Tag Archives: thomas

Hair today, gone tomorrow… but new style makes Pique a dead ringer for former boss Guardiola

Hair today, gone tomorrow… but new style makes Pique a dead ringer for former boss Guardiola

By
Charlie Skillen

PUBLISHED:

20:07 GMT, 23 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

20:09 GMT, 23 April 2013

Barcelona defender Gerard Pique revealed his new shaved hairstyle in tonight's Champions League semi-final first leg at Bayern Munich, and it makes him look just like former manager – and next Bayern boss – Pep Guardiola.

After wearing a hat during training yesterday, the former Manchester United centre back shocked fans with his trademark spiked look completely gone.

Guardiola

Pique

Spot the difference: Gerard Pique (left) sports a similar look to former Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola (right)

Keep it covered: Pique was wearing a hat in Barcelona's training session yesterday to hide his new look

Keep it covered: Pique was wearing a hat in Barcelona's training session yesterday to hide his new look

The shaved head comes complete with a beard, meaning he had more foliage on his chin than his head.

The new look obviously doesn't do him much good on the pitch. Thomas Muller's opener for Bayern was a header past the newly-bald Pique.

Guardiola sports the same look, and
the style is set to be a regular feature at the Allianz Arena with the
Catalan manager replacing Jupp Heynckes at the end of the season.

It's possible that his partner, pop
star Shakira, prefers the 'Pep' look. The couple have been dating since
2010 and celebrated the birth of their first child in January.

Partner: It is unknown whether Pique's partner, pop singer Shakira, likes his new 'Pep' look

Partner: It is unknown whether Pique's partner, pop singer Shakira, likes his new 'Pep' look

Pique and Shakira

Bayern Munich v Barcelona – live Champions League

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE LIVE: Bayern Munich v Barcelona – as it happens from the Allianz Arena

).

25min: GOAL! BAYERN MUNICH 1-0 Barcelona

It's been coming and finally the German side's pressure pays off. A corner eventually finds Dante inside the area and his headed effort back across goal is powerfully nodded home by Thomas Muller.

22min: Bayern are slightly fortunate to win a corner as Jordi Alba was adjudged to have failed in keeping the ball in play, but Robben's set-piece is punched clear by Valdes before the visitors win a free-kick for an infringement inside the box.

19min: The home side continue to look dangerous as they go forward but whether it's by handball or other means, the Barcelona back-four isn't struggling too much to cope with the German side. Going forward though it's a different story as Lionel Messi and Co have yet to get into the game.

Clash of the titans: Barcelona's Lionel Messi and Bayern Munich's Franck Ribery fight for the ball

Clash of the titans: Barcelona's Lionel Messi and Bayern Munich's Franck Ribery fight for the ball

16min: A strong penalty claim from Bayern Munich, as Philipp Lahm's shot is clearly blocked from a raised Pique arm. It's very subtle from the defender but he is very fortunate to get away with that.

14min: From InfostradaLive:

Bayern have never lost a CL semifinal match at home (5W – 1D). Their only draw was in April 1995: 0-0 against Ajax.

11min: A very even opening to a game which neither side has yet to take control of. Barcelona's passing looks better at this stage but it's Valdes who has had to make the only save of the match so far.

Aiming low: Bayern Munich's Arjen Robben sees a shot saved by Barcelona's Victor Valdes

Aiming low: Bayern Munich's Arjen Robben sees a shot saved by Barcelona's Victor Valdes

8min: In fact one or two players are slipping on other areas of the watered pitch as Barcelona win their first corner, which is headed wide by Gerard Pique.

5min: The home side have settled now but we have the bizarre case of a waterlogged pitch.

There's been no rain in Munich today but the centre-circle is holding standing water from what is most likely from the sprinklers that watered the pitch before the game.

2min: It takes nearly 80 seconds for Bayern to touch the ball but they carve out the first opportunity. Arjen Robben's through pass feeds in Javi Martinez, and after the forward returns the favour with a cut-back, the winger's low shot is well blocked by Victor Valdes.

Ready to go: The players arrive on the pitch at the Allianz Arena

Ready to go: The players arrive on the pitch at the Allianz Arena

Kick-off: Away we go at the Allianz Arena as Barcelona possession is immediately jeered by the home crowd.

19.41: Both sets of teams are on the field, as the home fans raise red and white cards to represent Bayern Munich's colours.

19.36: From InfostradaLive:

Bayern are the first German team to play two consecutive Champions League semifinals since 1998/1999, 1999/2000 and 2000/2001, when they themselves achieved this feat.

Preparing: Bayern keeper Manuel Neuer saves a shot warming up

Preparing: Bayern keeper Manuel Neuer saves a shot warming up

19.31: Viktor Kassai is in charge of tonight's game – with the Hungarian a lucky charm of some sort for Barcelona.

He oversaw their 4-0 win over AC Milan at the Nou Camp earlier this year and was also in charge of the 2011 Champions League final at Wembley where the Spanish side defeated Manchester United 3-1.

Bayern Munich last had the official in their 2-1 defeat at Real Madrid in last year's semi-final.

19.26: They may be stars everyone wants to see but Barcelona were greeted by jeers from the home fans as they took to the pitch for their warm-up.

19.23: Whatever you think of this current Bayern Munich team there is no denying how impressive their current form is. They have won 19 of their last 20 matches in all competitions – with that one blemish being the second-leg defeat against Arsenal in the last 16.

Jupp Heynckes' team have won all 13 Bundesliga games this year and are on course for the treble having reached the final of the German cup following a 6-1 semi-final win over Wolfsburg.

Club legend: Bayern president Uli Hoeness arrives at the Allianz Arena

Club legend: Bayern president Uli Hoeness arrives at the Allianz Arena

Flying the flag: Bayern Munich and Barcelona fans gathered outside of the Allianz Arena

Flying the flag: Bayern Munich and Barcelona fans gathered outside of the Allianz Arena

Flying the flag: Bayern Munich and Barcelona fans gathered outside of the Allianz Arena

19.18: From InfostradaLive:

Victor Valdes plays his 48th CL KO match, overtaking Ryan Giggs (47) as player with most CL KO appearances.

19.13: Full line-ups from the Allianz Arena:

Bayern Munich v Barcelona
Bayern Munich: Neuer, Lahm, Boateng, Dante, Alaba, Javi Martinez, Schweinsteiger, Robben, Muller, Ribery, Gomez. Subs: Starke, Van Buyten, Shaqiri, Rafinha, Pizarro, Gustavo, Tymoschuk.

Barcelona: Valdes, Dani Alves, Pique, Bartra, Jordi Alba, Xavi, Busquets, Iniesta, Sanchez, Messi, Pedro. Subs: Pinto, Fabregas, Villa, Thiago, Montoya, Abidal, Song.

Referee: Viktor Kassai (Hungary)

19.08: From OptaPaolo:

25 – Bayern have always scored at home in the Champions League against Spanish opposition (13 games), scoring 25 goals in total. Assurance.

Way back when: Bayern Munich's Stefan Effenberg (right) tracks Barcelona's Sonny Anderson

Way back when: Bayern Munich's Stefan Effenberg (right) tracks Barcelona's Sonny Anderson

Revenge: First leg goals from Lionel Messi, Samuel Eto'o and Thierry Henry helped Barcelona thump Bayern Munich 5-1 on aggregate in the 2009 Champions League quarter-finals

Revenge: First leg goals from Lionel Messi, Samuel Eto'o and Thierry Henry helped Barcelona thump Bayern Munich 5-1 on aggregate in the 2009 Champions League quarter-finals

Revenge: First leg goals from Lionel Messi, Samuel Eto'o and Thierry Henry helped Barcelona thump Bayern Munich 5-1 on aggregate in the 2009 Champions League quarter-finals

19.05: Bayern Munich won two Champions League group stage meetings in 1998, but Barcelona finally triumphed over the German side when they strolled to a 5-1 aggregate victory in the Champions League quarter-finals four years ago.

In fact they effectively won the tie by half-time of the first leg at the Nou Camp, following a brace from Lionel Messi and strikes from Thierry Henry and Samuel Eto'o.

19.00: Despite their regular participation in Europe's top competition – these sides have only clashed in three previous seasons.

The first was in the 1996 UEFA Cup semi-final when Bayern edged through 4-3 on aggregate – a tie where in the clash at the Nou Camp, Sergio Busquets' (who starts tonight) father Carles featured – as did Pep Guardiola.

18.55: Mario Mandzukic is suspended for Bayern, so therefore Mario Gomez plays up top. The more agile Jerome Boateng starts in front of Daniel van Buyten.

French following: A fan holds a France flag with Bayern's Franck Ribery on the front

French following: A fan holds a France flag with Bayern's Franck Ribery on the front

18.50: So Messi returns for Barcleona and will lead an attack along with Pedro Rodriguez and Alexis Sanchez. Marc Bartra starts in defence in place of injured pair Javier Mascherano, Carlos Puyol and the suspended Adriano.

18.45: Barcelona starting XI:

Valdes, Alves, Bartra, Pique, Alba, Xavi, Busquets, Iniesta, Pedro, Messi, Alexis.

18.40: Bayern Munich starting XI:

Neuer, Lahm, Boateng, Dante, Alaba, Schweinsteiger, Martinez, Robben, Muller, Ribery, Gomez.

On the move: Mario Gotze (centre) will join Bayern Munich this summer

On the move: Mario Gotze (centre) will join Bayern Munich this summer

18.35: Bayern Munich have already been making headlines today, after it emerged Mario Gotze will join the club from Borussia Dortmund for 32m in what will be Pep Guardiola's first signing when he takes over at Munich this summer.

A huge statement of intent that, with the 20-year-old midfielder one of Europe's most highly sought after players.

18.30: From OptaJean:

1 – Barcelona have only won one of their 6 competitive encounters with Bayern Munich (D2, L3). Stress.

18.25: The fact that Barcelona are not huge favourites (if they are favourites at all) to win tonight shows just how far Bayern Munich have come this season.

They continue to shine in Europe of course but their domestic form has been nothing short of devastating – it should be quite a contest.

Back in business: Lionel Messi is poised to return for Barcelona

Back in business: Lionel Messi is poised to return for Barcelona

18.20: It's been a lovely sunny St. George's Day in the UK, and the weather is looking good in Munich too ahead of tonight's game. It's 16 degrees at the Allianz Arena where fans are already arriving.

18.15: No full team news yet but it seems Lionel Messi is fully fit for Barcelona, having not featured since coming off the bench in the quarter-final win against Paris Saint-Germain in the last round. That's a big boost for Barca who have stuttered at times on their travels around the continent this term.

18.10: There may be no English teams left but what a final four we have in this season's Champions League!

As it turns out it will be a double dose of Spain v Germany, and while Real Madrid are favourites to edge past Borussia Dortmund, it appears much closer between Bayern Munich and Barcelona – the latter of course, the main event this evening.

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On the ball: Bayern Munich's Bastian Schweinsteiger trains in preperation for the semi-final

On the ball: Bayern Munich's Bastian Schweinsteiger trains in preperation for the semi-final

Arsene Wenger may risk Jack Wilshere in Arsenal FA Cup tie with Blackburn Rovers ahead of Champions League tie

Risk Jack before Bayern Wenger to make late call on Wilshere in FA Cup

By
Jim Van Wijk, Press Association

PUBLISHED:

08:24 GMT, 15 February 2013

|

UPDATED:

12:19 GMT, 15 February 2013

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger must decide whether to risk Jack Wilshere in tomorrow's FA Cup fifth-round tie against Blackburn or save the England midfielder for next week's Champions League clash against Bayern Munich.

Wilshere will be closely monitored after coming off against Sunderland last week with a dead leg, just days after his heroic display for England in the win over Brazil at Wembley.

Wenger started Wilshere on the bench for the last FA Cup tie at Brighton, where his second-half introduction helped spark a late rally to secure a 3-2 win.

Worth the risk Arsene Wenger will make a late call on whether to play Jack Wilshere in the FA Cup tie with Blackburn Rovers tomorrow in view of the midweek Champions League tie with Bayern Munich

Worth the risk Arsene Wenger will make a late call on whether to play Jack Wilshere in the FA Cup tie with Blackburn Rovers tomorrow in view of the midweek Champions League tie with Bayern Munich

Concern: A worried Wenger looks on as Wilshere receives treatment during Arsenal's 1-0 win over Sunderland last weekend

Concern: A worried Wenger looks on as Wilshere receives treatment during Arsenal's 1-0 win over Sunderland last weekend

However, the Gunners boss knows just how crucial a fully-fit Wilshere will be for his side's hopes to progress in Europe, and so could err on the side of caution if the midfielder is touch and go for tomorrow.

'Jack is looking better, but is still a doubt. He got a kick on the thigh,' the Arsenal manager said.

Wenger is likely to try to protect the fitness of several key men, while also seeing off the challenge of Blackburn who were thumped 7-1 on the last visit 12 months ago as they headed for relegation.

Captain Thomas Vermaelen missed both the last two matches because of an ankle problem, which has been requiring injections.

The Belgian centre-half said during a Q&A with fans on Arsenal's official Twitter account yesterday: 'At the moment I feel great, I trained all week, so hopefully I will be back really quickly.'

Back soon: Thomas Vermaelen (right) told fans that he was close to a return

Back soon: Thomas Vermaelen (right) told fans that he was close to a return

Centre-half Laurent Koscielny is another doubt with the calf injury which saw him limp out of the warm-up last weekend, after originally picking up the problem while away on international duty with France.

Full-back Carl Jenkinson will be suspended for the cup tie after his red card for two cautions at Sunderland.

With Kieran Gibbs still sidelined by a thigh problem and Andre Santos having joined Brazilian side Gremio on loan, Wenger's defensive options are stretched, so Ignasi Miquel, the 20-year-old Spaniard, looks set to be involved again this weekend.

View to a return: But this weekend's match with Blackburn may come too soon for Laurent Koscielny

View to a return: But this weekend's match with Blackburn may come too soon for Laurent Koscielny

Centre-back Per Mertesacker maintains Arsenal must put all thought of tackling Bayern Munich out of their minds as they look to book safe passage into the quarter-finals of the FA Cup.

'We still have an important cup game on Saturday (first) – we absolutely want to advance in the FA Cup, that is why the preparations for Bayern are not that intense yet,' the Germany international said.

'However, beginning on Sunday the preparations for Tuesday's match will be extreme.'

Tomorrow sees the start of a crucial period which could well define Arsenal's season, as they go to Tottenham on March 9 and then host Everton before travelling to the Allianz Arena for the second leg.

Mertesacker added: 'Bayern are doing superb this year and that is a big challenge for us, but we are looking forward to both legs.'

The Footballers" Football Column – Kevin Betsy: Watching Brazil was like buying a ticket to see Beyonce and ending up with Susan Boyle

KEVIN BETSY: Watching Brazil was like buying a ticket to see Beyonce and ending up with SuBo… England may have won, but the Thomas Ince tale reveals everything that's wrong with our game

PUBLISHED:

11:01 GMT, 13 February 2013

|

UPDATED:

12:02 GMT, 13 February 2013

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Kevin Betsy returns for his second Footballers' Football Column fresh from scoring for Woking in the 3-0 win at Alfreton at the weekend. The Fulham Academy coach was at Wembley to watch England beat Brazil last week – but left disappointed with the team in yellow. Betsy is also quick to praise Ashley Cole but has some damning thoughts on the future of the game.

When the final whistle blew at Wembley last week, my love for the game had increased and I wished I could have my career over again. However, as I walked away from the stadium my mind was clouded with questions.

This England team has been much criticised in the past, yet against Brazil they played a superb tactical game accompanied with an excellence in technical ability. Something that you associate with the team that have five stars embroidered above their badge, not the team with just one.

The much hyped arrival of the Brazilian team to Wembley was one of the biggest let downs I have experienced as a football fan. Brazil are a team that lots of people
support as their
second nation. As a young boy in the park or on the
street it was a Brazilian, not an Englishman, I pretended to be.

Winning feeling: Wayne Rooney helped England secure their first victory over Brazil for 23 years

Winning feeling: Wayne Rooney helped England secure their first victory over Brazil for 23 years

Extravagance, flair and the Samba band are all associated with the yellow, green and blue, but even the band were as flat as their team.

It felt like booking tickets to see Beyonce and then finding out she had been replaced by SuBo. Sure she can sing, but that’s not what I signed up for.

Luiz Felipe Scolari picked a squad which left me a little perplexed, especially his decision to pick 29-year-olds Dante and Fred and Luis Fabiano, 32, ahead of their pool of younger stars.

Brazil’s endless supply of talent will never run out as the country has a system that is tried and tested and produces with distinction. Thiago Silva, Leandro Damiao, Marcelo, Romulo,
Hulk and Willian are just a few names of younger Brazilian players that
did not even make the pitch or were not in the squad, showing their strength in
depth.

Ronaldinho

Neymar

Big let down: Brazil's box office stars such as Ronaldinho and Neymar failed to live up to their billing

Jack Wilshere

Theo Walcott

The star performers: Arsenal duo Jack Wilshere and Theo Walcott shone on the big stage

Enjoying the game: Kevin Betsy at Wembley

Enjoying the game: Kevin Betsy at Wembley

Neymar and
Ronaldinho, two box office players and favourites of mine, certainly put
bums on seats at an almost full 90,000 stadium, but it was two English
players Jack Wilshere and Theo Walcott that stole the show and
allowed us to celebrate the English player.

In all honesty, I feel England did play well but it could be a case of Brazil not picking their best team that helped them to win for the first time in 23 years.

Brazil will always have the upper hand over England in the long term, as their youth have opportunity to develop and play from a young age in their clubs first teams.

The Brazilian Campeonato league is full of homegrown players, with only six per cent of players coming into the league from other countries.

If a young player shows any potential they are sold off to Europe. This has always been the economic model and a main source of export.

The players know this as they need to elevate their own career earnings. Third-party ownership is normal in South America, as clubs do not have the financial capabilities of their European counterparts and to keep their best players for longer. Clubs need aid to maintain a player’s salary instead of sponsoring the club, sponsor the player and receive a return their investment.

A large portion of Brazilians have moved to play in leagues to showcase their talents, obtain work permits and boost their transfer values, Ronaldo and Romario at PSV, Juninho Pernambucano, and Michel Bastos at Lyon and David Luiz and Ramires at Benfica.

The Dutch, French and Portuguese Leagues do not have the financial backing that the Premier League clubs enjoy and regulations are flexible on foreign players.

The French and Dutch leagues differ from Portugal at the moment, their main aim is also to develop their own players. They do this well and the road for a young player at the latter stages of development is far easier than in an English club, as they have fewer foreign players to compete with.

Clubs in countries such as these need to boost their revenue and elevate themselves to be able to afford one or two top foreign players to make their club more competitive to achieve Champions League status.

Beyonce Knowles

Susan Boyle

Not what I wanted: Betsy says watching Brazil was like paying to see Beyonce and ending up with Susan Boyle

Without mass spectator volume, TV deals in their league the need to sell young players becomes a way of survival.

In the case of Portugal, they have overloaded their sides with foreign players but have sold on for vast sums, Radamel Falcao moved for 41m, Axel Witsel for 35m, Angel di Maria for 25m.

On a business level this works very well, but in football terms their national team is ageing and if something is not done soon they will also struggle, as their young players have no way of developing.

The Premier League brand shaped by Richard Scudamore must be applauded for all of its work to make the Premier League global and attract the best players that continue to bring revenue to our shores.

But perhaps, with a few tweaks here and there, the national team will increase its quality and pool of players to choose from.

The Premier League has the highest percentage of foreign players with 65 per cent. Countries lower than us include Germany 49 per cent, Spain 37 per cent and Italy 47 per cent. They have all adopted further strategies to the benefit of their sides and we need to take note.

Outnumbered: The Premier League has a very high percentage of overseas players

Outnumbered: The Premier League has a very high percentage of overseas players

More from The Footballers' Column…

ASHLEY WILLIAMS: The ball-boy row, my spat with Suarez and 'almost killing' Van Persie – you learn to live with it… playing for 80 and working as a waiter – THAT was hard
11/02/13

LEON OSMAN: What makes an Everton player Desire, heart, quality and character… But Pienaar reckons it takes a bit of the Bee Gees, too
07/02/13

ADAM ECKERSLEY: I played with Beckham and Ronaldo – but Becks was better… and on one of the few occasions Fergie spoke to me, he warned me of dangers of gambling
05/02/13

The Footballers' Football Column – Edgar Davids: If Platini can't stop racism, he should step aside and get someone in who can… Blatter and Cruyff should be leading by example
01/02/13

MARTIN ALLEN: There are so many good, young English managers like Parkinson and Tisdale… But they are being overlooked for foreigners who have done nothing
01/02/13

The Footballers' Football Column – Karl Henry: Only a handful of Premier League players can do everything – work hard, tackle, score goals… Gerrard, obviously, but Wilshere is the best
29/01/13

The Footballers' Football Column – Graham Westley: It was cancerous when I arrived at Preston. Did anyone turn up drunk for training Probably… but I made 24 signings to clear out and start again
28/01/13

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25/01/13

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We have tried to implement and address with the likes of the ’homegrown rule’ but there are severe loopholes in this system.

Arsenal is a great example of this, with Cesc Fabregas, Nicolas Bendtner, Wojciech Szczesny all qualified as they have the required three years development in England, but they will never pull on a Three Lions shirt.

Despite the fantastic work that goes on at youth level and the improvements being made in Academies and Centres of Excellence up and down the country criticism is always upon us.

Yes, the standard of coaching needs improving and there are processes in place to improve this but the best coaching in the world will leave any individual stagnated and unchallenged and struggle to reach full potential if the environment doesn’t test them.

My work at a Premier League Academy sees our players come up against the best our country and our foreign counterparts. Our level in comparison is extremely high.

Regular sharing of ideas and discussions take place with coaches, home and abroad. There is no magic wand or hidden secrets. It is all quite transparent as a major factor in many European clubs is they leave room in their squads for predominately their own players.

Perhaps the problem may be just one thing: ‘opportunity’. If there is no sunlight for a flower to blossom it will die. Is there enough sunlight for our young English players That is the question.

Developed to a certain level placed in the professional game but sitting in squads with no real avenue to learn the trade and gain confidence.

The newly revamped Under 21 league introduced this season is aimed at bridging the gap that young players in England have faced. They offer competitive games with consequences and a challenge.

Holding games at first-team grounds aims to increase the number of spectators and give them experience of playing in those grounds. This is good but still not enough.

It’s still reserve football, no matter how much you dress it up. There is quite a difference in tempo, tactical learning, and spectator environment to a first-team game.

Hence many clubs prefer to send their youngsters on loan.

Barcelona’s B team play in Spain’s second division and this makes my point, the players are still developing but are under challenging pressure.

People say if you are good enough you will come through but there are only a few Wayne Rooneys in a generation. The rest have to work hard and be
lucky, under managers that are brave, have a vision and will
let them play and learn from any mistakes.

Sir
Alex Ferguson, Arsene Wenger and recently Brendan Rodgers have shown
the way. I am not saying we need to change the Premier League as a
product but adjust the ingredients a little.

Maintain foreign players in the country, of course, but just adjust the quantity.

Special talent: Players like Wayne Rooney are the exception rather than the rule

Special talent: Players like Wayne Rooney are the exception rather than the rule

Some people say the ‘six-plus-five’ rule that FIFA suggested contravenes European law and I hear this idea has been abandoned.

But it does have benefits and something similar to this would enable more players to play in the top league on a regular basis and learn from the best players.

One thing is clear, it is not the manager’s fault that they recruit foreign players.

Michael Laudrup

Michu

Knowing the market: Swansea boss Michael Laudrup bought Michu for 2m having seen him play in Spain

Their survival is based on results, they don’t make the rules and why should they not favour players where they have in-depth knowledge of ability and value. You get more for your money abroad as some imports have shown already this season and English players are overpriced.

Showing shrewdness in the transfer market with loans, smaller buys is part and parcel of being a top manager. Swansea Manager, Michael Laudrup’s Spanish purchases, including Michu at 2m, are a prime example.

I’m sure If you asked any Premier League manager he would say, 'I would love a team of five or six English players'.

Both sides of the coin: Tom Ince is an example of how clubs can make good and bad decisions

Both sides of the coin: Tom Ince is an example of how clubs can make good and bad decisions

Bosses must favour the market they know but if you have a restriction on number it may be beneficial to the national game long term and this is the governing bodies' problem to safeguard our talents development not football club's managers.

Thomas Ince is just another player who shows all things wrong with English football and all things right.

This bit is right – Developed from a young age at a fantastic academy at Liverpool.

..but this is wrong – Sold to Blackpool for 250,000, then a reported 5m offer to buy him back almost a year later. Patience may have prevailed, the giving of opportunity.

Someone else who has reaped some recent rewards with his 100-cap milestone is Ashley Cole. After coming head-to-head with Ashley on a number of occasions I must say he is without doubt the best left backs in the world.

Big achievement: Ashley Cole won his 100th England cap against Brazil

Big achievement: Ashley Cole won his 100th England cap against Brazil

Tough opponent: Betsy comes up against Cole during his Wycombe days

Tough opponent: Betsy comes up against Cole during his Wycombe days

He has to be coming up against me. Ashley comes second to Roberto Carlos in all-time status. Carlos’s devastating shot and a World Cup winner’s medal tipped the balance for me.

Whatever people’s perceptions are of Ashley off the pitch, in reality you have to be extremely professional to have achieved all he has in football. No matter how talented you are.

In my experience he’s a humble guy. Another example of what a young Englishman getting games from an early age can achieve dispels the ‘we don’t produce players ‘ myth.

Watching Peter Odemwingie on TV the other day, turning up at Loftus Road was as cringeworthy as a guy getting a sea of red lights on Take Me Out [Paddy McGuinness's ITV show – Ed] . All jokes aside, this was not a laughing matter. How could a professional footballer of Odemwingie's standing be left to drive himself to London and also drive the deal to QPR Where was his agent

A deal as complex as this one needed driving by external sources. West Bromwich Albion didn’t want to sell
and QPR had not agreed the fee. Therefore as a player you may argue your
case to the chairman, chief executive or manager but until you get the
green light you have to sit tight.

Embarrassing: Peter Odemwingie drove to Loftus Road on transfer deadline day to try and force a move to QPR

Embarrassing: Peter Odemwingie drove to Loftus Road on transfer deadline day to try and force a move to QPR

Until you get a call to say the fee has been agreed and you are free to discuss terms.

I presume the agent's fee in this deal would have been quiet substantial; the least they could have done was drive him there.

But now it is done and I hope Peter recovers well from this and gets on with what he does best, playing football.

Injury-hit Arsenal may have to turn to Squillaci or Miquel for Sunderland clash

Injury-hit Arsenal may be forced to turn to Squillaci or Miquel for Sunderland clash

By
Jim Van Wijk, Press Association

PUBLISHED:

19:17 GMT, 7 February 2013

|

UPDATED:

19:19 GMT, 7 February 2013

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger could
face a defensive headache when Barclays Premier League action resumes at
Sunderland on Saturday.

The Gunners were already sweating on
the fitness of captain Thomas Vermaelen's ankle injury before the
players left for international duty, where fellow centre-half Laurent
Koscielny limped off during France's defeat to Germany in Paris with a
reported calf problem.

Rare appearance: Arsenal may recall Sebastien Squillaci

Rare appearance: Arsenal may recall Sebastien Squillaci

Should both men fail to recover in time for the trip to the Stadium of Light, then out-of-favour Sebastien Squillaci or Spanish 20-year-old Ignasi Miquel could have to step in to the heart of the defence alongside Per Mertesacker.

Francis Coquelin is another option, but the defensive-midfielder has missed a couple of matches with a hamstring strain.

Meanwhile, midfielders Tomas Rosicky (virus) and Aaron Ramsey, who returned from Wales camp with a calf injury, are also doubtful for the trip to the north-east.

Forward Gervinho is set to rejoin the squad following Ivory Coast's elimination from the African Nations Cup, but is expected to be given some recovery time before being thrown straight back into action as Arsenal look to maintain momentum from their four-match unbeaten run.

Nacho Monreal impressed on his debut after a deadline day move from Malaga. The Spain international looks set for a run in the side with England left-back Kieran Gibbs still sidelined by a thigh problem.

It is another setback for the 23-year-old, who has suffered a string of fitness issues in recent seasons, including breaking his metatarsal in a Champions League game against Standard Liege in November 2009.

Gibbs, however, will not let that hold him back.

Injury concern: Arsenal captain Thomas Vermaelen

Injury concern: Arsenal captain Thomas Vermaelen

Speaking to the official Arsenal magazine in an interview conducted before his latest injury in the 2-2 draw against Liverpool, Gibbs revealed his positive attitude to spells on the sidelines.

He said: 'Before that I had never really had injuries, but in the next couple of years I had quite a few and it was really frustrating.

'I did my knee and rolled my ankle, and later on I had a hernia.

'However, I just got on with it and never really listened to any comments.

'I just knew the most important thing was that I got back and let people judge me on my football.'

Vermaelen, meanwhile, revealed he has taken inspiration from David Beckham's recent visit to Arsenal, where the former England captain trained ahead of his deadline day move to Paris St Germain.

'I didn't meet him for long, but I could tell straightaway that he's a very nice guy and a fantastic professional,' Vermaelen wrote in the Arsenal matchday programme.

'That was obvious in a single day – he was working after the session, doing drills and keeping himself fit, and you have to give him a lot of credit for being in such good shape at the age of 37.

'It is not easy to get to the top and stay there as he has done – you have to work really hard every single day, and if young players can see that then it is an inspiration for them.

'Training with him was a special moment for me, too. Like Beckham, I certainly want to play football for as long as I can – it's partly about how your body feels, and about luck too, but in my opinion football is the best career there is so you want to enjoy it to the maximum.'

Six Nations 2013: Henry Thomas in England squad

Thomas drafted into England squad for Scotland clash as cover for Corbisiero

By
Mike Dawes

PUBLISHED:

20:02 GMT, 27 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

20:02 GMT, 27 January 2013

Henry Thomas has been called into the England squad as injury cover for Alex Corbisiero ahead of next weekend's RBS 6 Nations opener against Scotland at Twickenham.

Sale Sharks prop Thomas will train with the rest of the England squad at Pennyhill Park ahead of Saturday's match while Corbisiero remains at London Irish for treatment on a knee injury, the Rugby Football Union (RFU) confirmed in a statement this evening.

Call: Henry Thomas has joined up with the England squad

Call: Henry Thomas has joined up with the England squad

Harlequins' winger Ugo Monye has also been drafted into the 33-man training squad as Freddie Burns remains at Gloucester for treatment, also with a knee problem.

Meanwhile, the RFU also said Shaun Knight has withdrawn from the England Saxons squad as he, too, must return to Gloucester due to a knee injury.

The Saxons convene in Newcastle tomorrow morning ahead of their match with Scotland A at Kingston Park on Friday.

Thomas Stalker will make his boxing debut next month

EXCLUSIVE: Stalker to make professional debut against journeyman Laight

, will make his debut at London's York Hall on February 23rd” class=”blkBorder” />

Professional bow: Former Olympian Thomas Stalker (pictured) who fought at London 2012, will make his debut at London's York Hall on February 23rd

Stalker, 28, will also fight on the undercard of Tony Bellew’s WBC world title eliminator against Isaac Chilemba at Liverpool’s Echo Arena on March 30.

The Sportsmail columist was controversially beaten in the quarter-finals at the London Games last year but previously won European and Commonwealth gold medals.

On turning professional, Stalker said: ‘I feel I am going to be exciting to watch as a professional boxer. I felt it was time for me to turn professional now and see how far I can go. I have done everything I could possibly do as an amateur, bar winning an Olympic medal.

Robbed: Stalker lost a controversial points decision to Munkh-Erdene Uranchimeg of Mongolia at the Games

Robbed: Stalker lost a controversial points decision to Munkh-Erdene Uranchimeg of Mongolia at the Games

‘Even though I didn’t medal myself, as a team I have captained the most successful amateur boxing team we have ever had and that was a big thing for me.

‘Since the Olympics I haven’t had a goal and I have been a bit depressed, especially seeing the other lads doing all sorts of stuff but now I have that hunger back and to get in that ring and fight is going to be amazing.

‘The one for me is going to be March, boxing a homecoming in Liverpool. It is going to be amazing for me to be boxing in front of all my friends and family in Liverpool and that is when I will really feel like a professional.’

Pedigree: He is, however, a former Commonwealth Games gold medallist and World Championships bronze medalist

Pedigree: He is, however, a former Commonwealth Games gold medallist and World Championships bronze medalist

Paul McGinley named Ryder Cup captain for Europe at Gleneagles in 2014 ahead of Colin Montgomerie

Player power sinks Monty! It's Rory's choice as McGinley is named Ryder Cup captain

.

McGinley has never been involved in a losing Ryder Cup side.

European Tour wins: Four (plus five other professional titles).

Best finish in a major: Tied sixth at the 2004 US PGA Championship.

P.S. In the 2009 and 2011 Seve Trophy, McGinley was the winning captain of Great Britain and Ireland over Continental Europe.

But it was McIlroy and the rest of
the miracle makers at Medinah who held sway; McIlroy's intervention on
Twitter last December that turned everything McGinley's way.

Where he went, other critical voices
followed, such as Luke Donald, Justin Rose and the hero in the last
match in America, Ian Poulter.

Thomas Bjorn, chairman of the
Players' Committee, said: 'Our players on tour wanted us to make this
choice and we listen to our players.'

As so often these days, McIlroy was
spot on with his judgment. McGinley might not have the star persona of
other captains but this was a deserved victory for a decent man who will
leave no stone unturned in his quest to complete a successful defence.

Never have you seen a golfer look
more proud than the 46-year-old Dubliner, who becomes the first Irish
captain in Ryder Cup history.

'I am obviously thrilled and also
feel very humbled to become the captain and I'm relishing the chance to
go up against one of my all-time gol f ing heroes i n Amer ican skipper
Tom Watson,' he said.

'I thought I had a strong hand
because I had the support of the players and, obviously, when the new
star of golf is so vocal in your favour, that is very gratifying as
well. If Rory doesn't make the team I think he has got a good chance of
getting a pick.'

All smiles: McGinley at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club on Tuesday ahead of this week's championship

All smiles: McGinley at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club on Tuesday ahead of this week's championship

McGinley on the course

The kingmaker was in the back of the
room to see his nominee gain his due, as was another architect of
Ireland's wondrous recent success on the world stage – McGinley's
long-time friend and golfing partner, Padraig Harrington.

'I couldn't be more thrilled for him,
he's a dogged man with a real passion for team golf and I think he will
be a brilliant captain,' said Harrington. One of the first to send his
congratulations was Watson.

'Paul is a class act,' he said.
Ironically enough, given what transpired, it was Montgomerie who gave
McGinley his first stab at captaincy, when he invited him to become
Britain and Ireland skipper at the 2009 Seve Trophy.

One of the team members was McIlroy.

'Paul made me feel so comfortable from the start,' said McIlroy.

'He makes you feel so good about
yourself. He put me out as No 1 and I was so determined to deliver a
point for him. He is the best captain I have ever played under.'

McGinley has fewer tournament wins in
526 European Tour starts than Watson has triumphs in The Open – four to
five – but it matters little.

Common sense: Rory McIlroy was pleased with the decision to install McGinley

Common sense: Rory McIlroy was pleased with the decision to install McGinley

More Twitter reaction

EUROPE

IAN POULTER (Ryder Cup specialist, looking to make his fifth appearance next year): 'Paul Mcginley Ryder Cup captain truly really happy that he has given the opportunity to captain the 2014 Ryder Cup team.'

RORY McILROY (World No 1, and McGinley's biggest supporter for the job): 'Common sense prevailed in the end…. Paul McGinley 2014 European Ryder Cup captain!!! Couldn't be happier for him… Roll on Gleneagles'

EDOARDO MOLINARI (Italian who played in the 2010 match): 'I am sure that Paul will be a fantastic captain! Well done to him…and now it's time to work even harder to be part of his team!'

SCOTT JAMIESON (Scot who has made a flying start to the season): 'Congrats Paul McGinley, def gets my vote, will be a great Ryder Cup captain.' UNITED STATES

TOM WATSON (United States Ryder Cup captain): 'Congrats to Paul McGinley on your R/C Captaincy. Looking forward to our future competition. You're a class act.'

DUSTIN JOHNSON (2011 Open runner-up, Ryder Cup player in the last two events): 'Heard the Ryder Cup news about McGinley… @TomWatsonPGAPro & the USA will be ready!!!!'

DAVID DUVAL (former world No 1 and two-time Ryder Cup player): 'Congrats to McGinley for the captaincy. We competed first 20 plus years ago in the Walker Cup.'

In the Ryder Cup he has been a lion,
sinking the winning putt at The Belfry in 2002. Alongside Donald, he is
the only European never to have been on the losing side having played at
least three Ryder Cups.

He was a vice-captain in 2010 and at
Medinah. 'I don't know what it is but team golf and the Ryder Cup have
always brought the best out of me,' said McGinley, who was forecast to
become a Gaelic football star for Dublin until his career was cut short
by a knee injury at the age of just 19.

McGinley's nomination as captain was a
victory for modesty, for he never felt the need to blow his own trumpet
in the months leading up to the announcement.

He started the drawn-out process
trailing Darren Clarke by a seemingly hopeless margin until the
Ulsterman's campaign was derailed by McIlroy's tweet of support for
McGinley before Christmas.

Then came Montgomerie as those committee members who wanted a big personality switched their allegiance to the Scot.

Sky were trailing in the days leading
up to the announcement that Montgomerie was confident he would get the
nod. Still McGinley kept silent.

'It's amazing how much you hear when you don't talk,' the Irishman said wryly.

'To be honest, it was my wife,
Alison, who told me not to join in but I didn't need much persuading. I
watched the story grow legs and the speculation swell but I thought I
was much better just letting the players speak for me.'

It is that sort of judgment call that
will serve McGinley well when he lines up opposite Watson. After 30
minutes of usual committee business, McGinley and Montgomerie, both
members of the body that decides on the captaincy, were asked to leave.

Glory days: Europe won the Ryder Cup in incredible fashion in 2012

Glory days: Europe won the Ryder Cup in incredible fashion in 2012

Not chosen: Colin Montgomerie was not asked to reprise his role as captain

Not chosen: Colin Montgomerie was not asked to reprise his role as captain

Thinking man: McGinley says he loves the tactical side of the game

Thinking man: McGinley says he loves the tactical side of the game

McGinley retreated to a room with his
brother, Michael. Thus began the longest two hours of his life. They
ate oatmeal cookies. Still no knock on the door.

'I've been there so I knew what was going on but it didn't stop the time dragging on,' he said.

Eventually, the call came, the one
that signalled the proudest moment of his professional life. Down an
escalator he went and into a world where the phone never stops ringing
and there's always another interview to give.

'I don't mind all that,' he said,
smiling broadly. Indeed, the grin never left his face all night. He was
wearing a 2014 Ryder Cup sweater of Seve Ballesteros blue, and he might
never take it off.

Derek Lawrenson weighs up the two captains in their areas of influence

Playing Record

Watson: If this counted for very much, Europe might as well hand over the trophy right now. Eight majors and still going strong at the age of 59 says it all. Such a glorious CV earns Watson the guaranteed respect of his team. But that's about all. McGinley: No captain in the modern era has had so few wins as the four mustered by McGinley. However, like Watson, he has never been on a losing Ryder Cup side (he played in three winning ones) so something will have to give. USA one up. Partnerships

Watson: An area where the great man may well struggle. How can he possibly know the different personalities of his team and what makes them tick when he's never played alongside them on a regular basis

McGinley: One of the Irishman's great strengths. Will know the players inside out and whether the time is right to put an arm around the shoulder or deliver a kick up the backside. All Square

Tom Watson

Tactics

Watson: Before Peter Baker played his matches at The Belfry in 1993, captain Watson made a beeline for the young Englishman and looked him squarely in the eye while shaking his hand. Baker was left with the clear impression Watson was trying to intimidate. Expect similar moves at Gleneagles.

McGinley: One of the reasons why Rory McIlroy was so effusive about McGinley for captain is his work in this area, where his attention to detail is second to none. Brilliant in this regard when Britain and Ireland captain at the Seve Trophy. Europe one up Home advantage

Watson: One of the reasons why Watson was picked was to nullify the partisanship of the Gleneagles crowd. Will the cheers ring out quite so raucously when the opposition is led by the golfing hero of so many Watch Watson play on this for all it is worth – and it is worth a lot.

McGinley: Not one of life's cheerleaders like all the other recent captains on home soil. His relatively low profile means that the roars when he appears on the first tee may well feel slightly muted when compared to previous matches. All Square

McGinley

Media Relations

Watson: In the press room, Watson is second to none. When he's telling one of his stories he has an audience of usually hard-bitten journalists eating out of his hand. Anticipate glowing testaments from the usually hostile UK press.

McGinley: Contrary to popular opinion, journalists like a bit of intelligence and the erudite McGinley has it in spades. Expect passionate and articulate answers laced with enough lines to keep even the most cynical tabloid man happy. All Square Speeches

Watson: One thing's for sure – he won't be standing up and forgetting how many children he has, like Hal Sutton did in 2004. At the opening ceremony expect a speech that strays perilously close to cheese territory but is also filled with grace and warmth.

McGinley: The fundamental reason why so many of the Medinah miracle makers wanted McGinley as captain is to do with his powers of persuasion in the team room. Knows what to say at the right time. Europe one up

McGinley factfile

1966: Born December 16 in Dublin. 1986: Promising Gaelic football career is ended by a broken kneecap. 1987: Wins an Irish youth cap in golf. 1988: Becomes Irish youths champion. 1989: Crowned Irish amateur champion. 1991: Earns a Walker Cup cap and turns professional. 1993: Makes his Dunhill Cup and World Cup debuts. 1996: Claims first European Tour win, in Austria. 1997: Achieves his second European Tour victory, and wins World Cup with Padraig Harrington. 2001: Wins Wales Open. 2002: Finishes 18th in first Masters. Makes his Ryder Cup debut and holes the winning putt. 2004: Earns second Ryder Cup cap and finishes unbeaten in a record nine-point win for Europe. 2005: Wins Volvo Masters to finish third on European money list and reach a career-high 18th in world rankings. 2006: Third Ryder Cup cap, and again McGinley plays his part in a nine-point win. 2009: Captains Britain and Ireland to Seve Trophy win. 2010: Among Europe's vice-captains in Ryder Cup win at Celtic Manor. 2011: Makes his 500th European Tour start and captains Britain and Ireland to another Seve Trophy win. 2012: Among vice-captains in another Ryder Cup win for Europe, this time at Medinah. 2013: Named Europe's captain for the 2014 Ryder Cup, to be staged at Gleneagles.

Ryder Cup record:

Caps: 3 (2002-04-06) Matches played: 9 (4 foursomes, 2 fourballs, 3 singles) Wins: 2 (1 foursomes, 1 singles) Halved: 5 (2 fourballs, 1 foursomes, 2 singles) Lost: 2 (2 foursomes) Points: 4 1/2

Vincent Kompany tackle: Video special of the football"s challenges

VIDEO: As we face up to a world without tackling, Sportsmail looks back at some memorable challenges

PUBLISHED:

15:49 GMT, 15 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

16:12 GMT, 15 January 2013

There was an outcry of disapproval after Vincent Kompany was given a straight red card for his full-blooded challenge on Jack Wilshere.

The Manchester City captain’s challenge was robust but he won the ball, sending out the message that players will be handed their marching orders for aggressive challenges.

Does this signal the death-knell for the old-fashioned tackle And if the letter of the law is followed, we may never see the likes of these challenges – as nominated by Sportsmail’s reporters – again…

Bad Kompany: The Belgian harshly saw red for this challenge on Arsenal's Jack Wilshere

Bad Kompany: The Belgian harshly saw red for this challenge on Arsenal's Jack Wilshere

COLIN YOUNG

KEVIN BALL (Sunderland) on Duncan Ferguson (Newcastle United), St James’ Park, August, 1999

Very few players in the game, never mind the North East, have relished a tackle as much as former Sunderland captain Kevin Ball. And they certainly like a tackle up here.

But on the night Sunderland pulled off a rare win on enemy territory and with the game in the dying minutes, ‘Bally’ pulled off a typically well-timed, hard but fair challenge on Duncan Ferguson. Only the ball flew from the pair who were 30 yards from goal, over Thomas Sorensen and hit his bar, denying Newcastle an equaliser.

This one of the most memorable Tyne-Wear derbies – Ruud Gullit put Alan Shearer and Ferguson on the bench and paid the price in the endless rain. But if Bally of all people had scored the equaliser, even Sunderland’s former manager and current reserve-team boss wouldn’t have been able to live it down.

NEIL MOXLEY

PAUL McGRATH (Aston Villa) against Helsingborg, Olympia, September, 1996

The big man had just been dropped by Brian Little. If memory serves, he came on as a substitute in this game and was seriously peeved. With about five minutes to go, the ball broke down the right, just in front of the dug-outs. McGrath wasn’t the quickest but, my life, he shifted to make his mark. He took ball, man, trainer’s bag, the lot, right in front of Little – and me, sat in the press box towards the back of a small stand.

It was fair. But it wasn’t so much a tackle as a statement. I remember nothing else about this game. The thought of that challenge has stayed with me throughout my career.

McGrath was a solid bloke and I felt a tinge of sympathy for his opponent that night. Honestly, he absolutely cleaned this guy out.

Hardman: McGrath (left) was known for his tackling prowess

Hardman: McGrath (left) was known for his tackling prowess

JOHN EDWARDS

STEVEN GERRARD (Liverpool) on Phil Jagielka (Everton), Anfield, March, 2008

Never one to do things by halves, Gerrard ignited the home crowd with a typically uncompromising double tackle on Jagielka. An initial block challenge near the halfway line sent the ball spinning towards the corner flag, with Jagielka sprinting after it and Gerrard scrambling to his feet and setting off in hot pursuit.

As Jagielka caught up with the ball, Gerrard was a good four or five yards behind but that didn’t stop him hurling himself into a full-length studs-first tackle that sent the ball flying into the Kop. A blur of red, the Liverpool skipper might have been inviting trouble in the current climate but there were no repercussions then.

Neither should there have been. It was the cleanest of contacts and Jagielka was rattled but unharmed. Gerrard at his most committed, and it soon spread to his team-mates, who dominated and should have won by more than an early Fernando Torres goal.

LAURIE WHITWELL

PHIL NEVILLE (Everton) on Cristiano Ronaldo (Man Utd) Goodison Park, October, 2008

Not many tackles can lay claim to changing the course of a team’s season – but, according to Everton manager David Moyes, this one did. United were cruising at Goodison Park, 1-0 up thanks to a Darren Fletcher goal, but on the hour Phil Neville launched a ferocious challenge on ex-team mate Cristiano Ronaldo, who had already been half-felled by Steven Pienaar. Neville’s lunge sparked fury in the away section and he was booked by Alan Wiley. Later replays showed he got the ball but the whistle had already gone.

The incident (48 seconds into this video) whipped up the crowd and Everton began playing with increased vigour. Soon after, Marouane Fellaini scored an equaliser. They had lost three of four at home up to that point but won their next three Premier League games to finish fifth in May. As for the best overall tackler I have seen – Ryan Giggs takes that accolade. His slides are always silky smooth and generally he wins the ball.

LEE CLAYTON

STUART PEARCE (Wealdstone)

Bobby Gould said he went to watch Stuart Pearce playing for Wealdstone and left after the first tackle when the part-time electrician sent the winger flying. Legend has it the winger ended up closer to Bobby and his wife in the stand than the pitch and Coventry, where Gould was manager, soon paid 300,000 for the player who went on to become England’s greatest left back.

It was a huge amount of money to pay for non-League part-timer but money well spent as Pearce went on to play 78 games for his country (even if most of his success came with Nottingham Forest).

Psycho: Pearce wasn't one to shy away from a challenge

Psycho: Pearce wasn't one to shy away from a challenge

Psycho: Pearce wasn't one to shy away from a challenge

Anyway, I guess that’s Bobby’s favourite tackle, not mine. I’m going to pick a player I liked watching tackle for England and that’s Paul Ince. I was there in France, during the World Cup, when he was asked about it. He said this: ‘I love tackling, I really love it. It’s better than sex. My wife is not going to be too pleased, but I love the sound of it, the crunch, the noise, the act of tackling. I was born to tackle.’ I think he was too. I wish I could have tackled like Paul Ince.

DOMINIC KING

JAMIE CARRAGHER (Liverpool) on Andriy Shevchenko (AC Milan), Istanbul, May, 2005

The memory of how Liverpool came back from the dead to win their fifth European Cup remains as fresh as ever, with that incredible three goals-in-six minutes flurry, but it sometimes tends to be forgotten that they also had to withstand a late siege from Milan.

As the Italians tried to pilfer a win late on, Shevchenko powered into the Liverpool area and had skipped past Sami Hyypia but just as he was about to pull the trigger, Carragher swept in to spirit the ball from his toe with immaculate timing. Given what was at stake, it has to go down as the best, most important tackle I’ve seen.

That game was also responsible for the best save I have ever seen, too, with Jerzy Dudek’s scarcely believable parry from the hapless Shevchenko.

Master of the art: Carragher dives in to challenge Mark Viduka

Master of the art: Carragher dives in to challenge Mark Viduka

MARK ALFORD

STEVEN GERRARD (Liverpool) on Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United), Anfield, March, 2007

Ronaldo – soon to become the most expensive player in the world – and the best tackler on the planet. Gerrard nicks possession just when United are in a threatening position with Ronaldo in possession. Minimum fuss, goes to ground for a split second, nicks the ball and Liverpool are on their way up the field. Pure class.

PHIL GRADWELL

MARK FISH (Bolton) on Michael Owen (Liverpool), Reebok Stadium, November, 1997

The 17-year-old Owen was lightning and nobody could catch him. So when he went through on goal, home fans feared the worst. But Fish, playing one of his first games for Bolton, somehow managed to keep within an outstretched leg of the Liverpool striker and just as Owen was about to shoot slid in, scooped back the ball, got up and played the ball to a midfielder. Easy.

Mark-ed man: Fish (left) gets to grip with Owen once more while at Charlton later in his career

Mark-ed man: Fish (left) gets to grip with Owen once more while at Charlton later in his career

SAM CUNNINGHAM

CHRIS SOLLY (Charlton) on Steve Morison (Millwall), The Valley, March, 2010

Nine minutes into this fierce south London derby Morison, one of the most prolific strikers in League One that season, was sent through on goal by a long ball that caught out centre backs Jose Semedo and Miguel Llera. But 19-year-old left back Solly hurtled towards the middle and produced an unbelievable recovery tackle taking the ball first, then the man, and a large chunk of the turf in the process.

CHRIS CUTMORE

BORIS JOHNSON (England) on Maurizio Gaudino (Germany), Madejski Stadium, May 2006

They say great tackles can change games but this one changed an entire career. Boris was seen as a bumbling buffoon before this remarkable rugby-style tackle. Now he’s still seen as a bumbling buffoon but is somehow in his second term as Mayor of London.

OK, it’s not a proper tackle, so don’t try this one at home, kids (or on the training pitch) – it won’t get your football career very far. But it was very funny.

Swansea to bid 7m for Thomas Ince

Swansea set to spark 7m bidding war with Liverpool for Blackpool star Ince

By
Paul Collins

PUBLISHED:

09:45 GMT, 12 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

09:46 GMT, 12 January 2013

Swansea are reportedly ready to hijack Liverpool's bid for Thomas Ince with a 7million offer for the Blackpool midfielder.

Ince, 20, had been expected to complete a move back to Anfield when the transfer window opened but Brendan Rodgers has been frustrated in his atttempts to complete the deal.

Blackpool rejected an opening offer of 5m and Liverpool are yet to return with an improved bid.

Wanted: Thomas Ince has attracted interest from Liverpool and Swansea

Wanted: Thomas Ince has attracted interest from Liverpool and Swansea

And that could leave the door open for Swansea to swoop, according to The Times.

Ince was originally released by Liverpool just 18 months ago and joined Blackpool for 250,000.

He has impressed at Bloomfield Road, scoring 13 goals this season and recently insisted he is happy to remain with the Championship club.

In the market: Ince has long been a target for Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers

In the market: Ince has long been a target for Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers

'My future right now is here,' he said. 'I’m a Blackpool player, I’m contracted to Blackpool and I’ll continue to give 100 per cent for this team.

'I don’t only do it for myself and for the fans but I do it for my team-mates.

'These lads are a great bunch of lads. The team spirit in this team is fantastic.'