Tag Archives: surprise

Dortmund hoping Champions League history repeats itself

Dortmund hoping history repeats itself as they take on Malaga for place in Champions League semi-finals

By
Darren Witcoop

PUBLISHED:

12:55 GMT, 3 April 2013

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UPDATED:

13:02 GMT, 3 April 2013

Borussia Dortmund will still remain dark horses to win the Champions League, but the omens might just be in their favour if they can progress beyond Malaga in the quarter-final showdown.

Dortmund have given up the ghost retaining the Bundesliga title with runaway leaders Bayern Munich destined for the trophy.

But in Europe, it is a different matter all together.

Star man: Dortmund striker Robert Lewandowski helped knock out Shakhtar Donetsk in the last-16 tie

Star man: Dortmund striker Robert Lewandowski helped knock out Shakhtar Donetsk in the last-16 tie

Masked man: Dortmund defender Marcel Schmelzer will be forced to wear a mask in Malaga

Masked man: Dortmund defender Marcel Schmelzer will be forced to wear a mask in Malaga

There is little doubt Dortmund, who have already knocked out Manchester City, are an emerging team under highly-rated manager Juergen Klopp.

Now Malaga, another of the season's surprise packages, stand in their way of a semi-final place.

Dortmund's only ever win in Spain came in the same season when they won Europe's biggest club competition in 1997.

A coincidence or destiny Only time will tell.

No panic: Dortmund coach Juergen Klopp and Brazilian defender Felipe Santana are in relaxed mood ahead of the last-four tie

No panic: Dortmund coach Juergen Klopp and Brazilian defender Felipe Santana are in relaxed mood ahead of the last-four tie

But Klopp claims Dortmund's 2-1 bruising win over Stuttgart on the weekend, which took its toll on his players, was ideal preparation for the first-leg challenge that lies ahead.

'We got manhandled', he said.

'At times I was worried about the health of my players.

'But it was a good preparation for the Champions League game in Malaga, because they fly into challenges with just as much intensity.'

Despite their underdog tag, Malaga, the Qatari-backed side who were in Spain's Second Division just five years ago, will not just roll over.

Top job: Manuel Pellegrini has defied the odds to lead Malaga into the quarter-finals

Top job: Manuel Pellegrini has defied the odds to lead Malaga into the quarter-finals

The money might have dried up at this cash-strapped club but they have still punched above their weight this season.

As well as reaching the last eight of the Champions League, they are also in the hunt for a top-four finish in La Liga although UEFA have banned them from playing European football next season due to outstanding debts.

'Nobody gave us a chance at the start and yet the players have responded so well,” said coach Manuel Pellegrini.

'We eliminated Porto and that represented a huge achievement for the side. We don't want our run to end here.'

Prized possession: Isco is wanted by Europe's leading clubs

Prized possession: Isco is wanted by Europe's leading clubs

Dortmund will be favourites to progress but they have been hit with injuries.

Marcel Schmelzer will need a face-mask but is likely to play, despite breaking his nose against Stuttgart.

Jakub Blaszczykowski has travelled but is struggling to overcome a groin injury.

Midfielders Sven Bender and Kevin Grosskreutz (ankle) are doubts and Mats Hummels is certain to miss out.

Robert Lewandowski, who has scored 13 goals in as many games, will lead the line and will be supported by Mario Goetze and Marco Reus.

In contrast, Malaga have few injury worries.

Portuguese winger Eliseu has been ruled out with a knee ligament injury but defender Diego Lugano is likely to return.

Ignacio Camacho and Duda are also back in contention after serving suspensions and star striker Isco will start.

Jose Mourinho should return to Premier League – Andre Villas Boas

Bring back the Special One! Spurs boss AVB admits he'd love to see Mourinho back in the Premier League

By
David Kent

PUBLISHED:

15:51 GMT, 28 March 2013

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UPDATED:

16:15 GMT, 28 March 2013

Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas would welcome back rival Jose Mourinho to the Barclays Premier League.

The Special One has been linked to a surprise return to Stamford Bridge and a reunion with owner Roman Abramovich this summer.

Mourinho’s infamous antics have seen him fall out with the hierarchy at Real Madrid and interim Chelsea manager Rafa Benitez is in no danger of having his contract renewed.

Open arms: Andre Villas-Boas (above) insists he would welcome the return of Jose Mourinho (below)

Open arms: Andre Villas-Boas (above) insists he would welcome the return of Jose Mourinho (below)

Face in the crowd: Jose Mourinho was pictured wearing a dark hoodie at Chelsea

Asked what he thought about Mourinho’s potential return to Premier League football, the Tottenham manager said: ‘I think it will be excellent, excellent for everybody.’

Villas-Boas worked under Mourinho to great success at Porto, Chelsea and Inter Milan, but the pair fell out when he left the San Siro on 2009 to go it alone as a manager and the rift has never fully healed.

Last year he admitted that the pair had not spoken for quite some time.

Tottenham have suffered three defeats in the row and need to rediscover their winning form in order to stay on course for a Champions League spot.

Training day: Tottenham prepare for their trip to Swansea this weekend as the Premier League resumes

Training day: Tottenham prepare for their trip to Swansea this weekend as the Premier League resumes

Training day: Tottenham prepare for their trip to Swansea this weekend as the Premier League resumes

Asked whether the international break would benefit his side or not after such a poor run, he said: ‘I don’t know, you can’t really say if it’s good or bad. I think all three of those defeats were very, very different.

I think we assume the worst one was Fulham in terms of performance, but I think it came as a consequence of the extra-time being played in Milan.

The Liverpool one was an excellent performance and in Milan, we left it very, very late to save the leg.’

Villas-Boas thinks faltering Tottenham Hotspur need 16 more points from their last eight games to secure a top-four finish in the Premier League and earn a another crack at Europe’s premier club competition.

Third place would guarantee a place
in the group stages of next season’s Champions League while fourth would
offer a playoff – the same route Tottenham used in their only previous
foray into the competition two seasons ago.

Tough time: Tottenham suffered a setback in the race for the Champions League after defeat to Fulham

Tough time: Tottenham suffered a setback in the race for the Champions League after defeat to Fulham

Dimitar Berbatov

Last season they finished fourth but were denied a chance to play in the Champions League this term because sixth-placed Chelsea took their place having lifted the trophy in Munich.

Tottenham had looked favourites to finish above Chelsea and Arsenal in third place until a few weeks ago, since when defeats by Liverpool and Fulham have halted their momentum.

They travel to Swansea City on Saturday in fourth place, one point behind Chelsea and four points above Arsenal, with both their London rivals having played a game less.

'Normally (to finish in the top four) requires in the 70-72 point margin,' Villas-Boas said.

'70 is usually enough to be in the four spots. There are 24 points to be played for so that means we need 16 more points. You never know, but I think at this time we are within our objectives.'

Danny Welbeck pleased with how far he has progressed at Manchester United

Madrid goal has given me the motivation to achieve more, says Welbeck

, given Welbeck has tended to reserve his most productive displays for times when he has been on England duty.

However, it would now be something of a surprise if Sir Alex Ferguson left the 22-year-old out of his starting line-up at Old Trafford next week.

Not bad for a youngster brought up in the same Longsight district of Manchester as Wes Brown, born of parents who both hail from Ghana.

'It was a great feeling to get a goal at the Bernabeu,' said Welbeck.

'The whole occasion was immense, with the number of fans who travelled over and with it being such a big game.

Heads up: Danny Welbeck puts United ahead against Real Madrid

Heads up: Danny Welbeck puts United ahead against Real Madrid

'There was a little part of me thinking I have come a long way in a short space of time.
'But it is something I strived for since I was a little kid.

'I really wanted to play for Manchester United and that was one of the biggest games, so part of me did feel proud.

'But it also gave me the motivation to carry on and try to strive for more.'

Welbeck's lack of goals is rather strange considering he was England's top scorer in 2012 and has never previously found it a problem, even if he is not amongst the most prolific members of Sir Alex Ferguson's squad.

The answer, in his view, is simple, and comes from the role he was asked to carry out in the first leg; out wide, trying to counter whilst not forgetting defensive duties against a side so dangerous on the counter-attack.

'I have not really played in my favourite position,' he said. 'I like to play as a striker but a lot of the time I have been out wide.

'I would like to get more goals, but it is obviously more difficult to get them when you are playing in wider areas.”

Wayne Rooney has been given the same duties on a regular basis during his United career.

Indeed, he was repeating the job Welbeck was doing on the left down United's right-hand flank in Madrid last month, underlining his own selfless contribution to the cause.

It is anticipated more will be demanded of Rooney in attack at Old Trafford, which may mean a switch inside in preference to Shinji Kagawa, who nearly made an impact at the Bernabeu without actually managing it.

That move would possibly trigger a recall for Antonio Valencia, although clearly Ferguson does have options, as he does in the form of Tom Cleverley, Ryan Giggs and Anderson in central midfield if Phil Jones fails to recover from an ankle injury.

'It is the part of the season everyone looks forward to,' said Jonny Evans.

'We are involved in everything and the competitions are all coming in one week.

'The league is the one everyone wants to win but if you asked any player in the Premier League, they would want to play in the Champions League.

Getting on: Welbeck replaces Van Persie to take his chance

Getting on: Welbeck replaces Van Persie to take his chance

'Being at Manchester United, you want that every single season and matches against teams like Real Madrid are ones you need to cherish.

'But we can't just think about what a fantastic occasion it is. We also need to perform.'

Loic Remy denies he signed for QPR for money

I'm not here for the money! Remy denies he snubbed Newcastle to cash in at QPR

By
Duncan Bech, Press Association

PUBLISHED:

11:36 GMT, 18 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

11:48 GMT, 18 January 2013

Loic Remy has denied he chose QPR over Newcastle for monetary reasons.

The France striker looked set to move to St James' Park after manager Alan Pardew made what he described as a 'fantastic offer', only to instead move to Rangers who are reported to have offered him 80,000 per week.

Newcastle great Alan Shearer expressed his surprise at Remy's decision and suggested that money was the motivating factor but the 8million capture from Marseille revealed the influence of QPR manager Harry Redknapp was key.

Got his man: Loic Remy (left) has joined manager Harry Redknapp at Queens Park Rangers

Got his man: Loic Remy (left) has joined manager Harry Redknapp at Queens Park Rangers

'The finance doesn't come into it at all because Newcastle offered me a very good contract as well,' Remy said.

'I've seen that a lot of people are surprised I came to QPR and say that I came here for money, but my decision was no way based on financial reasons.

'I could have stayed at Marseille because I had a good contract there. There are a number of reasons for why I had to leave Marseille for here.

'QPR were very open, they wanted me and it's great to be here.

Denial: Remy insists he has not moved to QPR for the money after snubbing a move to Newcastle

Denial: Remy insists he has not moved to QPR for the money after snubbing a move to Newcastle

'It's true that I hesitated between Newcastle and QPR. I went to meet the staff at Newcastle and there came a time to make a decision and I made that decision based on two factors.

'Firstly I already knew the coach Harry Redknapp and secondly, I'm very excited by the project QPR have here for the future.

'It's a big challenge and the team are in a difficult situation, but since Harry Redknapp has been here things have changed a great deal.'

Redknapp monitored Remy when he was Tottenham manager and went to Marseille to meet him, only to be put off by the 20m price tag being quoted at the time.

Main man: Remy (left) has been brought in from Marseille to rescue QPR from relegation

Main man: Remy (left) has been brought in from Marseille to rescue QPR from relegation

Michu bargain of the century? Football"s best ever buys

Is Michu the bargain of the century Sportsmail gives its verdict on the players to rival him for the title

PUBLISHED:

14:57 GMT, 10 January 2013

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UPDATED:

16:51 GMT, 10 January 2013

His manager Michael Laudrup called him the ‘bargain of the season’ but Gary Lineker has hailed Swansea star Michu as the ‘bargain of the century’.

The Spaniard has been the surprise star of the Premier League since his 2.2million move from Rayo Vallecano.

Bargain buy: Michu has had a big impact for Swansea this season following his 2.2m summer move

Bargain buy: Michu has had a big impact for Swansea this season following his 2.2m summer move

MICHU'S GOAL CELEBRATION

Michu’s goal celebration, in which he ‘turns up the volume’ next to his ear, has been the talk of Swansea since he moved to Wales in the summer. He first did the action to Granada fans to let them know he couldn’t hear them after he scored for Celta Vigo. Cheeky.

He scored 15 goals for the Spanish strugglers from midfield last season, helping them survive on the last day of the season.

This season he has already scored 13 for Swansea in the Premier League — does it make him the bargain of the century

We asked our team of writers to pick their best bargain of this century. Who is your pick Let us know by leaving a comment below.

Finding the net: Michu scored the opening goal in Swansea's Capital One Cup victory over Chelsea

Finding the net: Michu scored the opening goal in Swansea's Capital One Cup victory over Chelsea

MATT BARLOW
Robin van Persie (Feyenoord to Arsenal, 2.75m, 2004)

Arsenal got him for 2.75million. Once he got over his injuries and attitude problems he proved to be genuine world-class talent. Sold for nearly 10 times as much and still getting better.

Doing the business: Robin van Persie signed for Arsenal from Feyenoord

Doing the business: Robin van Persie signed for Arsenal from Feyenoord

ALEX KAY
Lionel Messi (Newell's Old Boys to Barcelona, Free, 2000)

The best player in the world… for almost nothing. So impressed were Barcelona with a young Lionel Messi they offered him a contract on a paper napkin and offered to pay for the boy’s medical bills if he moved from Argentina. The 11-year-old had been diagnosed with a growth hormone deficiency. Luckily for Barca, he turned out all right.

Simply the best: Lionel Messi joined Barcelona for free as a teenager

Simply the best: Lionel Messi joined Barcelona for free as a teenager

SAMI MOKBEL
Edwin van der Sar (Fulham to Manchester United, 2m, 2005)

Sir Alex Ferguson fired plenty of blanks in his attempts to replace Peter Schmeichel. Massimo Taibi and Mark Bosnich, for instance, just could not cut the mustard. Enter Van der Sar. A colossus for United in his six years at Old Trafford.

Safe hands: Edwin van der Sar joined Manchester United late in his career but had a big impact at Old Trafford

Safe hands: Edwin van der Sar joined Manchester United late in his career but had a big impact at Old Trafford

JOHN EDWARDS
Cristiano Ronaldo (Sporting Lisbon to Manchester United, 12.2m, 2003)

It’s probably fair to describe Sir Alex Ferguson’s transfer dealings that summer as varied, until he struck gold with Ronaldo. Up to then, he had recruited David Bellion, Eric Djemba-Djemba, Tim Howard and Kleberson. Howard apart, it was hardly an array of new talent destined to take the Barclays Premier League by storm. Ronaldo, on the other hand, drew comparisons with some of the all-time greats to don a United shirt and had completed a clean sweep of club and individual honours by the time he joined Real Madrid for 80million on July 1, 2009. If we are analysing value, a profit of 68m surely takes some beating.

Making his mark: Cristiano Ronaldo would become the best player in the Premier League

Making his mark: Cristiano Ronaldo would become the best player in the Premier League

SAM CUNNINGHAM
Cristiano Ronaldo (Sporting Lisbon to Manchester United, 12.2m, 2003)

Six seasons at the club returned three consecutive league titles, an FA Cup, two League Cups, one Community Shield, a Champions League and FIFA Club World Cup. So that cost them roughly 2m per season, or 1.4m per trophy. Then they made 68m profit on him. Bargain.

LAURIE WHITWELL
Javier Hernandez (Guadalajara to Manchester United, 7m, 2010)

A relative unknown when Sir Alex Ferguson signed him before the 2010 World Cup. A handful of sparkling displays in South Africa later and 7m already looked a snip. Hernandez stormed the Premier League in his debut season, scoring 20 goals in all competitions as United won the title and made the Champions League final. His place came under threat last term but he has come again, netting 12 times this season despite the arrival of Robin van Persie meaning limited game time. A firebox character and a joy to watch. United can depend on him from the start or from the bench.

Super sub: Javier Hernandez hit the ground running following his move to Manchester United

Super sub: Javier Hernandez hit the ground running following his move to Manchester United

JAMES ANDREW
Louis Saha (Metz to Fulham, 2.1m, 2000)

When Jean Tigana arrived at Fulham in 2000 one of the first things he did was sell Geoff Horsfield to Birmingham for 2.25m and then bought Saha for 2.1m. It proved to be a masterstroke as the Frenchman went on to score 27 goals in Division One (now the Championship) and fire Fulham into the Premier League. While his years in the top flight were blighted by injury he rediscovered his goalscoring touch again in 2003-04 when he netted 15 goals in 22 games before a 12.4m move to Manchester United. A 10m profit and Premier League football is not a bad deal.

Saha so good: Louis Saha helped gain Fulham promotion to the Premier League in 2001

Saha so good: Louis Saha helped gain Fulham promotion to the Premier League in 2001

MIKE ANSTEAD

Vincent Kompany (Hamburg to Man City, 6m, 2008)

In among all Manchester City's eye-watering signings, there is Vincent Kompany. An exceptional defender, a leader on and off the pitch and an all-round good guy. Oh, and he became the first City captain to lift the league trophy in 44 years. Not bad for 6million…

Flying start: Vincent Kompany takes on the FC Copenhagen defence in a 2009 UEFA Cup tie

Flying start: Vincent Kompany takes on the FC Copenhagen defence in a 2009 UEFA Cup tie

MARK ALFORD
Gareth Bale (Southampton to Tottenham, 7m, 2007)

Shrewd business by Tottenham – no not selling Berbatov to United for 30milllion – but buying Gareth Bale for an initial 5m fee from Southampton in 2007. That figure was set to rise to 10m depending on honours and appearances but Spurs struck another shrewd deal with the Saints, agreeing an early settlement so the total bill was 7m. The Welsh wizard is coveted by the world’s finest football clubs now and it’ll take 50m to prise him away from White Hart Lane. Kerrching.

Spur of the moment: A youthful Gareth Bale scoring for Tottenham against Middlesbrough

Spur of the moment: A youthful Gareth Bale scoring for Tottenham against Middlesbrough

PHIL GRADWELL
Jay Jay Okocha (PSG to Bolton, free, 2002)

So good they named him twice – and he didn’t cost a penny. Okocha’s brilliance kept Bolton in the Premier League in 2003 and he scored a stupendous free-kick to help them to the Carling Cup final in 2004. Was made club captain by Sam Allardyce and dazzled the Reebok with his tricks, the best of which was an outrageous flick over Ray Parlour’s head.

Scorcher: Darren Anderton looks on in awe as Jay Jay Okocha unleashes a shot

Scorcher: Darren Anderton looks on in awe as Jay Jay Okocha unleashes a shot

CHRIS CUTMORE
Joe Hart (Shrewsbury to Man City, 100,000*, 2006)

Every great team needs a huge presence between the sticks – think Banks, Schmeichel or Casillas – and it cannot be questioned that Hart was a major force behind City’s Premier League title triumph last season. Roberto Mancini’s men saw off local rivals United on goal difference alone and Hart marshalled by far the stingiest defence in the league. His mistakes this season have shocked all the more because of his consistent brilliance previously. But don’t expect the dip in form to last long, or Hart’s Premier League medal to be his last.

*according to City deputy chairman John Wardle

Young at Hart: Joe joined Man City from Shrewsbury for the bargain price of 100,000 in 2006

Young at Hart: Joe joined Man City from Shrewsbury for a bargain 100,000 in 2006

LUKE BENEDICT
Fernando Torres (Atletico Madrid to Liverpool, 21m, 2007)

To get 65 goals out of a player and then make a near 30million profit is pretty good business. In fact, it surely ranks as the bargain of the century. Aged 23, El Nino took a pay cut to move to Liverpool for 21m from Atletico Madrid. He scored more than 60 goals in a 102 games. Then Chelsea infamously paid 50m for him and he’s scored only 26 in his first 100 games at Stamford Bridge. That’s an awful lot of profit for a striker who can hardly score.

Hit the ground running: Fernando Torres scores one of his first goals in Liverpool colours

Hit the ground running: Fernando Torres scores one of his first goals in Liverpool colours

The Saturday Debate

The Saturday Debate: The stars of 2013 will be…..

PUBLISHED:

23:38 GMT, 28 December 2012

|

UPDATED:

00:16 GMT, 29 December 2012

Who will be the surprise Premier League star in 2013 Six Sportsmail football writers make their selection…

Darren Bent /12/28/article-2254429-15485153000005DC-675_468x464.jpg” width=”468″ height=”464″ alt=”Whether at Villa or elsewhere, Darren Bent should get back to his goalscoring best” class=”blkBorder” />

Whether at Villa or elsewhere, Darren Bent should get back to his goalscoring best

Gaston Ramirez /12/28/article-2254429-169FA1C8000005DC-508_468x301.jpg” width=”468″ height=”301″ alt=”Another Ronaldo John Edwards loves to watch Southampton's Gaston Ramirez (left)” class=”blkBorder” />

Another Ronaldo John Edwards loves to watch Southampton's Gaston Ramirez (left)

Steven Caulker /12/28/article-2254429-169FE174000005DC-53_468x340.jpg” width=”468″ height=”340″ alt=”Maturity: 20-year-old Spurs defender Steven Caulker (left) is playing way beyond his years” class=”blkBorder” />

Maturity: 20-year-old Spurs defender Steven Caulker (left) is playing way beyond his years

Jack Wilshere with injury, the stage is set for the Arsenal midfielder to flourish.

Tenacious and determined yet possessing an artistic range of passing, Wilshere’s performances will determine how close Arsenal get to qualifying for the Champions League again.

Mercurial: After missing most of 2012 through injury, Wilshere (right) will flourish in 2013

Mercurial: After missing most of 2012 through injury, Wilshere (right) will flourish in 2013

Christian Benteke /12/28/article-2254429-16A2890C000005DC-297_468x286.jpg” width=”468″ height=”286″ alt=”Power: The big Belgian is following in the footsteps of Villa no. 9s Andy Gray and Peter Withe” class=”blkBorder” />

Power: The big Belgian is following in the footsteps of Villa no. 9s Andy Gray and Peter Withe

Oscar /12/28/article-2254429-16A8275D000005DC-777_468x286.jpg” width=”468″ height=”286″ alt=”Talent: Under Benitez his playing time has been cut but 2013 will show us why Chelsea spent 25m on the Brazilian” class=”blkBorder” />

Talent: Under Benitez his playing time has been cut but 2013 will show us why Chelsea spent 25m on the Brazilian

Alex McLeish – 10 reasons why he"s the RIGHT man for Nottingham Forest

Angry Forest fans, read this… 10 reasons why Alex McLeish is the RIGHT man for your club

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UPDATED:

16:03 GMT, 28 December 2012

Alex McLeish has faced a backlash from many Nottingham Forest fans after being appointed to replace sacked Sean O'Driscoll.

After troubles with Birmingham and Aston Villa, it's fair to say not every Forest supporter has welcomed him back to the Midlands' football scene.

Here, Sportsmail offers up 10 reasons why he is a good fit for the ambitious Championship side…

First day at the office: McLeish has run the rules over his new players

First day at the office: McLeish has run the rules over his new players

1 Wealth of experience – you do not manage Motherwell, Hibernian, Glasgow Rangers, the Scotland national team, Birmingham City and Aston Villa in a managerial career spanning almost two decades unless you know your way around football.

2 He knows what is needed to win promotion – he did it with Hibernian in Scotland and Birmingham CIty in England.

3 Good contacts – Sir Alex Ferguson gave McLeish very public backing when he took over at Villa Park. It may only need one or two crucial additions for Forest to reach the top six – or better.

4 Players like him. Upon his appointment last night, both Ben Foster and Liam Ridgewell – who both played under McLeish at St Andrew's – immediately went on twitter to add their voices to the chorus of well-wishers.

Big fan: Ben Foster tweeted his admiration for McLeish after the news

Big fan: Ben Foster tweeted his admiration for McLeish after the news

5 He will receive more time than Sean O'Driscoll because he is a man chosen specifically for the post by the Kuwaiti owners.

McLeish targets promotion

McLeish oversaw his first training session and spoke to the press after being formally unveiled as the new Forest boss today.

He said: 'It looks like an absolutely wonderful challenge for me. It's been a whirlwind for me. A surprise but a very welcome surprise.

'We have to target getting into the top six – then we will be gunning for the Premier League.

'I took both jobs (at Birmingham and Aston Villa) when those clubs were in difficulty. The goal was to guide both to safety. And I was pleased that we got Villa over the line despite the horrors of that season.

'The key to success in this league is winning a succession of games. We did that at Birmingham and got back at the first time of asking.

'Everyone should be bursting to get back into the Premier League.'

6 He will have learnt from his experience at Villa Park which, frankly, was an unmitigated disaster for all concerned.

7 He is hungry for success. He needs another chance to re-establish his credentials.

McLeish is a proud man and won't want the Aston Villa experience to be his epitaph in football.

8 He's leaner! During his time out of the game he hired a personal trainer to get himself fit for action once more.

9 He
will uphold Forest's traditions, certainly off the pitch. He was a good
ambassador both at Birmingham City and Aston Villa. Club staff will
like him.

10 Forest's
fans are a reasonable bunch, they will give him a chance.

McLeish's
style is first and foremost to protect what he has got – it might lead
to more conservative football but it is more likely to be winning
football. And that, ultimately, is what he has been employed to bring to
Nottingham Forest.

The future's bright: Forest are aiming to reach the Premier League

The future's bright: Forest are aiming to reach the Premier League

Millwall 1 Barnsley 2 – match report: Marcus Tudgay hits late winner

Millwall 1 Barnsley 2: Tudgay's late winner gives Tykes some seasonal cheer

PUBLISHED:

17:47 GMT, 22 December 2012

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UPDATED:

17:47 GMT, 22 December 2012

Marcus Tudgay's late goal condemned Millwall to a surprise defeat as Barnsley gave their npower Championship survival bid a welcome boost.

Tudgay struck in injury time after Chris Wood appeared to have salvaged a point for the Lions, who had lost just once in their previous 16 matches.
Barnsley led through a first-half goal from Stephen Dawson, shortly after Millwall's Darius Henderson had missed a penalty.

To make matters worse, the hosts had defender Adam Smith sent off for a rash challenge early in the second half.

Winner: Marcus Tudgay chips the advancing David Forde to give Barnsley all three points

Winner: Marcus Tudgay chips the advancing David Forde to give Barnsley all three points

Match facts

Millwall: Forde, Adam Smith, Shittu, Beevers, Lowry, Henry, Wright, Trotter, Feeney (Jack Smith 64), Wood, Henderson (N'Guessan 69). Subs not used: Maik Taylor, Dunne, Batt, Osborne, Malone.
Sent Off: Adam Smith (54).

Booked: Feeney, Beevers.

Goals: Wood 80.

Barnsley: Steele, Stones, Foster, Cranie (Wiseman 20), Golbourne, Dawson, Hassell, O'Brien (Harewood 73), Perkins (Done 84), Tudgay, Dagnall. Subs not used: Alnwick, Cywka, Greening, Rose.
Booked: Tudgay, Wiseman, Foster, O'Brien.

Goals: Dawson 31, Tudgay 90.

Attendance: 10,118.

Referee: Trevor Kettle.

Latest Championship results, fixtures and table

Wood tucked in his third goal in two
matches, and his 11th of the season, 10 minutes from time but Tudgay had
the last word as Millwall slipped out of the play-off places.

Millwall were surprisingly lacklustre
for a team in such fine form, unbeaten at home in their previous seven
games, and it was Barnsley who made the brighter start with two good
chances falling to Tudgay in the first 10 minutes.

First Lions goalkeeper David Forde
did well to tip Tudgay's shot round the post, then a mix-up in the
Millwall defence saw the ball fall to Tudgay again, but this time the
striker blazed his shot over the crossbar.

The hosts should have taken the lead in the 25th minute after Henderson was fouled in the area by Scott Wiseman.

But Henderson, back in the Millwall side after a spell out with a hamstring injury, blazed the spot-kick over the crossbar.

And the Lions were made to pay five minutes later when Barnsley broke at the other end through Tudgay.

The ball eventually fell to Jim
O'Brien, whose shot was well saved by Forde, but Dawson was on hand to
tuck away the rebound for his third goal of the season to give the
visitors the lead.

Millwall attempted to hit straight back and midfielder Liam Trotter shot narrowly wide from just inside the box.

On target: Stephen Dawson fires Barnsley into a first-half lead

On target: Stephen Dawson fires Barnsley into a first-half lead

Tykes goalkeeper Luke Steele was then called into action to make saves from Henderson and Shane Lowry.

Barnsley had chances to add to their
lead before half-time but Forde saved John Stones' effort and O'Brien
crashed a shot into the side-netting.

Millwall's task got more difficult 10 minutes after the interval when Smith was sent off after he lunged in on David Perkins.

It looked like a 50-50 challenge but referee Trevor Kettle deemed it to be two-footed and produced a straight red card.

Barnsley sensed the chance of a rare win and Perkins drove the ball goalwards but his effort was kept out by Forde.

Perkins then crossed for Tudgay but
his ambitious header from the edge of the area flew wide, before Chris
Dagnall missed the target from close range and Stephen Foster fired over
the top.

Barnsley were caught out 10 minutes
from time when Wood latched onto Dany N'Guessan's ball over the top and
coolly finished past Steele.

But all Millwall's hard work was undone when Tudgay rifled the winner past Forde in the 93rd minute.

The goal lifted the Tykes to the same
points tally as Tudgay's former side Sheffield Wednesday, although they
remain in the bottom three on goals scored.

Peterborough 5 Bolton 4 – match report

Peterborough 5 Bolton 4: Posh hold on despite late Trotters surge

PUBLISHED:

17:37 GMT, 22 December 2012

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UPDATED:

17:37 GMT, 22 December 2012

Peterborough's flying start proved decisive as they edged Bolton in a nine-goal thriller at London Road.

Buoyed by their surprise victory over leaders Cardiff last week, Posh raced into a two goal lead inside six minutes thanks to Lee Tomlin and Dwight Gayle.

Wanderers midfielder Keith Andrews reduced the arrears from the penalty spot but George Thorne's drive made it 3-1 shortly after half-time.

Topsy-turvy: Peterborough emerged on top after an epic tussle

Topsy-turvy: Peterborough emerged on top after an epic tussle

Match facts

Peterborough: Olejnik, Bostwick, Zakuani, Knight-Percival, Little (Alcock 89), Thorne, Rowe, Boyd, Newell (Ferdinand 81), Gayle, Tomlin.

Subs Not Used: Day, Brisley, Swanson, McCann, Kearns.

Goals: Tomlin 2, Gayle 6, Thorne 47, Little 69, Zakuani 83.

Bolton: Bogdan, Mears, Ricketts, Knight, Warnock, Spearing, Andrews (Petrov 81), Lee (Sordell 50), Butterfield (Afobe 50), Eagles, Kevin Davies.

Subs Not Used: Lainton, Alonso, Ream, Pratley.

Booked: Butterfield, Kevin Davies, Ricketts, Andrews.

Goals: Andrews 45 pen, 56 pen, Afobe 85, Petrov 87.

Att: 6,600

Ref: Nigel Miller (Durham).

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Another Andrews spot kick prompted
Bolton's most promising period of the match but United defenders Mark
Little and Gabriel Zakuani got in on the act to apparently make the
points safe.

But there was a final twist as
Wanderers substitutes Benik Afobe and Martin Petrov netted inside the
final six minutes to set up a grandstand finish.

Victory for Barnsley at Millwall and
Bristol City's draw at Ipswich means Darren Ferguson's side remain
bottom of the table, while Dougie Freedman's Bolton head into Christmas
eight points shy of the play-off places in 16th.

A cross-field ball from George Boyd
in the second minute skidded through Bolton centre-back Zat Knight on
the greasy surface, allowing Tomlin to race clear before cutting back
onto his right foot and planting a low shot past Adam Bogdan.

Wanderers goalkeeper Bogdan made a
magnificent reflex save to stop Tomlin doubling his tally moments later
but the Hungary international could do nothing when Sam Ricketts failed
to clear Tommy Rowe's cross and Gayle thrashed home on the half-volley –
his fifth goal in four games.

Confidence was understandably
coursing through Peterborough and Boyd fizzed an ambitious 35-yard
effort narrowly over after Thorne dispossessed Andrews.

In the 15th minute Tomlin went close
again, skipping past two challenges before curling against the post from
the edge of the box.

Boyd passed up the opportunity to add
a third, shooting wide at the end of a mazy run, before Bolton were
handed a lifeline in first half stoppage time.

Zakuani was penalised for holding
down Ricketts when Butterfield delivered a corner from the right and,
despite Chris Eagles volleying the loose ball into the net, referee
Nigel Miller pointed to the spot.

Andrews held his nerve, blasting low
to the left of Posh goalkeeper Robert Olejnik – a virtual spectator for
the opening 45 minutes.

But haphazard defending undid Bolton
at the start of the second half, as it had in the first, and after they
failed to clear in the 47th minute Thorne swept home from the edge of
the area.

Freedman threw on Marvin Sordell and
Afobe shortly afterward to bolster his side's attack and the latter
helped them reduce the advantage again with 56 minutes played.

A bustling run from Arsenal loanee was ended illegally in the area by Joe Newell and once more Andrews did the honours.

Afobe continued to cause problems for
the Peterborough defence but at the other end there remained plenty to
encourage the hosts and their two goal lead was restored for a third
time.

Tomlin dragged wide after being teed
up by strike partner Gayle and, with 21 minutes to go, Little
emphatically drove into the top corner at the back post from Newell's
left wing cross.

Zakuani's far post header to convert Tomlin's right wing corner appeared to have sealed it but Afobe and Petrov had other ideas.

The former converted his team-mates'
84th minute corner from close range and when Petrov emphatically crashed
into the top corner on the angle three minutes later Bolton had got to
within touching distance of a point they scarcely deserved.

John Obi Mikel says David Luiz should play in defence for Chelsea

Luiz should play at the back! Mikel not convinced about Rafa's experiment

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UPDATED:

01:32 GMT, 15 December 2012

Although most people were impressed with David Luiz's attempt to play in defensive midfield as Chelsea beat Monterrey, John Obi Mikel wasn't so sure.

He was not expecting to be playing alongside the Brazilian centre-back but after Rafa Benitez sprung the surprise he was not stunned to see Luiz rampaging forward from the start.

Interesting: David Luiz played in a swashbuckling fashion from defensive midfield

Interesting: David Luiz played in a swashbuckling fashion from defensive midfield

'It was a bit of a shock to see David lining up there,' said Mikel as reported in the Guardian.

'I said to him as we got on to the pitch: “Where shall I play”

'He said he'd play the holding role and that I should go forward. I said OK but, when the game started, I looked up and he was already up their end of the pitch.'

Mikel did not think playing Luiz out of position should be a regular occurrence.

'David is a great player, but I don't know if this is going to be a long-term thing,' said the Nigerian.

'I think he needs to play at the back.

'It was a good performance from him – he kept the ball well and played it well – but when it's not your normal position you sometimes lose something.

Mixed review: Mikel said Luiz was a great player but also thought he should revert to his defensive role

Mixed review: Mikel said Luiz was a great player but also thought he should revert to his defensive role

'He is a great player and a strong character who can only get better for this club. He keeps going and doing his thing. Fair play to him.'

Both players have come in for criticism – Luiz because he plays with too much flair and attacking intent for a defender – and Mikel because fans complain he does not contribute enough going forward.

Under Roberto Di Matteo Mikel flourished – perhaps turning in his best performance for the club in the Champions League final against Bayern Munich.

Benitez is less keen on the midfielder and has played Spaniard Oriol Romeu in his stead recently.

But the former Barcelona player picked up a serious knee injury against Sunderland last Saturday and is out for several months while it is treated.