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• Idea for new name linked with move to Olympic Stadium
• ‘I love the idea of calling the club West Ham Olympic.’
West Ham United’s new vice-chairman, Karren Brady, has said she likes the idea of renaming the club West Ham Olympic if they make their proposed move from Upton Park to the London 2012 stadium.
Brady, who has been brought to West Ham by the new co-owners David Sullivan and David Gold, with whom she worked at Birmingham, told the Sun: “To have the guaranteed future use of a 55,000-capacity stadium by occupants who will regularly fill it must be the ideal answer for those who, rightly, demand a sporting legacy from the 2012 Games.
“Maybe our way is a short-cut to a new West Ham headquarters but to disqualify the stadium’s only viable future that I know of is to make a bonfire of the dreams of thousands and thousands of people in our under-privileged area.
“I love the idea of calling the club West Ham Olympic.” She said opponents of a move by West Ham to the Olympic Stadium “must be a bit blind or a bit crazy”.
• Warren claims he discovered Khan was leaving ’10th-hand’
• ‘Loyalty is a quality bestowed in very few sportsmen’
Frank Warren has branded Amir Khan disloyal after the WBA light-welterweight champion quit his stable. Khan, 23, left Warren after five years last weekend to join up with the American giants Golden Boy Promotions.
Warren has wished Khan well in the future but was critical of the way the fighter’s camp handled the situation.
“I do not mind admitting I was gutted at the way Amir Khan and his team brought our partnership to an end after five years and 25 fights together,” he wrote in The Sun. “These days it seems loyalty is a quality bestowed in very few sportsmen.
“I am also offended they say Golden Boy Promotions can do a better job in guiding his career.
“It is amazing to think that the last time Amir and I were together was in Newcastle, after his demolition of Dmitriy Salita, when he told the Sky TV cameras ‘Me and Frank are going to America’. He repeated that statement in the post-fight press conference.
“Yet, just a few weeks later, I was left to hear it 10th-hand that our partnership was over.”
Warren added: “Under my promotional banner, Amir became light-welterweight world champion and banked millions of pounds. And I do not even hear of the split from the horse’s mouth, after all I have done for him.
“Remember, just four fights ago Khan was wiped out in less then 60 seconds by Breidis Prescott. Despite the way the Khans have handled this, I did my best for Amir and it is disappointing he has not even picked up the phone. But he is very talented, great for boxing and I genuinely hope he does well.”
• Manager says claims that midfielder will go are ‘a total lie’
• Newspaper sticks with story that has enraged Celtic
Tony Mowbray has vented his anger again over the suggestion he told Scott Brown that he would be sold by Celtic, the manager repeating his claims about invention and “agendas” within the Scottish media.
Celtic were left furious by a newspaper report this week that claimed Mowbray told Brown in a meeting shortly before Christmas that he was set to be transferred. The newspaper is sticking by its story but Mowbray today issued his latest attack on the way the press operate in Scotland.
“I try to understand the way the media works,” the manager said. “You gentlemen [in the media] have a job to do, you have got to fill newspapers and if there are no stories you make them up. When something is totally wrong, I think it is right that I come out and say that it didn’t happen. Hopefully, I can let the supporters understand what is going on, the agendas with a particular newspaper.”
With direct reference to the Brown claim, Mowbray said: “It is a total mistruth, a total lie. I don’t know how much more strongly I can put it. It is a conversation that never happened. It is a little bit annoying for me, I am not the kind of guy to come out fighting but I try to live my life with honesty and integrity. If people question that, it is right that you try to make a stand.
“The accusation of the meeting and the conversation that was inferred in the article, didn’t take place. I think it is wrong that that can be written.”
Mowbray may have chosen not to finish a subsequent sentence, but his sentiment was obvious when he said: “If I didn’t need to speak to the media …”
Mowbray may be feeling unsettled by Rangers’ nine-point lead at the top of the Scottish Premier League. That gap could stretch to 12 tomorrow as Rangers host Hearts, although Celtic will kick off at St Johnstone on Sunday with two games in hand.
“You look after your own games,” Mowbray said. “For me, that doesn’t add any significance really, it is a media-driven situation.”
Mowbray answered only “watch this space” when pressed on the future of Scott McDonald, the striker who is likely to depart Celtic before the transfer window closes, with Middlesbrough and a German club interested. The Australian could be replaced at Parkhead by Brondby’s Morten Rasmussen, who is due to arrive in Glasgow next week for talks.
Russia, with a new-look young team, recovered from an early setback against Greece and won the World Team Championship at Bursa, Turkey. The result eases the pressure on Moscow chess officials whose once invincible squad failed to justify top seeding in the last three Olympiads.
The United States, without their No2, Gata Kamsky, took silver and India, missing the world champion, Vishy Anand, won bronze, both fine performaces. But the show stealer was this week’s spectacular brilliancy, which helped the 22-year-old US champion to the individual top board gold medal.
Boris Gelfand had planned the sharp opening and his 21 d6 varied from 21 Bg1 Nh4 22 Re1 Nxg2! 23 Kxg2 Rg7 24 Nxe5 gxh2+ 25 Kh1 Nxe4! 0-1 won by Pascal Charbonneau in Montreal 2008. What the Israeli did not know was that Hikaru Nakamura had been staying at the Canadian’s house on the day of that game.
Gelfand should have tried 24 Kxg2 Rg7 but was blown off the board by 24 dxc7? Nxe1! (25 cxd8 Q g2 mate) and then by 28…Qd3! (29 Bxd3 Bg2 mate or 28 Bxh3 Qxf3+). At the end Black is a piece up with Qxc8, Nxe4 and bxa5 all threatened – a game for anthologies.
B Gelfand v H Nakamura
1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 g6 3 Nc3 Bg7 4 e4 d6 5 Nf3 0-0 6 Be2 e5 7 0-0 Nc6 8 d5 Ne7 9 Nd2 Ne8 10 b4 f5 11 c5 Nf6 12 f3 f4 13 Nc4 g5 14 a4 Ng6 15 Ba3 Rf7 16 b5 dxc5 17 Bxc5 h5 18 a5 g4 19 b6 g3 20 Kh1 Bf8 21 d6 axb6 22 Bg1 Nh4 23 Re1 Nxg2! 24 dxc7? Nxe1! 25 Qxe1 g2+! 26 Kxg2 Rg7+ 27 Kh1 Bh3 28 Bf1 Qd3! 29 Nxe5 Bxf1 30 Qxf1 Qxc3 31 Rc1 Qxe5 32 c8Q Rxc8 33 Rxc8 Qe6 0-1
3123 1 Nb5! cxb5+ (if b1Q/R? 2 Nc3+ and 3 Nxb1 wins) 2 Ka3! when b1Q/R stalemates, b1N+ 2 Kc4 or b1B 2 Kb4 Bd3 3 a4 draw.
3122 As several readers spotted, Black has the defence 1 Rah1 Nxb3 2 Qh3 Rxh4 3 Qxh4 Kf7! and should draw whether White keeps Qs and Rs on or goes for a rook ending or a pawn ending.
For the FA, this is not a history that can be kicked into touch and replaced with teaching five-year-olds how to juggle a grape
This week Trevor Brooking announced that the FA’s academy of the teenaged backheel at Burton-on-Trent is a step closer to opening its doors. In the process he also took the chance to air an FA-approved version of English football’s great neck-flushing un-Gok-Wan-able source of personal shame, declaring that: “The long-ball game has got to become a thing of the past.”
We’ve heard a lot of this from Sir Trevor, who, in office, has turned out to be a fretful, wincing man who looks like he sometimes mutters to himself in private and makes a frustrated “gnnnnyhng” noise and swats the stapler off his desk before going to brood in his special brown orthopaedic chair and listen to Fabio laughing next door.
Brooking’s gripe is a regurgitation of English football’s central anxiety: fear of the hoof. There is by now an accepted history of how we got here. For its first hundred years English football remained complacently the same, a bog-soaked medicine-ball-wallop played by vitamin-deficient men who died young, often by falling into a loom. Meanwhile, abroad the game “evolved”, notably in Hungary and Austria where banished Englishman Jimmy Hogan invented being able to control the ball properly. In 1953 England were spanked by Hungary at Wembley, causing a big realisation. Something had to be done. But what?
Fuddled, the FA brought in hair-oiled bogeyman Charles Reep, who had a book with statistics that proved the long ball was the answer: our balsa-wood and string solution to a half-century of sullen decline. So under Charles Hughes, reviled coaching guru of the 1970s, the FA went on to teach the very long ball Brooking now impugns.
I’ve got Hughes’s coaching textbook. You’d expect it to be full of bilious incantations about moustachioed men with accents you can’t place. But it’s actually earnest and likeable, written with a kindly tracksuited intensity. It’s even got – hang on – Trevor Brooking in it! There he is, the filthy collaborator: actually teaching people, with photos, how to hoof the ball long (I refer Sir Trevor to page 53, figure 6d: “The ball is delivered into space in the right full‑back position to Brooking”).
But let’s not gloat. Trevor’s own presence at the heart of what he seeks to condemn illustrates the inescapable circularity in our shared long-ball heritage. This is not a history that can be simply dropped and replaced with teaching five-year-olds how to juggle a grape. The fact is we find the long ball stirring. We seek it out, ancestrally and instinctively. We smell it on the rain. Forget the Premier League academies and the chimera of modernism. Those frowning teenage skinheads you see representing the home nations in the Victory Shield on Sky Sports are still tall boys who like to send long, to get rid and to generally trample all over Sir Trevor’s six-step mini-futsal golf ball keepie-uppie programme.
Plus, there is our role in the wider world. If English players tend towards the high pass and the muscular barge this does still have a vital function. With England in the mix we know anyone who wants to win a World Cup must, at the very least, be able to defend the floated, flickable semi-hoof. This is our role: basic training. Go off and play your “attractive football” in your semi-finals, but only after we’ve established that this is still a contact sport and we’re all keeping it non-basketball real.
What are the alternatives anyway? There is still plenty to be found that is cheerless in a homogenised 11‑man pinball purged of sweat-soaked northern European blundering. I quite like, and also feel oddly irritated by, the scampering, self-righteous Velcro-touch gnomes of Barcelona. But is the future really exclusively theirs?
At the Burton-on-Trent unveiling Brooking found support from Stuart Pearce who said: “We need to get in a situation where we have no more excuses.” Is that right? At least our English failure has a face (in Soccer Tactics and Skills, pub. 1980, it has Trevor Brooking’s face). It’s a grand old excuse, an irreversibly embedded culture of hoof, an excuse with a pedigree and narrative arc all its own: our own dark and secret place where we can fret and frown and shiver and say “gnnnnyhng”. Blame the weather. Blame angry swearing dad. Blame an innate Anglo-Saxon impatience. The long ball is truly the enemy inside.
Preston play Chelsea with their new manager hoping to match the team that beat his father’s
Meticulous preparation has been second nature to Darren Ferguson since his school days, when the Preston North End manager used notebooks to dissect the tactics that brought his father three league titles, four Scottish Cups and a European Cup Winners’ Cup with Aberdeen. “He never listened to a thing I said though,” said Ferguson, who has come to accept that no interview will be complete without at least one mention of Sir Alex. But sometimes it pays to skirt over the details, and a Deepdale debut against a Chelsea side fresh from a 7-2 annihilation of Sunderland almost demands it.
Ferguson was smarting from a debut defeat at Bristol City when he switched on the car radio and heard the result from Stamford Bridge. Initially, he claims, the scoreline had no impact on a mood already darkened by watching his new charges concede two goals in the opening 12 minutes at Ashton Gate. But it has influenced preparations for a fourth-round tie that, for all the trepidation attached, offers Preston’s new manager an opportunity for a glorious first impression on home soil.
“The result did not have an effect on me at all until Monday morning when we were looking at certain things in the Chelsea performance,” admits the 37-year-old. “I watched the game but I think it is a bit worthless showing it to the players. You can over-analyse games too much and you can leave the room trembling.”
The protection policy only goes so far, however, and Ferguson is quick to reinforce the point that an emphatic victory for the joint Premier League leaders will not alter his strategy on the pitch this lunchtime. “It is Chelsea,” he says. “They are one of the best teams in Europe. Whether it was a 7-2 or a draw last weekend, they are still one of the best in Europe. We have done our homework and we have a few DVDs on them. It’s not a difficult one for me because my players should know about Chelsea because they see them every week on television.”
Ferguson is impatient for his first game at Deepdale, the weather having played havoc with the fixture schedule and delayed his bow, and finds encouragement in the upset his father suffered against Leeds United. “United were poor that day,” says the former Wolves and Wrexham midfielder. “And Chelsea can’t play well every game.” It is an early managerial contest with Carlo Ancelotti, though, that has enriched this occasion for the Scot.
The Italian has left his mark on the Ferguson family before, notably the 2007 European Cup semi-final victory over Manchester United with Milan, and will enter a sold-out Deepdale an odds-on favourite to inflict further punishment. Yet Ferguson argues: “It is exciting. I think Ancelotti has made Chelsea more consistent and improved the mentality. He is a winning guy. I went through the 7-2 again yesterday and it is not easy. But this is a great game for my players and this is why you want to be in football. Our aspirations are to get in the Premier League and this game will give us a taste of it.”
Next to Ferguson is a tactics board upon which some jester has placed Chelsea in a 4-3-3 formation and Preston in a 10-0-1, with all 10 defenders camped inside their own six-yard box. “We’ll struggle to get a goal with that,” remarks the manager, who is well aware of the real ambitions at Preston. The surprise removal of Alan Irvine as manager in December, just seven months after he took the club into the play-offs, and the appointment of the man who led Peterborough United to two consecutive promotions before his own abrupt departure is instructive.
Burnley’s rise into the Premier League, arguably more so than Blackburn and Bolton before them, has been keenly felt at Preston, whose heritage and stadium leaves them longing to share the same stage. “That’s what I’ve been brought here to do and I’ve got three and a half years to do it,” says Ferguson. “The club has shown where they want to go by getting rid of Alan and bringing me in even though they got to the play-offs last year, so maybe that tells its own story, I don’t know. I want to be a manager a long time and you have to be careful where you go too quickly. I’ve had a little bit of experience and this is the best club for me. Maybe Paul Ince went to Blackburn a little bit too early but sometimes it’s difficult to turn down jobs. I know this is the best job for me.”