Tag Archives: sheer

Australian Open 2013: Gilles Simon confirms he is fit to face Andy Murray

Murray is favorite to beat me, admits Simon after declaring himself fit following Monfils battle

By
Mike Dickson

PUBLISHED:

06:17 GMT, 20 January 2013

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UPDATED:

06:17 GMT, 20 January 2013

Gilles Simon, Andy Murray’s fourth round opponent in the Australian Open, confirmed that he will be able to take the court for the match despite suffering heavy cramping in his Saturday night epic against Gael Monfils.

The slightly-built Frenchman was unable to speak to the media after beating his compatriot 8-6 in the fifth set of an extremely gruelling encounter that lasted nearly four and three quarter hours, and was marked by the sheer length of the rallies involved.

He only appeared in public this afternoon local time, having needed extensive treatment when he came off the court after midnight in some distress suffering cramp all over his body following the most attritional match imaginable.

Scroll down to watch the 71-shot rally between Simon and Monfils

Shattered: An exhausted Gilles Simon sits down after winning his third round match against fellow countryman Gael Monfils

Shattered: An exhausted Gilles Simon sits down after winning his third round match against fellow countryman Gael Monfils

There had been rumours that he had been taken to hospital and might pull out of his meeting with Murray due to leg or arm injuries, but he quickly quashed those while admitting that he was still very sore.

'No, my treatment was here, but yes I was in bad shape,' he said. 'I’m never cramping on the court normally. I felt like I played the end of the match in a dream, like I was not even on the court. I was just hitting the ball, trying to run, and not thinking anymore. I was too tired to be upset or happy, at the end of the match I had just completely lost control.'

Gilles Simon

Gael Monfils

Epic: Simon and Monfils shared a brilliant 71-shot rally during their third round match

One of the rallies against Monfils had
lasted 71 strokes and took one minute forty second to complete, but many
of the baseline exchanges were long between two counter punchers.

'All parts of my body were painful but there’s no miracle cure so you’ve just got to have massage and stretching. I went to sleep about 5am and woke up about two o’ clock.'

Murray is about the last player you want to meet if your legs are heavy because he is so skilled at making opponents run side to side and back and forward, so it looked a mountainous task for the fourteenth seed to disrupt his march towards the last four.

Giving it everything: Simon rests on the net during his third round match

Giving it everything: Simon rests on the net during his third round match

Treatment: Simon received medical attention

Treatment: Simon received medical attention

Their match will start at 5pm local time so there was another 24 hours to recover, with Roger Federer the featured night match on Rod Laver Arena.

'With Andy I know how strong he is and of course it will be really difficult but at the moment I’m just happy I won the last match. Even if I don’t have a lot of chance to win this it’s my job to go on court and do the maximum I can to bother him and give him a hard time.

Next up: Andy Murray will be the strong favorite against Simon

Next up: Andy Murray will be the strong favorite against Simon

'It is not easy to win 6-2 6-3 6-2 against Andy and I’m not sure if we play longer than that I will be able to make it to the end. But I will do everything I can to be ready and I still have another sleep.'

Another small problem for Simon is that Murray has won their last nine matches against each other, so he would start as strong favourite regardless.

VIDEO Watch the amazing 71-shot rally between Gilles Simon and Gael Monfils

ATP World Tour Finals 2012: Novak Djokovic beats Juan Martin Del Potro to reach final

Djokovic delight as world No 1 beats Del Potro to book place in O2 Final

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UPDATED:

18:11 GMT, 11 November 2012

Novak Djokovic fought back from a set down to defeat Juan Martin Del Potro and reach the final of the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in London.

The world No 1 had looked in trouble when he went a break down in the second but Del Potro won only three of the last 14 games as Djokovic triumphed 4-6, 6-3, 6-2.

It is the first time the 2008 champion has reached the final since the tournament moved to the O2 Arena three years ago, and he will meet either Roger Federer or Andy Murray on Monday evening.

Final date: Djokovic will face either Andy Murray or Roger Federer

Final date: Djokovic will face either Andy Murray or Roger Federer

HIGHLIGHTS

Click here to watch highlights from the ATP World Tour Finals

Djokovic was the only unbeaten player in the group stages and had had a day's rest, and he looked every inch the best player in the world in the early stages.

Del Potro was having to find some special shots just to stay on level terms, notably a forehand creamed down the line to save a break point in the second game.

Djokovic went into the match holding a 6-2 advantage over his opponent but Del Potro could look back on a victory in London earlier this summer that won him an Olympic bronze medal.

Strong start: Del Potro took the first set

Strong start: Del Potro took the first set

The Argentinian had joked that the semi-finals featured three big names and one big guy, but it was the big guy who was beginning to get on top in this one.

The sheer power of 6ft 6in Del Potro was pushing Djokovic to overhit and, although he saved a break point in the seventh game, he faced two more a couple of games later and this time Del Potro struck.

The 24-year-old then served out the set to love, and he kept the momentum going at the start of the second set.

Serb and volley: Djokovic has been in fine form at the O2

Serb and volley: Djokovic has been in fine form at the O2

Serb and volley: Djokovic has been in fine form at the O2

Djokovic saved three break points in the opening game but he was under pressure all the time and he had no answer to another monstrous forehand from Del Potro in the third game, the Argentinian raising his fists in the air as he broke for 2-1.

It seemed to be getting away from Djokovic but he roused himself, taking his fourth chance to hit back immediately when Del Potro for once missed a forehand down the line.

And the Argentinian won only one more game in the set as Djokovic levelled up, breaking for the second time at 4-3.

Heading home: Del Potro reacts in frustration as Djokovic wins another point

Heading home: Del Potro reacts in frustration as Djokovic wins another point

The effort of the first set seemed to have taken a lot out of Del Potro and he looked distinctly weary as he was broken once more in the third game of the decider.

In contrast, Djokovic had a spring in his step again and the end was a swift in coming, the top seed clinching victory in two hours and 12 minutes.

Kevin Pietersen scores 23 on England return as old foe Yuvraj Singh takes his wicket

KP's humble pie: Old foe Yuvraj ruins Pietersen's return to England side

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UPDATED:

22:37 GMT, 31 October 2012

Kevin Pietersen has been warned he will face more of his old nemesis Yuvraj Singh in the Test series against India after the part-time left-arm spinner he once called a pie-chucker spoiled his comeback.

On the day Alastair Cook marked his first game as England’s new captain with a typically careful century against India A, Pietersen was caught and bowled by Yuvraj for 23 in his first knock for England since August 6 and the infamous Headingley Test against South Africa.

Cook’s men closed the second day on 286 for four, with Samit Patel crafting an attractive unbeaten 82 to lay claim to the No 6 spot following a third-ball duck for opener Nick Compton in his first senior game for England.
Return: Pietersen produced a swashbuckling 23 before being caught and bowled by Yuvraj Singh

Return: Pietersen produced a swashbuckling 23 before being caught and bowled by Yuvraj Singh

Return: Pietersen produced a swashbuckling 23 before being caught and bowled by Yuvraj Singh

Return: Pietersen produced a swashbuckling 23 before being caught and bowled by Yuvraj Singh

PIETERSEN vs THE PIE-CHUCKER

March 28, 2006, 1st ODI — Yuvraj dismisses Pietersen for the first time as the England batsman is caught by Gautam Gambhir for 46.

March 31, 2006, 2nd ODI — Pietersen is caught for 71 off Yuvraj.

April 15, 2006, 7th ODI — He is caught again, this time for 64.

November 17, 2008, 2nd ODI — Yuvraj takes out his off stump, sending the England man packing for 33.

December 13, 2008, 1st Test, Day 3 — Pietersen is trapped lbw for one.

Wednesday, tour game — On his England return, KP drives a ball straight back at the bowler to go for 23.

But, for sheer drama, nothing matched
the moment Pietersen shimmied down the track and chipped a return catch
to Yuvraj to end an eventful 24-ball stay.

After getting off the mark with a
quick single to mid-on off his first ball, Pietersen lofted his sixth —
from Suresh Raina’s off-spin — over the ropes down the ground. He carted
the next delivery through the covers, was dropped at short leg on 16
off Raina, then pulled seamer Vinay Kumar for four.

But Yuvraj was lying in wait. With
his third ball of a new spell — his second to Pietersen — he struck. It
was the sixth time he had embarrassed England’s alpha male following
four dismissals in one-day internationals and one in a Test at Chennai
four years ago.

India A captain Raina promised it
would not be the last time Yuvraj would be given the chance to add to
Pietersen’s litany of woes against slow left-armers.

‘Last time England came here, he
bowled really well to KP and the plan worked again,’ said Raina with a
smile. ‘I was always going to try him. I know he’s had success against
him early on.’

Asked whether India’s Test captain MS
Dhoni would repeat the ploy in the four-match series, starting in
Ahmedabad on November 15, Raina said: ‘Definitely. He was so happy to
get him out but KP came after the game to the dressing room and they
both had a laugh.

Slow start: Compton went for a third-ball duck

Slow start: Compton went for a third-ball duck

SCORECARD

Click here for the full scorecard from Mumbai

‘He needs to score runs against
India. He did well against South Africa but this is going to be
different. We have a good spin attack, plus Zaheer Khan and Umesh
Yadav.’

Pietersen’s cameo overshadowed an
otherwise good day for England, including Cook’s six-hour unbeaten 112 —
a monument to self-denial that bodes well for the rest of the tour.

Top knock: Cook

Top knock: Cook

Top knock: Cook celebrates reaching his ton

Just as reassuring for England was
the batting of Patel, who must now be favourite to bat at No 6 in
Ahmedabad. Dropped on 29, he added an unbroken 153 with Cook after
England were wobbling at 133 for four.

Patel said: ‘One of the things we
work hard on is to grind down the bowling, and we wanted to keep India
in the dirt. It was fantastic to have Kevin back. He gave us a bit of
oomph to get us going.’

Ton-derful: Cook was in fine form with the bat as he passed 100

Ton-derful: Cook was in fine form with the bat as he passed 100

Ton-derful: Cook was in fine form with the bat as he passed 100

Top knock: Cook

Compton’s first-over duck at the
ground where his grand-father Denis made 249 not out for Holkar in the
Ranji Trophy final in 1945 was something of a disappointment, but
Jonathan Trott helped Cook steady things with 56.

Steven Finn faces a race against time to prove his fitness for the first Test after straining his right thigh on Tuesday.

singly, it came only three balls after India A captain Raina had brought Yuvraj on to bowl.

Rebuilding: Cook and Patel put on a fine fifth-wicket partnership to dig England out of a hole

Rebuilding: Cook and Patel put on a fine fifth-wicket partnership to dig England out of a hole

Rebuilding: Cook and Patel put on a fine fifth-wicket partnership to dig England out of a hole

Rebuilding: Cook and Patel put on a fine fifth-wicket partnership to dig England out of a hole

Ryder Cup 2012: Olazabal"s crew thrown overboard at Medinah"s own Tea Party

Olly's crew thrown overboard at Medinah's own Tea Party

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UPDATED:

00:32 GMT, 30 September 2012

The visiting supporters tramped the fairways of Medinah, singing their songs and flaunting their flags of blue. But their confidence was little more than bravado. For in this sun-dappled corner of America’s mid-West, the cream of European golf is facing a hell of a beating.

This being sport, miracles may never be discounted, but as they go into the singles with a 10-6 deficit, Europe’s chances of retaining the Ryder Cup lie somewhere between remote and negligible. And, despite some extraordinary late heroics from Ian Poulter, they licked their wounds and steeled themselves for the inquests ahead.

For the first two days of this Ryder Cup contest have seen a changing of the old order. Recent years have offered an unfolding story of Europe’s golfers, bristling with belief and committed to the cause, bringing to earth the best that the States can offer.

Team USA's Jim Furyk reacts after sinking his putt on the fourteenth hole

Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland reacts after a missed putt on the seventh hole

Face facts: At some stage, class had to tell

The team ethic was paramount and reputations meant nothing. Because Europe expected, and Europe was rarely denied.

Yet always there was a sense that
someday soon the Americans would rouse themselves, would start to
respect their own traditions.

A nation which has given us an entire
pantheon of golfing gods — from Jones to Hogan, Nicklaus to Woods —
could never be comfortable in the role of victim. Sooner than later,
sheer class was certain to raise its voice.

Forlorn figure: Tiger Woods has lost his three Ryder Cup matches

Forlorn figure: Tiger Woods has lost his three Ryder Cup matches

And here on the western outskirts of
Chicago, we have seen that transformation. Centre stage has been
forcefully occupied by young men with esoteric first names; Brandt and
Bubba, Keegan and Webb. And others have moved, perhaps temporarily,
towards the wings: Lee Westwood, Graeme McDowell and, or so it seemed
for most of two days, Tiger Woods, the greatest player of his era.

Time was when Woods could bend the game to his own will, but that task is now much harder.

American wunderkid: Keegan Bradley celebrates birdie on the ninth

American wunderkid: Keegan Bradley celebrates birdie on the ninth

‘Rested’ from the morning foursomes,
he spent much of the afternoon pouting, wincing and silently cursing his
own failings as he and Steve Stricker engaged with Sergio Garcia and
Luke Donald. The Europeans led from the first hole, expanded it to four
shots and protected it quite heroically. Because traces of genius still
cling to him, Woods discovered his pride and touch late in the day, when
a stunning burst of birdies on the back nine transformed the match and
turned back memory’s pages before Stricker missed a seven-footer at the
last to give Europe a deserved victory.

Yet the trials of Woods were no more
than a small distraction for the Americans. They raised their game,
holed their putts and generally handled themselves like a bunch of
professionals who understand their business. Blessed by a 5-3 lead at
the start of the day, they set off with the wind in their sails, and
they never truly allowed it to drop. ‘U-S-A, U-S-A!’, the patriotic din
rarely relented. There are times when its stridency can jar, but these
players had generated their own euphoria and reaped its rewards.

Rory McIlroy falls to his knees after missing a putt on the 18th

Agony: McIlroy falls to his knees after missing a putt on the 18th

Justin Rose and Francesco Molinari
were Europe’s first victims of the afternoon fourballs, effectively
blown away 5&4 by Watson and Webb Simpson. Never in genuine
contention, they seemed almost relieved to be put out of their misery.

Rory McIlroy and Poulter, whose
partnership smacked of something thrown together in desperation by the
European captain Jose Maria Olazabal, worked hard to match the earnest
consistency of Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson, but the Americans led from
the opening hole, swept along by the momentum of the day until the
brilliance of the Europeans, especially a nerveless birdie putt by
Poulter gave them the lead at the 16th, and another on 17 protected it.
Ultimately, he rolled in a 12-foot putt to sink his fifth birdie in a
row and win the match.

saturday foresomes

Yet the embodiment of Europe’s
struggle was the man who had provided their most memorable moments on
the opening day. Nicolas Colsaerts spent Friday living the dream,
apparently incapable of making an error or missing a putt.

In the morning, reality came crashing
in. Infallibility was gone, incapability became the order of the day.
Partnered by Garcia in the foursomes, Colsaerts missed putts of every
range and variety, including a two-and-a-half footer on 13. His deepest
misfortune came when, one down and two to play against Dufner and
Johnson, he swatted his tee shot into the water on 17.

Time out: Luke Donald talks to basketball legend Michael Jordan

Time out: Luke Donald talks to basketball legend Michael Jordan

He looked like a man, in John
Arlott’s famous phrase, who sought the sanctuary of an empty hotel room,
and a six-chambered revolver as the match was surrendered. To his
enormous credit, he battled his misfortune through the long afternoon.
In company with Paul Lawrie, he went toe-to-toe with Dustin Johnson and
Matt Kuchar, despite quite outrageous luck with putts which flatly
refused to fall. But Colsaerts will emerge from his first Ryder Cup with
reputation enhanced.

The galleries revelled in it all yet
the composition of spectators told a tale of their own. Study the crowds
and you might easily conclude that America is populated exclusively by
white people, with the solitary exception of Michael Jordan. Yesterday,
they gave instinctive applause to the two ex-Presidents Bush as they
toured the course in a buggy. George Dubya seemed vaguely alarmed by the
rare compliment. The players they follow are cast in the same
God-fearing, Romney-voting mould. The overall impression is of the Tea
Party at play, and their delight in battering Europeans is
unmistakeable.

Nicolas Colsaerts of Europe and Sergio Garcia

Harsh rality: Nicolas Colsaerts and Sergio Garcia

They took distinct satisfaction from
the spectacle of Westwood and Donald losing to Mickelson and Bradley by
what the old-timers used to call a ‘dog licence’, 7&6. It was all
over by 10.15am, a defeat which will wound Westwood, hero of so many
Ryder Cup moments.

But when it was over, and despite
Europe’s efforts to salvage their reputation, it had been America’s
morning followed by America’s afternoon, with every omen pointing to an
all-American weekend.

Great view: A young fan watches th action

Great view: A young fan watches the action

They took distinct satisfaction from
the spectacle of Westwood and Donald losing to Mickelson and Bradley by
what the old-timers used to call a ‘dog licence’, 7&6. It was all
over by 10.15am, a defeat which will wound Westwood, hero of so many
Ryder Cup moments.

But when it was over, and despite
Europe’s efforts to salvage their reputation, it had been America’s
morning followed by America’s afternoon, with every omen pointing to an
all-American weekend.

In the pink: Ian Poulter on the first tee

In the pink: Ian Poulter on the first tee

Dynamic duo: Keegan Bradley and Phil Mickelson

Dynamic duo: Keegan Bradley and Phil Mickelson

English rugby clubs hold showdown talks to demand rethink on European competition pay chasm

English clubs hold showdown talks to demand rethink on European competition pay chasm

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UPDATED:

21:30 GMT, 17 September 2012

England's leading clubs will go into showdown talks in Dublin on Tuesday demanding a fairer deal from the European competition cash.

Sportsmail can reveal that a gap of 1.75million between the Heineken Cup money handed to English clubs compared to the four Irish regions is the reason behind their determination to change the landscape of European rugby.

Representatives of Premiership Rugby will meet the other European stakeholders for a meeting that is supposed to be an attempt to find a peace formula but could just as easily increase the fallout between England and clubs from France, Italy, Wales, Scotland and Ireland.

Not a level playing field: clubs such as European champions Leinster are quids in

Not a level playing field: clubs such as European champions Leinster are quids in

It follows the announcement last week of a new 152m TV rights deal with BT Vision for Premiership rugby that also included a new European competition – an agreement which was subsequently ruled to be contrary to RFU rules.

But the Premiership representatives believe they have a strong moral case to force through change and that when others see the figures they will fall in line.

The sums expose the sheer scale of the financial inequality that has driven the organisation representing the English elite to make such an aggressive move.

Under the current European Rugby Cup accord governing tournaments, it is understood that the 12 Premiership clubs each receive an annual payment of less than 650,000, incorporating sponsorship and TV rights money.

In comparison, it is thought that the four Irish provincial sides are given a handout of close to 2.4million.

The equation is similarly imbalanced in favour of Wales and Scotland. They and the Irish teams enjoy the luxury of all-but-certain qualification for the high-profile Heineken Cup, rather than the secondary Amlin Challenge Cup.

Inequality: It is understood that the four Irish provincial sides receive far more than their English counterparts

Inequality: It is understood that the four Irish provincial sides receive far more than their English counterparts

In turn, the relatively low intensity of the Pro12 league has allowed the Irish provinces, in particular, to prioritise their European campaigns.

That has been a significant factor in the dominance of Europe's blue-riband event by Munster and Leinster, who have claimed five titles between them in the past seven years.

Their sustained success brings even greater reward as each side contesting a knockout fixture earns an extra 290,000 to contribute to the national 'pot'.

What infuriates the English and French is that they are the economic powerhouses of the continental game, with far greater financial and broadcasting clout than their Celtic rivals, yet they receive far less per team from ERC in return.

Showdown: The talks have been scheduled in the wake of the announced TV deal with BT Vision

Showdown: The talks have been scheduled in the wake of the announced TV deal with BT Vision

There are unlikely to be any resolutions on Tuesday, with the rival factions so entrenched.

While PRL hope they can secure eventual support for their concept of three tiers of European competition, with a 20-team Heineken Cup featuring the holders, the Challenge Cup champions and the top six sides from each of the Premiership, the Pro12 and the Top 14, the stance of the French is critical.

ERC are adamant that the Gallic clubs will preserve the status quo in return for an earlier final in April of each year, but PRL also believe they have the backing of the French.

One leading official even claimed that officials from Ligue Nationale de Rugby have 'signed' an agreement to stage an Anglo-French event as a final option.

However, that notion of an entente cordiale was being questioned in other quarters on Monday.

Rugby World Cup organisers have marked the three-year countdown to the home tournament by predicting record ticket sales and a profit in excess of 100m.

But Andy Cosslett, the chairman of England Rugby 2015, acknowledged the need to generate fresh interest in the north as a crucial factor in the success or failure of the overall plans.

'Taking rugby union outside the traditional strongholds is a priority for us,' he said.

Football must outlaw vile chanting after Hillsborough disaster

Now respect their pain… Football has learned many lessons from tragedy but we must outlaw vile chants

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UPDATED:

21:27 GMT, 12 September 2012

Hillsborough disaster report

Click here to read the full document

They tested the blood alcohol levels of dead children.

In trying to digest the report that was published by the Hillsborough Independent Panel on Wednesday, it was hard to see beyond what David Cameron considered an astonishing decision by the coroner.

It was also hard to see beyond the needless loss of life, the sheer scale of the cover-up, the levels of corruption, the 'double injustice'.

Scroll down for video

The truth: Relatives and friends of the the victims of the Hillsborough disaster took part in a vigil outside Liverpool's St George's Hall on Wednesday

The truth: Relatives and friends of the the victims of the Hillsborough disaster took part in a vigil outside Liverpool's St George's Hall on Wednesday

Wayne Rooney returns from hospital

Rooney home from hospital after treatment for wound so deep it 'surprised' surgeons

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UPDATED:

11:31 GMT, 26 August 2012

Fantasy football 2012

Wayne Rooney has returned home from hospital after being treated for the nasty injury he sustained during Manchester United's 3-2 win over Fulham on Saturday.

Surgeons said they were 'surprised' at the depth of the cut, which looks set to keep the England star out for a month.

Rooney remained in hospital overnight as medical staff assessed the extent of the injury he sustained when Hugo Rodallega landed on him in stoppage time.

Ouch: Wayne Rooney suffered a nasty leg injury and could miss a month of action

Ouch: Wayne Rooney suffered a nasty leg injury and could miss a month of action

Immediately after the game, Sir Alex Ferguson said it was 'a very bad one'.

It seems inevitable he will miss England's opening World Cup qualifiers against Moldova and Ukraine next month.

Roy Hodgson is due to name his squad
on Thursday, at which point it will be surely too early for any risk to
be taken with Rooney's recovery.

The one reason for optimism is that
when Nani needed stitches in a nasty wound, admittedly below the knee,
inflicted by Jamie Carragher at Liverpool in March 2011, Ferguson
immediately put the recovery timescale at three weeks, yet the Portugal
winger was back in action nine days later.

With the start of another Champions
League campaign and a trip to Liverpool looming straight after the
international break, any reduction in that four-week timescale would be a
bonus for Ferguson.

Pain game: Rooney blocks Rodallega's shot but ends up cutting his thigh

Pain game: Rooney blocks Rodallega's shot but ends up cutting his thigh

Down and out: Rooney hadn't been on the pitch all that long, but was forced off on a stretcher

Down and out: Rooney hadn't been on the pitch all that long, but was forced off on a stretcher

Rodallega has been cleared of any
blame for the incident, which happened as Rooney attempted to close down
a free-kick that had just rebounded back to the Colombian.

The sheer force of Rodallega landing
on Rooney caused the damage and it appeared the Fulham man was wearing
studs, rather than the blades some have argued cause greater injury.

Rooney's condition helped deflect
attention away from the fact he did not feature in the United starting
line-up on Saturday, although Ferguson was at pains to stress there are
'no problems' with the forward.

Instead of being paired with new
signing Robin van Persie, Rooney was left on the bench as Ferguson kept
faith with Shinji Kagawa following that dire defeat at Everton on
Monday.

Rooney was amongst those to perform
well below expectations at Goodison Park and many fans yesterday
immediately hailed Ferguson's decision as the right one.

However, it must have been a blow to the striker's pride if nothing else.

Down and out: Rooney hadn't been on the pitch all that long, but was forced off on a stretcher

Hospitalised: Rooney is taken to the ambulance after suffering the injury

Hospitalised: Rooney is taken to the ambulance after suffering the injury

And with the transfer window due to
close on Friday, there is bound to be some talk of Rooney's future, if
only outside the club.

Certainly Ferguson was quick to quell such talk even as Rooney was heading to hospital.

'He and Robin van Persie are needing games,' said the Scot.

'To start the two of them would have been too much. Wayne understood that.

'There is no problem. He played his part when he came on.'

Rooney did have just three pre-season
outings, although including the Everton game, did have five hours'
action under his belt prior to kick-off, significantly more than Van
Persie, who admits he is still a couple of weeks away from full fitness.

The Dutchman expects Rooney to be his main strike partner this season.

'Wayne is a world-class player,' said the Dutchman.

'He can give you everything; assists, goals. He is quick, technical. He loves to link up as well.

'I am looking forward to that combination of course.

'I am a football fan. I like to enjoy my work. With Wayne and all the others I think I can do that.'

WAYNE'S WORLD OF PAIN

July 26, 2003
Sprained ankle
Carried off during Everton’s friendly against Rangers after a seemingly innocuous challenge and missed first game of the season.

March 29, 2004
Sprained ankle
Injured against Middlesbrough and appeared to aggravate it in England’s 1-0 friendly defeat by Sweden a week later. Missed two weeks for Everton.

June 24, 2004
Metatarsal
After starring for England during Euro 2004 he limped off during their quarter-final defeat by Portugal and was out until September.

April 29, 2006
Metatarsal
Six weeks before England’s World Cup opener he is carried off. Featured in all but one of England’s World Cup games but was below his best.

August 12, 2007
Metatarsal
A third metatarsal break in three years — this time his left foot — and misses six weeks.

Crocked: Rooney has broken his metatarsal three times

Crocked: Rooney has broken his metatarsal three times

November 9, 2007
Sprained ankle
Soon after returning he injured his ankle in training and missed England’s Euro 2008 qualifier against Croatia.

October 11, 2009
Calf strain
Injured in England’s 1-0 World Cup qualifying defeat by Ukraine and misses the 3-0 win over Belarus.

March 30, 2010
Sprained ankle
A tangle with Bayern Munich’s Mario Gomez sees Rooney injured 71 days before the World Cup. Features in the Cup but is far from his best.

January 20, 2012
Ankle/knee strains
Injured for Manchester United against Arsenal and misses 2-1 FA Cup defeat by Liverpool the following week.

August 25, 2012
Gashed leg
Ruled out for four weeks.

Steven Gerrard won"t change his Liverpool style

Stevie geed up! Fit Gerrard not yet ready to change swashbuckling style

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UPDATED:

21:30 GMT, 16 August 2012

Fantasy football 2012

Steven Gerrard has delivered a blunt message to the critics who feel he will need to alter his all-action style this season by insisting: I won’t change.

The Liverpool captain, who turned 32 in May, has been bristling at suggestions through the summer that he will have to assume a position similar to the one Manchester United’s Paul Scholes now occupies, given his advancing years.

Gerrard’s rampaging runs and sheer force of nature have been part of Liverpool’s fabric for the past 13 years but some have wondered whether, after injuries interrupted his last two campaigns, he will re-scale those heights.

All action: Steven Gerrard (right) is ready to take the new season by storm

All action: Steven Gerrard (right) is ready to take the new season by storm

The man himself, though, has no doubt that he can spearhead Liverpool’s push forward under Brendan Rodgers and, having sparkled for England at Euro 2012, Gerrard will enter the new campaign in peak condition.

‘I have spoken to the manager about what role he sees me filling,’ said Gerrard. ‘I still think he sees me as an attacking midfielder. I don’t think anything is going to change this season. I can still play a dynamic, energetic game.

‘I’m prepared to adapt. I’ll do whatever the manager wants but I can still play the same way. I think people want me to say I can’t play the same way anymore; that I will have to go deeper and play a slower game. But, believe me, it’s not happening yet.

‘I’ll play the Scholes role when I feel it’s time – but it’s not time yet. I’ve got the medical staff collecting figures every day in training. They measure your heart-rate, the amount of running you do and monitor you at high tempo, low tempo.

All action: Steven Gerrard (right) is ready to take the new season by storm

Party time: Gerrard will hope for a more successful season with Liverpool

‘They haven’t come to me and said “listen, I don’t think you can play the way you’ve been for the last 10 years”. They will do one day, they’ll come to me and say I might need to adapt, but it hasn’t come to that yet.’

Such were the frustrations Gerrard endured in 2011 with groin and ankle problems, he was left contemplating whether he would be forced to end his career but he returned to action at the beginning of 2012 to show glimpses of his best form.

That he played every minute of every game at Euro 2012, and has subsequently flourished in training since Rodgers took over, has confirmed he will go into Saturday’s opening day clash at West Brom firing on all cylinders.

Main man: Brendan Rodgers will hope to get off to a winning start

Main man: Brendan Rodgers will hope to get off to a winning start

‘I had major surgery on my groin and a big operation on my ankle through bad luck, but that’s gone,’ said Gerrard. ’My groins now are better than they’ve been for years. My figures in the Euros were as good as any player there, so I don’t need to sit in front of anyone and say I have to play a differently.

‘On the other side of it, I know I’m know I’m not going to be bombing forward ever few seconds without a care of what’s happening behind me. I do appreciate I’m no spring chicken, but I don’t think I have to justify myself or say I’m ready to play a different position.’

Gerrard, who was rested for England’s midweek victory over Italy in Switzerland, added: ‘I have got to make sure I will play well. I’ve (missed) half of the previous two seasons and it’s been frustrating because of the injuries. But I want to take my form from the Euros into the season. That is my plan.’

Euro 2012 results: Spain beat Portugal on penalties

Portugal 0 Spain 0 (aet, 2-4 on pens): Oh no Ronaldo! Star man stranded as Cesc seals it

|

UPDATED:

06:59 GMT, 28 June 2012

After strolling imperiously through this tournament, Cristiano Ronaldo stumbled home burdened by a single decision that will surely trouble him for the rest of his glorious career.

Portugal’s captain and inspiration has led his country brilliantly throughout Euro 2012, not just by the decisive nature of his football but also by the sheer force of his will and personality.

It was largely due to him that Portugal were in this semi-final at all.

Job done: Spain's players go wild as Fabregas slots the winning penalty

Job done: Spain's players go wild as Fabregas slots the winning penalty

Job done: Spain's players go wild as Fabregas slots the winning penalty
MATCH FACTS

Portugal: Rui Patricio; Joao Pereira, Pepe, Bruno Alves, Fabio Coentrao; Meireles (Varela 113), Veloso (Custodio 106), Joao Moutinho; Nani, Almeida (Nelson Oliveira 81), Ronaldo.

Subs not used: Eduardo, Quaresma, Ricardo Costa, Rolando, Ruben Micael, Miguel Lopes, Hugo Viana, Postiga, Beto.

Booked: Fabio Coentrao, Pepe, Joao Pereira, Bruno Alves, Veloso.

Spain: Casillas; Arbeloa, Pique, Sergio Ramos, Jordi Alba; Busquets, Alonso; Silva (Jesus Navas 60), Xavi (Pedro 87), Iniesta; Negredo (Fabregas 54).

Subs not used: Valdes, Albiol, Javi Martinez, Juanfran, Torres, Mata, Llorente, Santi Cazorla, Reina.

Booked: Sergio Ramos, Busquets, Arbeloa, Alonso.

Referee: Cuneyt Cakir (Turkey)

Attendance: 51,500.

On Wednesday night, though, when the
reckoning arrived, Ronaldo was to be found with his hands on his hips on
the halfway line as his country lost a penalty shootout in which he had
— remarkably — played no part.

As Cesc Fabregas’s winning penalty
struck the inside of a post and found its way into the net — ‘I said to
the ball that we had to make history and it shouldn’t let me down,’
revealed the former Arsenal man later — Ronaldo raised his arms in
exasperation. It is a familiar and irritating mannerism but on this
occasion it was understandable. Another Portuguese dream had died and he
had been central to it.

It was not clear why the Real Madrid
star was listed as Portugal’s fifth penalty taker; whether it was his
decision or that of his coach Paulo Bento. Immediately after the game,
Bento would only say: ‘We had this order. Ronaldo was fifth.’

What was beyond dispute, though, was
that it should not have happened. He is the regular penalty taker for
Real and for his country. He used to take them regularly and decisively
during his years at Manchester United.

Defender Bruno Alves, hardly the most
cultured Iberian footballer, was the Portuguese fall guy in the end.
After both countries had missed their first kicks — Xabi Alonso and Joao
Moutinho seeing their penalties saved — there were no further mistakes
until the score stood at 3-2 to Spain. Alves then smashed his team’s
fourth against the underside of the bar, meaning Ronaldo was left
stranded once Fabregas had stroked in the winner.

During the Spanish celebrations, he
was caught on Portuguese TV mouthing: ‘It’s an injustice, it’s an
injustice.’ It wasn’t really. It was a disaster brought about by
horrendous planning.

Where were you Cristiano Ronaldo (left) and his Portugal team-mates react to their defeat

Where were you Cristiano Ronaldo (left) and his Portugal team-mates react to their defeat

So near... Bruno Alves (left) hits the crossbar with his penalty in the shootout

So near… Bruno Alves (left) hits the crossbar with his penalty in the shootout

In Portugal on Thursday morning there will be
huge regret. Having never beaten their great rivals, or indeed
contested a major final, outside their own country, this was their
chance. Spain were very ordinary during a quite dreadful game.

Over the border in Spain, they will
not care now they stand one victory from becoming the first nation to
win three major tournaments in a row. After Alonso’s initial miss, they
converted the rest without trouble. Defender Sergio Ramos even
contributed a ‘Pirlo’ penalty, floated expertly into the net with deft
touch. Not bad for a player who recently crashed one into the stands
during a Champions League semi-final.

At least today we have something to talk about as the game itself, all 120 painful minutes of it, provided almost nothing.

Played in a stadium that was nowhere near full, this was a contest that rarely got out of first gear.

After all the talk before the game
about whether Spain would play with a number nine — Fernando Torres — or
a ‘false nine’ — Fabregas — coach Vicente del Bosque surprised
everybody by playing a No 11 who once almost signed for Hull City.

Putting the boot in: Nani challenges Xabi Alonso

Putting the boot in: Nani challenges Xabi Alonso

Of all the feted players on his roster, little has been said or heard about Sevilla striker Alvaro Negredo.

Nevertheless it was Negredo, for whom
Phil Brown bid 12million in 2009, who was given the job. It was a brave
move by Del Bosque, but one that did not work.

In the first half of normal time both
teams were at least trying to be ambitious. They just couldn’t find any
fluency. Spain perhaps had the better chances as Alvaro Arbeloa and
Andres Iniesta dispatched shots over the bar. At the other end Ronaldo
drove one shot wide.

Centre of attention: Ronaldo was excellent in the first half

Centre of attention: Ronaldo was excellent in the first half but fell away in the second

In the second half Del Bosque withdrew
Negredo and then the subdued David Silva. Torres never appeared,
though. One senses his tournament is over.

As the game wore on, Xavi produced the
game’s first shot on target in the 68th minute before Ronaldo drove a
couple of free-kicks over. Portugal striker Hugo Almeida was also close
with two efforts from distance while Ronaldo wasted a dramatic chance to
win it on the break in the 90th minute.

Rolling back the years: Portugal boss Paulo Bento juggles the ball on the sidelines

Rolling back the years: Portugal boss Paulo Bento juggles the ball on the sidelines

Extra time belonged to Spain in terms
of territory. Perhaps the Portuguese had tired. When the chances came,
though, they didn’t go in as Iniesta was denied point-blank by Rui
Patricio in the 103rd minute and Jesus Navas was foiled eight minutes
later.

As it turned out, the drama was yet to
come. For the first time in history we were left talking about a
penalty shootout that ultimately revolved around a guy who didn’t even
take part.

Glorious chance: Rui Patricio saves from Iniesta from point-blank range

Glorious chance: Rui Patricio saves from Iniesta from point-blank range

Key moments: Ramos (above) celebrates his cheeky penalty before Bruno Alves misses for Portugal

Key moments: Ramos (above) celebrates his cheeky penalty before Bruno Alves (below) misses for Portugal

Key moments: Ramos (above) celebrates his cheeky penalty before Bruno Alves (below) misses for Portugal

On the way to Kiev: Spain scraped through by the skin of their teeth

On the way to Kiev: Spain scraped through by the skin of their teeth

Andy Flower must stay firm with Kevin Pietersen – Paul Newman

Flower must stay firm while IPL is calling the shots for KP

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UPDATED:

22:00 GMT, 13 June 2012

Plenty to ponder: Calls are clamouring for Pietersen to perform a U-turn

Plenty to ponder: Calls are clamouring for Pietersen to perform a U-turn

Andy Flower fixed his inquisitor with a stare and did his utmost not to give any hint of his true feelings.

‘It’s a bit tricky to answer hypothetical questions,’ said England’s team director when asked if the door was still open for Kevin Pietersen to change his mind about retiring from one-day international cricket. ‘I don’t think we should go down that road.’

There is a prominent commentator who is so convinced that Pietersen will do a Frank Sinatra and one day again wear the blue of limited-overs England that he is thinking of putting money on it.

But is there really any chance of that and are England wrong to insist that Pietersen cannot play in Twenty20 cricket, thus reducing their chances of successfully defending the world trophy in Sri Lanka in September, if he bales out of the 50-over format

I share the view of Pietersen and, in truth, many other current players in feeling that the one-day international is a tired, formulaic style of the game whose days should be numbered.

There has been so much tinkering with 50-over cricket in a doomed attempt to freshen it up that I am now not sure how many power-plays are allowed, when teams can take them and how many balls they are using in an innings. Do you remember the days when substitutes were allowed to play What a great idea that was.

Everybody bar greedy administrators know there is too much cricket and something has to give if we are not going to flog elite players into the ground and bore spectators rigid with the sheer volume of it all. And to me it has to be 50-over international cricket.

Breathing space: Pietersen has freed up time in his schedule

Breathing space: Pietersen has freed up time in his schedule

More from Paul Newman…

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VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

But, while having sympathy with Pietersen’s argument, that does not make him right and England wrong to compromise the strength of their Twenty20 team by leaving him out.

Flower spent a passionate 20 minutes speaking to the press at a soggy Edgbaston at the end of the third Test when he made it clear that a key England target remains their first 50-over World Cup.

He knows exactly what would happen if he made a ‘special’ case of Pietersen and told him that, yes, his long-standing wish of retiring from 50-over cricket would be granted and he could just concentrate on the Test and Twenty20 games. Other players, probably starting with Graeme Swann, would want to do the same.

While the international calendar remains so congested Flower has to do his best to manage it and while 50-over cricket remains a big part of the game then he has to respect it.

It is abundantly clear, of course, what should give in Pietersen’s world to allow him more time with his family and to rest his body.

The Indian Premier League is a domestic competition and should play second fiddle to all international cricket. It would be lovely if all England players said no thanks to the IPL riches and dedicated themselves solely to their country, for which they get very well paid without grabbing the IPL dollar.

Pietersen will just not do that. Which is why England were right to take the stance they did and why that door really should remain shut to any one-day return.

Old blue eyes has surely taken his last encore on the international limited-overs stage.

Over the Hill

What were we saying in this column about cricket finally seeing sense about bad light and playing on with the red ball under floodlights

Well that went out of the window on Sunday when, ludicrously, umpires Tony Hill and Kumar Dharmasena twice took the players off while the Edgbaston floodlights shone down on the third Test and England were making hay with the bat.

Farce: Hill (right) and Dharmasena called the players off for bad light on day four

Farce: Hill and Dharmasena called the players off for bad light on day four

A crass lack of common sense was compounded when Hill gave an interview to Mike Atherton on Sky Sports and suggested that spectators should try facing 90mph bowling if they didn’t like it and that they only lost eight overs anyway, the implication being they should be grateful for what they got.

Not at 43 for the day’s play they should not. Not when there is so much other top quality sport they could watch instead. Hill is one of the worst umpires on the elite list. Now he has proven himself to be one of the most unenlightened, too.

Shiv mystery

The absence of Shiv Chanderpaul, the No 1 ranked batsman in Test cricket, from the third Test remains a mystery.

Darren Sammy talked of him having ‘an unfortunate incident’. It was said his shin was injured. Or maybe it was his side.

Could it just be that Chanderpaul, having not been picked for the one-day games, is the latest big name to have fallen out with West Indies and that his days as a Test batsman might be numbered

Bumble's final word…

The first Test series of the summer is done and dusted and, for England, it will get a lot harder from now on in.

One-day cricket is West Indies’ strong-suit and what a shame it is that we won’t be seeing a shoot-out between Kevin Pietersen and Chris Gayle.

But first it’s hard-hat time for me as I’m off to the Twenty20. Start the car…