Tag Archives: reason

David Moyes picture Playboy model Hannah Elizabeth, Sara Beverly Jones Tony Bellew fight Liverpool Echo Arena

Moyes eyes a couple of strikers! Everton boss poses with blonde beauties before Bellew's bout

By
Lee Bryan

PUBLISHED:

02:55 GMT, 31 March 2013

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UPDATED:

03:01 GMT, 31 March 2013

David Moyes was grinning like a Cheshire cat on Saturday – and for good reason.

After watching Everton see off Stoke thanks to Kevin Mirallas' splendid strike at Goodison Park, the 49-year-old Scot proved he's still got it, sandwiching himself between a couple of glamour girls at Liverpool's Echo Arena.

Moyes was there to support Toffees fan Tony Bellew in his bout against Isaac Chilemba – which ended in a draw – but he got a little more than he bargained for in his ringside seat.

Blonde ambition: David Moyes is grabbed by a pair of Betfair beauties at the Echo Arena

Blonde ambition: David Moyes is grabbed by a pair of Betfair beauties at the Echo Arena

Everton skipper Phil Neville was quick to tweet the picture, saying: “Moyes at the boxing, go on son! That's how your Boss rolls” is he in bellews corner'

Playboy model Hannah Elizabeth, pictured left in the picture, remarked on the social network site: 'howlin that I was sittin next to David Moyes ringside n got a pic on his knee with my @SaraBeverley #LEG'

Her pal Sara Beverly Jones – an actress, presenter and promotional model – added: 'Me and @misshannahelizx on David moyes knee! Ha my face! … Add your own caption.'

In this case, we think a picture tells a thousand words…

Steven Finn and Jonathan Trott help England draw first Test with New Zealand

Finn and Trott help save first Test as England bat their way to a draw in Dunedin

By
Paul Newman

PUBLISHED:

03:51 GMT, 10 March 2013

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UPDATED:

03:51 GMT, 10 March 2013

Steven Finn took a big stride down this lifeless Dunedin wicket ball after ball to repel New Zealand and rescue England from first Test embarrassment today in one of the great displays of nightwatchman defiance.

Not since Alex Tudor made an unbeaten 99 in England’s victory charge against New Zealand in 1999 at Edgbaston has a bowler doing a batsman’s job for England made such an impact as a nightwatchman.

It seemed an excessively cautious act by England to send Finn in ahead of Jonathan Trott when Alastair Cook was out with just over two overs left on the fourth day but far from just seeing his team through to the close the big fast bowler went on and on and on today.

Unlikely hero: Nightwatchman Steven Finn hit 50 as England drew the first Test

Unlikely hero: Nightwatchman Steven Finn hit 50 as England drew the first Test

Finn outlasted Nick Compton, Trott and Kevin Pietersen to score his first half-century in first-class cricket and go a long way towards earning England a draw that will feel like a great escape after they were humiliated for an abject 167 in their first innings.

For whatever inexplicable reason England have again been slow starters in an overseas series but have got away with their first innings negligence here and will feel that they cannot bat as badly again at either Wellington or Auckland.

They owe much of that to Finn. If the man preferred to Jimmy Anderson as nightwatchman got out early on the fifth day it is probable that England would have been on the end of one of the biggest upsets in recent Test history.

As it was they were made to battle all the way by a New Zealand side who pushed hard for what would have been one of their greatest modern wins, having England421 for six, a lead of 128, when both Brendon McCullum decided that enough was enough at the start of the last hour.

Such had been the quality of the start of England’s second innings, Compton and Cook putting on 231 for the first wicket, that England knew they just had to bat sensibly on what was effect a fourth day pitch to survive.

But Compton, who played what may turn out to be a career defining innings to record his maiden Test century on Saturday, could add only 15 to his overnight 102 before he was trapped lbw by the impressive and ever persevering Neil Wagner to give New Zealand hope.

That brought in Trott who had the rare experience of outscoring his partner as he moved smoothly along towards a fluent half-century, the only surprise coming when he was athletically caught by Wagner off his own bowling.

Kevin Pietersen, still looking rusty after his extended break from first-class cricket, arrived on a king pair but eased his first ball through midwicket for two. It could have been the cue to calm Pietersen down but he never looked comfortable before inside edging his new nemesis Wagner through to BJ Watling and departed for 12. England can only hope he is more fluent is the second Test which begins on Thursday.

When England had moved on to 382 for four at tea, a lead of 89, that seemed all but safe but the trouble was that they had scored too slowly to be out of New Zealand’s reach, only 53 runs coming in the middle session.

Certainly when Finn’s long vigil was over when he was trapped attempting to sweep the left-arm spinner Bruce Martin, after facing 203 balls for his 56, there was the hint of a twitch for England. When Joe Root was then run out without scoring the wobble was very much on.

But the bottom line was that this was a lifeless University Oval pitch, which made England’s first innings capitulation all the more inexplicable, and Ian Bell and Matt Prior were able to negotiate the remaining overs for England without alarm.

New Zealand will be able to hold their heads up high after this match. They went into the series seemingly in turmoil internally and with very few players of genuine Test-class. Yet in Neil Wagner they seem to have found a left-arm seamer with considerable enthusiasm and no little pace and in Hamish Rutherford they have found an opener who has started off in the best manner possible.

It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that England, under-prepared after just one first-class warm-up match, were complacent here, even if it was sub-consciously, but they now know they are in a proper series.

The second Test follows in Wellington on Thursday and , after this experience, they will be backing themselves to do what they did in India and come back from a rotten first Test to win the series.

Martin Skrtel set to depart Liverpool after fall out with Brendan Rodgers

Skrtel looks set for Anfield departure after breakdown in relations with Rodgers

By
Dominic King

PUBLISHED:

14:53 GMT, 25 February 2013

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UPDATED:

08:05 GMT, 26 February 2013

Martin Skrtel has paved the way for leaving Liverpool this summer after hinting at problems in his relationship with Brendan Rodgers.

The Liverpool defender has not started a Barclays Premier League game since being dropped following the 2-1 defeat to Manchester United on January 13 and was criticised by Rodgers after an underwhelming performance against Oldham in the FA Cup.

Skrtel is currently sidelined with a knee injury but, even if he was fit, the Slovakia international does not believe he would be in Rodgers’ plans and says his situation will need to be looked at in the summer if he remains out of the side.

Tough times: Martin Skrtel has found his playing time limited at Liverpool

Tough times: Martin Skrtel has found his playing time limited at Liverpool

‘We have (spoken) but it is not
ideal,’ Skrtel told Denik Sport, when asked if he had received an
explanation for being out of the team. ‘He (Rodgers) told me something
on this, gave me some explanation, but it’s hard to tell if it was the
true reason he gave me.

‘I don’t think it was and think there
is something else behind it. Anyway, I’m not the type of player who
would be chasing the coach and be in his office all the time, asking for
explanations why I’m not playing. I have never done this, I’m not doing
it now and I never will be.

‘If the coach wants to tell me
something, he will summon me. The coach has his ideas about the line-up
and the question is if I would be in it if I was fit. I would say it’s
likelier I wouldn’t.’

Fall out: Skrtel is likely to leave Liverpool in the summer after being criticised by manager Brendan Rodgers (below)

Fall out: Skrtel is likely to leave Liverpool in the summer after being criticised by manager Brendan Rodgers (below)

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers

Liverpool are set to be in the market
for at least two central defenders this summer – Rodgers watched
Feyenoord’s Stefan De Vrij on Sunday – given that Jamie Carragher is
retiring and it is likely that Sebastian Coates will be also be allowed
to leave in order to get first team football.

But Skrtel, who only signed a new
contract last summer, could also go and he has been linked with Anzhi
Machachkala and his old Zenit St Petersburg. He has refused to quell the
idea he will move on.

‘For three years at Liverpool I was
playing in almost every match and even in the national team I have
played a lot of games,’ said Skrtel. ‘I have had various thoughts but
certainly I’m not going to make any hot-blooded decision.’

End of an era: Jamie Carragher (right) will retire at the end of the season

End of an era: Jamie Carragher (right) will retire at the end of the season

Nottingham Forest and Blackburn Rovers sack managers – Michael Walker

'Tis the season to sack managers in desperation

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UPDATED:

23:11 GMT, 27 December 2012

Blackburn Rovers host Nottingham Forest on New Year’s Day. That should make for an interesting pre-match boardroom. The sometimes-present Indian owners of Blackburn (founded 1875) may be at Ewood Park to shake hands with the sometimes-present Kuwaiti owners of Forest (founded 1865).

/12/27/article-2253953-16A8F759000005DC-402_468x286.jpg” width=”468″ height=”286″ alt=”Sacked: Forest dismissed Sean O'Driscoll despite sitting just one point outside the Championship play-offs” class=”blkBorder” />

Sacked: Forest dismissed Sean O'Driscoll despite sitting just one point outside the Championship play-offs

It feels at times in the Championship as if there is a giant game of scramble going on. Leicester City have made eight managerial changes since 2007. They remain a Championship club – one formed in 1884, now Thai-owned.

Malaysian-controlled Cardiff City replaced Dave Jones with Malky Mackay and forced a club called the Bluebirds (formed 1899) to play in red.

For Cardiff it is working. So far. They are five points clear at the top of the Championship and the Premier League are already thinking of them.

Cardiff are one of just six Championship clubs not to have played in the Premier League and, if they go up, would be ‘Club 46’ – meaning half the pyramid would have appeared in the Premier League.

That reveals a level of democracy and meritocracy we do not always associate with the 20-year-old breakaway league.

What we, and Championship club owners, think about more often is the wealth of the top flight.

Flying high: Cardiff City are top of the Championship wearing red

Flying high: Cardiff City are top of the Championship wearing red

If there is a logical reason O’Driscoll and Berg have been dismissed from their posts in the past 36 hours it is that: money.

When the term ‘Moneyball’ came into circulation it was meant to convey economic cuteness in sport, the recognising of the under-valued and exploiting it. In Championship reality, Moneyball is a phrase that conveys desperation, a chase, one increasingly fuelled by foreign money, one getting ever more urgent.

Talk to anyone in football and they will say this is a very good season to be promoted to the Premier League and a very bad one to be relegated from it. The explanation is the new TV rights deal, which kicks in next season.

The ballpark figure for a deal, which is around 80 per cent concluded, is that it will be worth 5billion to Premier League clubs over the next three seasons. Five billion.

Before a ball is kicked in August 2013 that means the club finishing 20th in May 2014 are guaranteed to bring in between 50-55million for simply being part of the elite. That is a jump from the 39m Wolves received from television for coming 20th last season.

With guaranteed parachute payments of approximately 34m over four seasons following relegation, it means there is an immediate financial reward of 85-90m for promotion this season.

Paying the price: Berg was only unveiled at Ewood Park on November 1

Paying the price: Berg was only unveiled at Ewood Park on November 1

Add the 10-15m impact of promotion on
season tickets, plus a hike in sponsorship fees and that ‘90m match’
that is the Championship play-off final becomes the ‘100m match’, maybe
even the 110m match. It’s a different form of Moneyball.

At Ewood Park they will know these figures keenly. Blackburn received just over 40m from TV in their relegation in May. They are now half a season into the first of four parachute payments totalling around 34m. These are front-loaded, so in the first two seasons the payments are about 11m, the following two are around 6m.

With their first lump of 11m, Blackburn spent 8m on Huddersfield Town striker Jordan Rhodes.

Rhodes has scored 11 goals in 20 Blackburn appearances but Rovers are 16 points off second-placed Hull City.

More promisingly, Rovers are eight points off the play-offs, which is a statistic to sell to wary managers. But there were only 12,000 people in attendance at Blackburn’s last home game.

Next season three other clubs will have 11m in parachute payments to spend. That will bring increased competition, more pressure and more managers being dropped off the Championship’s fiscal cliff.

Manchester United players laugh at annual youth team pantomime

Ho, ho, ho! Tis the season to be jolly… but just what is Fergie and his Manchester United stars laughing at

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UPDATED:

16:21 GMT, 14 December 2012

Just what has made Sir Alex Ferguson and his players laugh so hard

Has someone shown them the Premier League table, which shows a very healthy six-point lead over bitter rivals City

Perhaps Nemanja Vidic is smiling because he's finally seen the back of the treatment table, or Ryan Giggs has been told he's getting another contract extension.

Or maybe, Mario Balotelli's notorious lack of direction has led him to turn into the wrong training ground in his camouflaged Bentley.

Tis the season! Sir Alex Ferguson is tickled by something in the club's annual Christmas panto, performed by youth team players

Tis the season! Sir Alex Ferguson is tickled by something in the club's annual Christmas panto, performed by youth team players

All smiles: Ryan Giggs (left) and Wayne Rooney in fits of giggles at something in the panto. Rooney was reportedly the butt of many jokes

All smiles: Ryan Giggs (left) and Wayne Rooney in fits of giggles at something in the panto. Rooney was reportedly the butt of many jokes

The real reason is much better –
they're watching the annual United youth team pantomime today, a chance for
the up and coming stars to lampoon the senior boys without fear of
Fergie's wrath.

It's an annual tradition at the
Carrington training complex after a slap-up Turkey meal where the
sprouts and spuds are usually doled out by Sir Alex himself.

It was also a bit of light relief for the young charges, who were beaten 4-3 at home by Burnley in the FA Youth Cup this week and so missed out on a tie with Manchester City.

Rare smile: Even defensive hardman Nemanja Vidic found the performance hilarious

Rare smile: Even defensive hardman Nemanja Vidic found the performance hilarious

Jolly: Phil Jones is in stitches as the youth players take the mickey

Jolly: Phil Jones is in stitches as the youth players take the mickey

Apparently, Wayne Rooney was once
again the butt of most of the jokes in the performance, with the younger
lads poking fun at his weight.

'They're considering hiring fat suits,' said a club source last week.

Rio Ferdinand alluded to the show on Twitter, saying: 'Funny day at training today….pity the weather didn't reflect our mood! #gloomy'

Last year, he was ridiculed for his
hair transplant when a youth team player dressed up in a Rooney No10
shirt, Shrek mask and curly black wig.

He then gave a mock interview, describing how the follicle transplant had changed his life.

Very funny! Jonny Evans makes no effort to hide his amusement

Very funny! Jonny Evans makes no effort to hide his amusement

Hot under the collar Did one of the youth teamers have the nerve to lampoon Sir Alex

Hot under the collar Did one of the youth teamers have the nerve to lampoon Sir Alex

The real Rooney couldn't do anything but laugh – though I'm sure his face was bright red.

Another target last time was Spanish
goalkeeper David De Gea, who had been caught stealing a doughnut from
Tesco earlier in the year.

A youth team player walked onto the stage munching a box of Krispy Kremes.

But there was controversy too, with reports that an unidentified player threw a mince pie at Sir Alex.

It would be a brave man to parody the boss in the panto, but pie-throwing is surely the height of foolishness!

P.S. At least Fergie finds it funny this time!

Last year, Rooney landed himself in hot water on a Manchester United-themed quiz show. In a game of charades, he was asked to act out the film 'Bend It Like Beckham' for teammates Ryan Giggs and Jonny Evans to guess.

They just couldn't get it, so Rooney pointed at Sir Alex on the opposing team and mimed a boot being kicked into his face – a reference to the nasty incident involving Becks in the dressing room after a 2-0 defeat to Arsenal in a 2003 FA Cup final.

To say Fergie didn't look impressed was an understatement and he just said: 'That'll cost you.'

David Moyes wants new goalkeeper for Everton

Moyes plots keeper swoop after growing concerned over Howard's form

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UPDATED:

22:30 GMT, 25 November 2012

Everton will step up their search for a new goalkeeper with David Moyes concerned that a lack of competition is harming Tim Howard’s form.

Howard’s 196 consecutive Premier League starts is the longest run of any player in the top-flight, but Moyes admitted he should have come out to claim the freekick that led to Sebastien Bassong’s last-minute equaliser for Norwich in a 1-1 draw at Goodison Park.

With Howard’s deputy Jan Mucha out of contract at the end of the season, former Arsenal keeper Alex Manninger, ex-Celtic No.1 Artur Boruc, the Philadelphia Union’s Zac MacMath and Egyptian Adam Mansour are among those to be given a trial in recent weeks as Everton look to bring in someone who will push the 33-year-old American harder.

At fault: Tim Howard failed to deal with the Norwich attack

At fault: Tim Howard failed to deal with the Norwich attack

Asked if that would benefit Howard, Moyes said: ‘Yes, you need competition for every position and everybody has got to make sure they’re at the top of their game. We have to make sure we’re not continually making mistakes that lead to goals.’

Howard’s ever-present status was the main reason John Ruddy played just 81 minutes of first-team football in five years at Everton before relaunching his career at Norwich.

Steven Naismith’s early goal was the first Ruddy had conceded in five hours and 45 minutes, but he made two fine saves from Leighton Baines before limping off with a thigh injury late on.

Norwich boss Chris Hughton said: ‘Possibly if John was here at Everton he would be sitting on the bench week in week out not getting an opportunity. Sometimes you need to get away and see if you can develop. Fortunately for us, John developed into an excellent goalkeeper.’

Hughton’s side are now unbeaten in seven games in all competitions – a run that includes Premier League wins over Manchester United and Arsenal – and lie one place above Newcastle in the table.

In front: Steven Naismith scored the opening goal for Everton

In front: Steven Naismith scored the opening goal for Everton

However, as he approaches the second anniversary of his sacking at St James’s Park, the 53-year-old is reluctant to accept that he is proving a point to his old employers after taking over at Carrow Road in the summer.

‘As a manager it’s such a pressurised and stressful job that it’s a great relief to win games and get points,’ said Hughton.

‘But anything that’s in the past is very much in the past.

‘I was delighted to get the opportunity to manage at Norwich. It’s a wonderful club that we hope we can keep going in the right direction. For any plusses, it’ s plusses for all.’

It was former Newcastle defender Bassong who headed in Javier Garrido’s freekick, and the Cameroon international warned that Norwich cannot afford to get carried away with their recent success.

‘It’s important to keep our heads right and not to think like we are big players or a big team,’ said Bassong.

High flying: Norwich are enjoying a rich vein of form

High flying: Norwich are enjoying a rich vein of form

‘We’ve got to stay humble and keep working because that’s the only way we can get a result. If we start thinking we’re someone else, it’s not going to work.

‘It’s true we have just beaten some top-four teams but there’s no bad team in this league. I hope they underestimate us because that’s a good position for us.’

It was the third time Everton have conceded a last-minute equaliser this season following similar slips against Newcastle and Fulham.

Having taken just one point from two games against Reading and Norwich, Moyes’s side now face Arsenal, Manchester City and Tottenham in the next three fixtures.

‘It worries me a bit that we didn’t take enough from these two games,’ admitted the Everton boss.

‘They’re the sort of games that realistically if you want to be in amongst it you’d be looking to take some points.’

Santi Cazorla exclusive: The making of Arsenal"s mini marvel

Cazorla, the mini marvel! Arsenal lost their crown jewel when RVP left, but they unearthed another gem

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UPDATED:

22:45 GMT, 1 November 2012

At the small school on the outskirts of the village of Lugo de Llanera in northern Spain, there was recently some news which shocked pupils and teachers alike: football had been banned.

The official reason was that the health-and-safety brigade thought too many children were getting hurt during their kick-abouts in the concrete playground that surrounds the Colegio Publico Lugo de Llanera. The real reason, no doubt, is that they have given up trying to produce another Santiago Cazorla.

Cazorla was a football-loving short kid who always had a football tucked under his arm. Now he is Arsenal’s ball carrier too, a brilliant midfielder with enough talent to have dampened the despair at Robin van Persie’s departure and to give Arsene Wenger’s side hope ahead of their trip to Old Trafford on Saturday.

Mini marvel: Santi Cozorla fell in love with football from an early age in Lugo De Llanera, northern Spain

Mini marvel: Santi Cozorla fell in love with football from an early age in Lugo De Llanera, northern Spain

Progression: Cazorla (bottom right) was snapped up by Oviedo before Villarreal, Recreativo and Malaga

Progression: Cazorla (bottom right) was snapped up by Oviedo before Villarreal, Recreativo and Malaga

Top Gunner: Now Cazorla is at the heart of all the good things Arsenal are trying to achieve

Top Gunner: Now Cazorla is at the heart of all the good things Arsenal are trying to achieve

Arsenal have lost their crown jewel, but they think they have found another gem who can give them an unlikely win against the team who beat them 8-2 last season.

That short kid is now the 5ft 6in footballer who has quickly built a reputation for sublime control, the ability to pass and shoot with both feet and an eye for goal. He’s the quintessential skilful midfielder that reminds England of what they don’t have.

Most of the village will watch the game against United in the bar which carries Cazorla's name. They adore him, still marvel at his ambidexterity and raise a glass of their beloved local cider with each goal he scores.

Cider is at the heart of everything in Lugo de Llanera. It is the drink of the Asturias region in north-western Spain and is generally accompanied by no shortage of ham, chorizo, black pudding and white beans. They pour the cider from above their heads so it lands in the glass below at a pace and with fizz. Once poured, the glass doesn’t touch the table and the cider is downed in one big gulp.

This is a routine Cazorla knows only too well and one he still enjoys when he comes back to the bar, which is run by his best friend Fran Ribero.

‘We have been best friends since we were nine,’ says Ribero, buzzing text messages to his London-based friend in between answers. ‘We preferred football to schoolwork. Our school used to win every tournament in the area because of him. He always had a ball under his arm — and I mean always.

Favourite son: His best friend, Fran Ribero, runs a bar in Cazorla's hometown, adorned with the Arsenal star's memorabilia and still frequented by his brother and mother (below)

Favourite son: His best friend, Fran Ribero, runs a bar in Cazorla's hometown, adorned with the Arsenal star's memorabilia and still frequented by his brother and mother (below)

Favourite son: His best friend, Fran Ribero, runs a bar in Cazorla's hometown, adorned with the Arsenal star's memorabilia and still frequented by his brother and mother (below)

Favourite son: His best friend, Fran Ribero, runs a bar in Cazorla's hometown, adorned with the Arsenal star's memorabilia and still frequented by his brother and mother (below)

‘It’s a quiet life here — although we’re Spanish so we like to party too. After Euro 2012, we had a huge surprise party for him with thousands of people. We shut off all the roads and the police had to come along.

‘I’d been with him in Madrid celebrating and then we came straight here. We didn’t sleep for 48 hours. He still comes to the bar when he’s back. He was here during the last international break.’

Cazorla’s family also go to the bar, which is a five-minute walk from the sports centre named after the Arsenal midfielder.

His mother Loli and older brother Nando pass by while we are there, both immensely proud of Santi and both painting a picture of a determined, happy boy whose inner strength helped him overcome the death of his father from a heart attack almost six years ago.

‘He and Nando were just football, football, football,’ says Loli, a warm woman with a smile that gets bigger every time she mentions her son’s name.

‘We had a small house and my husband worked in the mines, then when they closed down he was a builder. Santi was a shy boy, they both were and they played football all day long, even in the house.

‘They broke windows so I took away the balls but then they’d just roll up some socks and play with those instead.’

She laughs and puts her head in her hands when the topic of school arises.

International pedigree: The Spaniard has more than 50 caps for his country, despite the wealth of talent

International pedigree: The Spaniard has more than 50 caps for his country, despite the wealth of talent

International pedigree: The Spaniard has more than 50 caps for his country, despite the wealth of talent

‘He didn’t like anything. Maybe PE. All
the teachers used to say to me that he was a lovely boy but he just
wasn’t interested in working. So they told me, “Take away what he enjoys
— don’t let him watch TV”.

'But I told them he wasn’t interested in the TV, it was football he was crazy about. So they said there was no way I could deny him that.’

Nando, himself once a very talented player, remembers the same boy.

‘At home, all we did was play football. There were no books. We broke a lot of windows and ornaments. We shared a bedroom and the main man for us was Michael Laudrup. I liked Hristo Stoichkov too. We had lots of posters and of course we had lots of trophies too.’

Nando was a striker who some argued had more talent than his brother but who all agree did not have the same drive to succeed.

‘As a boy, I scored the same number of goals — 32 — as David Villa in one season,’ says Nando, with not a hint of regret. ‘But it never quite happened.’

‘Nando was amazing,’ recalls Juanjo Beltran, who worked with both boys at their first club, Covadonga. ‘He could do everything. But he didn’t want to be a footballer deep down. David Villa went off to Sporting and Nando didn’t move on. One game his attitude was so bad that I took him off and played with 10 because it was better than having him on the pitch.’

Young Santi had no such problems, first taking part in training with his brother’s group because there was no team for seven-year-olds and then moving to the indoor five-a-side teams that children up to 10 years old compete in.

It’s only when they are 13 that they play on a full-sized pitch for the first time, so the ability to keep control of the ball in tight situations comes as no surprise.

With his incredible ability to use both feet equally well, Cazorla excelled, scoring 170 goals in one season and soon catching the eye of Real Oviedo, one of Spain’s big clubs.

Always going to happen: Cazorla's talent was spotted by Juanjo Beltran, as well as at his school (below)

Always going to happen: Cazorla's talent was spotted by Juanjo Beltran, as well as at his school (below)

Always going to happen: Cazorla's talent was spotted by Juanjo Beltran, as well as at his school (below)

/11/01/article-2226497-15B700CF000005DC-142_634x447.jpg” width=”634″ height=”447″ alt=”Friends in high places: In Mikel Arteta, Cazorla has a buddy from his childhood at Arsenal” class=”blkBorder” />

Friends in high places: In Mikel Arteta, Cazorla has a buddy from his childhood at Arsenal

‘It’s so sad that Jose died before he could see Santi play for his country,’ adds Beltran. ‘His family had tough times before that too. When they shut the mines, his dad had no job for a while. I took them a whole load of our clothes to help them through.’

They are happier times now, with Cazorla thriving in the Premier League with two goals and three assists so far for his new club.

Fifty caps for Spain and successful spells at Villarreal, Recreativo and Malaga show you he is valued highly back home during a vintage period for Spanish midfielders.

‘He’s so happy in England,’ says Loli with another smile. ‘The people at the club are nice and he’s only worried about learning English.

'He was worried he wouldn’t be able to chat to people so he’s busy learning. But he has Mikel Arteta to help him for now. I spoke to him after the Norwich defeat and he was so upset. I told him not to worry, that even Barcelona have bad games, but he was inconsolable. He has always been like that.

‘But I know Santi will definitely come back here to live one day. He loves it here. He’s very patriotic. He can live normally here.

'And he hasn’t changed a bit. He’s the same boy who left here. It’s odd for me too now. He has played for some big clubs but no-one was ever interested in him before. Now he’s at Arsenal, we’ve had people making a documentary about him.’

Get it right at Old Trafford and there will be many more.

Poland glad John Terry is not playing for England

Terry's absence is big boost for Poland, claims scout Malowiejski

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UPDATED:

21:13 GMT, 14 October 2012

Poland will try to do to England in Warsaw on Tuesday night what Italy did to Roy Hodgson’s team at Euro 2012, according to Hubert Malowiejski, the man who has scouted England for Poland. Malowiejski has also identified John Terry’s absence as 'some kind of trouble for Roy Hodgson.'

Poland have beaten England only once in their history and have injury problems but Malowiejski said: 'England are a real team, but they have some problems. Some players are missing. There are some injuries and John Terry is no longer the captain.

'Against Ukraine, England were under pressure and they only saved a point in the last few minutes.

Absent: John Terry (left) retired from international football

Absent: John Terry (left) retired from international football

'We are analysing this precisely and we are also analysing England-Italy in the Euros because Italy took complete control of that game at times. This is interesting. That could be a key, though we are aware that we cannot copy Italy totally. They have quality defenders.

'I don’t know the whole John Terry story but for Poland it is better that he is not playing. I know the case but I don’t know the real reason. England can miss his mentality, that’s a factor. He has quality of course, maybe more than Lescott or Jagielka, but the main thing they miss without John Terry is mental. They miss his fight, his passion and his example when things do not go well. He is an inspiration for the rest of the England players, he has rescued many situations. He defends bravely.

Battle: England struggled to break down San Marino before winning easily

Battle: England struggled to break down San Marino before winning easily

'It is peculiar that England have no Terry or Rio Ferdinand, but we have to focus on the new central defenders. Terry missing is not a direct advantage for us, but it’s some kind of trouble for Roy Hodgson.'

The Poles are seeking inspiration from the manner in which Italy dominated England in the summer.

'There are two keys I think,' added Malowiejski, 'one is stopping Steven Gerrard and the other is stopping Wayne Rooney.

'Gerrard can change the tempo, he is the director, everything stems from him. It’s a problem for us that Rooney is back.

High flying: Poland are hoping to cause an upset against England

High flying: Poland are hoping to cause an upset against England

'But we will look to what Italy did. The Italians stopped Rooney from playing. But we cannot do man-marking, it is zonal marking.

'I think the game will be tactical, but you cannot be sure. It’s vital that we are solid and don’t give goals away.'

Poland have no Andrea Pirlo in their team but Malowiejski said that the Bordeaux playmaker Ludovic Obraniak 'can make decisive passes.'

Tom Cleverley says Olympics appearance earned him England place under Roy Hodgson

Cleverley says impressive showing at Olympics helped earn him England place

|

UPDATED:

15:59 GMT, 14 October 2012

Midfielder Tom Cleverley has his very own Olympic legacy – a place in the England team.

While the debate about Great Britain's female football participation in future Games continues, it has already been confirmed the men's team was a one-off experiment for London 2012 that will not be repeated.

Few will mourn its passing into history, but Cleverley has good reason to be thankful for its existence.
After all, it gave him the leg up required to claim a place in the international arena.

Legacy: Tom Cleverley believes the Olympics helped him secure a place in Roy Hodgson's plans

Legacy: Tom Cleverley believes the Olympics helped him secure a place in Roy Hodgson's plans

'The Olympics were very important for me,' said the Manchester United player.

'It was perfect for me to get some games and play competitive matches on a big stage.

'Roy Hodgson was at a couple of the games, I was in good form and I have managed to carry that on into the season.'

Not that Cleverley is taking anything for granted ahead of Tuesday's World Cup qualifier with Poland in Warsaw.

He might have started all four games for England this season but it is the first time Steven Gerrard and Wayne Rooney have both been available, so even though Frank Lampard is missing with a calf problem, starting berths are at a premium.

'I am really proud to have started all four games so far,' Cleverley said.

'I am always happy to represent my country, but I have a bit more hard work and a few more games ahead of me before I become established.

'There are plenty of top class midfielders in the Premier League.'

Centre of attention: Cleverley has impressed in the middle of the park for England and Manchester United

Centre of attention: Cleverley has impressed in the middle of the park for England and Manchester United

Centre of attention: Cleverley has impressed in the middle of the park for England and Manchester United

In addition to Lampard, Ryan Bertrand was also ruled out on Sunday, having failed to overcome the viral infection that prevented him from training following his late call-up last week.

It was his reaction to that illness being described as a sore throat that led to a four-letter riposte on Twitter that drew more attention to himself.

Bertrand does not appear to have felt the hassle was worth it as the account has been deleted over the weekend.

It is the kind of exchange Wayne Rooney has managed to avoid, and he showed greater maturity than many people give him credit for when he led England to their 5-0 win over San Marino on Friday.

After that game, manager Hodgson was moved to suggest Rooney would succeed Gerrard as England captain.

And having benefited from working with the 26-year-old at Old Trafford, Cleverley would have no problem if his United team-mate inherited the armband on a full-time basis.

'Wayne has all the attributes to be a good captain,' said Cleverley.

'He is a winner. You could tell that before the game because he was quite vocal in the dressing room.

'I am not the manager but I would certainly be happy playing under a captain like Wayne Rooney.

'He is a fantastic player and a good leader.'

Red, white and blue: Cleverley played for Stuart Pearce's Team GB side during the 2012 Olympics

Red, white and blue: Cleverley played for Stuart Pearce's Team GB side during the 2012 Olympics

England are likely to show a number of changes from Friday's team, with potentially only Phil Jagielka keeping his place.

Glen Johnson will almost certainly return from suspension and there is no need to save Joleon Lescott from another booking that will rule him out of England's next competitive game, as that is the return fixture against San Marino next March.

It leaves only the choice about whether to keep faith with Leighton Baines, who has also started all four England games this season, or Ashley Cole, who would be winning his 99th cap and whose talent has never been in dispute even if his off-field behaviour leaves something to be desired.

'We are really lucky to have some great left-backs in this country,' said Cleverley.

'Baines and Ashley Cole are both fantastic players.

'They both get forward, are natural defenders and I wouldn't enjoy playing against either of them.

'If you include Ryan Bertrand and Kieran Gibbs as well, we are really lucky with the standard of defenders we have.

'Whoever is selected on Tuesday night, I am certain they will do a good job.'

West Ham play like Real Madrid and Barcelona – Neil Ashton

Allardyce's Hammers play just like Real Madrid and Barcelona… but not how you think

|

UPDATED:

22:44 GMT, 2 October 2012

Take a look at these statistics and see whether you can spot a trend: Real Madrid 67. West Ham 65. Barcelona 59.

At first glance it is difficult to think of a single reason why Sam Allardyce's team could possibly be mentioned in the same sentence as two of the biggest clubs in world football.

Some would even say it is deeply offensive for Sam Allardyce's long-ball merchants to even be mentioned in the same breath as Jose Mourinho or Tito Vilanova's eye-catching teams.

Just like watching Barca: Allardyce's side were comfortable victors at Loftus Road

Just like watching Barca: Allardyce's side were comfortable victors at Loftus Road

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After watching West Ham's impressive and stylish victory over QPR at Loftus Road from the halfway line on Monday night, it is easier to make sense of the numbers.

The figures above for the three teams represent the average number of long balls that the teams have played in their respective leagues this season.

For the purposes of this analysis, produced by Opta and freely available on the excellent website whoscored.com, any attempted pass which is 25 yards or more constitutes a long ball.

They are surprising figures, particular for two Spanish teams who pride themselves on short, incisive passing to slice through the opposition.

The purists will claim that Gerard Pique can change gear at will, picking out Lionel Messi and sending a ball from one half to the other with his superior skills.

The reality is that even Barcelona and Real Madrid, in times of trouble, will resort to the outlets up front and send something long for Cristiano Ronaldo or Messi to chase down.

Perhaps this is the reason that Allardyce, in an interview in September 2010 that brought much mirth and derision in football, claimed he could manage Real Madrid.

At the time he claimed he would walk
away with league titles year in, year out if he was given the chance to
manage one of the world’s biggest football clubs.

Even last weekend, Allardyce’s protests
continued in an extensive interview with the Observer, when he argued
for ‘winning football’ as opposed to ‘pretty passing’.

Aerial route: With strikers as big as Carroll and Cole it's understandable why they favour the lofted route towards goal

Aerial route: With strikers as big as Carroll and Cole it's understandable why they favour the lofted route towards goal

Aerial route: With strikers as big as Carroll and Cole it's understandable why they could favour the direct towards goal

His case is helped by the number of long balls his rivals in the Barclays Premier League are playing.

Liverpool, who are supposed to be taking the short passing game to another level under Brendan Rodgers, average 66 long balls every match.

These are the average number of long balls played, on average, this season by the teams who finished in the top four:

Champions Manchester City (54), Manchester United (56), Arsenal (49), Tottenham (61).

As for the rest of the Premier League, there are some eye-catching statistics among the other sides.

Newcastle (78), Everton (69), Reading (67), Wigan (67), Chelsea (65) Fulham (64), West Bromwich (64), Aston Villa (62), Sunderland (62), Norwich (60), QPR (59), Stoke (59), Swansea (55) and Southampton (51).

Pity Rodgers, Alan Pardew, David Moyes,
Brian McDermott, Roberto Martinez and Roberto Di Matteo when people
become aware of the statistics.

With the exception of Arsenal,
Southampton and Swansea, it would be easy to argue that the rest of the
Premier League is made up of hit and hope teams.

Facing facts: Real and Barca play The beautiful Game - but aren't afraid of finding a long route out of trouble

Facing facts: Real and Barca play The Beautiful Game – but aren't afraid of finding a long route out of trouble

Facing facts: Real and Barca play The beautiful Game - but aren't afraid of finding a long route out of trouble

Clearly that is not the case, with teams refining their systems to suit the demands of skilful players and a demanding public.

No manager likes negative Press, particularly Allardyce. Although he has strengthened the team for the Premier League, he has refined the pattern and style for the Hammers’ return to the top flight.

At Loftus Road they looked like an established Premier League team, pouncing on the defensive deficiencies of a team who are afraid to play at home.

Rangers are seizing up at Loftus Road, a legacy of their 5-0 opening day defeat against Swansea and their failure to win in the Premier League this season.

Allardyce has a specific system in place designed to hunt down the opposition and take advantage of teams who want to play The Beautiful Game, but play it badly. At this moment, QPR fall into that category.

The idea that Allardyce takes training at Chadwell Heath each day with full-backs launching endless long balls towards Andy Carroll or Carlton Cole is a myth.

Culture club: West Ham's pressing style of play paid dividends at Loftus Road

Culture club: West Ham's pressing style of play paid dividends at Loftus Road

At the beginning of the week, his coaches Neil McDonald and Wally Downes take training and Allardyce has input from the sidelines.

They are not trying to reinvent the wheel, but they play small-sided, passing and pressing games to take time away from the players and put them under pressure.

As they build up towards matchday, Allardyce’s role becomes more prominent and he is heavily involved on the training pitches.

On Thursday and Friday, like most teams across the country, they practise set-pieces ahead of a Saturday fixture.

Even then, for a team tagged ‘long ball’, they have won only 50 per cent of their aerial duels this season.

Allardyce has always been prickly about the accusations that his teams know only one way to play, but he has adjusted to the demands of modern football.

At times they might kick it long, but on Monday night they joined the culture club.