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                                | pdf edition | Saturday January 28 2012                                                                       Sport
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Police investigate death threat against
Anton Ferdinand
Spent gun cartridge sent to Queens Park Rangers • Ferdinand to face John Terry for first time since league meeting   Page 2




Tottenham in last 16 after Rafael van der
Vaart goal sinks Watford
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Hotspur+%28Football%29%2CWatford+%28Football%29%2CSport%2CFA+Cup%2CFootball&c5=Unclassified%2CPremier+League&c6=Jamie+Jac

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Pakistan v England, day four — over-by-
over report
Email your thoughts to tom.lutz@guardian.co.uk • Press F5 to refresh this page or use our auto-refresher   Page 3




Novak Djokovic                                      Australia thrash                                      Manchester United                   Victoria Azarenka
braced for another                                  India to complete                                     agree to loan striker              primed for Maria
physical battle against                           series whitewash in                                    Mame Biram Diouf to                 Sharapova in ‘scream-
Rafael Nadal Page 4                               Adelaide Page 6                                       Hannover Page 6                     queen’ final Page 7

Arsenal and England                               Scarlets prop Rhys                                    Marouane Fellaini                 Ally McCoist
setback as Jack                                     Thomas comfortable                                    rises above Fulham to              dismisses stories he
Wilshere could miss                               after emergency heart                                  steer Everton home in               could walk away from
entire season Page 5                                surgery Page 6                                         FA Cup Page 7                       Rangers Page 8




guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2007                                                                                                        guardian.co.uk
Registered in England and Wales. No. 908396. Registered office: Number 1 Scott Place, Manchester M3 3GG
Page 2 G24 Sport                                                                 Saturday January 28 2012             06:26 GMT

                                                                    depleted by injury, has no qualms about selecting the player. “It
                                                                    could change from one day to the next – Anton could wake up
Police investigate death threat against                             in the morning, think: ‘What’s the big deal?’ and shake hands,”
Anton Ferdinand                                                     Hughes said. “Or he might feel strongly about it and decide he
                                                                    definitely won’t. I don’t know if he will shake hands. I’m not
• Spent gun cartridge sent to Queens Park                           Anton.
Rangers • Ferdinand to face John Terry for                              “I like to think I can judge if a player is ready to play on a
                                                                    Saturday and he’s given me no sign that anything is weighing
first time since league meeting
                                                                    heavily on him. He wants to play and his team-mates want him
Dominic Fifield                                                    to play. He’ll get support from them and from me so that will be
                                                                    enough and, obviously, our fans will back him wholeheartedly.”
Anton Ferdinand was the target of a death threat on the eve of
                                                                        Terry will enter the arena braced for a hostile reception from
Saturday’s potentially explosive west London derby against
                                                                    the home supporters even if Chelsea’s manager is confident
Chelsea [http://tinyurl.com/5ybu55]. Hammersmith and
                                                                    he will thrive in the volatile atmosphere. “The top players
Fulham police are investigating a letter, containing a spent gun
                                                                    have this ability to concentrate fully on the task they have in a
cartridge, which was received by Queens Park Rangers and is
                                                                    game,” said Villas-Boas. “I have no doubts about him.
understood to have been addressed to the defender.
                                                                        “John is one of the greatest central defenders in the
    The buildup to the FA Cup [http://tinyurl.com/czpyxc]
                                                                    world, maybe one of the best ever. His progression has been
fourth-round tie has been dominated by the first meeting of
                                                                    outstanding, his qualities are amazing. He’s a player who almost
Ferdinand and John Terry [http://tinyurl.com/5k8wjn] on the
                                                                    guarantees you success, in terms of his individual performance
pitch since the England captain was charged with a racially
                                                                    helping our collective, and a player we hold in the highest
aggravated public order offence relating to an altercation with
                                                                    esteem. All these players went through performances in their
the QPR [http://tinyurl.com/4zkwvw] defender during the
                                                                    lives that make them ready to play in any circumstance, but
fractious league meeting at Loftus Road in October.
                                                                    Chelsea players get stick from every opposition crowd. No
    Terry’s case is due to be heard at Westminster magistrates
                                                                    opposition crowd loves you or ‘incentivates’ you. It’s a London
court on Wednesday, though he will not be in attendance, with
                                                                    derby fuelled by emotion, and the fact Chelsea lost there in
his legal team to enter a not guilty plea on his behalf.
                                                                    dramatic circumstances [in October] makes it an even more
    It is not clear whether Ferdinandwas made immediately
                                                                    emotional game.
aware of the letter but a Metropolitan police spokesman said:
                                                                        “You have to value the player and the person. The player,
“I can confirm we are investigating an allegation of malicious
                                                                    John Terry, has been extremely successful in the world
communication received today at Queens Park Rangers
                                                                    game, with high individual success. John Terry, the person,
Football Club. Officers from Hammersmith and Fulham are
                                                                    is someone I have great empathy with, and great respect for.
investigating.”
                                                                    A player who was involved in my knowledge-making and my
    QPR and Chelsea subsequently stated that “full searches”
                                                                    process of gaining experience as a manager, and a person I will
would be carried out on all spectators before entry and advised
                                                                    always hold as a friend whichever route our lives take.”
fans to arrive early. “Entry to the stadium will be permitted
                                                                        Chelsea, who have sold their centre-half Alex to Paris
from 10.30am for the midday kick-off,” the clubs said.
                                                                    St-Germain for £4.2m, are unlikely to pursue the Shakhtar
    Confirmation of the threat to Ferdinand will dismay both
                                                                    Donetsk forward Willian, aware that the Brazilian may struggle
clubs, who had been hoping to ease the tension before the tie.
                                                                    to gain a work permit and with their valuation of the player a
The two chairmen issued a joint statement this week appealing
                                                                    considerable distance from that of the Ukrainian club. Talks
for calm.
                                                                    continue with Genk in an effort to secure Kevin De Bruyne, who
    Immediately before kick-off the focus will inevitably be
                                                                    would stay in Belgium on loan until the summer. The youngster
drawn to whether Ferdinand will accept Terry’s offer of a
                                                                    is considered a “club signing” rather than a player the manager
handshake. André Villas-Boas, the Chelsea manager, believes
                                                                    has targeted.
it is “extremely important” that the pair shake hands to set an
                                                                        “He’s a good bet for the future, a player the club have
example, though it is understood Ferdinand is minded not to
                                                                    scouted for some time, and I’m a manager who respects club
do so. QPR officials have spoken to their player and suggested
                                                                    policy,” added Villas-Boas. “I’ll do everything in my power for
shaking hands may help defuse what is expected to be a
                                                                    him to reach maximum potential. But it’s down to the club in
tense occasion but the centre-half is concerned it may appear
                                                                    decision-making.”
hypocritical to make the gesture given the gravity of the charges
                                                                        A similar arrangement could be struck with the Brazilian
faced by Terry.
                                                                    club São Paulo for their highly rated 19-year-old midfielder
    “It is extremely important [they shake hands],” Villas-
                                                                    Lucas Moura. Chelsea will renew their interest in the summer if
Boas said. “Firstly, it’s a question of respect for the opponent
                                                                    no deal can be agreed before Tuesday night.
and everybody should do it. When it reaches that moment,
the players should set out an example and do it. A lot of the
situation has been spoken about but it’s good for the players to
show that, whatever is happening off the pitch, they are playing
against each other on it. It’s important they shake hands. This
game is based on good values more than anything else. These
two players should continue to promote those good values.”
    The QPR manager, Mark Hughes, has said the decision
should rest with Ferdinand alone and, with his squad severely
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2007                                                                     guardian.co.uk
Page  G24 Sport                                                                  Saturday January 28 2012              06:26 GMT

                                                                     performance, for sure,” said Sean Dyche, the Watford manager.
                                                                     He was correct. But it is Spurs who await Sunday’s draw.
Tottenham in last 16 after Rafael van der
Vaart goal sinks Watford
                                                                     Pakistan v England, day four — over-by-
Jamie Jackson at Vicarage Road                                       over report
Harry Redknapp took a break from denying two counts of
cheating the public revenue to watch his Tottenham Hotspur []        • Email your thoughts to tom.lutz@
team progress rather fortuitously to the FA Cup [] fifth round.
                                                                     guardian.co.uk • Press F5 to refresh this
    Redknapp, who has a further five days at least at Southwark
crown court while his case continues, had been unable to take
                                                                     page or use our auto-refresher
training all week and there was evidence in a lax display that his   Tom Lutz
squad may have missed his exhortations at their Spurs Lodge
                                                                     65th over: Pakistan 129-4 (lead by 55; Azhar 50, Shafiq 35)Shafiq
base in the build-up to this tie.
                                                                     is content to block away at Broad. He has a drive at the third
    He acknowledged this had been a disappointing performance
                                                                     ball of the over but KP dives to save the runs. A maiden for
by joking afterwards: “I thought we were fantastic, the football
                                                                     Broad. “I didn’t drink either last night- despite best attempts of
was mind-blowing, I’ve never been so excited watching us play.
                                                                     work colleagues,” says James Gordon. “On such sacrifices are
It was just unbelievable – how we won that game we’ll never
                                                                     sporting triumphs built. England to wrap up the win sometime
know. They say it’s better to be lucky than good sometimes and
                                                                     after tea. Thanks to me and you.” How often to people hold up
we were lucky today for sure. Amazing, we just never played.
                                                                     gin and make jokes about Gordon’s gin to you? Once already
If they [Watford [http://tinyurl.com/56xru9]] played as well as
                                                                     today, I suppose.
that every game, they’d be top of the league.”
                                                                         64th over: Pakistan 129-4 (lead by 55; Azhar 50, Shafiq 35)
    Redknapp could find an augury here that was similar to
                                                                     Azhar brings up his 50 with a tuckaway to square leg, the half-
when he led Portsmouth to FA Cup glory in 2008. “We went
                                                                     century came off 143 balls. He then gives Cook, at short leg,
to Preston and I’ve never seen a team get battered like it,” he
                                                                     a quarter-chance but it went very quickly and he didn’t have
said of that fifth-round tie. “They missed a penalty with four
                                                                     reasonable time to react.
minutes to go at nil-nil. David James saved it, we go up the
                                                                         63rd over: Pakistan 127-4 (lead by 55; Azhar 48, Shafiq 35)
other end – I think the first time we got in their half – and we
                                                                     Mike Selvey suggested England might try Jimmy early on as
scrambled a fluke of a goal from a corner [from a Darren Carter
                                                                     the fog rolls in but they’ve gone for Broad instead. His first ball
own-goal] and we go on and win the Cup.”
                                                                     is nudged away to mid-on. Shafiq sees off the rest of the over
    Watford had written the tale of the first half, with Spurs’
                                                                     fairly easily. “Worst journey ever?” asks Andy Lindon. “To
contribution barely a footnote until Rafael van der Vaart scored.
                                                                     Leicester. It doesn’t matter where from. Just to Leicester.”
Taking the ball from Kyle Walker inside home territory, the
                                                                         62nd over: Pakistan 126-4 (lead by 55; Azhar 47, Shafiq 35)
Dutchman wandered towards goal and from 30 yards unloaded
                                                                     Swann starts and Azhar picks up a single from the first ball of
a shot that bounced over the prone Scott Loach, who will be
                                                                     the day. Shafiq has a bit of a whizz near the end of the over that
disappointed.
                                                                     was a risky shot for the first over of the day but he survives. It’s
    Marvin Sordell had given Spurs an early warning as to what
                                                                     his 26th birthday today by the way.
kind of evening to expect but troubled the visiting defence far
                                                                         Mike Selvey is on hand to give actual analysis rather than
less than the Sean Murray attempt moments later that had Carlo
                                                                     my wittering: “If Abu Dhabi were Hove or Scarborough (and
Cudicini unable to hold on to the ball before it was scrambled
                                                                     the surrounding areas look a bit like that if you imagine the tide
away to safety.
                                                                     a long long way out), us bowlers would be rubbing our hands
    Redknapp had fielded a strong XI that included Luka Modric,
                                                                     right now. First thing, you could not see beyond the wall of the
Emmanuel Adebayor, Van der Vaart, Jermain Defoe, Michael
                                                                     hotel garden and on to the golf course next door and the mist
Dawson and Scott Parker. They woke up momentarily after 13
                                                                     still hangs low over the ground.
minutes when Adebayor shrugged off Lee Hodson, the home
                                                                         “It is damp and when the new ball comes around in nineteen
right-back, and bounced a pass into Walker on the opposing
                                                                     overs time, it ought to hoop around. By then, England will hope
flank who floated in a cross that the Togolese forward was
                                                                     that the spinners have made further inroads, (although it might
crowded out from finishing by a clutch of Watford defenders.
                                                                     be worth giving Jimmy a crack first up).
    This was about as good as it got for Spurs until Van der
                                                                         “Meanwhile young Copley, Getty’s ace snapper has been
Vaart’s intervention. The hosts continued to worry Cudicini:
                                                                     instructed to go into the surrounding wastelands and take some
Troy Deeney moved down the right and pinged in a cross that
                                                                     atmospheric pictures of the ground. Look forward to seeing
Sordell put wide; then a midfield mix-up allowed Prince Buaben
                                                                     those taken through the gloom.” I’ve already got Photoshop
to send an effort narrowly wide.
                                                                     open to crop a few of those when they come through on the
    There was more. Joe Garner, playing off Sordell in Watford’s
                                                                     wires.
attack, dumped Van der Vaart to ground, then played in a pass
                                                                         Here’s Patrick Murphy: “Foggy in Abu Dhabi this am Tom.
to his strike partner that Walker had to clean up.
                                                                     Any word on the start time?” Ah, that Abu Dhabi fog. We’re
    In a frantic opening to the second half John Eustace had the
                                                                     due to start on time, as far as I’m aware. Stuart Broad has just
first opportunity to level when a corner fell to him but the home
                                                                     been on the telly, and he reckons England would be happy to
captain blasted over from close range. Murray was then unlucky
                                                                     chase anything up to 250. Dave Langlois doesn’t agree with
to hit Cudicini’s left post, as was Eustace who subsequently
                                                                     him though: “Jittery with 200? Much less. I’m really quite
did the same with a header. “We were good value for our
                                                                     amazed that most pundits are giving England as favourites in
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2007                                                                        guardian.co.uk
Page  G24 Sport                                                                   Saturday January 28 2012               06:26 GMT

this situation. With their fragility and pusillanimity against this   is their painful calling, one that pays handsomely but one to
excellent spin attack they’d be pushed in last innings to get any     which they are nonetheless addicted, for good or bad, win or
more than a ton, 120 at most.”                                        lose.
    In three days I am flying out to Chile for three weeks, which         “There is no secret it is going to be physical again,” Djokovic
is lovely. But the journey is 24 hours, which is terrible. Mainly     said. “I will do my best to recover. I have a day and a half. I
because it takes about five minutes on the bus before my friend       will try to get as much sleep [as possible] and my recovery
and I start to quarrel. A few years ago we went to Vietnam and        programme under way and hope for the best. That’s going to
had a fistfight just before takeoff about who had the window          be crucial, for me to recover and to be able to perform my best,
seat (it said window seat on my ticket, the injustice still burns)    because Rafa is fit. He’s been playing well. He had an extra day.
before we realised we were about to be shot by air marshalls. So      He definitely wants to win this title.”
today’s riff can be Terrible Journeys Of My Time.                         All of that might be stating the blindingly obvious but it is
    Tom Peach’s email was waiting for me when I got into the          no less true for that. Nadal, who complained of a mysterious
office: “Was very unhappy the Indians were sent packing in only       jabbing pain to his right knee early in the tournament, has
one hour this morning [http://tinyurl.com/7foo7hm]. Sachin            played six matches with it strapped, yet shown no obvious
& Bradman both defined by the number 99. I would think any            discomfort, even in his firefight with Roger Federer [http://
target over 200 will have England jittery today,” he writes           tinyurl.com/35y4f8u] in the first semi-final.
from Sydney. “That said the Ashes next year is already looking            That match revealed, too, the world No2’s hunger after a
feisty (too early to be thinking Ashes?)” 5.30am on a Saturday        2011 campaign in which Djokovic beat him six times – all in
morning is too early to think of anything.                            finals, two of them in grand slam events. This will be their third
    The start of today’s play will be crucial. A quick couple of      straight showdown for a major title.
wickets and we’re into Pakistan’s lucious long tail and England           Djokovic was realistic about his task. “We all have different
could have a chase of 100-150 or so. A target of over 200 will be     bodies that require more or less time to recover, so I can’t really
very tricky for England though.                                       compare that to him. But I have been in similar situations, let’s
    Morning. It was Smyth’s birthday last night so the least          say, where I had the long matches and I’m supposed to play
popular member of the sport de... the hardest working member          soon after. For example, a couple years back with Roger I had
of the sport desk was nominated to remain sober, go top bed           a very long match, and then the next day I was supposed to
early, wakes up early and sub for him on the OBO. I can honestly      play finals. We are familiar with these kind of conditions and
say going to a social event with my colleagues sober was one          situations.”
of the worst experiences of my life – even worse than working             It is just this scenario that tipped the players into near revolt
with my colleagues sober – and I was quite glad to slip away.         here, as they seek to rearrange schedules, workloads and the
Incidentally, I dreamed I was getting KP to guess people’s            demands of two-week tournaments. It is not so bad here as the
middle names. He even knew Emile Heskey’s is Ivanhoe. I woke          ridiculously back-ended US Open, where they played every day
up as we got to Ian Bell. It’s R for Ruthless, KP.                    right up to the end of the concluding week.
                                                                          Then Djokovic wore down Nadal in an excellent final after
                                                                      that outrageous win in the semi-finals over a devastated
Novak Djokovic braced for another                                     Federer.
physical battle against Rafael Nadal                                      His semi-final against Murray was, if anything, tougher,
                                                                      although Djokovic says, “I had a couple matches in New York
                                                                      against Roger in the last couple years which can be compared
The Serb’s epic semi-final against Andy                               to this one. But time-wise, I think this was one of the longest,
Murray left him breathless but he will need                           if not the longest, that I’ve played in the later stages of a grand
no motivation in the final                                            slam.
                                                                          “I have to be satisfied. I have to be happy. As a tennis [http://
Kevin Mitchell at Melbourne Park
                                                                      tinyurl.com/63kuyy] player you practise hard every single day
Andy Murray [http://tinyurl.com/548xkw] sent his old friend           knowing that you will get an opportunity to be part of such a
Novak Djokovic [http://tinyurl.com/6xnbjky] on his way into           great match and on such a high level.
the final of the 2012 Australian against Rafael Nadal [http://            “I will try to get as much sleep as I can. I don’t think I’ll
tinyurl.com/5nwpp7] on Sunday with a bit of Caledonian                practise much. I had enough time on the court tonight.”
whimsy when he predicted: “He’ll be tired, that’s for sure.”              Can he do it? Certainly. For all that the match hurt him
    After four hours and 50 minutes of unadulterated effort           physically, it surely has buoyed him mentally – and that, against
in a semi-final that stretched way past midnight on the Rod           Nadal, is nearly as important.
Laver Arena it was a singularly appropriate observation by the            Three out of the past four years here the winner of the
courageous loser. If the Serb beats the Spaniard in their third       second semi-final has won the final, testimony at least to the
consecutive grand slam final, it will be despite rather than          considerable resilience of the modern athlete. If they can
because of his five-set victory over Murray.                          produce a final anywhere near the quality of the two matches
    At points even before halfway Djokovic was gasping for            that got them there, we are in for another memorable night.
breath, as he had been when beating David Ferrer in the                   Novak Djokovic trails 16-13 in overall head to head games
quarter-finals on Wednesday, and looked “gone for all money”,         against Rafael Nadal but in 2011 he won all six finals the pair
as they say here. Of course, he was not. The strength flooded         contested. Here is how he did it. Research by Alistair Hendrie
back into his legs as the prospect of defeat drowned out
tiredness and both men left the court drained but content that
they had done their job. It will be no different on Sunday. This
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2007                                                                          guardian.co.uk
Page  G24 Sport                                                                    Saturday January 28 2012             06:26 GMT

US Open Final 13 September 2011
Djokovic wins 6-2 6-4 6-7 (3-7) 6-1                                    Arsenal and England setback as Jack
   Djokovic launched an all-out attack on Nadal to secure his
                                                                       Wilshere could miss entire season
third grand slam title of 2011. Such was the ferocity of the Serb’s
shots that Nadal was often rocked back on the baseline, where
he found it difficult to mount attacks of his own. Nadal’s serve       • Player suffers recurrence of ankle injury
also let him down – he was broken 11 times by Djokovic during          after return to training • Wenger refuses to
the match.                                                             put a timescale on midfielder’s recovery
Wimbledon Final 3 July 2011                                         Amy Lawrence
Djokovic wins 6-4, 6-1, 1-6, 6-3
                                                                       Jack Wilshere [http://tinyurl.com/3bsvzu3] has handed England
   Djokovic became the first Serb to win Wimbledon, inflicting
                                                                       [http://tinyurl.com/4v7v9n] a major injury scare ahead of this
Nadal’s first defeat at the tournament in four years. It was an
                                                                       summer’s European Championship after the Arsenal [http://
enthralling final but the quality of play often dipped and both
                                                                       tinyurl.com/3fh47r] midfielder suffered a recurrence of the
players came close to losing a set to love. Djokovic worked
                                                                       ankle injury that could mean he is ruled out for the rest of the
Nadal over on his backhand, forcing the Spaniard wide to keep
                                                                       season.
him away from his rasping forehand.
                                                                           In what will come as a huge blow to his club’s Champions
Rome Final 15 May 2011                                                League hopes as well as Fabio Capello’s plans, Wilshere injured
Djokovic wins 6-4, 6-4                                                 his ankle while running as he stepped up his rehabilitation,
   Djokovic stretched his unbeaten run to 39 but the toll of so        with the player and his manager, Arsène Wenger, refusing to
many matches began to tell in the first set and the Serb looked        put a timescale on his return.
fatigued. Luckily for him, errors crept into Nadal’s game too              Wilshere tweeted: “It is true I have had a setback I can’t tell
and Djokovic became more fluent as he sensed his opponent’s            you how long I have been set back because I don’t know! I am
hesitancy.                                                             very annoyed but will stay strong.”
Madrid Final 8 May 2011                                                   Having undergone surgery in September, Wilshere had
                                                                       hoped to be back next month to prove his fitness ahead of the
Djokovic wins 7-5, 6-4
                                                                       summer. The 20 year-old saw specialists and although Wenger
   Djokovic described this absorbing victory as “unbelievable”,
                                                                       tried to put on a brave face he ruled out any possibility of him
and his enthusiasm was understandable considering this was
                                                                       figuring in England’s upcoming friendly against Holland in late
Nadal’s first loss on clay in two years. Seemingly feeling the
                                                                       February.
pressure, Djokovic lost an imposing 5-3 lead in the first set but
                                                                           “He has not played since summer so even if we have good
managed to escape Nadal’s clutches. He then ground out a
                                                                       news I would say it is impossible,” said Wenger, who estimates
brutal second set to beat his rival again.
                                                                       that it will take a minimum of six weeks for Wilshere to be
Miami Final 3 April 2011                                             match fit again from the day he is considered ready to start
Djokovic wins 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7-4)                                      practising again. Should the news be bad, a shadow has been
   Djokovic struggled with windy conditions as he lost the             cast over Wilshere’s participation in the Euros as well as the
opener to Nadal, who was at his brutal best. Djokovic decided          remainder of Arsenal’s campaign.
to play more defensively as the match progressed and it proved             For Wenger the setbacks have been fairly relentless this
successful as he worked Nadal round the court. Both men raised         season and he might have thought things could not get much
their levels in the third set. Nadal, however, stuttered in the tie-   worse after three straight league defeats and a show of rebellion
breaker. His early double-fault proved terminal to his hopes.          in the stands last Sunday. He was wrong.
Indian Wells Final 20 March 2011                                        Wenger has reason to feel frustrated about the ramifications
                                                                       for Arsenal, who are crying out for a talent such as Wilshere to
Djokovic wins 4-6, 6-3, 6-2
                                                                       bring his combination of creativity and personality to the team.
   With this thrilling victory, Djokovic defeated Nadal in a final
                                                                       But the manager’s thoughts are primarily with his player. “It is
for the first time in six attempts. The match was filled with both
                                                                       a massive disappointment but I am really disappointed for him
exhilarating rallies and inexplicable miscues, yet Djokovic’s
                                                                       because he is a football animal. I am so sad that at that age you
serve grew stronger as the match progressed and he surged to
                                                                       have to be out for such a long time with not any obvious reason.
victory after losing a tight first set.
                                                                           “If you had told me that Jack would not have played one
                                                                       game by February I would have said: ‘That’s impossible’.
                                                                       Especially I like to have a left-footed player in midfield. We miss




  *
                                                                       that little burst from Jack,” Wenger said. As to Wilshere’s mood,
                                                                       the Frenchman paused for a moment, searching for the right
                                                                       words. “How do you say in English? Gutted.”
                                                                           This is not the first time that they have had a player
  Compare and buy                                                      supposedly on the road to recovery suffer a setback. The
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guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2007                                                                         guardian.co.uk
Page 6 G24 Sport                                                                    Saturday January 28 2012            06:26 GMT

Wenger said: “Because we push them hard. You want them                 Ryan Harris and was caught behind without any addition to the
to be completely at the top when they come back because the            overnight score.
intensity of the game is so high that a guy who is not tuned in           Wriddhiman Saha, standing in as wicketkeeper for the
completely cannot come in and perform. The physical requests           banned India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, was dismissed in
are so high the rehab is much harder than when I played.”              the next over in similar style for three.
    There is some better news on the injury front for Arsenal             Zaheer Khan hit a typically bullish 15 off 18 balls before
with Bacary Sagna – who has been greatly missed since breaking         swinging at a short Ben Hilfenhaus delivery and getting a thick
a leg in early October – and is, along with Mikel Arteta and           edge to David Warner at short cover, leaving Yadav and Ravi
Thierry Henry, ready for a fitness test ahead of Aston Villa’s visit   Ashwin (15 not out) as the final partnership.
in the FA Cup [http://tinyurl.com/czpyxc] on Sunday.
    Wenger has drawn a line over the negativity he experienced
last Sunday, when the home fans were not shy in airing their           Scarlets prop Rhys Thomas comfortable
discontent. If the substitution of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain             after emergency heart surgery
for Andrey Arshavin felt like a tipping point, the manager is
staying focused on a result to swing the mood back towards the
positive.
                                                                       • Former Wales international taken ill
    It will be interesting to see if Wenger chooses to start Oxlade-   during training • Rhys Thomas suffered
Chamberlain again after such an exciting contribution against          mild heart attack in 2006
Manchester United. Wenger believes the youngster is ready to
                                                                       Press Association
play regularly. “He has done extremely well. We are not scared
to play players when they are of the level. People know football,      The Scarlets [http://tinyurl.com/yepww9x] prop Rhys Thomas
they know quickly who is a player, a real football player, and         has undergone heart surgery after being taken ill during training
who is not. You cannot cheat on quality.”                              on Friday. Thomas, who has seven Wales caps, was treated by
    Is it a case of reminding the fans who signed Oxlade-              the club’s medical staff before being taken by ambulance to
Chamberlain in the first place? Wenger stared dead ahead,              Morriston Hospital in Swansea.
replying: “Well, I believe that you have to get always above that.        The 29-year-old, who had a heart attack six years ago,
I do what I think is right for the club and the rest, you have to      was said to have had “successful surgery” and to be in a
live with.”                                                            “comfortable condition”.
                                                                          The Scarlets’ chief executive, Mark Davies, said: “All our
                                                                       thoughts and best wishes are with Rhys and his wife Paula and
Australia thrash India to complete                                     their family. The region will be keeping in close contact with
series whitewash in Adelaide                                           medical teams at Morriston Hospital as to his progress but it is
                                                                       understood that he is comfortable and doing well.
                                                                          “I am sure the whole rugby community in Wales would join
• Australia win by 298 runs and clinch                                 with us in expressing to Rhys all our very best wishes for a quick
series 4-0                                                             and comfortable recovery.”
Reuters                                                                   Thomas had previously spoken of his heart condition and
                                                                       how he feared his career had ended after suffering a “mild heart
Australia took India’s last four wickets on Saturday morning to        attack” after an EDF Cup tie against Northampton in 2006.
crush the tourists by 298 runs in the fourth test and record a 4-0
series sweep.
   India had resumed on 166 for six in their second innings            Manchester United agree to loan striker
chasing an improbable 500 runs for victory but their tail-
                                                                       Mame Biram Diouf to Hannover
end batsmen lasted just 58 minutes on a hot and sunny fifth
morning of the match.
   The end came when the spinner Nathan Lyon (four for 63)             • Senegal international still to agree move
dismissed Umesh Yadav caught behind for one, condemning                to Bundesliga club • Player was at Friday’s
India to a humiliating eighth successive overseas Test defeat          game with Nurnberg
after last year’s 4-0 whitewash in England.
                                                                       Staff and agencies
   The series defeat in England saw India relinquish the top
spot in the Test world rankings but they had arrived Australia         Manchester United [http://tinyurl.com/bjgxtp] have agreed
confident they could claim a first series triumph there.               deal with the German club Hannover [http://tinyurl.com/
   It was not even close as Australia won the first Test in            5nar5n] for the Senegal international striker Mame Biram Diouf
Melbourne by 122 runs and followed that with victories by an           to move on loan for the rest of the season.
innings and 68 runs in Sydney and an innings and 37 runs in               The 24-year-old is thought to be finalising details of
Perth.                                                                 the move and was at the AWD Arena to see Hannover’s 1-0
   With world-class batsmen such as Rahul Dravid, Sachin               Bundesliga win over Nurnberg on Friday night.
Tendulkar and VVS Laxman having failed to fire yet again on               After the game Hannover’s sporting director, Jorg
Friday, there was little hope of India rescuing a draw by batting      Schmadtke, confirmed: “We have an agreement with
through the final day at the Adelaide Oval.                            Manchester United but now the player must give us the OK.”
   The nighwatchman Ishant Sharma was the first to go in the              Diouf spent the entire 2010-11 season on loan at Blackburn
third over of the morning when he got a nick to a delivery from        Rovers and has struggled to figure for Sir Alex Ferguson’s side
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2007                                                                        guardian.co.uk
Page  G24 Sport                                                                   Saturday January 28 2012             06:26 GMT

this season, having played in only three Carling Cup ties.            is more graft than craft, a lot more in all honesty, and has not
   Diouf was signed from the Norwegian side Molde in January          looked close to scoring since arriving from Tigre on the August
2010 but has started only nine games in all competitions since,       transfer deadline day, yet he remedied that in convincing
scoring one goal.                                                     style when Donovan checked inside and delivered an inviting
                                                                      left-foot cross from the right wing. Stracqualursi converted a
                                                                      towering header into the bottom corner and was in tears as he
Marouane Fellaini rises above Fulham                                  celebrated his first goal in English football.
to steer Everton home in FA Cup                                           Another perfect cross from Donovan, reacting quickly
                                                                      to a free-kick he had won, created the winner for Fellaini as
                                                                      his header looped over David Stockdale and into the corner.
Andy Hunter at Goodison Park
                                                                      Fulham, for all their ability and pace up front, offered precious
Much has changed at Everton [http://tinyurl.com/4gsl6u] in the        little and could have no complaints. “We knew it would be
two years since Landon Donovan last journeyed over from LA            difficult here but with our quality up front we should have done
Galaxy, and little for the better, but his ability to inspire David   better,” Jol said.
Moyes’ team is undiminished. The USA captain produced the
finest performance of his second spell on loan as Fulham []
meekly exited the FA Cup [http://tinyurl.com/czpyxc].                 Victoria Azarenka primed for Maria
    There had been only glimpses of Donovan’s previous form           Sharapova in ‘scream-queen’ final
prior to the fourth- round meeting with Martin Jol’s team,
although that failing stems from the weaknesses around him
in the Everton team and not a fault of the 29-year-old. With          • Azarenka: ‘I hear her. I’m sure she hears
despondency settling on Goodison as Everton struggle to sign          me’ • No3 seed has beaten Sharapova three
the reinforcements they desperately need and Moyes’ team              times from six • Watch video highlights
slipping towards trouble in the Premier League, an awkward            from the Australian Open
evening lay in store when Danny Murphy put Fulham ahead
from the penalty spot.                                                Simon Cambers at Melbourne Park
    Everton, and particularly Donovan, produced a response            If Victoria Azarenka is nervous about appearing in her first
that has been often lacking this season. Headers from Denis           grand slam final here on Saturday, she is doing a pretty good
Stracqualursi, his first for the club, and Marouane Fellaini          job of hiding it. Her match with Maria Sharapova is no contest
capped a strong home display from Everton with both                   in terms of experience – the Russian won Wimbledon as a 17-
goalscorers having the American to thank for inch-perfect             year-old and has added two more grand slam titles since – but
centres.                                                              Azarenka is a confident young woman who believes she is ready
    “He’s a diamond of a guy,” said Steve Round, the Everton          to break through. And that is half the battle.
assistant manager. “The lads all love him and he’s a very                 “I have worked hard to be in this situation, so why stress
intelligent player who also brings speed to the team and allows       about it?,” she said on Friday. “I want it and that’s what I’m
us to get from back to front very quickly. He has brought a lot to    looking for so I’m just going to go out there and try to do my
the club. He is a top player. Of course we’d like to have him for     best.”
longer but we know what the deal is.” And how Everton needed              It is an attitude that bodes well for the biggest match of her
Donovan’s intelligent distribution.                                   career. As recently as a year ago, the Belarussian was prone
    Their night began badly when John Heitinga discovered             to losing her rag on court and occasionally behaving like a
another reason to avoid Howard Webb. Everton had dominated            prima donna off it. Now, she is learning to relax and the results
possession in the early stages without showing the incisiveness       are coming. After her hard-earned three-set victory over the
from which Fulham profited in their first attack. The fact two        defending champion Kim Clijsters in the semi-final, she joked
former Liverpool players combined to prise apart their defence        with the crowd that most of them “probably thought she was a
only intensified the frustration. Murphy sprayed a perfect            mental case”.
crossfield pass into space vacated by Phil Neville at right-back,         “I had, how you call that, meltdowns?” she said. “For sure,
where John Arne Riise collected, drew Tim Howard out of               you can see some on YouTube. But I am growing as a player,
position and cut the ball back for Damien Duff. Duff’s shot was       I am growing as a person, and I am trying to learn from my
goalbound until Heitinga dived into block but did so with a           mistakes and make it better. I’m proud of what I’m doing. I just
raised arm. Referee Webb, who dismissed Heitinga in the World         want to keep going and keep raising that level.”
Cup final and has booked the Dutchman on four of the eight                The signs were there when in October she reached the final
occasions they have met, pointed to the spot and Murphy coolly        of the WTA Tour finals in Istanbul. Then she was blown off
wrong-footed Howard.                                                  court by the Wimbledon champion, Petra Kvitova. But here she
    Everton should have equalised minutes later when the              has looked even more confident and her victory over Clijsters
young central defender Shane Duffy headed a Magaye Gueye              was perhaps the most impressive of her life, considering the
corner wide from four yards out. But despite that setback,            circumstances.
the home side responded impressively. Three corners in two                Having beaten Sharapova, 24, three times out of six, she
minutes produced chances for Gueye, Tim Cahill and a second           knows she has the ability. Doing it in a grand slam final, with
for Duffy but Fulham held firm, Stephen Kelly producing a             the added pressure of the No1 ranking as a prize, is another
superb headed clearance.                                              pressure altogether but refreshingly, Azarenka, 22, seems ready
    The pressure told as Moyes’ side levelled through their on-       to embrace the experience. “In finals anything can happen,”
loan centre-forward Stracqualursi. The lumbering Argentinian
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2007                                                                        guardian.co.uk
Page  G24 Sport                                                                  Saturday January 28 2012             06:26 GMT

she said. “It’s a battle for giving your all and how well you can     club VVV Venlo, was given a poor impression of Rangers after
manage it. Of course I know Maria’s game, she knows my game.          McCoist did not attend the single training session in question.
She’s a great player. But it’s going to be a different match; a           “I can clarify the situation by telling you I never saw him,”
whole different approach.”                                            McCoist explained. “That’s 100% true because I wasn’t at
    In pure tennis [http://tinyurl.com/63kuyy] terms, Azarenka        training yesterday morning. As for his claim it was an utter
has it all. A good serve is backed up by powerful, consistent         shambles I would have to say that three of my coaches
groundstrokes and her movement is superior to that of the             conducted a very thorough training session and it goes without
taller Sharapova. An emphasis on the physical side of the game        saying I value my coaches opinions as being second to none. I
in the past year or two is paying dividends – now it’s about          take them on board. Simple as that.”
proving it on the day against one of the best competitors in the          Celtic’s manager Neil Lennon admitted he may continue
game.                                                                 with his current squad after the transfer window closes. Lennon
    There is no getting away from the fact that the final is not      is keen to sign a striker, but his efforts have proved fruitless
going to be quiet. Azarenka and Sharapova are the “scream             thus far.
queens”, their decibel levels on court approaching the 100                “I am no further down the line with any inquiries for
mark. It does not go down well with the crowd, which has              players,” Lennon admitted. “It’s basically as you were. If the
mimicked Azarenka in the tournament.                                  window shuts and we go with the squad we have then fine. You
    While Sharapova’s grunt is more of a scream, Azarenka’s is        are always looking to strengthen if you can but at the moment it
a longer, high-pitched squeal that has been likened to the air        is looking very difficult.”
being removed from a balloon. The local broadcaster, Channel              Celtic face Falkirk at Hampden Park on Sunday in Scotland’s
7, has a “gruntometer” to measure the sounds and she has been         second League Cup semi-final.
asked about it at almost every press conference.
    “I guess some people are just bored,” she said. “They created
that machine that can measure it. So money well spent, huh?”          Sideshow will be secondary to the Cup
But what does it feel like on the other side of the net, when         action, says Kenny Dalglish
Sharapova cranks up the volume? “Well, I’m not deaf,” she said.
“Of course I hear her. I’m sure she hears me. And about another
15,000 people hear us maybe even further away. But it doesn’t
                                                                      • Liverpool manager confident supporters
bother me.”The women’s authorities have promised to look              will focus on football • ‘As long as it’s
into reducing grunting in the sport but if Azarenka wins the title    respectful then there won’t be a problem’
here on Saturday, nothing will bother her.
                                                                      Andy Hunter

                                                                      Kenny Dalglish [http://tinyurl.com/32s549h] has said Liverpool
Ally McCoist dismisses stories he could                               [http://tinyurl.com/42nq4e] have their “house in order” ahead
walk away from Rangers                                                of the emotive FA Cup [http://tinyurl.com/czpyxc] tie against
                                                                      Manchester United [http://tinyurl.com/bjgxtp] and that both
                                                                      clubs have done all they can to prevent further controversy
• Rangers manager pours scorn on ‘rubbish’                            arising at Anfield.
speculation • ‘I am determined we will get                                The Liverpool manager and his United counterpart, Sir Alex
the best out of the players’                                          Ferguson [http://tinyurl.com/5pnu8q], called for supporters
                                                                      to focus solely on football on the eve of the fourth-round
Ewan Murray
                                                                      match, which comes three months after the Premier League
Ally McCoist [http://tinyurl.com/4xskgst] has moved to dismiss        game at Anfield that led to Patrice Evra making a complaint of
suggestions he could walk away from Rangers [http://tinyurl.          racist abuse against Luis Suárez and the Uruguay international
com/3qtr4x] amid frustrations at financial restraints. Rumours        receiving an eight-match ban as a result.
swept Glasgow in midweek that McCoist could quit as the                   Suárez is expected to be at Anfield as he serves the
Rangers manager with the club toiling to find wages even to           penultimate game of his suspension but the United manager
fund free transfer signings. The stories were apparently linked       refused to discuss whether Evra will start the game, as Mike
to a visit by the ex-chairman Sir David Murray to Rangers’            Phelan, Ferguson’s assistant, has indicated he would. Dalglish
training ground.                                                      described the tension and controversy surrounding the game
    “It’s really poor. I know how rumours start with rubbish          as “a sideshow”, and believes it will remain secondary to a Cup
on the internet and all that stuff,” McCoist said. “It plain and      tie between England’s biggest clubs should Liverpool produce
simply came because the old chairman was in seeing the doctor.        a repeat of their impressive performance against Manchester
It was a private matter and then six of us sat and had a cup of tea   City in the Carling Cup semi-final on Wednesday on and off the
and watched 10 minutes of a game.                                     pitch.
    “Listen, I didn’t think it was going to be a cakewalk and it is       The Liverpool manager said: “We want the fantastic support
certainly proving that. But I am absolutely fine and determined       we had the other night and there’s no reason to think we’re not
that we will get the best out of the players between now and the      going to get that. Anything else is a sideshow for us. We don’t
end of the season.”                                                   want anyone to lose sight of what it is and we don’t want our
    The agent of Michael Uchebo criticised Rangers after the          supporters to lose sight of how important they are vocally to us.
striker became the second player within a week to end a               We certainly don’t want the players to lose sight – and I don’t
trial at the club after just one day. Tony Harris, the player’s       think they will – of the competitiveness in the game. We have
representative, said Uchebo, a Nigerian striker with the Dutch        to compete and do things properly and it’s the same for the
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2007                                                                       guardian.co.uk
Page  G24 Sport                                                                    Saturday January 28 2012           06:26 GMT

supporters. They have been magnificent throughout our history
and I am sure they will continue to do that.
    “I’m sure there will be banter going back and forth between
                                                                       Queens Park Rangers line up striker
both sets of fans and as long as it’s respectful then there won’t      Djibril Cissé from Lazio
be a problem. Not only the people who are involved directly the
game, but those writing about the game have a responsibility           • Former Liverpool player has endured
not to run away from what has happened but to act responsibly          frustrating time in Italy • Cissé may be
and not be imagining things that haven’t happened.”
                                                                       joined at Loftus Road by Mali’s Samba
    United have an increased ticket allocation of 5,319 for
the Cup meeting and Ferguson is confident there will be no
                                                                       Diakité
problems at Anfield. “As Steven Gerrard was saying, it’s the           Dominic Fifield
responsibility of players to behave properly. That’s what I
                                                                       Queens Park Rangers hope to secure the services of the former
expect my players to do and also the fans,” the United manager
                                                                       Liverpool forward Djibril Cissé from Lazio [http://tinyurl.
said. “Both sets of fans have got to make sure that we end up
                                                                       com/48ff6p] in the next few days as they bolster their forward
talking about the game and nothing else. I’m confident we can
                                                                       ranks before Tuesday’s transfer deadline.
just concentrate on the football. We’ve been to Anfield already
                                                                           The France international, who won the European Cup with
this season and our fans were terrific.”
                                                                       the Anfield club in 2005 after joining for £14m from Auxerre,
    Dalglish, Ferguson, Gerrard and Liverpool’s managing
                                                                       has endured a frustrating time in Rome since arriving from
director, Ian Ayre, have all appealed for calm this week,
                                                                       Panathinaikos last summer but would cost around £4m to
while the Liverpool manager uses his notes in the match-day
                                                                       secure on a permanent basis.
programme to ask that the “atmosphere isn’t tarnished in any
                                                                           Alternatively a loan deal may be struck for the 30-year-old,
way.” The two clubs have liaised closely with the Football
                                                                       though the Italian club will let the forward leave only if they
Association and Merseyside police in recent weeks and Dalglish
                                                                       first find a replacement.
believes, that with a worldwide audience looking on, the right
                                                                           Cissé, who has been capped 41 times and had a loan spell at
example will be set.
                                                                       Sunderland in the Premier League, has found his opportunities
    “We will. The supporters will,” he insisted. “We have got our
                                                                       limited at Lazio with Miroslav Klose also at the club.
house in order and I’m sure along the East Lancs Road they will
                                                                           He could be joined as part of Mark Hughes’s recruitment
be saying exactly the same thing. The best thing for everybody
                                                                       spree by the Mali international midfielder Samba Diakité, who is
to be focused on is the football pitch, and that’s where we want
                                                                       close to completing a loan move from Nancy with QPR [http://
people’s attention to be on.
                                                                       tinyurl.com/4zkwvw] having an option to make the transfer
    “If something goes off, then it goes off. If it’s bad news, then
                                                                       permanent for around £3.5m in the summer.
there is not much anyone else could have done about it. I don’t
think either of the two football clubs can be held responsible if
it doesn’t go as well as everybody hopes it will do. On previous
evidence, the two sets of fans are becoming more respectful
                                                                       Abu Dhabi denies ‘racial-segregation
for each other. They won’t be sending Christmas cards to each          policy’ for second Test crowd
other, but they are becoming more respectful.”
    Dalglish is unconcerned about Wednesday’s semi-final               • Families-only area forced Pakistan
taking its toll on Liverpool three days later. “It is better to
                                                                       supporters elsewhere • England supporters
play than to train,” he said. Ferguson also believes Liverpool’s
passage to Wembley could be a factor in the FA Cup. “They’ve
                                                                       on the opposite side of the ground
got a great lift,” the United manager said. “They were far better      Andy Wilson in Abu Dhabi
than City on the night and but for Joe Hart it could have been
                                                                       The Abu Dhabi authorities staging the second Test between
quite a big scoreline. Winning is always important.”
                                                                       England and Pakistan have denied there was any racial
    United have not won at Anfield in their last four visits, losing
                                                                       segregation or discrimination in their use of a families-only
three, but Ferguson admits he and his players should thrive on
                                                                       section on one side of the Sheikh Zayed Stadium.
its intimidating atmosphere. He added: “I think the atmosphere
                                                                           There was a stark contrast between the grass bank on one
for our games at Anfield is terrific. You work all your life to get
                                                                       side of the ground which filled up with thousands of Pakistan
to a point where you are challenged like that, or your team is
                                                                       supporters, mostly young men, and the “hill” opposite which
challenged like that. We had a good record at Anfield until about
                                                                       was much more sparsely populated. It had been designated
two or three years ago. Since then the results have not been
                                                                       a “families-only area”, which ruled it out of bounds for the
great for us, we have not done as well as we used to do, but you
                                                                       majority of the Pakistan supporters in the ground, and was
would expect that when you have a rivalry between two great
                                                                       mostly populated by England supporters – although there were
clubs.”
                                                                       some families with young children wearing Pakistan shirts.
                                                                           However, there were no restrictions on the seating in the
                                                                       main stands at either end of the ground – with free admission to
                                                                       all but the corporate areas – and Pakistanis, England supporters
                                                                       and others seemed to mingle happily throughout the third day
                                                                       of the match, which attracted a crowd officially estimated at
                                                                       14,000, far more than has attended any of the previous five days
                                                                       of the series.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2007                                                                       guardian.co.uk
Page 10 G24 Sport                                                                Saturday January 28 2012              06:26 GMT

    A spokesperson for the ground authorities, responding on        more explosive.” When he lost to Jeilan, Farah’s final lap
the BBC’s Test Match Special to a complaint of racial segregation   took 53 seconds. He says he will need to do it in “51 or 52
in the family enclosure, said: “Any spectator arriving with         seconds” to win gold in London. This race in Glasgow will
wife or child would have been allowed to sit on the grass bank      match him against the Kenyan Augustine Choge, who won
allocated for family use. There was no segregation on the basis     the Commonwealth 5,000m title in 2006 and who has a PB at
of race.”                                                           1500m that is more than three seconds faster than Farah’s.
    Dilawar Mani, the chief executive of the Abu Dhabi club,            “I want to win,” Farah says. “But it is not going to be as easy
later added, in response to a complaint on the Pakpassion.net       as saying: ‘Mo should win.’ I will see what I can do. I will try and
website: “I can only assure you in that trying to separate the      learn from this race.” This is his first race of the year – he only
English fans from Pakistani supporters had absolutely nothing       got back from high-altitude training in Kenya earlier this week,
to do with racism. I am disappointed that you would imply that      and he plans to run more 1500ms as the season goes on. It is
to be the case.                                                     all part of Salazar’s plan to teach Farah how to relax in sprint
    “You may not be aware that very often, when you find            finishes. At the worlds, Farah says he “wanted it too much”. He
large communities gathering at a stadium, a separation policy       tightened up. “I have to learn to try and relax in these races,” he
is adopted to mitigate confrontation and any threat to either       explains. “The reason why Alberto has got me doing this is he
community by an emotionally charged and passionate segment          wants to see how relaxed I can be while sprinting.”
of fans.”                                                               A single lap. After 10,000m it is not a lot. In London Farah
                                                                    will have 80,000 people there roaring him on. “I hope when I
                                                                    am coming down the track into that sprint finish with 50m to
Mo Farah looks for last-lap speed                                   go the crowd is going to make that difference,” he says. It will
improvement to land London gold                                     help, but if Farah holds off the opposition and wins that gold in
                                                                    the summer it will have more to do with the groundwork he has
                                                                    done at events such as this one.
• World 5,000m champion will run 1500m
in Glasgow • ‘We are working on my
weaknesses,’ says British hope                                      Can London 2012’s opening ceremony
Andy Bull                                                         beat its predecessors?
It takes Mo Farah [http://tinyurl.com/378bm52] a shade under
27 minutes to run 10,000 metres. But right now he is thinking       Danny Boyle is up against faked footprint-
only about the final 51 seconds. Farah is convinced that is all     shaped fireworks, aliens in flying saucers
the time it is going to take to determine whether he fulfils an     and spectacles with artillery fire and
ambition he has been pursuing for seven years, ever since           pigeons
London was awarded the Olympics. All the miles he has run
                                                                    Edward Gibbes and Sam Jones
since then, all the thankless hours pounding the road and track
while thinking about that gold medal, and Farah says that in the    Anyone concerned that Danny Boyle [http://tinyurl.
end “it is definitely all going to come down to the last lap and    com/66sh8e] faces a daunting, Newton-like climb on to the
maybe even down to point-something of a second”.                    shoulders of choreographic giants in his role as the Olympic
    That is why in Glasgow this Saturday Farah is doing             opening ceremony organiser needs only to glance at some of his
something he has not done in three years – running a                predecessors’ efforts for reassurance.
competitive 1500 metres. He and his coach, Alberto Salazar,             Beijing 2008 saw computer faked footprint-shaped fireworks
have concocted a schedule for his season that will see Farah        trek across the sky from Tiananmen Square to the Bird’s Nest
concentrate on honing his speed and his sprinting technique.        stadium, and a seven-year-old singer’s vocals mimed by a more
“We are working on my weaknesses,” Farah says. “Trying to           aesthetically-pleasing girl.
cover all angles.” He cannot be certain that he will double up in       In 1984, not content with sending torch-bearer Rafer
the 10,000m and the 5,000m at the Olympics because there are        Johnson up the longest, steepest staircase imaginable [http://
too many imponderables. Because the 10,000m falls first in the      tinyurl.com/6rg995c] and having an Evel Knievel lookalike in
schedule, he is thinking of it as his only shot at winning a gold   a jetpack buzz the crowd [http://tinyurl.com/5zwdb7], the LA
medal, even though he is world champion at the shorter of the       games organisers decided for the closing ceremony that nothing
two distances.                                                      embodied the Olympic spirit quite as potently as a big alien in a
    In the world championships last year, Farah’s poor sprint       flying saucer [http://tinyurl.com/77wwqqz].
finish cost him in the 10,000m. He was overtaken by Ethiopia’s          Hitler’s ambitious plans for the 1936 Berlin Olympics
Ibrahim Jeilan as he came down the home straight. Everything        – complete with Leni Riefenstahl’s famous film of the games
he is doing now, including this 1500m race, is designed to          – were heroically undermined by Jesse Owens’ victories.
ensure that he does not make the same mistakes this summer.         However, the games did produce one major legacy: the torch
    Salazar has been taking advice from Michael Johnson on how      relay. Less tradition-setting were the Austrian and French
to improve Farah’s sprinting technique and has been teaching        teams’ Nazi salutes at the Berlin ceremony, though some
him to shorten his stride, lift his legs and loosen his arms.       French athletes later claimed they were giving the not wholly
    Farah says he suffered in those final metres in South           dissimilar Olympic salute. Eight years earlier, the Amsterdam
Korea because he had a “lack of confidence and a lack of            games kicked off with a spectacle involving pigeons, artillery
understanding” about how to handle a sprint finish. “Now            fire and the Olympic flame being lit for the first time. Sadly,
we are doing a lot more work with weights, trying to become
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2007                                                                       guardian.co.uk
Page 11 G24 Sport                                                    Saturday January 28 2012   06:26 GMT

Queen Wilhelmina missed the extravaganza. Either furious at
the organisers’ failure to consult her or disapproving of the fact
it was held on a Sunday, she became the first host head of state
not to attend the opening ceremony, remaining in the isolated
splendour of her Norwegian holiday retreat.Doubtless much
to the relief of the planning committee, the Queen managed
to overcome her umbrage, or principles, in time to make the
closing ceremony, also on a Sunday.
    But if it’s a masterclass in feelgood internationalism that
Boyle seeks, he may wish to look all the way back to the 1896
Athens games: 80,000 people joined the Greek royal family
at the Panathinaiko stadium to usher in the first modern
Olympics, where the Danish-born King George (watched by his
Russian wife Olga) patriotically declared: “Long live the nation.
Long live the Greek people.”
    The ceremony clearly met with the approval of Baron Pierre
de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympics. Watching
the crowds stream into the stadium, he was delighted to
witness the “joyous and motley concourse”.




guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2007                                             guardian.co.uk

				
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