Tag Archives: role

Ryan Giggs Premier League ever-present: 20 years of stickers

Sticking with Giggs for 20 years… the United legend is still collectable two decades on

-13 version is as classy as ever.

Then... Ryan Giggs takes on Everton back on January 23, 1994 - the year the Premier League's sticker album debuted

Then… Giggs takes on Everton back in January 1994 – the year the Premier League's sticker album debuted

1993-94: 38 appearances, 13 goals

1993-94: 38 appearances, 13 goals

1994-95: 29 apps, 1 goal

1994-95: 29 apps, 1 goal

1995-96: 33 apps, 11 goals

1995-96: 33 apps, 11 goals

1996-97: 26 apps, 3 goals

1996-97: 26 apps, 3 goals

1997-98: 29 apps, 8 goals

1997-98: 29 apps, 8 goals

Since Giggs first appeared on a
sticker, two years after his full debut, United have had four kit
sponsors (Sharp, Vodafone, AIG and AON) and two kit makers (Umbro and
Nike).

Some shirts have been more attractive
than others – 2010 is a particular blip – and Giggs’ age (now 39) seems
to vary depending on whether he had shaved that morning.

As the Premier League's only ever-present player, Giggs' success is unrivalled in England's top flight over the last 20 years (and the last 20 sticker albums).

1998-99: 24 apps, 3 goals

1998-99: 24 apps, 3 goals

1999-2000: 30 apps, 6 goals

1999-2000: 30 apps, 6 goals

2000-01: 31 apps, 5 goals

2000-01: 31 apps, 5 goals

2001-02: 25 apps, 7 goals

2001-02: 25 apps, 7 goals

2002-03: 36 apps, 8 goals

2002-03: 36 apps, 8 goals

2003-04: 33 apps, 7 goals

2003-04: 33 apps, 7 goals

2004-05: 32 apps, 5 goals

2004-05: 32 apps, 5 goals

2005-06: 27 apps, 3 goals

2005-06: 27 apps, 3 goals

2006-07: 30 apps, 4 goals

2006-07: 30 apps, 4 goals

The Welshman has not only been a part of all 12 of Sir Alex Ferguson's Premier League-winning squads, but he has played a pivotal role in each and every one of the triumphs.

Giggs' success initially came as a winger, who's pace and trickery were up there with the world's best, but in recent years he has been deployed as a deeper lying midfielder as his speed has diminished along with his locks.

Such is the level of Giggs' fitness and professionalism that the fewest appearances he has made in any one Premier League season came back in 1998-99, when he played in 24 games.

2007-08: 31 apps, 3 goals

2007-08: 31 apps, 3 goals

2008-09: 28 apps, 2 goals

2008-09: 28 apps, 2 goals

2009-10: 25 apps, 5 goals

2009-10: 25 apps, 5 goals

2010-11: 25 apps, 2 goals

2010-11: 25 apps, 2 goals

2011-12: 25 apps, 2 goals

2011-12: 25 apps, 2 goals

2012-13: 11 apps (... and counting)

2012-13: 11 apps (and counting)

That means that Giggs has always
comfortably passed the minimum requirement of 10 games played in to collect
a Premier League winners medal.

In the last 20 years Giggs has faced Liverpool – his most frequent opposition – 35 times in the League and scored four goals. With the 36th clash looming on Sunday, no wonder United don’t want to swap him.

... and now: Giggs has already made 11 Premier League appearances for United this season

… and now: Giggs has already made 11 Premier League appearances for United this season

Willian wants Chelsea move from Shakhtar

I like Chelsea! Willian wants Blues move after taking them apart for Shakhtar

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UPDATED:

21:48 GMT, 24 October 2012


Destroyer: Willian helped take Chelsea apart

Destroyer: Willian helped take Chelsea apart

Having played a key role in Chelsea’s downfall, Willian claimed his time in Ukraine was nearing its end as he pleaded for a transfer to one of Europe’s top leagues.

The Brazilian left the Donbass Arena after Shakhtar Donetsk beat the European champions clutching a Chelsea shirt with his name and a question mark on the back, handed to him by a Blues fan.

His contract expires in 2014 and Chelsea and Tottenham have a long-standing interest in the 24-year-old winger, who has two caps for his country.

Willian said: ‘I would like to move
from Shakhtar, my work here is complete. I would like to play in a big
team in a big tournament, like the Premier League or Serie A. I like
Chelsea, AC Milan and Inter.

‘I
need to show up in a big league to be called up for the national team.
My dream, my main goal is to play the World Cup in Brazil and that is
only going to happen if I move.

‘If I were playing in a big league the same way I’ve played here, I would have more chances.

‘I knew Chelsea wanted me in the past, but the club didn’t want leave me, I think, about the price.

‘I respect the position of the club. I have to keep playing at a high level to receive new bids. We have to try to move on in the Champions League.

‘We are strong but Shakhtar is not just me, there are a lot of strong players. We played the perfect game against Chelsea. This season, we have more knowledge about our power.’

Shakhtar, having paid Corinthians 12million for Willian in 2007, are understood to want more than 30m but price will fall as he nears the end of his contract and his electric display in Wednesday’s win will ensure plenty of interest remains.

One of the gang: Willian would like to join the team

One of the gang: Willian would like to join the team

Mario Balotelli not a role model for kids, say Manchester City

Mario not a role model for kids, say Manchester City

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UPDATED:

22:01 GMT, 13 October 2012

Mario Balotelli's strained relationship with Manchester City has got so bad that the club are urging their academy youngsters not to follow the example of his 'values or behaviour'.

Balotelli's long-term future at City is in doubt after he flew back to Italy within hours of his poor display against Sunderland eight days ago, having been substituted.

Poor example: Mario Balotelli is no role model, according to his club

Poor example: Mario Balotelli is no role model, according to his club

Sporting director Brian Marwood, who
is overseeing a 100million investment in the new Etihad Campus, has
named other City players, including Gareth Barry and goalkeeper Joe
Hart, as better examples to follow.

Asked where Balotelli, who trained
with Italy for Tuesday's game against Denmark, sits in City's vision for
producing the right characters, Marwood said: 'It's important (for
firstteam players) to show a good example.

'I think – and we all know who
you're talking about – you'll always get people within the system that
will not show those values and behaviours, but in the main I think we
have a fantastic group of players. I look at Pablo Zabaleta, Vincent
Kompany, Joe Hart, Gareth Barry, Joleon Lescott. We have a lot of
players who think and behave in the right way. You have to make sure
they're the role models.'

Controversial star: Balotelli is not always a saint off the field, either

Controversial star: Balotelli is not always a saint off the field, either

Marwood revealed that at least one player had left City after showing disrespect.

'A player no longer at the club came
out of the reception at our Carrington training ground, where we'd spent
a lot of money, and spilled some rubbish on the pathway. He then walked
across newly-laid turf – which shouldn't really have been walked across
– and got into his car. He disrespected the environment he was in.

'Five minutes later, Gareth Barry
came out, picked up the rubbish and put it in a bin. It said something
about the values and behaviour we must deliver to young players.'

Tom Wood aiming for England comeback

Wood sets sights on England comeback… via archery, rifle assembly and shed building

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UPDATED:

21:30 GMT, 21 September 2012

There are various ways for a player to deal with the spectre of long-term injury and the fear that a burgeoning career is in jeopardy. Tom Wood built a shed — on stilts. He took up archery. And he learned about assembling and using rifles.

These were necessary outlets for his concerns and confusion. The injury to his left foot which struck at the start of this year was meant to require a quick fix; just a few weeks of rest, with the aid of a protective boot.

That was before it became apparent the extent of his condition — stemming from the separation of two tiny sesamoid bones behind a big toe — was ‘almost unheard of’.

Poised: Tom Wood is aiming to make his England comeback

Poised: Tom Wood is aiming to make his England comeback

Tom Wood

So the Northampton flanker missed England’s defence of the Six Nations title under new head coach Stuart Lancaster, having played a key role in the 2011 success.

He returned too soon and a freak incident led to a broken toe to compound the problems, before he ripped the arch of his foot in the LV= Cup final defeat against Leicester.

All the indications were that Wood had been the leading contender for the England captaincy before he was forced out of action. Instead, Chris Robshaw seized the role in fine style, while the 25-year-old Saint faced up to months of inactivity and angst.

‘It was a worrying time,’ he said. ‘I was wondering if I would ever run properly again. I genuinely thought that when I was told I’d have to go in a boot and miss a few weeks of rugby, that I would soon come back and be part of a new regime under Stuart Lancaster.

'I didn’t think for a minute that not only would I miss the whole Six Nations, I’d miss play-offs for Northampton and the England tour, too.

Lesson: Wood shows Chris Foy the ropes and picks arrows out of the target (below)

Lesson: Wood shows Chris Foy the ropes and picks arrows out of the target (below)

Target practice

‘When I found out, I got angry at everyone. At the medics for not knowing more, for not understanding it better. I wanted clarity and nobody could provide it. It was no-one’s fault, but it was my career that was in jeopardy and I started looking back, questioning everything.

‘I’m my own worst enemy in a way — I was putting my hand up and saying, “I’m OK to play”.’

Wood is a driven character. He needed a way of filling the void where rugby should have been, so he turned his attentions to ‘a few projects’.

‘I’ll show you how my frustration came out,’ he said, before revealing a picture on his phone of a shed on stilts in his garden.

‘It’s a two-metre-high shed with two-and-a-half-metre stilts holding it up. It’s for hunting, I use it as a “hide”. It was a week of angry sawing and hammering, breaking wood, making a mess.

‘I built that not long after I’d found out I wouldn’t be playing rugby for months. I went into a dark place on my own, I wallowed and got angry at everything, then I took it out on some wood!’

Constructive: Wood built his own shed while recovering

Constructive: Wood built his own shed while recovering

The fondness for hunting developed in New Zealand years ago, when Wood was furthering his rugby education.

‘I will go deer-stalking and might get the odd muntjac,’ he said. ‘I will skin it and butcher it myself. I take off all the steaks and eat them, take the haunches off and have that in a roast. I take off every scrap of meat then give it to the butcher down the road.’

Wood being Wood, he won’t settle for just pursuing the activity, he is fascinated about the processes behind it. In this case, he became intrigued by the rifles themselves. ‘I’m very interested in the engineering side of ballistics and rifle-building,’ he said.

‘It’s a fairly recent hobby. Steve Thompson (ex-Northampton and England hooker) knew a guy here from UK Gunworks. He lives round the corner and builds rifles from his house.

'I get into the physics behind how it all works. He teaches me how to tune rifles and how ammo works. I while away time reading about what powder burns fastest and things like that.’

Experimental: Wood sometimes spends days playing with his archery kit

Experimental: Wood sometimes spends days playing with his archery kit

Of course, that particular hobby requires suitable locations while Wood needed an activity which could be pursued more easily.

One day, someone showed him a bow and arrow and how to operate it. Instantly hooked, he dashed off to buy one. ‘I spend much of my time firing arrows at targets, modifying arrows, making them shorter, trying different weights, measuring how fast they’re going, all that kind of stuff. I can waste whole days doing that,’ he said.

‘I watched the Olympic archery. I wanted to see how they do things differently. I am always experimenting, to see what works best. I practise at the club. I set up targets on the back pitches behind Franklin’s Gardens.’

Happily, Wood is an active rugby player again, gradually recovering stability in his troublesome foot. He has played all three of Northampton’s opening Aviva Premiership games — three full 80-minute stints — although he is among the replacements for Saturday’s visit of his former club, Worcester. The path back to his personal peak is still before him.

Looking forward: Wood is still getting back to his best

Looking forward: Wood is still getting back to his best

‘I’m not 100 per cent,’ he said. ‘The foot isn’t as strong as the other foot yet, but it’s getting better every week. I’m on the up again, but I’m frustrated because I don’t feel I’m the player I was before getting injured. I’m probably 15-20 per cent off where I can be.’

Asked if he would fancy the job of leading his country one day, he added: ‘It’s not something I’d strive for or get worked up about, but if it ever came my way I’d be very proud and I’d give it a good shot.’

For now, he has the more immediate target of rediscovering his best form to push for an autumn Test recall. ‘I want to be back at my best for Northampton,’ he said. ‘I think that when I am, I will be in contention to be back in the England team — whether it’s at six, seven or eight. I’d play at scrum-half for England if that’s what they wanted!'

Jimmy Kebe back in training for Reading

Kebe hands Reading timely boost as midfielder returns to training

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UPDATED:

22:12 GMT, 12 September 2012

Reading midfielder Jimmy Kebe has resumed training with his team-mates.

Mali international Kebe played a pivotal role in the Royals' npower Championship triumph last season but has yet to feature this term due to a hamstring problem picked up in pre-season.

Back in action: Jimmy Kebe (right) has returned to training with Reading

Back in action: Jimmy Kebe (right) has returned to training with Reading

The 28-year-old appears to be closing in on his comeback, although it remains to be seen whether it will come in Sunday's Barclays Premier League game against Tottenham.

Kebe posted on Twitter: “First training with the group today since my injury… Such a great feeling to be back on the pitch 🙂 I missed football so much !!”

Jimmy Kebe nearing return

Kebe hopes to be back training soon as Reading winger recovers from hamstring injury

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UPDATED:

18:18 GMT, 5 September 2012

Fantasy football 2012

Reading midfielder Jimmy Kebe has revealed he hopes to be back in training in 10 days.

The 28-year-old Mali international played a pivotal role in Brian McDermott's npower Championship winning side last year but is yet to feature for the Royals this season due to an ongoing hamstring issue.

Nearly there: Jimmy Kebe will be back in training soon

Nearly there: Jimmy Kebe will be back in training soon

Kebe used Twitter to predict he would return to training in a little over a week as he looks to recover in time for fixtures against the likes of West Brom and Newcastle towards the end of the month.

He wrote: 'Doctor seen this morning for an injection on my hamstring…it's getting better though, should be back for training in 10 days hopefully.'

George Robson keen to emulate Chris Robshaw

Robson keen to emulate Robshaw as uncapped lock is handed captaincy for tour match

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UPDATED:

16:41 GMT, 12 June 2012

George Robson has not had to look far for inspiration as he prepares to lead England into midweek action in South Africa.

The uncapped Harlequins lock, who will captain England in their tour match against the Southern Barbarians in Kimberley, feels he has the perfect role model in Chris Robshaw, the regular skipper for his club and country.

Robshaw and the rest of the side that started last Saturday's opening Test loss to South Africa in Durban will sit out as a changed team look to secure England's first win of the tour.

Centre of attention: Robson will lead England into midweek action

Centre of attention: Robson will lead England into midweek action

Robson, 26, said: 'Chris is a great leader. He leads the side very well on the pitch and it is all about performance.

'You have got to play well if you are in that leadership role because that is the most important thing.

'Chris came to me when I first got the chance to skipper Quins and it was the same over here as well.

Leading by example: Robshaw

Leading by example: Robshaw

'He had a word with me and he said, “Look – the reason you are captain and the reason you are in any side is because of what you have been doing and you don't want to change any of that”.

'Head coach Stuart Lancaster's decision to hand the midweek captaincy to Robson represents a notable double for Harlequins, the Aviva Premiership champions, with Robshaw the tour's main leader.

Quins also had nine players in the original 42-man squad – a figure reduced by the departure of Mike Brown due to injury but which still underlines the London club's strong season.

Robson said: 'It is a massive honour and something I am really proud of.

'I have had lots of messages from people back home – my family and my team-mates at Quins.

'It has been really special but I am also aware I have got some great leaders around me so I am looking forward to it.

'It is also a great reflection of what has been going on at Quins.'

The trip to Kimberley to face a relatively unknown composite side drawn from the South African domestic scene could be viewed as an unnecessary distraction ahead of next weekend's second Test in Johannesburg.

But that is not how the team are viewing it after the disappointment of Durban.

Assistant coach Simon Hardy said: 'We have got to gain some momentum on the tour.

'We had a disappointment on Saturday and we have got to regain that momentum and that comes from winning matches.

'It doesn't matter if they are midweek or Test matches, we have got to keep the tour moving forward so Wednesday becomes even more significant after Saturday's result.

'If we come away with a good win or come away with a win then everything moves on in a more positive light.'

Wales pick strong team to face Australia

Big guns back as Wales look to build on Grand Slam win down under

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UPDATED:

06:02 GMT, 7 June 2012

Wales will head into the first of their three Tests against Australia in Brisbane on Saturday with 11 of the starting XV that clinched Grand Slam glory against France in March.

Despite seeing a fringe side beat the Barbarians 30-21 last week, caretaker coach Rob Howley has picked a completely different team to that which played at the Millennium Stadium last weekend.

Keeping the faith: Wales have picked the bulk of their Grand Slam and Triple Crown-winning side

Keeping the faith: Wales have picked the bulk of their Grand Slam and Triple Crown-winning side

A total of 16 players were sent Down Under early for acclimatisation purposes, with all but Ashley Beck named to start the series opener.

Fit again Sam Warburton will return to lead the side after an 11-week break since leaving the field at half-time in the 16-9 win over the French.

Only six of the players who figured in the Baa-Baas win are asked to act as replacements, with Matthew Rees, Paul James, Alun Wyn Jones, Ryan Jones, Lloyd Williams and James Hook all joining Beck on the bench.

Caretaker role: Howley (left) is in charge down under as Warren Gatland (right) recovers from a heel operation

Caretaker role: Howley (left) is in charge down under as Warren Gatland (right) recovers from a heel operation

The only other changes from the Grand Slam winning team see Scarlets centre Scott Williams, who scored the crucial try in the Triple Crown triumph over England at Twickenham, take over from the injured Jamie Roberts at centre, hooker Ken Owens replace his Scarlets team-mate Matthew Rees and Blues lock Bradley Davies pack down with ex-Dragons skipper Luke Charteris in the second row.

Davies has not played for Wales since
picking up a six-week ban for a dangerous tackle in the opening victory
over Ireland in February. He replaces Wyn Jones, while Charteris moves
up off the bench to take over from Ian Evans, who is getting married.

Teams for first Test, Australia v Wales, Brisbane, Saturday June 9 (k-o 1105 BST)

Wales: L Halfpenny; A Cuthbert, J
Davies, S Williams, G North; R Priestland, M Phillips; G Jenkins, K
Owens, A Jones, B Davies, L Charteris, D Lydiate, S Warburton (Captain),
T Faletau.

Replacements: M Rees, P James, AW Jones, R Jones, L Williams, J Hook, A Beck.

Australia: A Ashley-Cooper; J Tomane, R
Horne, P McCabe, D Ioane; B Barnes, W Genia; B Robinson, T Polota Nau, S
Kepu, R Simmons, N Sharpe, S Higginbotham, D Pocock, W Palu.

Replacements: S Moore, B Alexander, D Dennis, M Hooper, N White, A Fainga'a, M Harris.

'We are well prepared and looking forward to the challenge this weekend,' said Wales caretaker head coach Rob Howley.

'We have created some winning momentum, we have a recent home win against the Barbarians to take into this game and have built a certain amount of confidence within the squad.'

Meanwhile, Wallabies coach Robbie Deans has made nine changes after his side lost 9-6 to Scotland on Monday.

There are five newcomers in the pack, including an all-new Waratahs front row, and three more behind the scrum.

Loosehead prop Benn Robinson makes a welcome return to the Test arena after an 18-month absence and fit-again Wycliff Palu gets the nod at No 8.

Michel Vorm says Brendan Rodgers is best manager in the league

Rodgers is best manager in league, claims Swansea stopper Vorm

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UPDATED:

10:23 GMT, 2 June 2012

Swansea goalkeeper Michel Vorm
believes Liverpool have appointed the best manager in the Premier League
after they announced Brendan Rodgers as their new boss on Friday.

Rodgers left Swansea to take the vacant managerial role at Anfield and Vorm believes that Liverpool have made a great decision.

'I think it's the best move Liverpool can make,' he told Sky Sports News.

Loss: Michel Vorm (centre) believes Swansea have lost the best boss around

Loss: Michel Vorm (centre) believes Swansea have lost the best boss around

'I've worked with him for a year and
he's the best manager I've worked with – and I think he is the best
manager maybe in the Premier League.

'He is quite young but very experienced and I think for Liverpool it's the best they could get. For him it's beautiful.'

Despite declaring his support for
Rodgers, Holland international Vorm was upset to lose the man who
brought him to England last summer.

'For us it's the worst thing that could happen,' he said.

'It's disappointing but I think we showed throughout the season what we're capable of.

'If we can keep the club together we can go on playing good football under the new manager.'

Vorm
will certainly not be following Rodgers to Anfield this summer after
Swansea chairman Huw Jenkins announced the club had come to an agreement
with Liverpool regarding their players.

Jenkins revealed an agreement is in place to prevent Rodgers signing players from his former club for 12 months.

One day: Rodgers hopes he can be a Liverpool great

One day: Rodgers hopes he can be a Liverpool great

'We
have got some protection on Brendan coming back for our players in the
initial period, which I think is the right thing,' Jenkins told
talkSPORT.

'He has got a timescale to assess
things there and that is going to take him while so I've got no worries
there. We have got a 12-month respite.'

Swansea
are now looking for a replacement for Rodgers and former assistant
manager Graeme Jones, who now holds the same role at Wigan, remains the
front-runner.

Although
Jenkins would not give away any names he did hint that the new boss
would have to understand the ethos at the Liberty Stadium.

'The way we play, the philosophy in our club is not going to change,” he said.

'We have got to bring someone in who is going to complement that.

'They
have got to agree to work within our structure. Brendan did that,
everything was set up for him and he continued that, built on it, and
obviously we are going to continue on the right path and find the right
person who is going to suit us.'

Paul Scharner to leave West Brom at end of season

Scharner up for grabs as out-of-contract midfielder confirms he'll quit West Brom

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UPDATED:

10:38 GMT, 8 May 2012

Paul Scharner has confirmed he will be leaving West Brom at the end of the season when his current contract expires.

Over and out: Scharner will leave West Brom

Over and out: Scharner will leave West Brom

Scharner has failed to trigger a 12-month extension option after making less than the required 25 appearances this season and is resigned to moving from the Hawthorns.

The Austrian international has played a key role in the Baggies establishing themselves in the top flight.

Scharner said: 'I think I've concluded my mission at West Brom by helping them to stay in the Premier League. I've never been relegated and I'm very proud of this.

'I didn't take up the (contract) option because it was impossible as I have not played enough games. To do so (stay) would need new negotiations – and that won't be happening.

'I would like to stay because of the supporters, who are great, but the club has other plans, so it is time to move on.

'But I think I still have enough to offer someone and have set myself a new challenge somewhere else. It is time to finish off the season and then decide on my future.'

Baggies defender Jonas Olsson has been voted the club's player of the year.