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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Federer wins sixth Finals title

Having weathered an early storm to win the first set, the 30-year-old, looked to have victory in his grasp when he served for the match at 5-4 in the second. But back came Tsonga, levelling and then fighting from 5-2 down in the tie-break to level, only for his opponent to clinch the crucial break in the decider.

Federer, who also becomes the tournament's oldest winner, previously held the record jointly with Pete Sampras and Ivan Lendl, while his 70th victory in his 100th final, netted the Swiss more than £1million. Federer, who will take a winning streak of 17 matches into next season, said: "I couldn't be more happy and I couldn't be more exhausted."

Tsonga piled on the pressure early in the first set, but crucially the break did not come and in the eighth game Federer made his move, winding up his backhand to earn three break points and taking the second when his opponent netted an attempted drop volley

That left the fourth seed serving for the set and, although Tsonga saved two set points in impressive fashion, there was nothing he could do on the third.

The frustrated Frenchman then had to dig himself out of a hole when he began the third game of the second with two double faults, but dig he did, two aces on break points neatly rescuing the situation. The tables had well and truly turned, though, and Federer did clinch the break two games later with a thumping forehand return.

Tsonga was hanging on by his fingernails but he was determined not to make it easy and he fought off another break point in the seventh game with a brave drop shot. And that became very significant as Tsonga made a last-ditch attempt with Federer serving for the match, using his power brilliantly to bring up his first three break points and taking the third.

Tsonga continued to live dangerously on his serve but hung on as into the tie-break they went. Having worked so hard to earn his chance, Tsonga gave away a cheap couple of points and at 5-2 he was staring down the barrel once more. Again he clawed back to level before an ace earned Federer his first match point, but Tsonga powered away a forehand winner.

Another service winner gave him a set point and he took it with a stunning forehand return. It was no more than the world number six deserved and Federer, who has made a bit of habit this season of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, had to refocus quickly.

He did not panic, though, and in the eighth game of the decider his chance arrived. Twice Tsonga saved break points but a third arrived and this time he dumped a forehand wide. And there were to be no more heroics, Federer sealing victory with an easy forehand volley to add to the titles he won in 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007 and 2010.

Football pays tribute to Speed

Tributes have poured in for Gary Speed as the football world mourned the death of the popular Wales manager.

Former team-mates, managers and clubs have described Speed as the model professional as they come to terms with his death. Cheshire Police confirmed he was found dead at his home on the outskirts of Chester, and said there were "no suspicious circumstances". Sources confirmed Speed was found hanged.

Speed was described as a "star in the true sense" by Howard Wilkinson, under whose management he helped Leeds win the 1992 First Division title. "The players I worked with represented all colours of the rainbow in terms of character, but in Gary's case he was a star in the true sense," Wilkinson told BBC Radio Five Live.

"I've known Gary since 1988 when I joined Leeds and I've rarely come across a better balanced, lovely, genuine person. He was a terrific player - not as gifted as some but he made the most of everything he had."

Robbie Savage, who played alongside Speed for Wales for nine years, broke down in tears as he reflected on the loss of his friend.

"I spoke to him yesterday (Saturday) morning. We were laughing and joking. He was in high spirits. I can't believe it," he told BBC News. "He came to Strictly Come Dancing (where Savage is a contestant) three or four weeks ago and he and his wife sat with us.

"After my routine I high-fived him and we had a drink in the bar afterwards. He was larger than life. He is my mate and he's gone. I'd grown very close to him in the last few years. He's left two gorgeous kids behind and a beautiful wife. He had everything."

Savage was one of many former team-mates to honour the memory of the 42-year-old, who was highly respected as a player and had made a promising start to life as a manager.

Manchester United midfielder Ryan Giggs, who played alongside Speed for 13 years with Wales, admitted his disbelief at the news.

"I am totally devastated. Gary Speed was one of the nicest men in football and someone I am honoured to call a team-mate and friend," he said. "Words cannot begin to describe how sad I feel at hearing this awful news."

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Friends and colleagues mourn Speed

A host of friends, former team-mates and professional footballers have paid tribute to Gary Speed after the Wales manager was found dead at his home on Sunday morning.

The sporting world has reacted with shock and sadness at the news of the passing of the 42-year-old, who was beginning to forge a promising career as a manager after making over 700 appearances as a player.

Doncaster manager Dean Saunders, a former international team-mate of Speed, remarked on his dedication to his craft as a player, telling BBC Radio Five Live: "He was so fit - he was one of those players who would stay behind all day in training. I can't believe what's happened."

Newcastle defender Steven Taylor, who came into the first team at St James' Park when Speed was the side's senior professional, expressed his gratitude for the help the midfielder gave him at the club.

"It is a sad, sad day. I played with him when I came through the ranks," Taylor told Radio Five Live. "He helped me through, he was an absolute machine - the best professional in football."

Wales are in the same group as Scotland in qualifying Group A for the 2014 World Cup and Scottish Football Association chief executive Stewart Regan was left shocked by the news having met Speed just days ago.

"I am speechless at the news of Gary Speed's death," Regan said. "Craig Levein (Scotland boss) and I had lunch with him on Wednesday in Brussels. He was a talented young manager. So sad."

Robbie Savage, who played alongside Speed for Wales, said on his Twitter account that he was devastated by the news.

"The world has lost a great man in Gary Speed. I'm devastated spoke to him yesterday morning why! Why. Why. He come to watch strictly 3/4 weeks ago. I high fived him in the front row he loved the show, he loved life he loved his family. Devastated."

Pascali pops up to stun Rangers

Rangers saw their impressive away record come to an end after suffering a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Kilmarnock in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League.

Ally McCoist's men were aiming for their 15th consecutive league win on the road but Manuel Pascali grabbed the only goal late on to ensure the three points remained at Rugby Park.

The Light Blues' last visit to the Ayrshire venue saw them claim the SPL crown with a commanding 5-1 win on the last day of last season, but this result means they remain just four points ahead of Celtic in the title race.

Sone Aluk, making his Rangers debut after completing his move to Ibrox last week, was in the thick of the action immediately when he found Steven Davis in the box, who teed up the shot for Nikica Jelavic in front of goal but the Croatian connected awkwardly and Cammy Bell was able to gather.

Jelavic then saw another effort crash off the post but the offside flag was already raised before he unleashed the shot as Rangers continued to push forward in search of the opener.

Killie had a penalty claim ignored when Gary Harkins went to ground under pressure from Ross Perry and Kirk Broadfoot but referee Alan Muir was unimpressed.

Kilmarnock started the second half strongly and a Harkins effort trundled just past the upright and out of play after Steven Whittaker managed to get a block on the shot.

At the other end, Killie resorted to last-gasp defending when James Fowler hooked an Aluko drive off the line, before McGregor came to the rescue of Rangers with an excellent save after finding himself one-on-one with Racchi.

Aluko was again denied a goal on his maiden bow, this time by the woodwork when his shot squeezed through a congested goalmouth and struck the far post.

But he had an unwanted part to play when Kilmarnock opened the scoring with 10 minutes to go. A corner broke to Fowler and he punted into the path of Pascali who nodded into the back of the net, with Aluko coming off the line and playing the Italian onside.

Quins' hot start continues

Harlequins continued their best start with to a season with a 13th consecutive win in all competitions, brushing Newcastle aside 39-8 in the Aviva Premiership.

It took the London club nine points clear of second-placed Saracens, with wing Seb Stegmann scoring two of their five tries.

Defeat kept Newcastle anchored to the foot of the table, nine points adrift of Worcester.

A Nick Evans penalty was all Quins had to show for some good early pressure but the opposition defence cracked badly when Stegmann attacked up the right wing. He lacked support but managed to break poor tackles by Alex Tait, Jamie Helleur and Chris Pilgrim to score by the flag. Evans added the conversion.

Newcastle hit back after 34 minutes following a scorching break by Jimmy Gopperth. Jeremy Manning took the pass and cut a fine line to bisect Stegmann and Mike Brown before forcing the ball down on the line.

Danny Care restored the 10-point margin two minutes from half-time. Sam Smith broke up the left and passed inside to Jordan Turner-Hall who, despite being well-tackled by James Fitzpatrick, armed Care to score in the corner. This time Evans' conversion attempt went wide.

Tim Swinson was sin-binned and the Falcons fought bravely but when Matt Hopper was then dismissed it proved the breaking point as Quins kicked their penalty to touch, won the lineout and 13-man Newcastle could not prevent Luke Wallace from crossing their line, Evans adding the extra points.

Gopperth kicked his first goal in the 58th minute after Joe Marler tackled him late but the visitors were back under pressure straight from the restart. Brown was again the main threat, starting and finishing the move. His darting break created a five-man move that ended with the full-back twisting over on the left after 65 minutes to claim the fourth-try bonus point.

Newcastle were energetic right to the finish, but only in search of pride and even that took yet another dent when Quins broke out from close to their line before surging up the right where the ball was kicked on. It did not seem possible that Newcastle would be beaten to the ball, but Stegmann turned on the gas and grabbed his second try.

James Johnston wrapped things up with the sixth try seconds from time.

Swans held on sombre day

Swansea and Aston Villa played out a subdued goalless draw at the Liberty Stadium in a game overshadowed by the death of Wales manager Gary Speed.

The death of the 42-year-old was confirmed just over an hour before kick-off and a minute's silence was announced as two sides lined up on the field, which quickly gave way to a spontaneous round of applause and chants of "there's only one Gary Speed".

Given the overwhelming sense of sadness it was perhaps no surprise that the match was a drab affair.

Substitute Leroy Lita fired narrowly wide with Swansea's best chance, while man-of-the-match Gabriel Agbonlahor was twice denied by Michel Vorm and Chris Herd headed wide at the other end.

Tributes paid to Speed

Leeds have expressed their "deepest sadness" at the death of Wales manager Gary Speed.

Speed, who played at Elland Road between 1988-1996, was found dead on Sunday morning.

"We are stunned to learn this news. The club expresses its deepest sadness," said a Leeds spokesman.

"Gary was very well thought-of throughout the game. He was a very likeable and popular man. It's very difficult find words to describe how we're all feeling right now."

The 42-year-old's playing days ended at Sheffield United, Speed joining the Bramall Lane club on January 1, 2008. He enjoyed a role as first-team coach before being appointed as Kevin Blackwell's replacement as manager in August 2010.

However, his spell as boss was short-lived as he left south Yorkshire for the job of Wales manager in December 2010.

A statement from the League One club read: "Everybody at Sheffield United is extremely shocked and saddened to learn of the death of former player and manager Gary Speed. Thoughts are with Gary's family and friends at this distressing time."

In a statement released by the FAW, both chief executive Jonathan Ford and president Phil Pritchard paid tribute.

Ford said: "I, and all of the football family of Wales, am devastated by the news of Gary's passing. My thoughts and prayers are with his wife and family at this difficult time."

A statement from the Football Association said: "It is with great sadness that The FA has learned of the passing of Gary Speed. The thoughts of everybody at the FA are with his family and friends at this time."

Wales boss Speed found dead at home

Gary Speed, manager of Wales' national football team, has been found hanged at his home at the age of 42.

Cheshire Police confirmed he was found dead on the outskirts of Chester, where he lived, and said there were "no suspicious circumstances".

A spokeswoman said: "At 7.08am today, Cheshire Police was informed of a sudden death at an address in Huntington, Chester. Officers went to the scene where a 42-year-old man was found dead. The next of kin have been informed and have confirmed the identity of the man as Gary Speed."

She continued: "There are no suspicious circumstances surrounding the death. The family have requested that they are left in peace to grieve at this difficult time."

Sources confirmed Speed was found hanged.

The Football Association of Wales also announced the news of Speed's death on its website and expressed its condolences to his relatives.

It said in a statement: "The Football Association of Wales are sad to announce the death of the national team manager Gary Speed.

"We extend our sympathies and condolences to the family. We ask that everyone respects the family's privacy at this very sad time."

The former Leeds, Everton, Newcastle and Bolton footballer was appointed manager of Wales in December 2010 after retiring as a player in May last year.

He took charge of Wales for the first time in February, with his last game as manager on November 12 when the team won 4-1 in a friendly against Norway.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Webber ends winless run

Mark Webber finally ended his victory drought by taking the final chequered flag of the 2011 Formula One season in Brazil.

Webber's first win for 26 races came at the expense of Sebastian Vettel as his Red Bull team-mate was forced to drive for the bulk of the 71-lap race with a gearbox issue. That did not stop Vettel from conjuring a one-two for Red Bull at Interlagos, appropriately so in a year they have dominated from the start in Australia to the finish in South America.

Behind them, Jenson Button continued his stunning end to the year by claiming his eighth podium in the last nine races, so finishing second in the drivers' championship.

However, it was a sorry end for McLaren team-mate Lewis Hamilton as he retired with a gearbox issue.

It sadly came at a time when the 26-year-old was squaring up for another battle with Ferrari's Felipe Massa - the duo have been magnets for one another this season, colliding six times. There was to be no seventh, though, as Hamilton slowed on the back straight before pulling over and out of the race at turn five.

All that remained was to see whether Button, who had lost third early on to Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, could reclaim the place. Button pitted for a third and final time on lap 53 and although Ferrari covered the move on the following lap, the Briton was just too quick for the Spaniard, passing him on lap 62.

That also deprived Alonso of third in the championship, instead losing out to Webber by a single point.

Massa finished a staggering 31 seconds behind his team-mate in fifth, and a remarkable 139 points adrift of the double world champion in the standings.

Adrian Sutil finished sixth for Force India, with team-mate Paul di Resta eighth - securing sixth in the constructors' championship for the team - with Nico Rosberg in his Mercedes sandwiched between the pair in seventh.

Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi was ninth, while Vitaly Petrov claimed the final point for Renault.

White: I miss international rugby

World Cup-winning coach Jake White has hinted that he would welcome an approach to become the next England coach after voicing his desire to return to Test rugby.

The Rugby Football Union are searching for a successor to Martin Johnson, who stepped down 11 days ago in response to a dismal campaign in New Zealand. White is one of the leading candidates to replace Johnson and the 48-year-old, who guided South Africa to rugby's greatest prize in 2007, has left little doubt over his interest in the position.

"You miss the highest level of competition," White told BBC Radio 5 live's Sportsweek programme. "During the World Cup there were times when I thought it would be wonderful to be back on this stage."

He added: "I'm sure that if an opportunity came about, it's something I'd like to do again. I don't know how I'd react if I was called [by the RFU], one never knows until you are in that situation.

"All coaches want to test themselves against the best and when you've won one World Cup, you'd like to win a second. It would be a fantastic achievement to become the first coach to win two World Cups.

"I'm young enough and there's a long time ahead in my career. I'd love to get another chance of testing myself at the World Cup. To win it twice would be a real dream come true."

White would be happy to work alongside Sir Clive Woodward, the mastermind of England's 2003 World Cup triumph who has been linked with a return to Twickenham in a director of elite rugby role.

"I've chatted to Clive about coaching together," he said.

"He's a very proud man who's been through the highs and lows with England and took them to the World Cup.

"I say this not because Clive is my friend, but it's amazing how a guy like him hasn't stayed in rugby when he's achieved the ultimate in winning the World Cup with England."

Hart saves City from first defeat

Ten-man Manchester City survived a serious examination of their title credentials at Liverpool to extend their unbeaten Barclays Premier League record to 13 matches after a 1-1 draw.

Had it not been for goalkeeper Joe Hart, the visitors may have tasted a league defeat for the first time since May 7.

They barely had time to celebrate Vincent Kompany's 31st-minute opener before Charlie Adam's shot was deflected in by Joleon Lescott.

In the second half, substitute Mario Balotelli lasted 18 minutes before being sent off for a second bookable offence and had England international Hart not been on top form City would have succumbed to sustained Liverpool pressure late on.

Credit must go to Liverpool who enhanced their own reputation as genuine top-four contenders with a second-half performance which produced everything but a winner. Ironically, considering the silky attacking skills at their disposal, the visitors took a 31st-minute lead from an old-fashioned corner routine.

David Silva swung in a left-footed cross and centre-back Kompany glanced a header into the far corner after marker Dirk Kuyt and Glen Johnson got in each other's way.

But within two minutes City found themselves pegged back. Kompany's weak clearance dropped to Kuyt, who squared for Adam to unleash a left-footed drive which was heading wide until Lescott tried to clear and succeeded only in diverting the ball past Hart.

The increasingly manic atmosphere hardly needed enhancing, but the arrival of Balotelli for Samir Nasri did exactly that.

Having been booked for pulling back Johnson, Balotelli was shown a second yellow card for catching Martin Skrtel across the face.

Hart kept his side in it with another good save at his near post from Luis Suarez and pulled off another brilliant one-handed effort from Andy Carroll's header in added time.

Rodgers' pride in Wales trio

Swansea manager Brendan Rodgers praised his Wales contingent after they helped his side to a goalless draw against Aston Villa just hours after the death of national team boss Gary Speed.

Speed was found dead at his home on the outskirts of Chester on Sunday, with the Football Association of Wales confirming his death just over an hour before kick-off at the Liberty Stadium. Wales internationals Neil Taylor, Joe Allen and Ashley Williams all played for the hosts, with their Dragons colleague James Collins lining up for Villa.

Given the overwhelming sense of sadness it was perhaps no surprise that the match was a subdued affair, but Rodgers praised the efforts of his Wales trio. And on the players, he said: "I thought the players' performance level considering that was unbelievable", before adding: "All three are strong characters. How the three of them performed like they did was incredible. It was a sombre day and it was hard to take in."

Of Speed, Rodgers added: "It's just sad. It's hard to take in. It's something that will really affect people because he was a football great. You hear the word legend and it gets bandied about so easily but this was a guy who was a true Welsh and football legend."

In a game of few clear-cut chances substitute Leroy Lita wasted Swansea's best opportunity as he fired wide after doing brilliantly to turn James Collins in the area, while man-of-the-match Gabriel Agbonlahor forced two good saves from Michel Vorm and Chris Herd headed wide from close range at the other end.

The draw was Villa's fifth on the road this season but manager Alex McLeish, who also paid tribute to Speed, was pleased to see his side respond following their poor performance in their defeat at Tottenham.

He said: "We applied ourselves much better than on Monday, they passed well and we tried to stop them passing. They are a good side but the only time they penetrated was in the final 15 minutes when Lita had a couple of chances. With a wee bit more conviction we could have won."

But the former Scotland boss admitted he had been worried over whether Collins and keeper Shay Given would be able to play due to their close links to Speed.

Given, who played with Speed at Newcastle, was particularly affected and was in tears as the game kicked off, and McLeish said: "I was worried about that. There was that minute's silence that turned into applause and I was worried about losing Given. James Collins was white as a sheet and Jermaine Jenas played as his midfield partner at Newcastle so these guys were extremely distraught."

"I never played against Gary but I remember seeing him scoring goals for every club he played for, coming through from midfield and timing his runs to perfection. He played until he was nearly 40, he was a fantastic professional and everyone in the game loved him."

Roger Federer win ATP World Tour Finals for record sixth time

Roger Federer revealed he had to conquer mental doubts before ending his season in style by winning the ATP World Tour Finals for a record sixth time.

The greatest player of all time failed to win a Grand Slam for the first time since 2002 and went nine months without a title.

But the Swiss superstar took a six-week break after his US Open defeat by world No.1 Novak Djokovic and has returned with a 17-match unbeaten streak.

Federer celebrated a century of singles finals by beating Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-3 6-7 6-3 and banked just over £1million.

And the 30-year-old admitted he has returned with renewed confidence which he will carry into next year.

"It's a mental thing," said the winner of 16 Grand Slams. "You can't always be positive out there - it's just too difficult.

"That's where maybe the doubts were just a bit too strong during certain important moments.

"I didn't have those doubts for the remainder of the season, which is what I wanted to get out of my system during this six weeks break, and I was able to do that.

"I've never finished a season so strongly. It gives me a lot of confidence for next year."

Federer overtakes the record he previously held with Ivan Lendl and Pete Sampras - and becomes the oldest man to win the endof-season showdown.

Federer reclaims his mental edge

Roger Federer revealed he had overcome some mental demons after defeating Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to clinch a record sixth title at the season-ending Barclays ATP World Tour Finals on Sunday.

The 6-3 6-7 (6/8) 6-3 victory took Federer's record since the US Open to 17 wins and no defeats, earning him titles in Basle and Paris as well as at London's O2 Arena. The 30-year-old declared the record one of his biggest achievements, but it was the manner of his victory that meant the most.

Federer has made an unwelcome habit of losing close matches this season, most notably a Wimbledon quarter-final against Tsonga and his US Open semi-final defeat by Novak Djokovic. In both of those matches he led by two sets, a position from which he had never before lost in a grand slam, and he revealed the long break he took after Flushing Meadows was partly to address those nagging doubts, saying: "I think it's a mental thing, yes."

He added: "Not only. Sometimes it's also the player playing better than you. Jo played better than me at Wimbledon. Maybe not much, but enough just to come through.

"Same as Rafa (Nadal) at the French Open in the final, Novak in the semis of the US Open. It's fine to respect that. But I feel when it happens that often, I do have to question myself that maybe I did something wrong.

"I think I'm mentally good right now. That was also one of the reasons why I did take some time off, to actually think it through, get into the right mental mindset. There is a lot of time that goes by out on tour, during a match, you're just trying to stay positive, but you can't always be positive out there. It's just too difficult.

"That's where maybe the doubts were just a bit too strong during certain important moments. I wanted to get that out of my system during the six-week break, and I was able to do that."

Federer conceded the US Open loss, in which he also held two match points on his own serve in the final set only for Djokovic to turn things round in a flash, was particularly hard to take.

"It was one that hurt," he said. "It was one that makes you wonder, 'How in the world can I end up losing this match?' But Novak had such great momentum going this season, you just felt like it was his season.

"But to bounce back and not lose a match from that moment on I think shows, again, how tough I am, the right decisions I can take. I also lost to Jo twice in a row at Wimbledon and in Montreal. Now I beat him four straight times. These are the kinds of reactions I expect from myself. So to come through and prove it to myself was a great feeling."

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Arthur named Australia head coach

 Arthur played first-class cricket in South Africa for 15 years Australia have named South African Mickey Arthur as their new head coach, the first foreigner to hold the role.

The former South Africa coach is contracted until after the 2015 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

He succeeds Tim Nielsen, who resigned after the tour of Sri Lanka in September, leaving bowling coach Troy Cooley in temporary charge.

"I am confident the talent is there to ensure Australia is successful," said the 43-year-old Arthur.

Continue reading the main story Born: 17 May, 1968 in JohannesburgMajor Teams: Griqualand West, Orange Free State, South Africa AFirst-class batting record: 6,657 runs at 33.45Teams Coached: Griquas, Eastern Cape, South Africa, Western AustraliaTest record as South Africa coach: W22 D7 L16

Arthur coached South Africa from 2005 to 2010, leading them to a first series victory in England for 43 years and a maiden series win in Australia.

He quit in January 2010 after a fall-out with the national board and had most recently been in charge of Western Australia.

His appointment is the latest step in an overhaul of Australian cricket following their 3-1 Ashes humbling on home soil by England at the turn of the year.

Chairman of selectors Andrew Hilditch and selector Greg Chappell were both ditched, while former Australia rugby international Pat Howard was appointed Cricket Australia's general manager for team performance.

Arthur, who beat off competition from Australians Steve Rixon, Tom Moody and Justin Langer, said he felt comfortable about becoming the first foreigner to coach the side.

"I don't think it will matter," Arthur said. "Ultimately, I guess you want a guy that is perceived to be the best for the job, irrespective of the nationality."

Arthur is charged with reviving the fortunes of a team which has fallen to fourth in the world Test rankings after dominating the sport through the 1990s and early 2000s.

Australia fans were given hope for a brighter future on Monday when Michael Clarke's team pulled off a thrilling two-wicket victory over South Africa to tie the series, with 18-year-old fast bowler Pat Cummins producing a man-of-the-match performance on his debut.

"Australian cricket is in a very exciting phase [but] getting to the top of the Test rankings is something that just doesn't happen, because you need sustainable success over a period of time," said Arthur.

"We need a real good, strong squad system. I think young players need to be given quality opportunities to develop their games under pressure and hopefully we can create that environment for them to all perform."

Arthur, who will join a selection panel chaired by former Australian Test batsman John Inverarity, said it was too early for him to speculate on the future of older players like ex-skipper Ricky Ponting, who is 36.

"I'll defer that to the first selection meeting," Arthur said. "It's hard coming in from the outside without knowing what is going on. That's something for John Inverarity to take up."

Arthur's first series in charge will be a two-Test series against New Zealand, starting in Brisbane on 1 December, before Australia host India for a four-Test series starting on 26 December.

Beckham rules out English options

 Beckham helped LA Galaxy to the MLS title for the first time since 2005 David Beckham has said he does not see himself playing for an English club if he returns to European football.

The former Manchester United player's contract with Los Angeles Galaxy runs out at the end of December.

Beckham, recently linked with Paris St Germain, is now weighing up his options and told BBC Radio 1 he has received interest from two "big European clubs".

"I played for the biggest club in England and couldn't see myself playing in another English shirt," he said.

"I've got options, which is amazing at my age," he added. "A couple of big European clubs are after me.

"I have a decision to make and I haven't made it yet."

Beckham has not ruled out staying in the United States, where he has played since 2007.

On Sunday, he won the MLS Cup with LA Galaxy in what could be his final competitive game for the club.

"I might still be here next year playing," he said. "I need to sit down with friends and family and decide what's best for me.

"I have enjoyed everywhere I have played and it doesn't matter where I finish my career."

Beckham has always said he would not play for another English club after leaving Manchester United in 2003 to join Real Madrid.

Federer masterclass stuns Nadal

 Federer was outstanding on his way to a richly deserved victory Roger Federer rolled back the years with a truly astonishing performance to destroy fierce rival Rafael Nadal and storm into the last four of the ATP World Tour Finals.

Federer had lost nine of their last 11 meetings but subjected the Spaniard to an indoor masterclass in front of a spellbound full house at London's O2 Arena.

The Swiss legend reeled off one incredible forehand winner after another in the first set before somehow lifting his game several levels in the second, and Nadal simply had no answer.

Continue reading the main story
It's a surprising result. I wish Rafa all the best for the rest of the group. I'm excited about the way I played. It's a weight off my shoulders to play the last match without such pressure

Roger Federer

Federer cantered to a breathtaking victory, winning 6-3 6-0 in exactly an hour to book his place in the semi-finals with a match to spare.

The 30-year-old said the victory would rank as one of his all-time favourites.

"It's definitely one of the nice ones, that's clear. I had some good ones in my lifetime but this one ranks high because it's against my biggest rival.

"To come through so convincingly is great for me because we know Rafa has a certain standard which he does not go below."

Federer can enjoy Thursday's meeting with the now eliminated Mardy Fish while Nadal battles it out with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga for the right to progress from Group B.

This was the match that brought the 2011 season-ending championship to life, especially after Tuesday's news that Andy Murray was pulling out of the event through injury.

Continue reading the main story

Federer and Nadal were meeting for the 26th time and while Nadal still leads the head-to-head 17-9, the scars of such a brutal defeat could stay with him for some time yet.

After the match Nadal vowed to bounce back and qualify for the semi-finals.

"It's not the moment to say goodbye," he said. "It's the moment to keep fighting. I'm still in the tournament.

"Today he played too good for me, just accept that."

Aside from a double-fault on the very first point, it is difficult to remember Federer making a genuine unforced error all night.

Three magnificent inside-out forehand winners in as many games set the tone, and he broke Nadal's resistance to lead 4-2 after the Spaniard went wide at the end of a scintillating rally.

The spectators had arrived expecting something special but this was something else. On numerous occasions, many of them were out of their seats celebrating with wild abandon.

Federer secured the 32-minute first set with a sweeping forehand put-away - finishing with 12 winners to Nadal's one - but the best was still to come.

A beautiful forehand down the line enabled Federer to grab the second-set momentum, and Nadal looked shellshocked as the 16-time Grand Slam champion repeated the trick to move 3-0 in front.

Nadal suffered from stomach problem during Sunday's win against Mardy Fish, but he did not play badly against Federer - it just seemed impossible to knock the world number four out of his stride.

Federer, who will rise above third-ranked Murray if he reaches the final, varied it up by throwing in an unstoppable backhand to get the triple-break.

And a memorable triumph - featuring 28 winners to four - was sealed when a helpless Nadal went wide with a defensive backhand.

Meanwhile, Max Mirnyi and Daniel Nestor qualified for the semi-finals of the doubles after their 6-4 6-3 victory against Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Marcin Matkowski.

Ferrari set Massa 2012 challenge

 The last of the Massa's 11 career Grand Prix wins came at Interlagos in 2008 Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo says Felipe Massa must prove himself in 2012 if he is to stay with the team.

Massa, who has yet to finish on the podium in 2011, will reach the end of his current contract with the Italian team at the end of next season.

"We expect great things from him in 2012, and then we'll decide how to proceed. Let's say he'll have to prove himself," said Di Montezemolo.

Di Montezemolo gave his team a mark of six out of 10 for a disappointing year.

"I'd give a five, which I'll raise to six considering the effort and the victory at Silverstone exactly 60 years after Ferrari's first win in Formula 1," he explained.

"The season started badly, we didn't interpret the regulations well and we didn't take risks in the technology of our project."

Di Montezemolo is certain that the team will perform better next year.

Only one race - Massa's home Grand Prix at Interlagos in Brazil - remains this season and the 30-year-old driver trails team-mate Fernando Alonso by 137 points in the championship standings.

Massa joined Ferrari from Sauber for the start of the 2006 season and dramatically lost out to Lewis Hamilton by a single point in the 2008 title race.

However, he has struggled for form following a fractured skull sustained during qualifying at the Hungary Grand Prix in 2009.

His progress this season has been hampered by a series of clashes and a deteriorating relationship with rival Hamilton.

"Massa has been with us for quite a few years," added Di Montezemolo.

"Even if he didn't have such a great season or much luck, we can't question the ability of a driver who was winning the title three years ago, and who has always been fast and competitive."

Greene against Olympic football

Interview: World 400m hurdles champion Dai Greene

World 400m hurdles champion Dai Greene insists football should not be at London 2012 as it will "overshadow" traditional Olympic sports.

The British Olympic Association wants a football team to play in London but the Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish football associations are against it.

They fear a British team threatens their independence and Greene feels the Olympics has "no place" for football.

"I don't think the football team should be there in the first place," he said.

Continue reading the main story
The crowning glory in football is not being Olympic champion so I don't think their sport should necessarily be involved

Dai Greene World, Commonwealth and European champion

"I hope that those big names don't overshadow those people who have trained for four years to be there for that one moment.

"These guys have four to five weeks off in the summer then become an Olympian. It does seem a little bit out of place.

"These guys want to win Premierships, Champions League trophies and World Cup medals.

"They don't grow up wanting to be an Olympic champion, they want to be the best in football.

"The crowning glory in football isn't being Olympic champion so I don't think their sport should necessarily be involved - or at least at a professional level."

World, Commonwealth and European 400m hurdles champion Greene is one of Great Britain's best hopes for a home gold at the London Games.

Should he win in London, Greene would become just the fifth British athlete alongside Linford Christie, Daley Thompson, Jonathan Edwards and Sally Gunnell to win all athletics' major medals.

Greene is also bidding to become the first Welsh Olympic champion in track and field since long-jumper Lynn Davies won gold at the Tokyo Games in 1964.

The 25-year-old is a football fan and played for Swansea City's youth team but he feels his view that football should not be played at the Olympics represents the consensus among athletes.

"Most athletes would agree with what I'm saying," said Greene.

"There's no place for it at the Olympics.

"When some guy wins a gold medal in badminton or swimming, they want it to be about them and their hard work and their story to get there.

"But sadly, in some of the papers, that might be overshadowed with what David Beckham had for breakfast maybe - and that is not a great story from our point of view."

Football teams at the Olympics are for under-23 players but Games organisers do allow three 'over age' players in each squad.

Wales stars Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey have stated their intention to play for Team GB at the 2012 Olympics despite the Football Association of Wales being against Welsh players competing for fears it threatens their sovereignty.

"I'm all for players representing Team GB," said Greene. "But I wish there wasn't a Team GB in the first place."

ICC chief Lorgat to quit in 2012

 Lorgat played first-class cricket for Eastern Province and Transvaal Haroon Lorgat will step down as chief executive of the International Cricket Council in June 2012.

He chose not to take up the offer of a contract extension until 2014.

Lorgat said he was "disappointed" over the postponement of the 2013 Test World Championship but insisted he would be leaving the sport in good health.

"I am confident that with the strategic restructures we have undertaken all three formats can be sustained at international level," he said.

Lorgat, a former South Africa chairman of selectors, succeeded Malcolm Speed as ICC chief in 2008 and agreed a 12-month extension to his three-year deal last year.

Continue reading the main story
Having dealt decisively with the spot-fixing issues, delivered a highly successful ICC Cricket World Cup and adopted a new global strategy, I feel the time is right to move on

Haroon Lorgat ICC Chief Executive

He will bow out after the 2012 ICC Annual Conference in Kuala Lumpur.

Lorgat oversaw the 2011 World Cup in the subcontinent and the response to the spot-fixing scandal, which saw Pakistan trio Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Asif and Salman Butt banned for between five and 10 years.

"My sense is to step aside after having delivered a successful ICC Cricket World Cup and the new global ICC strategy which is now in place," said Lorgat.

"In 2010, I felt there was much work for me to complete during 2011 which included protecting the integrity of the game and restoring the reputation and image of the ICC.

"Having dealt decisively with the spot-fixing issues, delivered a highly successful ICC Cricket World Cup and adopted a new global strategy, I feel the time is right to move on."

Lorgat's announcement comes the week after the ICC announced that the first Test Championship, was being called off in favour of the 50-over Champions Trophy after pressure from its broadcast partner ESPN STAR Sports.

The Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) described the announcement as "a setback for Test cricket", a viewpoint backed up by England coach Andy Flower and fast bowler James Anderson.

The ICC nominations committee have tasked an executive recruitment agency to advertise and identify a successor. The recruitment process will be managed by ICC vice president, Alan Isaac, and will begin soon.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Injured Murray out of Tour Finals

British number one Andy Murray has been forced to pull out of the ATP World Tour Finals with a groin injury.

He strained the muscle in training on 14 November and suffered a recurrence in Monday's straight-sets defeat by David Ferrer at London's O2 Arena.

"I was told to take a week to 10 days completely off - I just didn't have enough time to recover," said the visibly dejected Scot.

"I was probably going to do myself more damage playing than not."

Murray was scheduled to practise at 1300 GMT on Tuesday for an hour ahead of Wednesday's Group A match against Tomas Berdych.

But he failed to appear and a hastily arranged press conference was called at which the 24-year-old delivered news of his withdrawal.

He has been replaced by world number nine Janko Tipsarevic of Serbia.

"When I came off the court [on Monday], I was very disappointed and upset," said Murray.

"I said we'd see how I feel when I woke today up but I was never going to feel great. You hope things are going to get better, but in reality that wasn't ever going to happen.

"I woke up this morning still sore, came in and was going to hit. We chatted for about two hours - about when I was going to be practising, what I should do, what the right thing to do was.

Continue reading the main story 19 - Andy Murray12 - Roger Federer9 - Rafael Nadal7 - Novak Djokovic

Matches played between end of US Open and start of ATP World Tour Finals

"I had some food, we spoke more about it. I was just trying to find reasons why I should try to play.

"But there was no real positive of coming out and playing because yesterday I was really unhappy on the court. I wasn't enjoying it at all.

"This is one of the best tournaments in the year, one that me and all of the players look forward to playing. I couldn't give anywhere near my best and that's what was disappointing."

After losing to Ferrer, Murray admitted that unless it was this event or a Grand Slam, he would not even have started the tournament.

He will now attempt to recover in time to begin his 2012 season at the Brisbane International on 1 January, with the Australian Open starting in Melbourne on 16 January.

Continue reading the main story Wins: 56Losses: 13Titles: 5Australia Open: Finalist (lost to Novak Djokovic) French Open: Semi-finals (lost to Rafael Nadal)Wimbledon: Semi-finals (lost to Nadal)US Open: Semi-finals lost to Nadal)

"It might seem like it's a long time away but the Australian Open is six, seven weeks away," Murray continued. "I could mess up my preparation for that, for the beginning of the year.

"That off-season is so important for me in terms of getting myself in shape. It's one of the few times when you can have an actual training block.

"It's a strain - I definitely don't need an operation. It's not a major injury but it's something that I needed much more time than I had to get ready."

Murray added that he may have to think more carefully about his schedule in future.

Since the US Open, he has played more matches than any other member of the world's top four - Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer - all of whom won their first matches at the O2.

"There's no chance I would have been ready to win the tournament here," Murray said. "In hindsight it was maybe the wrong decision [to play], but you also want to try and give yourself an opportunity, if you can.

"If you look at the other guys that played loads of matches this year, Roger and Novak both took a large break after the US Open. Rafa took one after Asia.

"Maybe me trying to get ready for Basel was too soon. That's something I probably need to learn from because I had played a lot of matches."

Kenyan runner has feet amputated after spending more than two days lost in snow storms

 Marko Cheseto set the speed record for the Anchorage Mayor's Half Marathon in 2010 A Kenyan long-distance runner who spent more than two days lost in snow storms in the US state of Alaska has had his feet amputated just above the ankles.

When Marko Cheseto, who competed on the track for the University of Alaska Anchorage, disappeared he was not wearing protective winter clothing.

After he was found on 9 November he was suffering from hypothermia and severe frostbite on his feet and hands.

University officials say his hands are expected to fully recover.

His disappearance, a day after the university's cross-country team's return from a triumphant championship in Washington State, sparked an intensive search for the 28-year-old athlete.

The University Alaska Anchorage (UAA) said Mr Cheseto, who is studying nursing and nutrition, will remain in hospital for some time to come.

In a statement on the university's website, Mr Cheseto thanked the university and volunteers who searched for him.

"While I am still recovering - both physically and emotionally - I will do my very best to give back to the community that has helped me so much and to my home country, Kenya. I sincerely apologise for any problems that I may have caused."

Mr Cheseto has reportedly been suffering from depression since fellow UAA student runner William Ritekwiang, from his hometown of Kapenguria, took his own life in February.

After his 48 hours out in freezing temperatures, Mr Cheseto stumbled into a hotel near the UAA campus in the early hours of Wednesday 9 November.

The hotel's night manager told the Anchorage Daily News that the paramedic team could not remove his sports shoes as they were frozen to his feet.

"He seems very upbeat and anxious to get on with a rehabilitation programme," Steve Cobb, UAA's director of athletics, is quoted by Reuters news agency as saying.

During his time at the university, Mr Cheseto set the record for the Anchorage Mayor's Half Marathon in 2010 and has won several All-American student athletic titles.

Man City suffer damaging defeat at Napoli

Cavani heads Napoli's opening goal Manchester City face an uphill battle to reach the last 16 of the Champions League after defeat by Napoli.

Edinson Cavani's near-post header put the Italians into the lead before Mario Balotelli levelled when he tapped home from two yards out.

But Cavani's low shot early in the second half saw off City, who must now beat Bayern Munich on 7 December to stand any chance of progression.

They also need Villarreal to take at least a point off Napoli in Spain.

It is back to the drawing board for the Blues after they came up short in their biggest Champions League test to date.

The attacking threat which has torn apart the best Premier League defences this season was only sporadically seen in Stadio San Paolo, and City will need it back in full flow if their debut Champions League campaign is not to come to a premature end.

They were greeted by an electric atmosphere in Naples, with one banner calling for "90 minutes of fire".

The visitors were doing their best to dampen the crowd's enthusiasm, but the blue touch paper was lit after 17 minutes when Cavani got in front of his marker to head home a corner.

Roberto Mancini's men were certainly feeling the heat as Cavani, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Marek Hamsik seemingly pulled their defence apart at will.

They were on the back foot and it took a defensive howler to let them back into the game.

Salvatore Aronica gave the ball away to David Silva in the area and the Spaniard's shot was parried into the path of Balotelli, who made no mistake from two yards out.

That gave the Blues some momentum and Aleksandar Kolarov brought a good save out of Morgan De Sanctis just before the half-time break.

However, Napoli were back in front three minutes into the second half when Andrea Dossena's cross was side-footed home by Cavani.

Joe Hart kept City in the game when he made a fine save from Lavezzi, while Mancini signalled his intent when he summoned Samir Nasri from the bench.

As the Premier League leaders pushed men forward they were frequently caught on the break and Hamsik hit the post while Hart had to be alert to deny Christian Maggio.

Sandwiched between those glorious chances, City had a fantastic opportunity of their own when Balotelli got in behind the Italians' defence and forced a fantastic save from De Sanctis.

Sergio Aguero was brought on with 10 minutes to go and he made an instant impact, going close with a shot.

However, perhaps mindful of the ever-present threat of being punished on the counter-attack by Napoli's impressive front three, City left their attacking charge too late and must now place their faith in a Villarreal side who have failed to register a single point in the competition this season.

Man Utd held at home by Benfica

BBC Sport  Berbatov heads in his first Champions League goal since 2008 Manchester United need a point in their last Champions League Group C game against Basel if they are to ensure qualification for the knockout stages after drawing with Benfica.

United recovered from Phil Jones's third-minute own goal when Dimitar Berbatov headed in Nani's cross.

Darren Fletcher then ghosted in to prod past Artur to make it 2-1, but Pablo Aimar equalised from close range.

Berbatov and Rodrigo both had late chances to win it but were off target.

The United forward's chance was the better one as he volleyed over from Fabio's centre 12 minutes from the end.

But although Sir Alex Ferguson's side were without the injured Wayne Rooney, they will be frustrated to have thrown away a lead having worked so hard to establish themselves in the game.

Fletcher's goal on 59 minutes came after a sustained period of pressure on the visitors' goal, but Benfica's equaliser a minute later followed a poor clearance by United goalkeeper David de Gea.

The result means Benfica have already qualified, and United will need to better Benfica's efforts against Otelul Galati in the last round of games if they have any hopes of topping the group.

Still, the hosts may be content with the draw on a cold night, as they looked partially frozen when Benfica went ahead with a rapier-like attack.

Continue reading the main story Man Utd will qualify if they get a point at BaselThey can top the group if they better Benfica's result against Otelul GalatiIf Benfica win against the Romanian side they top the groupBasel can still qualify if they beat Man Utd

Nicolas Gaitan, who has impressed in Portugal this season, was fed down the right and when he checked back onto his left foot, his cross hit Patrice Evra before Jones deflected into his own net.

Old Trafford was stunned but the fans began to shake off their disbelief when Nani went on several trademark dribbles, and Ashley Young had a shot saved.

Gaitan and Aimar were joining the Benfica midfield to run rings around Michael Carrick and Fletcher, but once United improved their passing out of defence, they started to create problems for the visitors.

Berbatov was playing in front of Young and was largely anonymous before he equalised.

And although there was a suggestion of offside to his header from Nani's centre, it was a fine strike as he notched his first Champions League goal since 2008, and his second this season.

The Bulgarian almost set up Young for a second moments after scoring, but Benfica keeper Artur produced a decent stop and Aimar was also denied by De Gea in a frantic five minutes.

United maintained their high tempo at the start of the second period as Young's shot was blocked by the impressive Ezequiel Garay, before Fabio tried to chip Artur.

With the pressure building on the Benfica defence, the hosts took the lead when Fletcher arrived in the box to poke in Evra's cross at the second attempt just before the hour.

That should have settled Ferguson's men with Carrick beginning to produce some clever passes, but their advantage only lasted a minute.

De Gea's short kick fell to Bruno Cesar, who dribbled into the United box and crossed for Aimar to equalise despite Rio Ferdinand's attempt to clear.

It would have left Ferguson fuming after his side had worked so hard to turn the game around, and the Benfica goal once again knocked United's rhythm.

With parity restored, Jorge Jesus's team began to show the same confidence they had in the first 15 minutes, although Berbatov could have had a second when he volleyed over from 10 yards.

Perhaps United would have been satisfied with the result after Rodrigo went close in the dying stages, but they can afford to show little of the same carelessness when they travel to Switzerland to face Basel.

McClaren backs Redknapp for England

 McClaren (left) has managed abroad with FC Twente and Wolfsburg Former England manager Steve McClaren has backed Harry Redknapp to be the next national team boss.

The contract of current manager Fabio Capello runs out after the 2012 European Championship.

And McClaren said: "Harry's credentials are as good as anybody else's.

"I say the England manager has to be experienced, he has to have European experience, and he has to have won something. Harry fits the bill in all of those."

Redknapp returned to the Tottenham dugout as they beat Aston Villa 2-0 on Monday, after the 64-year-old underwent minor heart surgery.

He managed Spurs in the 2010-11 Champions League, including a famous 3-1 victory over Inter Milan at White Hart Lane, and he won the FA Cup with Portsmouth in 2008.

Continue reading the main story 1983-1992: Bournemouth1994-2001: West Ham2002-2004: Portsmouth2004-2005: Southampton2005-2008: Portsmouth2008-present: Tottenham

But McClaren, who was in charge of the national team from 2006 to 2007, believes the England manager, along with the Football Association (FA), must establish a footballing philosophy which would see the senior team, the Under-21s and the other youth sides play in a similar fashion.

The FA launched its blueprint for the future of English football, called Future Game, in January and it plans to open a new national training centre - St George's Park in Burton-on-Trent - in 2012.

The Premier League and Football League have also worked with the FA to develop the Elite Player Performance Plan, which will see clubs' academies and centres of excellence graded to provide a more joined-up development programme.

And McClaren said: "We are looking at the Spanish, the Dutch and the German games but we are the English game. We have to find what wins with England.

"There are a lot of very good things in English football, there are a lot of very good young players. But how are we going to win so everybody says, 'Wow, that's the English way'?

"There has to be a vision from the FA and that has to be from the academies all the way to the top and St George's Park is perfect.

"The English manager needs to be the best man to take that philosophy forward and the best man to get England winning.

"Ultimately we ought to have a long-term strategy, a long-term vision, not just [an idea of] what is going to win the next tournament."

Mullings gets life ban for doping

 Mullings finished fifth in the final of the 200m in the 2009 World Championships Jamaican sprinter Steve Mullings has received a life ban after being found guilty of a second doping offence.

The 28-year-old was found to have used the banned diuretic furosemide, which can act as a masking agent for other drugs.

He previously served a two-year ban after testing positive for excessive levels of testosterone in 2004.

Mullings, the sixth fastest man of all time over 100m, won gold in the 4x100m relay at the 2009 World Championships.

Continue reading the main story Used to induce urination and lower blood pressureThe Wada list of 2011 states that the use of substances which are limited for athletes, such as painkiller morphine, alongside such diuretics requires specific exemption

"The panel believes a clear and strong message must be sent to every athlete in Jamaica and elsewhere that prohibited substances will not be tolerated in sports," said Jamaican anti-doping disciplinary panel chairman Lennox Gayle.

Gayle added that the panel's decision had been unanimous.

Mullings, who has denied knowingly taking any banned substance, did not attend his hearing.

In 2009 four other male Jamaican athletes, including 2011 world champion Yohan Blake, were suspended for three months after positive tests.

Jamaica's Olympic 100m champion Shelly-Ann Fraser returned from a six-month ban earlier this year after testing positive for banned narcotic oxycodone.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Nadal to lead Spain in Cup final

Rafael Nadal Nadal has won 20 of the 25 Davis Cup matches he has been involved in World number two Rafael Nadal will lead Spain in the Davis Cup final against Argentina in Seville on 2 December.

Nadal will be joined by David Ferrer, Feliciano Lopez and Fernando Verdasco, ranked fifth, 20th and 24th in the world respectively.

Juan Martin del Potro, the 2009 US Open champion, has Juan Monaco, Juan Ignacio Chela and David Nalbandian alongside him in the Argentina team.

Continue reading the main story 32 - USA28 - Australia9 - France, Britain7 - Sweden4 - Spain3 - Germany2 - Russia 1 - Croatia, Czech Republic, Italy, South Africa, Serbia

Argentina beat defending champions Serbia 3-2 in the semi-finals.

Nadal is a veteran of Spain's Davis Cup wins in 2004 and 2009, while his three team-mates all played in the 3-1 victory over Argentina in 2008 which Nadal missed because of tendonitis in his right knee.

Argentina have appeared in three finals, taking on Russia and the United States in 2006 and 1981 respectively, but are yet to win the tournament.

Serbia's victory over France last year was the starting point of a 43-match winning run for Novak Djokovic which ended six months later in the French Open semi-finals.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Villas-Boas hit with £12,000 fine

 Villas-Boas's Chelsea currently sit fifth in the Premier League table Andre Villas-Boas has been fined £12,000 by the Football Association for comments made after Chelsea's 1-0 defeat at QPR.
The Blues manager was highly critical of referee Chris Foy, who sent off Jose Bosingwa and Didier Drogba as well as awarding Rangers a penalty.
Chelsea also had seven other players booked, resulting in a £20,000 fine.
Villas-Boas previously denied the charge but was found guilty and warned about his future conduct.
Speaking after the game at Loftus Road in October, the Portuguese said: "The ref was poor, very very poor and it reflected in the result.
"I spoke to him at the end and I was very aggressive to him. I don't care if he's OK or not.
Continue reading the main story £30,000 - Man Utd manager Sir Alex Ferguson, Mar 2011£12,000 - Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas, Nov 2011£10,000 - Stoke manager Tony Pulis, Nov 2011£9,500 - Blackpool manager Ian Holloway, Oct 2010£8,000 - Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, Sept 2010
"Everyone can have a bad day, but this was not a bad day for us. It was a good day for us and a bad day for the referee.
"Three of the games played by Chelsea were influenced by the referee, and this is not Premier League level.
"Conspiracy theories can lead to bans and lead to you calling us cry babies and we're not, but it keeps happening."
Villas-Boas, 34, elected not to plead his case in front of the regulatory commission.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

BOA to defend anti-doping policy

 Moynihan has previously attacked "toothless" anti-doping measures The British Olympic Association (BOA) will "vigorously defend" its selection policy in face of pressure from the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada).
The BOA enforces a lifetime ban for doping offenders and is the only national Olympic committee to do so.
But Wada wrote to the BOA in October urging it to review its policy.
BOA chairman Colin Moynihan said: "The BOA wants to ensure the athletes' voice is heard and will vigorously defend any challenge to the selection policy."
He added: "It [the BOA selection policy] is a clear expression of the will and commitment of British Olympic athletes."
In October, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas) ruled the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) own rule barring serious doping offenders was unenforceable.
Wada's remarks came after American 400m Olympic champion LaShawn Merritt, supported by the United States Olympic Committee, overturned a ban against competing at the Olympics, enabling him to defend his title in London next year.
The 25-year-old won his case after challenging the IOC's rule 45, which states that anyone banned for a doping offence for six months or more should miss the next Olympics.
Merritt was given a two-year suspension in 2010, later reduced to 21 months, for failing three tests for a banned steroid, but he argued that the Olympic ban went beyond Wada's sanctions of a maximum two-year ban.
The matter will be taken before Cas in order to secure clarification over the BOA's position of a lifetime ban for drug cheats.
In a statement read out at a press conference held after Wednesday's regularly-scheduled board meeting, Moynihan confirmed that the BOA will respond to Wada's challenge of their stance at Cas.
"That challenge is now before the BOA," added Moynihan.
"The BOA has received correspondence from the World Anti-Doping Association which confirms that it believes the BOA eligibility by-law is non-compliant with the World Anti-Doping Code.
"Of course, the BOA strongly disagrees."

Drivers call for rethink on DRS

DRS was introduced this year to make overtaking easier Formula 1 drivers want a rethink on the use of the controversial DRS overtaking aid for next season.

They feel allowing free use in practice and qualifying is a safety risk and want it restricted, like in races.

Red Bull driver Mark Webber said: "There have been a few incidents where people have gone off because they were pushing the boundaries of using DRS.

"So the drivers are almost unanimous that they would prefer its use outside of the race to be limited."

The DRS - or Drag-Reduction System - was introduced this season in an attempt to make overtaking easier.

The move was a reaction to the belief that passing had become too difficult.

Continue reading the main story
It is a difficult subject to get right - and I'm sure with all the information gathered this season, it will be a lot closer to perfect next season

Mark Webber Red Bull driver

In races, drivers are allowed to use the DRS in a specified 'zone' on one or more straights, but only if they are within a second of the car in front at a pre-ordained 'detection point'.

Drivers are given a signal in their cockpits when they have fulfilled the criteria, and press a button to activate the system.

This lifts the upper rear wing flap, which reduces downforce and drag and therefore gives a straight-line speed boost of between 12-20km/h (8-12mph).

Because use is free in practice and qualifying, drivers try to open the wing as much as they can to gain lap time.

But if they apply it too soon it can cause an accident, because they would be left with less downforce and grip than they need to stay on the track at the speed they are going.

Webber, who was writing in his BBC Sport column, said there had been at least three incidents this year caused by this issue.

"Renault's Bruno Senna had a crash in Suzuka [in Japan], I had one on Friday in Hungary, and one of my team-mate Sebastian Vettel's practice crashes was caused by that too," Webber said.

He added that the drivers would like the regulations to be changed so the system can be used in practice and qualifying "just in the DRS zone and perhaps a couple of the key straights, and with a restriction on the point at which you can deploy it so you're not too close to the exit of a corner".

Continue reading the main story DRS was introduced in the 2011 Formula 1 seasonDRS opens an adjustable flap on the rear of the car to reduce downforceDRS can be used when a pursuing car is within a second, when both cars cross the detection point The FIA increased the number of DRS zones to two on some circuits featuring multiple long straights

Introducing the DRS was a controversial move because some feel it is interfering with the 'purity' of racing, and risks diminishing the importance of an overtaking move.

There has also been criticism that it has resulted in overtaking being too easy at some races, where governing body the FIA has erred in its calculations.

Webber, a key player in the Grand Prix Drivers' Association, said: "Inevitably, there have been some races where overtaking has been a bit too easy, such as China, Belgium and Turkey, others where it has still been too hard, such as Valencia, Barcelona and Korea, and others where it has been bang on. That's to be expected."

Bosses are unanimous in wanting to persevere with DRS in the future but acknowledge that it has been too easy to overtake at some races and will make refinements to the way the system is used next year, aided by a year's data.

Webber added: "We are approaching each race this year 'blind', so inevitably there is a bit of trial and error involved, along with a lot of science.

"It is a difficult subject to get right - and I'm sure with all the information gathered this season, it will be a lot closer to perfect next season.

"DRS is a controversial issue, not least because a lot of it depends on your point of view.

"Some people will like to see cars passing and re-passing all the time. Nascar stock-car racing in America is founded on that. But for some who have a more purist point of view about F1 - like me - overtaking should mean more than that.

"They've done a good job so far and I'm sure the teams and the FIA will get the balance a bit better at some of the tracks next year."

Friday, November 18, 2011

Fallon to appear before BHA

 Fallon has enjoyed a successful career including three Derby wins Six-time champion jockey Kieren Fallon will appear before the disciplinary panel of the British Horseracing Authority on Monday.

The hearing relates to his failure to arrive in time to take his first two rides at Chester on 5 May.

The panel will consider whether or not Fallon breached any of the rules of racing after failing to take the rides on Fred Willetts and Forte Dei Marmi.

The hearing will be extended to Tuesday if required.

The panel will ask why Fallon failed to give the clerk of the course his reasons for missing the races.

It will also ask whether he provided inaccurate information, omitted anything relevant, or whether he misled an employee of the BHA.

It is the latest twist in the 46-year-old's successful but controversial career.

In June, Fallon was prevented from racing in the Derby after the owners of Native Khan obtained an injunction against him, claiming the Irish jockey had reneged on a deal to ride for them.

Ferdinand shocked by Blatter view

 Blatter denies racism in football

England and Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand says he is stunned by Sepp Blatter's claim that football does not have on-field problems with racism.

The Fifa president said incidents on the pitch could be settled by a handshake, although he later claimed he had been misunderstood.

"Tell me I have just read Blatter's comments wrong... if not then I am astonished," said Ferdinand on Twitter.

Ferdinand later sent a direct tweet to the 75-year-old head of world football.

In it, he said: "Your comments on racism are so condescending it's almost laughable. If fans shout racist chants but shake our hands is that OK?"

The former England captain later added: "I feel stupid for thinking that football was taking a leading role against racism - it seems it was just on mute for a while."

Blatter's comments come at a time when Chelsea captain John Terry is being investigated by the police and the Football Association over alleged racist remarks made to Ferdinand's brother, QPR defender Anton Ferdinand, in a recent game between the two sides.

Liverpool's Luis Suarez has also been charged by the FA for alleged racist comments towards Ferdinand's Manchester United team-mate Patrice Evra.

Asked whether he thought racism on the pitch was a problem in modern-day football, Blatter told CNN World Sport: "I would deny it. There is no racism.

"There is maybe one of the players towards another - he has a word or a gesture which is not the correct one.

"But the one who is affected by that, he should say that this is a game. We are in a game, and at the end of the game, we shake hands, and this can happen, because we have worked so hard against racism and discrimination."

Sepp Blatter has to go - Robbie Savage

Professional Footballers' Association chief executive Gordon Taylor told Radio 4's Today Programme: "I just feel it's the straw that broke the camel's back.

"When you see the corruption they've had at Fifa, the comments he made about homosexuals not going to Qatar, the way he talked about women's football, the style of the arrangements for the World Cup, the fact he won't have technology.

"I think it's really time to move over for Michel Platini."

Blackburn Rovers striker Jason Roberts felt that Blatter's comments were incredibly ill-judged.

"I'm truly shocked by his comments," said Roberts. "For him to say this in public is either very honest or very foolish.

"I am absolutely disgusted, lost for words, I cannot believe he has said something like that with all the issues that have gone on. I am absolutely fuming."

Several former Premier League players, including Stan Collymore, Mark Bright and Robbie Savage, have subsequently called for Blatter to resign.

Former Crystal Palace and Sheffield Wednesday striker Bright said: "To say I was staggered would be an understatement.

"This is the head of world football, whose slogan is 'For the Good of the Game'. What message does this send out after two or three decades of hard work fighting racism in football?

"He should resign his position because his views are archaic and out of touch."

Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore said it was incorrect to suggest that racism is no longer a problem in football.

"Racism exists in the world, racism certainly still exists in football, albeit reduced," Scudamore told CNN.

"There are still issues, of course there are and we're not complacent about that, but I think it's a bit of a stretch to say it doesn't exist because it does."

Speaking to BBC Radio 5 live, former Tottenham Hotspur striker Garth Crooks said: "Clearly Sepp Blatter is a man who's never suffered from racism. I'm shocked and somewhat dismayed.

"Football has to be very careful. It's the one industry that somehow sees itself as above the law. It is not.

Continue reading the main story James Pearce,
BBC sports news correspondent

This is one of Sepp Blatter's worst gaffes, without a doubt. On the day that Blatter says there is no racism in football, the FA has charged Luis Suarez with just that. The FA is taking a tough stance on racism and this could lead to a lengthy ban, potentially. If someone is found guilty of racial abuse the FA will, I'm sure, throw the book at them.

"Players, however glorified, are employees and have to abide by the law. Sepp is a man out of time and out of touch."

Blatter later sought to clarify his comments in a statement on Fifa's website.

"My comments have been misunderstood. What I wanted to express is that, as football players, during a match, you have 'battles' with your opponents, and sometimes things are done which are wrong.

"But, normally, at the end of the match, you apologise to your opponent if you had a confrontation during the match, you shake hands, and when the game is over, it is over."

Anti-racism group Kick It Out said the initial comments revealed a worrying failure of leadership from Blatter.

"Shaking hands to compensate for a racial slur is not what the game has signed up to, and trivialises the work of campaigns like Kick It Out," it said in a statement.

"But leadership is needed to make headway. And comments like this don't help in the ultimate goal of kicking racism out football and making it a discrimination-free zone."

Froch threatens 'trench warfare'

 Froch says Ward is about to meet the 'toughest fighter of his career' Carl Froch is happy to be the underdog against Andre Ward in their super-middleweight clash in Atlantic City next month because he has "made the bookies look stupid many times before".

The British star is putting his WBC title against Ward's WBA belt in the final of the two-year Super Six series.

"He'll have to go deeper and harder than ever before - I'm going to drag him into the trenches," Froch said.

"It will be extraordinarily uncomfortable for him."

Froch earned his place in the 17 December decider by beating Glen Johnson in June, a month after Ward outclassed Arthur Abraham in his semi-final.

"Ward is the bookies' favourite because he's an American fighting in America but that means nothing," insisted Froch.

Continue reading the main story
He will have to go deeper and harder than ever before because I'm going to drag him into the trenches. It will be extraordinarily uncomfortable for him

Carl Froch WBC super-middleweight champion

"He's a world and Olympic champion [2004 in Athens], and he's not come this far in this tournament without being a great fighter.

"But for all his positives, there are negatives and it is my job to exploit them.

"He's not a big puncher, he's not physically tough and he's hardly fought outside his home patch [in California], so there's a lot going against him.

"He's also about to meet the toughest fighter of his career, in a place I know well, and with two world titles on the line, so the judges should be above board and fair."

Froch's chin, courage and all-action approach make him a favourite with the fans, if not the gamblers, but Ward's counter-punching style and speed mark him out as perhaps the Englishman's trickiest opponent since he met a similar boxer, Andre Dirrell, in his first Super Six contest in 2009.

The 34-year-old gained a split decision over his American opponent that night, although some observers have wondered what the result would have been if the fight had not been in Froch's home town of Nottingham.

Froch completely dismisses any suggestion he did not win that bout and says he could make a similar complaint about the only defeat of his 29-fight professional career, last year's loss to Mikkel Kessler in Denmark.

Continue reading the main story Born 2 July 1977, Nottingham Won two ABA middleweight titles, in 1999 and 2001Won bronze at the 2001 World Amateur Boxing ChampionshipsFirst professional fight in March 200228 professional fights, with 20 knockouts and seven decision victories, suffering defeat only onceTrained by Robert McCracken and managed by Barry HearnCurrent WBC world super-middleweight championNottingham Forest supporter

In typical fashion, Froch bounced back from that setback to beat the highly fancied Abraham in a memorable encounter in Finland last November - "I was a massive underdog against Abraham but wiped the floor with him" - before the relatively straightforward defeat of the Jamaican veteran Johnson this summer.

Froch, a former British and Commonwealth champion, had hoped to meet Ward in October but the fight was postponed when the undefeated American sustained a cut in training in September.

After five gruelling fights in the Super Six format, the winner of the New Jersey showdown should be forgiven for assuming they have become the undisputed number one at super-middleweight but there are some boxing fans who consider the IBF champion Lucian Bute to be the best at 168 pounds.

Froch, however, is forthright in his view that this is "rubbish".

"There are only two names on Bute's CV that stand out, Brian Magee and Glen Johnson, and I beat both of those far more convincingly than he did," said Froch.

"He might be the IBF champion but he only fights at home [in Canada] and that's why he doesn't get the credit or respect, which he doesn't really deserve anyway, because he's not fought anybody that great.

"I'd love to have a unification bout with him but it wouldn't be a particularly big fight for me. It would be an easy fight."

But there are two opponents very much on Froch's radar: Kessler and Nathan Cleverly, Wales' light-heavyweight world champion.

"I'd welcome the chance for a rematch with Kessler, I want to get that blemish off my record," he said.

"And a fight against Cleverly could potentially be made. He's a light-heavyweight [175 pounds], so that's a realistic step-up in division for me, and it would be a great fight for the British public."

Whether this contest would settle who is Britain's best pound-for-pound boxer is debatable, as many favour the claims of light-welterweight Amir Khan.

Not Froch, though, who when asked if the former Olympic silver medallist is the top Brit, said: "In a word, no."

Guptill to return to Derbyshire

 Guptill averages 36.31 in 16 Test appearances for the Kiwis Derbyshire have re-signed New Zealand batsman Martin Guptill as their overseas player for the 2012 season.

The 25-year-old has given up a possible place in the Indian Premier League and will be available from the start of the campaign through to 12 June.

Guptill spent the second half of last season with the county, scoring 537 first-class runs in eight matches.

"Martin was a match-winner on several occasions in 2011," said head coach Karl Krikken.

"He also proved to be an excellent influence on his fellow players."

Guptill took over from Australian batsman Usman Khawaja for the second half of last season's County Championship and CB40 campaigns, and was the county's leading run scorer in the FL t20.

Krikken said he was thrilled Guptill will be coming back to the County Ground.

Continue reading the main story
Martin opened the batting with pleasing consistency in first-class cricket as well as turning in some fantastic performances in the one-day forms of the game

Karl Krikken Derbyshire head coach

"The news is a massive boost for the squad," Krikken added.

"Martin opened the batting with pleasing consistency in first-class cricket as well as turning in some fantastic performances in the one-day forms of the game.

"The experience of playing county cricket will continue to make Martin a better cricketer as his progression as an international player with New Zealand continues."

Chairman Chris Grant added: "Martin is one of the brightest upcoming players in world cricket and I'm delighted he has agreed to return to Derbyshire.

"The best overseas players are those whose performances win matches in all forms of the game. That was certainly the case with Martin last season.

"His commitment to the cause, meanwhile, was typified with his willingness to carry drinks and act as 12th man during a match late in the season when he was ruled out through injury."

Maccarinelli eyes Cleverly bout

 Maccarinelli lost his WBO world cruiserweight crown to David Haye in 2008 Enzo Maccarinelli has targeted a world title shot at fellow Welshman Nathan Cleverly as he prepares for his comeback.

Maccarinelli makes his light-heavyweight debut against Hungarian Gyorgy Marosi in London on Saturday.

Should he win, Maccarinelli will take another step towards a possible fight against WBO champion Cleverly.

"That's my ultimate aim, but I'm not trying to jump ahead of myself," he said.

"I want a world title and, if that's the fight that [promoter] Frank [Warren] wants to put together, I'm happy for it.

The Swansea boxer was WBO world cruiserweight champion between 2006 and 2008, but suffered four defeats in his last eight bouts.

"There's a lot of people who doubt me out there who don't believe I should be coming back," said Maccarinelli.

"I've got to prove all them wrong. I've got to get people start believing me again.

Continue reading the main story
I haven't seen too much of him [Marosi]. I'm more concerned what I'm going to do rather than what he's going to do

Enzo Maccarinelli

"[I have] no excuses for some of my losses, but the preparations were wrong and the better prepared men won on the night.

"I am 100% focused on winning this fight on Friday."

Maccarinelli has not fought since he lost his European cruiserweight title to Alexander Frenkel 14 months ago.

The Welshman required treatment from ringside medics after the fight in Birmingham and considered retirement.

But the 31-year-old decided to resurrect his career by dropping down a weight and rejoining former coach Enzo Calzaghe.

"I haven't sat on my backside for a year," he added. "I've been in the gym, I've been working.

"I feel good [and] I feel sharp and if I didn't think I was ready I wouldn't fight. I'm taking one fight at a time.

"I haven't seen too much of him [Marosi]. I'm more concerned what I'm going to do rather than what he's going to do."

Mallett out of England contention

 Mallett wants to stay in South Africa for family reasons Former Italy and South Africa coach Nick Mallett has ruled himself out of the running to replace Martin Johnson as England manager.

Mallett, 55, revealed he was approached by the Rugby Football Union this week about applying for the post.

"I was interested to hear what the RFU had to say," said the South African.

"After mulling it over for a few days and discussing the opportunity with friends and family, I have decided that I will not be making myself available."

Mallett, who guided the Springboks to 17 consecutive Test victories in 1997-98 and into the semi-finals of the 1999 Rugby World Cup, added: "I am happy to have returned home to South Africa after a tremendous four-year term with the Italian national team.

"We are settled in Cape Town and it is my wish to be able to enjoy time with my wife and kids after four years in Italy."

Continue reading the main story
Martin has said nothing at all since he got back so in a sense it was a surprise because he suddenly announced it. However, when you look at various other things and the fact that the RFU approached Nick Mallett before he made this decision public, he may have known something we didn't

Brian Moore Former England Hooker

Another former South Africa coach, Jake White - who led the Springboks to World Cup glory in 2007 - also ruled himself out of contention.

His representative, Craig Livingstone, told BBC Sport: "Jake has a contract for another four years with the [Australian Super 15 side] ACT Brumbies and won't be available for the England job. It's just bad timing."

But Eddie Jones, who led Australia to the 2003 World Cup final, declared he would be interested in the England manager's job.

"You'd always be interested in coaching England," he told BBC Radio 5 live. "It has got a fantastic domestic competition, very, very good players and you have just got to get the right programme in place and they should be good enough to win the next World Cup."

The 51-year-old, who was also part of South Africa's coaching team when the won the World Cup in 2007, said he would not be put off by the chaotic state of the RFU's senior management.

"Over the last period of time England rugby has lost its way and you'd have to question the people in place now," Jones said.

"That is the challenge of getting it right. If you get it right, the benefits are absolutely enormous. That is the challenge of it and that is the exciting part of it.

"You've got to find the right style of play, just as [Sir Clive] Woodward did over that period [up to 2003], work with the clubs and ensure the players are in peak condition."

Continue reading the main story
The new guy has obviously got to pick his own coaching team and I think that's right and fair

Mike Ford England defence coach

The search for the new England manager is being led by RFU operations director Rob Andrew, who is now looking to work alongside his fourth England boss, having also been at Twickenham when Andy Robinson and Brian Ashton were in charge.

England defence coach Mike Ford told BBC Radio 5 live that it was "inevitable" that Johnson's backroom team - which also comprises forwards coach John Wells, scrum coach Graham Rowntree and attack coach Brian Smith - would change once a replacement as manager took over.

"There is an air of inevitability," said Ford. "We're grown men and we understand being a coach we're there in the firing line. That's the way we like it.

"The new guy has obviously got to pick his own coaching team and I think that's right and fair. We'll see in the next few days what Rob Andrew says to us. He might want to keep us in the organisation in some way because of our experience. We'll just see."

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Shearer likes England squad depth

  Everton midfielder Jack Rodwell impressed on his full England debut Former England captain Alan Shearer thinks Fabio Capello has a better crop of players to choose from than at any time during his reign as England boss.

Manchester United's Phil Jones, 19, Everton's Jack Rodwell, 20, and Tottenham's Kyle Walker, 21, featured in the wins over Spain and Sweden.

Shearer said: "Two or three years ago you could probably name England's team but I don't think you can do that now.

"There is more competition for places than there has been for a long time."

England achieved the two 1-0 victories at Wembley without the likes of Wayne Rooney, who is appealing a three-match Euro 2012 suspension, and injured players Steven Gerrard, Jack Wilshere and Ashley Young.

Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand was not selected in the squad.

With only one more friendly likely to be played before the Euro 2012 squad is announced on 29 May, there are few chances for players outside of the squad to impress.

Continue reading the main story Wayne Rooney (facing three-match Euro 2012 suspension)Steven Gerrard (injured)Jack Wilshere (injured)Ashley Young (injured)Rio Ferdinand (not selected)

And Shearer added: "There are not many automatic choices. Yes, [goalkeeper] Joe Hart will be one, [centre-back] John Terry is another, if everything goes his way with the [Anton Ferdinand racism] case, and [left-back] Ashley Cole would be one too. But, other than that, there are places up for grabs - and that's great to have."

But Shearer has warned that any optimism for the tournament next summer in Poland and Ukraine should be tempered by 2010's World Cup experience.

In South Africa, England were defeated 4-1 by Germany in the second round after struggling to a 0-0 draw with Algeria in the group stages.

"It's difficult to judge the squad against the last one, because we looked great going into that. We qualified with ease and look what happened," the Match of the Day pundit told BBC Sport.

"England are unbeaten and have put in some very good performances but we all know that the acid test will be when the major tournament comes along."

Resolute displays against the Spaniards by centre-backs Joleon Lescott and Phil Jagielka also called into question whether Ferdinand would struggle to re-establish himself in the England side.

But, although Shearer believes the youngsters breathed new life into the squad, he cautioned against writing off the more senior players.

Continue reading the main story 
You are probably looking at 30-35 players who have got a realistic chance of coming in

Manchester City and England midfielder Gareth Barry

"There is no fear with the younger players," added Shearer. "They just go out and play, they don't analyse the game too much and they bring a freshness to the squad and that was the case in the games against Spain and Sweden but I wouldn't get carried away.

"I wouldn't say Ferdinand will be worried either, I would never rule him out of the reckoning.

"It is strange because a few months ago everyone was trying to get rid of Frank Lampard but I thought he had a very good game against Spain. All of a sudden people are talking about him being a regular again.

"I would never rule out the experienced players because they have so much to offer."

Manchester City midfielder Gareth Barry said he was impressed by Jones, who has played at right-back for England in the Euro 2012 qualifier against Montenegro, but played in different midfield roles against Spain and Sweden.

And he thinks there are up to 35 players who could make their way into the squad in time for the tournament.

Barry said: "The younger players have come in and shown great confidence.

"There are not just 23 players to pick from. You are probably looking at 30-35 players who have got a realistic chance of coming in..

"The manager has got plenty of options to bring different people in."

Trapattoni keen to sign new deal

 Trapattoni says he did not lose faith in his players after the team failed to qualify for the 2010 World Cup Republic of Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni is hoping to open talks over a new contract within weeks.

Trapattoni, 72, believes he and his staff completed the latest phase of their mission when they guided their side into the Euro 2012 finals.

"We said we did not want to put pressure on the [Football Association of Ireland] but in the future we will talk about this," he said.

"I have said I think we deserve a new agreement, Marco Tardelli and myself."

He added: "We have done what we were asked to do.

"They chose us for this reason and I think we have given the perfect answer with qualification.

"We are all responsible people and we were aware that had we failed with qualification, things could have gone differently.

Robbie Keane and John O'Shea are thrilled by the Republic of Ireland's qualification for Euro 2012

"We are now happy with the squad. We find new players in almost every game."

John Delaney, chief executive of the FAI, indicated after Tuesday's 1-1 draw against Estonia that his board would meet within the next couple of weeks and talks with Trapattoni would follow.

The Italian and his staff are part-funded by businessman Denis O'Brien, and have already taken two pay cuts with Ireland's financial difficulties biting deep.

There has been speculation that a significantly reduced package could be on the table.

Trapattoni himself has remained, in public at least, relaxed about his contractual situation, preferring instead to concentrate on the two-legged play-off tie against Estonia which secured their passage to Poland and Ukraine.

However, he has insisted if the worst came to the worst and he could not agree a new deal with Ireland, he would not retire from the game.

Having further enhanced his curriculum vitae by ending the Republic qualification drought, Trapattoni would surely be in demand.

UK athletes' Olympic disadvantage

Former world and Olympic champion Michael Johnson says British athletes should imagine they are competing abroad in London 2012.

The American, who won two Olympic gold medals at his home Games in Atlanta 1996, warns that too much support can interfere with performances.

"People assume there is an advantage with the home Olympics, but there isn't," Johnson told BBC Sport.

"Being too familiar with where you are may relax you a little bit too much."

Johnson said Great Britain's best prospects, such as world champions Mo Farah and Dai Greene, should draw on inspiration from their performances overseas.

"By the time you get to the Olympic Games most of your championships in the past have come in some foreign land, in unfamiliar territory, and you've developed an ability at that point to prepare for a championships in that way.

"The best scenario is to actually try to recreate that sense that you're not at home, so you don't get comfortable and you don't start to get this false sense of security that you might be lulled into with a home Games."

The retired sprinter, who still holds the 400m world record, has predicted that former world champions Jessica Ennis and Philips Idowu should perform well in London, but insists that even the 2011 champions, such as Greene, will not have it easy.

Highlights - Ennis wins 2009 World Championship heptathlon gold

"When you look at [Greene's event] the 400m hurdles, it's probably one of the toughest events," Johnson said.

Any one of five or six people could have won that 400m hurdles race [at the 2011 World Championships] and it's going to be the same next year.

He said: "He has an advantage being the champion, but people are still going to be out there training hard and [they will be] ready for him in London.

"Mo Farah is going to have his hands full also with the Ethiopians and the Kenyans. He's had a great year and he's just full of confidence right now but it's going to be tough for them all."

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