Tag Archives: progress

Lionel Messi Tokyo Madame Tussauds with David Beckham

Beckham and Messi the stars of the show in Tokyo Madame Tussauds

By
Bill Rungay

PUBLISHED:

16:31 GMT, 13 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

16:54 GMT, 13 March 2013

When Cristiano Ronaldo claimed that God sent him to earth to play football, Messi said: ‘I didn’t send anybody’.

We all thought that was a joke; however it appears that the Argentine was in Tokyo pointing to the skies last night at the same time as he was in Barcelona scoring twice to help his team progress in the Champions League.

Is he really God Can he be in two places at once Sadly not.

Lifelike: A Lionel Messi waxwork is unveiled at Madame Tussauds in Japan this week

Lifelike: A Lionel Messi waxwork is unveiled at Madame Tussauds in Japan this week

Matchwinning performance: Messi scored twice as Barcelona beat AC Milan 4-0 on Tuesday night

Matchwinning performance: Messi scored twice as Barcelona beat AC Milan 4-0 on Tuesday night

A visitor poses with the wax figure of Lionel Messi at the Madame Tussauds exhibition in Tokyo, Wednesday, March 13, 2013.(AP Photo/Itsuo Inouye)

Madame Tussauds in Tokyo, Japan are reopening this Friday, exhibiting 60 wax figures of Japanese and worldwide stars. These include Messi and England’s finest patriot, Mr David Beckham.

Beckham, now of Paris Saint-Germain, can be seen in his LA Galaxy kit doing sit ups on a bench.

Laid Beck: A David Beckham model can also be found at the museum

Laid Beck: A David Beckham model can also be found at the museum

TOPSHOTS Paris Saint-Germain's English midfielder David Beckham

Many tourists and fans will be at Friday’s reopening in Tokyo, however Messi and Beckham will both have their eyes on the Champions League quarter-final draw, where their sides could possibly meet each other.

Raheem Sterling agrees new Liverpool contract

Sterling work! Raheem agrees new and improved five-year contract at Anfield

|

UPDATED:

22:01 GMT, 19 December 2012

England whizzkid Raheem Sterling has ended speculation regarding his future by agreeing a new contract with Liverpool.

The 18-year-old winger has been in negotiations with the Anfield club for weeks over a new deal.

And Sportsmail understands both parties have shaken hands on a deal for Sterling to stay with the Merseysiders for the next five years.

Sign of the times: Sterling has agreed the terms of a new deal at Liverpool

Sign of the times: Sterling has agreed the terms of a new deal at Liverpool

Sterling currently earns in the region of 2,000-per-week, but his new deal will net him a substantial pay increase.

The Jamaican-born forward has just 18 months left to run on his existing contract and ensuring the teenage sensation penned an extension was a top priority for the club.

And after several meetings between managing director Ian Ayre and Sterling's representatives the England international can now concentrate on establishing himself as a key member of Brendan Rodgers' plans.

A number of the Premier League's elite were lining up to take advantage of the uncertainty regarding Sterling's future next month.

Both Manchester clubs, Arsenal and Chelsea have watched Sterling extensively with a view to swooping for the forward in January.

Sterling, who started his career at Queens Park Rangers, has made rapid progress for Liverpool since breaking into the first team under Kenny Dalglish last season.

And his impressive breakthrough culminated in his first England cap, as he started in the defeat against Sweden last month.

However, he is still eligible to play for his native Jamaica given he has not played for the Three Lions in a competitive fixture yet.

Exciting duture: Sterling is at the heart of Rodgers future plans

Exciting duture: Sterling is at the heart of Rodgers future plans

Neil Lennon not hankering for move south just yet

Lennon not hankering for move south just yet after Celtic's European success

|

UPDATED:

22:58 GMT, 9 December 2012

Celic manager Neil Lennon has insisted he is not ready to cash in his burgeoning reputation in the wake of Champions League knockout qualification by moving south to the English Premier League — just yet.

The Northern Irishman, however, does admit the lure of the richest league in the world could eventually be enough to tempt him away from his spiritual home of Parkhead in the future.

Lennon’s reputation has never been hotter after his team, built on a shoestring budget, succeeded where billionaire-backed Manchester City and Chelsea failed by unlocking the golden gates to the last 16 of Europe’s elite with last week’s nail-biting 2-1 win over Spartak Moscow.

Staying put: Neil Lennon is happy to remain at Celtic for the time being

Staying put: Neil Lennon is happy to remain at Celtic for the time being

That has led to speculation over the future of Lennon’s star players like Victor Wanyama, Gary Hooper and Georgios Samaras, but Lennon’s work has not gone unnoticed in board rooms down south either. And the 41-year-old, who is well known in England after his League Cup winning spell with Leicester City, admits managing in the Premiership one day is an appealing prospect.

Lennon said: ‘I’m ambitious, obviously, and maybe one day, if I’m still good enough, a Premier League team might shine the eyes at me and it’ll be something to consider.

‘But I’m very happy here at the minute. I love what I do and, obviously, I have great feeling and affinity with the support and the club. I got this job young and I’m a work in progress but, if something comes up later on in my career, who knows

‘But you can’t think too far ahead in football because you never know what’s around the corner. Just last year I was thinking about resigning because we were 3-0 down to Kilmarnock at Rugby Park so football changes quickly — and it could change again for me in future.’

With Borussia Dortmund, FC Schalke and Bayern Munich each winning their Champions League group stages, the odds are on Lennon’s men drawing a German side in the knockouts.

Easy does it: Celtic strolled to victory over Kilmarnock at the weekend

Easy does it: Celtic strolled to victory over Kilmarnock at the weekend

In addition to his previously stated aversion to facing Manchester United, Lennon would not favour being paired on December 20 with Jurgen Klopp’s excellent Dortmund side, which topped Group D for death featuring Real Madrid, Manchester City and Ajax.

‘Every team in there is a quality side,’ Lennon said. ‘I’d like to avoid maybe Manchester United and Dortmund. But, whoever we get, we’ll take.
‘It’s great to be in the last 16 because European football is the stage you are judged on at this club.

‘We had two titanic games against Barcelona and we fell just short in the Nou Camp, but to beat them at home is a night that will live with me forever. To qualify as well as to win against Barcelona is great.

‘We have done well in Europe but I know at this football club you are always two defeats away from a crisis.

‘I’ve been here for 12 years as a player, coach and manager and there are big expectations amongst the supporters at this club.

‘That makes this job intense, challenging and demanding — but also wonderful.’

Roberto Mancini faces Manchester City axe if club don"t retain Premier League title – Gary Neville

Mancini would face axe if City don't retain Premier League title, says Neville

PUBLISHED:

17:03 GMT, 7 December 2012

|

UPDATED:

17:25 GMT, 7 December 2012

Gary Neville has accepted Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini could be ousted if he fails to retain the Premier League title.

Mancini heads into Sunday's Manchester derby only three points adrift of United and the only unbeaten side in the entire English four-tier structure.

Yet the Italian is under pressure following the Blues' European exit, their defeat by Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday meaning they have not even landed in the Europa League following their Champions League exit, as was the case 12 months ago.

Tough gig: City could sack Mancini if they don't win the Premier League

Tough gig: City could sack Mancini if they don't win the Premier League

Neville, a Sportsmail columnist, believes an FA Cup and Premier League underline the progress City have made over the past two seasons.

However, with a new chief executive to impress in Ferran Soriano and a new director of football to work with now Brian Marwood has made way for Txiki Begiristain, he feels Mancini's position cannot be described as secure, especially with Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho likely to be looking for work in the summer.

'Roberto Mancini deserves more time but it is not a ridiculous suggestion to think City would not consider making a change if he doesn't win the league,' said Neville.

'Whilst Roberto Mancini continues to be successful he should stay in his job but it does feel like one day Mourinho or Guardiola will end up there.

Josep Guardiola

Jose Mourinho

In the frame: Guardiola and Mourinho could take the managerial reigns at City

'They have a new chief executive and a new director of football who presumably have the ear of the owner.

'It might be three or five years but eventually they will want to stamp their mark on the club and Mourinho and Guardiola have to be pretty high on the list.'

Neville was speaking alongside journalists at a Football Writers' Association Forum in Manchester ahead of Sunday's derby clash between City and United at the Etihad Stadium.

The presence of two such prominent former Barcelona figures at the Etihad Stadium has lent credence to the theory Guardiola will choose City as the place to end his year-long sabbatical.

Centre of attention: Sportsmail's Gary Neville claims Ferguson won't 'step aside for anyone'

Centre of attention: Sportsmail's Gary Neville claims Ferguson won't 'step aside for anyone'

Mourinho has long been touted as Sir Alex Ferguson's successor at United.

And with reports emerging from Spain the former Chelsea boss will leave Real Madrid in the summer, it has been suggested Ferguson might be persuaded to stand aside after spending 26 years at the Old Trafford helm. Neville simply does not buy into that theory.

All smiles: Ferguson has been at the Old Trafford helm for over 26 years

All smiles: Ferguson has been at the Old Trafford helm for over 26 years

'Whilst he wants to carry on, Sir Alex Ferguson will not stand aside for anybody,' said the former United full-back.

'He will decide when he doesn't want to do it anymore.

'He is not the type of person who would just step aside so he could watch someone else manage his football team.

'It has been Alex Ferguson's last season for 15 years now. Unless it is the best kept secret in the world, nobody knows other than him.'

With both clubs moving clear of third-placed Chelsea, United and City appear to have the Premier League title between them once more. Sunday's match is delicately poised, with the Red Devils three points ahead of their neighbours, who have a better goal difference, meaning victory on Sunday will take them top, exactly the same position that existed ahead of the corresponding fixture last term.

'Sir Alex Ferguson has been openly concerned about United's defending,' said Neville.

'It must be massively frustrating for him and he would have been embarrassed by the first half against Reading.

'But, at the really big points in the season, do his players let him down More often than not, they do not.

'But there is also a lot I like about Manchester City. They have dug out results, never seem to go away and are still only three points behind.'

Bradford City kicked out of the FA Cup for fielding ineligible player

Bradford kicked out of the FA Cup for fielding ineligible player

|

UPDATED:

12:20 GMT, 7 December 2012

Bradford City have been expelled from the FA Cup after fielding an ineligible player in their second round tie with Brentford.

The Bantams did not gain the necessary written permission to play Newcastle United loanee Curtis Good before the 12pm deadline on Friday November 30, the day before the 1-1 draw at Valley Parade.

Bradford have until 5pm today to appeal the decision, otherwise Brentford will advance to a third round tie with either Southend United or Bury. The replay, scheduled for December 18, will now be cancelled.

Ineligible: Newcastle loanee Curtis Good should not have been started against Brentford in the FA Cup second round tie last weekend

Ineligible: Newcastle loanee Curtis Good should not have been started against Brentford in the FA Cup second round tie last weekend

Australian defender Good, 19, was on loan at the club until January 2. The match with Brentford was his debut appearance.

A Bradford City statement read: 'Bradford City Football Club were charged by the FA of rule 15 (j) (i) on Monday 3 December 2012 in relation to their F.A Cup with Budweiser Second Round encounter with Brentford on the 30 November 2012.

'The nature of the charge is the playing of one of our loan players deemed ineligible due to the late submission for permission for him to play.

'Bradford City Football Club is very sorry to have to report such a matter and apologies to our fans.

Cup progress: James Hanson had scored the goal that earned Bradford a replay in the 1-1 draw with League One Brentford

Cup progress: James Hanson had scored the goal that earned Bradford a replay in the 1-1 draw with League One Brentford

'The error was of an administrative technical nature and not one to intentionally break competition rules.

'We presented a case of mitigation to the FA on Thursday 6 December, however the FA panel chose to enforce the full powers of its jurisdiction and have removed the club from the FA Cup competition.

'We are clearly disappointed by this decision and cannot comment further on this matter as the club is still actively conducting a full investigation.

'The club has until 5:00pm today (Friday) to lodge an appeal with the FA and we are currently reviewing our position in relation to this.'

Cup interest: Bradford still retain interest in the League Cup and Johnstone's Paint Trophy, but won't have a shot at Southend or Bury in the FA Cup third round now

Cup interest: Bradford still retain interest in the League Cup and Johnstone's Paint Trophy, but won't have a shot at Southend or Bury in the FA Cup third round now

Brentford chief executive Mark Devlin admitted he had sympathy with Bradford and would have preferred to have advanced in the competition another way.

He told Sky Sports News: 'It is not a satisfactory way to progress, we would much rather prefer to progress by winning a match but the FA have made their decision and that's it really.

'The first we heard of anything was on Monday afternoon and internally we just held off before putting tickets out for sale for the replay and just waited for the FA's decision from yesterday's committee hearing.

'It is the FA's competition, the FA make the rules which we all know about. Whether we feel sympathetic or not does not come into play really. It is the FA's decision. I do have some sympathies with Bradford.

'It is entirely a matter for the FA and Bradford City Football Club. I don't think we will be asked to get involved any further at this stage.'

Bradford remain in the Capital One Cup, where they will play Arsenal next week, and the Johnstone's Paint Trophy.

John Terry on course for rapid return from injury

Terry set for Chelsea return within weeks after rapid recovery from nasty-looking knee injury

|

UPDATED:

20:51 GMT, 27 November 2012

Chelsea defender John Terry is on course to make a speedy recovery from his knee injury and could be fit in time to play in the FIFA World Club Cup next month.

The Blues skipper suffered a nasty-looking injury during Chelsea’s draw against Liverpool two weeks ago.

Liverpool striker Luis Suarez slipped while running at Terry and fell awkwardly on the 31-year-old’s leg.

Speedy: John Terry trained before Manchester City's visit to Stamford Bridge at the weekend

Speedy: John Terry trained before Manchester City's visit to Stamford Bridge at the weekend

But the former England international only sustained minor damage to the medial cruciate ligament in his right knee, even though it was initially believed Terry could have been out for the season.

The centre back has made rapid progress since being carried off during the 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge and Chelsea have confirmed that he could be fit by next month.

According to the Evening Standard, Terry told friends that he was happy with his recovery rate after taking part in a training session before the visit of Manchester City on Sunday.

Terry is set to miss tomorrow's west London derby against Fulham but there is a remote possibility that he may be in contention for the West Ham game on Saturday or Chelsea’s final Champions League group game against Nordsjaelland next week.

Terry is keen to be back in the squad as quickly as possible to help Rafa Benitez get the Blues’ season back on track.

Roberto Di Matteo was sacked last week after a downturn in the team's form, which culminated in a 3-0 defeat against Juventus last week, leaving them on the brink of elimination from the Champions League.

New regime: Chelsea fans voiced their anger over the appointment of Rafa Benitez this weekend

New regime: Chelsea fans voiced their anger over the appointment of Rafa Benitez this weekend

Turning the tides: Benitez hopes to improve the Blues' form

Turning the tides: Benitez hopes to improve the Blues' form

When fit again, Terry is likely to slip back into the heart of Chelsea’s defence. Benitez’s first game in charge, a drab 0-0 draw with Manchester City, yielded the European champions’ first clean sheet in 11 games.

The Spanish manager was booed by the home crowd who were dissatisfied with the knee-jerk sacking of Di Matteo, who guided Chelsea to lift the FA Cup as well as the Champions League last season.

Benitez’s compatriot Juan Mata knows how much work Chelsea have ahead of them to win more silverware this campaign.

He said: ‘The next few months will be crucial in every competition. We want the best for Chelsea and, as we did when [Andre] Villas-Boas was sacked and Robbie came, we will work hard with Rafa Bentez, our new manager.’

Nasty: Terry's injury looked serious after an accidental collision with Liverpool's Luis Suarez (top)

Nasty: Terry's injury looked serious after an accidental collision with Liverpool's Luis Suarez (top)

England coach Steve McNamara warns Australia and New Zealand

We're coming to get you! England coach McNamara warns rivals after Wales win

|

UPDATED:

22:30 GMT, 28 October 2012

Steve McNamara warned Australia and New Zealand that England are making rapid progress after Saturday’s 80-12 win over Wales.

England scored 14 tries, including four for debut winger Josh Charnley, to leave McNamara pleased with his side’s three-quarters.

Easy does it: Gareth Ellis of England goes over for a try against Wales

Easy does it: Gareth Ellis of England goes over for a try against Wales

McNamara said: 'We’ve got some ammunition now. We’ve always been strong in other areas but we’re now starting to get some depth. We’ve also got a lot more to come.'

Wales’ defeat ended their tournament, with England now due to face France on Saturday and again in the final.

Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini need to punish racism – Des Kelly

Now it is time for football's three monkeys to wise up

|

UPDATED:

22:46 GMT, 19 October 2012

They are monkeys, the lot of them. I’m not afraid to say it and neither should you be. Shout it from the grandstands. Throw bananas at them if you like. Monkeys! You know I’m right.

The chief ape is FIFA President Sepp Blatter, the monkey that sees no evil (what did you think I meant) Then there’s UEFA boss Michel Platini, the monkey that hears no evil. And let’s not forget the missing link in charge of the Serbian Football Association that speaks no evil, certainly not when it comes to the mess made inside his own zoo.

The verbal and physical abuse the England Under 21 team had to put up with in Serbia this week was pathetic and repellent. It was an embarrassment to football. But what followed was probably worse.

The three monkeys: Sepp Blatter, Michel Platini and the Serbian FA

The three monkeys: Sepp Blatter, Michel Platini and the Serbian FA

England Under 21 footballer Danny Rose was sent off for kicking a ball away in frustration at the racist abuse he received, which is almost impossible to believe. Nothing broadcasts a message of racial progress like punishing a black player for showing his contempt for racism. What was Rose thinking, taking offence at hundreds of people making monkey noises at him

The defeated Serbs used the moment as an excuse to fight on the pitch and by the tunnel. But the official UEFA website must be run by chimps too because they saw, heard and said absolutely nothing about this. Their report merely recorded that ‘the players took to the field at the end of the game’.

Do something: Blatter and Co must step up their game

Do something: Blatter and Co must step up their game

More from Des Kelly…

Des Kelly: Really, what are these people who support Armstrong on
12/10/12

Des Kelly: Don't flush train man Hodgson down the tubes after Rio gaffe
05/10/12

Des Kelly: Terry affair must not derail battle to defeat racism… so let's stop the schism
28/09/12

Des Kelly: Team GB's Swimming chiefs taking flights but lack the fight

21/09/12

Des Kelly: Forget the badge… it might have been you on that tragic day at Hillsborough
14/09/12

Des Kelly: These real diamonds can shine brightly on any stage
08/09/12

Des Kelly: Fire up the Quattro — Sam and Carroll are back in vogue
31/08/12

Des Kelly: Survivors won't care if Lance was cheating during his seven Tour victories
24/08/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

And why did they take to the field Was it to pick daisies, perhaps Or was it to butt and punch one another in a race row It doesn’t say. Nor does the referee’s preliminary report into the events. So well done, the Turkish official. Well done, UEFA. Idiots all.

Then the real blows began to land. Rose was branded a ‘liar’ according to a video on the Serbian FA’s official website. He was described as ‘unsportsmanlike and vulgar’.

Their FA president, Tomislav Karadzic, displaying the diplomatic subtlety of King Kong swiping at passing aircraft, vehemently denied racism was involved despite the monkey impressions ringing out around the stadium.

Racism in Serbia It’s all a pigment of people’s imagination, it seems. ‘The Serbian people have never been, nor will be racist,’ insisted Karadzic.

What, never His namesake Radovan Karadzic is on trial for war crimes in The Hague. The former Bosnian Serb leader is charged with orchestrating the genocide of thousands upon thousands of Muslims in an attempt to establish a state exclusively for Christian Serbs.

During a recent appearance, Radovan Karadzic assured the court he had recently allowed a Muslim barber to cut his hair, so he could not possibly be guilty.

With that line of logic, he should stand for a position on UEFA’s executive committee. It’s all a grotesque and giant leap from monkey noises, obviously, but it indicates underlying issues the Serbian FA simply refuse to acknowledge. For most, xenophobia is a decent score in Scrabble. Sadly, in parts of the former Yugoslavia, it remains a fact of life.

Disgraceful: Danny Rose was sent off after being abused

Disgraceful: Danny Rose was sent off after being abused

But let’s keep it light, eh And UEFA will keep it light. There’ll be some paltry fine imposed on the Serbs and a limp admonishment contained in an official statement.

Nobody attending a match in the country will notice anything different and a contingent of the Serbian crowd will continue to believe that abusing black individuals is just part of the game, or a minor indiscretion at worst. Society is not telling them otherwise.

UEFA excel at being weak. Just look at what happened to Lazio on Thursday The Italian club, with a distinctly chequered record in this area, were fined just 32,500 after their fans racially abused Jermain Defoe and Aaron Lennon at White Hart Lane last month.

But when Nicklas Bendtner wore a pair of green underpants sponsored by a Irish bookmaker he was fined 80,000. So rest assured UEFA do get tough on matters of colour prejudice. They think green is really bad.

Clash: Serbia and England U21 players come together

Clash: Serbia and England U21 players come together

It is all depressingly pathetic, but the rulers of football have spent so many years ignoring the racist abuse hurled about in various European venues that any sudden increase in punishments now is sure to seem tokenistic.

The idea UEFA or FIFA can take a moral lead is laughable. Blatter and Platini would be like a celebrity couple who adopt a Third World baby, call it Sahara ‘to show unity with Africa’s plight’ and then head back to Hollywood on their private jet.

It’s gesture politics. It’s bogus. And, throughout all of the posturing, England’s black players will be expected to continue to put up and shut up, smiling for the cameras as they stand behind a banner bearing a catchy slogan promoting football’s efforts to ‘eradicate racism’.

Plenty has been done. Britain has changed. Football has changed. But the game picks and chooses its targets. The likes of Reading’s Jason Roberts are now telling the game’s authorities where to stick their publicity stunts and T-shirts in protest at the soft four-game ban John Terry received from our FA.

If Roberts doesn’t believe in the merits of a campaign, I don’t see why he has to support it. But Sir Alex Ferguson, a former shop steward, disagrees. The Manchester United manager wondered aloud whether the player might be on a mission to promote himself.

Not a fan: Jason Roberts (right) will not wear a Kick it Out shirt

Not a fan: Jason Roberts (right) will not wear a Kick it Out shirt

‘All the players are wearing the T-shirts,’ said Ferguson. ‘I have only heard Roberts is different. I don’t know if he is trying to put himself on a different pedestal from everyone.

‘When you do something, and everyone believes in it, you should all do it together. There shouldn’t be sheep wandering off.’

Not even if they are the black sheep Surely the trouble is there have been too many sheep over the years Rather than go along with the flock, I’d rather see people wander off the path if they believe it is a shortcut towards change.

And not ‘everyone’ believes in what’s been happening in the game here of late. Roberts has held ferociously passionate objections to the entire Terry case from the moment the video footage surfaced. Wales goalkeeper Jason Brown is also refusing to wear a T-shirt. And Rio and Anton Ferdinand have discussed making similar protests this weekend, a view that may pit them against their own clubs.

Disagree: Sir Alex Ferguson says everyone should wear a shirt

Disagree: Sir Alex Ferguson says everyone should wear a shirt

A Serbian would find it all very confusing. While they are being condemned for racism, the back pages in England decry Chelsea as ‘hypocrites’ for standing by Terry but banning fans for racial abuse. Another headline says black players are being ‘kicked in the teeth’.

Huge advances have been made but the point is we still send a muddled message out to the world. The difference in this country is we can see that, we hear the protests and we’re not blind to the contradictions. We don’t have to put up with monkey business any more.

England are on… pass the Pro Plus

I never use sleeping tablets. Whenever I’m struggling to doze off I rely on the most powerful sedative known to mankind. I watch an England match.

So I’m not sure why the country’s top players should need to take tranquilizers

Under Roy Hodgson, the international team has managed one shot on target in four of his 11 matches.

Even in an age of scientific advancement, it would be difficult to find a more effective cure for insomnia.

Wake up: Roy Hodgson's England have had one shot on target in four of 11 matches

Wake up: Roy Hodgson's England have had one shot on target in four of 11 matches

It actually seems perverse that multi-million pound footballers, aiming to reach the finals of the most prestigious competition in world sport, should prepare for important matches like panicking students trying to complete their dissertation 48 hours before it is due.

This week we found that England’s players dose up on Pro Plus caffeine tablets before games — and then knock themselves out with sleeping tablets afterwards.

This became an issue because it emerged they took tranquilizers the night after their postponed World Cup qualifier in Poland — which explained why they looked as if they were still in their pyjamas when the rescheduled match kicked off the following afternoon.

Whatever justification anybody offers for the pills, it still seems extraordinarily basic. Not so much the product of years of medical research as some tip passed on by an ageing student whose qualifications are an ability to sniff Tippex, sit cross-legged on the floor and recall a dream he once had where two unicorns were kissing.

It’s entirely typical, too. At a time when there is huge speculation that some of the great teams of the European game may have used blood-boosting drugs to increase performance, England’s finest are ‘doping’ on herbal remedies and Red Bull.

Tranquilized: England players took sleeping tablets on Wednesday night

Tranquilized: England players took sleeping tablets on Wednesday night

If they must experiment with drugs, they could at least use proper ones like real champions such as Diego Maradona and Lance Armstrong.

I’m joking, of course. People should not rely on artificial stimulants. Now pass me my coffee. I’m not writing another word until I’ve had a pot of espresso.

Trenton's bird joke

If I were ever going to choose an Indentikit class warrior, he wouldn’t be called Trenton. The name just doesn’t fit in with my definition of a prole.

To be fair, ‘Desmond’ is hardly a moniker you would identify with acts of civil unrest either, but then I’m not the twit that jumped into the Thames to disrupt the Boat Race between Oxbridge and Camford.

Self-styled rebel Trenton Oldfield did because he sees the university contest as ‘elitist’ (someone should explain to him universities tend to be elitist). And, for his trouble, he received a six-month jail term on Friday.

Punished: Trenton Oldfield was found guilty

Punished: Trenton Oldfield was found guilty

Personally, I’d have sentenced him to swimming in front of the boats every year for the entertainment value and in the hope that one of the oars might not only knock some sense into him, but also wipe that smirk off his face.

There is no denying the prison sentence is a joke, however. The length of the punishment Oldfield received actually proves his point.

If he had disrupted a football match, he’d have been flung out the gate and told to make his way home. But because it was posh boys waving their paddles he got six months.

Trenton would have been better off waiting for the rowers to leave their boats and trying to connect with a punch. That way he’d have been given a caution and community service, not six months.

Heather Watson: This is just the start of trophy life

This is just the start of my trophy life, insists Britain's golden girl Watson

|

UPDATED:

21:00 GMT, 16 October 2012


Glory: Heather Watson won the Japan Open

Glory: Heather Watson won the Japan Open

Heather Watson landed back in Britain and quickly insisted that she will win more WTA silverware next year after victory in the Japan Open final.

En route to spending a precious week with her family in Guernsey, the 20-year-old stopped off in London and pledged that there are more titles on the way.

‘I definitely hope so and I would be very disappointed if there aren’t,’ she said. ‘I feel like I could have done this earlier on, I just didn’t focus hard enough.

‘Now that I have learned that, there will be some more in the future.’

She wishes to ensure that she does not get ahead of herself, but made the valid point that there are more chances in the women’s game right now for swift progress as it does not have the same ‘Big Four’ players who have dominated the big titles in recent years in the men’s game.

‘I haven’t set my goals yet for 2013 but I will look at getting in the top 40 before I look at getting in the top four,’ she said. ‘This year I wanted to get to the top 50 and did it in the end. In the men’s game it’s very much that you have your top few players who win week in week out, they always seem to come through.

Eyes on the prizes: Watson says she's not going to settle for just one tour title

Eyes on the prizes: Watson says she's not going to settle for just one tour title

‘In the women’s game it’s different and anyone on their day has their opportunity to win. If you look at Angelique Kerber and Sara Errani, they were ranked around 100 last year and now they are in the top 10.

‘The women’s game has a lot more opportunities for other players.’
Watson reiterated that the presence of fellow Briton Laura Robson will spur her on.

‘We are both very competitive and when one sees the other do well it makes us want to do better, but we can still be friends,’ she said.

British crowds will get a chance to see Watson in action before the end of the year as she will play a mixed doubles match alongside Tim Henman at the Statoil Masters event at the Royal Albert Hall on December 6.

FIFA deny playing World Cup matches in midday heat will put players" health at risk

FIFA deny playing World Cup matches in midday heat will put players' health at risk

|

UPDATED:

17:49 GMT, 28 September 2012

FIFA insist they are not putting
television demands ahead of players' health by having World Cup matches
in Brazil kick-off in the midday heat.

Several matches at the 2014 finals
will start in the early afternoon, some at 1pm, which will suit European
TV audiences who due to the time difference will be able to tune in
during the peak time early evening.

Some of the venues in Brazil, particularly in the tropical north, experience high temperatures during the day.

Work in progress: The Beira Rio Stadium, one of the venues of the 2014 World Cup

Work in progress: The Beira Rio Stadium, one of the venues of the 2014 World Cup

But FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke has launched an outspoken defence.

He told a news conference: 'I can't even imagine why and how you could think we are making decisions thinking about the television and not thinking about the health of the players.

'Whatever we do is never right [for the media]. The match schedule was wrong, the kick-off times are wrong.

'The first thing we need is a good World Cup and to have a good World Cup we must make sure we have the best of football and to have the best of football, we need the best teams and the best game.

'Every decision we make takes into consideration the health of the players.'

Valcke pointed out that the huge distances in Brazil, and local organisers wanting the top teams to move around different parts of the country, made it more difficult.

Brazil nuts: England will face playing in midday heat... if they qualify

Brazil nuts: England will face playing in midday heat… if they qualify

He added: 'We have made a decision to play in all Brazil because that was the request of Brazil.

'You have a country which is not a small country, it is a continent, where it can be two degrees and 26 degrees at the same time on the same day.

'Then you have to take these teams around the country because it was also a decision not to play in just in one region of the country but to travel all around the country to give all Brazilians the chance to enjoy England, Germany, Italy – whoever is qualified from the top teams and have a full picture of the World Cup.'

FIFA president Sepp Blatter added the heat would not be a problem and compared it to past World Cups in Latin America.

He said: 'The history of football has shown that great players can play in all conditions. In Mexico in 1970 and 1986, we played at high noon, at 2,400 metres and the quality of the game did not suffer.

'You know that in difficult conditions, you can stop the game, you can cool down, and have drinks. You will remember 25 years ago, the referees said it was forbidden to drink water during the matches, and now all that has been changed because we want to take care of the health of the players.'

The schedule appears to favour Brazil in terms of kick-off times but Valcke insisted this was just a question of luck.

'The match schedule has not been organised just for Brazil to win this World Cup, but it is true they are lucky and playing in very good conditions,' he said.