Tag Archives: uphill

David Silva says players responsible for Manchester City"s bad campaign

It's our fault! Silva pins blame for Man City's poor campaign on the players

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UPDATED:

23:00 GMT, 14 December 2012

Manchester City winger David Silva believes Roberto Mancini’s players must accept the blame for the club’s unconvincing form this season.

Barclays Premier League champions City are six points behind leaders Manchester United in the title race and are already out of Europe.

But Silva believes it is the players and not manager Mancini who must take responsibility.

Crossing the divide: Manchester City star David Silva meets Man United fan William Ray, aged 9, from Bury

Crossing the divide: Manchester City star David Silva meets Man United fan William Ray, aged 9, from Bury

Silva said the players had themselves to blame for their situation

David Silva meets Zac Bramwell, aged 8

Visit: Silva, meeting Zac Bramwell, aged 8 (right), said he was hoping the kids would enjoy the players' company

Helping hand: Silva introduces himself to Sam Ainsworth, from Salford

Helping hand: Silva introduces himself to Sam Ainsworth, from Salford

Silva said: 'We're are responsible for what has happened this season.

'The way we played in the Champions League – we all have to take the blame for that.

'It didn't start well in the Champions League and it became an uphill task for us, it didn't happen. But you can't just blame the manager.

'All I would say is that since I joined City up to now we have made progress with Roberto. All there has been is progress.

'In the Champions League, I can’t put my finger on what it was.

'All I can say is when I came to City they were looking to get in the top four and since then they have won the Premier League, the FA Cup, we have qualified for the Champions League.

'People can’t expect to win the Champions League straightaway. We’ve got very good players and we will get there.

'I want to win it with City but let’s go one step at a time.'

Silva spoke this week as he joined team-mates on a visit to sick youngsters at Manchester Children’s Hospital. All the players who visited took Christmas presents they had paid for themselves.

'We’ve been visiting the kids and hopefully we will get a smile out of them at this time for Christmas,' said Silva.

'I don’t have kids, but I have a big family and I know what it’s like for them to receive presents and to have something from someone that they want to see.'

Hi there: Silva with Tipu Rehman aged 3 from Bolton and Dylan Roberts, aged 6 from Didsbury (below)

Hi there: Silva with Tipu Rehman aged 3 from Bolton and Dylan Roberts, aged 6 from Didsbury (below)

True blue: Silva meets Man City star Dylan Roberts, aged 6 from Didsbury

Silva will be in the City team at Newcastle on Saturday lunchtime having recovered from injury to play in last weekend’s derby defeat to Manchester United.

He feels he is back to his best now but admitted that a long-term ankle problem is still bothering him.

'I’m feeling great again,' he added.

'Before the injury I was good, I was playing very good but then I got three weeks out.

'Now I can hopefully keep going in a good way.

'It is true I have played a lot of games in the last three or four seasons, with the European Championships, and World Cup and domestic league but you have to recover well after every game and just be there and that’s football and that’s the way it is.

Here you go: Silva gives Ethan Bird, aged 5, from Hull, a present during his visit, and meets Sam Doran from Bolton (below)

Here you go: Silva gives Ethan Bird, aged 5, from Hull, a present during his visit, and meets Sam Doran from Bolton (below)

David Silva meets Sam Doran from Bolton

'I do have to keep on top of the ankle, always work on it and constantly care for it and there are parts of the season where I have to look after it a bit more. But its OK.'

With City six points behind United in the Premier League, Silva admitted that winning the title again from this position would be a huge achievement.

'It would be right up there with all the other big competitions that I've won,' he said.

'Winning the Premier League is seen as a big thing. It would be a great achievement to retain it.

'I've been lucky I've won a lot of medals but I'd still like to win more.'

Martin Samuel: If Roman Abramovich doesn"t respect Chelsea"s managers, why would the players?

If Roman doesn't respect Chelsea's managers, why would the players

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UPDATED:

23:17 GMT, 4 December 2012

It is possible to have a safe job at Chelsea: just not as manager.

Bruce Buck, the chairman, has been in his position since 2003. He was head of the European branch of the legal firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher and Flom, whose clients included Sibneft, the company owned by Roman Abramovich.

In this capacity, he advised Abramovich on a number of acquisitions, including Chelsea Village plc. When the deal was concluded, Buck became chairman of Chelsea. He’s still there.

Can I have your attention: Rafael Benitez is facing an uphill battle impressing Chelsea players and fans

Can I have your attention: Rafael Benitez is facing an uphill battle impressing Chelsea players and fans

More from Martin Samuel…

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Martin Samuel: Wenger used to solve Arsenal's problems… now he helps his rivals solve theirs
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So what’s for dinner tonight Killer casserole
29/11/12

Martin Samuel: Get real with the Olympic Stadium… it's West Ham or a white elephant
27/11/12

Schools are falling for the hard sell from corporate sponsors
22/11/12

Martin Samuel: Di Matteo is just the latest victim of Roman's random reign at Chelsea
22/11/12

Martin Samuel: Suarez is poetry in motion… but can he really be Player of the Year
20/11/12

Martin Samuel: Too few had the desire to follow Cook into battle
19/11/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

Eugene Tenenbaum has also enjoyed a stable career as a director at Stamford Bridge. A former head of corporate finance for Sibneft, he joined the Chelsea board in 2003 and remains.

Ron Gourlay, who became chief executive officer in 2009, arrived at the club in 2004 holding a variety of positions, including chief operating officer.

Steve Atkins, head of communications and public affairs, has been with Chelsea since 2007. Atkins and Gourlay assumed their present positions because their predecessors, Peter Kenyon and Simon Greenberg, resigned. Had they not sought fresh opportunities, one presumes they would still be employed today.

So the idea Abramovich enjoys firing people is untrue. In just about every other area of his football business, staff positions remain constant.

Gourlay does not take a call midway through a reserve match to tell him his time is up: he makes that call, to assistant manager Ray Wilkins.

Buck does not hold press conferences to announce his departure as chairman; he fronts up, on Abramovich’s behalf, having handed another managerial stooge his P45.

What appears to be absent here is respect. Abramovich clearly appreciates the work of lawyers, of business people, even public relations consultants; but anyone in a tracksuit is a clown.

The problem with such a short-sighted attitude is that, in time, it rubs off. First the owner thinks the manager is a fool, then the players and now the fans. Abramovich should not be surprised that so few are affording Rafael Benitez the consideration his c.v. merits; they are taking their cue directly from him.

The players know that if Benitez’s methods are not to their liking they can wait this one out.

Roberto Di Matteo also carried the enfeebling title of interim manager but he, shrewdly, forged a relationship with the players by giving them largely what they wanted. He dispensed with the most unpopular aspects of the Andre Villas-Boas regime — most significantly the poorly conceived high defensive line — and won friends by returning to familiar ways.

Long standing: Bruce Buck and Ron Gourlay have enjoyed lengthy spells employed by Roman Abramovich

Long standing: Bruce Buck and Ron Gourlay have enjoyed lengthy spells employed by Roman Abramovich

Benitez is more confrontational. One of his early calls was to drop Chelsea’s player of the season, Juan Mata, for a home game with Fulham and his brazen announcement that Ashley Cole and Frank Lampard have no future at the club will not have helped forge an immediate bond with senior team members, either.

Cole, certainly, appeared below his usual standard against West Ham United on Saturday, while Lampard will hardly rush back from injury to save a club who are dumping him, if it means jeopardising his long-term fitness and a future contract elsewhere.

Benitez can be a cold fish as a manager. Steven Gerrard says he could not even tease a smile out of him on the night Liverpool won the Champions League final. Gerrard knew, though, that after such incredible success, Benitez was going to be around for a long time, so like it or lump it.

This isn’t true at Chelsea. Don’t like Benitez, don’t like his style Not to worry, another manager will be along in six months’ time and maybe you’ll click with him.

Speaking yesterday, Benitez said his players lacked a little confidence. Yet what should they feel confident in: a manager who won’t be there soon, or an owner who might already have taken against them, regardless of performances

Abramovich’s way does not breed confidence of the kind that turns around a crisis. Di Matteo was fortunate in that Villas-Boas was unpopular and he could play the good guy. That option is not open to Benitez.

Players that are disgruntled by Di Matteo’s departure are hardly likely to be inspired by Benitez’s brand of tough love; particularly as his job title suggests he is only passing through.

Friends in high places: Roberto Di Matteo was able to get on the right side of the players

Friends in high places: Roberto Di Matteo was able to get on the right side of the players

The same is true of the fans. Would their reaction to Benitez have been so unanimously hostile if his was a long-term appointment

If the dissent is loud enough, and the results lousy, they reason, he might even be gone by the new year. In this way, Abramovich’s lack of respect for the manager’s role is impacting on performances. The owner doesn’t listen to the manager, so why should anybody else

Tonight, it is widely expected that Benitez will win his first game since arriving at Stamford Bridge. This being Chelsea, of course, that good news is likely to be overshadowed by a result in Donetsk that will spell the end of their Champions League campaign, making this the worst defence of the crown in history.

No champions of Europe have exited at the group stage the following season, a fact that will cast a pall over the anticipated win over Nordsjaelland, even if it ends with a Fernando Torres hat-trick.

Torres is doing a great job, said Benitez on the eve of the game, backing up his argument by praising his defensive work at corners.

Leaving aside that this was not exactly what Abramovich had in mind when he paid Liverpool 50million, it is a fine example of the muddled thinking at Chelsea. The owner has bought Oscar, Mata and Eden Hazard, and left them in the hands of a man who does not mind if his striker hasn’t scored for six matches, as long as he is keeping it tight at the back.

Looking for answers: Roman Abramovich is yet to find his perfect fit for the Chelsea dugout

Looking for answers: Roman Abramovich is yet to find his perfect fit for the Chelsea dugout

Gary Neville mocked defender David Luiz for playing like he was ‘being controlled by a 10-year-old on a PlayStation’, but the real juvenile at the controls at Chelsea is Abramovich. He buys Torres and then assembles a forward line that is incompatible with his needs.

He sacks a manager, replaces him with his polar opposite, and wonders why the transition proves difficult. With each action, he appears to treat the art of producing winning football teams with contempt, as if anybody can do it; and if he even for one second seriously considered bringing Avram Grant back in any capacity, then he must believe anybody can.

What a pity he does not view football with the same respect he reserves for lawyers, financiers or even company executives. In those fields, Chelsea are rational, even nurturing, employers. At the sight of a tracksuit, however, the club lose their mind.

Play-offs It's England, Roy, not West Brom

Roy Hodgson says he will be happy with a place in the play-offs if England cannot win their World Cup qualifying group. He shouldn’t be.

England should not be second best to Montenegro, Poland or Ukraine. England should already be handily placed for Brazil, not playing catch-up after Christmas, fingers crossed, hoping for the best. And now the downgrading begins.

Hodgson calls the opposition underestimated, but that isn’t true, either. They are quite accurately estimated as inferior teams to England.

Aim higher: Roy Hodsgon says he'd settle for a playoff berth in World Cup qualifying. He shouldn't

Aim higher: Roy Hodsgon says he'd settle for a playoff berth in World Cup qualifying. He shouldn't

FIFA’s world rankings can be quirkily random, but they are not totally bananas. The current top three are Spain, Germany and Argentina, not Moldova, Burkina Faso and Guatemala.

England at six seem over-rated but a place somewhere between 10 and 16 would not embarrass, and would still be a substantial improvement on Montenegro (34).

Poland (54) and Ukraine (55) have suffered through a lack of competitive football as hosts of the 2012 European Championship but even a 20-place promotion would still leave them trailing England.

So not mugs, but a friendlier route than Group A (Belgium, Croatia, Serbia) or the five-team Group I that pits Spain against France.

England got lucky in the draw and were given the sort of challenge that Fabio Capello and, previously, Sven Goran Eriksson completed with ease.

There is still time for Hodgson to do the same: but to be talking already about second place suggests a regime too familiar with low expectations.

This is not West Bromwich Albion: mid-table does not earn a pat on the back. The play-offs are only preferable to not qualifying at all, and surely a repeat of Steve McClaren’s dismal failure is beyond even the most pessimistic consideration

AND WHILE WE'RE AT IT

Do you want be a hero, Joe

Do you want be a hero, Joe

We need a hero

Could just one footballer please come out and be gay, so everybody can be really cool about it and the sport can get on with its life Just one, it’s not much to ask surely

Football is beginning to sound a little desperate with its pleading. Rugby, cricket, they’ve all had their gay watershed moment. And until football does, too, it will continue to be presumed that the sport has not evolved enough to handle male homosexuality.

(Hope Powell, the manager of England’s women, has been openly gay for years, without comment, yet that does not seem to count.)

The gay pressure group, Stonewall, has called again for football to tackle its ‘culture of fear’, while Anders Lindegaard, the Manchester United goalkeeper, has said that football needs a ‘gay hero’.

So here’s a thought. Joey Barton continues his quest for intellectual and social respectability. Why not come out as gay Instant credibility, instant respect, untouchable by the Football Association or future employers. His past misdeeds mentally reprocessed and explained.

‘Well, of course he put his cigar out in that bloke’s face, Gary. He was a tortured soul, forced to live a lie.’

And imagine the new material. A never-ending treasure trove for Barton’s Twitter feed: Alexander the Great, Leonardo da Vinci, Oscar Wilde, Lady Bunny.

And, let’s face it, with that new accent, he’s probably halfway there.

Like a black fly in your chardonnay

Patrick Edlinger, known as ‘the god of free climbing’ has died at the age of 52. He was famous for overcoming sheer rock faces and horizontal overhangs, often without equipment, sometimes without shoes.

Top of the rocks: Patrick Edlinger, climbing's most famous face, has died

Top of the rocks: Patrick Edlinger, climbing's most famous face, has died

Edlinger regarded himself as a minimalist mountaineer, relying on strong fingers and toes, super flexible limbs and quite incredible core body strength to scale vast peaks and ranges.

He would hang from a rock, and flip his legs above his torso to somehow find a grip. This way, he took on the 1500-foot vertical ascent of the Verdon Gorge — France’s smaller but no less daunting equivalent of the Grand Canyon.

He had several films made about him and was a hero in France, where his passing was headline news.

Do you know how he died He fell down some stairs at home. Alanis Morissette should write a song about this stuff, really she should.

Footballers can't dive in like Becky

And now the return of an irregular series entitled: it's different for football.

Pound for pound, the well-funded Team GB swimmers flopped horribly at the Olympic Games, winning one silver and two bronze medals.

This has led to a review of the sport and the departure of its performance director Michael Scott. Rebecca Adlington is furious that British Swimming did not consult the athletes in this process. As the most successful British swimmer in history, she may have a point.

Speak up: Rebecca Adlington is often consulted by her sport's powers-that-be, unlike Steven Gerrard

Speak up: Rebecca Adlington is often consulted by her sport's powers-that-be, unlike Steven Gerrard

Speak up: Rebecca Adlington is often consulted by her sport's powers-that-be, unlike Steven Gerrard

Steven Gerrard, however, knows a bit about football too. Now imagine if England failed to qualify for the 2014 World Cup, the manager was sacked and Gerrard demanded the underachieving players were part of any Football Association inquest. He would be absolutely pilloried.

Adlington, by contrast, is now invited to air her views at a meeting with David Sparkes, chief executive of British Swimming. It’s different for football.

Save the Wales whinge

Wales would like to play their 2015 Rugby World Cup tie with England in Cardiff. Wales can, very politely, get stuffed.

There is one advantage to being the hosts, and that is no away games. For the organisers to even be considering a neutral venue such as Wembley is bad enough, but to play in Wales would be madness.

There is only one venue suitable for England at a home World Cup. Twickenham. That’s why they call it HQ.

Adkins: Players should take credit, but pressure is still on after win at QPR

Adkins: Players should take credit, but pressure is still on after win at QPR

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UPDATED:

21:33 GMT, 17 November 2012

Southampton manager Nigel Adkins
heaped praise on his players after their win over fellow strugglers QPR
but admitted that he remains under pressure.

The visitors completely outplayed Mark Hughes' team to move four points clear of the west Londoners.

But with his side still facing an uphill battle to stay in the top flight, Adkins refused to get carried away.

Still pressure: But Southampton boss Nigel Adkins was please with his team's work

Still pressure: But Southampton boss Nigel Adkins was please with his team's work

'In the Premier League, you're always going to get the media attention and whether you're at the top or the bottom, it is only going to intensify,' he said.

'Every game brings its own pressures, its own demands.'

Asked if he thought the win helped to relieve the pressure on his own position, Adkins added: 'I am a manager in the Premier League.

'You guys (the media) are always going to keep the pressure on everybody.

'Today was a good performance again and it shows a good, growing maturity about the players.

'You could see again that we have players maturing all the time. There were some really good performances.

'We had a good defensive shape today. We know we can score goals and there is a confidence growing all the time among the players.'

US Grand Prix: Sebastian Vettel on pole

Vettel on the brink of history as rampant Red Bull claims pole for US Grand Prix

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UPDATED:

20:09 GMT, 17 November 2012

Sebastian Vettel stands just 56 laps away from becoming the youngest triple world champion in Formula One history.

Vettel continued his total domination of the United States Grand Prix weekend, following his clean sweep of practice by setting the fastest times in all three qualifying sessions.

It means the 25-year-old will start his 100th grand prix from his sixth pole position this year, and 36th of a career which threatens to scale new heights on Sunday.

Centre of attention: Sebastian Vettel secured his sixth pole of the season for the US Grand Prix

Centre of attention: Sebastian Vettel secured his sixth pole of the season for the US Grand Prix

Leading title rival Fernando Alonso by 10 points going into the race at the 250million Circuit of The Americas on the outskirts of Texan capital Austin, the duo are separated by seven places on the grid.

Alonso could only qualify ninth in his Ferrari, but will move up a position to eighth as Lotus' Romain Grosjean will drop five places from fourth after being penalised for a gearbox change.

Alonso has to finish within 15 points of Vettel to ensure the title fight goes down to the wire in Brazil next weekend, but clearly faces an uphill battle to achieve that on the evidence so far.

It was only just from Vettel, however, as McLaren's Lewis Hamilton produced a stunning performance to finish just a tenth of a second adrift down.

However, he will start on the dirty side of the grid which is a distinct disadvantage on this track.

The conditions – a combination of Pirelli opting for the harder two of the four dry compounds available and the glasslike nature of the new track – resulted in all three sessions proving hectic.

It allowed the drivers to stay out on track, putting in lap after lap with the aim of allowing the circuit and the rubber to come together, at least giving the American fans their money's worth.

Leading the way: Vettel can become the sport's youngest ever three-time world champion

Leading the way: Vettel can become the sport's youngest ever three-time world champion

Leading the way: Vettel can become the sport's youngest ever three-time world champion

It is why the inside line down the home straight will prove tough for anybody in their bid to get away, meaning Hamilton will come under pressure from third-on-the-grid Mark Webber in his Red Bull.

With Grosjean penalised, Lotus team-mate Kimi Raikkonen moves up to fourth, followed by Mercedes' Michael Schumacher, the Ferrari of Felipe Massa and Force India's Nico Hulkenberg.

On the fifth row of the grid, Grosjean will be joined by Williams' Pastor Maldonado just behind him in 10th.

McLaren's current fallibility struck again in Q2, with Jenson Button on the receiving end on this occasion as he complained of a loss of power with three minutes remaining of the 15.

At that stage he was eighth, and it was inevitable he would drop out of the top 10, the Briton eventually falling to 12th behind Williams' Bruno Senna.

Force India's Paul di Resta found himself out-qualified by Hulkenberg for the fourth consecutive race, finishing 0.6secs adrift and will start 13th.

Toro Rosso's Jean-Eric Vergne starts from his best grid slot of 14th since the fifth race of the year in Spain, lining up ahead of Sauber duo Sergio Perez and Kamui Kobayashi.

For Mercedes' Nico Rosberg, the German starts a dismal 17th as he found himself comfortably out-paced by Schumacher for once this year.

For only the second time this season Daniel Ricciardo failed to make it out of Q1 in his Toro Rosso and will start 18th.

Behind him, however, there was a triumph for Marussia as both Timo Glock and Charles Pic out-qualified the Caterhams of Vitaly Petrov and Heikki Kovalainen.

On the final row, the HRTs will start the race as there were fears they would be outside the 107 per cent time.

With fears they will fold following next weekend's race in Brazil due to financial woes, Pedro de la Rosa and Narain Karthikeyan made the cut, despite the latter stopping on track towards the end.

Vettel declared himself 'very pleased with the result', and rightly so given Alonso's position, although he claimed he is unconcerned as to the Spaniard's woes.

'There's not much to feel,' said Vettel, when asked for his thoughts.

All a blur: Vettel has been totally dominant throughout the weekend in Texas

All a blur: Vettel has been totally dominant throughout the weekend in Texas

'We just look after ourselves, so we are very happy, we had no issues today, although we lost a little bit of time yesterday (with a water leak), but these things can happen.

'The best strategy is to keep your head down, which was the target in qualifying.

'But we saw at the last race (in Abu Dhabi) how quickly things can change, so we'll focus on our race.

'Tomorrow we have the chance to seal the constructors' title for the team, which is what Mark and I will be looking out for.'

Hamilton naturally expressed his fears as to his starting position as he said: 'I'm not really concerned about the hill (at turn one), I'm more concpractisederned about the dirty side of the grid

'I practiced a launch earlier (in final practice) from that side and it was very slippery.

'I don't want to get in the way of Seb's race, however, I do want to win and I'll try and get through their cleanly.'

With Red Bull with one hand on their third constructors' title, it appears inconceivable they will not finish the job off on Sunday.

'We have an eye on the constructors' which we aim to put to bed,' said Webber. 'It will be a huge result for everyone at the factory in Milton Keynes and (engine supplier) Renault.'

England 14 Australia 20: Barnes and Beale fire Wallabies as Red Rose rue missed chances

England 14 Australia 20: Barnes and Beale fire Wallabies as Red Rose rue missed chances

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UPDATED:

16:51 GMT, 17 November 2012

England crashed to a defeat to Australia they may still be regretting in three years' time.

The Wallabies bounced back from a 33-6 thumping in France last week to dominate England, whose chances of being a top seed at their home Rugby World Cup in 2015 now look remote.

England have worn purple shirts twice – against Argentina and Australia – and both times they have lost.

Unbridled glee: Australia celebrate their third win in four Cook cup matches

Unbridled glee: Australia celebrate their third win in four Cook cup matches

England clawed a half-time lead with a
contentious try from Manu Tuilagi after Nick Cummins had scored his
first international try for the Wallabies.

But Australia turned the screw after
the interval with Berrick Barnes kicking a total of 15 points and it was
not until England emptied their bench that they posed any consistent
threat.

England will rue their bold decisions
to kick second-half penalties to touch instead of taking points because
the Wallabies defence held firm.

And the more panicky England became, the more mistakes they made and Australia saw out the victory to reclaim the Cook Cup.

Going over: Manu Tuilagi scores England's first try to give the home side a 14-11 half-time lead

/11/17/article-0-1613F11C000005DC-989_634x449.jpg” width=”634″ height=”449″ alt=”Going over: Manu Tuilagi scores England's first try to give the home side a 14-11 half-time lead” class=”blkBorder” />

England's kit was officially described as 'regal purple', in order to reflect their place among the 'rugby royalty'.

But with South Africa and New Zealand
due at Twickenham over the next fortnight, England face an uphill
battle to join the elite in the top band of World Cup seeds when the
draw is made on December 4.

That would leave England with the prospect of facing one of the southern hemisphere giants in the pool stages.

Toby Flood kicked England into an
early lead but they spent most of the first half battling to stay in the
game, in the face of an Australia side who were more direct and more
threatening.

Initially, England defended
ferociously, hitting the Wallaby ball-carriers hard on the gainline,
holding them up and driving them backwards.

No mistake: Nick Cummins evades the attentions of Toby Flood to score Australia's opening try

No mistake: Nick Cummins evades the attentions of Toby Flood to score Australia's opening try

No mistake: Nick Cummins evades the attentions of Toby Flood to score Australia's opening try

But as the first half wore on,
England began to slip off key first-up tackles and that allowed the
Wallabies to build the pressure.

Danny Care did well to halt Tatafu
Polota-Nau in the corner after Australia had attempted a crafty short
lineout but they were soon on the back foot again.

Michael Hooper, the Australian
openside with an English father, slipped through Tom Youngs' tackle and
offloaded to Cummins, forcing England to scramble again.

Wycliff Palu, Cummins and Alexander
were all halted in their tracks before Barnes slotted the drop goal to
bring the Wallabies level.

England built the phases for the
first time but without any real menace, unlike the Wallabies who won a
scrum against the head and then released Cummins on the outside again.

Tuilagi and then Flood made
half-breaks for England before Thomas Waldrom took a quick tap penalty
and flicked the ball inside to Chris Robshaw.

Brace yourself: Chris Robshaw prepares to be hit by Wycliff Palu and Nicholas Phipps

Brace yourself: Chris Robshaw prepares to be hit by Wycliff Palu and Nicholas Phipps

Hooper was forced to slow things down
illegally and Flood's second penalty crept over the bar to restore
England's lead but it was brief respite.

Hooper ran onto a long lineout and
the Wallabies hammered away at the England line before Ben Alexander,
with Benn Robinson on his shoulder, drove low from the ruck.

The television pictures were not
conclusive enough for the try to be awarded but Joe Marler was penalised
at the subsequent scrum, allowing the Wallabies to leave with some
points.

Flood responded with a third penalty
but Care, who had been very effective in defence, was punished for a
loose kick with Nick Phipps launching the counter-attack.

Phipps beat one defender and then
released Cummins with a questionably forward pass but the Wallaby wing
streaked down the right and dived over in the corner for his maiden Test
try.

Care made amends immediately, turning
down a kickable penalty to take the quick tap. Tom Johnson and Brad
Barritt shipped the ball wide for Tuilagi, who had Sharples on his
outside but decided to go himself.

Quick ball: Nick Phipps releases early for Australia

Quick ball: Nick Phipps releases early for Australia

Tuilagi powered through Beale and
Phipps and stretched for the line with the the TMO finally confirming he
had got the ball down on the whitewash.

Australia were back in the groove
immediately after the interval, with Barnes and Beale pulling the
strings and the Wallaby pack edging the set-piece battle.

Barnes slotted three penalties in
quick succession. England's response was to send on replacements and two
of them in particular made an immediate impact.

Joe Launchbury took a towering high
ball before Mako Vunipola burst though the line and Ashton arrowed
towards the corner before being tackled into touch just short of the
line.

Reliable: The right boot of Toby Flood accounted for nine points

Reliable: The right boot of Toby Flood accounted for nine points

England piled on the pressure, twice
rejecting penalty shots at goal in the hope of driving the Wallabies
back from the lineout and it almost worked but Waldrom lost control as
he grounded the ball.

This time the television official's decision went against England.

Barnes' long-range penalty attempt
fell short and Vunipola continued to cause damage to the Wallabies,
destroying one scrum and then carrying powerfully into the Australian
22.

England went for another quick tap
penalty and Waldrom came steaming onto the ball but he was chopped down
short of the line and again the gamble failed to pay off.

India v England first test: England fight back but face uphill struggle

England show fighting spirit but still face uphill struggle after spin assault

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UPDATED:

11:37 GMT, 17 November 2012

PICTURE DISPUTE

We are unable to carry live pictures from the First Test in Ahmedabad due to a dispute between the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and international news organisations.

The BCCI has refused access to Test venues to established picture agencies Getty Images and Action Images and other Indian photographic agencies.

MailOnline consider this action to be a strike against press freedom and supports the action to boycott BCCI imagery.

England rediscovered their fight but still face a mountainous task to salvage a first-Test stalemate after collapsing to Indian spin on day three and having to follow on 330 runs behind.

If their position was no longer hopeless by stumps, thanks to an overdue stand of substance between openers Alastair Cook and Nick Compton at their second attempt, it was still hard to argue with a consensus that they will probably lose an unequal struggle at some point over the next two days.

Pragyan Ojha (five for 45) and Ravichandran Ashwin (three for 80) bowled England out for 191, yet neither of the Indian spinners could make any inroads in 28 more overs between them when the tourists tried again and succeeded to the tune of 111 for none.

Only Cook's lbw scare, sweeping at
Ojha on 41, brought significant alarm on his way to an unbeaten 74 which
restated his commitment to leading from the front as new Test captain.

Going good: Nick Compton showed a good understanding with Alistair Cook

Going good: Nick Compton showed a good understanding with Alistair Cook

In England's first innings,
conversely, a wicket was forever imminent as Ojha and Ashwin made a
nonsense of Graeme Swann's manful attempts to chip through India on what
had appeared a lifeless surface on the first two days of this series.

Suddenly, the Sardar Patel Stadium was
a snakepit as – in reply to 521 for eight declared – England lost four
wickets for 69 runs this morning and then, despite Matt Prior's best
efforts, their last three by teatime.

Prior responded to a critical
situation with determination, interspersed with his instinct for
counter-attacking strokeplay, but could not turn the tide.

England had endured successive
wicketless mornings while Virender Sehwag and then double-centurion
Cheteshwar Pujara piled on the runs.

They never looked likely to continue the sequence with bats in their hands.

Kevin Pietersen's comeback innings
following his successful 'reintegration' was fretful throughout, rarely
in his crease as he sought to stop Ojha dictating events.

The result appeared reckless rather than effective – from the outset.

He could easily have been out twice
before adding to his overnight six, up the wicket in the first over and
having to dive back as the ball bounced off his pad to silly-point, and
missing another from out of his ground which thankfully also beat
Mahendra Singh Dhoni down the leg-side.

A brief illusion of permanence
followed until Ojha knocked out middle-stump as Pietersen played inside a
delivery which turned sharply from wide on the crease round the wicket.

England's collective solution to last
winter's failings against spin, broadly, has been to ditch the sweep and
play much less from the crease.

Solid: England captain Cook (left) oversaw a good fightback

Solid: England captain Cook (left) oversaw a good fightback

Ian Bell has taken the 'remedy' to
extremes, however, and paid the price instantly when he was up the
wicket to Ojha and went through with an attempted lofted drive only to
depart embarrassingly for a golden duck – caught at deep mid-off.

Cook crossed and survived the hat-trick ball.

But soon afterwards Ashwin lured him into a drive and had him edging some spin low to slip, where Sehwag took a neat catch.

Prior was dropped on three after clubbing a full-toss from Ashwin to Zaheer Khan on the square-leg boundary.

Samit Patel had no such luck. He got
past the initial spin threat but was then lbw to one perhaps sliding
towards leg when India finally introduced frontline seamer Umesh Yadav.

Prior and Tim Bresnan closed out the session, and began the next with promise in a stand of 47.

But Bresnan, understandably playing
low in defence, was undone by rare extra bounce as Ojha picked up his
fourth wicket – caught at gully.

Stuart Broad announced himself by
hitting Ojha over midwicket for four first ball; then when Ashwin
returned, he took 13 of the 14 runs off his first over back, including a
six over long-on from the crease.

But England's first-innings resistance
was short-lived, Broad lbw to one from Zaheer that again might have
beaten leg-stump, and then Prior last out missing an inside-out drive at
Ojha.

It seemed then that the tourists were
on the fast track to defeat, until Cook and Compton revived hope that
they could yet head for Mumbai next week 0-0 with three to play.

Andy Murray beats Tomas Berdych at ATP Tour Finals

Murray off to a flyer as US Open champion beats Berdych in ATP Tour Finals opener

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UPDATED:

17:31 GMT, 5 November 2012

Andy Murray was victorious in his first match on home soil as a grand slam champion as he fought back from a set down to defeat Tomas Berdych at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.

With Novak Djokovic and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga also in his round-robin group at London's O2 Arena, defeat in his opening match would have left the US Open champion with an uphill task to qualify for the semi-finals.

And it did not look good for the Murray when he dropped the opening set but the current world number three finally took a break point at the 11th time of asking early in the second and from there he kept Berdych at arm's length to win 3-6 6-3 6-4.

Take that: Andy Murray fires a return back at Tomas Berdych in their opening clash at the ATP Tour Finals

Take that: Andy Murray fires a return back at Tomas Berdych in their opening clash at the ATP Tour Finals

Serving up a treat: Murray and Berdych battled it out over three sets at the O2 in London

Serving up a treat: Murray and Berdych battled it out over three sets at the O2 in London

Czech this out: Berdych sends a serve down to Murray

Czech this out: Berdych sends a serve down to Murray

It was Murray's first match in the UK
since the heady days of summer when he banished his Centre Court demons
by winning Olympic gold.

He followed that, of course, by ending
his long wait for a grand slam title in New York and he was roared onto
court under the lights of the vast arena.

The opening singles clash of the
tournament was a repeat of the US Open semi-final, which Murray won in
extremely windy conditions, but he does not have a particularly good
record against big-hitting Berdych and was looking to square their
head-to-head at 4-4.

The home favourite, for that is
certainly what he is now, began with a statement of intent as he powered
away a backhand winner but the chance to break went begging, and it was
the same story in the fifth game.

Murray was then made to pay when
Berdych took his chance and the Czech saved his sixth and seventh break
points of the set to clinch it when his opponent went long.

Response: Murray fought back on home soil to dismiss Berdych

Response: Murray fought back on home soil to dismiss Berdych

Murray played only one match at the
eight-man end-of-season tournament last year, losing to David Ferrer
before pulling out injured.

This year he sounded determined to put
on a good show for the home fans but Berdych had not read the script
and Murray was under pressure in the third game of the second set, which
would prove to be the turning point.

Three times he saved break point and
in the next game he finally made the breakthrough despite Berdych
clawing his way back from 0-40 for the second time in the match.

It was Murray's 11th break point, and
he made sure he did not waste his hard-won advantage, taking his first
set point when Berdych drilled a backhand wide.

More like it: Although Murray took a while to get going, he eventually got into his stride

More like it: Although Murray took a while to get going, he eventually got into his stride

Home faithful: Murray's mother, Judy, and girlfriend Kim Sears (right) showed their support for Andy in the O2 Arena

Home faithful: Murray's mother, Judy, and girlfriend Kim Sears (right) showed their support for Andy in the O2 Arena

The sizeable crowd had been a little
subdued but they roared when the Scot brought up two more break points
in the third game of the decider, and again when Berdych put a forehand
just wide.

Coach Ivan Lendl was back in Murray's
box for the first time since the US Open and he would have been pleased
with the way his charge had turned things around.

The 25-year-old has developed an
unwelcome habit since the US Open of losing matches in which he has held
match point, doing so in all three tournaments he has played following
his New York triumph.

And he betrayed a few nerves with a
double fault on his first chance here but on the second Berdych netted a
backhand, leaving Murray to roar with delight as the fans acclaimed
their man.

Almost: Murray peers over the net during the match

Almost: Murray peers over the net during the match

Chris Eubank Jnr beats Ruslans Pojonisevs 80-72

Eubank Jnr continues good start to pro career with comfortable victory over Pojonisevs

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UPDATED:

22:41 GMT, 13 October 2012

Chris Eubank Jnr won every round against Latvian journeyman Ruslans Pojonisevs to maintain his unbeaten start to his fledgling career.

The 23-year-old middleweight's unblemished record now reads seven without defeat after his latest victory at Bluewater in Kent.

After making his trademark entrance to the ring by jumping the ropes, Eubank Jnr dominated from the first bell as Pojonisevs, 29, barely through a punch in the opening round.

Winning start: Chris Eubank Jr maintained his unbeaten start to his professional career with a win over Ruslans Pojonisevs

Winning start: Chris Eubank Jr maintained his unbeaten start to his professional career with a win over Ruslans Pojonisevs

The Latvian attempted to pose himself in the second stanza but he faced an uphill battle against a taller and rangier opponent.

Eubank Jnr, never afraid to take a punch in order to land his own, looked calm and assured as he stalked his adversary round the ring.

Fighting over eight rounds for the first time, Eubank Jnr stepped on the gas at the start of the fourth round as he landed with a flurry of combinations. The durable Pojonisevs withstood the pressure however but his own wild shots never looked like connecting.

In control: Eubank looked good against Pojonisevs

In control: Eubank looked good against Pojonisevs

The subsequent session followed a similar pattern with Eubank Jnr pinning the older man to the ropes but again he was unable to finish the job.

Pojonisevs had lost nine of his last ten fights but hasn't been stopped in almost two years and that looked set to remain the case as the fight entered the penultimate round. Indeed, the final six minutes were largely uneventful as the visiting fighter took the best Eubank Jnr had to offer.

After a final flurry from the young star, he was awarded the victory by 80 points to 72.

Korean Grand Prix: Fernando Alonso insists Ferrari won"t buckle to Red Bull charge

Korea defining Alonso ready for Vettel fight as leader insists Ferrari won't buckle

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UPDATED:

07:35 GMT, 11 October 2012

Fernando Alonso has every confidence Ferrari will not cave in under pressure from Red Bull as the 2012 season reaches a critical moment in South Korea this weekend.

Alonso has led the drivers' championship since winning the European Grand Prix at Valencia, but he is in danger of becoming the hunter rather than the hunted with Sebastian Vettel lying just four points behind the Spaniard.

Vettel took the win at the Japanese Grand Prix as Alonso was eliminated following a first-corner clash with Kimi Raikkonen.

Under pressure: World championship leader Fernando Alonso knows he faces a battle with Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel in Yeongam

Under pressure: World championship leader Fernando Alonso knows he faces a battle with Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel in Yeongam

The Korea International Circuit proved to be a strong track for Red Bull in 2011 as Vettel took his 10th victory of his remarkable march to a second world title.

A repeat of that result this weekend would see the German leapfrog his rival, and with a lack of qualifying pace undermining Ferrari's race efforts, Alonso appears to be facing an uphill battle.

But the 31-year-old is backing the Maranello squad to help him take the title battle all the way to the final race in Brazil.

'I am sure we can be in the fight right down to the wire,' said Alonso.

'The people who are working on the car are the same who have done the job so far and there's no reason to think they can't do a good job again now.

Walk this way: Alonso arrives at the Korea International Circuit on Thursday

Walk this way: Alonso arrives at the Korea International Circuit on Thursday

Start me up: Ferrari mechanics prepare Alonso's race car before the start of the first practice session

Start me up: Ferrari mechanics prepare Alonso's race car before the start of the first practice session

'Let's not forget that, if I am still leading the Championship, it's because we have been capable of improving the car significantly compared to the start of the season and also because we are capable of always getting the most out of what we have to work with.

'We have not been gifted anything, indeed Spa and Suzuka deprived us of places that were easily within our grasp.

'It's not through some sort of divine miracle that we are in this position, it is down to the work of all us, from first to last. Formula One is a team sport: you win and you lose together.'

Ferrari will bring several small updates to Yeongnam as they look to keep Alonso in the hunt, with a more considerable upgrade to be introduced ahead of the Indian Grand Prix.

In the shade: Vettel appears relaxed as he gets ready to continue his battle to retain his world title

In the shade: Vettel appears relaxed as he gets ready to continue his battle to retain his world title

Phil Duncan F1 blog

Technical director Pat Fry said: 'We are currently closer to McLaren but there's still a gap to Red Bull, so we need to keep working on car development.

'I think looking back at recent races, we have been bringing small updates to every race, even if we made a few small errors in Singapore, but we worked out what they were and sorted them out in time for Japan.

'When you have a constant drive for performance, you need to take some risks and there will be four small updates on the car in Korea, with more significant changes in the races after that.

'Overall for the last five races, we need to stay calm and ensure that everything we do counts. There's more to come, even if we have a way to go to catch up. But we are never going to give up and we'll be trying all the way to Brazil.'

Scotland should not sack Craig Levein – Gary Caldwell

Don't sack him! Caldwell sticks by Levein and blames players for Scots' woe

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UPDATED:

21:36 GMT, 12 September 2012

Gary Caldwell insists that sacking Craig Levein as manager will do nothing to change Scotland’s fortunes.

The national team were jeered from the Hampden pitch for the second time in four days following Tuesday’s 1-1 draw with Macedonia.

Hopes of qualification for the World Cup finals in Brazil in 2014 were dented by Saturday’s scoreless draw with Serbia. Fortunate to emerge from the Macedonia game with another point, the Scots now face an uphill challenge to qualify.

Back him! Gary Caldwell (left) dismissed claims Craig Levein should go

Back him! Gary Caldwell (left) dismissed claims Craig Levein should go

A defiant Levein maintains he is ‘very positive’ over his side’s prospects.His record in competitive games now worse than Berti Vogts or George Burley, however, the Fifer will enter next month’s games in Wales and Belgium fighting for his job, despite the backing of Caldwell.

Quizzed on whether Levein’s job is now in the balance, the Wigan captain admitted the players have to take their share of the flak, saying: ‘I don’t even think you should be asking that question, to be honest.

‘If you change the manager, nothing else is going to change.

‘We’re going in the right direction but we need everyone pulling in the right direction and at this moment in time there are too many people pulling in different ways and trying to cause disruption.

‘The whole country has to be positive. I think we’re a better team than we were two years ago but, to prove it, we’ve got to win games — and big games.

‘We haven’t done that and that’s down to the players. We are the ones who haven’t performed in the last two matches so we need to look at ourselves and try to be better.’

Blow: Scotland failed to win either of the opening qualifying matches

Blow: Scotland failed to win either of the opening qualifying matches

Against a Macedonian team ranked 97th in the FIFA World rankings the Scots — with Caldwell in a midfield holding role — struggled to contain Napoli playmaker Goran Pandev.

The visitors scored an opening goal which looked offside, but could have scored more had it not been for the excellence of goalkeeper Allan McGregor.

‘Craig was disappointed afterwards because he wanted to win as much as anyone,’ added Caldwell.

‘He knows we can play better and he said that so it’s time to regroup.

‘We don’t have a crystal ball. We don’t know yet whether or not this will be two good points but there are eight games left and we still believe we can win every one of them.

‘Obviously, we haven’t yet shown that and we accept that. Whoever gets the strip in the remaining games, we need to be better and believe in ourselves.’

Macedonia’s players, meanwhile, have
admitted surprise at how little they were tested by a dismal Scotland at
Hampden. The Balkan nation dominated the scoring chances in Glasgow and
were unlucky not to take all three points.

Not in the script: Macedonia took an early lead against Scotland at Hampden

Not in the script: Macedonia took an early lead against Scotland at Hampden

'We watched Scotland’s game against Serbia and their team was very upbeat and good at pressing the ball,’ said full-back Daniel Georgievski.

‘Their work ethic in that game was great, with lots of running. But there was little of that against us. We dominated the game and deserved three points.

‘I expected more from Scotland. They were better against Serbia.’

Striker Mirko Ivanovski admitted his poor finish had cost Macedonia a famous victory.

Put in on goal by the outstanding Pandev during the second half, Ivanovksi mis-hit his shot at McGregor.

‘I wanted to lob the ball because I saw the goalkeeper going to ground, but I didn’t make the right connection and hit it with my heel instead,’ he said. ‘That made it an easy save for the goalkeeper.

‘When you play a game alongside a player of Pandev’s quality then you are sure to get a 100 per cent chance in a match. But you have to take it. I didn’t and we lost the points.

‘Pandev is in a class of his own but we have to make the most of what he brings to the team. People can say we deserved to take three points away from Glasgow, and something against Croatia, but the only thing that really matters is the total on the group table.’