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McClaren quits as FC Twente boss
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Tuesday, 26 February 2013 14:06

 

Former England coach Steve McClaren said on Tuesday that he has resigned from Dutch club FC Twente, after a string of poor results that has sent them sliding down the league table.

McClaren, 51, said he held talks with the club's management after Saturday's 2-1 defeat away to Heerenveen to thrash out a way forward, which he said had to include finishing in the top four of the Dutch division and regular qualification for Europe.

The Enschede side were joint top after the winter break but have slipped to fifth in the league, six points adrift of leaders PSV Eindhoven, after four draws and two defeats in six matches, triggering criticism and protests from fans.

"Saturday's result has seen further adverse reactions and with two home games coming up we feel the team needs the support and backing from the supporters," McClaren said.

"I also needed assurances about my position both now and in the future which I know in the present situation is difficult.

"After much discussion and deliberation those assurances weren't forthcoming and we have agreed it's in the best interest of the club that I leave.

 
Arsenal knocked out of FA Cup by Blackburn
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Saturday, 16 February 2013 19:11

Arsenal's hopes of ending their eight-year trophy drought suffered a huge setback after they were dumped out of the FA Cup at home to second-tier Blackburn Rovers on Saturday.

Colin Kazim-Richards scored the only goal in Indian-owned Blackburn's 1-0 victory when he struck in the 72nd minute after Gunners keeper Wojciech Szczesny failed to hold Martin Olsson's shot.

 
G4S wins post-Olympic contract
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Thursday, 14 February 2013 19:43

 

Security firm G4S has been awarded its first Government contract since the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics security fiasco to continue running a centre for young offenders.

G4S Care and Justice Services will continue to provide services at Medway Secure Training Centre in Kent for a further two years after securing a contract extension.

The announcement comes after the firm revealed a bigger-than-expected £70 million hit on its Olympics contract for failing to provide all of its 10,400 contracted guards.

Located in Chatham, Medway opened in April 1998 and was originally designed to accommodate 40 boys but it expanded in 2002 to accommodate 76 young people, including boys and girls.

Justice Secretary Chris Grayling has unveiled plans to shake up youth custody in Britain, which would see "secure colleges" set up in a bid to improve the education of youth offenders.

Paul Cook, managing director G4S children's services, said the centre delivers "excellent services with outstanding outcomes for young people".

The agreement extends the 15-year contract, in place since the centre opened, by 23 months and was agreed by the Youth Justice Board (YJB) for England and Wales. It is expected to save the YJB £4.6 million.

The announcement comes as Ofsted published a positive report following an unannounced inspection of the centre last November.

 
Zenit outgun misfiring Liverpool
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Thursday, 14 February 2013 19:40

 

Liverpool were left to regret a string of missed chances as Russian champions Zenit St Petersburg completed a convincing 2-0 victory in their Europa League last-32, first leg match on Thursday.

Two goals in three minutes midway through the second half turned the tide in Zenit's favour after both sides had squandered a hatful of opportunities on a badly churned-up pitch in Russia's former Imperial capital.

First, big-money Brazilian signing Hulk put the Russians ahead in the 69th minute with a blistering shot from the edge of the area which just clipped Martin Skrtel to wrong-foot Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina.

Then on 72 minutes, Sergei Semak turned up the heat on Liverpool when he ghosted in behind Skrtel and Glenn Johson to arrive unmarked on the left to clinically dispatch Aleksandr Anyukov's cross from the right past Reina.

For Liverpool, Luis Suarez was the chief culprit and could have a hat-trick in the first half alone but for some profligate finishing.

But his worst miss came early in the second half as a good collective move orchestrated by Steven Gerrard ended with Stewart Downing teeing up Suarez in front of goal but he curled his shot casually wide.

That leaves Liverpool with an uphill struggle in the home leg at Anfield.

 
New Zealand defeat England by 55 runs in 2nd T20
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Tuesday, 12 February 2013 11:56

 

New Zealand defeated England by 55 runs in the second Twenty20 international in Hamilton on Tuesday to level the three-match series 1-1.

Chasing New Zealand's 192 for six, England were all out for 137 after 19.3 overs.

 
Celtic deserve respect says Lennon
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Monday, 11 February 2013 20:08

Celtic manager Neil Lennon insists his side shouldn't be regarded as underdogs when they face Italian champions Juventus in the Champions League last-16 first leg at Parkhead on Tuesday.

Lennon's team were surprise qualifiers for the last 16 after finishing ahead of Benfica and Spartak Moscow in Group G and caused a major upset when they beat Barcelona en route to their first appearance at this stage in five years.

But despite their impressive feats in the group phase, the Scottish champions are still seen by many pundits as inferior to Juventus, who are favoured to advance to the quarter-finals.

Lennon disagrees with that assessment and claims Celtic's players have the technical ability and mental strength to trouble any team in the competition.

"I think we have been (underestimated) throughout the whole campaign and going into this game we are being made out to be massive underdogs but I don't quite see it that way myself," Lennon said at a pre-match press conference in Glasgow on Monday.

"There is a real belief, anything can happen over two games. We go into the tie as underdogs but nothing is going to be decided at the end of 90 minutes tomorrow.

"It is over two games and we are prepared to play hard football over 180 minutes."

While Lennon was rightly keen to talk up his own team, he was also willing to acknowledge Juventus possess top-class players throughout their squad and particularly in attacking areas.

"They have excellent strikers - Mirko Vucinic, Fabio Quagliarella, Sebastian Giovinco, and they have also brought in Nicolas Anelka," Lennon said.

"But the one who has caught my eye is Alessandro Matri, he looks an excellent young player.

"They are very strong in midfield. Arturo Vidal is playing very well currently, Paul Pogba and Claudio Marchisio, these are class players including Andrea Pirlo who is still one of the finest midfield players in the world.

"So the team is blessed with fantastic footballers but we knew that before the tie or before any preparations were made.

"But it would be dangerous to underestimate Celtic. We have proved already this season that we can be a match for anyone."

 
Bale softens Defoe blow as Spurs hunt down Chelsea
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Sunday, 03 February 2013 16:49

Tottenham Hotspur lost Jermain Defoe to injury but won 1-0 at West Bromwich Albion through a fine Gareth Bale goal to bolster their push for Champions League qualification on Sunday.

Emmanuel Adebayor's commitments with Togo at the Africa Cup of Nations have left Defoe as Spurs' only senior striker, but the England international had to go off in the 39th minute at The Hawthorns after appearing to twist his ankle.

Once again, Bale was Spurs' most dangerous player but his best effort in the first half, a fierce, bending strike in injury time, was touched over by West Brom goalkeeper Ben Foster.

The hosts carved out a clear sight of goal when Graham Dorrans released Shane Long, but visiting goalkeeper Hugo Lloris narrowed the angle well to block.

Tottenham were given a helping hand early in the second half when West Brom's Macedonian left-back Goran Popov, on loan from Dynamo Kiev, was shown a straight red card for spitting towards Spurs right-back Kyle Walker.

Spurs made their numerical advantage count in the 67th minute as Bale took his tally for the season to 11 league goals with a vicious strike from just outside the 18-yard area.

On playing in a more central role, Bale told Sky Sports: "I enjoy it. It's a role that I'm learning season by season.

 
David Beckham - boots and a brand
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Thursday, 31 January 2013 17:58

In signing David Beckham, Paris Saint-Germain will be aware that they have signed not just a player but someone who has carefully nurtured his public image ever since his days as a fresh-faced youngster at Manchester United.

Proud family man, fashion guru, friend of A-list celebrities and politicians -- even gay icon -- the 37-year-old midfielder is as much known for his activities off the pitch as his pinpoint passing, tireless running and deadly free-kicks on it.

Beckham has risen from a modest background in Leytonstone, east London, to become one of the most marketable figures in world sport, aided by a high-profile marriage to former Spice Girl, turned fashion designer, Victoria Adams.

As a talented younster, he declined to sign with his local side Tottenham Hotspur and instead joined Alex Ferguson's Manchester United, becoming the heart of a side that included Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Phil and Gary Neville and Nicky Butt.

He scored on his debut at 17 and stamped his arrival in the English top-flight with an audacious goal from the halfway line in a match against Wimbledon on the opening day of the 1996-7 season.

In eight years at Old Trafford, he collected six Premier League crowns and the 1999 Champions League, making him one of the most recognisable -- and bankable -- sportsmen in Britain.

Yet his time at the top was not without controversy: he became a hate figure for some at the 1998 World Cup when he was sent off for a petulant kick at Diego Simeone during England's last-16 defeat against Argentina in France.

His reputation was only restored with a breath-taking last minute free-kick in England's final World Cup qualifying match against Greece in 2001 and subsequent penalty winner against Argentina at the 2002 finals.

A well-publicised bust-up with Ferguson over his commitment to the game had by that time led to a 35-million-euro move to Real Madrid, where his increasingly global reputation saw an explosion in replica jersey sales, notably in Asia.

He was even the inspiration for the hit British film "Bend It Like Beckham", about a Punjabi-origin schoolgirl in west London who dreams of playing football like her idol, against her conservative parents' wishes.

Beckham dropped a bombshell in 2007 when he announced a shock 25-million-euro move to LA Galaxy.

 
Liverpool sign Brazilian Coutinho from Inter
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Wednesday, 30 January 2013 19:53

Liverpool have signed Brazilian midfielder Philippe Coutinho on a "long-term" contract from Italian giants Inter Milan, the English Premier League club announced Wednesday.

The 20-year-old, whose arrival at Anfield was confirmed just a day before the transfer window closes, followed former Chelsea striker Daniel Sturridge in joining Liverpool this month.

"I'm feeling very happy, it's a very important step in my career and I'm expecting to come here and play good football to give my contribution on the pitch," Coutinho told Liverpool's website on Wednesday.

"Liverpool is a great club with great players. We've always heard about Liverpool's history in Brazil. They are the club that have been interested in me and that have showed this interest so I know they believe in me and my football," he added.

Coutinho, capped once by Brazil, started his career at Vasco da Gama before moving to Inter Milan in 2010 and has also spent time on loan with Spanish side Espanyol.

"We're always delighted when we get the players we go after," said Liverpool managing director Ian Ayre.

"It has been a successful transfer window for us, coming off the back of acquiring Daniel Sturridge from Chelsea and now Philippe from Inter Milan.

"I think that bodes well for us for the rest of the season and the future."

 
'Incredible' Djokovic destroys Ferrer to reach final
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Thursday, 24 January 2013 15:50

Defending champion Novak Djokovic produced one of the best performances of his career Thursday as he destroyed fourth seed David Ferrer in straight sets to reach the Australian Open final.

The Serbian world number one was simply on a different level to the Spaniard, reeling off a staggering 6-2, 6-2, 6-1 victory in just 1hr 29min in front of a stunned Rod Laver Arena crowd.

Djokovic will now be considered the raging favourite to win his fourth Australian title in Sunday's decider against either Roger Federer or Andy Murray, who play their semi-final on Friday.

Djokovic was in irresistible form, breaking the hapless Ferrer's serve seven times and hitting 30 winners with just 16 unforced errors in an awesome display.

"I played incredible tennis and I felt very comfortable and very confident from the start," Djokovic said. "I wanted to be aggressive on the court but this is definitely one of the best performances I've ever had in my career."

The manner of Djokovic's mauling of Ferrer, set to become the new world number four after Rafael Nadal's injury absence, underlined the gulf between the 'Big Four' -- Djokovic, Federer, Murray and Nadal -- and the rest.

"David is experiencing the best time in his career in the last few years, he won 11 titles last year, but tonight I just played incredible," Djokovic said.

"I don't expect myself to play always this well, but I was free in my mind tonight and hopefully I can maintain that to the final."

It is Djokovic's fourth Australian Open final in six years and he is looking to become the first man in the Open era to win three consecutive Australian titles.

By reaching the semi-finals Djokovic is already guaranteed to hold on to the number one ranking when the new listing is released on Monday.

 
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