Tag Archives: walters

Michu snubbed by Tottenham, West Ham, Aston Villa, Stoke, Fulham and Leeds before Swansea swooped

REVEALED: The SIX Premier League clubs (and Leeds United) who snubbed Michu before Swansea swooped for 2.2m bargain

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UPDATED:

22:10 GMT, 31 December 2012

If Roberto Mancini is having
sleepless nights over missing out on Robin van Persie, then one can only
imagine the mood at Tottenham's training ground every time Michu scores
for Swansea.

There,
at Hotspur Way, something of a dark comedy routine has been going on
this season between Pat Jennings and Tim Sherwood, an exchange that
usually ends with one telling the other: 'Don't mention Michu'. He's the
one that got away. Twice.

And once he was going for free. But Tottenham are not alone. Sportsmail understands
that Fulham, Stoke, West Brom, West Ham and Aston Villa were also told
by an independent agent in Spain about the 26-year-old in the summer and
encouraged to bid for a man who had just scored 15 goals in La Liga.

Summer steal: Michu has been a sensation since joining Swansea from Rayo Vallecano for just 2.2m

Summer steal: Michu has been a sensation since joining Swansea from Rayo Vallecano for just 2.2m

Who needs Michu

Michu has taken the Premier League by storm since joining Swansea in the summer. Here's how his goal tally compares with the leading scorers at the clubs he snubbed…

Premier League goals 2012-13 (as of Dec 31)

Michu – 13

Spurs – Jermain Defoe – 10

Aston Villa – Christian Benteke – 5

West Ham – Kevin Nolan – 5

Stoke – Jonathan Walters – 5

Fulham – Dimitar Berbatov – 6

West Brom – Romelu Lukaku – 6

And one in the Championship…

Leeds United – Luciano Becchio – 14

The fact that those goals came for
Rayo Vallecano, a struggling team that frequently couldn't afford to pay
their players, wasn't enough to coax an offer.

The
fact that most of the goals had come from midfield, and his release
clause was a relative snip at 3.2million, was seemingly also ignored.

In
Tottenham's case, the shame is a little deeper. Spurs were first
notified about Michu in the summer of 2011, when his contract at Celta
Vigo, who were then in the Spanish second tier, expired. It meant that
he was available on a free transfer.

At
the time, Michu was largely playing a deeper, more defensive role and
Tottenham snubbed the recommendat ion of Gerry Armstrong, a former Spurs
player-turned-Spanish football expert, to make a bid.

'Even
then, it was obvious this guy was a different class,' Armstrong said.
'He played a bit further back, but he was so comfortable on the ball.

Before he was famous: Michu in action against Real Madrid in September 2011 (when he was still up for grabs)

Before he was famous: Michu in action against Real Madrid in September 2011 (when he was still up for grabs), but Andre Villas-Boas, Paul Lambert and Sam Allardyce (below, left-right) all passed up the chance to sign him

Andre Villas-Boas

Paul Lambert

Sam Allardyce

'He
had brilliant vision, could win headers, could pass, could shoot. There
didn't seem to be anything missing.' It wasn't just a Premier League
thing. Leeds, along with the six top-flight clubs, were contacted by a
Spanish agent in the summer and, like the rest, did not act on the
recommendation. Swansea stumped up 2.2m.

The Bigger Picture

'He was offered, I think, to a lot of clubs in the summer,' Michael Laudrup told Sportsmail back in August.

'I think he will be a very good player here. I have a feeling that he will.

'There
is a lot of value in the Spanish market right now. There is not a lot
of money and you can get some very good deals. I think this is a good
deal.'

That conversation took place in the
week before Swansea opened their season against QPR – Michu's debut. He
scored twice in a 5-0 win. Then he scored again in their second game, a
3-0 win over West Ham.

'He can score goals, but I think he can do more,' Laudrup said in the summer.

Indeed,
he passes well, beats players, can poach and has a pile-driver in
either foot. In keeping with Swansea's modus operandi, he is comfortable
taking possession in small spaces, but he's also 6ft 1in and is superb
in the air, making him a target for long balls and crosses.

Laudrup
spoke of adding a Plan B and a greater goal threat in pre-season and
Michu has given him both. His Premier League tally stands at 13, one
short of Van Persie, who cost current leaders Manchester United 24m.

Paying attention: Spain's coach Vicente del Bosque says he will hand Michu his first international cap

Paying attention: Spain's coach Vicente del Bosque says he will hand Michu his first international cap

The Tale of the Tape

A week ago, Vicente del Bosque, the
Spain manager, took the unusual step of promising Michu his first
international cap, almost two months before of the world and European
champions' February 6 friendly with Uruguay in Doha.

Del
Bosque spoke out the night before Michu scored his 13th league goal of
the season in a 1-1 draw with Manchester United on December 23.

A
couple of days earlier, Sir Alex Ferguson had told his club's website
that he had not heard of the Spaniard prior to this season.

He
added that he would be having words with his scouting department.
Fergie won't be the only Premier League manager doing that. Or
Championship boss, for that matter.

Leading the way: Robin van Persie has scored the most goals in the Premier League this season

Leading the way: Robin van Persie has scored the most goals in the Premier League this season

VIDEO: Here's what all the fuss is about…

Jonathan Walters praises Stoke"s character as they comeback to beat Liverpool

Walters praises Stoke's character as they come from behind to beat Liverpool

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UPDATED:

22:28 GMT, 26 December 2012

Two-goal hero Jonathan Walters hailed his side's character and work ethic after Stoke recovered from a nightmare start to claim a 3-1 Barclays Premier League win over Liverpool.

There were only 32 seconds on the clock when Luis Suarez won a penalty which Steven Gerrard converted to put Liverpool ahead at the Britannia Stadium.

However, Stoke stormed back and within 10 minutes had turned the game on its head through goals from Walters and Kenwyne Jones, and then a second from boyhood Everton fan Walters just after half-time sealed the victory for Tony Pulis' men.

Never give in: Jon Walters and Liverpool's Suso battle for the ball

Never give in: Jon Walters and Liverpool's Suso battle for the ball

Walters was full of praise for his side after they extended their unbeaten run to nine matches, telling Sky Sports 1: 'We all work for each other, right from the back to the front. It was a full team effort from us today and a great win for us.

'We haven't conceded many this year, and to concede so early…but we've always got fight in us, and there was never any chance we were just going to lie down and take it.

'So from 1-0 down we showed great character to get back into the game and some good play from all over the team, especially the second half.'

Jumping for joy: Kenwyne Jones celebrates his goal

Jumping for joy: Kenwyne Jones celebrates his goal

Double salvo: Walters (second left) netted twice for Stoke

Double salvo: Walters (second left) netted twice for Stoke

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers felt his side should have done much better with all three goals they conceded and, as a result of their defensive failings, said they did not deserve to get anything out of the game.

He said: 'It was a great start for us, when you come away from home it's great to go a goal up, but we just gave away poor goals tonight. I think all three goals were actually quite straightforward to defend.

'Obviously Martin Skrtel slips (for the first), which is unfortunate, but the other two goals we've got to do much better than that. So that was the disappointment really.

Where did it all go wrong Brendan Rodgers watched his side take the lead and then lose the game 3-1

Where did it all go wrong Brendan Rodgers watched his side take the lead and then lose the game 3-1

'We got into some good areas but ultimately when you come to places like here, which is a difficult place to come, you've got to defend better or else you get nothing, and we probably deserve nothing because of that.'

Rodgers also praised Stoke and the work being done by Pulis.

'I've always said they probably don't quite get the credit they deserve. Tony's done a brilliant job here, keeping them in this division and keeping them progressing,' he added.

Hastings" FA Cup run continues – Michael Walker

On the road: Hastings battle for memories and magic as FA Cup run continues

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UPDATED:

22:41 GMT, 2 December 2012

Making predictions in football has turned into an industry and before a ball was kicked down Harrogate’s Wetherby Road on Saturday, a cold favourite was that the word ‘magic’ would at some stage be used.

So it was that at the end of a pulsating 1-1 draw, Dave Walters, chairman of Hastings United, stood shivering and talked warmly of ‘the magic of the FA Cup’.

Walters wasn’t just reaching for clichs, he was making the point that it is on days like this, at grounds like this, in rounds like this, when the old magic surfaces.

Still going strong: Harrogate celebrate during their draw with Hastings

Still going strong: Harrogate celebrate during their draw with Hastings

Harrogate's journey so far

Aug 11: Nth Shields 1 Birtley T 1 (Birtley won replay). Aug 25: Birtley T 1 West Auckland 4.
Sep 8: Ashington 2 W Auckland 3.
Sep 22: W Auckland 2 Harrogate T 2 (Harrogate won replay).
Oct 6: Harrogate 3 Frickley Ath 2.
Oct 20: Hyde 1 Harrogate 1 (Harrogate won replay) Nov 3: Torquay 0 Harrogate 1.
Dec 1: Harrogate 1 Hastings Utd 1

‘It’ll not be like this when it gets to the semi-finals, will it’ Walters asked. ‘I’m from Carlisle,’ he added, ‘I remember Carlisle winning at Newcastle in 1968, it was completely magical and as a kid that’s what got me into football. There’s nothing like the FA Cup.’

Walter’s tone was a mixture of incredulity and passion. Hastings United are 18th in the Ryman Premier Division, that’s 66 places off Barnet at the bottom of the Football League. They are the lowest-ranked club left in the competition. Pleasingly, their nickname is ‘The Arrows’.

When Sunday’s draw for the third round came out and Middlesbrough away was the reward for the winners of the replay, Walters was again taken back to the Cup, this time to 1970. ‘I was at Brunton Park then when there were 27,500 to see Carlisle play Middlesbrough.

‘That was the FA Cup, too. I can’t remember the score.’ It was 2-0 to Middlesbrough, in the fifth round. What Walters could recall was that when Carlisle briefly topped the old First Division in 1974 ‘after beating Spurs on the Saturday, it was a defeat by Middlesbrough in midweek that started the rot’.

The nostalgia flows. Yet there is first a replay at Hastings’ Pilot Field on Tuesday week. ‘We’re not taking anything for granted,’ Walters said. ‘It’s just amazing for a club our size to even contemplate a game at Middlesbrough.’

In front: Tom Platt (left) opened the scoring for Harrogate against Hastings

In front: Tom Platt (left) opened the scoring for Harrogate against Hastings

For Harrogate, too, the incentive is great. Boro would amount to a local derby and be particularly special for one man at Saturday’s game, former Boro captain and manager, Gareth Southgate.

For Hastings there is now a third replay in their marathon. Tuesday week will be their eighth game in the FA Cup and a knock-on is that they have three other games to play before next Tuesday.

That the Yorkshiremen have not made it easy for themselves was encapsulated here. It was gripping stuff and captured much of this phase of the Cup. Normally Harrogate would have 300-400 for a Conference North game; there were 3,000 here, 300 alone from Hastings.

The travellers had to be impressed by the setting. Wetherby Road was like an oil painting impression of the Cup. A brilliant low sun threw long black shadows across a Ronnie Radford of a pitch. Pale faces glowed from dark clothes on packed terraces; the atmosphere had that happy Cup tingle that simply does not exist on league Saturdays.

But the ball still mattered. Even the fans shuddered after some of the 50-50s, but hands were shaken at the end. The Hastings players had lasagne laid on for them.

Up for the cup: Young Harrogate fans prepare for their side's latest match

Up for the cup: Young Harrogate fans prepare for their side's latest match

At the beginning it had looked as if that is all Hastings would get.
Harrogate, winners at Torquay in the previous round, launched attack upon attack early on.

Yet it took nearly until half-time before Tom Platt scored and by then Hastings had shown they can play.

On the hour Bradley Goldberg — son of former Crystal Palace owner Mark — saw his shot hit a post. Jamie Crellin knocked in the rebound.

Goldberg, 19, was released by Charlton last year. He is on his way back up, one of so many stories the Cup spouts forth.

Goldberg’s colleague, Josh Jirbandey, is another. He is on his way elsewhere — or at least he was.

Jirbandey is due to fly to California to start a soccer scholarship in January. Early January.

Presumably, now, it is FA Cup permitting.

Mellon makes Fleet exit

The FA Cup still means enough for Fleetwood Town to dismiss manager Micky Mellon after their home defeat to Aldershot.

The magic was missing for ambitious, big-spending Fleetwood, who seem restless despite being in the same Conference North division as Harrogate as 2010 dawned. In four years Mellon won two promotions.

Over and out: Ambitious Fleetwood sacked manager Micky Mellon

Over and out: Ambitious Fleetwood sacked manager Micky Mellon

In this, their first historic season in the Football League, Fleetwood are seventh, four points off an automatic promotion spot with 26 games to go. Mellon probably thought he and Fleetwood were a neat fit. Which brings us to another.

Eddie Howe returned to Bournemouth 11 games ago. Eight wins and three draws on, Bournemouth are motoring. They swept past Carlisle on Saturday and go to Wigan in the third round. Wigan cannot be complacent: at this stage last season, they lost to Swindon.

Stoke 2 Newcastle 1

Stoke 2 Newcastle 1: Walters and Jerome condemn Magpies to fourth straight defeat

PUBLISHED:

21:39 GMT, 28 November 2012

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UPDATED:

21:58 GMT, 28 November 2012

Two goals in the final nine minutes from Jonathan Walters and Cameron Jerome handed Stoke their third consecutive home victory in the Barclays Premier League and condemned injury-hit Newcastle to a fourth defeat in a row.

It looked like the Magpies might claim a much-needed first away win when Papiss Cisse put them ahead two minutes into the second half.

The visitors held out until the 81st minute when Walters headed in the equaliser, and four minutes later they were behind as substitute Jerome tucked the ball under Tim Krul for the winner.

Winner: Cameron Jerome celebrates with his Stoke team-mates after his late goal

Winner: Cameron Jerome celebrates with his Stoke team-mates after his late goal

Match facts

Stoke: Begovic, Shotton, Shawcross, Huth, Cameron; Walters, Nzonzi, Whelan, Etherington (Jerome 68); Adam (Kightly 67); Crouch (Jones 40).

Subs not used: Sorensen, Palacios, Whitehead, Upson

Goals: Walters 81, Jerome 85

Booked: Cameron, Adam

Newcastle: Krul, Simpson, Williamson, Coloccini, Santon; Anita (Ameobi 87), Perch, Tiote, Gutierrez; Cisse (Ranger 87), Ba.

Subs not used: Elliott, Bigirimana, Marveaux, Ferguson, Tavernier.

Goal: Cisse 47

Booked: Santon, Anita

Referee: H Webb

Attendance: 26,793

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Steven Taylor was the latest Newcastle casualty on Sunday with a hamstring injury that could keep him out until February but captain Fabricio Coloccini did return after serving a three-match ban.

The visitors began quite brightly and had the first shot of the match after five minutes but James Perch's effort was five yards wide of Asmir Begovic's goal.

The Britannia Stadium had only witnessed six goals in six games this season prior to tonight, with Stoke conceding just once.

It was perhaps not surprising, then, that chances were at a premium in the early stages, although Stoke did almost take the lead in bizarre circumstances in the 16th minute.

Mike Williamson looked to have Glenn Whelan's free-kick covered but the Toon centre-back miscued his clearance and was relieved to see the ball rebound off the post.

From the resulting corner, Walters headed straight at Krul, while just before the half-hour mark Whelan's 25-yard volley almost found the top corner.


In front: Papiss Cisse put Newcastle in front at Stoke but his side were pegged back late

In front: Papiss Cisse put Newcastle in front at Stoke but his side were pegged back late

Alright on the night: Ba celebrates after his goal put Newcastle in front

Alright on the night: Ba celebrates after his goal put Newcastle in front

Stoke were looking marginally the
more threatening and they may well have opened the scoring in the 33rd
minute had Matty Etherington not overhit his ball to Charlie Adam, who
would have only had Krul to beat.

Fulham boss Martin Jol described
Stoke as bullies after the Potters' 1-0 win on Saturday but it was the
home side who were in the wars tonight.

Geoff Cameron needed an early change
of shirts after a clash drew blood but he was at least able to continue,
unlike Peter Crouch, who was replaced by Kenwyne Jones five minutes
before half-time.

Level: Jonathan Walters equalises for Stoke with just nine minutes remaining against Newcastle

Level: Jonathan Walters equalises for Stoke with just nine minutes remaining against Newcastle

The striker was caught in the mouth by
a flailing arm from Coloccini and looked to have lost at least one
tooth before he was led down the tunnel, still bleeding from the mouth,
by Stoke's physio.

The first half had certainly not been
action-packed but it took less then two minutes of the second for
Newcastle to break the deadlock.

A long-range shot from Demba Ba, who
almost joined Stoke in January 2011, was spilled by Asmir Begovic and
Cisse followed up for his fourth of the season.

It was a much-needed goal for the
Senegal international, who has struggled to find anything like his form
of last season, but it was certainly a preventable one from Stoke's
point of view after Whelan was robbed in midfield.

Here we go: Walters celebrates his headed which levelled the score at the Britannia

Here we go: Walters celebrates his headed which levelled the score at the Britannia

The Potters looked to respond quickly and Adam's cross found the head of Walters at the back post but he was under pressure and could only nod wide.

The home fans' frustration was growing and Cisse might have made it two in the 63rd minute but Begovic pushed away his shot, while at the other end Krul could not hold Walters' stinging effort and the striker blazed the loose ball well over the bar.

Stoke boss Tony Pulis made his final two changes, sending on Michael Kightly and Jerome for Adam and Etherington.

Begovic was called on again in the 77th minute when Cameron's attempted clearance hit Cisse and turned into a through ball for Ba, the keeper stopping the well-struck shot with his leg.

Missing: Peter Crouch lost a tooth during a collision with Fabricio Coloccini and was forced off

Missing: Peter Crouch lost a tooth during a collision with Fabricio Coloccini and was forced off

Forced off: Peter Crouch had to be substituted after receiving a cut to the face

Stoke really should have been level shortly after, though, as Kightly hung up a lovely ball for Jones six yards out but he headed straight at Krul.

The home fans did not have long to wait as, in the 81st minute, Jerome swung over an inviting cross and Walters showed Jones how it should be done with a lovely header into the far corner.

And it was to get even better for the Potters three minutes later. Jones made amends for his miss by getting on the end of a long ball and squaring for Jerome to slide his shot under Krul.

The Britannia Stadium cheered loudly and as the final whistle blew Stoke were able to celebrate climbing into the top 10 while Newcastle remain only two points above the relegation zone.

Gutted: Newcastle were stunned by Stoke in the dying minutes

Gutted: Newcastle were stunned by Stoke in the dying minutes

Stoke"s smart corner routine took three days to perfect, reveals Tony Pulis

Pulis reveals Stoke's smart corner routine took three days to perfect (but it was first time Walters had found the net)

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UPDATED:

07:38 GMT, 20 November 2012

Stoke manager Tony Pulis was delighted a pre-planned set-piece paid dividends in their 1-1 draw at West Ham.

Pulis has yet to see his team win on
the road this campaign but they held high-flying West Ham after taking
the lead through Jonathan Walters in the 13th minute.

Video: watch the match highlights

Planned attack: : Six West Ham players are unable to stop Jonathan Walters scoring

Planned attack: : Six West Ham players are unable to stop Jonathan Walters scoring

Match facts

West Ham: Jaaskelainen, O'Brien (Demel 77), Reid, Tomkins, McCartney, Noble, Nolan, Diame, O'Neil, Carroll (Cole 85), Maiga (Taylor 85).

Subs not used: Spiegel, Collins, Spence, Hall.

Booked: Noble.

Goal: O'Brien 48.

Stoke: Begovic, Cameron, Huth, Shawcross, Wilkinson (Shotton 32), Whelan (Palacios 62), Adam, Nzonzi, Walters, Crouch, Etherington (Kightly 74).

Subs not used: Sorensen, Jones, Upson, Jerome.

Goal: Walters 13.

Att: 35,005

Ref: Chris Foy (Merseyside)

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The goal came from a well-worked corner routine that saw Glenn Whelan roll the set-piece into the path of Walters' run inside the box, with the Republic of Ireland striker firing past Jussi Jaaskelainen.

Pulis revealed he had been practising the routine to catch West Ham off guard and was pleased to see it make an impact.

'We have worked on it for the past three days,' he said. 'We tried it five or six times and Jonathan Walters has never scored from it so I'm glad he saved it for today.

'I spend a lot of time watching videos and watching teams and I felt if we could do this it would come off. You work on it millions and millions of times – it is lovely when it comes off.'

Pulis has not seen his side win away in the Barclays Premier League since a 2-1 victory over Blackburn on January 2 but was pleased with his players' application.

'First half I thought we played well and created the better opportunities and really we needed that second goal. The worst thing that happened to us was half-time, that took the momentum away from us,' he said.

Opener: Jonathan Walters struck from a cleverly worked corner

Opener: Jonathan Walters struck from a cleverly worked corner

'We started very sloppy in the second
half, we invited West Ham onto us and they scored a goal and from that
point onwards we need to show a lot of resilience and determination as a
group not to concede a second.'

West Ham boss Sam Allardyce felt his side were unlucky not to secure a
victory that would have seen the Hammers move up to fifth in the table.

'I think in the end we were disappointed we didn't win it, given our second-half performance,” he said.

'I think that when you put that much pressure on the opposition second
half you have got to try and a be a bit more ruthless in front of goal, a
little bit more quality and composure needed and we probably would have
won it, but at the end of the day it is another point.'

Good job: Peter Crouch celebrates the strike which put Tony Pulis' side ahead

Good job: Peter Crouch celebrates the strike which put Tony Pulis' side ahead

Shocking: West Ham had a less than impressive first half

Shocking: West Ham had a less than impressive first half

Allardyce was without injured duo Yossi Benayoun and Matt Jarvis for the
game but praised his players and reckons quality, rather than quantity,
is the key.

'I was very pleased with the second-half performance and the fact the squad has performed very well yet again,' he said.

'I think that while our numbers are not great our quality seems to be
very good and our defensive unit was very good apart, from that corner.'

That'll do: O'Brien struck just after the interval

That'll do: O'Brien struck just after the interval

Come on: Pulis' side faded as the match went on

Master stroke: Stoke boss Tony Pulis

David Luiz no punishment over tackle is crazy – Tony Pulis

There's no justice unless Luiz is banned for nasty tackle on Walters, blasts Pulis

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UPDATED:

21:00 GMT, 23 September 2012

Tony Pulis has questioned the FA's rule that no retrospective action can be taken if players are booked after David Luiz received only a yellow card for a reckless challenge on Jonathan Walters.

The defender flung himself two-footed at Walters with Stoke hitting Chelsea on the break in stoppage time before the hosts prevailed 1-0.

Luiz was fortunate not to make more contact with the forward, just clipping Walters’ shin as he hurdled the tackle. The Stoke player reacted angrily.

Aftermath: David Luiz (centre) was booked for a late and dangerous tackle on Stoke striker Jonathan Walters (floored), who later reacted with fury (below)

Aftermath: David Luiz (centre) was booked for a late and dangerous tackle on Stoke striker Jonathan Walters (floored), who later reacted with fury (below)

Aftermath: David Luiz (centre) was booked for a late and dangerous tackle on Stoke striker Jonathan Walters (floored), who later reacted with fury (below)

But referee Michael Oliver only gave Luiz a yellow card, leaving Pulis angry that further punishment could not be handed out.

The Stoke manager said: ‘The worst thing is that Luiz’s challenge is a very, very poor one, but because the referee’s seen it and booked him he’s not going to miss a game.

‘It’s like a policeman watching a bank
robber rob a bank and because he’s seen it, the police are going to let
him off. Whereas, if he didn’t see him, they’re going to arrest him.
It’s crazy. Ridiculous. But I don’t make the rules. I’m just a football
manager.’

Stoke were only trailing by Ashley Cole’s 85th-minute goal. The defender finished off a fine passing move from Chelsea, getting on the end of Juan Mata’s back-heel flick on the turn to chip the ball over Asmir Begovic from close range.

Chelsea had pushed forward for Oscar’s corner when Walters picked up the ball on the edge of his own box and dribbled at speed in search of an equaliser.

Oscar was booked in the second half for diving in the area and there was another debatable incident when Branislav Ivanovic went down in the box. He was not booked but Oliver did not give the penalty.

Roberto Di Matteo defended his players, saying: ‘Oscar’s is a penalty. I don’t think he should have been booked at all. There was contact.'

But Pulis accused Chelsea’s players of ‘simulation’ and putting the referee under pressure.

He said: ‘You’ve got to let the referee referee the game and I felt Michael Oliver did smashing at times, especially for the number of times players went into the box and fell over. That’s enormous pressure and I don’t think we should stomach that.’

David Luiz signs new five-year deal at Chelsea

Luiz commits future to Chelsea as Brazilian signs new five-year deal

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UPDATED:

18:32 GMT, 22 September 2012

David Luiz signed a new five-year contract at Chelsea, the club have confirmed.

Brazil defender Luiz was less than two years into the five-and-a-half-year deal he penned when joining the Blues in January 2011.

But the European champions moved to tie the 25-year-old down until 2017 and confirmed they had done so.

Worth fighting over: John Terry holds off Jonathan Walters as David Luiz (right) backs off

Worth fighting over: John Terry holds off Jonathan Walters as David Luiz (right) backs off

Luiz told the club's official website: 'I am very happy to sign a new contract with Chelsea.

'It is a great club and I look forward to winning more trophies here. I want to play for a long time at the top level – which is what playing for Chelsea means.

'I love everything about the club and especially the fans, who have made me very welcome and given me great support.'

On a high: Fernando Torres and Luiz celebrate Chelsea's Champions League victory in Munich

On a high: Fernando Torres and Luiz celebrate Chelsea's Champions League victory in Munich

Luiz has become a cult figure at Chelsea since joining them from Benfica in a deal worth 25million and helped them to Champions League and FA Cup glory last season.

He has also come under fire for some of his defending, with former Manchester United defender Gary Neville famously comparing him to a player being 'controlled by a 10-year-old on a PlayStation'.

But that did not prevent him from being linked with Barcelona and a new contract will end that speculation for the time being.

Michael Owen set for Stoke despite Everton interest

Owen set to snub Everton and join Stoke… just 30 miles from his stables!

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UPDATED:

12:22 GMT, 15 June 2012

Michael Owen is expected to join Stoke later this month despite interest from Everton.

Owen was released by Manchester United this summer after three years at Old Trafford which were scarred by injury problems.

The 32-year-old confirmed he had no plans to retire, having previously stated his intention to remain in the top flight.

On the move: Michael Owen is set to join Stoke, which is just 30 miles from his Manor House stables

On the move: Michael Owen is set to join Stoke, which is just 30 miles from his Manor House stables

And, despite playing just 10 times since January 2011, there has been plenty of interest in Owen, with Stoke now looking like the preferred option for England's fourth highest scorer.

It does seem like an obvious move. Manager Tony Pulis recently admitted an interest in Owen 'along with a number of other players', and Stoke is barely 30 miles from the striker's plush Manor House Stables complex which, under the guidance of trainer Tom Dascombe, is quickly gaining an impressive reputation in racing circles.

There is some competition from Everton, although whether Owen would be willing to join the Goodison Park outfit given his status as a former Liverpool player is open to debate.

New start: Owen was released by Manchester United at the end fo last season

New start: Owen was released by Manchester United at the end fo last season

Some uncertainty at the Merseyside outfit lingers anyway as David Moyes remains among the favourites to fill the managerial vacancy at Tottenham, even though his odds have drifted from the immediate aftermath of Harry Redknapp's exit.

The arrival of Owen would represent a further move away from the perception of Pulis having a long-ball team.

Although they tended to rely on the aerial threat of Ricardo Fuller when they returned to the top flight in 2008, Peter Crouch has never been viewed as a target man despite his height and he spent much of last season in tandem with Jonathan Walters.

Fitness permitting, Pulis would presumably be looking for Owen's predatory instincts to maximise the goal threat of a side who found the net just 36 times last term, the worst record in the entire Premier League.

Euro 2012: Robbie Keane begs to play

Keane pleads to play! Skipper will lead line as Trap considers Cox call

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UPDATED:

23:20 GMT, 13 June 2012

Robbie Keane will lead the line against world champions Spain on Thursday night after pleading with Giovanni Trapattoni not to drop him.

The Republic of Ireland manager is ready to ditch his rigid 4-4-2 system in Gdansk to counter the Spanish threat following Ireland’s opening defeat to Croatia and he may spring a surprise by starting Simon Cox as the fifth midfielder.

Trapattoni’s decision to break with routine and not name his team ahead of time suggested indecision and following his ineffective contribution in the 3-1 defeat in Poznan, the Italian was contemplating ditching Ireland’s record goalscorer.

Pleaded: Robbie Keane asked his manager if he could start

Pleaded: Robbie Keane asked his manager if he could start

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But captain Keane convinced Trapattoni at a team meeting that he, rather than willing runners Jonathan Walters or Kevin Doyle, is the man to lead the line and the 31-year-old will wear the armband as Ireland look to keep their faint Euro 2012 hopes alive.

Keane says he will play his part in a bid to counter a Spanish side also looking to improve after drawing 1-1 with Italy.

It is understood Trapattoni was mulling over playing Keane, Walters or Cox in the hole and may spring the shock of his reign by plumping for West Brom reserve Cox.

If the 25-year-old plays there, Ireland will forgo the strength of Doyle or Walters or the pace of Shane Long that would be needed to hit a suspect Spanish defence on the break to make the best of little possession.

Ready: Simon Cox is likely to play

Ready: Simon Cox is likely to play

But Trapattoni is understood to have called another team meeting at their base in the shipyard town on Wednesday night and made just one change from Sunday, with Cox coming in for Doyle.

Keane and Cox will both be asked to switch the midfield and lone striker roles and Aiden McGeady has been playing nearer the middle in training. Trapattoni has also asked Paul Green and Darron Gibson to be ready to play a part tonight.

If Ireland lose it will be the first time they have exited a finals after two games but Keane implored fans not to lose hope.

‘Everyone has written the script that Spain are going to beat us. But there’s certainly nobody in that Irish dressing room [who will] go into a game believing that there’s no question of winning,’ he said.

‘I never go into a game believing that I’m going to get beaten by anybody, whether they’re superior or not.’

Euro 2012: Giovanni Trapattoni set to drop Kevin Doyle from Ireland side

Danger Doyle: Trap set to make Kev scapegoat with Walters expected to face Spain

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UPDATED:

23:47 GMT, 11 June 2012

Kevin Doyle looks certain to be made the scapegoat for the Republic of Ireland’s disastrous start to Euro 2012 as manager Giovanni Trapattoni considers making changes to keep Irish dreams alive in Poland.

Despite arguably being Ireland’s most effective player in the 3-1 defeat to Croatia, which has left them needing to get something from their games against Spain and Italy to make it out of Group C, Doyle could be sacrificed by Trapattoni for the second game on Thursday night when they take on the world and European champions.

As he defended his team selection and substitutions, Trapattoni hinted he is ready to start Stoke City striker Jon Walters, who replaced Doyle in the second half of Sunday’s game.

On the way out Kevin Doyle may lose his starting spot for the game with Spain on Thursday

On the way out Kevin Doyle may lose his starting spot for the game with Spain on Thursday

But Trapattoni will not contemplate dropping captain Robbie Keane or using Sunderland winger James McClean, who was left on the bench when the manager surprisingly turned to Simon Cox to replace Aiden McGeady on the left wing.

‘Robbie has experience, he has personality and the opponents respect him. He gives us time when he has the ball and he thinks about what happens. We need his strength,’ said Trapattoni.

‘I have to think about changes. Jonathan Walters showed he is an option for us and he has strength. I have to think about this. But I have Cox too and people say he is a striker but he plays left or right for West Brom too.

Time for a change: Giovanni Trapattoni may drop Doyle

Time for a change: Giovanni Trapattoni may drop Doyle

‘This would have been McClean’s first competitive game and we have senior, experienced players. It’s a heavy weight on his shoulders but he will come in the future. Cox is a striker and could score us goals.’

Ireland players returned to their training base in Gdynia yesterday and took part in a light session with the majority of the starting line-up from Sunday only playing a short possession exercise.

Staying on the bench: James McClean is unlikely to get a call up

Staying on the bench: James McClean is unlikely to get a call up

Despite continued concerns over his fitness, keeper Shay Given trained and the only other doubts surround Richard Dunne’s blisters and Darron Gibson’s tight thigh muscle.

Trapattoni sat down with his squad in a bid to rebuild confidence ahead of the Spain match.

‘I reminded them that we deserved to achieve this qualification.

‘We have good quality. Maybe the other teams are more creative but we are here in Euros with our qualities.’