He went on: “You can look around at other people, but it’s man-in-the-mirror time. No fingers are being pointed. That first win in Cardiff does feel like a long time ago. “Playing for your country is special but you need to get results. You need that buzz, but this feeling is horrible. “You feel like you’ve let everyone down and that’s the worst part. You’re a bit ashamed and that’s the way the players were in the dressing room. “No one was eyeballing each other, everyone’s just scurrying around the place. It’s a horrible way to spend the next few weeks.” Ireland dominated territory and possession by 71% and 77%, while Scotland’s tackle count was 128 to their 44, yet they still left Edinburgh with a chastening defeat. Next up are winless France, their nemesis over the past decade, in what has become a must-win encounter. “It’s a hard defeat to take, a hugely disappointing one. We’re gutted and feel a bit empty,” O’Callaghan said. “When you have that much territory and possession, you have to come away with more. But we were confident at half-time that we’d knocked some of the wind out of them. When winning moments are there you have to be good enough to take them, but we came up short in that.” Donnacha O’Callaghan admitted Ireland felt “a bit ashamed” by Sunday’s 12-8 RBS 6 Nations defeat to Scotland at Murrayfield. Four penalties from Greig Laidlaw sent the Irish crashing to their second defeat of the championship, destroying any faint hope they had of challenging for the title. O’Callaghan insisted the players should only look at themselves for an explanation of their latest implosion, and said: “This will dent our confidence and we must be honest with each other. It wasn’t good enough by us today. We’re not at Test level to learn, but to win.” Press Association
He added: “We had some really good chances that we didn’t convert and then they went 1-0 up through a pretty lucky goal. But it was a really good comeback, Andy has got another goal for us so in the end a point is very satisfying when you have gone a goal down and haven’t scored as many away from home as we have. “I think that was only our 10th goal away from home. It has brought us a point and one nearer to the magic 40. We have six games to go, with four at home and two away, so we will see where we will finish.” Saints boss Pochettino cut a slightly more frustrated figure than Allardyce, although was pleased by his side’s performance in wet and windy conditions. “We had a feeling we could win the game, but were not able to,” the Argentinian said. “We put in a big effort to get the three points and conceded very quickly after we scored. “It was hard to play on a pitch that was so wet against an opponent that are physically very strong, so overall I think we did a very good job against them. I congratulate my players because they did quite well in conditions that actually favoured the rivals’ style of play. “Even though the conditions favoured them, we actually played well. I think we played the game as we wanted and should have. We imposed our brand of football. “I think we defended well, nullified their style of play and cancelled them out. It is just a shame about the result because our performance was really good.” Press Association West Ham manager Sam Allardyce and Southampton counterpart Mauricio Pochettino were both satisfied by the way in which their sides earned a point in a 1-1 draw in wretched conditions. The Saints were on course for victory when Gaston Ramirez fired them ahead in the second half. That lead lasted just seven minutes, though, as Andy Carroll struck home via a slight deflection off Steven Davis to earn a share of the spoils. “I am happy with a point in the end,” visiting boss Allardyce said. “I thought we were more than comfortable. Our away goals have been our big problem all season and I think the chances we created today, it looked like we wouldn’t score again.”
Patrice Evra expects a physical bombardment even tougher than the one he faced at Stoke on Sunday when Manchester United tackle West Ham at Upton Park. Press Association He added: “That is the Sam Allardyce style. Why would he change it? Not because he is playing against Manchester United. “We have to defend well and be strong in the air. That is what we have done against Stoke, although to be fair, it will maybe be tougher against West Ham.” Evra was certainly delighted with the manner of United’s 2-0 victory at the weekend, claiming it was the reaction they required after that Old Trafford derby defeat. It also presented Robin van Persie with the opportunity to break his 10-game barren streak, which he celebrated by leaping into the arms of his manager. The Dutchman’s reaction has created a great deal of hilarity in the United dressing room too, where it has been one of the chief topics of conversation. Not that Evra dare a repeat. “No chance. Never,” said the France defender. “Maybe I will do it with my team-mates. But not with the gaffer. He is older. “Imagine I go in too strong against him. He could fall, then he might sack me. I will never do that.” Evra could barely keep a straight face as he delivered his assessment of Van Persie’s reaction, adding: “Robin has had a lot of stick from us. It was nice. I could see a lot of love and emotion. It is the first time we saw that. Robin can tell you, for two or three days we have been getting at him. It is good to see love like that on the pitch sometimes.” The Red Devils head south requiring just seven more points to clinch a record 20th championship, but he knows better than to expect an easy time against the Hammers, whose fans take particular pleasure in making the Red Devils squirm. “At West Ham we have to be ready for the battle, like we were ready against Stoke,” he said. “We know the challenge when you play Sam Allardyce’s team. They always knock the ball into the box and put a lot of crosses in.”
Press Association The 21-year-old, who spent time on loan at QPR during their relegation campaign, was replaced in Stuart Pearce’s party by Birmingham’s Nathan Redmond. It is understood Townsend has not been accused of betting on any matches he played in. Therefore it is not a match-fixing case, but the FA is taking the alleged breach seriously and has invited Townsend to respond. Tottenham winger Andros Townsend has pulled out of the England Under-21 squad for this summer’s European Championship in Israel after being charged by the Football Association with betting offences. The FA said in a statement: “The FA has announced it has charged Andros Townsend in relation to alleged breaches of its rules governing misconduct and betting. “The Tottenham Hotspur player has been charged with breaches of Rule E8 (b) in relation to a number of betting offences. The player has until 3 June to respond to the charges.” The specific rule he is alleged to have broken specifies that players must not bet “either directly or indirectly, or instruct, permit, cause or enable any person to bet on” any “result, progress or conduct of a match or competition” in which they participate or have participated in during a season, or in which they have any influence. For example, a player who appears in the first round of the FA Cup would not be permitted to wager on the outcome of the final. The rule also forbids players gambling on any other matter involving a competition in which have have participated in during a season – “including, for example and without limitation, the transfer of players, employment of managers, team selection or disciplinary matters”. Players, and all club employees, are deemed by the FA rules to participate in matches involving a club while they are employed by that club, whether they take to the field or not. The FA, which has given no details of the exact breach in this case, added: “Townsend will receive the full support of the FA and Tottenham Hotspur FC in seeking rehabilitation whilst responding to the allegations.” Townsend is a product of the Tottenham academy who has had loan spells with a host of clubs, including Ipswich, Millwall, Leeds and Birmingham, while attempting to make his mark at White Hart Lane. His representatives declined to comment on the FA charges.
“I think he is still ambitious, still driven and sees the potential of the club as he looks forward and I think he is very excited by that. We have a great relationship and he has a great relationship with the board as well. So, quietly and at the right time I think we will make an announcement on that when things are all put in place.” Wenger has always stated he would honour his contract, and that any negotiations on a possible future deal must not distract from efforts of the team to bring to an end what is fast approaching a decade without silverware. “We have got a lot of confidence in Arsene that he is the right person to take the club forward and I think he will want to do that,” Gazidis said. “We think we have got a fantastic manager who has seen us through moving to a new stadium, which is for many clubs a difficult period, with consistency and so we think we have got the right person to make the kinds of choices and decisions that we are going to have over this really significant period of the club’s development.” Despite Arsenal maintaining their remarkable record of finishing within the top four once again, Gazidis accepts that on its own cannot be enough. Arsenal crashed out of the Capital One Cup to Bradford, and then lost in the FA Cup at home to Blackburn, with their European hopes ended by Bayern Munich despite a valiant second-leg win in Germany. “We want to be competing at the top of the game and in order to do that you have to be in the Champions League, so we are pleased to (have) qualified, or at least, for the qualification games,” he said. “But it is not ultimately where we want to be with moving the club forward. We want to be a club that is competing at the very top end of the game and that means competing to win the Premier League and competing to win the Champions League.” Gazidis added: “The critical thing now as we look ahead over the next season and the season after is our developing financial capability which will give us a lot more options than in recent years.” Wenger, 63, is heading towards the final season of his current contract and has been linked with taking charge at big-spending Ligue 1 side Paris St-Germain. However, after helping guide Arsenal back into a top-four finish in the Barclays Premier League, Gazidis is in no doubt Wenger remains the right man for the club. “We think we have got a fantastic manager. We hope that he wants to do what he is doing for the long term. I believe he does,” Gazidis told journalists from the Highbury House board room. Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis is confident manager Arsene Wenger still has the desire to drive the Gunners on to success once more – and is in it for “the long term”. Press Association
Press Association Luiten followed his victory in the Lyoness Open in Austria with a share of 10th place in Munich last weekend and a third round of 66 at Carton House maintained his superb run of form. Six birdies and no bogeys saw the 27-year-old finish 13 under par – one shot ahead of Spain’s Pablo Larrazabal, who also carded a flawless 66 – with England’s Robert Rock two shots back after a 71. Former world number three Paul Casey, currently ranked 169th after struggling for form and fitness, is a shot further back after a 67 left him nine under alongside Scotland’s Scott Henry, who followed his course-record 64 on Friday with a 69. Ireland’s hopes of a home winner faded as 2009 winner Shane Lowry fell eight shots off the pace with a 74 after major winners Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell, Padraig Harrington and Darren Clarke had all missed the halfway cut. Fellow Irishman Peter Lawrie fared a little better, carding a 67 to finish on six under. “I don’t really care who is behind me, as long as they stay behind me,” Luiten said. “You still have to go out and make some birdies, be patient and take it one shot at a time. “It’s always good to have a win under your belt. You can go a little bit more for the win. You have nothing to lose so that’s how I am going to go out tomorrow. “I’ve been working on my swing for a long time and am finally fully fit after a shoulder problem which meant I couldn’t practise as much on the range. It has been good for a couple of months and feels really good now.” Larrazabal, who had four top-six finishes in five events earlier this season but has not tasted victory since 2011, said: “I tried to push and make birdies and that’s what I did on the front nine. “I love to play in Scotland, England, Wales and Ireland, they are the best crowds in the world. When you’re playing well it’s a pleasure to be playing this game.” Holland’s Joost Luiten will take a narrow lead into the final round of the Irish Open as he seeks a second European Tour win in three events.
Nemanja Vidic played for an hour as a second-string Manchester United side won 2-0 at Crewe. The Portugal international, who has been suffering with a broken nose, slotted in a first-half free-kick and then tucked away a second goal after the break. The Serbian defender missed United’s tour of Australia and the Far East with a back complaint but came through 62 minutes untroubled at Gresty Road. There were also run-outs for Nani and Antonio Valencia who both missed the trip, with Nani scoring both goals. Press Association
Goals from Oscar and Frank Lampard, who also had a penalty saved, saw Mourinho’s men triumph in an incident-packed match which saw goal-line technology employed in the top flight for the first time when Allan McGregor saved from Branislav Ivanovic. Although enthused by the Blues’ first-half performance, Mourinho is keen to bolster his squad and is prepared to wait until the September 2 transfer window deadline for Rooney, for whom Chelsea have already had two bids rejected. Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho hinted at a further bid for Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney after celebrating his Stamford Bridge return with a 2-0 defeat of Barclays Premier League newcomers Hull. Press Association “We will try until the last day to add a new player to the squad, a striker, but in this moment every striker has a club, every striker belongs to somebody and I don’t think it’s ethical that I name players that belong to other clubs,” Mourinho said. “We don’t try, like many clubs do, to go around and try to influence players to behave in a certain way. If we have to make a bid, we make it in an official way, we don’t speak to players, we speak to clubs.” Rooney featured as a substitute for Manchester United at Swansea on Saturday and cut an isolated figure at times as the holders began their title defence with a 4-1 win. Chelsea showed they will be vying with United, who they play a week on Monday, for a first championship since 2009/10, but only after Mourinho was welcomed back to Stamford Bridge after a near six-year absence. Mourinho called for the supporters to now turn their attentions to the team in Wednesday’s clash with Aston Villa. “The reception was amazing,” said the self-proclaimed Special One, who acknowledge the adulation by blowing kisses. “I was expecting that because I played here with Inter as an opponent and it was fantastic, so I could imagine that coming to the Chelsea dugout would be like that. “But when the game started I focused on the game. From now on they have to support the team. We need that every game, especially Wednesday, because we have a very difficult opponent on Wednesday.” Lampard had a penalty saved by McGregor in the sixth-minute as Chelsea made a fast start, before Oscar’s well-worked opener and the England midfielder’s blistering second, a 30-yard free-kick. Mourinho was even content that his team’s powers waned in the second half. “I’m very happy,” he said. “I played so many times here, I won so many matches here, but we didn’t have so many periods of such fantastic quality like we had (today). “When I saw the second half growing into another destination, at the beginning I was a bit frustrated because I want more. “But after five, 10 minutes I was thinking we didn’t (give more) because we couldn’t – we can’t play that way for 90 minutes. “The three boys behind Fernando (Oscar, Eden Hazard and Kevin de Bruyne) in the first half were fantastic and in the second half they disappeared. All of them they played national team matches. The team, when the creativity disappeared, we lost danger in our game.” Hull boss Steve Bruce admitted it was not possible for his side to live with Chelsea in the opening period. “They were incredible the first 20, 25 minutes,” Bruce said. “With the Special One coming back it was always going to be difficult for us. We’ve got many games to play where we won’t be playing Chelsea every week, thankfully.”
Sunderland manager Paolo Di Canio downplayed an early-morning altercation with drunk Southampton fans at the team hotel. Di Canio revealed the altercation occurred between his staff and three drunk Saints fans after a wedding party, which came just hours before his side’s 1-1 draw on the south coast. “We have to clarify because I don’t want speculation, big headlines,” the Italian said. “Paolo Di Canio always says the truth so you write what I am telling you. “At midnight, we walked out from a meeting room with my staff together. From the first floor we walked downstairs to take the lift to go to the third floor for bed. “Obviously the players went to bed at 10 o’clock or 9.30pm – they were already sleeping. “Once we were close to the lift, we heard loud people shouting. I can’t repeat any of it. “Obviously their behaviour showed they were Southampton fans, but, to be honest, I don’t think they wanted to attack us physically. “They were only three young, drunk guys there after a wedding party that was inside the hotel. “Once we walked inside the lift they arrived in front of the lift and started recording with their mobile phone. Talk in the build-up to the Barclays Premier League clash at St Mary’s revolved around reports of a mass brawl at the Black Cats’ hotel. Hampshire Police confirmed they had attended the Solent Hotel and Spa in Whiteley, near Fareham, just after midnight in response to a report of assault. “I was screaming from behind the staff and we tried to push the third floor button and they tried to stop and kept going. “At that moment, they weren’t really aggressive but we said ‘stop, we must go now, let us go’. “We tried to say stop and push them away and they started to open the door so we said ‘now we call the police’. “They didn’t try to punch us in a clear way but they moved their hands and we stopped them, blocked them. “I asked for the police because it wasn’t fair that people inside the hotel attack, verbally and physically, members of my staff. It wasn’t fair. “We gave our version and the policeman, at 1.30am, knocked on my door again. I don’t know if he loved me. “He asked me to tell him my version and I said ‘listen, I don’t have any problem because to be honest they are only young, they’re drunk’. “It was a stupid moment from silly guys under effect of lots of alcohol. “At the end, there was a fun a moment. They said ‘we are going to win, Rickie Lambert is going to score’ and Fabrizio (Piccareta, Sunderland assistant manager) said ‘no, tomorrow we’re going to win’. It finished like this. “No footballers, no fight. This is the real situation and the way it happened.” Press Association
Lukaku, 20, has scored just once since the end of November but comfortably remains Everton’s top scorer with nine league goals. Martinez expects to see a newly-refreshed and determined player when West Ham visit on Saturday. “As a number nine he is as complete as you are going to get in world football. Something which is a rare breed – to have such a talented footballer having that target man role,” said the Toffees boss. “When you look at his age you are quite surprised by the package he brings. “When you see him as a player you build a perception of a strong target man who is good with his back to goal and you get such a shock when you speak to him about football. “He is a very intelligent man who wants to understand the game and I’ve been very impressed by how he approaches the game. “He is good in the box as a number nine, attacks the ball well and is a good finisher, but can use the counter-attack with his pace and ball control. “Romelu has had a terrific season and has a big role to play in our squad.” The Belgium international, on loan from Chelsea, has missed four matches with an ankle injury but his return to fitness could not have been better timed after back-to-back league defeats have left the Toffees 11 points adrift of fourth-placed Liverpool. Everton went into the Merseyside derby at Anfield, in which Lukaku sustained his injury, on January 28 just a point behind their near-neighbours but have dramatically fallen off the pace after losing that match – not helped by the postponement of a home game against Crystal Palace. Striker Romelu Lukaku returns from a month-long lay-off needing to live up to manager Roberto Martinez’s assessment of him being “a complete number nine” if Everton’s season is not to fade in the final third. Martinez admits their recent run of just one win in their last five league matches has dented confidence, especially after last week’s defeat at Chelsea when they played well enough to get at least a draw but conceded a stoppage-time goal. Martinez wants his players to learn lessons from their Chelsea counterparts in terms of getting results when not at their best but is also looking forward to the comfort of a home game. “It is one of those situations where you feel vulnerable as a team and you need a warm feeling – we get that at Goodison,” he added. “What you saw (from Chelsea) on Saturday was the know-how and experience of how to get results without being the better side and that is a great knack which all the winning sides have and it is important we develop that as well. “Over a long period you will not play well every single time but it is important if you can get results when the overall performance does not deserve it.” Everton run into West Ham at the wrong time after Sam Allardyce justified his board’s decision to keep faith with him by guiding his side to a maximum 12 points in February to ease their relegation worries. “West Ham deserve huge credit. I have seen it many times, when you get into a negative run it is difficult to be consistent after that,” said Martinez. “From the outside there is always the perception a team having bad results could end up with a manager losing his job but I think a manager worries about what can be done next. “They have shown that and continuity at the club has paid incredible dividends. “To see they have conceded only one goal in five games and had four straight wins after a good draw at Stamford Bridge shows they are a team in form.” Press Association