Tag Archives: sticky

Image article-2259488-16BFFBE1000005DC-349_468x340.jpg

Jake Livermore transfer news: Tottenham reject Everton bid

Spurs reject Everton's Livermore bid to avoid boosting Toffees' Champions League challenge

By
Matt Barlow

PUBLISHED:

11:31 GMT, 9 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

11:32 GMT, 9 January 2013

Everton's bid to sign Jake Livermore on loan has been rejected because Spurs will not strengthen one of their direct rivals for the Champions League places.

West Bromwich Albion, Reading, QPR and Norwich are also interested in the 23-year-old England midfielder who has been told he can only leave on loan this month because Andre Villas-Boas believes he has a long-term future at White Hart Lane.

Sticky situation: The Toffees have made a move for Livermore

Sticky situation: The Toffees have made a move for Livermore

Livermore started the season strongly, making his England debut against Italy in August and forcing his way into the first team before he underwent a hernia operation, which ruled him out for six weeks.

Sandro and Mousa Dembele have since established an excellent partnership and the return of Scott Park after six months out with an achilles injury will limit his chances but Spurs are keen for Livermore to acquire more Premier League experience.

Challenge: AVB is hoping to lead Spurs into the Champions League

Challenge: AVB is hoping to lead Spurs into the Champions League

Image article-2236047-0B7D1C5E00000578-868_468x286.jpg

Sir Dave Richards causes ructions at the FA over John Terry statement – Charles Sale

Richards causes ructions at the FA

|

UPDATED:

00:13 GMT, 21 November 2012

The fall-out from the John Terry racism case continues to cause tension at the top of the FA more than a year after he clashed with QPR’s Anton Ferdinand at Loftus Road.

The high-level issue yet to be resolved concerns FA board member and Premier League chairman Sir Dave Richards giving evidence to the hearing that led to the Chelsea captain being banned for four matches for racist abuse.

Richards was mentioned in the disciplinary commission findings for having provided Terry with a character reference in connection with his support for charitable causes.

Support: Former FA vice-Chairman Sir Dave Richards gave a character reference to John Terry

Support: Former FA vice-Chairman Sir Dave Richards gave a character reference to John Terry

However, the FA’s group legal director Alistair MacLean has written to Richards, an FA vice-chairman at the time, wanting to know why he got involved in a case brought by English football’s ruling body.

Richards, who has since stepped down as vice-chairman but remains a director, is believed not to have replied to the letter. The FA would not comment.

More from Charles Sale…

Charles Sale: Premier League's TV deal bonanza continues as tender on course to reach 5bn after Indonesia and New Zealand sign up
20/11/12

Charles Sale: Premier League celebrate whopping 200m Thai deal
19/11/12

Charles Sale: Fayed ready to sue Premier League over fair play plan
16/11/12

Charles Sale: Cricket pundit Hughes on a sticky wicket in love match
15/11/12

Charles Sale: No way back Liverpool chief Chang return in doubt following Twitter storm
14/11/12

Charles Sale: Soccer Saturday tour scrapped… but no-one will say why
13/11/12

Sports Agenda Extra: We needed troops to step in yet G4S could WIN gong for 2012 Olympics work
05/11/12

Charles Sale: Silent Stan finally makes it back into the Arsenal stands
24/10/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

Viagogo await court decision on Twickenham ticket sales

The Supreme Court are due to rule on Wednesday whether secondary ticket site Viagogo have to reveal to the RFU details of people who offered Twickenham seats for sale through the website in breach of the Union’s conditions.

Yet Viagogo, despite losing the original court case and again in the Court of Appeal, were still promoting their busy sale of England tickets for Saturday’s Test against South Africa.

Viagogo director Ed Parkinson said: ‘It is perfectly legal to re-sell rugby tickets today and we believe it will be perfectly legal to do so tomorrow. Our service is more popular than ever.’

Clattenburg won't go to Brazil

It was claimed by Soccerex that referee Mark Clattenburg, who hasn’t been allocated a Premier League game in the next round of fixtures, would be in Rio de Janeiro instead to take charge of a legends football festival on Copacabana Beach featuring Marcel Desailly and Carlos Valderrama.

No beach time: Mark Clattenburg will not take charge of a legends game on Copacabana Beach

No beach time: Mark Clattenburg will not take charge of a legends game on Copacabana Beach

However, despite his free weekend, Clattenburg will not be travelling to Brazil, having never committed to the Soccerex conference proposal. The findings of the FA probe into Chelsea allegations of racist comments made by the referee are due this week.

The Secret Race favorite for book gong

The panel who pick the William Hill Sports Book of the Year have a long history of ignoring the obvious choice on the shortlist.

But cyclist Tyler Hamilton’s revelatory The Secret Race, co-written with Daniel Coyle, which set the Tour de France drugs scandal agenda ahead of Lance Armstrong being stripped of his seven titles, has to be the 2012 winner.

It would also be fitting if Armstrong’s autobiography, which won in 2000, is expunged from William Hill’s 24-year roll of honour.

Not a fan: BBC Test Match Special commentator Jonathan Agnew does not like rival broadcast Test Match Sofa

Not a fan: BBC Test Match Special commentator Jonathan Agnew does not like rival broadcast Test Match Sofa

Sofa so bad for Aggers

BBC cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew is causing ructions in India with his paranoid opposition to the irreverent and harmless Test Match Sofa alternative to the official ball-by-ball commentary on Test Match Special, which is legally available only to listeners in the UK.

Yet his one-eyed defence of the Beeb service hasn’t stopped Aggers advising cricket fans on Twitter on whom to contact for instructions to access TMS from overseas — in contravention of the rights he seeks so passionately to protect.

A BBC spokesman said: ‘We do not endorse any unofficial ways of listening to BBC radio sport output.’ But the Beeb would not comment on whether Agnew would be reprimanded for his off-piste tweeting.

Blatter visit gives Sheepshanks chance to shine as FA candidate

David Sheepshanks, chairman of St George’s Park, will get another opportunity with the visit of FIFA president Sepp Blatter on Wednesday to show the football statesman qualities that make him a contender to succeed David Bernstein as FA chairman next June.

However, the choice of chairman — after administrative incompetence, complacency and board betrayals led to Bernstein losing the vote to extend his term — is made more confusing by the Premier League looking to replace their chairman, Sir Dave Richards, at the same time.

London 2012 vice-chairman Sir Keith Mills would be the No 1 selection for both positions. But he is waiting until next month to consider fully his numerous options.

Image article-2235404-15E2AE29000005DC-651_634x448.jpg

Champions League week five guide

Ultimate guide to Champions League week five… who can qualify for the last 16

|

UPDATED:

19:48 GMT, 19 November 2012

In the the penultimate week of the Champions League group stage there is plenty to be decided. Sportsmail looks at which teams have already qualified and who is at risk of an early elimination.

Group A

There have been no surprises in this group and Portuguese champions Porto are already through. Big-spending Paris Saint-Germain only need a draw on Wednesday against Dynamo Kiev to qualify for the next round.

Next fixtures: November 21

Porto v Dinamo Zagreb
Dynamo Kiev v PSG

Aiming high: Zlatan Ibrahimovic can fire PSG to the last 16

Aiming high: Zlatan Ibrahimovic can fire PSG to the last 16

Group B

Arsenal's group is still wide open. Two points separate the top three,
with Schalke on eight points, Arsenal on seven and Olympiacos on six.
The Gunners' have to travel to Greece to play Olympiacos in their last
group match so will see the game at the Emirates against Montpellier,
who are having a poor season in the bottom half of the French league and
with only one point in the Champions League, as one they need to win.
If they do that and Schalke beat Olympiacos both teams will go through.

Next fixtures: November 21

Arsenal v Montpellier
Schalke v Olympiacos

Up in the air: Santi Cazorla and Co are currently second in Group B

Up in the air: Santi Cazorla and Co are currently second in Group B

Group C

Anderlecht can overtake Milan into second spot if they win, who equally will qualify and knock their Belgian opponents out if they win and Zenit don't get anything against Malaga. The Spanish side only need one point to win the group.

Next fixtures: November 21

Zenit v Malaga
Anderlecht v Milan

Sticky spot: Antonio Nocerino and AC Milan face a tough match against Anderlecht

Sticky spot: Antonio Nocerino and AC Milan face a tough match against Anderlecht

Group D

City must win against Real Madrid to avoid crashing out in the group stage for a second successive year, but they are unbeaten in 19 European matches at home. Dortmund, like Real Madrid, need only a point to go through.

Next fixtures: November 21

Ajax v Borussia Dortmund
Manchester City v Real Madrid

Dangerman: Everyone's eyes will be on Cristiano Ronaldo when he returns to Manchester

Dangerman: Everyone's eyes will be on Cristiano Ronaldo when he returns to Manchester

Group E

If Chelsea beat Juventus in Turin then they'll qualify for the next round, but they've only one once in eight visits to Italy. If they draw and Shakhtar beat Nordsjaelland then it will go down to the final matches.

Next fixtures: November 20

Nordsjaelland v Shakhtar
Juventus v Chelsea

Battle: Chelsea need to avoid defeat against Juventus to preserve their Champions League hopes

Battle: Chelsea need to avoid defeat against Juventus to preserve their Champions League hopes

Group F

If BATE fail to win against Lille then the victor of Bayern Munich against Valencia will go through. The Belarusian side have only ever won one Champions League match, but it was against Lille in September.

Next fixtures: November 20

BATE Borisov v Lille
Valencia v Bayern Munich

Head to head: Bayern Munich take on Valencia and could progress if results go their way

Head to head: Bayern Munich take on Valencia and could progress if results go their way

Group G

Celtic are almost in the next round – a win against Benfica will send them through but even a score-draw will be enough if Spartak Moscow don't win against Barcelona, who will go through with a draw.

Next fixtures: November 20

Spartak Moscow v Barcelona
Benfica v Celtic

On the cusp: Lionel Messi's Barca side just need a draw to progress

On the cusp: Lionel Messi's Barca side just need a draw to progress

Group H

Manchester United are already through with four wins in four, but second place is up for grabs. Galatasaray and Cluj are on four points and Braga have three. The Turkish side are top of their domestic league but lost surprisingly last Friday and drew the match before that and haven't won in two. Defeat for Braga and they're out.

Next fixtures: November 20

Galatasaray v Manchester United
Cluj v Braga

Easy: Manchester United are through with four wins from four

Easy: Manchester United are through with four wins from four

Image article-2235461-16145D24000005DC-281_468x286.jpg

Premier League celebrate whopping 200m Thai deal

Charles Sale: Premier League celebrate whopping 200m Thai deal

|

UPDATED:

00:26 GMT, 20 November 2012

The Premier League’s extraordinary global TV rights tender has enjoyed its biggest percentage rise in Thailand, where the next three-year contract is approaching seven times more than the current deal.

Cable network CTH have paid 200million for Premier League content from next season compared with the 30m the Thailand, Laos and Cambodia territory brought in last time round.

This keeps the PL on course to reach the 5billion landmark which Sports Agenda was first to mention as an achievable target.

Universal appeal: The Premier League has attracted the attention of the world

Universal appeal: The Premier League has attracted the attention of the world

More from Charles Sale…

Charles Sale: Fayed ready to sue Premier League over fair play plan
16/11/12

Charles Sale: Cricket pundit Hughes on a sticky wicket in love match
15/11/12

Charles Sale: No way back Liverpool chief Chang return in doubt following Twitter storm
14/11/12

Charles Sale: Soccer Saturday tour scrapped… but no-one will say why
13/11/12

Sports Agenda Extra: We needed troops to step in yet G4S could WIN gong for 2012 Olympics work
05/11/12

Charles Sale: Silent Stan finally makes it back into the Arsenal stands
24/10/12

Charles Sale: Man United line up whopping 1bn Nike extension to boost the coffers
23/10/12

Charles Sale: Premier League loses its fizz for sponsor Lucozade
22/10/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

However, Thailand has been a less happy hunting ground for other football connections. Dave Solomons, one of the founder drivers of First Class Cars who chauffeur PL staff, FA personnel, England players and elite group referees, is serving a four-year sentence in a Bangkok jail for possession of a Class A drug.

And a number of former referees including David Elleray, Graham Barber, Dermot Gallagher and Rob Styles — as well as former England manager Sven Goran Eriksson — have invested heavily in a Thailand real estate deal on the island of Koh Samui that has yet to be developed because of political wrangling.

Johnson sidelined

It is now over a year since England’s rugby union team imploded on and off the pitch in New Zealand. And former England coach Martin Johnson, who paid the price with his job, has yet to emerge from that meltdown.

Apart from a small amount of coaching for Austin Healey and Will Greenwood’s rugby travel business, World Cup-winning captain Johnson has spent a lot more time than expected at his holiday home in Devon.

Lancaster needs results

Stuart Lancaster impressed the Leaders in Football conference with his blueprint for the culture change in England rugby after the World Cup debacle.

But if the upcoming matches against South Africa and New Zealand bring two more home defeats following the woeful showing against Australia, the sense of Lancaster lecturing the likes of Charles van Commenee on sporting excellence so soon in his England coaching career will be called into question.

Under pressure: England face crunch clashes at Twickenham

Under pressure: England face crunch clashes at Twickenham

And the flawed RFU structure, which has no experienced man at Twickenham for Lancaster to lean on when his team struggle, was identified by perceptive football manager Aidy Boothroyd at the conference. Northampton Town boss Boothroyd asked Lancaster who he turns to within the set-up for rugby advice and the answer was that he tries to think problems through for himself.

Fuller expands

Simon Fuller's XIX entertainment, who represent David Beckham, Andy Murray and Lewis Hamilton, have forged an alliance with rugby agent Tim Buttimore, whose clients include Jonny Wilkinson, Sir Clive Woodward and cycling overlord Dave Brailsford. The embryo partnership has also resulted in Woodward’s son Joe leaving IMG to join XIX as a management assistant.

Albion hang on to Dan

Dan Ashworth, sporting and technical director at West Brom, might not be allowed to take up an FA post until the end of his Hawthorns contract on July 31. Albion will not let Ashworth go until they have not only found his replacement but the appointment has spent time shadowing Ashworth. West Brom will want compensation from the FA for Ashworth to be released earlier.

Staying: Dan Ashworth (right) looks set to remain at West Brom for now

Staying: Dan Ashworth (right) looks set to remain at West Brom for now

FIFA prope

FIFA responded to yet more corruption allegations surrounding Qatar’s successful bid for the 2022 World Cup by asking American Michael J Garcia — chairman of the investigatory branch of the ethics committee — to examine the evidence.

Considering the USA were strong pre-vote favourites to host that tournament, surely FIFA should have chosen a more impartial head of this probe. A FIFA spokesman said Garcia’s nationality was not a factor.

Programme blunder

Twickenham's autumn series sponsors QBE had an action picture in their match programme advert of England players bedecked in Nike — on the very day they wore the new Canterbury kit for the first time.

Image article-2233652-0A8627A2000005DC-359_306x423.jpg

Simon Hughes, cricket pundit, on Guardian Soulmates website

Cricket pundit Hughes on a sticky wicket in love match

|

UPDATED:

10:09 GMT, 16 November 2012

Simon Hughes

Channel Five cricket pundit Simon Hughes (right) is looking for love via newspaper internet dating site Guardian Soulmates.

'Yozzer 50-year-old male' announces himself as 'warm, passionate, good company, versatile, generous, imaginative and occasionally outrageous'.

The twice married broadcaster adds: 'My friends would say I'm bright, energetic, interesting, good fun and not a bad cook.'

However, prospective girlfriends should note that Wisden lists Hughes as having his 53rd birthday next month, in contrast to the Soulmates site.

Eriksson chasing his 10m in court

Former England manager Sven Goran Eriksson is due a High Court date next summer for his gross negligence case against the financial adviser whom it is alleged duped the Swede out of around 10million.

Eriksson has long been one of world football's highest-paid managers but it is claimed that he has lost the majority of his fortune in his dealings with Samir Khan.

Khan was given unlimited access to Eriksson's money after he started to act for him in 2003, when Sven was employed by the FA for around 4m a year. Court documents lodged in April 2011 allege that Khan 'misappropriated money for a variety of improper purposes' that included losing speculation on foreign currency markets and art.

Another rash investment saw Khan put Eriksson's cash into fellow manager Harry Redknapp's troubled luxury flats property development in Southsea, Hampshire which is reported to have losses of at least 4m.

Eriksson, at home in Sweden as he waits for his next managerial opening, is said to be 'knocked for six' by the unravelling of his dealings with Khan. The adviser has denied the claims, calling Eriksson an 'astute businessman' who is highly motivated by making money.

Ashley Young

The England players' recently introduced code of conduct, which was rolled out to the Under 21 side as well this week, specifies respecting the media – with the expectation that the team will not wear headphones when they go through the interview zone after a match. The improved attitude was demonstrated by Ashley Young (right), the chief headphone culprit at Euro 2012, carrying his set through the media area after the Sweden game rather than wearing them.

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson is understood to have given an interview to ITV for their tribute programme in January to mark Jose Mourinho's 50th birthday. Documentary maker Gabriel Clarke is too good an inquisitor not to have taken the opportunity to ask Fergie whether he can see Mourinho succeeding him at Old Trafford.

Roy still a man of the fans

ENGLAND manager Roy Hodgson's encounter with passengers on the London Underground – in which he revealed Rio Ferdinand did not have an international future – has not put him off interacting with fans. Hodgson is speaking with FA clearance at a 75-a-head corporate dinner at Norwich tonight, organised by majority shareholder and celebrity chef Delia Smith. This should ensure the potted crab and boeuf bourguignon on the menu are of a certain standard. Hodgson is a friend of Delia and Norwich chief executive David McNally. Next Tuesday, Hodgson is also addressing the Oxford Union before taking questions from students. England's demolition at the hands of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and his wonder goal will still be fresh in the memory.

The FA have identified their preferred 2014 World Cup base in Rio. The hotel is situated on the sea front not far from the Copacabana and Ipanema beaches.

The Rio attractions should ensure there is little likelihood of the boredom factor that was a big problem with the team's isolated Rustenburg hideaway at the World Cup in South Africa. After their city-centre experience in Krakow during Euro 2012, the FA are happy to have their England headquarters in Rio.

Manchester City, West Brom, Aston Villa and Fulham – who have been the big opponents of financial fair play regulations – again voiced opposition at yesterday's chairmen's summit discussing introduction of the rules next season.

Mohamed Bangura"s car covered in Post-it notes by Celtic team-mates

|

UPDATED:

11:41 GMT, 30 August 2012

Fantasy football 2012

With bitter rivals Rangers relegated to the depths of the Scottish Third division, Celtic seem to have a lot of time on their hands.

Joint top of the Scottish Premier League with a game in hand, Neil Lennon's camp appear to be pretty relaxed.

So relaxed, in fact, that Kris
Commons, Joe Ledley and captain Scott Brown (or 'Broony') took a break
from training to smother post-it notes all over Mohamed Bangura's car.

Sticky situation: Mohamed Bangura's car was tampered with

Sticky situation: Mohamed Bangura's car was tampered with

Rear view of Bangura's banger

The striker, who has failed to make
any impact at all at the club, has been sent on loan to AIK Solna – the club he signed from in August 2011.

To see him off the Celtic boys came up
with this prank. Ledley tweeted: 'Look what me @kcommons15 (Commons) and broony has been up to this week'. Commons, meanwhile, wrote: 'Little gift from the boys for Mo!!!'

He moved to Celtic for 2.2million from the Stockholm club after being recommended by Henrik Larsson, but things did not work out.

Bangura is set to return in December – hopefully by then he'll get the memo about what he's supposed
to do in-front of goal.

Sent out: Bangura will go back on loan to AIK

Sent out: Bangura will go back on loan to AIK

Cheers guys: Bangura will have something to remember Scotland by

Cheers guys: Bangura will have something to remember Scotland by

Didier Drogba: The Chelsea striker is unplayable

Didier Drogba: The Chelsea striker is simply unplayable

|

UPDATED:

00:49 GMT, 18 May 2012

A small door off the players' changing room at Wembley Stadium leads to a place known as the warm-up area. It was there, before the FA Cup semi-final against Tottenham Hotspur on April 15, that Didier Drogba put on his trainers and went through his usual pre-match exercise routine. Nothing special. Stretches. An acceleration programme. It wasn't what he was doing that caught the eye. It was what he looked like doing it.

/05/17/article-2146013-129C5AA3000005DC-685_634x461.jpg” width=”634″ height=”461″ alt=”Hot shot: Dider Drogba scores the first goal in 5-1 demolition of Tottenham” class=”blkBorder” />

Hot shot: Dider Drogba scores the first goal in 5-1 demolition of Tottenham

When they returned to play the FA Cup final against Liverpool on May 5, it was a similar story. Another show of strength, another Drogba goal, another victory.

'Some players don't understand when to raise their game,' said Chelsea first-team coach Eddie Newton. 'Didier does. He can really take it to the level needed. Emotionally, you see the difference, the step up. You see the look in his eyes. Quite literally, he changes, and you know he's ready for it.'

This is the man Chelsea are ready to unleash in the Allianz Arena on Saturday night. Unplayable, Jamie Carragher called him, and that is not a description afforded to too many footballers; even those at the pinnacle of their powers.

Shane Warne was unplayable; Muttiah Muralitharan was unplayable; the West Indies fast bowling attack of the Seventies was unplayable. One man, armed only with a cricket bat, could not repel them. A football team have 11 on the pitch, however, and no equivalent of a terror track or sticky wicket. There are ways and means of stopping even the greatest talent. Man-for-man marking, doubling up, cutting the supply line; particularly in the Champions League this season, Chelsea's defence have proved that even the greatest can be frustrated by a combination of raw determination, doggedness and good tactical thought. Yet Drogba is different. Carragher listed him as one of two players who, at their best, are impossible to exclude from a game (Thierry Henry is the other). Having faced Drogba more than any other English defender, he would know.

Carragher has lined up against Drogba 24 times in all competitions and is rightly proud of his record. Chelsea have won 10, Liverpool eight, with six drawn. Drogba has scored eight goals, one every three matches, which certainly compares strikingly to his record against Arsenal (won 10, drawn three, lost one, goals 13).

'As a defender, if a player scores against me, I usually think there is something I could have done,' said Carragher. 'Even if it's Robin van Persie or Wayne Rooney, I'll identify a position I could have taken up, I'll think I could have got tighter or dropped off, I'll identify the flaw that let them in.

Chelsea's Ivorian forward Didier Drogba

Good shape: Drogba keeps himself fit

'The only different ones are Drogba and Henry. You replay a goal and, sometimes, there was nothing that could be done. If Chelsea get the ball on to Drogba's chest on the edge of the box and he can bring it down and turn, well, that's it. You can't get round him without fouling him, it's too late to get in front of him, you just have to hope he misses the shot. The same if he leaves you behind to go one on one with the goalkeeper.

'He's not Usain Bolt, but he's fast enough and so powerful that, even if you catch him, you can't get a foot in to make the tackle. You would have to run around him and you haven't the time to do that. So he's unplayable. In certain positions, there is literally nothing you can do.'

Bayern Munich will remember Drogba well from their last meeting, a Champions League quarter-final in 2005.

Chelsea progressed, having won the first leg 4-2 and led the second leg 2-1 until two Munich goals in injury time made the scoreline a respectable 6-5 defeat. Drogba scored home and away and imposed his presence on the German side remorselessly.

There is concern the same could happen in Munich, with Holger Badstuber, Bayern's left-sided and most rugged centre half, missing through suspension. Injuries have also taken a toll, meaning coach Jupp Heynckes is likely to turn to a holding midfield player, Anatoliy Tymoshchuk, in Badstuber's place.

Blues brothers: Lampard (centre) celebrates with his Cheksea team mates

Blues brothers: Lampard (centre) celebrates with his Chelsea team mates

When Barcelona tried a similar ploy in the semi-final first leg this year, using Javier Mascherano, Chelsea won and Drogba scored. Tymoshchuk is no fool, the most capped Ukrainian player, three times Ukrainian Footballer of the Year, and voted the best international in Ukraine's history as an independent nation, ahead of even Andriy Shevchenko.

He is, however, a midfielder not a centre half and, at less than six foot, no physical match for Drogba in the air. It would be contrary for Chelsea to resist exploiting this very simple advantage tomorrow night.

Particularly as Drogba's main supply line remains undiminished by the rash of suspensions incurred at the Nou Camp. Juan Mata is the most helpful player to Chelsea's goalscorers this season, but Drogba's special relationship is with a member of the old guard, Lampard. Terry says that bond is stronger now than ever.

'There was a game recently and I can remember remarking to Frank about it because they just have this unbelievable understanding,' Terry explained. 'Year after year, the way they play together gets better and better. The moment Frank gets the ball you see Didier dropping into a position to receive the pass and you know Frank is already seeking him out.

Up for it: Drogba celebrates his goal against Liverpool

Up for it: Drogba celebrates his goal against Liverpool

'Didier is so unselfish like that, there is nobody better at making himself available, nobody better at holding the ball up, yet he still finds the time to get in behind the defence for that through ball. And he can play – I mean really play. I don't think there is a better striker in the world on his day and he commands such respect from all the players.

'What he does, it doesn't just happen. He works hard at the gym, he puts extra time in at training on free-kicks. You see young lads who want to be like him, or Frank, but they don't want to put in the same time and effort. He wasn't born this way, he delivers an incredible amount of work to do it, but when you see how he seizes the moment in big games, it's worth it.

'William Gallas is a top centre half, but did you see what Didier did to him when we were playing Tottenham in the FA Cup semi-final That is what I meant when I said I knew we weren't going to lose.

'He goes into his pre-match routine and he gets more and more pumped up and you know he's in the zone. When we played Barcelona, when we played Liverpool at Wembley, he just gives everyone around him such confidence. He'll come through his ritual and then you can't even speak to him. You can see in his face, he's gone.'

Drogba's other pre-match charm is the presence of Stephane Renaud, an expert in fasciatherapy, a form of alternative manipulation focusing on soft tissue.

Hands up: Drogba gets into the zone before big matches

Hands up: Drogba gets into the zone before big matches

Renaud, who also treats Florent Malouda this way, can always be seen with Drogba before major matches, despite having links with French club Dijon FCO.

A controversial figure in France, with Dijon on the brink of relegation, Renaud is closely associated with Dijon coach Patrice Carteron, but is always available to nurse Drogba using special massage techniques designed to increase circulation and lymphatic drainage while stimulating the stretch reflex of muscles.

This is a form of fasciatherapy known as myofascial release and, to laymen, can best be explained as a branch of osteopathy. Due to its alternative nature, opinion on its worth is divided, but Drogba invests in the method greatly and Renaud is expected to join him in Munich before tomorrow's match, despite Dijon's present difficulties.

Roberto Di Matteo, the Chelsea interim manager, is convinced this dedication and attention to detail is having a positive effect in prolonging Drogba's career. Incredibly, tomorrow's final may be his last game for the club, with his contract due to expire this summer. Recent performances, however, suggest he remains as potent as at any time in his career, and Di Matteo appeared to hint at wider issues when asked about Drogba's future.

Didier Drogba in action

Brave: Drogba is willing to put his body on the line

'He's physically in good shape,' said the interim manager. 'He played the Africa Cup of Nations in January, too. He keeps himself fit, he lives a very professional life and, when you do that, your career can be as long as you want. We've had other examples of players going deep into their thirties, so his future at Chelsea is not a question of age.'

More likely, it is a question of wage. Money and length of contract are issues that tend to concern executives once a player hits a certain milestone, and Drogba turned 34 in March.

Having first been linked to a financially rewarding, professionally unfulfilling move to the Chinese league – following his team-mate Nicolas Anelka – there is now talk of offers that will fit both criteria, most strikingly the possibility of a bid from Barcelona. The Catalan side know only too well the energising impact Drogba can have on a game, and a club.

'When players look around a dressing room, they want to see players they know they can rely on,' Newton added.

'See fear, and you get a completely different feeling. Didier inspires confidence.

'He is a very charismatic figure, he reminds me of Patrick Vieira or Roy Keane, the great leaders, the ones who knew how to step up to a big game. Didier is like that – he knows when it matters.

'People think bravery is just flying into a tackle or putting your head in but bravery is also accepting the ball under pressure, being prepared to take an opponent on, wanting to be involved all the time in a big game – the best players are not afraid to take responsibility, no matter the pressure.

'You look at how often Didier plays up front as one against two – he's outnumbered all the time. If he takes a hit from the first defender and rides it, he knows there's another hit coming. The physical battering he's taken for so long, yet still keeps going – that's true bravery. He deserves every accolade that he gets.'

Curious rivalry: Jamie Carragher says Drogba is unplayable on the pitch but very friendly off it

Curious rivalry: Jamie Carragher says Drogba is unplayable on the pitch but very friendly off it

So, having followed Drogba through his pre-match rituals, from the warm-up area back into the dressing room, what is it actually like to meet him, in the tunnel, face to face What is it like to confront him as a member of the opposition in that zone of utter focus and determination And now it gets strange. For, according to Carragher, he is the opposite of what one might expect.

'Really nice,' the Liverpool man says. 'Just very, very friendly. Ridiculous, really. He wants to be your mate, so much so that you think it can only be a bluff. I'm the opposite, really intense, because that's how we were brought up by Gerard Houllier. He'd have gone berserk if he saw us chatting to the opposition before a game. He told us to shake hands after, but until then, it's war.

'Then you get Drogba, wanting to have a joke and you can't work it out. You wonder if it's a mind game, if he wants the defender to think he's his friend so he goes soft on him, and the first time he did it, I thought it would all change the moment the match started, but it didn't. He carries on just the same.

'If the play stops, he wants a chat. If your team are winning, it doesn't seem to faze him. Maybe that is why he is a player of extremes. He doesn't seem to have too many average matches – he's either great or it's a nightmare, one day he is unstoppable, the next he doesn't quite seem interested. He does everything or nothing, and you never know what you'll get.

'And that's the strength in his game, too. He is a very good footballer but he's also so powerful that Chelsea can be direct if they wish. He allows them to play two entirely different ways.

Didier Drogba scores his goal

Hard to handle: Drogba was in fearsome form against Liverpool

'I watch the athletics sometimes, and the commentator will be talking about a guy running a good tactical race, and I don't understand that. If the other guy is faster he's going to win, tactics won't come into it. And that is what happens against Drogba sometimes.

'You can make all the best plans, but then he'll do something to which you have no answer at all. And you'll never have an answer. He's just bigger, or faster, or harder to manoeuvre. And that is the way it will always be.

'Early in the season, 2006, we were playing them at Stamford Bridge and it was a really tight game, as usual. We'd got into their heads a bit under Jose Mourinho with the Champions League the year before and we'd already beaten them in the Community Shield that season.

'So very few chances either way, it's just before half-time, it's all going well. And Michael Essien plays this long ball in to Drogba on the edge of the penalty area. He pops it up with his chest, turns and hits this left-foot half-volley that's in the net before Pepe Reina's even seen it. And I watched it again, and I could watch it a hundred times more and I know Alan Hansen says every goal is somebody's mistake, but I'll tell you what I could have done to stop it: nothing.

'And Bayern Munich know that, too. And that's what makes him…' Join in the chorus, you know the words by now. 'Unplayable.'

Image article-2108396-0B69FF4B000005DC-649_468x286.jpg

Eric Dier switch to Everton moves closer after part-ownership deal ends

Everton boost for Dier as Sporting end part-ownership deal for young centre back

Eric Diers's chances of a permanent deal at Everton have been boosted by parent club Sporting Lisbon ending his third-party ownership.

Sporting had sold 50 per cent of Dier to Quality Football Ireland Limited but now have full control of the 18-year-old.

Sticky situation: The Toffees are hoping of capturing Dier

Sticky situation: The Toffees are hoping of capturing Dier

Image article-0-0F18AC9800000578-591_468x286.jpg

Mark Allen through to the quarter-finals of UK Championships

Silence is golden: Allen refuses to add to Hearn dispute as he goes through to last eight

Mark Allen arrived at his post-match press conference with sticky tape over his mouth after a day in which his row with Barry Hearn escalated and he cruised into the quarter-finals of the williamhill.com UK Championship.

Allen beat Ali Carter 6-2 to book his place in the last eight, after which he drew a laugh from journalists by sitting in silence for 15 seconds before again waxing lyrical about his row with the World Snooker chairman.

Gagged: Mark Allen refuses to answer questions about Barry Hearn

Gagged: Mark Allen refuses to answer questions about Barry Hearn

Referring to his previous comments about Hearn, in which he accused him of reneging on promises and lookingto “make money for himself”, Allen said: “I don”t think I said too muchout of line. Obviously I swore, which is bang out of order and I apologise again for that, but I still stand by the rest of the things I said.

Letting the snooker do the talking: Allen is through to the quarter fianls

Letting the snooker do the talking: Allen is through to the quarter fianls

“I think there”s a lot of truth in the comments that I made. I”ve had lots of criticism over the years and I”m not going to change that now just because I”m outspoken and speak mymind. Other players just don”t have the balls to do it.”

The row had escalated as Hearn told BBC Sport he was “far too busy to worry about silly little boys making silly little comments”.

Allen, however, refused to be distracted and eased past Carter at York”s Barbican Centre to set up a meeting with Hong Kong”s Marco Fu after he inflicted a shock 6-3 defeat on world No 1 and favourite Mark Selby.

Earlier, Ricky Walden continued his improvement as he moved into the quarter-finals with a surprise 6-3 success over Mark Williams.

“I knew I was playing well. He scrapped a few frames out and I knew how good he was,” said Walden after his victory.

“I trusted my game and got my chance.” Walden now plays 2005 world champion Shaun Murphy, who beat Martin Gould 6-4.