Tag Archives: whistle

Ashley Barnes charged by FA

Brighton's Barnes could see four-match ban extended after being charged for trip on referee

By
Andy James

PUBLISHED:

16:47 GMT, 13 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

18:07 GMT, 13 March 2013

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Brighton's Ashley Barnes has been charged by the Football Association for the apparent trip on referee Nigel Miller on March 9 at the Reebok Stadium.

Barnes appeared to make contact with Miller in the closing seconds of his side's 1-0 defeat by Bolton, an offence for which he was shown a red card.

His punishment was a four-game ban, one more than the standard three due to it being the striker's second dismissal of the season.

Scroll down to watch footage of the incident…

Marching orders: Barnes is dismissed by referee Nigel Miller

Marching orders: Barnes is dismissed by referee Nigel Miller

Lengthy ban: Barnes has been sent off twice this season

Lengthy ban: Barnes has been sent off twice this season

Lengthy ban: Barnes has been sent off twice this season already and his protests (below) fell on deaf ears

But, having considered the evidence, the FA have opened proceedings which could lead to an enhanced punishment.

The FA have ruled that the incident displayed 'truly exceptional circumstances' and as such it has been referred to an independent three-man commission who can recommend a further ban if they feel it necessary.

A statement today read: 'The FA has
charged Brighton and Hove Albion's Ashley Barnes following his side's
game against Bolton Wanderers on Saturday 9 March 2013.

'It is alleged that Barnes's
behaviour in relation to the match official, for which the player was
dismissed for violent conduct towards the end of the game, constituted
an offence whereby the standard punishment that would otherwise apply
was clearly insufficient.'

Close quarters: Miller and Barnes are just yards away from each other as Bolton clear

Close quarters: Miller and Barnes are just yards away from each other as Bolton clear

Trip: Barnes sticks out a boot as Miller sets off on a run

Trip: Barnes sticks out a boot as Miller sets off on a run

Whistle: Miller sticks up his hand as he stops the game

Whistle: Miller sticks up his hand as he stops the game

Barnes has been given until 6pm on Thursday to respond.

Speaking immediately after the match –
and before reviewing video evidence – Brighton manager Gus Poyet said:
'I would like to see it.

'Before I talk to him I'm going to have a look because if he's done something to the referee…let's wait and see.

'My way of managing this is I prefer
the player to calm down because if you go to the dressing room and you
ask them straight away then they will put their excuse in there and
blame somebody else.'

VIDEO: Watch Barnes's trip on referee Miller from 50 seconds in

Final moments of Bolton Wanderers 1-0 Brighton & Hove Albion

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Eden Hazard ball boy kick charge shows the FA as hypocrites – Martin Samuel

A booking for one but a charge for the other. — so less than a year ago — Oxford United played at home to Swindon Town in League Two. This is the biggest match of Oxford’s season, for those not up on lower-league rivalries or the geography of middle England. The A420 derby might not enjoy the same prestige as its equivalents in Manchester or Liverpool, but if you have a season ticket at the Kassam Stadium, it’s the big one. There was a crowd of almost 12,000 and tempers ran high.

Oxford had James Constable sent off early, but were leading through goals by Asa Hall and Oli Johnson, when Matt Ritchie, a right winger voted League Two Player of the Year last season, became involved with a slow-moving ball boy, identified as Aidan Hawtin, 16 at the time, and on Oxford’s books as a youth player.

A report from Mark Edwards, sports editor of the Oxford Mail, and published on March 5, explains what happened next: ‘Acting as a ball boy in front of the Oxford Mail stand, Hawtin was grabbed and kicked by Matt Ritchie after the Swindon man felt Hawtin was taking too long to return the ball to goalkeeper Ryan Clarke. “He tried to grab the ball off me and kicked me as well,” Hawtin said. The Oxford Mail stand gave him a huge ovation for his efforts, which saw Ritchie booked for his antics. The Swindon man did apologise to Hawtin at the final whistle, however.’ Sound familiar

Long spell on the sidelines The FA's independent regulatory commission could increase Hazard's three-match ban

Long spell on the sidelines The FA's independent regulatory commission could extend Hazard's ban

A Facebook group catchily named ‘Matt Ritchie is a disgrace’ claimed that Hawtin was ‘grabbed round the throat and pushed’ and there was talk of a complaint to the police. Believing that the punishment should be greater, Myles Francis, an angry Oxford fan, wrote to the FA asking what action would be taken against Ritchie.

Knowing what we know of the FA’s take on Hazard, Ritchie’s yellow card would also have been deemed insufficient, one imagines. The FA made a direct link in their statement between Hazard’s actions and the offence of violent conduct and, coincidentally, that was among the points raised by Francis in his letter.

He wrote: ‘I would be interested to know for what offence Ritchie was cautioned by Mr Salisbury. To my mind, the altercation with the ball boy was a clear case of violent conduct. Violent conduct is defined in Law 12 as “using excessive force or brutality against a team-mate, spectator, match official or any other person”. Law 12 goes on to say that a player guilty of an offence of violent conduct must be sent off [my emphasis].’

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And this was the FA response. ‘Thank you for bringing this matter to our attention. The FA have investigated and liaised with Oxford United on this matter. The player was cautioned by the referee for the incident and has subsequently apologised to the satisfaction of the ball boy and Oxford United.’ So much for the hard line.

Faced with near identical transgressions — in both cases the referee saw the incident and administered the punishment he believed fit, in both cases the player apologised and in both there is evidence to suggest that the ball boy was carrying out his duty to the benefit of the home team only — the FA behaved in contradictory ways.

They are now rigorously pursuing Hazard, having completely ignored Ritchie. The letter announcing that no further action would be taken against the Swindon player came from Gary Stonehouse, who is a member of the FA communications team. He signed off on behalf of customer relations.

‘Chicolini here may talk like an idiot, and look like an idiot, but don’t let that fool you: he really is an idiot,’ President Firefly tells Freedonia’s Cabinet.

But this is not true in Stonehouse’s case. Stonehouse is not to blame for the inconsistency. He is a lowly employee who would no doubt have taken guidance from his superiors over Ritchie. The communications department do not get to make judgment calls on serious disciplinary matters.

Stonehouse would have asked a suitable senior, or the correct department, and would then have mouthed that response. He could not have imagined, either, that within a calendar year those superiors would hang him out to dry by adopting an entirely contradictory stance — just because Hazard’s transgression attracted headlines and Ritchie’s went unnoticed beyond that day’s crowd of 11,825.

Not exactly a kickabout in the park though, was it Not exactly a quarrel in a faraway country between people of whom we know nothing.

Anyway, considering some of the punishments meted out to amateur footballers playing in front of the proverbial two men and a dog, it would be highly disingenuous of the FA to claim that a kick is less of a kick if only 11,000 people see it. Such a stance would be indefensibly hypocritical. Stonehouse’s reply was also the standard FA fudge, hiding behind the dubious excuse that because the referee saw the incident and ruled on it, no further action would be appropriate.

Funny how that does not apply in Hazard’s case.

When Roy Keane almost snapped Alf Inge Haaland in two during the Manchester derby, a foul that still looms large in the memory such was its studied viciousness, there could be no additional action against the Manchester United player because referee David Elleray brandished a red card. In Hazard’s case, this no longer applies. More confusion, more inconsistency, more regulation on the hoof.

No extended ban: Roy Keane was sent off for this appalling tackle on Alf Inge Haaland

No extended ban: Roy Keane was sent off for this appalling tackle on Alf Inge Haaland

It wasn’t so long ago that the FA self-servingly appealed a lengthy UEFA ban for violent conduct because it would free up Wayne Rooney to play in the European Championship finals. Now they want to come over all masterful, the guardians of morality. They should pick a face, and wear it.

Chelsea are aware of the Ritchie precedent and may use it in defence of Hazard. At the very least, they believe its existence is an embarrassment and a point of weakness for the FA. Yet has that bothered them in the past

This is an organisation who speak proudly, some might say shamelessly, of their high conviction rate in disciplinary matters, having devised a system in which the prosecution appoints the independent judges and is therefore responsible for covering their time and expenses. Such a system creates an obvious conflict of interest.

On disciplinary matters, the FA act like the Mounties, always getting their man. But that is not so hard when the same body get to play judge and jury, and write the rulebook.

Their problem is that we now live in an age where even the smallest details exist in the public domain and a two-minute internet search can throw up records, precedents and case histories that were once filed and helpfully forgotten. You have got to be good to preside over sport these days because an Oxford fan with time on his hands and a computer can post damning correspondence on a forum that is picked up and circulated like wildfire.

At which point, a body as morally flexible as the FA are likely to be asked how their populist posturing over Hazard can be justified when less than a year ago, an identical incident was deemed worthy of no more than a yellow card, an apology and a handshake.

President Firefly would certainly know how to administer justice in these circumstances. ‘I got a good mind to join a club — and beat you over the head with it.’

VIDEO: How to be a leader… Groucho Marx style

Veron proves Fergie is not always right

Sir Alex Ferguson, manager of Manchester United, regards some of those criticising his goalkeeper David de Gea as idiots. He is entitled to his opinion. It is not as if anyone is going to score many points disputing the merit of professional footballers with the greatest manager in the world.

One cannot help but recall, though, that the last time he used this phrase was over criticism of Juan Sebastian Veron’s performances for United. Remind us what happened there again

Expensive mistake: Juan Sebastian Veron cost Manchester United 28m - he was sold to Chelsea for 15m

Expensive mistake: Juan Sebastian Veron cost Manchester United 28m – he was sold to Chelsea for 15m

And while we’re at it…

It was a wonderful weekend in the FA Cup. Luton Town’s victory is among the greatest upsets of the modern era, while the results for Oldham Athletic, Milton Keynes Dons, Leeds United and Brentford were stunning achievements. Arsenal also defeated Brighton and Hove Albion in a five-goal thriller.

Yet live on ITV on Saturday, Stoke City played Manchester City and Fulham travelled to Manchester United. The richer teams won. Ho, and indeed, hum.

No imagination, some people, when it comes to Cup football. If City had drawn United then, yes, show a glorified Premier League game. But these were not even particularly good replica league fixtures. They would not have been the marquee match on any casual Saturday.

When United went a goal up after three minutes through Ryan Giggs, their tie with Fulham was dead and Stoke’s defeat was eminently forgettable. Some think the Cup has lost its magic, yet the earliest stages of the competition rarely fail to delight. It is football’s television masters that have grown stale.

The magic of the Cup: Luton's stunning victory at Carrow Road was one of the great giant-killings

The magic of the Cup: Luton's stunning victory at Carrow Road was one of the great giant-killings

Dual role: Sky pundit and England coach Gary Neville

Dual role: Sky pundit and England coach Gary Neville

Crunch time to come for Neville

Few pundits have a higher approval rating than Gary Neville. Fans who thought they would hate him on Sky love him instead for his honest, straight-shooting appraisals. Falling out with Sir Alex Ferguson over David de Gea will only enhance his reputation. Richard Keys could not have picked a worse week to suggest Neville was being operated, remotely, from inside Old Trafford.

Keys did make one valid point, though. Crunch time for Neville, Sky and the Football Association is yet to come. Last weekend, Neville stated quite explicitly that Tottenham Hotspur player Clint Dempsey should have gone down under pressure from a Patrice Evra challenge in the penalty area, rather than staying on his feet. As Roy Hodgson’s England regime remains inexplicably on honeymoon, the comment was ignored.

There will come a time, however, when results are not good and some are looking to make mischief for Hodgson. At which point ENGLAND COACH TELLS PLAYERS TO CHEAT would be quite a lively story. Under pressure.

That is when Neville’s hope of riding both horses to the finish line will be tested, not before.

Chelsea fans are planning to boycott Stamford Bridge unless Rafa Benitez is sacked

Boycott at the Bridge: Chelsea fans plan to stay away unless Rafa is handed his P45

By
Neil Ashton

PUBLISHED:

22:53 GMT, 10 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

02:42 GMT, 11 January 2013

Angry Chelsea fans have decided to boycott matches until Rafa Benitez is dumped, it was claimed.

Supporters believe the club is being torn apart by the way it is being run and are determined to see the back of the interim manager.

Boycott: Angry Chelsea fans are preparing to boycott matches until current boss Rafa Benitez (pictured) leaves the club

Boycott: Angry Chelsea fans are preparing to boycott matches until current boss Rafa Benitez (pictured) leaves

After Chelsea’s shock 2-0 home defeat by Swansea on Wednesday in the Capital One Cup semi-final first leg, the depth of anger being felt by fans was expressed by Trizia Fiorellino, chair of the Chelsea Supporters’ Group, who said: ‘We are in turmoil and there is a danger we will lose the soul of the club.

Unpopular: Benitez has been booed and jeered since he arrived at Chelsea, and has suffered mixed results so far

Unpopular: Benitez has been booed and jeered since he arrived at Chelsea, and has suffered mixed results so far

‘I know of fans who will not watch Chelsea until Rafa Benitez has gone.

'In my experience, fans who stop watching the club don’t come back.’

Chairman Bruce Buck was showered with abuse before the match and supporters went on to chant the names of former managers Jose Mourinho and Roberto Di Matteo during a fractious first leg.

One fan even ran down the steps of the East Stand at the final whistle and shouted: ‘**** off, Benitez’ after the reigning European champions failed to beat the high-flying Swans.

Fiorellino added: ‘The booing of Bruce Buck was universal and vitriolic. It was a serious miscalculation by someone at the club to let him on the pitch before the game.

‘We are fully appreciative of everything Roman Abramovich has done for the club but Benitez is not the right fit for Chelsea.

‘He was brought in to get the best out of Fernando Torres, but if anything the body language has become even worse.

‘There is a lot of disharmony among the supporters about everything that is happening and it is tearing the club apart.’

Real Madrid have targeted Benitez as a potential summer replacement for Jose Mourinho, should the Portuguese leave in the summer.

Chelsea fans are also furious with the treatment of midfield legend Frank Lampard as he enters the final phase of his career at the club.

Fiorellino added: ‘It is an unpopular decision to let Lampard leave and it seems John Terry may be next.’

Owner Abramovich, who is on the Caribbean island of St Barts on an extended holiday, has been made aware of fans’ fury by senior figures at the club after they were humiliated by Michael Laudrup’s side.

Club legend: Chelsea fans are furious that iconic midfielder Frank Lampard appears to be leaving the club in the summer

Club legend: Fans are furious that iconic midfielder Frank Lampard appears to be leaving the club in the summer

Meanwhile, fans from Chelsea’s Barclays Premier League rivals Arsenal have hit out at over ‘extortionate’ ticket prices at the Emirates.

Arsenal protest group the Black Scarf Movement have written to chief executive Ivan Gazidis, saying: ‘You’d be hard-pressed to find any football fan who considers the club’s Category A prices (62 to 126) reasonable.’

'Extortionate': Arsenal fans are furious at the prices they have to pay to watch their team, and have wrote a letter to chief executive, Ivan Gazidis

'Extortionate': Arsenal fans are furious at the prices they have to pay to watch their team, and have wrote a letter to chief executive, Ivan Gazidis

FA to appeal against UEFA bans for Stephen Caulker and Tom Ince

FA to fight UEFA bans handed to Caulker and Ince after U21 play-off in Serbia

PUBLISHED:

18:49 GMT, 8 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

02:14 GMT, 9 January 2013

The Football Association have confirmed they have officially appealed against UEFA's bans against Steven Caulker and Tom Ince over England Under 21's heated European Championship play-off against Serbia.

Spurs defender Caulker was given a two-match ban and Blackpool winger Ince a one-match suspension after clashes between players and coaching staff at the end of the match in Krusevac in October.

FA general secretary Alex Horne said last month the FA intended to appeal against the bans.

Fight the ban: The FA have confirmed they will fight the bans handed to Steven Caulker and Tom Ince

Fight the ban: The FA have confirmed they will fight the bans handed to Steven Caulker and Tom Ince

He said then: 'It is the FA's vehement belief that its players and staff acted correctly in the face of provocation, including racist abuse and missiles being thrown.

'We are therefore surprised to see that two of our players have been given suspensions.

'We shall await UEFA's reasoning but it is our intention, at this stage, to support our players and appeal these decisions.'

UEFA ordered Serbia to play their next under-21 international behind closed doors following racist chanting and violent scenes during and after the clash.

The FA had reported the racist abuse to UEFA plus a number of other incidents. Full-back Danny Rose, who was dismissed after the final whistle for kicking the ball away in anger, complained he had been particularly targeted.

Nasty scenes: Players and coaching staff from both sides clashed after the final whistle

Nasty scenes: Players and coaching staff from both sides clashed after the final whistle

Rose claimed he was subjected to monkey chants throughout the match and as he left the pitch.

The Serbia FA was also fined 80,000 euros (65,000) 'for the improper conduct of its supporters during and at the end of the match, as well as for the improper conduct of the Serbia players at the end of the game'.

Serbia fitness coach Andreja Milunovic, who attacked England officials, was banned for two years, the second of which is suspended for three years. Serbia assistant coach Predrag Katic was also banned for two years, the final six months of which suspended for three years.

Four Serbia players were also banned – Goran Causic for four matches, Ognjen Mudrinski and Filip Malbasic for three and Nikola Ninkovic for two.
The punishments meted out were widely condemned in some quarters at the time, while UEFA announced it would appeal against all the sanctions imposed by its control and disciplinary body in relation to the match.

Ban: Serbia have been ordered to play their next game behind closed doors

Ban: Serbia have been ordered to play their next game behind closed doors

Lord Herman Ouseley, chairman of football's anti-discrimination group Kick It Out, said last month: 'Kick It Out shares the concerns of many in football that abuse aimed at black players isn't taken seriously enough.

'This is a paltry slap on the wrist and again we haven't seen decisive action from UEFA.'

Sports minister Hugh Robertson, who had written to UEFA president Michel Platini demanding tough action for the racist abuse, expressed his disappointment.

Robertson said: 'I am disappointed in the punishment that has been awarded to the Serbian FA given the widespread racist abuse that England's Under-21 team suffered that night. Racism is completely unacceptable and we need tough sanctions to help combat it.'

Piara Powar, executive director of European anti-discrimination body FARE, also believed the punishment should have been more severe.

Powar said: 'We are disappointed in the totality of the sanction handed out to the Serbian FA. The original offences warranted a more severe collective punishment than a ban on spectators for one match.

'This is a moment in which leadership to challenge discrimination is needed from all authorities. This sanction falls short of that objective.

'We fully acknowledge the unilateral action taken by the Serbian FA in suspending players and sacking coaches in the wake of the match, but they need to demonstrate a wider commitment to educate their supporters and work towards tolerance.'

Robin van Persie could have been killed, says Sir Alex Ferguson over Ashley Williams kick

Van Persie could have been killed! Furious Fergie calls on FA to BAN Swansea skipper Williams after booting ball at striker's head

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UPDATED:

17:04 GMT, 23 December 2012

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Outraged Sir Alex Ferguson has urged the FA to take action following Robin van Persie's clash with Swansea defender Ashley Williams which the Manchester United boss believes could have killed his striker.

Fergie fumed after Williams punted the ball into the back of the Van Persie's head while he lay prone on the floor during the clash at the Liberty Stadium.

The Dutchman reacted angrily and squared up to Williams with referee Michael Oliver electing to book both players.

After the match Ferguson said: 'The Van Persie situation you can clearly see that he could have been killed.

Pain in the neck: Van Persie feels the force of Ashley Williams' kick

Head case: Williams lashes the ball against the neck of floored United striker Van Persie

Lashing out: Floored Manchester United striker Robin van Persie feels the force of Ashley Willaims' kick

Ref rage: An angry Sir Alex Ferguson complains to fourth official Lee Probert after the incident

Ref rage: An angry Sir Alex Ferguson complains to fourth official Lee Probert after the incident

'The FA has got to look into it regardless that he has been given a yellow card. He should be banned for a long time because that was the most dangerous thing I've seen on a football field for many years.

'It was absolutely deliberate. The whistle has gone, the game has stopped and he has done that right in front of the referee, he could have killed the lad.

'It was a disgraceful act by the player, he should banned for a long time.'

Williams defended his actions following the match, claiming his attempted clearance wasn't meant to hit the United striker.

He said: 'I just cleared the
ball with frustration and unfortunately it hit him in the head and he
got a bit angry about it.

Seeing red: Van Persie leaps up to retaliate with Williams after the incident

Seeing red: Van Persie leaps up to retaliate with Williams after the incident

Head-to-head: A furious Van Persie leaps up to vent his rage to Williams after the incident

Head-to-head: A furious Van Persie leaps up to vent his rage to Williams after the incident

Pulled apart: The pair had to be separated by their team-mates

Pulled apart: The pair had to be separated by their team-mates

'Everything got a bit heated but it was alright in the end.'

Patrice Evra had given the visitors a 16th minute lead before Michu equalised just before the half hour mark.

Ferguson was angry with Mr Oliver for not awarding his side a free-kick for what he thought was a foul on Van Persie in the build-up to what was Michu's 13th goal of the season.

'It was foul on van Persie, a clear foul,' he said. 'The referee had one of those days where we didn't get anything out of him.

'It was a shocking performance. I know he is a young referee but I was disappointed with that performance.'

In the book: Referee Michael Oliver booked Williams but Ferguson is calling for the defender to be banned

Yellow peril: Van Persie was also booked by Oliver for his part in the bust-up

In the book: Referee Michael Oliver booked Williams but Ferguson is calling for the defender to be banned, while Van Persie also received a yellow card for his part in the bust-up

Ferguson was less critical of his
players and felt they did more than enough to take claim the three
points which would have put them six points clear of rivals Manchester
City at the top of the table.

'Thrown
two points away really,' he added. 'We absolutely battered them. It was
a great performance in the second half. It is unbelievable we didn't
win the match.

'My only criticism is that the final ball at times let us down. “No criticism of the performance, it was very good.'

Karl Henry blasts referees after red card decisions

They have zero understanding of the game! Henry slams red-card refs who need to be 'exposed'

|

UPDATED:

11:38 GMT, 23 December 2012

Wolves midfielder Karl Henry has blasted Premier League referees and says some have 'zero understanding' of football.

Henry, known for his combative nature on the pitch, said he was appalled by some of the red cards produced this weekend.

He said that bad referees need to be 'exposed' and questioned whether the tests required to be an official were stringent enough.

Ranting: Karl Henry complained about referees' decisions this weekend

Ranting: Karl Henry complained about referees' decisions this weekend

'Some of the red cards i've seen this weekend are an absolute joke!! Some referees have zero understanding of the game of football,' he tweeted.

'Important matches are ruined when under-qualified refs make game changing WRONG decisions. What is the criteria to become a top level ref

'To make it worse, tv pundits sit on the fence saying things that like, “That was harsh' or 'It's a controversial one”.

'You're on tv to give football fans your expert views. Bad refs need to be exposed and pundits that sit on the fence should be fired!!'

Henry has been sent off once and booked five times this season, in 18 games.

It is likely Henry is referring to the two red cards shown by Anthony Taylor in the West Ham v Everton match on Saturday.

Carlton Cole and Darron Gibson were both dismissed for offences which the clubs' managers Sam Allardyce and David Moyes both agreed did not merit red cards.

The players were sent off for dangerous play after catching opponents while raising their legs in respective attempts to control and win the ball.

Allardyce and his opposite number Moyes each confronted Taylor after the final whistle, confirming they would appeal the dismissals.

The West Ham boss accused Taylor of being trigger-happy, saying: 'It is how quickly the referee got the red card out, he couldn't wait, he didn't deliberate over the decision or anything.

You're gone: Anthony Taylor sends off Carlton Cole controversially

You're gone: Anthony Taylor sends off Carlton Cole controversially

'There is nothing much we can do about the result but we can appeal the decision and hopefully we can get Carlton down to a yellow card and get him off.'

Moyes added: 'I will appeal it. I'll have a word with Sam as well, because I don't think you could put the word frivolous next to that appeal.

'Because I think you would say there was genuine reason why maybe you could appeal that.

Unhappy: Both Sam Allardyce and David Moyes will appeal the cards

Unhappy: Both Sam Allardyce and David Moyes will appeal the cards

'Now, you don't want to go and appeal and find out that maybe you get an extra game on it. That's what you don't want to do.'

Allardyce was planning more than an appeal, however.

'I spoke to the ref but that is between me and him,' he said.

'We will go through the channels of 'reporting' that the system has in place and I will take that up and pursue it quite vigorously.

'If he is not getting the right feedback or coaching and is told it was okay and 'Carry on' then we have got a big problem.'

Andre Villas-Boas holds meeting with Spurs defenders over late goals

Enough is enough! Villas-Boas holds crisis talks with Spurs defenders over late goals

|

UPDATED:

11:53 GMT, 19 December 2012

Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas has held a meeting with his defenders in a bid to stop the late goals that have blighted their season, centre-back William Gallas has revealed.

Spurs have conceded 10 goals in the final 15 minutes of matches this campaign, which is a Barclays Premier League high along with bottom side Reading.

That inability to keep things tight until the final whistle has cost them – so much so that if matches had ended at 80 minutes they would be top of the Premier League.

Focus: William Gallas (right) knows only too well Spurs have been sloppy late on

Focus: William Gallas (right) knows only too well Spurs have been sloppy late on

'We've had a meeting with him (Villas-Boas) because we've been conceding late goals and we have to be a little bit more focused, a bit more strong,' Gallas told talkSPORT.

'Sometimes maybe we are panicking and we've let goals in. So we've been working very hard and we've had some meetings to look at the video to see what is good and bad, and against Swansea it was good to keep a clean sheet.

'In this period, we have a lot of games and some players are tired – they have already played more than 20 games this season, which is a lot. It's very intense.

Once is bad enough: But Everton scored twice in the dying minutes - through Nikica Jelavic and former Spurs player Steven Pienaar - earlier this month

Once is bad enough: But Everton scored twice in the dying minutes – through Nikica Jelavic and former Spurs player Steven Pienaar – earlier this month

'If we want to stay in the top four, we have to get all the players ready for the matches over Christmas and New Year, because we are going to be playing four games in 11 days.'

Stoke kick off the festive period with their visit to White Hart Lane this weekend, before Spurs head to Aston Villa on Boxing Day.

'Stoke are a strong side and it will be difficult but we've got the quality,' Gallas said.

'We can play football and we're playing at home, so we don't have any excuses to lose the game.

Late show: Spurs led Everton until the 89th minute before going down 2-1

Late show: Spurs led Everton until the 89th minute before going down 2-1

'Then we play Villa, who are on fire at the moment after winning 3-1 at Liverpool in their last game, and at the moment they are confident.

'They have Christian Benteke in attack, who has shown this season what a good player he is.

'At the moment, we are in the top four and they are trying to survive in the Premier League, so it will be a good game.'

Sort it out: Manager Andre Villas-Boas is sick of Spurs' late lapses

Sort it out: Manager Andre Villas-Boas is sick of Spurs' late lapses

Arsenal fans protest at Reading game with Arsene Wenger banner

Wenger and Walcott hug and make up after Arsenal's win at Reading (…but the fans still need some convincing)

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UPDATED:

13:55 GMT, 18 December 2012

The wrangling over a new contract goes on, but is seems all is forgiven between Arsenal's Theo Walcott and his manager Arsene Wenger.

The fans, however, may take a little more convincing.

The 23-year-old was outstanding on Monday night as the Gunners bounced back in style from last week's Capital One Cup exit to Bradford with a 5-2 win at Reading.

Friends again: Arsene Wenger warmly thanks Theo Walcott after his excellent performance in the 5-2 win at Reading as he is subbed off with five minutes to play

Friends again: Arsene Wenger warmly thanks Theo Walcott after his excellent performance in the 5-2 win at Reading as he is subbed off with five minutes to play

Discontent: This banner calling for Wenger to leave was unfurled in the Arsenal end at the final whistle

Discontent: This banner calling for Wenger to leave was unfurled in the Arsenal end at the final whistle

Arsene Wenger banner

Walcott capped the performance with the fifth goal and then had an embrace with his manager as he left the field with five minutes to play.

His excellent display was a timely reminder to the negotiators that increasing his present 75,000-a-week wages in a new deal may be a price worth paying.

But at the final whistle, and despite the result, a section of Arsenal fans made clear that it's time for a change in the dugout.

A red banner was unfurled reading: 'Arsene. Thanks for the memories, but it's time to say goodbye.'

It reflects the growing feeling in recent months that Wenger's 16-year tenure at Arsenal should be brought to an end as the club look at an eighth season without silverware.

Wenger has been targeted by disgruntled fans during home matches at The Emirates this season when Arsenal have failed to win.

Embrace: Both Wenger and Walcott expressed a desire to resolve wrangling over a new contract after the Reading win

Embrace: Both Wenger and Walcott expressed a desire to resolve wrangling over a new contract after the Reading win

After the match, Wenger was full of praise for Walcott's performance and said he still hopes to thrash out a deal before the winger's contract expires in the summer.

Chelsea, Liverpool and both Manchester clubs have been linked with the England international.

Wenger said: 'I believe he has been educated at Southampton and Arsenal and he has become a top player. I hope that when he considers his future he will consider Arsenal is the best place for him and sign for us.

'I do not want to come out on details of Walcott's contract but simply say our desire and will is clear and he knows that. Hopefully we can get to a happy ending.

Celebration time: Walcott celebrates scoring Arsenal fifth and final goal at Reading, capping a fine individual performance

Celebration time: Walcott celebrates scoring Arsenal fifth and final goal at Reading, capping a fine individual performance

'I believe we have a good core of young English players. We couldn't keep the good core of young foreign players.

'We hope we will be capable of building a team around the young English players and achieve something together.

'It is not my decision – it is Theo's decision as well. If it is my decision it is quickly done.'

Walcott was coy on the status of his contract negotiations: 'Talks are ongoing and it's going to be a slow process. It's taking a long time but hopefully something will happen soon.'

Treviso 13 Leicester 14: Tigers" Heineken Cup hopes back on track after last gasp penalty try

Treviso 13 Leicester 14: Tigers' Heineken Cup hopes back on track after last gasp penalty try

PUBLISHED:

16:49 GMT, 15 December 2012

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UPDATED:

21:35 GMT, 15 December 2012

Richard Cockerill was left seething after a controversial penalty try almost derailed his team's Heineken Cup hopes.

But it was a second penalty try two minutes from time – this time for Leicester – that got the Tigers out of jail and took them top of Pool Two.

Victory salute: Leicester Tigers players salute their fans after winning in Italy

Touching down: Thompstone of Leicester tucked away a try after 14 minutes

That was only after Irish referee
Alain Rolland frustrated Leicester with his award of a first-half
penalty try, even though Treviso's pack were still 20 yards from the
line.

Leicester coach Cockerill said: 'I
have never seen anything like it in the 30 years that I have been
involved with rugby. If that had been awarded for us I would have sat in
my chair in embarrassment.'

Trailing 13-7 with the final whistle
looming and Treviso eyeing a famous win, Cockerill's men ground out the
winning score as their power in the scrum finally told.

George Ford held his nerve to convert and send Leicester ahead of Toulouse in the standings.

Cockerill said: 'We're obviously
very relieved. Treviso made us work exceptionally hard but you have to
congratulate our players for sticking in there.'

Ben Youngs set up Adam Johnstone on 14 minutes but Alberto Di Bernardo kicked Treviso ahead before the drama.

Richard Cockerill, Leicester Tigers Head Coach

Back on track: Richard Cockerill's men have lived to fight another day

Pool Two now looks like a three-way
fight, with Ospreys beating Toulouse in the other fixture. The Tigers'
final day fixture against the French side is likely to decide their
destiny.

For Treviso,
progression from the group has never really been a realistic goal, but
there was much pride to play for having perfumed so well in the reverse
fixture, only to come away with nothing.

Once again they deserved so much better after an heroic effort.

Alberto Di Bernardo kicked everything that came his way for Franco Smith's men.

Tony Fernandes has said QPR"s first win of the season is like the "best Christmas present ever"

'The best Christmas present ever' Fernandes delights at QPR's first win of the season

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UPDATED:

18:18 GMT, 15 December 2012

Chairman Tony Fernandes tonight hailed QPR ending their winless league run at the 17th attempt as 'the best Christmas present ever'.

Adel Taarabt's brace proved the difference for Harry Redknapp's side as they saw off west London neighbours Fulham 2-1 at Loftus Road.

Fernandes was in Shepherd's Bush to witness the victory firsthand and could not hide his delight at the final whistle.

Delighted: QPR chairman Tony Fernandes has said today's win over Fulham was 'the best Christmas present ever'

Delighted: QPR chairman Tony Fernandes has said today's win over Fulham was 'the best Christmas present ever'

'I am very relieved man,' he said. 'That is the best Christmas present ever.

'That is all I wanted for Christmas – three points. It was a great performance, it was awesome. I think Fulham only had one shot and they scored that goal.

Inspired: QPR's victory was inspired by Adel Taarabt who scored both goals in the 2-1 win

Inspired: QPR's victory was inspired by Adel Taarabt (right) who scored both goals in the 2-1 win

'It was a great team effort, they deserved it.

'We've been threatening for a while and what a way to get the winning goal.

'Adel was awesome, the defence played well and everyone put their heart into it.

'It is looking good and we're undefeated under Harry. I feel like I have won the championship.'