Press Association Kick It Out, who initially reported an allegation of anti-Semitism to the FA, said in a statement: “Since then, in spite of requests from Kick It Out for information about the progress of the investigation, there has been total silence from the FA until Friday, January 10. “The FA then stated that an appointed expert was aiding this investigation and there would be no further update until Monday, January 20 at the earliest. “Kick It Out, like others, is very frustrated at the length of time taken to investigate this issue and, as usual, has taken criticism, particularly from community organisations, who feel deeply and rightly aggrieved by the gesture and want to know why the campaign has not made more of a public condemnatory statement of Anelka’s actions. “The campaign will certainly make known its comments on this case at the conclusion of the FA’s investigation. Kick It Out continues to press for an urgent decision.” The ‘quenelle’ is a straight-arm salute with one arm pointing downwards and the other hand across the chest. It was brought to prominence by French comedian Dieudonne M’Bala M’Bala, a friend of Anelka’s who has been prosecuted for anti-Semitism, and the salute has been described by opponents as an inverted Nazi salute. Anelka has agreed not to perform the celebration again after West Brom conceded the gesture had caused offence, but the French striker has denied the salute had any anti-Semitic connotations. Anti-discrimination group Kick It Out has expressed its frustration at the delay in dealing with Nicolas Anelka’s controversial ‘quenelle’ gesture and is pressing for an “urgent decision”. West Brom striker Anelka made the salute after scoring against West Ham on December 28. It is regarded by some in his native France as having anti-Semitic connotations. The FA has appointed an expert to work on the case and has said no statement will be made before January 20.
“We’ll see how it evolves. It is obviously a little complicated, but the staff that are over there have done brilliant work in terms of giving us every chance to get a player. “So we will just have to see how that develops over the course of the day. “It has all happened very quickly. Obviously the timeline on everything makes it tight.” Asked why Konoplyanka was what Liverpool needed, Rodgers – who has not signed a player yet in the current transfer window – said: “It is not just for now – it is for the future as well. “We are still in the middle of building here and growing the group. So I feel we will need a number of players, but January is a very difficult market in which to do that. “I’m very happy with the group I have. “I think every manager would like a player or a number of players that can just freshen up the group – it always helps and gives that extra motivation sometimes for players. We’ll see if we can do it. “If it doesn’t work out and we don’t get anyone in, then we have shown over the course of the season that this is a team that is ready to fight all the way. But let’s hope we can do something.” He added: “If we can improve the group in this window it will have been great, but if it is not to be for whatever reason, I’m more than happy with what we have got. “We have got players coming back to fitness and that will hopefully set us up for the challenge of the remaining 15 league games, plus the FA Cup.” Rodgers indicated that if there is going to be any incoming personnel on deadline day for Liverpool, Konoplyanka is likely to be their only recruit. The manager also dismissed talk of him trying to sign Manchester City defender Micah Richards on loan. Liverpool, currently fourth in the Barclays Premier League, beat Merseyside rivals Everton 4-0 at Anfield on Tuesday and their next match sees them face West Brom away on Sunday. Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers admits Yevhen Konoplyanka’s potential transfer deadline-day move to the club is “a little complicated” – and has stressed that while he is hopeful of the deal going through, he is “more than happy” with the group of players he already has. Press Association The Reds have been in talks with Ukrainian outfit Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk over their winger Konoplyanka and it is thought it is likely to cost Liverpool a fee of around £16million if the switch occurs. Asked on Friday afternoon what the situation was with regard to the 24-year-old Ukraine international, Rodgers said: “There is no update yet. There is obviously an interest in the player, but there is no update.
“I couldn’t have done it without a lot of help from a lot of people – they know who they are and I thank them enormously for it. “What gives me just as much satisfaction in reaching this milestone is that I have seen the European Tour change enormously during my 20 plus years on the Tour, and for the vast majority it’s been for the better. “I’d like to thank the Tour for honouring me in this way and I hope we can share many more milestones in the future.” Clarke was set to make his 500th appearance in the Qatar Masters in January, but was forced to withdraw from the event because of a pulled muscle. The 45-year-old also missed last year’s Masters through injury. Lynn made his Masters debut last year and was two shots off the lead after an opening 68, before going on to finish 46th. However, the 40-year-old Englishman has missed the cut in his past three events on the PGA Tour. Darren Clarke and David Lynn will have extra reasons to enjoy the 78th US Masters when it gets under way at Augusta National on Thursday. Former Open champion Clarke will become the first Northern Irishman to make 500 appearances on the European Tour when he tees off shortly before noon local time, while Lynn will make his 400th appearance at 8:29am. Clarke, who will become the 25th player to reach such a milestone, was presented with an engraved silver ice bucket by Tour chief executive George O’Grady and said: “It seems like only yesterday that I was setting out on this journey into the unknown, but here we are 500 tournaments down the road and still counting. Press Association
“The last 15, 16 hours or however long it’s been, I don’t like it, it’s not the way in which the club should portray itself,” the former right-back, who won eight Premier League titles with United, told Sky Sports News. “But it’s the modern world, it’s how things seem to be dealt with now, but I’m a traditionalist and I think it could have been dealt with a whole lot better. “I believe in managers being given time, I think they should be allowed to complete their work. The idea of giving people three and four and six-year contracts and then getting rid of them after 10 months is something that’s foreign to me. “However, there’s no disguising that the football this season has been poor, the results have been poor, as a fan I’ve not enjoyed watching it – I’m sure David Moyes himself hasn’t enjoyed watching it. “And I can’t think many Manchester United fans will have enjoyed watching it either. “The performances have sort of got worse and worse. There was a little bit of a pick-up before Christmas when you thought there might be a bit of a run but in the last month or two the performances have sort of deteriorated really.” He added: “The players have to take massive responsibility. “I never once during my 17/18-year career at United turned around after a game and thought ‘you lost us that game boss’. “It’s always the players. Players have to take responsibility, accountability in football. “Those players there are not as bad as they have been showing, I’ve played with a lot of those players “They’ve got great care for United, they love the club – the ones that I know – they’re desperate to do well for the club and they have completely lost confidence. “These are players who were champions nine months ago and the decline has been surprising to say the least.” One of the players in the dressing room Neville knows best is Ryan Giggs and the Welshman will now take charge of United until the end of the season. Moyes’ predecessor Sir Alex Ferguson spent nearly 27 years in charge at United and brought both Giggs and Neville into the team after initially struggling to make an impact at Old Trafford. Neville played with Giggs throughout his entire career at United under the Scot and the England coach believes his former team-mate is entering the lion’s den, with management now being a largely thankless task. “It’s a different world to the one it was in the 1980s when (Dave) Sexton, (Ron) Atkinson and Sir Alex Ferguson were given time through their difficult moments,” he said. “That’s just not going to happen any more. It’s something that I don’t like about the modern game, the fact that managers get sacked every 12 months. It doesn’t matter whether it’s my club, it’s United, or any other club. “I genuinely believe there is a lack of decency now in the way in which football managers get dealt with at all the different clubs. “They’re just so much in the firing line and they accept it’s a pressurised job, they get well paid for it, but I think there is a way of decency with dealing with people. “Football managers now just get tossed around, chucked about, disregarded, rubbished. Decent men, good men just get thrown away and that’s not just David Moyes, that’s all the way through football.” Dwight Yorke also played in the treble-winning team of 1999 and the former striker believes Giggs could be just the man to take the job permanently. “I know there’s a lot of people speculating that they need somebody with big experience out there that has managed a club at the very top level but we are talking about a continuity, something like what Sir Alex Ferguson did,” he said. “There is never going to be someone like Sir Alex Ferguson but what we’re given here is a young manager who is looking to break in. “He’s not got the managerial skills but we thought that David Moyes had those skills of going into Manchester United with the experience that he had for 11 years being at Everton and the wonderful job that he’d done but he hasn’t been able to turn things over at Manchester United. “I think for togetherness and getting the results and playing a certain way, a brand of football that is more eye-catching, the Man United way, I feel that Ryan Giggs is the right person.” Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti has been touted as a possible successor to Moyes. Speaking ahead of his side’s Champions League semi-final meeting with Bayern Munich, the Italian said: “I feel sorry for David Moyes, but that’s the life of a football coach, sometimes it doesn’t go well for you and you are sacked. “I’m sure Moyes is going to get another team and another opportunity, but I always feel bad when a coach is sacked. “I am a little surprised because Manchester United don’t normally do this.” Former United captain Roy Keane said the current squad and the club hierarchy needed to take a long look in the mirror after Moyes’ disappointing reign. ” He certainly had a hard start but I’d look at the chief executive (Ed Woodward), he didn’t get the deals done,” Keane said on ITV. “I think it’s a shame, he should have been given more time. Some of the players should be ashamed of themselves, they really let him down.” Asked how much responsibility belonged to Ferguson for picking Moyes, Keane added: ” I wouldn’t say that it was his pick. He certainly put his name forward but the club have to make a decision so you can’t be critical of Sir Alex. “For David Moyes seventh in the league is disappointing but you need people around you, the support, and I don’t think he’s had that, certainly from the players.” Speaking ahead of Chelsea’s Champions League semi-final tie away to Atletico Madrid, Jose Mourinho said: ” I feel sorry for David, like I feel sorry for every manager who loses his job.” Gary Neville is disappointed with the way Manchester United have handled the sacking of David Moyes. The Scot was dismissed on Tuesday after nearly 10 months in charge at Old Trafford which have seen the club go from being Barclays Premier League champions to failing to qualify for next season’s Champions League. Reports of Moyes’ imminent departure emerged on Monday afternoon and Neville was sad that the Scot’s exit proved to be an undignified one. Press Association
Roma coach Rudi Garcia has told Manchester United they will have to stump up 100 million euros (£79million) if they want to sign Kevin Strootman. New United boss Louis van Gaal said on Friday he will monitor Strootman’s recovery from a serious knee injury before deciding whether to bid for the Holland and Roma midfielder. Garcia recently vowed that Strootman would remain at Roma this season, but just to make his point perfectly clear, he said on Saturday night that a huge fee would be required for the Italian club to even consider letting the midfielder go. “What can I say about the rumours (about Strootman joining United)…” Garcia pondered with a smile after Roma’s 3-2 defeat to United on Saturday. “Maybe after a three-digit offer (i.e. 100 million euros), then we will sit down and think about it.” Strootman, who Van Gaal knows well from his time as Holland manager, missed Saturday’s game in Denver as he is continuing his recovery from an anterior cruciate ligament injury he sustained in March. The 24-year-old is making good progress in his rehabilitation, according to his manager. “Kevin is following a normal recovery programme. He is fine. He will start running soon,” Garcia added. Press Association
“I was watching them train and had some meetings with people,” he said. “It was a good experience for me. “I know people there. It was absolutely brilliant, first class. “We (Lambert and Guardiola) had a really good chat. I also know Matthias Sammer (the Bayern sporting director and former Dortmund team-mate of Lambert) as well. “I met a few people there and it’s an absolutely first-class football club. “It was brilliant. A real eye-opener.” The Scot was reluctant to disclose exactly what he had learned. “I think what I saw there should probably stay in my own head,” he said. “If you want to see it, maybe go and try and have a look.” Lambert goes up against Leicester counterpart Nigel Pearson in the Barclays Premier League on Sunday and was reluctant to comment on the Foxes manager’s midweek spat with a supporter. Aston Villa fans will hope to see the benefits of a meeting of minds between manager Paul Lambert and Bayern Munich boss Pep Guardiola this week. Press Association Lambert flew to Germany to spend time watching the German giants train and sit down with former Barcelona coach Guardiola. The Villa boss has extensive contacts in the Bundesliga from his playing career with Borussia Dortmund and took full advantage with an “eye-opening” trip to Bavaria. “I’ve been away for a couple of days so I don’t know anything about all that,” he said. “I can’t get involved in it. Managers being criticised has come into the game more and more. I don’t think it’s nice and it doesn’t help the team. “Nigel’s a good guy, I’ve met him a few times. I don’t know anything about it as I’ve been away, so I’ll probably leave it at that. “It’s not nice when it happens to you. It’s come more into the game, with the banners etc too. It can hurt the team and the team is the most important thing. “I don’t like it. I don’t like seeing things like that. I know how hard the job is and it’s not nice. It’s a ‘free hit’, to have a go at the manager with a banner or chants. “On the whole the fans have been fantastic with me here.” England midfielder Fabian Delph returned to training on Friday as he fights to return for some of Aston Villa’s Christmas fixtures. The 25-year-old dislocated his shoulder in October and was ruled out until the end of December. The Villa boss, also without key defenders Ron Vlaar and Philippe Senderos at the moment, said: “Fabian’s coming on, he trained with the team today. “It’s non-contact at the minute but he’s doing really well.” Midfielder Joe Cole has been ruled out for around two weeks with a hamstring injury suffered in Tuesday’s win over Crystal Palace but Lambert hopes he can return sooner. Nigel Pearson insisted his angry row with a fan should galvanise his Leicester strugglers as he expects to escape a club rap. The Foxes manager admitted he was unaware of any internal club probe into the heated exchange he had with a supporter during Tuesday’s 3-1 defeat to Liverpool. Fans had called on Pearson to apologise, something he refused to do on Friday, after a video emerged of him reacting to a fan in the crowd but he remained unrepentant. The club had said they were looking into the matter but Pearson is carrying on as normal ahead of the trip to Aston Villa on Sunday. “I’m not aware there is an investigation,” he said. “I’ve been asked a few questions but my job is to continue to manage my team, a team I played big part in developing and had considerable success with in adversity. “We’ve come through difficult times before – just not as public. Technology can be a bit of a nuisance at times.” The Foxes are bottom of the Barclays Premier League and without a win in their last nine games but Pearson hopes the controversy will unite them. “We try to come through adversity,” he said. “I’ve had run-ins with fans in the past and that’s how it is. I think the players have very strong feelings about what’s going on and feel the need to prove themselves to themselves and to other people. “It shows solidarity and a belief in what and how we’re doing. “Ultimately I’m not daft, it’s a results business and we have to change the trend sooner rather than later. You can’t expect things to go swimmingly all the time. “I’ve been involved in tricky times in the past. I saw some clips of a banner at Arsenal and find it totally bemusing someone of Arsene Wenger’s stature and record is questioned. He can be a very emotional man himself. “I can move on from events this week.”
Keith scored two goals and added three assists, while Neil Trimm also scored twice to send the Clan back above Sheffield Steelers to the summit. Zach Hervato scored the game-winning goal as Hull Stingrays sprang a surprise with a 3-2 triumph over Belfast Giants. Press Association Craig Peacock put the Giants ahead on the powerplay at the 8:43 mark of the opening period but the Stingrays drew level through Carl Lauzon. Powerplay strikes from Matthew Davies and Hervato put the Stingrays in charge and although Kevin Westgarth halved the lead, Hull held on. In the evening’s other game, Jade Portwood scored the game-winner 2:08 from the end of regulation to give Edinburgh Capitals a 3-2 win over Coventry Blaze. Matt Keith had a five-point night to help Braehead Clan return to the top of the Rapid Solicitors Elite League table thanks to an 8-2 victory over Fife Flyers.
The 39-year-old, now head coach of Yorkshire, believes the move would both reward Ireland’s performances in limited-overs internationals and provide a necessary boost to the five-day format. Gillespie told All Out Cricket: “Let’s face it, outside of Australia and England and, to a lesser extent, South Africa, people don’t turn up to watch Test cricket. That’s just the way it is, and it’s sad. Press Association “One fantastic way to give Test cricket a lift straight away would be to give Ireland full Test status. It’s something that should happen sooner rather than later from the ICC. “Imagine if Ireland were given Test status. That would be huge news in world cricket, and it would be a massively positive story for the world game. “The ICC and all the national boards talk a lot about the importance of protecting the integrity of Test cricket. If it is that important, then we should look to improve it, and in my view including Ireland would improve it.” Ireland reached the Super Eight stage of the 2007 World Cup, beating Pakistan and Bangladesh in addition to a memorable tie with England, and also qualified for the World Twenty20 in 2009 and 2010. Gillespie added: “Ireland are ticking all the boxes. They’ve punched well above their weight in limited-overs tournaments. “Think of the list of names who’ve plied their trade in English domestic cricket and who have even played for England. It would make a decent Test side. “I don’t see why it couldn’t happen. Eoin Morgan is obviously with England full-time now but, apart from him, you’ve got Ed Joyce (Sussex), William Porterfield, Boyd Rankin (both Warwickshire), George Dockrell (Somerset), Peter Chase (Durham).” Surrey captain Gary Wilson, Middlesex opener Paul Stirling and brothers Niall and Kevin O’Brien are also among the Irish contingent to make their way in the county game. Former Australia paceman Jason Gillespie has called for Ireland to be elevated to the Test cricket ranks.
The display led o nlookers to suggest – not for the first time – that Pochettino’s attack-minded philosophy was foolhardy in such a match, yet midfielder Dembele defended his manager’s tactics. “We’ve played some games against the top teams where we played unbelievable attacking football,” the Belgium international said. “We don’t have to change anything at the moment because we are capable of beating the big teams. “We didn’t do it at Old Trafford and that game was different from what we are used to, but we are playing well. We have shown this season what we can do against the big sides. “We want to end the season in a good rhythm. Has our chance of a top-four finish gone? We don’t need to think like that otherwise we could become demotivated. Let’s try to win all our remaining games and see where we end. “We have three more full days before the Leicester game to concentrate. We have a good group and a good mentality so I hope we bounce back at the right moment.” Mauricio Pochettino’s first season at the White Hart Lane helm has been fairly successful to date, having led Spurs to the Capital One Cup final and a shot at Champions League qualification. However, their chances of a top-four finish were harmed on Sunday as a first-half collapse saw the north Londoners fall to a 3-0 defeat at Old Trafford. Mousa Dembele does not believe Tottenham should alter their attacking mindset, despite crumbling against Manchester United. Press Association
Joe Schmidt’s men ended Wales’ title bid with their four-try triumph at Murrayfield, before biting their fingernails to the quick while cheering on France in their Twickenham clash against England. Ireland set England the challenge of beating France by a 26-point margin to claim the title – Stuart Lancaster’s men did prevail against Les Bleus, but came up six points short owing to a 55-35 scoreline that sent the title to Dublin. Robbie Henshaw was unable to cap Tommy Bowe’s fine break with a score from the off, but Ireland kept the move alive and after several tight phases O’Connell sneaked round a ruck to claim the try. The veteran Munster lock became Ireland’s oldest-ever try-scorer in the process, at 35 years and 152 days, easily surpassing Fred Gardiner’s 34 years and 293 days in scoring against France in March 1909. Ireland sustained the attacking impetus, with Sexton adding a penalty to his conversion to extend the visitors’ lead to 10-0. Scotland stymied Ireland’s points drive however, grinding their way to a foothold in the contest before captain Greig Laidlaw slotted a penalty. Payne was fortunate to avoid a yellow card for his aerial challenge on Adam Ashe but the penalty allowed Scotland further possession and territory. Rory Best won a fine turnover penalty however, before Henshaw and Luke Fitzgerald combined to good effect once more. And when Devin Toner took a lineout at the tail, flanker O’Brien raced around the back and beat Scotland’s scant cover to claim the second try. The Leinster loose-forward’s first Test score since November 2013 cemented Ireland’s dominance in an understandably loose contest. Rob Kearney misjudged a clever grubber, flailing at the loose ball to allow Stuart Hogg to sneak in – and from the next phase fly-half Russell raced over for his first Test score. Sexton converted a scrum penalty, though, to put his side 20-10 to the good at half-time. Ireland laid siege to Scotland’s whitewash after the restart, but settled for a penalty from which Sexton pushed their lead to 13. Ireland hardly had to wait for their third try, Ulster centre Payne crashing over on a hard cut-back line. Schmidt’s men destroyed Scotland in the scrum, Henshaw powered over the gain-line after the penalty lineout and Payne delivered from midfield. Tactical kicking put Ireland back on the attack, and when Scotland killed the ball all too cheaply Sexton had a routine chance to secure the coveted buffer from the tee. The dependable fly-half inexplicably struck the right-hand post however, leaving Ireland still one point shy of edging ahead of Wales on points difference. Prop Geoff Cross was then sin-binned as referee Jerome Garces lost patience with Scotland’s continued infringements b ut Sexton again failed to convert from the tee, nerves clearly wracking his normally-assured goal-kicking. Sexton had his third chance and finally recovered his nerve and Ireland moved 33-10 ahead just past the hour thanks to Sexton’s fourth penalty, before O’Brien’s second try stretched that advantage. Hogg dropped the ball in the act of attempting to score for Scotland in a late let-off for the Irish. Madigan had the chance to stretch the lead still further with a final shot at goal, but dragged his effort wide. Captain Paul O’Connell set Ireland on their way with his first Test try in nine years, before Sean O’Brien’s brace and a further score from Jared Payne wrapped up a fourth victory in the campaign. Wales had kept their title claims alive earlier on Saturday by thrashing Italy 61-20 in Rome, as the Six Nations went down to a points-difference scrap for another year. Ireland secured victory by greater than 20 points however, to overshadow Wales’ cushion and set England that 26-point target for glory in the final game of Saturday’s triple-header. Should two teams share the same points-difference, the title would be decided on tries scored – England already led Ireland on that front 11 to eight, so only needed to level the Irish’s points buffer. Ireland’s victory condemned Scotland to their 33rd Wooden Spoon, and their third tournament whitewash in 11 years, despite a first Test try for Finn Russell. Johnny Sexton missed two gilt-edged penalty chances to move Ireland into a commanding points-difference lead in the second half as the nerves hit home. The Racing Metro man recovered his poise to deliver from the tee however, before O’Brien’s second score sealed a victory sufficient to heap the pressure on England. Replacement Ian Madigan also missed a last-gasp shot at goal – meaning Ireland let nine points go begging in Edinburgh. Press Association Ireland tiptoed their way to successive RBS 6 Nations titles for the first time since 1949, sneaking past England on points-difference after beating Scotland 40-10.