Creative Hive - projects
By: Adam Higgins
Neil Lennon hopes his Celtic side will finish their disappointing Champions League group stage campaign on a high against Barcelona on Wednesday night.
The eliminated Hoops are guaranteed to finish bottom of Group H ahead of their final fixture in Europe this season against the La Liga leaders at the Nou Camp after four defeats from five games.
Celtic are unbeaten in fourteen Scottish Premiership matches this term and have been in blistering form domestically, scoring twelve goals in their last two games without reply in convincing wins over Motherwell and Hearts.
But manager Lennon admitted it would take a humongous effort from his players to take anything from the clash with the Spanish champions, who have already qualified to the knockout stages but need a point to top the group.
"Three points is not enough. I think we deserve more out of the group but we are going to have to play very well. We're going to need great discipline, concentration and athleticism. We have to be brave on the ball.
"Even then, that might not be enough, but what I want to see is an all-round performance from the team. I want to come away with some satisfaction if not the result. This is a great occasion and we are very much looking forward to it," he said.
Celtic have failed to score in four of their five group matches, collecting just three points when beating Dutch champions Ajax 2-1 at Celtic Park last month.
Although, Lennon insisted the trip to the Catalan giants still carries importance to Celtic's season as a whole.
"This is a game where there's a great sense of occasion to it, no matter what the circumstances are. There's great anticipation amongst the players and supporters and myself. There's great respect between both clubs because both have great traditions and a great affiliation with each other," he said.
"It is important, not just for the context of this campaign but next year, where we will have qualifiers in July."
A second-half header from Cesc Fabregas settled a tense contest between the sides in October as Barca won 1-0 in the reverse fixture.
Captain Scott Brown is available for selection after serving a three-match ban for kicking out at Brazilian forward Neymar in Glasgow, and is set to make the starting line-up.
"Scott knows that he was in the wrong and he has served his punishment. He is looking very much forward to playing at the Nou Camp. It hurt us because he's our captain and he's certainly a leader on and off the field," Lennon said.
"Neymar looks like he's going to be a very special player. I think he's going to light up the footballing world over the next five to 10 years. The first time I'd seen him close up at Celtic Park I was very impressed by his ability, his pace and what he brought to the Barcelona attack.
"If he stays in that vein, which I'm sure he will, he's going to be a fantastic player for club and country. I think there's a little bit of immaturity at times with all young players when they tend to exaggerate contact, but that's okay.
"He'll gain a lot more respect as he goes along in his career once he learns to deal with that in the right way," he added.
Lennon also hailed the improving Fraser Forster, as the 25-year-old Celtic goalkeeper continues to attract growing interest from a number of European clubs.
His fine form, particularly in the Champions League, has led to international recognition having received his England debut against Chile at Wembley last month.
The former Hoops midfielder said: "It shows the progress that he's made at Celtic over the last three years to the point where he is now capped by England.
"We're delighted with the form he's shown, he's at an age where he's still not reached his peak and his best years are still ahead of him. I think he'll be a good goalkeeper for any team, but I'm hoping he's going to be at Celtic for a little bit longer."
By: Adam Higgins
Bobby Madden will be the man in the middle for Celtic's Scottish Premiership encounter with Hibernian on Saturday afternoon.
The unbeaten league leaders take on Terry Butcher's Hibs at Celtic Park in one of six top-flight games kicking off at 15:00 GMT with 35-year-old FIFA official Madden in charge.
Leading Scotland official Craig Thomson will oversee Aberdeen vs St Mirren at Pittodrie and Brian Colvin will referee bottom club Hearts vs second-placed Inverness Caledonian Thistle at Tynecastle.
Euan Norris will officiate Kilmarnock against Dundee United at Rugby Park, Kevin Clancy takes charge of Partick Thistle vs St Johnstone while the experienced Crawford Allan is the whistler for Ross County against Motherwell.
The Steelmen are looking to bounce back after a humbling 5-0 defeat to Celtic at Fir Park on Friday night, a week after suffering an embarrassing Scottish Cup exit to League Two Albion Rovers.
In the Championship, leaders Dundee - who have won nine of their fifteen league games so far - against second-from-bottom Cowdenbeath at Dens Park will be overseen by George Salmond.
Livingston vs second-placed Hamilton Accies will be officiated by Mat Northcroft while Alloa Athletic at home to basement bottom Greenock Morton will be refereed by Des Roache.
Calum Murray is in charge of Raith Rovers vs Dumbarton and fellow Category One official Iain Brines will be in the middle for Queen of the South vs Falkirk.
Steven McLean will referee the late kick-off in Scottish League One as runaway leaders Rangers, yet to drop a single point in the league this term, travel to Ochilview Park to face Stenhouisemuir.
Also in the third tier are Stevie O'Reilly (Ayr United vs Dunfermline), Barry Cook (Airdrieonians vs East Fife), Craig Charleston (Forfar Athletic vs Arbroath) and Stephen Finnie (Stranraer vs Brechin).
Category Three officials Gavin Ross, Colin Steven, Gavin Duncan, Alan Newlands and Euan Anderson are in charge in Scottish League Two this weekend.
Full list of this weekend's Match Official Appointments:
(All games kick off at 3pm on Saturday unless stated)
Aberdeen vs St Mirren
Referee: Craig Thomson
Assistant Referees: Stuart Stevenson and John McCrossan
Fourth Official: John Beaton
Celtic vs Hibernian
Referee: Bobby Madden
Assistant Referees: Brian McGarry and Andrew McWilliam
Fourth Official: Greg Aitken
Hearts vs Inverness Caledonian Thistle (Live on BBC ALBA)
Referee: Brian Colvin
Assistant Referees: Derek Rose and Frank Connor
Fourth Official: Willie Collum
Kilmarnock vs Dundee United
Referee: Euan Norris
Assistant Referees: Tom Murphy and Graham McNellie
Fourth Official: David Somers
Partick Thistle vs St Johnstone
Referee: Kevin Clancy
Assistant Referees: Francis Andrews and Ross Haswell
Fourth Official: Alan Muir
Ross County vs Motherwell
Referee: Crawford Allan
Assistant Referees: Alasdair Ross and Gavin Harris
Fourth Official: John McKendrick
Alloa Athletic vs Greenock Morton
Referee: Des Roache
Assistant Referees: Stuart Hodge and Liam Butler
Dundee vs Cowdenbeath
Referee: George Salmond
Assistant Referees: Douglas Ross and Jordan Stokoe
Livingston vs Hamilton Academical
Referee: Mat Northcroft
Assistant Referees: David McGeachie and David Cockburn
Queen of the South vs Falkirk
Referee: Iain Brines
Assistant Referees: George Drummond and Gary Hilland
Raith Rovers vs Dumbarton
Referee: Calum Murray
Assistant Referees: Ralph Gordon and David Dickinson
Scottish League One:
Airdrieonians vs East Fife
Referee: Barry Cook
Assistant Referees: Charlie Smith and Graham Fraser
Ayr United vs Dunfermline Athletic
Referee: Stevie O'Reilly
Assistant Referees: Brian Templeton and Matthew Denne
Forfar Athletic vs Arbroath
Referee: Craig Charleston
Assistant Referees: Sean Carr and Jordan Curran
Stranraer vs Brechin City
Referee: Stephen Finnie
Assistant Referees: David Munro and David Ingram
Stenhousemuir vs The Rangers FC (KO 5:30pm, BT Sport)
Referee: Steven McLean
Assistant Referees: Joseph Lawson and Stephen Brown
Fourth Official: Don Robertson
Scottish League Two:
Annan Athletic vs Queen's Park
Referee: Gavin Ross
Assistant Referees: Alan Mulvanny and Alan Hogg
Berwick Rangers vs East Stirlingshire
Referee: Colin Steven
Assistant Referees: Raymond Whyte and Simon MacLean
Montrose vs Clyde
Referee: Gavin Duncan
Assistant Referees: Andy Tait and Martin McCarthy
Peterhead vs Albion Rovers
Referee: Alan Newlands
Assistant Referees: Billy Baxter and Willie Ferguson
Stirling Albion vs Elgin City
Referee: Euan Anderson
Assistant Referees: Michael Banks and Ivan Stankovic
By Adam Higgins
By: Adam Higgins
Celtic manager Neil Lennon hopes his side can take their domestic form into their final Champions League group game against Barcelona.
The Hoops are unbeaten in the league this season after fourteen matches following Friday's thumping 5-0 win over Motherwell but have taken just three points from five European games in Group H.
As a result, the Scottish Premiership leaders are guaranteed to finish bottom of the group after collecting just one win so far in a 2-1 victory over Ajax last month.
But Lennon, who guided the Glasgow outfit to the Champions League knockout stages last season, still believes Wednesday's match at the Nou Camp is still important for his team's development.
"Chances to play Barcelona don't come round very often," he said. "We will endeavour to get something out of the game and they can learn from the experience of playing in the Nou Camp as well and that will stand us in good stead for the rest of the season here.
"I am really pleased with the consistency and intensity of the performances and we need to take that into Wednesday night and try to get something out of the game."
Celtic lost 2-1 in the corresponding fixture last season after taking the lead but were beaten by an agonising stoppage-time winner from Barca left-back Jordi Alba.
Scotland winger James Forrest, Wales defender Adam Matthews, Georgios Samaras and Nir Biton could all return to the Celtic squad for the trip to Spain.
"We are hoping James will be okay and we're hoping Adam Matthews will join the squad as well," the Hoops boss added. "That will give the squad a lift as we've missed him a little bit and Sammy and Nir Biton should be okay as well."
Captain Scott Brown also returns from a three-match European suspension after being sent off against Barca in the 1-0 reverse at Celtic Park in October.
The Bhoys have been in blistering form in recent weeks, scoring 18 times in their last four domestic matches including a 7-0 demolition of Hearts in the Scottish Cup at Tynecastle.
By: Adam Higgins
The on-loan Sunderland striker gave the Tigers the lead after eight minutes with his first goal in eleven months, side-footing home Ahmed Elmohamady's cross after a slack pass from Swans captain Ashley Williams.
The hosts improved after a poor first-half with Chico Flores contentiously levelling on the hour mark when he appeared to use his arm to nudge the ball home from Jonjo Shelvey's cross.
But the visitors felt they should have been awarded a penalty when Dwight Tiendialli appeared to handball an Alex Bruce header but referee Martin Atkinson ignored the appeals.
Hull move into 12th place after collecting only their fourth away point of the campaign - the other three coming in September's 3-2 win at Newcastle - and are five points clear of the relegation zone.
The Swans move into the top half of the table but have not won back-to-back Premier League matches since November 2012 as their home struggles continue having triumphed in just two of their last twelve league outings in South Wales.
The Swans made three changes to their starting XI as Michu returned from the ankle injury which had ruled him out since the derby defeat at Cardiff last month while Gerhard Tremmel started in goal in place of Michel Vorm, who had a knee problem.
The final change saw Nathan Dyer - a goalscorer in the 3-0 win over Newcastle last time out - start as Alejandro Pozuelo was back among the substitutes.
Hull boss Steve Bruce made just one change as he named skipper Curtis Davies in his line-up after he missed the midweek 2-0 defeat at Arsenal in place of Robbie Brady, who dropped to the substitutes bench.
Much had been made of Graham's return to Swansea and a goal drought stretching back to January 9, when he netted against Chelsea in the Capital One Cup semi-finals. It was almost inevitable he would end it against his former club, and so it proved.
Bruce had called on his side to make a quicker and livelier start away from home and he got the response he was looking for.
A poor Ashley Williams pass was picked off by Ahmed Elmohamady and his fine deep cross was converted at the back post to give Graham his first top-flight goal in 1,626 minutes.
Swansea, with Michu back in action after five weeks out, had started positively as they looked to pick up where they had left off against Newcastle last week.
Twice Pablo Hernandez found space in front of the Hull defence, finding Nathan Dyer, who curled wide, and then failing to locate Michu.
But they fell behind in the eighth minute as Graham ended his 11-month wait for a goal with his calm, far-post finish which, despite the relief he must have felt, he barely celebrated in a nod to the home support.
Swansea continued to have stacks of possession, but it counted for very little as they struggled to break down their visitors.
Hull were well-organised, compact, and deprived their hosts of space in between defence and midfield, where they can thrive if given the chance.
Home frustrations steadily grew, as did the scrappiness in Swansea's play. They did work a half chance for Jonathan de Guzman, but he blazed miles over the bar.
The half-time stats said it all. Swansea had enjoyed 67 per cent of the possession, yet had failed to produce a single strike on target. The tempo of their passing was too slow to negotiate a route through Hull's five men in midfield where, in Britton's absence, they were ineffective.
Jose Canas, his stand-in, was anonymous when he wasn't just plain poor. Michael Laudrup was concern personified on the bench, his brow increasingly furrowed at his team's failure to translate near-monopoly of the ball into goals.
Swansea were booed off at the break, but there was little improvement after the interval and Tom Huddlestone, who picked off countless stray Swansea passes, could have doubled their lead only to prod over a loose ball from the edge of the box.
It took the introduction of Alejandro Pozuelo in the 58th minute to spark some urgency into Swansea's play and the equaliser quickly arrived, although in dubious circumstances, through Flores.
Bruce then made a change as Graham was replaced by Robert Koren with Michael Laudrup also sending on Wayne Routledge in place of Pablo Hernandez.
Hull responded strongly and pushed Swansea back but they were on the wrong end of a second contentious handball decision with 20 minutes remaining after Tiendalli used both his hands to make his block.
David Meyler thought he had put them back in front as they continued to press, but had strayed just offside as he ran on to meet Jake Livermore's header. Yannick Sagbo then stung Gerhard Tremmel's palms with a fierce drive from distance.
Michu worked Allan McGregor at the other end before Williams and Sagbo were booked after an unseemly squabble before Flores, himself on a booking, flung himself to the ground feigning that Sagbo had elbowed him.
It proved the last meaningful effort as Hull's stern backline held off a late Swansea flurry without alarm.
The Swans will have to improve vastly if they are to secure their passage to the Europa League knockout stages when facing Swiss side St Gallen away from home on Thursday night before travelling to Norwich on Sunday, while Hull take on Mark Hughes's Stoke at the KC Stadium in the late kick-off on Saturday.
? DID YOU KNOW ?
Swansea have scored 17 of their 21 Premier League goals this season in the second half of games.
By: Adam Higgins
NEW Wigan Athletic boss Uwe Rosler is delighted to be given 'the perfect opportunity' to meet his aspirations of returning to English football's top table.
The former Brentford manager, 45, was appointed on Saturday having guided the Bees to the League One play-off final last term during his two-and-a-half year stay at Griffin Park.
It came six days after predecessor Owen Coyle departed the Lancashire club by mutual agreement following an inconsistent run of form in his six-month tenure.
And when addressing the media for the first time, Rosler said, according to the club's website: "This is a perfect opportunity for me, the perfect club, one that wants to be successful. I have ambitions to end up, as I did as a player, at the top of English football.
"I'm very excited but also exhausted because the last three days have been very hectic. It came a little bit out of the blue, I didn't expect it.
"I see Wigan Athletic as a dream club for me and I will work very hard to fulfil the club's ambition - anything is possible. My former club Brentford were very helpful, they understood the situation when such a big club like Wigan Athletic come in for me and give me such a good opportunity.
"It is very important you have a good relationship with a chairman and a short line of communication, I am looking for stability and continuity in the football club."
The Latics have struggled to adapt to the significant change in philosophy since Roberto Martinez departed the FA Cup holders at the end of last season following the club's relegation to the Championship after eight years in the top-flight.
But Rosler promised to instil a similar attacking approach at the DW Stadium to the one that current Everton boss Martinez developed during his time at the club.
"Roberto left big footprints for anyone to follow. I always want to follow my own style of football - I like to play on the ground, quick, play forward and commit bodies forward. I will look to play 4-3-3. The players are familiar with the system from their past with Roberto.
"I need energy and a willingness to attack and feel in some ways it's similar to Roberto - and in other ways it's not. I have a very talented squad of players," he added.
Chairman Dave Whelan, who agreed a compensation package with West London club Brentford to capture Rosler, believes he has found the right man to lead the club back to the Premier League.
He told the press conference: "He impressed me so much with his determination, his grasp of the game. Roberto played a certain way and was successful. We had enormous success by playing football on the ground - winning the FA Cup was an unbelievable thing for the club to do.
"I have followed Uwe's career closely. I had him in mind and in the interview he convinced me he was the man for the job. We have had a fantastic progression from the old Division Four.
"I bought Wigan Athletic eighteen years ago and I had one ambition then which was to get to the Premier League it was our ambition then and it is our ambition again. We only have one ambition and that is to play in the Premier League. It might not happen this year or next year, but it will happen."
Chief executive Jonathan Jackson echoed Whelan's thoughts, stating that the appointment has 'given the whole club a boost' and hopes Rosler's arrival will have an immediate impact on results.
"When we met Uwe Rosler we knew he was the man we wanted to get us back to the style of football we had enjoyed for eight years in the Premier League.
"You can see straight away Uwe was the right fit for Wigan Athletic, he is a driven individual who has developed a style of football that has been very successful. It's important we return to the Premier League as soon as possible, to get someone as highly rated as Uwe was something we needed to do as soon as possible," he added.
Rosler inherits a Latics team bereft of confidence in recent weeks as the German witnessed Saturday's 2-1 loss to Millwall at the New Den from the stands - the club's fifth successive defeat in all competitions.
Wigan sit 14th in the table, nine points adrift of the play-off places, as ex-Manchester City striker Rosler prepares to take charge for the first time against Slovenian side Maribor in the Europa League - a game they must win to stand any chance of progressing to the knockout stages.
By Adam Higgins
By: Adam Higgins
Celtic have issued 128 "precautionary suspensions" against supporters believed to have been involved in causing damage at Fir Park in Friday's 5-0 win over Motherwell.
The game was marred by disturbances in the visiting section of Fir Park as seats were ripped out, while fireworks, smoke bombs and a flare were set off in scenes described by the Scottish Professional Football League as "shameful".
Celtic launched their own internal investigation into the events, and they have confirmed that 128 individuals will be temporarily banned from attending matches both at home and away.
A club statement read: "Following events on Friday evening at Fir Park Stadium, Celtic Football Club has issued precautionary suspensions against 128 individuals preventing them attending matches involving Celtic, pending further investigation. These suspensions will cover matches at Celtic Park and away matches.
"In addition, the club will be relocating around 250 season book holders in Section 111 to other areas within the stadium, or offering refunds covering the remainder of the season to those who do not wish to be relocated.
"Events such as those on Friday night do not represent the Celtic support or the club. These events were an embarrassment to our great football club and are absolutely indefensible.
"It is clear that there is an element which has no hesitation in bringing Celtic's name into disrepute. This is something the club will not tolerate and we therefore have no other option but to take this action.
"We will not allow the great name of Celtic to be damaged in this way any more - our supporters deserve more than this. We are sure these supporters will understand the position which the club is in and we are also sure they will unite with the club as we move forward.
"Celtic has a proud 125-year history and fundamental to that history have been our fans. Our supporters enjoy a wonderful reputation earned across many years, many families and many generations. This is something we must protect vigorously."
While insisting that none of its members were involved in Friday's events, the Green Brigade admitted that it had happened in an "unofficial Green Brigade section".
The group had already been criticised by the club over political banners displayed at Celtic's Champions League game against AC Milan last month that led to Celtic being called to a disciplinary hearing on Wednesday by European governing body Uefa.
Celtic's latest statement urged the supporters to unite behind the club in taking action to "protect vigorously" what it said was a "wonderful reputation" of its fans.
The SPFL has yet to decide whether to take action following Friday's events and the next stage of any disciplinary action might not become clear until the end of this week or start of next week.
However, it issued a statement pointing out that, under its rules, the visiting club should recompense the home club for any damage caused by their support.
Should the clubs fail to agree on a compensation figure, the league body would adjudicate on the matter.
The Scottish champions announced the sanctions shortly after the SPFL issued a statement condemning the behaviour of the visiting fans, while Police Scotland are continuing to study evidence in a bid to identify the culprits who caused "significant damage".
SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster said: "We have already been in touch with both clubs and the police following the disturbances during Friday night's fixture at Fir Park. We absolutely condemn this type of behaviour - it has no place in the game.
"We are confident that the police and both clubs will play a full part in helping to identify those involved in what were shameful scenes.
"We expect the SPFL Match Delegate report to be with us within the next 24-48 hours. The SPFL will work closely with our colleagues at both clubs and with the police as part of a thorough investigation into Friday night's events."
By Adam Higgins
By: Adam Higgins
THE controversial Green Brigade group of Celtic fans have issued a statement expressing their “disappointment” after seats were damaged and smoke bombs thrown onto the pitch during Celtic’s 5-0 win against Motherwell at Fir Park on Friday.
The self-styled ‘ultras’ group, who faced criticism from Celtic manager Neil Lennon over a recent banner featuring IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands, admitted that the damage had happened ‘on their watch’ but denied that members of the group were involved.
The group said in a statement: "Firstly we do not condone the breaking of seats nor do we welcome pyrotechnics being thrown on the park. We as a group are as disappointed as any about such indefensible behaviour and regret that it happened on our watch.
"Whilst it was not members of our group behaving in this manner, we accept the fact that these actions took place behind our banner in what was an unofficial ‘Green Brigade section’ and furthermore that the fans within this area are associated to our group whether they are members or not."
The statement concludes: "Ultimately, we should have had greater control of the bodies present within our block and our failure to do so has resulted in events which are unacceptable and we will strive to ensure that such scenes are not repeated."
The Scottish Professional Football League will decide on any punishment when it receives its match delegate’s report into events at Fir Park.
Under an SPFL agreement, the Parkhead club will pay for the damage, but the league can issue further sanctions.
While no arrests were made inside Fir Park, the Glasgow club have launched their own investigation, while Police Scotland is looking into the "significant damage" caused to seats.
It reported 18 smoke bombs, three fireworks and one flare being set off, with two green smoke bombs being thrown into the goalmouth, one of them landing yards from Celtic goalkeeper Fraser Forster.
The main Celtic fans' group, the Affiliation of Registered Celtic Supporters Clubs, expressed frustration at the actions.
"We should be discussing another devastating Celtic performance on the pitch. Instead we are talking about disappointments off the field," said a statement.
"Let's make no mistake that incidents like at Fir Park and the publicity that this attracts makes any negotiations regarding ticket pricing, safe standing and policing at games more difficult.
"Any payment for damage and fines that are the responsibility of the club are ultimately paid by us. This is a measurable cost. The damage to our reputation as a support is unquantifiable."
The Green Brigade were already facing an uncertain future at Parkhead amid mounting anger from the club and fellow Celtic fans over their behaviour and Friday's controversy could be the last straw.
They are at the centre of a fourth UEFA charge for the club in two years stemming from an 'illicit banner' depicting William Wallace and IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands which was displayed at the recent Champions League match with AC Milan in Glasgow.
Hoops boss Lennon has already expressed his disbelief at Friday's trouble while the club announced it was 'appalled' before promising answers from an urgent investigation.
The shameful scenes were the latest worrying incidence of fan misbehaviour in the Scottish game, coming a week after Falkirk's new £450,000 plastic pitch was damaged by a flare thrown from a Rangers fan during a Scottish Cup tie.
Later that same afternoon, Motherwell fans damaged seats at Hamilton's New Douglas Park during their shock cup exit to League Two outfit Albion Rovers.
Responding to the latest episode in North Lanarkshire, a Celtic statement read: "Clearly, we are appalled by the scenes from last night's match and the actions of a small minority which have again tarnished the great reputation of the club. We are investigating these events."
By Adam Higgins
Another Track i filmed with Fabian Belassie with a great cover of Radioacitve!
By: Adam Higgins
Host nation Brazil will face Croatia in the opening game of the 2014 World Cup in Rio after the group stage draw was made.
The Samba Boys, who won the Confederations Cup last summer, open the tournament in Group A against the Croats in Sao Paolo on 12 June.
The five-time winners then take on Mexico on 17 June at the Estadio Castelao in Fortaleza and Cameroon at the Estadio Nacional in Brasilia five days later.
Holders Spain will entertain the Netherlands on matchday one in a mouth-watering repeat of the ill-tempered final in Johannesburg four years ago with Chile, beaten by Brazil in 2006 and 2010, and managerless Australia, the lowest ranked of the 32 participating nations, also competing in Group B.
La Roja cannot play Brazil until the final if they win the group. If that is the case, Holland are likely to face the Samba Boys in the last sixteen.
Group C consists of Colombia, Greece, Ivory Coast and Japan. Colombia are making their fifth World Cup finals appearance after taking 32 points from 16 games in qualifying and will face Euro 2012 quarter-finalists Greece in their first match. The Greeks saw both their previous World Cup campaigns end at the group stages in 1994 and 2010.
Ivory Coast, who remained unbeaten through qualifying and beat Senegal in the play-offs, begin at the Arena Pernambuco in Recife against Japan, who were the first nation besides Brazil to qualify.
England were handed a tough group stage draw with 2010 semi-finalists Uruguay, Euro 2012 runners-up Italy and Costa Rica lying in wait for Roy Hodgson’s men in Group D as drawn out by their 1966 hat-trick hero Sir Geoff Hurst.
The Three Lions will be reunited with the four-time winners for the first time since being knocked out by the Azzuri in the quarter-finals of Euro 2012 on penalties, in the 99 degree humidity of the sauna-like Amazon region of Manaus on matchday one.
Uruguay, ranked sixth in the world, qualified via the play-offs by beating Jordan while Costa Rica, have lost their last four games at World Cup finals.
In contrast, Didier Deschamps’s France have been handed an easy draw in Group D alongside Switzerland, who start their campaign in Brasilia against Ecuador, and rank outsiders Honduras, who have qualified for their second consecutive World Cup finals.
Two-time winners Argentina, with Barcelona’s Lionel Messi in tow, who has scored 20 goals in his last 20 caps, face World Cup debutants Bosnia-Hercegovina as well as Iran and Nigeria in Group F.
Iran, managed by former Manchester United assistant Carlos Queiroz, have won their last six games while Nigeria are paired with the Argentinians for the third time in four World Cup tournaments after meeting in 2002 and 2010.
Bosnia are ranked 21st in the world and their tally of 30 goals was the fourth highest in European qualifying with the potent strike duo of Manchester City’s Edin Dzeko and Stuttgart forward Vedad Ibisevic netting 18 goals between them.
Tournament stalwarts Germany, looking to win the World Cup for the first time in 24 years, will lock horns with Portugal in their opening Group G match in El Salvador, in a repeat of their opening Euro 2012 match, with Ghana and USA coming afterwards.
History is against the Germans as no European team have ever won the World Cup in South America while their clash with the United States will bring a first reunion with former Germany player and manager Jurgen Klinsmann.
Portugal qualified following a dramatic play-off victory against Sweden as Cristiano Ronaldo’s second leg hat-trick took him level with Pauleta’s national record of 47 goals.
In Group H, Belgium – hotly tipped to reach the latter stages of the tournament – have been paired with Algeria, Fabio Capello’s Russia and South Korea.
Dark horses Belgium, with a number of Premier League players in their ranks including Chelsea’s Eden Hazard, registered a national record seven successive qualifying wins during an unbeaten qualifying campaign.
Marc Wilmot’s men, who also saw off Scotland home and away, kick off their campaign in Belo Horizonte against Algeria – who held England to a goalless draw in South Africa in 2010.
The Algerians beat African Cup of Nations runners-up Burkina Faso on away goals to qualify via the play-offs while South Korea qualified on goal difference at the expense of Uzbekistan.
Capello – knocked out by Germany with England in the last 16 stage four years ago – is set to be the oldest head coach to take charge of a nation at next summer’s tournament at the age of 67.
The draw, staged in the coastal resort town of Costa do Sauipe in the province of Bahia, separated the 32 participating nations into eight groups of four teams, with the top two progressing to the knockout stages.
However, as announced by football’s world governing body Fifa on Tuesday, a pre-draw took place before the main draw where one country – later discovered to be Italy – was moved from Pot Four into Pot Two.
The four South American seeds Brazil, Uruguay, Colombia and Argentina were put into a temporary Pot ‘X’ with the three teams not drawn against European teams in Pot Two then returned to the main draw.
Past World Cup heroes Geoff Hurst, Mario Kempes, Fabio Cannavaro, Lothar Matthaus, Zinedine Zidane, Fernando Hierro, Cafu and Alcides Ghiggia drew the balls out.
Brazilian actors Fernanda Lima and Rodrigo Hilbert hosted the draw with singers Margareth Menezes, Olodum and Emicida contributing to a lavish opening show before Fifa marked the death of Nelson Mandela during the ceremony, with the former South African president dying on Thursday night at the age of 95.
The World Cup – staged during Brazil’s winter months – will last for an entire month as twelve stadiums are used to host games in twelve different cities, culminating in the final at the iconic Maracana Stadium in Rio on July 13.
It is the twentieth time the tournament will take place and the first to be held in Brazil since 1950 when the Samba Boys lost to Uruguay in the final.
How the teams were entered into the draw:
Pot 1 (top eight seeds): Brazil, Spain, Argentina, Belgium, Colombia, Germany, Switzerland, Uruguay.
Pot 2: Ivory Coast, Ghana, Algeria, Nigeria, Cameroon, Chile, Ecuador.
Pot 3: Japan, Iran, South Korea, Australia, United States, Mexico, Costa Rica, Honduras.
Pot 4: Bosnia-Hercegovina, Croatia, England, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Russia, France.
The tropical city of Manaus:
The capital of the state of Amazonas, Manaus is the furthest north of the host cities.
The climate is very difficult. Tropical heat with tropical storms. Highs are a toasty 30C with a 40% chance of thunderstorms in June, with humidity up to 80%.
Time Zone: GMT -4 hours. Approximate distance from Rio (England's base): 2,659 miles.
By Adam Higgins
By: Adam Higgins
Swansea and Hull will be looking to move into the top half of the table when the sides meet for the first time in the Premier League.
Both teams, who last locked horns in a 1-1 draw in the Championship in April 2011, can move above Aston Villa into tenth place with a victory at the Liberty Stadium on Monday night.
The Swans, who sit eleventh with 18 points, won for only the second time on home soil in the league after beating Newcastle 3-0 last Wednesday while fourteenth-placed Hull lost 2-0 at leaders Arsenal.
Michael Laudrup’s men have been victorious in three of their last ten matches in all competitions and face a long trip to St Gallen in Switzerland on Thursday for their final Europa League group stage match with qualification still yet to be assured.
Their patchy form in front of their own supporters in South Wales is in desperate need of improvement as they seek to build on an impressive ninth-place finish last term.
The promoted Tigers have severely struggled on their travels this term, collecting just three points when beating Newcastle 3-2 on September 21 and losing six games – only Sunderland have a worse away record in the division.
Nine seasons ago, Swansea and Hull met in the bottom tier at Vetch Fields in a memorable fixture which shaped the Swans’ history.
The Welsh club were on the brink of exiting the Football League but a James Thomas hat-trick secured a 4-2 win which retained their status.
Leon Britton, who played that day, admitted Monday’s clash will be more special: “We’ve played Hull a few times over the years, but every time it evokes the memories of that day because it’s arguably the biggest and most important game in Swansea’s history.
“We’ll always have a special rapport with Hull because of that game. It will make Monday that much more special. It will be a great day for both clubs. Considering that game in 2003 and the fact 10 years ago we were both fighting in the bottom division, it’s brilliant that both of us are playing in the Premier League on Monday night. It will be a special night.”
Dwight Tiendalli believes the Swans will secure another home win if they play the same way as the comfortable win over the Magpies last week.
The Swans defender said: “On Monday against Hull, if we reach our normal level then I’m positive we will win. We have to make every home game difficult, even against the big teams. Me as a person, I do not look so much at Hull. We have a great squad with great players.”
Swansea, who would surpass the 20-point mark by taking three points, are boosted by the return of strike duo Miguel Michu and Wilfried Bony, their top scorers this term, after they trained on Sunday having recovered from an ankle injury and hamstring strain respectively.
However, on-loan Getafe striker Alvaro Vazquez is ruled out as his groin strain has not healed sufficiently to feature.
Hull, unbeaten in the last four league meetings with the Swans, have defender Curtis Davies available. He will battle with James Chester for a starting berth at centre-back after returning from a one-match ban served at the Emirates Stadium for accruing five yellow cards.
On-loan Sunderland forward Danny Graham, who has failed to find the net in 13 appearances this term, will be reunited with familiar surroundings as the 28-year-old returns to his former club.
His last goal came for the Swans eleven months ago in a 2-0 win over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in the semi-finals of the Capital One Cup, on their way to winning the trophy.
Tigers boss Steve Bruce hopes his former employers can bring the best out of Graham: “I keep getting the same thing thrown at me about Danny and he’s got to see it through like any other striker,” he said.
“Could Swansea be the one that turns him around? We have to wait and see, but you never know. But all strikers go through it. No matter how good you are, there comes a time in your career when you go through a lean patch. One thing you’ve got to do is knuckle down and try not to lose confidence.”
Referee: Martin Atkinson (West Yorkshire)
Assistants: Harry Lennard and Matthew Wilkes
Fourth Official: Kevin Friend (Leicestershire)
By Adam Higgins
This is a 10 minute christmas quiz show that I worked on in my second year at University. I was the Floor manager for this show and absolutely loved the whole process! Enjoy!
This is a short pre recorded package I did a few years ago, about the charity Nightsafe which is based in Blackburn. I spoke to Fallon who is a volunteer there.
By: Adam Higgins
Westlife's Kian Egan has been crowned the 2013 winner of I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here.
The 33-year-old Irish singer was voted the eighth king of the Australian jungle ahead of Welsh fashion designer David Emanuel, 61, in the final of the thirteenth series of the ITV reality show.
Kian - who beat off competition from TOWIE's Joey Essex, model Amy Willerton and Emmerdale's Lucy Pargeter - was handed the crown by last year's winner, Eastenders actress Charlie Brooks.
It brought an end to a gruelling three weeks of tears, tantrums, friendships, controversial contraband and burgeoning hate campaigns between the twelve competing celebrities.
Following the annoucement, Kian, a coach on singing competition The Voice of Ireland, said: "I am very shocked, I don’t know what to say, it has been a fantastic experience. Thankyou so much for everyone who voted for me, I don't why they wanted to vote for me as king of the jungle but I really thank them so much.
"Everyone here deserves to be sat in this chair, everyone here is a king and queen. It has been a team effort. We wouldn’t have got through it without each other. It is life changing and unreal.
"It has probably been the best three weeks of my life, it's an experience we'll all take away forever. I've made some friends for life and it's something we'll genuinely never forget. The hardest thing has been staying away from the kids for so long. I wanted to see a picture of them so badly.
He added when speaking to ITV's Lorraine: "I've not seen [partner] Jodie for four weeks or so now as I didn't see her a week before we went in and it's been hard having no communication with her to see how everything has been."
Runner-up David, one of the favourites to leave first, said following the revelation of the results: "He [Kian] thoroughly deserves it."
The Bridgend royal designer told I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here Now on ITV2: "It's extraordinary to be in the final three with Lucy, it was just a dream. It was very difficult to take in. It was bizarre because I didn't think I would get past the first hurdle so I was pinching myself really."
Earlier, the two finalists embarked on the concluding bushtucker trial 'The Final Feast' in which both were forced to sample a four-course menu of stomach-churning jungle delacassies.
David - best known for designing the wedding dress worn by Diana, Princess of Wales, in 1981 - first tucked into a Cheese Fruit fondu, a bowl of blended cheese fruit and the legs of a king cricket, while Kian's starter was an ostrich anus on a cocktail stick.
The main courses included a pigs penis in a casserole and cow breasts with seaworm sundae, fish eyes and cockroaches served up for pudding.
To wash it down, David necked a glass of 'Cham-pain' consisting of blended cockroaches, crickets and mealworms.
Kian then downed an 'Eggs-presso' - blended fermented duck egg in a mug - before telling hosts Ant and Dec how it tasted: "Have you ever vomited into your own mouth? Multiply that by a million and put really sour eggs in the middle."
Both earned a luxurious meal to digest and several beers on their final night in the Queensland jungle as Kian munched on pizza and a jumbo cheeseburger.
Meanwhile, David, who joined the jungle in order to lose weight after prostate cancer treatment, opted for an elegant starter of smoked salmon with lemon juice and a gigantic fillet steak and chips before the pair scoffed eton mess and banoffee pie for dessert.
By Adam Higgins
By: Adam Higgins
Luke Friend will perform in next Saturday's X Factor final after receiving the most public votes as the semi-final results went to deadlock.
Friend, from Teignmouth in Devon, won an emotional sing-off with his performance of Somewhere Only We Know by Essex rock band Keane.
The final group act Rough Copy, who sang End of the Road by Boyz II Men, were sent home after judges Gary Barlow, Louis Walsh, Nicole Scherzinger and Sharon Osbourne failed to reach a majority verdict.
Wild-haired Friend joins fellow 17-year-old Nicholas McDonald, from Motherwell, and 36-year-old prison officer Sam Bailey, from Leicestershire, in the final at the Wembley Arena next weekend as the remaining three contestants battle for the glamorous prize of earning a multi-million recording contract and releasing the new Christmas number one.
Luke kicked off the Saturday show with Beyonce’s Best Thing I Never Had, followed by Sir Elton John's classic hit Something About The Way You Look Tonight.
Emotions were also high after mother-of-two Sam Bailey’s performance of Candle In The Wind, which left Osbourne speechless and almost made Nicole Scherzinger swear.
As Nicholas and Sam were guaranteed their place in the last three, the judges were left to choose between Rough Copy and Luke Friend following a tense sing-off.
Take That singer Barlow said: "It's harder than usual because these acts are completely different. I've heard both acts sing better, it was an emotional sing-off," but voted for his own act Rough Copy.
Walsh stated: "It's very simple Dermot, the act I'm sending through is Luke Friend" while former Pussycat Doll Scherzinger described Luke as 'a diamond' and 'genuine' before choosing to send through Rough Copy.
But after plenty of thinking time, Osbourne could not choose between the two acts, leaving the ultimate decision down to the public vote as singing trio Rough Copy, who have been together for six years, became the ninth contestant to crash out of the singing competition.
When asked what lies next for the group, they told ITV's Lorraine: "We just want to live the dream, conquer the world, tour, sell albums and show the next generation if you work hard, you can achieve anything you want.
"We're just regular guys, we just go shopping and people ask to take pictures but we are not famous. We just cannot wait to get into the studio, sing, write, get in on the CD and make videos, we hope that major labels are interested in us."
They also believe the battle to be crowned winner of the tenth series will intensify in the final but are backing Scottish singer McDonald.
"Nicholas has such a heart and a personality, and wants it so much. Sam will be tough to beat because she is such a great singer and Luke is great too."
Showbiz reporter Dan Wootton also suggested that Sharon Osbourne was pressurised into taking the result to deadlock.
He said: "There was drama last night after the sing-off as it sounds like your [Rough Copy's] mentor Gary Barlow had words with Sharon Osbourne. She did not appear for the after-show on ITV2, there was one empty chair.
"Apparently, she was too upset to come back. It seems she was pressured for time when taking the vote to deadlock, which ultimately is the fairest way of deciding who goes through."
Leona Lewis, who won the third series of the show in 2006, and the award-winning Canadian Michael Buble also performed their new singles.
By Adam Higgins
By: Adam Higgins
Everton earned a deserved draw at the Emirates as substitute Gerard Deulofeu struck late on to deny Arsenal a seven point lead at the summit of the Premier League.
The 19-year-old Spaniard smashed the ball past Gunners goalkeeper Wojech Szczesny just four minutes after Mesut Ozil looked to have won the game for the hosts with a close-range finish.
Toffees stopper Tim Howard made important saves from Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud, Szczesny thwarted Kevin Mirallas and French striker Giroud hit the crossbar with a stunning effort in stoppage time as an entertaining and even contest finished a point apiece.
Arsene Wenger's men move five points clear of second-placed Liverpool at the top despite seeing their run of four consecutive wins come to an end while Everton, who have not won at Arsenal since 1996, remain the only team in the division to have lost just once this season as they sit fifth in the table after an eighth straight game unbeaten.
Wenger spoke of his desire to produce a 'huge performance' ahead of tricky trips to Napoli - a must-win Champions League encounter - and Manchester City in the upcoming week.
The Gunners shuffled the pack again following their 2-0 home win over Hull City in midweek as Giroud returned to spearhead the attack in place of Nicklas Bendtner, Jack Wilshere lined up in place of Tomas Rosicky while Kieran Gibbs was preferred to Nacho Monreal at left-back. Mikel Arteta captained the side with Mathieu Flamini dropping to the bench.
The Toffees entered the game on the back of winning against champions Manchester United at Old Trafford for the first time in 21 years and again illustrated their stark improvement under Roberto Martinez, who was relegated with Wigan on his previous visit to the Emirates in May.
Given Everton's tremendous character this season, Arsenal's title credentials were guaranteed to be given a tough examination and the size of their task immediately became clear as the unchanged visitors made a confident start to proceedings.
The pace and power of top scorer Romelu Lukaku, on loan from Chelsea, and the combative energy of England international Ross Barkley in midfield caused problems to the Gunners.
And the marauding Barkley created a decent opening inside the first five minutes when he fed Kevin Mirallas.
The Belgian international, who scored twice in the 3-3 Merseyside draw with Liverpool, delivered a right-wing cross which narrowly evaded the onrushing James McCarthy before Sylvain Distin then swiped a volley wide of the target.
It was an early warning sign for the Gunners, who largely struggled to make any early in-roads against a well-organised Everton rearguard.
With the two meanest Premier League defences pitted against each other, clear-cut goalscoring chances were sporadic in the meeting of the two most in-form sides in the division.
Arsenal - who discovered they will face Tottenham in January's FA Cup third round - had lacked the intensity and slick passing which was their usual hallmark but clicked into gear on the half hour mark when Gibbs burst through the midfield to find Carl Jenkinson charging forward on the opposite flank.
The right-back's crisp pass to Santi Cazorla allowed the Spanish midfielder to search for Gibbs across the six-yard box with a ground-level centre which escaped the England international's outstretched boot.
The encouraging moment quickly turned into a scare at the other end as Lukaku's cross-cum-shot skidded across the face of goal but the lively Mirallas was unable to meet it at the back post.
Just before the interval, Arsenal almost burst into life as a delightful pass from Aaron Ramsey slipped Giroud into the box but the striker's dinked effort as he ran into the box was blocked by Tim Howard.
Two minutes later, Mesut Ozil cut in from the right hand side and played the ball to Giroud on the edge of the box whose first time pass freed the potent Ramsey, who has bagged eight league goals this term, but Howard was swift and brave to block at the Welshman's feet.
The first half ended in thrilling fashion and Arsenal carried the momentum into the second period with Cazorla and Ozil particularly menacing.
Both were involved in the first opening after the interval as Ozil lifted a cross from the right flank to the far post. Wilshere cushioned the ball back across goal for Cazorla, lurking with intent, but his header fell straight into the gloves of Howard.
The Gunners, with the backing of the rowdy Emirates faithful, moved through the gears but were continually frustrated by Everton's stubborn resilience.
And Martinez's men also posed a clear danger on the counter attack as Polish keeper Woijech Szczesny was called into action for the first time to beat away a fizzing shot from Steven Pienaar, booed throughout because of his former Tottenham connections.
The game became engrossingly end-to-end with the Gunners, vastly improved, seeking the opener while Everton offered a greater threat in the final third.
Shortly after Pienaar's effort, Gibbs whipped in a fine cross from the left which Ramsey met with a firm volley as Howard produced a sprawling stop of an improbable variety.
On 67 minutes, Szczesny was forced into another smart save as Barkley took aim with a fierce drive from the edge of the area.
Wenger highlighted the strength of his bench by making a triple substitution moments later, introducing Theo Walcott, Mathieu Flamini and Tomas Rosicky in place of midfield trio Ramsey, Wilshere and Cazorla.
Flamini - who netted in last weekend's 3-0 win over Cardiff - almost made an immediate impact as he slammed a shot across goal after positive approach play from Giroud.
The waves of Arsenal pressure continued to build but time was beginning to run out and Everton's resurgence grew stronger.
The visitors carved two openings in the space of 30 seconds as Mirallas firstly saw a shot brilliantly blocked by Laurent Koscielny before Distin headed over a sumptuous delivery from Costa Rica left-back Bryan Oviedo - the match winner against United in midweek.
But the deadlock was finally broken in Arsenal's favour with ten minutes remaining as Rosicky's delightfully chip from the left was Walcott headed back across goal. The ball slithered through the legs of Giroud into the path of Ozil and the German playmaker was able to slam his fourth Premier League goal of the campaign into the roof of the net to spark scenes of wild celebration.
It was the 13th time Arsenal had led in their 15 Premier League games this term. However, their slender advantage lasted barely four minutes as Everton substitute Deulofeu, brought on in place of Mirallas, collected the ball to the right of the box, dropped his shoulder and fired the ball beyond the reach of Szczesny for the leveller the Toffees fully merited for their endeavour.
In a breathless finale, Lukaku crashed a 20 yard effort over the crossbar and while Giroud was inches away from finding an Arsenal winner when rattling the woodwork with a magnificent strike from the edge of the box.
But the spoils were shared as referee Howard Webb brought an absorbing encounter to a close with Arsenal, who have lost twice in the league this term, edging further clear of their fellow title challengers and Everton sitting a solitary point behind fourth-placed Manchester City.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger: "Overall, we have to congratulate Everton as they played very well and started better but, saying that, Tim Howard made three excellent saves. We regret we were 1-0 up and couldn't keep a clean sheet. We were caught a bit on the flanks. This team has a fantastic attitude and response always. They give everything. We know we have quality and at least we took a point. There is always room for improvement. The three points would have been better but attitude and quality of players is there and is a good basis for improvement. It was quality game with two teams who tried to play in an attacking way. It was an enjoyable game played in an enjoyable spirit."
Arsenal midfielder Mikel Arteta: "It was a really tough game, a really high tempo game. They dominated the first 35 minutes or so but after that we had three clear chances. In the second half we were the better side. Everton are the best side we have faced this season in the Premier League. They been getting results because they are doing things right. They have a good mix of players and are hard to deal with."
Everton manager Roberto Martinez: "The first half performance was as good as it can be from an away side at the Emirates, to take the sting out of the game and stop Arsenal playing and creating a threat. Their goal came from nothing but to display the character and come back to score with a goal of that quality was fitting for a game of that standard. It is a good example of how we have been working to get in positions where we can win at Manchester United and come to the Emirates and get a draw. We are still learning and developing."
Everton defender Phil Jagielka: "I thought we played well and were more than value for draw in the end. I think you are looking at two good footballing teams and when one has it it is quite difficult to get it back. Hope and realism are two different things. We'd love to win the league but at the moment we are just looking to keep in touch with the top four."
By Adam Higgins
By: Adam Higgins
Midfielder Ben Watson says Wigan Athletic will turn the corner after a run of five consecutive defeats in all competitions.
The Latics were beaten 2-1 by Millwall at the New Den in the Championship on Saturday – their sixth loss in the last seven games.
But Watson, who scored the winner in the FA Cup final in May, remained defiant that the team can turn their fortunes around sooner rather than later.
“It’s just not falling for us at the minute,” the disappointed 28-year-old said.
“We dominated that match, it doesn’t matter which way you look at it. We shouldn’t have lost that match, which makes it even more frustrating. Things just aren’t going our way no matter how many chances we have.”
Watson admitted a change in approach in the last two games against Leeds and Millwall and hopes the tactical variation will reap dividends.
“We’re getting closer to turning things around and we’re building on the way we have played in the last two games. The more we focus on expressing ourselves on the ball, the closer we’ll get to stringing a run of results together,” he added.
Following the announcement of Uwe Rosler as Owen Coyle’s successor, Watson was impressed by the German in his first meeting with the former Brentford manager.
“Things are changing now, the new gaffer is in and I’m positive that we’ll start to turn a corner. We met him before the game and after the game, he came in and said a few words, it was a brief meeting but it was a positive one.”
Rosler watched from the stands at the New Den as Graham Barrow took charge of first-team duties from the touchline after Coyle departed the club by mutual consent last Sunday.
And Watson praised Barrow for stepping in and thanked him for his efforts: “Graham has been brilliant with us. I’ve been with him at the club for five seasons now and since the day I met him he’s been somebody who has shared a vast knowledge of football with every player.
“I think you can see that the lads have put everything in for him over the last two games. Graham is a brilliant person to have about and we would all like to thank him for stepping in whilst we didn’t have a permanent manager.”
By Adam Higgins
By: Adam Higgins
Newcastle manager Alan Pardew believes his players ‘deserve the headlines’ after beating champions Manchester United at Old Trafford for the first time since February 1972.
The Magpies recorded a historic 1-0 win courtesy of Yohan Cabaye’s third goal of the season just after the hour mark as the French midfielder converted a cutback from Moussa Sissoko.
And 52-year-old Pardew, the second longest-serving manager in the Premier League after joining the Tyneside club in December 2010, was full of praise for his players.
“It’s one of the top moments obviously in my time here. 41 years we have been waiting to win here as a club. It was a magnificent performance. I know we probably won’t get the headlines because of poor old [Manchester] United and David [Moyes], it’s a difficult result for them. But we do deserve the headlines because the players were magnificent.
“I asked them to play very differently today to the way we’ve been winning, to keep the ball and control the game, and we did that even to a level that I thought was good for us. We really kept the ball well and made it difficult for them but a great day for us, a great day for Newcastle and our fans, it really is,” he told BT Sport after the game.
“If we’re going to do it, that’s the way you want to do it because we really played well today. We wouldn’t let Man United rest and wouldn’t let them get through us.”
Pardew also believed his side, who have now won five of their last six league matches, controlled the game: “I thought we stuck to our game plan and we wanted to get on the front foot against Manchester United.
“We had a good control of the game, they didn’t really have too many moments perhaps on the break was their biggest threat. But when the game was controlled, we was in charge of that with some of our keep ball today.”
However, the Magpies boss refuted the suggestion that his change in approach was designed with Manchester United’s home struggles in mind.
“I think we changed the emphasis because Swansea gave us a kick up the bottom in terms of how to keep possession and have control. We lost control in the week but not today.
“We made it very clear that we were coming here to play, to take Man United on and to try to win the game. We never even contemplated a draw today, there was a real strong feeling in that dressing room that we could win.”
Hatem Ben Arfa, who has not started in the last six games, was introduced from the bench in place of Yohan Gouffran after 57 minutes after recovering from illness, and the Toon Army boss thought the French winger had a huge impact on shifting the momentum back in Newcastle’s favour.
“I thought Hatem [Ben Arfa] changed the game a little bit when they was coming on to us because he just changed the emphasis which he can do. He now knows what kind of work rate he needs to do in this team and if I can get him in the team and playing like that every week, we’ll have a great side,” he added.
Asked whether he should re-evaluate what his team are capable of this season, Pardew replied: “No I don’t think so because the slip-up at Swansea was disappointing and I must take some of the blame for that. Maybe I should have freshened it up or changed the game plan a little bit.
“But we got it right today and the one thing I do like about this side is the four victories we had before this were a little more direct. But I asked them to play a lot differently today and we’ve won in both styles which is going to be difficult for the opposition to know which way we are going to choose. That means I’ve got great players who can do that.”
Following Newcastle’s victory, United have now lost back-to-back Premier League home matches for the first time since May 2002 and remain ninth in the table after their fifth defeat of the campaign.
Pardew expressed his sympathy for under-fire United manager David Moyes and backed the Scot to turn their fortunes around if he receives the backing of the club.
“It is tough for him [David Moyes] at the moment and events worked against him a little bit with no [Wayne] Rooney today, who has been in outstanding form.
“He’s a great, great manager and a great person and this club, the best thing they can do is stick by him in these difficult days and support him. That’s what this great club has done to Alex Ferguson in the past and they’ll do it to David I’m sure. He’ll come out smiling.
“They’ve had some tricky results. He’s already proven he’s going to be great for this football club but it is some sticky days and we all have them as managers but David’s big enough to stand up to that and I wish him well in the next few games,” he added.
Newcastle have now taken ten points from four games against teams above them in the table, a string of impressive results which November’s Premier League manager of the month Pardew felt reflects the ability of his squad.
“It’s no surprise that we can list the top teams we have done well against this season – Tottenham, Chelsea, Liverpool and now Man United. We can change our tactics and win and feel confident about doing that, and that makes us dangerous,” he told BBC Sport.
Pardew also dedicated the victory – which lifted them above Tottenham into sixth – to the players and fans, who travelled en masse to support the team.
“We got contributions from everyone today. I’m absolutely delighted. The biggest heroes today were our fans because they were brilliant in the corner and you can still hear them now. They’ve been waiting 41 years.”
By Adam Higgins