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Atletico Madrid open door for Fernando Torres return from Chelsea

Atletico open door for Torres return while Chelsea given encouragement over Falcao

By
Rik Sharma

PUBLISHED:

12:45 GMT, 23 March 2013

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UPDATED:

13:00 GMT, 23 March 2013

Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone has opened the door for Fernando Torres to return to his former side.

The Chelsea striker made his name in Spain before moving to Liverpool in 2007.

Simeone says he knows how important Torres can be for his side and that because of his roots he knows about what it means to play for Los Rojiblancos.

Struggle: Fernando Torres has not been able to find his feet at Chelsea

Struggle: Fernando Torres has not been able to find his feet at Chelsea

He told Spanish radio station Onda
Cero: 'Fernando Torres is currently playing for another team. We have to
wait for the season to finish and decide which of the available players
could come here and do a good job.

'Fernando knows about the club's history, what it means to play here and I don't need to speak about his ability.

'We were teammates. I know how important he can be.'

Chelsea want Atletico's Colombian striker Radamel Falcao as a replacement. He has scored 25 goals in 28 games for his club this season, including a hat-trick against the Blues in the Super Cup final.

He can be procured for 48million but the Blues would be interested in a part-exchange deal involving Torres.

When asked about Falcao's future, Simeone did not insist the player would be staying at the club.
Instead he reasoned that everybody makes their own decisions and Falcao deserves respect.

Simeone said: 'I'm not Falcao and I'm not his agent. I'm the manager and have the utmost respect for him, because he gave me so much at River Plate and has done the same here.

'He always gives his all and I really respect players who do that. But everyone makes their own decisions in life.

'Every person is different, and we have to respect each other. Those who stay are always going to be the best.'

Can't stop: Radamel Falcao is in absolutely lethal form for club and country

Can't stop: Radamel Falcao is in absolutely lethal form for club and country

Frank: Diego Simeone said that Torres knows the club and he would be an important player

Frank: Diego Simeone said that Torres knows the club and he would be an important player

Paul Lambert backs Martin O"Neill to end Sunderland slump

Lambert backs O'Neill to end slump after Villa overrun Black Cats

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UPDATED:

18:53 GMT, 3 November 2012

Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert backed Sunderland counterpart Martin O'Neill to get it right after inflicting a demoralising defeat on his side.

The Scot, who still refers to the Ulsterman as 'the Gaffer' after their time together at Celtic, was a happy man after seeing Villa claim just their second Barclays Premier League win of the season with a 1-0 victory at the Stadium of Light.

Winner: Gabriel Agbonlahor scores the only goal of the game as Aston Villa beat Sunderland

Winner: Gabriel Agbonlahor scores the only goal of the game as Aston Villa beat Sunderland

In the process, he piled further
pressure on O'Neill, whose team have now won only one of its last 17
league games and managed just a single notable effort on target.

However, Lambert is convinced the former Villa manager will turn things around on Wearside.

He said: 'It's a tough, tough job, it really is a tough job. But if there's one person who will turn it around, it will be him.

'I have got the utmost respect for the Gaffer. I am not in a position to sit here and say I have got one over him or anything.

'It's a game of football I had to win and Aston Villa had to win, and we did it. It's a good three points.'

In a contest between two sides who
have found the going difficult in recent weeks, one goal was always
likely to be enough to claim the points, and it was Villa who snatched
the advantage 12 minutes after the break.

Christian Benteke, who had caused
problems all afternoon, climbed above Phil Bardsley at the back post to
head down Matt Lowton's cross and Gabriel Agbonlahor pounced to volley
into the roof of the net from close range.

Eyes on the ball: Sunderland's Stephane Sessegnon and Aston Villa's Ashley Westwood battle for the ball

Eyes on the ball: Sunderland's Stephane Sessegnon and Aston Villa's Ashley Westwood battle for the ball

It was scarcely more than the
visitors deserved after largely containing their hosts throughout, and
it was telling that the man who came closest to registering for the
Black Cats was skipper Lee Cattermole, who has never scored for the
club.

Cattermole's 84th minute effort was
Sunderland's only serious attempt on goal on another frustrating
afternoon for O'Neill's men.

Lambert, who had to withdraw
left-back Joe Bennett after just 11 minutes and then saw replacement
Eric Lichaj limp off 19 minutes from time, said: 'I thought we deserved
it.

Chance: Sunderland's Louis Saha heads wide as the home side fall to defeat

Chance: Sunderland's Louis Saha heads wide as the home side fall to defeat

'I thought we were excellent today
considering the knockbacks we took with the left-backs and Ashley
[Westwood] making his debut. I thought we were excellent.'

Benteke in particular caught the eye
with a powerful display which left Sunderland bruised and battered and
his manager searching for superlatives.

Lambert said: '”He could be anything he wants. He could be one hell of a player.

Gutted: Saha is stunned after failing to hit the target with his header

Gutted: Saha is stunned after failing to hit the target with his header

'I have always said he is playing in a Belgian national team at the minute that is top class, and he is in there on merit.

'He is playing extremely well and since he has come to this football club, he has been a revelation for us.'

O'Neill was still able to take
positives despite hearing his players booed from the pitch for the
second time in five days, but admitted the responsibility for finding a
solution lies with him.

Tussle: Sunderland's Sebastian Larsson and Aston Villa's Eric Lichaj fight for the ball

Tussle: Sunderland's Sebastian Larsson and Aston Villa's Eric Lichaj fight for the ball

He said: 'It's me, I'm the manager, I'm the manager of the football club, absolutely.

'Yes, it's difficult, it's been a difficult week for us, obviously, losing against Middlesbrough and then not scoring here.

'It's been a difficult week, but we will come through.

Happy days: Villa celebrate their narrow win over Sunderland at the Stadium of Light

Happy days: Villa celebrate their narrow win over Sunderland at the Stadium of Light

'We threw just about everything at them to try to get on the scoresheet, but it eluded us today again. But it will turn.'

The Black Cats thought they should
have been awarded a second half penalty for handball against Benteke,
but referee Mike Jones was not impressed, to O'Neill's obvious surprise.

He'll get it right: Martin O'Neill (right) receives the backing of Paul Lambert (left)

He'll get it right: Martin O'Neill (right) receives the backing of Paul Lambert (left)

He said: 'All the players around said it was a penalty. The referee has chosen not to give it, that's his prerogative.

'Interestingly, we did have a meeting
at the beginning of the season where referees came to speak to us to
tell us that if you have your arms in the air, even it's to avoid
something hitting your face, then there's the likelihood that they will
be giving a penalty.

'It wasn't today.'

Steven Gerrard u-turn on criticism

Gerrard U-turn: Liverpool captain backtracks on blast at Everton over 'playing like Stoke'

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UPDATED:

09:19 GMT, 31 October 2012

Why Gerrard got it wrong…

Read Ian Ladyman's verdict on why the Liverpool captain was wide of the mark HERE

Steven Gerrard has admitted his criticism of Everton after the Merseyside derby on Sunday was over the top as he drew a line under the controversy.

The Liverpool captain was furious after the game and, in the heat of the moment, he said Everton’s tactics were similar to those of Stoke, as he claimed they played a number of long balls.

His frustration stemmed from Liverpool having a last-gasp winner from Luis Suarez wrongly disallowed at Goodison Park and he made a number of inflammatory comments, such as Liverpool were the only team interested in playing football.

Backtrack: Steven Gerrard was initially harsh in his criticism of Everton

Backtrack: Steven Gerrard was initially harsh in his criticism of Everton

However, statistics that were published following the pulsating 2-2 draw showed that Everton enjoyed more possession and significantly out-passed Liverpool, which is why Gerrard has felt the need to issue a retraction.

‘Just to clarify I’ve watched the game again and I’ve seen some of Everton’s matches this season, and what I said in relation to their style of play went too far,’ Gerrard.

‘I was frustrated by the disallowed goal from Luis when I spoke and also some of the things that have been said about Luis in recent weeks, which haven’t been fair in my opinion.

‘As captain I have a duty to stand up for our players when I feel they are unfairly singled out. But it wasn’t my intention to disrespect Everton or Stoke for that matter and I certainly didn’t intend any disrespect to their manager or players.’

Gerrard was eager to stress that he had no intended to upset the respective managers of Everton and told the Liverpool Echo: ‘I have the utmost respect for David Moyes and Tony Pulis and the job they have done at their respective clubs.

‘My main issue was with the goal that wasn’t given and that Liverpool did not get the three points I felt we deserved in what was a fantastic derby match.’

Standing up for his club: Phil Jagielka has hit back at Steven Gerrard

Standing up for his club: Phil Jagielka has hit back at Steven Gerrard

It comes after Phil Jagielka hit back at Gerrard’s with his own barbed comments about Liverpool’s style of play.

Everton were incensed by Gerrard’s
comments following Sunday’s 2-2 draw at Goodison Park, particularly as
stats for the game showed they made more passes (448 to 314) and enjoyed
more possession (56 per cent to 44 per cent) than Liverpool.

While
Jagielka was happy to admit Everton could be direct when they want to
be, to utilise the strength and aerial prowess of Marouane Fellaini, he
suggested that Liverpool’s methods of always wanting to play on the
ground are flawed.

'If Stevie says we are a long ball team then I’m not going to deny the fact that we play long balls,’ said Jagielka. ‘Do we play them for the full 90 minutes No. But we play quite direct.

'Who wouldn’t when you have someone in form like Marouane Fellaini, who can bring the ball down for fun and we start creating things from there Why wouldn’t you do that We don’t believe in passing it around for half an hour for the sake of it.

'If we can put the ball forward and cause them trouble then let’s cause them as much trouble as possible. We won’t change the way we play. We won’t start to look to put in a thousand passes a game.

'If we need to play forward to Felli to create chances, or to Nikica Jelavic or to Victor Anichebe, then guess what That’s what we’ll do.’

Hitting out: Gerrard compared Everton to Stoke

Hitting out: Gerrard compared Everton to Stoke

Focal point: But Everton were not guilty of long-balls to Marouane Fellaini

Focal point: But Everton were not guilty of long-balls to Marouane Fellaini

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers, though, is not someone who will change his philosophy and he has added further spice to the fallout by backing up his captain’s claim that Liverpool have to play in a certain, attractive manner.

He did, however, acknowledge that Everton do have a number of skilful players who have made significant contributions this season.

'I believe there were two different styles,’ said Rodgers. ‘This is a club brought up with a certain way of playing. Its history has been defined by the many great managers who have been here. You have to win games but you have to win games by playing in a certain style.

'It’s the beauty of the Premier League – there are so many diverse ways of working and playing. We play a certain way. If you look at Everton and a number of other teams, they are a bit more direct and then play off the front players.

'But they have players with finesse like Leighton Baines and Leon Osman, who are terrific footballers. For us here at Liverpool, there’s a way in which we play and want to win games. the supporters and the history of the club dictates that.’

There is a feeling amongst Evertonians that Gerrard’s comments have shown that David Moyes’ squad have started to get under Liverpool’s skin. Everton are six points ahead of their neighbours and aim to finish above them in the table for the second successive year.

'I suppose it’s a backhanded compliment,’ said Jagielka. ‘Stevie must have thought Liverpool were in a game to come out which such comments. It makes you chuckle, but if Stevie is saying things like that, there must be a reason behind it which must be that we are doing something well.'

Newcastle fighting for Premier League pride in Europa League – Alan Pardew

Newcastle must prove class in Europa League battle with Atromitos, warns Pardew

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UPDATED:

18:28 GMT, 22 August 2012

Newcastle boss Alan Pardew has warned his players they will be fighting for the pride of the Barclays Premier League as they attempt to secure their European passage.

The Magpies face Greek side Atromitos in Athens on Thursday night in the first leg of their Europa League play-off, their reward for a fifth place finish in last season's top flight.

However, Pardew knows that will count for little if they do not take the opportunity to book an extended stay on the European stage.

The boss: Newcastle manager Alan Pardew takes training at the Peristeri Stadium on Wednesday

The boss: Newcastle manager Alan Pardew takes training at the Peristeri Stadium on Wednesday

Speaking at the Peristeri Stadium this evening, he said: 'For Atromitos, it's a big game for them – we are a big scalp for this team, we are under no illusions about that.

'We have the utmost respect for the club and for the manager, and also the people, who have welcomed us today in a really lovely manner.

'In the short time we have been here, we have been really warmly received, and I thank the people for that.

'But we must look upon ourselves as ambassadors for the Premier League. We believe it's the strongest league in Europe, and we need to replicate that in terms of the performance we put out.'

Newcastle arrived in Greece this afternoon with several big names conspicuous by their absence, among them skipper Fabricio Coloccini, midfielder enforcer Cheick Tiote and striker Demba Ba.

All three are carrying minor injuries and with a quick turn-around ahead of Saturday's tough trip to Chelsea, Pardew decided to leave them on Tyneside as he attempts to juggle the competing demands on his squad.

European adventure: Yohan Cabaye during a training at the Peristeri Stadium in Athens

European adventure: Yohan Cabaye during a training at the Peristeri Stadium in Athens

He said: 'We have brought everybody who is fit, actually. The guys who have stayed behind are all injured, of which Demba Ba is one, Coloccini, Cheick Tiote – but I think they will be playing on Saturday.

'We have still got three or four younger players who we would like to have brought, but unfortunately, they are injured too, so the senior group is all here.

'The problem for us is just the scheduling, really – not so much the competition – of this particular game because obviously we play Chelsea on Saturday and the heat and the elements here are going to make it difficult for us, so we have tried to factor in all that.

'And also to get a result, that's the most important thing, that Newcastle get a result tomorrow night.

Challenge ahead: Newcastle face Atromitos in the Greek capital on Thursday night

Challenge ahead: Newcastle face Atromitos in the Greek capital on Thursday night

'We are focussing very much on how we are going to win and hopefully we achieve that.'

The absence of some of Pardew's regulars could open the way for the likes of youngsters Gael Bigirimana and Romain Amalfitano, although the manager was giving little away.

Atromitos finished fourth in last season's Greek Super League and will be no pushover on their own park.

Coach Dusan Bajevic knows his team will need a positive result to take to Tyneside next week if they are to stand a chance of progressing, and Pardew will certainly not take the challenge lightly.

He said: 'I hope he doesn't have a surprise for me. He is an experienced coach and well-respected.

'But the coach's experience or surprises are irrelevant to me. I need to just make sure my team is right, and that's what we will focus on.'

Blackburn owners Venky"s bring in local duo in bid to win over disgruntled fans

Blackburn owners Venky's bring in local duo in bid to win over fans

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UPDATED:

23:56 GMT, 28 June 2012

New job: Derek Shaw

New job: Derek Shaw

Blackburn have appointed former Preston chairman Derek Shaw as their new managing director.

And former press officer Paul Agnew,
just a few weeks after being made general manager, has had his role
upgraded to operations director.

'I am delighted to be given this
opportunity,' said Shaw, a 54-year-old Lancashire businessman with more
than 20 years' experience as a director in football.

'My goal is to do all I can to help restore Blackburn as a football
force and the passion of the owners to get the club back to the Premier
League in the shortest possible time is crystal clear.

'I have been invited to come on board and work alongside Paul Agnew,
for whom I have the utmost respect, and the Ewood staff to produce a
structure that will assist in our drive to get everything on track for
success.

'It is a challenge I relish and I am determined to put my experience to good use for the common good at Ewood Park.'

Anuradha Desai, the lead figure for the club's owners Venky's, hopes appointing local men into key roles will help build some bridges after fans were alienated during a dismal relegation campaign.

'We have every confidence in Derek and believe he can play a major role in bringing about a positive change for the club,' she said.

'We are keen to build up a good image for BRFC among the fans, media and general populace and we feel sure that Derek and Paul can work in close cooperation to achieve this.

'It is a new start, a new era and we are very excited.'

Jurgen Klinsmann rules out Tottenham return

EXCLUSIVE: Klinsmann rules out return to the Lane as axed Harry's successor

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UPDATED:

09:32 GMT, 15 June 2012

Jurgen Klinsmann has become the first manager to distance himself from the Tottenham job after insisting he has no intention of leaving his post as United States coach.

The former Germany striker is highly regarded at White Hart Lane and would be a popular choice among supporters after scoring 30 goals in 56 appearances in two spells as a Tottenham player in the 1990s.

Staying put: Jurgen Klinsmann insists he will not leave his post as USA boss to take over at Tottenham

Staying put: Jurgen Klinsmann insists he will not leave his post as USA boss to take over at Tottenham

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But he has made it clear he is settled in America and is looking no further than trying to secure a place at the next World Cup finals for the United States.

‘It just isn’t a realistic proposition for Jurgen at the moment,’ said his publicist Roland Eitel.

Old favourite: Klinsmann enjoys iconic status at White Hart Lane but doesn't want to return

Old favourite: Klinsmann enjoys iconic status at White Hart Lane but doesn't want to return

‘He has very fond memories of his time at White Hart Lane and needs no reminding that it is a big job. He has the utmost respect for Tottenham.

‘But the timing isn’t right.

'He has no thoughts of leaving the post he has at the moment and is totally committed to leading the United States into the next World Cup.’

Not finished yet: Harry Redknapp insists he still wants to manage despite his departure from Spurs

Not finished yet: Harry Redknapp insists he still wants to manage despite his departure from Spurs

Blackburn in turmoil: Leaked letter reveals scale of unrest behind the scenes

Sack Kean now! Leaked letter reveals scale of turmoil behind the scenes at relegated Rovers

By
Sportsmail Reporter

PUBLISHED:

17:54 GMT, 8 May 2012

|

UPDATED:

17:54 GMT, 8 May 2012

Blackburn's deputy CEO Paul Hunt wanted manager Steve Kean removed last December, a leaked letter he sent to the club's owners has revealed.

Hunt's letter, obtained by Sporting Intelligence, also details financial turmoil and the supporter unrest which has manifested itself at Ewood Park since the Venky's takeover of November 2010.

Hunt, writing after a stormy loss to Bolton last December, also warned of the danger of relegation from the Premier League – a fear which came true after defeat by Wigan last night.

Let him go: Hunt urged Rovers owners to get rid of Kean months ago

Let him go: Hunt urged Rovers owners to get rid of Kean months ago

Hunt was highly concerned about the direction of the club under the distant ownership of Indian firm Venky's and asks chairperson Anuradha Desai to allow him greater control.

Hunt has been the most senior official at Ewood since the departure of former chairman John Williams more than a year ago.

He began the 2,500-word document by writing: “I have been your senior officer at the club for six months now and I feel that I must now write to you to ask you to make some significant changes to save the club, perhaps from relegation but also perhaps from administration.

“In 20 years of the Premier League there has been only one side that was bottom of the league at Christmas that has survived relegation at the end of the season.

“With the bank closing in, I fear that they will look to foreclose and have the potential to implement financial restrictions upon the club that could (as a worst-case scenario) enforce administration.

Unrest: Rovers fans have made their thoughts clear for some time now and protested again after the club were relegated

Unrest: Rovers fans have made their thoughts clear for some time now and protested again after the club were relegated

Unrest: Rovers fans have made their thoughts clear for some time now and protested again after the club were relegated

'I have kept quiet for a time now out of utmost respect and I trust that you realise that I am only emailing you now as I want what is only the best for Blackburn Rovers and the owners.

'I am very much of the opinion that we can save the club and I have always been very supportive and positive towards the owners.

'Therefore I hope you know that what I am saying is considered, honest, constructive and from the heart.'

Hunt then detailed a 10-point plan he felt could turn around the direction of the struggling club.

One of the points concerned Kean's position. The Scot has been hugely unpopular since being appointed to succeed the sacked Sam Allardyce soon after the takeover.

Hunt wrote: 'Publicly I have been asked to support the manager and I always have as I personally like Steve.

'I have supported him from the start and have been desperate for him to do well. However, I am now of the opinion that it isn't working and he is ready to go.

'He has lost the crowd and as a result of this evening's game has lost the dressing room as well – the players no longer want to play for him.

What next The future's bleak for the former Premier League champions

What next The future's bleak for the former Premier League champions

'It is a shame and disappointing but we must act now to save the club. The board should be asked their opinion in who should be the new manager.'

On financial matters, Hunt urges Venky's to invest.

He wrote: 'As you are aware Barclays have asked for the owners to put 10million into the business.

'This needs to happen and I am confident that this could only be a loan as we would increase the value of the club significantly.

'With all the speculation in the press the playing staff value and overall club value is depreciating on a daily basis.

'By putting an end to this the owners would be protecting their investment, putting their trust in the executive team and the club. The position with the finances is a cause for grave concern.

'Auditors KPMG have put as many obstacles as they can in the way of signing off the accounts due to their concerns.'

Hunt asks to be promoted to chief executive and for Venky's to 'give the executive team at Ewood Park, the latitude and authority to run the club.'

There are other points concerning PR strategy, the need for more regular visits by the owners to Ewood and officials to India and fears over loss of fans.

'We are losing fans/customers at an alarming rate,' Hunt added. 'I am very concerned that fans are voting with their feet and not attending, not purchasing and not engaging with the club.'

The club were contacted this afternoon concerning the letter but had no comment to make.

Roy Hodgson deserves Anfield respect, says Kenny Dalglish

Roy deserves respect! Dalglish in plea to Anfield fans as Hodgson prepares to return

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UPDATED:

21:30 GMT, 20 April 2012

Kenny Dalglish has urged Liverpool supporters to treat Roy Hodgson with dignity and respect ahead of the West Brom boss’s first return to Anfield.

Hodgson was subjected to severe barracking from the Kop during his 191-day Liverpool reign, which ended in January 2011.

However, Dalglish, who was the favourite to replace Rafa Benitez in the summer of 2010, has admitted results could easily have gone the same way had he been in charge then.

Friends reunited: Roy Hodgson will be back at Anfield for this first time since being sacked in January last year. He'll be greeted by his replacement, Kenny Dalglish

Friends reunited: Roy Hodgson will be back at Anfield for this first time since being sacked in January last year. He'll be greeted by his replacement, Kenny Dalglish

‘I’m sure people will respect the
fact he served Liverpool and I’m sure they will give him a warm
reception,’ said Dalglish. ‘It was a difficult time, the same as what
the League run has been recently.

'I have the utmost respect for Roy.
He always conducted himself in a dignified manner, we always got on very
well and that won’t change.’

Doomed: Hodgson endured a torrid 191-day tenure at Liverpool last season

Doomed: Hodgson endured a torrid 191-day tenure at Liverpool last season

Hodgson said: ‘I would like to think I
didn’t do Liverpool any damage while I was there, so I would be
disappointed if the reception is a bad one.’

National Express, a partner of
Wembley Stadium, will be running a dedicated service to Wembley from
Liverpool for the FA Cup final, easing fans’ travel problems.

Fabrice Muamba update: Bolton player fighting for his life after collapsing at White Hart Lane

Pray for him: Bolton's Muamba fighting for his life after collapsing on the pitch

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UPDATED:

10:58 GMT, 18 March 2012

Tottenham’s FA Cup tie against Bolton was dramatically called off when Trotters midfielder Fabrice Muamba collapsed in the centre of the White Hart Lane pitch after suffering a suspected heart attack in front of 36,000 fans and a television audience of a million.

The 23-year-old, who was reported to have stopped breathing, received cardio-resuscitation treatment from doctors and paramedics as shocked and distressed players from both sides looked on.

Shock: Owen Coyle and players from both sides show their concern for Fabrice Muamba

Shock: Owen Coyle and players from both sides show their concern for Fabrice Muamba

Some of them were in tears, others openly prayed while Muamba, an England Under 21 player who had arrived in Britain as an 11-year-old when his father was granted asylum after earlier fleeing as a political refugee from their native Democratic Republic of Congo, fought for his life.

After 10 minutes of treatment, Muamba was carried from the field on a stretcher and rushed to the London Chest Hospital, where he was still being treated late on Saturday night.

Horror: Benoit Assou-Ekotto, William Gallas, Carlo Cudicini and Coyle look on

Horror: Benoit Assou-Ekotto, William Gallas, Carlo Cudicini and Coyle look on

A statement from Bolton said: ‘Fabrice is currently in a critically ill condition in intensive care.’

Muamba’s collapse in the 41st minute went largely unnoticed by the majority of the supporters in the stadium. He had not been involved in a collision, no other player was near him and he was moving into position for a goal-kick when he collapsed.

In action: Muamba (left) completes with Rafael van der Vaart at White Hart Lane

In action: Muamba (left) completes with Rafael van der Vaart at White Hart Lane

As it quickly became clear that the problem was of the utmost seriousness, Bolton and Spurs players, including Rafael van der Vaart and Benoit Assou-Ekotto, gestured desperately to the bench for immediate treatment.

Bolton physio Andy Mitchell rushed to Muamba’s aid and he was joined by doctors and CPR staff as it became apparent that the situation was life-threatening.

Stunned: Van der Vaart is lost in prayer

Stunned: Van der Vaart is lost in prayer

Owen Coyle, the Bolton manager, joined the medical teams near the centre circle while players and staff from both teams gathered on the touchline near the dugout, consoling one another. Some, including Dedryck Boyota and Tottenham’s Jermain Defoe, were in tears.

Bolton fans chanted Muamba’s name in a gesture of support and they were joined by Tottenham fans as the gravity of the situation became clear.

After 10 minutes of treatment, Muamba was put on a stretcher and CPR continued as he left the pitch to sustained applause.

He was taken to hospital, Coyle and club captain Kevin Davies travelling with him.

Quick to react: With Muamba floored, referee Howard Webb immediately called on medical staff

Quick to react: With Muamba floored, referee Howard Webb immediately called on medical staff

A distressed Scott Parker, the Tottenham captain, appeared to tell World Cup referee Howard Webb that the game could not continue. Shortly afterwards Webb, who also spoke to Coyle and Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp, took the players to the dressing rooms and within 10 minutes fans were told that the game had been abandoned.

The announcement was met with restrained applause as the crowd began to depart. Those in the West Stand, which adjoins the main entrance at White Hart Lane, were asked to wait while the ambulance carrying Muamba departed.

Comfort: Gareth Bale gives Jermain Defoe - a close friend of Muamba's - a show of support

Comfort: Gareth Bale gives Jermain Defoe – a close friend of Muamba's – a show of support

As fans left the stadium, an eerie silence descended on the ground. The desperate scenes evoked memories Marc-Vivian Foe, who died after suffering a heart attack while playing for Cameroon in the 2003 Confederations Cup.

FIFA, the world governing body, subsequently introduced compulsory heart screening before tournaments and in 2005 doctors headed by FIFA medical chief Michel D’Hooghe wrote a report on the syndrome and made further recommendations to prevent fatalities.

Stunned spectators: White Hart Lane emptied in silence

Stunned spectators: White Hart Lane emptied in silence

Muamba, who was born in Kinshasa, the capital of what was then Zaire, came to London as an 11-year-old in 1999. Five years earlier, his father, Marcel, had fled their homeland to escape attack by political opponents as the country plunged into civil war.

The young Fabrice grew up in Walthamstow, just a few miles from the Tottenham ground, and was signed by Arsenal as a schoolboy. He represented England at every age level up to Under-21 and was loaned to Birmingham City before joining them on a permanent basis. He switched to Bolton in 2008 in a 5million move.

In action for Arsenal: Muamba

Former Blue: Muamba

Previous clubs: Muamba in action for Arsenal (left) and Birmingham

Football rallied in support of Muamba. Spurs midfielder Van der Vaart said on Twitter: ‘Terrible what happened with Muamba. We’re all praying for him.’

England midfielder Jack Wilshere, who played with Muamba in Arsenal and England youth teams and during a loan spell at Bolton, wrote: ‘Hope Muamba is OK. Thoughts with him.’

FA chairman David Bernstein said: ‘I would like to send our thoughts and prayers to Fabrice Muamba and his family.’ Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore praised ‘the compasion shown by the fans’ of both sides.

The game was level at 1-1 when it was called off, following Gareth Bale’s own goal which Kyle Walker cancelled out in the 11th minute.

We could not go on! Players, officials and fans in shock after Muamba collapses
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Pain: Bolton's Ivan Klasnic is distraught as Muamba receives treatment

England midfielder Jack Wilshere, who
played alongside Muamba at Bolton, posted a message saying: 'Hope
Muamba is OK. Thoughts with him.'

Middlesbrough
defender Justin Hoyte, who played in the Arsenal youth team with
Muamba, used Twitter to say: 'I seriously hope my best friend in
football is OK. Stay strong bro [sic], please please stay strong. God is
with you remember that.'

There were scores of other players sending their best wishes, too, as the world of football united to pray for the player.

Wayne Rooney, Vincent Kompany, Emmanuel Adebayor and Michael Owen were among those who were desperate to send their best wishes.

Other high-profile sports stars also posted similar sentiments, with Wales and Great Britain athlete Dai Greene, top golfer Lee Westwood and England cricketer Graeme Swann just three big names among the growing list.

The subject of most of the messages, which is usually added after a hashtag at the end of each post, was '#PrayForMuamba' and became a worldwide trend on the microblogging site.

In Italy, Andrea Pirlo dedicated Juventus's 5-0 win over Fiorentina to Muamba. 'We pray he gets well soon,' he said.

When a topic trends it is a clear sign it is something that has been mentioned by thousands of people.

Accenture Match Play Championship: Lee Westwood into last 16 but Tiger Woods is out

Westwood makes it through to the last 16 along with McIlroy and Lawrie but Woods crashes out of Accenture Match Play Championship

Get out the flags and hang up the bunting. Lee Westwood has finally made it through to Friday at the Accenture Match Play Championship.

Let out a sigh of disappointment that it is not Tiger Woods waiting for him. Needing to hole a 5ft putt at the 18th to extend his match against Nick Watney, the once-immortal one pushed it limply to the right of the hole to offer more evidence that these days he’s just another good golfer.

Another compelling day of drama, then, in the best event in golf this side of the Masters and one that continues to treat UK golfers very kindly. Not only Westwood but Rory McIlroy and the two Scots Martin Laird and Paul Lawrie have also made it through to Friday’s last 16.

In the last 16: Lee Westwood made it through to Friday

In the last 16: Lee Westwood made it through to Friday

Good day: Westwood beat Robert Karlsson of Sweden

Good day: Westwood beat Robert Karlsson of Sweden

All four are seeking to follow in the footsteps of Luke Donald and Ian Poulter, winners for the past two years.

At the 12th attempt, Westwood could scarcely conceal his delight at making it through to this lofty stage for the first time. ‘Feel like the first man on the moon,’ he tweeted. ‘One giant step through to Friday at the matchplay. Need more clothes. Didn’t pack enough.’

Finally, it looks as if the Ryder Cup Westy has shown up, as he bullied Robert Karlsson into submission with some dazzling golf over the front nine. He even gets an American opponent today, one to whom he will show the utmost respect.

One of the reasons Westwood has such a poor record in this event is that Watney just happens to have knocked him out for the past two years.

Bad day: Tiger Woods

Can't look: Tiger Woods

Can't look: Tiger Woods reacts to being knocked down

‘I feel the way I’m playing I will be tough to beat,’ said a buoyant Westwood, who nevertheless could have been forgiven for wishing that Tiger had made it through. The brutal truth right now is that Watney represents a more formidable obstacle.

As for Woods, not for the first time he lamented the disintegration of a putting stroke that, at his best, looked bullet-proof under pressure. ‘It’s the same bad putt every time, that block out to the right,’ he said.

Has there been a better day for Scotland in this tournament Scrolling through an exceedingly modest level of achievement, it is hard to find anything remotely comparable to the stirring victories mustered by Lawrie and Laird.

Up against the two best young players in world golf, Ryo Ishikawa and Matteo Manassero were duly dispatched by the admirable control of Lawrie and the awesome power of Laird respectively.

Through: Paul Lawrie is showing his good form

Through: Paul Lawrie is showing his good form

Now the pair will meet in the last 16, with the Scots assured of their first quarter-finalist since Lawrie reached that stage 12 years ago. For Lawrie, this was a continuation of his pleasing resurgence while Laird showed exactly why he will be a real asset should be make Europe’s Ryder Cup side in September.

If you’re wondering why you haven’t heard much from Manassero recently then this match provided a hearty clue, with the 18 year old Italian outdriven by Laird by as much as 75 yards on occasion. At the 9th, Manassero failed to clear a fairway bunker from the tee with his driver; Laird flew it with a three wood.

You’d have to enjoy an unbelievable day on the greens and hope for your opponent to start spraying the ball to nullify such a huge advantage. Manassero came pretty close to making the former happen but Laird was far too assured with his irons to permit any hope of the latter.

Going well: Martin Laird of Scotland beat Matteo Manassero

Going well: Martin Laird of Scotland beat Matteo Manassero

He really is an impressive ball striker, as illustrated by the long par four 7th, where Manassero was hitting a hybrid club for his approach and Laird, following yet another 300 yard plus drive, an eight iron to 3ft.

Looking forward to his match against Lawrie, Laird thought back to a time in 2000 when he was a promising youngster coming through the ranks and the then Open Champion paid a visit.

‘I was 17 at the time and Paul gave us a lesson and some good advice,’ he recalled. ‘I remember looking up to him then thinking this is where I want to go, I want to be holding the trophy like he is. Now it feels kind of funny that I am playing him tomorrow right here in Arizona.’

There were almost as many Japanese media following Ishikawa as spectators but Lawrie ensured there was little chance of sending good news back home as he delivered another virtually flawless exhibition from tee to green.

In with a shout: Rory McIlroy is through to the last 16

In with a shout: Rory McIlroy is through to the last 16

The 20 year old Japanese showed his flair with a couple of holed shots from off the green but also his penchant for wild driving, leading to a match in which Lawrie was never behind at any stage, eventually winning by one hole.

‘It probably should have been over earlier but I struggled a little with the putter and when that happens matches are going to go a long way,’ said Lawrie. ‘As for meeting Martin, I’m looking forward to it. He’s a good lad and it should be a great match.’

It might prove an ominous sign for the rest of the final 16 survivors that Rory McIlroy hasn’t played that well but is still around, following his three and two win over the Dane Anders Hansen.

McIlroy finished off the match with three perfect short game shots. The first at the 14th dropped into the hole for a winning birdie and he followed it up with a chip and a bunker shot at the next two holes that both finished stone dead.

Good shot: McIlroy reacts to his chip shot on the eighth hole

Good shot: McIlroy reacts to his chip shot on the eighth hole

McIlroy will now play the wily Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez, who might be 48 but shows little sign of a diminishing of his powers. He’s had two cracking victories to reach this stage, first over fellow countryman Sergio Garcia and then over U.S PGA Champion Keegan Bradley on Thursday.

McIlroy will dispose Donald and become world number one should he win this event and admitted it was acting as a further incentive. ‘You can’t help thinking about it given that everyone keeps mentioning it and it is definitely acting as extra motivation,’ he said.

The only UK player to lose on Thursday was Robert Rock, whose latest adventure came to an end with a three and two defeat against American Mark Wilson.

What a shame the man who beat Tiger in Abu Dhabi and Adam Scott in the first round here hadn’t been playing one of the big boys. He’d have probably won.