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Harry Redknapp – Footballers" Football Column: La Liga is better than the Premier League

HARRY REDKNAPP: Life as a football boss is scary… A few bad results, the chairman goes to his golf club, his mates tell him the team's rubbish and the manager is sacked!

PUBLISHED:

09:32 GMT, 15 March 2013

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UPDATED:

10:17 GMT, 15 March 2013

Harry Redknapp

QPR manager Harry Redknapp was hotly tipped to replace Fabio Capello as England manager. That job went to Roy Hodgson and Harry now finds himself battling relegation at Loftus Road. Redknapp enjoyed a magical four-year spell at Tottenham during which he took Spurs on a Champions League adventure. In his Footballers' Football Column, Redknapp looks at why there are no English clubs in the last eight of the Champions League, explains why he believes La Liga is better than the Premier League and why foreign owners need to give English managers a chance….

One-on-one with Harry Redknapp

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If I am honest, at the start of the year, I don't think you could see an English team winning the Champions League. You looked at Manchester United and thought they might go close. They were unlucky against Real Madrid – the referee's decision to send off Nani cost them.

It has been one of those years for
English clubs in the Champions League. We've not got a single club in
the quarter-finals, but I'm sure next year will be different.

I think we will probably see a stronger Chelsea and a stronger Manchester City. The
Barclays Premier League is exciting, it is probably the most exciting
league in the world. But in terms of actual football, I think the
Spanish league takes some beating.

When you watch a La Liga game, you will always see two teams who are technically very good. Our league has the excitement, every game is a tough game.

It isn't always pretty, but on any given day, you can see an upset in our league whereas you don't get that so much in Spain.

Crashing out: Ryan Giggs and Robin van Persie look on after Manchester United were knocked out of the Champions League by Real Madrid

Crashing out: Ryan Giggs and Robin van Persie look on after Manchester United were knocked out of the Champions League by Real Madrid

Turning point: Nani was controversially sent off against Madrid when United were ahead in the game

Turning point: Nani was controversially sent off against Madrid when United were ahead in the game

Turning it around: Lionel Messi helped Barcelona overturn a 2-0 first leg deficit to AC Milan to progress

Turning it around: Lionel Messi helped Barcelona overturn a 2-0 first leg deficit to AC Milan to progress

A real force: Borussia Dortmund's have progressed in recent years under Juergen Klopp

A real force: Borussia Dortmund's have progressed in recent years under Juergen Klopp

More from The Footballers' Column…

The Footballers' Football Column – Luther Blissett: People say Watford have exploited a loan 'loophole' but Zola has established us as a force really quickly
12/03/13

The Footballers' Football Column – Martin Allen: There is nothing wrong with Harry taking his squad to Dubai… I took my players to France but only let them play Monopoly and Pictionary
12/03/13

Steven Reid – The Footballers' Football Column: Liam Ridgewell went to a Justin Bieber gig… he didn't even have the excuse of taking his kids – he went with one of the other West Brom lads!
09/03/13

Curtis Davies – The Footballers' Football Column: I knew I'd score against Blackpool, I always get goals when I play the B-teams
07/03/13

The Footballers' Football Column – Mark McChrystal: I haven't given up hope of winning my first full cap… And don't judge James McClean unless you know him or understand Northern Ireland
05/03/13

Ruud Gullit – The Footballers' Football Column: German teams are doing better in Champions League because they have homegrown players… English clubs have too many overpaid foreigners
02/03/13

The Footballers' Football Column – Brian Clark: Newcastle's 28m super scout on discovering the Ameobi brothers… oh and a chubby lad called Gascoigne
28/02/13

The Footballer's Football Column – Carolyn Radford: Life in non-League It's all fast cars and 70-year-old club secretaries
25/02/13

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

The top teams dominate in Spain. They've got two fantastic teams in Barcelona and Real Madrid. They have also got Atletico Madrid who are outstanding.

For me, technically, La Liga is a better league than the Barclays Premier League. The football they play, the passing of the ball; it's of better quality than the Barclays Premier League.

Why is is it a better league technically Because they don't play like we do.

They don't put crosses into the box too often, they don't have teams taking long throws, they don't have teams just booting the ball up the pitch.

They all play. They play out from the back, pass the ball and their movement is good. But you can see that style coming into our league now.

Look at the way Swansea and Wigan. It's no secret that a Spanish manager, Roberto Martinez, started the Swansea philosophy.

And he has done the same at Wigan. Yes, they are struggling but they have spent no money and Roberto has got them playing to the best of their ability.

As well as Spain, I also think the Bundesliga has come on leaps and bounds. Their two top teams, Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, are excellent.

You saw that in Dortmund's Champions League group. They were in with Manchester City, Real Madrid and Ajax but came out on top in that group of death.

I watch plenty of lower division football and you see the ball being booted up the pitch a million times in 90 minutes. The ball is booted from one end of the park to the other so many times the ball must have a headache.

It gets booted up the pitch, one team heads it away and vice-versa. There's too much of that; we need to encourage teams and players to play football.

Nurturing kids to play a passing game has to start from park football. Kids games on Sunday mornings are geared too much towards winning the game.

The priority for them is to win. That absolutely has to change. You need to be able to let kids take chances when they play.

Rio Ferdinand was 17 when he played for me at West Ham, I told him to play. I wanted him to come out of defence with the ball and pass it.

If he made a few mistakes, it wasn't a problem for me. But when you've got parents on the sidelines ranting and raving at their kids because they lose the ball, that's when it becomes very difficult.

Encouraged to pass: Harry Redknapp says he wanted Rio Ferdinand to play from the back when he was at West Ham

Encouraged to pass: Harry Redknapp says he wanted Rio Ferdinand to play from the back when he was at West Ham

Hope for the future: St. George's Park will help develop the future of English football

Hope for the future: St. George's Park will help develop the future of English football

Hopefully, the introduction of St George's Park can improve our elite kids technically. We'll see, let's hope we've got the right coaches in there, that is the key.

The identity of how this country wants to play football has to come from the very top. We have to pick a way of playing and stick with it.

Are we going to play out from the back Are we going to ask the centre backs to spilt and let a midfield player pick the ball up from a goal kick Are we going to try and play our way through

If that's what we want then we need to coach our kids to pass, pass, pass, pass and pass again.

Or are we just going to boot it up to the big centre-forward If England want to do that then what's the point in coaching the kids to pass the ball

Not to be: Redknapp says he does not think about being England manager

Not to be: Redknapp says he does not think about being England manager

The great escape Redknapp is trying to mastermind QPR's survival in the Premier League

The great escape Redknapp is trying to mastermind QPR's survival in the Premier League

Out identity needs to come from the top. We need to pick a way to play and stick with it all the way through the system. Otherwise there is no point.

The problem we've got is that it's difficult to see an end to that cycle of playing long-ball. We are in a results business. We all need results.

We don't have time. It might take a year to change the attitude of the players and change the philosophy. But do you get that sort of time with chairman at half of the football clubs

After a few bad results, the chairman goes to his golf club; his mates tell him the team's rubbish and the next thing you know the manager's sacked. It's scary.

It's like a merry-go-round. How are you supposed to improve teams in six months

Brian McDermott did a great job at Reading and they sacked him, how can you get your head round that decision Nigel Adkins earned two consecutive promotions and still got sacked. ]

Brian McDermott

Nigel Adkins

Out of work: Both Brian McDermott and Nigel Adkins were sacked after winning promotion last season

In many ways, for managers in the Championship, it seems like there is no point in getting promoted because you've got more chance of getting the sack in the Barclays Premier League.

When you're in the Barclays Premier League, unless you've got the resources, you're going to come back down again. And if it looks like you're going to be relegated then the manager is in trouble.

It's crazy, but that's how it seems to work.

British managers just don't get a chance in the top league anymore because of the number of foreign owners. This country will eventually have all foreign owners.

That's why I think it's great to see people like Dave Whelan do so well at Wigan, or if you look at West Ham, they have got David Gold and David Sullivan.

The right people: David Sullivan and David Gold are West Ham fans and Redknapp says football needs more owners like them

The right people: David Sullivan and David Gold are West Ham fans and Redknapp says football needs more owners like them

Going about it the right way: Harry Redknapp is full of praise for Roberto Martinez at Wigan

Going about it the right way: Harry Redknapp is full of praise for Roberto Martinez at Wigan

They are West Ham people, West Ham are their club. We need more people like that in our game,

All the foreign owners are successful people, they are all billionaires. They think whatever they are involved in they should be winning.

They think if they are winning in business, why aren't they winning in football They can't understand it if their team aren't winning every week or top of the league. That's the problem.

They only see they are not winning, they don't think about why they are not winning. They don't think to themselves: 'We haven't got the players.'

They only see they aren't winning games. They don't understand why, so they sack the manager.

He looks older than me! Redknapp says he is not contemplating retirement yet and says he looks younger than Arsene Wenger

He looks older than me! Redknapp says he is not contemplating retirement yet and says he looks younger than Arsene Wenger

BARCLAYS TICKET OFFICE

Harry Redknapp was speaking on behalf of Barclays Ticket Office.

Every 90 minutes throughout the season, Barclays is offering fans the chance to win free tickets to Barclays Premier League matches by going to a Barclays ATM and requesting a receipt, or by visiting barclaysticketoffice.com

People always say I should be managing England rather than be in a relegation fight with Queens Park Rangers now, but I don't look back at what might have been. I don't think like that.

What
happened last year has gone, that's life. Even when I've called it a
day, I won't look back and regret not managing England.

I'm looking forward to the game against Aston Villa on Saturday, that's all. I've been very lucky to have managed in the Barclays Premier League all these years, doing something I love and getting paid for it. It's a fantastic life.

I'm 66-years-old, but I'm not even contemplating retirement at the moment, I'm still enjoying it. Just look, at Sir Alex Ferguson, he is's older than me.

Arsene Wenger is around the same age…even though he looks older!

Wayne Rooney will stay at Manchester United, says Sir Alex Ferguson

Rooney WILL stay! Ferguson insists star forward isn't leaving United after Real snub

Sir Alex Ferguson says Wayne Rooney will remain at Manchester United next season

Ferguson stands by decision to start Real Madrid clash with Rooney on the bench

United manager reveals he thought he'd get 'more stick' for leaving out Shinji Kagawa

Ferguson admits he had expressed concern to his staff about the appointment of referee Turkish referee Cuneyt Cakir prior to Tuesday's defeat

PUBLISHED:

09:54 GMT, 8 March 2013

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UPDATED:

10:19 GMT, 8 March 2013

Sir Alex Ferguson has revealed that Wayne Rooney will be at Manchester United next season.

The England international's future was thrown into doubt after Ferguson sensationally axed him for the visit of Real Madrid earlier this week.

But speaking ahead of United's FA Cup sixth-round showdown with Chelsea on Sunday, Ferguson says he has not plans to sell Rooney in the summer.

The right decision: Sir Alex Ferguson has stood by his call to leave Wayne Rooney on the bench for the visit of Madrid

The right decision: Sir Alex Ferguson has stood by his call to leave Wayne Rooney on the bench for the visit of Madrid

Benched: Wayne Rooney was unceremoniously axed for the visit of Real Madrid on Tuesday night

Benched: Wayne Rooney was unceremoniously axed for the visit of Real Madrid on Tuesday night

Wayne Rooney

'He'll be here next year,' Ferguson said. 'You can have my word on that.'

'The issue you're all going on about in the papers is absolute rubbish.

'There is absolutely no issue
between Wayne Rooney and I. To suggest we don't talk to each other on
the training ground is absolute nonsense.

'He understood the reasons for not
playing him and that was completely tactical. And I think I was right.
We don't always get it right but I think we did get it right.

All smiles: Wayne Rooney appeared in good spirits yesterday despite being omitted from United's startling line-up

All smiles: Wayne Rooney appeared in good spirits yesterday despite being omitted from United's startling line-up

'Danny Welbeck is the best player we
have in terms of operating in a double role. We had to choke Xabi
Alonso's ability to control the game, which Danny did, and that took
away Alonso's control of the game and his ability to go further forward
and be an attacking player.

'We don't always get it right but we definitely did on Tuesday.

'I left out Shinji Kagawa after he scored a hat-trick. I thought I would get more stick for that.'

Ferguson is still bitter about the
circumstances of Tuesday's defeat, in particular the dismissal of Nani,
on which the entire contest turned.

On the ball: Ferguson opted for Danny Welbeck ahead of Rooney for Tuesday night's tie

On the ball: Ferguson opted for Danny Welbeck ahead of Rooney for Tuesday night's tie

'It is hard to keep your faith when you have things like that,' added the Scot.

Ferguson refused to say whether Rooney would actually start on Sunday.

And he again repeated his belief that
the 27-year-old needed to play matches in order to retain full fitness,
an assessment that has raised so much debate over the past few days.

'Why should I help anyone by telling them my team We don't do that,' said Ferguson. 'But Wayne does need a lot of football. He has always been that type. That has always been the case.'

Ferguson was speaking for the first
time since United were dumped out of the Champions League with assistant
United boss claiming the Scot was 'too distressed' to engage with the
media.

'Mick was the right one to go out,' added Ferguson. 'He’s calm, he’s very good with the press and I’m going to use him more.

'That was a nice time to have a chat with Jose have a glass of wine and relax a bit.'

Ferguson said he had been concerned about the appointment of Turkish referee Cuneyt Cakir prior to Tuesday's game.

Cakir has now sent off seven players from English teams, but never one against them.

'I was concerned. I said that to my staff,' he said. 'I had a big worry about it but it is gone now. There is nothing we can do about it.'

Nani

Sir Alex Ferguson

Dismissed: Sir Alex Ferguson was too 'distraught' to speak to the media after Nani was shown a red card

Rafa Benitez"s Chelsea tactics sheets found discarded in dressing room after Club World Cup

Revealed: Rafa's Chelsea secrets… tactics sheets from Club World Cup final found discarded in dressing room (and can they now help Leeds pull off a cup shock)

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UPDATED:

12:11 GMT, 18 December 2012

Here are a few scraps of paper that Neil Warnock should pay particular attention to as they may contain the secrets to beating Chelsea — or at least beating them at corners.

It is claimed these scraps of paper were rescued from the floor of Chelsea’s empty dressing room after the 1-0 defeat by Corinthians in the Club World Cup final at Yokohama’s Nissan Stadium.

They appear to show Rafa Benitez’s defensive tactics from corners and show specific instructions for key players.

Insight: This tactics sheet shows how Chelsea plan to defend corners

Insight: This tactics sheet shows how Chelsea plan to defend corners

Globoesporte, one of the biggest sport
websites in Brazil, claim one of their journalists entered the changing
room after the team had left and filtered through the rubbish to find
Benitez’s tactical sheets from that final.

In one sheet, which shows Chelsea defending a corner, Ashley Cole is
charged with sprinting out and preventing the short corner, while Juan
Mata lurks on the edge of the area to pressurise Corinthians’
Allesandro.

Offensive: A second sheet shows how Rafa Benitez wants his players to attack corners

Offensive: A second sheet shows how Rafa Benitez wants his players to attack corners

When Benitez arrived he praised the ability of Fernando Torres to defend
corners and he uses the Spanish striker as a key defensive weapon.

Each players is clearly partnered with a player to mark and there is an
instruction from Benitez that reads: ‘Immediately up after we clear 1st
ball.’

What a mess: It is claimed the sheets were taken from Chelsea's dressing room after they left

What a mess: It is claimed the sheets were taken from Chelsea's dressing room after they left

In the second sheet, which shows Chelsea’s tactics at their own corner,
Benitez has written in giant red writing: ‘Be aware of counter attack’
as he was obviously concerned by the pace of the Brazilians on the
break.

Branislav Ivanovic, David Luiz and Gary Cahill all attack a zone
coloured yellow when the ball comes in, while strikers Fernando Torres
and Victor Moses split in different directions to pull defenders away
from the danger area.

Well, that didn't work: Benitez with his players after their 1-0 defeat to Corinthians

Well, that didn't work: Benitez with his players after their 1-0 defeat to Corinthians

Cheer up, lads: Chelsea's players struggle to raise a smile after their failed bid to win

Cheer up, lads: Chelsea's players struggle to raise a smile after their failed bid to win

PS Have you been taking note, Petr

Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech was pictured at training on Tuesday morning attempting to catch a cross among a sea of bodies… well, plastic statues instead of real footballers!

That's mine: Petr Cech attempts to snatch the ball on Tuesday morning

That's mine: Petr Cech attempts to snatch the ball on Tuesday morning

Harry Redknapp will try to keep Queens Park Rangers up

Redknapp: If I get QPR out of this mire it'll be the best achievement of my career

|

UPDATED:

23:58 GMT, 2 December 2012

Harry Redknapp says helping QPR stave off relegation would be the greatest achievement of his long career.

The 65-year-old was appointed at the Loftus Road helm a week-and-a-half ago with the remit of keeping the Hoops in the Premier League.

It is a big ask for Redknapp with the west Londoners languishing bottom of the table, while their winless start to the season extended to 15 matches with Saturday's 1-1 home draw with Aston Villa.

Mire: Harry Redknapp took the job at rock bottom QPR

Mire: Harry Redknapp took the job at rock bottom QPR

Asked if keeping QPR up would be his biggest achievement, he said: 'Of course, absolutely from where we are. We will try. It is going to be hard.

'I've taken a big task on here. I know what I've taken on, I'm not a fool. It's going to be difficult but you can only give it your best.'

Redknapp is not new to such a situation and has masterminded several previous relegation escapes, although he failed to do so with Southampton seven years ago.

'It always creates anxiety when you're bottom of the league and can't get a win,' the QPR boss said.

'Football is like life – it is about confidence. When things are going well, you win games and you don't know how you won. You come off thinking “we were rubbish today but we won again”.

Nightmare start: Brett Holman put fellow strugglers Aston Villa a goal up at Loftus Road

Nightmare start: Brett Holman put fellow strugglers Aston Villa a goal up at Loftus Road

Hopeful: Redknapp says he and his players will try to beat the drop

Hopeful: Redknapp says he and his players will try to beat the drop

'Sometimes, like we are at the moment, you play well but you can't get the win and that's how it goes.

'They have shown a good attitude. They've trained hard, worked hard.

'They've all been good, they're good lads. We just need a win, don't we

'We could have got that win on Saturday with a bit of luck. Clint Hill's header I thought was dropping in and if that goes in it's a different game.

Bright spark: Shaun Wright-Phillips was in good form

Bright spark: Shaun Wright-Phillips was in good form

'We would be back in there, chasing the pack, but we couldn't quite get those three points.'

Shaun Wright-Phillips was recalled to the starting line-up against Villa and produced a far better display than many previously seen in a QPR shirt.

'I think confidence is the key for him,' Redknapp said. 'He has to play with confidence.

'He made some good runs and great ones in the first half, where he should have scored and then hit the post.

'But he bent his runs in off the line and looked lively. He has done well in training and I gave him a chance.'

Wayne Rooney warns Manchester United about Andy Carroll

He's a handful! Rooney says United defenders must be at their best to deal with Carroll

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UPDATED:

18:38 GMT, 27 November 2012

Wayne Rooney has urged Manchester United to pay special attention to Andy Carroll tomorrow night.

Carroll is bound to get a frosty reception from the Old Trafford faithful when West Ham travel north tomorrow night.

As a Liverpool player with an enormous price tag, it is hard to imagine the United fans will not single him out.

Handful: Wayne Rooney has warned United defenders to prepare themselves for a battle with Andy Carroll (above)

Handful: Wayne Rooney has warned United defenders to prepare themselves for a battle with Andy Carroll (above)

However, after working alongside the 23-year-old at close quarters during Euro 2012, Rooney knows the reality of Carroll’s performances is nowhere near the perception many have of him.

The burly forward will travel north with confidence high following his first goal of the season at Tottenham on Sunday.

And Rooney has warned his United team-mates to be on their guard. 'Andy Carroll is a handful,' said the striker.

'I am sure if you ask any defender, they find it difficult to play against someone like that who is good in the air and on the floor.

'He is physical and makes it hard for opponents.

'That type of player doesn’t always get all the goals but they can cause trouble up front and create problems.

'I am sure that is what Sam Allardyce wants him to do.'

Rather like Rooney, Carroll is like a lightning conductor for attention.

It seems he cannot have a quiet game, when he blends into the background.

He has to either be sensational or rubbish, with the brutal assessment often falling on the latter.

Tough to stop: Carroll scored his first goal for West Ham against Tottenham on Sunday

Tough to stop: Carroll scored his first goal for West Ham against Tottenham on Sunday

Ready: Rooney and his Manchester United team welcome West Ham to Old Trafford on Wednesday

Ready: Rooney and his Manchester United team welcome West Ham to Old Trafford on Wednesday

Rooney knows from personal experience such situations are never quite so black and white.

However, he accepts they come with the territory.

'It is something you get used to,' he said.

'In the Premier League, you are there to be judged, whether that is good or bad.

'You just have to deal with it.'

Carroll is an obvious threat given United’s Achilles heel of conceding the first goal.

It has happened on an incredible 13 occasions this season, including in their last five games.

Indeed, United have somehow managed to clamber to the top of the Premier League despite managing just a single clean sheet, against Wigan at Old Trafford in September.

It is a record Rooney accepts must be rectified if United are going to maintain their present status.

'Clean sheets are the foundation we try and achieve because we have plenty of players who can score goals and win games,' he said.

'As a team we are playing some good stuff at times but we are having to grind out results as well.

'Losing three games already is something we need to put right.

Heated: United beat Queens Park Rangers 3-1 at Old Trafford at the weekend

Heated: United beat Queens Park Rangers 3-1 at Old Trafford at the weekend

'We have been lucky that we haven’t drawn any matches and we need to kick on from here and go on a good run.'

With Paul Scholes suspended, Sir Alex Ferguson has already confirmed Anderson will start for only the second time in the Premier League this season.

It is also possible either Phil Jones or Chris Smalling will replace Rafael at right-back given the sheer number of games the young Brazilian has been involved in this season.

The way Ferguson has tended to swap round his goalkeepers this term, David de Gea might also come in for Anders Lindegaard, whilst it is doubtful Darren Fletcher will be asked to feature in his third game of the week despite scoring his first Premier League goal in 13 months at the weekend.

Up for the fight: Paul Scholes and Darren Fletcher (left)

Up for the fight: Paul Scholes and Darren Fletcher (left)

Having gained the benefit of Chelsea’s draw with Manchester City at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, United are now looking to maximise their advantage, knowing the first derby of the season is looming at the Etihad Stadium on December 9.

'We know City and Chelsea will be looking out for our results as we look out for theirs,' said Rooney.

'But it is important for us to concentrate on our own performances and make sure we get the wins because there are a lot of games coming up.

'It is tough period and I am sure the manager will use his squad. We just have to make sure we come through for him.'

Celtic players to blame for poor form – Charlie Mulgrew

No excuses! Blame the players for Celtic's SPL dips, says Mulgrew

|

UPDATED:

23:14 GMT, 26 November 2012

Charlie Mulgrew sought to rubbish the theory that Celtic’s sub-standard league form is related to Rangers’ exile from the SPL.

Despite being on course for the last 16 of the Champions League, Celtic have spilled 17 points in the league this season and, ahead of Wednesday’s visit to face Hearts at Tynecastle, have won just half of their 14 matches.

Saturday’s home defeat to Inverness Caley Thistle meant only one point has been taken from a possible nine at home — and moved Neil Lennon to declare he would ‘do the honourable thing’ and quit his job if dissent from the stands became widespread.

Next up: Charlie Mulgrew gears up for his side's SPL encounter against Hearts

Next up: Charlie Mulgrew gears up for his side's SPL encounter against Hearts

With their team playing league football without Rangers for the first time in the club’s 125-year history, some Celtic fans have cited a lack of edge deriving from the absence of the Ibrox side as the reason behind their side’s domestic slumber.

But Mulgrew rejected that notion by insisting the fortunes of Rangers do not enter the minds of the Celtic players before or after league games. ‘I don’t think that’s the case,’ he said when asked if it was a factor. ‘You still have to play the same teams whether Rangers are there or not. We must focus on what we’re doing — and we need to win games.

‘On Saturday (against Inverness), we never took our chances. If we had, it might have been a comfortable day for us, but we know we have to improve. It just wasn’t good enough.

Under pressure: Celtic manager Neil Lennon (left) has a word with a fan

Under pressure: Celtic manager Neil Lennon (left) has a word with a fan

‘Every team wants to win against us — it’s like their cup final. Aberdeen and Hibs are going well, so the last thing we will do is get sucked into thinking it will be easy. It might be that beating Barcelona has given teams a bigger incentive to beat us.’

Mulgrew conceded that the relentless fixture schedule may be impacting upon Celtic when they turn their focus to domestic games.

Scott Brown is already facing surgery on a troublesome hip, Joe Ledley missed the Inverness game due to a similar problem, while Mulgrew has already has made 25 appearances for club and country.

‘It might be a factor but I’m not using it as an excuse,’ he added. ‘There have been a lot of games but you want to be involved in as many as you can and at the highest level.

Shock: Inverness celebrate after beating Celtic at the weekend

Shock: Inverness celebrate after beating Celtic at the weekend

‘When you’re in the Champions League, there’s no complaining that there are too many games. We’ve got a big enough squad to cope.’

Mulgrew also made light of his manager’s altercation with a handful of disgruntled fans on Saturday.

‘Fans are entitled to their opinion and the manager is entitled to his,’ said the defender.

Asked if he believed Lennon was serious about quitting Celtic, Mulgrew replied: ‘I’m sure he won’t be thinking along those lines.’

Liverpool starlet Raheem Sterling deletes Tweet over new contract talks

Liverpool starlet Sterling deletes Tweet over new contract talks

|

UPDATED:

00:17 GMT, 11 November 2012

England's newest call-up, 17-year-old
Raheem Sterling, added to the uncertainty over his Liverpool future by
withdrawing a tweet that was meant to reassure Anfield fans.

Sterling, who will become the
country’s third youngest international in 100 years if he makes his
debut against Sweden on Wednesday night, sent out mixed messages on
Twitter by claiming he was going to sign a new deal on his 18th birthday
next month — then removing the message.

High demands: Raheem Sterling wants parity with the Liverpool's first-team

High demands: Raheem Sterling wants parity with the Liverpool's first-team

It followed claims that his advisers were asking Liverpool for 50,000 a week, bringing him in line with England internationals Stewart Downing and Jordan Henderson, both being kept out of the first-team by Sterling.

It came on the day when manager Brendan Rodgers was left wondering whether the forthcoming closure of an investment company owned by Liverpool’s main shareholder John W Henry will impact on transfer activity in January.

Sterling has been a rare bright spot in a disappointing start to Liverpool’s season. Stuck in the bottom half of the Premier League, they have an awkward game at Chelsea.

Picked up from QPR at 15, Sterling’s current 2,000-a-week contract has 18 months to run. Liverpool, who divide their salary groups into four tiers headed by stars like Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez, are offering a tier three salary of about 20,000 a week, but Sterling is believed to want a tier two wage as he is now a regular.

Yesterday, he tweeted that his reported demands were wide of the mark, saying: ‘I’ve just woken up to this rubbish. I can assure you I’ve not asked for that stupid amount, where [sic] waiting till I’m 18 to sign.’ But the message was quickly removed.

Rodgers revealed that talks with Sterling had been ongoing for months but there may be progress once he turns 18 on December 8.

‘There will be something but there’s no need to rush it,’ said Rodgers. ‘He has become a very talented young man in the space of four months, so he and his representatives and family know our thoughts on him and we just want to make sure his concentration is on his football.’

Flying start: The 17-year-old has exploded onto the scene this season, though his youthful inexperience has been noticeable at times

Flying start: The 17-year-old has exploded onto the scene this season, though his youthful inexperience has been noticeable at times

Flying start: The 17-year-old has exploded onto the scene this season, though his youthful inexperience has been noticeable at times

If Jamaica-born Sterling turns down an
offer to stay there will be no shortage of suitors with Chelsea, Arsenal
and Manchester City leading the way. He was picked for a senior England
squad for the first time by Roy Hodgson last week and will become only
the third 17-year-old to be capped since 1863, following Wayne Rooney
and Theo Walcott.

Hodgson said: ‘I saw him when he played in Borussia Moenchengladbach in
2010 when I’d only been at Liverpool for three weeks. He came on for the
last 15 minutes in front of 55,000 people and almost won it for us. So,
I had an idea two years ago that this lad might be a bit of a player. I
thought it was a no-brainer that Raheem Sterling would be in the team.’

Meanwhile, the owner’s trading company, John W Henry & Co, will
close next month having seen assets drop from $2.5billion in 2007 to
less than $100m.

Rio Ferdinand and Sir Alex Ferguson anti-racism t-shirt row – Martin Samuel

Racism debate is too big for T-shirts and tweets, Rio

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UPDATED:

06:55 GMT, 22 October 2012

Rio Ferdinand is right. We're not going to T-shirt racism in football out of existence. Then again, we’re not going to tweet it into oblivion, either. Education, discussion, action. We evolve from there.

Ferdinand, and other black players, may find the white cotton gesture politics of the anti-racism pressure groups facile, but so is trying to make a complex, nuanced argument in a medium of no more than 140 characters.

Some of us preferred the old days, when Ferdinand conveyed his thoughts with a statement more substantial and eloquent than the odd succinct hashtag.

In the red: Rio Ferdinand did not wear the Kick It Out t-shirt before Manchester United played Stoke

In the red: Rio Ferdinand did not wear the Kick It Out t-shirt before Manchester United played Stoke

We're in: Anderson and Wayne Rooney (right) wore the anti-racism t-shirts during the warm-up

We're in: Anderson and Wayne Rooney (right) wore the anti-racism t-shirts during the warm-up

More from Martin Samuel…

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18/10/12

Martin Samuel: Cagey Roy faces his moment of reckoning after Poland draw
17/10/12

Martin Samuel: English football can teach Serbia how to tackle racism
17/10/12

Martin Samuel: Plumbing the depths of flood and blunder in Warsaw
16/10/12

Martin Samuel: Let's grow up, and stop treating our managers like children
16/10/12

Martin Samuel: Armstrong's cheating means great British cycling boom feels rotten
14/10/12

Martin Samuel: Rubbish like San Marino must be thrown out
12/10/12

Martin Samuel: Compromised FA can't lecture us on booze and betting
11/10/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

Sir Alex Ferguson may now wish he had
spoken at length with Ferdinand before giving his guarantee that every
Manchester United player would mark Kick It Out’s day of awareness in
the appropriate apparel, but the requirement to talk does not just exist
within the confines of the Carrington training complex.

The Football Association, the
Professional Footballers’ Association, the Kick It Out campaign, the
Premier League and Football League, all have a pressing need to consult
with the disaffected black players and ask: what exactly do you want

For while most would support
Ferdinand’s right not to rally beneath a standard in which he does not
believe, his motivation for losing faith in some very decent people is
rather less clear.

Does Ferdinand truly think racism is not taken seriously in this country That the efforts of the FA are insincere What more does he feel anti-racism campaigners could do

These are questions that need
answers, that demand detail, precise and insightful; a perspective with
a little more insight than the ill-considered retweet with which he
attacked Ashley Cole.

If Kick It Out are failing black footballers, so are many of the highest profile rebels by not framing specific grievances.

The presumption is that black players
were protesting about Kick It Out’s failure to address the lenient
treatment of race-related offences: John Terry’s four-match ban,
Chelsea’s endorsement of him as captain, UEFA’s weakness when
confronting racism in Serbia, the punishment and traducing of victim
Danny Rose.

If so, say it. Say what should have
happened. Offer a way forward. Public discourse over race has rarely
felt less cerebral. It has descended to the levels of pulp fiction. A
never-ending soap opera of snubbed handshakes, costume changes and
soundbites, offering few solutions and creating ever greater divisions.

Domestically at least, the complexities are so much richer than these crude gestures allow.

Take the Terry case, from the point
of view of the FA. They as good as tore up their rulebook to bring a
charge against the former England captain, once he had been found not
guilty at Westminster Magistrates Court.

It would have been very easy, at that
moment, to consider the case closed. Instead, the FA pressed ahead, and
lost Terry’s valuable services as an England player as a result.

Following suit: Rio's brother, the QPR defender, Anton Ferdinand also warmed up without the shirt

Following suit: Rio's brother, the QPR defender, Anton Ferdinand also warmed up without the shirt

Following suit: Rio's brother, the QPR defender, Anton Ferdinand also warmed up without the shirt

The four-game ban, while considered paltry by some, was the result of a three-man commission taking into account the individual circumstances around his offence.

It could be argued that race-related transgressions should carry a statutory 10-match ban, and maybe they will in future, but the hearing worked with the boundaries as they are now. The alternative is to surrender to lynch mob justice, bending to a media or public outcry. We have to be above that, no matter the appeal of easy populism.

Then there is the timing — Terry’s confrontation with Anton Ferdinand has passed its first birthday now — and the widely held view that the case dragged on too long and the FA should have pre-empted the trial by the Chief Magistrate. Luther Blissett said as much only last week.

Yet, once the police had asked the FA to suspend their investigation to let events in court take precedence, what were they supposed to do

What if the FA had pressed ahead and found Terry guilty and his Westminster trial had subsequently been deemed prejudiced The FA would have been blamed and vilified. They had to comply with the police request.

Of course, many aspects of Terry’s case were unsatisfactory, but they certainly do not show an authority who are unconcerned with race issues. Quite the opposite.

When placing any individual indictment under the microscope there will always be flaws. Not every criminal trial concludes in a way that chimes with the public mood, either, but that does not mean the justice system is unconcerned with right and wrong.

You may wish for sterner retribution for miscreants, but that does not make your more liberal local magistrate uncaring or complacent.

Similarly, the FA commission did not ban Terry for four matches because they thought racism inconsequential; they reached what they considered to be a fair punishment in the circumstances. You are entitled to disagree; but there is no conspiracy.

Not on: Manchester City defender Joleon Lescott (centre) had no intention of wearing the t-shirt

Not on: Manchester City defender Joleon Lescott (centre) had no intention of wearing the t-shirt

Standing his ground: Jason Roberts did not wear the yellow t-shirt at Anfield

Standing his ground: Jason Roberts did not wear the yellow t-shirt at Anfield

Red in black: Luis Suarez

Red in black: Luis Suarez

We don’t care about racism Consider
Terry’s true punishment. Not four matches, but a stigma that will remain
throughout his life. Without substantial rehabilitation, it will be
very hard for him to remain in football beyond his playing career and
almost impossible for him to pursue work in the media.

Could Terry be offered the job Gary
Neville has for England, or the position Alan Shearer occupies at the
BBC Not without the same outcry that has accompanied Chelsea’s
decision to retain him as captain.

There would be a chorus of
disapproval: reaction from Kick It Out, furious back page controversy,
negative commentary and analysis, a lightning vox pop of prominent black
players. It would be a circus.

Just as it is for Luis Suarez,
ignominy is Terry’s real sentence, and it is for all time, not four
measly matches. So, yes, we’re damn serious about racism in this
country.

On October 6, Marvin Sordell of Bolton
Wanderers said on Twitter that he, and several team-mates, had been
racially abused by Millwall fans at The Den.

To date, there has been no public
confirmation of this: from Bolton players, Millwall players, Bolton
officials, Millwall officials, police or stewards.

Nothing even from the other players
Sordell named: Lee Chung-yong, Darren Pratley and Benik Afobe. But there
is an FA investigation.

Not to doubt Sordell’s words, but this
is at present a single source story. The Leveson Inquiry would not
approve; nor would any self-respecting GCSE history teacher. Yet the FA
are investigating. As they should: because allegations of racism have
to be taken seriously, and are.

Indeed, the problem English football
seems to have is that, in its efforts to do racism justice, it has
become fragmented in how best to act.

It is the Judean People’s Front,
arguing with the People’s Front of Judea. T-shirts: on or off Hand:
outstretched or by side Four games or eight Punishment or
rehabilitation

Jason Roberts of Reading thinks Kick
It Out are weak and should be an angry, righteous force agitating for
change; former England goalkeeper David James believes Kick It Out are
redundant busy-bodies and simply keeping themselves in employment by
unnecessarily amplifying every dispute.

Last week, it was said that Kick It
Out were under pressure to exclude Terry from Saturday’s T-shirt parade,
if he was available to play for Chelsea against Tottenham. Then Terry
accepted his four-match ban and missed the game.

Immediately, this was reinterpreted as
a snub to an organisation who were, possibly, going to snub him anyway.
The snubbee was suddenly the snubber.

So what was it to be Reject Terry in
protest, include him as a way of showing his contrition, or the Holy
Grail — wait for him to ask to be included, in order to reject him in a
blaze of publicity. Whatever was intended, is this really the best we
can do

When we see what happened to England’s
black players in Serbia, is there not a higher ground, a finer way of
addressing racism than with glorified media stunts

Speaking up: Marvin Sordell was targeted online after claiming to have been racially abused by Millwall fans

Speaking up: Marvin Sordell was targeted online after claiming to have been racially abused by Millwall fans

The most worrying aspect of the
T-shirt protest is that the demand seems to be simply for more
punishment, punishment, punishment, rather than punishment followed by
education and rehabilitation as an example to society.

We presume that Ferdinand is outraged
because Terry was not banned for longer, not because current FA
sentences do not include a process whereby a player can be allowed to
admit his mistake, have what was so wrong explained to him — by his
victim or a proxy — and in time then return to spread the message,
having learned an important lesson.

Punishment followed by banishment is
how we deal with race issues, which is why each malefactor denies his
crime to the bitter end.

This also explains the strange role
reversal in which the offender is portrayed as the real victim, because
the odds are considered to be stacked against him.

Ultimately, instead of bringing the communities together, too much is contentious.

Put it this way: after a year of focus
on race issues are we further advanced If not, then the system is
wrong and the punishment- banishment axis alone is not working.

Even Ferdinand’s collision with
Ferguson has the nuances of the race debate at its heart. Ferguson said
on Friday that his players would support the Kick It Out movement. He no
doubt feels supportive of its good intentions, having endured the
fall-out of the Suarez-Patrice Evra affair.

Maybe he had heard rumours of
Ferdinand’s planned protest and felt by making that statement publicly,
he would box his player into a corner, where he would have no option
but to go along with his manager’s wishes. It was a presumptuous
announcement without consultation, but nobody would dispute Ferguson’s
sincerity of purpose.

In also saying he would back any of
his players who left the field due to racist abuse, he has gone further
than many managers, and certainly further than UEFA president Michel
Platini. Ferguson and Ferdinand are on the same route, but different
paths.

That this will quite possibly play out
as the beginning of the end for Ferdinand at Old Trafford would make
him another casualty of a toxic episode for English football.

‘He’ll be dealt with,’ warned
Ferguson, darkly, which was an unfortunate choice of words to say the
least. Why should Ferdinand be dealt with for sticking to his
principles

Officials stance: Referee Mike Jones and his assistants warm up wearing the anti-racism t-shirts at Swansea

Officials stance: Referee Mike Jones and his assistants warm up wearing the anti-racism t-shirts at Swansea

Did Ferguson not once admire independence of thought as a worker in Glasgow’s shipyards

Whether one agrees with Ferdinand’s stance, or finds it misguided, he is entitled to freedom of expression.

Ferguson may feel the protest a
distraction — and he certainly won’t have been happy that the second
Stoke City goal came straight through the heart of his defence on
Saturday — but surely he should be proud of the fact that his players
are leaders, not followers, in football’s community

Joleon Lescott, now of Manchester
City, has not endorsed Kick It Out in five seasons. He has his reasons
and no manager is entitled to instruct him otherwise.

So Ferguson clearly under- estimated
Ferdinand’s depth of feeling, and in doing so ended up embarrassed when
the player publicly disobeyed him.

Now the issue is one of control. Ferguson does not tolerate dissent, and those who go against him rarely last long at United.

The pair are believed to have talked
yesterday and, short-term at least, their working relationship is
maintained. Ferdinand’s contract is up this summer, however, and at 34
he could be in his final season at the club.

He would have known the potential
ramifications when he made the decision to defy Ferguson and it shows
how deeply he cares. Is it too much to ask, then, that he now
articulates those views, privately or publicly, to the people who
matter, that he discusses the way forward, that he assumes the
responsibility of a man in his influential position

If the FA are to stand accused of not
taking racism seriously, what of those who reduce the subject to a
T-shirt, a handshake, a slogan or a pithy tweet

David Moyes frustrated by refereeing decision

Moyes slates ref's 'rubbish decision' after Pienaar sees red for two yellow cards

|

UPDATED:

18:13 GMT, 21 October 2012

Everton boss David Moyes described Steven Pienaar's sending off as 'a rubbish decision by the referee' after watching his side draw 1-1 at QPR.

Julio Cesar's own goal cancelled out
Junior Hoilett's early opener for Rangers, but Everton, and Phil Jagielka in
particular, had to defend desperately at times after they had Pienaar
sent off in the 61st minute.

As well as the sending off, referee Jon Moss turned down a strong penalty claim after Hoilett took a tumble in the area in the 80th minute.

Off you go: Steven Pienaar (right) was sent off for a soft-looking foul on Jose Bosingwa

Off you go: Steven Pienaar (right) was sent off for a soft-looking foul on Jose Bosingwa

'He had a poor game all day,' a frustrated Moyes said about Moss.

The Toffees boss added: 'I am happy with the point. We went down to 10 men and the players dug in. Overall it was a hard point.'

QPR boss Mark Hughes felt his side deserved to win and felt aggrieved by Moss' refusal to give his side a penalty late in the game.

He said: 'I think it's an important point, but ideally we would have preferred to take the maximum because I feel our performance warranted that.

'Overall I thought some of our play was excellent today, in the first half I thought we created some good movement, a stonewall penalty cancelled out.

'The referee was only about four yards away from it so why he hasn't given it I don't know.

Frustrated: Both David Moyes and Mark Hughes felt aggrieved by referee Jon Moss' decisions

Frustrated: Both David Moyes and Mark Hughes felt aggrieved by referee Jon Moss' decisions

Upset: Pienaar held his head in his hands after receiving his second yellow card

Upset: Pienaar held his head in his hands after receiving his second yellow card

'The goal we conceded was due to not picking up from a set play and we need to do better than that.'

Everton defender Phil Jagielka hailed the visitors' spirit as they held on for the draw.

'It shows the spirit we've got, we dug in,' the England centre-back told Sky Sports 1.

'Once we went down to 10 men I thought we did a very good job and limited them to very few chances.'

Everton captain Phil Neville felt his side deserved their point.

'I think so,' he said. 'With Steven Pienaar getting sent off it was backs to the wall. We knew QPR were going to be fighting for their lives.

'I think when we went down to 10 men we would have taken a point.'

Pienaar was dismissed for a second yellow card for a soft-looking foul on Jose Bosingwa.

'I think the second booking was a little bit harsh,' added Neville.

Reward: Moyes believes his side deserved the point after battling on with 10 men

Reward: Moyes believes his side deserved the point after battling on with 10 men

Wilfried Zaha not for sale, says Palace chairman

Zaha not for sale even if the big clubs come knocking, says Palace chairman

|

UPDATED:

13:56 GMT, 15 October 2012

Crystal Palace co-chairman Steve Browett has taken to a
fans’ forum to insist that Wilfried Zaha will not be sold – despite reports of strong
interest from Manchester City, Liverpool and Arsenal.

The 19-year-old winger, who has four England Under-21
caps to his name, has been the subject of intense press speculation after string
of impressive displays this season.

But Browett, writing under the name CPFC2010, wrote that
he believed Zaha will be playing in the Premier League for Palace next season.

Not for sale: Wilfried Zaha is staying at Palace, says co-chairman Steve Browett, despite interest from the Premier League

Not for sale: Wilfried Zaha is staying at Palace, says co-chairman Steve Browett, despite interest from the Premier League

He said: ‘I can assure you that Wilfried is not ‘for
sale.’ We hope that he’ll be playing Premier League football next season. For
us.

‘Even if that doesn’t happen, he’s only 19 and still
learning his trade in surroundings where he is comfortable and happy. He’s on a
five-year contract and we really don’t need the money.’

Browett, who owns Palace with co-chairman Steve Parish,
Martin Long and Jeremy Hoskin, continued: ‘The four of us bought the club so
that we could enjoy watching Palace play football, not to cash in as soon as
the moneybags clubs come waving their cheque books. I hope that’s clear enough.

‘PS – and if he [Zaha] keeps developing the way he has so
far you’ll be reading plenty more rubbish in the Sunday papers.’

Recognition: Zaha has also featured for England Under-21s, including in the play-off against Serbia on Friday

Recognition: Zaha has also featured for England Under-21s, including in the play-off against Serbia on Friday

Zaha has scored four goals in his last two appearances, the
2-1 away win at Wolverhampton Wanderers and the 4-3 success over Burnley.

The results have left Palace fourth in the Championship,
three points off leaders Cardiff City.