Tag Archives: vital

Stephane Mbia blasted Jose Bosingwa over refusal to be a sub

'If the manager tells me to sit on the bench I will do it': Mbia blasts Bosingwa sub snub

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UPDATED:

23:47 GMT, 27 December 2012

QPR midfielder Stephane Mbia says he would never refuse to sit on the bench like his team-mate Jose Bosingwa did two weeks ago against Fulham.

But Mbia is hopeful that Bosingwa can resolve his dispute with manager Harry Redknapp as he believes the Portuguese right-back can aid QPR's bid to avoid relegation from the Barclays Premier League.

Bosingwa was absent from QPR's squad for the second successive game yesterday as he continues to pay the price for refusing to sit on the bench in the Londoners' derby against Fulham on December 15.

Mbia (left) said he would never refuse to be a substitute if asked to by his manager

Stephane Mbia (left) said he would never refuse to be a substitute if asked to

Redknapp fined Bosingwa two weeks' wages (130,000) before launching an angry tirade against the defender and some of his team-mates when the news of the fine emerged.

Despite some criticism from fans for his performances, Mbia thinks Bosingwa is a vital member of the R's squad, but he admits he would never have acted in the way that the Champions League winning full-back did a fortnight ago.

Jose Bosingwa (right) refused to be a substitute two weeks ago against Fulham and was fined two weeks' wages, 130,000

Jose Bosingwa (right) refused to be a substitute two weeks ago against Fulham and was fined two weeks' wages, 130,000

'If the manager tells me to sit on the bench I will do it,' Mbia said following QPR's 2-1 defeat at West Brom yesterday.

'It's up to the manager to make the decisions.

Snub: QPR boss Harry Rednknapp (right) left Bosingwa out of the squad against West Brom on Boxing Day

Snub: QPR boss Harry Rednknapp (right) left Bosingwa out of the squad against West Brom on Boxing Day

'If he wants you to sit on the bench you sit on the bench.

'It's a very difficult and complicated situation. Hopefully at the end of the day the club and player can sort it out as Jose is a very good player.'

Redknapp, a man with over 20 years' experience in management, clearly hoped that publicly berating some of the expensive imports brought in under Mark Hughes would spark them in to life.

To a certain extent the move worked. Despite losing the game yesterday – thanks largely to two very questionable decisions from referee Chris Foy – the likes of Mbia and Samba Diakite put on a much-improved display, although it is clear Redknapp needs to address his lack of firepower in the January transfer window.

Although QPR remain six points from safety, Redknapp has brought in six of the club's 10 points since he replaced Mark Hughes last month and Mbia remains convinced the former Tottenham manager will lead his new team out of the relegation zone.

'I believe in him. I believe he is the man to get us out of trouble,' Mbia said.

'It's up to the players to give 100 per cent, but the manager will give a lot to us.

'He will enable the players to give the best of themselves.

'He has helped me a lot already. He has try to make me a more intelligent player. He wants me to be more careful on the pitch so I don't pick up needless yellow and red cards.

'I definitely think we can stay up.

'The gaffer gives us so much confidence, he uses so many different words, I know we can do it.'

The right man for the job: Mbia believes that Redknapp is the right man to keep the Hoops in the division

The right man for the job: Mbia believes that Redknapp is the right man to keep the Hoops in the division

West Brom, on the other hand, could find themselves third in the table on Saturday afternoon if results go their way and they pull off a shock win at Manchester United.

Chelsea loanee Romelu Lukaku has played a big part in the Baggies' success this season, scoring six goals so far.

With Daniel Sturridge reported to be on his way to Liverpool next month, it has been claimed that Chelsea will recall the Belgian from his loan spell.

Impressive: West Brom could find themselves third in the table if results go their way on New Years Day

Impressive: West Brom could find themselves third in the table if results go their way on New Year's Day

Lukaku, who would have netted yesterday had it not been for two great saves from Robert Green, wants to stay and Albion defender Jonas Olsson hopes he remains at the Hawthorns too.

Olsson said: 'He has done very well for us. The reason I think we are where we are is because of the competition for places and with him, with Peter (Odemwingie), Marc-Antoine Fortune and Shane Long, I think there is a lot of competition there for places so I would very much like to keep him here.

'He is enjoying himself at training and in games at West Brom so when you do that you play good football.'

Form: Part of their surge up the table is thanks to the form of loanee Romelu Lukaku (right) form Chelsea, who has six goals

Form: Part of their surge up the table is thanks to the form of loanee Romelu Lukaku (right) form Chelsea, who has six goals

Fulham boss Martin Jol fears relegation scrap in 2013

Sort it out! Fulham boss Jol fears relegation scrap if worrying slump continues

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UPDATED:

20:11 GMT, 24 December 2012

Martin Jol believes Fulham will find themselves in a 'relegation battle' if they do not pick up points over the festive period.

The Cottagers lost a number of key players during the summer but begun the season surprisingly well.

Things, though, have taken a turn for the worse of late and Jol has only led his side to one victory in their previous 10 matches.

Slump: Fulham are dropping like a stone towards the relegation zone

Slump: Fulham are dropping like a stone towards the relegation zone

That poor form has seen them plummet in the table and the Dutchman knows they need to improve in the coming games, starting when Southampton visit Craven Cottage on Boxing Day.

'We wanted that win last week against QPR but I don't think we were good enough,' Jol said.

'Against Liverpool we didn't show our strength and hopefully we can pick up the points not because it is a vital game for us. It is a vital game for them as well.

'We are in a good position, we have got a good cushion but if we don't pick up the points in the next week or so then we're really in a relegation battle with other teams.'

Jol believes Southampton are one of the sides that will around the dropzone come the end of the season, but will not be taking them for granted on Boxing Day.

'Sometimes they showed they can get the results and sometimes their weaknesses have been exploited, like we have,' he said.

'You saw a big contradiction with Aston Villa, losing 8-0 at Chelsea after winning at Liverpool the week before.

'That is the Barclays Premier League for you. It is unbelievably strong so you have to be strong in your organisation and you need your players that can make the difference.

'I feel we have got these players and hopefully they will be available. Even when they're not, we have got other players that can do the job, but the margin is a bit thin between being successful and not successful.'

Up please: Jol has fired a stern warning in the direction of his squad

Up please: Jol has fired a stern warning in the direction of his squad

Jol may well be able to welcome back one of those key players, with Bryan Ruiz rated 50-50 for the match after a hamstring injury.

Steve Sidwell returns after a one-match ban, but Mahamadou Diarra and Mladen Petric are doubts, while Damien Duff is definitely out.

Southampton's only injury concern is likely to be that of captain Adam Lallana, although Jol is wary of their other attacking options.

'I don't think it matters,' he said of the left winger. 'If you see them, they had Jay Rodriguez and we had a close look at him.

'He was quite expensive and they bought him. They have Gaston Ramirez, who has over 10million and is a good player.

'He can play on that flank and if you see Jason Puncheon on the other flank, he has done very well. They also have Emmanuel Mayuka, who we had a look at as well. He was 6million or 7million.

'They have a few players that can fill in that role. We have to do that all the time so why couldn't they come up with a solution'

Victor Moses winner for Chelsea "crucial", says Roberto di Matteo

Di Matteo lauds 'crucial' win after last-gasp strike from sub Moses against Shakhtar

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UPDATED:

01:39 GMT, 8 November 2012

Roberto Di Matteo described Chelsea's win over Shakhtar Donetsk as crucial after watching Victor Moses' last-gasp strike.

Moses only came on in the 80th minute and his header was the last action of the match as the Blues won 3-2 after Willian had cancelled out strikes from Fernando Torres and Oscar.

Scroll down for video

Head boy: Moses scores the winner for Chelsea with 94 minutes played at Stamford Bridge

Head boy: Moses scores the winner for Chelsea with 94 minutes played at Stamford Bridge

Celebration: The substitute is mobbed after scoring the vital goal in Chelsea's victory over Shakhtar Donestsk

Celebration: The substitute is mobbed after scoring the vital goal in Chelsea's victory over Shakhtar Donestsk

'It was crucial for us to win this home game,' Di Matteo told Sky Sports 3.

'It was obviously going to be a tough game that would be decided by the little details.

'They
are a very good side and they showed tonight how good they are. It
(qualification) will probably go down to the last game and probably the
last kick.

'We knew
the kind of pressure we were under and it was must-win for us. We didn't
want to expose ourselves too much. We knew we could have scored a goal
with the last kick and that is what happened.'

The Blues showed the kind of fight which helped them win last season's
competition and Di Matteo was full of praise for his side.

'The spirit the group showed again to keep going until the end,' he added.

'We knew we needed to score a goal probably from a set play. It was good Victor got on the end of it.

'I think in the first half we put them under pressure and we managed go ahead with good pressure.

'Then
in the second half we tried but they were a good side. We probably
didn't have many chances as normal, but sometimes need a goal like
that.'

Moses felt his
side were well worth the victory. 'Particularly in the second half, we
dominated,' Moses said. 'It was great to get the winning goal, we
deserved it. We are delighted with the three points.'

In charge: Di Matteo has lauded Chelsea's 'crucial' victory over the Ukrainian outfit

In charge: Di Matteo has lauded Chelsea's 'crucial' victory over the Ukrainian outfit

Substitute: John Terry was left on the bench for the Champions League tie

Substitute: John Terry was left on the bench for the Champions League tie

VIDEO: Di Matteo: “We deserved to win”

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Manchester City still frail – Ian Ladyman

Frail City still lack Fergie's killer instinct as their European campaign falters

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UPDATED:

23:30 GMT, 24 October 2012

It is a year now since Manchester City ransacked Old Trafford to the tune of six goals to one.

Still, though, Roberto Mancini’s team are missing one vital component of their neighbours’ DNA.

Football at this level is not just about technique, raw ability and the physical fitness needed to run 10km over 90 minutes without losing your breath.

Beaten: Joe Hart and Man City went down without a fight

Beaten: Joe Hart and Man City went down without a fight

No go: Samir Nasri appeals for a penalty

No go: Samir Nasri appeals for a penalty

All those things help, of course, but in Europe the margins are so small that the mentality, the steady nerve and, at times, the bloody-minded, stubborn belief of true winners are the qualities that can make the difference.

It also helps if you don’t make mind-numbing mistakes.

Sir Alex Ferguson’s teams — in all their various guises — have understood this for years. The United manager has refined the art of simply finding a way to win to such a degree one wonders if he bottles it.

At City there has been some progress in this area. It was there at West Bromwich on Saturday as they came from behind to steal a win. It was there on the final day of last season.

Great frailties remain, though, and now they will rue them once again.

That City began this game weighed down by pressure, for example, was due to the fact that they turned a famous win at Real Madrid last month into a damaging defeat with some calamitous late play. When opportunity beckoned, City were blinded by the lights.

It is instances such as this that cause Mancini such anguish. When he talks of being ‘four yards behind United’ it sounds glib but it isn’t. He is not referring to yards on the field but in the head.

On Wednesday night, City, despite the comprehensive nature of the final score, appeared at one stage as though they were going to get things right.

Having conceded territory and possession early on, Mancini’s team scored an excellent goal against the run of play in the 22nd minute. Briefly, they had control.

The next test, though, was the big one and that was the one they failed. This was the defining part of the night, the period where most top teams — including the great United ones of yore — tend to get it right.

Learn a lesson: Joleon Lescott and Co should have closed the door after taking the lead

Learn a lesson: Joleon Lescott and Co should have closed the door after taking the lead

Once ahead, City should have closed the door on Ajax. Micah Richards had a chance. So did Samir Nasri.

They wasted them by making poor decisions and by half-time a devilish flash of Siem de Jong’s right foot ensured the home team were level.

The second half was not dissimilar. An early chance was wasted by Sergio Aguero and it was calamity from then on.

All teams concede goals, of course, but the manner in which they do it is what often tells the whole story — last night for City read like a chapter from a horror story.

One year ago: Roberto Mancini's side thrashed United at Old Trafford

One year ago: Roberto Mancini's side thrashed United at Old Trafford

If you want to win the Champions League, or even get out of the group, then you cannot allow a central defender to run unchecked on to a corner and head the ball past your goalkeeper without even feeling an opponent’s breath on his shoulder.

Similarly you can’t offer up possession in the middle of the field as cheaply as City did — Gareth Barry was the culprit — on the way to conceding Ajax’s third goal.

It may sound harsh to focus on individual errors but when they stem from an absence of awareness or concentration then you have a real problem. Looking back through City’s European campaign so far, it is easy to find other examples. Two at Madrid for a start.

Cheap: Gareth Barry conceded possession too easily for the third

Cheap: Gareth Barry conceded possession too easily for the third

This is not clinical football. It betrays a collective mental weakness that makes Mancini fret at night and this is the main reason why his team look to be heading for the wastelands of the Europa League — if they are lucky — next February.

City have been drawn in a tough group and that is wrong. The UEFA coefficients that determine the seedings are laughable.

Mancini knows he cannot use that as an excuse, though. He knows the issues he has to tackle.

Essentially, the key question is this: a year on from that incredible afternoon across town at Old Trafford, how much have Manchester City actually improved

Indian Grand Prix 2012: Buddh International Circuit stats and facts

Indian Grand Prix: All you need to know about the race at Buddh International Circuit

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UPDATED:

14:37 GMT, 24 October 2012

INDIAN GRAND PRIX TRACK

Click here for your guide to the track

Formula One makes its second appearance at the Buddh International Circuit which very quickly on its debut last year established itself with the drivers as a track to be savoured.

It has drawn comparisons with Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium, which has long been hailed as F1's best circuit given its fast, free-flowing, undulating nature.

Sebastian Vettel triumphed a year ago and a repeat for the 24-year-old German would make it four victories in a row this season, which would see him take a firm grip on the championship battle.

Here, Sportsmail brings you all the vital stats and facts for F1's return to India.

Top gear: A general view of the Buddh International Circuit on the outskirts of New Delhi, India

Top gear: A general view of the Buddh International Circuit on the outskirts of New Delhi, India

Venue: Buddh International Circuit

Circuit length: 5.125km/3.324miles

Laps: 60

Race distance: 307.249km/190.161miles

Lap record: Sebastian Vettel 1min 27.249secs (2011)

2011 pole position: Sebastian Vettel 1min 24.178secs

2011 winner: Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull)

Number of corners: 16 (7 left/9 right)

Tyre compounds to be used: Hard/soft

Bumpiness: low

Overtaking chance: medium

Engine severity: medium/high

Brake wear severity: high

Average lap speed: 206kph (128.002mph)

Full throttle per lap: 64 per cent

Gear changes per lap: 58 (race = 3480)

2011 winning strategy: 2 stops (laps 19 & 47)

Total race pit stops: 46

Total 'normal' overtakes: 4

Total DRS overtakes: 14

Number of safety cars last year: 0

Number one: Sebastian Vettel will be hoping to repeat last year's victory in India this time round

Number one: Sebastian Vettel will be hoping to repeat last year's victory in India this time round

Phil Duncan F1 blog

Three successive wins for Sebastian Vettel means he now has 25 career victories to his name, propelling him to joint sixth on the all-time list alongside Jim Clark and Niki Lauda.

Vettel, however, has never won four races in a row in one F1 season. He did win the last two of 2010 and first two of 2011.

Felipe Massa's 30-point haul in Japan and Korea means he has scored more points in the last two races than he managed in his first 11 this year.

Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button are both tied on 48 podium finishes apiece at present. Vettel has 43, whilst Fernando Alonso has 82, placing him third on the all-time list behind Michael Schumacher (155) and Alain Prost (106).

In setting the fastest lap in Korea, Mark Webber became the 11th different driver in 16 races this season to accomplish the feat.

F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone celebrates his 82nd birthday on Sunday.

Nine of the 10 corners between turns five and 14 are taken at between 200 and 250kph.

The 230m run from pole to the apex of turn one is the third shortest of the year after Monaco and Valencia.

The cars spend 8.2secs cornering in the double right-hander at turns 10 and 11

In constructing the circuit four million cubic tons of earth were moved to achieve the rise and fall through the lap.

Edin Dzeko scores "heavy" goals – David Platt

Dzeko scores goals for City when it really matters, says grateful Platt

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UPDATED:

18:22 GMT, 20 October 2012

David Platt hailed the importance of Manchester City super-sub Edin Dzeko after his two late goals earned victory at West Brom.

City looked in danger of falling seven points adrift of leaders Chelsea after James Milner was sent off in the first half and then Shane Long broke the deadlock for West Brom.

But Dzeko equalised within 60 seconds of entering the action with 20 minutes left and then in injury time snatched the winner with his sixth goal of the season.

When it counts: Edin Dzeko has scored some crucial goals for Man City

When it counts: Edin Dzeko has scored some crucial goals for Man City

City first-team coach Platt said: 'If you look at Edin's career for Manchester City, the goals he has scored, he has got a lot of heavy goals, goals that are very important.

'I remember goals at Blackburn the season before last which more or less gave us Champions League qualification.

'You look back at last season as well and he got some vital goals. To win the league, Aguero's goal will always be the one but remember Edin equalised.

'He has been a threat all season and his form has been very good all season.'

Milner was sent off for a professional foul after bringing down Long midway through the first half.

But Platt felt City deserved their victory after controlling the game for long periods despite their numerical disadvantage.

Platt, deputising at the press conference for sore throat victim Roberto Mancini, said: 'Watching it live it didn't seem a goalscoring opportunity to me for the sending-off. Equally you can see why it is given.

'But we can't sit there for 70 minutes grumbling about a decision.

'For the rest of the first half we were affected by it to a certain extent and no one was controlling the game.

'We said at half-time if we keep our control and discipline, stay together, we know we can impose our play on them and in that second period we controlled the match.

'If you look at the stats of efforts on goal and possession, you wouldn't have thought we'd had a man less than them.'

Platt admitted City had been tempted to substitute striker Mario Balotelli at half-time after he had been booked early on for bringing down Claudio Yacob.

Temper: Mario Balotelli was booked early on

Temper: Mario Balotelli was booked early on

Referee Mark Clattenburg then spoke to City captain Vincent Kompany after Balotelli escaped a second yellow card for a challenge on Long.

Platt said: 'The temptation is there (to substitute Balotelli). He got booked inside 20 minutes.

'We looked at it at half-time but he was causing them a problem and we felt confident just by speaking to him that there was not going to be any loss of head. He looked pretty calm.'

The Baggies surrendered their 100% home record and manager Steve Clarke admitted they paid the penalty for chasing the winner in the closing stages.

It was from an Albion corner that City broke clear to score their late winner.

Clarke said: 'I thought we deserved something out of the game. I thought we played well, stood up to Manchester City, but they showed when they went to 10 men that they are champions for a reason.

Fair play: Steve Clarke praised City's performance

Fair play: Steve Clarke praised City's performance

'Credit to them, their performance with 10 men was excellent and the only feeling I have now is being disappointed to lose the game so late.

'It was maybe a bad decision to go chasing the winner rather than settling for a point.

'We still wanted to win the game. It is a mindset and characteristic we have got here and are trying to put into the players.

'We wanted to win the game but you get a corner in injury time and think you can win it. Maybe we should have been a bit more careful and maybe settled for a point.'

As regards the Milner red card, Clarke admitted: 'It was a marginal one. If it had gone against us, maybe I would have been disappointed.'

England players took sleeping pills before Poland match

Caught napping: England keeper Hart suffers nightmare in draw with Poland… but were sleeping pills to blame

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UPDATED:

07:15 GMT, 18 October 2012

England nodded off in Poland on Wednesday and dropped two vital World Cup points after some players needed sleeping pills to cope with the game’s 20-hour delay.

Wayne Rooney headed his team into a first-half lead but Kamil Glik equalised 20 minutes from time and manager Roy Hodgson was relieved to hold on to stay top of Group H.

Some England players, who routinely take caffeine stimulant tablets before matches, had struggled to unwind after Tuesday’s game was rained off and those suffering most were given sleeping tablets.

Blunder: Poland's Kamil Glik beats Joe Hart to the ball to score the equaliser in Warsaw

Blunder: Poland's Kamil Glik beats Joe Hart to the ball to score the equaliser in Warsaw

Goalkeeper Joe Hart shouldered responsibility for Poland’s goal after coming out to punch a corner, only to be beaten to the ball by centre half Glik.

‘I came out and didn’t get there,’ said Hart. ‘It’s my fault and that’s cost us the three points.'

But questions will be asked about the impact taking sleeping pills can have on a player’s performance.

Poland mastered the sodden pitch better than the English players, who looked to have suffered more from the disruption of the game being put back because of a waterlogged pitch.

Hodgson said: ‘I had the impression earlier in the week that the players were looking sharp and lively. I didn’t have that impression today. I don’t know if that’s due to the extra night, the sodden pitch or that we didn’t play well on the day.

Main man: Glik celebrates after heading home the equaliser for Poland against England

Main man: Glik celebrates after heading home the equaliser for Poland against England

‘There are days when you don’t hit the heights. You just have to make certain you don’t go away ruing that fact. A point in Warsaw is not to be looked down upon.’

Midfielder James Milner said: ‘You have all your meetings, you go into the dressing room and have your massages, put strappings on, boots on, tie-ups on, are ready to go out and then you’re told to wait and the game is called off. It’s not ideal but you have to be professional and prepare again.’

Hodgson took his team for a walk and a stretch on Wednesday morning and no-one tried to use the delay as an excuse. Captain Steven Gerrard said: ‘When you’re fired up, pumped up and you’ve had your massages and you’re ready to go and then don’t play, that’s not ideal. But we’re professionals. We’re playing at the top level and we had to get ourselves up for this but I didn’t think we were totally at the races.

‘The pitch was slippy, wet and cutting
up. I think it was laid a week-and-a-half ago. So it wasn’t ideal. Both
teams tried to make the most of it and they did it better.

Opening salvo: Wayne Rooney got his shoulder to the ball to put England in front in Warsaw

Opening salvo: Wayne Rooney got his shoulder to the ball to put England in front in Warsaw

‘The surprise was why they didn’t shut the roof the night before when it was raining. But that’s life. We get on with it. I won’t use the delay and conditions as an excuse. The reason we didn’t win was because we didn’t pass it when we went in front.’

The draw means England will be overtaken as group leaders if Montenegro beat San Marino next month and manager Hodgson is looking for a big improvement when his side travel to San Marino and Montenegro in March.

He said: ‘We didn’t play well. We’ve got to be satisfied we came away with a point. We were fortunate to be 1-0 up at half-time because we hadn’t played well.

‘The extra day and stay over, the sogginess of the pitch didn’t work in our favour. But we leave here with a point, on an unbeaten run, and hopefully we’ll continue to progress and get the points we need.’

Graeme Swann out of ODI series with Australia

Swann rested for remainder of ODI series with Aussies to rest sore elbow

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UPDATED:

11:03 GMT, 5 July 2012

Graeme Swann will miss England's final two matches in the NatWest Series against Australia to rest the sore elbow in his bowling arm.

Swann, one of three players also released for the final match of last month's 2-0 one-day international victory over West Indies, will be replaced by his fellow off-spinner James Tredwell in the squad at Chester-le-Street and Old Trafford.

Take a break: Swann will sit out the last two ODIs

Take a break: Swann will sit out the last two ODIs

England have also called up, as expected, seamer Chris Woakes – already in the squad for the washed-out match at his home ground Edgbaston while Jade Dernbach and Stuart Meaker attended the funeral of their former Surrey team-mate Tom Maynard.

Dernbach will be unavailable for the
final two matches as well because of a side strain, and it was therefore
an obvious course of action to retain Woakes as England seek to
consolidate their 2-0 lead.

England were planning all along to
rest Swann, a vital member of the Test team who will soon put their
world number one status on the line in three matches against South
Africa.

National selector Geoff Miller said:
'We had earmarked the fourth and fifth matches in this series as an
opportunity to rest Graeme, regardless of the result at Edgbaston,
because we have to consider our preparations for the Investec Test
series later this month.

'Graeme has some pain in his elbow at the moment and we feel that an extra week's rest will allow his elbow to settle.

'Chris Woakes replaces Jade Dernbach, who has been ruled out with a side strain.'

Aussies ruled: England have a 2-0 lead with two games to go

Aussies ruled: England have a 2-0 lead with two games to go

All-rounder Samit Patel has been released to play for Nottinghamshire in tonight's Friends Life t20 fixture against Yorkshire – a match in which England's Jonny Bairstow will feature for the visitors.

Bairstow will also be available for Yorkshire's Roses match at Old Trafford tomorrow, and he and Patel will rejoin England in time for Saturday's fourth NatWest Series match at Emirates Durham ICG.

Rangers face serious sanctions

Serious sanctions loom and perfect storm is brewing if Rangers lose EBT case

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UPDATED:

22:22 GMT, 24 May 2012

Rangers have been warned that they face 'serious sanctions' if they ignore a last chance to hand over paperwork to the SPL, as the softly-softly investigation into dual contracts turns tough.

A full 10 weeks after the league launched their inquiry into the insolvent Ibrox club's use of Employee Benefit Trusts, and with a BBC documentary having created fresh unwelcome headlines, the SPL on Thursday moved to strengthen their stance.

Perfect storm: Ibrox Stadium remains under a cloud

Perfect storm: Ibrox Stadium remains under a cloud

Having spent two-and-a-half months trying in vain to get administrators Duff & Phelps to hand over vital evidence, they will treat any further delay as obstruction, with a senior Hampden powerbroker telling Sportsmail: 'All clubs are bound by rules to co-operate with any investigation. That is right there in the rule book.

'Ultimately, we will have to take action if we deem there to be a lack of co-operation. We don't have set sanctions but we have the power to act. Serious sanctions are available to us.'

Despite the dramatic language, no deadline has been set for handing over the paperwork that will be used to decide whether Rangers breached rules on declaring all payments relating to players' employment.

SPL chief executive Neil Doncaster has previously confirmed that, if found guilty, Rangers could face a range of punishments, from a warning to expulsion from the league.

Sanctions option: SPL chief executive Neil Doncaster

Sanctions option: SPL chief executive Neil Doncaster

The matter hinges on the issue of whether Rangers made payments to players that were excluded from contracts – but should have been recorded in documents lodged with both the SFA and SPL.

The SFA's own investigation has been put on hold as they would be the body which would hear any appeal from the SPL's decision.

The matter is intrinsically linked to the First Tier Tax Tribunal – the socalled 'big tax case'.

HMRC believe Rangers avoided paying tax by making payments into EBTs and claim that the payments into EBTs were non-discretionary.

Rangers insist the payments were 'not a contractual entitlement' and were discretionary.

If this is seen to be the case, the Ibrox club will win their battle with HMRC and will attempt to argue with the SPL that there was no need to log their details with them and the SFA.

Des Kelly: Cheats like Drogba and Young are diving into the abyss

Cheats like Drogba and Young are diving into the abyss

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UPDATED:

21:30 GMT, 20 April 2012

It is official. The Premier League can now compete with the very best on equal terms. Congratulations to all concerned. We can cheat as well as anyone.

Chelsea’s Didier Drogba proved to be so effective at feigning injury, wasting time and generally making a complete spectacle of himself in the Champions League victory over Barcelona, people were queuing up to slap him on the back.

Naturally, Drogba reacted as you might expect. He hurled himself to the ground, writhed around on the turf in anguish, and generally behaved as if several vertebrae had been shattered by the contact.

Act of deceit: Didier Drogba's behaviour made a mockery of the laws of the game

Act of deceit: Didier Drogba's behaviour made a mockery of the laws of the game

Act of deceit: Didier Drogba's behaviour made a mockery of the laws of the game

He did score what may prove to be the
vital goal against the Catalans. We should recognise that. But he was an
embarrassment for much of the contest.

This prompted people to ask afterwards
whether Drogba was a hero, or a cheat Well let me clear that one up
for you. He was a cheat.

Drogba undoubtedly is a formidable
performer. He remains Chelsea’s most effective weapon when he chooses to
be, as he demonstrated in the FA Cup semi-final against Tottenham last
Sunday.

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But if he behaves as he did at
Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night, there is no ignoring the fact that
he expends an enormous amount of energy simply making a mockery of the
laws of the game.

The scoreline itself from the first
leg provided plenty of satisfaction. The important statistic on the
night said one goal had been scored and none conceded against the
European champions. In those circumstances, the fact that Barca had 79
per cent of the ball and made 782 passes compared to Chelsea’s 194 was
irrelevant.

But some were attributing the victory to another measure, one that was quite bizarre when you stopped to think about it.

People were finding a genuine sense of
achievement in the fact that Drogba and Co — but mainly Drogba — had
surpassed Barca in the scale of deceit too.

He was lauded for wasting huge chunks
of time on the night. Some misguided commentators and various clowns
decided what Drogba had done was ‘good cheating’.

It was Barcelona ‘finally getting what
they deserved’ having previously marred many a sparkling display
through the years with histrionics from the likes of Sergio Busquets
and the despicable Daniel Alves.

This week Chelsea won that faux battle
and, since everyone else is doing it, that’s OK then. It’s apparently
acceptable. A phoney rationale is taking hold that advocates true
professionalism is doing what needs to be done for the team — and the
ends justify the means in top-flight sport.

Taking a tumble: Ashley Young attracted criticism for the way he earned a penalty for Manchester United against his former Aston Villa. Even Sir Alex wasn't happy

Taking a tumble: Ashley Young attracted criticism for the way he earned a penalty for Manchester United against his former Aston Villa. Even Sir Alex wasn't happy

Taking a tumble: Ashley Young attracted criticism for the way he earned a penalty for Manchester United against his former Aston Villa. Even Sir Alex wasn't happy

That is what football is becoming now.
It is a sham. It is performance played out by a team of actors trying
to con and trick officials at every turn.

We are becoming so used to diving, or
‘simulation’, we almost grow weary of condemning the miscreants. The
rulebook is dissolving before our eyes and nobody’s doing much about it.

Gary Neville admitted as much
recently. In the face of continual diving throughout the game, he said:
‘Gradually your thinking changes. You might say your morality weakens.
Certainly the value system you grew up with is challenged.’

But how you win should matter. If you
cannot acknowledge this fact you are signing up to the great hypocrisy
of football, where we only see cheating by the other side, never by our
own. If he’s ‘our hero’ and ‘your cheat’, the game becomes an endless
cycle of whining about whether one side was more dishonourable than the
other.

In the end, there is no decency; just an endless procession of petty, snide infringements.

Serial offender: Barcelona's Sergio Busquets became infamous for his reaction to a brush off by Thiago Motta in the Champions League semi-final in 2009

Serial offender: Barcelona's Sergio Busquets became infamous for his reaction to a brush off by Thiago Motta in the Champions League semi-final in 2009

To be fair, we’re pretty much there
already. Chelsea fans howled at Drogba ‘Get up man!’ like the rest of
the country during the first 45 minutes, but once he scored in injury
time, it didn’t matter. He was their cheat. And it was fine, because
Chelsea were ahead.

Over the past two weekends,
Manchester United’s Ashley Young has also been running into outstretched
legs and hurling himself through the air. There has been some
condemnation, but would fans be so outraged by Young’s antics they would
be ready to sacrifice the title Or would they shrug and say ‘Adam
Johnson did it for City the other week’ I think I can guess.

There are solutions, of course. They
remain the same as they have been for a decade or more; a review body to
look at controversial dives and hand out bans. And should a player roll
around on the floor, the referee only has to stop the clock and display
the minutes remaining on the screen. That way, the player is
squandering no game time, merely the public’s patience.

These measures are overdue. The
concept of sportsmanship is on the floor and it’s not faking it either.
We have to remember football is not a game — it is a sport. It should be
played with a vestige of honour, otherwise what’s the point And if
Chelsea are cheated out of Europe in the Camp Nou on Tuesday night, how
can they ever complain about it now

Bahrain ring of fire is no surprise

I'm not watching the Formula One tomorrow. I suggest you turn the television off, too.

See how the advertisers and sponsors like being ignored. Because that’s how the doctors and nurses thrown into Bahraini jails, convicted as ‘traitors’ merely for treating protesters injured in violent clashes with Government troops, are being dealt with as the amoral F1 circus trundles into town.

Centre of attention: There is anger across the world at the decision to stage this weekend's Bahrain Grand Prix

Centre of attention: There is anger across the world at the decision to stage this weekend's Bahrain Grand Prix

This is a race that should not be
happening. I’ve said my piece in weeks past and nothing that is
happening now has been a surprise.

The Bahrain Government is
ridiculously selling the Grand Prix as being ‘for the people’, the race
has become a focal point for unrest and, as ever, it is ordinary folk
that find their safety is needlessly put at risk.

So far, four Force India mechanics
have been caught in a street clash involving petrol bombs and troops.
Two have gone home; the rest have extra ‘security’ and the team fled the
track yesterday before nightfall.

Unrest: Anti-government protesters continue to disrupt proceedings in the country

Unrest: Anti-government protesters continue to disrupt proceedings in the country

The Porsche Supercup racers, part of the F1 undercard, have also pulled out.

But Bernie Ecclestone and his Arab cronies are ploughing ahead. Their cash machine is working.

The crass slogan Bahrain’s rulers
(and their 10 public relations firms) have come up with to promote the
event: ‘UniF1ed — One Nation in Celebration’ is fooling no-one. Better
still, Ecclestone tells the media to leave Bahrain and ‘go to Syria’
instead.

I’ll bet it’s not the first time he’s
had that thought. Judging by his actions so far, the Syrian Grand Prix
can only be a year or two away. After that, North Korea perhaps

Chambers return does not inspire

Drug cheat Dwain Chambers is about to win a legal case and overturn a life ban from Team GB. This will allow the sprinter to compete for Britain at the London 2012 Games. We should introduce a new Olympic sport to honour this verdict — a race to hell in a handcart.

Fighting for his future: Sprinter Dwain Chambers looks set to get the Olympic nod

Fighting for his future: Sprinter Dwain Chambers looks set to get the Olympic nod

What a devastating blow to Team GB in
the week the 2012 boss and vehement anti-drugs campaigner Sebastian Coe
unveiled his Games slogan — ‘Inspire A Generation’. To do what Dope
their way to glory like Dwain The Court of Arbitration for Sport has
ruled Britain must come in line with the rest of the world and limit
drug bans to two years.

But I hope Chambers does the decent
thing. I hope he declines a place, saying he does not deserve to be
picked ahead of athletes who have spent their entire lives free from
chemical enhancement.

And, yeah, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking I must be on drugs.

Silence is golden

To mark the eight-and-a-half year anniversary of this page and to honour all the victims of this column, I would ask you to stand and respectfully observe a minute’s silence…

Thank you. I hope you used the period of quiet to reflect on one important question: Why are we always doing this

Disturbed: Chelsea were forced to release a statement apologising for the conduct of their fans during a period of silence at Wembley on the anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster

Disturbed: Chelsea were forced to release a statement apologising for the conduct of their fans during a period of silence at Wembley on the anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster

It has reached the stage where we
might as well hold a minute’s silence before every single football
match. Why not You can guarantee someone in the crowd will have been
affected by the loss of a friend or loved one at some point in their
lives and we can all pay our respects.

Do you doubt me In midweek,
Aldershot Town football club decided to hold a minute’s silence because
the mother of Swindon Town manager Paolo Di Canio had passed away.

Remembered: Tributes were also held across the world for Piermario Morosini who collapsed on died on the pitch in Italy

Remembered: Tributes were also held across the world for Piermario Morosini who collapsed on died on the pitch in Italy

Obviously, any loss is a personal
tragedy and the customary condolences go out to Di Canio. To the man’s
credit, he just got on with his job and then returned to his family.

But the question is a wider one. Is a
death in Italy four days earlier, of an individual who just happened to
be the mother of a visiting manager who hails from Rome and is
currently working in Swindon, enough to hold a display of public
mourning in Hampshire, England

Greatly exaggerated: Mark Twain

Greatly exaggerated: Mark Twain

Without meaning any disrespect to Di Canio, I would suggest not.

It is no longer enough to mourn and
reflect in private. The thought police, or some misplaced sentimental
convention, decrees that you have to make a display of caring, along
with a few thousand other people packed into a football ground.

Last week I warned of the
consequences of attempting to hold a minute’s silence for Hillsborough
at Wembley at the second FA Cup semi-final, since a minority of Chelsea
fans were sure to disrupt it.

After a long day drinking and
well-fuelled grievances about the late kick-off, I was sadly proved
right.

If the minute’s silence is to mean anything it has to be
appropriate and relevant. Otherwise, how far back do we go

Today should we be marking the death
of King Henry VII; the passing of Brazilian football boss Tele Santana
and the demise of author Mark Twain

When the New York Journal prematurely
claimed Twain had passed away, he famously said: ‘Reports of my death
are greatly exaggerated’. These days, the aftermath would be too.