Tag Archives: powerhouses

England to avoid big guns in Euro 2013 Under 21 play off

England set for favourable draw in Euro 2013 play-offs after Norway win

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UPDATED:

10:43 GMT, 11 September 2012

England will avoid the continent's powerhouses in Friday's draw for the Euro 2013 play-offs after being confirmed as one of the seeds.

Stuart Pearce's side confirmed their place with a narrow 1-0 win over Norway on Monday, thanks to Connor Wickham's strike.

England will take on either Switzerland, Denmark, Slovenia, Sweden, Russia or Serbia in the two-legged tie.

Roar of delight: Connor Wickham scored the only goal of the game

Roar of delight: Connor Wickham scored the only goal of the game

Spain, Germany, Italy, Holland, France and Czech Republic are the sides England avoided thanks to their win.

Meanwhile, Pearce admits he has studied the potential opponents carefully.

He said: 'I would like to say that we haven't looked at that yet but I've studied those league tables on a daily basis for the last two seasons.

'Before [the Norway game] we knew exactly all the possible outcomes for us and the teams we could get.

Tussle: Jordan Henderson fights for the ball during England's win

Tussle: Jordan Henderson fights for the ball during England's win

'I wouldn't have wanted Norway to come out of the group with us if I'm being honest as that would have given us more of a chance of getting a runner-up – not that that particularly makes it easier for you as two years ago all four runners-up went to the finals having beaten group winners.

'So there is a word of caution there as there are plenty of things that can go against you – players' fitness and availability and so on.

'All the play-off fixtures will be tight affairs as everyone wants to be at those finals and we have two years' work rapped up in eight days in October now.'

London Olympics 2012: Shauna Mullin and Zara Dampney aim to steer GB past Russia in beach volleyball

Mullin and Dampney vow to learn lessons as GB face Russia beach volleyball showdown

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UPDATED:

21:00 GMT, 31 July 2012

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LIVE RESULTS |
EVENT SCHEDULE |
MEDALS TABLE

Great Britain's Shauna Mullin and Zara Dampney are determined to learn the lessons from the sobering defeat to Italy when they bid to seal their place in the last 16 of the Olympic beach volleyball competition against Russia on Thursday.

Italian duo Greta Cicolari and Marta Mengatti are dark horses to get among the medals after a solid season on the World Tour and proved their class against the home favourites at Horse Guards Parade with a 21-18 21-12 win that takes them safely into the knockout stage.

The match represented an increased degree of difficulty from Britain's opening Pool F win over Canada, with the Italians the current European champions and ranked sixth in the world, behind only the likes of powerhouses Brazil, the United States, China and Holland.

Learning curve: Zara Dampney and Shauna Mullin celebrate a point against Italy

Learning curve: Zara Dampney and Shauna Mullin celebrate a point against Italy

Defeat against such calibre of opposition is therefore no disgrace, and the British pair are adamant they can turn the experience into a force for good when they face Russia's Evgeniya Ukolova and Ekaterina Khomyakova, when a win will see them progress alongside the Italians.

'We'll have done our homework, we'll have a gameplan and we'll come out fighting again. If we beat them we'll be second in our pool,' Mullin said.

Certainly improvements need to be made following this performance, when nerves were clearly in evidence.

More than once Mullin and Dampney went for the same ball, while twice Mullin fluffed straightforward bump shots when returning service.

'My finish, my touch, just wasn't there today,' said Mullin. 'Some of those balls that pinged off me I should have really finished. It's all just little tweaks we have to get right for Thursday.

Shifting sands: Dampney and Mullin face Russia next

Shifting sands: Dampney and Mullin face Russia next

'I felt under pressure with their serves, they're both good servers and I just wasn't able to stick up to it today.'

On the confusion between the two on some service points, Mullin added: “The wind was quite swirly so we just wanted to make sure that when they were serving down the middle we were both not running away from it.

'I guess today we were both running towards it, which is a lot better than both of us leaving it!'

She added: 'It's very disappointing that we lost, the performance is the major thing for us and if we'd have played two sets like we did the first set, I think we would be in a better frame of mind.

'It's very disappointing to have lost that second set like that but we can't forget all the good things that we did against Canada. We'll go home, regroup, and then we start again tomorrow.'

Setting it up nicely: Mullin feeds Dampney

Setting it up nicely: Mullin feeds Dampney

Regardless of the outcome of Thursday's match, the British pair at very least will be able to leave the Games safe in the knowledge that they have raised the profile of their sport – not least among their peers at the athletes' village.

'We went back to the village the other night after our win and everyone was talking about our match, about how they enjoyed it and how amazing it was,' said Dampney.

'It's great to get the sport out there.'

Motherwell 0 Panathinaikos 2: Champions League dream in tatters

Motherwell 0 Panathinaikos 2: Harsh lesson for Champions League rookies

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UPDATED:

22:44 GMT, 31 July 2012

Even Hercules might baulk at the task now facing Motherwell in the home of ancient mythology.

Their very presence in the Champions
League has carried a sense of wonder, but god-like status in the eyes of
supporters beckoned for Stuart McCall and his players if they could
find a way beyond Panathinaikos. Last night, though, they bumped back to
earth as mere mortals.

Of course, the tie still has another
90 minutes to run. But for Motherwell to sustain their interest in the
elite European competition, they will have to produce a performance in
Athens’ Olympic stadium to outstrip any by Team GB at London 2012.

Well-beaten: Keith Lasley reacts as Motherwell's Champions League hopes slip away

Well-beaten: Keith Lasley reacts as Motherwell's Champions League hopes slip away

The first leg of this third qualifying round tie was decided by a 13th-minute goal from Greek playmaker Lazaros Christodoulopoulos — whose free-kick bounced into the net without another touch — and a second-half breakaway finished by substitute Charis Mavrias.

Panathinaikos possessed an extra touch of attacking class against the side who finished third in last season’s SPL and benefited from Rangers’ financial meltdown.

Christodoulopoulos and Ivorian midfielder Ibrahim Sissoko were outstanding for the visitors, who were able to pick holes in a home defence lacking both match fitness and experience together as a unit.

Somehow forcing an early goal in next Wednesday’s second leg would allow belief to linger for Motherwell and there were times last night when posed a threat. Again, though, they lacked the required composure of their expensively salaried opponents.

Opener: Former Rangers star Boumsong celebrates after Randolph's error

Opener: Former Rangers star Boumsong celebrates after Randolph's error

Defeat against one of the powerhouses of
Greek football would be far from a disgrace for McCall’s men, nor would
it mark the end of their European journey as they would enter the
play-off round for the Europa League. Yet Motherwell’s players would
still have returned home last night nursing a sense of frustration that,
despite all the effort and passion they exhibited, it wasn’t enough to
force a breakthrough.

Of the previous 11 European ties the club had played, spread over 21
years, Fir Park had witnessed a victory on only five occasions. That was
a record boss McCall sought to improve through the selection of an
extremely positive line-up that contained a potent attack-minded quartet
of Chris Humphrey, Jamie Murphy, Henrik Ojamaa and Michael Higdon.
Sadly, fortune did not favour the brave.

Perhaps only the famous encounter with Borussia Dortmund in the
mid-1990s had presented a more formidable obstacle for Motherwell than
this Greek institution steeped in history on the continental stage.

But Panathinaikos have not been immune from the financial chaos that has
gripped their nation and they need to bank Champions League income
after problems in paying their players. Yet they could still afford to
field talent in the mould of former Rangers centre-half Jean-Alain
Boumsong.

All bar around 200 of the 9,035 crowd were Motherwell fans, but their
backing was not enough to guide McCall’s men through a nervy start.
There had been warning signs from the off about the danger posed by Sissoko as he menaced Motherwell on the left flank.

Greek odyssey: the visitors travel home firm favourites

Greek odyssey: the visitors travel home firm favourites

An early foul on him by Keith Lasley allowed Christodoulopoulos the
opportunity to curl a sighter just wide before Sissoko scampered past
Tom Hateley to deliver a cross that Toche headed over. A smashed shot
that soared fractionally off target from Humphrey was the sole home
response.

This was the first time Motherwell had fielded a central defence of new
signing Simon Ramsden and fit-again Shaun Hutchinson and that was
beginning to show as Panathinaikos pressed for an opening. When
Hutchinson then needlessly fouled Sissoko, McCall bolted from his
technical area to urge caution. He knew the risk from conceding
set-pieces and, depressingly, his fears were promptly realised.

Christodoulopoulos delivered an inswinger into the area aimed for
Boumsong. The Frenchman just failed to connect, but his presence
deceived Darren Randolph as the ball sped straight into the net.
It took time for Motherwell to regain their composure, but they managed
to begin posing questions of the Greeks thanks to Murphy’s promptings.

He whipped a tremendous cross to the far post that Humphrey just could
not reach, before a slipped pass allowed Lasley a decent opportunity
that he sent too high. Murphy was again the supplier from the left when
he picked out Higdon for a downward header that was clutched by Orestis
Karnezis.

Panathinaikos were, though, to close the opening period on the front
foot. Christodoulopoulos rattled another effort inches wide, but
midfielder Zeca went even closer with a 30-yard thump thwarted by the
keeper’s fingertips.

Double trouble: Mavrias extends Panathinaikos' lead

Double trouble: Mavrias extends Panathinaikos' lead

The goalscorer reprised his role as tormentor-in-chief shortly after the
restart when he combined with Toche before arcing a beautiful attempt
narrowly past. Motherwell’s fans turned up the volume in an attempt to
inspire a fightback and there were flickers of hope when a Hateley
free-kick was pushed out by Karnezis, with the goalkeeper unconvincing
when dealing with a long-range Steven Hammell strike.

The sheer persistence of Ojamaa was beginning to make inroads against a
previously sound visitors’ defence and he burrowed for possession inside
the area before finding the onrushing Nicky Law. He would surely have
delivered an equaliser but for an outstanding block by Boumsong.

Ultimately, Motherwell’s attacking intent cost them a second goal. With
home players committed forward, Panathinaikos pinched possession and
Sissoko advanced before sliding a perfect ball for Mavrias. He was
unerring with a low finish under Randolph.

Plenty to ponder: Well boss Stuart McCall

Plenty to ponder: Well boss Stuart McCall

London 2012 Olympics: GB women finish sixth in team gymnastics as United States claim gold

GB women miss out on medal as United States pip Russia to gymnastics team gold

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UPDATED:

18:14 GMT, 31 July 2012

Great Britain's women achieved their
best Olympic gymnastics team result in the post-war era after they
finished sixth in the team final at the North Greenwich Arena on
Tuesday.

The United States, silver medalists four years ago, won gold ahead of Russia with Romania claiming the bronze medal.

Britain's gymnast Jennifer Pinches performs on the beam

Impressive: Britain's Jennifer Pinches on the beam

Defending champions China were left distraught as they finished fourth by some margin.

Britain's women were unable to match the achievements of their male counterparts who won Olympic team bronze yesterday, but that was never expected against gymnastics powerhouses China, Russia, United States and Romania.

Beth Tweddle, Hannah Whelan, Imogen Cairns, Rebecca Tunney and Jennifer Pinches scored 170.495 to mark their best ever result in post-war Olympic competition, surpassing the seventh place in the Los Angeles Games in 1984.

Jennifer Pinches of Great Britain competes on the balance beam

Britain's only Olympic team medal was won at the 1928 Games with a squad of 12 gymnasts.

The result comes after GB narrowly missed out on a place in the final four years ago in Beijing where they finished ninth.

With three gymnasts competing on each piece of apparatus and all of the scores counting towards the overall total, there was no margin for error.

Great Britain's Beth Tweddle

High point: Great Britain's Beth Tweddle

Britain started on beam, just like in
qualification, with Cairns stepping up first and steadying nerves with a
clean and confident 13.500 routine.

Pinches then tumbled off the
apparatus to score 11.833, before European bronze beam medallist Whelan
put on an assured display to score 13.866.

The United States began on vault,
with world champion McKayla Maroney the pick of the bunch after she hit a
stunning stuck Amanar vault to score 16.233, as the 2008 silver
medallists rocketed into a huge early lead.

Focused: Imogen Cairns on the balance beam

Focused: Imogen Cairns on the balance beam

Britain then moved to the floor in
last place after their shaky start, Pinches putting her woes on the beam
behind her with a clean routine of 14.366.

Whelan's solid routine and Tweddle's
slightly shaky 14.166 interpretation of James Bond theme 'Live and Let
Die' moved them up a place into seventh.

Cairns then opened for Britain on
vault with a clean one-and-a-half twisting leap before Pinches scored
14.833 ahead of Tunney's first appearance in the team final on the
apparatus, scoring 14.866.

Sparkling: Jordyn Wieber on the vault

Sparkling: Jordyn Wieber on the vault

Tweddle's specialist piece of apparatus, the uneven bars, was left until last, just like in qualification.
The 27-year-old competed last as the strongest worker on the apparatus
for Britain, after fellow City of Liverpool gymnasts Whelan and Tunney.

Whelan looked confident with a slight
step on landing to score 14.00 before 15-year-old Tunney hit her
routine to earn 14.766 for her team.

Golden girls: The USA celebrate their gold medal in the women's artistic gymnastics

Golden girls: The USA celebrate their gold medal in the women's artistic gymnastics

Fall out: Russia's Kseniia Afanaseva after falling during her floor exercise

Fall out: Russia's Kseniia Afanaseva after falling during her floor exercise

Three-time world champion Tweddle
then stepped up to the apparatus and nailed her routine with a twisting
double-double finish to save the best until last with a score of 15.833 –
and move Britain up into sixth place ahead of Italy and Japan.

The United States, meanwhile, were
doing battle with Russia for gold, with Aly Raisman's world class floor
routine enough to seal the victory for the 2008 Olympic silver
medallists.

The golden girls: U.S. gymnasts, left to right, Jordyn Wieber, Gabrielle Douglas, McKayla Maroney, Alexandra Raisman, Kyla Ross raise their hands on the podium during the medal ceremony

The golden girls: (left to right) Jordyn Wieber, Gabrielle Douglas, McKayla Maroney, Alexandra Raisman, Kyla Ross

Salute: US coach John Geddert leads the celebrations

Salute: US coach John Geddert leads the celebrations

London 2012 Olympics: Jesper Holmris disappointed with women"s handball loss

Holmris disappointed as GB's women fall to former champions Russia in handball

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UPDATED:

17:43 GMT, 30 July 2012

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LIVE RESULTS |
EVENT SCHEDULE |
MEDALS TABLE

Great Britain's women coach Jesper Holmris expressed his disappointment after a 37-16 defeat to European powerhouses Russia in the Copper Box.

While a loss to the former world champions, who are contenders for a podium finish in the tournament, was always on the cards, the manner and scoreline of it was perhaps worse than Team GB had accounted for.

Having played so well against another strong side in Montenegro on their Olympic Games debut on Saturday, Holmris' women were unable to match that level of performance and a 21-goal deficit represents a heavy loss.

Thanks for the support: Britain's centreback Lynn Mccafferty applauds at the end of the match against Russia

Thanks for the support: Britain's centreback Lynn Mccafferty applauds at the end of the match against Russia

It was a particularly disappointing defeat as they have come up against the Russians twice in the last 10 months and were beaten by considerably fewer goals on each occasion, with Holmris left to rue not having the element of surprise.

'Russia gave 100% for 60 minutes and it's great to play against the very best,' he said.

'But we had a few players who had an off day and weren't quite up to speed and we can't handle teams like Russia if we are not at 100 per cent.

'It's an advantage for Russia to have played us twice before because they knew what to expect, they weren't surprised and had prepared well.

Fight for the ball: Russia's centre back Tatiana Khmyrova vies for the ball

Fight for the ball: Russia's centre back Tatiana Khmyrova vies for the ball

'They knew our moves in attack so it was hard for us. We knew we couldn't win but we just wanted to give them a hard time and we did in short spells but I was a little bit disappointed.

'But the Russians are just a super power and they can definitely get a medal.'

One of the major problems Team GB faced was the sheer size and brute force of the Russian side, who towered over their hosts, with their biggest player standing a foot taller than GB's smallest and the heaviest weighing more than 20kg more.

And Holmris is hoping the surge of interest in the game in Britain due to the Games will help them find players with better physical attributes.

Battle: Russia's pivot Natalia Shipilova fights for the ball with Mccafferty

Battle: Russia's pivot Natalia Shipilova fights for the ball with Mccafferty

'Two days ago after the game against Montenegro there was a handball club in Leeds that got 7,000 requests on how to join and 1.3million viewers on the BBC and we have 60 million people living in this country so we will find girls like the Russians,' Holmris added.

'We need people to invest in our sport and be given time to prepare the players, it won't be done in a couple of years it will be done in eight or 10 years.'

Pivot Louise Jukes was on the end of some rough stuff by the Russia defenders and she admits that playing against such physically superior opponents takes it out of her.

'Unfortunately we didn't have the best of it today, Russia are a phenomenal team and they just stepped it up, so we are disappointed,' she said.

'We have played against them before and had better results, but we have to work so hard to defend against them that we run out of energy when we attack so we give the ball away too easily.

'It's much harder game against a team like Russia, so it is hard work, but we are disappointed.'

Russia coach Evgeny Trefilov, who told some of his side to retire after they scraped past Angola in their opening game, knows there is more to come from his side.

'We didn't treat this game any different to any other in the competition,' he said.

'We wanted to show we have potential and we put a lot of effort in so if anyone regarded this as a training exercise, it wasn't us.

'We have got plenty of problems in our team at the moment. It's not a clockwork mechanism, but what is

'Even a Bentley car could stall every now and then. I wouldn't say we are a Bentley yet, but we probably will be in the future.'

Arsene Wenger"s taste of his own medicine – Martin Samuel

Wenger's taste of his own medicine

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UPDATED:

22:35 GMT, 8 July 2012

Arsene Wenger has an economics degree from the University of Strasbourg, so let's keep this simple. Let's put what is happening at Arsenal in terms he will understand. It's Schumpeter's Gale.

No How about creative destructionist theory, then Still nothing All right, Le Professeur can skip this part. He already knows what it is coming. Joseph Schumpeter was an Austro-Hungarian born economist whose 1942 work Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy offered a much-admired treatment of Marxist economic theory.

Schumpeter saw capitalism as moving relentlessly forward through innovation propelled by entrepreneurial investment. In turn, this new capitalism destroyed established companies and monopoly powerhouses, propped up by previous economic regimes.

Schumpeter's Gale: Arsenal are reaping what they sow

Schumpeter's Gale: Arsenal are reaping what they sow

More from Martin Samuel…

Murray lost to a master of the universe, the tennis equivalent of Pele or Ali…
08/07/12

Martin Samuel: Pay attention and give respect to the man from nowhere
06/07/12

Time to make a stand against Mexican waves at Wimbledon

05/07/12

Martin Samuel: Come to see the gongs, not the gangs in Stratford
03/07/12

Martin Samuel: Wimbledon sexism row… it's 50 Shades of Grey
01/07/12

Martin Samuel: Unlucky Heather… or simply not up to it Watson's failings are exposed
29/06/12

No, minister, you are not up to the job: Why the inexperienced Chloe Smith deserved Paxo's grilling

29/06/12

Psycho Pearce He's not as mad as he seems (Still as brave, though)
28/06/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

He called this process Creative Destruction, although through his writing it has subsequently become known as Schumpeter's Gale: one form of capitalism blowing away its predecessor.

Schumpeter used the example of the Illinois Central railroad, bringing new business and new cities to the Midwest, while simultaneously destroying old agricultural companies and communities.

If he was alive today, he could equally cite the boom in internet sales businesses impacting on high street retail, or how cassette machines were outstripped by CD players and CDs by MP3 players, and why Arsenal keep losing all their best players to Manchester City.

It is Schumpeter's Gale that is blowing right up Wenger's passage and has been for several years. Football's new money, most particularly at Chelsea and City, is wreaking creative destruction on established businesses such as Arsenal and Liverpool, the way iPods have overtaken Walkmans.

The difference is that in football, unlike any other industry, this is perceived as unfair. If Robin van Persie is the latest to depart Arsenal for City there will no doubt be a fresh round of outrage that foreign wealth is messing with the fabric of the English game.

Yet Chelsea and City do not poach players from Manchester United; not even from Tottenham Hotspur in the past year. Schumpeter's Gale most drastically affects Arsenal, because Arsenal have fallen behind.

Indeed, why should Arsenal's monopoly – a Champions League appearance for 15 consecutive seasons and counting – be artificially protected Nobody saved Sony when their technology was overtaken by Apple. Nobody rushed to protect Polaroid as it was being swept away by Nikon and Minolta.

The reality is that Arsenal's sustainable business model is not as special and altruistic as they would have us believe.

'Sometimes your work is destroyed by
others,' said Wenger at the weekend. 'I am a victim of that. I lost
Samir Nasri, Gael Clichy and Cesc Fabregas at an age when they should
have been playing their best football.'

Pastures new: Arsenal have lost many of their best players in recent seasons

Pastures new: Arsenal have lost many of their best players in recent seasons

Pastures new: Arsenal have lost many of their best players in recent seasons

Yes, but those players were the product of other clubs. The raw talent was already there; Arsenal polished it up and sold it on. They were middle men. They got their cut. Ashley Cole was the last entirely home produced player who Arsenal lost to a major club and that was six years ago.

Since then, the most controversial departures have all been players who were given their biggest break by Arsenal, but were schooled elsewhere: Fabregas (Barcelona), Nasri (Marseille), Kolo Toure (AS EC Minosas), Clichy (Cannes), Emmanuel Adebayor (Metz) and Van Persie (Feyenoord).

What Manchester City have done to Arsenal is only what Arsenal have done to smaller economic entities. One form of entrepreneurial capitalism consumes the other. It is a tough world, but not unfair.

It is said that Theo Walcott could be the next to leave, making further protest ironic. For if you want to look at a genuine victim of capitalist economics, try Southampton. One might argue that – the often beautiful football aside – Arsenal are not holding their end up in terms of innovation.

Their ideas are not winning trophies and their most precious commodities are largely imported, repackaged and resold. Yet Luke Shaw, a 16-year-old yet to start in Southampton's first team, is believed to be the subject of a 4m bid from Chelsea.

If this is acceptable, he will be the
latest in an impressive line of talent produced by the club dating back
to 2003. Over the past decade, Southampton have been consistently
responsible for some of the finest young footballers in the country: yet
in that time they have fallen, and risen, through three divisions, gone
into administration and flirted with bankruptcy.

Patience of Saints: Oxlade-Chamberlain and Bale left St Mary's in recent years

Patience of Saints: Oxlade-Chamberlain and Bale left St Mary's in recent years

Patience of Saints: Oxlade-Chamberlain and Bale left St Mary's in recent years

They remain at the cutting edge of innovation, yet are crushed by creatively destructive forces just the same. Wayne Bridge left Southampton for Chelsea in 2003; Walcott was 16 when he joined Arsenal for an initial 5m in 2006; in 2007 the same figure took Gareth Bale to Tottenham; Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain moved from Southampton to Arsenal in 2011 for 15m; now Shaw.

He is unlikely to feature in Southampton's first team next season and has only played 13 minutes of an FA Cup fourth-round tie with Millwall, but already he is regarded as the most promising left back in the country.

What's in a name

Bob Diamond's daughter is called Nell. No, really, she is.

But did you know Danny Welbeck’s father is a famous bomb disposal expert Stan.

Chelsea see him as the long-term successor to Cole – although where that leaves Champions League winner Ryan Bertrand is a mystery – and Arsenal are also interested.

If a bid from Wenger was successful, Shaw would become the third Southampton protege to migrate to the Emirates in six years, a fact that does not seem to carry the same weight with those who would wish Arsenal protection from Schumpeter's Gale, through UEFA's financial fair play rules.

Not for the first time, president Michel Platini has missed the point. If anything, it is those below who are most wickedly exposed to the prevailing wind; and, for them, nothing changes.

Robin and Rooney threat for City

All the talk is of Robin van Persie going to Manchester City, but it is
surely at Manchester United where he could prove most devastating.

Imagine a forward partnership with Wayne Rooney: two No 10s, who could also operate as No 9s, constantly switching, alternating, dragging their markers out of position, always thinking, always posing questions.

If Arsenal decide they have no option but to sell, this could be Manchester
United’s best chance of matching City’s firepower. Whether it is wise for
Arsenal to create a second rival that they cannot get close to is entirely another matter.

Roo's the best Van Persie could link-up well with Wayne

Roo's the best Van Persie could link-up well with Wayne

Serena's hectic schedule

Further to last week's column about the differences between men's and women's tennis, here is Serena Williams' schedule for the second week of Wimbledon.

Monday: Ladies Singles, fourth round. Tuesday: Ladies Singles, quarter-final; Ladies Doubles, second round. Wednesday: Ladies Doubles, second round (carried over); Ladies Doubles, third round. Thursday: Ladies Singles, semi-final; Ladies Doubles, quarter-final. Friday: Ladies Doubles, semi-final. Saturday: Ladies Singles final, Ladies Doubles final.

The athletic achievement is incredible and the Williams sisters are exceptional competitors. Serena is among the greatest tennis players of all time, male or female, and has revolutionised her sport.

Even so, the same demand while playing five sets in the men's game would be impossible. Andy Murray was right. No man can attempt more than one Grand Slam title at an event these days.

Financially, this places them at a disadvantage. It will be intriguing to see how this issue is resolved.

Keeping busy: Serena was battling on two fronts for glory at SW19

Keeping busy: Serena was battling on two fronts for glory at SW19

It's hard being you, Charles

Charles van Commenee, head coach of UK Athletics, is predicting an enjoyable time for his charges at the Olympics.

'We are doing sport,' he said. 'Something fun. A lot of people in athletics make it sound as if they are living a hard life, as if they have to go to the coal mines in Azerbaijan every morning or maybe work for the Daily Mail. That's what I call tough.'

Well, thank you, Charlie. Nice of you to notice. We do put the hours in here, although unlike your place we don't seem to speak to each other through lawyers as much, if you talk at all, in the case of Phillips Idowu.

How is he, by the way, or are you still at that awkward 'don't ask, don't tell' stage Never mind. No doubt it will work itself out and you'll have as much fun together as we do at the Daily Mail every day.

In fact, as you may be able to tell, we're laughing right now.

Playing is a fact for Mata

Juan Mata will not be available to play for Chelsea until the middle of September. The club are giving him time off after the Olympic football tournament, where he will represent Spain.

This means Mata has played the 2008-09 season for Valencia, 2009 Confederations Cup, 2009-10 season for Valencia, 2010 World Cup, 2010-11 season for Valencia, 2011 European Under 21 Championship, 2011-12 season for Chelsea, 2012 European Championship, 2012 Olympic tournament and will then embark on the 2012-13 season for Chelsea.

Can you imagine if he was English His coaches would be on trial for attempted murder. Now, obviously, Mata does not play every game for Spain and has often been a bit-part player at tournaments.

But he trains with the team each day, travels, is ready to participate in every game and was hardly underused by his clubs in the interim.

So why isn't he tired Why isn't Mata dead on his feet It's that passing to each other thing again, isn't it

All action: Mata has played constantly in recent years without showing fatigue

All action: Mata has played constantly in recent years without showing fatigue

Sarah's split loyalties

Reflecting on the controversy around taekwondo No 1 Aaron Cook's failure to make the Olympic team, Great Britain's medal hope Sarah Stevenson said: 'What I think has happened here is that a lot of people who don't know much about our sport have become fixated on the fact that Aaron is world No 1 and should be the automatic pick when that is not necessarily the case.'

Of course, it could equally be argued that what has happened here is that a sports personality, Stevenson, has been given the space to write a newspaper column and has used it to defend a highly dubious decision taken within her sport, without mentioning the fact that her husband, Steve Jennings, was part of the five-man committee that made it.

British Taekwondo did not even want to publish the panel's names initially, until they were revealed in a newspaper.

Perhaps Stevenson felt that full disclosure of her husband's involvement would have made taekwondo's hierarchy appear insular and self-preserving. Not that an outsider would know, obviously.

Best foot forward: Stevenson will represent Team GB this summer

Best foot forward: Stevenson will represent Team GB this summer

Harry's record stands the test

Now Andre Villas-Boas has been installed at White Hart Lane, some are already comparing his record favourably to that of predecessor Harry Redknapp.

'At 34, Villas-Boas has won more silverware than Redknapp has in his entire career,' sniffed one commentator.

Yes, indeed, there is a difference in taking over a club that had won the league in 12 of the previous 16 seasons and had finished third in the last campaign (Porto, before the arrival of Villas-Boas) and one that had not finished in the top two since 1963 and were bottom of the league (Tottenham Hotspur before Redknapp).

'A man who could bring Juan Mata to London offers something far beyond Redknapp's ken,' our expert continued. Even if this were true, Villas-Boas didn't bring Mata to Chelsea. He had been linked with them since before the end of the 2010-11 season, when Villas-Boas was still managing Porto.

A more fitting example of insight would be the transition in a player like Luka Modric: signed by Juande Ramos and utterly ineffectual, transformed by Redknapp and now to be sold for 35million.

The same old arguments are made by those desperate to rewrite history. Redknapp's achievements are a myth, propped up by his friends in the media (funny how the critics are never referred to as his enemies but any praise is apparently biased).

Achiever: Redknapp had a fantastic record at Tottenham

Achiever: Redknapp had a fantastic record at Tottenham

And, of course, unlike Villas-Boas, he is tactically naive. Yet it wasn't Redknapp who conceded five goals at home to Arsenal playing a high-line back four that did not suit his best defender John Terry. That was Villas-Boas.

The world is full of tactical geniuses who would all run rings around poor old Harry. It's a pity so few of them finished above him, given the chance, in any of the last three seasons.

Out For A Curry With Andy Murray

On the Couch With Peter Crouch is apparently a new chat show on Sky. What came first, do you think, the title or the concept And why stop there This could open up a whole new area of media exposure for sports stars.

Just think of it: On A Chair With Dusty Hare; Across A Futon With Eddie Newton; In A Car With Demba Ba; Out For A Curry With Andy Murray; Back Of A Cab With Bob McNab; On A Swing With Ledley King; In A Hole With Martin Jol; Waist High In Mud With Toby Flood; Niagara In A Barrel With Owen Farrell.

Indeed, this is an idea that could expand through so many areas. Travel (Christ, It's Hot With Jonathan Trott), cooking (What's For Tea With Francis Lee), the arts (In A Tutu With Adrian Mutu), comedy (Having A Lark With Ji-sung Park), science (What's That Pong With Nigel de Jong), even fashion (In A Caguole With Younes Kaboul).

And as for Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck – (that's enough shows. Ed.)

Next TV sensation: It's unlikely Murray will host his own chat show

Next TV sensation: It's unlikely Murray will host his own chat show

Hollow victory for Roy's boys

When Roy Hodgson took the England job, among the list of credentials read out by Football Association chairman David Bernstein was the fact he took Switzerland to third in the FIFA world rankings.

Now we see the ridiculousness of that boast. Next month, England, too, will be third in the world when Uruguay surrender their place in the top four.

Bernstein will surely not be claiming that achievement with any confidence and Hodgson would find it embarrassing if he did. He is not one for rash claims.

Hodgson did an excellent job with Switzerland, but as he said of that FIFA ranking, 'we were no more third in the world than I was a Chinaman'. Sensible chap.

Do not expect him to switch nationalities to commemorate England's elevation, either.

Romain Amalfitano signs for Newcastle United

Newcastle snap up highly-rated French midfielder Amalfitano on a free transfer

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UPDATED:

16:33 GMT, 23 May 2012


French fancy: Newcastle have dipped into the French market once again

French fancy: Newcastle have dipped into the French market once again

Newcastle boss Alan Pardew completed his first summer signing on Wednesday when he clinched a deal for Reims midfielder Romain Amalfitano.

The 22-year-old, who is out of contract at the French club, will officially become a Magpies player on July 1.

His arrival was confirmed by the Magpies on Wednesday afternoon, although no details of the length of his contract have been released.

Amalfitano said: 'I am very happy to be a Newcastle player. I have seen a bit of the city already and it is a change from France, but one I am really looking forward to.

'When a club like Newcastle wants you to play for them, it can only be a good thing.

'I have taken the opportunity to play in the Premier League and cannot wait to get going.'

Nice-born Amalfitano, whose older brother Morgan is at Marseille, can play either on the right side of midfield or through the middle.

He becomes the latest recruit from France to join Pardew's revolution with Newcastle treading a well-worn path having done so hugely successfully in the recent past.

Hatem Ben Arfa and Yohan Cabaye played major roles in last season's fifth-place finish in the Barclays Premier League, while Sylvain Marveaux's opportunities were severely limited by injury and Mehdi Abeid is regarded as a promising talent for the future.

Building: Alan Pardew wants to take Newcastle forward

Building: Alan Pardew wants to take Newcastle forward

Compatriot Gabriel Obertan is also on the Tyneside books, although he had a mixed first season with the club.

The Magpies' transfer policy, which has become a model for clubs unable to call upon the eye-watering spending power of the Premier League's powerhouses, has reaped rich rewards in recent seasons with the likes of Cheick Tiote, Cabaye, Ben Arfa, Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse making major impacts.

A near-10million January swoop for Cisse was funded from the proceeds of Andy Carroll's 35million departure for Liverpool a year earlier, but the fees paid for Tiote and Cabaye amounted to roughly the same total and, like the Senegal international, they have significantly enhanced both their reputations and values since.

Amalfitano will not be the last arrival this summer with Pardew keen to add to both the size and quality of his squad as he prepares for Europa League football next season and the extra demands that will bring.

However, he will have to do so on a budget once again, and all the while knowing his star men are vulnerable to the advances of Europe's big spenders.

Yaya Toure believes Manchester City can dominate world football

First England… now the world! Champion Toure sets sights on building City dynasty

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UPDATED:

09:43 GMT, 14 May 2012

Manchester City talisman Yaya Toure believes his side can dominate world football after their stunning Premier League title triumph.

Toure was one of the inspirations behind City’s first title win in 44 years but he was off the field injured as the crown was secured in dramatic circumstances against QPR on Sunday.

Many believe City can now build on their success and go on to become the new powerhouses of the English game and Toure has no doubts.

Champions! Manchester City celebrate their stunning Premier League title triumph at the Etihad Stadium

Champions! Manchester City celebrate their stunning Premier League title triumph at the Etihad Stadium

Crazy: Mancini goes wild at the final whistle

The Ivory coast midfielder told City TV: 'We have been unbelievable.

'I thank all but I think next year will be more and I hope City will become a great club in the world.

'I will think about the new season and I hope it will be more exciting than the last one.

'I think the fans may enjoy it more because now we have fantastic players, they are growing.

'They have fantastic talent and I think next year we will get more cups than this year.'

Magic moment: Sergio Aguero scores the winner

Magic moment: Sergio Aguero scores the winner

Magic moment: Sergio Aguero scores the winner

Toure limped off just before half-time in the decisive game and could only watch as City fell 2-1 behind before coming back to win 3-2 in injury time.

The 29-year-old said: 'It was unbelievable. When we had 10 minutes left I was thinking we needed a goal to try to help us.

'With all this season, always doing well, to have lost the Premier League at home – it would have been a disaster, I think I can say that.

'I am very happy. I think the team deserves it, the fans deserve it, the boss deserves it. I think all this club deserves it this year.

'That was the character of the team, the winning mentality. The team did fantastically well.

Early departure: Yaya Toure (left) had to leave the field injured as City mounted a stunning comeback

Early departure: Yaya Toure (left) had to leave the field injured as City mounted a stunning comeback

Fan-tastic: The City faithful celebrate their first title in 44 years

Fan-tastic: The City faithful celebrate their first title in 44 years

Fan-tastic: The City faithful celebrate their first title in 44 years

Fan-tastic: The City faithful celebrate their first title in 44 years

'We proved all the players on the pitch wanted to fight for this club, to win something for this club, to be part of history for this club.'

With Manchester United winning at Sunderland, the title was heading back to Old Trafford as injury time approached with City still trailing.

Edin Dzeko gave City hope with an equaliser in the second minute of stoppage time before top scorer Sergio Aguero snatched it in the last attack of the game.

Aguero, who finished his first season with City with 30 goals, said: 'The only thing I can say is I am really happy.

'The truth is we can hardly believe it ourselves.

Blue moon: City's players celebrate at the final whistle

Blue moon: City's players celebrate at the final whistle

Blue moon: City's players celebrate at the final whistle

Blue moon: City's players celebrate at the final whistle

'We thought the Premier League had gone. Thank God it all worked out for us.

'We got two goals in five minutes, it was absolutely unbelievable.'

Two of the more controversial figures in City’s season were also thrilled by the outcome.

Carlos Tevez, who infamously missed six months of the campaign over a dispute with the club, said: 'I am very, very happy. The game was out of this world.

'When you are putting an end to such a long run without winning a title, you are always going to have to do it the hard way.

Champions: Mancini's squad revel in the glory

Champions: Mancini's squad revel in the glory

Champions: Mancini's squad revel in the glory

'It was absolutely incredible. This club have got the players that can win lots of trophies, this is a real big step towards that.'

After returning to the side in the past two months, Tevez recently said he would like to stay at the club despite his attempts in January to engineer a move.

The striker said: 'Let’s hope we can win more and more trophies. I feel very happy at winning this league title.'

Mario Balotelli made his first appearance in six games as he came off the bench with 14 minutes remaining and had a hand in the winner.

The Italian said: 'It was better to win like that than 6-0, when you are sure to win.

Pandemonium: Fans invade the pitch at the final whistle

Pandemonium: Fans invade the pitch at the final whistle

Pandemonium: Fans invade the pitch at the final whistle

'United have suffered a little bit, it is better for us.

'When I was on the bench, warming up with Micah (Richards) and they scored their second goal, Micah was upset but I said, “Don’t worry, we will win”.

'That’s what we did. I thought it was really possible. I believed in it and I was right.'

Playmaker David Silva is also hoping the team can move on to greater things next season.

The Spaniard said: 'We made the game very hard for ourselves but we kept battling until the end.

'We managed to pull it off and I am really happy. This team is just getting better and better and let’s hope next season we’ll be even better.'

Double joy: QPR celebrate their escape from relegation

Double joy: QPR celebrate their escape from relegation

Double joy: QPR celebrate their escape from relegation

Meanwhile, City midfielder Gareth Barry saw a helicopter flying over the Etihad stadium as his side trailed 2-1 to QPR and thought it was the Premier League trophy being flown to rivals Manchester United.

Barry was convinced the trophy was being transported up to Wearside where United were winning 1-0.

He was replaced by Edin Dzeko 21 minutes from the end of yesterday’s final game against QPR, with the Blues losing 2-1.

But in stoppage time Dzeko and then Sergio Aguero netted to turn the entire campaign on its head and end City’s 44-year wait for a league title.

'At 2-1 down I was thinking this is done,' Barry said.

Oh, brother: City fans turn the Etihad blue

Oh, brother: City fans turn the Etihad blue

'I looked up and saw a helicopter and wondered if it was the main trophy being flown north.

'Towards the end, I was sitting there watching our fans leaving, just thinking “Here we go again”.

'In a way, it makes it more special but I would have preferred an easier win.'

The scenes at the end will never be forgotten though, with Barry amongst those racing off the bench in jubilation as Aguero was smothered by ecstatic team-mates.

'Those last five minutes were incredible,' said Barry.

'I can’t really find the words to describe what happened.

'The way it finished was unbelievable. This season has been so up and down that it was no surprise that the final finish went that way.

'But I don’t think that will ever be beaten.'

Party time: Manchester City celebrate their stunning title triumph at the Etihad Stadium

Party time: Manchester City celebrate their stunning title triumph at the Etihad Stadium

The agony for Barry was made all the more acute because he was a just as helpless as the fans who had spent more of the afternoon chewing their fingernails, desperate for their team to deliver the prize that had eluded them for so long.

Yet, out of the 90 minutes, City spent 61 of them trailing Manchester United in the “as it stands” table, which just made the day even more memorable for Barry.

'I will remember it well because I had to sit and watch, and that is probably worse,' said the England midfielder.

'You would rather be on the pitch. It’s far more nervous to watch because you cannot affect it.

'But I have soaked it all in, because you have to enjoy moments like this – it’s been fantastic so far.'

Jamie Redknapp: Dad and England, and Tottenham

My family has gone from one storm to another… but I prefer this one

The only time that can compare to the feeling of relief and joy of my dad’s unanimous verdict was when my two boys were born.

My dad has been ill worrying about his case. Even in moments of victory — big wins against European powerhouses or Premier League victories — I can see he relaxes into the moment for five minutes. And then he is back to worrying, projecting.

He has been anxious and angry. Worrying about my mum, who is a gentle and soft person. Worrying about what would happen to her if he ended up with a guilty verdict.

Time together: Jamie accompanied dad Harry to court every day

Time together: Jamie accompanied dad Harry to court every day

Each day in the court brought a different emotion. Fear and anger were always there, but there were moments of comedy, too.

Two weeks together and we used the time well while my brother Mark and my wife Louise looked after mum. It was easier being there because I could see it with my own eyes and make my own judgments.

I need to thank the people at Tottenham who were there with us every day, as well as Richard Bevan of the League Managers Association.

You find out who your friends are at times like this. The messages of support for my dad were important to him. Mike Ashley, the Newcastle chairman, took time to call. So did others. Yesterday, I had a lot of texts from managers, players and friends. I can’t thank them enough. I will remember their support.

Under pressure: The last five years have put strain on Redknapp Snr and Jnr, as well as the rest of the family

Under pressure: The last five years have put strain on Redknapp Snr and Jnr, as well as the rest of the family

Dad’s legal team have been amazing and I should also mention Milan Mandaric, who was also acquitted. I don’t know Milan that well but he behaved with grace and dignity.

I am grateful to the Tottenham fans for their warmth and support to my dad too. That means a lot to him; he was trembling with emotion at the way they welcomed him before the Wigan game. He can go back to enjoying his football now.

WHAT NEXT

Dad is the manager of Tottenham. He loves his job, loves what they have created and believes they are going places. This is the best squad he’s ever worked with.

We have spoken about the amazing developments this week, of course we have. Over breakfast the day when Matt Lawton wrote in Sportsmail that Fabio Capello should go, I said to my dad: ‘You could get through this week, dad, and you’re going to have another problem. They could be looking for a new England manager by the end of the week.’

He said: 'No chance it will get to that with Capello, is there’

I don’t want this to sound selfish, but whatever my dad ends up doing, he has to do what is best for him. I’m sorry if that sounds harsh, it’s not meant to, but, after what he has been through for the last five years, it has to be his choice.

He hasn’t been offered the England job, the FA haven’t approached Tottenham and Tottenham aren’t keen to lose him. That’s where we are.

He is overwhelmed by the positive messages from the England players, such as Wayne Rooney and Rio Ferdinand, as well as the support of so many Premier League managers. They have been generous with their praise.

Hot Spur: Harry Redknapp loves his job at White Hart Lane

Hot Spur: Harry Redknapp loves his job at White Hart Lane

But Daniel Levy gave him a job, a job he loves. The Tottenham chairman gave him the position, knowing about the police accusations. He has supported him and — even if they might have their moments — dad likes working for him. Together, they have made Spurs stronger. From the bottom of the league when dad took over to where they are now. It has been some journey.

CIAO, FABIO!

I don’t think we look back on Fabio Capello’s time with any fondness. We are not in mourning today, thinking: ‘We’ve lost a good one there.’

In the World Cup, when the team struggled, our tactics were poor and his team were outmanoeuvred. The country and the players were crying out for change, but he stuck with a rigid 4-4-2 formation, with Steven Gerrard out on the left. What was he doing out there Get him in the middle, on the ball.

Got it wrong: Fabio Capello made too many mistakes with the squad

Got it wrong: Fabio Capello made too many mistakes with the squad

More than anything, the language barrier was a problem for the players. Small details can change games at the highest level and if the manager cannot communicate his views properly, what chance do you have of making a difference

I think the next England manager should be English, but I understand what the continental managers have brought to our football. Arsene Wenger, Jose Mourinho, Carlo Ancelotti, Roberto Mancini are richly talented individuals, but they can speak good English and their players understand them.

Capello could — and should — have worked harder at the language. It was a weakness in the dressing room and didn’t send out the right message outside the dressing room.

‘How much are we paying this bloke and he can’t speak the language,’ was a view expressed by lots of England fans. He had ample time to do something about that, but didn’t. Now he’s gone and we move on.

ROARING LIONS

I can't agree that we don’t have the players. Look at this lot: Phil Jones, Daniel Sturridge, Danny Welbeck, Tom Cleverley, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jack Wilshere, Kyle Walker, Joe Hart. Then there is Gerrard. And Wayne Rooney.

Hart is the best goalkeeper in the world as far as I am concerned.

In the game between Manchester United and Chelsea last weekend, we had Welbeck on one team and Sturridge on the other, playing in a big top-of-the-table game. Young, hungry, dynamic English strikers.

So we do have exciting players. We just need the right manager. Sounds like a good job for someone!

Young and talented: Danny Welbeck and Daniel Sturridge are proof that the future is bright for England on the playing side of things

Young and talented: Danny Welbeck and Daniel Sturridge are proof that the future is bright for England on the playing side of things

Young and talented: Danny Welbeck and Daniel Sturridge are proof that the future is bright for England on the playing side of things

GOOD LUCK, STUART

For footballing reasons, it is a clever move by the FA to appoint Stuart Pearce to the caretaker role. With Sir Trevor Brooking and Gareth Southgate at the FA too, it will calm the search for a new manager. It gives everyone time to think, clear heads and ensure there is no muddled thinking.

There is only one game between now and the end of the season, against Holland. So the FA have a chance to consider their options.

Temporary fix: England Under 21 boss Stuart Pearce will look after the seniors in their friendly against Holland in February

Temporary fix: England Under 21 boss Stuart Pearce will look after the seniors in their friendly against Holland in February

I like Stuart. He was a terrific player and team-mate and the players in the camp rate him. He knows what it means to play for England and I am sure he will be proud to take the team against Holland later this month. I wonder how many times he will be asked about that 4-1 win against Holland in Euro 96.

Appointing him quickly takes the sting out of it all and the FA can decide what they want to do and who they want to talk to.

Mourinho might be free in the summer and is said to be talking about a return to England. I wonder if his name will be discussed when the four-man selection panel sits down to talk it all through today. That would certainly be an entertaining appointment … and it will please Spurs, too. They’ve got their own Special One.