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Mo Farah is asked by US presenter LaTonya Norton if he has run before after New Orleans half marathon – VIDEO

VIDEO: Have you run before, Mo US TV presenter asks Olympic hero Farah if New Orleans half marathon was his debut

Olympic champion over 5,000 metres and 10,000m, asked her to repeat the question and then answered tactfully: ‘It’s not my first time. I have done a half marathon before but it’s my first time in New Orleans.’

Sunday’s race was Farah’s second outing over 13.1 miles following his debut in New York in 2011. The Briton will run half the Virgin London Marathon in April and then attempt his first race over 26.2 miles in the capital next year.

VIDEO: Mo Farah is asked an awkward question by a US presenter

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…Remember this

No 1: Mo Farah wins gold in the 10,000m at the Olympic Games in London

No 1: Mo Farah wins gold in the 10,000m at the Olympic Games in London

No 2: Farah winning his second Olympic gold in the 5,000m

No 2: Farah winning his second Olympic gold in the 5,000m

Mo-Bolt: Farah and Usain Bolt swap celebrations at London's Olympic Stadium

Mo-Bolt: Farah and Usain Bolt swap celebrations at London's Olympic Stadium

Decorated: LaTonya Norton seemed unaware she was talking to a double Olympic gold medallist

Decorated: LaTonya Norton seemed unaware she was talking to a double Olympic gold medallist

Iconic: Farah performs the 'Mobot' on Team GB's open-top bus tour

Iconic: Farah performs the 'Mobot' on Team GB's open-top bus tour

Michael Appleton settled at Blackburn Rovers

He's the only manager to have been in charge of three different teams in the FA Cup in the same season… but stability is the key for roving Blackburn boss Appleton

By
Neil Ashton

PUBLISHED:

22:17 GMT, 15 February 2013

|

UPDATED:

08:50 GMT, 16 February 2013

In the car park at Blackburn’s fabulous training complex, a white painter and decorator’s van from Clitheroe is occupying the space of global adviser Shebby Singh.

‘I’m not sure what Shebby’s doing at the moment, but if he’s global advising he’s not advising me,’ admitted Blackburn’s new manager Michael Appleton. ‘I’ve not had any contact from Shebby since I’ve been here. He knows my number, he knows where I am.’

Appleton is already making his mark, a forward-thinking manager with ambitions to reach the highest level with Rovers. The interference from above, the comical sideshow that turned Blackburn into a laughing stock before he arrived on January 11, is no longer an issue.

Shake on it: Michael Appleton is building bridges at Blackburn

Shake on it: Michael Appleton is building bridges at Blackburn

He answers to Derek Shaw, Blackburn’s managing director, as the pair stabilise the club after a chaotic couple of years under Venky’s. They feel like a football club again, aiming for the Championship play-offs and proudly travelling south on Saturday for an FA Cup fifth-round tie against Arsenal.

When Appleton, 37, took charge of Blackburn against Derby in round four, he unwittingly became the subject of a pub-quiz question. ‘That’s right — I’m the only manager to have been in charge of three different teams in the FA Cup in the same season,’ he said.

He began the season with Portsmouth in League One, throwing together a team each week as the financial excesses of the previous regime continued to bite. Then it was on to Blackpool, replacing Ian Holloway until he left for Rovers after just 65 days.

New challenge: Michael Appleton made Blackburn his third club this season

New challenge: Michael Appleton made Blackburn his third club this season

He wasn’t aware of the financial restrictions under Blackpool chairman Karl Oyston until he began.

‘Karl admits he runs the club a certain way,’ said Appleton. ‘It was a slightly more attractive opportunity than at Pompey.

Next up: Appleton joined Blackpool

Next up: Appleton joined Blackpool

‘I wouldn’t have left Blackpool if I was completely happy, or felt I could take the club to the next level and keep it there. The club is certainly day to day. You can’t argue in a way, because Karl can say it’s been successful like that. We argued constantly, but Karl quite liked that. There was a mutual respect. We told each other what we thought, even if it was about each other, but it became a frustration.

‘I can see the talent they’ve got in the squad, the potential at the club, and the first XI is as good as any in the division. But with that you need the right infrastructure, training ground and facilities, and for things to be done in the right way so the players feel loved.’

Blackburn have the infrastructure and Appleton has had an impact. There is a feel-good factor again, a genuine buzz. They are six points off sixth in the Championship.

Appleton added: ‘I had to build bridges between the management and above, with the fans and the owners.There wasn’t a lot of stability: we had 12 people wanting to play the No 10 role. It’s a difficult job, but I didn’t know when an opportunity to take over a club as big would come along again.

‘Look at the facilities. They’re first class — it’s a nice place to work — and what you’d expect of a club who have competed for so long in the Premier League. We’ve steadied the ship, tried to be a lot more solid, and we have a goalscoring machine in Jordan Rhodes who can nick a win for us at any time.’

Rhodes has scored 20 since his 8million move from Huddersfield at the start of the season and, like the rest of the squad, is responding to Appleton’s influence. The manager said: ‘All I want now is stability. I’d love to put my stamp on the football club.

Goal machine: Jordan Rhodes has been in fine form for Blackburn

Goal machine: Jordan Rhodes has been in fine form for Blackburn

‘The frustration at Portsmouth was that no one saw what we were trying to do behind the scenes. I found it difficult to do at Blackpool, which is why I’m here. I’d love to be at Blackburn long enough for people to see the work we’re putting in. As difficult as the job is going to be, I didn’t expect it to come so quickly.’

As they head to Arsenal on a five-match unbeaten run, things are already happening fast for Appleton.

Paul Gascoigne health fears: Fans see former star struggle on stage at charity event

Fans fear for Gazza's health as former England star bursts into tears during event after slurring that he had been 'on the whisky for three days'The 45-year-old struggled to answer questions during charity appearance'Trembling' former England star ushered onstage by two security guards
He unleashed abuse before apologising to fans who had paid 100-a-headHis agent said Gascoigne 'wasn't very well' but had made a 'huge effort to straighten his life out'

By
Lee Bryan

PUBLISHED:

12:29 GMT, 2 February 2013

|

UPDATED:

09:49 GMT, 3 February 2013

Struggle: Paul Gascoigne, 45, was said to have failed to answer questions during an appearance at a charity event in Northampton

Struggle: Paul Gascoigne, 45, was said to have failed to answer questions during an appearance at a charity event in Northampton

Football fans expressed their fears over the health of former England star Paul Gascoigne as they watched the him burst into tears during a rambling appearance at a charity event.

The 'trembling' 45-year-old had to be helped onstage for a question and answer session in which he slurred responses and muttered a slew of curse words.

Guests at the event, who had paid 100 to see the footballer, described how Gascoigne apologised to the crowd, blaming 'three days on the whiskey' for his performance.

The Newcastle-born footballer, widely
regarded as one of the most gifted English players, has battled
alcoholism and drug use since retiring from the game in 2004.

The 500 guests described the event as having the 'atmosphere of a
funeral' as they watched Gascoigne slurring through the exchanges with
his agent Terry Baker.

Gazza rose to national prominence during the Italia 90 World Cup, during which he famously broke into tears after being booked in
the semi-final against Germany.

Following
the breast cancer charity event, hosted by Northampton Town, a further 15 speaking
events were cancelled – some at former clubs where Gascoigne is
regarded as a hero.

Mr
Baker said that the former midfielder did not drink whisky and that the
comment had been a botched joke about being on a 'whisky diet'.

He said that Gascoigne 'wasn't very well' despite having made a 'huge effort to straighten his life out' but

He told The Sun: He probably shouldn't have gone out but he didn't want to let all those people down.'

Gazza

Paul Gascoigne

Struggles: The ex-footballer has long struggled with his alcohol addiction and drug use

Failed: The event's 500 guests described the event as having the 'atmosphere of a funeral' as they watched Gascoigne slurring through the questions with his agent Terry Baker

Failed: The event's 500 guests described the event as having the 'atmosphere of a funeral' as they watched Gascoigne slurring through the questions with his agent Terry Baker

One
attendee wrote an online account of the evening in which he described
how guests were told that Gascoigne was 'very ill' but had 'insisted on
appearing'.

The fan claimed
that guests were told the former Newcastle United and Lazio star would
be brought to hospital 'immediately afterwards'.

He said Mr Barker told guests that
his client had consumed two pints and that they should be 'patient' with
him, telling them to 'remember Gazza for the good times he gave us'.

Once ushered onstage, Gascoigne was asked who the best player he had played with was.

Paul Gascoigne

1990 World Cup

Fallen star: Gascoigne rose to prominence during the 1990 World
Cup, during which he famously broke into tears after being booked in
the semi-final against Germany

Career: Gascoigne has made 57 appearances for England and appeared for a number of clubs, including Everton, Tottenham and Newcastle

Career: Gascoigne has made 57 appearances for England and appeared for a number of clubs, including Everton, Tottenham and Newcastle

According to the account, he answered: 'Bryan Robson. But he's a ****. They're all ****s. You're all ****s.'

After apologising, Gascoigne broke down again as he struggled to answer questions.

The performance was said to have left 'a lump in everyone's throat'.

Gascoigne's manager Matt Jones today said the former footballer had been 'up and down' recently.

He added: 'Paul is getting the help and support that he needs. I am in regular contact with him and his counsellors and just giving him the support that he needs.

'The reality is that Paul is an alcoholic. He has been very good of late but every day is a battle not to have a drink.'

Having won 57 caps for England after a glittering career in which he played for Lazio and Everton, the star tried to address his alcoholism on several occasions and has spoken about his attempts at rehabilitation.

John Terry pictured solving his Rubik"s Cube

Terry cracks the Rubik's Cube… or did he (Now how about solving the managerial puzzle at Chelsea, John)

By
John Drayton

PUBLISHED:

16:37 GMT, 17 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

17:42 GMT, 17 January 2013

Here's the proof that John Terry possesses the brains to go with his brawn… or so we thought.

Chelsea's captain posted a proud picture of himself solving a Rubik's Cube on his Instagram account on Thursday, with the message: 'Say no more. Complete.'

But just hours later, Terry admitted he cheated the 'Cube'.

'Sorry these pics are the other way round,' the former Engaand captain revealed. 'It was so hard. Respect if anyone has completed one of these. '

John Terry solves his Rubik's Cube

Did you do the Blue side first John Terry solves his Rubik's Cube

The puzzle, a cultural sensation when it
was launched in 1980, is a fiendishly difficult test of memory and
logic – a bit like trying to recall the long list of Chelsea managers
under Roman Abramovich's reign.

To solve the Rubik's Cube, one must align a jumbled patchwork of squares so that all six faces contain a block of the same colour. We're guessing Blue is Terry's favourite side.

And seeing as Terry suggests he is clearly an expert at unravelling even the most daunting of enigmas, how about he next turns his attentions to the Chelsea manager's job

Quite who Abramovich should appoint as permanent boss at Stamford Bridge in the summer is anyone's guess now that Pep Guardiola has shunned Roman's roubles in favour of security and stability at Bayern Munich.

On the comeback trail: Former England captain Terry is easing back into action for Chelsea following two months on the sidelines with a knee injury

On the comeback trail: Former England captain Terry is easing himself back into
action for Chelsea following two months on the sidelines with a knee
injury

Surely it won't be Rafa Benitez, who remains deeply unpopular with Chelsea fans. There are question marks over the pedigree of young pretenders Jurgen Klopp and Diego Simeone, especially after the disaster of Andre Villas-Boas's reign. Guus Hiddink has turned down the job before and may do so again. And with Jose Mourinho having fallen out with Abramovich long ago, is there anyone left

Now that's a real humdinger. Better try a crossword instead, John…

Jack Butland may be forced out as Birmingham face administration

Butland may be forced out as to save Birmingham from administration

|

UPDATED:

16:50 GMT, 28 December 2012

Capped: Butland has represented England and also played for Great Britain at the Olympics

Capped: Butland has represented England and also played for Great Britain at the Olympics

Jack Butland could be forced out of Birmingham in the January transfer window in order to save the club from administration.

The 19-year-old England goalkeeper is being chased by several teams, most notably Liverpool, who are understood to have already been in talks with the midlands outfit.

The Blues rejected a 6million bid from Southampton for Butland in the summer, but acting chairman Peter Pannu has admitted the cash-strapped club may not be able to resist such temptations next month as they bid to ease their increasing financial struggles.

'I can't say that we are in a very wonderful situation, I would be lying if I said that,' Pannu told the Birmingham Mail

'This is a very tricky question (player sales). What I can say is that – and I might be blasted for this by the fans – but no-one is for sale and everyone is available. As at any club.

'Give me a 15m offer for Jack Butland, can I say no

'I have rejected 6m from Southampton (in the summer) but I rejected it when our finances were okay.

'As the time is ticking, I might not be able to reject it if I get something similar.

'I do have a responsibility to keep the club running.

'My top priority now – and if I do offend anyone, I care not – is to make sure this clubs stays afloat.'

Butland is not the only player facing a possible exit, with a handful of other high earners troubling Birmingham's wage bill, most notably Nikola Zigic's 50,000-plus a week wages.

Pannu has been exploring the potential for bringing in new owners or finding investment in the club for some time.

Target: Liverpool have led the chase for the 19-year-old

Target: Liverpool have led the chase for the 19-year-old

The board of Birmingham International Holdings Limited (BIHL), City's parent company, announced late last month they were in talks with two parties from Hong Kong and one from the UK – Gianni Paladini's Italian-backed consortium.

They were at an advanced stage in discussions with one of the Hong Kong bidders – which has now fallen through.

Providing an update on the situation, Pannu said: 'It is no secret that there are two parties in Hong Kong that we have been dealing with.

'The fans also know that my preferred party, which was reported in the media, the Charles Chan and SMEG group, unfortunately did not transpire.

'But we still have another very big party we are dealing with in Hong Kong.'

Pannu also revealed he continues to be in discussions with Paladini's consortium and met a member of the bid for talks recently, although he is demanding greater clarity on those behind the offer and their plans.

Manchester United look for revenge on Sunderland and Barcelona v Atletico Madrid Messi v Falcao

Something for the weekend: United are out for revenge on the laughing Black Cats and Messi squares off against Falcao

|

UPDATED:

22:44 GMT, 13 December 2012

Every Friday, Michael Walker will pick out 10 things to look forward to over the footballing weekend.

This week, he explains why Manchester United want revenge over Sunderland for that day in May when City won the title and looks ahead to first v second in La Liga on Sunday night Barcelona v Atletico Madrid and Lionel Messi v Radamel Falcao.

1. The weekend begins tonight, in Bavaria. One of the great club rivalries continues when Bayern Munich host Borussia Monchengladbach. Bayern will be expected to extend their lead at the top of the Bundesliga.

It was not always this way. In the nine seasons between 1968-69 and 1976-77, the Bundesliga was won five times by Monchengladbach and four times by Bayern, who also won three consecutive European Cups in that period. Gerd Muller has had renewed interest due to Lionel Messi, so this is maybe an opportunity to review footage of Monchengladbach’s Gunter Netzer while pretending to be at work.

Rampant: Bayern Munich are 11 points clear at the top of the Bundesliga

Rampant: Bayern Munich are 11 points clear at the top of the Bundesliga

2. Quiz question: get a pen and paper and write down Clive Allen’s club career path. No wikipedia
allowed.

Allen signed for 10 clubs in his 17-year career – QPR twice. To make it easier, name the clubs Allen
signed for after he left Tottenham Hotspur in 1989. There are six in total.

* Answers at bottom

3. There is already a degree of anticipation about Luis Suarez’s return to Liverpool’s Premier League
colours tomorrow against Aston Villa at Anfield, as if Suarez had been out for some extended period.
It was one match, which Liverpool won at West Ham.

In the corresponding Villa fixture last season Suarez scored the equaliser in a 1-1 draw. It came
late and only after manager Kenny Dalglish had introduced attacking substitutes, Craig Bellamy and
Andy Carroll. Dalglish, Bellamy, Carroll: feels like a different era. It was April.

Liverpool won 3-2 at West Ham on Sunday without their leading scorer Suarez

Liverpool won 3-2 at West Ham on Sunday without their leading scorer Suarez

4. St. James’ Park stages a hell of a game tomorrow. Exeter City host Plymouth Argyle in a Devon derby.

Exeter are seventh in League Two and 37 year-old striker Jamie Cureton has scored 15 goals already this season. Plymouth are 20th, just five points off bottom club Barnet and last Saturday’s win over York was their first in ten matches. It’s a noon kick-off.

5. At the other St. James’ Park, another early kick-off. Manchester City return to the scene of their
enormous victory in May on Tyneside. In their penultimate match of the season, their last away-day,
Yaya Toure scored twice in the last 20 minutes to ground the high-flying Magpies.

City won their last six Premier League games last season. After last Sunday, and the Tuesday
preceding it in Dortmund, City need to go on a comparable run again. They need Yaya motoring.

6. The memories of the final day of last season are not just strong at City, it’s the same at United.
Sir Alex Ferguson, his players and the United fanbase have not forgotten the Sunderland fans’
laughing reaction when news came through of Sergio Aguero’s injury-time title-winner. You should
have seen Paddy Crerand that day. Ferguson’s teamtalk will presumably ‘touch’ upon this.

Sunderland have not won at Old Trafford since May 1968 when Colin Suggett and George Mulhall scored in a 2-1 win. George Best scored a nonchalant 20-yard volley for United. God bless you, George.

Leaders: United won an explosive Manchester derby on Sunday to move six points clear at the top of the Premier League

Leaders: United won an explosive Manchester derby on Sunday to move six points clear at the top of the Premier League

7. Bradford City are the team of the week after knocking Arsenal out of the League Cup on penalties on Tuesday night. Tomorrow Bradford are at Southend United, who received rather fewer column inches even though they also knocked out superior opposition in a Cup on penalties, also on Tuesday night. Southend beat League One Bury at Roots Hall in the FA Cup.

And Southend’s prize in the Third Round They are at home to the winners of next Tuesday’s replay
between Brentford and – Bradford City (re-instated).

8. There are eight clubs in the Championship beginning with the letter ‘B’. Seven of them are home
tomorrow. Only Blackburn are away. At Blackpool. Or fracking Blackpool as Henning Berg may know it
at around five o’clock. (Blackburn: one win in eight).

Struggling: Blackburn have won only one of their eight games under Henning Berg

Struggling: Blackburn have won only one of their eight games under Henning Berg

9. It’s attempt No. 17 for QPR in the league, a west London derby v Fulham. There is a bad omen in that this is a reminder that Fulham beat QPR 6-0 at Craven Cottage last season, and 1-0 at Loftus Road.

The good news is that Fulham’s scorers in those two matches were: Andy Johnson (now at QPR) Danny Murphy, (now at Blackburn) Clint Dempsey (now at Spurs) Bobby Zamora (now at QPR) and Pavel Pogrebnyak (now at Reading).

10. The weekend finishes on Sunday night with a potential belter from Spain. It’s Barcelona v Atletico Madrid, it’s first v second in La Liga, it’s Messi v Falcao. Messi, we sort of know about. At 26, we know less about Radamel Falcao but an unmissable fact is that he has played 15 times for Atletico Madrid this season and scored 19 goals. In his last game Falcao scored 5 in the 6-0 win over Deportivo La Coruna.

Barcelona's Lionel Messi reacts during the Spanish King's Cup soccer match against Cordoba

Atletico de Madrid's Radamel Falcao from Colombia scores his goal

It's raining goals! Messi and Falcao have both been scoring at will this season

*QUIZ ANSWERS: Bordeaux, Manchester City, Chelsea, West Ham United, Millwall and Carlisle United.

England hit by second injury blow as Steven Finn doubtful for final India Test

Double blow for England with Finn set to join Broad on sidelines for final Test

|

UPDATED:

09:42 GMT, 12 December 2012

Steven Finn gave England a huge worry
ahead of Thursday's crucial final Test here on Wednesday morning when he was
unable to train because of a disc strain in his lower back.

Finn had been unable to play in the
first two Tests because of a thigh injury but returned in Kolkata in
place of the out of sorts Stuart Broad and bowled brilliantly in
England's famous win.

Injury blow: Steven Finn was unable to take part in net practice

Injury blow: Steven Finn was unable to take part in net practice

England will assess the Middlesex man's condition in the morning but he must be a big doubt for a game in which Alastair Cook and his men have the chance to win England's first Test series in India for almost 28 years.

And with Broad officially ruled out of the fourth Test with a recurrence of the heel injury he sustained in a warm-up game at the start of this tour the potential absence of Finn could not have come at a worse time.

Tim Bresnan, innocuous in the first Test, is the most likely replacement for Finn but Graham Onions, who has been on the outside looking in all tour, is another potential choice. England will certainly not want to go into the Test with a fitness question mark over one of only two seamers in their line-up.

The pitch here at the VCA Stadium just outside Nagpur looks a good one, certainly not the raging turner many predicted, and it could well be that England now regret sending Stuart Meaker back to play with their Performance Squad in Pune. It could turn out to be the kind of flat but abrasive surface that would have suited the rapid Meaker.

There also remains a possibility that England will again change a winning side and bring in Jonny Bairstow for Samit Patel. Alastair Cook, the England captain, refused to back Patel when asked if he would play.

'Samit played in the first game in that second spinner role but with Monty coming in and doing fantastically well, clearly his chances with the ball have been limited since then,' said Cook. 'We will try to pick the team that we think gives us the best chance of winning this game.'

Missing: Stuart Broad has been ruled out by heel injury

Missing: Stuart Broad has been ruled out by heel injury

Cook was in relaxed but businesslike
mood as he assessed his side's chances of making history
with a third successive Test win in a country where it is famously hard
for visiting sides to prosper.

'On the eve of any Test I'm nervous
but there's a lot of excitement today too,' said Cook. 'It's an
incredible situation we find ourselves in and we've played some really
good, tough cricket to get here. We are keen as a side to continue that
here.'

England's recovery after their heavy
first Test defeat has astounded many but Cook insisted he always knew
his side had it in them.

'I've been pleasantly surprised with
the character we've shown. I think I said after Ahmedabad that if we
played to our potential we could get back into this series but the way
we have done that has really pleased me,' he said.

'Everybody realises how big and
important this game is. When we're out there we have to take that
emotion out of the game and make sure we fully focus on what we have to
do. We know how hard we have worked to get here and we have to do it
again now but we have to remain as calm as we can be. We can't get
carried away now. We are here to do a job. We have a great chance and
we're desperately keen not to let that chance go.'

But they will have to succeed again
without their vice-captain with Broad ruled out of this match and quite
probably the rest of this leg of the tour.

'Stuart is out of this Test and we'll
assess him over the next day or so to see if he has a chance of playing
in the Twenty20s,' said Cook.

'It's the nature of sport that some
people have good tours and others don't and unfortunately Stuart hasn't
this time. He's had injuries and illness and he hasn't quite been able
to get into this tour which is frustrating for him and disappointing for
us as a side but we all know the class of Broady and that he will be
back.

Broad has had a miserable trip,
suffering injury and illness and being dropped after going wicketless in
the first two Tests, but he would definitely have returned if Finn is
ruled out of this game. The worry for England now is that they will be
going into their most important game of the year without either.

Glen Johnson studying for Maths degree

I'll show you: Johnson aims to prove his teachers wrong as Liverpool star takes up a Maths degree

|

UPDATED:

12:10 GMT, 10 December 2012

Liverpool defender Glen Johnson is aiming to prove his old school teachers teachers wrong by gaining a degree in maths.

While many footballers spend their spare time playing golf, computer games or shopping, the England defender spends his days with his head buried in text books.

The 28-year-old – who has been shortlisted for England's player of the year award – is half-way through the second year of his Open University degree, having passed his first year.

Opening the scoring: Glen Johnson celebrates after netting a goal against former club West Ham

Opening the scoring: Glen Johnson celebrates after netting a goal against former club West Ham

Johnson, who scored the first goal in Liverpool's 3-2 win over former club West Ham on Sunday, told The Sun: 'I love the planning, equations and problem-solving.

'For example, working out how much fuel a plane needs. I was good at maths at school but I didn’t really think of anything else but football. My teachers used to say, ‘You ain’t going to achieve anything’. So I was thinking, ‘I’ll show you’.

Doing the day job: Johnson is studying for a maths degree when he is not busy playing for Liverpool and England

Doing the day job: Johnson is studying for a maths degree when he is not busy playing for Liverpool and England

'The last thing they’d expect me to do is a maths degree. But anyone can do anything if they put their mind to it.'

Former Burnley defender and chairman of the PFA Clarke Carlisle became the first footballer to appear on game show Countdown in 2010, and has also made a couple appearances on the political debate show Question Time.

Working from home: Johnson is enrolled at The Open University

Working from home: Johnson is enrolled at The Open University

Chelsea mobbed at airport in Japan as they land for Club World Cup

Warm welcome: Chelsea mobbed at airport as they land in Japan for Club World Cup

|

UPDATED:

13:41 GMT, 9 December 2012

Chelsea received a fantastic welcome as they landed in Japan to participate in the Club World Cup.

The players were mobbed at Narita International Airport by adoring fans, who were clearly overjoyed to see the Champions League winners in the flesh.

Frank Lampard, who returned to action on Saturday against Sunderland was a particularly popular figure – and he stopped to sign some shirts and greet the supporters.

Pen in hand: Frank Lampard signs shirts for fans at the airport in Narita

Pen in hand: Frank Lampard signs shirts for fans at the airport in Narita

Happy man: Fernando Torres was smiling as he landed in Japan

Happy man: Fernando Torres was smiling as he landed in Japan

Red carpet Chelsea youngster Oscar has not been in many starting line-ups recently

Red carpet Chelsea youngster Oscar has not been in many starting line-ups recently

Manager Rafael Benitez would have been happy to meet some Blues fans who were not calling for his head.

The triumph over Sunderland saw the Chelsea boss record his first top flight victory after being controversially appointed by Roman Abramovich in place of club legend Roberto Di Matteo.

Chelsea will take on Mexican side Monterrey on Thursday morning in the semi-final of the competition.

Benitez said: 'The team still can improve, so it's a question of time.

'Training sessions before games, you have just two or three sessions and you cannot improve everything that you want to improve.

'But we will have more time, maybe, in Japan, three days in the hotel. We can talk, we can analyse more things and little by little, they will get to the level at which we want to see them.'

Better still, striker Fernando
Torres looked happy as he made his way through the airport, as well he
might after ending his Barclays Premier League drought with a double
against the Black Cats.

The striker had cut a miserable figure in recent weeks but was grinning on Saturday and smiling again this morning.

On the aeroplane he sat next to the other Blues' goalscorer in Chelsea's 3-1 victory, Juan Mata.

Spain stars Torres and Mata were the stars of
the show – the former nearly grabbed a hat-trick.

Warm welcome: Rafael Benitez strides through the airport ahead of the Chelsea pack

Warm welcome: Rafael Benitez strides through the airport ahead of the Chelsea pack

Ready for action: John Obi Mikel missed Saturday's game but should start on Thursday

Ready for action: John Obi Mikel missed Saturday's game but should start on Thursday

Hands man: Keeper Petr Cech reaches out to sign a shirt for a fan

Hands man: Keeper Petr Cech reaches out to sign a shirt for a fan

His venomous strike
smashed off the frame of the goal and fell to his compatriot, who
finished from close range.

Most impressively he demanded to
take a penalty – his first in English football – showing confidence
which had previously been missing.

Pals: Fernando Torres with Juan Mata, who tweeted: 'Off to Japan after a good victory at Sunderland! 12 hours trip close to the guy who scored a double...'

Pals: Fernando Torres with Juan Mata, who tweeted: 'Off to Japan after a good victory at Sunderland! 12 hours trip close to the guy who scored a double…'

Chelsea will be missing another Spaniard, Oriol Romeu, after he sustained an injury during the match at the Stadium of Light.

But they will be boosted by the return of John Obi Mikel, who missed Saturday's clash through suspension, and of Lampard.

The England midfielder made his return from a six-week lay-off as a substitute for Eden Hazard with 10 minutes remaining.

Greetings: Chelsea players would have felt right at home

Greetings: Chelsea players would have felt right at home

Hello geezers: David Luiz gives the fans the thumbs up sign

Hello geezers: David Luiz gives the fans the thumbs up sign

He told Chelsea TV: 'I felt fine. I had to be careful this time because of a recurrence I had last time, and even though I have been desperate to get back, I have been putting in the hours in the gym to make sure it's got a strong base.

'From now, I should be fit, touch wood. It's all good with it.'

Chelsea players and staff boarded their flight to the Far East after the game.

In uniform: Ramires and Paulo Ferreira

In uniform: Ramires and Paulo Ferreira

Monterrey set up the Yokahoma semi-final clash by beating South
Korea's Ulsan Hyundai 3-1 this morning.

Argentine striker Cesar Delgado, formerly of Lyon, struck twice after Jesus Corona opened the scoring early on.

The Asian champions managed to get on the scoresheet two minutes from time with Lee Keun-ho firing home from distance.

Opener: Monterrey's Jesus Corona wheels away after scoring

Opener: Monterrey's Jesus Corona wheels away after scoring

At the double: Cesar Delgado struck twice to set up a semi-final clash with Chelsea

At the double: Cesar Delgado struck twice to set up a semi-final clash with Chelsea

Benitez knows the Club World Cup
tournament well having taken Liverpool to the final in 2005 and won it
with Inter Milan five years later.

He said: 'It's important always to have these opportunities to win any trophy, and especially a trophy like this one.

'We played the final in Japan in
2005, we won two years ago. It was a great experience for me and
hopefully it will be a great experience for our players.

Dispatched: Torres stroked home his penalty with style

Dispatched: Torres stroked home his penalty with style

'It will be a fantastic experience.
Yes, we are concerned because we know it will be very difficult, but we
are working very hard trying to organise everything properly.

'Maybe it will not be ideal because
you don't have too much time and you have to go and you have to play a
game in three days' time.

'But we will try to do our best,
obviously. It's not easy. The doctor and the fitness coaches are a
little bit crazy now, but we will try to do our best.'

Brad Friedel set to quit Tottenham for Blackburn return

Friedel set to end Spurs battle with Lloris by making shock return to Blackburn

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UPDATED:

22:53 GMT, 21 November 2012

Brad Friedel is ready to give up his battle with Hugo Lloris to be Tottenham's first-choice goalkeeper and make a dramatic return to Blackburn Rovers.

New Blackburn manager Henning Berg was in negotiations with Spurs on Wednesday over a deal that would see Friedel move back to Ewood Park on loan until January when the transfer would become permanent.

The 41-year-old American is also being offered a coaching role at his old club.

Wanted: Brad Friedel (centre) is tempted by a coaching offer from Blackburn

Wanted: Brad Friedel (centre) is tempted by a coaching offer from Blackburn

Friedel has been locked in a battle with Lloris since the France international arrived at White Hart Lane from Lyon for 8million in the summer.

Lloris was widely expected to be first-choice but, despite ending Friedel's remarkable run of 310 consecutive starts in the Premier League for Blackburn, Aston Villa and Spurs last month, manager Andre Villas-Boas still seems undecided between the two.

Clear run: Friedel's departure would make Hugo Lloris undisputed No 1

Clear run: Friedel's departure would make Hugo Lloris undisputed No 1

Both he and chairman Daniel Levy are understood to be reluctant to lose Friedel but the player is tempted by an opportunity to return to the north-west, where he still has a luxury home in Cheshire, and the offer of a move into coaching.

The deal is bound to place a question mark over Paul Robinson's future at Blackburn.

Former Rovers boss Sam Allardyce is known to be interested in taking Robinson to West Ham, and a move in January might now be a possibility.