and other major organs appear to be healthy, and he has recovered sufficiently for doctors to consider transferring him to a high-dependency in the north-west towards the end of the week.

Recovery: Fabrice Muamba's health continues to improve

Recovery: Fabrice Muamba's health continues to improve

Hope: Bolton hope he will one day be able to play again

Hope: Bolton hope he will one day be able to play again

Reports that the England Under-21 international could return to training in a month are rather optimistic, although it is possible that he could make an appearance at Bolton's Euxton HQ before the end of the season and even take part in a gentle workout if doctors give him the all-clear.

Muamba's miraculous recovery has continued to raise hope that he will be able to play again at the highest level, which would be astounding considering that he was clinically dead for 78 minutes after collapsing to the turf during the FA Cup tie at White Hart Lane just over three weeks ago.

Mike Ashley hailed over Newcastle"s financial record

Ashley reaping rewards at Newcastle as cost-cutting delivers rosy outlook

Newcastle have credited Mike Ashley's sweeping changes for the bright financial outlook.

The north-east giants are close to breaking even after releasing their figures for the year end June 30, 2011.

Newcastle registered an an operational loss of just 3.9million, while Ashley has wiped away the overdraft and debts. The owner is owed 140m but this is interest-free for the club.

Cost-cutting: Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley (left) with Derek Llambias

Cost-cutting: Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley (left) with Derek Llambias

The latest set of figures is a massive turnaround, with the club losing 33.5m in the previous year's accounts.

Managing director Derek Llambias said: 'The club's financial results for the year end June 2011 are extremely strong. We can now count ourselves amongst very few clubs across the UK and Europe who are operating at close to break-even.

'What is particularly pleasing is that we have achieved this whilst also ensuring we have a strong squad sitting firmly in the top third of the table and currently pushing for a European place.

Bargain: Demba Ba arrived on a free

Bargain: Demba Ba arrived on a free

'Some of the key financial principles we set in place when Mike bought to the club back in 2007 are now beginning to reap rewards. Most notably, our adherence to a strict transfer policy which avoids, or limits wherever possible, the acceptance of dated payments for players bought or sold.

'We believe it is a far healthier financial model to settle full transfer fees for players up front, not dated over a period of years.

'We have dealt wisely in the transfer market and reinvested the income received from player sales into improving the squad. Our net cash spend on player transfers to June 2011, which includes the sale of Andy Carroll, was a receipt of 5.4m, with a further 25m in cash spent on transfers and players' wages since June 2011.

'We have also worked hard to address an inherited wages-to-turnover ratio which was unsustainable. Wages now account for just over 60 per cent of turnover and we feel this is a healthy and affordable level.

'A further significant achievement has been to clear all of the Club's interest-bearing debt, which in 2006/7 was costing 6.5 million a year just to finance the debt.

'Mike Ashley continues to provide loans totalling 140m interest-free, for which we are extraordinarily fortunate. Once again, Mike has not taken any money out of the club.'

Portsmouth face a future in non-league

Special report: Proud Pompey face a future in non-league

Portsmouth have often treated the area's lesser lights such as Havant & Waterlooville, Salisbury and Eastleigh to pre-season friendlies.

Next season there is every possibility they will be rivals in the Blue Square Bet South, should Pompey start over after being beaten into submission by their third administration.

That reality for the Championship's bottom club, deducted 10 points for going into administration, is only months away.

Bleak outlook: Fratton Park, where the money has run dry could be a non-League venue next season

Bleak outlook: Fratton Park, where the money has run dry could be a non-League venue next season

It is the practical solution unless administrator Trevor Birch can find someone to bail them out again.

'The fans are so hamstrung by everything they are ready for the worst if it happens,' said Birch.

'A new Portsmouth Football Club would spring up, there is no doubt about that.

'Under the council's terms the site can only be used for football and the city needs a club. It is a community asset.

Phone a friend: Birch is hoping for last-minute investment with Pompey on the brink

Phone a friend: Birch is hoping for last-minute investment with Pompey on the brink

'If there is nobody available, and we forecast a big shortfall and a big loss, then liquidation may be the only option.'

Some fans are in favour of accepting that fate with the guarantee that crowds of 15,000 at Fratton Park will cheer them on as they fly through the divisions.

They are finished with the boom-and-bust era, the days when Pompey had debts of 135million and a wage bill in the Barclays Premier League that was 110 per cent of turnover.

Fall from grace: The club won the FA Cup in 2008, but now face the prospect of non-league football

Fall from grace: The club won the FA Cup in 2008, but now face the prospect of non-league football

There is an offer from former owner Balram Chainrai to rescue the club, but Portsmouth's supporters fear they would slip into another debt-ridden cycle.

Even now the sums leave Birch numb as he winces at some of the figures on the list of creditors.

They owe CSI, the company who took them out of administration last year, around 11.2m. There is an unpaid bill of 2.3m to the taxman, 2.5m to other trade creditors, 5m to football creditors and a claim by the liquidator under the previous administration for between 8m and 16m.

Birch added: 'HMRC want to make an example of football – it's not just about Portsmouth.

End of the road Pompey owe the taxman 2.3m

End of the road Pompey owe the taxman 2.3m

'They are fed up of not being paid the tax on the due date. If HMRC had the infrastructure in place they would not rack up the arrears, so that is something they must look at. They object to football creditors being placed at the top of the queue. They are gunning for football clubs and the judgement on the football first rule will soon be delivered.'

HMRC took the Premier League and Football League to court, arguing the rule relating to football contracts being paid first is no longer practical.

It means Tal Ben Haim, Pompey's highest earner on 30,000 a week, shoots to the top of the creditors' list and is entitled to be paid the remainder of his contract in full.

Perversely, the 30 members of office staff who have been made redundant without any financial compensation take their place in a lengthy queue of creditors.

All together now: Portsmouth are bottom of the Championship

All together now: Portsmouth are bottom of the Championship

Birch added: 'Players' contracts are excessive for the revenue base here, but I'm not surprised. 'It will be a tall order to find someone to buy the club. The last administrator spent nine months trying and couldn't succeed.

'In my role I have to be a bit of a salesman, but if people don't know Portsmouth are for sale then they must live on Mars.'

Birch has been through it all before at Chelsea, Leeds, Sheffield United and Tranmere.

He meets Portsmouth manager Michael Appleton regularly as the club prepare to move on more players before the loan deadline later this month.

Birch added: 'The ongoing running costs are the problem. In the Championship, 12 clubs lose more than 5m a year and seven pay more than 100 per cent of turnover in salaries.

'Owners always pay too much and there is a psychology about it, but owning a football club like Portsmouth is a trophy asset.

'It appeals to the ego, but the ownership of this club is chaotic.'

There was slightly better news for Portsmouth last night when the Football League agreed to resume their Basic Awards payments to the club, following discussions with Birch.

The payments are normally made on a monthly basis to all League clubs and are worth around 200,000 to Championship sides.

Bayer Leverkusen 1 Barcelona 3: Sanchez and Messi put holders on easy street

Bayer Leverkusen 1 Barcelona 3: Sanchez and Messi put holders on easy street

Barcelona put one foot in the quarter-finals of the Champions League with victory over a Leverkusen side who might wonder what would have been had they attacked from the start.

After the German hosts sat deep to frustrate Barca in the first half, Alexis Sanchez's first Champions League goal, scored in the 41st minute, separated the teams at the break.

But Leverkusen came out with a much more positive outlook after the break, levelling through Michal Kadlec and then having several chances before Sanchez's second and a late Lionel Messi strike gave Barca victory.

Double top: Sanchez beats Leno to fire his second of the game

Double top: Sanchez beats Leno to fire his second of the game

MATCH FACTS

Bayer Leverkusen: Leno, Corluka (Da Costa 90+1), Schwaab, Friedrich, Kadlec, Reinartz, Rolfes (Kiessling 77), Bender, Castro, Schurrle (Bellarabi 90), Renato Augusto. Subs not used: Yelldell, Oczipka, Ortega, Toprak.

Booked: Schwaab, Corluka, Castro.

Scorer: Kadlec 51.

Barcelona: Valdes, Dani Alves, Mascherano, Puyol, Abidal, Fabregas, Busquets, Iniesta (Alcantara 61), Sanchez, Messi, Adriano (Pedro 70). Subs not used: Pinto, Jonathan, Roberto, Bartra, Cuenca.

Booked: Alcantara.

Scorer: Sanchez, 41, 55, Messi 88.

Referee: Craig Thomson (Scotland).

Attendance: 30,000.

Leverkusen, hit heavily by injury, set up to defend against a Barcelona side that was missing Xavi Hernandez.

The result was a fairly drab opening,
with a Dani Alves free-kick, sent comfortably over the bar, the sum
total of the chances in the opening quarter of an hour.

Daniel Schwaab made a fine
intervention to prevent Messi nipping in for an easy close-range chance,
before Adriano curled a shot well wide from the left channel with
openings hard to come by.

Andre Schurrle fluffed Leverkusen's
only half-chance of the first 45 minutes, totally miskicking when the
ball sat up invitingly on the edge of the area.

Messi was doing his best to wriggle
through the Leverkusen defence, but could not get enough power on a shot
through Schwaab's legs from a difficult angle.

But the Argentinian was the provider
for the opening goal, flicking a pass over the defence that had Alexis
and Cesc Fabregas scampering after it.

High point: Sanchez hails his - and Barcelona's - second as the holders sealed an easy win in Germany

High point: Sanchez hails his – and Barcelona's – second as the holders sealed an easy win in Germany

Alexis won the debate between the two and slipped it through the legs of Bernd Leno and into the bottom corner.

With their containment strategy
undone, Leverkusen looked much more positive to start the second half,
with Manuel Friedrich having an early chance when Puyol's header fell
for him at the far post, but he could not stretch far enough to turn it
goalwards.

They were level in the 52nd minute as
Vedran Corluka was allowed the time to cross from a tight position,
standing the ball up for Kadlec to head in.

At full stretch: Lionel Messi makes it 3-1

At full stretch: Lionel Messi makes it 3-1

But parity lasted only four minutes
before Alexis got his second, latching on to a wonderful threaded ball
from Fabregas to round the goalkeeper and finish.

Moments later, a defensive mix-up gave Renato Augusto another chance for the hosts, but his shot was straight at Victor Valdes.

They had another chance to level in
the 64th minute when Gonzalo Castro raced onto the ball and powered a
low shot at goal, but Valdes used fingertips to push it onto the post.

No chance: Victor Valdes can do nothing but watch Michal Kadlec's thundering header sail into the net

No chance: Victor Valdes can do nothing but watch Michal Kadlec's thundering header sail into the net

Messi was the next to find the
woodwork, racing in from the right wing and then dinking a shot over the
onrushing Leno from a tight angle, only to see it come back off the
upright.

Leverkusen introduced Stefan Kiessling
from the bench and he almost had an immediate impact, stooping to head
Castro's curling cross goalwards and forcing Valdes into a good save on
the line.

Leno was then called on to make a fine save and deny Alexis a hat-trick as he sent a diving header goalwards.

But Barca got what could be a killer
third goal two minutes from time, with Messi the creator and finisher as
he slipped Dani Alves through and the Brazilian selflessly squared for
the Argentinian to find the net.

Blackburn boss Steve Kean loses assistant

Beleaguered Blackburn boss Kean loses another assistant as Clement heads to PSG

Blackburn boss Steve Kean has lost his second assistant in four months, as he continues his battle to keep his own job.

Paul Clement has moved to Paris St Germain in a three-year deal, where he will join forces again with Carlo Ancelotti, the Italian who he worked with at Chelsea.

Under pressure: Blackburn boss Steve Kean

Under pressure: Blackburn boss Steve Kean

Kean said: 'He has left the club and I
believe he is just about to take up a very exciting position for him
personally across the channel.

'It is a blow because he was very
popular with the players but it is no slight on our club and it is an
opportunity for someone else.

'We will be bringing in someone else as early as next week.'

Clement had only been in the job four months, since replacing the sacked John Jensen in September.

Protests: Blackburn fans are angry with the current situation

Protests: Blackburn fans are angry with the current situation

The financial outlook at Rovers remains
dire, and Kean's men are still bottom of the Premier League despite
picking up four points from recent trips to Liverpool and Manchester
United.

It has been reported that title hopefuls Tottenham are to
launch a 15million double swoop for wantaway Blackburn pair Christopher
Samba and Junior Hoilett.

Fans continue to openly vent their frustrations with both Kean and the club's owners Venkys.