Tag Archives: weapon

Chelsea staff warned after Rafael Benitez"s tactics taken from bin

Chelsea staff warned to be extremely careful after Rafa's tactics were picked out of the rubbish

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UPDATED:

22:42 GMT, 18 December 2012

Chelsea staff have been told to be extra vigilant after confidential paperwork depicting the team’s tactical secrets were made public.

Scraps of paper revealing the carefully planned tactical ploys of manager Rafa Benitez were recovered from the floor of Chelsea’s empty dressing room after Sunday’s 1-0 defeat by Corinthians in the Club World Cup final in Japan.

The scrunched-up pieces of paper are said to have been retrieved by Brazilian journalists and have since been made public.

Insight: This tactics sheet shows how Chelsea plan to defend corners

Insight: This tactics sheet shows how Chelsea plan to defend corners

The Stamford Bridge club will not be
investigating the blunder but members of the first team have been asked
to be extra careful in future.

The pieces of paper show Benitez’s tactics for attacking and defending corners.

In one sheet, which demonstrates Chelsea defending a corner, Ashley Cole is
charged with sprinting out and preventing the short ball, while Juan
Mata lurks on the edge of the area to pressurise Corinthians’
Allesandro.

Offensive: A second sheet shows how Rafa Benitez wants his players to attack corners

Offensive: A second sheet shows how Rafa Benitez wants his players to attack corners

When Benitez arrived he praised the ability of Fernando Torres to defend
corners and he uses the Spanish striker as a key defensive weapon.

Each players is clearly partnered with a player to mark and there is an
instruction from Benitez that reads: ‘Immediately up after we clear 1st
ball.’

What a mess: It is claimed the sheets were taken from Chelsea's dressing room after they left

What a mess: It is claimed the sheets were taken from Chelsea's dressing room after they left

In the second sheet, which shows Chelsea’s tactics at their own corner,
Benitez has written in giant red writing: ‘Be aware of counter attack’
as he was obviously concerned by the pace of the Brazilians on the
break.

Branislav Ivanovic, David Luiz and Gary Cahill all attack a zone
coloured yellow when the ball comes in, while strikers Fernando Torres
and Victor Moses split in different directions to pull defenders away
from the danger area.

Rafa Benitez"s Chelsea tactics sheets found discarded in dressing room after Club World Cup

Revealed: Rafa's Chelsea secrets… tactics sheets from Club World Cup final found discarded in dressing room (and can they now help Leeds pull off a cup shock)

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UPDATED:

12:11 GMT, 18 December 2012

Here are a few scraps of paper that Neil Warnock should pay particular attention to as they may contain the secrets to beating Chelsea — or at least beating them at corners.

It is claimed these scraps of paper were rescued from the floor of Chelsea’s empty dressing room after the 1-0 defeat by Corinthians in the Club World Cup final at Yokohama’s Nissan Stadium.

They appear to show Rafa Benitez’s defensive tactics from corners and show specific instructions for key players.

Insight: This tactics sheet shows how Chelsea plan to defend corners

Insight: This tactics sheet shows how Chelsea plan to defend corners

Globoesporte, one of the biggest sport
websites in Brazil, claim one of their journalists entered the changing
room after the team had left and filtered through the rubbish to find
Benitez’s tactical sheets from that final.

In one sheet, which shows Chelsea defending a corner, Ashley Cole is
charged with sprinting out and preventing the short corner, while Juan
Mata lurks on the edge of the area to pressurise Corinthians’
Allesandro.

Offensive: A second sheet shows how Rafa Benitez wants his players to attack corners

Offensive: A second sheet shows how Rafa Benitez wants his players to attack corners

When Benitez arrived he praised the ability of Fernando Torres to defend
corners and he uses the Spanish striker as a key defensive weapon.

Each players is clearly partnered with a player to mark and there is an
instruction from Benitez that reads: ‘Immediately up after we clear 1st
ball.’

What a mess: It is claimed the sheets were taken from Chelsea's dressing room after they left

What a mess: It is claimed the sheets were taken from Chelsea's dressing room after they left

In the second sheet, which shows Chelsea’s tactics at their own corner,
Benitez has written in giant red writing: ‘Be aware of counter attack’
as he was obviously concerned by the pace of the Brazilians on the
break.

Branislav Ivanovic, David Luiz and Gary Cahill all attack a zone
coloured yellow when the ball comes in, while strikers Fernando Torres
and Victor Moses split in different directions to pull defenders away
from the danger area.

Well, that didn't work: Benitez with his players after their 1-0 defeat to Corinthians

Well, that didn't work: Benitez with his players after their 1-0 defeat to Corinthians

Cheer up, lads: Chelsea's players struggle to raise a smile after their failed bid to win

Cheer up, lads: Chelsea's players struggle to raise a smile after their failed bid to win

PS Have you been taking note, Petr

Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech was pictured at training on Tuesday morning attempting to catch a cross among a sea of bodies… well, plastic statues instead of real footballers!

That's mine: Petr Cech attempts to snatch the ball on Tuesday morning

That's mine: Petr Cech attempts to snatch the ball on Tuesday morning

England v New Zealand preview with Ben Kay

England must not be conned by All Black rope-a-dope tactics

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UPDATED:

23:35 GMT, 30 November 2012

There are a lot of myths about the way the All Blacks play. People have this perception they’re an all-singing, all-dancing team who always have the ball and are always attacking, always expansive.

The truth is different. /11/30/article-2241211-16492714000005DC-110_634x422.jpg” width=”634″ height=”422″ alt=”Dan stays in the picture: The All Blacks most potent weapon, Dan Carter, checks out the news in Sportsmail, including pictures of his day out in London” class=”blkBorder” />

Dan stays in the picture: The All Blacks most potent weapon, Dan Carter, checks out the news in Sportsmail, including pictures of his day out in London

Steve Hansen’s side conceded the second-highest number of penalties and, when it came to time-in-possession stats, they were third of the four teams. The message is clear; it’s not about how much ball they have, it’s about what they do with it.

But there were several areas where the All Blacks were well ahead of the rest – passes completed, number of off-loads, defenders beaten, clean breaks, metres gained and tackle completion, highlighting their clinical work.

For a long time, New Zealand have been the finest counter-attacking side in the world. When they win a turnover, it’s as if they flick a mental switch. They all go up a gear, they raise their intensity levels. More often than not, they will score.

What the All Blacks do well is control and vary their pace. A lot of other nations play at the same high intensity, but they are one-paced, they lack that variety. New Zealand are able to operate and succeed with less possession. Their tackle-completion rates are really good, then when they get the ball, they immediately go up three gears.

Masters of the art: New Zealand are the best counter-attacking side in the world

Masters of the art: New Zealand are the best counter-attacking side in the world

Last weekend, Manu Tuilagi intercepted the ball and broke upfield against South Africa, but England were unable to take the scoring chance. In the same circumstances, the All Blacks would have flicked that switch and scored a try. The initial reaction is crucial. As soon as they see a turnover, the players all quickly get into position and flood through on the right support lines. In contrast, some of the England players might have seen Chris Ashton receive the ball from Tuilagi and subconsciously thought ‘he’s quick’ so they just watched him run.

New Zealand always ensure that as many players as possible work themselves into attacking positions. They would have had someone up in close support of a player in Ashton’s position, ready to take an off-load when he ran hard at the last defender.

Opta stats reveal that, of all the All Blacks tries since the World Cup, 44 per cent start when they regain possession in their own half. With England, that figure drops to about 20 per cent. New Zealand are always alert to potential try-scoring opportunities, even from deep.

It is like rope-a-dope – their ability to soak up pressure and pounce when chances come along. Their belief that they will always find a way to win borders on arrogance.

rugby.jpg

They will look at the opposition and
think, ‘Whatever you do, we will surpass you’, which is the mindset we
had with England in the run-up to the 2003 World Cup. The All Blacks
believe they are bullet proof.

Another advantage they have over England and other sides is an innate willingness to take risks. They have so many supreme physical specimens who can dominate collisions, but they also have the mind-set to play positively – always looking to offload.

In England, if you throw an offload that ‘wasn’t on’, it can lead to heavy criticism and that can make players go into their shells. Perhaps we have to change our national psyche when it comes to risk-taking.

England captain Chris Robshaw has been slated for his decision to go for goal with a late penalty last weekend, but he made the right call. Stats show that from 40 attacking line-outs within 10 metres of the opposition line since the start of 2010, England have scored just four times.

Under pressure: Robshaw will come in for intense scrutiny on Saturday

Under pressure: Robshaw will come in for intense scrutiny on Saturday

If time is almost up, the defending side can keep infringing, knowing that the attacking team need more than a penalty to win the game. They basically have a licence to cheat.

My hope is that Robshaw can block out all the criticism the next time that he faces a similar scenario, but my fear is that all the stick he’s had will affect him.

On this occasion, there are no areas where England have a clear advantage. Rugby is a strange game, so all hope is not lost, but I think the All Blacks will win, say 29-13.

headtohead.jpg

Chelsea manager Rafael Benitez develops iPad coaching app

Save Chelsea's season There's an app for that! New Blues boss Benitez has a secret weapon for masterminding his tactics

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UPDATED:

14:29 GMT, 26 November 2012

Some managers are sticklers for a wipeboard and coloured marker pens, while others might swear by a magnetic pitch and coloured discs to get their laboriously thought-out tactical musings through to the players.

Not so Rafael Benitez – he takes a wholly more high-tech and sophisticated approach to his team talks.

The new Chelsea coach has helped develop an iPad app designed especially for coaches – and he hopes it'll help in turning the club's season around.

Tactics board: The Globall Coach iPad app, which Chelsea interim manager Rafael Benitez has helped develop, allows managers to plan formations and tactics

Tactics board: The Globall Coach iPad app, which Chelsea interim manager Rafael Benitez has helped develop, allows managers to plan formations and tactics

Thinking man: Rafa Benitez was installed as interim Chelsea manager last week following the sacking of Roberto Di Matteo

Thinking man: Rafa Benitez was installed as interim Chelsea manager last week following the sacking of Roberto Di Matteo

The Globall Coach app comes in three
versions – 'Lite' for school and Sunday League gaffers at 4.99,
'Premier' for those who take it slightly more seriously at 50 and
'Elite' for those with UEFA qualifications at 300.

Looking a bit like an old Football
manager game, it allows coaches to manage their squads and try out
different on-pitch scenarios and formations.

You can also bring in virtual cones
and flags for training ground routines in case the strikeforce needs
additional shooting practice.

And after the final whistle, the app can help analyse where it all went wrong – or right.

All-out attack: Will Chelsea stick to their policy of full throttle attacking play under Benitez

All-out attack: Will Chelsea stick to their policy of full throttle attacking play under Benitez

The Spaniard has had plenty of time to
think about tactics, having been out of employment for two years before
being brought in as Chelsea's interim boss following the sacking of
Roberto Di Matteo last week.

And talking about his new gadget with
tech website Pocket-Lint, he said: 'A lot of people have iPads now. But I
haven't seen anything like this program.

'A lot of them have a PC, which they
can use to download videos, etc. But to go to the pitch with this, this
level of information and the way you can change everything, I haven't
seen this.'

Benitez said he could only have dreamt
of such technology when, as a young coach, he spent hours meticulously
studying video tapes on upcoming opponents and transfer targets.

'When I was a young coach, I had two VHS video players and I was using both to prepare my case for my players,

'I would spend maybe five hours in the
morning to prepare clips. With this technology you can do things like
that [snaps fingers].'

Zonal marking The Globall coaching app allows managers to fine-tune all aspects of their side's tactics, including positioning from set pieces

Zonal marking The Globall coaching app allows managers to fine-tune all aspects of their side's tactics, including positioning from set pieces

He added that the app will make things clearer for the players as well.

'The other thing is that I have been
at a lot of top sides and they have a lot of foreign players, sometimes
it's difficult to communicate.

'Liverpool had 14 nationalities. And,
at other teams, I've seen a translator on the pitch explaining the
exercises during the training sessions.

'With this you can show them the exercises yourself.'

Globall Coach Lite is available on iPad to download from the iTunes store for 4.99.

More information on the other, advanced versions are available at www.globall-coach.com

Real Madrid"s secret weapon designed by an Englishman

Real Madrid's secret weapon that Mourinho hopes will bring down Manchester City… and it is designed by and Englishman

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UPDATED:

01:45 GMT, 21 November 2012

Aqua man: A mock up of Cristiano Ronaldo wearing the suit

Aqua man: A mock up of Cristiano Ronaldo wearing the suit

Jose Mourinho calls it Real Madrid’s secret weapon, the Spanish press label it the club’s ‘fourth kit’

It will not be visible to the Manchester City players at the Etihad on Wednesday but Cristiano Ronaldo and co can attest to its effectiveness. What’s more, it’s been designed by an Englishman.

Terry Nelson, a youth player at Liverpool when the club were conquering Europe in the late 70s, has created a buoyancy suit which allows players to train in the water even when injuries have stopped them running on land.

The TNAR Mk X6 – to give its full title – is a body suit made from nylon, lycra and strategically-placed foam padding, which lifts the wearer into the necessary position for exercise in the swimming pool.

Users float, meaning there is no impact on the ground and pressure is relieved from aches and pains that might otherwise curtail a session on an unforgiving pitch.

‘I designed it for training in the water so your feet don’t touch the floor,’ Nelson, 50 told Sportsmail. ‘The suit keeps you upright in the correct biomechanical running position. Anyone who’s got an injury can now run and train and sprint and do all the things they can’t do on land.’

Nelson came up with the idea two years ago after growing tired of floatation bands he used when training with a broken metatarsal. He made contact with Real Madrid through the British Embassy in Spain 18 months ago and the club’s medical staff subsequently helped develop it.

Mourinho gave the thumbs up for players to use the suits in May and they have been worn since the start of the season.

‘I worked with the medical staff and the physios rather than the manager but the manager’s got to like the suits. Ronaldo and Kaka and all the players were there for my talks. You see them using the suits and you have a little chat.

‘Football players can be very particular. They want to play, they don’t really want to go in the pool. But the feedback we get from the manager is that they like wearing the suits, it gives them a feel good factor.’

He added: ‘It brings the players back quicker from injury. They don’t have to rest, they can run very early in their recovery. If you think of Ronaldo, for example, he’s on 300,000 a week. If he comes back two weeks earlier then that’s a lot of money saved by the club.

How it works: The suit helps players train in the water

How it works: The suit helps players train in the water

How it works: The suit helps players train in the water

‘The suit is nylon on lycra with foam pads inside. We call it an exosuit. It’s an extension of muscles groups in your body. It’s like a six pack at the front. On the back, the pads are placed to represent muscle groups in your back, giving support. It’s bigger surface are rather than weight, so that makes it harder to run in the pool but it doesn’t injure you.

‘When Wayne Rooney broke his metatarsal, he wouldn’t have been able to put anything on that foot. Now Wayne could take that cast off his leg, get off his crutches and run. That’s what Real Madrid do.’

Diego Maradona was given a training session by Nelson in Dubai before he lost his job and the Argentinian was so enamoured he wrote a letter of endorsement to Liverpool, who have now also ordered the kit.

‘He’s got very bad knees, he waddles when he walks,’ said Nelson. ‘But in the pool he was sprinting like he did for Argentina. It took him back 20 years. It changed his life.’

Fan: Former Argentina manager Diego Maradona is a fan of the suit

Fan: Former Argentina manager Diego Maradona is a fan of the suit

The next time an injured England player joins up with the squad at Burton he will be given a suit to train in too as the Football Association have bought 25.

TERRY NELSON’S UPLIFTING STORY IN HIS OWN WORDS

The suit comes from a lot of illness and injury. I played for Liverpool for three and a half years between 1977 and 1981. But that ended through a groin injury.

After a couple of years I went into the Paratroopers but that was ended by kidney failure. My military career was over. I had a transplant and entered the British athletics championships for people with transplants in 1993 and won gold for the 5000m.

Before the following world championships I broke my foot badly with a metatarsal injury so I couldn’t train. But I ordered these floatation belts from the United States and ran in the pool for six weeks. My foot healed and I went to Canada and won gold again.

Then I fell ill, my transplant failed. I spent 12 years in hospital six days a week on kidney dialysis. In those six days to keep myself well, my heart good, I was in a wheelchair I used to go to the pool and jog in the water. It was like groundhog day.

I had my second transplant and I’m really well now. I spent two years in the United States learning technical skills then came back but the belt wasn’t enough. That’s when I developed the suit.

I had my leg amputated below the knee in December last year – it was connected to the kidney failure – so I’ve got a carbon fibre leg now and I still run in the pool. It hasn’t stopped me.

All my experience I pass on to the players – don’t get down, you can train.

Bizarrely, Hollywood has called as well. A boxing connection put Mickey Rourke in touch and he is having one made so he can train for an upcoming movie role, with Nelson flying out to Bel Air to assist.

Nelson designed the suit after a lifetime of injuries and illness. He had to quit Liverpool and say goodbye to fellow youth-team members Sammy Lee and Dave Watson in 1981 after sustaining a groin injury.

He joined the paratroopers but was forced to end his career after being diagnosed with kidney failure. After a transplant he won gold at world championships open specifically for those in his situation and during this time discovered the US-manufactured floatation bands.

But his transplant failed and he spent 12 years in hospital on dialysis before having a second successful operation. His son would push his wheelchair to the pool so he could keep his heart in check.

Once out and healthy, he determined to make a product which could not only enable footballers to keep training when injured but also lift their spirits.

‘They have a freedom,’ said Nelson. ‘It rejuvenates their mind as well, because players can get very down if they can’t run.

‘But the suit’s not just for injuries, it can be used when fit. It’s a conditioning suit too.

‘Let’s say we have a player coming to the end of their career – rather than going out on a wet windy training ground, a couple of sessions in the pool helps keep the player’s knees in better condition. And the career could last longer as there’s no impact.’

Roberto Mancini might feel the last thing Madrid’s galaxy of stars need is a special suit of armour.

P.S. At least one Manchester City player owns a suit. Diego Maradona is a big fan and he ordered a dozen for friends and family, including son-in-law Sergio Aguero.

Football Lab of Arsenal, Manchester United, Real Madrid REVEALED

REVEALED: The Football Lab that Arsenal hope will create a new generation of stars

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UPDATED:

16:54 GMT, 15 November 2012

There was a time when wannabe footballers honed their technique and reactions by kicking a tennis ball against a coal shed or a dustbin.

Today, things have moved on leaps and bounds, with the top clubs investing in the latest technology to gauge their proteges’ potential to within a fraction of an inch or second.

There’s the hi-tech ‘Footbonaut’ at Borussia Dortmund which is fine-tuning Jurgen Klopp’s almost unplayable passing game to perfection.

Secret weapon: Many of Europe's elite clubs are using a new Football Lab training device

Secret weapon: Many of Europe's elite clubs are using a new Football Lab training device

Secret weapon: Many of Europe's elite clubs are using a new Football Lab training device

And Sportsmail can reveal another top-secret weapon used by the likes of Arsenal, Manchester United and Real Madrid to keep their stars at the top of their game.

The Football Lab, developed by Danish company Munin Sports, is the world’s first fully interactive training pitch. It is an enclosed patch of Astroturf fitting with the company’s unique m-station PRO rebound boards on each wall and laden with LED tracker lights, loudspeakers and motion sensors.

Jamie Redknapp tests the 'Footbonaut'

Sportsmail sent an expert to check out Borussia Dortmund's revolutionary training device – click here to read what Jamie Redknapp made of the Footbonaut

The player stands in the centre and must pass the ball off whichever rebound board is flashing in the quickest amount of time. It’s a real test of reactions, agility and passing accuracy.

And to add to the space age feel, every movement of player and ball is mapped by the sensors, with the data instantly available to download to an iPhone app.

While the top clubs use the Lab to sharpen the skills of their youth players, it is open to anyone and so the tracking software adds a competitive element between friends and teammates.

Club coaches can, of course, monitor the stats to see which areas can be worked on.

VIDEO: Inside the Football Lab

The rebounders can also be used anywhere on the pitch and replicate the random movements of a ball on the field of play. They might be positioned, for example, on the edge of the penalty box in shooting drills to mimic the knock-downs from a tall target man. Or a goalkeeper might throw the ball at the board to test his reflexes.

The m-station PRO is used by Arsenal’s academy players at the club’s Hale End and London Colney training grounds.

Arsenal coach Carl Laraman said: ‘It’s a marvellous piece of equipment. I can use it for different elevations and you can use it as a rebound facility for passing and both defensive and attacking heading.

‘The players can also use it on their own for practice before and after training.’

VIDEO: m-station demonstration

It is also used at Manchester United for individual practice by first team coaches, and at AC Milan and Real Madrid for academy development.

Gianluca Angelucci, coach at the AC Milan Youth Camp, added: ‘This is a very important step forward and all Italian clubs will definitely benefit from it.

‘It allows you to work with very specific elements, especially when it comes to goalkeeping practice where you need to dive, catch the ball in the air or react on rebounds.’

Women"s World Twenty20 2012: Arran Brindle"s son helps England"s bid for victory

Brindle's little boy is helping England women's T20 campaign end in the mother of all victories

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UPDATED:

21:50 GMT, 6 October 2012

England's women stand on the brink of outdoing their male counterparts by winning the World Twenty20 on Sunday, courtesy of their secret weapon – four-year-old Harry Brindle.

The son of veteran batsman Arran Brindle has accompanied the team throughout the tournament in Sri Lanka, where they have yet to lose more than six wickets in an innings, let alone a match.

While the men's team limped out at the Super Eight stage, the women are favourites to clinch a fifth world title over Australia, who they have already beaten once in this tournament.

On the brink: Arran Brindle (right) is hoping to outdo the men's T20 by winning the final

On the brink: Arran Brindle (right) is hoping to outdo the men's T20 by winning the final

England had a training session yesterday before taking their minds off the final by playing with Harry in the hotel pool in Colombo.

'Harry's having a whale of a time swimming with the girls,' said Brindle. 'To have that away from cricket gives you another focus and a good time to relax.

'Being in the pool is also great for recovery and recuperation. I hope the girls have enjoyed having him here. I've taken on a bit of a mother role in the team and I always seem to end up carrying things and the girls ask me for various things, like tape and scissors. I've not quite taken on grandma status yet.'

Harry's presence has proved a distraction for a team seen as the best in the world in all formats.

'We're going in as favourites but we're not feeling the pressure,' said Brindle.

'We take confidence from the fact we have already beaten them in the group stage. The biggest thing for women's cricket is that it's an entertaining final because it's being televised.'

Brindle, 30, returned to the international fold last year following a five-year break to start a family with husband James. She played club cricket throughout her hiatus, becoming the first woman to captain a men's ECB Premier League team when she took the reins at Louth in 2007.

Sweet victory: England beat New Zealand in the semi-final of the World T20

Sweet victory: England beat New Zealand in the semi-final of the World T20

'I didn't retire, I just needed a break,' said Brindle. 'It was a lot of travel from Louth to Loughborough, where the England team trained. But things have changed for the better in terms of investment since then.

'A lot of my training can be done five minutes down the road now because of improved facilities, so it made returning to international cricket while Harry is just starting primary school an option.'

It is testimony to the commitment of the ECB to develop women's cricket with a huge increase in funding, security and status for elite players.

They take performance seriously, with intensive training camps including strength and conditioning, nutrition, spin and diving techniques.

Such attention to detail has seen England lose one game in the T20 format since January 2011, a defeat by West Indies last month ending a 21-match unbeaten run.

But they have rarely been stretched, their supremacy continuing with victory over semifinal opponents New Zealand.

Brindle's son, Harry, four, has accompanied the team throughout their tour

Brindle's son, Harry, four, has accompanied the team throughout their tour

Captain Charlotte Edwards will again have a quartet of spin bowlers, led by Holly Colvin, at her disposal in the final.

They will relish a return to the sluggish pitch at Premadasa. 'Spin has been a key part throughout, so it's nice to have a surface to help us out,' said Colvin, 23.

The extra day's rest England have had over Australia, who beat West Indies on Friday, could be telling.

But if England do reclaim the World T20 trophy, which they relinquished to Australia in 2010, celebrations will be kept to a minimum.

'Win or lose, it's a quick flight back home,' said Brindle.

Chelsea players have watches and wallets stolen at Cobham training ground

EXCLUSIVE: Chelsea players have wallets and watches stolen in training ground raid

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UPDATED:

06:28 GMT, 26 September 2012

Chelsea have called in police after six wallets, nine mobile phones and several watches were stolen from staff and players at the training ground in yet another amazing security breach at the club.

The thefts, which took place earlier this month, were discovered when the players returned to the changing room after training at their Cobham base in Surrey.

It is the latest serious incident at the training ground this year and has caused disruption and anger amongst the players affected.

Raid: Chelsea's training ground was the site of a theft

Raid: Chelsea's training ground was the site of a theft

Earlier this year a knife was discovered in the dressing room at the club’s academy. The club claimed it had been mislaid by a workman.

Chelsea fired academy starlet Jacob Mellis after he caused a full-scale evacuation of the training complex by letting off a smoke bomb.

On top of that, three of Chelsea’s staff damaged the European Cup while posing for unauthorised pictures with the trophy won in a thrilling final against Bayern Munich last May.

Absent: The theft took place while Chelsea were training

Absent: The theft took place while Chelsea were training

Players are now demanding to know how their possessions could have been taken during an hour-and-a-half training session.

A hat-trick of exclusives

Knife is found in Chelsea dressing room

After a gun and a knife there's a new weapon of choice at Chelsea… smoke bombs!

Crackpots! Chelsea embarrassed after staff damage Champions League trophy

A club spokesman said: ‘A number of personal items were recently stolen from the academy dressing room area. The matter is currently being investigated by the police. CCTV footage is being handed to them and confirms the thefts were carried out by a lone intruder not connected with the training ground site.

‘Other local premises near to the training ground were targeted that day and may be connected. Nobody at Chelsea FC is under suspicion.’

Although Chelsea insist the thefts are not an inside job, police have yet to make an arrest after they were called in last week.

This is the first time police have been called to the training ground about alleged thefts, but there have been various disturbing reports involving players’ personal effects this year.

Joy of six: Chelsea cruised to victory over Wolves on Tuesday night

Joy of six: Chelsea cruised to victory over Wolves on Tuesday night

Players have frequently complained about cash going missing from their changing room but there has never been any proof of theft.

Chelsea are convinced the crimes have been committed by an opportunist thief walking into the training ground. Police are studying CCTV footage of the facility.

On Tuesday night, Chelsea said the thefts did not involve the first-team dressing room, but the identities of the victims have not been revealed.

Giovanni Trapattoni ready to unleash James McClean

Trapattoni ready to go against instincts and unleash McClean

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UPDATED:

18:35 GMT, 5 September 2012

Giovanni Trapattoni does not really do 'unleash’.

But according to my colleagues on a well-informed Dublin radio station this week, the Republic of Ireland manager was ready to do just that with James McClean this week.

Then the former Derry City man got a sore throat and, as he did in Poland, Trapattoni will unexpectedly turn to the tried and, as a winger, untested Simon Cox as his wingman. Makes no sense to me.

Secret weapon: Giovanni Trapattoni is ready to unleash James McClean

Secret weapon: Giovanni Trapattoni is ready to unleash James McClean

More from Colin Young…

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VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

McClean’s first competitive start for Ireland has been too long coming. I will forever fail to understand why the Italian refused to throw the eager Sunderland winger, after such a blistering first half season at the Stadium of Light, on the unsuspecting defences at Euro 2012.

Given how badly his rigid policy worked out, what did he have to lose in Poland

McClean has been unwell this week, so we head to Kazakhstan uncertain whether he is lucky enough to be on the 15-hour hop to Astana, and if he can be guaranteed an `unleashing’ for Ireland’s tricky first World Cup 2014 qualifier.

It is a no-brainer for most Ireland observers – but there were plenty of those three months ago which failed to materialise – and if McClean does play and works in tandem with the (occasionally) talented Aiden McGeady on the right and left, Ireland have a real threat, and can move on from the loss of Damien Duff.

First though Trap will turn to Cox so he must continue to work to impress a manager who is hard to impress.

Sunderland are well represented in Ireland’s squad now. Keiren Westwood will get a chance to prove he is Ireland’s Number One, and should be Martin O’Neill’s, while John O’Shea will take the captain’s armband at the point Trapattoni decides Robbie Keane’s legs have had enough on Friday night.

The fourth Sunderland player on the plane didn’t expect to be there.
But fewer footballers deserve the (international) break David Meyler got this week, although he’s unlikely to feature on Friday.

Chance will come: David Meyler is hoping to be selected for Ireland's friendly with Oman

Chance will come: David Meyler is hoping to be selected for Ireland's friendly with Oman

His chance will surely come in the mouth-watering friendly against Oman at Craven Cottage on Tuesday night.

Meyler has spent the equivalent of a player’s lifetime in treatment and rehab over the last three years, paying the price with injuries which are a result of his exuberance and enthusiasm which seem somehow undiminished.

In the Malahide Grand Hotel on Monday night, a once-shy and reluctant interviewee spilled his guts to the Irish press, revealing the pain and endurance he has been through to get anywhere near a Sunderland reserve team, never mind his return to O’Neill’s squad and bench, and the unexpected call-up as mardy Darron Gibson’s replacement.

'I was called in two years ago,’ he said. 'But suffered two setbacks and had 20 months out.

'I have waited so long for the opportunity to play for my country and to be involved in this team. I have waited a long time but I’m delighted.’

And so it went on, including the graphic details behind his two horrific injuries. Not that he’s counting, but he revealed: 'We played Man United, Sunday, 2nd of May, 34 minutes into the game…’

'Roughly’ said one of the lads, part joking.

'No, it was bang on’, he replied. Not a moment’s hesitation or recognition of any sarcasm.

Back in the fray: Meyler had lengthy spells on the sidelines with knee injuries

Back in the fray: Meyler had lengthy spells on the sidelines with knee injuries

'I went for the ball and Patrice Evra took a heavy touch and I went to tackle him and he leant his body in and I tried to wrap my leg around him but he fell on top of me and I got turned over on my knee.

'I had surgery and spent nine months out.

'In my fifth game back against Villa, there was 40 minutes gone in the game and I went to close down Carlos Cuellar and ended up doing my knee again and spent another nine months out.’

Republic of Ireland v Oman, Craven Cottage Tuesday September 12 is not a fixture many will be circling on the calendar. But David Meyler might.

The moment he controlled the long pass from Vurnon Anita, caressed the ball, stepped inside Ciaran Clark and then fired a blistering shot into the top corner was so devastatingly quick, Alan Pardew admitted he had no idea how Hatem Ben Arfa did it.

'I didn’t realise it was his right foot,’ said the Newcastle manager of a player who normally uses said leg for standing on.

'The goal was worth the admission price alone. It was a top hit,’ he added on Sunday evening after the strike had won Newcastle a point from pretty much nothing.

'He has exceptional power and technique. In training he is our best player and he is on the pitch too. If we can get four up like that we can be a great team, but we have a few to step up now.’

Pardew has played down any suggestion that Ben Arfa is playing with a point to prove after his Euro 2012 disappointment, and literal fall-out.

Wonderful: Alan Pardew has no idea how Ben Arfa pulled off his wonder goal against Aston Villa

Wonderful: Alan Pardew has no idea how Ben Arfa pulled off his wonder goal against Aston Villa

But there can be no doubt that Newcastle’s latest French enigma’s emphatic return to Barclays Premier League action is the Newcastle boss’s biggest bonus of the summer. Because there haven’t been many and he has enough to worry about.

The international break comes at the right time for Newcastle, which is not a sentence often uttered by clubs for the first round of World Cup games of the season.

It will allow the Newcastle manager and his staff time to work on the inconsistencies which have surprisingly crept in during this early phase of the season.

The untidy, frustrating draw with Aston Villa was just not on their agenda and they will work to address their faltering start this week.

Of course there are absentees as Newcastle prepare for their next league game, the visit of Norwich City and, for the first time, as an opposing manager, Chris Hughton who might just want to prove a point or three.

Yohan Cabaye is away with France, which will hopefully give him time to put a smile back on his face and return to the form he showed for the majority of last season, and during Euro 2012.

His first Newcastle season also inevitably led to attention from elsewhere – and Barcelona, Manchester United and Arsenal is not a bad list of suitors – but the transfer did not happen. He and Newcastle have to move on together.

No names were mentioned when Pardew attacked agents for turning the heads of some of his players during the transfer window but looking through the squad, and its current demeanour and form, and Cabaye’s unhappy facade does spring to mind.

Pardew will be hoping the international break will help Yohan Cabaye (right) return to form

Pardew will be hoping the international break will help Yohan Cabaye (right) return to form

Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse have to travel to Africa and back and play two vital games, hopefully this time playing like two men who actually know and will be playing every game with each other, rather than the two strangers who played upfront on Sunday afternoon.

The lack of in-comings to Newcastle during the close season has caused much consternation among the Tyneside faithful, although that overlooks the hard work that went on behind the scenes to keep the likes of Cabaye, Cheick Tiote and Ba.

As Newcastle have unearthed so many gems over the last three years, such as that trio, it is difficult to question Newcastle’s transfer policy.

But the summer recess does feel like an opportunity missed, particularly to those who will always question owner Mike Ashley.

Anita is the only significant summer purchase, and a lack of depth to the striking options, already being felt by the joint absence of the Ameobi brothers, has to be a concern, especially with the Ba/Cisse axis looking so out of sorts, for now at least.

Plenty to think about for Alan Pardew then. Although one much-improved performance and a win against Norwich next weekend and suddenly the world will be a lot brighter for Newcastle.

And finally . . .

I am a little surprised Joe Bennett joined Aston Villa as the transfer window closed.

Clearly not as surprised as the player himself, and hopefully he will quickly get over his reluctance to quit Middlesbrough and move into the Barclays Premier League, where he belongs.

Bennett picked up the North East Football Writers’ young player of the year award last year, and, beating off Premier League competition, thoroughly deserved it.

Potential: Joe Bennett has just signed a four-uear deal with Aston Villa from Middlesbrough

Potential: Joe Bennett has just signed a four-uear deal with Aston Villa from Middlesbrough

Potential: Joe Bennett has just signed a four-uear deal with Aston Villa from Middlesbrough

The message from Boro was to build on that first season, but he struggled in a good Boro side and failed to make the starting line-up for the new campaign.

He has however shown he has the potential to go all the way to the England squad and I was a little surprised, with Sunderland desperate to sign a left-back this summer, that he was not Martin O’Neill’s radar.

As Lee Cattermole and Adam Johnson have shown, home is where the heart is for Boro’s Boys, (even if it is in a Sunderland shirt).

Turns out he was expensive (Villa have laid down 2.5million initially with another two possibly) and consequently a risk.

His fee also relieved the pressure on Tony Mowbray financially and helped him comfortably see off Swansea’s interest in Marvin Emnes.

And Villa have signed one for the future in Joe Bennett.

With the right support from Villa to deal with any homesickness, he could feature this season to establish himself as a Premier League player, without having to wait for promotion with Middlesbrough.

Scott Harrison beats Gyorgy Mizsei Jr

I'm back! Harrison makes winning return to ring with knockout win over Mizsej Jr

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UPDATED:

22:42 GMT, 29 June 2012

Former world champion Scott Harrison enjoyed a winning return to the ring on Friday after a six-and-a-half year absence with a fourth-round stoppage against Hungarian teenager Gyorgy Mizsei Jr.

The 34-year-old finally banished years of personal problems, which included a spell in a Spanish prison, and showed he still had the punching power that saw him enjoy numerous world title defences in his heyday.

Back in the ring: Scott Harrison (left) has had a long absence from boxing after a string of problems

Back in the ring: Scott Harrison (left) has had a long absence from boxing after a string of problems

The Scot looked in impressive shape and put the previously unbeaten opponent down four times before the referee stopped the International Masters lightweight contest amid concern over a blow to the head.

Harrison, making his first appearance since a successful defence of his WBO featherweight title against Nedal Hussein in 2005, came out to a huge ovation from the crowd at the Kelvin Hall in Glasgow and was immediately on the attack against the tall but slim Hungarian, who has won seven professional fights.

Harrison put together several good combinations in the opening round without seriously troubling his opponent but he had him down three times in the second, on each occasion after a left hook to the body.

Harrison remained on the attack in the third with a right hook to the head his most dangerous weapon and it seemed a matter of time before the Scot finished off his opponent, who was a late replacement for Frenchman Brahim Bariz, who pulled out on Tuesday.

That time was midway through the fourth when a succession of right hooks forced the stoppage.

Harrison relinquished his belt in 2006 after failing to make the weight for a defence and checked into the Priory Clinic in Glasgow to treat problems with alcohol and depression.

The Cambuslang boxer lost his licence and continued to struggle with personal problems, and served two-and-a-half years in a Spanish prison after being found guilty in 2009 of assault and attempted theft of a car in Malaga three years earlier.

Harrison, who won a long battle to regain his licence in December last year, said: 'It was a privilege to be out there in front of the fans.

'I want to thank them for coming out to support me.

'Throughout my suspension I have always kept myself in shape no matter what you read in the papers about me being at death's door.

'Hopefully I'll get a chance for a world title in the near future.

'In the past I was training to lose weight but now I'm improving my fitness and strength.

'As the fight went on I was punching harder.'