Tag Archives: parting

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Frank Lampard: Chelsea future is up in the air

Lampard refuses to commit to Chelsea despite double against Everton

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UPDATED:

16:21 GMT, 30 December 2012

Frank Lampard may be on his way out of Chelsea but after Sunday’s performance away to Everton, he will leave in a blaze of glory.

The England midfielder, who scored twice to end Everton’s record of being unbeaten at Goodison Park all season, gave a strong indication he could move in the January window.

When asked what the new year would hold for him, Lampard said: ‘I just hope personally for me, it means I will be playing in a winning team.

Parting gift Frank Lampard scored twice against Everton at Goodison

Parting gift Frank Lampard scored twice against Everton at Goodison

‘I will keep trying to give my best as I’ve always done when here and will continue to do so.

‘I know there’s a lot of speculation and talk, but for me the enjoyable bit is the 90 minutes like I’ve just played, there.’

Lampard is free to talk to overseas clubs from January 1 with his contract six months from expiry, and Chelsea could be tempted to cash in instead of letting the midfielder’s contract run down.

Manchester United are said to be keeping tabs on the 34-year old’s situation.

Chelsea have now won 10 of the 11 games Lampard has played in, and only one of the eight he’s not featured in the squad for.

Surprisingly despite this, owner Roman Abramovich still does not appear interested in negotiating a new deal.

Head boy: Lampard spearheaded Chelsea's comeback against the Toffees

Head boy: Lampard spearheaded Chelsea's comeback against the Toffees

Chelsea boss Rafael Benitez was giving nothing away over Lampard's future.

'I am really pleased with the team, credit to Frank for the goals,' the Spaniard said.

'Frank is under contract, doing well, fully committed. My job is to keep him fit.'

Asked if he knew anything about reports club officials are due to hold talks with Newcastle striker Demba Ba, he added: 'No, because we don't talk about this business, we had a very important game today.'

Alex McLeish appointed Nottingham Forest manager

Forest fans vent anger as McLeish lands manager's job ahead of Di Matteo just ONE day after O'Driscoll axing

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UPDATED:

23:18 GMT, 27 December 2012

ROUGH JUSTICE

Read Joe Ridge's Football League Blog for his opinion on Sean O'Driscoll's sacking just five months into the job

Nottingham Forest have confirmed the appointment of Alex McLeish as their new manager – just a day after parting company with Sean O'Driscoll.

The former Birmingham and Aston Villa boss will begin work tomorrow and will take charge of Saturday's npower Championship encounter with Crystal Palace at the City Ground.

The Scot, who will be presented to
the media following training tomorrow morning, welcomed the opportunity
to return to management at a club lying eighth in the second tier.

Wanted: McLeish has been out of a job since he was sacked as manager of Aston Villa on the final day of last season

Wanted: McLeish has been out of a job since he was sacked as manager of Aston Villa on the final day of last season

'I'm really looking forward to working with Nottingham Forest,” McLeish told Forest's website.

'I've had time away from the game and now feel refreshed and ready to go.

'The fact that a club of Forest's magnitude has offered me a job excites me greatly – it's a wonderful opportunity.

'I can't wait to get started and I'm
looking forward to meeting the players, talking to them and taking my
first training session.'

'I'm delighted to welcome Alex to our
club and look forward to working with him,' Forest chairman Fawaz Al
Hasawi added.

'Alex took Birmingham to promotion from the Championship and has great experience of working in the Premier League.

'He's hungry for more success and I
believe he's the man who can help us fulfil our ambition of making it to
the Premier League.'

The 53-year-old McLeish, who has also
had spells in charge of Rangers and the Scotland national team, had
been out of work since being dismissed by Villa in May, after finishing
just two points above the relegation zone in the Premier League.

Shock: Roberto Di Matteo was a surprise contender for the Forest job

Shock: Roberto Di Matteo was a surprise contender for the Forest job

Missing out Roy Keane was in the stands for the match against Leeds United at the City Ground

Missing out Roy Keane was in the stands for the match against Leeds United at the City Ground

News of McLeish's appointment was met with a lukewarm reception in Nottingham.

A local newspaper poll ran a list of
candidates in the wake of O'Driscoll's shock exit and McLeish
received no votes by way of support.

A number of supporters also took to Twitter to voice their frustration after being linked
with the likes of Roy Keane and Roberto Di Matteo, who lifted the Champions League
trophy with Chelsea last season.

Clency
Lebrasse ‏(@Clency) posted: 'McLeish McLeish Is this a joke! Why
are forest raiding the brummie poundland for a boss Such an anti-climax
after hopes of a big name.

Harsh Sean O'Driscoll was sacked after Forest beat Leeds 4-2

Harsh Sean O'Driscoll was sacked after Forest beat Leeds 4-2

Ruthless: (From l-r) Fawaz Al-Hasawi, Abdulaziz Al-Hasawi and Omar Al-Hasawi are determined to reach the Premier League

Ruthless: (From l-r) Fawaz Al-Hasawi, Abdulaziz Al-Hasawi and Omar Al-Hasawi are determined to reach the Premier League

A RUTHLESS REGIME

New manager Alex McLeish may not feel too secure in his new position with how the Al-Hasawi family have treated his predecessors.

The Kuwaiti-based owners sacked Steve
Cotterill just two days after taking control of the club in July 2012.

Cotterill survived just nine months at Forest.

Sean O'Driscoll, who was sacked after a convincing win against Leeds on Boxing Day, parted ways with Nottingham Forest after joining the club five months earlier from Crawley Town.

Ben
List ‏(@ACosmicHobo) added:'McLeish is a boring dour man who plays dour
boring football. They'll be no more 4-2s at the City Ground this year :( #nffc'

Nick Pickard ‏(@nickp210) said:
'Don't understand the appointment of Alex Mcleish, why would you get rid
of O'Driscoll for him. We will be going back to hoof ball again'

Simon
Ackrill ‏(@simon_ackrill) was slightly more positive, adding: 'Not the
biggest fan of mcleish but we've certainly appointed worse! Just gotta
get behind the team and the new gaffa #COYR #nffc'

Ex-Chelsea chief Di Matteo
was the most popular choice but the former Italy international is
believed to be holding out for a post in the Premier League.

McLeish, who left Aston Villa under a cloud after fans reacted angrily to the former Birmingham boss' poor run of results, has remained in good shape and hopes to catapult his new club into the Premier League, a feat he performed with Birmingham City in the 2008-09 campaign.

Derided: McLeish left Aston Villa under a cloud after a poor run of form

Derided: McLeish left Aston Villa under a cloud after a poor run of form

Derided: McLeish left Aston Villa under a cloud after a poor run of form

Alex McLeish appointed Nottingham Forest manger

McLeish beats Di Matteo to Forest job ONE DAY after O'Driscoll axeing as ruthless owners target top flight

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UPDATED:

22:09 GMT, 27 December 2012

ROUGH JUSTICE

Read Joe Ridge's Football League Blog for his opinion on Sean O'Driscoll's sacking just five months into the job

Nottingham Forest have confirmed the appointment of Alex McLeish as their new manager – just a day after parting company with Sean O'Driscoll.

The former Birmingham and Aston Villa boss will begin work tomorrow and will take charge of Saturday's npower Championship encounter with Crystal Palace at the City Ground.

The Scot, who will be presented to
the media following training tomorrow morning, welcomed the opportunity
to return to management at a club lying eighth in the second tier.

Wanted: McLeish has been out of a job since he was sacked as manager of Aston Villa on the final day of last season

Wanted: McLeish has been out of a job since he was sacked as manager of Aston Villa on the final day of last season

'I'm really looking forward to working with Nottingham Forest,” McLeish told Forest's website.

'I've had time away from the game and now feel refreshed and ready to go.

'The fact that a club of Forest's magnitude has offered me a job excites me greatly – it's a wonderful opportunity.

'I can't wait to get started and I'm
looking forward to meeting the players, talking to them and taking my
first training session.'

'I'm delighted to welcome Alex to our
club and look forward to working with him,' Forest chairman Fawaz Al
Hasawi added.

'Alex took Birmingham to promotion from the Championship and has great experience of working in the Premier League.

'He's hungry for more success and I
believe he's the man who can help us fulfil our ambition of making it to
the Premier League.'

The 53-year-old McLeish, who has also
had spells in charge of Rangers and the Scotland national team, had
been out of work since being dismissed by Villa in May, after finishing
just two points above the relegation zone in the Premier League.

Shock: Roberto Di Matteo was a surprise contender for the Forest job

Shock: Roberto Di Matteo was a surprise contender for the Forest job

Missing out Roy Keane was in the stands for the match against Leeds United at the City Ground

Missing out Roy Keane was in the stands for the match against Leeds United at the City Ground

News of McLeish's appointment was met with a lukewarm reception in Nottingham.

A local newspaper poll ran a list of
candidates in the wake of O'Driscoll's shock exit and McLeish
received no votes by way of support.

A number of supporters also took to Twitter to voice their frustration after being linked
with the likes of Roy Keane and Roberto Di Matteo, who lifted the Champions League
trophy with Chelsea last season.

Clency
Lebrasse ‏(@Clency) posted: 'McLeish McLeish Is this a joke! Why
are forest raiding the brummie poundland for a boss Such an anti-climax
after hopes of a big name.

Harsh Sean O'Driscoll was sacked after Forest beat Leeds 4-2

Harsh Sean O'Driscoll was sacked after Forest beat Leeds 4-2

Ruthless: (From l-r) Fawaz Al-Hasawi, Abdulaziz Al-Hasawi and Omar Al-Hasawi are determined to reach the Premier League

Ruthless: (From l-r) Fawaz Al-Hasawi, Abdulaziz Al-Hasawi and Omar Al-Hasawi are determined to reach the Premier League

A RUTHLESS REGIME

New manager Alex McLeish may not feel too secure in his new position with how the Al-Hasawi family have treated his predecessors.

The Kuwaiti-based owners sacked Steve
Cotterill just two days after taking control of the club in July 2012.

Cotterill survived just nine months at Forest.

Sean O'Driscoll, who was sacked after a convincing win against Leeds on Boxing Day, parted ways with Nottingham Forest after joining the club five months earlier from Crawley Town.

Ben
List ‏(@ACosmicHobo) added:'McLeish is a boring dour man who plays dour
boring football. They'll be no more 4-2s at the City Ground this year :( #nffc'

Nick Pickard ‏(@nickp210) said:
'Don't understand the appointment of Alex Mcleish, why would you get rid
of O'Driscoll for him. We will be going back to hoof ball again'

Simon
Ackrill ‏(@simon_ackrill) was slightly more positive, adding: 'Not the
biggest fan of mcleish but we've certainly appointed worse! Just gotta
get behind the team and the new gaffa #COYR #nffc'

Ex-Chelsea chief Di Matteo
was the most popular choice but the former Italy international is
believed to be holding out for a post in the Premier League.

McLeish, who left Aston Villa under a cloud after fans reacted angrily to the former Birmingham boss' poor run of results, has remained in good shape and hopes to catapult his new club into the Premier League, a feat he performed with Birmingham City in the 2008-09 campaign.

Derided: McLeish left Aston Villa under a cloud after a poor run of form

Derided: McLeish left Aston Villa under a cloud after a poor run of form

Derided: McLeish left Aston Villa under a cloud after a poor run of form

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Didier Drogba back at Chelsea to train

Bet Torres is glad to see you… Chelsea legend Drogba back to train over the winter (and maybe give some goalscoring lessons)

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UPDATED:

17:48 GMT, 5 December 2012

Didier Drogba has rejoined at Chelsea… but sadly for his adoring fans, it's only for some winter training.

He's not back to ease the pressure on the hapless Fernando Torres. Instead, he will simply train in the Chinese off-season.

The Shanghai Shenhua striker left Chelsea in the summer after providing a parting gift of the Champions League trophy.

Back but not in business: Didier Drogba has returned to Chelsea to train during the break between Chinese seasons

Back but not in business: Didier Drogba has returned to Chelsea to train during the break between Chinese seasons

Legend: Drogba is missed by the Stamford Bridge faithful, who parade this banner

Legend: Drogba is missed by the Stamford Bridge faithful, who parade this banner

Now, 200 days after that momentous triumph in Munich's Allianz Arena, he is back.

Wearing a training strip with Romelu Lukaku's No 18 on the front, Drogba is pictured with youngster Aziz Deen-Conteh.

Lukaku sees Drogba as his idol and the players are close – perhaps it is a hint to new boss Rafael Benitez to recall the Belgian powerhouse.

Tough times: Fernando Torres has struggled for goal - with and without Drogba

Tough times: Fernando Torres has struggled for goal – with and without Drogba

Backing: Drogba wore a training shirt with Romelu Lukaku's number

Backing: Drogba wore a training shirt with Romelu Lukaku's number

Whether Benitez had any say over Drogba's return to Chelsea is unknown – the pair certainly had their disagreements while the Spaniard was in charge of Liverpool.

He branded Drogba a diver and in return the Ivorian sent the Reds crashing out of the Champions League semi-final with a superb display.

Jenson Button beats Lewis Hamilton to British Driver of the Year award

No parting gift for Hamilton as Button beats him to British Driver of the Year award

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UPDATED:

10:48 GMT, 4 December 2012

Jenson Button was last night named British Driver of the Year beating outgoing McLaren team-mate Lewis Hamilton to the prestigious Autosport award.

Hamilton, who joins Mercedes in a controversial three-year deal next season, ended his McLaren career with more points, victories and pole-positions than his team-mate this term.

But it was Button who scooped the award for the third time in four years, seeing off competition from fellow F1 racers Hamilton and Paul Di Resta as well as Dario Franchitti, who won the Indy 500 for a third time this season, Touring Car Champion Rob Huff and DTM runner-up and McLaren reserve driver Gary Paffett,

Winner: Jensen Button has won the award for a third time in four years

Winner: Jensen Button has won the award for a third time in four years

TALE OF THE TAPE

Hamilton
Wins: 4
Pole positions 7
DNFs: 6
Points: 190

Button
Wins: 3
Pole Positions 1
DNFs: 2
Points 188

Button, who benefited from Hamilton’s retirement in Brazil to win the final race of the season, said:

‘It has been a very up and down year for us, but [winning in Brazil] was a great way to end the season and hopefully for all the guys working that’ll be good for 2013.’

After a disappointing season in 2011, Hamilton bounced back this term to enjoy arguably his best season for McLaren during his six-year spell with the British outfit.

But he was unable to mount a title challenge after retiring from the lead of three races at Singapore, Abu Dhabi and in Brazil, while a pit-stop gaffe and fuel error cost him big points at the Bahrain and Spanish Grands Prix.

Praise: Lewis Hamilton was backed by Button even though he is leaving for Mercedes

Praise: Lewis Hamilton was backed by Button even though he is leaving for Mercedes

And Button, who will be joined at McLaren by Sergio Perez in 2013, was quick to laud his outgoing team-mate after accepting his British Driver of the Year award.

Phil Duncan F1 blog

He said: ‘For me the excitement of going to McLaren was obviously in racing for the team, but it was also racing against Lewis. He’s unbelievably fast.

‘I love the role of being the experienced driver and that is definitely the case next year – I think I am the most experienced guy in F1 next year. Really looking forward to working with Checo [Sergio Perez] next year too, he has shown great speed and seems like he wants to learn, so it should be good fun.

‘I think this year we’ve shown there is a real heart to this team. They are so passionate about motor racing, they’ve been around for decades and achieved so much. They are very professional but they also have a lot of fun fighting for victories. It’s a big family and I didn’t expect that when I got there.’

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Jensen Button beats Lewis Hamilton to British Driver of the Year award

No parting gift for Hamilton as Button beats him to British Driver of the Year award

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UPDATED:

12:12 GMT, 3 December 2012

Jenson Button was last night named British Driver of the Year beating outgoing McLaren team-mate Lewis Hamilton to the prestigious Autosport award.

Hamilton, who joins Mercedes in a controversial three-year deal next season, ended his McLaren career with more points, victories and pole-positions than his team-mate this term.

But it was Button who scooped the award for the third time in four years, seeing off competition from fellow F1 racers Hamilton and Paul Di Resta as well as Dario Franchitti, who won the Indy 500 for a third time this season, Touring Car Champion Rob Huff and DTM runner-up and McLaren reserve driver Gary Paffett,

Winner: Jensen Button has won the award for a third time in four years

Winner: Jensen Button has won the award for a third time in four years

TALE OF THE TAPE

Hamilton
Wins: 4
Pole positions 7
DNFs: 6
Points: 190

Button
Wins: 3
Pole Positions 1
DNFs: 2
Points 188

Button, who benefited from Hamilton’s retirement in Brazil to win the final race of the season, said:

‘It has been a very up and down year for us, but [winning in Brazil] was a great way to end the season and hopefully for all the guys working that’ll be good for 2013.’

After a disappointing season in 2011, Hamilton bounced back this term to enjoy arguably his best season for McLaren during his six-year spell with the British outfit.

But he was unable to mount a title challenge after retiring from the lead of three races at Singapore, Abu Dhabi and in Brazil, while a pit-stop gaffe and fuel error cost him big points at the Bahrain and Spanish Grands Prix.

Praise: Lewis Hamilton was backed by Button even though he is leaving for Mercedes

Praise: Lewis Hamilton was backed by Button even though he is leaving for Mercedes

And Button, who will be joined at McLaren by Sergio Perez in 2013, was quick to laud his outgoing team-mate after accepting his British Driver of the Year award.

Phil Duncan F1 blog

He said: ‘For me the excitement of going to McLaren was obviously in racing for the team, but it was also racing against Lewis. He’s unbelievably fast.

‘I love the role of being the experienced driver and that is definitely the case next year – I think I am the most experienced guy in F1 next year. Really looking forward to working with Checo [Sergio Perez] next year too, he has shown great speed and seems like he wants to learn, so it should be good fun.

‘I think this year we’ve shown there is a real heart to this team. They are so passionate about motor racing, they’ve been around for decades and achieved so much. They are very professional but they also have a lot of fun fighting for victories. It’s a big family and I didn’t expect that when I got there.’

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David Beckham wins MLS Cup in final LA Galaxy match

Beckham's Hollywood ending: England legend signs off by helping Galaxy to MLS Cup glory… but where next for Goldenballs

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UPDATED:

10:07 GMT, 2 December 2012

David Beckham had his heart set on leaving LA Galaxy with the MLS Cup as a parting gift and it was fitting he should be the architect of a second-half comeback to beat their old rivals here at the Home Depot Center.

The 37-year-old former England captain conjured up a vintage display in central midfield and the crowd rose to acclaim their No 23 when he was substituted seconds before the end.

Anybody questioning the impact
Beckham has made on a sport which still has a long way to go to catch up
established American games such as gridiron and baseball, would have to
acknowledge his popularity with the fans. There were banners all round
the ground proclaiming ‘Thanks David’ and ‘We love Beckham’ while fans
were wearing T-shirts with slogans such as ‘Beckham — take me with you’
and ‘Beckham you rocked the Galaxy’.

Party time: David Beckham and his team-mates begin the celebrations

Party time: David Beckham and his team-mates begin the celebrations

Party time: David Beckham and his team-mates begin the celebrations

‘It is a special day for us to win it
here at our home, in front of our home fans,’ said an emotional
Beckham, who again hinted that he would soon be involved in the MLS as a
club owner.

‘It is a sad day as well. This is a special place for me and will continue to be a special place.

More trophies: Beckham's glittering career has yet another successful chapter

More trophies: Beckham's glittering career has yet another successful chapter

Champions: Landon Donovan reacts after scoring the crucial penalty

Champions: Landon Donovan reacts after scoring the crucial penalty

Decisive intervention: David Beckham and Christian Wilhelmsson celebrate with Landon Donovan after the latter slots home a penalty in the second half to put Galaxy 2-1 ahead

Decisive intervention: David Beckham and Christian Wilhelmsson celebrate with Landon Donovan after the latter slots home a penalty in the second half to put Galaxy 2-1 ahead

The kids are all right: Beckham celebrates with his sons after the final whistle

The kids are all right: Beckham celebrates with his sons after the final whistle

The kids are all right: Beckham celebrates with his sons after the final whistle

The kids are all right: Beckham celebrates with his sons after the final whistle

‘I have no idea where I will go next.
I do know that I am happy to have been part of this club for six years
and been successful for the last four years.

‘I will continue with my commitment
to this league. I might not be playing here any more but my commitment
to growing this sport and this league will continue.’

Bending it: Beckham fires in a trademark delivery

Bending it: Beckham fires in a trademark delivery

This tight little stadium is far from
the biggest in the MLS but temporary seating installed for the occasion
and the opening of the huge grassy bank towering over one of the goals
had boosted the capacity from 27,000 to 30,000.

The untypical Los Angeles weather —
drizzling rain on Friday and squally showers before the game — made the
grass slippery but it hardly put off the fans. They braved the
conditions, spreading their blankets and feasting on hot dogs and Buds
well before kick-off.

Tribute: Fans show their appreciation for the former England captain

Tribute: Fans show their appreciation for the former England captain

Tribute: Fans show their appreciation for the former England captain

Of course, the main item on the
agenda was Galaxy’s attempt to retain the Philip F Anschultz Trophy,
awarded to the winners of the MLS championship in a repeat of last
year’s final. Having reached their record eighth final, Galaxy have now
equalled DC United’s feat of four titles.

But it was almost a foregone
conclusion. If Beckham could have picked opposition least likely to
spoil his farewell party, it would have been the Dynamo who have now
lost their last six games at the Home Depot.

Ambassador: David Beckham (right) before the game with Robbie Keane (centre)

Ambassador: David Beckham (right) before the game with Robbie Keane (centre)

Hands on: Ricardo Clark gets to grips with Beckham in the first half

Hands on: Ricardo Clark gets to grips with Beckham in the first half

Beckham engineered the 13th-minute
move which should have seen Galaxy take the lead with a 30-yard ball to
Robbie Keane, whose pass left Landon Donovan with the goal at his mercy
but the striker shot wide.

A 19th-minute free-kick from the
right-side of the box produced an even worse miss with Mike Magee, two
yards out, somehow contriving to head off target. They were misses that
Galaxy came to rue when, a minute before half-time, Calen Carr broke
down the Houston right, took advantage of sloppy defending by Tommy
Meyer and lifted a right footer into the top of the net to stun the home
fans.

The last time: David Beckham walks out alongside sons Brooklyn, Romeo and Cruz

The last time: David Beckham walks out alongside sons Brooklyn, Romeo and Cruz

Job done: Beckham and Galaxy coach Bruce Arena chat to the media after the game

Job done: Beckham and Galaxy coach Bruce Arena chat to the media after the game

Up for the cup: Beckham poses with the trophy alongside Arena, Robbie Keane (far right) and assistant coach Jovan Kirovski

Up for the cup: Beckham poses with the trophy alongside Arena, Robbie Keane (far right) and assistant coach Jovan Kirovski

Up for the cup: Beckham poses with the trophy alongside Arena, Robbie Keane (far right) and assistant coach Jovan Kirovski

Galaxy hit back with two goals in
four minutes. Omar Gonzalez headed them level in the 61st minute and a
Donovan penalty gave them the lead. It was left to Keane to put the
icing on the cake with a second penalty in added time.

Beckham has been cagey about where he
will go next. France, and particularly Monaco, remain a favourable
option but he has been impressed with overtures from China. For now,
though, he will just enjoy the Hollywood ending to his LA career.

American dream: Beckham departs LA Galaxy on a high

American dream: Beckham departs LA Galaxy on a high

American dream: Beckham departs LA Galaxy on a high

Image article-2223954-15B5F5A5000005DC-911_634x442.jpg

Darren Bent won"t quit Aston Villa despite Paul Lambert axe

Bent insists he won't quit Villa despite being axed by ruthless Lambert again

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UPDATED:

12:14 GMT, 27 October 2012

Darren Bent has pledged he will not seek a transfer away from Aston Villa despite again being dropped by Paul Lambert for Aston Villa's clash against Norwich.

Lambert has taken a huge gamble by once more relegating Bent to the substitutes’ bench for Saturday's crunch match with the Canaries.

The Scot excluded Villa's club record 24million signing, plumping instead for Christian Benteke and Gabriel Agbonlahor as his first-choice strike pairing.

Dropped: Darren Bent (left) was again left out of Aston Villa's team against Norwich on Saturday afternoon

Dropped: Darren Bent (left) was again left out of Aston Villa's team against Norwich on Saturday afternoon

Lambert has insisted there is no problem between the pair but the England striker would not be short of options should he choose to quit Villa Park, with Liverpool among the clubs having expressed an interest in Bent in the summer.

But Bent insisted that he would not be asking for a transfer away from the Birmingham club.

He told The Sun: 'If they feel in January it’s time for a parting of the ways then that’ll be down to them — it won’t be my doing.

'It won’t come from my side. I won’t ask for a transfer, of course I wouldn’t do that.

'Villa are a massive club and I always want to play for huge clubs.

'For me to ask for a move would be silly, especially at this stage of the season when there’s still a long way to go.

'Everyone would like an explanation about why things happen, but that’s not the manager’s style and I respect that.

No rift: Paul Lambert (left) insists there is no problem between him and Bent

No rift: Paul Lambert (left) insists there is no problem between him and Bent

'I’m not going to go in and say I want
to leave. I’m more than happy at Villa and to play my football here. The
attraction is the size of the club, the history and a massive fan base.
I’m prepared to give it as long as it takes.'

Lambert first sprang a surprise when he left Bent out of the side to face West Brom three weeks ago. Bent
came off the bench to rescue a point for Villa with only his third
touch of the ball but again found himself surplus for a trip to
Tottenham one week later. Although the England forward was included for Villa’s last outing at Craven Cottage, he again cut an anonymous figure.

Not only has Bent, 28, found himself out of Villa's starting line-up, he has also had the captain's armband taken away from him and seen it handed to Ron Vlaar, the Dutch defender signed from Feyenoord in the summer.

Bent was only made skipper by Lambert in the summer and the striker admits he was stung by his manager's decision.

He added: 'It’s the manager’s decision — he appointed me captain and then took it away. That’s down to him but it’s frustrating for me.

'If you want ambition in the game you should be looking to captain a side like Villa. Even though it was brief, it was a fantastic experience for me and something I’ll always cherish. It was disappointing to lose it, but I have to get on with it.

'At first I was shocked to get the captaincy — but I was delighted with it. Then I was shocked to lose it.

'And to score my first goal of the season then be out of the team the following week was also a shock to me. But I came on against West Brom and scored.'

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Frankie Dettori could aim for jockeys" title

Freed Frankie fancies tilt at jockeys' title after parting company with Godolphin

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UPDATED:

21:30 GMT, 22 October 2012

Frankie Dettori could launch an enthralling challenge for a fourth jockeys’ title riding as a revitalised freelance next year.

The Italian’s agent, former jockey Ray Cochrane, believes the championship is possible for the 41-year-old jockey with his 18-year link to Godolphin ending at the end of the season.

Cochrane said: ‘We will set our sights on winning most of the big races, if we can do, and will have a crack at being champion jockey.

Over and out: Frankie Dettori will cut ties with Godolphin from next season

Over and out: Frankie Dettori will cut ties with Godolphin from next season

‘The biggest thing about not being retained by Godolphin is that I can kick on five days in advance and make it my aim for him to ride the best horses.

‘Godolphin don’t let me know what he’s riding until 48 hours beforehand. He rides for a hell of a lot of trainers here in Newmarket and has links all over the world.’

In what looks a statement of intent, Dettori, champion in 1994, 1995 and 2004 but often living off crumbs this summer, is booked for all seven races at Newmarket on Wednesday, his first mounts since his split with Sheik Mohammed’s stable was announced.

The rides include bookings for John Dunlop, Tim Easterby, Brian Meehan, Gerard Butler and, significantly, Charlie Hills, who has rides to offer next year with the retirement of jockey brother Michael.

Big rides: Dettori could be on board the likes of Just The Judge next year

Big rides: Dettori could be on board the likes of Just The Judge next year

They include exciting Rockfel Stakes winner and 1,000 Guineas prospect Just The Judge. Dettori, already due to ride Godolphin’s Artigiano at next month’s Breeders’ Cup, will now also ride Ralph Beckett-trained Waterway Run.

Meanwhile, David Redvers, racing manager to Sheik Fahad Al Thani and his family’s Qatar Racing interests, confirmed a deal is close to signing Jamie Spencer as retained rider but added it would be ‘barking mad’ not to book the freelance Dettori if he was available and they needed a jockey.

Redvers said: ‘Although we are in negotiations with Jamie, there is no contract signed yet. I expect we will have something put to bed by the end of the week.

‘But if whoever we retain is unable to ride and Frankie is available, you’d be barking mad not to book him. He is still the best jockey riding and with something to prove he will be going all guns blazing.’

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Lewis Hamilton can grow up with Mercedes move

Time for Lewis to grow up: Mercedes move gives Hamilton chance to spread his wings

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UPDATED:

21:42 GMT, 28 September 2012

Humid air outside, air-conditioned splendour inside, two men in deep conversation, a momentous agreement nearing completion.

I can reveal that was the scene in Singapore’s Conrad Centennial Hotel in the late hours after last Sunday’s Grand Prix as Niki Lauda and Lewis Hamilton sat down for the last in a series of chats that culminated in the confirmation that Mercedes have signed him.

Lauda, the three-time world champion who is the new head of Mercedes’ F1 board, spoke in that direct, declamatory Austrian way of his about how Mercedes were the super-team of the future. He talked of new engineers, limitless funding and team principal Ross Brawn’s championship-winning pedigree.

End of the road: Lewis Hamilton and McLaren are parting company

End of the road: Lewis Hamilton and McLaren are parting company

He spoke with the authority that had been invested in him by the chairman of Mercedes’ parent company Daimler, Dr Dieter Zetsche, who told him: find out what the hell is going on with our F1 team and put it right.

One suspects that Mercedes were evaluating what to do: pull out or throw everything into success. Lauda knew they had plumped for the latter and sold that vision to Hamilton, who had spent several weeks looking all the key Mercedes men — Brawn, Lauda, and Mercedes’ head of motor sport Norbert Haug — in the eye. He was won over.

That is why Hamilton is taking only a qualified gamble in walking out on McLaren, the 20-times winners of the drivers’ and constructors’ titles combined.

A day on from our exclusive revelation that the deal was done, I remain convinced that there was one key consideration in Hamilton’s mind beyond Mercedes’ competitive potential. Here was an opportunity for Hamilton to redefine himself away from the caring but at times suffocating atmosphere of the team where he would always be seen as young Lewis, the kid in a kart who joined at 13.

Sure, Mercedes, being a giant carmaker rather than a racing team who are reliant on sponsors themselves, will allow his management team, XIX Entertainment, to carve out his own lucrative endorsements. Sony, adidas, Coca-Cola, who knows what else, await.

Teaming up again: Hamilton and Nico Rosberg during their karting days

Teaming up again: Hamilton and Nico Rosberg during their karting days

But that, it seems, was a secondary consideration. If we doubt that, we should ask ourselves, first, how would he feel if he was losing every race over the next three years, and, secondly, how would his earning potential consequently be curtailed by being a serial non-winner The money would finally dry up.

Since knowing Hamilton from his days in GP2, Formula One’s feeder series, I have seen him constantly battle against his own immaturity in an attempt to find his real self.

Yes, he thrived off the traction provided by his relationship with his dad, Anthony, who was also his manager. But when Lewis dispensed with his father’s services two years ago some of us hailed it as a welcome part of his growing up process.

Nevertheless, part of Hamilton was lost. Symbiosis has inescapable rules. The growing pains since have been obvious, and, at times, painful to behold. Heavens, this year he has intermittently been hopelessly sullen and self-pitying.

Ambition: Mercedes look to be making a fresh assault on Formula One

Ambition: Mercedes look to be making a fresh assault on Formula One

As for posting team telemetry on Twitter last month, it was a sacking offence. Yet McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh, a nice man with a chummy style of driver management, exercised no governance over his man. No fine. No serious admonishment. Pathetic. Perhaps he feared pushing Hamilton away amid delicate contract talks. Well, look where it got him.

That said, Hamilton likes Whitmarsh. More than he does McLaren chairman Ron Dennis, whose cold manner after the win at this month’s Italian Grand Prix registered with Hamilton.

The hope is that 27-year-old Hamilton, away from McLaren, will finally act his age. Or is he destined always to attract trouble A bit of both, probably.

Certainly, his McLaren team-mate Jenson Button will not miss him. He was dismayed by the telemetry tweeting.

Word is that Button will now jealously guard his data from Hamilton for the remaining six races of the season. It may hinder, but not necessarily ruin, Hamilton’s hopes of coming from 52 points back to sign off from McLaren as world champion.