Irvine fights to win round sceptics

first_img Victory would move the Baggies level on points with United to underline their revival but Irvine knows their form must continue. He said: “People have been really friendly from day one. I have had West Brom fans coming up to me in all sorts of places and on every occasion they have been extremely friendly, encouraging and complimentary. “I guess it’s harder for them to be rude to my face but they probably wouldn’t come up if that was the case. “I can’t control if the fans like me. I would obviously like them to like me and think I was doing a good job but the only thing which will convince them about that is the results the players get.” The Baggies host Manchester United on Monday after Irvine shrugged off a rocky start to begin to recover at the Hawthorns. Albion have won three of their last four games in all competitions and were unlucky to lose 2-1 at Liverpool last time out in the Barclays Premier League. Alan Irvine has admitted even the West Brom players would have questioned his appointment. The run comes after Irvine failed to win in his first four league games, leading to early rumblings of discontent from Albion fans who had been unconvinced by his arrival. Irvine, who replaced Pepe Mel, has praised his players for their recent form but admitted even they may have needed assurances he was the right man. He said: “The players have been brilliant, from the very start they have been brilliant. It wouldn’t have just been the fans thinking ‘is this the right appointment?’ “I’m quite sure the players would have wondered about that. But from the first day they have been extremely welcoming and unbelievably responsible. “They go around their training in a great way. I do know there’s a good feeling among the players at this time and they are happy with the work they are doing. They are happy we are progressing but they also know we all need to be better. “The fortunate thing from my point of view is they are all pulling in the same direction. Part of my job is to keep them pulling in the same direction.” Irvine was unable to pick his full-strength side in the opening weeks and still has Porto loanee Silvestre Varela out after groin surgery. Victor Anichebe is also a doubt for Monday’s game after hernia trouble but captain Chris Brunt is expected to be fit after he suffered a groin problem on international duty with Northern Ireland. Press Associationlast_img read more

Chiefs too strong for Connacht

first_img After a 30-24 defeat at Bayonne last week, Rob Baxter’s side bounced back in style as tries from Will Chudley, Henry Slade, Damian Welch, D avid Ewers and Ben White secured victory, while Gareth Steenson added four conversions. The Aviva Premiership side now top Pool Two, which is finely poised with all four teams having won one and lost one, by a point. Exeter have a slight advantage over their opponents due to the two contrasting bonus points they have accrued from the opening games. They next face a trip to French side La Rochelle, who beat Bayonne 25-13 on Friday, when the competition resumes on December 4. Greig Laidlaw kicked 20 points as Gloucester marched on in Pool Five with a 25-15 win at Oyonnax. The Scottish scrum-half booted six penalties and converted Matt Kvesic’s second-half try as the Cherry and Whites followed their opening 55-0 triumph over Brive with another win to comfortably remain top of their section. Zebre are next up for Gloucester at Kingsholm and the Aviva Premiership side will already be hot favourites to ease through. In Pool Three, Stade Francais edged Bucharest Wolves 13-9 to get their first win in the competition, thanks to Digby Ioane grabbing the only try of the match and South African Morne Steyn adding eight points with his boot. Cardiff Blues maintained their 100 per cent start in Pool One with an impressive 33-18 win over Italian side Rovigo. The Blues pack was key as Kristian Dacey, Josh Turnbull, Gethin Jenkins, Manoa Vosawai and Macauley Cook all powered over to clinch Cardiff’s second try bonus point. Exeter Chiefs ran in five tries during an impressive 33-13 home victory over Connacht to put their European Challenge Cup campaign back on course.center_img Press Associationlast_img read more

Bruce unhappy about red decision

first_img “For me, the whole spectacle and the result was ruined because of that incident. “The linesman should have a bit more about him. Why not? Now we’re talking about a red card instead of the spectacle. “The big referees, the good ones, the really top ones, have always got, even in my day, a common sense about them. They realise these things happen. “The reason why the spectacle of the Barclays Premier League is loved all round the world is the honesty of it, the integrity of it and the ferocity of it. “People enjoy watching the physical specimen of the Premier League.” Pochettino, whose side were flattered in victory and might easily have been three behind at the interval, denied the sending off had determined the result. “I think it did not have a big impact,” he said. “In the second half our attacking game was better than Hull’s. I’m sure in the end it would have been the same result. “Hull played very well in the first half but we tried to change something at half-time and I’m happy because after we showed character and good mentality. “In the second half we created a lot of chances. The team showed a better mentality and attitude.” Hull boss Steve Bruce bemoaned Gaston Ramirez’s red card after losing to Tottenham, blaming Jan Vertonghen for an over-reaction and the officials for a lack of common sense. Press Association Ramirez might look at his own error in judgement on a miserable full debut for the club, but Bruce instead chose to focus on perceived shortcomings elsewhere. Vertonghen, who had not even been involved in the initial tussle that sent Ramirez to the floor, appeared to be an innocent party but Bruce disagreed. “We talk about diving and allegedly cheating…Vertonghen’s a big strapping, 6ft 2in or 6ft 3in centre-back and he’s rolling around as if he’s been poleaxed and that can’t be healthy for the Premier League,” said Bruce, whose side are tumbling down the table after taking two points from the last 15 available. “That’s the disappointing thing for me, because it is creeping in. “There’s no doubt about it, Ramirez has shown what I would call petulance. Vertonghen has a little go at him which is there for everyone to see, provokes him, and he flicks out at him. “The letter of the law says it’s got to be violent conduct. But he has tapped him on the backside. “If that really, really takes him to the ground I can’t really understand that.” Bruce also felt let down by the verdict of referee Craig Pawson and assistant Peter Kirkup, who saw the incident at close quarters. The Tigers were 1-0 up after Jake Livermore scored against his former club but lost all momentum when Ramirez lashed out at Vertonghen, leaving the hosts to play 40 minutes with 10 men. Harry Kane levelled just after the hour mark, netting his 10th goal of the season and second in the Barclays Premier League, before Christian Eriksen sealed a 2-1 win with a 90th-minute effort. last_img read more

Van Gaal vents after lacklustre win

first_img Van Gaal said “too many” of his players underperformed, but refused to point any fingers. “I think that not only the goals are telling something about Robin Van Persie, I think also his performance: he was one of only three players on the pitch of Manchester United who were good, or maybe very good,” said Van Gaal. “He had a great influence on the result. Until now that is his best performance. “Too many players were not good. “There was a range of course between good and bad, but they were not good. “Normally you have six, seven, eight who are good and three in that other range. “But today there were too many players in that range who were not good, I believe.” Saints levelled through Graziano Pelle, but slipped to their third consecutive defeat, leaving manager Koeman furious “the better team” lost. Van Gaal offered a thinly-veiled barb at his long-term adversary, taking first blood in the Premier League battle against his former friend. Van Gaal once mentored Koeman into coaching at Barcelona, but the pair’s feud has now lasted 10 years. “Of course if you are the better team you deserve more, but believe me it is always the goals that are counting,” said Van Gaal. “When we played the first six or seven matches, we never won and we were always the better team. “In that time I didn’t say anything about that. You have to learn that also.” Koeman was left to rue another defeat against high-profile opponents, after the 3-0 home loss to Manchester City and 1-0 reverse at Arsenal. The former Holland full-back refused to address Van Gaal or United directly, but admitted “everything is s*** because we lost”. “We did everything, we created chances, but we made mistakes as well,” said Koeman. “Maybe they made more mistakes than us, but they have players who handle those kinds of mistakes, and that was the difference. “Because on football and chances, I think we deserved more. “It’s easy in my opinion, we did not lose against Man United tonight, we lost by ourselves. “Of course it’s always difficult, because you’re the better team, and again you have to fight against 1-2 down. “After that moment I think we didn’t play well, but that’s the difference. “At this level, detail makes the difference in football. “The score is 1-2 and you can talk much longer about who played football, which team pressed, but everything is s*** because we lost.” The Old Trafford boss questioned former United defender Neville’s credentials in claiming the Red Devils “got away with murder” with a scrappy victory at St Mary’s. Robin van Persie’s double edged United home, with Van Gaal only satisfied with three of his stars’ performances. Neville condemned United’s patchy performance on social media and on Sky Sports, claiming Sunday’s Premier League clash with Liverpool could be “like The Dog and Duck versus The Red Lion”. “The former player of United?” asked Van Gaal when quizzed on England coach Neville’s comments. “That’s an English expression? Hmm: maybe (United got away with murder). “He can say everything because he is an ex-legend, but as an ex-legend, or a legend, you have to know what you are saying. “You can interpret: make an interpretation of that. “It’s not so difficult to make an interpretation, when I say he has to pay attention to his words.” Van Gaal claimed Van Persie’s “best performance” in his short managerial stint at United sealed a victory his side barely deserved. The former Barcelona boss hauled off youngster Paddy McNair in the 39th minute and was forced to rearrange his side with Saints pressing continuously. Press Association Louis van Gaal launched a three-pronged attack on Gary Neville, his own players and long-term foe Ronald Koeman after Manchester United’s 2-1 win at Southampton.last_img read more

Lambert promised January cash

first_img Their contracts expire in the summer and negotiations remain on-going with the key pair. “We’re talking to both players,” Fox told the Birmingham Mail. “Ron has been fantastic for us. We’re looking forward to him coming back and contributing. Our conversations with him are on-going. “It’s the same with Fabian. “It was really unfortunate that he got injured in training because he was having an absolutely fantastic start to the year. “We continue to talk with him. He’s a great young player who has been with us for seven years.” Boss Paul Lambert will be backed in the January transfer window – although Aston Villa will not spend big. Paddy Reilly has been drafted in as the club’s director of recruitment and Fox insisted Lerner is more comfortable providing cash with a long-term goal in mind. He said: “If there’s someone in January we think can benefit us in the short term and the long term, then the owner is prepared to fund that. “I think he’s much more confident in the process around identifying who that player would be and how that player would fit into the long term planning of the squad. “Randy is very realistic. The club had some success early in Randy’s time here but actually it was playing in a bit of a false position because the league was already changing back then “I don’t think we were positioning ourselves as a club well for that. “Randy was spending money then but what he didn’t have then was a line of sight as to ‘if I spend that money how is it going to pay back in the future?’ “We didn’t really have the set-up to really help us capture our commercial value at the time. That’s different now.” Fox has also not given up hope of convincing skipper Ron Vlaar and Fabian Delph, who has broken into the England squad this season, to stay at Villa. Chief executive Tom Fox has revealed chairman Randy Lerner, who put the club up for sale in May, is prepared to fund signings. Lerner is understood to have a new lease of life at Villa, despite looking for a buyer over the summer. Press Associationlast_img read more

Long snatches draw for Saints

first_img Tadic scooped over the bar in first-half injury time before a blistering start to the second period put the Magpies in front. First Maya Yoshida should have grabbed a second for Saints when his effort from close-range somehow ricocheted to safety off the out-stretched leg of a diving Krul. And the hosts seized their second chance by pouring straight up to the other end where Gabriel Obertan crossed from the right for Wijnaldum to power past Stekelenburg. The goal gave Newcastle some semblance of control although their momentum was hit when Vurnon Anita was stretchered off just past the hour-mark after falling awkwardly following a fair challenge from Mane. And new striker Aleksandar Mitrovic certainly made an impression when he was booked for a scything challenge on Matt Targett less than a minute after coming on to replace Cisse 15 minutes from time. Saints capitalised when Long rose above another static home rearguard to head his side’s second from an inch-perfect Tadic cross – but they will leave the north-east disappointed after Mane’s two near-misses at the end. TWEET OF THE MATCH “Good Luck for the Boys! #NEWSOU. Total confidence in the Staff and Players! #WeMarchOn” Injured Southampton boss Ronald Koeman (@RonaldKoeman) was feeling positive about the match PLAYER RATINGS Newcastle: Tim Krul: 7 (out of 10) Fabricio Coloccini: 7 Jack Colback: 7 Gini Wijnaldum: 8 Moussa Sissoko: 6 Vurnon Anita: 6 Papiss Cisse: 7 Gabriel Obertan: 6 Chancel Mbemba: 5 Massadio Haidara: 7 Daryl Janmaat: 6 Subs: Cheick Tiote: 6 Aleksandar Mitrovic: 6 Siem De Jong: 6 Southampton: Maarten Stekelenburg: 6 Cedric Soares: 7 Maya Yoshida: 7 Jose Fonte: 7 Steven Davis: 8 Jay Rodriguez: 6 Sadio Mane: 6 Dusan Tadic: 8 Victor Wanyama: 6 Graziano Pelle: 7 Matt Targett: 6 Subs: Cuco Martina: 6 Shane Long: 7 STAR PLAYER: Gini Wijnaldum: The Newcastle new boy was a solid presence throughout, marshalling the Magpies’ midfield and exuding plenty of promise for the season ahead. His goal – a powerful header from Gabriel Obertan’s 48th minute cross – was everything he deserved for an impressive performance. MOMENT OF THE MATCH The game turned on its head in a spectacular 30-minute spell early in the second half. First Tim Krul somehow managed to save Maya Yoshida’s point-blank effort – then the Magpies streamed upfield where Obertan crossed for Wijnaldum to put the hosts in front. VIEW FROM THE BENCH McClaren will have been quietly encouraged by his side’s sense of urgency – and in particular Wijnaldum’s impressive debut. For Saints assistant Erwin Koeman – replacing his injured brother Ronald – delight at getting back in the match will have been tempered by Mane’s two late misses. MOAN OF THE MATCH There was no disputing Newcastle striker Aleksandar Mitrovic was keen to make an immediate impression on his debut. But his scything challenge on Matt Targett which earned him a yellow card less than a minute after replacing Papiss Cisse in the 75th minute was wholly unnecessary. WHO’S UP NEXT? Swansea v Newcastle (Premier League, Saturday 15 August) Southampton v Everton (Premier League, Saturday 15 August) And it could have been worse for McClaren who watched Saints striker Sadio Mane miss two glorious chances to win it in the dying seconds. First Mane saw a shot blocked by Jack Colback and deep into injury time another clear effort drifted inches wide of the beaten Tim Krul’s right-hand post. Wijnaldum will have impressed McClaren from the start, whipping in a dangerous second-minute free-kick then missing another golden opportunity when his shot was headed clear by Steven Davis. The visitors, bossed for the day by Erwin Koeman with brother Ronald at home nursing an Achilles injury, started slowly with Tim Krul saving their best early chance from new signing Cedric Soares. But they snatched the lead in the 25th minute when the impressive Cedric crossed from deep on the right and Pelle out-jumped the somewhat static Chancel Mbemba to power his header past Krul. Saints survived a second handball shout on the half-hour after Cisse spurned a fine opportunity to level for Newcastle, then Rodriguez almost marked his return with a second for Saints as he sent a looping header just over. Davis came to Saints’ rescue once again in the 37th minute when he booted a Fabricio Coloccini effort off the line, but Newcastle’s increased momentum brought them a deserved equaliser three minutes before the break. There was an element of good fortune about the goal, with Massadio Haidara’s cross taking a big deflection off Mane and catching out keeper Maarten Stekelenburg, allowing Cisse to bundle home from point-blank range. Southampton substitute Shane Long headed a late equaliser to deny Steve McClaren a winning Barclays Premier League start in charge of Newcastle. Goals from Papiss Cisse and new boy Gini Wijnaldum had put the Magpies in command after Graziano Pelle’s 24th-minute opener for the visitors at St James’ Park. But Long – a 65th-minute replacement for Jay Rodriguez, who was making his first top-flight appearance since April 2014 – rose to power home a cross from the Dusan Tadic with 11 minutes to go to ensure a 2-2 draw. Press Associationlast_img read more

Paul O’Connell backed to shine at Toulon following World Cup injury heartache

first_img O’Connell’s long-time Ireland and Munster team-mate Donnacha Ryan tipped his good friend to extend his playing days for at least two more years. Ireland captain O’Connell’s World Cup and Test career came to an abrupt end in Sunday’s 24-9 victory over France, the 35-year-old carried from the field on a stretcher and in considerable pain. Paul O’Connell has been backed to fight back from hamstring surgery and forge a formidable end to his career at Toulon. “There’s no point in feeling sorry for yourself, so he just gets on with it, and he knows what he has to do now. “It was great chatting away with him, he’s still slagging away, so things don’t change too much! “Everything moves very fast, so that’s good.” O’Connell thumped the Millennium Stadium turf in agony, aware straight away his hamstring injury would end his 108-cap Test career. Ireland must now face Argentina in Sunday’s World Cup quarter-final without their talisman and skipper, with Ryan poised to start in the second row. Ryan believes Ireland have already started to work out the strategy of how to cope without O’Connell, Peter O’Mahony and the banned Sean O’Brien this weekend. But the 31-year-old admitted it was cruel fate to see O’Connell forced to depart the Millennium Stadium in a wheelchair on Sunday night. “It was devastating to see from up in the stands,” said Ryan. “He went in to poach for a ball and obviously lads came in to ruck him out, and came down over the top of him. “You could see immediately from his face that he was wincing in pain and he would only rarely do that, even at the worst of times. “And it’s very sad to think the final image of Paul O’Connell in an Irish jersey would be him in a wheelchair, being taken out the back of the stadium. That was very sad. “But he is still, and always will be, a fantastic player. “He’s the best in the world, and the best compliment I could pass him is that every time I was playing with him, I was never really occupied with my opposite number. “It was more a question of trying to match the player alongside me and try to perform the same as he was. I knew that if I did, I’d be in a good place. “He’ll be sorely missed but he’s still a great mate so we’ll see him again soon.” The Munster stalwart must now beat his nasty injury in order to take up his new deal at Cote d’Azur heavyweights Toulon – but Ryan is adamant his long-term role model will pull it off. “He’s got another two years in his career,” said Ryan of O’Connell. “He’s actually in incredible nick, so he could probably keep going for another five! “He’s a very smart guy so I think he’ll be successful in whatever he turns his hand to, be that coaching or anything else. “He’s a very keen student on every aspect of life, a very interesting individual. “So I think he’d be a fantastic coach if he wanted to go down that route, but there’s a lot more mileage for him to do in the meantime. “I think he’ll still be flying through it in another two years’ time, so who knows what he’ll want to do then. “He’s been great since the injury, he was obviously very disappointed but he’s a very much next thing kind of guy, he wants to get on with it, you know the story. Press Associationlast_img read more

Harry Kane ready to get back on the goal trail with Tottenham

first_img He was carrying a knock on his knee which he picked up in the recent draw at Liverpool but he came off the bench to miss two gilt-edged opportunities in Brussels. His knee was still strapped up at Bournemouth but, with Tottenham’s next game not until next Monday night against Aston Villa, Kane insists he will not face any sort of spell on the sidelines. When asked if he is fully fit, Kane said: “Not far off. “It was a little niggle I picked up against Liverpool towards the end of the game. We didn’t want to risk it in midweek, the manager makes his decision on who wants to play but I was fully fit for today. “I was always going to be playing and it showed with the performance. The strapping was just a precaution, we haven’t got a game for eight days now so by then it should be 100 per cent.” Manager Eddie Howe refused to blame anyone for Sunday’s loss despite the glaring errors from ex-Southampton goalkeeper Boruc. The 35-year-old keeper also felt he was not the only one at fault and suggested the whole team now need to work hard as they prepare for next weekend’s south-coast derby against his former club. “Some people say that but that isn’t how it is,” he said when asked if he was to blame for the goals conceded. “Talking is not going to do any good to me just now. As a football club we need to take our a**** back to the training ground and work hard on some of the things we need to do. “I will get down to the training ground and try and prove myself – I have nothing more to say.” Press Association Harry Kane believes his hat-trick at Bournemouth on Sunday could set him on a path to emulating the kind of goalscoring feats he achieved last season. But Tottenham were soon in the ascendancy as Kane levelled from the spot having been tripped by Boruc, with Mousa Dembele putting them ahead shortly afterwards. Boruc then spilt a tame Kane cross into the path of Erik Lamela, who made it 3-1 before half-time. The Polish goalkeeper could do nothing about Kane’s second as the forward latched onto a marvellous ball from Christian Eriksen – but he was culpable once again as he spooned Toby Alderweireld’s header right into Kane’s path to present the 22-year-old with his hat-trick. Kane’s only other goal before Sunday was in the 4-1 win over Manchester City but, having scored 31 goals last season, he is now ready to kick on for the rest of this campaign. “Yes, definitely,” he replied when asked if this kind of performance had been in the offing. “I feel I have been playing well all season. Sometimes as a striker you need a bit of luck to come your way and I got that today and you have got to be ready to take your chances when they come. “I’m delighted to get the three goals and get the ball rolling so overall it is a good day.” Kane has emerged as Mauricio Pochettino’s undisputed first-choice forward over the last year but was only a substitute for Thursday night’s Europa League defeat to Anderlecht. The England striker helped himself to three goals in Tottenham’s 5-1 cruise at Bournemouth – whose goalkeeper Artur Boruc was left red-faced after a number of blunders. The Cherries took a first-minute lead at the Vitality Stadium as Matt Ritchie flashed an effort past Hugo Lloris. last_img read more

Newcastle boss Steve McClaren: Moussa Sissoko fine to face Foxes

first_imgNewcastle manager Steve McClaren insists Moussa Sissoko is in the “right frame of mind” to play against Leicester on Saturday despite the recent terror attacks in France. Sissoko was on the bench in France’s 2-0 win over Germany which was overshadowed by the deadly events in Paris last Friday. The French national anthem will be observed ahead of each Barclays Premier League match this weekend in tribute to the 130 people who were killed while players will also wear black armbands. But McClaren believes Sissoko, despite being shaken by the events, is ready to play. “Moussa has been fine and he’s in the right frame of mind to play,” insisted McClaren ahead of their clash match against the high-flying Foxes at St James’ Park. “It shook him, but we’ve spoken to him and consulted him on what’s happening tomorrow.” Sissoko, who featured as a late substitute for Les Bleus against England in midweek, is one of seven French players in Newcastle’s squad, and McClaren revealed they are helping each other come to terms with the traumatic attacks on their country. “They’re dealing with it amongst themselves,” said McClaren. “They come together and share a lot of things together as they have shared the grief over what happened last weekend. “It’s a case of showing solidarity and hopefully the game will honour those who died in Paris. What happened over the weekend is unique and should bring everybody together because it’s a world issue.” Newcastle will be looking to secure their first back-to-back victories in almost a year after their 1-0 win at Bournemouth ahead of the international break. They face a Leicester side who are third in the table and a striker in Jamie Vardy who could match Ruud van Nistelrooy’s record of scoring in 10 consecutive Premier League games. But Vardy, who missed both of England’s friendly matches against Spain and France with a hip injury, is a doubt for Leicester’s trip to the north east. And asked if he would be happy if Vardy fails to play, McClaren replied: “Absolutely, and we’ll be honest about that. “We have to be prepared for him to play but if he doesn’t we know that Leicester have got some very good players in addition to Vardy. “He’s a player I came across when I was at Derby. To come through from non-league, to keep the belief and keep going like he has shows that it can be done. I t shows what you can achieve if you never give up, never stop trying and never stop believing. “With the right breaks you can make it, and he’s a perfect example of that.” Press Associationlast_img read more

FPL planning to lower customer bills amid pandemic

first_imgOn Monday, Florida Power & Light Company has announced they will lower bills for customers due to the coronavirus pandemic.If approved by the Florida Public Service Commission, starting on May 1, FPL plans to issue a “one-time decrease of nearly 25% for the typical residential customer bill.”The company said the decision comes as a result of lower fuel costs. Business owners will also see a decrease in their bills, dependent by rate class.last_img