Archive for January, 2011


Players’ chief Gordon Taylor has described the Football Association as “very precious” for charging Liverpool winger Ryan Babel over Twitter posts.

Babel linked to a mocked-up picture of referee Howard Webb in a Manchester United shirt after the Reds lost 1-0 to United in the FA Cup on Sunday.

“Where’s our sense of humour gone in our game?” Taylor, Professional Footballers’ Association head, asked.

“He’s apologised, let’s move on,” he added on BBC Radio Merseyside.

Babel, who has been accused of improper conduct by the FA, subsequently removed the link and wrote an apology on Twitter.

The 24-year-old’s original comments followedLiverpool’s 1-0 third-round defeat at Old Trafford.

My apology if they take my posted picture seriously. This is just a emotional reaction after losing an important game
Ryan Babel apologises on Twitter

In addition to posting a link to the doctored picture of Webb, Babel wrote: “And they call him one of the best referees. That’s a joke.”

The Dutchman has more than 166,000 other Twitter users following his updates and his messages and the offending image was subsequently reproduced in the media.

Ryan Giggs scored the game’s only goal from a spot-kick awarded by Webb for Daniel Agger’s apparent foul on Dimitar Berbatov inside the first minute.

Webb later sent off Steven Gerrard after 32 minutes for a challenge on Michael Carrick.

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish labelled the penalty decision“a joke”and also disagreed with the red card for his captain.

However, Taylor believes the FA have been too heavy-handed in their reaction to Babel’s online criticisms.

“He’s apologised and has said he’s sorry, let’s move on,” Taylor added on BBC Radio Merseyside.

“I would think that Howard Webb is a big enough man, a big enough person and good enough referee to take it.

“To my mind, and to most footballers’ minds, it is the same sort of stuff that flies about every weekend via mobile phones, but they are obviously taking a stance on it. I thought a warning would have been sufficient.”

Babel, a Netherlands international, is believed to be the first player charged with improper conduct relating to a post on the social networking site.

“My apology if they take my posted picture seriously. This is just a emotional reaction after losing an important game. Sorry Howard Webb,” Babel wrote on Twitter by way of an apology.

He then joked about spending a spell in “Twitter jail” and his previously prolific posts stopped on Sunday evening.

It is not the first time that a Liverpool member of staff has been drawn into controversy through their use of the website.

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Fifth Ashes Test, Sydney (day five):
England 644 beat Australia 280 & 281 by an innings and 83 runs
Match scorecard

England raise the urn 

All three England wins were achieved by an innings margin
By Oliver Brett

England won the final Ashes Test in Sydney by an innings and 83 runs to wrap up the series 3-1 and secure their first win down under in 24 years.

Australia began play in a hopeless position at 213-7, 151 runs behind, and after a rain delay they were all out for 281 with Steve Smith not out on 54.

The crowd, made up almost entirely of England fans, was let in free and produced a superb atmosphere.

England captain Andrew Strauss said: “We’re delighted with what we’ve done.”

Peter Siddle and Steve Smith kept England’s champagne on ice in the early part of the day before the players were forced off by rain after less than 25 minutes play.

England celebrate Ashes triumph

When they returned 40 minutes later in glorious sunshine, Siddle finally went for 43 when slog-sweeping spinner Graeme Swann after a stand of 86.

James Anderson removed Ben Hilfenhaus before Chris Tremlett bowled Michael Beer with the score on 281.

With the second new ball almost due, Swann finally struck for the first time in the innings, and the last two wickets fell within a further six overs – Hilfenhaus providing Matt Prior with his 23rd catch of the series before Beer chopped a delivery onto his stumps.

The final wicket sparked emotional celebrations for England, while the contrast in the Australian camp could not have been starker.

TOM FORDYCE BLOG

The chaos in the home dressing room was underlined when Michael Clarke, the stand-in skipper for this Test, resigned from Twenty20 internationals minutes after the official presentations.

England’s fans dominated the Sydney Cricket Ground with the Barmy Army’s songs and chants echoing around the famous arena.

Victorious skipper Andrew Strauss joined Sir Len Hutton and Mike Brearley to become only the third England captain to win Ashes series at home and away.

“We came over here desperately wanting to win the series,” said Strauss, who was captain when England regained the Ashes at home in 2009.

“Obviously in Melbourne we retained the Ashes but we really wanted to finish with a bang here in Sydney.

“All credit to the guys, they’ve been outstanding again, the way the bowlers bowled on day one, the batsmen dipped their bread in it again and we got another victory.

“We’re certainly going to enjoy this evening, that’s for sure.”

Anderson, part of the England team whitewashed 5-0 in Australia four years ago, finished with 3-61 for 24 wickets in the series and the best haul by an England bowler in Australia since Frank “Typhoon” Tyson collected 28 in 1954-55.

He said: “It’s been a great tour for us, an amazing sort of feeling for us retaining the Ashes last week and winning the series this week.

James Anderson and Alastair Cook 

Anderson and Cook both produced career-defining series

“I’m delighted with my form this trip, enjoying my role in the team leading the attack. My job has been made easy by the guys at the other end, Steven Finn and Stuart Broad at the start of the series and Chris Tremlett and Tim Bresnan later on, and our fielding has been amazing.

“We’ve been working really hard on it, the catches we’ve taken this series are better than any I remember in any other series.”

Paul Collingwood, given the honour of leading out the England team on his final day as a Test cricketer, said: “Today is absolute number one. It’s a special, special day and I can’t think of a better way to step out of Test cricket. A lot of guys in the dressing room put a lot of hard work in to achieve this.

“My role in the side is to score runs, I’m disappointed I haven’t done that. But four years ago I scored a double century and we lost 5-0 and I much prefer it this way round. We deserve it.”

It was the first time any team had won three Tests by an innings in a single series away from home. The last time England had done it against any opponents, India, had been in 1959.

It was also the first time Australia had lost three Tests at home since 1988-89, when Viv Richards’ world-beating West Indies side also won by a 3-1 margin.

Alastair Cook was both man of the match and man of the series, having hit 189 in Sydney and 766 across all five matches.

“It’s been an amazing series for me, I couldn’t imagine this seven weeks ago,” he said.

“The double hundred [in Brisbane] was a very special moment for me and to win man of the match in the final game of the Ashes is a dream come true.

“Our bowlers have been fantastic throughout the whole series, they’ve made our job as batters far easier.”

Kevin Pietersen hailed the team effort, saying: “It’s amazing to win so convincingly in Australia. It’s all credit to the team and the management.

“Every single bloke has done something to make it such a great trip.

“Every single time an occasion has been needed, one of us has stood up. I did in Adelaide, but every single bloke, player, member of the backroom staff has been outstanding.”

NICK BRYANT BLOG

England coach Andy Flower said the victory was an “emotional moment” for the players and the entire backroom team.

“A lot of hard work, effort, heartache and some sweat and tears go into winning any game of cricket. Over a five-match series it takes even more effort and no mean amount of skill, and I think the guys are very proud of all those things.

“We’ve got to enjoy it now – and share in the experience. We share the hardships along the way and we have to share the good moments too.”

And British Prime Minister David Cameron paid tribute to the team, calling the series victory a “fantastic achievement”.

“I’ve spoken to Andrew Strauss this morning and congratulated the team, coaches and everyone behind the side on this tremendous victory,” said Cameron.

“Retaining the Ashes was a fantastic achievement, but winning the series really is the icing on the cake. We’ve seen some great sporting moments over the series and the team have provided us with some brilliant memories that I’m sure fans will talk about for years to come.

“The whole country is incredibly proud of them.”

England remain third in the International Cricket Council Test rankings, but have closed the gap on second-placed South Africa to two points.

India remain at the top of the table after their series in South Africa ended in a 1-1 draw just hours before England’s triumph in Sydney.

After 32 seconds Kenny Dalglish was reminded what a frustrating game this can be. After 32 minutes he must have been longing for that cruise ship; the chance to be back in a marina with wife Marina.

This was a tough re-introduction to the world Dalglish has been away from for more than 12 years.

Not enough to make his head explode but not far off given the dubious nature of the penalty that secured victory for Manchester United and the reckless nature of the challenge that then led to the dismissal of Steven Gerrard.

Spot on: Ryan Giggs puts Manchester United ahead in the opening minutes after Dimitar Berbatov won a controversial penalty 

Spot on: Ryan Giggs puts Manchester United ahead in the opening minutes after Dimitar Berbatov won a controversial penalty

MATCH FACTS

Manchester United (4-4-2): Kuszczak 6;
Rafael 7, Ferdinand 8, Evans 7 (Smalling
84min), Evra 7; Nani 6, Fletcher 6
(Anderson 63, 6), Carrick 7, Giggs 8;
Hernandez 6 (Owen 75, 6), Berbatov 6.
Booked: Fletcher, Anderson.

Liverpool (4-3-2-1): Reina 8; Kelly 7,
Skrtel 6, Agger 6, Aurelio 6; Meireles 6
(Shelvey 60, 6), Lucas 6, Gerrard 6;
Kuyt 6, Rodriguez 6 (Babel 60, 6);
Torres 6 (Ngog 77).
Sent off: Gerrard.

Man of the match: Ryan Giggs.
Referee: Howard Webb.

The two incidents determined the outcome of this disappointing tie, first in the way Ryan Giggs was able to seize the lead for United and then in the way Liverpool’s chance of battling their way back into the contest was removed. Without Gerrard they lacked drive and invention from midfield, leaving Fernando Torres a forlorn, isolated figure up front.

Dalglish was heartened by the commitment of the players he had met only at 10.30 yesterday morning, and this was certainly an improvement on the sorry performance at Blackburn that proved to be Roy Hodgson’s last game in charge.

But only now does the work begin for Dalglish as he tries to rebuild the club that, in the words of United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, were still on their perch when he left 20 years ago. Gerrard and Torres might be class acts but not many of these players would have secured a place alongside Rush, Beardsley and Barnes.

Even after losing to their fiercest rivals, Liverpool’s interim manager could not hide his delight at being back. ‘Brilliant,’ was how he described his feelings after what has been an extraordinary 48 hours. ‘Less than 48 hours,’ he retorted.

Fall guy: Dimitar Berbatov was awarded a penalty after the striker tumbled inside the area, despite what appeared to be minimal contact from Liverpool defender Daniel Agger 

Fall guy: Dimitar Berbatov was awarded a penalty after the striker tumbled inside the area, despite what appeared to be minimal contact from Liverpool defender Daniel Agger

He was, he said, sitting in the bar when the distress call came from John W Henry; a call that appears to have been followed by a message to the bridge to pull into the next port.

‘The cruise ship was fantastic in letting us get off at Bahrain,’ he said.

Presumably, the conversation with Henry was a brief one. Dalglish has been longing for this moment, long before he put himself forward for the job in the summer by withdrawing from the search for Rafa Benitez’s successor.

He said it was ‘a no-brainer’; the chance to address some ‘unfinished business’ with the club who remain such an integral part of his life.

Marching on: Ryan Giggs celebrates his controversial winner to dump rivals Liverpool out of the FA Cup 

Marching on: Giggs celebrates his controversial winner to dump rivals Liverpool out of the FA Cup

There was a buzz among the travelling supporters that has been absent all season and it was evident the moment Dalglish appeared from the tunnel and walked along the touchline with Ferguson. ‘He said, “welcome back”,’ revealed Dalglish. ‘And it’s amazing how quickly the memory comes back to you.’

His team talk, he explained after paying tribute to Hodgson, concerned the need for unity, and the words he chose must have been rousing ones judging by the response. Gerrard might be 30 but the overwhelming desire to impress clearly played its part in his early departure.

Even Ferguson noted the fact that he is not a player one would normally associate with two-footed lunges, although the challenge that left Michael Carrick with a sore ankle also looked like an act of retaliation after seeing Rafael da Silva escape punishment seconds earlier for a similar clash with Raul Meireles.

Bad start: Sir Alex Ferguson had the last laugh as Kenny Dalglish suffered a disastrous return to the Liverpool hot seat 

Bad start: Sir Alex Ferguson had the last laugh as Kenny Dalglish suffered a disastrous return to the Liverpool hot seat

Dalglish bemoaned Howard Webb’s decision but the referee was right. The game has changed since he was last here, especially when it comes to lunging two-footed challenges.

If Webb was right to dismiss Gerrard, he was horribly wrong when it came to awarding the penalty. The contact between Daniel Agger and Dimitar Berbatov was minimal at best; the collapse to the ground depressingly delayed by the Bulgarian.

It was symptomatic, perhaps, of an era when even referees like Webb are explaining to players that they have a right to go down should there be contact but something that remained unjust on this occasion.

Some 25 yards behind the action, Webb was in no position to see the incident clearly and the fact that his assistant did not raise a flag should have planted some doubt in his mind. But Webb pointed to the spot and Giggs did the rest.

Red midst: Liverpool are reduced to ten men after referee Howard Webb sends Steven Gerrard off after a reckless challenge on Michael Carrick 

Red midst: Liverpool are reduced to ten men after referee Howard Webb sends Steven Gerrard off after a reckless challenge on Michael Carrick

In the end, United just about deserved their fourth-round trip to Southampton. In Giggs, who made his debut for United a month after Dalglish’s shock resignation in February 1991, and Rio Ferdinand they had the two best outfield players, and they also had the better of the other chances. While Jonny Evans sent a header crashing against a post, Pepe Reina somehow made four saves in little more than four seconds to deny Rafael twice as well as Berbatov and Patrice Evra.

This, however, was far from United’s best and Dalglish will know as much. Had Gerrard remained on the field for longer than 32 minutes his side might have threatened more. In the end Fabio Aurelio went closest with a decent free-kick.

Dalglish praised Torres for his workrate, having focused on the Spaniard in his column in yesterday’s Mail on Sunday. But reviving his spirit will be as important as making the changes that are sure to follow.

Another bad day at the office: Fernando Torres yet again failed to produce his best, easily dealt with by United defender Jonny Evans 

Another bad day at the office: Fernando Torres yet again failed to produce his best, easily dealt with by United defender Jonny Evans

Steve Clarke would be a sound appointment as a coach, while adding some strength to the squad would also be useful.

Yesterday Dalglish made some positive changes. No Paul Konchesky at left back. The return of Agger at centre half. Torres off after 77 minutes. All displayed the strength we have long associated with the man.

As he said, he will not know if he’s still got it until he has tried. But in the eyes of the Liverpool supporters, and probably the players too, he already looks less out of place than his predecessor.

Making a fist of it: Manchester United should have scored more but found Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina in inspired form 

Making a fist of it: Manchester United should have scored more but found Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina in inspired form

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-1345497/Manchester-United-1-Liverpool-0-Kenny-Dalglish-downed-return-Ryan-Giggs.html#ixzz1AacTBfo6