Tag Archives: young

Paul Lambert has challenged Christian Benteke to stay at Aston Villa

Lambert challenges Benteke to stay at Villa and prove he's not a one-season wonder

By
Neil Moxley

PUBLISHED:

17:15 GMT, 19 April 2013

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UPDATED:

19:44 GMT, 19 April 2013

Paul Lambert registered little surprise at Christian Benteke’s nomination for the PFA young player of the year yesterday but asked Aston Villa’s top scorer to guard against becoming a one-season wonder.

Benteke, 22, has scored 19 goals so far, including 15 in the Premier League, and been the major reason why Lambert’s side has managed to claw themselves clear of trouble in the Premier League.

His physical presence has also allowed others to flourish. But Villa’s boss remained phlegmatic at the announcement, instead urging Benteke to carry on his good work.

Plea: Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert has challenged Belgian striker Christian Benteke to stay at Villa Park and prove he is no one-season wonder.

Plea: Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert has challenged Belgian striker Christian Benteke to stay at Villa Park and prove he is no one-season wonder.

'I’m not bothered if he’s nominated or not, as long as he’s performing for this club,' said Lambert, 'we’ll have to wait and see whether he wins it.

'However, I don’t think it’ll affect him one bit. If he remains the way he is at this minute, he’ll do very well for himself.

Preparation: Benteke and Villa travel to Manchester United this weekend

Preparation: Benteke and Villa travel to Manchester United this weekend

'And I don’t want to pile too much pressure upon him. He’s only a young guy learning his trade. He’s made mistakes like everyone else but his performances have been very good.

'He’s got to sustain a level where he is doing it, week in, week out.

'No doubt we’ll look at his contract at the end of the season. I just don’t want him to be one-season wonder.'

Little interest: Lambert is not bothered whether Benteke wins the PFA Young Player of the Year or not - knowing how valuable he has been for his side this season

Little interest: Lambert is not bothered whether Benteke wins the PFA Young Player of the Year or not – knowing how valuable he has been for his side this season

The spotlight will be on Manchester United’s David De Gea after Andy Carroll’s challenge on the keeper at Upton Park last week.

Lambert said that while Benteke was aggressive, there is no malicious intent.

Michael Carrick

Robin van Persie

Tough test: Villa travel to Old Trafford to face Player of the Year nominees Michael Carrick and Robin Van Persie

'I think a lot has been made of that situation,' added the Scot, 'we don’t really have a physical side, it has only been Christian, he’s a big lad but not an aggressive guy who does not want to hurt anyone.

'I don’t think anyone goes out to hurt anyone. The British game is an up and out them type of football. But Christian is not that way inclined.'

Wrong end: Fabian Delph's (right) own goal gave Aston Villa a point against an 'underrated' Fulham side

Wrong end: Fabian Delph's (right) own goal gave Aston Villa a point against an 'underrated' Fulham side

Threatened: Villa now sit just three points above the relegation zone and Wigan have a game in hand

Threatened: Villa now sit just three points above the relegation zone and Wigan have a game in hand

Paul Lambert warns Andreas Weimann and Christian Benteke against leaving Aston Villa for a bigger club too soon

Do you want to sit in the reserves Lambert warns Weimann and Benteke against move to bigger club too soon

By
Neil Moxley

PUBLISHED:

15:29 GMT, 4 March 2013

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UPDATED:

15:29 GMT, 4 March 2013

Paul Lambert has warned his young strike-force that the grass isn't always greener as he tries to persuade both Andreas Weimann and Christian Benteke to remain at Villa Park.

Villa face Manchester City tonight with two of the club's old boys, James Milner and Gareth Barry, likely to feature against their former club.

Both England midfielders left Villa when the financial bait from the current champions was set.

Crucial: Christian Benteke has led the line for Villa since joining from Genk last August

Crucial: Christian Benteke has led the line for Villa since joining from Genk last August

Talent: 21-year-old Andreas Weimann has scored 10 goals during his breakthrough season

Talent: 21-year-old Andreas Weimann has scored 10 goals during his breakthrough season

And now Lambert is facing a fight to keep hold of his two forwards.

Benteke has been linked with a move to Spurs and contract talks with Weimann are likely to resume only when the club's fate is known.

However, Lambert said that, given the duo's age and experience, they may be better off playing week in, week out, rather than becoming part of a squad.

'I think if you asked Gareth Barry and James Milner whether they enjoyed their time here, I'm pretty sure, without knowing them, that they would say they loved it.

'It was great for them. We are not necessarily a selling club. If someone gets more money somewhere else, then people will look at it.

'Everyone in this room would do the same.

'With Andy and Christian, you have to get into their heads and let them know what you think.

'The difference is those two are really young lads, I don’t know what age Gareth and James moved on, but those two are young.

'The thing is do they want to go to a side where they are sitting in the reserves and don’t get a shot at it'

Lambert's future plans to avoid drop have not been helped as it seems that Darren Bent will miss the next three weeks with a foot injury.

Bent has not been featuring ahead of Weimann or Benteke even when fit but the inclusion of an established international in Villa's match-day squad would be an obvious advantage.

'Darren is still struggling,' added Lambert. 'It is a little bit of a concern at the moment.'

James Milner

Gareth Barry

Return: James Milner and Gareth Barry both left Villa to join Manchester City

Mario Balotelli racist abuse: Paolo Berlusconi AC Milan vice president

Berlusconi's brother makes racist remark about Balotelli… and he just happens to be AC Milan's vice president

By
Nick Pisa

PUBLISHED:

21:59 GMT, 5 February 2013

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UPDATED:

22:10 GMT, 5 February 2013

Racist: Paolo Berlusconi

Racist: Paolo Berlusconi

Mario Balotelli is at the centre of a race controversy after he was called 'a little n*****' by the brother of AC Milan owner Silvio Berlusconi.

Newspaper boss Paolo Berlusconi, 64, made the shock remarks about Balotelli, 22, at a political rally just hours ahead of the former Manchester City player's debut for AC Milan following his return to Italy.

Berlusconi was attending a rally for FabrizioSala, the candidate for his brother's right wing coalition People of Freedom party when he made the comments – which were greeted with laughter by the audience.

After initially cracking a joke about Costa Concordia captain Francesco Schettino, Berlusconi turned his attention to striker Balotelli and said: 'I've finished. Right we are all off to see the family's little n*****. He's a madhead. All the young ladies are invited as well – you can even have a chance to meet the president (Silvio Berlusconi).'

Paolo Berlusconi's comments were greeted with laughter by the crowd and video footage of the rally in Monza on the outskirts of Milan showed him smiling at himself.

The incident was uploaded onto several Italian newspaper websites which were immediately flooded with dozens of outraged comments one said: 'What an insult for Italy and Italians' while another on La Repubblica read: 'I didn't know the brother was a clown – they really are a family of buffoons.'

Dream debut: Balotelli netted twice on his AC Milan debut

Dream debut: Balotelli netted twice on his AC Milan debut

Dream debut: Balotelli netted twice on his AC Milan debut

Paolo Berlusconi, who is vice president of AC Milan, is also the editor of il Giornale which is seen as a mouthpiece for Silvio Berlusconi and his People of Freedom party, and like his older brother he has been involved in several corruption scandals.

In 2002 he was found guilty of false accounting and given a nine-month sentence and ordered to pay a 49 million Euro fine while three years ago he was given a further four months for another charge of false accounting.

Racism is a growing problem in Italian football and by coincidence last month AC Milan walked off the pitch during a friendly after Kevin-Prince Boateng was subjected to racist taunts.

International duty: Balotelli is currently away with the Italy squad

International duty: Balotelli is currently away with the Italy squad

Balotelli himself was often targeted by racists while playing for Inter Milan and it was one of the reasons he decided to quit Serie A and try out the Premier League, but his return also sparked ugly chants from rival Juventusf ans who sang at a game last week: 'If we jump Balotelli dies.'

Last year regional councillor Paolo Ciani – from a right-wing party – posted a picture on his Facebook page, which depicted the Italy international working in a field of cabbages as an immigrant worker.

Chelsea and Arsenal target Luke Shaw signs new five year deal at Southampton

Teenage star Shaw snubs and Chelsea and Arsenal to sign five-year deal at Southampton

By
Simon Peach, Press Association

PUBLISHED:

10:14 GMT, 10 January 2013

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UPDATED:

11:17 GMT, 10 January 2013

Chelsea and Arsenal target Luke Shaw will sign a five-year deal at Southampton on his 18th birthday.

The highly rated 17-year-old left back has been attracting admiring glances from a number of the Barclays Premier League’s elite.

However, the latest talent off Southampton's production line has ended any speculation over his future by today committing his long-term future to the club.

Saint Luke: Shaw (right) will sign a five-year deal at Southampton

Saint Luke: Shaw (right) will sign a five-year deal at Southampton

He cannot sign a senior contract yet but it is believed Shaw will be seal a five-year deal when he does turn 18 on July 12, 2013.

'I have spoken with the chairman about a long-term plan for me at the club,' the defender said.

'To put an end to all the speculation, I will be committing my future to Southampton. I’m not going anywhere.

'I think Southampton is the place to be for young kids like me.

'I’m playing in the Premier League for the first team and that is all anyone wants to be doing, so I just want to carry on.

'I have been at Southampton since a very young age so I’ve been here a long time now.

Making his mark: Shaw has impressed in the Premier League this season

Making his mark: Shaw has impressed in the Premier League this season

'I think they are happy with me here, and this club is great for young players like us.

'If you look back over the years, Adam (Lallana) has come through the youth system and now he is the captain of the first team, and Prowsey (James Ward-Prowse) has just signed a five-year deal – and that is what I want to be doing.

'We have a lot of trust in our youth and there are more players coming through next year, so hopefully we will just carry on going.'

Shaw’s commitment to Southampton follows on from fellow academy graduate Ward-Prowse, who signed his five-year deal at in November.

Full back Shaw has become an integral part of Nigel Adkins’ side in recent months, having started every match since his full Premier League debut against Swansea in November.

Angelo Henriquez joins Wigan on loan from Manchester United

United striker Henriquez raring to go after completing loan move to Wigan

By
David Kent

PUBLISHED:

08:40 GMT, 2 January 2013

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UPDATED:

11:19 GMT, 2 January 2013

Angelo Henriquez is determined to use his time at Wigan to prove himself in the Premier League after joining the Latics on loan until the end of the season.

The Manchester United striker has been unable to force his way into the first team at Old Trafford, due to work permit issues, but has played for the Under 21 side.

Scroll down to watch Henriquez in action

Chance to shine: Striker Angelo Henriquez has joined Wigan on loan

Chance to shine: Striker Angelo Henriquez has joined Wigan on loan

Angelo Henriquez fact file

Born: April 13, 1994, Chile

Appearances (Goals):

Universidad de Chile 17 (11)

Manchester United U21 6 (2)

Chile 1 (1)

Henriquez is expected to make his debut against Bournemouth in the FA Cup on Saturday.

'This is a fantastic opportunity for me and I am really excited after the manager has given this chance for me to prove myself,' he told the club's official website.

'Now I need to work to try and earn my place in the team.'

Wigan boss Roberto Martinez is confident the 18-year-old can make an instant impression at the DW Stadium.

'We’re really excited about Angelo because he is a very young man with a huge potential; he’s a goalscorer with clever movement inside the box and has had a very successful time with his former club Universidad,' he said.

'We hope to have a good partnership in terms of allowing Angelo to develop as a footballer and learn of the demands of the English game, because I feel he can bring us something different in the forward line.

'I’m sure the fans will give him a great welcome on Saturday and it will provide him with the perfect opportunity to begin his experiences on the pitch in English football which is very exciting.'

Henriquez becomes the second mid-season recruit by Wigan, who confirmed the signing of Honduran midfielder Roger Espinoza from Sporting Kansas City last month and are waiting for the Honduras international to obtain a visa.

Sportsmail"s Magnificent Seven, including Louis Smith and Tom Daley, come together for the final time

Thanks for being MAGNIFICENT! Sportsmail pays tribute to the seven athletes we have followed from 2005 to the 2012 Olympics

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UPDATED:

00:04 GMT, 28 December 2012

Seven years ago, Sportsmail began following seven young athletes as they set out on their journeys to try to reach the 2012 Olympics and Paralympic Games in London.

Three of the original seven made it to the Games but two called time on their sporting careers before the start of this year. Their replacements, however, were both part of Team GB and Paralympics GB last summer.

It has been an enlightening experience, punctuated by extremes of success and disappointment, watching the development of these athletes' careers since 2005.

Recently, Sportsmail's Magnificent Seven met up for the final time and shared memories of their experiences.

Then and now: From left, Gemma Howell, Tom Daley, Louise Watkin, Sportsmail's Andy Hooper, Emily Pidgeon, Shanaze Reade and Louis Smith met up for one final time recently

Then and now: From left, Gemma Howell, Tom Daley, Louise Watkin, Sportsmail's Andy Hooper, Emily Pidgeon, Shanaze Reade and Louis Smith met up for one final time recently

As they were: The original Magnificent Seven lined up at Lord's, from left, Tom Daley, Louis Smith, Jean-Rene Badrick, Emily Pidgeon, Giles Scott, Rachael Latham and Shanaze Reade

As they were: The original Magnificent Seven lined up at Lord's, from left, Tom Daley, Louis Smith, Jean-Rene Badrick, Emily Pidgeon, Giles Scott, Rachael Latham and Shanaze Reade

Tom Daley, Diving, 18, from Plymouth

The youngest of the Magnificent Seven has become a superstar. Daley was selected for the Beijing Games aged just 14 after becoming a British and European champion in the 10-metre platform.

He added the world title in 2009, two Commonwealth golds (in the individual event and synchronised 10m platform) in 2010 and then won an emotional Olympic bronze medal in London, despite intense pressure and expectation and the passing of his father, Rob, in May 2011.

'When I look at some of the photos from 2005 I'm so small! It's crazy how much I've changed since then and what I've achieved in that time.

'Life's changed, too. In fact, it's stacked up to a whole new level since London. Going out anywhere, there are so many people who stop you and say, “Congratulations”.

'It's nice to feel appreciated and respected but it does feel weird that seven years of training were geared towards London 2012 and now it's been and gone.

Superstar: Tom Daley won a bronze medal in the men's 10m platform at the London Games

Superstar: Tom Daley won a bronze medal in the men's 10m platform at the London Games

In the spotlight: Daley (right) presented the Young Sports Personality of the Year award to Josef Craig (centre)

In the spotlight: Daley (right) presented the Young Sports Personality of the Year award to Josef Craig (centre)

WHERE IT ALL BEGAN…

The Magnificent Seven series originated in 2005 through Sportsmail selecting seven talented athletes to follow through to London 2012.

The National Lottery joined as partner in 2006 to promote their funding into the seven chosen athletes, along with over 1,200 other competitors, on their journey to the London 2012 Games.

National Lottery funding, originating directly from the Lottery-playing public across the UK, enables elite athletes to benefit from the world-class coaching, facilities and medical support, giving them every possible chance to succeed during the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

As the nation's attention moves from the London 2012 Games to Rio 2016, The National Lottery will continue to invest in sports facilities, support staff and coaching, providing opportunities for future generations to succeed on an elite level.

No-one has contributed more to our athletes than National Lottery players, with more than 1,200 athletes having benefited from world-class coaching and support. www.national-lottery.co.uk/London2012

'I think 2012 changed the face of British sport but there was a bit of a crash after the Olympics when I thought, “I can't believe it's all over.” I'm slowly, gradually, building my way back up there.

'After the Games, I went on holiday with my family and then got two golds at the World Junior Championships: one in the 10-metre event and one in the 3m synchro with Jack Laugher. Then I went to Dubai with my friends and have been back at school catching up on my maths and Spanish A-levels. I want to get three A*s rather than three As.

'Rio in four years' time does seem a long way away, but there are also World Championships, European Championships and Commonwealth Games in between, so there's plenty to look forward to.

'I think in total I might make maybe four or five Olympic Games – depending on how diving moves on – but we'll get to Rio first. It's outdoors, which the Chinese don't like, and I love diving outdoors.'

Louise Watkin, Paralympic Swimming, 20, from Redhill (replaced Rachael Latham)

Latham, who was born with Erbs Palsy, which limits the use of her left arm, made two swimming finals at the Paralympic Games in Beijing.

She retired in 2010 due to injury but went on to become a Channel 4 presenter and was a Sportsmail columnist during the London Paralympics. Watkin, who has upper limb deficiency, won two Paralympic silvers and two bronzes in London.

Dazzling: Louise Watkin won four medals in the London Paralympic Games

Dazzling: Louise Watkin won four medals in the London Paralympic Games

'The Paralympics were amazing. I didn't want them to end. You could hear the crowd when you were under water in the Aquatics Centre. I came away with two medals from the individual events and two in the relays. It went brilliantly.

'In the past four years, the Paralympics has moved on so much. People are still talking about it now. It's nice so many people have got the Paralympics bug. 'I hope there will be more integration in the future. Come and watch us at the World Championships next year. Then hopefully I'll get my gold in Rio!'

Giles Scott, Sailing, 25, from Huntingdon

Scott was a world youth champion in the Laser class when he joined us in 2005 and became world champion in the Finn in 2011. The one major disappointment was missing out on London 2012.

Scott competes in the same class as Ben Ainslie and GB could only send one sailor. With Ainslie now retired, Rio 2016 cannot come soon enough.

Disappointed: Giles Scott missed out on the London Games as he was in the same division as gold medal winner Ben Ainslie

Disappointed: Giles Scott missed out on the London Games as he was in the same division as gold medal winner Ben Ainslie

Who they are

'I wouldn't call it bad luck, being in the same division as Ben. If I had performed at the right regatta it would have led to me being selected to go to the Olympics.

'I was unsure whether to watch the Olympics and some of it was hard, but I got into it and was probably as addicted as everyone else by the end. Since then I have joined an America's Cup team (Team Korea) and moved away from the UK. I wanted to broaden my horizons so I don't mess up for Rio like I did this time around.'

Emily Pidgeon, Athletics, 23, from Cheltenham

Pidgeon was an outstanding junior 5,000 metres runner but has struggled with injuries and found it difficult on the senior circuit. She still hopes her best years are to come.

Her boyfriend, GB runner Andrew Osagie, was in the fastest 800m race in history, the Olympic final in London.

'It has been an amazing journey. It's scary how quickly it's gone. I always thought I'd be there in London, so it's been up and down.

'When I realised I wasn't going to be
able to compete, it wasn't that I didn't want anything to do with the
Olympics but I just knew I'd find it hard to go and watch.

A first: Emily Pidgeon ran around the Olympic Park stadium before anyone else

A first: Emily Pidgeon ran around the Olympic Park stadium before anyone else

'But because I got injured in May I had dealt with that by the time the Olympics came round.

'I was determined to enjoy the experience and I'm so glad I did. I was there to watch Andrew in his heat and his final. I think there's a reason I was injured and I hope Rio will be my time.'

Gemma Howell, Judo, 22, from Telford (replaced Jean-Rene Badrick)

Badrick, then 16, won bronze at the European Youth Olympics but retired in 2010 through injury. Howell replaced him, battled back from serious injury and was selected for London.

She was disqualified in her first-round fight against world champion Gevrise Emane.

'It was the worst and best week of my life. I was devastated. When I came off the mat I wanted to get out of there as quickly as possible but then I thought, “I just have to use this going forward to Rio.”

Devastated: Gemma Howell was disqualified in her first round bout at the 2012 Olympics

Devastated: Gemma Howell was disqualified in her first round bout at the 2012 Olympics

'I was more nervous than I'd ever been. I have dreamed since I was little of being Olympic champion and I was a bit overwhelmed. Hopefully I can just get on with the job next time around.

'I've started a sport and exercise science degree at Bath University. My brain hurts after four years out of education. But while I want an Olympic medal more than anything, it's education and judo going forward.'

Louis Smith, Gymnastics, 23, Peterborough

In 2006, Smith won the Commonwealth pommel horse title aged 16 and has not looked back. He won Britain's first individual Olympic gymnastics medal for 100 years with a bronze in Beijing and went one better with silver in London.

He also won a bronze in the men's team event. Since the Games he has won the BBC's Strictly Come Dancing. 'No one would ever have thought we could have got that bronze in the team event. I didn't even think we could do it. It was a big statement to the rest of the world.

'It was really hard to come back again for my individual event. Winning the bronze was such a high and then you've got to come back down again for the event that was most important for me, and the one everyone expected me to do well in. It was tough but I'm glad I finished it the way I did.

Enjoying it Smith posed for Sportsmail on the back of a real 'pommel horse'

Enjoying it Smith posed for Sportsmail on the back of a real 'pommel horse'

Proud: Smith put in a sterling performance on the pommel horse to take silver home

Proud: Smith put in a sterling performance on the pommel horse to take silver home

A different route: Smith recently won the BBC's Strictly Come Dancing

A different route: Smith recently won the BBC's Strictly Come Dancing

'There are about seven different paths I could take now: fashion, property, sport. Do I carry on to Rio The Commonwealths When do I call it quits It's about making the right and the best decision, not necessarily the one everyone wants me to make.

'I want to start my own fashion range. It's something I've wanted to do for a while, although I won't be keeping any clothes I've worn on Strictly. They love their glitz and glam and shiny stuff!

'Magnificent Seven has been remarkable in so many different ways. It's been fantastic and we've done some funky stuff along the way.

'I never want to go on a horse again after that photoshoot when I pretended it was a pommel horse! I was scared stiff. I did it, although I probably wouldn't do it now!'

Shanaze Reade, BMX Cycling, 24, from Crewe

Reade went to Beijing as a world champion but crashed out in the final after deciding she would not settle for silver. Reade regained her BMX world title in 2010 and has also won two world championship golds on the track, but that Olympic medal still eludes her. Reade finished sixth in the BMX final in London.

'It was quite hard, mentally, after the Games. Everyone in British cycling did so well and I was tipped to get a medal but, again, I didn't fulfil my potential. I can definitely see what went wrong. It's about staying injury-free moving forward and just getting on that good mental pathway of getting some success under my belt and getting my confidence back.

'I have “Team Reade”, a group of people who I trust and I know will push me, to help me do that, but first and foremost it comes down to me.

Crushed: Shanaze Reade finished sixth in the final of the Olympics BMX Cycling

Crushed: Shanaze Reade finished sixth in the final of the Olympics BMX Cycling

Crushed: Shanaze Reade finished sixth in the final of the Olympics BMX Cycling

'I'm at a crossroads now where I feel I want to be world champion again in BMX, hopefully in New Zealand next year, and win a BMX Olympic medal. But then I've been world champion on the track and I also want to get further in that because I've only ever done six- to eight-week blocks of training. I would like to do the Commonwealth Games, and BMX isn't in it, so we'll see.

'I went to Beijing on such a high. I hadn't lost a race for six or seven years so I thought, “Why should it be any different”

'Coming into London was the opposite. I had been injured, missed races, crashed out of finals. I had never really fulfilled what I was capable of doing on the day. Now I don't want to short-change myself any longer.'

Manchester City mascot confused during Sunderland handshake

VIDEO: What's going on City mascot confused during Sunderland handshake

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UPDATED:

16:16 GMT, 27 December 2012

Flashbulbs, television cameras, tens of thousands of people, household names and an unforgettable afternoon.

Well, who wouldn’t want to miss their chance of soaking up the atmosphere, especially when you’re a Manchester City mascot

This young man will have probably spent hours every weekend watching Premier League action, including the traditional handshakes before each kick-off.

But sometimes the dazzling nature and anticipation of a top flight clash can make you forget the rituals.

Forget, that is, until a friendly hair-ruffling from the opposition’s Carlos Cuellar brings you back down to earth.

Scroll down for video

confused kid

confused kid

confused kid

confused kid

Long Run holds off Captain Chris to win King George chase

Long Run holds off Captain Chris to take victory at King George VI Chase

PUBLISHED:

15:39 GMT, 26 December 2012

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UPDATED:

15:50 GMT, 26 December 2012

Long Run got up in the final strides to collar Captain Chris and regain his crown in the William Hill King George VI Chase at Kempton.

Captain Chris looked like going two better places than last year when he came through to head the winner of two years ago, who was also the runner-up 12 months ago.

However, Long Run, the 15-8 favourite trained by Nicky Henderson, rallied for amateur Sam Waley-Cohen, to get back up and score by a neck.


Jumping to victory: Long Run (right) took first place in the King George Chase

Jumping to victory: Long Run (right) took first place in the King George Chase

The winning rider said: 'He was so brave. I had to keep asking him – I asked him early and maybe I asked too much as he was tired but so brave.

'This is his fifth year of competing at this level and he means an enormous amount to us.
'That was racing at it's best for me. I can't put it into words. It's an honour and a privilege.'

Long Run is owned by Waley-Cohen's father Robert, who added: 'He's come here four times now and won three Grade Ones and been second to Kauto Star.

'I wasn't absolutely sure that we had got back up but as I came down the stairs from the stand, I saw his name go up and that was fantastic.'

Henderson was similarly thrilled to see his former Cheltenham Gold Cup victor return to winning form.

He said: 'It was a brave call to go on when he did and it was the right call to make.

Jumping to victory: Long Run edged Captain Chris to finish first

Jumping to victory: Long Run edged Captain Chris to finish first

'It was a battle out there today and not the best ground for any of them. He's young but has been doing everything right.

'You would have to say last year was a disappointment but he's been running good races all the time.'

Henderson continued: 'We had it in our minds that Bobs Worth would run in the Cheltenham race in January (Argento Chase), leaving Long Run free to run in the Denman (Aon) Chase at Newbury, but we'll have to discuss things with connections.

'I'd love to see Long Run back on better ground and I'm so pleased Sam and the horse have proved a point to people today.'

Jockey Richard Johnson said of the runner-up: 'I thought coming to the last I was going to win, but the other horse is a proven Gold Cup winner and he's just outstayed me.

'It was a great run and I'm just looking forward to riding him on better ground.'

Scudamore said of third-placed Grands Crus: 'He ran a great race and I'm most pleased he looks a lot more like his old self.'

David Pipe’s exciting grey, meanwhile, blew his rivals away to score by an eased-down nine lengths but that doesn’t come close to accurately describing his superiority over his rivals.

Sent of an 8-13 favourite, Tom Scudamore never had a moment’s worry and a soaring leap four-out sent Dynaste to the front before stretching clear in effortless style.

The six-year-old is now unbeaten in three starts over fences and he is following the same route as stablemate Grands Crus who won this race 12 months ago before being sent off a short price favourite for the RSA Chase.

And Darlan is the new Champion Hurdle favourite after sprinting to a four-and-a-half length victory in the Grade 1 Christmas Hurdle at Kempton under Tony McCoy.

The John McManus-owned five-year-old had, who was 3-1 for this seasonal reappearance, made it three Christmas Hurdle wins on the bounce for connections after Binocular’s wins in the last two runnings of the two mile contest, and he is now a 4-1 chance for the Cheltenham Festival showpiece.

Darlan finished behind Cinders And Ashes in last season’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle but Nicky Henderson’s charge comfortably revered that form as well as seeing off disappointing favourite Countrywide Flame who was such an impressive winner of the Fighting Fifth Hurdle last time.

Raya Star came home in second while Dodging Bullets finished third.

Fulham need Dimitar Berbatov to be happy, says Martin Jol

Boss Jol admits only a happy Berbatov can help struggling Fulham prosper again

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UPDATED:

22:00 GMT, 25 December 2012

Fulham's fortunes have fluctuated this season, almost in time to the mood swings of Dimitar Berbatov.

Manager Martin Jol wants to see his striker smiling again and he admits that it may require a nudge in the ribs to achieve it.

Fulham were thumped 4-0 by Liverpool on Saturday and another defeat at home to Southampton could see them sucked into a relegation battle.

Smile, it's Christmas: Dimitar Berbatov is without a goal since early November

Smile, it's Christmas: Dimitar Berbatov is without a goal since early November

Berbatov is without a goal since the start of November and Jol is clearly concerned.

'If things are going well then everyone will be happy with him but if things are not going well then he can be unhappy,' said Jol.

'He is almost used to winning at the clubs where he was [before] so we have to talk to him.

'He has to put in the same attitude and work rate that he always did. When he does that there’s no problem but he is a player who we have to keep on his toes. We were very happy with him for the first couple of months and we have to keep each other happy.'

Jol confirmed he is interested in Derby’s young midfielder Will Hughes but is unsure of winning the 10million race to buy him.

'He’s a wonderful talent. Believe me there is probably at least 10 clubs out of the Barclays Premier League having a look at him,' he said. 'We’ve been really stretched in the last few weeks so I feel that we will have a good look at the transfer market.'

Southampton’s search for points is even more urgent but manager Nigel Adkins wants entertainment too.

Adkins was unhappy with his side’s dour performance in the home defeat by Sunderland, when Southampton failed to score for only the fourth time in 18 Premier League games.

He said: 'I hope the Fulham game will be more entertaining. I get frustrated when the games aren’t entertaining.'

Joe Cole vows to fight for his Liverpool future

Cole vows to fight for his Liverpool future after firing timely reminder to Rodgers

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UPDATED:

06:55 GMT, 12 December 2012

Joe Cole has insisted has no plans to leave Liverpool.

The 31-year-old former England
midfielder came off the bench to claim his first Premier League goal for
20 months in Sunday's 3-2 win at former club West Ham.

Uncertain future: Liverpool's Joe Cole

Uncertain future: Liverpool's Joe Cole

Cole, who also scored in the recent Europa League draw with Young Boys, still has two years left on his current Reds deal and insists he can still be a success at Anfield.

He told the Mirror: 'All I'm doing is giving my all in
training every day, and trying to keep my place in the squad when we
play Villa – that's all I can do.

'It has been difficult recently but I
have scored in my last two appearances and I want to keep the sequence
going if I can. And when I'm called upon I will do the best job I can.'

But Cole may be moved on as Liverpool will unveil a new 18million strike force in January after taking significant steps to securing deals for Daniel Sturridge and Thomas Ince.

It has been Brendan Rodgers wish for Liverpool to get their business in the New Year done early and they now are on the brink of landing their two prime targets.

Reunion Cole has been linked with return to West Ham

Reunion Cole has been linked with return to West Ham

Chelsea forward Sturridge is expected to cost Liverpool in the region of 12million, while they will have to pay Blackpool in the region of 6million to take Ince back to Anfield 18 months after letting him leave for 250,00

The arrivals of the pair will offer
even fewer chances to Cole, who has been linked with a return to Upton Park, and rock-bottom QPR, now managed by his old Hammers boss Harry Redknap. and Rodgers hinted the player may prefer to
move on when he said: 'Joe's a terrific lad and I feel for him at times.

'If he's not going to play as often as he wants then he's no different to any player, really.

'Players are about game time and money. He's a good guy, though – he's not any kind of problem.'