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Football elite in need of urgent treatment

Before we ponder Robbie Fowler’s contract negotiations, Rupert Murdoch’s plans for Manchester United, and the amazing fact that anyone is masochistic enough to referee a Premiership match these days, think about the men and women presently running themselves ragged in NHS hospitals.

What are they up Are All Prada Products Made In Italy to? They’re inserting catheters, emptying bedpans and are up to their elbows in blood. And here’s what they get for all this: if they are new to the job, their salary is 12,855 a year – or, put another way, slightly less than Joe Cole, West Ham’s 17-year-old prodigy, has been paid in the fortnight since he made his first-team debut; if they are at the very top of the pay table, they are getting 26,965 a year – in other words, five grand less than the aforementioned Fowler is reported to have turned down as his possible maximum reward for one week’s work for Liverpool.

It may not be exactly revolutionary to observe that life is unfair, that society rewards life-savers with peanuts and footballers with riches beyond most people’s wildest dreams. But the English Premiership insists on rubbing fans’ faces in it again and again.

If it’s not players who set out to injure, or after a nudge in the ribs register agony on their face, it’s Moaning Manager syndrome, particularly virulent when it comes to complaints about referees and their assistants on the line – those dedicated individuals who are rewarded with earfuls of abuse and cheques that the like of Arsne and Alex wouldn’t even pass early morning wind for, let alone get out of bed.

Then there are those who walk football’s corridors of power without respect – Doug and Freddie, the Newcastle Two; Martin Edwards, who, in being willing to sell Manchester United to BSkyB, shows himself to be more moved by the spirit of Mammon than that of Matt Busby; Keith Wiseman, severed head of the Football Association, undone for slipping a brown envelope to his Welsh counterparts. And now, the bizarre goings-on at Crystal Palace.

Always a handy paradigm for the nation’s moral health, football exhibits some of the worst aspects of late 20th-century Britain: principally, that the rich are getting richer while the poor are forced to the touchlines and ignored. Meanwhile, cheating is finessed ever more outrageously in an environment where winners are everything and losers Best Prada Outlet In Italy despised.

As ever in such circumstances, the language has become as corrupted as the things it describes. Footballers, not noted for Black Leather Prada Milano Purse their mastery of words, seem to know their Orwell. “Win a penalty” entered football pro-speak about 10 years ago and has now filtered down to the public parks. What next? “Win a yellow” or “win a red” for the skill with which you get an opponent wrongly cautioned or dismissed? However, to extend the medical metaphor, we should beware of contracting terminal nostalgia, a persistent disease in English football, which has probably done as much damage as some of those who boast that they are modernising the game.

Football clubs, lest we forget, have always had their share of iffy businessmen at the helm. For all the importance of clubs to male working-class communities in the past, managers and players have been wheeling and dealing over About Prada Products wages and fees for just as long. And saffiano, of course, there have always been cloggers, divers and moaners.

Similarly, fears that the benefits brought by affluence may be outweighed by the drawbacks are nothing new. “In the past few years professional football has become glamorous, with the inevitable ballyhoo more often associated with the pop world,” wrote a PFA leader once. “The opportunities in modern football are enormous. So are the responsibilities.” That was Derek Dougan in Denis Law’s Book Of Soccer No. 4, published in 1969. His words suggest that the basic burning football issues of the late Nineties boil down to what they have always been: human values, good and bad, and the interplay between them.

That interplay is integral to the sport’s fascination. You don’t need a degree in philosophy to see that a football match itself is, for players and spectators alike, a 90-minute unscripted drama, in which every human characteristic is vigorously expressed by the cast on the park.

Sometimes the result is Twelfth Night, sometimes it’s King Lear, and frequently it has more in common with the very worst of Emmerdale. Yet without a All Prada Nylon Bags mixture of creativity and skullduggery, heroism and villainy, comedy and tragedy, every match would be an episode of Postman Pat. Nobody wants that on the pitch, any more than they want a Agatha Ruiz Dela Prada Outlet Online dug-out full of Smurfs.

By the same token, no one halfway realistic expects to find angels and philanthropists in the boardrooms of one of the most maniacally competitive sectors of the leisure industry, and it would be plain daft to deny that the advent of new television money has led to improved facilities and an influx of wonderfully exotic foreign players – if Chelsea win the Premiership this year no one should begrudge it on pure footballing grounds.

However the dark side of the glamour is starting to cast too long a shadow. As the Champions League expands according to the maxim that wealth comes before equity or merit, the latest profit-driven idea floated by Murdoch is a four-yearly world club contest to be held at the mid-point between World Cups.

This raises the prospect of some mouth-watering fixtures (notwithstanding the nightmare connotations of the word ‘Estudiantes’) yet poses a further threat to the FA Cup because entering it will make progressively less financial – as opposed to football – sense. Any devaluation of the competition would be a serious blow, not for sentimental reasons, but because it would radically advance the dislocation of the elite from the rest.

The most depressing thing is that it is difficult to see how the worst of the present trends can be tackled, and a healthier balance of football values restored. Gerhard Aigner, general secretary of Uefa, recently warned that “selfish objectives” threaten what he, rather poetically, described as “the football movement”, and he berated the biggest clubs in Europe for not helping develop the game at the grassroots. But how is he going to change them when market forces dominate with such impunity? In Britain, footballers and football moguls are about the only fat cats in the alley who are never reproved by our elected leaders. True, the government set up the football Authentic Prada Vitello Daino task force, but then appointed a former Tory politician, David Mellor, to make the case for the redistribution Ap Lei Chau Prada Factory Outlet of big football’s wealth. (‘New’ Labour’s close acquaintance with Mr Authentic Prada Shoes Outlet Murdoch’s small intestine may have other implications. It would be no surprise if, five years from now, football is home to more than a fair share of their former spin doctors.) So, at least until the great day when all the richest clubs in the Premiership go simultaneously bankrupt and everyone realises that football can be just as spiritually rich without them, we must endure a climate in which (for whatever reason) even decent Danny Wilson can barely squeeze out a post-match condemnation of Paolo Di Canio for felling a ref, and in which a player’s Authentic Prada Bags Uk refusal to accept a penalty because he knew he wasn’t tripped is such a rare event that it makes the leader pages of the national press.

Okay, maybe Robbie Fowler – for it was he, you may recall – deserves all that dosh more than most. After all, similar signs of honesty, humility and sanity of perspective on the role of sport in modern life are depressingly rare at present.

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Which clubs employ animals?

“Earlier this month, Rochdale brought in a falcon to deal with their pigeon problem at Spotland,” writes Connor Randall. “Are they the first football club ever to employ an animal?”

We’re afraid not Connor. Plenty of clubs have been utilising the unique skills of our feathered friends and of other members of the animal kingdom. And not all in order to keep a lid on pigeon guano.

Joe Guarr, Wayne Mabey, Jim Powers and Mike McGroarty all email in with the tale of Bitchy the hawk. Toronto FC brought in the Harris Hawk back in 2007 to help keep their BMO Field clear of pesky seagulls, who hopped over from nearby Lake Ontario to enjoy a good meal at the Authentic Prada Gauffre ground. “Her job Authentic Prada Leather Handbags is pretty simple – it’s to sit and watch the game from the highest vantage point possible,” said Mike Gilvin, the vice-president of Toronto’s Wildlife Management Programs. “Gulls don’t want to fly underneath a predatory bird, so by putting her up high we ensure that the gulls don’t come in and land on the pitch or disturb the spectators.” Bitchy, named thus after a fans’ poll on the club’s website, has “a bit of an attitude” according to Gilvin, but she looks pretty placid in this clip from West Ham’s game in Toronto earlier this year.

Both Madrid sides have used birds of prey in recent years to tackle their pigeon problems, and Ross Sechler informs us that on a honeymoon tour of Stamford Bridge in the summer (Ross, you old romantic) he and his new wife watched a falcon help out with Chelsea’s pest control. It might be an idea for someone to suggest this humane solution to an investation of avian interlopers to Staines FC, who have recently been angering animal rights Authentic Prada Handbags Canada activists with their more direct methods.

“Manchester City also employed a falcon at Maine Road for exactly the same reason,” explains Sam Cowan, “until they realised it was cheaper to hang a plastic one from one end of the Kippax which seemed to work just as well.”

As Oliver Farry and Jaime Alonso point out, an eagle soars around the Estadio da Luz and lands in Authentic Prada Outlet Uk the stadium before Benfica home games. It’s also tradition for Vitoria, as the bird is known, to be present when players sign for the club. Here’s Pablo Aimar trying to force a smile, while holding a huge bird that looks ready to peck his eyes out.

Oliver also suggests Authentic Prada Leather Handbag that Sedan have been led out at two recent Coupe de France finals by boars, while “FC Cologne has always employed a (real) goat as a mascot, I kid you not,” chuckles Robert Sleigh. Ho. Ho Ho. These days, though, mammals are something of a rarity at football stadia. In years gone by, of course, livestock were often allowed to graze on the pitches and in the 1920s the Ipswich Town groundsman Walter Woollard kept sheep, goats and chickens in a stand at Portman Road.

Even a pair of fish have found themselves taken on by a club. In 2005 floods saw Judy the goldfish washed Authentic Prada Online Shop from her comfortable tank in a house opposite Carlisle United’s Brunton Park and wind up in the goalmouth on the pitch where she was fortuitously rescued by Emma Story, the daughter of the club owner Fred. The club won their next game – against Redditch – and, as Emma pointed out, “fans began to say the fish represented the fighting spirit of the club”. On the back of that early success, Judy took up residence as the club’s mascot and can claim to have played her own small role in the club’s rise to League One from her bowl in the club’s reception.

Do you know of any other instances? Email them to the usual address.

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“Hearts have used four goalkeepers in their first nine SPL games,” writes Derek Corney. “What’s the highest number of goalkeepers used by one club in a season?”

Several readers put their hands up to let us know about clubs with a particularly promiscuous attitude to goalkeepers. While Boston United (2007-08), Morecambe (2007-08) and Burnley (1991-92) all employed five different stoppers over the course of a season to better Hearts current tally, James Tong wrote in to raise the bar. “Gillingham used six goalkeepers in the 2006-07 season. Kelvin Jack started the season as the Gills’ No1, but quickly fell out of favour. The club then brought in Darren Randolph, Dean Brill, Scott Flinders, Roman Larrieu, and Simon Royce on loan at various times.”

Seeing Gillingham’s six and raising them a seven, Tristan Browning staked a claim for Tranmere’s 2002-03 side. John Achterberg, Keith Welch, Ian Feuer, Phil Whitehead (who played in consecutive 6-1 defeats), Russell Howarth and Eric Nixon all pulled on their gloves for Rovers’ cause – however, Phil Palethorpe only ever made the bench, Authentic Prada Clothing so it looks like an honourable draw in this case.

However, Mark Andrews tops this with details of AFC Wimbledon’s successful promotion campaign last year. “They started the season with Andy Little. Paul Seuke donned the gloves for a Westview Senior Cup game against Whyteleafe, and then again in the league against Folkestone Invicta. Little returned for the next few games before getting injured against Chelmsford. With no goalkeeper on the bench right-back Luke Garrard went in goal for the second half and kept a clean sheet in the 1-0 victory.

“Then they got Corrin Brookes-Mead on loan from Fulham to deputise for Little, against Tonbridge Angels, but he, in turn, was injured, on his debut, so young reserve goalie Ben Symons came on for his first ever game. Danny Knowles was then signed on loan from Grays Athletic, and played for a number of games; after his loan expired, Lee Butcher was brought in on loan from Tottenham; at the end of his loan James Pullen was brought in on loan from Eastleigh. Wimbledon also had young Elliot Ransom in goal for a London Senior Cup tie against Bromley. So, counting league games only, AFC Wimbledon used eight different keepers, nine if you include the cups.”


Last week we delved into the world of lengthy bans and time elapsing between punishments and the suspensions being served. But there were some notable omissions …

“Brian Mooney, the late 80s cult hero of Preston North End, was sent off for (Irish side) Bohemian FC versyus Dynamo Minsk in 1996, but did not serve the suspension until 2000,” writes Karl Mullen. “Bohs messed up by failing to include him in the squad list for the following year’s Uefa Cup game against Ferencvaros. He did not serve his suspension as Uefa did not consider him to be a Bohs player for the tie, so he served his suspension when U.C.D. registered him for the Intertoto a few years later against Bulgaria’s PFC Velbazhd Kyustendil.”

And Sean DeLoughrey adds that “Donal Broughan was sent off while playing for Bohemians against Ferencvaros in 1997 for lashing out at an opponent. He was banned for three European games, and served two of those five years later, when his new club, Dundalk, played Varteks in the Uefa Cup. In theory, he’s still suspended but having retired from the game, I doubt he’s unduly concerned.”


When we suggested last week that Paul Dickov was the only member of Scotland’s 1989 Under-16 World Cup team to become a full international, we were wrong. As Alex Lamont points out, “sorry to contradict you, but both Andy McLaren (one cap) and Brian O’Neil (seven caps) both graduated from that side.


“Following the recent scandal in Italy, I got to wondering what the earliest ever example of match-fixing is?” wrote Seamus Callaghan in 2006.

It’s a whopping 106 years ago and involves Burnley goalkeeper ‘Happy’ Jack Hillman. With his team needing to beat Nottingham Forest to avoid relegation, Hillman was alleged to have offered the opposition 2 a head to “take it easy” [around 144 in today’s money, according to the retail price index]. He upped his offer to 5 [360] at half-time, by which point Burnley were trailing 2-0.

The Clarets eventually lost 4-0 and went down to the second division before being hauled before the Football League. Hillman Black Prada Eyeglass Case admitted speaking to Forest players, but denied trying to bribe them. Which didn’t wash with the authorities, who chose to set an example by banning him from the game for one year.

For many more sepia-tinged questions and answers, why not visit the Knowledge archive?

Can you help?

“Jamie Carragher’s fine headed goal last Saturday was his third for Spurs, the same number as he has scored in the league Barberino Factory Outlet Prada for Liverpool. What is the record number of own goals scored for a particular club by a single player?” wonders Adrian Riley.

“When was the last time that an English top-flight game kicked off with a snow-covered pitch (and I mean properly covered in snow, not just a light dusting with grass visible through it)?|” asks Mark Goodge.

“Before his switch to Heerenveen, Viktor Elm scored four games in his final match for Kalmar, while playing alongside brothers Rasmus and David,” notes Steve Stringer. “How many other teams have had three or more siblings playing for the same team in the same match?”

“Having read about Peter Thorne’s love of surfing with sharks,” writes Martyn Salter, “I was wondering if any other players enjoy hobbies that could threaten their careers?”

Send your questions and answers to

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The Joy of Six: pitch invasions

1) Chicago White Sox v Detroit Tigers, 12 July 1979

This is now officially the worlds largest anti-disco rally! Now listen C we took all the disco records you brought tonight, we got em in a giant box and were gonna blow em up reeeeeeal goooood. Steve Dahl, 1979.

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Bill Veeck loved a baseball promotion. As owner of the St Louis Browns, he had Eddie Gaedel, a 3ft7in man with dwarfism, come to the plate as a stunt in 1951. As owner of the Chicago White Sox, he introduced an exploding scoreboard in an attempt to tempt a few more punters to Comiskey Park. So when the White Sox decided to promote their double-header against the Detroit Tigers on 12 July 1979 with a Disco Demolition Night C in which punters could gain admittance to the game for 98 cents if they brought a disco record to be exploded in the interval between the two games C there were no more than a few raised eyebrows.

This was the age of Saturday Night Fever but as Donna Summer and co ruled the airwaves and club nights, a backlash movement had begun. Angry at the way disco had marginalised his beloved rock and roll in Chicago, Steve Dahl, C a local radio DJ C was made MC for the evening and entered the field of play after the first game, which the Tigers won 4-1. Having collected the fans records, he paraded around the outfield atop a Jeep, clad in army garb, whipping the crowd into a frenzy before igniting the fuse to a skip full of disco.

Centre-field disappeared! There was a crater in centre-field! It was unbelievable, said the White Sox outfielder Rusty Torres, who was also subject to a storm of records hurled from the stands in the first game. The explosion sent the record shards flying across the pitch and acted as a starting gun for fans to descend from the stands.

The White Sox typically played in front of about 15,000 that season but with Dahls call to arms seemingly striking a chord, some reports claim that 70,000 clambered through and Biggest Prada Store London over the turnstiles into the 44,500-capacity stadium that evening. As many as 7,000 are believed to have taken to the field, as batting cages were destroyed and fires were started. Home plate Baby Prada Shoes Uk was dug up, fans openly drunk whiskey, smoked marijuana in the team dugouts and one vendor, Barry Rozner, who had his ice pops stolen, said he was pretty sure I saw two people having sex behind third base.

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Monaco take the cut-price route and find themselves richly in profit

Go to any Monte Carlo casino and you will likely find it Authentic Prada Handbags Online Australia full of punters who fancy they have a better chance of landing a jackpot win than Arsenal do of progressing to the Champions League quarter-finals. After losing 3-1 at the Emirates, Authentic Prada Handbags Canada Arsne Wengers team need at least three goals against a Monaco side who have one of the meanest defences in Europe. The house has a clear edge.

It is almost four years since Monaco conceded three goals at home, and that was when they were in Frances second tier. They are a very different side now. They did not concede a single goal at the Stade Louis II (and only one away) in this seasons Champions League group stages and have let in just two in their past 13 matches anywhere in Ligue 1. In their last outing, Fridays 3-0 home victory over Bastia, their opponents did not manage a shot on target and ended the game with nine men, so frustrated did they become at their lack of possession.

Monaco have suffered one heavy defeat this term C 4-1 at Bordeaux in August C but the manager, Leonardo Jardim, has tightened them up markedly since then. Now the Portuguese is starting to win admirers and, more improbably, the clubs improvised plan is looking like it may bear fruit.

Arsenal determined to defy Champions League statistics in Monaco Read more

The Arsenal tie could redefine Monacos season in much the same way that victory over Chelsea changed the perception of Paris Saint-Germain. For most of this campaign Monaco have been accused of being insufferably boring because in addition to being solid at the back they have tended to be blunt up front.

Until recent weeks their style of play was literally a turn-off, with Canal viewers voting Januarys 0-0 home draw with Bordeaux as Best Prada Outlet In Italy the worst match screened on the channel for three years. Attendances dropped to levels that were low even by Monacos standards, with this seasons average of less than 8,000 being their second-worst this millennium, the only lower one occurring in the 2010?11 season that concluded with relegation.

Last month even the most fanatical fans were finding it too much to bear replica, and a group of ultras demonstrated their discontent by walking out at kick-off in the League Cup semi-final (Monaco lost on penalties after another 0-0 draw).

Although Jardim has been criticised, most of the blame was aimed at the clubs owner, the Russian tycoon Dmitry Rybolovlev, who abruptly changed strategy in the summer by reining in expenditure and then selling, rather than recruiting, top names. Personal and political reasons probably contributed to his switch of direction but the club said its hand was forced by financial fair play regulations and vowed to develop young players instead.

Under the circumstances it is not so surprising that Jardims side were scoring only half as many goals as Monaco did under Claudio Ranieri the previous season. And perhaps it is not so surprising that they have conceded so few.

Jardim arrived at Monaco last summer after establishing a reputation for turning young teams into well-drilled units by guiding a Sporting Lisbon side full of academy graduates to second place in the Portuguese league, where they conceded Bicester Village Prada Refund only 20 goals in 30 matches, almost half as many as the previous season. His attempt to do something similar at Monaco has been complicated by injuries.

Arsenal can consign first-leg disaster to history, says Per Mertesacker Read more

Under Jardim Monaco are extremely unlikely Authentic Prada Handbags Uk to suffer the sort of systemic failure that Arsenal did in the first leg at the Emirates. The Portuguese is a meticulous organiser and motivator and those merits have helped talented young players to slot seamlessly into the team when required.

Wallace, a Brazil Under-21 international, has been assured in central defence alongside Aymen Abdennour since the loss of the duo that began the season, the 30-year-old Andrea Raggi and 36-year-old Ricardo Carvahlo. The former Chelsea defender returned against Bastia after a long absence but Jardim has evidence he can do without Are Prada Mens Shoes Worth It the veteran.

Similarly, the 18-year-old Almamy Tour made his league debut against Nice only days before excelling against Arsenal at the Emirates, and he has continued to show that solidity and even weighed in with a couple of goals. The teams erstwhile right-back, the 21-year-old Brazilian Fabinho, was moved into midfield to replace the suspended Jrmy Toulalan at the Emirates and he, too, has continued to perform well, anchoring a midfield in which Geoffrey Kondogbia and Jo?o Moutinho provide iron cover Bicester Village Prada Store Number for the defence and increasingly dynamic invention. Minor hamstring trouble meant Kondogbia missed the win over Bastia but he is expected to be fit for Tuesday.

Moutinho, meanwhile, goes into that game in the best form that he has shown since joining Monaco along with the now-departed James Rodrguez in 2013. The Portuguese is ubiquitous for his team, breaking up opposition moves and orchestrating attacks with a marvellous range of passing, from quick releases from deep to the dinks and deft through-balls that enabled him to create two goals against Bastia.

Those were scored by the 23-year-old Matheus Carvalho, who Authentic Prada Factory Outlet Online has just joined on loan from Fluminense, and Anthony Martial, a 19-year-old striker who has scored in successive Ligue 1 matches for the first time after shining on the left wing at Arsenal. The left-back Layvin Kurzawa had a penalty saved against Bastia by Alphonse Areola, who had a habit of saving spot-kicks when the pair were part of the France team that won the Under-20 World Cup two year ago, but Kurzawas return to action after missing the first leg against Arsenal helps makes them stronger for the second.

Monaco have scored three goals in three of their past five matches C they suffered a 2-0 aggregate Cup defeat to Paris Saint-Germain in the others C and are starting to create a lot of chances while continuing to keep opponents out. There is, then, increased risk of Arsenal being caught on the counterattack as they search for the goals they need. Wengers team need not abandon all hope C they did, after all, forge several openings in the first leg C but the odds are that they will wind up counting the cost of their misses in north London.

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England squad unhappy with new drug code

Fifa’s application of the latest edition of the World Anti-Doping Agency Authentic Prada Factory Outlet Online code has opened the Authentic Prada Americas Cup Sneakers door to a messy legal battleground with England footballers.

The Professional Players Federation (PPF) will hold its quarterly meeting tomorrow and at the top of the agenda will be discussions over the near unanimous decision by Fifa’s congress last week to sign up to the Wada code. The agency stipulates that signatory federations must identify a “registered pool” of international-level athletes for testing.

Availability requires that sportsmen and women must “provide accurate, current location information”, requiring that for an hour of every day they are accountable for their movements. This has become a huge issue for 30 top English players, who are mobilising against what they consider Authentic Prada Fairy Bag For Sale would amount to house arrest for the prescribed hour.

Michael Beloff QC has provided counsel to the PPF over what grounds it might have to mount a legal challenge to Fifa’s new rules. Initially the players hope to negotiate with the international game’s ruling body over scrapping the pool, insisting that football is not a sport at risk of doping.

But if talks fail, the PPF will exercise one of “a number of Bicester Village Prada Refund options”. After a threatened England players’ walk-out over Rio Ferdinand’s eight-month Authentic Prada Clutch ban for a missed test in 2003, militant steps have not been ruled out. The organisation’s general secretary, Simon Taylor, said: “Strike action is not on the agenda at this point.”

Surrey’s lucrative office

Turmoil in the Surrey County Black Prada Chain Bag Cricket Club boardroom follows a year in which the Brown Caps’ chief executive, Paul Sheldon, became the highest-paid administrator in English Authentic Prada Leather Handbag cricket. Accounts for the club’s subsidiary operating company, Kennington Oval Ltd, show Sheldon picked up 247,000 in the 12 months to last November.

That represented a rise of more than 30% on the previous year, although company pension contributions fell to 13,600 from 23,250. Sheldon, 54, insists the decisions of the operations director, Carl Partridge, and the finance director, Nigel Roissetter, to leave Bicester Village Prada Bag Price the five-man executive board in March and April were not Authentic Prada Handbags For Cheap linked to his huge pay hike. “Our governance reflects plc disciplines homesite,” he said. “We have a remuneration committee that benchmarks salaries against industry norms.”

IPL peaks at 96,000

Viewer interest in Indian Premier League cricket appeared to turn a corner as the competition reached its climax on Sunday afternoon. Although Setanta’s audience averages had slipped to 24,000 in mid-May from a first-week peak of 64,000 in April, the Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board yesterday released figures showing an average of 96,000 throughout the 4?-hour programme. The England

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Liverpool have massive aspirations, but the Cup would be a good start

Dietmar Hamann can put Authentic Prada Gauffre Authentic Prada Black Prada Bag With Gold Vitello Daino his finger on exactly what is worrying Liverpool supporters. ‘In the Black Prada Bag With Gold last few weeks we have shown we can win against any team in Europe,’ the German midfielder said. ‘We went to Manchester United and got a victory, we went to Roma and got a victory. Yet we can still go Agatha Ruiz Dela Prada E Shop and lose to Ipswich or Middlesbrough.’

The bad news Amazon Uk Prada Bags for Birmingham City, the underdogs in today’s Worthington Cup final, is that Liverpool are gradually ironing that trait out of their system. Since the Middlesbrough defeat on Boxing Day, the only time Liverpool have finished on the losing side was in the first leg of their Worthington semi-final at Crystal Palace, a deficit emphatically recovered in the second leg.

What happened between those two semi-final legs was that Jari Litmanen made a stunning debut in a 3-0 Premiership victory at Aston Villa. The Finn took the place of Robbie Fowler, whose own resurgence stems from precisely the same time. It is tempting to see Litmanen – surely the best piece of free-transfer business Liverpool have ever concluded – as the last piece in Grard Houllier’s jigsaw.

Since his arrival, Fowler and Michael Owen returned to England form and confidence has coursed almost visibly through the whole of the team, but though the former Ajax and Barcelona striker completes an unparalleled range of attacking options which Houllier often runs through in the course of a single game, it is possible Litmanen has simply been lucky enough to join Liverpool at the right time.

‘We began the season with a couple of new players and a few injuries, and maybe that’s why we started a bit slowly,’ Hamann said. ‘We look a lot more solid now.’

Nick Barmby, one of the arrivals last summer, agrees Liverpool were never likely to make a flying start. ‘When you have a number of new people they will always need time for bedding-in,’ he said. ‘People are saying that if the league was beginning now we might have a chance of staying with Manchester United.

‘The manager always says the time to judge us will be in a couple of years, but I think the Roma result showed we are strong mentally, and beating United at Old Trafford was a massive boost to our confidence.’

Houllier might be right about judging Liverpool in two years prada, but he is equally well aware that if they don’t start picking up silverware soon he might not be allowed that luxury. Anfield eyes might be on the FA Cup, the Uefa Cup and a Champions League place, but the Worthington Cup Authentic Prada Handbags Uk would be a start. ‘I think Barberino Factory Outlet Prada the time has come to win something,’ Houllier admitted. ‘I’m sure Birmingham City will feel the same way for other reasons, but this is my first cup final and it’s important to all of us. Winning silverware at this stage will increase our self-belief and set us up for the rest of the season.’

‘For the best teams winning is a habit,’ Hamann said. ‘We haven’t got that habit yet, but we’d like to make a start. The size of our squad means players want to do well in every Authentic Prada Shoes Outlet game, and we don’t intend giving anything away cheaply. No one is underestimating this occasion, because perhaps the first trophy is always the most difficult. I joined Liverpool to win things and I’m just waiting to get Authentic Prada Bags Outlet Online off the mark.’

Hamann has that in common with Sven-G?ran Eriksson, then. But for the German’s free-kick in what turned out to be Kevin Keegan’s last match, the first foreign coach in English history might not have come about so quickly. ‘Germany was not so surprised to see England appoint Eriksson. The situation is similar in Germany. Rudi Voller is doing quite well, but there aren’t a lot of alternatives, and if he leaves we’ll probably get a foreigner as well.

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McCarthy stands by Ireland’s tried are there any canada goose outlet stores and trusted

Mick McCarthy, the Republic of Ireland manager, yesterday reflected on one of the most difficult tasks he has faced in his 30 years in football when he named his World Cup squad.

While his 23-man party – incorporating only one player from the Premiership’s leading three clubs – contained no real surprises, it buy canada goose jacket toronto still necessitated buy canada goose parka cheap breaking the news to five players that their services would not be required.

Nicky Colgan, the Hibernian goalkeeper, and Millwall’s Steven Reid had been primed to fear the worst, but Colin Healy of Celtic and Southampton’s Rory Delap had weightier cases for inclusion and Tottenham’s Gary Doherty, having been a regular when fit, will be particularly disappointed.

McCarthy argued, with some justification, that buy canada goose parka uk Doherty had not had enough time to recover fully from the broken leg that has kept him out for two-thirds of the season, while stating that the inexperience of the others counted against them behind the likes of Lee Carsley and Mark Kennedy. Loyalty, too, came into the equation as he telephoned the unfortunate quintet to break the news they had feared most.

“I had to ask myself whether it would help us win the World Cup, leaving out someone who has been loyal to me, someone who has turned up for every game and given their all, just to bring in a fresh piece of meat. The answer, I say, is no,” he said.

“Loyalty is very important to me. I was in Millwall’s reserves when I went to the World Cup in 1990 but Jack Charlton took me because of my performances for Ireland. He showed great loyalty towards me and I like to think it was repaid.”

The primary beneficiaries are Carsley, who played only half an hour in the 12 qualifying games, and Kennedy, who has also been a peripheral figure and saw a specialist yesterday about a recurrent groin injury that could yet offer Reid a back-door route to the finals. McCarthy will also be without the injured Steve Carr – “we’re missing the best full-back in Europe,” he said – but Roy Keane’s return to fitness well ahead of schedule is a gigantic boost.

“The five players I had to disappoint all took it very well,” said McCarthy. “I didn’t travel the length and breadth of Britain to do it. I did it by telephone, which might seem cold but it was the only way I could do it.

“They all wished me the best and said they wanted us to do as well as we possible can. It wasn’t easy but these things never are.”

McCarthy will field two teams – one in each half – when he takes his players to Sunderland for Niall Quinn’s testimonial next Tuesday and will experiment again against Nigeria at Lansdowne Road two days later before leaving for their training camp buy a canada goose jacket online in Saipan the next day.

Quinn, the squad’s oldest member at 35, believes this squad is an improvement canada goose coat 1000 calorie a day diet on the vintages of 1990 and 1994. “There is definitely a more professional belief and approach to what we do now,” he said.

“In 1990 click cg, and to some extent 1994, there were only a few experienced players who had been there and done it at the highest level. What is different about this squad is that there is absolutely no fear and the players are saying ‘bring it on because I want to play and be a star’. These lads want to take it a step further – not only in the World Cup but also cutting bu sees a spike can you wash a canada goose coat in canada goose jacket thefts a dash in the next European Championships.”

“We were not expected canada goose coat – hybridge lite to qualify but we are going there attempting to win it,” McCarthy said in a canada goose coat 1000 bulbs free defiant manner. “We would not be going otherwise.”


Shay Given (Newcastle)

Alan Kelly (Blackburn)

Dean Kiely (Charlton)


Gary Kelly (Leeds)

Ian Harte (Leeds)

Steve Staunton (Aston Villa)

Steve Finnan (Fulham)

Gary Breen (Coventry)

Kenny Cunningham (Wimbledon)

Andy O’Brien (Newcastle)

Richard Dunne (Man City)


Jason McAteer (Sunderland)

Matt Holland (Ipswich)

Roy Keane (Man United)

Mark Kinsella (Charlton)

Damien Duff (Blackburn)

Kevin Kilbane (Sunderland)

Mark Kennedy (Wolves)

Lee Carsley (Everton)


Robbie Keane (Leeds)

Niall Quinn (Sunderland)

David Connolly (Wimbledon)

Clinton Morrison (C Palace)

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