Tag Archives: wrath

Anthony Taylor West Ham Everton poor performance – Graham Poll

West Ham and Everton unite in disappointment at abject performance by ref Taylor

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UPDATED:

23:34 GMT, 23 December 2012

The season of goodwill to all men started this weekend and referees tested that sentiment with a number of baffling decisions. Red cards and penalties were the main bones of contention but one assistant referee standing up to be counted in the battle against the holding and blocking at set pieces looked at odds with the rest of his colleagues.

Referees know that they will seldom drive home with praise ringing in their ears but it is unusual to incur the wrath of both managers and all 35,000 fans in attendance. However, Anthony Taylor managed exactly that after a poor display of officiating at Upton Park.

The red cards shown to Carlton Cole and Darron Gibson were, at very best, extremely harsh, particularly that of the West Ham striker who watched the ball through the air. Whilst his foot was high I could not see any reason to dismiss him. I think Taylor reacted too quickly to what he thought he saw rather than wait and reflect; the best referees, rather like the best players, appear to have more time than others.

Kicking up a stink: Darron Gibson and Carlton Cole were both sent off

Kicking up a stink: Darron Gibson and Carlton Cole were both sent off

Kicking up a stink: Darron Gibson and Carlton Cole were both sent off

Shocker: Few agreed with Anthony Taylor's decision to send them off

Shocker: Few agreed with Anthony Taylor's decision to send them off

More from Graham Poll…

Graham Poll: Clattenburg returns to the middle… and he'll be under extra scrutiny
20/12/12

Graham Poll: Halsey's poor positioning to blame for missing Fellaini's butt, elbow and slap combo on Shawcross
16/12/12

Graham Poll: How much are referees influenced by Ferguson
15/12/12

Graham Poll: Barry derby spat highlights Clattenburg's sensitivity after Mikel row
14/12/12

Graham Poll's official line: Ferguson might have felt he was playing against 12 men
09/12/12

Graham Poll: Diving Cazorla should be banned for three games, just like Wenger wanted
09/12/12

Graham Poll: Referees are at risk over Platini's proposed Euro 2020 plans
07/12/12

Graham Poll: Bale is not yet in Ronaldo's class (for diving) but he should have been sent off at Fulham
02/12/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

Taylor is a good referee who had a bad day and should look at his more experienced colleagues and learn from them – in particular Howard Webb, who is excellent at taking his time to give himself the best possibility of getting decisions correct – as he did at St Mary’s when waving away the home team's penalty appeals.

Mike Dean is another excellent referee enjoying a good season but he angered Reading boss Brian McDermott at the Etihad on Saturday. I had a little sympathy for McDermott who's team had battled well at the home of the Champions and deserved a penalty. McDermott wanted the kick for a block on Jay Tabb but I felt the penalty should have been awarded for handball by a City defender before contact was made with Tabb.

Of course, McDermott’s mood was not helped by conceding the only goal of the game to a Gareth Barry header. There was nothing wrong with Dean’s judgement with that goal despite McDermott’s insistence that Barry had climbed on Nicky Shorey’s shoulders. Barry was merely more determined to win the ball, which disappointingly Shorey made no attempt to play.

As usual the claim was made that the
referee was favouring the 'big team', a view which was unfounded at the
Etihad but did hold water up the road at Wigan. Roberto Martinez has
often complained about rough justice and after having a soft, but
correct, penalty awarded against him he was denied two, clearer
penalties for handball by referee Jon Moss.

High hopes: Gareth Barry rises to beat Nicky Shorey to the ball

High hopes: Gareth Barry rises to beat Nicky Shorey to the ball

Martinez is an intelligent manager who knows the laws and perceptively stated that neither Kieran Gibbs nor Thomas Vermaelen had their arms in natural positions when they blocked Wigan shots – exactly the phrase referees are asked to consider at possible hand ball situations.

Finally, we return to Upton Park, where the first decision of the game probably set the tone for the match when after just four minutes Everton had a goal disallowed for a block on the West Ham keeper. The offence by Victor Anichebe was a minor infringement and apparently given by assistant Gary Beswick, who was almost 50 yards away and looking through players and a goal post. Worse holding offences happened all over the country and went unpunished and Beswick must realise that a consistent approach is required.

Let’s hope that our beleaguered match officials get what they are hoping for tomorrow before returning to action on Boxing Day.

Northern Exposure: Peaceful Newcastle fans got raw deal from police in Bruges

Peaceful Newcastle fans got raw deal from police in Bruges… now it's time to speak up

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UPDATED:

16:10 GMT, 21 November 2012

When Newcastle United were handed a Europa League tie in Bruges, thousands of supporters dipped into their piggy banks and booked their trip.

Never mind that hundreds weren’t guaranteed a ticket. Trains, planes, automobiles and ferries took the traveling Toon Army to the picturesque Belgian city two weeks ago and they set out to enjoy themselves.

This despite the unfounded fears of the city, the local police and FC Bruges that Newcastle would cause trouble.

Good trip: Newcastle and their fans did their club proud in Bruges as the team came away with a draw and the fans behaved

Good trip: Newcastle and their fans did their club proud in Bruges as the team came away with a draw and the fans behaved

More from Colin Young…

Northern Exposure: Why Newcastle could finally be tempted to make their move for old boy Carroll
13/11/12

Northern Exposure: Just how can O'Neill reverse Sunderland's fortunes
06/11/12

Northern Exposure: Wear-Tees derby may not be as mad as the big one but there's all to play for
29/10/12

Northern Exposure: Time to come up for air before next Newcastle v Sunderland battle
22/10/12

Northern Exposure: Super Sunday as Newcastle and Sunderland prepare for battle
19/10/12

Northern Exposure: Newcastle and Sunderland head into derby on back of Manchester mauling
09/10/12

Northern Exposure: Ba on his way out of Toon There's no smoke without fire…
18/09/12

Northern Exposure: Forget Trapattoni's wrath, Twitter mischief-maker McClean must face O'Neill
12/09/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

From the moment arrangements were made for the game – when Bruges refused to hand out enough tickets to cover the expected visitors – hurdles were put in the way.

The draconian `welcome’ for Newcastle fans included arrest for any fans who tried to enter a two-mile exclusion zone without a ticket. Thankfully, after the intervention of Newcastle United, Northumbria Police and North East Conservative MEP Martin Callahan, these plans were dropped.

On the surface, the welcome looked perfect.

A big-screen was put up in the Markt main square, the bars were open, plastic glasses handed out, and those who emptied the shelves and fridges of the nearby corner shops, who have never had a week like it, were encouraged, not frowned upon.

Some of them had a pretty good drink it has to be said, and some Belgian beers hold no prisoners. But Belgian police cells didn’t. Fans sang their songs, a lot, usually with anti-Sunderland connotations, and marked their return to Europe in good spirits.

The police presence was relatively low profile in the square, although that, and the mood among them changed when kick-off approached. Two or three hours before the game started at the Jan Breydel Stadium, those with tickets were encouraged to get on the Number 5 or 15 to the stadium. So we all headed off crammed into buses with the locals in rush hour.

The half hour journey took at least an hour, but two miles from the stadium anyone wearing colours, or identified as English, were forced off the buses by police to be escorted to the ground.

Myself and colleagues survived thanks to press accreditation and our laptops, but others, no matter what their age, were herded off into the dark. And it was a long dark walk through housing estates, often within close proximity to home fans.

Back in the game: Shola Ameobi scored Newcastle's equaliser just before half time

Back in the game: Shola Ameobi scored Newcastle's equaliser just before half time

To add insult to injury of course, there were vast gaps in the away end, as those back in the square and in Newcastle no doubt noticed. And the stewards we encountered also seemed hell-bent on ensuring we got plenty of exercise around the stadium. And with zero taxis or public transport available after the game, more than 2,000 of us had to walk back.

I know one Newcastle fan in Bruges who is no spring chicken. He was left so exhausted by the experience of walking to and from the ground that he nearly missed the game against West Ham on the Sunday. Of course he wished he had, but that’s how bad it was.

There was one altercation in Brussels, but there were no reports of any trouble in Bruges, although we witnessed one or two individuals testing the patience of their hosts after the game. Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew led the tributes to those who travelled to Belgium, relieved that his pre-match and post-match warnings for good, ambassadorial behaviour had not been ignored.

Praise: Alan Pardew was pleased with the Newcastle supporters in Bruges

Praise: Alan Pardew was pleased with the Newcastle supporters in Bruges

Yet it all came in the face of provocation, Callahan has now discovered. And he is determined that the voices of Newcastle United fans will be heard in Europe now.

Because he knows full well if there had been just a single flare-up in Bruges involving Newcastle United supporters, it would have been seized upon by the police, authorities and many of his MEP colleagues in Brussels.

He is taking statements from fans who were in Belgium and they should take him up on it.

He said: ‘I am extremely concerned at the reports I have received from Newcastle fans who were simply in Brugge to support their team peacefully.

‘Their accounts of the treatment they received are truly shocking and I have already been in touch with the Belgian police about this.

‘I would be appalled if fans from other countries visiting the North East were subjected to this sort of aggressive and over the top policing and I would be the first to condemn it.

‘The Brugge police commissioner gave me an assurance that Newcastle supporters would be welcomed and he asked me to report any fans’ complaints to him.’

Fans can contact Martin Callanan with their experiences and feedback on policing at the Club Brugge match via www.martincallanan.com

Ben Arfa can help kick start Toon's season

Amid the concerns over Newcastle United’s stop-start season, one man has emerged like the bright star he is.

Hatem Ben Arfa lit up the defeat to Swansea City every time he got the ball. Not that something happened every time he got it. It just looked like it might when he ghosted past one, two, three, four

He doesn’t always pick the right final ball. Sometimes he doesn’t pick it all.
But you sense, rather like Newcastle, it will all start to come together very soon.

Flashes of brilliance: Hatem Ben Arfa can spark Newcastle's season into life

Flashes of brilliance: Hatem Ben Arfa can spark Newcastle's season into life

With Yohan Cabaye gone for the difficult December programme, the onus is on Ben Arfa to deliver, particularly for the joint enigma that is Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse’s partnerhsip.

Cisse of course was absent – and like Callahan, Newcastle intend to pursue their grievances with the FA and FIFA.

But he did provide a couple of chances for Ba to score against Swansea. It’s just he could have delivered a few more.

To Alan Pardew’s frustration, Newcastle are missing valuable time on the training ground. And that won’t change in the next month.

He just has to hope it comes together in matches and that Ben Arfa’s feet still find the gaps very few players can, and put them to better use.

Sessegnon and Johnson show what they can do, now they have to find consistency

Sunderland’s Stephane Sessegnon has taken a little longer to warm to the challenge this season but Martin O’Neill has done his best to persevere.

The Benin maestro is too talented to allow games to by-pass him forever but his loss of form and touch, so soon after signing a new, improved deal, has been perplexing.

Done it once, now do it again: Stephane Sessegnon was back to his best against Fulham

Done it once, now do it again: Stephane Sessegnon was back to his best against Fulham

His performance at Fulham on Sunday, and his brilliant goal, have set the benchmark for the season, and backed O’Neill’s faith. And with Adam Johnson shifting through the gears effortlessly at Craven Cottage too, the Sunderland manager will be breathing a sigh of relief.

He just needs them to strut their stuff on home turf against West Bromwich Albion on Saturday now.

Downing bid proves Boro are serious promotions contenders

And finally, Stewart Downing back at Middlesbrough to lead the promotion charge Why not

It probably won’t come off. Liverpool need money for their unwanted England winger, not loan deals, and if a Premier League club comes in with cash, or a similar offer (Sunderland), even Boro boy Downing would surely be tempted to go there instead.

Back to Boro: Middlesbrough are keen to sign Stewart Downing

Back to Boro: Middlesbrough are keen to sign Stewart Downing

But it does show Middlesbrough have ambition, and they are taking this season seriously.

Chairman Steve Gibson has had enough of the Championship now and he wants to be back in the top flight.

And if he can’t see Downing back in a Boro shirt this season, he’s indicated he wouldn’t rule it out if Middlesbrough do get back to the promised land.

Sunderland are in trouble – Northern Exposure

Northern Exposure: Just how can O'Neill reverse Sunderland's fortunes

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UPDATED:

15:56 GMT, 6 November 2012

Ever get the feeling it’s just not your day/week/month/season That’s what Martin O’Neill, and his players, must surely be thinking after the week they’ve just endured.

The Capital One Cup exit at the hands of a useful and vibrant Middlesbrough team last week was a massive blow. Local bragging rights aside, this was a competition Sunderland were looking at with serious intent.

O’Neill won it four times as player and manager, and he recognised, like every Sunderland fan, the possibility of winning it this season. He might not also know that it would have put an end to the Newcastle 'have you ever seen a Mackem in Milan’ chants.

Head in hands: Sunderland's woeful form continued when they were beaten by Aston Villa

Head in hands: Sunderland's woeful form continued when they were beaten by Aston Villa

More from Colin Young…

Northern Exposure: Wear-Tees derby may not be as mad as the big one but there's all to play for
29/10/12

Northern Exposure: Time to come up for air before next Newcastle v Sunderland battle
22/10/12

Northern Exposure: Super Sunday as Newcastle and Sunderland prepare for battle
19/10/12

Northern Exposure: Newcastle and Sunderland head into derby on back of Manchester mauling
09/10/12

Northern Exposure: Ba on his way out of Toon There's no smoke without fire…
18/09/12

Northern Exposure: Forget Trapattoni's wrath, Twitter mischief-maker McClean must face O'Neill
12/09/12

Northern Exposure: Trapattoni ready to go against instincts and unleash McClean
05/09/12

Northern Exposure: Toon Army can look forward to more top trips around Europe
28/08/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

Lifting the first trophy since 1973 was a considerable way off, as Tony Mowbray acknowledged after his side were handed their 13th away cup draw in a row and given a trip to Swansea for next month’s quarter-final.

But last eight, semi-finals and Wembley in touching distance would all have helped lift the doom which has unexpectedly engulfed the Stadium of Light this season.

Sunderland then followed that with a home defeat to an Aston Villa side, who were reckoned to be really struggling and were three points behind them and without an away win all season.

And they probably deserved it too. If Lee Cattermole’s drive had flown a few inches lower, the first half, and outcome, might have been very different. But Sunderland are not having a lot of luck on top of Stephane Sessegnon, Adam Johnson and James McClean inexplicably and collectively being unable to deliver.

Villa just looked the bigger threat and once Gabriel Agbonlahor had ended a 28-league game wait for his goal, Sunderland never looked likely to equalise, for all their desperation and kitchen-sink style attacking play.

On top of all this, James McFadden signed last week and in hindsight might have been a fairytale in waiting on the bench but was overlooked for the latter stages of the Boro defeat for the McClean. But now he looks likely to miss out on the opportunity to impress for the next two months after suffering a hamstring injury on Thursday. It never rains…

This is all a serious test for O’Neill, who has asked for time to be judged and pointed out he endured similar difficulties in the early stages of management at Leicester and Villa. Even winning titles at Celtic didn’t come without its setbacks.

And he will know he has to get it right quickly. Just four points above third from bottom Reading, who are the home game in hand next month, Sunderland have a hectic and challenging period ahead.

You try and work out where the points are coming from. They face Fulham (A), West Brom and QPR (H), Norwich (A) before they really get into December.

Plenty to ponder: Martin O'Neill's appointment has not had the desired affect at the Stadium of Light

Plenty to ponder: Martin O'Neill's appointment has not had the desired affect at the Stadium of Light

They then have Chelsea (H) before the Reading re-match, followed by Manchester United (A), Southampton (A) and on Boxing Day Manchester City (H) before the month ends with Tottenham (H).

Testing times for Toon

Alan Pardew is also counting the cost of last week.

His Newcastle side came so close to ending their Anfield hoodoo, but what he'd give for a point and a clean bill of health after Sunday’s 1-1 draw.

Instead, Demba Ba, Yohan Cabaye and James Perch – the type of Newcastle players (yes, Perch included) who Sir Bobby Robson would have put in his `blue chip’ brigade – departed with injuries likely to leave them out of action for a few weeks.

And captain Fabricio Coloccini’s uncharacteristic moment of madness, even if he did try to pull out of a full-scale assault on Luis Suarez, has ruled him out of three Barclays Premier League games. He is always missed.

Blow: Demba Ba (right) added his name to Newcastle's growing injury list

Blow: Demba Ba (right) added his name to Newcastle's growing injury list

The downside of the deserved qualification to the Europa League was always going to be the test to the Newcastle squad. And at the beginning of the season, Pardew made no secret of his desire to see his fringe and younger players using the competition as a springboard to full-scale league involvement.

Pardew has used his men well and they sit top of their group, knowing a win in Bruges this week, and a favourable result between Maritimo and Bordeaux, puts them in next year’s knock-out phase. Progress indeed.

Thousands will make the trip to Belgium on Thursday, many without tickets, in a real show of force to mark Newcastle’s return to European action. Bruges is considerably easier, and cheaper, to get to than Mauritius and Athens.

Those who will be inside the Jan Breydel Stadium will not want to leave disappointed. This is the Belgian side’s last chance, and they will want to make an impression on home turf and end a run of six games without a win which cost seasoned campaigner George Leekens his job this week. They are likely to face a vastly inexperienced Newcastle team but the pressure is on the home side and caretaker coach Philippe Clement. It promises to be a testing night.

Return: Newcastle take on Bruges looking to qualify for the Europa League knockout phase

Return: Newcastle take on Bruges looking to qualify for the Europa League knockout phase

With points in the bag, Newcastle can afford a defeat. Maritimo at St James’s Park is an entirely different proposition in a fortnight and could prove to be the night for qualification. After that it is Bordeaux, when the majority of fans might appreciate the option of saving some money.

One criticism from supporters during the summer, was the lack of new signings. The new numbers of players alone didn’t match up.

The board believed they had the resources, and Pardew has never suggested he is unhappy with the cards he has been dealt. But this month tests the squad to the absolute limit and presents challenges he could do without as he looks to gain a stronger presence in the Premier League.

Newcastle have two months to get to the January transfer window. How they deal with its opening may depend on whether they limp or leap into the New Year.

Eden Hazard: How Chelsea star developed into 32m world class player

As a barefoot toddler he stunned his local club with sublime skills. That boy grew into the 32m man who has lit up the Premier League. This is the story of the Eden Project

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UPDATED:

21:45 GMT, 13 September 2012

He was little more than a dot in the distance, but Royal Stade Brainois football club had just reseeded their pitch and he was treading where he shouldn’t.

It needed pointing out, and general manager Pascal Delmoitiez intended doing it forcibly, as he stepped out of the clubhouse behind the goal and headed for the other end.

As he approached the far penalty area, the object of his wrath remained little more than a dot, but his mood began to mellow. No more than primary school age, the youngster was carefully placing a ball on the spot, taking a couple of paces back and clipping it into the top corner, before retrieving it and starting all over again.

Not only was he barely waist-high to the advancing club official, he had nothing on his feet. It was a sight that stopped Delmoitiez in his tracks, but, sensing he may be in for a ticking off, the boy darted towards the garden fence of his home, behind the left-wing corner flag, clambered over it and disappeared inside.

The first to spot him: Pascal Delmoitiez of Royal Stade Brainois

The first to spot him: Pascal Delmoitiez of Royal Stade Brainois

The neat detached bungalow belonged to Thierry and Carine Hazard. The bare-footed penalty-taker was their son Eden. ‘That’s my first memory of Eden, and it remains a vivid one to this day,’ said Delmoitiez. ‘We don’t allow anyone on the pitch between games, as a general rule. To make matters worse, it had just been reseeded, so he was going to be told.

‘But as I got nearer, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. He was tiny, no more than five years old, yet every penalty was flying into the top corner. Then I noticed he had nothing on his feet. No boots, no trainers, not even socks. And it was a real ball, not a light plastic one.

‘I couldn’t understand how he was able to do that. I walked the length of the pitch, meaning to send him away with a flea in his ear, but I ended up knocking on his parents’ door and inviting him to practise with the juniors at our training ground nearby.

‘He was an astonishing talent even then. He would listen to what you told him, but you couldn’t really teach him anything. You just threw him a ball, or passed it to him, and let him get on with it. It all came so naturally.’

For club and country: Hazard has been instrumental in Chelsea's 100 per cent start to the season and impressed as Belgium drew with Croatia (below)

For club and country: Hazard has been instrumental in Chelsea's 100 per cent start to the season and impressed as Belgium drew with Croatia (below)

For club and country: Hazard has been instrumental in Chelsea's 100 per cent start to the season and impressed as Belgium drew with Croatia (below)

The ground, Avenue du Stade in the small town of Braine-le-Comte, around 30 kilometres south-west of Brussels, has an appealingly rural feel to it but is on the modest side. A tiny terrace, covered by a corrugated roof, offers sheltered viewing on one side, but there are grass banks on the other and behind the goal that adjoins what is still the Hazard home.

It houses Belgian League Division Five football, but perhaps a greater claim to fame is that it launched the career of a player who had every top club in Europe after him when he decided to move on from Lille in the summer.

Eden Hazard chose Chelsea and a handful of games in, their 32million outlay is already beginning to look one of Roman Abramovich’s sounder investments. He has forced a rethink among those who feared his slight frame might not withstand the physical challenge of the Barclays Premier League. There were plenty of them, but they did not include anyone from his formative years at Royal Stade or his second club, AFC Tubize.

Hazard moved five kilometres up the road to Tubize at 10 years old, and the Second Division club’s youth co-ordinator Fathi Ennabli provided Sportsmail with an insight into the impact he made, on and off the pitch.

‘I was with one of the youth coaches when we discovered Eden at a local tournament,’ he said. ‘He had just turned eight at the time and was tiny, but something happened every time he got the ball. His touch was exceptional and so was his acceleration over the first couple of yards. It was taking him past one player after another and I remember walking up and down the touchline, asking where his dad was.

Nurturing the talent: Fathi Ennabli of AFC Tubize helped Hazard to progress

Nurturing the talent: Fathi Ennabli of AFC Tubize helped Hazard to progress

‘Eventually I was pointed in the direction of Thierry. We had a good chat, and he said he was in favour of Eden joining a bigger club. I was relieved to hear that, but not what followed. He insisted Eden was still too young, mentally and physically, for that sort of step up and should stay where he was for another couple of years.

‘That was the longest two years of my life. He inevitably attracted interest from other clubs, and I soon got to hear that Anderlecht and Standard Liege were contacting Thierry on a weekly basis, begging him to let Eden join them.

‘But Eden is lucky to have parents like Thierry and Carine. They are both teachers, both incredibly down to earth, modest people, and, at that age, they felt he should remain as near to home as possible. Thierry was playing for us by the time Eden turned 10. He was decent himself, and it meant he knew the coaching philosophy at the club and could be sure his son would be given the right guidance.

‘So finally, Eden became our player, training with us regularly and playing for our youth teams. And he just got better and better.

‘There was something about him, apart from natural ability, that told me he was going to the very top. He always wanted to be out there, working on his game and trying to improve, for one thing.

Close family: (from left) Eden's grandmother Nicole, brother Kylian, mother Carine, Eden, brother Ethan, grandfather Francis and father Thierry

Close family: (from left) Eden's grandmother Nicole, brother Kylian, mother Carine, Eden, brother Ethan, grandfather Francis and father Thierry

‘He loved watching the French League. There was a highlights programme called TeleFoot, a bit like Match of the Day, and he never missed it. He would come in, full of enthusiasm for something Zinedine Zidane had done, and you just knew he couldn’t wait to try it himself. He was an avid watcher and would take it all in.

‘He had so much going for him. He was very quiet but unfailingly polite, and there was a steely determination about him. He was actually fearless. He was always up against bigger, often older, boys, but it never fazed him.

‘No amount of pressure could shake his self-belief. He knew how good he was and what he could do, and sometimes it even took his dad by surprise. I remember one game in particular. Eden was 12, and we got a free-kick a few metres outside the area. He took a couple of paces and bent it round the wall into the top corner. It was an incredible goal for a lad his age, but the referee said he hadn’t whistled and disallowed it.

‘Thierry was standing next to me, and while we were all shaking our heads, he shouted, “I’d like to see you do that again, son”.

Where it all began: Hazard's family home backs on to the pitch in Branois

Where it all began: Hazard's family home backs on to the pitch in Branois

‘Eden calmly put the ball down, waited for the whistle and clipped it in the same top corner. It was a carbon copy of the first one. Even by his standards, it amazed us all, and Thierry turned to me and said, “I think he did that to annoy me!”

‘He was playing on full-sized pitches by now, and word was spreading that we had a special talent on our hands. Clubs were contacting us all the time, and Lille were turning up to virtually every game he played. We knew we were about to lose him, and it was always likely to be Lille. It’s only half-an-hour away by train, and their academy even included a boarding school. The boys eat, sleep and learn there. It was ideal, and, at 15, we had to say goodbye to him.

‘He went with our blessing, but we didn’t exactly benefit financially from it. We received nothing to begin with, and we’ll only get a small slice of the fee Chelsea paid Lille for him, maybe around 150,000. But the money doesn’t matter. It’s enough for us that we played a part in his development.

‘Everyone here is incredibly proud of that. We’ve all followed his progress closely, and if there’s a chance to see him in action for Chelsea, everything else stops. There’s a huge lounge at the top of the main stand, looking out on to the pitch, and you can watch games from there.

‘It was pretty full the other Sunday, but there was a television on in the background, showing highlights from England. As soon as the presenter mentioned Chelsea, everyone turned away from our game and crowded round the TV to watch Eden.

Cool control: Hazard slots a penalty home in the 2-0 win over Newcastle

Cool control: Hazard slots a penalty home in the 2-0 win over Newcastle

‘There’s nothing he can’t achieve. His mental strength is as remarkable as his talent, and that has already shown itself at Chelsea. We heard people expressing doubts about him after a couple of friendlies and then the Community Shield. He perhaps wasn’t at his best in those games and the media questioned whether he could cope with the physical side of English football. When you think how much Chelsea paid, and the intense scrutiny he was under, that’s a lot of pressure for a kid his age. But just look how he responded.

‘He has been their best player in the opening Premier League games and that shows incredible strength of character. I know how hungry he is to keep improving, and I’m certain that will happen.’

They haven’t seen the last of Eden in Tubize, or Braine-le-Comte. On a recent visit home, the 21-year-old had dinner at Ennabli’s house to update him on early impressions of Stamford Bridge, while Tubize general manager Guy Brison revealed how Eden intends to ensure the Hazard name lives on in nearby Braine-le-Comte.

‘There are two old houses, side by side, that belonged to Eden’s grandad,’ he said. ‘He has bought them both, with the intention of turning them into flats and building a small sports hall behind, on what was the back gardens.

‘I have known the Hazards, the parents and grandparents, for years, and they are a very close-knit family. This is a way of keeping alive his grandad’s memory and it is typical of Eden. We are all proud of what he has done and, especially, that he will never forget his roots, no matter how far he goes in the game.’

Manchester clubs battle for Chilean Angelo Henriquez

Mancini adds some spice to Fergie relationship with cheeky bid for Chilean Henriquez

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UPDATED:

08:47 GMT, 14 August 2012

Fantasy football 2012

Roberto Mancini is risking the wrath of Sir Alex Ferguson with a move for Chilean teenager Angelo Henriquez.

An official deal already exists between Manchester United and the 18-year-old's club Universidad de Chile, with the Under 20 expected to complete a 4million switch in the near future.

However, City boss Mancini has sent his most trusted scout Gary Worthington to watch Henriquez in action during a recent youth international tournament in Holland.

Rift: Roberto Mancini is hoping to swipe Angelo Henriquez from under the nose of his great rival Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United

Rift: Roberto Mancini is hoping to swipe Angelo Henriquez from under the nose of his great rival Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United

The striker scored 11 goals in 17 league appearances in 2012, his breakthrough year, helping Universidad to the title.

Reports say Henriquez has spent time at Old Trafford and part of long-running courtship.

Mancini, though, is desperate to make a statement of intent in the transfer market having been frustrated with numerous targets throughout the summer, namely Robin van Persie and Eden Hazard.

Liverpool consider selling Anfield naming rights

Fenway Sports Stadium Henry reveals Liverpool would sell Anfield naming rights

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UPDATED:

11:41 GMT, 9 August 2012

Fantasy football 2012

Liverpool owner John W Henry has risked the wrath of fans by opening the door to renaming their famous Anfield home.

The American has admitted the club could raise funds by inviting sponsors to bid for the rights to put their name to the stadium which has been the club's home for 120 years.

Fenway Sports Group, owned by Henry, have already put their name to Fenway Park, where his other sports franchise, the Boston Red Sox play.

This is...: Liverpool are open to the idea of their stadium being renamed

This is…: Liverpool are open to the idea of their stadium being renamed

Speaking to the Tomkins Times, the club chief revealed he was keeping his options open, while, behind the scenes, all other means of increasing club revenue were being explored.

He said: 'A naming rights deal at Anfield could occur, I suppose, if the partner were right. We haven't pursued it.'

Henry was pushed on numerous issues
regarding the financial power of the club, considering the vast funds
lavished on signings since the new ownership came in 18 months ago.

Henry added: 'This club should be able to significantly increase its revenues. But it won’t be easy.

Raising funds: John W Henry

Raising funds: John W Henry

'I believe we have the right people in place to accomplish this.

'But I don’t see it happening at the local level – the vast majority must come from our global agenda.'

Liverpool have had much-publicised problems finding a solution to their comparatively small stadium.

Anfield holds 45,000 supporters, compared with 60,000 at Arsenal and 75,000 at Old Trafford, but the logistics of improving their current home are tricky due to the high concentration of residential properties in the vicinity.

Is that the way to the future Brendan Rodgers is revolutionising Liverpool

Is that the way to the future Brendan Rodgers is revolutionising Liverpool

Robin Van Persie will fire Arsenal above Tottenham, claims Theo Walcott

Van's the man to fire Gunners above Tottenham, claims Walcott

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UPDATED:

13:54 GMT, 13 March 2012

Theo Walcott believes Robin van Persie will give Arsenal the edge in the battle to finish above Tottenham.

The Gunners are now just one point behind their north London rivals after Thomas Vermaelen netted an injury-time winner against Newcastle on Monday night.

Double team: Walcott set up Van Persie's equaliser in the win over Newcastle

Double team: Walcott set up Van Persie's equaliser in the win over Newcastle

Arsenal had fallen behind after Hatem Ben Arfa struck with 14 minutes gone, but the hosts responded almost immediately when Van persie coolly slotted home Walcott's cross just 55 seconds later.

It was the Dutchman's 33rd goal of the season, and Walcott expects the Arsenal captain to help fire the Gunners above Spurs in the race for third.

'Without a doubt he has to be Player of the Year for me. Everything is going his way and that is great to see,' said Walcott, speaking to the London Evening Standard.

Dutch of class: Van Persie has scored 33 goals in 38 appearances for the Gunners this term

Dutch of class: Van Persie has scored 33 goals in 38 appearances for the Gunners this term

'The most important thing is that he is injury free. When I was on the treatment bed alongside him in previous years it was such a shame to see so much talent wasted.

'He has made up for lost time, I am sure of that, and it is massive. Does he give us an advantage over Tottenham and Chelsea Well, you just give him anything and he will put it away – left foot, right foot and he has scored a couple of headers as well.

'He makes it look easy and it's really not.'

Flying high: Vermaelen celebrates after scoring the winning goal

Flying high: Vermaelen celebrates after scoring the winning goal

Walcott, who is out of contract at the end of next season, also hinted that his future lies at the Emirates.

The England international has endured a turbulent campaign, enduring the wrath of the Arsenal faithful aftere a number of indifferent performances.

But the winger, who turns 23 this week, appears keen to extend his stay at Arsenal.

Walcott said: 'I like to do my talking on the pitch and if I just keep on playing well then I will see what comes.

'I like to let my agent deal with that side of things. This is maybe the second year that Robin and I have had a run together in the team.

Catch me if you can: Walcott set up Van Persie's equaliser

Catch me if you can: Walcott set up Van Persie's equaliser

'Hopefully, in the future I would like to play up front with him. That would be fantastic for me but if I am setting up goals then that is the most important thing. If he's enjoying what I am doing then that is great.

'If the staff and the coaches are happy, that's all I want. I'm enjoying playing football at the moment, and there is a lot to come from me.

'I feel great, I've never played so much in my life on a consistent level for 90 minutes.'

Walcott added: 'We want to win and make this club into the club it should be. It's been an up-and-down season but it's the way you finish that matters. We're breathing down Tottenham's necks now and, hopefully, they can feel it.

'Finishing third is important and, hopefully, we'll finish above them as well. That is an even bigger bonus.'

Steve Kean winning over Blackburn Rovers boo-boys

Lambasted Kean slowly but surely winning over Blackburn boo-boys

He has yet to be asked for a wave or serenaded as one of a kind, but Steve Kean may not be far away from quelling the uprising among Blackburn followers and finally winning them over.

It seemed unthinkable a few weeks ago, when antagonism towards the Blackburn manager was so personal and extreme that visiting Everton boss David Moyes abandoned an Ewood Park scouting mission at half-time and headed home in disgust.

As Moyes was able to testify, after admitting his Everton side were ‘lucky’ to escape with a point against rejuvenated Blackburn at Goodison Park on Saturday, the public perception of Kean is at last taking a turn for the better.

Rival Scots: Moyes (left) and Kean (right) came up against each other at the weekend

Rival Scots: Moyes (left) and Kean (right) came up against each other at the weekend

Owners Venky’s may still be facing the wrath of disgruntled fans, but there has been a gradual change in attitude towards Kean that has not gone unnoticed in the Blackburn dressing room.

‘I can sense there has been a shift in the mood over the last couple of games,’ said former England midfielder David Dunn. ‘The fans have kept everything out of the ground and have seen a bit of a reward in the results. Through that, the players are getting more confidence back.

‘I’m a big believer that if you’re playing with confidence you can perform as you want to. That was evident against Everton. It was probably the best we have played all season. We played as a team, looked very solid, created chances and looked strong.

‘Sometimes it is difficult to keep your spirit up, certainly with what’s going on off the pitch, so credit to the lads. Let’s be honest, we’re not talking of experienced players, in the main, here. Barring a couple of us, we’re talking young men who haven’t played too many games.

‘But everything they’re being told, they’re taking in, and it looks as if we have some good young lads in there.

Spirited: Blackburn have improved over the last couple of weeks

Spirited: Blackburn have improved over the last couple of weeks

‘Some of the performances recently have been really good. The manager, the players, the owners and even the fans have had their share of criticism, but it’s important we all stay strong and stick together. Blackburn is renowned for being a family club, and we need to keep hold of that.’

Kean has grown used to jeers and catcalls raining down on him but appears to have turned the tables after taking points from Anfield, Old Trafford and now Goodison Park. Each results was met with derision from the sidelines, but it was all aimed at Blackburn’s opponents.

There are still issues to be dealt with, though, not least QPR and Tottenham target Chris Samba’s reluctance to accept he will not be allowed to leave during the current transfer window.

Samba was deemed unfit mentally to play on Saturday, and Kean is about to find out whether the unhappy defender’s suitors have heeded last week’s warning to back off.

Wantaway: Chris Samba

Wantaway: Chris Samba

‘I told the directors I didn’t want to know, leading up to the game, if there had been any more bids for him,’ said Kean. ‘But at the start of next week, I’ll sit down with them and ask where we are at on that front.

‘We’re not selling him. It’s as simple as that. He just needs to get his head together now, and he’ll be back on the training ground next week. There has been interest in previous windows, but once they have closed, he has been excellent and got back to his work. Hopefully, he will react the same way this time.’

With Louis Saha struggling up front and receiving little support from midfield or the flanks, Everton desperately need an attacking spark from somewhere before the transfer window shuts.

‘We needed players to make things happen for us, but no-one seemed able to,’ said manager David Moyes. ‘I thought young Shane Duffy was our best player. He did ever so well, and it will give him confidence and a lot of belief that he can come in and play at this level.'

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