Tag Archives: saviour

Clint Hill urges Harry Redknapp not to sign too many players

Hill urges Redknapp not to make same mistakes as Hughes in ripping QPR squad apart

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UPDATED:

22:30 GMT, 9 December 2012

Clint Hill is advising Harry Redknapp to resist the urge to take the knife to his relegation-haunted QPR team — insisting it was making too many changes that got them into their current plight.

A battling draw at Wigan on Saturday now means that Rangers have failed to win any of their opening 16 matches of the season, beating the record of 15 set by Swindon in season 1993-94.

Redknapp concedes he is tempted to reshape his side in the January transfer window – even looking to out of season MLS players to boost his squad.

Warning: Clint Hill hopes Harry Redknapp does not make wholesale changes

Warning: Clint Hill hopes Harry Redknapp does not make wholesale changes

But veteran Hill believes continued reliance on the old guard at Loftus Road is the better path to follow if bottom club QPR are too survive.

Redknapp has been quick to lean on tried and tested English players, in contrast to his predecessor Mark Hughes.

Hill, Shaun Derry and Jamie Mackie were key figures in the side that won the Championship two seasons ago, but had been fringe players under Hughes.

Whilst keeper Rob Green, a player discarded by the Welshman after his first game, was QPR’s saviour in the 2-2 DW Stadium draw.

Hill, 34, said: 'I’ve been here three years now and I’ve seen loads come and go. I just think we need a bit of stability at the moment, a settled team, which we’ve tried to have over the last few games, and a system of play that suits us.

'The chairman (Tony Fernandes) is throwing money everywhere, left, right and centre and sometimes that doesn’t work. You’ve got to stick with people and work on them and try and get the best out of the ability they have.

Leveller: James McCarthy earned Wigan a point against QPR on Saturday

Leveller: James McCarthy earned Wigan a point against QPR on Saturday

'Don’t get me wrong, I do think we will go and try and get a couple of players, but I don’t think it will be five, six or seven like people are talking about.'

Redknapp praised the old guard and hinted that they may offer his best chance of bridging the seven-point gap that exists between the bottom club and safety.

He commented: 'You need those types of players when you are in trouble. You need the lads who are going to roll up their sleeves for you.

'I have to keep believing. If I don’t believe we can do it, no one will. People know I like a challenge. You can only do your best in life, can’t you'

His opposite number on Saturday, Wigan boss Roberto Martinez, had a word of warning for the others down the bottom taking solace from Rangers’ woes.

He said: 'You look at the players that they have and Harry can use his experience in one half of a season to achieve his aim.'

Jack Wilshere: You"re like Lionel Messi when you"re injured

The amazing thing about being out so long is you lot have turned me into Lionel Messi!

|

UPDATED:

16:11 GMT, 11 November 2012

Jack is back. All hail the saviour of English football. At least that's how it feels. That's how absence works.

England stumble, drop points but Jack's on his way. Arsenal end another season without a trophy, sell Robin van Persie but there’s always Jack.

Arsene Wenger, Roy Hodgson, anyone charged with projecting hope for our national game has been craving the same thing.

Jack's back: English football, and Arsenal fans especially, are delighted Wilshere's fit again

Jack's back: English football, and Arsenal fans especially, are delighted Wilshere's fit again

That thing: Jack Wilshere dominating midfield, a pass, a tackle, an explosion of pace, much as he did before 17 months without competitive action due to three different injuries.

'You're like Messi when you're injured, aren't you' said Wilshere. 'That's fine. That's part and parcel of football. That’s what you lot do.

'It doesn’t fill me with fear. It’s nice to read when you’re out. But when you start to come back, especially in your first game, you think am I ever going to…

‘If you’d watched the West Brom Under 21 game, people were saying, “You did well” and I was thinking, “No I didn’t”. But I can feel myself getting better and better every game.'

Jack stepped back into the Arsenal team on October 27. There was no Gael Clichy, no Cesc Fabregas, no Samir Nasri and no Van Persie. He had stood by and watched them leave during his time injured.

'I wasn’t playing and I was more like a fan, so I know what the fans were feeling,' said Wilshere.

There appears to be no burning desire to follow them. If anything his bond with the club has strengthened during his time out, but in the modern world can a footballer promise he will never leave

'I think you can if you're happy at a club,' Wilshere replied. 'I've been at this club 10 years and to come through the academy at Hale End and break into the first team is a great story. It’s a dream.

'To have my family 20 minutes from the training ground and an hour from the stadium is perfect for me.

'Cesc wanted to go home. Home for me is Arsenal. Cesc wanted to go back to his family and friends. My family and friends are 20 minutes away. It’s perfect.

'Also to have the fans, because when I walk around my town there are a lot of Arsenal fans. It’s great. The fans still remember you in the way that you’d want. You want to feel loved and I feel loved at this club.'

Old and the new: Wilshere returned to a team with some familiar faces but several new ones, too

Old and the new: Wilshere returned to a team with some familiar faces but several new ones, too

Old and the new: Wilshere returned to a team with some familiar faces but several new ones, too

Although Wilshere made his debut four years ago at the age of 16, he is aware that his experience amounts to little more than one season in Wenger’s team.

'I think I’ve played 39 games in the Premier League, which is nothing really when you look at players like Tony Adams and how many appearances they made,’ he said. 'That's something I want to do.'

Adams played 669 times for the Gunners and his statue at the Emirates is in a pose he struck after a goal which helped clinch the title in 1998.

More than eight years have passed since Arsenal’s last Premier League crown, seven since the FA Cup, their last trophy, but the targets do not change.

'Our ambition every year is to challenge for the Premier League title. If we didn’t think we could do that, we would be under-achieving.

'People might say we’re a long way off — and the table doesn’t lie, we are a few points behind — but we know what we have to do. We know we can’t afford to drop points.

'To see your top players go, like Cesc and Nasri, is hard, but if you lose a player like Cesc and you get a player like Santi Cazorla, they’re similar. Cazorla is a top player and the same with Mikel Arteta. If he was English he’d be the first on the team-sheet.

'It’s hard to see players go but when you see others coming in like Lukas Podolski with over 100 caps for Germany, they’re still top players. It’s nice to come back into a team with top players.’

Rough and tumble: Since his return for an hour against QPR (below), Wilshere has taken a few hits

Rough and tumble: Since his return for an hour against QPR (below), Wilshere has taken a few hits

Rough and tumble: Since his return for an hour against QPR (below), Wilshere has taken a few hits

Rough and tumble: Since his return for an hour against QPR (below), Wilshere has taken a few hits

Jack was back in hospital this week at London’s Great Ormond Street to open the Arsenal lung function unit funded by more than 800,000 raised by Arsenal during the 2009-10 season.

Since his last visit, a cramped, cluttered and out-of-date unit, where most testing was performed in the corridors, has been transformed into spacious new labs with gleaming hi-tech equipment.

Wilshere meets Harry McIntyre, an 11-year-old young Gooner with cystic fibrosis and swells with pride at the fund-raising efforts of his club.

The players donate a day's wages each year to good causes and through the Arsenal Foundation last year Wilshere and Carl Jenkinson carried donation buckets around the Emirates – and into the dressing rooms – competing to collect the most.

'Yeah, I won,' nods Wilshere. He is a winner, blessed with fierce determination and familiar with the emotions of those who put their faith in medical science.

At the age of 19, his career hung in the balance as he prepared for a delicate operation to pin a stress fracture in his right ankle.

'Thank God the surgery went well. They put two pins through the talus. They didn’t want to do that at first because it’s such a small bone it could have shattered or anything. The surgeon (James Calder) was great, I owe him everything really, him and the physios and fitness team at Arsenal.'

The problem emerged near the end of his breakthrough season and he hobbled home after an England game in June 2011.

'I had a kick on my left ankle but I had this pain in my right ankle. The physio asked if I was all right. I said it was a kick and had four weeks off and that I’d be OK.'

Clubbing together: Wilshere joined Arsene Wenger to officially open the Lung Function Unit at Great Ormond Street Hospital, a facility built with the help of money raised by the club as its charity of the season

Clubbing together: Wilshere joined Arsene Wenger to officially open the Lung Function Unit at Great Ormond Street Hospital, a facility built with the help of money raised by the club as its charity of the season

Clubbing together: Wilshere joined Arsene Wenger to officially open the Lung Function Unit at Great Ormond Street Hospital, a facility built with the help of money raised by the club as its charity of the season

Wilshere reported for pre-season training and played the first half against Boca Juniors in the Emirates Cup at the end of July but did not feel quite right when he started against New York Red Bulls the following day.

He lasted only seven minutes. It was confirmed as a stress fracture and he spent two months in a boot before another scan showed the bone was not mending.

'It is hard, especially when you get setbacks,' Wilshere admitted. '.

Among those he consulted was Alan Shearer, who suffered badly from tendinitis. Shearer told him to be patient and get it right.

'I was in the gym all summer,' said Wilshere. 'I had one week off, when I went on holiday but I was in six days a week from May through to June and then into pre-season.

'My core and body-strength have probably improved more than 100 per cent and I’m still doing all that work. It’s something I’ve got to keep on top of.

England expects: Wilshere's been recalled to the international set-up, 17 months after his last game

England expects: Wilshere's been recalled to the international set-up, 17 months after his last game

England expects: Wilshere's been recalled to the international set-up, 17 months after his last game

'The physios know what they’re talking about. They got a lot of stick, saying I should be back, but if it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be back now.'

Jack knew he was back when Reading’s Danny Guthrie crunched into him in an Under 21s game before the long-awaited first-team comeback in October against Queens Park Rangers.

'The first hit is always important,' said Wilshere. 'It's more for your head than anything else.'

He survived the impact and another hefty blow against Schalke. The new, stronger body is looking good and the mind has matured since his injury.

Son Archie, who was one in September, has played a major role here, helping Wilshere to cope with some of the darker corners of his 17 months out and keep him on the road to recovery.

'The toughest thing is mentally to stay on track,' Wilshere said. 'When you’re off for so long and not playing football you can go off the rails in all sorts of ways.

'To have him around was a massive bonus. If he wasn’t there, I don’t know what I’d have done, really. It wasn’t like I was a party animal. I wasn’t out all the time.

'But when you’ve a son, you don’t want to leave him, so that does help. I didn’t expect to be around for the first year but I was at home for the first couple of months and it worked out quite well in that respect.

No fear: Wilshere more than proved himself against the planet's finest before his injury

No fear: Wilshere more than proved himself against the planet's finest before his injury

No fear: Wilshere more than proved himself against the planet's finest before his injury

'I'd do a few nights where I’d stay up with him, I’d be playing FIFA, but when I got back to training and playing it was a bit different.'

Jack is back in the England squad, a call-up which did not go down terribly well with Wenger, who envisaged an extended break for the 20-year-old banned from the game against Fulham after a red card at Manchester United.

'I'm grateful to Roy for picking me,’ said Wilshere. ‘It’s a massive confidence boost to know you’re part of his plans. It seems everyone is building up my return, saying I’m going to be this and I’m going to be that, but if you look around the squad, there’s young Raheem Sterling coming through and they’re all ball players.

'People saying “Jack this, Jack that, he’s the only one with technique”. I think if you look a lot deeper you find players who can compete with the best in the world. It bodes well for the future.

'Even the centre backs coming through — Chris Smalling is good on the ball, Phil Jones can play in midfield. I missed so much football that I just want to play every game now, but I’ve got to be sensible.

'Now is like a pre-season for me and you don’t want to be playing too many games. It’s normally where you get all the rust out and for me there’s no hiding place.

'I've played at the Emirates in front of 60,000, then at Old Trafford, then at Schalke. These are big stages but I’m relishing it. I want to get back to where I was, playing week-in, week-out.

'There’s nothing in my body telling me I can’t play Saturday, Tuesday, Saturday, Tuesday. It’s just a matter of getting the games and being able to cope.'

Jack is back and he’s making up for lost time. Look out Lionel Messi.

The event marked ‘one month to go’ until Arsenal’s dedicated charity matchday for The Arsenal Foundation against West Bromwich Albion on December 8, when Jack will join other first team players and the manager in donating a day’s wages to fund more projects that transform young people’s lives. For further information visit www.arsenal.com/thearsenalfoundation

Kevin Nolan: How I rescued Andy Carroll

Nolan: How I rescued Carroll and put him on the right path

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UPDATED:

23:51 GMT, 10 November 2012

Andy Carroll's chief concern is to score his first goal for West Ham but his team-mate, Kevin Nolan, remembers a time when such on-field problems were mere trivialities.

A time when, as a star in the making with Sunday's opponents Newcastle, he needed saving from himself and from the paradox that is Geordie adulation.

Old boys: Former Newcastle duo Andrew Carroll (right) and Kevin Nolan set to return with West Ham

Old boys: Former Newcastle duo Andrew Carroll (right) and Kevin Nolan set to return with West Ham

The 21-year-old home-town hero was self-destructing and it was at then Newcastle skipper Nolan's door – literally – that the problem was dumped in October 2010.

Carroll was charged with assaulting an ex-girlfriend and to secure bail he needed a place of residence instead of living in a hotel awaiting a house purchase. Nolan answered the SOS.

A combination of Carroll's cooking, Nolan's guidance and the unlikeliest of calming figures – Joey Barton – got the tyro back on the right path.

While happy to laugh off his saviour status, Nolan knows only too well the deadly serious role he played in the rescue mission.

'You can write that if you want, “Nolan saves him!” ' he said. 'I just said to him, and he knew himself, that he had got to keep out of them situations.

'At Newcastle when something goes on, it gets exploded 10 times over and with Andy up there it was magnified a thousand times. It was just because it was him, he's a 6ft 5in lad who's got long hair and stands out.

'He'd been brilliant for Newcastle for 15 months, he was the local boy, everything he did was magnified. You'd have to ask Andy if I'd had an influence on it. Of course I'm going to say yes. As a group we had a committee-type of experienced pros with myself, Joey, Alan Smith, Steve Harper, all different backgrounds, voices and opinions.

Hard going: Carroll is still searching for his first West Ham goal

Hard going: Carroll is still searching for his first West Ham goal

'The togetherness of the squad and what we were all like at that time helped Andy dramatically. He bought into it massively and he excelled and he's gone on since and I think he'll just even get better and do better things.'

The recipe for turning a boy into a man was all cooked up in Nolan's kitchen.

'I said he could stay, I cleared it with the missus, of course, first,' added Nolan. 'She was down in Liverpool a lot of the time so we were like room-mates. He was a pretty good cook. Pasta with tomatoes, chicken, things like that.

'Since then he has learned so much. There is a different lad standing in that dressing room now. There is a man who can look after himself and does the right things on a daily basis.'

Carroll, 23, will need the thickest of skins to emerge unscathed from what is a fixture laced with potential animosity. West Ham boss Sam Allardyce has always felt harshly done to regarding his rapid dismissal after eight months in charge of Newcastle.

Carroll is yet to score for West Ham but his last trip back to St James' Park, with parent club Liverpool, ended with the frontman being booked for diving before storming off after being substituted.

Nolan said: 'I am hoping I'll get quite a good reception, I'm sure Andy will get the worst one. I've got a lot of good friends there and I'm looking forward to going back and saying goodbyes to people I didn't have the chance to.

'Once one goes in for Andy, hopefully on Sunday, I am sure they will come. It would be a great time to score in front of the club he has loved since he was a kid.'

Carroll's goal-shy start to life in east London is in stark contrast to Nolan, who has picked up where he left off in the Premier League by scoring four times in 10 games.

And the West Ham midfielder, 30, admits he is angered about never having secured an England cap, especially in a week which saw 31-year-old Leon Osman get a call-up.

'Obviously, when you see Leon Osman, who I'm delighted for, getting a call-up it does tell you not to give up hope but I don't know how much more I could do,' he said. 'It does hurt that I haven't got one. I think I have deserved at least a call-up and a chance to prove myself at that level whether it be at Bolton, Newcastle and even now.

'A former England manager said if he knew everything I was about before he was England manager, he definitely would have called me up, which was nice to hear. But then I sort of wanted to strangle him!'

Jack Wilshere exclusive: You"re like Lionel Messi when you"re injured

The amazing thing about being out so long is you lot have turned me into Lionel Messi!

|

UPDATED:

22:59 GMT, 9 November 2012

Jack is back. All hail the saviour of English football. At least that's how it feels. That's how absence works.

England stumble, drop points but Jack's on his way. Arsenal end another season without a trophy, sell Robin van Persie but there’s always Jack.

Arsene Wenger, Roy Hodgson, anyone charged with projecting hope for our national game has been craving the same thing.

Jack's back: English football, and Arsenal fans especially, are delighted Wilshere's fit again

Jack's back: English football, and Arsenal fans especially, are delighted Wilshere's fit again

That thing: Jack Wilshere dominating midfield, a pass, a tackle, an explosion of pace, much as he did before 17 months without competitive action due to three different injuries.

'You're like Messi when you're injured, aren't you' said Wilshere. 'That's fine. That's part and parcel of football. That’s what you lot do.

'It doesn’t fill me with fear. It’s nice to read when you’re out. But when you start to come back, especially in your first game, you think am I ever going to…

‘If you’d watched the West Brom Under 21 game, people were saying, “You did well” and I was thinking, “No I didn’t”. But I can feel myself getting better and better every game.'

Jack stepped back into the Arsenal team on October 27. There was no Gael Clichy, no Cesc Fabregas, no Samir Nasri and no Van Persie. He had stood by and watched them leave during his time injured.

'I wasn’t playing and I was more like a fan, so I know what the fans were feeling,' said Wilshere.

There appears to be no burning desire to follow them. If anything his bond with the club has strengthened during his time out, but in the modern world can a footballer promise he will never leave

'I think you can if you're happy at a club,' Wilshere replied. 'I've been at this club 10 years and to come through the academy at Hale End and break into the first team is a great story. It’s a dream.

'To have my family 20 minutes from the training ground and an hour from the stadium is perfect for me.

'Cesc wanted to go home. Home for me is Arsenal. Cesc wanted to go back to his family and friends. My family and friends are 20 minutes away. It’s perfect.

'Also to have the fans, because when I walk around my town there are a lot of Arsenal fans. It’s great. The fans still remember you in the way that you’d want. You want to feel loved and I feel loved at this club.'

Old and the new: Wilshere returned to a team with some familiar faces but several new ones, too

Old and the new: Wilshere returned to a team with some familiar faces but several new ones, too

Old and the new: Wilshere returned to a team with some familiar faces but several new ones, too

Although Wilshere made his debut four years ago at the age of 16, he is aware that his experience amounts to little more than one season in Wenger’s team.

'I think I’ve played 39 games in the Premier League, which is nothing really when you look at players like Tony Adams and how many appearances they made,’ he said. 'That's something I want to do.'

Adams played 669 times for the Gunners and his statue at the Emirates is in a pose he struck after a goal which helped clinch the title in 1998.

More than eight years have passed since Arsenal’s last Premier League crown, seven since the FA Cup, their last trophy, but the targets do not change.

'Our ambition every year is to challenge for the Premier League title. If we didn’t think we could do that, we would be under-achieving.

'People might say we’re a long way off — and the table doesn’t lie, we are a few points behind — but we know what we have to do. We know we can’t afford to drop points.

'To see your top players go, like Cesc and Nasri, is hard, but if you lose a player like Cesc and you get a player like Santi Cazorla, they’re similar. Cazorla is a top player and the same with Mikel Arteta. If he was English he’d be the first on the team-sheet.

'It’s hard to see players go but when you see others coming in like Lukas Podolski with over 100 caps for Germany, they’re still top players. It’s nice to come back into a team with top players.’

Rough and tumble: Since his return for an hour against QPR (below), Wilshere has taken a few hits

Rough and tumble: Since his return for an hour against QPR (below), Wilshere has taken a few hits

Rough and tumble: Since his return for an hour against QPR (below), Wilshere has taken a few hits

Rough and tumble: Since his return for an hour against QPR (below), Wilshere has taken a few hits

Jack was back in hospital this week at London’s Great Ormond Street to open the Arsenal lung function unit funded by more than 800,000 raised by Arsenal during the 2009-10 season.

Since his last visit, a cramped, cluttered and out-of-date unit, where most testing was performed in the corridors, has been transformed into spacious new labs with gleaming hi-tech equipment.

Wilshere meets Harry McIntyre, an 11-year-old young Gooner with cystic fibrosis and swells with pride at the fund-raising efforts of his club.

The players donate a day's wages each year to good causes and through the Arsenal Foundation last year Wilshere and Carl Jenkinson carried donation buckets around the Emirates – and into the dressing rooms – competing to collect the most.

'Yeah, I won,' nods Wilshere. He is a winner, blessed with fierce determination and familiar with the emotions of those who put their faith in medical science.

At the age of 19, his career hung in the balance as he prepared for a delicate operation to pin a stress fracture in his right ankle.

'Thank God the surgery went well. They put two pins through the talus. They didn’t want to do that at first because it’s such a small bone it could have shattered or anything. The surgeon (James Calder) was great, I owe him everything really, him and the physios and fitness team at Arsenal.'

The problem emerged near the end of his breakthrough season and he hobbled home after an England game in June 2011.

'I had a kick on my left ankle but I had this pain in my right ankle. The physio asked if I was all right. I said it was a kick and had four weeks off and that I’d be OK.'

Clubbing together: Wilshere joined Arsene Wenger to officially open the Lung Function Unit at Great Ormond Street Hospital, a facility built with the help of money raised by the club as its charity of the season

Clubbing together: Wilshere joined Arsene Wenger to officially open the Lung Function Unit at Great Ormond Street Hospital, a facility built with the help of money raised by the club as its charity of the season

Clubbing together: Wilshere joined Arsene Wenger to officially open the Lung Function Unit at Great Ormond Street Hospital, a facility built with the help of money raised by the club as its charity of the season

Wilshere reported for pre-season training and played the first half against Boca Juniors in the Emirates Cup at the end of July but did not feel quite right when he started against New York Red Bulls the following day.

He lasted only seven minutes. It was confirmed as a stress fracture and he spent two months in a boot before another scan showed the bone was not mending.

'It is hard, especially when you get setbacks,' Wilshere admitted. '.

Among those he consulted was Alan Shearer, who suffered badly from tendinitis. Shearer told him to be patient and get it right.

'I was in the gym all summer,' said Wilshere. 'I had one week off, when I went on holiday but I was in six days a week from May through to June and then into pre-season.

'My core and body-strength have probably improved more than 100 per cent and I’m still doing all that work. It’s something I’ve got to keep on top of.

England expects: Wilshere's been recalled to the international set-up, 17 months after his last game

England expects: Wilshere's been recalled to the international set-up, 17 months after his last game

England expects: Wilshere's been recalled to the international set-up, 17 months after his last game

'The physios know what they’re talking about. They got a lot of stick, saying I should be back, but if it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be back now.'

Jack knew he was back when Reading’s Danny Guthrie crunched into him in an Under 21s game before the long-awaited first-team comeback in October against Queens Park Rangers.

'The first hit is always important,' said Wilshere. 'It's more for your head than anything else.'

He survived the impact and another hefty blow against Schalke. The new, stronger body is looking good and the mind has matured since his injury.

Son Archie, who was one in September, has played a major role here, helping Wilshere to cope with some of the darker corners of his 17 months out and keep him on the road to recovery.

'The toughest thing is mentally to stay on track,' Wilshere said. 'When you’re off for so long and not playing football you can go off the rails in all sorts of ways.

'To have him around was a massive bonus. If he wasn’t there, I don’t know what I’d have done, really. It wasn’t like I was a party animal. I wasn’t out all the time.

'But when you’ve a son, you don’t want to leave him, so that does help. I didn’t expect to be around for the first year but I was at home for the first couple of months and it worked out quite well in that respect.

No fear: Wilshere more than proved himself against the planet's finest before his injury

No fear: Wilshere more than proved himself against the planet's finest before his injury

No fear: Wilshere more than proved himself against the planet's finest before his injury

'I'd do a few nights where I’d stay up with him, I’d be playing FIFA, but when I got back to training and playing it was a bit different.'

Jack is back in the England squad, a call-up which did not go down terribly well with Wenger, who envisaged an extended break for the 20-year-old banned from the game against Fulham after a red card at Manchester United.

'I'm grateful to Roy for picking me,’ said Wilshere. ‘It’s a massive confidence boost to know you’re part of his plans. It seems everyone is building up my return, saying I’m going to be this and I’m going to be that, but if you look around the squad, there’s young Raheem Sterling coming through and they’re all ball players.

'People saying “Jack this, Jack that, he’s the only one with technique”. I think if you look a lot deeper you find players who can compete with the best in the world. It bodes well for the future.

'Even the centre backs coming through — Chris Smalling is good on the ball, Phil Jones can play in midfield. I missed so much football that I just want to play every game now, but I’ve got to be sensible.

'Now is like a pre-season for me and you don’t want to be playing too many games. It’s normally where you get all the rust out and for me there’s no hiding place.

'I've played at the Emirates in front of 60,000, then at Old Trafford, then at Schalke. These are big stages but I’m relishing it. I want to get back to where I was, playing week-in, week-out.

'There’s nothing in my body telling me I can’t play Saturday, Tuesday, Saturday, Tuesday. It’s just a matter of getting the games and being able to cope.'

Jack is back and he’s making up for lost time. Look out Lionel Messi.

The event marked ‘one month to go’ until Arsenal’s dedicated charity matchday for The Arsenal Foundation against West Bromwich Albion on December 8, when Jack will join other first team players and the manager in donating a day’s wages to fund more projects that transform young people’s lives. For further information visit www.arsenal.com/thearsenalfoundation

Ryan Giggs demands quick starts from Manchester United

Giggs demands United switch on from the start after worrying trait of falling behind

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UPDATED:

15:39 GMT, 26 October 2012

Manchester United veteran Ryan Giggs knows the team cannot keep relying on their famous powers of recovery.

Having staged some remarkable comebacks over the years, United are renowned for their ability to respond after falling behind.

Yet this season it is a trait they have had to demonstrate all too often having fallen behind on eight occasions in all competitions.

Keep focus: Ryan Giggs wants United to improve how they start games

Keep focus: Ryan Giggs wants United to improve how they start games

In all but two of those games, against Everton and Tottenham, they have hit back to win but Giggs is aware United are playing a risky game.

The 38-year-old said: 'That's probably the biggest disappointment from this year, the number of times we've gone behind.

'But on the plus side we've managed to come back in the majority of them and win them. Obviously we can't go throughout the season like we have been doing.

'We know that if we get clean sheets then we'll create chances at the other end and win more games than we lose.'

United beat Stoke 4-2 last time out domestically after conceding the opening goal and found themselves in a trickier situation in the midweek Champions League clash with Braga after falling two behind.

They hit back to win 3-2 thanks largely to a double from striker Javier Hernandez.

With Danny Welbeck and Wayne Rooney having notched their first club goals of the season against Stoke and Robin van Persie in fine form, attacking options are at least strong.

Giggs said: 'They're all different, which is good. Depending on the team we're playing against or the fixtures coming up the manager can chop and change as necessary.

Flying to the rescue: Javier Hernandez is the latest saviour of a bad situation

Flying to the rescue: Javier Hernandez is the latest saviour of a bad situation

'Shinji Kagawa can also play off the front, I can play there, Tom Cleverley can play there. We've got a lot of flexibility.'

Giggs believes United have also shown pleasing signs of further versatility this season by adapting well to the diamond formation manager Sir Alex Ferguson has sometimes deployed.

The former Wales winger said: 'In the game against Newcastle at St James' Park, that first 20 minutes was probably the best football we've played all season – that was with the diamond. But we need to do that for 90 minutes.

'With Antonio (Valencia) missing the game and Ashley Young injured we were short of width a little bit. So the diamond made sense and it means we have that flexibility now.

'Maybe we'll need to use it in some big games – you might see it in Europe – but United, more often than not, will play with wingers.'

Ashley Cole says Chelsea boosted mentally by being top of the table

Cole claims Chelsea have psychological boost with place at Premier League summit

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UPDATED:

12:31 GMT, 23 September 2012

Ashley Cole claims that Chelsea's late win against Stoke which cemented their place at the top of the Barclays Premier League is a psychological boost for the Blues.

The left-back popped up in the box to score the only goal of the game with just a few minutes remaining and now he hopes it signals the Blues' intent for the season ahead.

‘Mentally that is good for us,' he said. 'Last season we didn’t have too good a time in the Premier League, it has taken two years for us to be top of the league again and hopefully we can stay there, but it is a long way to go.'

Last gasp: Ashley Cole strikes to earn Chelsea the win

Last gasp: Ashley Cole strikes to earn Chelsea the win

The last time Cole scored for Chelsea was in 2010 against Wigan, his strike part of an amazing 8-0 win which earned his side the title.

‘It is always nice to score but it was more about the win and staying top of the league,’ he explained.

Chelsea's saviour said not having the time to think helped him score his late winner against Stoke on Saturday.

Cole, who had a impressive match, had fired a couple of wayward shots off target in the first half but was clinical as he lofted the ball past Asmir Begovic with just a couple of minutes remaining.

'I had a few shots in the first half when I had maybe too much time to think and they went over but this one came so quick that I didn’t have much time to think,' said Cole.

'The first thing that came into my brain was to try to dink it over the keeper because I thought he would go down.'

He continued: 'It was a battle. It is always physical and Stoke always make it hard for us to play our football. They defend deep with 10 men so it is hard to break them down, but for the goal it was a great move down the right and I took a chance and got in the box.'

It is said Cole is carrying a persistent ankle problem that can limit his ability to train and the England star joked after the win that 'my legs can't keep getting me up and down the pitch'. But he added on Chelsea TV: 'I feel as fit as I've ever been.'

Pure delight: Cole was ecstatic at sealing Chelsea's place at the top

Pure delight: Cole was ecstatic at sealing Chelsea's place at the top

Blues boss Roberto Di Matteo said he had recommended that the Chelsea board keep Cole at the club 'as long as they can' after watching the left-back succeed where 130million of attacking talent had failed and put the ball in the back of the net.

Team-mate Juan Mata was shocked to see it was Cole who was on the end of his clever flick.

The Spain winger said: 'I didn't know it was Ashley Cole. I guessed that someone was there.

'Luckily, it was Ashley and he chipped the ball and he showed that he's one of the best full-backs in the world.'

That is beyond dispute, although goalscoring has never been a big part of Cole's game and the left-back warned that was unlikely to change in Chelsea's new attacking system.

'I tend to stay back a little bit more,' he said.

'With the players we've got, we have to change the way we play and we have to get the ball down as much as we can and give it to people like Oscar and Eddie (Hazard) and Juan to try to make some magic.'

He added: 'When the fans watch these players, they're so exciting.
'When Oscar's getting the ball and running at defenders, when Hazard's getting the ball and running at defenders, it's exciting, and the future's looking good for Chelsea.

Impressed: Juan Mata praised his Chelsea colleague Cole

Impressed: Juan Mata praised his Chelsea colleague Cole

'This season, we've got to keep going and, hopefully, we don't get too many injuries and we keep going and keep winning games.'

Oscar and substitute Victor Moses impressed as part of a
new look Chelsea side which dominated the match, even if they left it
late to win. Cole was enthusiastic about their prospects.

He
said: 'The players that we have added to the squad are only going to
help us. They are young and enthusiastic and willing to learn off the
older players, and they have great skill and great belief in their own
ability which can hopefully help us through the season.'

Saturday's game was the first time Mata, Hazard and Oscar had started together and it was no surprise to see them struggle to click, despite their obvious individual talents.

Di Matteo was confident that persisting with the trio would eventually pay off, something that would have been music to the ears of Mata after what was the winger's first start since he was given some time off by the club.

'We have two or three more players, quality players, that like to play and I like to play with them,' he said.

'We enjoy playing and it's the way I like to play, with the ball, passing, assisting and trying to get some chances.'

Bradford Bulls continue search for investment

Time ticking away as Bulls continue desperate search for financial saviour

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UPDATED:

06:02 GMT, 9 July 2012

Talks will re-convene with a consortium interested in buying beleaguered Bradford on Monday as administrator Brendan Guilfoyle races against the clock to save the club.

Guilfoyle, who set a deadline of Tuesday to avoid putting the 'bankrupt' Super League club into liquidation, met a group of local businessmen during Sunday's match against London Broncos at Odsal and is hoping they will come up with an offer.

'They are asking lots of questions and seeking lots of assurances,' said Guilfoyle, who was joined at the meeting by the leader of Bradford Council, Cllr David Green. 'They're looking at it and we're re-convening tomorrow.'

Plea: Bradford fans hope they will still have a rugby side to watch

Plea: Bradford fans hope they will still have a rugby side to watch

The Bradford team played their part in underlining the club's attraction by gaining an impressive 44-12 victory over the Broncos to maintain their push to reach the play-offs for the first time for four years.

A third straight win, which followed a stunning triumph at leaders Wigan, lifted the Bulls to sixth and provided them with a cushion with which to offset a looming points deduction for breaking the game's insolvency regulations.

The eight-try victory was just reward for the staff who were made redundant at the start of the week but volunteered to work for free to ensure the game went ahead.

They included popular Australian head coach Mick Potter, who was given a guard of honour by his players as he left the field, but he warned that the club cannot continue to rely on goodwill.

Pulling together: Bradford coach Mick Potter is applauded from the field

Pulling together: Bradford coach Mick Potter is applauded from the field

'It's phenomenal what the staff have done,' Potter said. 'The cuts have been made for a reason but four staff cannot run a rugby league club. It's not possible.

'I don't know how they fix it up because it's not a long-term solution what we've done today.

'What happened today was for the love of the club. People had the passion to get the game on, they didn't want to let anybody down. But it's not sustainable long-term.'

Potter re-iterated his desire to see out the rest of his contract, which runs to the end of the season, but admits he already searching for a new job, hopefully in rugby league but not necessarily in England.

We're behind you: The fans flocked to see the Bulls beat London Broncos

We're behind you: The fans flocked to see the Bulls beat London Broncos

'If I get a job somewhere else, I'm going to take it because at the moment I'm unemployed,' said the 48-year-old former Catalan Dragons and St Helens boss. 'I need to look after my family.

'I'd love nothing better than to stay here at Bradford and complete what I've come here to do but that's out of my control.'

The pressure is off the administrator to some extent because the club have no fixture until July 20 but the players' wages are due at the end of this week.

US bidder wants Ally McCoist at Rangers

US bidder wants Ally to be part of Rangers rescue package as scale of debt is revealed

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UPDATED:

21:46 GMT, 6 April 2012

American would-be Rangers saviour Bill Miller has put his faith in manager Ally McCoist by insisting that the Ibrox great would be part of his rescue package.

The 65-year-old revealed that he was the sole bidder remaining from the consortium put together by Chicaco-based Club 9 Sports.

But, while expressing his intent to pursue a Company Voluntary Agreement with creditors, avoiding the dreaded newco option, he admitted that a ‘creative solution’ was being sought to tackle debts which could reach 134million.

Main man: Ally McCoist (centre) remains crucial to Bill Miller's plans

Main man: Ally McCoist (centre) remains crucial to Bill Miller's plans

Miller told Sportsmail that the involvement of manager McCoist was crucial to his plans for the club.

‘I will be speaking with Ally and he clearly fits into my plans for the future of Rangers,’ said the American.

‘I believe my plans are the best for Rangers Football Club’s long-term success. I can assure you that I would not be interested if I did not have the best interests of the fans, team and club at heart.

‘My aim is to save the club, put it on a stable footing — making profits and not losing money so it qualifies for European competition — and ensure it can have a strong future to match its history.

‘I am the sole bidder. Club 9 Sports contacted me to see if I wanted to be an investor in the consortium they were organising.’

Saviour Bill Miller hopes to take over at Rangers

Saviour Bill Miller hopes to take over at Rangers

The motor racing enthusiast, who owns a business making tow trucks and recovery equipment, has built up a decent reputation as a ‘turnaround specialist’ in the United States.

Miller, an engineering graduate who later gained an MBA, wouldn’t be pinned down on details about how he plans to haul Rangers out of their current mess.

Administrators Duff & Phelps maintain that the ‘nuclear option’ of liquidating assets and starting up a new company — earning a three-year European ban and running SPL penalties as the price of re-admission to the league — remains unlikely, although a Company Voluntary Arrangement will depend largely on the attitude of HMRC.

‘My preference is a CVA exit,’ said Miller, who has previously presided over a disastrous attempt to set up a rival to the popular NASCAR motor racing series.

‘It has not been determined yet as to how this or any other structure may work. I am currently working with the administrators and lawyers to find a creative solution that protects the history and future of the Rangers — but does not have the club hampered by large amounts of debt going forward.’
Singapore-based rival bidder Bill Ng, meanwhile, claimed to be a Rangers fan as he outlined his plans should he win control of the club.

The 52-year-old, who is a director at private equity firm Financial Frontiers, already owns Singapore league side Hougang United and has ploughed some of his money into the team.

Speaking from London, where he has been in talks with the administrators, he revealed plans for an exchange program that will see Singapore coaches and administrators move to Scotland to learn their trade.

On the up: Rangers celebrate beating Motherwell last weekend

On the up: Rangers celebrate beating Motherwell last weekend

Ng said: ‘The weakness lies in the people who run the club and I feel that we can do something better.

‘We’ve told the administrators that we’ll set aside 12m to be split among the creditors.

‘For every dollar of debt the club owes, about 20 cents will be paid back, the rest will be written off.

‘This is a chance for us to put Singapore on the world football map. We’re not just doing this deal for financial reasons. If we take over Rangers, we’ve got plans that will positively impact Singapore football in the long run.

‘Our population size is quite similar to Scotland’s, so there’s plenty for us to learn from them in terms of football development.

‘We aim to engage the Football Association of Singapore with more ideas that can benefit local football.’

One slight concern for Rangers fans is Ng’s current club, Hougang United, who have a chequered history. Since been formed in 1981 as Marine Castle United Football Club, they have changed their name three times, merged twice and gone out of business once.

Rangers in administration: David Murray hits back

Former Rangers owner Murray: Words can't express how hugely disappointed I am

The Empire strikes back. Well, the
man so often referred to as 'the previous regime' certainly felt
compelled to retaliate with some degree of force.

Clearly prompted by Craig Whyte's
attempt to pin Rangers' financial collapse on tax debts run up as far
back as 2001, former owner Sir David Murray returned fire in a
statement that only just stopped short of blaming the new chairman for
Britain's shoogly credit rating.

On the attack: Sir David Murray

On the attack: Sir David Murray

Having insisted he would only sell the club to someone capable of taking Rangers forward, Sir David's own personal reputation among fans won't be restored by a few strong words; nothing short of a rescue package could achieve that.

Disappointing diehard disciples who dream of his glorious second coming, though, one-time saviour Murray revealed he holds no automatic right of return. At the moment, the way he tells it, he can't even get Whyte to return his calls.

Despite lines of communication having remained open in the immediate aftermath of last summer's takeover, Murray says recent attempts to seek reassurance on the club's viability have met with a stony silence.

He also claims the 'big tax case' estimated at 75million by the new owners, remains winnable, that Whyte knew all about this massive liability when he took over – and that the Lanarkshire businessman was the only serious player in town when the club was put up for sale.

Not quite sealed with a loving kiss, Sir David's official statement read: 'Words cannot express how hugely disappointed I am with news of today's appointment of administrators to The Rangers Football Club plc.

A religion: Rangers have won the Scottish title 54 times

A religion: Rangers have won the Scottish title 54 times

'The timing of the appointment of administrators is especially surprising given two facts. Firstly, there has been no decision, and there is no present indication as to the timing of a decision, from the first-tier tax tribunal concerning the potential claim from HMRC of 36.5m excluding interest and penalties.

'Secondly, legal opinion on the strength of the club's case remains favourable.

'Following a protracted sale process over a three-year period, Murray International Holdings Limited (MIH) ultimately sold its 85-per-cent controlling shareholding in the club to Wavetower Limited (Wavetower now renamed The Rangers FC Group Ltd), a company wholly owned by Craig Whyte, in good faith on May 6, 2011.

'In addition, the Share Purchase Agreement (SPA) imposed a number of obligations on Wavetower. These included the retention of 9.5m on behalf of the club for investment in the playing squad, expenditure on the infrastructure of the stadium and settlement of an agreed tax liability, together with the availability of working capital to fund the club's operations. The Shareholder's Circular issued by Wavetower on June 3, 2011 confirmed these undertakings.

'Contrary to recent press speculation, there is no legal mechanism in the SPA for MIH to re-acquire the club.' That's the killer line for those hoping against hope that Whyte's headlong rush towards insolvency might give Sir David an easy way back.

Never say die: Rangers fans raise a banner with a message directed at HMRC

Never say die: Rangers fans raise a banner with a message directed at HMRC

There was more damning testimony to follow, the statement continuing: 'MIH wrote to Wavetower on August 25, 2011 seeking confirmation that its various obligations were being complied with. A confirmatory assurance was eventually obtained on January 3, 2012.

'Following recent speculation concerning the financing and security arrangements put in place by Wavetower, a request was issued seeking further clarity.

'At the time of this announcement, no response has been forthcoming.

'At the time of relinquishing control over the club, MIH endeavoured to ensure the future of the club through the various commitments and undertakings of Wavetower.

'MIH received no consideration for the sale of its controlling shareholding, but instead agreed terms attached to the sale of its stake in the club to ensure an immediate and substantial improvement in the club's financial position, as well as a significant investment in the club and its playing squad.

'In May 2011, the sale to Wavetower presented the best available path for the club's future and was reasonable given all the circumstances existing at the time. Contrary to numerous reports, there were also no viable alternative offers made in advance of the sale.

'MIH is saddened by the appointment of administrators. It recognises the tax-tribunal proceedings have stemmed from arrangements put in place during the time of its ownership.

'However, these arrangements and details of the proceedings were fully disclosed by the club to Wavetower and Craig Whyte in the due diligence process.'

Rangers in administration: why Craig Whyte wanted his administrator on site

Why Rangers owner Whyte wanted 'his' administrator on site

It was a strange sort of case, with both parties apparently seeking the same verdict. More or less. As Rangers and HMRC fought for the right to appoint an administrator to a club circling the drain, why did the identity of the firm selected matter so much

Because allowing Craig Whyte to choose a company with which he has a prior business relationship undoubtedly creates the impression of a carve-up in favour of the Rangers owner.

Given that one senior figure at Duff & Phelps was there with Whyte on the day that he marched into Ibrox as the new saviour of ‘his’ club, and considering the leeway available to administrators when it comes to deciding who gets paid what, you can see why HMRC protested.

Their counsel actually told the Court of Session on Tuesday: ‘The position of HMRC is that it is appropriate this company be brought under independent control of some person who has no involvement in this company prior to this date.

Men for the job: Paul Clarke and David Whitehouse from Duff & Phelps talk to the press on Tuesday

Men for the job: Paul Clarke and David Whitehouse from Duff & Phelps talk to the press on Tuesday

‘The proposed administrators nominated by the directors of the club have been advising the club for six months or more.’

Putting it more bluntly, Ernst and Young football finance analyst Neil Patey told Sportsmail: ‘It’s not good for public perceptions of independence if that company is associated with the owner already.

‘HMRC were careful in their court submission not to imply any impropriety. But it’s about a perceived lack of independence.

‘Why Because, if they go down the route of trying to reach a Company Voluntary Arrangement, there are a lot of situations where there is no right answer. There are a lot of judgment calls to be made when you are an administrator. The concern is that some of these might be seen to be biased in favour of Craig Whyte.

‘They are professional people, the administrators at Duff & Phelps, and they are working within the statutes and acting as officials of the court, in essence.

‘When you view it that way, the actual identity of the administrators shouldn’t matter. Whoever you appoint, they should do exactly the same job.

Men for the job: Paul Clarke and David Whitehouse from Duff & Phelps talk to the press on Tuesday

Rangers crisis in numbers…

1 – Paid by Craig Whyte to Sir David Murray for Rangers last year.

2.45 – The time Rangers entered into administration yesterday after a deadline was set by the Court of Session for the club to appoint an administrator following a morning of legal wrangling with HMRC.

10 – Points deducted from the Ibrox club by the SPL following Tuesday’s move into administration.

230 – The number of Rangers employees who now face a period of uncertainty over their jobs.

5m – What Everton paid Rangers for star striker Nikica Jelavic just two weeks ago.

9m – The total unpaid tax bill since Whyte took over in May 2011, according to the administrators, Duff and Phelps.

24m – The figure allegedly borrowed by Whyte on future season-tickets sales from Ticketus prior to his takeover.

75m – What Whyte alleges the bill from the case brought by HMRC against the club could spiral to with penalties and interest taken into account.

‘But there is a lot of leeway in all
aspects of the job, starting with the day-to-day running of the club,
working out which costs can be funded and which need to be cut.

‘I suspect they will have to look at the playing staff. If ever there was a judgment call, that’s one right there.

‘When it comes to putting forward a plan that satisfies creditors, starting with Craig Whyte as the secured creditor, they have to work out a fair settlement.

‘So they will be saying to creditors: “You get so much, you only get this much, etc”. ‘They can say what they believe to be the best deal for everyone concerned, but the truth is that there is a lot of horse trading.’

Talk of a quick in-and-out administration deal, with Whyte securing a sweet settlement for himself as main creditor, is pretty much quashed by Patey – who insists that liquidation remains a real threat.

‘Now, the administrator may rule that only debts which have been crystalised – ie, those on the books right now – should make up the whole package, meaning Whyte definitely makes up 75 per cent,’ said the expert.

Plenty to do: David Grier (right) and Whitehouse leave Ibrox

Plenty to do: David Grier (right) and Whitehouse leave Ibrox

‘But that would be challenged by HMRC, who will argue that the major tax case should also be considered.

‘If you come out of administration with that big tax bill hanging over you, you face the same major problems – and will face having to go into administration for a second time.

‘So, really, Craig Whyte will want to clear this up once and for all. He has to negotiate with HMRC over the major liability. The Revenue will be tough. There is a point of principle in what Rangers are doing, and HMRC are not for backing down.

‘They’ve had a lot of bad publicity of late, public criticism because large corporates have been let off with unpaid tax.

‘So there is a public feeling that corporates and wealthy individuals should pay the right amount of tax.

‘I don’t think we should discount the possibility of administration failing to reach a CVA – and that would require the club to go down the liquidation route. That is a live possibility.

‘It’s not impossible to reach a CVA but, looking at the case, liquidation is certainly a live issue.’