Tag Archives: west

Roberto Martinez admits Premier League relegation would mean Wigan"s FA Cup final spot

Martinez: Relegation would turn FA Cup final into 'empty achievement'

By
John Edwards

PUBLISHED:

12:19 GMT, 16 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

13:13 GMT, 16 April 2013

Roberto Martinez has admitted that reaching the FA Cup final will go down as an 'empty achievement' if Wigan fail to safeguard their Barclays Premier League status.

Relegation-threatened Wigan face Manchester City at The Etihad Stadium on Wednesday night in what is being dubbed a dress rehearsal for next month's final, after both teams came through last weekend's semi-final ties.

But Wembley will not be allowed anywhere near Martinez's thoughts, after he described how Wigan's players travelled straight back after Saturday evening's win over Millwall and trained the following day.

Scroll down to watch Martinez's pre-match press conference

Extra motivation: Wigan manager Roberto Martinez thinks getting to the FA Cup final can help his team's Premier League survival chances

Extra motivation: Wigan manager Roberto Martinez thinks getting to the FA Cup final can help his team's Premier League survival chances

Far from staying over in London for a party to mark their first-ever Cup final place, Wigan's squad were heading north within an hour or so of the final whistle, and Martinez explained why, as he said:
'I didn't allow too many celebrations, because Wednesday's game is so important.

'We switched back to normality straightaway, and put in a great day's work on Sunday, and that is huge credit to the players.

WIGAN'S RUN-IN
April 17: Manchester City (a) April 20: West Ham (a) April 27: Tottenham (h) May 4: West Brom (a) May 7: Swansea (h) May 14: Arsenal (a) May 19: Aston Villa (h)

The Latics currently sit in the last relegation place, three points behind Aston Villa but have two games in hand on their rivals. However, Martinez is fully aware of the task facing his side as they visit the reigning league champions tomorrow.

He said: 'Given City's record at home over the past couple of seasons, this is the toughest test we could face, but we have to respond to the position we are in and make sure we keep picking up points.

'If we do, it will be an incredible achievement to secure a ninth season in the Premier League. That would be some statement.

'If we don't, then reaching the Cup final will become an empty achievement. The Cup is the oldest and best knock-out tournament in the world.

'There is no doubt about that, and getting to the final is an historic moment for this club, and one we are proud of. But we can only count this season as a success if we stay in the Premier League.

Wembley glory: Shaun Maloney celebrates his goal in Wigan's 2-0 FA Cup semi-final win over Millwall on Saturday

Wembley glory: Shaun Maloney celebrates his goal in Wigan's 2-0 FA Cup semi-final win over Millwall on Saturday

'Other teams have reached Wembley finals and been relegated, so that shows the demands we are facing. We are probably facing the hardest fight to stay up so far, and that is credit to the teams around us and the competitive nature of this league.

'But I believe our Cup expoits can actually enhance our survival prospects. Stepping out at Wembley next month would be a unique moment in the career of every Wigan player, and none of them wants to miss out on that. The only way to ensure a place is by contributing to the intervening League games, and that is bringing a really good competitive edge to our play.

'Everyone wants to be involved next month, and that is a great motivation for them over the next few weeks.'

VIDEO Martinez praises Wigan players' form

Martinez praises Wigan players

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Wojciech Szczesny plays for Arsenal Under 21s at Anfield

Szczesny starts for Arsenal but can't prevent U21s defeat to Liverpool

By
Graeme Yorke

PUBLISHED:

22:19 GMT, 8 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

06:03 GMT, 9 April 2013

Wojciech Szczesny started for Arsenal’s Under 21 side but could not prevent the visitors falling to defeat against an impressive crop of Liverpool youngsters at Anfield.

The Poland international has not been given a senior appearance by Arsene Wenger for over a month, with Lukas Fabianski being preferred over his error-prone countryman.

Szczesny's dad recently launched a furious attack at Wenger, accusing the Frenchman of making his son the scapegoat for the Gunners' poor.

Back in the game: Wojciech Szczesny played for the Arsenal Under 21s at Anfield

Back in the game: Wojciech Szczesny played for the Arsenal Under 21s at Anfield

The 22-year-old defended his manager however, claiming his dad was wrong to criticise his boss.

But Wenger did not even name Szczesny on the bench for Arsenal's 2-1 win at West Brom on Saturday.

'I rotate the goalkeepers on the bench because when they are two games on the bench then they work for two games, because when they sit always on the bench they lose fitness,' he said.

Last night at Anfield, Adam Morgan beat the Pole to draw first blood for Liverpool before Chuba Akpom equalised for the Gunners.

Krisztian Adorjan put the Reds back in the lead after half-time, but Serge Gnabry kept his cool to level things up once again.

Struggles: Szczesny was dropped by Arsene Wenger and has had to make do with a seat on the bench

Struggles: Szczesny was dropped by Arsene Wenger and has had to make do with a seat on the bench

Struggles: Szczesny was dropped by Arsene Wenger and has had to make do with a seat on the bench

There was no response, however, after Morgan snatched his second at the Kop End to clinch victory for the hosts.

England
Under 21 international Jonjo Shelvey also turned out for the Liverpool
side, but it was Adjoran and Morgan who ensured the hosts ran out
winners.

Adorjan burst down the right flank before drilling an accurate cross into the area for Morgan.

The 18-year-old made no mistake, knocking the ball past the stranded Szczesny from inside the six-yard box.

No cigar: Jonjo Shelvey tries an effort with his left foot as Arsenal's defenders can only watch

No cigar: Jonjo Shelvey tries an effort with his left foot as Arsenal's defenders can only watch

Tussle: Gedion Zelalem of Arsenal takes on Stephen Sama (left) of Liverpool

Tussle: Gedion Zelalem of Arsenal takes on Stephen Sama (left) of Liverpool

Spotted: Jose Enrique watches form the stands as Liverpool edged out Arsenal at Anfield

Spotted: Jose Enrique watches form the stands as Liverpool edged out Arsenal at Anfield

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers insists Andy Carroll will not be sold on the cheap

Rodgers insists Carroll will not leave for peanuts, but don't expect anywhere near the 'astronomical' 35m paid in the first place

By
John Drayton

PUBLISHED:

21:00 GMT, 5 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

21:00 GMT, 5 April 2013

Andy Carroll will not be allowed to leave Liverpool on the cheap with Brendan Rodgers undecided whether the 35m striker is part of his plans.

The 28-year-old is currently on loan at West Ham and will sit down with Rodgers at the end of the season to discuss his Anfield future.

West Ham boss Sam Allardyce is keen sign Carroll on a permanent basis, while the player’s former club Newcastle are monitoring the situation.

Wanted man Carroll's future is still unsure, with his Liverpool contract running out in 2016

Wanted man Carroll's future is still unsure, with his Liverpool contract running out in 2016

Brendan Rodgers

Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew

Been and gone: Rodgers (left) wiants a good fee for Carroll, with Alan Pardew (right) rumoured to be interested

Although Rodgers has warned potential suitors they will have to pay the going rate for the powerful target man.

‘It’s absolutely the case that, just the same as last season, If the player does leave then it won’t be for nothing,’ Rodgers said.

‘He came here for an astronomical fee which was no fault of his own, so we will see what happens in the summer.’

Rodgers admires the robust qualities that Carroll can bring to a team, but hinted that he may struggle to accommodate a player of his type in his future vision for Liverpool.

'Astronomical': Rodgers saysthe huge fee paid for Carroll by Kenny Dalglish was not the player's fault

'Astronomical': Rodgers saysthe huge fee paid for Carroll by Kenny Dalglish was not the player's fault

‘Every player it is about the style, and how they fit into that. If you look at Luis Suarez he has flourished this season in the roaming role we have given him.

'We are a team that is set up to exploit his qualities,’ Rodgers added.

‘Likewise for other players you may have to set up in a certain way to get the best out of them.

There is no doubt Andy has qualities – some of his goals from set plays with West Ham have proven that.’

Out the door: Carroll played 44 times in the Premier League for Liverpool before moving on loan to West Ham

Out the door: Carroll played 44 times in the Premier League for Liverpool before moving on loan to West Ham

Premier League team news for April 6-8

All the Premier League team news ahead of the weekend

PUBLISHED:

07:51 GMT, 5 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

12:53 GMT, 5 April 2013

Sportsmail brings you the latest squad news on every Barclays Premier League team as it breaks ahead of another action-packed weekend.

Simply click on your team (when it appears in blue) in the fixture list below to find out who is injured and who is back in action…

Resistance: Heavy rain this winter will be no problem for the Maxim

SATURDAY

Reading v Southampton 12.45pm

Norwich v Swansea 3pm

Stoke v Aston Villa 3pm

West Brom v Arsenal 3pm

SUNDAY

Liverpool v West Ham 1.30pm

Tottenham v Everton 2.05pm

Chelsea v Sunderland 3pm

Newcastle v Fulham 3pm

QPR v Wigan 4.10pm

MONDAY

Manchester United v Manchester City 8pm

Sam Allardyce confirms he wants to keep Andy Carroll at Upton Park after two-goal display

I want him to stay: Allardyce confirms desire to keep Carroll at Upton Park after his two-goal display against West Brom

By
John Drayton

PUBLISHED:

19:44 GMT, 30 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

19:50 GMT, 30 March 2013

Sam Allardyce cautiously underlined his desire to keep Andy Carroll at Upton Park next season after watching the striker fire West Ham to a vital 3-1 victory over West Brom.

Carroll has endured a difficult time in east London since he arrived on loan from Liverpool last summer, but he looked back to his menacing best today, scoring a fine brace which eased any lingering fears of relegation for Allardyce's men.

The 24-year-old fired a bullet header past Ben Foster to put West Ham 1-0 up and he then sealed the victory with one of the goals of the season following Gary O'Neil's strike.

Flying : The on-loan striker celebrates his goal

Loan ranger: Carroll notched his third goal of the season with a thumping header

Carroll watched the ball come over his shoulder after James Collins had sent a long punt up field and he volleyed past Foster with his right foot from a tight angle.

When asked whether he would like to retain the 6ft 3in striker's services next season, the West Ham manager said: 'The answer to that would be yes.

'There is always a possibility. We will look at the end of the season and we will se what negotiations can be done.'

Carroll's time in London has been blighted by injury, but he is now fully fit and judging by today's performance, it will only be a matter of time before he earns an international recall.

Opener: Carroll (centre) heads home O'Neil's cross to give West Ham the lead

In the air: Carroll headed home to give the Iron an early lead

Roy Hodgson omitted Carroll from his squad for the double-header against San Marino and Montenegro, but when the England manager comes to watch the footage of today's game at Upton Park, he will be impressed, Allardyce reckons.

'That was the best we have seen of him here,' Allardyce added.

'Because he has put two goals in, on top of a good performance.

'I hope this kicks him on to being a regular scorer for us in the next eight games.

'He is in a good frame of mind now and finally after a long wait his fitness is good and that's why you are seeing these performances and the goals are coming.'

West Ham are now two points short of the 38-point mark Allardyce thinks the club will need to avoid relegation.

Happy Hammers: West Ham players celebrate Carrol's early effort

Happy Hammers: West Ham now sit six points off the relegation zone with 36 points

The only disappointment for the West Ham boss today was the fact that he is likely to be without George McCartney for the rest of the season after he hobbled off with the same knee injury that had kept him out of the previous four months.

'I would have thought (he will miss the rest of the season),” Allardyce said of the left-back.

'It's a recurrence of the same injury, his medial ligaments, which is a very big disappointment for him and for us.

Downcast: Steve Clarke was disappointed with his side after the 3-1 defeat

Downcast: Steve Clarke was disappointed with his side after the 3-1 defeat

'That was the only downside for us today. Otherwise, it was a great day for us.

'It was a great performance and it takes us ever closer to that safety margin.'

West Brom were poor throughout
today's encounter. Aside from a deflected Romelu Lukaku free-kick in the
first half, Jussi Jaaskelainen barely had a save to make.

The only time the Baggies beat the Finn was three minutes from the end courtesy of a Graham Dorrans penalty.

West Brom boss Steve Clarke said: 'I can have no complaints about the result. West Ham deserved to win.

'It was a difficult afternoon but we haven't had too many of those this season.'

Clarke will speak to Youssouf Mulumbu tomorrow about his red card for petulantly kicking the ball at O'Neil in injury time.

'I said to the group after the game that they must control their frustrations,' the Scot said.

'It doesn't affect today's game but it affects our group and our squad and the next three games.
“We have a small group and it's a big loss for us.

'The time to speak about it is tomorrow. He probably did it out of frustration.'

Timmy Weah, son of George, is on trial at Chelsea

Which former world player of the year's son is on trial at Chelsea

By
Rik Sharma

PUBLISHED:

23:06 GMT, 28 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

00:24 GMT, 29 March 2013

Chelsea are giving a trial to the son of legendary Liberian hitman George Weah.

Timmy, 13, wanted to play in London for the same team his father signed for in January 2000.

Weah joined on loan from AC Milan and scored against rivals Tottenham on his debut. He was only too happy to bring his son to London for a trial.

Tribute: Weah, pictured with the FA Cup in 2000, had a message for his baby son on his shirt

Tribute: Weah, pictured with the FA Cup in 2000, had a message for his baby son on his shirt

'He is talented,' Weah told Talksport.
'We just wanted to give him the opportunity and we also want him to
enjoy the game he has passion for.

'I brought him to Chelsea just for a trial and for a different experience.'

He
added: 'When I left London, I kept ties with Chelsea and when my son
wanted to come to England to play, the first person I called was my
daddy, Gary Staker [the club's liaison officer].

On target: Weah only played for a short while at Chelsea but showed his nose for goal

On target: Weah only played for a short while at Chelsea but showed his nose for goal

'Gary made it happen and Timothy is enjoying it. He has started training already and he is happy.'

Timmy wants to make his own way in the football world and not purely rely on his father's name.

He told Tropigol: 'My dad was one of the greatest players and I want to follow in his footsteps.

'But I also want to make a name for myself. I want to be Timothy Weah, be myself, play my game and still follow in his footsteps while I’m doing that.'

Weah, who played for Monaco, PSG and Man City among other sides, won FIFA World Player of the Year in 1995, and was voted African Player of the Century.

At home: A few pictures of Weah at his home in west London that he occupied whilst with the Blues

At home: A few pictures of Weah at his home in west London that he occupied whilst with the Blues

Sofa king

Weah looking out of his window and on to the Thames

Premier League team news for March 9-10

All the FA Cup and Premier League team news ahead of the weekend

PUBLISHED:

08:54 GMT, 8 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

12:12 GMT, 8 March 2013

Sportsmail brings you the latest squad news on every Barclays Premier League team as it breaks ahead of another action-packed weekend.

Simply click on your team (when it appears in blue) in the fixture list below to find out who is injured and who is back in action…

Resistance: Heavy rain this winter will be no problem for the Maxim

SATURDAY

FA CUP

Everton v Wigan 12.45pm

Manchester City v Barnsley 5.30pm

PREMIER LEAGUE

Norwich v Southampton 3pm

QPR v Sunderland 3pm

Reading v Aston Villa 3pm

West Brom v Swansea 3pm

SUNDAY

FA CUP

Millwall v Blackburn 2pm

Manchester United v Chelsea 4.30pm

PREMIER LEAGUE

Newcastle v Stoke 3pm

Liverpool v Tottenham 4pm

Jonjo Shelvey could be available for 7m with Stoke City ready to move in summer

Shelvey could be available for 7m with Stoke lining up a summer move

By
Aidan Mccartney

PUBLISHED:

11:47 GMT, 3 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

12:27 GMT, 3 March 2013

Stoke City are considering a move for out-of-favour Liverpool midfielder Jonjo Shelvey during the summer.

The former Charlton prospect has
recently fallen out of Brendan Rodgers first-team plans and the Sunday
People suggest that he could be available in a cut-price transfer in the summer.

Stoke are
understood to be observing the 21-year-old’s progress with Tony Pulis having sent a two-man party to watch the England international
in a reserve match last week.

Outcast: Shelvey (right) could be available in the summer after disappointing recent form

Bleak future: Shelvey (right) could be allowed to leave Anfield after disappointing recent form

Shelvey impressed earlier in the
season for the Reds in his 14 appearances, earning a first England senior cap against San Marino in October.

However, the youngster has been
criticised for his latest displays and he was hauled off by Rodgers after
60 minutes in his last start, an uninspiring performance during their 2-0 defeat against
West Brom in February.

Stoke look set to lose unsettled
former Liverpool man Charlie Adam in the summer and Pulis has now eyed up Shelvey in a 7million swoop as the ideal replacement for the
Scottish international.

Grieving: Adam lost his father just before Christmas which could see him depart Stoke

Grieving: Adam (left) lost his father just before Christmas which could see him depart Stoke

LIVE: Manchester United v Norwich, Chelsea v West Brom, Everton v Reading, Southampton v QPR, Stoke v West Ham, Swansea v Newcastle, Sunderland v…

PREMIER LEAGUE LIVE: Follow the action from around the grounds as it happens

By
Dan Ripley

PUBLISHED:

04:00 GMT, 2 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

14:18 GMT, 2 March 2013

Live scores (3pm)

Click here for the live goals as they go in

Chelsea v West Brom

Everton v Reading

Manchester United v Norwich

Southampton v QPR

Stoke v West Ham

Sunderland v Fulham

Swansea v Newcastle

Click here for the live Premier League table

All the latest from the Championship

All the latest from League One

All the latest from League Two

All the latest from the SPL

Follow Sportsmail's coverage of the Barclays Premier League as Manchester United host Norwich in one of seven games kicking off at 3pm. The league leaders will hope to avenge their defeat at Carrow Road from earlier this season when Chris Hughton's side recorded a 1-0 win.

Elsewhere Chelsea know a win against West Brom at Stamford Bridge will take them back up into third place while Everton will hope to keep up their chances of qualifying for the Champions League at Goodison Park against Reading.

Down near the bottom of the table, Southampton can build a 13-point gap over rock bottom QPR at St Mary's and Newcastle will look to build on recent good form when they visit Capital One Cup winners Swansea.

Trying to avoid getting sucked into a relegation fight, West Ham will hope to improve on a poor away record when they visit Stoke and Sunderland host Fulham with the Cottagers in with a chance of moving into the top 10.

Send me your thoughts on the action at [email protected] or via Twitter @Ripinho.

14.10: It's not every weekend we have a double serving of games at 3pm, but as a little bonus click here to follow live coverage of Real Madrid v Barcelona from the Bernabeu in La Liga.

14.05: Well that's a bad start to the weekend – Ryan Giggs is not even in the Manchester United squad!

With that in mind, let's take a huge contrast and focus on West Brom's Izzy Brown. The midfielder (who is still at school) could become the youngest Premier League player this afternoon at 16 years and 54 days old (he is in the Baggies squad at least.)

14.00: We are set to see a few extraordinary things this weekend. As ever the north London derby will be one of them but arguably the most impressive is set to be Ryan Giggs' 1000th senior game.

Team news is coming up for all seven matches, let's hope the Welshman make an appearance at some point.

Milestone man: Manchester United's Ryan Giggs is poised to make his 1000th senior appearance

Milestone man: Manchester United's Ryan Giggs is poised to make his 1000th senior appearance

Ronnie O"Sullivan will return to defend his World Snooker Championship at The Crucible in April

Ronnie's return! O'Sullivan confirms he will defend World Championship in April

: 18-11 – Ali Carter

He has until the end of tomorrow to
submit paperwork to World Snooker to register for the tournament and,
although he has dropped out of the top 16, will be a top seed as
reigning champion and will not have to qualify.

O'Sullivan said: 'I was a bit bored.
It was nice to have a year out, I had a lot of fun and needed the rest.
But I thought it was time to get back to doing what I've done for a lot
of my life.

'I have a different perspective now and thought it was worth giving it another whirl.

Favourites: O'Sullivan with Jimmy White at his press conference

Favourites: O'Sullivan with Jimmy White at his press conference

Decorated: O'Sullivan won his fourth world title in 2012 when he beat Ali Carter in the final

Decorated: O'Sullivan won his fourth world title in 2012 when he beat Ali Carter in the final

CAN RONNIE WIN IT YOU BET!

Ronnie O'Sullivan is now priced by at 8/1 to successfully defend his World Championship:

Judd Trump 11/2Mark Selby 11/2John Higgins 11/2Neil Robertson 11/2Ronnie O'Sullivan 8/1Ding Junhui 12/1Shaun Murphy 12/1

Odds supplied by Ladbrokes

'I certainly feel refreshed. I was never out of juice anyway. I could've kept going in snooker.

'I wasn't mentally exhausted I just needed to take time out.'

O'Sullivan hopes to play on for at
least two or three years, but did not rule out continuing beyond that
for another seven or eight. He said it depends on how he copes mentally
with the demands of the game.

He added: 'Even in my darkest moments of snooker, I'd probably take them back now.

'I just need to get back to potting some balls and getting back to winning.

'Snooker is a means to an end. You only get one life, want to make the most of it.'

O'SULLIVAN FACTFILE

1975: Born Wordsley, West Midlands, December 5.

1987: Wins his first pro-am tournament at the age of 12.

1991: Scores his first 147 aged 15.

1992: Turns professional.

1993: Becomes youngest winner of ranking tournament at 17, beating Stephen Hendry to win UK Championship.

1994: Wins British Open.

1995: Wins the Masters.

1996: Wins
Asian Classic and German Open. Found guilty by snooker's governing body
of assaulting an official at the World Championship and handed a
two-year suspended sentence, a 20,000 fine and advised to donate
10,000 to charity.

1997:
Wins UK Championship for second time. Compiles the fastest 147 on
record in just five minutes 20 seconds during World Championship win
over Mick Price.

1998: Wins Scottish Masters. Tests positive for marijuana after winning the Irish Masters and is later stripped of the title.

2001:
Wins Champions Cup, Masters, China Open, Irish Masters and his first
World Championship – beating John Higgins 18-14 – before crushing Ken
Doherty 10-1 in UK Championship final in York.

2004: May – Beats Graeme Dott 18-8 at the Crucible to take second World Championship.

2005:
After winning the Masters, Welsh Open and Irish Masters, fails to
defend his World Championship title when losing to Peter Ebdon in
quarter-finals after being 8-2 ahead. Claims in his post-match press
conference that he will take a year off from the sport. But he plays in
every tournament of the 2005-06 campaign except the Malta Cup.

December – Loses 9-8 to Mark King
in first round of the UK Championship, sitting with a towel on his head
while his opponent is at the table.

2006:
April – Loses 17-11 to eventual champion Graeme Dott in World
Championship semi-finals and hands his cue to a member of the audience
straight afterwards.

December 14 – Walks out of his UK
Championship quarter-final with Hendry in York mid-frame when 4-1 down.
He is later fined 20,000 and docked 900 ranking points.

2008:
March – In a China Open press conference, O'Sullivan makes lewd
comments and brandishes a microphone suggestively. He later apologises
for his behaviour but is fined and docked ranking points.

May 5 – Beats Ali Carter 18-8 to win his third World Championship.

2009:
January 12 – Accuses snooker of being on a downward spiral, but wins
the Masters despite smashing up his cue the day before the tournament.

September 20 – Pots red against
Mark King at the World Open and then asks referee Jan Verhaas what the
maximum break prize is. The answer is nothing and O`Sullivan duly clears
to 140 before having to be persuaded to pot the final black.

2011: August – Records the 11th 147 of his career – a snooker record – at the Paul Hunter classic.

October: Courts controversy by
claiming he is being 'raped' and 'blackmailed' by the sport, comments
which he later apologises for.

2012:
May 7 – Wins his fourth World Championship title with an 18-11 win over
Ali Carter at Sheffield's Crucible. Announces he is to take a break
from the sport.

November 6 – Reveals he has
abandoned plans to return to the snooker tour and will miss the rest of
the season because of 'personal issues which he needs to resolve'.

2013: February 26 – Announces at a press conference that he will defend his world title in April after all.

FIVE MEMORABLE O'SULLIVAN MOMENTS

1997: Fastest-ever 147

O'Sullivan's promise had already been brought to the nation's attention by a 147 break at the age of 15 and a UK Championship title success at 17. It was at the Crucible that he really won the nation's hearts, though, effortlessly posting a maximum break in his first-round clash with Mick Price in the astonishing time of five minutes and 20 seconds.

2001: First world title win

O'Sullivan finally cashed in his potential to win the game's biggest prize by beating John Higgins 18-14. A number of near misses left some wondering if the crowd favourite would ever win in Sheffield, but he dispelled all those doubts before dedicating the win to his father, Ronnie Sr, who was then serving a life sentence for murder.

2007: Semi-final maximum

O'Sullivan's UK Championship semi-final with Mark Selby was not high on quality but nonetheless went to a 17th-frame decider. Rather than playing cagey snooker, though, O'Sullivan thumped in a breathtaking 147 and then admitted: 'I cheated a bit really. I had been counting the dots on a spoon to keep focused.' He beat Stephen Maguire in the final.

2009: New cue, same result.

Forever trying to set himself new challenges to recover his old self, O'Sullivan resorted to smashing up his cue on the eve of the 2009 Masters and set about trying to win the tournament – one of his favourite events – with a brand new cue. 'It was fun, I really went to town on it. I wanted an excuse not to play,' he said. He achieved his mission, though, beating Selby in the final.

2012: Fourth world title

O'Sullivan entered the year under something of a cloud, with further talk of retirement combined with his ever-sliding ranking. Needing a positive result at the German Masters to avoid having to qualify for the World Championship, he came back from the brink in his first-round clash with Andrew Higginson before going on to win the title with a final win over Maguire. He then maintained his form through to the Worlds, making light work of stellar names such as Mark Williams and Neil Robertson before dismantling Ali Carter in the final.