Tag Archives: universal

Tim Howard wants revenge on Liverpool after FA Cup semi-final defeat

'Liverpool broke my heart… revenge would be sweet', says Everton keeper Howard after Wembley pain

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UPDATED:

08:39 GMT, 27 October 2012

It only takes a couple of minutes in Tim Howard’s company to appreciate he is one of life’s happier souls.

An infectious and bubbly character, the universal popularity he enjoys within Everton’s dressing room is matched by the respect the goalkeeper is afforded by the Goodison Park crowd.

Take Howard back to the events of April 14, 2012, however, and there is a sudden change in that sunny demeanour. The build-up to a Merseyside derby is invariably dominated by talk of past skirmishes but Howard, like all Evertonians, finds it a struggle to pore over the most recent battle.

All smiles: Tim Howard is happy with Everton's start to the season

All smiles: Tim Howard is happy with Everton's start to the season

That was the day Everton allowed an FA Cup final place to squirm from their grasp, when mistakes turned a 1-0 lead into a 2-1 defeat. They went on to finish above Liverpool in the Barclays Premier League but, after Wembley, the achievement felt hollow.

‘Look, it was a big occasion,’ Howard sighs, shaking his head wearily. ‘It was one we felt we were right for. We felt it was our moment. Not because of destiny or anything like that. We felt we were playing better, which we were. Our form was excellent.

‘For us to lose like we did having played better in large parts of the game — that is my view, they will have theirs — was just so … look, they just shone when it was time and we didn’t. We were on the cusp of a final and then we weren’t. It was just heartbreaking.

‘Finishing above them last season was the least we could do, to be honest. We lost twice to them in the league, then lost the heartbreaker. It really felt dreary, as far as we were concerned. The only glimmer of hope we had was to finish above them to say, “You know what We got one over them”.’ He pauses after that answer.

Day to forget: Howard is beaten by Luis Suarez (centre) as Liverpool defeat Everton in the FA Cup semi-final

Day to forget: Howard is beaten by Luis Suarez (centre) as Liverpool defeat Everton in the FA Cup semi-final

HOWARD’S PICKS

Top five strikers I have played against

1. Didier Drogba
2. Thierry Henry
3. Wayne Rooney
4. Fernando Torres (when he was at Liverpool)
5. Cristiano Ronaldo.
Drogba was the hardest one. He was so powerful. He could strike a ball left foot, right foot, it didn’t matter.

The five best goalkeepers I’ve seen

1. Iker Casillas
2. Gianluigi Buffon
3. Edwin van der Sar
4. Petr Cech
5. Pepe Reina
I think Reina is brilliant, I have such admiration for him. I also have to add Joe Hart. Joe Hart is going to be the best in the world in two years.

My pre-match routine

Lots of sleep, lots of rest. I eat at the same time, all the time. I drive the same way to the ground every week. I leave my house at the same time.

Howard, who would have pursued a career as an executive in an American sporting franchise had he not become a footballer, gives a lot of thought to what he says and the fact he calls the semi-final defeat a ‘heartbreaker’ is not aimed at securing an easy headline.

Losing to their oldest and bitterest rivals on such a stage was so big a blow it could easily have been fatal for their ambitions, and many were left wondering whether it would mark the beginning of the end for Everton, after several years punching above their weight.

If anything, the opposite has been true. A week after the demoralisation at Wembley, they salvaged an improbable 4-4 draw against Manchester United and, from there, a new Everton has emerged.

The encouraging start they have enjoyed has provided one of the more intriguing plotlines to the new campaign and David Moyes’ team head into the 219th Merseyside derby as favourites in many quarters. The mood around the club has been transformed. So what has changed

‘When you are winning, everyone feels amazing,’ says Howard, who provides Everton’s pre-match soundtrack with the music of New York’s DJ Chachi. ‘You lose, it’s doom and gloom. That, unfortunately, is how football is.

‘The football we are playing has been so expansive and progressive that it has been different from years past. We had success before from getting up behind the ball, rolling our sleeves up, digging in and grinding out results, which is much different to what we have found this year.

Top save: Howard makes a save during Everton's draw with QPR

Top save: Howard makes a save during Everton's draw with QPR

‘We are bossing games now. We are having the lion’s share of possession and we are creating chances. In one game against Southampton, we created 30 chances or something stupid like that. That has been our transformation, in a way.

‘The chairman (Bill Kenwright) has given the manager everything he possibly can to be successful. And the manager in turn has taken this club forward. He has built methodically. No snap judgements, always with a plan and a vision to go forward.’

Moyes is now in his 11th year at Goodison but for a period in the summer there were fears he would end up at Tottenham when they dispensed with Harry Redknapp. Howard, 33, watched events unfold from across the Atlantic with a mixture of apprehension and acceptance.

Doing it Stateside: Howard and forward Clint Dempsey celebrate USA's 3-1 win over Guatemala earlier this month

Doing it Stateside: Howard and forward Clint Dempsey celebrate USA's 3-1 win over Guatemala earlier this month

‘I think I know the way football works,’ says Howard, who holds the Premier League’s longest ongoing sequence of consecutive appearances — Sunday will be his 193rd. ‘I didn’t want him to leave, for the sake of our football club and everyone involved.

‘I thought it would be very difficult to replace him if it came to that. It is important that we have him in place. He is the figurehead of this club. He makes everyone fall into line and be successful.

‘He is cut from the mould of what I like. He will tell you how it is; some days you will like, other days you won’t but you always know exactly where you stand with him.’

If there has been an alteration to Everton’s style, thanks to the nimble, fleet-footed movement of creative sparks Kevin Mirallas, Steven Pienaar and Nikica Jelavic, there has also been a change in Moyes. Ask the Scot what it is and he will say that he has mellowed.

Playing for pride and points: Howard knows the importance of the derby game

Playing for pride and points: Howard knows the importance of the derby game

‘He’s a liar!’ says Howard, laughing. ‘And you can tell him I said so! He might have mellowed in front of you but there are two lots of 15 minutes — once in the middle of a game, the other at the end of the game — when he just ain’t calm!

‘Seriously, though, he has been brilliant. He has realised if you stand still, you move backwards. He is always trying to get better and that is very hard for a stubborn Scotsman. But he continues to listen to the good people around him. It isn’t easy but he is always willing to try new things.’

Such as giving his squad an unexpected five-day break in the middle of their pre-season schedule.

‘That would have been so hard for him, for sure,’ Howard agreed. ‘But you realise he is trying to be progressive. The timing was impeccable. We are very simplistic us human beings, especially us footballers. You give us that little bit of incentive, we work hard and come back stronger.’

Which is precisely what Everton have done since that wretched day in April. It may be two years since they last won a derby but they head into this tussle brimming with confidence and harbouring dreams they will be playing European football in 12 months.

‘I won my first derby 3-0 and thought, “This is what it is always going to be like”. Obviously it hasn’t,’ said Howard, who joined Everton from Manchester United in the summer of 2006.

‘But the more I become part of the fabric of this club, the more it means to me.
‘It is going to be an exciting game, an emotional game. To get where we want to, one of us is going to have to pip the other. A bunch of other teams will be there too. But, yes, I would be lying if I didn’t say it would be sweeter doing it to them than anyone else.’

With that, he is smiling again.

Tim Howard attended a celebration event to mark five years of Kickz, a social inclusion football programme delivered by Everton in the Community, Liverpool FC and Merseyside Police

John Terry affair must not derail battle to defeat racism – Des Kelly

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

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UPDATED:

01:15 GMT, 29 September 2012

It's not a simple case of black and white. It never is. The John Terry ban, the ongoing controversy and the trail of deceit and contradiction this circus has left behind surely demonstrates that to us all.

The row has predictably divided fans on club lines. But far more worrying is the talk that certain black players now believe their interests can only be served within the game by the creation of their own separate players' union.

The rebels are even threatening to
orchestrate a boycott of the FA's Kick It Out anti-racism campaign in
protest at the 'lenient' ban dished out to Terry. What a dreadful call
that would be.

Bitter irony: John Terry (left) and Ashley Cole promote the FA's anti-racism campaign

Bitter irony: John Terry (left) and Ashley Cole promote the FA's anti-racism campaign

It might not be as overtly ignorant
as Terry's foul-mouthed tirade at Loftus Road, but the decision would
have ramifications which could be far more damaging in the long term.

Terry's four-game suspension is
undoubtedly soft on the face of it, not least because of the precedent
set by the eight-match ban served by Luis Suarez for a comparable
incident.

But those black players agitating for
a breakaway (mostly ex-pros in the media, I hear) should at least
recognise that the game has acted where the courts could not.

It may not be enough for some, but
then it is hard to recall a single occasion when any FA verdict was met
by universal acclaim.

More importantly, however
well-intentioned the motives, I can think of nothing more
counterproductive, nothing designed to take football backwards after
years of progress, than an official schism within the game drawn up on
racial lines.

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As far as I'm concerned, Terry spun a
yarn from day one about his clash with Ferdinand, did his damnedest to
wriggle out of admitting fault, found he could not back down, but got
lucky in court because there was no additional camera evidence.

The fact that he finally received an
overdue slap from the FA this week is to be commended. That doesn't mean
the issue isn't riddled with discrepancies, self-interest,
misinformation and now a fair share of political posturing, too. But let
me set out my wider position.

I'm bewildered by the concept of
racial prejudice. Why would you automatically dislike someone just
because of the colour of their skin, when it is far better to take the
time to understand their personality and find genuine reasons to despise
them

Which leads me back to Terry. I have a
problem with the sort of human being who would throw about racist
insults, dissemble about the circumstances in which they were exchanged
and then portray himself as some kind of 'victim' in the aftermath.

Did he use disgusting words on a football pitch Yes. So did Ferdinand, but Terry veered into issues of race.

Should we condemn Terry for that Definitely. Was the alibi that he was only repeating what he'd heard plausible Not remotely.

So the FA had to punish Terry, even
though the courts could not. If they had followed the magistrate's lead,
every racist insult exchanged on a pitch could be excused by a claim
that 'I was only repeating what I thought he'd said to me'.

Loophole lawyers would have been all over it.

Even so, Terry's management company
still released a slippery statement claiming: 'Mr Terry is disappointed
the FA Regulatory Commission reached a different conclusion to the clear
not guilty verdict of a court of law.'

A 'clear not guilty verdict' When
did that happen I recall the chief magistrate, Howard Riddle, saying in
his summary: 'Mr Terry's explanation is, certainly under the cold light
of forensic examination, unlikely … but there being a doubt, the only
verdict the court can record is one of not guilty.'

The only 'clear' aspect is the court
let Terry go because they could not prove unequivocally he had used the
word 'black' as a direct insult. But the FA could rely on the 'balance
of probability', which is essentially common sense.

'Footage don't lie': Anton Ferdinand (left) broke his silence on the Terry verdict on Twitter

'Footage don't lie': Anton Ferdinand (left) broke his silence on the Terry verdict on Twitter

As Ferdinand himself blurted
ungrammatically on Twitter yesterday: 'Footage don't lie'. And like that
mangled sentence, the FA response may not be perfect, but they were
able to react in a manner beyond the court's power.

Of course other inconsistencies
remain. While it is admirable that the FA is being proactive on the
issue of racial abuse, it is unfortunate their hierarchy is about as
ethnically diverse as a country and western music festival.

They will also have to come up with
some forceful logic in their written report to explain why Terry was
handed a four-match ban when Liverpool's Suarez was initially suspended
for 12, reduced to eight on appeal.

I'd like to think the difference in
sentencing was down t o Liverpool's crass decision to inflame tensions
and parade in Suarez T-shirts as the FA considered its verdict.

Unfortunately, right now it just
looks like they may have bottled it. Terry has been encouraged to
apologise, but for what For being caught The time for Terry to say
sorry was when footage first emerged of him shouting 'you f****** black
****' at an opponent.

Any line he peddles now, nearly a year on, would look ridiculous.

We can get bogged down in the
four-game ban, and hold up other punishments, but the stigma of being
branded a racist is nigh-on impossible to shake.

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But colour isn't the whole issue. Or
it shouldn't be. Character is also part of the mix. John Barnes has some
fascinating views on this subject.

I don't agree with everything he
says, but Barnes was astute when he told Keys and Gray on talkSPORT on
Friday: 'We're just getting better at hiding racism. All Terry had to do
was keep his mouth shut. That's where we are.'

Even discussing issues of race in the
media can be a problem. And although I continually hear people talk
about zero tolerance, it's usually more textured than that. As Barnes
says, black people can be racists too.

'If I saw an Indian football manager
walk into a dressing room wearing a turban I would question him more
than i f a white, blue-eyed German boss turned up be cause of our
cultural expectations,' he admits.

'Ninety-nine per cent of us, me
included, are unconscious racists, because we have an opinion on someone
based on history, what we have witnessed, and what we've seen on
television. We all think it, but don't hear it any more.'

True. But, as I have argued with
Barnes in the past on air, if we don't hear it then surely that's a
start. The ex-Liverpool player rightly wants to tackle the 'root causes'
of racism rather than its audible expression, but this takes time.

Dealing with the abuse and making
that socially unacceptable is a vital step along the way. When Rio
Ferdinand retweeted a comment that Ashley Cole was a 'choc ice' – black
on the outside, white on the inside – to me, he was effectively
endorsing a racist remark.

What does 'white on the inside mean'
anyway Cole is the same inside as you or me. You can decide whether you
like him or not, but his 'race' has nothing to do with it.

People are now wondering whether
Terry could ever play for England again. It would be tough for him. But
do we damn people forever for one stupid and offensive remark

Suarez still plays for Uruguay. Is it
racist to assume they apply a lower standard there The fact that Terry
has huffed off the international stage actually solves a selection
dilemma for Roy Hodgson.

Football is a gigantic, rainbow-hued
game of Twister. It's not perfect, but the sport is about as near to a
United Colours of Benetton advert as we have in mainstream society.
There should be more black managers at the top, but that change will
filter through in time.

It might need a push, but it will
happen. Yet, despite the occasional flare-up and its obvious flaws, we
should recognise that the stars of this sporting show are paid on merit,
regardless of colour or social class.

They are rewarded for ability, not
their schooling, their ancestry, or the fact that they can afford to get
into a club, or the colour of their skin. Name another industry that is
quite as open to all Football is our greatest melting pot. So melt a
bit.

Please just stick to the golf

There may be a more lifeless opening ceremony in existence than the ritual the Ryder Cup organisers exhume and dump on a cold slab every two years, but I've yet to sprinkle quicklime on it.

Watching a tweed-clad Justin Timberlake host the occasion in Medinah as if he were at an undertakers' convention in Bracknell was simply excruciating, and the last vestige of any street cred he may have possessed dropped faster than a portfolio of Facebook shares.

Dressed like an undertakers' convention in Bracknell: Justin Timberlake hosts the Ryder Cup bash

Dressed like an undertakers' convention in Bracknell: Justin Timberlake hosts the Ryder Cup bash

So a word of advice before Gleneagles 2014: cut the speeches from the array of boring suits. Cut the utterly pointless procession of wives. Just introduce the players, get a decent band to knock out a couple of tunes, make sure Trevor Nelson is kept as far away from any microphone as possible, and then set off some fireworks.

There's your opening ceremony. Job done. Thank God there's some golf being played at last – because that is truly wonderful and full of life.

Pardew's worth it

A lot can happen in eight years. Roll back to 2004 and Charlton Athletic were playing Crystal Palace in the Premier League.

Cast in that light, Newcastle's decision to hand manager Alan Pardew and his backroom team contracts until 2020 might be regarded as the greatest show of blind faith since Elizabeth Taylor walked up the aisle for the eighth time. But I disagree. The club have laid down a solid foundation for success.

Apple computer genius and co-founder Steve Jobs knew a thing or two about empire-building and he said: 'Even a small thing takes a few years. 'To do anything of magnitude takes at least five years – more likely seven or eight.'

Pardew now has a rare chance to prove it.

ICC recommend universal DRS use

At last! India could be forced into using DRS as ICC recommend universal use

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UPDATED:

18:31 GMT, 25 June 2012

The International Cricket Council chief executives' committee have recommended universal application of the Decision Review System.

An ICC statement released on Monday confirmed that the committee (CEC) had made the recommendation – which has to be ratified by the ICC board – after being satisfied with the technology enhancements provided by new Hotspot cameras and the results of independent research on ball tracking.

New and improved: The ICC are happy with Hotspot

New and improved: The ICC are happy with Hotspot

The Decision Review System (DRS) has caused controversy, with India being firmly against it and refusing to use it in last summer's Test series against England.

Nonetheless, the CEC are recommending that, subject to members' ability to finance and obtain the required technology, DRS should be mandatory for all Tests and one-day internationals.

ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat said: 'We have made good progress in independently testing ball tracking and the new enhancements has resulted in the CEC unanimously supporting the ICC cricket committee's recommendation to universally apply the DRS in all Test matches and ODIs.'

Ratified: The ICC are also happy with the result of an independent review of the ball-tracking system

Ratified: The ICC are also happy with the result of an independent review of the ball-tracking system

The CEC also reconfirmed the necessity for all member boards to have in place and implement domestic anti-corruption codes – stressing in particular the need for the Bangladesh Cricket Board and Sri Lanka Cricket to incorporate such codes – and said it did not object to the principle of a six-match Twenty20 international series between Pakistan and Australia, who are set to clash in the United Arab Emirates in August.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) had requested support for the six-match format, requiring special dispensation from the CEC and then the ICC board as current regulations permit only three T20s in a series.

Monday's statement confirmed that 'because of the extreme daytime heat in the UAE at that time of the year, the CEC raised no objections to the principle of a six-match T20 series replacing the scheduled series of three ODIs and three T20s should the PCB elect to make that switch.'

The CEC meeting forms part of this week's ICC annual conference in Kuala Lumpur. The recommendations now go forward for consideration by the ICC board, which meets on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Bulgarian doctor claims Stiliyan Petrov could have been Chernobyl victim

National team doctor claims Petrov could have been a Chernobyl victim

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UPDATED:

09:40 GMT, 8 April 2012

Aston Villa midfielder Stiliyan Petrov may have been a victim of nuclear radiation from the Chernobyl disaster, the Bulgarian doctor has said.

The Villa skipper was diagnosed with acute Leukaemia last week and is undergoing treatment.

But it has emerged that Petrov could have been harmed by the toxic plume from the exploding Ukranian energy plant fell over Bulgaria in 1986.

Victim The Bulgarian national team doctor said Stiliyan Petrov could have been a victim of the Chernobyl disaster

Victim The Bulgarian national team doctor said Stiliyan Petrov could have been a victim of the Chernobyl disaster

Petrov was just six-years-old when the disaster happened and now national team doctor Dr Iliev, 61, said leaders of the former Communist state did not tell the population about the danger as they harvested vegetables.

He told The Sun: ‘It was in the late spring, the population was eating fresh radioactive vegetables and other foods. Many people who were kids back then suffered cancer because of this.

'We called them The Chernobyl Kids. Most were born in the same region as Stiliyan.'

'There are no other cases of such illness in this family, that is why I think Stiliyan is a victim of the old communist regime’s lack of information when the nuclear reactor at Chernobyl exploded, and the radioactive cloud came to our country.

Disaster: An aerial view of the Chernobyl nucler power plant which exploded in 1986

Disaster: An aerial view of the Chernobyl nucler power plant which exploded in 1986

Chernobyl is just 650 miles from Bulgaria’s capital Sofia.

After the disaster, Bulgarians reported seeing 'a strangely- coloured sky of eerie shades'.

Radiation caused widespread genetic birth defects in the former Soviet Union.
The Union of Concerned Scientists says it will eventally cause 50,000 cancer cases, half of them fatal. Campaign group Greenpeace believes the cancer figure will be 200,000.

Support: The Villa fans have shown universal support for Petrov

Support: The Villa fans have shown universal support for Petrov

At the time, Bulgaria’s leaders toed the Kremlin line and kept quiet — but shipped-in uncontaminated foreign food for their own families. After the fall of dictator Todor Zhivkov, a deputy health minister and former deputy PM were found guilty of criminal negligence in misleading the public and jailed for five years.