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Rafael Benitez crisis: Chelsea had Mourinho, Rodgers, Villas-Boas and Clarke – now they are full of resentment

Chelsea old boys Mourinho, AVB, Clarke and Rodgers are full of simmering resentment… is it any surprise after working at this club

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Roberto Di Matteo (Mar 2012-Nov 2012)
Rafa Benitez (Nov 2012- )

It was no surprise the combustible Villas-Boas and Mourinho fell out, but more damagingly Clarke and Rodgers now have one of the frostiest relationships in the game.

Clarke played a pivotal role in getting Rodgers’ career started at Stamford Bridge and was torn apart by the way he was treated by the Ulsterman when their paths crossed briefly again at Liverpool last summer.

Clarke, regarded as one of football’s nice guys, had put his own reputation on the line to get Rodgers a job at Chelsea.

Brendan Rodgers

Brendan Rodgers

Now and then: Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers was once youth and reserve-team boss at Chelsea

Can West Brom's grim reapers Bag another Chelsea manager's scalp

Rafael Benitez will not be happy to see Chelsea's next opponents are West Bromwich Albion – the grim reapers of Blues bosses.

The Baggies have hammered the final nail into the coffin of Benitez's two predecessors in the Stamford Bridge hotseat, Andre Villas-Boas and Roberto Di Matteo.

Villas-Boas' reign was ended after just eight torrid months following a dismal 1-0 defeat at West Brom in March 2012, in which Gareth McAuley struck the winner.

Chelsea

And Di Matteo saw his reign terminated, despite winning the Champions League just six months before, after an unacceptable run of results culminated in a 2-1 defeat at The Hawthorns in November last year.

Shane Long and Peter Odemwingie scored the goals as the Italian's fate was sealed even before the Champions League defeat against Juventus three days later.

Yet when Rodgers arrived on Merseyside
to succeed Kenny Dalglish as manager, Clarke – the club’s
assistant manager – learned about his dismissal with a phone call from
the club’s human resources department, rather than from Rodgers himself.

Fortunately for Clarke, he has been able to rebuild impressively his shattered career at West Brom this season with the club standing seventh in the Premier League, and is too polite to follow Benitez’s example and go public with his grievances.

But as he walks out at Stamford Bridge this weekend, he’ll undoubtedly cast his mind back to 2004 when he was Mourinho’s assistant manager at Chelsea and Rodgers an unknown 31-year-old whose playing career had been cut short by injury.

When a vacancy came up as youth-team manager, Chelsea playing idol Gus Poyet was the hot favourite until Clarke remembered the keen young coach he’d met on a pro-licence course and recommended him to Roman Abramovich.

The rest, as they say, is history. Rodgers learned avidly under Mourinho and used four years at Chelsea as a springboard for his own managerial career, at Watford, Reading, Swansea and currently at Liverpool.

In all that time, Clarke felt his early assistance went unappreciated.

‘Even at Liverpool, Brendan never spoke to him through the process of Steve leaving his job. They knew each other well but he left it to another department to sort it out,’ confirmed a friend.

‘The thing that hurts most is he never got a thank you. It’s an understatement to say he was badly treated.’

Rafa Benitez will know how he feels. It must be a Chelsea thing.

CHELSEA IN 2007: WHEN ROMAN COULDN’T MOVE FOR MANAGERS…

Glory days: Mourinho and Clarke formed a strong bond which brought huge success to Chelsea

Glory days: Mourinho and Clarke formed a strong bond which brought huge success to Chelsea

JOSE MOURINHO (manager)
The Special One led Chelsea to their
first title since 1955 but was sacked after a Champions League draw against
Rosenborg. Now in charge of Real Madrid but tipped for a return.

STEVE CLARKE (assistant manager)
A former Chelsea player, he was able
to teach Mourinho all about the club’s history and tradition. After
being a long-time No 2, will be back at the Bridge this weekend as West
Brom manager.

BRENDAN RODGERS (reserve-team manager)
Clarke gave him a reference to become
Chelsea’s youth-team manager and he was promoted to the reserves. Now in
his fourth managerial job, at Liverpool.

ANDRE VILLAS-BOAS (scout and cheerleader)
Mourinho’s close friend from Portugal,
AVB was often a hot-headed figure seen on the Chelsea bench. Now
reinvented himself as a great thinker, he failed as Chelsea manager but
doing well at Spurs‬.

The secret of Celtic glory? Smells like team spirit

The secret of Celtic glory Smells like team spirit

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UPDATED:

01:15 GMT, 7 December 2012

It is easy to get carried away with
Celtic. The history, the colour, the noise, the spectacle, all of this
acts like a magnetic force on our attention, on major European nights in
particular. Celtic Park can be an inspiration and it was once again
uplifting on Wednesday.

But at the core of the celebrated
club must always be a football team and if that seems a very basic
requirement, what Neil Lennon has assembled at Celtic is a proper team.

Get in: Neil Lennon punches the air after Celtic progressed to the next round of the Champions League

Get in: Neil Lennon punches the air after Celtic progressed to the next round of the Champions League

One definition of a real manager and a real team is that the collective is greater than the sum of the individual parts. Less is made more.

Celtic have done this, they have become a coherent unit one year on from being 3-0 down at Kilmarnock with Lennon fretting about his future. He did not look like the coming man he appears to be today. But the 41-year-old has grown; his team have grown.

In terms of maturity there is a comparison to be made with Borussia Dortmund, who finished bottom of their group a year ago with four points. At the same time Celtic were third in their Europa League group. Both are young teams.

Rocket: Kris Commons drills home the spot-kick that sent the Hoops through

Rocket: Kris Commons drills home the spot-kick that sent the Hoops through

Hard work and a team ethic sounds too
simple an explanation for progress, but there is genius in simplicity.
So when the question is asked: how did Celtic make it out of a tough
Champions League group when clubs of superior resources, such as
Manchester City and Chelsea, did not, a significant slice of the answer
is that Celtic are a team in a way that City and Chelsea have not been.

It is understandable to dwell on the wealth gap. Celtic’s most costly
player in their starting XI on Wednesday against Spartak Moscow was
Scott Brown, who cost 4.4million from Hibs five years ago.
Alongside him were scorers Gary Hooper (Scunthorpe, 1.6m) and Kris
Commons (Derby, 300,000).

Celtic’s starting XI against Spartak cost 13m, which amounts to a couple of annual salaries at Chelsea and City.

Another comparison that flatters Lennon and his club was the sight of
Aiden McGeady entering the pitch as a Spartak substitute. Celtic sold
McGeady to Moscow for 10m — which is 4m more than Celtic have ever
spent on a player.

And McGeady was by no means Spartak’s only recent recruit. Emmanuel
Emenike, who set up Spartak’s equaliser, cost 9m. The wages in Moscow
far exceed those in Scotland.

Anything can happen: Lennon believes his Celtic boys can go deep in the competition

Anything can happen: Lennon believes his Celtic boys can go deep in the competition

Another comparison is the TV money which clubs receive. Celtic’s cut
last year was around 2m, whereas Wolves, bottom of the Premier League
and relegated, received 39m.

Man City got 60.6m from the televising of the Premier League, Chelsea
54.4m, and it was felt that those two clubs capturing respectively the
League title and European Cup marked the utter triumph of vast wealth.

It has not turned out that way, which is a warning to Celtic. A year
from now, things could be different. But Celtic are not complacent. A
measure of their daily economic reality was seen and heard in the Jock
Stein Lounge on Tuesday. There Lennon talked about the financial rewards
gained before Wednesday’s victory as saving jobs at the stadium.

‘To
have this revenue when a lot of people at this club were worried about
their jobs is great,’ he said. ‘Everyone in Scotland is downsizing and
we are no different.’

Lennon was pressed on the January window and talked about getting
players such as Victor Wanyama and Hooper on to better contracts.

And buying players ‘Possibly. But I don’t want to change it too much. I
don’t want to spend mega-money on one player because that will only
disrupt the spirit here.’

Lennon did not overplay the spirit line. He was restrained. But he knows
this is over-achieving and he knows it is being noticed. ‘I think this
might change the opinion or the view of Scottish teams,’ he added,
‘particularly Celtic.’

Contract trouble: Gary Hooper might not sign a new deal

Contract trouble: Gary Hooper might not sign a new deal

Hearts could be bought by Angelo Massone

I'll buy Hearts! Massone fronts new 4.5m bid for stricken club

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UPDATED:

00:12 GMT, 16 November 2012

Former Livingston owner Angelo Massone has entered the race to save Hearts after lodging a 4.5million bid for the club.

A Rome-based lawyer, Massone is mediating on behalf of an Italian consortium which has tabled a formal offer to lawyers representing Tynecastle owner Vladimir Romanov.

Sportsmail has been told the group will be headed by a professor of economics, with an Edinburgh-born Italian-Scots business figure also ready to invest.

In the running: Angelo Massone wants to buy struggling Hearts

In the running: Angelo Massone wants to buy struggling Hearts

Massone’s brief and controversial reign at Livingston ended in acrimony in 2009.

In a quest to reassure Hearts fans, however, the 41-year-old insists the investment consortium will sign a percentage of shares over to them and would appoint supporter representatives to a board of directors.

Facing outstanding tax bills worth 2.2m and a 2m annual shortfall, Romanov has already rejected an offer by the Foundation of Hearts fans group, led by businessman Alex Mackie, to pay the smaller tax bill of 450,000 in return for control of the club.

Informal discussions suggest the bid by the Italian consortium — tabled on condition of Hearts being delivered debt and liability free — will also fall short of Romanov’s valuation.

Awaiting a formal response to the offer however, Massone offered to pool financial resources with Foundation of Hearts in order to end Romanov’s seven-year reign.

Massone told Sportsmail: ‘Together with the other investors, we have written to Mr Romanov’s lawyer with a formal offer.

Will he sell Vladimir Romanov

Will he sell Vladimir Romanov

‘We do not know how much Mr Romanov wants for the club. But I believe there is no one else in Scotland who can match the value of the offer we have made.

‘But I will only come back to Scottish football if I have the support and trust of a club’s supporters. That is vitally important to me.

‘I am willing and able to bring serious, wealthy, respected investors to Scottish football. We want to save Hearts and develop the club and make them a strong force once more.

‘But we also want the supporters to have democratic representation on the board and be the real owners of the club.

‘There is an opportunity at Hearts to turn them into a major challenger to Celtic. With Rangers in the Third Division, we can help with the budget and use our contacts to bring important international players to the club and develop the youths.

‘In terms of money and budget we can put a team on the park which can compete at the very highest level.’

Hearts averted a winding-up order by agreeing a payment plan with HMRC earlier this week. In tandem with Supporters Direct chief Paul Goodwin, Foundation of Hearts are continuing talks with Romanov’s representative Sergejus Fedotovas with a view to agreeing a fan-ownership scheme. Via a new website, the group have appealed to fans across the globe to pledge cash support.

Massone insists he is also keen to win
the trust of supporters after an ill-fated Livingston experience by
handing fans groups a 10 per cent stake in the club, with a view to
handing it over to them in the fullness of time.

Tough times: John McGlynn is prepared for an exodus

Tough times: John McGlynn is prepared for an exodus
‘If we are not successful with our bid, then I am willing to help Hearts supporters to own the club instead.

‘If Foundation of Hearts or Supporters Direct need financial help in terms of money to realise the dream of the fans owning the club, then I will speak seriously with them.’

Sportsmail understands that, despite reports, former Rangers bidder Brian Kennedy has no plans to move for the club.

Meantime, Hearts boss John McGlynn says he is bracing himself for a major January exodus of players whose contracts end in the summer — including Andy Webster, Marius Zaliukas and Andy Driver — as the club plans to further slash its wage bill to avoid going bust.

Arsenal AGM: Fans told Gunners will compete… but not for two years

So, that will be 10 years without a trophy then Arsenal tell fans they will compete with world's best… but not until 2014

Chief executive Ivan Gazidis tells AGM Arsenal will thrive under Financial Fair Play

FA Cup in 2005 was the last trophy won by Arsene Wenger's side

Wenger says reaching Champions League is more important than any old silverware

The Gunners are already 10 points off the pace in the Premier League

Gazidis defended Wenger's record against big-spending rivals

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UPDATED:

13:07 GMT, 25 October 2012

Arsenal will be able to compete with the world's biggest and best clubs as UEFA's Financial Fair Play regulations become more rigorously enforced, chief executive Ivan Gazidis told shareholders at the Gunners' annual general meeting on Thursday morning.

Arsenal slumped to a 2-0 home defeat by Schalke in the Champions League on Wednesday night, which followed on from a loss at Norwich at the weekend which left them 10 points behind Barclays Premier League leaders Chelsea.

Testing times: Arsene Wenger spoke at the AGM - less than 24 hours after Arsenal's home defeat to Schalke

Testing times: Arsene Wenger spoke at the AGM – less than 24 hours after Arsenal's home defeat to Schalke

Big blow: Arsenal were beaten at home by Schalke in the Champions League on Wednesday night

Big blow: Arsenal were beaten at home by Schalke in the Champions League on Wednesday night

The lacklustre displays have again brought the future of Arsene Wenger's side into question, as they look to recover from the 24million summer sale of captain Robin van Persie to Manchester United and to end a trophy drought which now runs back to the 2005 FA Cup.

However, Gazidis sees positives times ahead, with UEFA imposing tighter controls on club spending in relation to revenue over the next couple of years.

Gazidis said: 'In the next two years, we will have the financial resources to sit and compete among the leading clubs in the world, which is an extraordinary achievement.

'Financial success is relevant because it supports our football vision… the money we make is made available to our manager and he decides how to invest those funds.

'Arsene has done a magnificent job against the spending of our major competitors.'

Heated: Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis had to call for order at the AGM

Heated: Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis had to call for order at the AGM

Wenger has not won a trophy since the 2005 FA Cup but the Frenchman maintained qualification for the Champions League should retain value ahead of just any old silverware.

He said: 'Players ask: are you in the Champions League A new player doesn't want to know if you have won the League Cup.'

Flanked by chairman Peter Hill-Wood and majority shareholder Stan Kroenke, Gazidis added: 'Our ambition is shared by everybody at this table, the whole board and by everyone in this room.

'It is all about football, to compete at the top of the game here and in Europe to win trophies and do it in a way which makes fans proud and reflects our values, and also protects Arsenal for the long term.'

One shareholder accused Gazidis of 'ruining the club with your financial policies', and accused the board of valuing balance sheet before football success.

Kroenke, known as 'Silent Stan' for being very much in the background, addressed a question on whether dividends were to be paid to shareholders.

The American tycoon, whose group also owns US sports franchises Denver Nuggets of the NBA, Colorado Rapids of Major League Soccer, Colorado Avalanche of the NHL and NFL side St Louis Rams, said: 'This club is run through the board. I have always been respectful of that process.

'Aside from that, as majority shareholder it is clear we have a record in sports around the world and you can look at our record with our other clubs.

'We have never put any debt on this club for acquisitions (during the takeover) and never said money was not available to spend.

'We acquire through our own resources.'

Serious business: Majority shareholder Stan Kroenke (left), chairman Peter Hill -Wood and and Gazidis

Serious business: Majority shareholder Stan Kroenke (left), chairman Peter Hill -Wood and and Gazidis

Kroenke, who completed his takeover of Arsenal's parent holding company in 2011, added: 'I have one regret with Arsenal and that is that I did not get involved earlier.

'We have a record of reinvestment in our other clubs and it is there for everyone to see.'

Arsenal fans called for more meetings with Kroenke since the completion of his takeover, which brought some heated exchanges between the top bench and the floor, as well as questions over how the board are working with second-largest shareholders Red & White Holdings, backed by Uzbek oligarch Alisher Usmanov.

Unpleasant viewing: Wenger (left) and Stan Kroenke (right) at the Schalke game on Wednesday night

Unpleasant viewing: Wenger (left) and Stan Kroenke (right) at the Schalke game on Wednesday night

The mood continued to turn somewhat hostile, with Gazidis needing to call for order and moved back towards pre-submitted questions.

Calm was finally restored following a string of heckles from the floor as Wenger addressed the shareholders.

The Arsenal manager had started by apologising for Wednesday's defeat, acknowledging there was a 'lot of dissatisfaction', but maintained Arsenal fans should not 'go overboard'.

Wenger said: 'This team started in a very dynamic and promising way. We hit the wall in the last two games, which was a bit unexplainable, but the attitude and focus of the team every day is fantastic.

If only: Fans would love to see the likes of Ibrahim Afellay in an Arsenal shirt - the Schalke played swapped jerseys at the end of Wednesday night's Champions League clash at the Emirates

If only: Arsenal supporters would love to see the likes of Ibrahim Afellay in an Gunners shirt – the Schalke played swapped jerseys at the end of Wednesday night's Champions League clash at the Emirates

'We have some good news with players coming back. I believe this team can deliver and I am optimistic we will have a good season and the players will show I am right.

'My job is to deliver a team with the resources we have, and I have never complained about that.

'I want a club to pay players from its own resources, there is no shame in that.'

Wenger ended his address with a call for unity.

'It is still important that we keep our strength and stay united for the good of Arsenal,' he said.

Gone: Arsenal sold their best player - captain Robin van Persie - to Manchester United in the summer

Gone: Arsenal sold their best player – captain Robin van Persie – to Manchester United in the summer

Liverpool Duncan Jenkins debacle: Jen Chang"s future in doubt as Ian Ayre meets Twitter prankster

Chang's Liverpool future in doubt as Ayre meets Twitter prankster Duncan Jenkins

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UPDATED:

10:43 GMT, 23 October 2012

HOW THE STORY STARTED…
Click here to read the full allegations from Duncan Jenkins

Liverpool PR chief Jen Chang has gone to ground amid the fall-out of the 'Duncan Jenkins' Twitter fiasco.

Chang withdrew his place at the Press Association's table at Sunday's Northern Managers Awards Dinner in Manchester after the club launched a probe into allegations of serious harassment by the club’s director of communications.

Caught on CCTV: Liverpool Director of Communications Jen Chang is pictured meeting 'Duncan Jenkins' - fan Sean Cummins - at a Manchester restaurant

Caught on CCTV: Liverpool director of communications Jen Chang is
pictured meeting 'Duncan Jenkins' – fan Sean Cummins – at Manchester
restaurant Evuna in August

JUST WHO IS DUNCAN JENKINS

@DuncanJenkinsFC is an amusing fake Twitter account of a wannabe football journalist.

It
is the work of Sean Cummins, a 35-year-old who lives in Manchester. The
Duncan Jenkins character originally started on Facebook – someone who
was inept and delusional in equal measure, as well as being obsessed
with The Bill.

Just
under a year ago, he relaunched on Twitter as a 'perspiring journalist'.
Dotted with misspellings and dodgy cliches, it also oddly predicted the
correct Liverpool team well before anyone else ahead of each game.

Cummins later admitted he just pinched it off a fans' forum and published it instantly, as he had done with transfer gossip.

Liverpool have refused to comment on the affair, which revolves around a blogger, Sean Cummins, describing
himself as a 'perspiring football journo', and it pretended to have
inside knowledge about transfers at Anfield under the parody moniker Duncan Jenkins.

But managing director Ian
Ayre met Cummins on Monday. Liverpool's head of human resources also attended the 85 minute meeting at the club's Chapel Street offices, reports the Independent.

Afterwards Cummins said he felt he was given a fair hearing as he outlined the chain of events.

Ayre decided to
speak to Cummins as well as Chang and others involved in an unseemly
episode which began when Jenkins started publicising information Chang
believed must have come from inside Anfield.

Chang describes Jenkins’s allegations
about threats made at a genuine meeting in Manchester as ‘fictitious
nonsense’ but his position looks vulnerable if Ayre decides otherwise.

Cummins published his version of his communication and meeting with Chang in an explosive blog post on Friday.

In it, he claims that Chang demanded
to know who his alleged mole inside Anfield is. Cummins has denied that
he has an insider at the club leaking information – instead pointing out
that all his information was lifted from fans’ forums.

Chang set up a meeting with Cummins
at the Evuna restaurant in Manchester in August – but Cummins alleges
this was the start of the meltdown in the relations between the pair.

After accusing Cummins of costing the
club 300,000 extra in the Fabio Borini transfer from Roma this summer
because of ‘information’ posted on the Jenkins Twitter feed, it is then
alleged that Chang demanded he tweet under the fake account to ‘confess’
there was no mole and the whole account was made up.

Bully claims: Chang, who joined Liverpool in the summer, denies allegations made by 'Jenkins'

Bully claims: Chang, who joined Liverpool in the summer, denies allegations made by 'Jenkins'

Duncan Jenkins is followed by thousands on social networking site Twitter

Liverpool

Headlines: Duncan Jenkins (L), followed by thousands on social networking site Twitter, posted about Liverpool

At this point, Cummins asked Change what would happen if he didn’t agree to the deal.

According to the blog post, Chang
claimed he would be banned from Anfield along with the other man he
shares a season-ticket with.

Chang, it is claimed, also threatened
to hand over his dossier on Cummins to journalist who could ‘run smear
stories on me in the tabloid press’.

Internal investigation: Liverpool's managing director Ian Ayre will now probe the claims

Internal investigation: Liverpool's managing director Ian Ayre will now probe the claims

And, perhaps most shockingly, Chang
is also alleged to have told Cummins: ‘You know how crazy football fans
are. You’ll have dog shit coming through your letterbox, you’ll have to
take your Facebook page down, you might even have to move house.’

Chang, who has confirmed that he did meet the self-styled Slam Dunc in Manchester, has already denied the claims.

He said: ‘I will not be responding to
total nonsense. The contents of my tweets that are included in the blog
bear no relation whatsoever to the false accusations made by a
fictional character. There was never any investigation by Liverpool over
the tweets.’

However, that has not stopped Liverpool launching an investigation into their own PR chief.

Chang was brought in to Liverpool this summer to boost their PR drive after last season’s troubles with the Luis Suarez and Patrice Evra race row. He replaced long-serving Ian Cotton, who was forced out after 16 years at the club.

Craig Levein departure won"t deter me from plans, says Mark Wotte

The end game! Wotte insists he'll finish job, even without Levein

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UPDATED:

23:46 GMT, 18 October 2012

Mark Wotte insisted on Thursday night that he plans to see his overhaul of Scottish football come to fruition — regardless of whether Craig Levein remains as national manager or not.

Levein’s position is under intense scrutiny after Tuesday’s defeat in Belgium left Scotland bottom of Group A with just two points from four games.

The Fifer was part of the interview process that saw Wotte appointed the SFA’s first performance director over a year ago.

Determined: Mark Wotte plans to see his overhaul of Scottish football come to fruition

Determined: Mark Wotte plans to see his overhaul of Scottish football come to fruition

The former Utrecht boss believes the clamour to see Levein fired after
almost three years in the post makes no allowance for the limited
resources at the manager's disposal.

But, although Wotte would like to see Levein given more time to prove
himself, he was quick to stress that his plans for the Scottish game will not be side-tracked if there’s a change at the top.

‘I love working with Craig, he has been a very good supporter of the strategy,’ said the Dutchman.

‘I don’t think there’s any merit in changing the national-team manager.

‘It’s not about changing managers all the time, you have to look at the situation and ask why we are where we are and how do you change it.

‘I’m 16 months in the job and everyone at the SFA is behind the project.
‘I don’t know what’s going to happen in the next couple of weeks but I hope we can continue what we’ve been doing.

Under pressure: Scotland manager Craig Levein

Under pressure: Scotland manager Craig Levein

‘My project is ring-fenced. So I will keep on doing this, no matter what the position of Craig Levein is. But I hope he’s still involved because he’s been an instigator of it.’

While Wotte can readily understand the abject disappointment felt at seeing our World Cup dream effectively killed before the qualifiers have reached the half-way mark, he believes that has to be tempered with a realisation of our resources compared with other nations.

‘It’s obvious that the results are really disappointing,’ he continued. ‘I know that not allowing the goal for 2-0 against Wales is a key moment and affects the game. At 2-0, we don’t lose that game, but that’s only one game.

'The fans have a right to be impatient because they only want to see the national team winning games.

Bad night at the office: Gary Caldwell looks disappointed as Scotland slip to defeat in Belgium

Bad night at the office: Gary Caldwell looks disappointed as Scotland slip to defeat in Belgium

‘But expectation and desire is something else — we expect a lot from the national team and I don’t think it’s always fair to expect that we will walk through to Rio.’

As for Levein stating that Scotland were capable of winning every game before the ball started rolling against Serbia, Wotte said: ‘That’s a normal statement of a manager going into a campaign.

‘If you have a (Phil) Bardsley and everyone fit then, on their day, Scotland can be very good.

‘I think Craig made a great statement — you also need to encourage your players. ‘Everything is possible in football. But it’s not easy to become No 1 or No 2 in a group containing Belgium, Croatia, Serbia, Macedonia and Wales.’

Alastair Cook lauds England"s strength in depth

Cook lauds strength in depth after England take 1-0 lead over Aussies

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UPDATED:

12:37 GMT, 30 June 2012

Vital knock: Morgan's 50 helped England to victory

Vital knock: Morgan's 50 helped England to victory

Alastair Cook had Eoin Morgan's batting and the depth of England's pace-bowling resources to thank in near equal measure for victory over Australia in the first NatWest Series match.

Morgan's unbeaten 89 from 63 balls powered England to a defendable 272 for five at Lord's.

But Cook was well aware on Friday night, after England's seventh successive one-day international win, that the efforts of his seam attack were hugely influential too.

After Australia had finished 15 runs short, despite half-centuries from captain Michael Clarke (61) and David Warner (56), Cook had praise for Morgan.

But he made sure the seam bowling of James Anderson, Steven Finn, Stuart Broad and Tim Bresnan received honourable mention as well – along with wicketless off-spinner Graeme Swann.

'Australia got off to a good start – but what is very nice as a captain is when you have got five experienced bowlers like that,' said Cook.

'You know they might bowl the odd bad over but they don't bowl many bad spells, so we knew we would take it down to the wire.

'We thought 270 was a par score… defendable, yes, but if someone played out of their skin we probably couldn't have defended it.

Strength in depth: Cook lauded England's bowling attack

Strength in depth: Cook lauded England's bowling attack

Strength in depth: Cook lauded England's bowling attack

'Thankfully we just kept nipping wickets at the right time.'

Cook knows he is in a position of strength to be able to keep calling up a new bowler, fresh and able to wrest back an advantage.

'It's nice as a captain when you can keep pulling on bowlers of that quality.

'You take one off and another one keeps following up and keeps the pressure on. That's the idea, anyway!

'If we are being really harsh on ourselves I don't think it was a perfect performance in the field today, or close to it, so that's encouraging.'

Cook confirmed concerns about the groin injury which troubled Anderson.

'There is a slight worry about his groin,' he said.

One down, four to go: Cook (right) is pleased with England's start

One down, four to go: Cook (right) is pleased with England's start

'Clearly he stayed out there; we are just going to have to assess him, probably tomorrow morning, and we'll let you know as soon as we know.'

Australia, meanwhile, have precious little time to regroup before Saturday's second match of five at the Kia Oval.

Clarke said: 'This is not five trial games for us – it's five international one-dayers.

'We need to improve our one-day cricket and we're here to win.

'I guess the areas for us to improve quickly are our death bowling and losing wickets at very important stages of the game – which probably hurt us most.

'It's a tough game against a good attack; you've got to find ways, though.'

Joe Root hits century as England Lions beat West Indies

Joe at the Root of success as England Lions batter West Indies

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UPDATED:

14:44 GMT, 13 May 2012

Joe Root bagged a century as England Lions surged to a 10-wicket victory at Northampton to send West Indies into the first Investec Test at Lord's with little to cheer.

Root (115 not out) and Michael Carberry (72 not out) barely had a moment's worry against a depleted attack as England knocked off 197 to win with more than a session to spare.

Root's share brought him his second first-class hundred and it was easy pickings as he accelerated the scoring rate and the West Indies notably took their feet off the pedal.

Deadly duo: Joe Root (right) and Michael Carberry at Northampton

Deadly duo: Joe Root (right) and Michael Carberry at Northampton

The tourists' mid-match fightback faltered immediately on the final morning.

They had defied expectations yesterday, when Kieran Powell and Shivnarine Chanderpaul helped them wipe out a mammoth first-innings deficit.

But the tail lasted barely 30 minutes and after bowling their opponents out for 390, the Lions moved with the minimum fuss to 61 without loss at lunch.

/05/13/article-2143773-131162FE000005DC-280_468x286.jpg” width=”468″ height=”286″ alt=”Watching on: Jonny Bairstow was in the crowd to watch the Lions” class=”blkBorder” />

Watching on: Jonny Bairstow was in the crowd to watch the Lions

Rampaul was back on the field at least, but neither he nor Fidel Edwards was used as the tourists opted for apparent damage limitation to their pace-bowling resources and allowed off-spinners Shane Shillingford and Marlon Samuels to go through the motions.

Root passed his 50 with his sixth four when Samuels went round the wicket and induced an edge from the new angle, at catchable height, wide of slip.

There were eight boundaries in Carberry's half-century, from 116 balls, and he too reached the milestone by edging an off-break from Shillingford past slip.

Root had needed 96 balls to post his 50 but more than doubled his boundary count to 14 as he scooted to three figures in only 36 more.
Appropriately, he completed the job thanks to a misfield.

Matt Coles (four for 76) struck twice this morning to finish off the West Indies' second-innings resistance for the addition of only 13 runs.

It might have been only seven or 11 had either Nick Compton at second slip or Root at short-leg managed to hold routine catches offered respectively by last pair Roach off Meaker and Rampaul off Coles.

But at such little cost, such minor details were never likely to prove significant.

Ring of steel: F1 chiefs declare Bahrain goes on with bullet-proof cars and driver bodyguards

Ring of steel: F1 chiefs declare Bahrain goes on with bullet-proof cars and driver bodyguards

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UPDATED:

18:59 GMT, 12 April 2012

Formula One teams are to ramp up their security measures for next weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix as the sport’s powerbrokers insisted yesterday the race in the troubled Gulf state will go ahead.

Bodyguards for key personnel and a heavy security presence at team hotels are among planned measures. Even bullet-proof cars to ferry drivers to the track have been touted, as is the case for the Brazilian GP.

One high-ranking official revealed: ‘Various security measures have been taken to minimise risk. There will be measures to ensure safer travel and extra security resources at the track and at the hotels.’

The moves to ensure the likes of McLaren drivers Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button are kept out of harm’s way — with anti-government activists having vowed to create ‘three days of anger’ across the grand prix weekend — come despite the president of the Bahrain Automobile Federation, Sheik Abdullah bin Isa Al Khalifa, claiming his country is a safe place to visit.

Maximum security: Hamilton (left) and Button

Maximum security: Hamilton (left) and Button

Asked whether security should be increased, Al Khalifa, who is one of the 26 members of the FIA’s World Motor Sport Council, said: ‘No, absolutely not. It will be life as normal. We’ve never had any violence towards foreigners simply because they are foreigners or in F1.’

In addition, John Yates, the former assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan Police who has been hired to oversee reform of Bahrain’s force, has also claimed he felt safer in the Gulf kingdom than he often did in London despite conceding there are ‘almost nightly skirmishes’ between protesters and law enforcement officers.

Phil Duncan F1 blog

Having raised serious concerns last year about holding a race in a country in the grip of violent political unrest before the event was postponed and subsequently cancelled, Red Bull’s Mark Webber was once again the most outspoken driver when questioned on the subject in Shanghai ahead of Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix.

‘If we had a choice would we go I want to race. That is what I would like to go there and do,’ he said.

‘But you cannot ignore the fact that all of us, in the backs of our minds, want it to go down smoothly and don’t want it to be involved in the unrest. We want the people out there to support our race. That is why it is so sensitive.’

Sensitive: Webber wants to race in Bahrain

Sensitive: Webber wants to race in Bahrain

F1 ringmaster Bernie Ecclestone, who will meet teams today, is adamant the race will go ahead as planned, while FIA president Jean Todt arrives in China tomorrow for further discussions with the teams.

A spokesman for motorsport’s governing body also claimed the Bahrain event will not be cancelled, saying: ‘There is no reason for us to depart from our decision taken before the season to include Bahrain on the calendar.’

Meanwhile, Hamilton was hit with a five-place grid penalty after McLaren were forced into an unscheduled replacement of his gearbox, having decided a fault might damage the 27-year-old’s chances in China. The boxes are supposed to last for five races.

Mercedes could also be in trouble if a protest lodged by Lotus over an innovative device, which boosts straight-line speed when the drivers operate the drag-reduction system (DRS), is upheld even though the system was declared legal for the first two races.

Policing costs set to rise for football clubs as disorder happens away from the grounds

Policing costs could to rise for football clubs as officers needed beyond stadiums

PUBLISHED:

09:03 GMT, 10 April 2012

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UPDATED:

09:03 GMT, 10 April 2012

Football clubs could face a rise in policing costs after fresh claims that matches can spark disorder and crime far beyond stadiums and surrounding streets.

The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) say research commissioned by them concluded that trouble on match days could be attributed to football.

Assistant chief constable Andy Holt, who leads ACPO on football policing, told BBC Radio Five Live: 'My personal view is that the clubs should bear a greater burden of the costs for the overall policing of football.'

On the rise: More officers are required to police away from stadiums on matchdays

On the rise: More officers are required to police away from stadiums on matchdays

Presently, clubs are responsible for the costs of policing in and around stadiums, and any further demands could lead to conflict with the football authorities.

ACPO have yet to publish the research but Holt defended the move to investigate the situation, saying: 'This research is about enabling us to have an informed discussion with football clubs to determine the most fair and equitable way of policing football.

'We have a very productive working relationship with the football clubs and I want that to continue.

'But it is still the case that on occasion we have violence and disorder in town centres and transport interchanges that are associated with rival football fans, that causes a problem to local communities and is a drain on police resources.

'I think it's right and proper that we understand the extent of that problem which is why we commissioned this research, and we use the results of the research to inform our discussions with the clubs.'

He added: 'We were always challenged when we said that football contributed to an increase in crime and disorder on match days, and hard-headed businessmen in the Premier League and the Football League quite rightly said, 'What evidence do you have of that'

'Most senior football commanders would say, 'I know there to be an increase in crime and disorder', but they didn't have the empirical evidence to prove it.'

The research was conducted by a team from University College London, led by Professional Nick Tilley.

Holt said: 'I'm quite comfortable that that research will stand scrutiny as entirely correct and it shows that on a match day there is an increase in crime and disorder associated with football in a wider area than just the footprint.

Paying the price: Football clubs should pay for extra police costs, claim officials

Paying the price: Football clubs should pay for extra police costs, claim officials

'There are some clubs that cause very few problems to police forces up and down country. Other clubs, that is not the case.

'You have to have a negotiation with individual clubs that will come up with an appropriate response.

'I can't sit here and say you're going to have the same costing and charging regime across the piece.

'The ACPO policy remains extant. We have an agreement that stemmed from a judgement which involved Greater Manchester Police and Wigan Football Club. We stand by that, but in future discussions we will be making reference to the research that we've commissioned.'

In December 2008, Wigan won their court battle over a 300,000 policing bill, complaining that Greater Manchester Police overcharged them for covering match days at the JJB Stadium.

By a 2-1 majority, appeal judges ruled that the club had been charged for special police services which they had not requested.

The court heard that Wigan used to be charged for special policing services they requested inside the stadium. But then the police also demanded payment for the area surrounding the stadium.