Tag Archives: period

Kevin Davies dropped Bolton for trying too hard

Coyle sees decision to drop hard working Davies pay off as Bolton rediscover form

Bolton manager Owen Coyle believes Kevin Davies has been “trying too hard” to drag the Trotters out of the relegation mire.

Coyle took the brave decision to axe his skipper from last night”s crucial Premier League trip to Blackburn.

He was rewarded with one of Bolton”s best performances of a terrible campaign as they secured a 2-1 win that allowed them to scramble off the foot of the table at the expense of their hosts.

Dropped: Kevin Davies (centre) was left out of Bolton

Dropped: Kevin Davies (centre) was left out of Bolton”s team against Blackburn

With Coyle admitting this is a season of transition at Bolton, it raised inevitable questions about Davies” future.

Yet in the battle for survival, big decisions have to be made.

“It wasn”t easy,” said Coyle.”Kevin has been trying too hard.

“He is Bolton through and through and I know what this club means to him.

“He has taken extra responsibility as captain and is trying to do everything himself. It detracts from his terrific strengths.”

So, Coyle pulled Davies to one side in the build-up and explained his plan.

“I spoke to him about it,” he revealed.

“Was it brave I have never been afraid to make tough decisions and it was made for the right reasons.”

Doubling up: Nigel Reo-Coker celebrates scoring Bolton

Doubling up: Nigel Reo-Coker celebrates scoring Bolton”s second goal

Coyle was anxious to suggest the improvement could have come even if Davies has been in the starting line-up.

Yet it was obvious goalscorers Mark Davies and Nigel Reo-Coker both benefited from the additional pace of David Ngog, who produced his best all-round performance since his August arrival from Liverpool.

The end product was Bolton”s fourth victory of the season, three of which have come away from the Reebok Stadium.

With home games to come over the Christmas period against Newcastle and Wolves, Coyle knows the platform that has been created must not be squandered if his side are to complete a successful ascent out of the bottom three.

At least Coyle can rely on the backing of his club”s supporters, unlike opposite number Steve Kean, who faced such open hostility.

And, in owner Eddie Davies and chairman Phil Gartside, Coyle knows he is working with men who are agreed upon a vision for the future.

The only way is up: Owen Coyle

The only way is up: Owen Coyle

“I am responsible as manager but Eddie and Phil know what we have put in place here. That is why we have stood firm and stood together,” said Coyle.

“It has not been easy and everybody has their opinion. It is hard to tell people what we are doing for the long-term because in football, the short-term is the be-all and end-all.

“But if we can get that short-term fix we will be in the best position we have ever been.”

And, while Kean was left to lament the absence of so many first-choice defenders, it should not be forgotten either than arguably Bolton”s best two players, Stuart Holden – who spent last night with the away fans – and Lee Chung-yong have both been missing for the entire campaign through injury.

“It is difficult to replace that quality for quality at our level,” said Coyle.

“I accept Manchester City can do it. We can”t.

“In addition, Daniel Sturridge and Johan Elmander left.

“You miss top players. But I still believe we are good enough to stay in the league.

“Nothing had changed but we are in a real dogfight.”

Coyle confirmed that central defender David Wheater will come into contention for the Boxing Day encounter with Newcastle after completing a four-match suspension, although Marcos Alonso faces another extended spell on the sidelines amid fears the defender has suffered a recurrence of the broken foot that kept him out for almost four months earlier this season.

Liverpool players voice support for banned Luis Suarez

“He is not a racist”: Liverpool players “shocked and angered” by Suarez ban

Liverpool”s players have given their full backing to team-mate Luis Suarez after the striker was given an eight-match ban on Tuesday.

The 24-year-old received the punishment after an independent commission found him guilty of misconduct by using insulting words to Patrice Evra which included a reference to the Manchester United defender”s colour during the Premier League clash on October 15.

Flashpoint: Suarez and Patrice Evra (right)

Flashpoint: Luis Suarez and Patrice Evra (right) at Anfield

The Uruguayan isconsidering lodging an appeal against the ban and he has been given the full support of the club, who insist the player is not a racist.

And now his team-mates have followed suit.

“Luis Suarez is our team-mate and our friend and as a group of players we are shocked and angered that he has been found guilty by the FA,” said a joint statement by the squad.

“We totally support Luis and we want the world to know that. We know he is not racist.

One of the boys: Liverpool

One of the boys: Suarez and his Liverpool team-mates (second right)

“We are a squad of many different nationalities and backgrounds. All of us support the club”s commitment to fighting racism. All of us accept there is no place in the game for any form of discrimination.

“As a group of players we totally support the Kick it Out Campaign.

“We have lived, trained and played with Luis for almost 12 months and we don”t recognise the way he has been portrayed.

“We will continue to support Luis through this difficult period, and as a popular and respected friend of all his team-mates, he will not walk alone.”

United front: Liverpool players show support for Suarez

United front: Liverpool players show support for Suarez

Chelsea v Fulham to go ahead on Boxing Day

Chelsea v Fulham to go ahead despite Tube strike planned for Boxing Day

Chelsea have confirmed their home game with Fulham on Boxing Day will go ahead as planned, despite the possibility of industrial action by Tube drivers.

The start of legal action aimed at halting the strike – which could affect several sporting fixtures – in a row over pay was delayed at the High Court today (Wednesday).

London Underground (LU) is challenging the validity of the strike called by the Aslef union”s leadership over its claims for additional Boxing Day pay.

Derby day: Michael Essien (left) celebrates scoring the only goal when Chelsea hosted Fulham last season - but the midfielder was later sent off (below)

Derby day: Michael Essien (left) celebrates scoring the only goal when Chelsea hosted Fulham last season – but the midfielder was later sent off (below)

A hearing had been set for 10:30am at the High Court in London but was rescheduled for 2pm.

However, before that hearing could take place, Chelsea announced that their game would go ahead regardless.

A statement from the club read: “Following careful consideration, Chelsea Football Club”s match against Fulham will take place as planned at 1pm on 26th December.

“Due to the increased difficulty in getting to Stamford Bridge because of the Tube strike we wanted to give fans as much notice as possible that the game will go ahead as scheduled.

“The club has examined the implications presented by the planned strike and has consulted with the Local Authority, Metropolitan Police and transport authorities.

Dismissed: Essien is sent off against Fulham

“We recognise the duty of care we have to both sets of supporters and are confident we will provide a safe environment for fans to enjoy the local derby.

“We are conscious there were existing and publicised travel restrictions on this day and that many supporters will have made long-standing plans to attend the match over this holiday period.

“Supporters are advised to monitor transport websites and to allow plenty of time for their journeys.

“Buses will be operating a Sunday service throughout London and parking is free in resident/business permit and pay-and-display bays to the south of Hammersmith and Fulham Borough and in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.

“However, supporters are warned that yellow-line restrictions still apply in both boroughs despite it being a Bank Holiday.”

Arsenal are considering moving their game with Wolves.

Aston Villa"s Barry Bannan promotes anti-drink drive campaign

Barry Bannan: “I am so lucky … I could have killed someone. Being in a cell with the threat of a long prison term was terrifying”

Barry Bannan does not seem the obvious choice to promote the traditional pre-Christmas battle against drink-driving. But the Aston Villa midfielder can talk from experience about how he feared spending Christmas inside a jail cell after a terrifying crash on the M1 that sent his Range Rover careering into the central reservation.

The Scotland international, 22, admits he was lucky to escape with an 18-month ban and a 4,500 fine after being convicted four weeks ago of a raft of offences including driving on a provisional licence, drink-driving and leaving the scene of an accident.

West Midlands’ Police are now using Bannan as an example of what not to do during the festive period in the hope that, by highlighting what can happen to a high- profile professional footballer, others will be dissuaded from following in his footsteps.

Sober warning: Barry Bannan with Inspector Greg Jennings, who is fronting West Midlands police

Sober warning: Barry Bannan with Inspector Greg Jennings, who is fronting West Midlands police”s drink-driving campaign

Judging by the guilt and shame Bannan expressed yesterday as he reflected on his self-inflicted ordeal, the police have chosen the right man to get the message over.

‘It was a terrifying experience and it still goes through my head,’ he said. ‘Some days I’ll be at the house, doing nothing, and I’ll just start thinking about it.

‘I’m a lucky boy. If there had been another car involved or I had done something to myself or my mate who was in the car as well…you wake up the next day and loads of other stuff is going through your mind.

‘But I’m here — and I might not have been.I could have taken someone else’s life. I’m very lucky.’

Bannan banned: The Aston Villa midfielder was handed an 18-month suspension from driving

Bannan banned: The Aston Villa midfielder was handed an 18-month suspension from driving

The timing of the accident was all the more bizarre because Bannan had just broken into Aston Villa’s first team, scoring his first goal in the Barclays Premier League, a penalty in a 1-1 draw at QPR.

But Inspector Greg Jennings, of West Midlands’ Police, confirmed that a custodial sentence was within the court’s power, and it could have been far worse — a fact that Bannan acknowledged.

‘The worst time was in the cell after the crash,’ he said. ‘Then you think about what happened, what you should have done and what I didn’t.

‘After I was charged, my solicitor couldn’t rule out prison. They didn’t know what was going to happen. It was down to the judge, so there was a strong possibility I could have gone.

Better days: Bannan celebrates scoring for Villa

Better days: Bannan celebrates scoring for Villa

‘In and around the club, I was putting on a strong front, but as soon as I got into that court it really started to hit me the most. I crumbled. It was so scary in there.

‘When they were ready to sentence me, they left for 10 minutes. Then they came back in to tell me what was going to happen. All sorts go through your head. It’s terrifying.

‘If I had gone to jail, who knows what the club would have done They could easily have sacked me, so you start to think about what is going to happen, football-wise.’

Bannan said his dad, Jim, took the news far better than his mother, Cath.

‘She was in pieces,’ he said. ‘That’s the person I love the most, so it was hard for me to see her down and finding it so hard. Your mum and dad are obviously going to forgive you, but they made sure I knew I was in the wrong.’

Great Scot: Bannan has made his mark as part of the Scotland squad

Great Scot: Bannan has made his mark as part of the Scotland squad

Alex McLeish suspended Bannan following the incident but has since recalled him to the first-team squad. The Villa manager said: ‘Barry made a mistake. The wee man probably just wants to push it all to one side but he’s fronted it up today for the campaign to raise awareness.

‘He is very, very sorry for what he’s done and he just wants to get on with what he does best, which is playing football. He has got to write a new chapter for himself.

‘On the back of this, we have spoken to the whole squad, especially the young ones. They’re a really polite bunch of boys here, brought up well through the academy.

Support: Villa manager Alex McLeish suspended Bannan after the incident but has backed him in his decision to front up and support the campaign

Support: Villa manager Alex McLeish suspended Bannan after the incident but has backed him in his decision to front up and support the campaign

‘It’s when they start to get towards the first team that some of them can change and change their habits. We have to emphasise the professionalism.

‘They have to do everything they can to show the desire and dedication to their profession and they’ll be better athletes for it and have a better chance.

‘We have brought in a counsellor who comes in every week for Barry. But what is said between them has to remain private.’

Inspector Jennings, who is fronting the drink-driving campaign, said: ‘It’s interesting listening to the impact it has had on Barry.

‘I think the word that stands out for me is “lucky”. He’s lucky to be in a profession where he’s not going to lose his job. He’s lucky to be in a profession where he can pay the fine.

‘And, like everyone who drink-drives, he’s lucky he hasn’t actually killed or injured somebody and irrevocably changed his life or someone else’s.’

As for changing habits, has it had an effect on Bannan’s drinking

‘Oh yes,’ he said. ‘I’ve not touched a drop since.’

David Silva: Manchester United will push us all the way

United will push us all the way, claims Man City star Silva

David Silva reckons Manchester United will provide the biggest threat to Manchester City securing their first top-flight title since 1968.

City are two points ahead of their fierce rivals going into the busy festive period after regaining top spot in the table with a 1-0 win over Arsenal on Sunday.

Silva service: The Spaniard celebrates after scoring against the Gunners

Silva service: The Spaniard celebrates after scoring against the Gunners

And Silva, who scored the winning goal in the victory over the Gunners to take his tally for the season to nine, believes United will be their biggest challengers.

“We are aware that Manchester United are going to be pushing us all the way but we have to focus on ourselves,” Silva said.

“You might say United have been disappointing but they are right there on our heels and you can”t knock that.

Roo beauty: The United striker scored in his side

Roo beauty: The United striker scored in his side”s 2-0 win over QPR

“We know they are going to be right behind us so we have to make sure there are no slip-ups and try to win every game.

“We have to keep playing at the same level as we have been. To keep the gap as it is we have to keep winning our games.”

City suffered their first Premier League defeat of the campaign earlier this month after losing 2-1 to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

Saving grace: Hart pulled off a number of stops to secure the three points for City

Saving grace: Hart pulled off a number of stops to secure the three points for City

The defeat marks the only blot in what”s been a stellar start to the season for Mancini”s troops, with a 6-1 win at Old Trafford and 5-1 victory at Tottenham, the obvious highlights.

“That was a must-win game,” Silva said of the victory over Arsenal. “We needed a confidence-boosting win after the defeat at Chelsea and I think this will lift us.

“I think Roberto is doing a great job. He got us into the Champions League for this season and the fact we are top speaks for itself,” the Spain international added.

“We also won the FA Cup last year and it would be nice to repeat that – but the Premier League title is the big target.”

Frank Lampard urges Chelsea to fight for title

Now fight for the title! Lampard urges Chelsea to pile pressure on beaten Man City

Frank Lampard has ordered his Chelsea team-mates to fight their way back into the title race.

The veteran midfielder scored the winning penalty in Monday”s 2-1 victory over Barclays Premier League leaders Manchester City.

The crucial win moved them to within seven points of City going into the hectic Christmas period.

Spot on: Frank Lampard is mobbed after his Chelsea winner

Spot on: Frank Lampard is mobbed after his Chelsea winner

And Lampard says the hard work has only just begun for a Chelsea team that have struggled to fire under new manager Andre Villas-Boas.

He said: “Credit to us because Man City are the team of the season so far and to go 1-0 down and get a result shows a lot of character.

“Sometimes you have to grind out those results. It was the first time we did that against one of the major teams.

“It”s about spirit and keeping going, we had a bit of luck because they had a fair penalty claim in the first half but we”ve had the luck go against us and we need to use it as a platform now to go on and win a good stretch of games if we want to compete right at the top.

Take that: Lampard slams home his penalty past Joe Hart

Take that: Lampard slams home his penalty past Joe Hart

“A lot is made of getting results against the big teams but we also have to win our bread and butter games, and we”ve left ourselves in a position where we have to win pretty much all of them to get ourselves back in the race and we can”t get too excited because there is still a seven-point gap.

“If you don”t win enough games and perform at the right times then people will criticise you, that”s life. Man city are obviously beatable, nobody is unbeatable, and Chelsea need to be fighting to win leagues.

“We can”t be fighting for fifth and sixth, that”s not good enough here anymore so we need to be right up there.”

Lampard again started on the bench for Chelsea but his introduction ensured the hosts ended City”s unbeaten run.

Pure delight: Lampard celebrates his decisive goal

Pure delight: Lampard celebrates his decisive goal

He said: “It”s not often you come off the bench to take a penalty in such a big moment. I”ve taken a lot against Harty in the past in training and it was pure relief to be honest.

“We had a laugh about it because it was double mind games with each other, but I just try to step up when I get the chance, even if I miss a couple, and I”m just pleased it went in.

“I want to play, simple as that and 33 or not I”m as fit as I”ve ever been. If I didn”t want to play there would be no point in turning up. I know I”ve got a lot to give and I just want to be on the pitch letting the football do the talking.”

Connacht 10 Gloucester 14: Burns fires Cherry and Whites to glory

Connacht 10 Gloucester 14: Burns fires Cherry and Whites to glory

Freddie Burns landed the decisive penalty as Gloucester clawed their way past Connacht to claim their first win in this season”s Heineken Cup.

Burns kicked the English side 6-0 ahead at the Sportsground before James Simpson-Daniel and Connacht captain Gavin Duffy swapped tries coming up to half-time.

The second period was bookended by penalties from Niall O”Connor and Burns as the Cherry and Whites stood firm to pick up only their second away victory in all competitions sinceFebruary.

Freddie to rumble: Burns booted Gloucester to victory

Freddie to rumble: Burns booted Gloucester to victory

Connacht showed their intent in the opening minutes with Ethienne Reynecke snaffling a turnover and David Gannon bounding up the right wing.

Gloucester scrambled well though and despite struggling for early territory, Burns edged them ahead with a thumping eighth-minute penalty from halfway.

Pressure from the restart led to Dario Chistolini infringing at a scrum, but O”Connor failed to find the target. Burns then spotted a mismatch in midfield to storm into the Connacht 22, setting up a third penalty attempt which he converted.

Justice was served for the hosts when Burns struck an upright with a long-range penalty attempt after Ray Ofisa was harshly penalised.

Connacht were let down by a series of mistakes – loose lineouts being the most obvious – and Gloucester cranked up the pressure for a deserved 31st-minute try.

Their skipper Luke Narraway went close before play was swung out to the left, the Cherry and Whites biding their time until a lovely offload out of the tackle from Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu sent Simpson-Daniel over in the corner.

Burns failed to add the extras but the concession of the try prompted Connacht to lift their game.

O”Connor”s high kick broke for Duffy to gather and jink away from Olly Morgan and glide over by the posts.

O”Connor converted to close the gap to 11-7 before Gloucester almost ended the half with a second try, Charlie Sharples just running out of space as he hurtled onto Henry Trinder”s teasing grubber kick.

An early offside in the second half saw O”Connor make it a one-point game, slotting a high and handsome kick from the right.

A powerful couple of scrums and a lineout maul got Gloucester back into scoring range, but they turned down a kickable penalty and Connacht”s committed defence kept them out.

However, it fell to Burns to punish Rodney Ah You for being caught offside on 72 minutes, his close-range penalty edging Gloucester home, although the losing bonus point got Connacht off the mark in their first Heineken Cup campaign.

Arsenal face full-back crisis after Andre Santos injury at Olympiakos

Arsenal face full-back crisis after Wenger admits injured Santos faces lengthy time out

Arsenal could head into the jam-packed Christmas period without any recognised full-backs after Andre Santos injured his right ankle in the Champions League loss to Olympiakos.

The Brazilian left-back, one of the few first-team regulars selected for the 3-1 defeat on Tuesday, was forced off early in the second half.

Gunners boss Arsene Wenger revealed the extent of the problem, saying: “Santos suffered a bad ankle injury. He looks like he”ll be out for a while.”

Agony: Andre Santos injured his left ankle in Arsenal

Agony: Andre Santos injured his left ankle in Arsenal”s defeat at Olympiakos

Fellow left-back Kieran Gibbs has been out since November with a hernia and may only be fit to return in three weeks. Right-backs Carl Jenkinson and Bacary Sagna are also injured.

Arsenal are set for an exhausting run of six Barclays Premier League matches in 24 days, starting against Everton at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Emmanuel Frimpong insists the Gunners must look on the bright side after their defeat in Greece.

Arsenal had already qualified for the knockout stages of the Champions League and so rested key players, giving youngsters and squad players a chance to shine.

And that experience will serve the young players well in particular, says Frimpong.

“It was a great atmosphere and it was lovely to be involved,” he told Arsenal”s website. “If the likes of me, Francis [Coquelin] and Alex [Oxlade-Chamberlain] can show we can play here, we can play anywhere. I know we lost the game but we have to take positives from it. People that haven”t been getting a lot of games this season have been getting them.”

Look on the bright side: Emmanuel Frimpong was glad for the experience

Look on the bright side: Emmanuel Frimpong was glad for the experience

He added: “It was a tough game. To be fair to Olympiacos I thought they played really well.

“We started off a bit slow, got into the game a bit but it was a bit too late before the half ended. We showed great character to get a goal back and it”s a shame we conceded in the last minute.”

Chris Ashton gets four-week ban for Alesana Tuilagi brawl

Ashton”s no saint as wing handed four-week ban for his role in ugly brawl against Leicester

Northampton wing Chris Ashton tonight received a four-week ban for dragging Leicester”s Alesana Tuilagi off the pitch by his hair.

Ashton was cited for “an act contrary to good sportsmanship” for the incident, which occurred in the first half of Northampton”s 30-25 defeat at Welford Road and sparked a touchline brawl.

Fight! Alesana Tuilagi

Fight! Alesana Tuilagi”s hair is pulled by Northampton”s Chris Ashton

Tuilagi and Saints flanker Tom Wood were both subsequently sent off and were due to face disciplinary hearings in London.

Ashton will miss Northampton”s back-to-back Heineken Cup fixtures against Castres and two Aviva Premiership games over the festive period.

The England wing will be available again in time for Northampton”s Premiership game against Harlequins on January 6.

Northampton forward Phil Dowson will also be sidelined for the two weekends of European action after he was suspended for a dangerous tackle on Saracens full-back Alex Goode.