Tag Archives: respect

Atletico Madrid open door for Fernando Torres return from Chelsea

Atletico open door for Torres return while Chelsea given encouragement over Falcao

By
Rik Sharma

PUBLISHED:

12:45 GMT, 23 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

13:00 GMT, 23 March 2013

Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone has opened the door for Fernando Torres to return to his former side.

The Chelsea striker made his name in Spain before moving to Liverpool in 2007.

Simeone says he knows how important Torres can be for his side and that because of his roots he knows about what it means to play for Los Rojiblancos.

Struggle: Fernando Torres has not been able to find his feet at Chelsea

Struggle: Fernando Torres has not been able to find his feet at Chelsea

He told Spanish radio station Onda
Cero: 'Fernando Torres is currently playing for another team. We have to
wait for the season to finish and decide which of the available players
could come here and do a good job.

'Fernando knows about the club's history, what it means to play here and I don't need to speak about his ability.

'We were teammates. I know how important he can be.'

Chelsea want Atletico's Colombian striker Radamel Falcao as a replacement. He has scored 25 goals in 28 games for his club this season, including a hat-trick against the Blues in the Super Cup final.

He can be procured for 48million but the Blues would be interested in a part-exchange deal involving Torres.

When asked about Falcao's future, Simeone did not insist the player would be staying at the club.
Instead he reasoned that everybody makes their own decisions and Falcao deserves respect.

Simeone said: 'I'm not Falcao and I'm not his agent. I'm the manager and have the utmost respect for him, because he gave me so much at River Plate and has done the same here.

'He always gives his all and I really respect players who do that. But everyone makes their own decisions in life.

'Every person is different, and we have to respect each other. Those who stay are always going to be the best.'

Can't stop: Radamel Falcao is in absolutely lethal form for club and country

Can't stop: Radamel Falcao is in absolutely lethal form for club and country

Frank: Diego Simeone said that Torres knows the club and he would be an important player

Frank: Diego Simeone said that Torres knows the club and he would be an important player

West Ham Bobby Moore tribute: Grandchildren lead teams out at Upton Park

'20 years gone, never forgotten': West Ham pay tribute to Moore as grandchildren lead teams out at Upton Park

By
Andy James

PUBLISHED:

17:56 GMT, 25 February 2013

|

UPDATED:

22:17 GMT, 25 February 2013

Bobby Moore's grandchildren led the teams out before West Ham entertained Tottenham in the Barclays Premier League at Upton Park on Monday night as his former club marked the 20th anniversary of his death.

Poppy, 21, Freddie, 16, and 13-year-old Ava placed the ball on the spot for the kick-off and fans of both clubs provided an impeccably-observed minute's applause for England's 1966 World Cup-winning captain who died of cancer aged 51 on February 24, 1993.

Emotional night: Moore's grandchildren Poppy (left) Freddie (centre) and Ava (right) lead West Ham and Spurs out at Upton Park

Emotional night: Moore's grandchildren Poppy (left) Freddie (centre) and Ava (right) lead West Ham and Spurs out at Upton Park

Emotional night: Moore's grandchildren Poppy (left) Freddie (centre) and Ava (right) lead West Ham and Spurs out at Upton Park

West Ham fans also held aloft cards making up a mosaic reading 'Moore 6'.

West Ham also made a special tribute to Moore on their shirts, with the words: ‘Bobby Moore OBE, 20 YEARS GONE, NEVER FORGOTTEN’ stitched on the front.

Hammers stars were seen training in shirts paying tribute to Moore last week.

Tribute: West Ham players wore a shirt paying respect to the late Bobby Moore

Tribute: West Ham players wore a shirt paying respect to the late Bobby Moore

Tribute: West Ham players wore a shirt paying respect to the late Bobby Moore

Six of the best: Fans lifted cards to unveil a mosaic reading 'Moore 6'

Six of the best: Fans lifted cards to unveil a mosaic reading 'Moore 6'

Six of the best: Fans lifted cards to unveil a mosaic reading 'Moore 6'

A 100-page programme was also on sale with 50p from each one sold going towards the Bobby Moore Fund for Cancer Research UK.

Moore's family, club officials and
supporters gathered to pay tribute on Sunday with his former West Ham
and World Cup-winning team-mate Martin Peters and club co-chairman David
Gold attending a wreath-laying ceremony at the World Cup 'Champions'
statue near West Ham's ground.

Minute's applause: Fans and players remembered Moore before the start of the game

Minute's applause: Fans and players remembered Moore before the start of the game

Minute's applause: Fans and players remembered Moore before the start of the game

Watching brief: Moore's daughter Roberta and his grandchildren watch on from the sidelines

Watching brief: Moore's daughter Roberta and his grandchildren watch on from the sidelines

'He was our England World Cup-winning
captain, but also more personally for all of us here at West Ham, a
legend at our club and always will be,' Gold said.

'It
was great to see so many West Ham fans turn out in what was bitterly
cold weather. But they wanted to pay their respects to a man we hold
very dear at this club.'

Moore
played 646 times for West Ham between 1958 and 1974, leading them to
victory in the 1964 FA Cup final and 1965 European Cup Winners' Cup
final.

Tribute: Martin Peters laid a wreath at the 'legends' statue as Moore's family watched on

Tribute: Martin Peters laid a wreath at the 'legends' statue as Moore's family watched on

Tribute: Martin Peters laid a wreath at the 'legends' statue as Moore's family watched on

Club legend: Bobby Moore played over 500 games for West Ham

Club legend: Bobby Moore played over 500 games for West Ham

Eden Hazard ball boy row: police launch probe but video supports claim Chelsea ace kicked the ball

VIDEO: Police launch probe into alleged assault on ball boy… but is this the new camera angle that clears Chelsea's Hazard
Belgian FA hit out at Eden Hazard after incident during Capital One Cup tieHazard clashed with ball boy Charlie Morgan, 17, while trying to reclaim ballFormer Chelsea star Pat Nevin backs Hazard and calls Morgan 'disgraceful'
17-year-old ball boy is heir to 42m Swansea director's fortune Claims ball boys were under orders to help Swansea rubbished by club
FA investigating the incident, but PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor does not believe Hazard should face additional punishment

qualifier for Belgium and was filmed tucking into a burger from a van outside.

Steven Martens, the chief executive of the Belgian FA (KBVB) said: 'It's unfortunate and of course it's not something we are proud of. No football authority or person interested in football likes to see acts of violence or lack of respect and this is what happened.

'It might have happened in the heat of the fire but professionals are expected to be able to control themselves.

'They have to be able to control their emotions and when they don't that's unpleasant in general.

Anger: Swansea's Ashley Williams (centre) is held back as he tries to confront Eden Hazard (off camera)

Anger: Swansea's Ashley Williams (centre) is held back as he tries to confront Eden Hazard (off camera)

Sending off: Chelsea's Eden Hazard (#17) receives a red card from referee Chris Foy for violent conduct

Sending off: Chelsea's Eden Hazard (#17) receives a red card from referee Chris Foy for violent conduct

'Of course as we are the Belgium FA we don't like it to be a Belgium national squad player but I am very much convinced that Eden himself will realise that.

'Eden is more than intelligent enough to understand that this is going to be a lesson learned for him. All of us make mistakes in life.'

Martens, speaking at a meeting of UEFA's 53 member associations in Nyon, said Hazard's frustration was perhaps a reflection of the intense pressure on his shoulders.

Helping hand: Chelsea's Demba Ba (right) checks on the ball boy after he had clashed with Eden Hazard

Helping hand: Chelsea's Demba Ba (right) checks on the ball boy after he had clashed with Eden Hazard

Boast: The 17-year-old earlier wrote on Twitter that he was 'needed for timewasting'

Boast: The 17-year-old earlier wrote on Twitter that he was 'needed for timewasting'

He added: 'It is easy to judge from outside but you also have to see it from the player's side too.

'I have been a professional sports coach for many years and the demands on athletes and players are there day-in, day-out.

'Yes we think these guys are well-paid and have a luxury life but on the other hand there is an expectation on them all the time. 'It's not an excuse but it is something that could help us try to understand.'

While the boss of Belgium's football association was damning of Hazard, the Chelsea forward found a supporter in Pat Nevin.

Injured: The ballboy was named as 17-year-old Charlie Morgan, the son of Swansea director David Morgan

Martin Morgan

Wealthy: Charlie Morgan (left), the ball boy who
was kicked by Eden Hazard during a League Cup game last night, is the
son of multi-millionaire businessman Martin Morgan (right)

Property: The self-made tycoon is the owner of the luxury Morgans hotel in Swansea, pictured

Property: The self-made tycoon is the owner of the luxury Morgans hotel in Swansea, pictured

Boasting: Charlie posted this picture of a broken bottle of Veuve Clicquot champagne on his Twitter page

betting slips

Boasting: Charlie posted a picture of a broken
bottle of Veuve Clicquot champagne on his Twitter page, as well as one
of torn-up betting slips

The former Chelsea winger claimed he would have done the same as Hazard if he had been involved in the controversial ball-boy incident at Swansea.

When asked how he would have reacted to the situation, Nevin told BBC Radio 5: 'I would have kicked the ball out from underneath the ball boy if he had been lying like that, 100 per cent.'

And Nevin also criticised the behaviour of 17-year-old Morgan, branding it 'disgraceful'. He added: 'I was very, very disappointed by the way the ball boy acted, and I say “acted”.

'He must have been watching footballers, the way he rolled around and pretended to be more injured.

Travelling in style: Charlie put up this picture of himself in Virgin Atlantic's upper class

Travelling in style: Charlie put up this picture of himself in Virgin Atlantic's upper class

Destination: The teenager on holiday in Las Vegas, in another picture he posted to Twitter

Destination: The teenager on holiday in Las Vegas, in another picture he posted to Twitter

'He only has one job and his job is to go and give the ball back, and what did he do He keeps the ball.

'I have to say I was absolutely amazed this morning to find he is 17, not 12, not 13. 'He should know what his action should be in that situation. His behaviour was disgraceful.'

The ball boy at the centre of the storm Charlie Morgan is the son of hotel and property tycoon Martin Morgan, said to be the 32nd richest person in Wales.

Morgan is on the the Swansea board of directors – which is how Charlie ended up as a ballboy for the League Cup semi-final against the Londoners.

Pricey: A photo of the Louis Vuitton store in Las Vegas which Charlie put on Twitter

Pricey: A photo of the Louis Vuitton store in Las Vegas which Charlie put on Twitter

Charlie Morgan receipt

Charlie Morgan weather

Shared: The teenager retweeted someone else's
120,000 receipt with the caption, 'This is huge time', and also let his
friends know about the good weather at his holiday destination

Posting on Twitter before the game, the teenager wrote: ‘The king of all ballboys is back making his final appearance #needed #for #timewasting.'

Charlie's father is the director of 11 hotel and property companies and has featured in recent editions of the Sunday Times Rich List.

Morgan comes in at No 32 in the top 100 list for Wales – ahead of Premier League footballers Michael Owen and Ryan Giggs and 80s rock chick Bonnie Tyler.

Ben Watkins, 18, a former school friend of Charlie's, said: 'He must be the richest ball boy in football.

In pain: Morgan (second right) is ushered away from the sidelines following the incident with Hazard

In pain: Morgan (second right) is ushered away from the sidelines following the incident with Hazard

'He's mad about Swansea City – what he did was a bit foolish especially after be boasted he was going to time waste. I guess he's been a bit spoiled because his dad's got pots of money.'

In posts on Twitter Charlie brags about drinking Veuve Clicquot champagne and going on holiday to Las Vegas and Dubai.

Swansea are highly unlikely to take any action against Morgan for his part in the ugly clash – and the club has rubbished claims that their ball boys were ordered to give them an unfair advantage in the Capital One Cup clash.

Morgan has been widely accused of
deliberately withholding the ball, a stance seemingly supported by his
posts on Twitter earlier in the day.

Chelsea star: Eden Hazard (right) is pictured earlier in the League Cup match with Swansea City's Ben Davies

Eden Hazard award in May 22, 2011 in Paris

Striker: Eden Hazard is pictured earlier in the match (left) and winning an award in Paris in May 2011 (right)

The club refused to comment when asked to explain the decision, but Swansea vice-chairman Leigh Dineen reiterated Michael Laudrup’s assertion that their ball boys were not briefed to favour the home side.

Dineen told the Guardian: ‘There was no agenda, absolutely not. Stoke, a few years ago, would get the ballboy to wipe the ball down for a long throw and that was something the ballboys were obviously told to do. But certainly we don't line up the ballboys and ask them to waste time. Definitely not.’

A club spokesman added that Morgan,
who started his role aged 12 in 2008, ‘has been a ballboy for about six
seasons and there’s never been a complaint before’.

The
FA have also confirmed they will be taking no action against Swansea
over the incident, while South Wales Police are not pursuing the case as
Morgan declined to press charges.

The FA are reviewing footage of the
action, but Professional Footballers' Association chief executive Gordon
Taylor does not believe Hazard should face additional punishment.

Hurt: The ballboy (centre) is ushered away from the sidelines following the incident with Eden Hazard

Hurt: The ballboy (centre) is ushered away from the sidelines following the incident with Eden Hazard

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He said: 'There is obviously a process which the FA have to go through and it is up to them what they decide. 'But I don't think the young lad involved would want to see Hazard punished further.

'The referee made the correct decision on the night and you do not want people to be hung, drawn and quartered for things that happen in the heat of the moment.

'It is disappointing and Hazard has shown remorse and the two clubs handled the matter very well.

'It will be seen as another stick to beat the game with, but the game has always been about passion and emotions running high and it is a shame for this to overshadow the wonderful achievements of Swansea and Bradford – two clubs who have faced extinction – in reaching the final.'

Coach Alan Curtis also insisted the ball boys were not told to waste time.

He said: 'We never gave them any
instructions whatsoever to slow the game down. It’s never ever been the
case at all. It was a really unfortunate situation.

'I’ve got to be honest though, if I had been the player, I would have tried to get the ball back as quickly as possible.

'Unfortunately it’s been blown up to
be a major incident. It was quickly defused straight after the game.
They met up after the game and shook hands, both apologised and, as far
as we’re concerned, that is the end of it.

'It’s a shame that it’s overshadowed everything.'

Meanwhile, Fulham boss Martin Jol has accused Morgan of 'playing rugby' against Chelsea and said he could understand Hazard kicking out at the teenager.

Jol said: 'Our ball boys are between 10 and 12 years of age. I saw he (Morgan) was probably over-age, probably 21. A big boy, you know Six foot, maybe

'I felt for Hazard, but you can't kick people. He (the ball boy) was playing rugby with him, so I can understand he wanted to get the ball.

'We always tell coaches to tell the ball boys to give the ball back as soon as possible. To do it quick; and not to irritate people.

'Of course you could say Eden should have controlled himself, but it was bizarre. The ball boy shouldn't lie on the ball and play rugby with it.

'He (Hazard) should have controlled himself, but I can see why he did it. I'm not allowed to say I would have done the same so, of course, I would not have done that.'

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Football Association tell referees to demand more respect

EXCLUSIVE: FA tell referees to demand more respect from players and coaches

|

UPDATED:

08:48 GMT, 1 January 2013

The FA have fired a New Year warning across football that their ailing Respect campaign must be stepped up.

A communique sent to clubs and referees – seen by Sportsmail – urges: 'Still a great deal of work to do.'

It is significant from the tone that match officials are expected to take a tougher line on dissent, and runs contrary to the leniency shown by referee Mike Dean when Sir Alex Ferguson laid into him and his team of officials on Boxing Day.

Hard line: The FA wants its officials to work closely with club captains to save its ailing Respect campaign

Hard line: The FA wants its officials to work closely with club captains to save its ailing Respect campaign

Referees have been reminded to draw captains into the front line of the battle against any shows of disrespect to officials, as they were instructed to do when the initiative started. Among the set of reinforced guidelines, referees are urged to:

Work with captains even if they are 'some way from an incident'Use captains in a 'more visible way'Deal firmly with dissent and 'not move away from it'.

So determined are FA chiefs to improve behaviour that they have even laid down what they call their Fair Play Handshake Protocol – which uses diagrams to show how teams should line-up for the pre-match ceremony.

Handshakes, or the lack of them, have damaged the Respect initiative amid the racism rows involving John Terry and Anton Ferdinand and Luis Suarez and Patrice Evra.

Tirade: Sir Alex Ferguson berated Mike Dean during Manchester United's win over Newcastle

Tirade: Sir Alex Ferguson berated Mike Dean during Manchester United's win over Newcastle

Visible: Referees should not shy away from dealing with dissent on the pitch

Visible: Referees should not shy away from dealing with dissent on the pitch

The FA have told referees and clubs that since its launch in 2008 Respect has 'generally been accepted very favourably' but that much has to be done to get it 'embedded in everyone's thinking including managers, players and referees'.

Captains such as controversial Chelsea skipper Terry are expected to take a higher profile to help officials 'manage the players and the game effectively'.

John Terry, talking to Mark Halsey. will be expected to take a higher profile role with referees

John Terry, talking to Mark Halsey. will be expected to take a higher profile role with referees

Terry hasn't always enjoyed a good relationship with officials. Here he is beckoning Sportsmail's Graham Poll before his retirement.

Terry hasn't always enjoyed a good relationship with officials. Here he is beckoning Sportsmail's Graham Poll before his retirement.

But the onus is mostly on the referees who, say the FA, need to 'play a leading role' to ensure that 'the authority and respect for match officials is reinforced'.

They are also warned not to back away from confrontation but to 'stay and deal with it' by cautioning offenders.

Involved: Club captains such as Vincent Kompany (right) are expected to help officials 'manage the players and the game effectively'

Involved: Club captains such as Vincent Kompany (right) are expected to help officials 'manage the players and the game effectively'

Jonny Evans: Swansea attacking style will suit Manchester United perfectly

Swansea's attacking style will suit Man United perfectly, says Evans

|

UPDATED:

14:18 GMT, 22 December 2012

Jonny Evans hopes Swansea's continental style will benefit Manchester United on Sunday.

The progressive Welsh outfit developed a reputation for neat passing football, first under Roberto Martinez, then Brendan Rodgers before his departure for Liverpool in the summer.

Michael Laudrup's arrival has led to subtle changes, but Swansea's core philosophy remains the same.

Swan song: Evans is relishing the battle with the South Wales club

Swan song: Evans is relishing the battle with the South Wales club

Already this term it has brought success against Liverpool, Arsenal and Newcastle, plus a draw against Chelsea.

Evans has the utmost respect for the work Laudrup is doing in south Wales, but he feels United's vast European experience could work to their advantage.

'We have got a history of being a counter-attacking team, but if you look at Swansea, they play like a European side,' said the Northern Ireland defender.

'They like to keep the ball on the floor and pass it around, which you don't always get an awful lot of in the Premier League.

'That will suit us. We are used to playing against European competition and this will be no different.

'Swansea will have large periods where they have the ball so we have to be patient and keep our formation and our shape. Hopefully we can nick the ball off them and score goals.'

Evans recognises the task will not be straightforward.

In Michu, Swansea have the man currently challenging Robin van Persie for the Premier League's Golden Boot prize and Evans has already seen enough to recognise a stern examination awaits at the Liberty Stadium.

'I have been really impressed,' said Evans. 'We watched a couple of videos on them I have seen them quite a bit on TV. The football they play is very good.

'When they changed their manager, maybe people thought they might change their style. But, although they are a little bit more direct, largely they stuck to it.

Euro style: Evans has the utmost respect for Swansea

Euro style: Evans has the utmost respect for Swansea

Euro style: Evans – with girlfriend Helen has the utmost respect for Swansea

'They are still a side that scores a lot of goals.

'We know it is going to be a tough game but we know how to play against them and it is a game we are looking forward to.'

United managed to keep a couple of clean sheets against Swansea last season.

How Sir Alex Ferguson and his players would like one of those given they have managed only four in all competitions this season, with memories of losing out on the title to Manchester City on goal difference last term still vivid.

And the knowledge United presently head their major rivals by just one, despite boasting a six-point advantage heading into the weekend fixtures, is causing a little bit of concern.

Certainly it justified Ferguson's irritation after last weekend's tussle with Sunderland when the Red Devils cruised into a three-goal lead before easing off, allowing the Black Cats to get themselves one back and create the opportunities for more.

Focused: Sir Alex wants to erase the memory of losing out to City last season

Focused: Sir Alex wants to erase the memory of losing out to City last season

'It is not a worry if you are winning the games, but when you take your foot off the pedal it is very difficult to get it back,' said Ferguson.

'I don't think we can afford to do that. Hopefully that is a reminder to us that we have to kick on all the time.

'The way we were playing we had a good chance to score goals in that game.

'Hopefully we can start adding to our goal difference, which at the moment is similar to City's.'

Mark Clattenburg saga: Prospect criticise FA for leniency shown to John Mikel Obi

Referees union dismayed by Mikel punishment after Clattenburg confrontation

|

UPDATED:

23:34 GMT, 6 December 2012

The referees trade union, Prospect, have revealed their dismay at the 'leniency' of a three-game ban handed to John Mikel Obi after he confronted Mark Clattenburg following Chelsea's stormy Barclays Premier League clash with Manchester United in October.

A Football Association independent regulatory commission handed down Mikel's ban on Thursday, which included a 60,000 fine, after the Chelsea midfielder admitted the charge.

In a statement the FA revealed the sanction would have been 'significantly longer' but for the fact Mikel had believed he had been racially abused by Clattenburg.

Confrontation: Mikel accused Clattenburg after Chelsea played United

Confrontation: Mikel accused Clattenburg after Chelsea played United

A strongly-worded statement from Prospect on Thursday night, however, criticised the length of Mikel's ban, which rules him out of domestic duty until Boxing Day.

'Prospect, the referees trade union, today expressed dismay at the lenient punishment handed down by the FA Regulatory Commission to Chelsea player John Obi Mikel,' the statement read.

'It is vital that officials were given real respect and this decision regrettably gave entirely the wrong message. A player in parks football found guilty of behaviour like Mikel's would have faced a long-term ban.'

National secretary Alan Leighton claimed Mikel's behaviour deserved a heavier sanction despite the mitigating circumstances.

'For entering the referees dressing room and threatening and intimidating the referee to the extent that he feared for his safety the penalty was no longer than had the player been sent off for serious foul play,' Leighton said.

'This did absolutely nothing to further the Respect campaign.'

In the spotlight: Clattenburg missed weeks of action

In the spotlight: Clattenburg missed weeks of action

Leighton added that 'far too much weight had been given to the mitigating factor and that Mikel's behaviour merited a strong deterrent penalty'.

The FA announced Mikel's charge last month in a statement that also confirmed they would take no action against Clattenburg following a complaint by Chelsea that he used a racist remark to their players.

The FA decided there was 'no case to answer' over the allegation the referee said 'shut up you monkey' to Mikel.

Following Thursday's hearing, which Mikel had requested, the FA's regulatory committee revealed those factors had played a key part in the length of the ban.

'The breach of FA Rule E3 was in relation to an incident which occurred in the match official's changing room at the end of Chelsea's fixture against Manchester United on 28 October 2012,' the FA statement read.

'The Regulatory Commission's independent chairman Christopher Quinlan QC emphasised that the Independent Regulatory Commission accepted, as did The FA, that at the time he threatened the referee the player genuinely believed that the referee had racially abused him.

New deal: Mikel has committed his long-term future to Chelsea

New deal: Mikel has committed his long-term future to Chelsea

'But for that factor the suspension would have been significantly longer.'

Mikel, who signed a new five-year deal on Wednesday, will therefore miss the weekend's trip to Sunderland but will be available when Chelsea jet out for the Club World Cup in Japan next week.

His availability when the Blues return from the Far East could be limited though, with the midfielder due to meet up with Nigeria early in the new year for the African Nations Cup.

That tournament begins on January 19, with the players set to convene in the weeks beforehand, and Mikel would be unavailable until February 10 should Nigeria reach the final.

New boss Rafael Benitez appeared to begin preparations for his absence on Wednesday night when he employed David Luiz in midfield at stages of the 6-1 Champions League win over FC Nordsjaelland.

Benitez admitted after the match he was prepared to use Luiz further up the pitch and provide support for holding midfielders Ramires and Oriol Romeu, who both started the game.

Andrew Flintoff weighs in for heavyweight boxing debut with Richard Dawson

EXCLUSIVE: Hatton's trainer to be in opposite corner as Flintoff weighs in for heavyweight boxing debut against Dawson

|

UPDATED:

17:00 GMT, 29 November 2012

Richard Dawson will have Ricky Hatton's trainer in his corner tomorrow night when he fights former England cricket captain Andrew Flintoff.

Bob Shannon stepped in at the last minute after the American's trainer was unable to obtain a visa to travel from Oklahoma for the bout at the Manchester Arena.

Flintoff, who has lost three-and-a-half stone for the bout, weighed in today at 216lb, considerably lighter than the slightly shorter Dawson who tipped the scales at 241lb.

Squaring up: Andrew Flintoff weighs in at the Hilton Hotel in Manchester ahead of his heavyweight debut against Richard Dawson

Squaring up: Andrew Flintoff weighs in at the Hilton Hotel in Manchester ahead of his heavyweight debut against Richard Dawson

Patriotic: Flintoff sported a pair of Union Jack boxer shorts as he stripped off and jumped on the scales

Patriotic: Flintoff sported a pair of Union Jack boxer shorts as he stripped off and jumped on the scales

Relaxed: Flintoff looked assured as he prepares to step into the ring for the first time at the MEN Arena on Friday night

Relaxed: Flintoff looked assured as he prepares to step into the ring for the first time at the MEN Arena on Friday night

Passing on a few tips: Still sporting a black eye from his defeat to Vyacheslav Senchencko last weekend, Ricky Hatton shows Flintoff some techniques at the weigh-in

Passing on a few tips: Still sporting a black eye from his defeat to Vyacheslav Senchencko last weekend, Ricky Hatton shows Flintoff some techniques at the weigh-in

Ricky Hatton passes on some advice to Andrew Flintoff

The 23-year-old American was
hand-picked by Flintoff's mentor Barry McGuigan and brings with him an
unbeaten record after three professional fights.

But Flintoff, 34, believes his gruelling training regime will give him the advantage in front of an expected crowd of 5,000.

'I've been working with Shane and
Barry and they've got me in unbelievable shape,' he said. 'It's a
different type of training to when I was playing cricket. I've done the
rounds in sparring and I'm looking forward to tomorrow night.

Andrew Flintoff during the weigh in for his Heavyweight bout with Richard Dawson

Richard Dawson during the weigh in at The Hilton Hotel, Manchester

Size difference: Flintoff tipped the scales at 216lbs, considerably lighter than Dawson at 241lbs

Mutual respect: An embrace and a handshake between the two antagonists after the weigh-in

Mutual respect: An embrace and a handshake between the two antagonists after the weigh-in

'The last four-and-a-half-months have been the hard work and I want to go out and enjoy it.

'It was an opportunity that I couldn't pass up. I played cricket until I was 31 and wasn't ready to sit back and do nothing.

'It's had its moments, especially in
some of the training and sparring sessions, but I've never thought about
packing it in. I've asked myself why I'm doing it but the hardest
things you do are the most rewarding.'

Uncompromising: Dawson has pledged to turn the former England cricket captain's debut into a nightmare

Uncompromising: Dawson has pledged to turn the former England cricket captain's debut into a nightmare

Flintoff, who was not dropped during
his 300 rounds of sparring, insists he has not thought about whether his
new career will extend beyond his maiden bout.

'First and foremost my focus is on
tomorrow night and after that we'll decide where it's going. It would be
dangerous to look past tomorrow night.

'Richard has come over and my
attention is on that. It was the same with cricket in the last part of
my career, I didn't look too far ahead.'

Dawson, meanwhile, has promised to knock Flintoff out and enjoy an early night on first visit to these shores.

'I'm here to win and and Mr Freddie is here to win,' he said. 'I respect Freddie but I'm going to attack him.

'I put pressure on; pressure wins fights and I'm here to win and get it over with.'

Rafa Benitez Chelsea press conference pictures: I"ll win over fans

Benitez: I didn't disrespect Chelsea fans when I criticised them, I was just defending Liverpool. I'll win them over … and I'll win trophies!

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UPDATED:

19:14 GMT, 22 November 2012

Rafa in his own words (sort of)

Fake Rafa

Check out an exclusive clip of what the new Blues boss might have to say for himself… at least according to 'the voice of football', impressionist Darren Farley (right).

Rafael Benitez had to defend himself from the wrath of supporters in his first press conference as Chelsea manager.

At his official unveiling at Stamford Bridge this evening, Benitez was grilled on the explosive comments he made against the London club during his time as Liverpool manager.

He said: 'I want to be honest. If I said this or
that, I have to analyze the context. We were playing against Chelsea in
the semi-finals of the Champions League. If I am a fan I want to see the
manager fighting for my club. I don't see this as a lack of respect for
Chelsea's fans, just a manager defending his team.

I'm back! Rafael Benitez held his first press conference as Chelsea manager at Stamford Bridge on Thursday

I'm back! Rafael Benitez held his first press conference as Chelsea manager at Stamford Bridge on Thursday

I'm back! Rafael Benitez held his first press conference as Chelsea manager at Stamford Bridge on Thursday

Under the microscope: Chelsea fans have been given their first glimpse of the new Blues boss

Under the microscope: Chelsea fans have been given their first glimpse of the new Blues boss

Under the microscope: Chelsea fans have been given their first glimpse of the new Blues boss

VIDEO: Watch Rafa Benitez's first press conference as Chelsea boss

'I like to do things in the right way
for the fans. The fans and manager want to win every single game,
nobody wants to win more than than fans and manager.

'This is a big challenge. I've been
waiting for this chance. I could have gone to other countries for big,
big money but I wanted to stay in England for a big club.'

Benitez said it was too early for him to
pass any comment on Mark Clattenburg after the FA cleared the referee
of any wrongdoing over his alleged comments at John Obi Mikel. He also revealed he had not had any direct contact with
Chelsea's trigger-happy Russian owner Roman Abramovich.

Benitez added: 'Di
Matteo was doing a great job. Sometimes in football you change managers
too soon, but that's life. Have you seen my CV I have all the trophies
you can win at club level.

'I
was looking for the right opportunity at a top side to fight for a
trophy. I don't care about the short term. I want to win every game – we
have five trophies to fight for and at the end we will see what
happens.

Remember me Rafa Benitez takes his first Chelsea training session on Thursday afternoon

Remember me Rafa Benitez takes his first Chelsea training session on Thursday afternoon

Revival bid: Benitez gets to work on making Torres score goals again for the Blues

Revival bid: Benitez gets to work on making Torres score goals again for the Blues

Remember me Rafa Benitez takes his first Chelsea training session on Thursday afternoon

Welcome: Benitez smiles as he arrives at Chelsea's training ground

New man: Benitez assesses his new workplace

New man: Benitez arrives at their Cobham HQ (right) before assessing his new workplace

'In seven
months you can win some trophies and I'm sure at the end everyone will
be delighted. I analyzed the squad. Can they win trophies Yes. How many
trophies can they win We have five opportunities. I have more desire, more hunger to win trophies than before.'

Asked about what Liverpool fans might think Benitez said: 'I can guarantee a lot of them are saying “We wish you all the best – maybe not against Liverpool…” I don't have two owners who don't talk to each other (like at Liverpool). We have an owner and a technical director.'

The former Inter Milan boss, who also strongly hinted John Terry would stay on as captain, said he was not put off by talk he is simply keeping the hot-seat warm for Pep Guardiola.

'I have a very good relationship with Guardiola,' he added. 'He is a great manager, what will happen in future I don't know.

'For
sure, I like to do things in the right way for the fans. But I'm sure
they will be happy with a manger with a winning mentality and who wants
to win games. In the end I hope they will be pleased.'

New man in the hotseat: Rafa Benitez arrives at training at Chelsea's Cobham training ground and told the fans to get behind him

New man in the hotseat: Rafa Benitez arrives at training at Chelsea's Cobham training ground and told the fans to get behind him

Reunited: Fernando Torres arrives at training at Cobham ahead of his reunion with Benitez

Reunited: Fernando Torres arrives at training at Cobham ahead of his reunion with Benitez

Leader: Captain John Terry turns up for training

Leader: Captain John Terry turns up for training

Another man in charge: Gary Cahill turns up for training with his third Chelsea manager in less than a year

Another man in charge: Gary Cahill turns up for training with his third Chelsea manager in less than a year

Blues fans were still in shock this morning after owner Abramovich completed arguably his most controversial day yet at Stamford Bridge last night by appointing Benitez to succeed Roberto Di Matteo.

The Russian handed the former Liverpool boss a contract until the end of the season, having seemingly been unable to woo the man said to be his number one target.

Confirming new 'interim' boss Benitez would meet Chelsea's players today, the European champions said in a statement: 'The owner and the board believe that, in Benitez, we have a manager with significant experience at the highest level of football, who can come in and immediately help deliver our objectives.'

The length of Benitez's contract appeared the clearest indication yet of Abramovich's determination to land Pep Guardiola once the former Barcelona boss completes his one-year sabbatical.

And it would be no exaggeration to say Benitez would be the least popular of his eight appointments judging by the reaction of Chelsea supporters on social media.

Making his point: A Chelsea fan stands outside the training ground with an anti-Benitez sign

Making his point: A Chelsea fan stands outside the training ground with an anti-Benitez sign

No thanks: Chelsea fan protested when Rafa Benitez was linked in March

No thanks: Chelsea fan protested when Rafa Benitez was linked in March

Indeed, they are unlikely to roll out the welcome mat for his first game in charge against Barclays Premier League champions Manchester City on Sunday.

But all that failed to deter Benitez, who agreed his Chelsea contract during a trip to Abu Dhabi and will look to convince them or another big club to give him a longer-term deal.

It is impossible not to deduce part of Benitez's appeal to Abramovich was his relationship with 50million flop Fernando Torres, who he helped make one of the best strikers in the world at Liverpool.

Former Blue: Boudewijn Zenden will be one of Benitez's coaches

Former Blue: Boudewijn Zenden will be one of Benitez's coaches

Di Matteo finally lost patience with Torres in his last match in charge but he expressed few regrets about his unparalleled eight-month tenure last night.

'It was an honour for me to be appointed manager of a club that I loved playing for and one that is so close to my heart,' he said in a statement issued by the League Managers Association.

'I am extremely proud of the successes and trophies that we were able to bring to the club in recent months.

End of the road: Roberto Di Matteo was sacked following Chelsea's defeat to Juventus

End of the road: Roberto Di Matteo was sacked following Chelsea's defeat to Juventus

'Lifting Chelsea's first Champions League trophy, in Munich, was the best achievement in club history and without doubt the highlight of my career to date, both as a player and manager. It is a memory I will treasure for the rest of my life.

'I have a deep and unreserved passion for Chelsea Football Club and I would like to sincerely thank all of the staff, my players and of course the Chelsea fans, for their tremendous and unconditioned support in the intense time I have been the manager at the Bridge. I wish all of them every success for the rest of the season and beyond.'

Paul Lambert backs Martin O"Neill to end Sunderland slump

Lambert backs O'Neill to end slump after Villa overrun Black Cats

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UPDATED:

18:53 GMT, 3 November 2012

Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert backed Sunderland counterpart Martin O'Neill to get it right after inflicting a demoralising defeat on his side.

The Scot, who still refers to the Ulsterman as 'the Gaffer' after their time together at Celtic, was a happy man after seeing Villa claim just their second Barclays Premier League win of the season with a 1-0 victory at the Stadium of Light.

Winner: Gabriel Agbonlahor scores the only goal of the game as Aston Villa beat Sunderland

Winner: Gabriel Agbonlahor scores the only goal of the game as Aston Villa beat Sunderland

In the process, he piled further
pressure on O'Neill, whose team have now won only one of its last 17
league games and managed just a single notable effort on target.

However, Lambert is convinced the former Villa manager will turn things around on Wearside.

He said: 'It's a tough, tough job, it really is a tough job. But if there's one person who will turn it around, it will be him.

'I have got the utmost respect for the Gaffer. I am not in a position to sit here and say I have got one over him or anything.

'It's a game of football I had to win and Aston Villa had to win, and we did it. It's a good three points.'

In a contest between two sides who
have found the going difficult in recent weeks, one goal was always
likely to be enough to claim the points, and it was Villa who snatched
the advantage 12 minutes after the break.

Christian Benteke, who had caused
problems all afternoon, climbed above Phil Bardsley at the back post to
head down Matt Lowton's cross and Gabriel Agbonlahor pounced to volley
into the roof of the net from close range.

Eyes on the ball: Sunderland's Stephane Sessegnon and Aston Villa's Ashley Westwood battle for the ball

Eyes on the ball: Sunderland's Stephane Sessegnon and Aston Villa's Ashley Westwood battle for the ball

It was scarcely more than the
visitors deserved after largely containing their hosts throughout, and
it was telling that the man who came closest to registering for the
Black Cats was skipper Lee Cattermole, who has never scored for the
club.

Cattermole's 84th minute effort was
Sunderland's only serious attempt on goal on another frustrating
afternoon for O'Neill's men.

Lambert, who had to withdraw
left-back Joe Bennett after just 11 minutes and then saw replacement
Eric Lichaj limp off 19 minutes from time, said: 'I thought we deserved
it.

Chance: Sunderland's Louis Saha heads wide as the home side fall to defeat

Chance: Sunderland's Louis Saha heads wide as the home side fall to defeat

'I thought we were excellent today
considering the knockbacks we took with the left-backs and Ashley
[Westwood] making his debut. I thought we were excellent.'

Benteke in particular caught the eye
with a powerful display which left Sunderland bruised and battered and
his manager searching for superlatives.

Lambert said: '”He could be anything he wants. He could be one hell of a player.

Gutted: Saha is stunned after failing to hit the target with his header

Gutted: Saha is stunned after failing to hit the target with his header

'I have always said he is playing in a Belgian national team at the minute that is top class, and he is in there on merit.

'He is playing extremely well and since he has come to this football club, he has been a revelation for us.'

O'Neill was still able to take
positives despite hearing his players booed from the pitch for the
second time in five days, but admitted the responsibility for finding a
solution lies with him.

Tussle: Sunderland's Sebastian Larsson and Aston Villa's Eric Lichaj fight for the ball

Tussle: Sunderland's Sebastian Larsson and Aston Villa's Eric Lichaj fight for the ball

He said: 'It's me, I'm the manager, I'm the manager of the football club, absolutely.

'Yes, it's difficult, it's been a difficult week for us, obviously, losing against Middlesbrough and then not scoring here.

'It's been a difficult week, but we will come through.

Happy days: Villa celebrate their narrow win over Sunderland at the Stadium of Light

Happy days: Villa celebrate their narrow win over Sunderland at the Stadium of Light

'We threw just about everything at them to try to get on the scoresheet, but it eluded us today again. But it will turn.'

The Black Cats thought they should
have been awarded a second half penalty for handball against Benteke,
but referee Mike Jones was not impressed, to O'Neill's obvious surprise.

He'll get it right: Martin O'Neill (right) receives the backing of Paul Lambert (left)

He'll get it right: Martin O'Neill (right) receives the backing of Paul Lambert (left)

He said: 'All the players around said it was a penalty. The referee has chosen not to give it, that's his prerogative.

'Interestingly, we did have a meeting
at the beginning of the season where referees came to speak to us to
tell us that if you have your arms in the air, even it's to avoid
something hitting your face, then there's the likelihood that they will
be giving a penalty.

'It wasn't today.'

Steven Gerrard u-turn on criticism after Everton v Liverpool

Gerrard u-turn: I went too far with my attack on Everton over their long-ball tactics

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UPDATED:

11:44 GMT, 31 October 2012

Why Gerrard got it wrong…

Read Ian Ladyman's verdict on why the Liverpool captain was wide of the mark HERE

Steven Gerrard has admitted his criticism of Everton after the Merseyside derby on Sunday was over the top as he drew a line under the controversy.

The Liverpool captain was furious after the game and, in the heat of the moment, he said Everton’s tactics were similar to those of Stoke, as he claimed they played a number of long balls.

His frustration stemmed from Liverpool having a last-gasp winner from Luis Suarez wrongly disallowed at Goodison Park and he made a number of inflammatory comments, such as Liverpool were the only team interested in playing football.

Backtrack: Steven Gerrard was initially harsh in his criticism of Everton

Backtrack: Steven Gerrard was initially harsh in his criticism of Everton

However, statistics that were published following the pulsating 2-2 draw showed that Everton enjoyed more possession and significantly out-passed Liverpool, which is why Gerrard has felt the need to issue a retraction.

‘Just to clarify I’ve watched the game again and I’ve seen some of Everton’s matches this season, and what I said in relation to their style of play went too far,’ Gerrard.

‘I was frustrated by the disallowed goal from Luis when I spoke and also some of the things that have been said about Luis in recent weeks, which haven’t been fair in my opinion.

‘As captain I have a duty to stand up for our players when I feel they are unfairly singled out. But it wasn’t my intention to disrespect Everton or Stoke for that matter and I certainly didn’t intend any disrespect to their manager or players.’

Gerrard was eager to stress that he had no intended to upset the respective managers of Everton and told the Liverpool Echo: ‘I have the utmost respect for David Moyes and Tony Pulis and the job they have done at their respective clubs.

‘My main issue was with the goal that wasn’t given and that Liverpool did not get the three points I felt we deserved in what was a fantastic derby match.’

Standing up for his club: Phil Jagielka has hit back at Steven Gerrard

Standing up for his club: Phil Jagielka has hit back at Steven Gerrard

It comes after Phil Jagielka hit back at Gerrard’s with his own barbed comments about Liverpool’s style of play.

Everton were incensed by Gerrard’s
comments following Sunday’s 2-2 draw at Goodison Park, particularly as
stats for the game showed they made more passes (448 to 314) and enjoyed
more possession (56 per cent to 44 per cent) than Liverpool.

While
Jagielka was happy to admit Everton could be direct when they want to
be, to utilise the strength and aerial prowess of Marouane Fellaini, he
suggested that Liverpool’s methods of always wanting to play on the
ground are flawed.

'If Stevie says we are a long ball team then I’m not going to deny the fact that we play long balls,’ said Jagielka. ‘Do we play them for the full 90 minutes No. But we play quite direct.

'Who wouldn’t when you have someone in form like Marouane Fellaini, who can bring the ball down for fun and we start creating things from there Why wouldn’t you do that We don’t believe in passing it around for half an hour for the sake of it.

'If we can put the ball forward and cause them trouble then let’s cause them as much trouble as possible. We won’t change the way we play. We won’t start to look to put in a thousand passes a game.

'If we need to play forward to Felli to create chances, or to Nikica Jelavic or to Victor Anichebe, then guess what That’s what we’ll do.’

Hitting out: Gerrard compared Everton to Stoke

Hitting out: Gerrard compared Everton to Stoke

Focal point: But Everton were not guilty of long-balls to Marouane Fellaini

Focal point: But Everton were not guilty of long-balls to Marouane Fellaini

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers, though, is not someone who will change his philosophy and he has added further spice to the fallout by backing up his captain’s claim that Liverpool have to play in a certain, attractive manner.

He did, however, acknowledge that Everton do have a number of skilful players who have made significant contributions this season.

'I believe there were two different styles,’ said Rodgers. ‘This is a club brought up with a certain way of playing. Its history has been defined by the many great managers who have been here. You have to win games but you have to win games by playing in a certain style.

'It’s the beauty of the Premier League – there are so many diverse ways of working and playing. We play a certain way. If you look at Everton and a number of other teams, they are a bit more direct and then play off the front players.

'But they have players with finesse like Leighton Baines and Leon Osman, who are terrific footballers. For us here at Liverpool, there’s a way in which we play and want to win games. the supporters and the history of the club dictates that.’

There is a feeling amongst Evertonians that Gerrard’s comments have shown that David Moyes’ squad have started to get under Liverpool’s skin. Everton are six points ahead of their neighbours and aim to finish above them in the table for the second successive year.

'I suppose it’s a backhanded compliment,’ said Jagielka. ‘Stevie must have thought Liverpool were in a game to come out which such comments. It makes you chuckle, but if Stevie is saying things like that, there must be a reason behind it which must be that we are doing something well.'