Tag Archives: savage

Is this what Chelsea fans have been waiting for? 7m flop Marin launches into horror challenge 4 minutes into first league start

Is this what Chelsea fans have been waiting for Marin launches into horror challenge… just four minutes into his first league start, and SIX MONTHS after joining for 7m

By
Frank Foster

PUBLISHED:

21:40 GMT, 2 January 2013

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UPDATED:

22:14 GMT, 2 January 2013

Chelsea winger Marko Marin was lucky to escape a red card in the
opening stages of his first Premier League start against QPR on Wednesday night.

The former Werder Bremen man has struggled to break into
the first team at Stamford Bridge since his 7m move to the European
champions in the summer.

And he was fortunate not to heading back to the dressing room after only four minutes against relegation strugglers QPR.

Lucky boy: Marin was only cautioned after flying into a studs up challenge on Stephane Mbia

Lucky boy: Marin was only cautioned after flying into a studs up challenge on Stephane Mbia


Fringe player: The German international has struggled to make an impact for his new side since his 7m move in the summer

Fringe player: The German international has struggled to make an impact for his new side since his 7m move in the summer

Having lost control of the ball on the right hand side, the German lunged at Stephane Mbia with all studs showing.

Despite the severity of the challenge referee Lee Mason opted to only produce a yellow card, a decision that would surely have angered QPR boss Harry Redknapp as his side looked to enhance their chances of survival with a victory at Stamford Bridge.

For all the world though it looked like Mbia was lucky to
escape a serious injury and the commentary team on 5 live were convinced
that the tackle deserved a sending off.

Referee Lee Mason decided only to show Marin a yellow card for the challenge

Referee Lee Mason decided only to show Marin a yellow card for the challenge

Robbie Savage said the player should certainly have been sent off. And former Tottenham boss David Pleat said: ‘It’s reckless, he’s
lucky.'

Having not appeared in the league since Chelsea's goalless draw with
Fulham on November 28, Marin has been rumoured to be close to
loan switch back to the Bundesliga with Beyer Levekusen.

The presence of fellow new boys Eden Hazard, Oscar and Victor Moses
have limited the opportunities for Marin to make an impact for Rafa Benitez' side.

It has been reported in recent weeks that the 23-year-old is set to join Beyer Levekusen on loan this month

It has been reported in recent weeks that the 23-year-old is set to join Beyer Levekusen on loan this month

Injuries have also played a part in the 23-year-old's lack of playing
time and while stressing he sees his future as a Chelsea player, the
German did not entirely rule out a loan move in the January transfer
window.

'I could imagine a loan deal,' he said. 'It could be
an ideal option to get me playing more regularly and help me with my
general development.

'But I think at this time it is out of the question
and I won’t be heading back to the Bundesliga.'

Marin's miserable start to life at Chelsea continued when he was substituted for Hazard after a n hour of the match, which QPR surprisingly won 1-0.

Ricky Hatton KOd in round nine by Vyacheslav Senchenko on comeback fight in Manchester

Hitman's fairytale comeback ends with sobering retirement as Senchenko lands savage body blow to KO Hatton in the ninth

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UPDATED:

01:02 GMT, 25 November 2012

Ricky Hatton's boxing career came to an end when he was knocked out in the ninth round of his comeback fight.

After three and a half years out of the ring, the 34-year-old's decision to take on a tough opponent in his reappearance in the ring turned out to be a big mistake.

Vyacheslav Senchenko ruined the night for Hatton and his 20,000 raucous fans with a stunning body punch which left the Briton in agony on the canvas.

Down and out: Ricky Hatton winces in pain after a savage blow to the ribs ended his comeback in the ninth round

Down and out: Ricky Hatton winces in pain after a savage blow to the ribs ended his comeback in the ninth round

Hard though Hatton tried to beat the
count, there was no way he could continue and referee Victor Loughlan
counted him out after two minutes and 52 seconds.

It almost certainly marked the end of
his career as a boxer. The former world champion had vowed he would
retire and concentrate on his new life as a trainer and promoter if he
lost.

Now all those people with his
interests at heart will hope he keeps his word. When he had recovered
enough to talk, a tearful and shockingly bruised Hatton insisted he
would not rush into a decision.

'I am heartbroken,' he said. 'I am so sorry for my fans. I am not a quitter, I keep trying but it did not come off.

Mixed emotions: Senchenko (rear) is jubilant but Hatton looks distraught on the canvas

Mixed emotions: Senchenko (rear) is jubilant but Hatton looks distraught on the canvas

'I am not a failure but that is two
defeats now in a row. You don't know how much that hurts me. That is not
the way my career should end. I will sit down with my team and discuss
things. There is a lot I need to think about.

'I was doing some good things for
three and a half years out. He was a world champion, he only lost his
unbeaten record in his last fight. I want to fight for world titles and
so I had to beat someone like that.

'I thought I was maybe four rounds
up but there were clear signs of ring rust. I hurt him a few times and I
was winning. It was a good shot, I should have realised he was looking
for that. I suppose that is what three and a half years out of the ring
does.'

Hatton's trainer Bob Shannon added:
'I'm really disappointed. Ricky lost his concentration and got caught in
the fourth round and that took a lot out of him.

He was exhausted after that.

Harsh reality: Hatton is comforted by a member of his corner team following a chastening defeat in the ring

Harsh reality: Hatton is comforted by a member of his corner team following a chastening defeat in the ring

'He's not 24 any more, he's 34 and
he looked old in some of those rounds. Ricky's a proud man and that's
why he wanted to take on such a difficult opponent.

'He wanted to beat him better than
Paulie Malignaggi had. I don't know what happens now but I'm going to
have to sit down and have a good talk to him.'

Hatton had achieved his aim of
getting rid of the demons that have plagued him for the last three
years, when he turned to drink and drugs in the midst of depression, but
the years catch up with everyone.

Anxious moments: Hatton lay prostrate for about a minute and received medical attention following defeat

Anxious moments: Hatton lay prostrate for about a minute and received medical attention following defeat

Three years away proved too much and,
although Hatton fought with typical courage and aggression and probably
would have sneaked a points verdict had it gone to that, he did not
have the punch resistance when it mattered.

Ring-rustiness could have accounted
for some of his failings as Hatton repeatedly swung wildly and missed
his taller opponent, a former WBA champion who had lost only once in 33
fights before last night.

But, on the strength of five
all-action opening rounds, before he began to tire, Hatton had probably
done enough to win the fight until a fierce left hook to the ribs ended
his dreams of a glorious comeback in the ninth.

Respect: Senchenko and Hatton share their thoughts after a gruelling nine round bout

Mutual respect: Senchenko and Hatton share their thoughts after a gruelling nine round bout

Hitting the target: Hatton connects with a left to put Senchenko on the back foot

Hitting the target: Hatton connects with a left to put Senchenko on the back foot

'This was too difficult an opponent
to come back to,' said former world champion Barry McGuigan. 'He was an
accurate puncher and difficult. I did think when I saw he'd taken
Senchenko he would be the wrong style of boxer for Ricky.

'Hatton gave it his best shot but he
was slowly ground down and started to walk into sickening blows. 'His
jab just didn't work. If he'd got that going his right hand would have
fired off like a gun and he would have nailed his target. The longer the
fight went the more I was concerned for him.'

Hatton's life had gone into alarming
decline in the past three years. While many boxers struggle to cope with
retirement few fall as far as the popular hero, who had won 45 fights
and been a world champion at two weights.

His stunning defeat by Manny
Pacquiao, when he was clubbed to the canvas in two rounds, left no
argument about Hatton's status in his brutal sport – not quite up there
with the very best.

While he had been able to delude
himself that his only other defeat, to Floyd Mayweather, had been an
unfair outcome brought about by poor refereeing this time there was no
argument.

Promising start: Hatton began in fine fettle, but faded in the latter rounds

Promising start: Hatton began in fine fettle, but faded in the latter rounds

Caught out: Ricky Hatton recoils as Vyacheslav Senchenko connects with a fierce right jab

Caught out: Ricky Hatton recoils as Senchenko connects with a fierce right jab

He's back: Hatton makes his entrance at the MEN Arena

He's back: Hatton makes his entrance at the MEN Arena

Australia"s ruby side in turmoil ahead of England clash

Australia have been hit by crucial injuries, bad results and dissent… meet the WOBBLIES

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UPDATED:

22:30 GMT, 13 November 2012

As yet another Australian talisman bit the dust, England tiptoed around the fact that their opponents at Twickenham on Saturday are in turmoil.

The withdrawal of world-class openside flanker David Pocock with a calf injury was another savage blow for the Wallabies ahead of the second QBE International, which could revive their tour or plunge them into new depths of disarray.

No amount of soothing words emerging from England’s Surrey HQ could disguise the fact that Robbie Deans’ side are in a state consistent with their amended nickname, the ‘Wobblies’.

Lost: David Pocock's calf-injury is a huge blow for Australia

Lost: David Pocock's calf-injury is a huge blow for Australia

Where to start This has been a year of crisis upon crisis. First and foremost, Australia are licking their wounds on the back of a 33-6 mauling at the hands of France in Paris.

Following on from an early- season home defeat by Scotland and a turbulent campaign in the inaugural Rugby Championship, that was not the result their brittle morale needed.

The loss of Pocock is the latest in a catastrophic sequence of injury setbacks. He is a marquee man for Deans, who must already cope without many game-breakers in his back line, such as Will Genia, Quade Cooper and James O’Connor, as well as a recent captain up front, James Horwill.

These medical problems have contributed significantly to the poor results which left Deans clinging to his job by a thread towards the end of the Rugby Championship.

A triumph of character in Argentina kept the wolves from the door, as did a subsequent draw against an All Blacks side looking for a world-record run of wins. But there were dramas off the field, too, chiefly Cooper’s public criticism of a regime he condemned as ‘toxic’.

Disarray: Robbie Deans' (left) squad is in a jumble

Disarray: Robbie Deans' (left) squad is in a jumble

The stand-off also poured scorn on selection and strategy under Deans and hinted at a desire to move to rugby league. He was heavily fined by the Australian Rugby Union.

So, against this backdrop of mixed results, controversy and dissent, the Wallabies were unable to paper over the cracks in Paris and now must confront England, who have beaten them in the last two Cook Cup encounters and have exerted a forward dominance for much of the last decade.

England are at pains to cast their opponents as dangerously wounded beasts, still awash with abundant class, but they are aware that a full house will expect an England win.

Asked if Australia are vulnerable, Toby Flood said: ‘I can understand why people would have that perception, but to me they are still a formidable side. Of course the injuries have an impact, but it doesn’t mean that the next guy coming through cannot manage.’

Still tough: Toby Flood said Australia won't be easy to beat

Still tough: Toby Flood said Australia won't be easy to beat

England coach Mike Catt acknowledged that a fast start by the home side could create doubts in Australian minds.

Referring to the issue of forward dominance, he said: ‘We’ve had that in the past and maybe (that will be in their minds), that’s why the first 20 or 30 minutes is crucial. We need to take the game to Australia and make sure they know they’re in another Test match.’

While accepting that the Wallabies have lost a lot of Test quality, he was wary of too much English optimism, adding: ‘They’ve still got world-class game-breakers. But Genia has been a massive loss in terms of game control.

‘David Pocock is world class, if not the best No 7 in the world — he and Richie McCaw are up there together. But don’t underestimate Michael Hooper, he might not have the same physical presence but he’s on the ball all the time, he’s got an incredible work-rate and he’s an incredible ball-carrier.’

Leading the way: Stuart Lancaster (left), Andy Farrell (centre) and Mike Catt

Leading the way: Stuart Lancaster (left), Andy Farrell (centre) and Mike Catt

Having emerged as Pocock’s able deputy, Hooper’s progress has served as an isolated source of encouragement for Australia this year. The irony is that the rookie flanker is half-English. His father played for Blackheath before emigrating from Maidstone to Manly in his early twenties.

Meanwhile, Flood was asked to respond to Wallaby wing Digby Ioane’s assertion that his opposite numbers in the England squad are ‘pretty’.

He handled it with aplomb, saying: ‘Is he talking about Charlie Sharples, with his “bean” head, or Chris Ashton with his see-through skin I can see what he means about Ugo (Monye), to be fair, he’s quite attractive!’

Gambler wins 190k after 11 Champions League bet

How's your luck Punter bags 190k after placing 11 bet on four Champions League games

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UPDATED:

16:24 GMT, 8 November 2012

A lucky punter scooped 190,000 from an 11 bet on four Champions League games played on Wednesday night.

Dan Field placed a Yankee bet on Manchester United to beat Braga 3-1, Benfica to beat Spartak Moscow 2-0, Chelsea to beat Shaktar 3-2 and Valencia to win 4-2 against BATE Borisov.

Winner: Lucky punter Dan Field placed an 11 bet on Wednesday night

Winner: Lucky punter Dan Field placed an 11 bet on Wednesday night

Amazingly, all four bets came in and he won a total of 189,597.50.

Writing on Twitter on Thursday, the lucky punter, who is in his 20s, said: 'Hasn't sunk in yet. 11 bet returning 189,000 doesn't happen too often.'

Head boy: Victor Moses scored Chelsea's winning goal

Head boy: Victor Moses scored Chelsea's winning goal

Sealed with a kiss: Hernandez scored United's third goal on Wednesday night

Sealed with a kiss: Hernandez scored United's third goal on Wednesday night

He then joked with pals on Twitter, telling them: '(I'll) treat my mates to a 5 curry and a pint prob – expecting change from a 20 note.'

Even former Wales international and BBC pundit Robbie Savage congratulated Dan on his win, tweeting: 'Wow mate – unbelievable bet, well done.'

London Welsh 25 Gloucester 31

London Welsh 25 Gloucester 31: Burns bites back to settle thrilling encounter

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UPDATED:

16:52 GMT, 30 September 2012

Freddie Burns boosted his England hopes as his attacking spark helped Gloucester avoid becoming London Welsh's latest Aviva Premiership scalp in a Kassam Stadium thriller.

The visitors appeared in control as they opened up an 18-9 interval lead thanks to tries from Shane Monahan and Tom Savage, with Burns involved in the creation of both scores.

But the boot of Gordon Ross, who ended the game with 20 points to his name, kept Welsh in it and Franck Montanella's try looked to have set Lyn Jones' men up for a third-straight win.

Stopped: Daniel Browne of London Welsh is tackled by Mike Tindall of Gloucester

Stopped: Daniel Browne of London Welsh is tackled by Mike Tindall of Gloucester

Match facts

London Welsh: Jewell, Arscott, Parker, Tonga'uiha, Scott, Ross, Keats, Montanella, Briggs, Ion, Mills, Corker, Browne, Hills,
Jackson.

Replacements: Runciman for Jewell (76),
Mackenzie for Parker (20), To'oala for Ross (76), Bristow for Montanella (66), George for Briggs (11), Jolly for Ion (52), Kulemin for Browne (75).

Not Used: Davis.

Tries: Montanella.

Cons: Ross.

Pens: Ross 6.

Gloucester: Cook, Monahan, Twelvetrees, Tindall, Simpson-Daniel, Burns, Robson, Wood, D'Apice, Harden, Savage, Hamilton, Buxton, Qera, Kalamafoni.

Replacements: Lewis for Tindall (63), Trinder for Robson (63), Murphy for Wood (64).

Not Used: Britton, Knight, James, Evans, M. Thomas.

Sin Bin: Burns (42).

Tries: Monahan, Savage, Knight.

Cons: Burns 2.

Pens: Burns 3, Twelvetrees.

Att: 3,072

Ref: Llyr Apgeraint-Roberts (RFU).

However, a thrilling counter-attack instigated and supported by Burns, back after a spell in the sin bin, saw replacement prop Shaun Knight barrel over for the clinching score.

Burns and Ross had traded early penalties before the visitors landed the first telling blow.

Welsh had lost hooker Neil Briggs and centre Sonny Parker to injury when Burns struck his second penalty before producing two moments of brilliance to create the opening try.

The fly-half launched a break from deep with a lovely sidestep and only Nick Scott's deliberate batting down of the scoring pass prevented a try.

The Exiles wing was sent to the sin bin for his trouble and Burns caught the hosts sleeping as he took a quick tap to allow the powerful Monahan to get over on the right.

Ross responded with a penalty for Welsh but they were fortunate not to concede a second try to Monahan when the winger brilliantly swerved his way out of the grasps of the Exiles cover, only to be denied a memorable score by a superb covering tackle from Tyson Keats.

It proved a brief reprieve as more
good work from Monahan and wing partner James Simpson-Daniel laid the
platform for Savage to barge over after Burns had gone close.

Ross
again responded with a penalty but Welsh were being forced into
ill-discipline as they struggled to contain Gloucester's desire to put
tempo on the game.

They
were also guilty of failing to convert two excellent tryscoring chances.
Lock Matt Corker sparked a thrilling counter from deep during the dying
embers of the first half, but repeated battering at the Gloucester line
yielded no reward.

And moments into the second half Ross
failed to get his pass away with several men free outside him as Burns
stepped in and was adjudged to have deliberately knocked on.

That
saw the Gloucester man binned and Ross kicked his fourth penalty, but
Welsh infringed moments later after failing to secure their own line-out
ball to let Billy Twelvetrees reinstate the nine-point gap between the
sides.

Give that to me: Paulica Ion tackles Tom Savage

Give that to me: Paulica Ion tackles Tom Savage

Denied: Hudson Tonga'uiha of London Welsh is tackled by Tindall

Denied: Hudson Tonga'uiha of London Welsh is tackled by Tindall

When the Exiles did manage to win set-piece ball their rolling maul was proving a handful for Gloucester, and one such surge led to Ross' fifth penalty.

The hosts then took the lead after more strong work from their pack. Several drives took them close to the line before Montanella was adjudged to have grounded the ball beneath a pile of bodies.

Ross converted for a one-point advantage and quickly added yet another penalty after Sione Kalamafoni was penalised for attempting to hurdle a pair of London Welsh defenders.

But Burns replied with his third penalty and then superbly created Knight's winning try to give Stuart Lancaster a glimpse of what he could offer come the autumn internationals.

Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert takes a swipe at Alex McLeish

New Villa boss Lambert takes a swipe at McLeish as he seeks to win over the fans

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UPDATED:

21:55 GMT, 17 August 2012

Paul Lambert has criticised predecessor Alex McLeish's style of play and vowed to make Aston Villa entertaining again.

Villa's support turned on their
former boss, citing his unattractive brand of football as the major
source of discontentment as the club's campaign ended on a sour note.

Showing the way: Paul Lambert

Showing the way: Paul Lambert

The club narrowly avoided the drop and finished in 16th position. Villa scored just eight times in their final dozen Premier League games, with 24m record signing Darren Bent sidelined.

The England international is set to lead out Lambert's side at Upton Park – a ground which the Scot says he has never before visited – and the former Norwich City boss said he will take the game to the Hammers.

'We have to lift the feeling at the club,' he said, 'I could see from the outside looking in that things weren't going according to plan.

'So, we will try to win every game. I'm not going to sit back. I've not been used to that. We'll try to win. If we can do that with style, then great. If you nick the odd one by doing it another way, we'll take it.

'But there's too many people who come to Villa to watch – especially at home when there's 40,000 here – and I'm pretty sure they are not going to sit there and wait for you to take 40 minutes to get into the game and have your first shot at goal.

'They won't accept it. We will have to get the crowd going. That's what we will do.'

Lambert brushed aside comments from BBC pundit Robbie Savage that Villa will be relegated this season.

He joked that he had seen Savage on a dancing programme but dismissed his prediction, despite the stir it had caused among Villa supporters on the eve of the new season.

'It's a strange thing for him to say,' said the Villa boss, 'He admitted never having seen the new signings play. I've seen them. I know what they can do.

'Ron Vlaar must be all right if he can get into the Dutch side that was at the European Championship. Karim El Ahmadi is a really good player. I've got no problems with them whatsoever.

'He's entitled to his opinion. But if you are going to make a viable comment, you really need to have seen them play first.'

Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert hits back at Robbie Savage relegation tip

Let's wait and see, Robbie… Lambert hits back after Savage tips Villa for drop

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UPDATED:

13:48 GMT, 17 August 2012

Fantasy football 2012

New Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert has hit back at Robbie Savage's claim that Aston Villa will get relegated this season.

Lambet leads Villas for the first time on Saturday at Upton Park with an opening day trip to Barclays Premier League new boys West Ham.

Former Birmingham player Savage, now a BBC pundit, tipped Villa for relegation but Lambert is confident things won't pan out to be a disaster this season.

Lambert said: 'I never saw what he
said until this morning. I don't bother with it to be honest. Listen,
Robbie is entitled to his opinion but let's wait and see.'

Wait and see: Paul Lambert has hit back at Robbie Savage's claim that Aston Villa will get relegated this season

Wait and see: Paul Lambert has hit back at Robbie Savage's claim that Aston Villa will get relegated this season

Lambert admits Villa's history 'raises the bar' in terms of what is expected from his first season in charge.

The former Norwich boss is striving to bring the good times back to Villa after two seasons of underachievement under Gerard Houllier and Alex McLeish.

Lambert has been welcomed by Villa fans with open arms after the animosity shown towards former Birmingham boss McLeish.

But he has urged Villa supporters to stick with the team through the ups and downs that will lie ahead during the next nine months.

Lambert said: 'The history of Villa, that raises the bar because of that side of things and the expectancy level.

Controversial: BBC pundit - and former Birmingham star - Savage has backed Villa to go down

Controversial: BBC pundit – and former Birmingham star – Savage has backed Villa to go down

'When you go to any club it's hard. It's not an easy job, football management, and Norwich was tough to turn around.

'But Villa is a huge club and I can't wait for the season to start now, the atmosphere, the adrenalin rush, and trying to win as many games as we can.

'We have to hit the ground running and that is what we will try and do. You have to be ready. There is no turning back now.'

Lambert added: 'The crowd have been great. It makes you humble. People seem happy that you are here. I know I have to try and get results and we will give it a right good go.

'But we are going to need the crowd through good and bad times. We will make mistakes, like everyone else, because they are young, and if the crowd stick with it, we will be alright.'

Lambert is looking forward to trying to bring the best out of playmaker Stephen Ireland.

Ireland was voted the fans' player of the year last season after a difficult first campaign at Villa.

Lambert said: 'He is a really talented footballer. From the day I walked in here, I thought he is a talented footballer.

'For some strange reason, he has found it difficult here the last couple of years.

'It is up to me to get the best out of him to see if he can perform.'

Great expectations: Lambert hopes Darren Bent can have a successful season

Great expectations: Lambert hopes Darren Bent can have a successful season

Lambert hopes Ireland can link up effectively with striker Darren Bent who is back to fitness after missing the final third of last season – and Euro 2012 – with an ankle problem.

He said: 'You look at the two names (Bent and Ireland) and the careers they have had, and they are big, big players. We have to try and utilise them the best.

'Darren has done alright, he's done really fine. He missed a lot of football because of his injury but he is a goal threat.

'Everyone on the planet knows he can score and hopefully if he is playing, everything goes well for him.

'I saw the injury when it happened and Villa really missed him when he went out injured. It is a big bonus to have him back. I knew he was a top goalscorer, he'd done it for England and had a great time for Villa here.

'There is a lot on his shoulders but there is a lot on everyone's shoulders. You can't rely on one person.'

Villa summer signing, Brett Holman, has shaken off a knee problem and the midfielder is included in the squad for the trip to Upton Park.

Other newcomers, central defender Ron Vlaar, right-back Matthew Lowton and midfielder Karim El Ahmadi, are also in contention.

Striker Gabriel Agbonlahor (knee), defender Richard Dunne (groin) and winger Marc Albrighton (foot) are still sidelined.

Robbie Savage tells Rangers he"ll play for free

Savage dream! I'll come out of retirement to play for Rangers for free, says Robbie

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UPDATED:

22:36 GMT, 25 July 2012

Robbie Savage has offered to come out of retirement and play for Rangers for free as the Ibrox club plans for life in the Third Division.

The controversial former Welsh international, now working as a television and radio pundit, insisted his offer should be treated seriously and said he had contacted Ibrox chief executive Charles Green ‘to ask Ally if he needs help’.

Savage, 37, began his career playing in the Manchester United youth set-up alongside the golden generation of David Beckham, Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes. He ended his playing days last year after a spell with Derby in the English Championship but insisted fitness would not be a problem.

An offer they can't refuse Robbie Savage says he'll play for Rangers for free

An offer they can't refuse Robbie Savage says he'll play for Rangers for free

Speaking on Twitter, Savage said: ‘On a serious note, if Rangers are struggling for players I would come out of retirement and play for nothing … could do a job in scot div 3! It would be a privilege to play for a great club … only retired a year ago.

‘Sometimes you need to give back, it’s a great club, still only 37. Holding midfielder still a piece of p***. Is it worth me ringing Ally

‘I might be mad thinking I can but if their desperate for players, I’ll go up there and play for nothing!

‘You think I’m joking, I’m serious ! I’ve sent a text to Charles Green already to ask Ally if he needs any help!! The offer is there we will wait and see !!’

Whether manager Ally McCoist is prepared to take Savage up on his offer is another matter. The Ibrox boss is desperately looking to strengthen his depleted squad ahead of a transfer embargo which begins on Saturday, September 1.

Retired: Savage has taken up new roles as broadcaster and ballroom dancer

Retired: Savage has taken up new roles as broadcaster and ballroom dancer

Retired: Savage has taken up new roles as broadcaster and ballroom dancer

Already, former Hearts players Ian Black and Craig Beattie have been training at Murray Park ahead of their prospective signings with Dean Shiels — on loan at Kilmarnock last season — and Steve Jennings — at Motherwell last term — also on the McCoist wish-list as he prepares to offer lucrative contracts stretching to in the region of 7,000 a week.

Former Scotland international striker Kevin Kyle remains another who could feature among the new arrivals.

No transfer dealings can be completed, however, until the club is handed membership of the Scottish Football Association.

Green had spoken confidently of that deal being signed and sealed yesterday but negotiations with the football authorities dragged on and a decision with the SFA may now not be reached until the end of the week.

The Ibrox club, meanwhile, intend to pursue English Championship side Hull City for cash after they signed Sone Aluko on a two-year deal.

The 23-year-old former Aberdeen midfielder joined Rangers last November on an initial deal until the end of the season and was a goalscoring revelation but refused to allow his contract to transfer to the newco.

Rangers, however, feel they have a similar case to that which saw them receive 800,000 from Southampton for captain Steven Davis.

Piers Morgan: My Twitter battles with Wayne Rooney, Rio Ferdinand and Mike Tyson

My Twitter battles with Rooney, Ferdinand and Tyson

Time for a belated new year quiz.
Question: Who said, in 2010, that Twitter was 'a pathetic, juvenile,
pointless waste of time' Answer: Erm, that would be me.

Piers to Ferdinand… Ask which team has the most fans who live within 30 miles of stadium. Won’t be your lot, Sicknote

In a stunning transformation only
rivalled by the aptly named Robbie Savage becoming a ballroom dancer,
I've gone from Twitter's most scornful enemy to a man so obsessed with
it that virtually my every waking moment is now spent with a crafty eye
on Blackberry alert for cyberspace attacks from all manner of sports
stars, celebrities and members of the public.

(In fact, a large chunk of my sleep
is consumed with it, too. I regularly wake up, in a cold sweat, having
had absurd nightmares about someone breaking into my account and
tweeting 'I LOVE SPURS' to my 1.7million followers.)

Banter: Wayne Rooney and Piers have clashed on Twitter

Banter: Wayne Rooney and Piers have clashed on Twitter

Piers to Owen… Only criminal thing around here, Bench-warmer, is you getting 100k a week to sit on your a***

The reasons it's so addictive are obvious: 1) It has become a fantastic primary news source. For journalists like me, I get almost all my breaking news from Twitter, as it floods in from all over the world on a second-by-second basis.

2) It's a brilliant way for anyone remotely famous to control his or her own PR. An inaccurate story in the papers Just stick a tweet out, correcting it. An abusive review No problem, tweet a load of abuse back at the critics. They soon back off. No need for lawyers, publicists, or screaming matches with hard-bitten hacks.

3) Feuds. Real ones, surreal ones, joke ones. Oh the joy when I realised you could tweet Manchester United stars personally, ridiculing them for everything from their dodgy haircuts to offensive swimwear. And even more delicious when they began firing back like enraged Rambos on acid.

TWIT FEUD 1

Newcastle’s Joey Barton v Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere August 2011

Accused of getting Gervinho sent off after scrapping with him on the opening day, an angry Barton takes to the internet in an explosive debate

Barton: ‘If he [Gervinho] doesn’t dive then the incident doesn’t happen. Maybe I shouldn’t have gotten involved, but diving and trying to win a penalty is s***. Needs stamping out. If there’s contact, go down — but don’t blatantly try to con the ref. Refs have it hard
enough.’

Wilshere: ‘@joey7barton was in the
wrong. He should not have got involved and assaulted Gervinho like that.’

‘Maybe Gervinho should not have
reacted like he did as two wrongs
don’t make a right but Barton was
unprofessional.’

Barton: ‘@JackWilshere hardly
assault’

And then it’s Shearer’s turn…

‘Right off now to watch MOTD, it’s
what Saturday nights are all about.’

Barton: ‘Bad shirt, shoes and
views from Shearer again. Sort
it out slaphead…’

If I'm honest, it's this last category that appeals to me most. Winding up sportsmen or celebrities on Twitter has become my favourite hobby, one that is fabulously illuminating about the people involved.

Who'd have thought Joey Barton would turn out to be a sharp, funny, Orwell-quoting tweeting machine Or that Michael Owen would be so overly sensitive when he reaches his bedtime Or that Robin van Persie – my current footballing god – could make me do an impromptu conga just by sending me a surprise tweet saying he found me 'funny' Or that I'd become direct message (the secret way that Twitterers can talk to each other) pals with Mike Tyson

Some sportsmen tweet the same way they play, especially the cricketers.

Take on Freddie Flintoff and he'll belt you back into the cyber-stands so hard you wish you've never tangled with the Big Man. Kevin Pietersen has a good linguistic whack on him, too, and isn't afraid to use it. One false move with him and he'll reverse-sweep you into public humiliation.

Michael Vaughan is measured, intelligent, classy and amusing. Graeme Swann just winds everyone up. And Shane Warne tweets like he bowls: with boundless energy, passion, emotion, heartache, romance, ecstasy and a lot of chirping.

Boxer Lennox Lewis, unsurprisingly for a man who once beat me at chess 39 times in 40 games when we filmed Celebrity Apprentice USA together, is a crafty, quick, formidable opponent.

Though I always have the last laugh – since my record against him is one-for-none, as I constantly remind him. I won the Apprentice, knocking him out in the semi-final. Floyd Mayweather is nasty, confrontational and brutal, witness him calling out 'punk' Manny Pacquiao last week. But the most unlikely tweeter is Tyson, who is calm, reflective, humble and sincere.

Tweet that! Joey Barton gets stuck into Gervinho

Tweet that! Joey Barton gets stuck into Gervinho

A changed man, if ever there was one. In the end, though, it's the footballers with whom I derive most satisfaction from doing Twitter battle. They tend to have the most followers, the biggest egos and the most reactionary styles. Rio Ferdinand thinks of himself as the selfappointed King of Twitter. I dubbed him 'Sicknote' and he responded by labelling me 'Moobs' – an unnecessarily cruel jibe about my torso, which unfortunately made me and everyone else laugh out loud. Mainly for its obvious accuracy. Truth hurts like nothing else on Twitter.

TWIT FEUD 2

Wayne Rooney Jan 2012

‘Funny how people think i got kompany sent off. Im not ref. i didnt give red card. But it was a clear red card. 2 footed tackle’

The United striker dismisses claims he got Vincent Kompany sent off in the FA Cup clash between Manchester United and Manchester City.

Rio's problem, like all sportsmen, is that his Twitter power is very dependent on his form. When he got skinned repeatedly by Lionel Messi last season, I was able to drag out the 'Messi-cre' hashtag in tweets to him for about six months.

And I've noticed that his cocky, brash tweeting style has taken a definitely more measured tone since his recent performances have dropped. Hard to keep telling people to #stayonyourfeet if half the time you yourself are #stayingoffyourfeet as yet another striker nutmegs you.

There's also, how can I put this delicately, a slight 'intellectual tone' barrier between us. When I once tweeted Rio with the words: 'Even United fans are begging me to stop tormenting you, it's like Einstein verbally jousting with a lobotomised amoeba', he replied with: 'You're deluded, I've smashed you all over the twitterverse – now get your slippers out and concentrate on controlling your farts!' Classy.

Piers to Rooney… Go celebrate over another drunken dinner with your team-mates, there’s a good Shrek

His colleague Owen is another I enjoy 'bantering' with. I quickly discovered his Achilles' heel was any interaction of a humiliating nature after 11pm at night, when he seems to be more tired and emotional. When I first nicknamed him 'Bench-warmer', it was at just such a time, and I thought he'd explode with fury. But he's learned not to tweet late at night and to stick it to me with just as much gusto as I stick it to him.

Of course, as in life itself, for every moment of ecstatic self-satisfaction, there are also indescribable lows. One of my least favourite Twitter moments came when Manchester United beat Arsenal 8-2 earlier this season. Our worst Premier League defeat ever, and a more depressing, agonising, tormenting result it would be hard to imagine any Gooner ever suffering.

TWIT FEUD 3

Rio Ferdinand Nov 2011

‘@SeppBlatter to say what you said about racism in football spoke volumes of your ignorance to the subject.’

The Manchester United defender piles the pressure on Sepp Blatter to quit as the FIFA president is engulfed in football’s racism storm.

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Caught out: Darren Bent on Twitter

Rooney, who I dub 'Shrek', is a good tweeter. When I once asked him as he attended an awards ceremony if he'd scooped the 'Fastest Transfer U-Turn of the Year After Big Cheque Arrived' award – he fired back: 'Did you win 1 for most boring show of the year' My battles with Rooney usually prompt the most sustained outpourings of gloating abuse I have to endure, as United fans all over the globe race to endorse their talisman's sentiments.

TWIT FEUD 4

Kenny Dalglish Dec 2011

‘Very disappointed with today’s verdict. This is the time when @luis16suarez needs our full support. Let’s not let him walk alone.’

The Liverpool manager responds to the Football Association banning and fining striker Luis Suarez for racial abuse.

Ah, the abuse. Let's discuss. One thing that any famous person has to be endure on Twitter is endless verbal 'banter' – or rather, mindless verbal aggro. Unfortunately, there are many people out there who actually derive a vicarious thrill from posting unbelievable filth towards celebrities, and sportsmen in particular. I've got a pretty thick skin, so can laugh at it. Others are less immune. Lee Westwood actually quit Twitter for a few months, disgusted by the stuff people were tweeting him. And make no mistake, it is disgusting. The worst kind of terrace vitriol. I choose to ignore them, or retweet the ones who make spelling mistakes – thus exposing them to the very ridicule they seek to exact.

Lord Sugar has a more basic response mechanism, deploying the phrase 'P*** off, you p****' on an almost daily basis. Which never fails to make me chuckle. Either way, being famous on Twitter is not for the faint-hearted.

TWIT FEUD 5

Jose Enrique July 2011

‘The club is allowing all the major players of the team to go. Seriously, do you think it is the fault of the players Andy [Carroll], Nobby [Kevin Nolan] etc etc.’

‘The [sic] give the money I have already. They lie all the time. But is no for money is because they don’t want spend in the club and bring quality players that’s why everybody go.’

The Spanish full-back, who had not signed a new contract, denies claims that he has been offered a big rise and prompts his exit from Newcastle.

A Twitter feed says a lot about a
person, especially famous sportsmen. Before Twitter came along, I was
one of the many who thought Joey Barton was a violent Neanderthal thug.
Indeed, I wrote a whole column eviscerating him in these very pages to
that effect.

Now, Barton's no choirboy and I still wouldn't want to bump into him in a McDonald's at 4am. But his Twitter feed has revealed him to be a fascinatingly complex, surprisingly intelligent, very quickwitted and often breathtakingly honest man.

Whether he's railing against his employers, insulting TOWIE 'stars', quoting Descartes, or moaning about his new son Cassius's bowel movements, Barton is tweeting as everyone should tweet – fast, furiously and naturally. As a result, he can also be as reactionary, abusive, petulant, impetuous and aggressive as you'd imagine Joey Barton could be.

But I've definitely changed my view of him. And that's the power of Twitter. It allows you to get inside the head of people like Barton and understand them better.

TWIT FEUD 6

Darren Bent Dec 2011

‘Sadly injury meant I wasn’t able to do
that today. Gutted not to be involved. Never knew popping out would cause an issue and for that I apologise.’

The striker is forced to say sorry to Aston Villa fans after one posts a picture of him Christmas shopping while his team were losing 2-0 at home to Liverpool.

I'd enjoy going for a pint with him,
something I'd have deemed unthinkable a year ago. Though he'd probably
have another drink in mind. When I passed my one million followers mark,
he tweeted: 'Well done Piersy, Pimm's all round on the croquet lawn'

As a result, despite my furious protestations that I went to a comprehensive school like him, his army of followers (one million and rising) now religiously taunt me with cries of 'Tally-ho!' Very annoying. Like I said at the start of this article, I never used to 'get' Twitter. Now I do, and genuinely can't imagine life without it. Which I guess, as my wife constantly says, makes me, officially, a gigantic twit.

Kevin Phillips, Steve Claridge and Iain Dowie on best and worst fans to play for

Fever pitch! So, who are the best and worst fans to play for

Believe it or not, there was a time when Robbie Savage was more noted for his midfield dynamism than the quality of his quick step.

In an interview recently, he named Birmingham City supporters as the least demanding he had played for – on the basis that they were happy as long as the club defeated Aston Villa. He named Derby County”s as the most difficult to please because he felt they thought they should be playing in the Premier League.

Neil Moxley, Colin Young and Alex Kay tracked down some other well-travelled players and asked who were the most – and least – demanding set of supporters in the country.

Blue for you: Kevin Phillips celebrates in front of the Birmingham fans

Blue for you: Kevin Phillips celebrates infront of the Birmingham fans

Steve Claridge

I was lucky to play for some down-to-earth clubs with working-class fans who valued the fact that, wherever I went, I gave what I could.

On that basis, it”s difficult to separate teams I played for at my “peak”. I”m talking about the likes of Birmingham and Leicester, both of whom treated me well. I won at Wembley with both of them, too, which helped!

But when I started out, Cambridge United”s supporters were brilliant – mainly, I think, because the team at that time exceeded all of their expectations.

We reached the FA Cup quarter-finals twice and were promoted twice. They couldn”t believe their luck, they were so grateful to us. We could do no wrong.

But I have to say Portsmouth are the best – not because they are my team but because they did show outstanding loyalty when the club needed it most – towards the end of the 1998-99 season when we played Stockport at Fratton Park.

We were struggling to stay in the Championship. There were 11,000 people inside the ground and they kept up a chant of “Alan Ball”s Blue and White Army” for 90 minutes. When one side of the ground would get tired, another one would take it up. I recall it vividly because it was a seminal moment in the club”s recent history.

The most difficult – although it often happens that they would be among my best as well – were Millwall. You need character to play for that club, and I didn”t think I did too badly, either.

I scored 19 goals in 37 games on loan. But at least they chanted my name in a positive way at times, which I”m told is quite a compliment!

* Claridge played for Bournemouth Aldershot, Cambridge, Luton, Birmingham, Leicester, Wolves, Portsmouth, Millwall, Brighton, Brentford, Wycombe, Gillingham, Bradford and Walsall in a career spanning 22 years.

Pressure point: Iain Dowie suffered at West Ham

Pressure point: Iain Dowie suffered at West Ham

Iain Dowie

In my early days, the Luton lot were a good bunch. Kenilworth Road is tight and even with 8-10,000 in, they made a lot of noise. We fed off each other.

But I would have to say West Ham”s fans were about the best I played for. I think it helped that I knew what they were about.

When I was playing for them, we won a promotion tussle 2-1 against Swindon and I scored. They were flying that day – as we were as a team. It remains one of my fondest memories there.

As a coach, I”ve been on the sidelines and a couple of groups of supporters have really impressed me. I think what they say about Newcastle fans is true. It”s a goldfish bowl where everyone has an opinion.

When they are behind you, it can be awesome. I remember standing alongside Alan Shearer during a relegation battle against Middlesbrough and the roof nearly came off St James”s Park when Newcastle scored.

West Ham were probably about the worst, too, as well as the best. I went something like nine games without a goal and, blimey, did they let me know it They knew the statistic better than I did.

I had a similar experience with Southampton. It didn”t help that, when I arrived, the manager, Ian Branfoot, was under pressure and strikers are expected to help ease the pressure on their managers.

Sadly, I didn”t find the net for a good few games, so I got a bit of stick for that but I”ve never held it against them. That”s what happens if a forward doesn”t score.

* Dowie played for Luton, Fulham, West Ham, Southampton, Crystal Palace and QPR in a career spanning 15 years.

Stuck on you! Kilbane enjoyed the atmosphere at Goodison Park

Stuck on you! Kilbane (second left) enjoyed the atmosphere at Goodison Park

Kevin Kilbane

It was not until I got to Sunderland that I felt I was at a big club. I was only a kid at Preston and West Bromwich and it took me a year to settle.When I arrived on Wearside we were in the top three of the Premier League. We were playing Southampton and Peter Reid was getting terrible stick from one fan and I was thinking, “What more can he do” It”s still like that there.

How do you know a club is “big” I understood what it meant when I went for a drink or to the supermarket. People would follow me round. I was only 20 and I probably wasn”t prepared for it.

So, when we all got stick on a pre-season tour and I stuck two fingers up at the Sunderland fans, it was not the greatest moment of my career. I can laugh about it now but I am not proud of it, it was just an honest reaction.

The funny thing is I had my best season for Sunderland after that. I admit I didn”t play well every week, but it was an unforgiving place. I would say Sunderland fans are the most demanding I”ve come across.

I felt Everton fans connected with the team and always got right behind them. Opposition players mention it at Goodison. They”ll say it”s a horrible place to go because the fans are united with the players and manager.

They can still get on your back, but give them everything and they will support you. It was at Everton that the Zinedine Kilbane T-shirts and nickname came out, and I don”t know if it was Everton fans or Irish fans who made it up. I was never sure whether it was mickey-taking, or a form of endearment.

But so many people still come up to me and call me it with a smile, so hopefully it”s not all in jest.

* Kilbane played for Preston, West Bromwich, Sunderland, Everton, Wigan, Hull, Huddersfield and Derby over 17 years.

All or nothing: Townsend knew he had to deliver

All or nothing: Townsend knew he had to deliver

Andy Townsend

Chelsea fans were fantastic to me and I loved playing at Stamford Bridge. I played there during some fallow years so if we gave them anything to shout about they were happy.

I used to love the London games because we”d take so many fans away with us. But you have to remember that in those days Stamford Bridge was often half-empty so, if things were not going well, you could hear the abuse.

I remember them turning on Dave Beasant during a game against Norwich – it was pretty nasty. Villa fans were similar. They would back you but they would let you know if they felt you weren”t giving 100 per cent. Though they were generally pretty good because we were winning things and in Europe most seasons.

At Norwich, we were pressure-free because we were punching above our weight and Dave Stringer had the full backing of the fans – the polar opposite of what is going on at Blackburn.

Equally, at Middlesbrough, the fans were so happy because we won promotion and had a good couple of years in the Premier League. It saddens me to see the ground not full now.

* Townsend played for Norwich, Southampton, Chelsea, Aston Villa, Middlesbrough and West Bromwich in a career spanning 15 years.

Too close for comfort: Keeper Poole often copped an earful

Too close for comfort: Keeper Poole often copped an earful

Kevin Poole

After being an apprentice at Aston Villa, it was great to get a chance to play for the club but it wasn”t until I moved to Middlesbrough that I understood the difference supporters could make.

As a goalkeeper you hear more than the odd comment. The Holgate End at Ayresome Park was full of characters who”d let you know if you”d made a mistake or done something right. To a young (-ish) keeper, though, they were pretty supportive.

The terracing wasn”t always full, so that only magnified what they said. Believe it or not, it wasn”t always criticism, the odd thing would make you smile, too.

I wouldn”t say I had a strained relationship with any fans. They all want what”s best for their club.

But, if you are talking about places to go where you would get stick, I”d single out Newcastle. Whether it was because I played for Middlesbrough or not, I always copped an earful there.

* Poole played for Aston Villa, Northampton Middlesbrough, Hartlepool, Leicester, Birmingham, Bolton, Derby, Burton Albion in a career spanning 30 years.

What a feeling: Kevin Phillips celebrates scoring in front of Sunderland fans

What a feeling: Kevin Phillips celebrates scoring in front of Sunderland fans

Kevin Phillips

I don”t think my answer will surprise many – Sunderland were the best just for the passion and love of football. There wasn”t much like it, playing in front of 40,000 Mackems with them willing you to score.

It remains one of the proudest milestones when I broke Brian Clough”s goalscoring record.

However, there is something different about that part of the world when it comes to support. The Newcastle fans had their moments, too. The derbies are full-on affairs.

I played in a Wear-Tyne dust-up 10 years ago. Newcastle went two-up and we pulled one back before half-time. There was pretty much relentless Sunderland pressure after that.

I managed to score five minutes from the end. I”ve never heard anything like it. I suppose I”ve been lucky. Goalscorers are held in high regard at most clubs and I”ve managed to find the net at all of mine.

I would say Villa didn”t see the best of me and that might have been my most difficult time – but only because I had a lengthy spell out with injury.

But I think I”m right in saying I scored the winner in a derby against Birmingham for them. So I”m hoping that makes up for it – although now I”ve gone and upset Blues” fans by mentioning it!

* Phillips played for Watford, Sunderland, Southampton, Aston Villa, West Bromwich, Birmingham and Blackpool over 17 years.