Tag Archives: recognises

Patrick Collins on the Kevin Pietersen saga

Redemption KP's been there, done that and got the T-shirt…


22:05 GMT, 6 October 2012



22:05 GMT, 6 October 2012

On a steamy day in distant Colombo,
Giles Clarke wore a silk suit, a club tie and a superior stare. He
delivered his statement slowly, portentously, as if it were a prize-day
oration at one of our more expensive public schools. And, in truth, it
was priceless stuff.

‘In our society,’ said the ECB
chairman, ‘we believe that if an individual transgresses, and the
individual concerned recognises that and apologises for what they may
have caused to those involved, then it is important, and a fabric of our
society, that the individual should be given a real opportunity to be
reintegrated into our society.’

The ‘individual’, Kevin Pietersen, was
sitting a few feet away. His face was a bewildered question-mark: ‘Is
he talking about me’ And he wasn’t sure that he’d like the answer.

Not in the script: Kevin Pietersen reacts to Giles Clarke in Coilombo

Not in the script: Kevin Pietersen reacts to Giles Clarke in Coilombo

What he’d expected was a light rap
across the knuckles, followed by an assurance that he’d be back in the
England side as soon as they could fix it without losing face. Broady,
Swanny and all those other blokeish nicknames would promise to stop
laughing at him, while he would stop texting the opposition with
‘provocative’, but not ‘derogatory’, messages about his team-mates.

As a result he, KP, would intensify
his efforts to become richer and more famous, and everyone would be
friends for ever and ever. Or at least until the next time. That was
what was supposed to happen.Instead, he found Giles Clarke expounding
penal policy under the guise of a cricket decision.

KP’s advisers, who
have always done such a great job for him, hadn’t prepared him for
this. He glanced at his own script, so bland and vacuous that he might
almost have written it himself. There was that remark about how ‘playing
cricket for England was the pinnacle of any South African cricketer’s

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He hoped he’d got that right. And he
really liked the bit about ‘drawing a line’ and ‘time to move forward’.
He hoped he hadn’t used it when he fell out with Natal and Notts and
Hampshire. Hard to remember. The rest of us wondered why the chairman
refused to come clean. After all, he knows that England are making a
special case of Pietersen. The player may be disruptive, narcissistic, a
royal pain in the neck, but he is an extraordinary talent whose absence
leaves a gaping hole in the middle order. And so they are bending the
rules to accommodate him.

But that was not what the man in the
silk suit was saying as on he ploughed, all wobbling jowls and
lugubrious vowels. No, he was wagging his finger, speaking very slowly,
emphasising selected words: ‘The ECB and Kevin will consider the matter
as closed, and no … further … questions … on … the … subject … will …
be … taken.’

The newly reintegrated Pietersen tried
to appear inscrutable but it didn’t work. He may not be the sharpest
knife in the box, but he has been here before.

The ECB may think it’s all over, but KP knows it has only just begun.

Tiger's Ryder Cup gesture made a perfect day even better

The back of the 18th green at Medinah last Sunday evening was the most privileged position in the whole of sport. From a range of just a few feet, we could study the stress on familiar faces, hear the faint click of ball on putter, enjoy the dawning realisation that the apparently impossible would soon become reality.

And almost as stirring as the unfolding drama was the gesture of Tiger Woods, who conceded a problematical putt to Francesco Molinari and gave Europe the victory by a point. Had Molinari missed the putt, then the match would have been drawn. Woods later explained himself by saying: ‘It was already over. We came here as a team, this is a team event. And the Cup was retained by Europe, so it was already over.’

Great gesture: Tiger Woods halves with Francesco Molinari

Great gesture: Tiger Woods halves with Francesco Molinari

In other words, Europe held the trophy and they would retain it through either a win or a draw. He was criticised in some bloodless quarters, yet it felt like a vaguely noble gesture, the act of somebody who understands the art of gracious defeat. So we were given drama and nobility, the very stuff of great sport. It seemed that the occasion was just perfect. Until we heard the yelps of the bookmakers.

Woods, it appears, was not a lofty idealist, but a base villain. It was the bookies who said so. You see, very few people place their money on a tie, which means that the tie would have been the ideal result for the corporate vultures. Tiger’s magnanimous gesture had cost them a good deal. Just how much we cannot say, since in these cases they tend to think of a figure and double it. One bunch of chancers claimed a loss of 800,000, another put their damage at a mere 650,000 and a couple more reported around half a million.

An ‘independent expert’, asked for an estimate of their total losses, came up with the sum of 10m, which is the kind of random figure your pet parrot might be ashamed to utter.

Whatever the real figures, these charmless characters, who make their money through a tax on stupidity, had caught a considerable cold. And suddenly, on the back of the 18th green, a perfect day got even better.

Football just can't get enough of Ridsdale

Football is the most generous, warm-hearted, endlessly forgiving of sports. I cite the one and only Peter Ridsdale.

A decade ago, Ridsdale was the man who ‘lived the dream’ as chairman of Leeds United. It was a golden era, with money spent as if there were no tomorrow. Unfortunately, tomorrow arrived too soon. Leeds collapsed with debts of more than 100million, and the dreamer was forced to seek alternative employment.

Dream on: Peter Ridsdale

Dream on: Peter Ridsdale

He found it at Barnsley, Plymouth and Cardiff, where his Midas touch was much coveted. Sadly, that touch deserted him again when chairman of Cardiff. A company he owned while working for Cardiff City went into liquidation owing 442,353 in unpaid tax and VAT.

‘He acted improperly and in breach of his duties,’ said the Insolvency Service. As a consequence, he has just been disqualified from acting as a company director for the next seven-and-a-half years.

But you can’t keep a great man down, and Ridsdale is now Preston North End’s chairman of football. And nobody seems to think this an odd state of affairs.

Indeed, the mood is articulated by the eminent pundit Paul Merson.

‘He must be doing something right to keep getting offered so many jobs in football,’ said Merson. ‘I’ve only met him once and I thought he was a lovely bloke. We chatted for about half-an-hour, and he was as nice as pie.’

That’s football for you: a game of warmth, generosity … and a wonderfully short memory.


A few weeks ago, as the nation basked in its Olympic glow, Roy Hodgson admitted that football had a lot to learn from the spirit of the Games.

He spoke, a shade enviously, of the civilised behaviour of the players and the watchers.

‘A benchmark has been set and we must accept that we’ll be under a little more of the spotlight,’ he said.

Golden days, indeed, and Hodgson will surely recall how London’s mayor, Boris Johnson, expressed the prevailing mood.

‘These are extraordinary times,’ said Boris. ‘Why, total strangers have been talking to each other on the Tube.’

Euro 2012: Wayne Rooney not good enough says Roy Hodgson

Rooney wasn't good enough! Hodgson admits suspended striker did not live up to expectations



00:28 GMT, 26 June 2012

Roy Hodgson admits Wayne Rooney failed to live up to expectations as England crashed out of Euro 2012 but insists the fitness of the striker was not an issue.

Head coach Hodgson was aware of the pressure on Rooney to perform at his best after returning from a two-match ban for his sending off against Montenegro in a qualifying game last October.

But, after scoring the winner against Ukraine, Rooney was below par in the quarter-final defeat by Italy in Kiev last night when England were beaten 4-2 on penalties after a goalless 120 minutes.

No impact: Wayne Rooney could not make his mark against Italy

No impact: Wayne Rooney could not make his mark against Italy

Hodgson said: 'I think we put a lot of expectations on Wayne.

Euro 2012

'When he missed the first two games, we were all believing that what we needed to do was to get to the third game and Wayne Rooney will win us the championships.

'That maybe was too much to ask of him. Wayne certainly tried very hard, but he didn't have his best game. I think he would admit that.'

But Hodgson conceded it was natural for the onus to be on the top players to perform on the biggest stages.

He said: 'Do we put too much expectation on Rooney Well we do, but so do other teams with their players, don't they

'I think had (Andrea) Pirlo played poorly last night, it might have affected the Italians' performance.

Upset: Rooney was distraught as England lost on penalties

Upset: Rooney was distraught as England lost on penalties

'I think in all top international
teams, you're looking at one, two, possibly three individuals that
everyone recognises as being exceptional world-class talents.

'When you get to the big stage,
you're hoping those players perform and show they're world-class
talents, like the Maradonas that win Argentina a World Cup with his

Rooney went on holiday in Las Vegas at the end of the domestic season and was pictured at a nightclub until the early hours.

But Hodgson was adamant Rooney was fit and up to speed in training sessions even though his only action in six weeks before returning against Ukraine was as a second half substitute against Belgium.

When asked if the Las Vegas trip was
ideal, Hodgson said: 'Well, we haven't noticed anything with his fitness
levels. We've monitored his fitness levels and in training he has
looked very fit.

Expectant: Roy Hodgson admits he hoped for more from Rooney

Expectant: Roy Hodgson admits he hoped for more from Rooney

'In the first game (against Ukraine)
he didn't show any particular signs of lacking any fitness and he played
the 120 minutes last night.

'I think what you might be saying is that you're a bit disappointed with his performance and maybe thought he could have played better.

'It's not necessarily related to this (Rooney's fitness). You could put fitness down to anything. That was the classic Italian trick. Every time an Italian team loses a game, you hear they're not fit.

'You can put a lot of things down to fitness, but there was no reason for us to doubt his fitness. His running stats in the training sessions and the games were actually very good.'

Chelsea must be defensive, like Andre Villas-Boas

Like Villas-Boas, Chelsea must go on the defensive to preserve their Champions League place

However animated Andre Villas-Boas might have been when his side scored their second goal at Newcastle on Saturday, Chelsea’s manager was keeping such emotions in check on Monday night.

He was candid enough in response to certain questions. Particularly when it came to the isolation of Nicolas Anelka and Alex and whether that result at St James’ Park represented a pivotal moment in Chelsea’s season.

‘We would not be arrogant enough to think that,’ he said. ‘Our results have not been impressive and we need to start performing with more consistency before we can believe we are back on track.’

On the defensive: Andre Villas-Boas was giving little away prior to Chelsea

On the defensive: Andre Villas-Boas was giving little away prior to Chelsea”s crunch Champions League clash

But he was also more measured, defensive even; as defensive as his side need to be against Valencia this evening and defensive with regard to what started to feel like the elephant in the room at Stamford Bridge. Basically, what happens should Chelsea fail to progress beyond the first stage of the Champions League

On three occasions Villas-Boas refused to countenance such talk, insisting he had not even thought about the consequences of a result that would propel Valencia into the last 16 and leave Chelsea in UEFA’s second-tier competition for the first time since Roman Abramovich bought the club in 2003.

Even with home advantage, it is a precarious position Chelsea find themselves in. A win sees them through, as does a goalless draw. But any other result, from a 1-1 draw to a win for a classy Spanish side sitting third in La Liga — one who have won five of their last six league games — leaves Chelsea and their manager facing some rather more difficult questions.

Villas-Boas recognises it will not be easy, not least because the circumstances for both clubs have changed somewhat since they last met back in September.

Stretched: Chelsea have made hard work of their routine Champions League group

Stretched: Chelsea have made hard work of their routine Champions League group

‘Valencia are in a better moment now,’ he said, knowing full well that the same cannot be said of Chelsea.

He can only hope that the events of the weekend do suggest some kind of turning point. The win at Newcastle, the words of support from Didier Drogba, even the fact that the 34-year-old Portuguese has received the backing of his employers in the way he has dealt with Anelka and Alex. On Monday he might have recognised them as ‘top professionals’, but they were not involved in training during the day.

Danger man: Roberto Soldado

Danger man: Roberto Soldado

‘For players on the transfer list the reality is that, eventually, the mind-set is not the same,’ said Villas-Boas.

It sounded brutal even if it probably amounts to the right decision. As long as he has read the situation correctly and believes the dressing room will be comfortable with such treatment of friends and colleagues.

This being Chelsea, the issue of whether the manager had the support of the players was never far away. Villas-Boas insisted he did. ‘Yes,’ he said in direct response to a direct question, having already had the unequivocal support of the articulate Daniel Sturridge.

‘I am behind the manager and I believe everyone else is,’ he said. ‘He’s going to be here for the next three years.’

If Chelsea are eliminated from the competition and poor results then come against Manchester City and Tottenham it becomes a struggle to see Villas-Boas still being around much beyond the next three games.

But there is a feeling at Stamford Bridge that Tuesday night might not be that critical for the manager, and that it is only a ‘life and death’ game within the context of the competition; that only if Chelsea start to slip down the Premier League table and out of contention for next season’s Champions League would Abramovich start to get an itchy trigger finger. History suggests otherwise, but there you go.

More of the same: The wild celebrations at St James

More of the same: The wild celebrations at St James” Park would be most welcome again on Tuesday night at Stamford Bridge

Chelsea v Valencia: Match preview

Clearly, though, a good result would ease the kind of pressure Villas-Boas was obviously under until Salomon Kalou scored in the 89th minute against Newcastle and Chelsea were no longer vulnerable to the kind of late goal that has proved costly already this season.

On this point Villas-Boas was dismissive, however.

‘It’s irrelevant what the game represents to me,’ he said. ‘It represents, for this club, the continuation in this competition or not, so we approach the game with maximum care and with confidence.’

Villas-Boas said that Juan Mata had been useful in preparing for a game against his former club, even if he said it was impossible to ‘guess Valencia’s strategy’.

He spoke of the Spaniards being highly motivated and recognised the threat posed by players such as Jonas, Tino Costa, Jeremy Mathieu and Jordi Alba; not to mention the prolific Roberto Soldado. But he also said Chelsea would not be vulnerable to that classic continental counter-attacking style because of the more ambitious approach he has tried to implement.

‘We have more or less tested four different formations,’ said Villas-Boas. ‘The talent of these players and their qualities allow us to play what is best for the team in a precise moment.’

The key, though, is something Drogba touched on at the weekend when he said the players needed to get behind the manager. ‘There’s full belief in what we’re doing,’ said Villas-Boas. ‘We saw a great team spirit at Newcastle, and to score three there gives the value of this team a lot of credit.’

More credit tonight would still be most welcome. Not least for the manager.