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Chelsea fans should be careful what they wish for from Roman Abramovich – Des Kelly

Fans should be careful what they wish for… or Roman might end up giving them their old Chelsea back after all



00:24 GMT, 1 December 2012

They have a song at Stamford Bridge that brings together thousands of unhappy supporters. It bubbles up in between the boos aimed at the current patsy in the manager’s dug out.

It punctuates the painfully long and uncomfortable silences that have distinguished games at the London ground of late. The cry is: ‘We Want Our Chelsea Back’.

This chorus reverberates around the stadium.

Winter storm: Angry Chelsea supporters protest against the appointment of Rafa Benitez

Winter storm: Angry Chelsea supporters protest against the appointment of Rafa Benitez

Winter storm: Angry Chelsea supporters protest against the appointment of Rafa Benitez


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Who knows Maybe Roman Abramovich sits there humming along, too, while he stares into space and ponders precisely when he is going to sack his most recent appointment.

But I have a question: Which Chelsea do the fans want back What are they actually nostalgic for

Are they singing for a return to the ‘good old days’ when you could stand in The Shed and try to make out the players somewhere in the distance beyond an old running track. The days when you could kick bits of concrete about, dash from the police truncheons and wait to hear if the Greater London Council would allow Ken Bates to turn on his electric fence

Or are they pining for the Chelsea that just preceded Abramovich, the Chelsea where nobody really knew who the owners were The one with shiny new stands and some shops, but teetering on the brink of bankruptcy with debts of around 80million

Or maybe folk are just nostalgic for those hazy, barely-remembered days when Chelsea were not only European Champions but top of the Premier League table as well. When was it now Oh, yes. About five weeks ago. A golden age, I’m sure we can all agree.

We want our Chelsea back I’m afraid it hasn’t been anyone’s Chelsea except Abramovich’s since the moment he walked through the door, beamed a billionaire’s smile at Bates and bought the club by withdrawing the equivalent of a few days’ interest from his current account. In that moment, the club was his and his alone.

Trigger happy: Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich

Keeping the seat warm: Rafael Benitez

Keepnig the seat warm: How long will Rafael Benitez last under trigger happy Roman Abramovich (left)

The oil tycoon hasn’t exactly said a great deal over the years, but on Day One he certainly signaled his intentions clearly enough. ‘Chelsea is a hobby,’ he said. ‘It is for fun, not an investment,’ he added. As those words spread across the land you could hear the balding heads of chairmen and directors hit their mahogany desks with a despairing thud. Abramovich instantly re-wrote the rules in the English Premier League. Out went the ‘local businessman made good’. In came the ‘global oligarchs who could do whatever they flaming well liked’.

Chelsea was – and is – just another toy for him. The yachts, the private jets, the luxury properties, the cars, are all fine, but he had himself a real-life computer game. He could buy, sell, sack and move anyone he cared to.

Right now Abramovich wants to be proved right on Fernando Torres and everyone and everything is being realigned on his personal board game to try to make that happen. To all the people singing about ‘our Chelsea’, I’m afraid it isn’t. At Chelsea, everyone pays to watch Abramovich play.

Good old days The old Shed End at Stamford Bridge was long gone before Roman arrived

Good old days The old Shed End at Stamford Bridge was long gone before Roman arrived

Before Abramovich: Frank Sinclair (above) and Jody Morris (below) in action for Chelsea

Before Abramovich: Frank Sinclair (above) and Jody Morris (below) in action for Chelsea

Before Abramovich: Frank Sinclair (above) and Jody Morris (below) in action for Chelsea

He needs the fans only to make some noise and keep him company. He could probably sack the lot of you and tell his players to perform in an empty stadium if he had a mind.

So if you’re a fan unhappy with what is happening at Stamford Bridge, why on earth are you jeering Rafa Benitez He just answered the telephone when the Russian got bored of the last boss.

The Spaniard has done nothing wrong. He took on a task any out-of-work manager (except Pep Guardiola) would seize with both hands, if only for the inevitable pay off. Booing him for not being Roberto Di Matteo, Jose Mourinho or even Guardiola seems futile and somewhat self-defeating.

More from Des Kelly…

Des Kelly: I'm sorry, but Chelsea are an utter disgrace

Des Kelly: Ibrahimovic's goal was NOT the greatest ever scored

Des Kelly: Just man up like Rod and let your teardrops explode

Des Kelly: No Chelsea player heard Terry abuse Ferdinand… now they're blessed with the hearing of a piano tuner

Des Kelly: The finger of blame will only point at you, Roberto

Des Kelly: Now it is time for football's three monkeys to wise up

Des Kelly: Really, what are these people who support Armstrong on

Des Kelly: Terry affair must not derail battle to defeat racism… so let's stop the schism


There’s a strange echo of this scenario happening at Arsenal. They are singing ‘We Want Our Arsenal back’. Only I’m not sure how they intend that to happen.

Do they want Arsene Wenger to rewind the clock to the days before he had to compete with Russian oil moguls and Middle Eastern sheiks, when the Gunners thrived in their old stadium, as if that would cure the trophy drought

When they say ‘Our Arsenal’, does that mean they want it taken out of the hands of the major shareholder American Stan Kroenke and put in the control of Uzbekistan’s Alisher Usmanov instead Does that give Arsenal back

It’s very confusing.

Supporters at Stamford Bridge are too timid to abuse Abramovich in case he spins on his heel and actually does return Chelsea to them, which would be a disaster. So they abuse Benitez instead.

At The Emirates, fans are rightly nervous of losing Arsene Wenger. So club chief executive Ivan Gazidis gets it in the neck instead, because he earns a few quid and nobody’s really sure whose fault it is when Robin van Persie flees.

Fans can certainly complain if they wish. There is a grand tradition of football rage. But the followers of both clubs should be careful for what they wish. Nostalgia is a seductive liar.

I may need a lawyer… any ideas

The not very shy, but hopefully retiring, Peter Herbert, chairman of the Society of Black Lawyers, took time out from lecturing the world last week to cast his organisation as ‘victims’.

He complained: ‘The Society of Black Lawyers, in seeking to challenge racism in football, has been accused of being “nave”, “publicity-seeking”, “unhelpful” or out to “get work”. Organisations or individuals who speak out on human rights are seldom welcomed by those whose inaction or collusion with racism is challenged.’

Actually, Herbert is wrong.

The Society Of Black Lawyers has not been accused of using football has a vehicle for shameless self-promotion. But I think he’ll find an individual called Peter Herbert has.

It is an impression bolstered somewhat by Herbert’s website, which, as the football365 website helpfully pointed out, is lovingly adorned with an array of pictures of Herbert, posing alongside the Rev Al Sharpton, or a Mercedes. Clearly, he is not averse to the limelight.

But something occurred to me. In recent weeks, I believe I have referred to Herbert as being nave, publicity seeking, unhelpful and out to get work. So is he accusing me of ‘colluding with racism’ If so it is an outrageous charge.

I should consult a good lawyer. I wonder if Herbert knows of one

Quote of the week

‘If I was going to lie to you, honestly, I
would lie.’

Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert — or ‘Honest Paul’, as he
will now be known — strengthens the case for the use of lie detector
machines in football press conferences.

Who are you kidding, Becks

David Beckham is leaving Los Angeles and could be heading for Monaco. What on earth would attract the star footballer to the multi-millionaires’ favourite enclave Could it be the fact that his salary would top 10 million a year before tax Or, indeed, after tax, too

With overwhelming optimism, Beckham also says he has not ruled out appearing for England under Roy Hodgson. In a similar vein, I have not ruled out a night of nude wrestling with Megan Fox.

Feeling Scott-free does not mean it’s gone swimmingly

The postmortem into British Swimming’s failures in the pool at London 2012 is still under wraps, despite Michael Scott’s departure.

The performance director quit last weekend. I was happy to reveal the news on these pages after pointing out the lunacy of an arrangement where Scott was often trying to direct Team GB’s performance from Melbourne, some 10,500 miles away.

The group reviewing British Swimming’s Olympic underachievement agreed and wisely recommended Scott either move to the country that paid his 1.3million contract — or depart.

Quit: Former British swimming chief Michael Scott

Quit: Former British swimming chief Michael Scott

Scott decided to quit. His air fares
alone would have paid for a few British coaches. When the news broke,
the share price of companies trading in dry roasted peanuts plummeted,
but hardly anyone batted an eyelid.

Except for British Swimming chief executive David Sparkes. He said: ‘We wish to pay tribute to Michael. He leaves with our sincere thanks.’

But then Sparkes would say that, since it was he who handed Scott a new four-year deal in April.
We can assume he did not consider his performance director’s regular absences an issue, only to find himself contradicted and undermined by the review body he set up.

Quite a tricky situation for a chief executive to distance himself from, I’d say. If the plan for your chosen performance director implodes, inevitably there are calls for accountability further up the chain of command.

They seem to understand this Down Under. When Australian Swimming set about an independent review, following an equally disappointing showing in the London pool, their chief executive promptly quit.

Kevin Neil, Swimming Australia CEO, said: ‘We are undertaking various reviews to set a course for a new future and it is therefore appropriate to step aside.’

So, in Australia, the man in charge decided to carry the can. In Britain, the man in charge tries to kick the can somewhere else.

British Swimming currently has no head coach, no performance director and no head of finance. There are also suggestions that Sparkes is barely on speaking terms with his No 2, Ian Mason, who is grandly titled ‘The Director of World Class Operations’, although a simple ‘Director of Operations’ should suffice for now.

It’s not exactly going swimmingly, is it

The review findings were expected at the end of October. Now the proposed release date is December 6. That cannot be a good sign. Either way, some answers are well overdue.

Juventus will win Champions League soon after Chelsea win – Matt Barlow

If this is not the Old Lady's year in the Champions League, then it will be soon



00:00 GMT, 21 November 2012

The Juventus Stadium rocked to the noise of a proud name on the rise again. Fortunately this new Italian theatre of football is built upon strong foundations. Whether Roberto Di Matteo's Chelsea can say the same remains to be seen. It did not feel that way on Tuesday night.

It felt very fragile, as if the European champions were about to unravel, just six months after their greatest triumph. They were beaten by a better team in Donetsk and again in Turin, feeling the new power of the Old Lady.

Jumping for joy: The Juventus Stadium was rocking as the Old Lady saw off Chelsea on Tuesday night

Jumping for joy: The Juventus Stadium was rocking as the Old Lady saw off Chelsea on Tuesday night

Apart from Notts County – invited to open this magnificent arena because of their historic links to the club – Chelsea were the first English team to visit. They were steamrollered and it is easy to see how Juve's new home has become a key factor in their resurgence, in terms of economics and atmospherics.

Up to 40,000 pack into steep stands and generate a frenzy of noise amid a bonanza flags depicting black-and-white adopted from County and red-and-green from Italy.

Three and easy: The Italian side scored three goals against a lacklustre Chelsea

Three and easy: The Italian side scored three goals against a lacklustre Chelsea

It is modern and pristine, clinical inside like a private hospital. The dug-outs are shielded by glass with a bench at the front for the paperwork, pens and laptops and iPads and the like to rest upon. It is nostalgic, too.

An enormous club crest with its rampaging bull stares down opposite the players' tunnel and a giant '30' is controversially displayed in recognition of the number of Serie A titles they have won. Two of the 30 have been stripped after a match-fixing scandal but there is murkiness too in the rich history.

French fancy: Zidane watched his former club overturn Chelsea

French fancy: Zidane watched his former club overturn Chelsea

Reminders of those who have worn the stripes are everywhere, begging the question: How have they failed to win this trophy more than twice

Zinedine Zidane, one of the best, was present game to admire the Italian champions, although, in his advisory role at Real Madrid, he may fear them.

If this is not Juve's year in Europe, then it will be soon. The stadium is the only one privately owned in Italian football and produces huge match-day profits. Naming rights were sold for 75 million Euros to a sports marketing company, who have not yet found a buyer.

All of which means the new home is cherished and lucrative and the team builds. Lumps of its predecessor, the Stadio delle Alpi an still to be seen but no tears are shed for the old concrete bowl where Gazza turned on the waterworks in Italia '90.

Carl Froch: Kevin Mitchell can beat Ricky Burns

Close call: Froch backs underdog Mitchell to upset home favourite Burns in Glasgow



16:27 GMT, 20 September 2012

Carl Froch has backed Kevin Mitchell to cause an upset in Glasgow and defeat home favourite Ricky Burns for the WBO world lightweight title this weekend.

Champion Burns stood toe-to-toe with Londoner Mitchell for the final time on Thursday before Friday's weigh-in as Saturday's eagerly-anticipated clash draws closer.

Opinion is heavily divided as to who will eventually come out on top, but IBF world super-middleweight champion Froch believes his English compatriot Mitchell can defy the odds at the SECC Arena.

Head-to-head: Challenger Kevin Mitchell stares champion Ricky Burns in the eyes as the pair gear up for their WBO world lightweight contest

Head-to-head: Challenger Kevin Mitchell stares champion Ricky Burns in the eyes as the pair gear up for their WBO world lightweight contest

'It promises to be a decent fight, very, very close,' said Froch, speaking to BoxNation, who will broadcast the bout.

'The smart money will be on Burns on points but you’ve got to get behind the English and Kevin’s a tough little f*****.

'I think he’ll stay on top of Burns with educated pressure and his power punches will see him to a late stoppage.'

World light-heavyweight champion Nathan Cleverly is backing the 29-year-old Coatbridge fighter to stop the challenger, however.

Cleverly, who also fights under the Frank Warren stable of boxers, is preparing for his comeback next month when he defends his WBO crown against Ukrainian Vyacheslav Uzelkov at Cardiff's Motopoint Arena.

His attention will be fixed on events north of the border on Saturday, where he expects Burns to come out on top.

'It’ll be a real class fight,' he said.

Man in the middle: Promoter Frank Warren is looking forward to Saturday's eagerly-awaited contest

Man in the middle: Promoter Frank Warren is looking forward to Saturday's eagerly-awaited contest

'Kevin’s got the flair and the flash and he’ll definitely hurt Burns at some stage with those crisp, snappy bombs of his.

'But I’ll go with Burns to get behind his jab and pinch it on points from long range. He’s the more consistent, has been kept busier and has more momentum. I think that will be decisive in the later part of the fight.'

One man who is no stranger to all-British showdowns is the legendary Jim Watt and the former world lightweight king has predicted his fellow countryman Burns will walk away as the winner in a closely-fought contest.

On the line: Burns will look to retain his title

On the line: Burns will look to retain his title

'A safe prediction is that it’ll be a good fight because both are always in good fights,' said Watt, who now expertly calls fights in his role as a TV commentator for Sky Sports.

'No doubt Kevin will try and get close, turn it into more of a brawl but Ricky’s proved how tough he is, even in those fights he lost to Alex Arthur and Carl Johanneson.

'Over the years he’s really learned to utilise his physical advantages, that height and reach. I think he has the style to confuse and upset Kevin from long range.

'I go with Burns on points.'

One interested observer this Saturday will by John Murray, the Manchester lightweight who Mitchell superbly knocked out in an epic encounter last year.

Mitchell, 27, has promised Murray the first shot at the title if he manages to defeat Burns – and Murray's respected trainer Joe Gallagher is confident the Cockney can deliver his vow.

'I so, so want Kevin Mitchell to win. He’s a real good kid,' said Gallagher.

'The way he conducted himself in the John Murray fight was the blueprint for all professional fighters. He was funny, quick witted but always respectful.

'He’s also said that, if he wins, he’ll give John Murray first shot at his belt.’

Burns v Mitchell is live and exclusive on BoxNation (Sky Ch. 437/Virgin Ch. 546) this Saturday night. Join at: www.boxnation.com

French Open 2012: Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer back from the abyss

Novak and Roger back from the abyss to set up stellar semi-final at Roland Garros



20:45 GMT, 5 June 2012

Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic found themselves playing match points at the same time, about 300 yards apart on the two main show courts of a drizzly Roland Garros.

The former was attempting to clinch victory, the latter to save himself. Federer's proved a relatively simple matter, but four times Djokovic was just one point away from being turfed out of the French Open, and four times he responded like the supreme match player that he is.

With murderous stares of intent, the 25-year-old Serb held off the charge of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and broke the collective heart of Court Philippe Chatrier, getting through the fourth set before going on to pull off a 6-1, 5-7, 5-7, 7-6, 6-1 victory in the gloaming.

Back from the dead: Novak Djokovic celebrates winning his quarter-final against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

Back from the dead: Novak Djokovic celebrates winning his quarter-final against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

Now, in a repeat of what was arguably the match of 2011, he will face Federer in the semi-final after the unusually irascible Swiss performed a similar escape act by rallying to beat an apparently ailing Juan Martin del Potro 3-6, 6-7, 6-2, 6-0, 6-3.

Brit of alright

Britain will have two representatives in the last 16 of the boys’ singles after Stockport’s Liam Broady joined Yorkshire’s Kyle Edmund with a 6-3, 6-3 win over Belgium’s Julien Cagnani.

So as one dream died, two survived. There will be no homegrown French Open champion this year, but Djokovic still has the chance of emulating Rod Laver by holding all four Grand Slams. Federer, after all he has achieved, can still crown his career by reclaiming the world No 1 spot.

Easily the sharpest impression from these two parallel shows was left by Djokovic, and the nerveless way he confronted the spectre of immediate defeat. Andy Murray talked of the 'football match' atmosphere of Monday night and here was another one, but louder – same time, same place.

Sacre bleu: Tsonga (left) could not believe he had thrown the match away against the world No 1

Sacre bleu: Tsonga (left) could not believe he had thrown the match away against the world No 1

With a heavy shower making the balls even heavier, Tsonga muscled his way to two match points at 5-4 and two more at 6-5. On all of them Djokovic took the calculated risk of hitting out while his opponent remained more in his shell.

The world No 1 went out and won the points, and only one, a netted forehand, was a gifted mistake from his opponent. At 4-2 down in the subsequent tiebreak he also found the depth of resolve that others cannot match, coming back to win it 8-6 and so deflating the Frenchman that the decider was a procession.

The fact is that neither Djokovic nor Federer has played especially well here by their standards, but they have the resourcefulness to get the job done, not to mention an aura that intimidates those trying to close them out.

As Djokovic conceded, his priceless ability to lift himself when necessary is no exact science: 'There’s no rational explanation, I don’t want to say that I have the secret for playing match points. It’s going for your shots and being aggressive… that paid off for me.

Strange sight: Roger Federer lost his cool for once against Juan Martin Del Potro

Strange sight: Roger Federer lost his cool for once against Juan Martin Del Potro

'The one that mentally pushes more in certain moments is the one who wins. Tennis at this level is very mental — we are all fit, we can all hit the ball.'

Federer is through to his 31st Grand Slam semi-final – equalling the record of Jimmy Connors – and can now make the astonishing boast that he has made at least seven last-four appearances at all of the majors.

This was one of his more fortunate passages, truth be told, because he was in real trouble in the face of the albatross wingspan of Del Potro, the man who defeated him to take the 2009 US Open final.

It has been a long way back for the rangy Argentine after missing almost an entire season with a wrist injury. But he looks as though he will get back to that kind of level in the end on this evidence, providing his body does not let him down again, or perhaps his mind.

Unorthodox: Del Potro looked almost back to his best but still ended up losing to Federer

Unorthodox: Del Potro looked almost back to his best but still ended up losing to Federer

He claimed afterwards that he was not injured but definitely looked as though he slowed down after getting into a winning position against an unusually flapping Federer.

At 4-4 in the second set the normally sedate Swiss swiped a ball away in disgust and nearly hit a ball kid as he failed to make sufficient impression in the baseline rallies. In the tiebreak he screamed at the crowd to 'shut up!' as Del Potro outhit him.

After that he changed tactics to become less predictable, throwing in plenty of drop shots which troubled Del Potro, such a good mover for a big man, more than normal.

'I have been struggling for my rhythm here,' admitted Federer. 'Obviously I was emotional and I got a bit upset. It’s just trying to push yourself on, to push harder and run faster.'

US Open champion Sam Stosur emphasised her credentials as a potential winner here when she cruised into the semi-finals with a 6-4, 6-1 win over Dominika Cibulkova. She now meets Italian outsider Sara Errani, the No 21 seed, after she overcame Germany’s Angelique Kerber 6-3, 7-6. The other two semi-finalists will be decided on Wednesday afternoon.

But the women were very much on the undercard, which is so often the way these days in what still feels like a golden era for the men’s game.

Harry Redknapp plays it to perfection: PATRICK COLLINS

Hard to please Harry plays it to perfection

He sat bare-headed in the frozen evening, thrusting his hands into his padded jacket, puffing his cheeks in the numbing chill.

For a man of 64 years, he had endured a rather difficult week, but you would never have known it.

Stay at the Lane: A young Spurs fan makes his feelings known

Stay at the Lane: A young Spurs fan makes his feelings known

His expression of hang-dog concentration rarely changed. For one who sees himself as 'a giver, not a taker', Harry Redknapp gives very little away.

But we must assume he was content with events at White Hart Lane, because his Spurs were playing the football that he preaches and promotes.

It was one of those nights that managers remember when the bad times come along.

Warm reception: Redknapp (right) walks out of the tunnel

Warm reception: Redknapp (right) walks out of the tunnel

Everything his players did appeared instinctive. They expressed themselves with that leisurely freedom which is the product of savagely hard work.

For long, freewheeling passages of play, every pass seemed to find its target, every run produced its reward.

And everything was carried out at a pace which Newcastle could not match or master.

If you needed to know precisely why England have made Redknapp their primary, and perhaps their only target, then the reasons were flickering across the bone-hard pitch, playing with the imagination which makes them the most beguiling side in all the land.

Playing the game: The Tottenham manager applauds his side

Playing the game: The Tottenham manager applauds his side

And the manager was at the centre of everything, from start to finish. Ten minutes before kick-off, 21 authentic photographers and a man taking pictures with a mobile phone awaited his arrival.

The players emerged and walked past, almost unnoticed. The media were waiting for Harry.

When he arrived, it was singularly undramatic.

Others might have struck a few poses, offered the cameras a few knowing stares.

Harry merely walked out, gave his shoulders a couple of twitches and sat down.

Wave of optimism: Redknapp

Playing the game: The Tottenham manager applauds his side

Wave of hope: England could be the next job for Redknapp

The cameras flashed and clattered for half a minute. Harry stared solemnly ahead, like a man in a passport photo booth.

And then the singing started.

Inside 90 seconds, the Lane was bellowing, 'One Harry Redknapp'. Two and a half minutes, 'You're Spurs and you know you are'.

The cameras were awaiting a reaction, but Harry knows how the game is played and he didn't oblige.

He didn't even react in three minutes, five seconds, when Benoit Assou– Ekotto scored the simplest of openers.

Hard to please is Harry.

In five and a half minutes, his new signing Louis Saha struck a fine scoring volley.

Redknapp did little but seemed to ooze contentment.

He looked like a man who had just been served an excellent glass of Italian red, and was preparing to enjoy it.

Mocked: Tottenham fans let Padew (centre) have it

Mocked: Tottenham fans let Padew (centre) have it

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Saha salute: Redknapp was quick to praise his striker (above and below)

Pat it there: Redknapp reaches out to Louis Saha

You were reminded of that cynical phrase once used by an ancient manager: 'Supporters!' he snarled. 'They're either at your feet, or your throat.'

Then, in 19 minutes, 30 seconds, something happened to bring Harry off his seat.

Saha scored the third Spurs goal, deftly worked and emphatically accepted.

Redknapp stayed on his feet for fully ten seconds, embellishing his satisfaction with a small punch of the air.

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Unfazed: Redknapp takes it all in his stride

'Harry, Harry, give us a wave!' pleaded the fans. Harry obliged.

'We want you to stay', they entreated.

Harry was noncommittal.

There was one more goal, an effort from Adebayor which was so good it rated a dance, a skip and two punches.

Substitutions were made, Harry taking care to single out and congratulate his men.

Saha found great favour, being rewarded with a cuddle, a kiss on the cheek and a slap on the head.

And then it was over, and Harry was saluting each of the stands in turn before spinning on his heel and striding off down the tunnel.

'We want you to stay', they sang, over and over again.

Harry heard them, but he may not give them the answer they desire.

Carl Froch plans to show Andre Ward he"s the best in the world

I”m the best in Britain and I”ll show Ward that I”m the best in the world, says Froch

Carl Froch has declared himself Britain”s best boxer as he bids to be crowned the world”s top super-middleweight on Saturday.

The WBC champion from Nottingham meets WBA champion Andre Ward in the final of the innovative Super Six tournament in Atlantic City hoping to do what fellow Britons Amir Khan and David Haye could not.

Khan lost his WBA and IBF light-welterweight belts to Lamont Peterson last weekend while Froch”s friend Haye came up well short against heavyweight rival Wladimir Klitschko in the summer.

Show time: David Haye visits his friend Carl Froch at the Trinity Gym in New York ahead of the Nottingham Cobra

Show time: David Haye visits his friend Carl Froch at the Trinity Gym in New York ahead of the Nottingham Cobra”s big bout with Andre Ward

Froch can lay claim to being the world”s best super-middleweight if he beats unbeaten American Ward at the Boardwalk Hall but insists he does not care about public recognition.

“I am the top fighter in Britain at the minute,” he said. “If people want to give me credit for what I have achieved, then great. If they don”t, I”m not bothered.

“I have gone past that stage of caring what people say about me.”

Froch admits Khan deserved to lose the split decision verdict against Peterson in Washington.

However, he remains wary of leaving Saturday”s outcome in the hands of the judges.

“You can”t trust any judges,” he said.

Head-to-head: Froch stares down Ward as the pair meet at the last press conference before their Super Six Final showdown

Head-to-head: Froch stares down Ward as the pair meet at the last press conference before their Super Six Final showdown

“We are doing what we can in the build-up and I do appreciate judges and referees have a job to do. But, ideally, you cannot leave a fight verdict in the hands of the judges. They will do anything they can if it is a close fight to give him the decision.

“I am fighting away in this tournament for the umpteenth time. I am back in Atlantic City to fight an American in America against their golden-boy superstar. So they all want him to win.

“In my fight against Glen Johnson in Atlantic City I couldn”t believe that one of the judges, a Japanese fella, scored it a draw. It wasn”t even close. Even Glen admitted that, and his manager, Lou DiBella, said it wasn”t close.

“After what happened to Amir, of course I am concerned. But I am a fighter and I will go in there to stop him.”

Carl Froch has vowed to repay his loyal followers for their support when he aims to unify the two world titles.

On the line: Froch wants to prove himself as the world

On the line: Froch wants to prove himself as the world”s best when he takes on Ward in Atlantic City

The initial October 29 date had to be postponed when Ward suffered a cut in training and Froch is particularly grateful for the support of those Britons who are still backing him having lost out financially first time around.

Froch (28-1, 20KO wins) came face to face with unbeaten Californian Ward (24-0, 13KO wins) at the final fight press conference in New York on Tuesday and made it clear he is ready to fight.

“The time for talking is most definitely over,” he said. “I”m going to do my talking in the ring on December 17.

“It”s a cliche, but trust me, I”ve had a great response from the British fans – and the American fans.

“Hundreds, nearly a thousand actually, of people are flying over from England and it”s taken me by surprise, being so close to Christmas.

“They have dug deep and I want to say a big thanks to them and say I guarantee you will not be disappointed with what you see on Saturday night.”