Tag Archives: samuel

Alex Ferguson wants investigation into Zeki Fryers Tottenham move

Furious Fergie calls for investigation into Tottenham move for ex-United kid Fryers

, but talks broke down over a 6million compensation fee for Under 23 players.

Are they buying him as an impact sub or will we see him appear in the first team

If, as predicted, Gareth Bale is sold in the summer, then they will need a player to fill in the gaps. Fryers could be their man.

How much did Spurs get him for

Tottenham are spending around 3m on Fryers, including a contract for 20,000-a-week.

Is he actually any good

Some praise him as ‘the next Ashley Cole.’ And having made appearances for England Under 16s, Under 17s and Under 19s, it suggests our national team certainly think he is.

Arthur Samuel

Yaya Toure beats Didier Drogba to African Footballer of the Year award 2012

City star Yaya pips Drogba to defend African Footballer of the Year title

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UPDATED:

23:56 GMT, 20 December 2012

Manchester City midfield powerhouse Yaya Toure has beaten his Ivorian compatriot Didier Drogba to be crowned African Footballer of the Year for a second time running.

The 29-year-old helped his country reach the African Cup of Nations final and was one of the key men as Roberto Mancini's side won the Barclays Premier League in May.

Barcelona midfielder Alex Song, who left Arsenal in the summer, finished third as the award was made at the African Football gala in Accra, Ghana.

Thank you: Yaya Toure accepts his award while Didier Drogba (right) looks on, before the pair embrace (below)

Thank you: Yaya Toure accepts his award while Didier Drogba (right) looks on, before the pair embrace (below)

Congratulations: Drogba and Toure have a cuddle

Congratulations: Drogba and Toure have a cuddle

Although Toure has not quite been able to replicate his form this season, his incredible power and tenacity helped City dominate games last term.

He grabbed six goals in the top flight including two in the penultimate match against Newcastle – which City won 2-0 and gave them a fighting chance of snatching the title from rivals Manchester United on the final day.

Presentation: Drogba and Toure hold large certificates of their achievements

Presentation: Drogba and Toure hold large certificates of their achievements

The Ivory Coast lost to Zambia in the final of the African Cup of Nation in a penalty shoot-out, but Toure had been substituted by that point.

Zambia were rewarded for their success by being named African Team of the Year and their boss, Herve Renard, was Coach of the Year.

Toure joined Senegalese forward El-Hadji
Diouf on two victories, although it is unlikely he will be able to
eclipse Cameroonian ex-Barcelona striker Samuel Eto'o, who picked up the
title four times.

Fair play: Zambia coach Herve Renard helped his side shock the Ivory Coast in the African Cup of Nations

Fair play: Zambia coach Herve Renard helped his side shock the Ivory Coast in the African Cup of Nations

Essential: Toure bagged both goals as City saw off Newcastle in the season's penultimate game

Essential: Toure bagged both goals as City saw off Newcastle in the season's penultimate game

Drogba, 34, was also in with a strong chance of winning the award because of his influence on Chelsea's successful pursuit of the Champions League title.

When the going got tough in Europe, the striker was there to produce for his side.

With the Blues needing a result in their final group game against Valencia to qualify, Drogba struck twice and was at his dominating best, despite indifferent domestic form, to get Andre Villas-Boas's team through.

After the Portuguese manager was sacked, Drogba gave his replacement Roberto Di Matteo a huge boost in his third game in charge.

Accra: Drogba and Toure travelled to Ghana to attend the award ceremony

Accra: Drogba and Toure travelled to Ghana to attend the award ceremony

Decisive: Didier Drogba wheels away after saving Chelsea's skin with a superb header against Bayern Munich

Decisive: Didier Drogba wheels away after saving Chelsea's skin with a superb header against Bayern Munich

He opened the scoring and turned in another superb display as Chelsea came back from a first-leg defeat to rout Napoli before grabbing another crucial goal against Barcelona in the semi-final.

Drogba saved the best for last – equalising against Bayern Munich in the dying moments with a bullet header, then converting the deciding penalty in the shoot-out.

After his key contribution Drogba left the club on a free transfer, moving to Chinese side Shanghai Shenhua.

Big move: Alex Song (second left) upped sticks to Barcelona after a strong year with Arsenal

Big move: Alex Song (second left) upped sticks to Barcelona after a strong year with Arsenal

Song, meanwhile, came into his own under Arsene Wenger at Arsenal.

The
25-year-old curbed previous indiscipline and became a creative force
going forward – his incisive passes to Robin van Persie were a key combination in the
Gunners' attack.

Barcelona picked him up for 16million in the summer and he has featured 14 times for the Spanish giants since.

Roberto Mancini should wash his hands of Mario Balotelli – Ash Wednesday

It's time Mancini and Manchester City washed their hands of Balotelli

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UPDATED:

00:01 GMT, 19 December 2012

Jose Mourinho isn't a bad judge of a player's personality.

At the 2010 Champions League final in the Bernabeu, the Inter Milan coach made a substitution as the countdown to the European Cup began.

Inter were leading Bayern Munich 2-0 and Mourinho could easily have gone striker for striker after deciding to replace Diego Milito after his two goals.

Strained: Mario Balotelli's behaviour continually tests his relationship with Man City manager Roberto Mancini

Strained: Mario Balotelli's behaviour continually tests his relationship with Man City manager Roberto Mancini

On the bench was the 19-year-old Mario Balotelli, itching to come on and play his part in the success story.

Alongside him was Marco Materazzi, edged out of the Inter team by Brazilian defender Lucio and the Argentina international Walter Samuel.

It was deep into injury-time and with the game already won, Mourinho sent on Materazzi.

The substitution was reward for Materazzi's perseverance and dedication all season at a time when Mourinho believed Lucio and Samuel were the better bet.

Later, when Mourinho announced he was leaving the San Siro for Real Madrid, they hugged and cried in an emotional moment captured on camera.

Take a telling: Jose Mourinho tried to get through to Balotelli during their time together at Inter Milan

Take a telling: Jose Mourinho tried to get through to Balotelli during their time together at Inter Milan

Balotelli still got his medal, becoming a Champions League winner before he was even 20, but Mourinho had made his point.

He was pig sick of his antics and the disruption he caused at Inter Milan as Mourinho set about landing the big one for the third time in the club's history.

Balotelli scores high in nuisance value and his negative influence has no place in any dressing room.

This week he will swap the training ground for an FA tribunal after contesting 340,000 in club fines. He feels hard done by, as usual, and is refusing to pay up.

Perhaps there is justification, but boy does Balotelli know how to create a stir.

It is incredible to think that Manchester City won the Barclays Premier League title with a player who is capable of causing so many problems.

Entertaining: Balotelli has given us the odd giggle over the past few years

Entertaining: Balotelli has given us the odd giggle over the past few years

This time last year there were claims he dressed in a Santa outfit and was buying drinks and handing out 50 notes in Manchester pubs. It wasn't true, but no-one would be the least bit surprised if it was.

He is a magnet for trouble. When he crashed his Audi R8 police officers asked why he was carrying 5,000 in cash. He replied: 'Because I'm rich.'

In March last year it emerged that he had thrown a dart at a City youth team player at the training ground.

He was substituted in a pre-season fixture against LA Galaxy at the Home Depot Center after attempting to backheel the ball into the net. He missed.

In November 2011 the fire brigade were called to his home after a firework was set off inside his house. This is not normal behaviour.

It is nearly three years since he signed for Roberto Mancini and there is no sign of an improvement in his attitude.

How did they see it: Balotelli caused a stir in his camouflage car after the Manchester derby

How did they see it: Balotelli caused a stir in his camouflage car after the Manchester derby

He's a bad boy, no question. No-one doubt his ability, just his application after nearly three years in English football.

He scored 11 times in the Premier League last season, but his dismissal against Arsenal in April 2012 ruled him out of the title run-in.

This year his only contribution in 13 Premier League appearances is a goal at Wigan on November 28.

He should be someone else's problem, palming him off to the first club prepared to meet a transfer fee and match his wages.

Even in the Manchester derby, when he was handed his chance ahead of Carlo Tevez, it failed to elicit a response.

He was substituted after 47 minutes, heading down the tunnel in shame after failing to carry out Mancini's dressing-room instructions at the break.

Balotelli was besieged by supporters as he left the stadium and inched his way through the post-match traffic in a camouflaged Bentley.

There is no hiding place for Balotelli, but he wouldn't have it any other way.

Lionel Messi signs new Barcelona deal

Want to sign Messi You'll have to wait until 2018 as superstar signs 12.5m-a-year Barca deal

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UPDATED:

11:11 GMT, 18 December 2012

Lionel Messi has agreed a new contract to keep him at Barcelona until 2018.

The Catalan giants confirmed on their official website the Argentinian would pen the deal 'in the coming weeks'.

Barca also revealed Xavi and Carles Puyol had agreed extensions until 2016.

Six more years: Messi is poised to sign a new contract with Barcelona

Six more years: Messi is poised to sign a new contract with Barcelona

Messi's current deal runs until June 2016 and the new agreement will keep him at the Nou Camp beyond his 31st birthday.

The deal is expected to be structured so that it increases yearly, rising to 12.5million a year net before bonuses.

Messi, 25, signed his last big contract in the 2009-10 season with then sporting director Txiki Begiristain and his vice-president Marc Ingla.

Incredible year: The Argentinian has already scored 90 goals in 2012

Incredible year: The Argentinian has already scored 90 goals in 2012

The top 10 richest players

1 Lionel Messi (Barcelona) 27.5m

2 David Beckham (Free agent) 26.2m

3 Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid) 24.3m

4 Samuel Eto'o (Anzhi Makhachkala) 19.4m

5 Wayne Rooney (Manchester United) 17.2m

6 Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Paris St Germain) 16m

7 Sergio Aguero (Manchester City) 15.7m

8 Yaya Toure (Manchester City) 14.7m

9 Fernando Torres (Chelsea) 13.9m

10 Kaka (Real Madrid) 12.9m

That contract is heavily incentivised
with his pay, after bonuses, in any given season automatically becoming
his basic pay for the following season.

The forward has enjoyed an
extraordinary year, even by his own remarkable standards, netting his
89th and 90th goals of 2012 at the weekend.

The 25-year-old had already surpassed Gerd Muller's 40-year-old record of 85 goals in a calendar year.

He is also in contention to claim a
fourth successive FIFA Ballon d'Or crown, being named on a three-man
shortlist alongside Cristiano Ronaldo and team-mate Andres Iniesta.

Xavi

Carles Puyol

New contract: Xavi and Puyol have agreed extensions until 2016

Defender Puyol's contract was due to expire at the end of the season, while midfielder Xavi's ran out the following summer.

Their new deals are set to keep them at Barca for the rest of their careers and underline their commitment to the runaway Primera Division leaders under new coach Tito Vilanova.

They also reduce the chances of former boss Pep Guardiola being able to tempt them away if he returns to club management next season.

A statement on the Barcelona website read: 'This news means that FC Barcelona has secured its ties with three of its most important players. Over the course of the next few weeks, Carles Puyol, Xavi Hernandez and Leo Messi will all be signing their respective new contracts.'

Martin Samuel: Marouane Fellaini was wrong but let"s get to grips with the real problem

OK, Fellaini was wrong but let's get to grips with the real problem

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UPDATED:

22:59 GMT, 16 December 2012

The narrative moves fast in English football but, even so, it can safely be presumed they haven’t changed the rules on the sly midway through the season.

So, as of the weekend, it was still illegal to hold on to another player to prevent his movement. Meaning the first foul that was committed in the Stoke City penalty area in the 59th minute on Saturday was by defender Ryan Shawcross.

That does not justify Marouane Fellaini’s reaction, and is only the tiniest mitigation for an incident that will almost certainly end with a three-match ban for the Everton player, but it is nevertheless an important fact.

Losing his head: Marouane Fellaini's clash with Ryan Shawcross was wrong on many levels

Losing his head: Marouane Fellaini's clash with Ryan Shawcross was wrong on many levels

Losing his head: Marouane Fellaini's clash with Ryan Shawcross was wrong on many levels

More from Martin Samuel…

It's been the greatest sporting year we've seen, but there can be only one winner, so… It must be Murray
14/12/12

Viva Forever Let’s hope it’s dead by Easter
13/12/12

Martin Samuel: Benitez battling jet-lag at a Club World Cup that is still trying to wake up… a prize that should be football's crowning glory, but isn't
12/12/12

Martin Samuel: Being good at football is not an act of provocation
11/12/12

Martin Samuel: You've had your time, Shane. Don't fight the dimming of the light…
09/12/12

Martin Samuel: Has Platini just torpedoed European Football with his 2020 vision
06/12/12

How awkward. I agree with the head-bangers
06/12/12

Martin Samuel: Gay hero Surely there's only one man to herald football's watershed moment… step forward Joey Barton
05/12/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

For it makes plain that what happened on Saturday, a clash that could have ended in serious injury, a fractured cheekbone or broken nose, was a direct result of football’s decision to allow wrestling matches in the penalty area.

Fellaini assaults Shawcross primarily because he is being prevented from playing, illegally, and Mark Halsey, the referee, appears happy to let this continue. Football has never had more policemen and yet such little interest in implementing the rules.

The replays clearly show that, directly before Fellaini strikes, Shawcross is gripping him by an upper arm beneath the shoulder, to restrict his run. This is a foul. It isn’t a penalty, because the ball is dead but it is without doubt subject to corrective action.

As none is forthcoming, Fellaini takes matters into his own hands, attempts to wrestle free and, as he passes Shawcross, ducks his head into his opponent’s face. Shawcross collapses. Halsey misses the incident.

For this reason the FA can pass sanction and Everton will lose their key player at a crucial time in the campaign. David Moyes, the manager, is resigned to this and did not complain. To his credit, he as good as invited punishment.

Maybe, by doing so, he felt he was acting for the wider good. Had Moyes defended his player, the fallout would have centred on Fellaini, who got away with several instances of poor behaviour on Saturday.

Instead, with Everton pleading guilty, football would now be wise to study cause and effect.

Fellaini is a physical player. He gives as good as he gets, and one imagines he gets plenty. Even so, he does not usually prioritise butting defenders over scoring goals. If Shawcross’s marking had been old-school, without fouling, this would not have happened.

Football is a contact sport. In the
penalty area, players will be in proximity. Yet over the last decade,
increasingly, defenders no longer guard their man, but grapple with him.

Jose Mourinho’s
Chelsea were masters at it, so are Stoke. And because referees have not
stopped this behaviour, it is encouraged.

Rough and tumble: Grappling at corners and freekicks has become commonplace in football

Rough and tumble: Grappling at corners and freekicks has become commonplace in football

Every penalty area resembles a red-belt judo class these days. The FA, supposed guardians of the game, are content to let this continue.

Fellaini has admitted he was wrong and apologised. There can be no quibbles over punishment.
Yet the wider problem is not being addressed. A single weekend, in which every foul of this nature was met with a warning, then a yellow card (or a penalty if it happened when the ball was in play), would curb it instantly.

Results would briefly resemble rugby scores, but then the crisis would be over, and football would be re-acquainted with the old-fashioned ways of defending. After all, isn’t that exactly what a player like Shawcross is supposed to be about

All about cash for nice little Hearner

Leyton Orient chairman Barry Hearn continues his battle to torpedo any hope of a genuine legacy at the Olympic Stadium.

'This dispute is going to run and run and run,' he said, maintaining his opposition to West Ham United’s tenancy. 'I know, after talking to the London Legacy Development Corporation, that the Olympic Stadium is all about money and nothing about community values.'

The same community values that once led Hearn to consider moving Orient to Harlow or Basildon.
That deal, obviously, wouldn’t have been about money at all. He's all heart, our Barry.

Pay now, judge later

Damien Comolli has been working overtime attempting to justify his record at Liverpool. It boils down to the standard demand of every director of football: judge me in five years.

'I don’t think we made mistakes on the players going out,' he said, 'and whether we made mistakes on the players who came in, time will tell.'

Time has told, old son.

Jordan Henderson

Jordan Henderson

Andy Carroll

Andy Carroll

Stewart Downing

Stewart Downing

Nearly two years down the line, Andy Carroll is on loan to a lesser club, having scored 11 goals for Liverpool — just six in the league — at a cost of 35million.

Jordan Henderson and Stewart Downing can barely get a game. Charlie Adam is gone. There are eight players that have made double figure league appearances for Liverpool this season and only one — Luis Suarez, great acquisition, but hardly out of left field — was signed by Comolli.

The majority were in the team under Rafael Benitez.

'I speak to people and they ask, “What about that deal”' Comolli said. 'I explain and they say, “OK, I see where you’re coming from”.'

Of course they do; they aren’t writing the cheques.

'If you want to talk about Carroll, the situation was quite clear,' Comolli added. 'We were selling two players, Fernando Torres and Ryan Babel, and were bringing two in, Suarez and Carroll.

'Chelsea kept bidding higher and higher for Torres until we got to a point where the difference between their first and final bid was double. We were making a profit and the wage bill was coming down as well.'

In other words, Abramovich was overpaying so Comolli decided it did not matter if John Henry paid through the nose, too. That is why he got the bullet.

He was big-hearted Charlie with another man’s money. Judge him whenever you want but Liverpool will regret giving him even as long as they did.

Arsenal should be wary of dinosaurs like Usmanov

The Australian PGA Championship has probably sunk its last putt in Coolum, Queensland. Blame Jeff.

Jeff is a 26-foot robot plastic replica of a Tyrannosaurus Rex located outside the clubhouse between Coolum’s ninth green and 10th tee. It has been there since the resort club was purchased by billionaire mining magnate Clive Palmer. He is also considering building a dinosaur theme park.

Indeed, Palmer is considering a lot of things, many of them plastered on one of the 60 signs he erected around the course, promoting his pursuits, including a proposed replica of the Titanic.

Dino-sore: Jeff, the 26-foot robot plastic replica of a Tyrannosaurus Rex at Coolum, isn't pretty

Dino-sore: Jeff, the 26-foot robot plastic replica of a Tyrannosaurus Rex at Coolum, isn't pretty

Also sinking is golf’s credibility as players, including Darren Clarke, walk in Jeff’s shadow.
At least Palmer agreed to turn off the dinosaur’s mechanical roar. Club players and guests traditionally get a mulligan — a chance to replay the shot without penalty — if Jeff bursts into life at the top of a backswing.

The very rich, as F Scott Fitzgerald observed, are very different from you and me. Palmer cannot understand what the fuss is about and wants Coolum to host again next year.

Alisher Usmanov, meanwhile, is perplexed that Arsenal continue to reject his advances and his requests for a seat on the board.

Yet just as Palmer dropped Jeff on an unsuspecting public, so Usmanov – wealthier than Roman Abramovich – offered a glimpse of what Arsenal could be like on his watch, by announcing that Thierry Henry should return to the club, 'but not as a player'.

Decisions, decisions: Alisher Usmanov

Decisions, decisions: Alisher Usmanov

‘I don’t have any powers in terms of decisions but there are a few players with whom I am in contact,’ Usmanov said. My favourite is probably Thierry. He should be involved at the club. He has another role to play; a more important role.

'Take the example of Patrick Vieira at Manchester City. He is also a symbol of Arsenal but is helping another club. We have to avoid that with Thierry.'

Says who

One imagines if Arsene Wenger wants Henry back in any capacity, he is perfectly capable of asking him. And if he wants him as a player, short-term like last season, he would not appreciate having his plans vetoed by an owner who thinks he knows best.

In attempting a populist manoeuvre, Usmanov inadvertently revealed more of his style than was flattering.

Whatever Arsenal’s current predicament, Wenger has more than earned the right to make his own decisions and to be told that Henry’s transfer is off, but his unrequired return in an elevated role is on, is precisely the type of interference that could usher him out of the door.

Usmanov has money and this alone appeals to desperate supporters, but the last thing Arsenal need is a 26-foot dinosaur, roaring his instructions at a neutered manager.

AND WHILE WE'RE AT IT
Expansion explained

We can all see the problem with the Club World Cup. To embrace the global ethos all continents must be represented, yet Europe and South America are overwhelmingly strong, so the tournament contains no mystery, beyond the outcome of the final.

Happy chappys: Corinthians are champions of the world after beating Chelsea in the Club World Cup Final

Happy chappys: Corinthians are champions of the world after beating Chelsea in the Club World Cup Final

The Intercontinental Cup, as the Club World Cup once was, has a tradition lasting 52 years, beginning with a home and away final between the winners of the European Cup and the Copa Libertadores.

Real Madrid lifted the first trophy in 1960, drawing 0-0 with Penarol of Uruguay in Montevideo and then beating them 5-1 in the Bernabeu. This was the best and most dramatic format of all.

From 1960 to 1979 when Olimpia of Paraguay defeated Malmo, there were 10 South American winners and nine from Europe.

Money won, however, and FIFA then switched to a one-off game, sponsored by Toyota, in Japan.
Again, competition stayed even. From 1980 to 2004 there were 13 European winners and 12 from South America.

Expansion then brought the Club World Cup, with a wider range of entrants, a horrid false start in Brazil in 2000, a relaunch in 2005, but basically the same outcome.

Apart from the shock qualification of Mazembe of Congo in 2010, the final has always been between Europe and South America. So as a spectacle, the tournament is moribund.

What is to be done Bruce Buck, chairman of Chelsea, has a good idea.

To strengthen the tournament, he said, it should be expanded to include the winners of the Europa League and its South American equivalent, the Copa Sudamericana. That way, there would be no guaranteed progression and at least one tough match en route to the final.

This season’s tournament would have featured Chelsea and Atletico Madrid from Europe, and Corinthians and Universidad de Chile from South America.

Sao Paulo, who finished fourth in Brazil this season, nine points clear of Corinthians, would already have qualified for next season’s tournament as Copa Sudamericana champions.

Conquering the world: How would Chelsea feel playing three matches in South America

Conquering the world: How would Chelsea feel playing three matches in South America

Buck’s point was that the Champions League became more vibrant by expansion.

Placing the tournament in one of the host cities in Europe or South America — so this year’s edition would have been played in London, Madrid, Sao Paulo or Santiago — rather than a sterile location like Japan or Dubai would also help.

One imagines the bid to claim the title of world champions would carry greater cachet if Chelsea’s task involved three matches in South America, against Monterrey of Mexico, Universidad de Chile and a final against either Corinthians or Atletico Madrid. Just a thought.

Are you sitting comfortably

Sir Dave Richards, chairman of the Premier League, is to be grilled at a Football Association board meeting this week over his character witness support for John Terry.

The FA considers Richards’ stance during Terry’s hearing a conflict of interests. Yet the FA brings these disciplinary cases and also commissions and rewards the members of the independent tribunal.

This as good as places the jury in the pay of the prosecution. No conflict of interests there then, gentlemen.

Merry Christmas

Well, that’s it from me until the New Year. I know we don’t usually do presents, but if you’ve got a machine that can receive apps, search for Radio Soulwax and download a file called Dave.

Sixty minutes of pure pleasure. If you like David Bowie, that is. And, if you don’t, seriously, what’s the matter with you But it’s free, so either way, Happy Christmas.

.

Martin Samuel: Being good at football is not an act of provocation

Being good at football is not an act of provocation

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UPDATED:

10:03 GMT, 12 December 2012

Say you could win a thousand pounds, right here, right now, and all you had to do was hit a bloke on the nose with a 2p coin from 20 yards.

Chances are, you couldn’t do it. It is quite hard to throw a 2p with any accuracy. It isn’t a cricket ball. Copper is quite light, but the surface area of the coin relatively large, meaning there is resistance and wind factor, plus your target is moving.

All things considered, if your financial well-being depended on a tuppenny vice you would end the day as poor as you started it.

Ready, aim, fire: Manchester United players were pelted with missiles as they celebrated the win over City

Ready, aim, fire: Manchester United players were pelted with missiles as they celebrated the win over City

Abuse: Wayne Rooney was subjected to a torrent of bile by City fans as he prepared to take a corner

Abuse: Wayne Rooney was subjected to a torrent of bile by City fans as he prepared to take a corner

More from Martin Samuel…

Martin Samuel: You've had your time, Shane. Don't fight the dimming of the light…
09/12/12

Martin Samuel: Has Platini just torpedoed European Football with his 2020 vision
06/12/12

How awkward. I agree with the head-bangers
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Martin Samuel: Gay hero Surely there's only one man to herald football's watershed moment… step forward Joey Barton
05/12/12

Martin Samuel: If Abramovich doesn't respect Chelsea's managers, why would the players
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Martin Samuel: Splash, bang, wallop! When sport gives you a moment to savour you take it
02/12/12

Martin Samuel: Wenger used to solve Arsenal's problems… now he helps his rivals solve theirs
02/12/12

So what’s for dinner tonight Killer casserole
29/11/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

So, there was in all likelihood significantly more to Rio Ferdinand’s injury, struck by a missile thrown by a member of the crowd in the Manchester derby, than mere dumb luck. The law of averages would have been at work, too.

For if the same prize was up for grabs but you could have a hundred shies with that 2p piece, well, the balance of probability would produce a different set of figures.

And looking at the footage from behind one goal on Sunday, Ferdinand would not have needed to dodge a single coin after Robin van Persie scored Manchester United’s winning goal, but a whole monetary shower.

At one stage in the second half, Wayne Rooney goes to take a corner from the left. Clearly visible is a hail of tiny missiles as he stands, back to the fans, ready to restart the play. And it is this bit of footage that kills, dead, the idea that player provocation played any part in the events of Sunday.

Rooney wasn’t taunting the home fans, he didn’t even turn to them. Met with the standard sea of angry, contorted faces as he went to take his kick, he merely rounded to face the game and got on with his job. So there was no excuse, no mitigation beyond hatred and jealousy.

A section of modern football supporters do not need a trigger to demonstrate their brutal irresponsibility. And celebrating an emotional late goal isn’t a trigger anyway.

A caller to the BBC’s 606 phone-in show on Sunday attempted to shift the blame for the events at the Etihad Stadium on to Manchester United’s players, for the way they responded to victory.

Incredibly, he was indulged by Alan Green, who allowed him his platform unchallenged, and even supplied a supporting anecdote.

He recalled the way Gary Neville once ran the length of the pitch at Old Trafford away from his team-mates, to celebrate a late winner, from Ferdinand, in front of Liverpool’s fans in the away end. Green was appalled by this. He painted a very moralistic portrait of how he would react, if he was ever in Neville’s position.

Cut: Rio Ferdinand was struck by a 2p coin, splitting the skin above his eye and drawing blood

Cut: Rio Ferdinand was struck by a 2p coin, splitting the skin above his eye and drawing blood

Cut: Rio Ferdinand was struck by a 2p coin, splitting the skin above his eye and drawing blood

Provoked, much: Gary Neville famously celebrated late United winner in front of Liverpool fans

Provoked, much: Gary Neville famously celebrated late United winner in front of Liverpool fans

Which, of course, he won’t be. None of us will. For what Green neglected to mention in his recounting of the incident, was the song the Liverpool supporters had been singing about Neville for much of that match, to the tune of London Bridge Is Falling Down, implying that he enjoyed a sexual relationship with his mother.

We can’t print it here and this is a pity, as to appreciate the full horror, one really needs to spell it out.

Those with vivid imaginations and strong stomachs may wish to deduce more from the fact the final word rhymes with glitter. Now we’re getting there.

So Green, and others, can pontificate and judge, but until they have had several thousand people inserting their name where Neville’s is, they have no clue how they would react to an event as vindicating and cathartic as a last-minute winning goal.

If thousands of people were insulting you and, mid-sentence, an event happened that silenced those voices and caused them great upset, might you not revel in it, just a little

And might you not, as Neville did, jump high in the air in pure elation and run towards the tormentors, gripping your Manchester United shirt and holding its badge out in defiance, while emitting a roar of pure rage

In John Carpenter’s film Escape From New York, a kidnapped President played by Donald Pleasence finally gets his revenge on the preening gangland overlord who captured and tortured him (see below). As he guns him down, he screams in mockery and vengeance the words he was made to recite under duress: ‘Aay, number one! You’re the Duke, you’re the Duke! You’re ‘A’ Number 1.’

Carpenter wanted to show the savage inside every man. That goal against Liverpool brought out the darker side of Neville. Pushed to his limit, he reacted. Yet players did not start this war.

John Carpenter’s Escape From New York

Being good at football is not in itself an act of provocation. Nor is scoring a goal and celebrating it.

Some of us would like to see more smiles and less snarls when this happens, because Sir Alex Ferguson gets easily as much grief as his players but always reacts to a Manchester United goal with untrammelled glee, but as long as no scorer deliberately instigates a riot, then all’s fair.

On Sunday, United celebrated in front of their own fans, who happened to be adjacent to a Manchester City section. There was nothing provocative in what they did, unless winning a contentious derby match late is now reclassified as incitement.

Maybe if the scores are tied, or close, with 10 minutes to spare, the referee should blow early to prevent anybody getting overwrought.

The reaction of Phil Jones has been mentioned by some City supporters, and it is true the defender did run the length of the pitch to join the celebrations, looking at the home fans and gesturing for them to now be quiet; but a couple of observations.

First, Jones was deep on the right, and United’s little party took place high on the left. So the idea that Ferdinand was hit by a coin because of something Jones was invisibly doing on the other side of the field is preposterous.

Second, Jones had spent the bulk of the match, 85 minutes, on the substitutes’ bench where, one imagines, he had heard and felt the full force of hatred from the home support. Might this be why he was a little more caught up in the moment than usual

Nobody goes to Paddy Crerand for the impartial take on United, but his outrage during a radio interview when confronted with a lot of mealy-mouthed questions that appeared to place the blame on the visiting players was understandable.

Yet this is not about United and City or United and Liverpool. This is not about any individual club at all. Only a fool believes that what happened on Sunday is not repeated, in varying degrees of intensity, around the country each weekend.

Reaction: Phil Jones has been accused after he ran to join his delighted team-mates

Reaction: Phil Jones has been accused after he ran to join his delighted team-mates

Reaction: Phil Jones has been accused after he ran to join his delighted team-mates

This is about players and fans. It was United under attack this week, it could be City on the receiving end in the return fixture later this season.

(When Ferguson recalled the venom recently directed at his players in the derby and at Chelsea, he conveniently forgot that a City player had been hit by an object thrown at Old Trafford in 2009.)

And what is the crime these young men have committed They’re good at football. They can put the ball in the net. They achieve the point of the game. They possess the dedication, the discipline, the work ethic and talent, to stand on the pitch and perform.

And when they do, apparently, their skill is too provocative for some tastes. What a perverse little society we have become.

Handball’s plight proves legacy talk is a sham

So, as predicted, it meant nothing. Handball, volleyball, water polo, all the other team sports that Great Britain embraced during the Olympics, entering inferior home teams so we could pointlessly tick boxes for participation, have ended in a funding dead end.

A policy that rewards success and starves failure was always going to splutter out this way.

What was the point of starting a handball team from scratch and taking up a place that could have gone to a stronger, deserving nation if the journey ended after 2012

This was a gimmick; a publicity exercise; an act of sporting theft, considering some deserving athletes will never compete in the Olympics now because Great Britain blocked the way.

It is also very harsh on administrators. If only success is going to increase funding for volleyball, then the sport has no chance of growing. Volleyball is played across 218 federations —more than football — with participation estimated at 998million 10 years ago.

No way past: GB handball teams, built from scratch for the Olympics, have reached a funding dead end

No way past: GB handball teams, built from scratch for the Olympics, have reached a funding dead end

It is fair to say the rest of the world has a head start.

Some sports are harder to crack.

Take rugby union. A small country like Georgia, with reasonable investment, could grow quite quickly on the world stage because rugby participation is limited. Georgia could not make the same impact in football because so many countries play it, and have strong development systems in place.

So when Britain got serious about track cycling it was in the knowledge that the performance ladder could be climbed relatively quickly due to lower participation numbers.

Not true of volleyball, nor even handball, played by nine times as many people as rugby. So, unless different funding rules were to apply post-Olympics, it was all pretence.

The cheerleaders will keep waving their little flags and telling us the Olympics were the days of our lives, but strip away the euphoria of the moment and much of the legacy talk is a sham. The sports were had, the athletes were had and so were you, if you thought it would end any other way.

AND WHILE WE'RE AT IT

Money matters

The pressure felt by India’s cricketers going into the fourth Test in Nagpur will be very familiar to England’s underachieving footballers.

Blame for the first back-to-back home Test defeats since 2000 — India have now lost 10 of their last 16 Tests — is being placed on the riches of the Indian Premier League.

It's your fault: The IPL and its big contracts for foreigners has been blamed for India's poor form

It's your fault: The IPL and its big contracts for foreigners has been blamed for India's poor form

Earning too much and caring too little. Now where have we heard that before And, yes, it seems a compelling argument when young players who have not even faced a ball in Test cricket have already earned over 4million from the IPL.

Yet, just as with English football, it is a sweeping rationalisation. India’s problem is that the qualities in which they excel — batting and spin bowling — are among England’s strengths, too. Wickets prepared to get the best out of the home side equally suit the visitors.

The ferocity of the criticism levelled at India’s cricketers in defeat suggests it is rather simplistic to claim that the money from the IPL, like that of football’s Premier League, makes losing palatable. It just means India’s players can afford bigger gates on their houses; which they are going to need, by the sound of it.

Usual suspects in line 2020

Remember when English football stood tall against Sepp Blatter and FIFA That didn’t last long.

Now Football Association chairman David Bernstein greets the old fraud like a long-lost pal, and cosies up to his UEFA equivalent Michel Platini at every opportunity.

2020 vision: Michel Platini has announced the European Championships in eight years will be cross-continent

2020 vision: Michel Platini has announced the European Championships in eight years will be cross-continent

The FA reaction to Platini’s plan to hurl the 2020 European Championship across the continent was not a denouncement, more like an excited squeal.

‘Ooh, can we have the final and the semi-finals, Mr President Ooh please, please, please, please, please.’

Yet the only way Platini’s idea would have any worth at all is if it took the competition to the parts of Europe that have never hosted it, and probably won’t get the chance now the format has expanded to include an unwieldy 24 teams.

Cities such as Dublin, Cardiff, Glasgow, Bucharest, Tblisi, Prague or Istanbul. This, however, is the option that makes it super-expensive for supporters.

So London has a good chance of reward, as have Barcelona, Madrid, Milan, Rome, Paris. You know, the usual. Not that the FA care. They tried having principles once. Turns out there wasn’t enough money in it.

Chris Ashton swallow dive was pure joy

Splash, bang, wallop! When sport gives you a moment to savour you take it

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UPDATED:

22:30 GMT, 2 December 2012

Chris Ashton reflected briefly on the moment that came to define a quite incredible afternoon.

‘I had no intention of doing it,’ he said. ‘I’ve no idea where it came from. I was just so happy to finally get over the line. I said it was going to happen at the right time and maybe that was the right time. I thought I’d forgotten what to do. But apparently not.’

He was talking, of course, of that try. Not just the try, in fact, but the touchdown. You know the one. The swallow dive. The Ash-Splash. The expression of exuberance that somehow came to encapsulate all that was wrong with modern rugby in England.

Ash-splash: Chris Ashton scored with his oft-criticised exuberant technique

Ash-splash: Chris Ashton scored with his oft-criticised exuberant technique

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Imagine a player looking as if he was enjoying himself. Imagine giving the impression that being good at sport was fun. How dare he And, sure enough, it was there in some quarters. Self-indulgent, apparently. No doubt disrespectful, too.

Yet, at frozen rugby pitches on Sunday morning, the young men and women who had witnessed a momentous occasion for their sport less than 24 hours previously all wanted to deliver an Ash-Splash, or charge through the opposition ranks like Manu Tuilagi.

Their coaches will tell them there is more to the sport than mere showmanship; they will deliver the stern lectures about the dire consequences if Ashton had fumbled the ball or Tuilagi been caught as he strolled over the try line. And they will be right, too.

But if there is no longer room for getting lost in the moment, for a split second when consideration of what is right or proper takes leave, and pure adrenalin takes over, then the world of sport will be a very dull place.

Despite what the cynics may believe, Ashton didn’t dive because he envisaged newspaper front pages, or commercial contracts. He dived because a personal dry spell was at an end, his team was in the ascendancy, but most of all, because in front of a delirious home crowd England were — to use a playground expression — absolutely owning the All Blacks and the excited schoolboy in Ashton just could not help coming out.

It is great to be young and fit and good at rugby, the schoolboy announced. It is great to beat the All Blacks. And it is.

Get in: Ashton's team-mates congratulate him after the try

Get in: Ashton's team-mates congratulate him after the try

Dying soldier's inspiration

Stuart Lancaster called on a terminally ill friend to help motivate the England team to victory.

George Hickinson, a former soldier who is suffering from cancer, presented the match jerseys to England’s players in the traditional eve-of-match ceremony.

Scrum-half Ben Youngs said Hickinson’s speech, which referred to the pride service personnel have in their country, helped focus the players.

He was joined at the presentation by two backroom staff, long-serving doctor Mike Bundy and fitness advisor Calvin Morriss, who are leaving the RFU.

Lancaster and Hickinson worked together at Leeds, where the latter worked as a masseur and was on the staff when they won the 2005 Powergen Cup.

This could have been a watershed moment for English rugby under Stuart Lancaster and, for precedent, go back 12 years. It was November 18, 2000 when a converted try from Dan Luger, eight minutes into second-half overtime, gave England a 22-19 win over Australia at Twickenham and kickstarted Sir Clive Woodward’s World Cup winning era.

England had won a single game against Australia since 1988 before that: after it, they won a further four straight, culminating in the World Cup Final in Sydney.

It is hard to imagine such a run against the mighty All Blacks, but easier to think of Lancaster’s England team now growing in confidence for a tilt at the Six Nations. Certainly, Ashton’s try breaks a long dispiriting run without a score from a man who was once considered England’s talismanic running back.

‘It’s been killing me, absolutely killing me,’ said Ashton of a barren international stretch lasting 14 months, since a try against Scotland on October 1 last year. ‘It felt so good just to get over.

‘The celebration was a combination of a lot of things. A bit of relief for me, because I haven’t scored in such a long time, but for the team too, because we knew then we were on the verge of beating them. It’s been frustrating for me not to be scoring tries, but it was about the team more. We let loose. We showed we have got the players.’

Steve Hansen, New Zealand’s coach, said as much. Magnanimous in defeat, Hansen, asked about the All Blacks’ World Cup chances, said there were two potential World Cup winning teams on the field at Twickenham.

‘What I find most surprising about today is that anybody is surprised,’ he added. ‘This is a good, young England side, and you should try backing them a bit, because that will make them even more dangerous.’

Credit: Richie McCaw (left) with Steve Hansen, who said England are a good side and could win the World Cup

Credit: Richie McCaw (left) with Steve Hansen, who said England are a good side and could win the World Cup

There were 206 caps between the 15 starting England players while Richie McCaw and Dan Carter of New Zealand have 210 between them.

Lancaster dreams of the day when England will be able to put 800 caps on the field in one game, and with a team as youthful as his it is possible.

With Wales floundering in the autumn internationals, England have every reason to be hopeful about the Six Nations next year, although maintaining the sheer momentum of Saturday’s win will be close to impossible.

‘We could feel the sense of occasion from the start,’ said Ashton, ‘that something special was going to happen. We had no option really. We’d lost two games against South Africa and Australia, so it was backs to the wall. We had nothing to lose.

Shift: The change in culture under Stuart Lancaster is evident to Ashton

Shift: The change in culture under Stuart Lancaster is evident to Ashton

‘I just think there’s a massive difference now under Stuart. The whole culture has changed. Two years ago we got smashed by South Africa, but now we believe in each other. That win will fill us with confidence and when we come back we’ve got to go flying into Scotland.

‘They’ll come down here fighting and trying to make a mess of it as they always do, so we’ve got to be clinical. It’s always difficult to pick up from where you’ve left off, but we’ve got the same core of people and I always felt we had the players who could do it. We built a score, just like New Zealand do.’

Comparisons to the giants of the southern hemisphere game that would have seemed laughable 48 hours ago are now made straight-faced.

It may be a time before we see the Ash-Splash again, but it will always be inside, lurking, waiting for that moment, that special moment, when it is really quite impossible to contain the thrill of being very good at rugby; better, even, than the mighty All Blacks.

How Joe Cole became a diddy man

He's just an ordinary Joe: How Liverpool's Cole became a diddy man

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UPDATED:

21:02 GMT, 8 November 2012

Just before half time and Joe Cole was already trending on Twitter. Strange that, because he hadn't done very much. That’s the point.

Sean Lawrence, an Everton supporter, sent this verdict to his followers (@SeanyBoyoEFC). ‘Contrasts – 31 year old Leon Osman receives his first England call up today. Meanwhile its Joe Cole's 31st Birthday and his careers dead!’

Poor Joe. Even being ordinary is news now.

Head in hands: Liverpool midfielder Joe Cole (centre) reflects on a tough night after being hauled off

Head in hands: Liverpool midfielder Joe Cole (centre) reflects on a tough night after being hauled off

This was his first performance since being substituted and criticised by Brendan Rodgers for a lacklustre display against Swansea in the Capital One Cup. At least he lasted beyond 45 minutes this time.

He was in and out of this first half, occasionally getting to the ball, occasionally keeping it, occasionally looking like the player we remember.

Falling down: Joe Cole hits the floor as he fights for the ball with Anzhi Makhachkala's Joao Carlos

Falling down: Joe Cole hits the floor as he fights for the ball with Anzhi Makhachkala's Joao Carlos

He even had a header on goal, which bounced wide.

Up to then, playing just off the front line in a Liverpool team packed with reserves – which is why he got a starting place – the old Chelsea and West Ham No 10 couldn’t really get into the game.

But nor could Samuel Eto’o, until one driving run brought a spectacular save from Brad Jones.

Jonjo Shelvey is the precocious talent Joe Cole used to be. He gets on the ball, sprays a lovely weighted pass and sets the play. Liverpool, who could afford to lose last night (another reason Cole got a starting place) deserved to be level, but fell behind on the stroke of half time, which is how the game ended.

Diddy man: Cole shares his birthday with Ken Dodd

Diddy man: Cole shares his birthday with Ken Dodd

Not that Cole got to see out the whole 90 minutes as Brendan Rodgers opted to replace him after 76 minutes and replaced by Oussama Assaidi.

Back to Twitter, where Ian Abrahams (@BroadcastMoose) told his followers: ‘If it's your birthday you share it with Martin Peters, Alan Curbishley, Joe Cole, Aaron Hughes, Pavel Pogrebnyak, Bret Lee and Ken Dodd.’ So it’s not all bad news for Joe. He gets to share a birthday with the man responsible for Liverpool’s diddy men.

Unfortunately, that’s what Cole has become.

Wayne Rooney transfer target for Anzhi Makhachkala

Anzhi want Rooney! Megabucks Russians line up sensational swoop for United star

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UPDATED:

08:04 GMT, 26 October 2012

Wayne Rooney is a target for mega-rich Russian side Anzhi Makhachkala, team director and Brazilian legend Roberto Carlos has revealed.

The Dagestan club are bankrolled by billionaire Russian oligarch Suleyman Kerimov and Carlos had a warning for Manchester United fans hoping to see Rooney stay at Old Trafford, saying: 'If the owner of Anzhi has a wish to buy somebody, he will go and do it.'

Anzhi have already tempted several big name players to make the unfashionable move to the north Caucasus with huge wages. Samuel Eto'o earns a whopping 250,000-a-week at Anzhi and any offer to Rooney would be equally eyewatering.

Read all about it: Wayne Rooney launched his new book at the Trafford Centre in Manchester on Thursday

Read all about it: Wayne Rooney launched his new book at the Trafford Centre in Manchester on Thursday

Read all about it: Wayne Rooney launched his new book at the Trafford Centre in Manchester on Thursday

Nice work (if you can get it…)

Anzhi's big earners and their weekly wages:

Samuel Eto'o – 250,000
Christopher Samba – 100,000
Yury Zhirkov – 80,000
Lassana Diarra – 55,000
Guus Hiddink (manager) – 160,000
Roberto Carlos (team director) – 65,000

Carlos said: 'He’s one of the best players in the world and any team would be happy to have him in their squad. He’s still a very young player.

'Of course I could not say when, and if, it will happen. It’s not only Anzhi who can want to buy him.

'There are plenty of teams in Italy and Spain, all over the world, who are eager to have a player like Rooney.

Big spenders: Samuel Eto'o (left) was lured to Anzhi by eyewatering wages

Big spenders: Striker Samuel Eto'o (left) was lured from Barcelona to Anzhi by eyewatering wages

'If the owner of Anzhi has a wish to
buy somebody, he will go and do it. But we are trying to change the
image of the club. It’s not just about money.

'Of course we are going to buy good
players but not only international players. We want to sign good Russian
players that are not that expensive.'

Rooney, 27, is loved at Old Trafford and remains a key part of Sir Alex Ferguson's plans despite being dropped to the bench earlier this season.

But the England striker flirted with leaving United for rivals Manchester City two years ago, claiming the Red Devils did not match his ambition. Anzhi certainly do not lack in that department, having built themselves up to be a Russian superpower from meagre beginnings.

Anzhi manager Guus Hiddink, however, played down the prospect of Rooney moving to Russia following his side's limp Europa League defeat at Anfield on Thursday night.

He said: ‘It is nice to sometimes talk out of the blue without any reality.’

For all the hype that has surrounded Anzhi and their huge spending power, they were very disappointing in the 1-0 loss at Liverpool, with Brad Jones not troubled once in Liverpool’s goal.

Anzhi’s first shot did not arrive until stoppage time and even then Fedor Smolov’s effort was well wide, spelling out the need for a creative force such as Rooney.

There is little question, however, that Anzhi will soon become a force in Europe, given the astronomical wages they can pay.

Manchester City close to signing former Barcelona director of football Txiki Begiristain

City closing in on deal with former Barcelona director Begiristain as Chelsea and Spurs lurk

PUBLISHED:

17:18 GMT, 25 October 2012

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UPDATED:

17:20 GMT, 25 October 2012

Manchester City are close to persuading former Barcelona director of football Txiki Begiristain to join the club.

In a move which will spell re-organisation behind the scenes at Eastlands, the 48-year-old is ready to team up with his friend, City chief executive and former Barca vice-president, Ferran Soriano despite been courted by Liverpool, Tottenham and Chelsea.

He will take up a technical director role which will give him responsibility for recruitment and will also look to bring in former Johan Cruyff adviser Joan Patsy.

Join me: Chief executive of Manchester City Ferran Soriano, pictured, could greet his old friend Txiki Begiristain at the club

Join me: Chief executive of Manchester City Ferran Soriano, pictured, could greet his old friend Txiki Begiristain at the club

Begiristain is also a close ally of Pep Guardiola and, following City’s performance against Ajax in the Champions League, the appointment will only further speculation that under-fire coach Roberto Mancini will be replaced by the wily Spaniard.

However, Guardiola is determined to see out his year’s sabbatical despite the likes of Chelsea, AC Milan and Bayern Munich also all maintaining an interest in his next move.

Begiristain, who was an attacking midfielder for John Toshack’s Real Sociedad and Barcelona’s ‘Dream Team’ of the early 1990s, spent seven years as director of football at Barcelona before leaving in 2010.

He was responsible for bringing in the like of Ronaldinho, Samuel Eto’o and Dani Alves while maintaining the development of La Masia programme which spawned talent such as Lionel Messi.

Coup: Begiristain was responsible for bringing in the likes of Samuel Eto'o (left) at Barcelona

Coup: Begiristain was responsible for bringing in the likes of Samuel Eto'o (left) at Barcelona

Clash: Roberto Mancini has clashed with football administrator Brian Marwood over this season's summer signings, including Javi Garcia (left)

Clash: Roberto Mancini has clashed with Brian Marwood over this season's summer signings, including Javi Garcia, above, and Jack Rodwell, below left

Clash: Roberto Mancini has clashed with football administrator Brian Marwood over this season's summer signings, including Jack Rodwell (left)

His arrival would also change responsibilities for football administrator Brian Marwood who has clashed with Mancini over player recruitment.

Tottenham were very keen for Begiristain to join and he was interested in a move to London but a move to City will underline his belief that they are building the right project to dominate European football.

Celtic chief scout John Park is among other contenders for the role at Tottenham.