Tag Archives: qualification

World Cup Montenegro v England – guide to Montenegro

Meet the men from Montenegro standing in the way of England reaching Brazil 2014

, and the man advantage allowed Montenegro a last minute equalised through Andrija Delibasic.

Brnovic wasn’t able to guide his team through the play-offs, losing 3-0 on aggregate to the Czech Republic, but they’ve been on an eight-match unbeaten run since.

Playing career: Brnovic (right) in action for Yugoslavia in a 2007 match with Switzerland in Basle

Playing career: Brnovic (right) in action for Yugoslavia in a 2007 match with Switzerland in Basle

Enlarge

How it stands: The Group H table entering the game

How it stands: The Group H table entering the game

This included an impressive 1-0 win in Ukraine in the third round of qualifying that ranks among the country’s best results. They have also drawn 2-2 with Poland, stuffed San Marino 6-0 and 3-0, and triumphed 1-0 with 10 men in Moldova the other night.

A midfielder, Brnovic represented Yugoslavia 27 times during his playing career, scoring three goals. In his club career, he represented FK Partizan Belgrade, helping them to back-to-back national championships, and Espanyol in Spain for six seasons between 1994 and 2000.

Those with exceptional memories for this kind of thing may recall that Brnovic played in three matches for Yugoslavia at the 1998 World Cup in France, as they reached the last 16.

Dismissed! Brnovic's first match at the helm was the 2-2 draw with England in October 2011 that saw Wayne Rooney sent off

Dismissed! Brnovic's first match at the helm was the 2-2 draw with England in October 2011 that saw Wayne Rooney sent off

THE PLAYERS

GOALKEEPERS

Mladen Bozovic

Known as ‘Bonja’, experienced 28-year-old goalkeeper Bozovic plays for Hungarian side Videoton and has 30 caps for his county. He has been in good form of late, as Montenegro have kept four consecutive clean sheets in their World Cup qualification campaign.

Vukasin Poleksic

Poleksic would be a complete unknown but for his alleged involvement in a match-fixing scandal involving Liverpool and his club side Debrecen, of Hungary.

In June 2010, Poleksic, who was once linked with a move to Portsmouth in the Premier League, was banned from football for two years for failing to report a telephone call in which a criminal gang offered him money to fix Champions League matches against Fiorentina and Liverpool.

He continued his career at Debrecen, albeit as second choice, after his ban ended and also has 23 caps for Montenegro.

Srdan Blazic

30-year-old third choice with two caps to his name, currently playing for Nea Salamis Famagusta in Cyprus. At one point played in Belgium with Standard Liege and more recently had an ill-fated spell with Anorthosis Famagusta when his poor performance in a Europa League qualifier with Georgian team Dila Gori led to crowd disturbances.

Pleased as punch: Goalkeeper Mladen Bozovic salutes the travelling fans after his crucial saved earned a 0-0 draw at Wembley in October 2010

Pleased as punch: Goalkeeper Mladen Bozovic salutes the travelling fans after his crucial saved earned a 0-0 draw at Wembley in October 2010

DEFENDERS

Milan Jovanovic

Not to be confused with the Serbian striker of the same name who plays for Anderlecht. The Montenegrin Jovanovic, 29, is a defender who joined Red Star Belgrade last summer and has won 33 caps for his country. Prior to this, Jovanovic had played in Austria, Romania and Serbia.

Savo Pavicevic

Like Jovanovic, Pavicevic was a founding member of the Montenegro national team when they played Hungary in March 2007 (having hitherto been known as Serbia and Montenegro). Another nomad, the 32-year-old has played in Serbia, Germany, Greece, Cyprus and, of late, Israel. He was at Maccabi Tel Aviv until November last year, but is presently with cross-city rivals Hapoel.

Vladimir Bozovic

31-year-old left back who is usually on the bench, Bozovic made his 30th appearance for Montenegro in the 1-0 win over Moldova on Friday. After five years with Rapid Bucharest, he recently departed for Russian Premier League newcomers Mordovia Saransk.

Marko Basa

Among the better known Montenegro players, centre-half Basa is a regular for French side Lille and played in five of their six Champions League group matches this season. With their depleted central defence, England will have to be careful of 6’ 3” Basa’s potency from corners and free-kicks.

After an uncertain start when Basa made a habit of not showing up for international duty, he has since become a regular starter and has 23 caps.

Commanding: Centre-back Marko Basa in action for Montenegro against San Marino in an earlier World Cup qualifier

Commanding: Centre-back Marko Basa in action for Montenegro against San Marino in an earlier World Cup qualifier

Miodrag Dzudovic

Best known for being the target of Wayne Rooney’s ire on the last occasion the two sides met, centre-half Dzudovic is a likely starter having been rested in Moldova on Friday night.

The 33-year-old, who plays for Russian Premier League side Spartak Nalchik, claimed over the weekend that he didn’t provoke the England frontman into lashing out and even spoke up for him at the UEFA disciplinary hearing.

‘I did nothing to provoke him. We didn’t say a single word to each other during the match,’ he said.

‘This was his moment of weakness. He is human, it can happen to anyone.’

Stefan Savic

Manchester City fans will remember 22-year-old centre-half Savic, who had a short spell at the club during the 2011-2012 season following a 6m move from Partizan.

Although occasionally solid during his 20 appearances, mistakes meant he was never likely to replace Vincent Kompany as first choice. He conceded the penalty that allowed Liverpool to gain the first leg advantage in the League Cup semi-final and also gifted Jermain Defoe the equaliser in the league match at the Etihad.

Now at Fiorentina, Savic spoke over the weekend of the welcome England will receive in Podgorica: ‘It is always a hostile atmosphere here and we don’t fear anyone. We just need to be focused and I think the result will come.

‘We have played two games against England and got two draws – now I think maybe it is time for a win.’

English connection: Defender Stefan Savic played for Manchester City during the 2011-2012 season

English connection: Defender Stefan Savic played for Manchester City during the 2011-2012 season

Vladimir Volkov

Left-back who is a relative newcomer to the Montenegrin set-up, Volkov has played for no less than five Belgrade-based teams. Possessing dual Serbian and Montenegrin citizenship, the 26-year-old opted for the latter after Serbia ‘showed no interest’ in him. Nonetheless, he has spent most of his life playing and living in the Serbian capital Belgrade.

Blazo Igumanovic

Defender with one cap to his credit, Igumanovic plays for the Montenegrin side Rudar Pljevlja, who finished second in the national league last season.

Ivan Kecojevic

Recent graduate from the Under 21 set-up, defender Kecojevic also has one cap to his name and plays his football in Turkey for Gaziantepspor.

MIDFIELDERS

Simon Vukcevic

One of the most experienced players in the squad, Vukcevic may be remembered by English fans for his two years at Blackburn Rovers. Despite a dire and ultimately unsuccessful battle against relegation from the top flight, Vukcevic found first team opportunities limited last season following a 3m move from Sporting Lisbon.

He was given a ticket out of Ewood Park on January transfer deadline day this year and has wound up at Ukrainian side Karpaty Lviv, where he seems likely to see more games.

In and around the senior international set-up for nearly a decade, Vukcevic has 41 caps and two goals for Montenegro and five for Serbia and Montenegro before that.

Slide: Simon Vukcevic, the former Blackburn player, tries to win the ball from Ashley Cole

Slide: Simon Vukcevic, the former Blackburn player, tries to win the ball from Ashley Cole

Elsad Zverotic

Zverotic scored one of his three international goals against England in that 2-2 draw in November 2011, one of three in his five years with the national team. The 26-year-old right-sided player plays for Young Boys in Switzerland and scored a memorable late equaliser against Liverpool at Anfield in the Europa League group stage this season.

Milorad Pekovic

Veteran midfielder who has carved out a career in Germany, initially with Eintracht Trier and Mainz, and latterly with Bundesliga strugglers Greuther Furth. Has 31 caps for Montenegro.

Mitar Novakovic

Defensive midfield player who often comes on from the bench, Novakovic has played for Russian team Amkar Perm for five years and has 21 caps for his country.

Milos Krkotic

25-year-old player for Dacia Chisinau in Moldova, Krkotic was on the bench in his adopted homeland the other evening, but didn’t come on for a first cap.

Celebration: Elsad Zverotic (left), Stefan Savic (centre) and Vladimir Bozovic mark the 1-0 win over Moldova on Friday

Celebration: Elsad Zverotic (left), Stefan Savic (centre) and Vladimir Bozovic mark the 1-0 win over Moldova on Friday

STRIKERS

Mirko Vucinic

The closest Montenegro have to a household name, Juventus striker Vucinic once had his creative flair likened to Vincent Van Gogh by a Serie A coach. Brilliant and infuriating in equal measure, England will be hoping it’s the less inspired Vucinic that turns up on Tuesday night.

He’s in decent form though – a fortnight ago, he was combining with Juve midfielder Claudio Marchisio to score a lovely goal against Bologna, and on Friday he won a tricky match in Moldova when his side were down to 10 men.

Former Juventus legend Pavel Nedved sums the 29-year-old up neatly: ‘I love watching him play because he is a genius, a total genius. He can be infuriating with the way he disappears from games.

‘There are times when he is almost invisible and it drives you mad. But then he’ll do something amazing that lifts you out of your seat and you love him for it.’

Chris Smalling and Joleon Lescott, you have been warned…

Mad: Vucinic celebrates in his pants after scoring a goal for Montenegro against Switzerland

Mad: Vucinic celebrates in his pants after scoring a goal for Montenegro against Switzerland

Born in the city of Niksic, Vucinic was talent spotted and transferred to Italian side Lecce in 2000, consistently scoring 20 or more goals in a season as they swapped between Serie A and B.

He then switched to Roma in 2006, scoring 64 goals in 202 matches for the club in his five seasons there. Juventus bought him for around 12m in 2011 and Vucinic won the title in his first season.

Averaging a goal every two games for Montenegro, Vucinic has been performing his national duty in winding up Wayne Rooney during the build-up.

Good record: Vucinic has 14 goals in 30 international appearances

Good record: Vucinic has 14 goals in 30 international appearances

‘There is no doubt that Wayne Rooney is one of the best strikers in the world, but we know from the last time England played here that he can sometimes play with a hot head,’ he said.

‘Our fans will not forget the red card he received and I am sure they will let him know. It is an intimidating place to come and if England want to have any chance then Rooney will need to keep a calm head.

‘He is a good player but it has been proved over the years that you can get a reaction out of him. England would have no chance with 10 men and I’m sure their coach will be telling them that.’

Stevan Jovetic

Linked at the moment with Arsenal and Manchester City, the other half of Montenegro’s deadly attack is Fiorentina’s curly-haired Jovetic.

Jovetic, 23, is on record as saying that the Premier League is ‘the top of the football world’ and Tuesday’s match against England will be something of an audition for him.

Heaven sent: Stevan Jovetic celebrates a goal for Fiorentina against Bologna this season

Heaven sent: Stevan Jovetic celebrates a goal for Fiorentina against Bologna this season

So far, he has 12 goals for his club this season, including a brace against Inter Milan last month. He also has 10 in 21 games for Montenegro since making his debut in that inaugural match against Hungary in 2007.

Andrija Delibasic

Scorer of the last minute equaliser the last time these sides met, Delibasic plays for Rayo Vallecano in Spain, for whom he has four league goals this season. He filed his boots against San Marino earlier in the qualifying campaign, with four in two matches, but is likely to be on the bench against England.

Mental: The scenes after Montenegro scored their equaliser against England in the Euro 2012 qualifier in October 2011

Mental: The scenes after Montenegro scored their equaliser against England in the Euro 2012 qualifier in October 2011

Fatos Beqiraj

Back-up striker who plays in Croatia for Dinamo Zagreb. Last season, Beqiraj was top scorer in the Croatian top flight with 15 goals in 28 appearances, becoming the first foreigner to achieve that feat. The 24-year-old has won 18 caps and scored three times for his country.

Dejan Damjanovic

A long trip home for Damjanovic, who plays out in Korea for FC Seoul. He’s a prolific scorer in the K-League, with 94 goals in 146 appearances over the last five years. Scored the winner in the earlier World Cup qualification match against Ukraine, one of three strikes for Montenegro.

Filip Kasalica

Favoured in Moldova alongside Vucinic and Jovetic, Red Star frontman Kasalica, 24, is a fairly recent graduate from the Under 21 team and has only five caps to his credit so far. Scored his only goal to date in the 2-0 friendly win over Latvia before the start of the qualification campaign.

Chosen men: The Montenegro line-up

Chosen men: The Montenegro line-up

ENGLAND NEED TO WIN THE AERIAL DUELS

With England's first-choice central defensive partnership unavailable, Roy Hodgson will be nervous about our chances of winning the aerial battles.

Montenegro are a team packed with six foot plus players and, unsurprisingly, top the World Cup ranking for headers won.

England, by contrast, are 35th in the same ranking, having won just 46 per cent of their aerial contests.

Cautionary tale: Andrija Delibasic scored with an equaliser the last time the sides met

Cautionary tale: Andrija Delibasic scored with an equaliser the last time the sides met

Watch the skies: Aerial duel statistics from the current World Cup qualifying campaign

Watch the skies: Aerial duel statistics from the current World Cup qualifying campaign. Source: Opta

Montenegro's fearsome defenders will take some beating in the air – Marko Basa is 6' 3″, Miodrag Dzudovic is 6' 5″ and Stefan Savic is 6' 2″ – and so Wayne Rooney and Jermain Defoe need service in to feet.

If they manage to work a shooting opportunity, first choice goalkeeper Mladen Bozovic is 6' 5″.

Up front, in addition to their myriad other qualities, Vucinic (6' 1″) and Jovetic (6' 1″) will give Chris Smalling and Joleon Lescott an uncomfortable time from crosses.

Corners are a concern too, with three of Montenegro's goals in the qualifying campaign coming from them.

Set piece danger: The statistics on corner conversion from the current World Cup qualifying campaign. Source: Opta

Set piece danger: The statistics on corner conversion from the current World Cup qualifying campaign. Source: Opta

PODGORICA CITY STADIUM

Despite only being about the size of Southend United's Roots Hall ground, England will face a hostile reception at the Podgorica City Stadium.

Holding 12,000 spectators, the home of FK Buducnost Podgorica was scene of the 2-2 draw between the sides in November 2011, when home fans raised the atmosphere, Wayne Rooney was sent off and England let slip a two-goal lead.

Compact: The 12,000-capacity Podgorica Stadium which will host the match on Tuesday

Compact: The 12,000-capacity Podgorica Stadium which will host the match on Tuesday

Rustic: One of the turnstiles at the stadium, where about 1,300 England fans will be in attendance

Rustic: One of the turnstiles at the stadium, where about 1,300 England fans will be in attendance

There were chaotic scenes at the end, too, as home fans poured onto the pitch to confront the 1,100 travelling England contingent.

'At our home nobody takes points off us easily. Who knows what might happen if the weather is not good and the pitch will not be in perfect shape It could help us,' said Dejan Damjanovic.

Hostile: Home fans celebrate on the pitch and goad England supporters after the 2-2 draw in 2011

Hostile: Home fans celebrate on the pitch and goad England supporters after the 2-2 draw in 2011

PREVIOUS MEETINGS

Aside from that 2-2 draw already alluded to, the only previous meeting between England and Montenegro in their current guise was a drab 0-0 draw at Wembley earlier in the same Euro 2012 qualifying campaign.

Fabio Capello's side dominated possession in the October 2010 encounter but Wayne Rooney was subdued and was denied by goalkeeper Mladen Bozovic from snatching all three point at the end.

Montenegro's Milan Jovanovic struck the crossbar from long range with only seven minutes left.

Denied: Kevin Davies, a sub, tries to turn the ball home under pressure from Marko Basa and goalkeeper Mladen Bozovic in the 0-0 draw at Wembley in October 2010

Denied: Kevin Davies, a sub, tries to turn the ball home under pressure from Marko Basa and goalkeeper Mladen Bozovic in the 0-0 draw at Wembley in October 2010

Dejection: England trudge off after the drab goalless draw in the Euro 2012 qualifier

Dejection: England trudge off after the drab goalless draw in the Euro 2012 qualifier

The line-ups that night:

England: Hart, Glen Johnson, Ferdinand, Lescott, Ashley Cole, Adam Johnson, Gerrard, Barry, Young (Wright-Phillips 74), Rooney, Crouch (Davies 69)

Montenegro: Mladen Bozovic, Basa, Jovanovic, Djudovic, Savic, Vukcevic, Zverotic, Boskovic (Beciraj 82), Novakovic (Kascelan 62), Pekovic, Djalovic (Delibasic 77)

England played Serbia and Montenegro once, a 2-1 win in a friendly at the Walkers Stadium in Leicester in June 2003 in which Steven Gerrard and Joe Cole scored.

MONTENEGRO'S REMAINING FIXTURES

June 7 Ukraine (H) September 6 Poland (A) October 11 England (A) October 15 Moldova (H)

Dwain Chambers stormed off the track after a poor showing at the European Indoor Championships

Chambers storms off the track after failing to qualify from European indoor heats

By
Laura Williamson

PUBLISHED:

17:07 GMT, 1 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

18:22 GMT, 1 March 2013

Dwain Chambers stormed off the track in anger after being eliminated in the first round of the men’s 60 metres at the European Indoor Championships this afternoon.

The 34-year-old, who won gold in this event in 2009 and a silver medal two years ago, missed out on automatic qualification after coming fifth in his heat.

Chambers’ time of 6.78 seconds – two tenths of a second down on his season’s best – was not enough to guarantee him a place in Saturday's semi-finals as a fastest loser.

Frustration: Dwain Chambers threw off his vest after failing to qualify for the final of the European Indoor Championships

Frustration: Dwain Chambers threw off his vest after failing to qualify for the final of the European Indoor Championships

The European indoor record-holder, who served a two-year ban after testing positive for the anabolic steroid THG in 2003, threw his British vest to the floor in frustration and ignored all interview requests as he left the Scandinavium Arena.

Chambers missed the UK trials in Sheffield to protect a back injury and looked out of sorts at the British Athletics Grand Prix in Birmingham three weeks ago, when he finished fifth.

But the 2010 world indoor champion, who said earlier this year he finally feels ‘part of the team again’ after spending half his time training with UK Athletics’ sprint coach Rana Reider at Loughborough University, had insisted he would not compete in Gothenburg if he was not fully fit.

Speaking after his frustration had subsided, Chambers said: 'The performance was not what I expected and I can only express my disappointment because a lot of time and effort was put into me getting to these championships, and I want to apologise to the people whose time I feel I have wasted.

Out of sorts: Chambers, who has won a silver and gold at the last two championships, struggled to a time 6.78s, not enough to see him go through as a fastest loser

Out of sorts: Chambers, who has won a silver and gold at the last two championships, struggled to a time 6.78s, not enough to see him go through as a fastest loser

'I came here with all the intention
to do well and fight for a medal, which is always what I have been
renowned for doing, but the injury obviously took more out of me than I
had anticipated. So with that I'm really disappointed and feel bad for
letting people down.

'There was no pain. I think what
happened is that I spent all my time getting ready to get on the plane
injury free and I didn't prioritise my time to prepare for the
championships.

'I thought I was going to be all
right, but that was the wrong mind process I'd put myself into – I just
wasn't ready. I'm disappointed that I've let people down.

'In situations like these where you
want to do well, you expect to do well and people expect you to do
well…it hurts. I know what I'm capable of doing and it is
disappointing that I am not able to do that today.

'Now I'm just going to cheer on the rest of the team.'

James Dasaolu, however, cruised through
his heat to post the third-fastest qualification time, easing off before
the line to finish second behind Michael Tumi of Italy in 6.62 seconds.
Harry Aikines-Aryeetey also reached tomorrow’s semi-finals with a
season’s best of 6.65 seconds.

No such problems: Fellow Brit James Dasaolu (centre) made it through to the semi-final

No such problems: Fellow Brit James Dasaolu (centre) made it through to the semi-final

Harry Aikines-Aryeetey said: ‘It's a
seasons best – another good run and we'll take it lower, that's the aim.
It’s another opportunity and I think I've been quite lucky indoors. We
haven't really focused on it, so I've done some speed work over the last
few weeks.

‘Dwain and I
have been training together which has really helped. I'm just going to
take each round as it comes. I'm in a GB vest, so it's not about my
personal gain, it's about representing the country and showing what
we've got.

‘I stumbled out of the blocks a bit, so hopefully in the next round I'll go even better.’

James Dasaolu said: ‘I'm really happy, I wanted to qualify as easily as possible. I don't feel like I've exerted too much energy and I think that's what it's all about – using as little energy as possible. I've run a PB in pretty much every race, so I'm in good shape.

‘In the next round I'm going to be more aggressive and run through the line. It wasn't the quickest of fields, so I knew I didn't have to hammer the start, it was just about getting through.’

Gordon Strachan unveiled as Scotland manager

Strachan ends 40-year wait to be Scotland boss with promise to 'make the nation proud'

PUBLISHED:

12:41 GMT, 15 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

13:08 GMT, 15 January 2013

Gordon Strachan admitted being appointed the Scotland manager was the culmination of a personal project '40 years in the making'.

The former Celtic, Southampton, Coventry and Middlesbrough boss replaces Craig Levein, who was sacked in November, as the Scottish Football Association confirmed his appointment at Hampden.

He told Sky Sports News: 'I am very very proud in myself and my family are proud I've become Scotland manager.

New start: Gordon Strachan has been unveiled as the new Scotland manager

New start: Gordon Strachan has been unveiled as the new Scotland manager

Appointment: Strachan was introduced to the press by SFA President Campbell Ogilvie and Chief Executive Stewart Regan at Hampden Park today

Appointment: Strachan was introduced to the press by SFA President Campbell Ogilvie and Chief Executive Stewart Regan at Hampden Park today

All smiles: Strachan poses with a Scotland shirt in front of a bank of photographers on the Hampden pitch

All smiles: Strachan poses with a Scotland shirt in front of a bank of photographers on the Hampden pitch

'It's a great day for me to do this and it's been 40 years in the making.

'There'll be rough times but I know there'll be good times too.'

Strachan, whose contract runs up until Euro 2016, stated his desire to make Scotland a proud footballing country once more.

He said: 'Every club you go to there's always challenges but this is the first time the challenges are in front of a nation.

'If you can be successful you can make
a nation happy and make a nation proud and that is the priority for me
to be able to do that with help from other people.'

Dismal: Scotland have endured a shocking start to their World Cup qualification campaign

Dismal: Scotland have endured a shocking start to their World Cup qualification campaign

Strachan, who has been out of a
manager's job since leaving Middlesbrough in 2010, claimed it was the
perfect time to step into the role.

'You're always interested as long as
someone asks you But I think that time is right now because I've had
that European experience,' he added.

'I've had to deal with players and I've also had a couple of years where I can look at national football.

'The time is right for me to be able
to take a job like this. I have the experience, I like working with
people, I like dealing with people and I like trying to make people
better.'

Elation: Vincent Kompany (bottom) celebrates with his team-mates after scoring against Criag Levein's side

Elation: Vincent Kompany (bottom) celebrates with his team-mates after scoring against Criag Levein's side

Strachan also stated his desire to
make the fans proud as well as reach the finals of either the World Cup
or the European Championship.

Scotland have not qualified for the finals of a major tournament since reaching the 1998 World Cup in France.

'To progress with the squad. I really
want the squad and the staff to give something back to the country and
the fans who support us because the fans are probably more famous than
the squad now,' Strachan added.

'So what we want to try and do is to give back something and make them turn up for a major finals competition.

'Through my TV work I've been to these
competitions and the Irish have kind of stepped up for a while so
hopefully the Irish and the Scottish can get together for one major and
it'll be one hell of a party.'

Asked if he had a message for the fans, Strachan responded: 'Keep doing what you're doing because the support is fantastic.'

Seasoned: Strachan appeared a number of times for his country during his playing career

Seasoned: Strachan appeared a number of times for his country during his playing career

Out: The post has been vacant since the sacking of manager Craig Levein last year

Out: The post has been vacant since the sacking of manager Craig Levein last year

Scotland have picked up just two points in their bid to qualify for the World Cup in Brazil, but Strachan rejected the suggestion that a top-two spot is out of his players' reach.

'If we work together as a group and a set of fans I know for a fact we'll be successful,' he added.

'I can't ask for anything more than we're doing at the moment.

'We're going to use the games to try and win. My philosophy is to win games of football, like Manchester United.

'We still have to collect as many points as we can and it's disrespectful to say we'll use the games just to improve.

'We'll give it a go.

'What I know is that these guys, for all they might get criticised, are the best at what they do.

'They play for Scotland and we have to find a system that suits these players to win games of football.'

Strachan also denied the national coach's role is a poisoned chalice, adding: 'I think it's a great job.

'At this time in my life I can deal with this. All my experiences have prepared me for this moment.'

The ex-midfielder laughed off suggestions the Scotland job was the best opportunity made available to him since his departure from Middlesbrough.

'I'm not saying that no,' he added. 'I'm just saying it was a job I wanted to do.

'For a Scotsman, it's a fantastic thing. I played for Scotland then started coaching and thought 'I want to be Scotland manager some day'.

'You don't get easy jobs but the important thing is to make people happy by winning games of football.

'The more successful I am I look around and the more people there are around me.

'Together, we'll look to do something.'

Warrior: Gordon Strachan in action for Scotland in 1992

vWarrior: Gordon Strachan in action for Scotland in 1992

When asked if Levein's previous selection would require a significant overhaul to boost Scotland's performances in Group A, Strachan referred to his failed experiment at club level.

'I made that mistake when I went to Middlesbrough,' he added. 'I really should have used the players that were there and used a system for them.

'So I'm going to get a system that suits these players and over the years, through Mark (Wotte) and Billy (Stark), we'll find a style that works.'

Scotland next face Wales, and then Serbia, but Strachan would not be drawn on any tactical switch for the March double header.

He added: 'The standard of football around Europe has improved dramatically in that time so it's not a question that I can answer just now.

'In the immediate future we have to find a system that suits the squad here.

'The last couple of games could have gone either way. The Wales game could have fine well gone to Scotland so we're not far away.'

Meeting of minds: Strachan as a player under manager Jock Stein at the 1982 World Cup

Meeting of minds: Strachan as a player under manager Jock Stein at the 1982 World Cup

Strachan revealed making an approach to an as yet unnamed colleague with a view to hiring an assistant at Hampden.

'I've spoken to one person and there's no doubt that they would like to take it on but this is before everything was settled,' he added. 'You'll know him.'

Strachan's most successful spell as a club manager was arguably his four-year spell with Celtic, a period which saw the Hoops claim three consecutive Premier League titles, and the national boss hopes his new charges can replicate his old club's recent performances.

He added: 'It shows that we can go up against teams with bigger names – individually better players at huge clubs – and you can beat them with a group that all want to go in the right direction.

'Celtic got a result against Barcelona this year because they played to their strengths, and the same at Spartak Moscow.'

THE LIFE AND TIMES OF GORDON STRACHAN

1957: Born February 9, Edinburgh.
1974: Signs for Dundee. Plays 60 league matches, scoring 13 goals.
1977: Joins Aberdeen for 50,000. Plays 187 matches, scoring 55 times.
1980: Wins Scottish league championship medal and first of 50 Scotland caps against Northern Ireland. Named Scottish Footballer of the Year.
1982: Collects Scottish Cup winners' medal.
1983: Achieves second Scottish Cup success, followed by European Cup Winners' Cup medal.

European champs: Strachan (third right) waits to get his hands on the Cup Winners' Cup after Aberdeen beat Real Madrid in the 1983 final

European champs: Strachan (third right) waits to get his hands on the Cup Winners' Cup after Aberdeen beat Real Madrid in the 1983 final

1984: Wins Scottish league and cup double. Manchester United sign him for 500,000 in August. Stays at Old Trafford for five years, playing 160 league matches and scoring 33 goals.
1985: Only trophy success with United, taking FA Cup.
1989: Joins Second Division Leeds in March for 300,000.
1990: Captains club to Second Division title.
1991: Named Football Writers' Association Player of the Year.
1992: Leads Howard Wilkinson's side to a first league championship in 18 years. Wins final international cap against Finland.
1993: Awarded OBE.
1994: Plays last match for Leeds, a 2-0 home defeat by Liverpool on December 31.
1995: Announces his retirement from Premier League football in January but continues to play regularly for Leeds' reserve team. Two months later joins Ron Atkinson at Coventry as assistant.

Playing days: Strachan in action for Leeds United in 1993

Playing days: Strachan in action for Leeds United in 1993

1996: Takes over as Coventry manager as Atkinson stepped down.
1997: Coventry survive relegation on the final day of the Premier League season with victory at Tottenham.
2001: May – Coventry lose at Aston Villa and relinquish their Premier League status after 34 consecutive years in the top flight.
September 8 – City lose 1-0 at home to Grimsby, sparking chants of “Strachan out”. A handful of fans have to be restrained by police as they attempt to confront the manager.
September 10 – Strachan leaves Coventry by mutual consent.
October 22 – Appointed Southampton boss.
2003: May 17 – Southampton lose 1-0 to Arsenal in the FA Cup final but qualify for Europe for the first time in 19 years.
October 15 – A 1-0 defeat in Romania against Steaua Bucharest, following a 1-1 home draw, sees Saints crash out of Europe at the first hurdle.
2004: January 9 – Confirms he will not to extend his contract with Southampton beyond the end of the season for personal reasons.
February 13 – Steps down as Southampton manager.
September 9 – Rules himself out of contention to manage Scotland.
December 19 – Turns down the opportunity to become boss of Portsmouth.
2005: May 25 – Named Celtic manager on a 12-month rolling contract.
July 27 – Celtic thumped 5-0 by Artmedia Bratislava in Strachan's first match in charge to crash out of the Champions League at the qualifying stage.
December 15: Signs Roy Keane after release by Manchester United.
2006: March 19 – Lifts first trophy as Celtic manager with victory over Dunfermline in the Scottish League Cup final.
April 5 – Celtic clinch Scottish Premier League title with victory over Hearts.
November 11 – Leads Celtic into Champions League knockout stages for the first time after 1-0 victory over Manchester United.
2007: March 7 – Celtic knocked out of the Champions League at the last-16 stage by AC Milan.
April 22 – Celtic clinch SPL title with a 2-1 win at Kilmarnock. Strachan is named Manager of the Year.
May 2 – Named Manager of the Year by the Scottish Football Writers' Association.
May 26 – Celtic win Scottish Cup, beating Dunfermline 1-0.

Glory Days: Strachan with the SPL and Scottish Cup trophies at Celtic in May 2007

Glory Days: Strachan with the SPL and Scottish Cup trophies at Celtic in May 2007

October 3 – Celtic snatch a last-gasp 2-1 win over European champions AC Milan at Parkhead.
November 28 – Celtic reach knockout stage of Champions League despite losing final group game in Milan.
2008: February 20 – Celtic go out of Champions League to Barcelona.
May 22 – Strachan becomes only the third Celtic manager to win a hat-trick of Scottish championships.
November 25 – Celtic suffer shock 2-1 defeat at Aalborg to crash out of the Champions League and Europe altogether.
December 13 – Strachan has dressing-room bust-up with midfielder Aiden McGeady after 1-1 SPL draw with Hearts. McGeady is fined two weeks' wages and suspended for two matches.
2009: March 7 – Celtic suffer surprise 1-0 Scottish Cup quarter-final defeat at St Mirren.
March 15 – Celtic beat Rangers 2-0 at Hampden in the first Old Firm cup final for six years to lift the Scottish League Cup.
May 3 – Strachan named SPFA Manager of the Year.
May 24 – Celtic are held 0-0 by Hearts as Rangers win the SPL title by four points on the final day of the season. Celtic had been eight points clear earlier in the year. He resigned a day later.
October 26 – Signed a four-year deal to manage Middlesbrough.
2010: October 18 – Voluntarily tears up his contract and resigns after a run of poor form.
2013: January 15 – Appointed manager of the Scotland national team.

Dan Carter: It"s top secret

It's top secret: All Blacks No 10 Carter talks about his love of beds and basketball player Michael Jordan

|

UPDATED:

22:30 GMT, 30 November 2012

Who is your Sporting hero

I loved watching Michael Jordan when he was with the Chicago Bulls and winning games for them by himself.

In rugby, I grew up admiring All Blacks John Kirwan and Andrew Mehrtens, I was really lucky to get to play with Andrew.

Hero: Dan Carter has always been a fan of Michael Jordan

Hero: Dan Carter has always been a fan of Michael Jordan

What would you be if you weren't a sportsman

I was on my way to a proper fitness instructor qualification before rugby took over.

My dad is a builder and I did some work as a labourer for a time, so I might have gone into something like that.

Career highlight

My Test debut for the All Blacks, in 2003 against Wales in Hamilton.

It was always my dream to put on the jersey.

… and the worst moment

Getting injured during the last World Cup.

The timing and severity of it was a real blow that I found pretty tough to handle.

If your house was burning down, what one possession would you save

I know it would be physically impossible because it is so heavy, but it would be my bed.

Because I am away so much in hotels, I really love just being in my own bed. In fact, I love sleeping in general.

Flair player: Dan Carter will hope to leave England's hopes of salvaging the Test series in tatters

Flair player: Dan Carter will hope to leave England's hopes of salvaging the Test series in tatters

What's your top TV show

I've enjoyed the last few series of Entourage, about a young movie star surrounded by his friends from home.

Favourite song

Right now, the one that I am most into is Rudimental's Feel the Love.

Last film you saw

I am not a big film watcher and about the only time I get to see them is on aeroplanes. Even then, I don't always watch them.

The last one might have been with Cameron Diaz about lots of people being pregnant (What To Expect When You're Expecting).

We're expecting our first child so the subject is of interest.

Which three people would you invite to your dream dinner party

Michael Jordan was my sporting hero and I have never met him, so it would be good to find out what he is like and talk sport with him.

Barack Obama would be a good guest, to find out what is really going in the world.

I have always been an admirer of Elle Macpherson: she would be very easy on the eye around the table.

Admirer: Carter is also a fan of model Elle Macpherson

Admirer: Carter is also a fan of model Elle Macpherson

Can you cook Best dish

I can make a proper lasagne, although I suppose that isn't too difficult. I'm quite proud of my cheese sauce.

Your favourite holiday destination

The W Retreat in the Maldives, which was beautiful.

The clear blue waters of the sea are the thing I remember most.

In a film of your life, who would you like to play you

Brad Pitt is an awesome actor, so I would like it to be him. It's amazing what they can do with make-up these days.

Tell us a secret… I've got a real fear of snakes.

We don't have many of them in New Zealand, thankfully, but when I'm in South Africa I am wary of them.

If I'm playing golf there and hit the ball into the rough, I leave it out of fear of what I might find.

Poland v England: Roy Hodgson acid test: MATT LAWTON

Acid test: Minnows were devoured, now Roy's boys have bigger fish to fry

|

UPDATED:

22:31 GMT, 15 October 2012

The lights went out on Sir Alf Ramsey’s reign as England manager after playing Poland and on Monday night here the lights went out briefly on Roy Hodgson.

It was an electrical fault rather than the fault of England’s footballers, the interview room inside the national stadium suddenly descending into darkness. But it did add, briefly, to the sense of drama ahead of a hugely important World Cup qualifier and it also led neatly into a question about England’s past and those dark days in 1973.

All smiles: Hodgson and Gerrard share a joke at the pre-match press conference on Monday

All smiles: Roy Hodgson and Steven Gerrard share a joke at the pre-match press conference on Monday

After demonstrating his ‘anorak’
knowledge and rattling off a few Polish names involved in those two
matches 39 years ago, Hodgson gave a rather nice response.

‘A knowledge of history might give you a sense of perspective but it doesn’t help you win a football match,’ he said.

He’s right, of course, because here
he needs help of a different kind. On Tuesday he needs the players he
selects to help him firmly establish himself as England manager by
securing a victory that will enable him to seize control of a
potentially problematic qualification group.

This is Hodgson’s 11th match in
charge, and the time has arrived for him to prove that he can organise
11 Englishmen to win a match of this significance.

A match that could propel England
that much closer to the World Cup in Brazil and send the manager into
next year optimistic about the future.

Judging by training here on Monday
night, he is leaning towards more experienced players even if he did
talk of ‘a balance between youth and experience’. He does seem to have
changes in mind, and not just the obvious ones like Ashley Cole and
Joleon Lescott.

Warming up: Steven Gerrard leads the England squad in training at the National Stadium in Warsaw on Monday

Warming up: Gerrard leads the England squad in training at the National Stadium in Warsaw on Monday

Warming up: The England squad in training at the National Stadium in Warsaw on Monday

THREE KEY CLASHES

MARCIN WASILEWSKI v WAYNE ROONEY
Few players are as strong as Rooney but Poland’s giant, heavily tattooed centre half will be out to impose his physical presence on the Manchester United star. It will be a major test of whether Rooney really has learned to control his temper.

GRZEGORZ KRYCHOWIAK v STEVEN GERRARD
The surging runs of England’s captain will be a key weapon but first he’s got to shake off the attention of Stade de Reims star Krychowiak. The 22-year-old is building a reputation at his French club as a tough and industrious midfielder. He has also shone at centre half when needed.

ROBERT LEWANDOWSKI v PHIL JAGIELKA
Everton’s centre half has waited a long time to be more than a bit-part player for England — but couldn’t have a tougher chance to prove himself. Polish hopes rest on the Dortmund striker and Bundesliga player of the year last season. Jagielka faces a step up in class to deal with his pace and movement.

Matt Barlow

If the small-sided games they were
playing on Monday night point to what Hodgson has in mind for the Poles,
the fact that Jermain Defoe spent more time than Danny Welbeck
alongside Wayne Rooney, and Michael Carrick played a more central role
than Tom Cleverley, would suggest England’s manager is taking a fairly
pragmatic approach to the game.

It will be harsh on Welbeck if he is
dropped but what Hodgson has created is a system that works for these
England players and the fact Rooney remains in that supporting role to
the main striker is a plus, whatever Gary Neville might feel about the
26-year-old’s career.

Hodgson said he was satisfied with
the progress the team has made under his guidance and as a result felt
confident they were equipped for the challenge that this evening
represents.

‘We’re trying to get there,’ he said.
‘We’re on our way. Since the Euros, the Italy game was quite positive,
Moldova was a good performance.

That has been put into perspective by
the draw at home to Ukraine. But I’m pretty satisfied that we’re trying
to sing off the same hymn sheet.

But after 10 or 11 games, it would be
foolish to suggest we’re the finished article. Of course we’re not.
We’re working. Every time we get to work together, I get the feeling
we’re getting stronger.’

Who's playing England manager Roy Hodgson talks as Jermain Defoe and Danny Welbeck look on

Who's playing England manager Hodgson talks as Jermain Defoe and Danny Welbeck look on

Guess who: Wayne Rooney is set to find out his playing partner up front against Poland on Tuesday night

Guess who: Wayne Rooney is set to find out his playing partner up front against Poland on Tuesday night

CARROLL IS A BUM NOTE

Andy Carroll arrived in Warsaw to be cut down to size by Polish legend Zbigniew Boniek, who said his eight-year-old grandson was more mobile than England’s most expensive footballer.

‘My grandson Mateo moves better on the pitch than Carroll,’ said Boniek. ‘He has better co-ordination and he is very good at golf and tennis.’

Hodgson was less happy to accept that
this match is some kind of judgement day; a ‘must-win game’; a
‘watershed moment’. ‘It seems every match as an international manager is
a watershed moment,’ he said a little dismissively.

‘I don’t really know what that is.
It’s an important moment. But it’s a game of football, a game we’ve
worked hard to prepare for and a game, if we win, can give us a very
good start to our qualifying campaign.

‘But after 36 years the words “must
win” leave me rather cold. Most teams go on the field wanting to win. I
don’t know how you achieve a “must win” other than going out to try and
play.

‘People judge you when they want.
People will always have opinions about how the team have played, or the
way you’ve set it out.

'I’m more than happy with the
response I’ve had from the players so far. They’ve committed 100 per
cent to what we’re trying to do. It’s for others to decide whether
that’s good enough. But I’m fully aware that, when the defeats come, the
criticism will be levelled against me and the team.’

Leading by example: Gerrard is poised to captain England again after missing the San Marino game through suspension

Leading by example: Gerrard is poised to captain England again after missing the San Marino game through suspension

Hodgson has done OK so far. The
performance against Ukraine was disappointing and the quarter-final
encounter with Italy at Euro 2012 exposed the usual deficiencies in the
national team. But he does have a strategy and he does remain unbeaten
in 90 minutes in the 10 games he has contested.

The Polish will pose problems despite
Jakub Blaszczykowski’s absence with injury. As Hodgson was quick to
acknowledge, with players like Robert Lewandowski they could be a threat
to England’s World Cup ambitions.

Hodgson spoke of the ‘responsibility’
both he and his captain, Steven Gerrard, shoulder tonight. Gerrard
spoke of his pride in joining Ashley Cole in winning their 99th caps.

Focused: Ashley Cole in training following the revelation he has refused to sign a new deal at Chelsea

Focused: Ashley Cole in training following the revelation he has refused to sign a new deal at Chelsea

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

Danny Welbeck

All white on the night: Oxlade-Chamberlain and Welbeck both scored in the win over San Marino on Friday night

At the back of the room, David
Bernstein, the FA chairman, listened intently. So did Adrian
Bevington, the managing director of Club England.

It all added to the sense of occasion, the sense of importance, and the sense that England need to improve.

The defensive frailties that were
apparent against Ukraine have to be eradicated. For that reason it could
be an important contest for Carrick, as well as the back four.

But there also has to be more fluency and finesse, and more of a killer finish in England’s forwards.

‘Historical moments don’t really
interest me,’ said Hodgson last night. ‘I don’t ever dismiss history,
but it’s about what we’re trying to build. It’s about working for today
and tomorrow.’

Today needs to go well so that tomorrow is not half as uncomfortable as it was for Ramsey. The smart money says it will do.

Poland v England - all you need to know

World Cup qualifying round-up: Kevin de Bruyne, Kevin Mirallas and Christian Benteke seal win for Belgium

Qualifying round-up: Belgians top their group, as Italy and Sweden edge wins

PUBLISHED:

22:11 GMT, 12 October 2012

|

UPDATED:

22:14 GMT, 12 October 2012

Wales and Scotland's hopes of World Cup qualification remain bleak as Belgium and Croatia both earned crucial wins in Group A.

Goals from Christian Benteke, Kevin de Bruyne and Kevin Mirallas gave Belgium a superb 3-0 win over group rivals Serbia in Belgrade.

Croatia stay level with the Belgians at the top of the group but only after coming from behind to win 2-1 in Macedonia.

Easy does it: Kevin Mirallas helped Belgium to a 3-0 win over Serbia in Belgrade

Easy does it: Kevin Mirallas helped Belgium to a 3-0 win over Serbia in Belgrade

Agim Ibraimi put the hosts ahead early, before Vedran Corluka and Ivan Ratikic responded.

Meanwhile England's Group G rivals Ukraine were frustrated by a goalless draw in Moldova.

A hat-trick from Pedro paved the way for Spain to ease to a 4-0 win over Belarus in Minsk after Jordi Alba's 12th minute opener, while Kasper Hamalainen's equaliser gave Finland a 1-1 draw with Georgia, who had led through Guram Kashia.

Sweden moved clear in second place in Group C after coming from behind to win 2-1 in the Faroe Islands with a 75th-minute winner from Zlatan Ibrahimovic, while Austria were surprisingly held to a goalless draw in Kazakhstan.

Italy shrugged off a minor scare to win 3-1 in Armenia, Andrea Pirlo, Daniele De Rossi and Pablo Osvaldo on target for the Italians, while Henrikh Mkhitaryan briefly equalised for the hosts in the first half.

Rare sight: Vedran Corluka equalised for the Croatians against Macedonia before they went on to win 2-1

Rare sight: Vedran Corluka equalised for the Croatians against Macedonia before they went on to win 2-1

Prolific: Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored a goal for Sweden

Prolific: Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored a goal for Sweden

Theodor Gebre Selassie, Toma Pekhart and Jan Rezek gave the Czech Republic a 3-1 win over Malta, while Bulgaria and Denmark settled for a 1-1 draw after Nicklas Bendtner equalised Dimitar Rangelov's early opener for the hosts.

Holland cantered to a 3-0 win over Group D minnows Andorra in Rotterdam with goals from Rafael van der Vaart, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Ruben Schaken.

Romania maintained their 100 per cent start in the group thanks to Grozav Grozav's goal in a 1-0 win in Turkey, while Tamas Hajnal struck the only goal as Hungary won 1-0 in Estonia.

Switzerland are still top and unbeaten in Group E despite being pegged back against Norway. Mario Gavranovic looked to have won it for the Swiss with a 79th minute opener but Brede Hangeland equalised two minutes later.

Routine: Pedro Rodriguez (right) scored a hat-trick as Spain beat Belarus 4-0

Routine: Pedro Rodriguez (right) scored a hat-trick as Spain beat Belarus 4-0

Tim Matavs scored twice as Slovenia beat Cyprus 2-1, while Iceland won 2-1 in Albania thanks to a winner nine minutes from time from Tottenham striker Gylfi Sigurdsson.

In Group F, Alexander Kerzhakov's sixth-minute goal was enough to earn Russia a 1-0 win over Portugal in Moscow. Tomer Hemed completed a hat-trick in the final minute as Israel won 6-0 in Luxembourg.

Group G pace-setters Greece and Bosnia remain unbeaten after a tight goalless draw in Pireaus, a result that allows Slovakia to join them on seven points after Marek Hamsik and Marek Sapara scored in a 2-1 win over Latvia.

Also in Group G, two goals from Edgaras Cesnauskis were enough for Lithuania to claim a 2-0 victory in Liechtenstein.

Just in time: Gylfi Sigurdsson (right) sealed the win for Iceland in the 81st minute against Albania

Just in time: Gylfi Sigurdsson (right) sealed the win for Iceland in the 81st minute against Albania

Get in: Marek Hamsik (right) celebrated his goal as Slovakia beat Latvia

Get in: Marek Hamsik (right) celebrated his goal as Slovakia beat Latvia

Gareth Bale hails Wales comeback against Scotland

We needed that! Bale delight after keeping Welsh World Cup dream alive

|

UPDATED:

22:13 GMT, 12 October 2012

Gareth Bale believes Wales' 2-1 win against Scotland on Friday night can kickstart them in their 2014 World Cup qualification campaign.

A double from Bale secured all three points and a first victory in Group A for Wales despite Scotland having taken the lead through James Morrison in the first half.

But star man Bale had the final say in the clash in Cardiff when he won and converted a second half penalty, before grabbing a stunning long-range winner with a minute to go.

Matchwinner: Bale scored two late goals as Wales came from behind

Matchwinner: Bale scored two late goals as Wales came from behind

Bale told Sky Sports 1: 'We needed it, it's a kickstart to our campaign, hopefully it can inspire us now for the matches ahead.

'We all knew coming in it was a massive game for us.

'We let ourselves down as well as the nation last time out.

'We went a goal down but we fought back like men and it was a great result.'

As for the winning goal he said: 'There was a bit of space in front of me, I drove into it and no one closed me down.

'Some go in and some don't.'

Slow start: Bale and Wales manager Chris Coleman (centre) react to a refereeing decision

Slow start: Bale and Wales manager Chris Coleman (centre) react to a refereeing decision

It was Chris Coleman's first win as Wales manager since succeeding Gary Speed and he admitted it was a relief.

The former Fulham boss said: 'Overall, the performance over 90 minutes – if we had come away with nothing it would have been a travesty.

'Scotland scored against the run of play.

'Two great times to score, two great goals and a great player.'

Of Bale he said: 'When you've got that threat in the team then you always have a chance.

'We showed great belief, great character and great strength and got what we deserved.'

Magic moment: Bale is mobbed by team-mates after netting the winner

Magic moment: Bale is mobbed by team-mates after netting the winner

Magic moment: Bale is mobbed by team-mates after netting the winner

He had some sympathy for opposite number Craig Levein when it appeared the officials had wrongly disallowed a Steven Fletcher goal which would have made it 2-0.

However, he added: 'Over the course of 90 minutes there is always going to be a bit of controversy.'

Levein described the decision not to allow what he believed was a good goal as a 'body blow'.

He said: 'I haven't seen the incident but I believe the officials got it wrong.

'As the game panned out that second goal was absolutely crucial and not getting it was a real body blow.

Baffling decision: Fletcher (left) sees his goal wrongfully ruled out

Baffling decision: Fletcher (left) sees his goal wrongfully ruled out

'(When Wales equalised) we didn't feel we were under enormous pressure at all.

'I'm amazed we have come in and lost. I didn't feel we were under any threat.'

Of Bale, Levein added: “We know how good a player he is. Once he gets into his flow he is very difficult to stop.

'From my point of view I am absolutely devastated. It is really difficult to take.'

RFU support Premiership calls for Heineken Cup reform

RFU chief executive Ritchie supports Premiership calls for Heineken Cup reform

|

UPDATED:

18:48 GMT, 8 October 2012

Rugby Football Union chief executive Ian Ritchie has thrown Twickenham's weight behind the Premiership clubs' demands for a reform of the Heineken Cup.

Rob Andrew was in Rome on Monday representing the RFU at a meeting of European rugby executives attempting to thrash out a solution to a row which threatens the future of the competition.

The Premiership and French clubs have served notice on the current European participation agreement, seeking changes to the qualification system and greater financial rewards from 2014.

Notice: The six Premiership captains pose with the Heineken Cup last week

Notice: The six Premiership captains pose with the Heineken Cup last week

The English clubs want to introduce greater meritocracy to the Heineken Cup by forcing clubs in the RaboDirect PRO12 to qualify on the same grounds as those in the Premiership and French Top 14.

At present, the two Scottish and two Italian teams are guaranteed places in the Heineken Cup every year, and heading into Monday's meeting they were not willing to compromise on that position.

'We want to try and help bring that agreement together, recognising that it is very important to have a good highly competitive, meritocratic competition that exists across Europe,' Ritchie said.

'I think we certainly support a view – most people do – that some change in the competition would be a good idea.

'How far it goes, what the nature of it is, is the discussion that has to be had.

'It is in the interest of everybody to have a strong and vibrant European club competition. Those are the objectives we share with PRL and most of the other stakeholders as well.

'It needs to be dealt with as a matter of urgency and priority but there is time to resolve it.

'I always start from a presumption there is an agreement that should be reached. Inevitably it will involve some compromise on all sides.'

Solidarity: The RFU have backed the Premiership

Solidarity: The RFU have backed the Premiership

The row was complicated further by Premiership Rugby and European Rugby Cup Ltd striking conflicting television deals with BT Vision and Sky respectively.

Ritchie confirmed that Premiership Rugby were in breach of their agreement with the RFU – and of International Rugby Board regulations – by not seeking clearance to strike the BT deal.

But, hinting at the RFU's recent apology to former chairman Martyn Thomas, Ritchie insisted everything should be done to keep the matter out of the courts.

'We need to park the legalities from my point of view,' Ritchie said.

'The RFU should have an ability to approve whatever deal is in place. We have made that clear to PRL and we have not given that approval nor have we been asked for it.

'The whole issue of what happens with various tv deals should be secondary to having a group of people sitting around a table saying “how are we going to sort this out”

'My view of life is that you have to sit down with partners. We have to try and get a co-ordinated agreement. Is that possible, feasible

'I haven't got a clue. We have to try. If we can't we'll see but it is early days yet.

'You can obviate the situation about legal action if you reach agreement.

'Most people would say any form of legal action is a last recourse. If it gets to the stage where it ends up with lawyers so be it.'

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger renews call for UEFA to limit big spenders

Arsenal boss Wenger renews call for UEFA to limit big spenders

|

UPDATED:

20:59 GMT, 22 September 2012

Arsene Wenger continued his crusade against football's big spenders as he prepared for Sunday's clash at Manchester City.

The Arsenal manager is a leading
supporter of UEFA's Financial Fair Play regulations, which he hopes will
curb the spending of clubs like City and Paris St Germain and help his
team end their seven-year trophy drought.

On a mission: Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger gets his point across to Gervinho during a training session

On a mission: Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger gets his point across to Gervinho during a training session

'In the end, football suffers,' said Wenger. 'Look what happened in the transfer market this summer. PSG are ambitious, they have resources, and there you go. We always say the same thing. Europe, it's like the Titanic. But we carry on as if nothing matters. More than ever, we need to manage our clubs in a controlled way because otherwise everyone suffers.'

Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson urged UEFA to deny Europe's massive spenders a place in the Champions League, adding: 'The qualification requirements for the Champions League are not a victory or second place in the league: you can't enter without an invitation.

'But when someone [PSG] pays 36million for a boy of 19 [Brazilian Lucas Moura] you have to say football has become crazy.'

International break is damaging Premier League, says Roberto Martinez

International break is damaging to Premier League, says Wigan boss Martinez

|

UPDATED:

17:34 GMT, 13 September 2012

Wigan manager Roberto Martinez has called for a change to the international break format ahead of Saturday's Barclays Premier League clash with Manchester United at Old Trafford.

The Latics boss is faced with a difficult couple of days ahead of one of the toughest fixtures of the season and only has a short space of time to assess his squad after 2014 World Cup qualification duty.

Defender Antolin Alcaraz suffered a leg injury during Paraguay's 2-0 defeat by Venezuela and is set to only arrive back at the club this afternoon – less than 48 hours ahead of kick-off.

Crocked: Alcaraz (centre) was injured while on international duty with Paraguay

Crocked: Alcaraz (centre) was injured while on international duty with Paraguay

Martinez believes the international break needs to be revisited in order to get the right balance between international and club fixtures otherwise the Premier League will suffer.

'I don't like the international break, I've said it many, many times,' Martinez said.

'This is another example. We've got 48 hours to go to one of the biggest games of our league competition and we don't even know what kind of squad we can count on. That's for ourselves, that's for Manchester United.

'As a whole, I don't think that's a healthy position for any team to be in when trying to put on a good display for the fans in what we consider to be the best league in the world.'

With another international break due next month, Martinez knows he has to be prepared for further disruption to his league campaign, but the Spaniard believes the format needs to be reassessed as it is to the detriment of the players.

'It's something that you need to adapt to but it doesn't make it right,' Martinez said.

'It's trying to change a bad situation for the players into a positive one. I don't think that's right and it's unfair on the players.

'The answer should be playing the games with a longer recovery time before you play your next game. There are ways.

Under pressure: Martinez has little time to prepare his side to face United

Under pressure: Martinez has little time to prepare his side to face United

'I know it's a happy medium or a happy balance between the demands at club level and representing your national team.

'We want our players to play for their countries because it's great for us as football club and it's great for the players as it's a unique experience, but it's an area we need to look after the players and understand if you're going to fly for 10 hours, 48 hours before a proper game in the Premier League, it can't be the right preparation.'