Tag Archives: performer

Carlos Tevez facing jail threat after arrest on suspicion of driving while disaqualified

City striker Tevez could face jail after arrest on suspicion of driving while disqualified

Tevez was banned from the roads for six months in January

Police confirm a 29-year-old man was arrested on ThursdayMaximum penalty is six months in prison and 5,000 fine

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Reliable: But the forward is a consistent performer when selected

Reliable: But the forward is a consistent performer when selected

QPR star Adel Taarabt claims his agent is in talks with AC Milan over possible move

QPR star Taarabt says he is in talks with AC Milan… and could use move as stepping stone for Real or Barca

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UPDATED:

08:48 GMT, 25 December 2012

QPR playmaker Adel Taarabt claims he is in talks with AC Milan over a possible move to the San Siro.

The Moroccan star says his agent is in talks with Milan chief executive Adriano Galliani and that Milan could tempt him to turn down any potential advances from a top Premier League club or Real Madrid or Barcelona.

Taarabt played a key role for struggling QPR in their first Premier League win of the season against Fulham earlier this month when he scored both goals, and his performances have lead to speculation that he could leave the struggling club.

Heading to Italy Adel Taarabt claims his agent is talking to AC Milan

Heading to Italy Adel Taarabt claims his agent is talking to AC Milan

Taarabt told Gazzetta dello Sport: ‘I would only refuse offers from the big English clubs if Milan made me an offer.

‘My agent is in talks with Galliani, but it depends on what happens with Robinho and [reported AC Milan target Javier] Pastore.

Star performer: Taarabt has been in good form for struggling QPR

Star performer: Taarabt has been in good form for struggling QPR

‘Milan aren’t going through a glorious period now, and they’re no longer a part of the top clubs.

‘However, if I joined Milan then it would open up the doors for me to great clubs like Real Madrid and Barca.’

And Taarabt believe he could be a success with the Italian giants – just like his friend and former Tottenham team-mate Kevin-Prince Boateng.

Milan man: Taarabt says the success of Kevin Prince Boateng at Milan makes him believe he can do well there

Milan man: Taarabt says the success of Kevin Prince Boateng at Milan makes him believe he can do well there

Both players struggled to make an impact on the first team at White Hart Lane before being sold and Taarabt added: ‘My friend Boateng is also at Milan. When we were at Tottenham he was often in the stands, so I think that I have a chance too.’

Demba Ba and Simon Mignolet among frontrunners for North East player of the year – Northern Exposure

Has Demba set the Ba highest or has Mignolet pulled out all the stops Player of the year crown up for grabs

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UPDATED:

16:26 GMT, 19 December 2012

The voting slips will go out for the North East player of 2012 this week.

And although anyone from Newcastle United, Sunderland, Middlesbrough, Hartlepool United, Carlisle United and even Darlington has a chance, there are of course a few leading candidates.

But only a few.

For the first half of the season, you could take your pick of the Newcastle squad, while there were a couple of worthy candidates at Sunderland. The second half is less clear cut. It hasn’t been a great six months.

Partners in time Newcastle strikers Demba Ba (left) and Papiss Cisse (right)

Partners in time Newcastle strikers Demba Ba (left) and Papiss Cisse (right)

Newcastle’s No 1 is Tim Krul and the young Dutchman has been arguably the most consistent performer for Alan Pardew at both ends of the Barclays Premier League.

Handed the opportunity, if not the actual shirt, by Pardew at the start of last season, Krul was simply outstanding behind a Newcastle back four which had to contend with the loss of Steven Taylor for most of 2012.

Not only has he proved himself an excellent shot-stopper when it counts, Krul has a real presence about him, and a confidence which is an absolute necessity in any top flight goalkeeper. He has kept Steve Harper out of the side, and has earned the right to be named Newcastle No 1 now.

And he has maintained it throughout the year. If it had not been for Krul, and, admittedly, some very un-world-class finishing, Manchester City would have been even more rampant last week but Krul, using his whole body, kept the champions at bay.

Sorely missed: Yohan Cabaye's injury has deprived Newcastle of a top midfielder

Sorely missed: Yohan Cabaye's injury has deprived Newcastle of a top midfielder

The current player of the year is Fabricio Coloccini, who has had another excellent year – or nine months at least.

Another man who makes his presence felt in the Newcastle side, as both centre-back and captain, the Argentina international was the undoubted leader of the team which finished fifth last season.

Very little got past him, but he has struggled on occasions this season, particularly when he has perhaps not been fully fit, and even dared to make a few mistakes. Perhaps he has been trying too hard. Taylor is suffering another long-term injury and has been missed over the last two months and at times Coloccini has been doing two players’ jobs. When he concentrates on one, there are not many better centre-backs in the Premier League.

Cheick Tiote is a replication of his skipper.

Another essential component of the Newcastle team, he was near faultless at times last season, and even his disciplinary problems, which are very much on-going, can be overlooked. He likes a tackle, he likes to win the ball and keep it and when he is suspended, he is sorely missed.

Tim Krul

Simon Mignolet

No 1's to watch: Tim Krul (left) and Sunderland's Simon Mignolet (right)

But like Coloccini, Tiote has not reached the standards he set when he first joined the club, never mind of last season. He has missed his tackles and given the ball away. Hit by injury that kept him out for the first two months, he has struggled to find his rhythm and exert his influence on matches for Newcastle. There were indications against Manchester City that he is getting back to his best.

Sadly Yohan Cabaye and Hatem Ben Arfa were both missing against City, and will be absent for the difficult Christmas period.

Cabaye is just a very good footballer, which he proved in his first English league season, and then in the European Championship finals for France. His injury was a real blow to Pardew and Newcastle.

He is very nearly the perfect midfielder because he can do just about everything, tackle, score, pass to keep possession or open a chasm in the opposition’s defence. No wonder Manchester United and Arsenal have been eyeing him with envy until his knee injury.

Hot and cold: Stephane Sessegnon has failed to hit the heights of last season

Hot and cold: Stephane Sessegnon has failed to hit the heights of last season

Ben Arfa meanwhile has the wow factor, as his brilliant goals against Blackburn and Bolton highlighted. Newcastle supporters, brought up on Waddle, Ginola and Robert, love him. He wins matches when he is at his best, and he has been at his best for most of the year.

And that brings us finally to Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse.

Alan Shearer raised questions about their partnership on Match of the Day and the former No 9 is not the first critic to notice that the pair don’t seem to be able actually to play together, score in the same games and show any sort of telepathy as a front pair. Pardew, for the moment, is reluctant to pick them in that role.

Fans have been asking quite openly if they even like each other – which was never an issue for Sheringham and Cole at Manchester United but has led to very different halves of the year in their case.

Cisse was on fire when he first signed, scoring an incredible 13 goals in 14 games. This season he has two in 15, and to go back to the City game again, he blasted his side’s best chance of an equaliser with a dreadful wild shot. It was an opportunity he took for fun last season, as his wonderful two goals at Chelsea demonstrated.

More from Colin Young…

Northern Exposure: Sunderland must see the light at the end of the tunnel and stick with O'Neill
11/12/12

Good news: Deadly Demba's scoring streak revives Newcastle… Bad news: That 7.5m release clause has the big boys circling (again)
04/12/12

Northern Exposure: Sunderland No 1 Mignolet needs to bounce back from his mistake
27/11/12

Northern Exposure: Peaceful Newcastle fans got raw deal from police in Bruges… now it's time to speak up
21/11/12

Northern Exposure: Why Newcastle could finally be tempted to make their move for old boy Carroll
13/11/12

Northern Exposure: Just how can O'Neill reverse Sunderland's fortunes
06/11/12

Northern Exposure: Wear-Tees derby may not be as mad as the big one but there's all to play for
29/10/12

Northern Exposure: Time to come up for air before next Newcastle v Sunderland battle
22/10/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

Ba had scored 15 before his fellow Senegal international arrived, and added just one more after January. This season, he has certainly re-discovered his pre-Christmas touch, with 11 goals so far. Newcastle need him to stay, and to keep scoring.

If you could put Ba and Cisse together as one player, he’d win the award by a mile. Putting them together as a partnership is a priority for their manager.

Like Krul, Sunderland keeper Simon Mignolet has seized his opportunity to be No 1 with two very safe hands.

The Belgium keeper, who like the Newcastle man faces stiff competition to be the regular first choice for his country, has had to be consistent to keep Keiren Westwood out of Martin O’Neill’s team.

And the fact his error against West Brom was the first he has really made since Westwood’s New Year’s Day illness speaks volumes for his consistency and performances. Historically, Sunderland supporters like their goalkeepers and Mignolet could be up there with the best over time.

He has certainly been O’Neill’s best performer over the 12 months, although others have had their moments.

James McClean was sensational in his first season but has inevitably found it tougher this campaign. Defenders know how to play against him and perseverance alone has not been enough. But O’Neill has preserved, confident he can hit the heights again.

He has done the same with Stephane Sessegnon whose form last season I put up with the best ever seen in a Sunderland player. There have been too many games this season when it’s hard to believe it is actually the same footballer. But like Ben Arfa, he wins and changes matches. Sunderland need the real Sessegnon to step up now.

It says something about Sunderland’s current woes that new signings Danny Rose and Steven Fletcher have been their best outfield players. Sadly for them, it won’t be enough to claim the coveted North East award whose roll-call includes Shearer, Quinn, Phillips, Given, Keegan, Beardsley, Juninho, Ferdinand and Allon.

Who is it going to be this year

Everton should sell Leighton Baines but keep Marouane Fellaini to fund Champions League push – Neville Southall

Sell Baines to fund Champions League push but keep Fellaini, Southall tells Everton

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UPDATED:

18:27 GMT, 18 December 2012

Former Everton goalkeeper Neville Southall believes defender Leighton Baines could be the player to be sacrificed in order to fund the club’s bid for Champions League football.

Southall thinks the Toffees need three players in January if they are to sustain a top-four challenge.

Midfielder Marouane Fellaini is the player who appears to be attracting most interest from other clubs but Baines has regularly been linked with Manchester United over the last 12 months.

Star performer: Leighton Baines has long been one of Everton's key men

Star performer: Leighton Baines has long been one of Everton's key men

Force of nature: Marouane Fellaini's goals have fired the Toffees this season

Force of nature: Marouane Fellaini's goals have fired the Toffees this season

Southall feels it would be easier – and cheaper – to find a solution at left-back but ideally he would not want Baines, one of Everton’s most consistent performers over the last few years, to leave.

'I’d like to see them buy three players, at least, or get three players on loan,' said the former Wales international, speaking at the launch of The Football Pools 90 Day Community Challenge at St Helens Junior Football Club, who received funding of 50,000 to makeover their club.

'They need a striker for definite, a midfield player who can pass – a more expansive midfield player – and a defender.

'We’ve got to this position now where, if they get two or three players, they can push on, finish fourth and get the Champions League.

'I don’t mind him (Moyes) selling one if he brings two in because that makes sense.

'If you are going to sacrifice anyone, Leighton Baines may be the one to go.

'You’ve got Phil Neville to fill in (at left-back) and you’ve got Bryan Oviedo you could get away with there.

Legend: Former keeper Neville Southall (centre) was at Everton for 17 years

Legend: Former keeper Neville Southall (centre) was at Everton for 17 years

'I would hate it but you can’t do Fellaini at the moment because it would cost twice as much to replace him.

'But I’d rather they add than take away, because if you’re taking away you’re saying to the fans “We don’t care, we’re just going to sell” and I don’t think that is right at all.'

Southall has been impressed by his former club’s performances this season, which has kept them within two points of third place.

But he believes they cannot afford to stand still and for all their attacking invention he thinks they require more guile to make them genuine top-four contenders.

'They have upped their performances and the reason for that is they have got goalscorers,' he added. 'They’ve kept it tight before because they didn’t have that cutting edge but now they have goals all over the pitch.

'I don’t think we have anyone with that vision. (Darron) Gibson is not bad to be fair but he’s not there every week.

'Maybe by next season he would be ideal but he’s picked up a few injuries here or there.

'Jelavic can change a game on his own but I’d like to see someone with a bit of drive and personality.

'I’d like to see them have someone who can take the game by the scruff of the neck and make an impact. Someone like the character of Andrei Kanchelskis but a midfielder who can drive the team forward, maybe make a few tackles – someone like a Steven Gerrard for Everton.

'They don’t seem to have someone who has that drive inside them yet.'

Mohamed Diame reminiscent of Yaya Toure and Patrick Vieira – Jamie Redknapp

West Ham's Diame reminds me of a cross between Yaya Toure and Vieira

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UPDATED:

23:00 GMT, 2 December 2012

I like the look of Mohamed Diame at West Ham; he’s a cross between Patrick Vieira and Yaya Toure.

He overpowered Chelsea’s midfield on Saturday. Can West Ham keep him He came on a free and has an agreed get-out clause. There will be lots of interest now.

Talent: Mohamed Diame plays like a cross between Yaya Toure and Patrick Vieira

Talent: Mohamed Diame plays like a cross between Yaya Toure and Patrick Vieira

More from Jamie Redknapp…

Jamie Redknapp: It's great to see Fletcher back in the goals… even if my dad doesn't agree with me!
26/11/12

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23/11/12

Jamie Redknapp: Leaky Spurs miss Dembele as Arsenal hope derby victory sparks winning run
18/11/12

After Ibra's 'Escape to Victory moment' Jamie Redknapp presents his guide to overhead kicks
15/11/12

Jamie Redknapp: After his wonder goal, I'd love to see Zlatan head to the Premier League…
14/11/12

Jamie Redknapp: Carragher shows he is still a top performer – but it is time to think about the next step
11/11/12

Jamie Redknapp: Hotshot Van Persie could be heading for a double
05/11/12

Jamie Redknapp: What are Arsenal thinking about letting Walcott go He could play through the middle but I'd keep him wide
31/10/12

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Weak Chelsea

No Frank Lampard and no John Terry and
suddenly Chelsea do not look to have any leaders. What happened to them
in the second half West Ham got at them and Chelsea collapsed. Every
outfield player, apart from Juan Mata, needs to look at himself.

Benteke blitz

I went from Upton Park by Virgin bike
to Loftus Road to catch the second half of Queens Park Rangers’ game
with Aston Villa. It’s the second time in a week I’ve watched Villa’s
Christian Benteke and you can see why Darren Bent does not get on. He’s a
young Drogba. And he’s only 21.

Pass masters

Swansea gave Arsenal a lesson in their
own game. They passed them off the pitch and it was a result that
leaves them above Arsene Wenger’s team in the Premier League. Arsenal
are 10TH! Are we really witnessing the decline and fall of Wenger I
hope not.

Magnificent Michu

What impresses me most about Swansea’s
Michu is that when he gets into a goalscoring position, he seems to
slow everything down. Most players get an adrenalin rush, but Michu
reacts in the opposite way. He is quite brilliant at it, he must have
ice in his veins.

On fire: Swansea and Michu upset Arsenal at the Emirates

On fire: Swansea and Michu upset Arsenal at the Emirates

Electric Defoe

Jermain Defoe is the best British
striker in the League. Gone are the days of him standing and waiting for
a cross to poach. He can now make it happen himself. He has a full
repertoire of goals, a great attitude for the game and deserves his
electrifying form.

In a hurry, Murray

Glenn Murray, 29, has played for
Workington, Barrow, Carlisle, Stockport, Rochdale, Brighton and in the
US. Now he has found his home at Crystal Palace and is having a similar
effect to Rickie Lambert at Southampton. Murray already has 17 goals
this season.

No strikers

Liverpool have to go to West Ham on
Sunday without the suspended Luis Suarez… and without a striker. Their
transfer policy has left them exposed at a time when they are
struggling for goals. I don’t expect them to be so naive in the next
transfer window.

Electric: Jermain Defoe has been impressing Jamie Redknapp

Electric: Jermain Defoe has been impressing Jamie Redknapp

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are great but can they trap a football on a lamppost?

VIDEO: Messi and Ronaldo are great… but they can't climb a lamppost while juggling a football like this street star sensation

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UPDATED:

17:15 GMT, 30 November 2012

Eat your heart out Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo — you might earn a few more euros a week than this street busker, but we bet you can’t do this with a football and a lamppost!

This talented street performer, reportedly called Iya Traore, who performs regularly in the Montmarte suburb of, entertains inquisitive tourists on the streets.

He might not be revered around the world as one of the finest footballers the world has ever seen, but he certainly has a few tricks up his sleeves.

Going up: This amazing football juggler heads up a lamppost in Paris while balancing the ball on his head

Going up: This amazing football juggler heads up a lamppost in Paris while balancing the ball on his head

Spinning around: The mystery keepy-uppy artist then swings around the lamppost with the ball wedged to his foot (above) and demonstrates more of his stunning repertoire while standing on a plinth (below)

Spinning around: The mystery keepy-uppy artist then swings around the lamppost with the ball wedged to his foot (above) and demonstrates more of his stunning repertoire while standing on a plinth (below)

Paris football juggler

Paris football juggler

Paris football juggler

VIDEO: Check out his amazing skills for yourself. Take a bow, son…

DM.has('rcpv2000470137001','BCVideo');

Iya good enough Get in touch, please…

We're so impressed with Iya Traore's skills that we want him to get in touch. Iya, email us at: [email protected]

Traore starts with some fairly
basic keepy-uppies, before hypnotising crowds with a head balancing act
that has to be seen to be believed.

At one point in the five-minute performance he balances precariously on a thin iron pole while continuing his flicks and tricks.

There’s also a homage to Zlatan Ibrahimovic, with his very own interpretation of a propeller kick.

And the finale has to be seen to be believed — as he performs a heart-stopping balancing act 30ft in the air.

Watch and learn, lads: Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo (right) and Barcelona's Lionel Messi (left)

Watch and learn, lads: Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo (right) and Barcelona's Lionel Messi (left)

EXTRA VIDEO I: Now watch Cristiano Ronaldo have a go (and check out the cameraman!)…

EXTRA VIDEO II: And, here's Messi showing off his skills – WITH A BOOT INSTEAD OF A BALL…

Leighton Baines injury blow as Everton prepare for Manchester City

Baines blow for Everton as defender faces fitness fight ahead of Manchester City clash

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UPDATED:

10:33 GMT, 29 November 2012

David Moyes is sweating over the fitness of Leighton Baines ahead of Everton's trip to face Manchester City on Saturday.

Baines has been the Toffees' stand-out player in the last two seasons and provides a real attacking thrust down the flank.

However, Moyes now faces the prospect of heading to the Etihad Stadium without his most consistent performer after the defender picked up an injury in the 1-1 draw against Arsenal.

Star man: Leighton Baines has been in superb form for Everton

Star man: Leighton Baines has been in superb form for Everton

'Leighton's got a hamstring injury. He felt it in the game and played on in the last 10 or 15 minutes,' said Moyes.

'I felt we put in a lot of energy (in the game) but it might take its toll.

'We've got Gibbo (Darron Gibson) and Hibbo (Tony Hibbert) back and that has eased it a little bit but I am worried about Nikica Jelavic (ill) who has not trained since Saturday and on Tuesday I was not playing him.'

Theo Walcott put Arsenal ahead after just 52 seconds but Marouane Fellaini's seventh Barclays Premier League goal of the season drew them level on the half-hour before former Toffees midfielder Mikel Arteta appeared to bring down Steven Pienaar, only for referee Mike Jones to award a corner.

Blow: Baines will be missed if he is ruled out with a hamstring injury

Blow: Baines will be missed if he is ruled out with a hamstring injury

'It was a penalty. We played Arsenal, who are a really good team, but we also had very few decisions go for us,' Moyes said.

'Sometimes referee's decisions change the games: in some games something might go in your favour but we were never going to get that.

'We got nothing whatsoever and anything we were going to get we had to earn on our own because we were not going to get a jot.

'There was an incident when the ball got chipped into the box later on and he gave a push on Fellaini.

Leveller: Marouane Fellaini was on target for Everton against Arsenal

Leveller: Marouane Fellaini was on target for Everton against Arsenal

'I've had a chance to see it and it was never anything like it. I found that one as mystifying as any really.

'We found it a difficult night from that point if view but the players played really well throughout.'

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger was pleased to leave Goodison Park with a point despite his side dominating the last 10 league meetings, winning eight and drawing just two.

'It was a game of big physical intensity, we had a good start and after that I felt Everton came back into it and their direct game was always a threat,' he said.

Concern: David Moyes will be keeping his fingers crossed Baines is passed fit

Concern: David Moyes will be keeping his fingers crossed Baines is passed fit

'There are regrets on the goal we conceded but 1-1 is a fair result and it is a good point here.

'We needed to show great spirit to get away with a point and I am pleased with the effort they put into the game.'

Arsenal lost Laurent Koscielny to a groin strain after just four minutes and Wenger said he expected the centre-back to be out for three weeks.

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.

Roberto Mancini wears David Platt mask

Is that you, David Mancini arrives at City training in disguise as No 2 Platt

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UPDATED:

11:14 GMT, 16 November 2012

Roberto Mancini may be under pressure at Manchester City… but he proved he's keeping his sense of humour today.

The City boss arrived at his morning press conference wearing a David Platt mask to the amusement of the assembled press.

Platt has done many of Mancini's planned interviews in recent weeks – to the frustration of the media – so perhaps the Italian was enjoying a little joke at their expense.

Is that you, David Roberto Manncini arrived at Manchester City training wearing a David Platt mask

Is that you, David Roberto Manncini arrived at Manchester City training wearing a David Platt mask

Is that you, David Roberto Manncini arrived at Manchester City training wearing a David Platt mask

Is that you, David Roberto Manncini arrived at Manchester City training wearing a David Platt mask

Right hand man: Platt has been by Mancini's side throughout his tenure at Manchester City

Right hand man: Platt has been by Mancini's side throughout his tenure at Manchester City

And explaining the stunt, the Italianjoked : 'Do you prefer David or me

'People have been asking about my mood and if I have been upset.
But I had a meeting last week and that was the only reason I didn't come
to the press conference.'

When the press conference turned to more serious matters, Mancini was quick to defend under-fire goalkeeper Joe Hart.

The England stopper endured a miserable midweek trip to Sweden, when he conceded four times, including Zlatan Ibrahimovic's breathtaking acrobatic effort in stoppage time.

But Mancini threw his full support behind his No 1.

'Joe Hart can make mistakes, that is normal for any keeper,' the City boss said.

'And if you make a mistake, you can end up conceding a goal and losing a game.

'This is the life of a keeper, but he is a top performer and I think Ibrahimovic can score against every keeper in the world.

'He is one of the top five strikers in the world. For me, his best goal was the second one but the fourth was incredible.

'Joe is mentally strong and will be OK. Keepers have to be very strong and very strange and Joe is both. All 'keepers are strange to my mind.'

With Hart's position assured, Mancini
explained the exclusion from the last Premier League outing of one of
his other high-profile stars, Mario Balotelli.

Feeling the heat: Joe Hart had a night to forget in Stockholm, when he conceded four goals

Feeling the heat: Joe Hart had a night to forget in Stockholm, when he conceded four goals

The striker was omitted from the matchday squad for last weekend's win over Tottenham, and his manager revealed a poor work ethic in the build up to the game had been to blame.

Mancini explained: 'Mario did not play because that was my choice. We have 20 players to pick from and when any player does not work as well as he should, he does not deserve to play. Mario is like any other player in that respect.

Missing out: Mario Balotelli was axed from City's squad for the Premier League win over Tottenham

Missing out: Mario Balotelli was axed from City's squad for the Premier League win over Tottenham

'It was not a punishment, but other players were working better than Mario. They deserve to be obnt he bench more than him.

'Some
people have said we are like a married couple, but that is not the
case. I know him as a guy. I am the manager and he is the player.

'And if he does not work well, he does not play. That applies to all the players.'

Scotland 22 New Zealand 51: Match report

Scotland 22 New Zealand 51: Ruthless All Blacks begin autumn series with a bang

By
Peter Jackson,

PUBLISHED:

17:20 GMT, 11 November 2012

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UPDATED:

23:46 GMT, 11 November 2012

Richie McCaw’s biennial pilgrimage to his ancestral home resulted in Scotland’s ritual flogging and the launch of another All Black rampage through Europe.

Nobody takes care of Test match business quite like New Zealand’s colossal captain but then nobody else has a magician at his disposal like Dan Carter. In the course of raising his game to stratospheric heights, the world’s supreme fly-half almost managed a repeat of the perfection with which he destroyed the Lions in Wellington seven years ago.

Carter ran through his full repertoire: breaks; dummies; hand-offs; sublime passing and a cross-kick so exquisite that Julian Savea turned it into a try without breaking stride. He kicked nine goals out of 10 and engineered four tries: some response to starting the match by throwing one away to the hosts.

Try time: Hore touches down for another New Zealand score at Murrayfield

Try time: Hore touches down for another New Zealand score at Murrayfield

Only the All Blacks could stage- manage the most purple of patches, then stumble through an unusually careless period in the second half, when they lost a player to the sin-bin, and still finish up topping 50 points at Murrayfield for the first time in almost 20 years.

For McCaw, Armistice Day brought a poignancy to the victory, his 69th in 77 Tests as captain. His great-grandfather survived the Somme despite being hit by what Richie described as ‘a bit of shrapnel in the neck’.

McCaw’s grandfather Jim was a World War Two pilot decorated for bravery. His grandson spoke before the match about the significance of the occasion and the need to ‘get that across to the boys’.

Star performer: Visser scored two tries for Scotland who impressed at stages during the match

Star performer: Visser scored two tries for Scotland who impressed at stages during the match

Star performer: Visser scored two tries for Scotland who impressed at stages during the match

LIONS WATCH

Richie Gray, a Lions lock in the making since his Scotland debut two years ago, advanced his cause by making a whole series of dents in the All Blacks. When the World Cup holders acknowledged Scotland’s physicality, the Sale second row would have been uppermost in their mind.

Head coach Warren Gatland’s liking for heavyweight wings surely means that Tim Visser will demand serious consideration to become the first Dutchman to play for the best of Britain and Ireland.

Scotland under Kelly Brown’s
leadership at least proved competitive, except for 10 minutes before
half-time when they shipped 24 points without reply. In the blink of an
eye, Scotland dissolved from 10-10 to losing 34-10.

The Scots had at least pulled out all the stops in an enterprising attempt to turn the tide of history.

They showed their players a
compilation of All Blacks blunders, aimed at shedding any inferiority
complex by exposing the world champions as mere mortals capable of the
odd knock-on.

They did hours of analysis, most of
it aimed at working out a way to make every tackle count. They even
dabbled in a bit of left-field psychology, sending attack coach Scott
Johnson out the day before the match to revive his description of New
Zealand during his time with Wales as a ‘poxy little island in the
Pacific’.

Free scoring: New Zealand laid down a marker for the remaining autumn Tests

Free scoring: New Zealand laid down a marker for the remaining autumn Tests

Free scoring: New Zealand laid down a marker for the remaining autumn Tests

In his off-the-wall way, Johnson said he was sorry. ‘I wasn’t
misquoted,’ he said. ‘I just got it slightly wrong. I apologise to all
New Zealanders because the country has two islands.’

The great and the good in Scottish
sport had talked up home prospects when the greatest one of all, Sir
Chris Hoy, brought the pre-match formalities to fever pitch, walking out
with the match ball resplendent in a Scottish jersey with the No 6
embossed in gold, one for every Olympic title.

A few wonderful early moments raised a
fleeting fantasy that maybe Scotland could emulate what Celtic achieved
against Barcelona.

Warm welcome: The Kiwis performed their traditional Haka and Sir Chris Hoy was in attendance, too

Warm welcome: The Kiwis performed their traditional Haka and Sir Chris Hoy was in attendance, too

Warm welcome: The Kiwis performed their traditional Haka and Sir Chris Hoy was in attendance, too

Carter’s one error, a pass
intercepted 50 metres out by Matt Scott, allowed their Dutch convert Tim
Visser to leave a broken defence flailing in his wake.

The 7-3 lead lasted three minutes and
that, alas, was as good as it got. To their credit Scotland spent most
of the second half hammering away at the All Blacks, forcing them to
concede enough penalties for French referee Jerome Garces to have binned
more than Adam Thomson.

Visser’s second try, a stroll
compared to his earlier sprint, ensured the All Blacks paid for
Thomson’s footwork on Alasdair Strokosch’s head at a ruck, not that the
former Gloucester flanker was rushing to press charges — ‘I don’t think
he meant it. I hardly felt it.’

By then, Carter’s wizardry had
limited Scotland to an exercise in narrowing the margin of the defeat.
Three tries in eight minutes had finished the match as a contest and
renewed the All Black assault on their own world record, the one
temporarily derailed by their draw in Brisbane last month.

By the time they get to Twickenham
on December 1 they will surely have made short work of Italy and Wales
and taken their unbeaten Test run to 20, three short of the record set
by Wayne Shelford’s untouchables in 1990.

Before he heads for home, Carter will
surely have landed the six goals he needs for 500 in Tests, a figure so
monumental that not even Jonny Wilkinson got anywhere near it.