Tag Archives: richards

Anthony Fry appointed the new chairman of the Premier League

Fry gets top job at Premier League: Dairy Crest boss to replace Richards as chairman

Olympics vice-chairman who is a director at Tottenham.

Champions: Manchester United wrapped up the Premier League title on Monday against Aston Villa

Champions: Manchester United wrapped up the Premier League title on Monday against Aston Villa

Instead, the nominations committee have
chosen in Fry, who is also chairman of Dairy Crest and the Cala Group, a
person who has no formal connection with football.

Buck added: 'There were a number of outstanding candidates, any of whom would have made a fine Premier League chairman, but in Anthony Fry we have appointed an individual with the correct blend of experience, skills, attitude and demeanour to represent the best interests of the Premier League.

Moving on: Sir Dave Richards will step down in June

Moving on: Sir Dave Richards will step down in June

WHO IS HE

Fry is currently Chairman of the Finance Committee of the BBC Trust and has enjoyed a distinguished career. He has specialised in the media industry and has held numerous Chairmanships and Board positions across a range of business, public, charitable and academic bodies.

'Anthony's CV speaks for itself, but
we were particularly impressed by his aptitude for and understanding of
the role, as well as believing his style to be particularly well-suited
to developing effective working relationships with both the member clubs
and the executive of the Premier League.'

Fry himself said: 'The opportunity to
become chairman of the Premier League is one that appealed hugely to me
for obvious reasons.
'I have a deep-seated and long-held passion for sport and believe the
skills and attributes I have developed throughout all aspects of my
career will serve both the Premier League clubs and the executive
extremely well.

'The league is one of the country's
great success stories of recent times having overseen a period of rising
playing standards, substantial investment in infrastructure and
development, significant growth in attendances and viewing figures as
well as the marked commercial success that has benefited the English
game as a whole.'

Mario Balotelli and Robinho dance during AC Milan"s win over Barcelona

VIDEO: Balotelli and Robinho do the Harlem Shake (sort of) as Milan beat Barca

By
John Drayton

PUBLISHED:

23:56 GMT, 20 February 2013

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UPDATED:

00:01 GMT, 21 February 2013

It had to happen. When Mario Balotelli, Robinho and some of their friends were pictured dancing wildly during AC Milan's match against Barcelona on Wednesday night, someone was going to do it.

It's the craze that's been sweeping the world over, after all. So now you can watch Balotelli and Co lose it set to the Harlem Shake music.

Scroll down for video

Shake it: Mario Balotelli and Robinho (right) go wild, while the former's girlfriend looks unimpressed

Shake it: Mario Balotelli and Robinho (right) go wild, while the former's girlfriend looks unimpressed

... but she musters a smile eventually as Milan party

… but she musters a smile eventually as Milan party

He was cup-tied for the clash at the San Siro, so was forced to sit on the sidelines – although he seemed to be making the most of his time out.

His girlfriend Fanny Robert Neguesha didn't look too impressed, but eventually mustered a smile.

Kevin-Prince Boateng and Sulley Muntari did the damage for Milan to ensure he wasn't missed.

Somebody took the footage of Balotelli dancing and put the now ubiquitous soundtrack in the background.

VIDEO: Balotelli and Robinho do the Harlem Shake

Mario's former Man City colleagues, not to be outdone, had a Harlem Shake of their own.

The club’s staff and first-team players such as Edin Dzeko, Joe Hart, James Milner, Joleon Lescott, Micah Richards, Scott Sinclair and Aleksandar Kolarov got involved, even if the latter didn't look too enthused.

VIDEO: City do their own Harlem Shake

FA Cup 2013: Giant-killings could end because of new FA Cup ball

FA Cup underdogs have been having a ball – but that could be about to change…

By
Simon Cass

PUBLISHED:

15:16 GMT, 18 February 2013

|

UPDATED:

17:32 GMT, 18 February 2013

It is not just the balls that come out of the bag that those teams intent on FA Cup giant-killing will be concerned about.

Championship sides Blackburn, Millwall, Barnsley and Middlesbrough, along with League One Oldham, are all still dreaming of a trip to Wembley and a semi-final encounter with one of the Barclays Premier League big boys.

But with goalkeepers already having had to contend with an unpredictable Umbro FA Cup ball, those stoppers from further down the league now face the disadvantage of having to get used to the flight of the Nike Premier League ball from the final four of the competition onwards.

Cup Magic: But Colin Kazim-Richards' Blackburn Rovers, who knocked out Premier League Arsenal on Saturday, may have trouble with the Premier League ball, used in the FA Cup semi-finals onwards

Cup Magic: But Colin Kazim-Richards' Blackburn Rovers, who knocked out Premier League Arsenal on Saturday, may have trouble with the Premier League ball, used in the FA Cup semi-finals onwards

Unpredictable: Goalkeepers have had to get used to the ball for the earlier rounds, the Umbro Neo 2

Unpredictable: Goalkeepers have had to get used to the ball for the earlier rounds, the Umbro Neo 2

As part of the FA’s megabucks deal with Nike, from the semi-final of the Cup the ball used will be a de-branded version of the Maxim, which Premier League strikers have been lashing into the net all season and which top-flight keepers have been tipping around the post.

Having spent hours on the training ground trying to get to grips with the Umbro Neo 2 used so far in the competition, Football League keepers must now familiarise themselves with the Nike ball whose flight is second nature to the Premier League counterparts.

MK Dons goalkeeping coach, Paul Heald, who watched his keeper David Martin ship in three in Saturday’s defeat by Barnsley, explained: ‘We work all year with a certain match ball but for cup games we use Umbro balls which are totally different, move differently and have a different texture to them. Some people don’t realise that it is a big difference.

Knock-out: MK Dons keeper David Martin, left, conceded three goals in Saturday's cup loss to Barnsley

Knock-out: MK Dons keeper David Martin, left, conceded three goals in Saturday's cup loss to Barnsley

‘All the balls are made slightly
differently. The Premier League balls are different to the Football League
balls but the FA Cup balls just seem to travel quicker.

'They have got a
little bit more bounce and they shoot off the surface, especially on
wet surfaces, and move a lot sharper.

‘The
balls are different every year and the manufactures try and keep it
interesting. Even the way the leather is cut, the design is to make the
ball unpredictable.

'I take my hats off to young keepers. It is great for
the strikers and supporters but it is an absolute nightmare for
goalkeepers.’

All change: Any lower league side facing Robin van Persie in the semi-final will have to deal with the same ball, pictured above, that he has scored with 19 times in the Premier League this season

All change: Any lower league side facing Robin van Persie in the semi-final will have to deal with the same ball, pictured above, that he has scored with 19 times in the Premier League this season

There were
presumably plenty of sleepless nights for goalkeepers over the weekend
as 25 goals were scored in seven matches, suggesting the preparation on
the training pitch had not gone according to plan despite there being no
limit on how much you can practice with the ball.

Umbro’s technical specifications of their Neo 2 claim it features ‘just 14 panels to offer larger strike zones and a smoother, more accurate flight.’ Nike, by comparison, claim their Maxim’s Geo II Balanced technology ‘distributes pressure evenly for consistency and accuracy’ while it also features a ‘carbon-latex bladder for acceleration and superior air retention.’

But despite such space age technology, Heald certainly feels the advantage lies with the strikers in the modern game.

He said: ‘We have a laugh and a joke amongst keepers and say that outfield players, all they do is close their eyes, keep their head down, hit and hope and the ball does the rest.

'We say that all they do is swing the leg and hit the ball and the art is really in the goalkeeping.’

Manchester City stars Joleon Lescott and James Milner ready for Super Bowl

Ready for the big game on Sunday, boys And we're not talking about Liverpool's visit to Manchester…

By
Nick Metcalfe

PUBLISHED:

18:04 GMT, 1 February 2013

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UPDATED:

18:41 GMT, 1 February 2013

It's the biggest sporting event in the world, they tell us, and some of our biggest football stars can't wait for Sunday's Super Bowl.

Manchester City trio Joleon Lescott, James Milner and Micah Richards look quite the part here as they prepare for this weekend's showdown between the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers.

Ready to rumble: Joleon Lescott (left) and James Milner (right) prepare to do battle, with Micah Richards on refereeing duties

Ready to rumble: Joleon Lescott (left) and James Milner (right) prepare to do battle, with Micah Richards on refereeing duties

Lescott, a Ravens fan, and 49ers supporter Milner took part in a special quarterback 'crossbar challenge' at the club’s Carrington training ground.

And in case you were worrying about events taking a controversial turn, Richards was also on hand to undertake refereeing duties.

Milner eventually emerged as the victor, but only after a rule change. After both were successful with two events at hitting the crossbar, the winner was decided by who threw closest to the bar. Milner now hopes this is a lucky omen for events in New Orleans.

He said: 'It's pretty late but I'll try watching as much as I can. I think the 49ers will win it but it's going to be close.

Doing battle: Lescott and Milner are both big American football fans

Doing battle: Lescott and Milner are both big American football fans

'They're the favourites going in but with it being Ray Lewis' last game I don't think the Ravens want to let him down. I've seen clips of Lewis on the field and off the field.

'As a leader he seems unbelievable. He gets everyone going and it'll be a great if he signs off with the big one.'

Give us a smile, James: Lescott, Richards and Milner ahead of this weekend's big game

Give us a smile, James: Lescott, Richards and Milner ahead of this weekend's big game

Milner

Lescott

Who's going to be celebrating 49ers fan Milner (left) and Ravens supporter Lescott (right)

Lescott
said: 'I am a massive NFL fan and will be shouting for the Ravens this
Sunday. I tend to stay up as it's an entertainment event with the half
time show.

'We were lucky enough to visit the Baltimore Ravens when we toured the USA and I got to meet Ray Lewis.

'It would be a fitting end to an
outstanding career if the Ravens won the Vince Lombardi trophy in New
Orleans for him on Sunday.'

Richards, who is a relatively new
convert to the NFL, said: 'To be honest, I'm more of an NBA fan but it's
a big weekend for the NFL and I'll be watching.'

The day job: Milner training with City on Friday ahead of their clash with Liverpool on Sunday

The day job: Milner training with City on Friday ahead of their clash with Liverpool on Sunday

Up for the cup: Lescott (right) in action for City in their FA Cup clash with Stoke last weekend

Up for the cup: Lescott (right) in action for City in their FA Cup clash with Stoke last weekend

The three players will have more pressing matters on Sunday before the Super Bowl, and that's a Premier League clash with Liverpool.

A 0-0 draw at QPR in midweek saw City lose further ground in the title race, with local rivals United beating Southampton and moving seven points clear.

Roberto Mancini's men will be desperate for victory over the Merseysiders, before some of the City players settle down, along with millions of others, for a ball game of a very different kind.

Watch the City stars take part in their special American football challenge…

Celebrity Big Brother: Frankie Dettori joins house

That's one way to serve your ban! Shamed jockey Dettori joins Celebrity Big Brother

By
Mike Dawes

PUBLISHED:

21:19 GMT, 3 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

22:10 GMT, 3 January 2013

Frankie Dettori has found a novel way to fill his time while he serves a drugs ban – by appearing in Celebrity Big Brother.

The 42-year-old is suspended until May after being sidelined following a failed test in September.

Dettori will be competing against the likes of X Factor star Rylan Clark and Steps singer Claire Richards.

Frankie Dettori

Frankie Dettori

Change of scenery: Frankie Dettori joined fellow contestants in the Celebrity Big Brother house

Entering to a series of cheers from
the audience, the jockey admitted he was worried his fiery
Italian personality would land him in trouble in the house.

He
said: 'I don't know if I'm going to be a good housemate. I'm very
Latin, I blow hot and cold. I get on with people, I just don't know if
they get on with me.

'I'm looking forward to 2013, it's a new
start. I'll miss nothing about the outside world. I want to win!'

Lacey Banghard

Ryan Maloney

Pleased to meet you: Lacey Banghard and Ryan Maloney (aka Toadie) have also entered the famous house

Dettori's decision to join the programme comes as a surprise after his agent ruled the jockey out last month.

Pete Burrell, who has acted for
Dettori for many years, said: 'Frankie has no plans to appear on this
show. We have not discussed it and I do not imagine we will be
discussing it.

'Frankie is out of the country for the next two months and is already looking forward to riding again in May.'

Broadcaster and former jump jockey John Francome expressed surprise that Dettori's name had been linked with the show.

He said: 'Frankie will undoubtedly benefit from a proper break from racing after more than 20 years as a jockey.

'The last thing he needs is to be locked away for ages with a load of idiots on this show.

Barnsley 1 Blackburn 3 – match report: Keith Hill sacked

Barnsley 1 Blackburn 3: Hill sacked as Tykes slip to foot of the table

PUBLISHED:

18:01 GMT, 29 December 2012

|

UPDATED:

18:06 GMT, 29 December 2012

Managerless Blackburn put two days of off-field turmoil behind them to record a first win in seven matches against npower Championship strugglers Barnsley – whose manager Keith Hill was sacked after the game.

Henning Berg was dismissed as Rovers manager on Thursday following one win in 10 games at the helm.

Rovers' senior coaching staff were also shown the door and, under the caretaker control of reserve-team boss Gary Bowyer, it was the only signing of Berg's 57-day reign that opened the scoring at Oakwell.

Three and easy: Rovers recorded their first win in seven games

Three and easy: Rovers recorded their first win in seven games

Match facts

Barnsley: Steele, Wiseman (Stones 46), Foster, McNulty, Golbourne, O'Brien, Dawson, Perkins, Done (Noble-Lazarus 46), Tudgay, Davies (Sinclair 70).

Subs Not Used: Lidakevicius, Hassell, Harewood, Greening.

Booked: McNulty.

Goals: Dawson 76.

Blackburn: Kean, Henley, Hanley, Dann, Martin Olsson, Rochina (Markus Olsson 67), Murphy, Lowe, Vukcevic (Kazim-Richards 46), Rhodes, King (Nuno Gomes 90).

Subs Not Used: Usai, Henrique, Morris, Rosado.

Booked: King, Vukcevic.

Goals: King 29, Rochina 44, Rhodes 90.

Attendance: 9,153

Referee: Andy D'Urso (Essex).

Click here for the latest Championship table, fixtures and results

On-loan Manchester United forward
Josh King's bundled home before the half hour and a sublime individual
effort on the stroke of half-time from Ruben Rochina gave Blackburn
breathing space.

Stephen Dawson reduced the arrears
during a lacklustre second half, the closing stages of which were marred
by the sight of Barnsley forward Marcus Tudgay receiving lengthy
treatment following a collision with Rovers goalkeeper Jake Kean and
leaving the field on a stretcher.

That reduced Hill's side to 10
men having used all their substitutions and, in the eighth of nine
additional minutes, Jordan Rhodes muscled his way on to Jason Lowe's
long ball to seal Blackburn's triumph and send Barnsley to the foot of
the table.

Stephen Foster returned to the heart
of the Barnsley defence after suspension ruled him out of the Boxing Day
defeat to Birmingham, while Scott Wiseman, Matty Done and Craig Davies
were restored to Hill's starting line-up.

Bowyer tweaked Blackburn's attack by selecting Rochina and Simon Vukcevic in support of top scorer Jordan Rhodes.

Colin Kazim-Richards and Diogo Rosado
dropped to the bench while David Dunn, Morten Gamst Pedersen, Gael
Givet and Dickson Etuhu were among a host of senior players absent from
the squad.

Barnsley almost took the lead in the
ninth minute when Scott Dann's botched clearance presented Davies with
an opportunity but Rovers managed to scramble clear.

More slack defending, this time a
poor backpass from Martin Olsson, presented Dawson with a shooting
opportunity but Grant Hanley was in place to head clear.

Hotshot: Jordan Rhodes settled the game in the dying embers

Hotshot: Jordan Rhodes settled the game in the dying embers

Davies had the ball in the net with
17 minutes played but the whistle had gone for a foul on Adam Henley and
Blackburn then began to make most of the running.

Rhodes uncharacteristically skied
over after Rochina released Henley in the 23rd minute and Barnsley could
not claim the opening goal was not on the cards when it arrived.

Straight from a Kean clearance, King
raced clear of the Tykes backline and, although Luke Steele save his
initial effort, the rebound struck him and bobbled into the net.

Rovers remained on the front foot and were rewarded in style by Rochina.
Wiseman backed off the advancing former Barcelona B playmaker, who
stormed into the penalty area and lashed past Steele at his near post.

Kean saved well from Tudgay on the
stroke of half-time but that did not persuade Hill against making a
double substitution at the break as Reuben Noble-Lazarus and John Stones
replaced Done and Wiseman.

Kazim-Richards was also on at the
interval for the injured Vukcevic and almost extended Blackburn's lead
in the 54th minute, seeing a shot deflected behind.

That opportunity was inventively
set-up by Rochina and Blackburn let the initiative slip after he limped
off midway through the half.

Barnsley sensed the opportunity and, with 14 minutes to go, Dawson lashed home emphatically from 20 yards.

The host's charge for an equaliser
was concluded without Tudgay – leading to the huge allocation of injury
time that Rhodes crowned with his 12 Blackburn goal in 21 starts.

Michael Laudrup would lead my Premier League special XI – Martin Keown

Premier League Bootroom: Laudrup's the leader of my surprise packages

|

UPDATED:

22:00 GMT, 25 December 2012

Christmas is a time for good things so I’ve picked an XI who have played exceptionally well this season. Some have received more plaudits than others but all have surprised in one way or another. And all have done something a bit special this season.

Christmas Crackers XI

Goalkeeper: Brad Guzan (Aston Villa)

It was a surprise that Guzan was selected ahead of the very experienced Shay Given at the start of the season but Paul Lambert should be commended for his choice. Guzan has dealt well with the pressure of Given lurking in the background and played with real self-belief. Five clean sheets for a team that has struggled is no mean feat.

Right back Pablo Zabaleta (Man City)

He has seen off Maicon and Micah Richards to become the champions’ No 1 right back. Zabaleta is Mr Dependable. Close behind him as a surprise package is Carl Jenkinson, whose improvement for Arsenal has been amazing. His performances are not apologetic anymore and he deserves to be in the Arsenal starting XI.

Left back: Leighton Baines (Everton)

Only one candidate in this position. Everything has come together for Baines, who gets better and better each year. The precision of his decision making when he goes forward has improved. The weight and timing of his passes are excellent. Add to that his crossing and free kicks and he has to be in my side.

Must have: Leighton Baines has been superb as usual, from his crossing to his decision making

Must have: Leighton Baines has been superb as usual, from his crossing to his decision making

Centre backs: Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham), Sebastien Bassong (Norwich)

Vertonghen
has become the leader in Spurs’ defence. He dictates the line and has
shown great leadership to help Andre Villas-Boas implement his
high-pressing system. He is good on the ball too and has proved to be a
very good signing.

Bassong
left Spurs in the summer for Norwich and has been the key to their
improved defensive performances. He was caught ball-watching too often
at Tottenham but has been dominating as Chris Hughton’s side have kept
five clean sheets. He has also chipped in with three goals.

Midfield: Santi Cazorla (Arsenal), Oscar (Chelsea), Marouane Fellaini (Everton)

Cazorla has arrived in English football and been a joy to watch. You have to admire his ambidexterity. It’s impossible to distinguish which foot is his strongest. Defences are fearful of his through passes and are now standing off him, which has seen him shoot more.

Oscar is another summer import and is a lovely footballer. He seems unperturbed by anyone around him — people try to dispossess him but they can’t. He has an effortless style, is always looking for the ball and is going to be a phenomenal player. He, more than anyone, has brought a change in Chelsea’s style of play.

Fellaini has benefited from Tim Cahill’s departure as the Belgian is now playing further forward. He brings the ball down on his chest like Niall Quinn used to — he plucks it out the air with such great control. He then uses his huge frame to protect the ball. He’s playing with extra inspiration this season and is scoring crucial goals.

Liquid: Santi Cazorla can play with either foot, is creative, clever and something special

Liquid: Santi Cazorla can play with either foot, is creative, clever and something special

Front three: Michu (Swansea), Christian Benteke (A Villa), Robin van Persie (Man Utd)

The transition Michu has made since arriving from Spain has been incredible. He keeps performing and is very cool in front of goal. Quality players find time on the pitch and he does that in the box. He has given a boost to Swansea’s attacking threat.

Benteke is so fast and powerful and has justifiably kept Darren Bent out the side. I haven’t yet seen a defender who knows how to handle him.

Van Persie was under pressure after a big-money move to United from Arsenal but he has been excellent and there seems to be a real hunger in him. He wants trophies and that motivation is helping drive the rest of the United squad.

Magic Michu: The attacker is cool as a cucumber in front of goal

Magic Michu: The attacker is cool as a cucumber in front of goal

Coach: Michael Laudrup (Swansea)

Following Brendan Rodgers was not going to be easy at the Liberty Stadium. Yes, it took the players some time to get used to his ways, but Laudrup has taken them on to another level, particularly going forward. That is no mean feat.

Another level: Michael Laudrup has driven the players forward at the Liberty Stadium

Another level: Michael Laudrup has driven the players forward at the Liberty Stadium

What's the score

Fixtures

Fixtures

Dean Richards exclusive – bloodgate in the past

EXCLUSIVE: Bad blood is in the past as Richards aims for the top again with resurgent Newcastle

|

UPDATED:

22:30 GMT, 21 December 2012

Four months into his second coming as a coach and Dean Richards has had a perfect return; 15 wins from 15 games with Newcastle and not one jibe about the reason for his ‘sabbatical’.

In the depths of his post-Bloodgate exile, when the three-year ban he had to serve surely felt like a lifetime of pain and punishment, this scenario would have been nothing more than an idle fantasy.

Yet, the legendary former England and Lions No 8 is now at the forefront of a promising salvage operation on Tyneside and relishing an unexpectedly warm embrace from the game he adores and missed so much.

Turnover: Richards is rebuilding at Newcastle after the shame of Bloodgate

Turnover: Richards is rebuilding at Newcastle after the shame of Bloodgate

‘I’ve not had one comment about the past, which is quite strange,’ said Richards. ‘I had been expecting something, but there has not been a single remark, which is bizarre. Sorry, I should qualify that – I’ve not had one negative comment about it, which is slightly different. People have commented, but seem to be accepting me for what I am. A lot of people have said how pleased they are that I’m here.’

The welcome he has received, at his own club and elsewhere, has touched Richards. That has been the bonus element in this reintegration process. But the principal source of satisfaction stems from simply being involved again, day after day, and seeing lots of hard graft paying off in the results that have followed, even if, on a personal level, he has taken time to get his bearings.

‘I love it,’ he told Sportsmail, after overseeing a training session at Kingston Park in the build-up to Sunday’s home Championship clash with London Scottish. ‘Being around a team again has given me a real buzz. It is one of the things that you miss, when you have your – sabbatical. I had my three years out and missed that involvement. Now I’m back, I’m enjoying the buzz, I love being around players and coaches, being around a winning team.

‘I had watched a lot, but there is no doubt there was a huge amount of rustiness; there still is. You don’t get up to speed straight away, but I’ve got enough quality people around me who have pushed me in the right direction.’

He feels he’s changed, too, although he doesn’t believe that has anything to do with his exit from Harlequins in 2009.

‘With
everything I’ve been through in the last few years, I’m a bit more
relaxed on match day,’ said Richards. ‘Wellsy (forwards coach John
Wells) finds it very frustrating because he has gone totally the other
way! He is far more animated and I’m there with my feet up, just
watching and analysing. I’m not very demonstrative in the changing rooms
either, rather than bringing out the old hair-dryer!’

Scandal: Richards clashes with Leinster coaches after bringing Nick Evans back on the field

Scandal: Richards clashes with Leinster coaches after bringing Nick Evans back on the field in 2009

Ronan O'Donnell (left) and physio James Allen
BACK FROM THE SIN BIN: THE RETURN OF RICHARDS

AFTER being banned from coaching for three years following the ‘Bloodgate’ scandal, Dean Richards is back and eyeing promotion with Newcastle. Here are the key stats for the former England forward.

Born: July 11, 1963
Clubs: Roanne, Leicester
England caps: 48 Lions caps: 6
Coaching career: Leicester, FC Grenoble, Harlequins, Newcastle
Coaching honours: 4 Premiership titles, 2 Heineken Cups

This is his second such assignment – trying to conjure an immediate return to the Premiership. In 2005-06, his first season at Quins, he took them straight back up. Richards is now helping the Falcons fly again, as they try to build on a 12-point lead at the top of the Championship table.

‘When I arrived at Quins, the fanbase was down to 3,500-4,000 per game; it has been very similar here,’ he said. ‘With the success we had that year and hopefully the success we have this year, the fans will come back.

‘It is similar in terms of the mental state of people when I arrived. A lot of people were very down; the club had gone down, though it wasn’t until July we knew for sure. Once that news broke, there was a real dropping of jaws and the realisation set in. The main difference is that I arrived at Quins and we had Andre Vos, Will Greenwood, Andrew Mehrtens, Ugo Monye – guys like that who were already in situ. We don’t quite have the leaders here who we had at Quins back then, which made a big difference.’

The contrast that has struck Richards the most is nothing to do with the comparative depth of leadership within his current club and his previous one. It is not the clubs’ markedly different catchment areas – a huge northern region with a low density of ‘chimney pots’, as opposed to a small southern region crammed full of them at Quins.

And it is nothing to do with the gulf in travel times that have played havoc with his fondness to share a post-match beer with the opposition. The most striking contrast has been in the landscape of the league.

There is now a play-off system; semi-finals and a final, on a home-and-away basis. And after London Welsh’s promotion via appeal last summer, there are Minimum Standards Criteria that the Championship clubs regard as redundant. Richards doesn’t hold back in condemning the situation.

Reprieved: London Welsh were promoted to the Premiership on appeal earlier this year

Reprieved: London Welsh were promoted to the Premiership on appeal earlier this year

‘The Championship is different now,’ he said. ‘It is a bizarre scenario we find ourselves in – not knowing what is happening until May 29 and this Minimum Standards Criteria rubbish. You can’t plan conditioning, you can’t plan recruitment, no one knows where they stand.

‘It is a very ill-thought out process and whoever came up with it needs speaking to. It doesn’t have the ambience and rugby culture that was evident when I was there with Quins.

‘It has lost something because of what happened last year, which I think is wrong. What the London Welsh scenario means is that it doesn’t matter what facilities and structures are in place, you can just find a club 40 miles away and play there. There is no incentive to build foundations, to have a strong academy, to develop a side and a community and a culture.

‘You have to have a culture and strong roots, yet there is no encouragement to do that from the RFU because of the play-off structure and the Minimum Standards going out the window. It has become a real dog’s dinner. It is quite sad.’

Richards is adamant Newcastle will ‘do things right’. As the business end of the season approaches, he expects several other clubs to recruit heavily to ambush the Falcons in the play-offs, but he will not countenance a similar strategy. He feels the squad is of Premiership standard already.

Richards sets his sights incredibly high. ‘The ultimate goal is to win the European Cup,’ he said. ‘It will take a few years, but there’s no reason why we can’t get up there.’

Positive thinking, a long winning run and no negative comments about ‘the past’ – a perfect return indeed.

Blackpool 2 Blackburn 0 match report: Wes Thomas and Kirk Broadfoot put Henning Berg under more pressure

Blackpool 2 Blackburn 0: Appleton's unbeaten run goes on but it's more gloom for Berg

PUBLISHED:

17:25 GMT, 15 December 2012

|

UPDATED:

17:25 GMT, 15 December 2012

Blackpool netted a goal in each half to see off Blackburn and maintain boss Michael Appleton's unbeaten start to life at Bloomfield Road.

Rovers had more than their fair share of chances in the first half but Wes Thomas had headed Blackpool in front by the time Simon Vukcevic rattled the post for the visitors.

Henning Berg's side were unable to muster anything like a similar threat in a second half of few chances, and switched off late on to let former Rangers defender Kirk Broadfoot net a first Seasiders goal.

Advantage Blackpool: Wes Thomas hit the first at Bloomfield Road

Advantage Blackpool: Wes Thomas hit the first at Bloomfield Road

Match facts

Blackpool: Gilks, Baptiste, Broadfoot, Cathcart, Harris, Osbourne, Gomes, Martinez, Delfouneso, Thomas (Taylor-Fletcher 69), Ince (Dicko 82). Subs not used: Halstead, Eardley, Kevin Phillips, Noguera, Bruna.

Goals: Thomas 22, Broadfoot 81.

Blackburn: Kean, Henley, Dann, Givet, Martin Olsson, Vukcevic (Rochina 74), Lowe, Etuhu, King, Rhodes, Kazim-Richards. Subs not used: Robinson, Dunn, Pedersen, Grant Hanley, Ribeiro, Rosado.

Booked: King.

Att: 15,907.

Ref: Graham Scott.

The latest Championship table, fixtures and results

Appleton has now masterminded two
wins from three outings, having begun his tenure as Ian Holloway's
replacement with four consecutive draws.

The result moves Blackpool three
points and four places above Blackburn, who are floundering in 15th
place in the npower Championship having won once during Berg's nine
matches at the helm.

Bob Harris enjoyed his second start
of the season for Blackpool at left-back in place of the suspended
Steven Crainey, while Gary Taylor-Fletcher was named among the
substitutes after recovering from a hamstring injury.

Berg sprung a surprise by dropping
former England goalkeeper Paul Robinson and naming Jake Kean in his
starting XI – one of four changes to the Blackburn side thrashed 4-1 by
Cardiff eight days ago as Gael Givet, Colin Kazim-Richards and Vukcevic
earned recalls.

Blackpool were perhaps surprised by
the sight of on-loan Galatasaray forward Kazim-Richards launching a
long-throw in the second minute and Vukcevic was allowed space to fire
over.

The visitors were quickest out of the
blocks and Seasiders defender Craig Cathcart required a last-ditch
challenge to deny Jordan Rhodes from Kazim-Richards' cross, before Matt
Gilks made saves in quick succession to thwart Rhodes and Vukcevic.

Opening his account: Kirk Broadfoot (back right) nods Blackpool's second - his first for the club since joining from Rangers

Opening his account: Kirk Broadfoot (back right) nods Blackpool's second – his first for the club since joining from Rangers

It was therefore against the run of
play when Nathan Delfouneso crossed from the left for Thomas to glance
in with the assistance of a statuesque Blackburn defence in the 24th
minute.

Dickson Etuhu had a chance to bring
Blackburn level after the half hour but shot wide from Josh King's
clipped cross as Blackpool failed to fully clear a corner.

Kean was nearly caught out by a
clever Tiago Gomes free-kick from the left before Scott Dann produced a
vital block to divert an Ince effort at the end of a solo run into the
side netting.

But it was almost all-square at the break as Vukcevic rattled the post with a shot on the turn.

Kazim-Richards and Thomas both hobbled back into the action following injury scares during a scrappy start to the second half.

England Under 21 winger Ince appeared
the most likely source of extending Blackpool's lead and, after
breaking free of the Rovers defence to test Kean low to his right, he
exchanged passes with Harris for the latter to fire over in the 65th
minute.

Harris managed to extend Kean when
the Rovers keeper pushed a rasping free-kick behind, but the points were
made safe from the resulting corner.

Gomes' outswinging delivery from the right found Broadfoot to thump home unmarked with nine minutes to play.

Givet thought he had a consolation
but was flagged offside before Dann almost compounded Rovers' misery by
heading against his own post in stoppage time.

Vincent Kompany returns to Manchester City training

EXCLUSIVE: Kompany back in training as Manchester City captain targets Toon clash

|

UPDATED:

12:39 GMT, 13 December 2012

Manchester City have been handed a huge boost with the return to training of Vincent Kompany.

The City captain limped off early with a hamstring problem in last weekend's derby defeat to Manchester United and was ruled out of Saturday's trip to Newcastle in the Barclays Premier League.

However, the Belgian is desperate to play and asked manager Roberto Mancini if he could to some training on Thursday.

Concern: Vincent Kompany limped out of the derby with a hamstring problem

Concern: Vincent Kompany limped out of the derby with a hamstring problem

Kompany trained on his own away from the main group of players and will see how his injury responds before making a decision on whether to train properly on Friday.

Mancini still rates Kompany as 'very doubtful' for Saturday's game at St James' Park but hopes his skipper will miss just one game at the most.

Meanwhile, City defender Micah Richards hopes to be back playing by early February after knee surgery in October.

The 24-year-old tore the meniscus in his right knee but is gradually making progress in his rehabilitation.

On the mend: Micah Richards (No 2) hopes to be playing again in February

On the mend: Micah Richards (No 2) hopes to be playing again in February

'I am not putting a date on when I will be back because these things are never exact but I am hoping it will be in early February,' he told City's website.

'There is still not too much I can do but I am now on one crutch instead of two so that is progress.

'Of course it is frustrating and there is nothing more I would like than to be out there playing but I am being well looked after, the injury is responding and the knee getting stronger every day.

'I am busy try to build the muscle up and I am doing some weights.'