Tag Archives: social

Joey Barton criticised by Paris Saint-Germain for ladyboy tweets aimed at Thiago Silva

PSG blast Marseille's Barton for 'ladyboy' tweets aimed at Brazilian defender Silva

By
James Cann, Press Association

PUBLISHED:

20:13 GMT, 3 April 2013

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UPDATED:

20:13 GMT, 3 April 2013

Paris Saint-Germain have criticised Joey Barton after the Marseille midfielder used social networking website Twitter to liken Thiago Silva to an 'overweight ladyboy'.

In a series of tweets published through his official account, the on-loan QPR player questioned whether Brazilian defender Silva was 'pre-op or post-op' and demanded an explanation why the 28-year-old had mentioned him in his pre-match press conference ahead of last night's Champions League quarter-final with Barcelona.

The Ligue 1 leaders tonight expressed their unhappiness with Barton's 'unacceptable remarks' and threatened to “take action” against the former England international.

Immense: Thiago Silva (right) played against Barcelona for Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday

Immense: Thiago Silva (right) played against Barcelona for Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday

A statement published on psg.fr read: 'In the last few hours, on social networks, unacceptable remarks have been made by Olympique Marseille player Joey Barton against Paris St Germain player Thiago Silva.

'These attacks are serious and go beyond mere verbal jousting. The directors of the club, the players and the coaching staff are supportive of Thiago Silva and cannot accept such statements.

'They reaffirm their unwavering commitment to the values of respect that should govern our sport.

'Thiago Silva and Paris St Germain reserve the right to take any action they deem necessary.'

PSG have taken issue with a series of tweets against the player which began to appear on Barton's account from yesterday afternoon.

Barton originally tweeted: 'Thiago Silva. That the same p**** thats been injured all season. Another over rated Brazilian. Sort your hamstrings out FatBoy…'

Blast: PSG have criticised the Marseille midfielder (right) for his tweets about their defender

Blast: PSG have criticised the Marseille midfielder (right) for his tweets about their defender

Joey Barton

Thiago Silva

Leap: Barton (left) demanded to know why Silva was discussing him in his pre-match press conference

The Liverpudlian was responding negatively to comments from Silva ahead of last night's game at the Parc des Princes, which finished 2-2 ahead of next week's second leg at the Nou Camp.

He continued tweeting during the game, adding: 'Have to take back what I said about Thiago Silva being over rated today. Been immense tonight. Still looks like a overweight ladyboy though!

'2 questions for Thiago Silva. Firstly, Why are YOU talking about ME, in your press conference before PSG v Barca Very strange.

'Secondly, Are you Pre-Op or Post-Op #transsexual #thiagosaladyboy

'Baffles me, which way he's going. Is he a man changing to a woman or a woman changing to a man Can't work it out.'

Inflammatory: Barton took to Twitter to slate the PSG defender

Inflammatory: Barton took to Twitter to slate the PSG defender

Speaking to L'Equipe on Monday, Silva had said: 'There is a Marseille player, I cannot remember his name, an Englishman, who has said bad things about Neymar and Brazilian football, and also about (David) Beckham and (Zlatan) Ibrahimovic.

'Because no one is talking about him, it seems it is fun for him to criticise great players for people to know he exists.'

Picture: Why is Arsenal star Emmanuel Frimpong waving a Spurs scarf ahead of north London derby?

Who is this Arsenal star with a Spurs scarf ahead of Sunday's north London derby

By
Dave Wood

PUBLISHED:

23:56 GMT, 28 February 2013

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UPDATED:

08:13 GMT, 1 March 2013

The build-up to this Sunday's eagerly-awaited north London derby is reaching fever pitch but it seems one Arsenal player may have lost all leave of his senses.

Bizarre images of Emmanuel Frimpong wearing a Captain America style mask and hat and waving a Tottenham scarf surfaced on the internet on Thursday night.

Star attraction: Frimpong entertains his fans with unusual outfit

Man overboard: Frimpong goads Spurs fans during live stream

frimpong

Centre stage: Frimpong took part in live stream with his cousin, rap star Lethal Bizzle

The midfielder, currently on loan at Fulham, donned the strange garb and goaded Spurs fans during a live stream with his cousin and rap star Lethal Bizzle.

Although it was a bit of light-hearted fun, Frimpong should really have thought twice about his internet show after being caught out using social media in the past.

He was fined 6,000 and warned over his future behaviour after admitting to a Football Association charge of improper conduct related to comments made on Twitter.

frimpong

Super hero Frimpong does his best Captain America impression

frimpong

Frimpong responded to a comment made by a Tottenham fan on July 15 and although he soon removed the tweet from the social networking site, it caught the attention of the FA.

The comment made by the Spurs supporter was retweeted by Frimpong, who also added the derogatory term that incurred the FA's wrath.

Gary Lineker deleted Twitter to spend more time with family

Twitter was taking over my life, admits Lineker after deciding to say goodbye to his 1.3m followers

By
John Drayton

PUBLISHED:

10:16 GMT, 20 January 2013

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UPDATED:

11:35 GMT, 20 January 2013

Gary Lineker left Twitter because the social networking site had begun to ‘take over’.

The Match of the Day presenter had stated that he had deleted his account for ‘personal reasons’ last week.

But the former England striker has elaborated on his reasons for leaving Twitter, and said that he would like to spend more time with his family.

Quit: Gary Lineker left Twitter to spend more time with his family

Quit: Gary Lineker left Twitter to spend more time with his family

The 51-year-old told The Sun: ‘I left twitter because it tends to take over and I thought I would try life without it. There is absolutely nothing sinister about the decision at all.'

Lineker had become one of the most followed users in Britain – with 1.3million fans – since he started tweeting last year.

However the ex-Tottenham hitman was targeted by one internet troll last year, who joked about his son George’s battle with leukaemia. Lineker later said the disgusting taunts made him feel ‘physically sick’.

Lineker has four sons with his ex-wife and is now married to former model Danielle Bux, who has a daughter from a previous relationship.

The TV pundit’s final tweet – posted on Friday – said: ‘I’m leaving Twitter for personal reasons . Thanks all.’

They think it's all over... it is now for Gary Lineker with this final message

They think it's all over… it is now for Gary Lineker with this final message

Marvin Sordell being helped for "obsession" with Twitter and Facebook

Bolton forward Sordell being helped for 'obsession' with Twitter and Facebook

By
Lee Bryan

PUBLISHED:

20:59 GMT, 8 January 2013

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UPDATED:

21:25 GMT, 8 January 2013

Bolton striker Marvin Sordell is being helped by his club for a possible 'obsession' with social networking sites.

Wanderers' manager Dougie Freedman revealed the striker Marvin Sordell was being advised about his excessive use of Twitter and Facebook.

Freedman, speaking on BBC Radio Manchester this morning, added that the 21-year-old had found it difficult to settle since moving to the Lancashire club from Watford last February.

Social networking addiction: Marvin Sordell is being helped

Social networking addiction: Marvin Sordell is being helped

Sordell was the victim of abuse on Twitter and Facebook this season, following an incident in which a 13-year-old Millwall fan was banned for racially abusing him during a match.

Freedman said social networking is a new problem for coaches to deal with.

'It could be bordering on an obsession with Twitter and Facebook and all the things that go on with these kids,' he said in the Daily Telegraph.

'We are trying to work with him – by taking his phone off him.'

Sick: One person threatened Sordell with this vile image on Facebook

Sick: One person threatened Sordell with this vile image on Facebook

Snooker halls, pubs, golf courses and betting shops used to the be the favourite domain of off-duty players but nowadays it seems cyberspace is where many spend their free time.

As the wages of Premier League stars continue to spiral into the stratosphere, Twitter has become a useful interface between fans and players they idolise.

While much of it is harmless knockabout chit-chat, such as avid contributor Rio Ferdinand's revelation on Monday that he was cooking 'smoke salmon fillets with rice and tomatoes' the rapid growth of Twitter also causes problems.

Twitter lover: Rio Ferdinand can't get enough of the social network

Twitter lover: Rio Ferdinand can't get enough of the social network

Ferdinand, whose three million followers get regular updates on the school run, his musical tastes and occasionally some football insight, has fallen foul of his itchy Twitter finger.

In July he sparked a row when he praised a Tweet from a follower describing Chelsea defender Ashley Cole as a 'choc ice' – a term that can be used as a slur to describe black people who are seen to betray their own ethnicity.

Ferdinand was slapped with a 45,000 pounds fine by the Football Association and is not the only United player to discover the dangers of Twitter.

Wayne Rooney became embroiled in various rows with rival fans, threatening to put one 'to sleep in 10 seconds' after being on the receiving end of abuse.

Volatile: Joey Barton often rants on Twitter

Volatile: Joey Barton often rants on Twitter

Former Manchester City, Newcastle United and Queens Park Rangers midfielder Joey Barton, now at French club Olympique Marseille, regularly takes to Twitter as his preferred mode of communicating his thoughts.

When not passing himself off as a de-facto 'people's philosopher' Barton's can often be seen ranting at his critics.

There have been many other clashes on Twitter, with the relationship between players and former professionals turned pundits, particularly volatile.

Liverpool defender Glen Johnson took exception to former England midfielder Paul Merson saying on Sky Sports that #he couldn't defend for toffee', launching a volley of abuse at Merson from his telephone keypad.

Most clubs provide their players with guidelines about using Twitter and Facebook.

Alex McLeish: I"ll win over Nottingham Forest fans with positive results

I'll banish negative reputation with positive results, insists McLeish after Forest fans' backlash against new boss

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UPDATED:

21:53 GMT, 28 December 2012

Alex McLeish mounted a sterling defence of his managerial methods as he countered criticism that his appointment is a backward step for Nottingham Forest.

The Scot returned to the game following an eight-month absence after his sacking by Aston Villa, struggling to shake off the perception that he was a negative coach.

Social networking sites were awash with opposition to his arrival but the former Rangers coach brushed aside suggestions that he would dismantle what Sean O'Driscoll had left behind.

I'm in charge: Alex McLeish poses with a Nottingham Forest shirt at the City Ground on Friday

I'm in charge: Alex McLeish poses with a Nottingham Forest shirt at the City Ground on Friday

'I am an organised coach,' said the erstwhile protege of Sir Alex Ferguson. 'I can't apologise for that. I think people might be confusing the issue.

'I could have nine positives on my CV and one negative and some people would point out the negative.

'Winning games will help get the fans behind me. It's not as if I'm Jose Mourinho walking in here and it's a unanimously popular decision.

'Some of the fans may not be with me but if we win games and play the kind of football that they produced against Leeds, there's no reason why we cannot get everyone singing from the same hymn sheet.

'The situation here is simple. If it ain't broke, why fix it We have a good bunch of players playing good football.

'What I've got to do is brainwash these guys into have winning mentalities.

Back on the training pitch: McLeish on Friday morning during his first session as Forest boss

Back on the training pitch: McLeish on Friday morning during his first session as Forest boss

'You don't do that by winning against Leeds, then losing the next game. That means winning against Leeds, then winning the game after that…and the one after that.

'I think there is a few players in our dressing-room who are capable of that.'

McLeish has agreed a one-year rolling contract with Forest and his assistant at Villa Park, Peter Grant, will be joining him at the City Ground.

His brief is to 'mount a very serious challenge' and, in fairness to the Scot, it was not his fault that O'Driscoll was making a decent fist of that before the axe fell on Boxing Day.

McLeish said that the job was a 'wonderful opportunity' but that he needed a break after an horrific end to his stay at Villa Park. A text reading 'Welcome back to the asylum' from Ipswich boss Mick McCarthy was received with a smile.

Unwanted reputation: The former Scotland boss is ready to prove certain disapproving fans wrong

Unwanted reputation: The former Scotland boss is ready to prove certain disapproving fans wrong

'It was a difficult job at Villa but one I met head on,' he said, 'It was great to get over the line despite the catalogue of horrors we had there.

'It had been draining. I was on a bit of a downer after leaving Birmingham.

'But I don't regret it. It's just that the glove maybe didn't fit.

'It wasn't easy at Villa. It's not easy to turn that club around overnight with a few changes. Paul (Lambert) is maybe finding that. It's been a roller-coaster for him.

'But that's in the past now as far as I'm concerned. I'm at Nottingham Forest now and I couldn't be more delighted with that.'

Liam Brady fed up with Arsenal youngsters risking career for celebrity life

Arsenal legend Brady slams flash kids who think they've made it in the game

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UPDATED:

12:14 GMT, 12 December 2012

Arsenal youngsters are risking their careers as they are being blinded by the cult of celebrity, according to their head of youth development.

Gunners legend Liam Brady blames the likes of Twitter for many players thinking they are famous before they have broken into the first team.

The 56-year-old insists the club is fighting a cultural battle with their British youngsters over their lifestyles.

Too much, too young: Liam Brady (left) has hit out at celebrity culture among footballers and has heaped some of the blame on social networking sites

Too much, too young: Liam Brady (left) has hit out at celebrity culture among footballers and has heaped some of the blame on social networking sites

Speaking in the latest issue of Four Four Two magazine, Brady said: 'I think we're still fighting the battle of the culture here.

'The Italian boys or any other of the boys we bring over from abroad at a young age, we don't lose many of them because of lifestyle.

'They're here because they want to be footballers, they see it as being another 20 years in the game.

'A lot of the English kids, it's a battle to get them to see it like that – to get them to take their football as seriously. That's hard, that's a real challenge.'

Asked if they get enthralled by the celebrity lifestyle too early he replied: 'Absolutely, and technology does us no favours in keeping players' feet on the ground.

'You've got guys writing blogs about them, how they're playing in the Under 15s.

'You've got our players tweeting, giving
these people information about their lives – telling them what they're
up to. They think they're celebrities.

Great expectations: Jermaine Pennant (left) joined Arsenal as a youngster and is now at Wolves on loan from Stoke after several moves over the years

Great expectations: Jermaine Pennant (left) joined Arsenal as a youngster and is now at Wolves on loan from Stoke after several moves over the years

'Take Jermaine Pennant, perhaps the most technical player ever to play for our academy or our youth team. Instinct, control, great crosser of the ball, good striker of the ball, speed.

'But he had some difficulties growing up, and actually where he has got to with his life has been a success.

'But he didn't have what it took from an overall perspective to stay here and work with Arsene Wenger.'

Rio Ferdinand coin fallout: Football in gutter after Manchester derby

It has been a superb sporting year… but football's only gold medal is for hatred

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UPDATED:

22:50 GMT, 10 December 2012

Sport can be cruel, Arthur Hopcraft wrote 44 years ago in The Football Man, which remains the most compelling book written about the game in this country. He went on: 'Football can make a man more ridiculous even than drink.' With that arrow the archer split the tree.

Hopcraft's book, written in the afterglow of England's World Cup triumph, can still be read with pleasure for its unrivalled examination of the people who play and watch football, and the author's expertise in placing the English game in a social context. It is a masterpiece.

What would Hopcraft make of the cesspit that English football resembles these days A man from a humble background, who educated himself, he was one of those old-fashioned football romantics who saw the game as part of that education.

Cauldron of hate: Police separate City and United fans at the Etihad and (below) Joe Hart stops Matthew Stott getting to Rio Ferdinand

Cauldron of hate: Police separate City and United fans at the Etihad and
(below) Joe Hart stops Matthew Stott getting to Rio Ferdinand

Cauldron of hate: Police separate City and United fans at the Etihad and (below) Joe Hart stops Matthew Stott getting to Rio Ferdinand

Had he been born four decades later would he want to write such a book Or would he conclude that the game is so filthy that it wasn't worth five minutes of his time

At the end of a wonderful sporting year, maybe the greatest year of all, football lies in the doghouse. Our Olympians, led by the magnificent Jessica Ennis, wear their gold medals with modesty. Bradley Wiggins and Andy Murray are champions, and our golfers stand supreme.

At rugby we have just beaten the All Blacks by 17 points. In cricket Alastair Cook is leading his men to a notable victory in India. Yet in football, wherever one looks, there is disgrace.

Bradley Wiggins

Andy Murray

Pride of Britain: Bradley Wiggins and Andy Murray have enjoyed fantastic sporting years

When players are not diving, they are abusing referees or demanding salaries out of all proportion to their talents. Managers, when not heaping abuse on match officials, prefer to look the other way. The FA, supposedly the guardians of the game, retreat when they should advance.

Then there are the fans. You know the type, those lovely folk who spend every Saturday afternoon and many nights of the week spitting poison at anybody who comes within a coin's throw.

The Manchester derby on Sunday was a rousing affair, won eventually by Robin van Persie's stoppage-time free-kick, but the abiding image was of Rio Ferdinand ending the game in a daze, a bloody cut above his left eye, as a City supporter expressed his hatred in the way he thought best.

Bloody mess: Rio Ferdinand was targeted by City supporters after celebrating Van Persie's winner

Bloody mess: Rio Ferdinand was targeted by City supporters after celebrating Van Persie's winner

The other image that remains is a familiar one, but it supports the view that football is a great game that attracts pigs. Behind the goal into which Van Persie shot the winning goal a photograph revealed rows of police officers separating the opposing fans.

Without that not-so-thin yellow line there would have been a riot, just as there would be riots on other grounds the length and breadth of the kingdom if police officers and stewards were not present in their hundreds.

This season has begun with a cascade of fan-related incidents: pitch invasions, racist chants and the general nastiness that football fans have made their stock in trade since Hopcraft put his pen down in 1968.

Centre of attention: London staged an incredible Olympic Games with a 'human face' which hasn't been transferred over to football

Centre of attention: London staged an incredible Olympic Games with a 'human face' which hasn't been transferred over to football

Football has always aroused strong feelings, wherever it is played. But when it comes to hatred inspired by football – and hatred is surely the word – we take some budging from the gold medallist's rostrum.

Even in our spanking new stadiums, filled, we are often told, by a new breed of supporter, the hatred burns on an intense flame. And many of the people doing the hating are those brought up in the Seventies, when grounds really were dangerous places to visit.

They are men (almost always men) in their 50s and 60s for whom the Saturday afternoon ritual remains an imperishable part of human experience.

Some people wondered, after London staged an Olympic Games with a human face, whether that spirit could carry over into the football season. Well, they know now.

Arrest: A fan is escorted off the pitch by police after confronting United defender Ferdinand during Sunday's derby

Arrest: A fan is escorted off the pitch by police after confronting United defender Ferdinand during Sunday's derby

Don't be deceived by the talk of 'passion', that most over-rated of qualities. The behaviour at most football grounds would not be tolerated in any other sport. In rugby spectators who behaved as they do at football matches would be marched out of the ground, no questions asked.

We are talking here about significant numbers who rejoice in the tribalism that football encourages. In no other sport is hatred endorsed as a way of life.

Consider how often managers and players refer to 'the fans' as if fandom was a benign phenomenon. If they actually had to sit among the people they praise they might change their tune. Or perhaps they wouldn't.

Perhaps football is now so degraded as a public entertainment that the people who work in the game can no longer distinguish acceptable behaviour from the other sort. It's not as if the fans can take any kind of lead from the players they pay so much to watch.

Rio Ferdinand

Rio Ferdinand

Under siege: Ferdinand was left with blood pouring from his head after he was struck by a 2p coin

It has been argued that football reflects society, and our society is increasingly dominated by self-obsession, instant gratification, and a corrosive celebrity culture. Many footballers are themselves celebrities, whether or not they can kick a ball.

Despite the commercial success of the Premier League we are not living through a golden age of English football. Should you doubt it, consider this barely believable fact: Stewart Downing, a journeyman midfielder, has played more times for England than Tony Currie, Alan Hudson, Charlie George and Peter Osgood put together. And those gentlemen could play.

Yet rugby, league and union, reflects our society as well, and nobody has to segregate fans on their grounds. There are boorish rugby players, and unpleasant supporters, but nobody feels the need to shout obscenities at opposing fans, or make hissing noises to denote the gassing of Jews. In football it is all in a day's work.

We are also told, sometimes by those who have rarely set foot in a football ground, that such 'boisterous' behaviour is part of 'working-class' culture and is something to be celebrated. That is not a view that would find favour with those working-class folk who used to attend matches, and who managed to behave with a fervour tempered by a respect for others. In any case football is hardly a working-class activity these days.

A fan who follows his team throughout the season is likely to spend up to 5,000 in tickets, travelling and booze. Not many people on modest incomes can manage that.

No, today's yobbos are decidedly affluent compared with their predecessors, who wore flat caps and lit up Woodbines over their cups of Bovril. Football could stop it in a trice if the will was there. The FA could close those grounds where people misbehaved, or dock points for persistent misconduct. Managers could use public statements and programme notes to denounce offenders with strong words, not platitudes.

Something else happened in 1968, when Hopcraft's book was published. John Arlott, another great journalist, stopped covering football, a game he loved, because it had become 'seedy'.

It sounds almost polite these days, seedy, like some Bayswater boarding house. Today we are obliged to use more powerful words, and every one holds the game to account: a reckoning that nobody, not the players, not the fans, not the wretched FA, feels obliged to honour.

Lee Westwood to play Greg Norman for short-game returns – Derek Lawrenson

Long-haul Lee swims with the Shark for short-game returns

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UPDATED:

22:30 GMT, 26 November 2012

Where next for Lee Westwood in his search for salvation on and around the greens Here’s an eye-catching name – Greg Norman.

Before anyone adds the Aussie great to the long list of hired help Westwood has acquired over the years in the short-game department, it should be said that seeing Norman will be more along the lines of two friends getting together for some social golf and bouncing ideas off one another.

‘Lee has always been an admirer of Greg’s short-game technique,’ said Westwood’s manager Chubby Chandler. So it is that when the Englishman begins his brave new adventure in Florida in January he will seek out a long-time pal and neighbour for some brain-storming.

Old pals: Lee Westwood (right) with Australian legend Greg Norman

Old pals: Lee Westwood (right) with Australian legend Greg Norman

Not just Norman, either. Nick Price, another legend with a gossamer touch, also lives in the vicinity. Then there are contemporaries Charl Schwartzel and Louis Oosthuizen, who are both moving to the same gated community as Westwood at Old Palm, near Fort Lauderdale. There’s also Ernie Els and Luke Donald.

This will be the first time in his career that Westwood will play some serious social golf against players of his own calibre. Up to now, he has always lived miles from anyone, in Worksop. Imagine what difference it might make to his short game mixing with the likes of Norman and Els, and playing regular $100 money games with a competitive edge.

It can only help in terms of sharpness, can’t it The Norman connection is particularly intriguing. One of the finest victories of Westwood’s career came as a young man playing against the Shark in his ferocious prime at the Australian Open. It gave Westwood the belief to go on an astonishing run that would see him claim 17 more victories over the next three seasons.

Fifteen years on, could the wily Norman prove the catalyst once more We can but hope.

More from Derek Lawrenson…

Derek Lawrenson: If Augusta can see sense on women members, why can't the R&A
12/11/12

Derek Lawrenson: It's already been a November to remember
05/11/12

Derek Lawrenson: HSBC Championship shows golf faces hurricane alert over fees
29/10/12

World of Golf: Rose blooming, so let’s not rake over the coals
22/10/12

Derek Lawrenson: Overpaid Most earnings aren't on a par with Rose's fortune
15/10/12

Derek Lawrenson: It's a Turkish delight as eight greats battle it out for big bucks
08/10/12

Derek Lawrenson: Why we should be saying Yanks for the memories to gracious losers
01/10/12

Derek Lawrenson: McIlroy a victim of trash talk in American press ahead of Ryder Cup
24/09/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

About time too

Given the chronic lack of tournament golf in England at a time of vast riches in the playing department, the idea of three events taking place in the country in 2014 is a pleasant one indeed.

Traditionalists too will be cheered immensely by the prospect of the Volvo World Match Play returning home, if only for one year. This event has been held in Spain for the last two years and will break new ground in Bulgaria next season. The idea after that is for it to rotate between three nations, with England next up.

If the plan comes to fruition, it would mean two events in England in May — the other being the flagship PGA Championship at Wentworth — alongside The Open at Royal Liverpool in July.

Quote of the week

‘Every goal I set myself at the start of 2012 I’ve achieved this year. It really doesn’t get any better than that and I’m already excited about 2013.’

How typical that while patting himself on the back with one hand, Rory McIlroy should be driving himself forward with the other. Rory’s era has begun in truly thrilling fashion.

Simply the best: Rory McIlroy has enjoyed a quite brilliant year on the course

Simply the best: Rory McIlroy has enjoyed a quite brilliant year on the course

Long putter: Open champion Ernie Els

Long putter: Open champion Ernie Els

Belly rumbles

Is tomorrow the big day in terms of a decision from the governing bodies regarding the vexed subject of the belly putter

Such were the whispers in Dubai last week. ‘We’re about to have some fun and games,’ said Luke Donald, smiling.

Rather than a straight ban, most of the money is on a form of wording that effectively prevents any player from anchoring a putter to his body. Which would be a smart way of effectively bringing in a ban while reducing the chances of this ending up in a messy court battle — the fun and games to which Donald refers.

No changes to the Rules of Golf can be introduced until the next review in 2016, but there is some talk it will be introduced in the professional game before then. Among the players who would be affected are three of the last five major winners — Keegan Bradley, Webb Simpson and Ernie Els.

Bold course for new ideas

Any talk of changes to the Old Course at St Andrews is always a move into ‘painting a moustache on the face of the Mona Lisa’ territory.

So it was that the Royal and Ancient Golf Club got another shellacking last week following the announcement, in conjunction with the St Andrews Links Trust who manage the course, of a number of changes before The Open is held there in 2015. It has to be said, some of the planned amendments sound positively radical.

Widening the Road Hole bunker and recontouring the area around it, for example; the first alterations to the 11th green for about 250 years.

Let’s go easy on the outrage, however, and have a little faith in the two bodies in question. After all, they have more to lose than anyone.

James McClean poppy snub: Police probe death threats

Police probe McClean death threats after Sunderland star's poppy snub

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UPDATED:

12:12 GMT, 19 November 2012

Police have opened an investigation into allegations that Sunderland winger James McClean has been the target of death threats.

The 23-year-old was criticised for his decision not to wear a Remembrance Day poppy on his shirt during the Black Cats' 2-1 defeat at Everton last weekend.

The Republic of Ireland international subsequently received a mixed response from the travelling Sunderland supporters when he was introduced as a second-half substitute during Sunday's 3-1 victory at Fulham.

Threat: McClean refused to wear a poppy in Sunderland's game against Everton

Threat: McClean refused to wear a poppy in Sunderland's game against Everton

It is understood that threats have
been directed towards McClean on Twitter, a social networking site which
the player no longer uses, with police confirming yesterday they are
investigating.

A statement released by Northumbria
Police read: 'Police are carrying out inquiries following a third party
report of threats made on social networking sites.

'Officers have spoken to Sunderland AFC and inquiries are ongoing.'

Substitute: McClean came off the bench in Sunderland's win over Fulham

Substitute: McClean came off the bench in Sunderland's win over Fulham

After Sunday's game, Black Cats
manager Martin O'Neill confirmed McClean had received death threats, and
backed him to rise above any negative reaction from fans concerning his
choice not to wear a poppy.

O'Neill said: 'James will deal with it (the booing).

'I think it is to do with the issue last week, it's a free choice in this world.

'James has lived with a lot of things – he's getting death threats too now so that doesn't help.'

Ex-British soldier Cody Lachey
posted pictures of bullets on McClean's Twitter timeline and one of his
tweets said: 'he deserves to be shot dead + body dragged past the
cenotaph!!'

Anti-terror police were told of the
threats and police investigated them. The 29-year-old doorman has not
been charged and has said since he is no longer a threat to the
Sunderland player.

It was a scar on one of Sunderland's better afternoons where they won their first away match since February.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic finally justified the hype v England

Zlatan's a genius! Arrogant enigma’s wonder goal finally justifies his bragging

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UPDATED:

22:44 GMT, 15 November 2012

Zlatan Ibrahimovic gave himself the perfect 10 but for once he may have been guilty of underestimating his own importance.

For a start there was the wonder goal, a 30-yard propeller kick, the final piece in his four-goal demolition of England which quickly became an internet sensation, hailed as one of the best goals ever.

But there was more to it, because after a night when the Swedes declared their handsome new national stadium open for business, their captain’s heroics were considered capable of healing social wounds and stemming the rise of the political far-right in the country.

Staggering: Zlatan Ibrahimovic scores his fourth goal against England

Staggering: Zlatan Ibrahimovic scores his fourth goal against England

It was, in short, some performance. ‘Zlatan’s Arena’ wrote the newspaper Expressen in honour of Ibrahimovic, who was born in Sweden of mixed Balkan descent. He is, indeed, some footballer, although it wasn’t always quite like this. Just as England debate how to get the best from Wayne Rooney, the Swedes for years did the same with their talisman.

Ibrahimovic had everything a modern centre forward might want and he won the title each year, be it with Ajax, Juventus, Inter, Barcelona or AC Milan. Yet rarely did he summon such form with any consistency in a Sweden shirt.

When England beat the Swedes in a friendly at Wembley this time last year, he was anonymous, apparently uninterested, emitting strong vibes of impatience at the failings of his team-mates. It came soon after the publication of his book I, Zlatan in which he dared to criticise Pep Guardiola and recalled how he told the all-conquering Barcelona boss: ‘I am a Ferrari and you are driving me as if I am a Fiat.’

His strike-rate against English teams had been appalling, even though in 2010 he scored twice for Barca against Arsenal. Despite his unwavering self-belief, Ibrahimovic was conscious of popular opinion in England. The statistics would roll out every time he played here, along with the fact that, for all his posturing arrogance, he has failed to win the Champions League.

Main man: Ibrahimovic scored all four goals as England were beaten

Main man: Ibrahimovic scored all four goals as England were beaten

This year, however, something changed regarding Ibra the Enigma and his relationship with English football. It started when AC Milan destroyed Arsenal in the San Siro in February. Ibrahimovic scored once but there was more.

He was majestic as he orchestrated a 4-0 win for the Italian champions and he tormented England again in Kiev at Euro 2012, where he was the best player on the pitch despite defeat, as he embraced his new responsibilities in the national team.

When Erik Hamren took control he made a significant tactical tweak, abandoning the 4-4-2 formation to which Swedish football had been wed for many years.

Hamren adopted the increasingly fashionable 4-2-3-1 system but Ibrahimovic, who seemed to be the perfect centre forward for such a system, would be his playmaker in the No 10 role, as well as his captain.

In Stockholm, the stage was set as Sweden declared its new 50,000-seat Friends Arena open for business with the nation locked in a debate about immigration, prompted by growing support for far-right party Sweden Democrats.

Thorn: Ibrahimovic was also impressive last season when AC Milan beat Arsenal

Thorn: Ibrahimovic was also impressive last season when AC Milan beat Arsenal

Ibrahimovic, born in Malmo to parents from Bosnia and Croatia, is a totem for Sweden in the 21st century and his heroics against England on Wednesday were celebrated across the country.

After recovering from four down to draw 4-4 with Germany in a World Cup qualifier last month, Swedish fans rejoiced in a thrilling 4-2 win against England, the beauty of the final goal and one of the great individual efforts. But there was more.

Sportbladet dubbed him ‘Sweden’s Pride’, and Pontus Wernbloom said: ‘They probably weren’t happy with that, the idiots. I hope Zlatan shut them up.’

Kim Kallstrom added: ‘He is a modern Swede who stands for new Sweden. With foreign-born parents and certain problems in society, he can hopefully unite the country in a good way.’

If he does this, Ibrahimovic may be justified in upgrading the mark he awarded himself for his contribution to Swedish football from a 10 to an 11.