Reading Appoint Nigel Adkins as Manager

Reading, this morning confirmed the appointment of former Southampton manager Nigel Adkins.

Up until earlier this season, Adkins had been at the helm with the Saints, having guided them to two successive promotions to the Premier League.

Results however, were considered not good enough and he was sacked.

Reading on the other hand, had also just been promoted the when manager Brian McDermott was sacked with little over 10 games to go.

The replacement from McDermott to Adkins is certainly a shrewd and somewhat risky one.

After all, at the start of the season, both teams were in the same situation and looked to be in it for the long haul trying to keep both teams up.

Nevertheless, it will certainly be intriguing to see whether both teams stay up. This will also confirm whether both clubs made the right decisions.

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Vettel Wins in Malaysia as he ignores Team Orders

It seems that Sebastian Vettel may be making his own way to China for the next race in the Formula One Calendar. His actions which gave him the Race win will be on everyone’s mind.

The Malaysian Grand Prix however provided many talking points which also saw Fernando Alonso retire after just Lap 2 from a collision which saw his wing-mirror come off. The decision made by Alonso to not Pit-Stop proved to be the wrong one and he was out.

Lewis Hamilton; a man who has just transferred teams from McLaren to Mercedes paid his old mechanic team a visit in a pit-stop.

The battle from the offset was between Vettel and fellow Red Bull team mate Mark Webber. Webber had been advised to stay in front throughout the race but Vettel ignored these orders.

In a tight confrontation the pair were both vying for first place with Vettel eventually doing so and closing out the race.

Third place went to Lewis Hamilton and fourth to fellow team-mate Nico Rosberg who in fact obeyed team orders to stay behind Hamilton.

Warned by his Red Bull boss to not do so, Vettel took over Webber with 13 laps to go.

In Formula One, all drivers want to win badly as Vettel showed. What is crucial is that Vettel will go into the next race in a few weeks, ahead in the Championship. What will come from events in Malaysia is another thing though and it will be interesting to see so.

England Thrash San Marino

Friday saw England take on the minnows San Marino in what proved to be more of a training regime that a World Cup Qualifier.

For San Marino were, as expected, poor, and England came out 8-0 winners.

The opening goal in England’s record-breaking goal scoring exploits came from a San Marino player, who comically turned the ball into his own net. The beginning of the inevitable destruction had begun.

Goal highlights include Wayne Rooney’s beautifully placed free kick and Ashley Young’s smashing drive from distance.

For a team ranked 207th in the world, San Marino never looked like creating anything. It was indeed a lesson in football and England got the job done.

This performance was never going the put Roy Hodgson and his men to the sword but England were ruthless.

Previously, a controversial squad exit from Rio Ferdinand had blighted the England camp but this did not take any hold over the game.

As a football nation, San Marino is non-existent. Their manager is a PE Teacher at a school and all of the players have a day job alongside their international pedigree. Their stadium is tiny and England came to do a job and they luckily did.

Tuesday sees England take on Montenegro in what is sure to be more of a spectacle for any fan, although there are sure to be far fewer goals.

PDC Premier League Darts 2013 – Round-Up

So far, 6 tantalising weeks of Darts has seen 180’s fly across Britain from 10 of the best in the game.

Currently, Dutch maestro Raymond van Barneveld sits top of the pile with 4 wins while his fellow countryman Michael van Gerwen is just below Barney with 3 victories.

At the bottom, a spirited two performances from Adrian ‘Jackpot’ Lewis still sees him fighting to avoid the impending relegation which will see the two bottom players after Week 9 eliminated.

The beauty of this year’s PDC Premier League is that it is closer than ever. Phil Taylor is on for a hat-trick of losses; something unfounded usually for The Power whilst former champion Lewis is trying to rekindle his play from before.

The show will move on to Cardiff next and Barney will be up against 2009 champion James Wade. ‘The Machine’ has shown consistency and a coolness that brought him the title previously. Perhaps a home crowd will give this match more of an edge for Wade despite Barney’s high scoring and brilliant checkout percentage.

Taylor will face League debutant Wes Newton, who himself is trying to fend off relegation. A great of the game Taylor should not be underestimated at any cost to still take this title eventually and experience in this match may be crucial.

Elsewhere, van Gerwen will be given a test by Scot, Gary Anderson, who on his day can produce fantastic Darts. Anderson himself has felt the brunt of the competitiveness of the Premier League so far and finds himself in the mix for relegation.

Possibly the least talked about match of the night will be Andy Hamilton up against Australian Simon Whitlock. So far both men sit in the middle of the pack with 3 wins and 3 losses. It is perhaps this inconsistency to pick up points that may see them both with a chance of relegation so points are definitely important. It should however be noted that Hamilton oversaw Phil Taylor last week with a confident 7-3 victory.

Out of the ten players so far in the League, I have perhaps been most enlightened by the high scoring and tenacity shown by debutant Robert Thornton. Thornton, who faces Adrian Lewis this week, finds himself 4th, with 2 wins and 3 draws. It is the ability to pick up points which has seen Thornton in a comfortable territory.

So far, no 9-Darters have been seen. Last week saw James Wade pick up a tasty 170 checkout in Manchester. Gary Anderson can feel confident with regards to a 9-Darter. He hit one in a UK Qualifier midweek; an event which in form van Gerwen won.

Make no mistake, the current Premier League seems tighter than ever and as the tungsten continues to be thrown, each match becomes even more of a spectacle of importance every week.  

Hot Off the Press – Michael Owen to Retire from all Football

Today, footballer Michael Owen broke the news that he is to retire from all football at the end of the season. At the age of 33, it perhaps is understandable. Owen is not getting any better, and a lack of performances for his current club Stoke City has seen just 1 goal from 7.

On the other hand, as I write this, I have to genuinely say that I am gutted about his announcement today. For me, Michael Owen will always be my first ever football hero. He seemed such a fantastic person, and from the age of 18 was set to hit the big time.

Having read his autobiography, Owen constantly talks of his family in the highest regard, notably his father. In his statement given today, Owen refers to his family as the most important factor in his life.

I will never forget the happiness I felt after he scored a hat trick for England against Germany in a 5-1 win; my first ever poster on my wall.

I had quite a soft spot for his first club, Liverpool and Owen was an integral part of that team, scoring 158 goals in 297 appearances. For England, Owen hit 40 in 89 which put him high on the all time goal scoring charts.

In 2004, Owen left Liverpool to join Real Madrid; one year before Liverpool won the European Cup; an accolade Owen unfortunately didn’t win in his illustrious career. That day in 2004, aged 10, I felt somewhat empty as I do today as it is then end of an era.

Subsequent moves to Newcastle, Manchester United and now Stoke followed as injuries blighted Owen’s career.

Who knows what would have happened had Owen stayed at Anfield. I would like to hope more trophies as well as more record breaking goals for England. Nevertheless, winning European Footballer of the Year as well as many other accolades puts Owen as an all time great.

One will always have the memories of a humble and friendly, family man, who put smiles on so many faces. My boyhood hero: Michael Owen.

Raikkonen Wins Opening Race of 2013 Formula One Season in Melbourne

Kimi Raikkonen, driving under Team Lotus has won the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne in the opening date of the Formula One Calendar in 2013.

Fernando Alonso and Ferrari took second and current reigning champion Sebastian Vetter came third.

Many eyes were on the Red Bull team of Vettel and Australian Mark Webber, who, after a much disrupted qualifier, found themselves taking pole position and second place respectively.

Webber has still not been able to gain a podium position in his native Grand Prix, and this will continue. His poor start, seeing him dropped to seventh proved key.

The opening of any Formula One is usually extremely tasty. Every driver is keen to get out in front and will do anything to ensure this. Quite surprisingly, the start in Melbourne seemed uneventful, with no collisions or a need for the Safety Car. Raikkonen had moved into fourth after beginning in seventh.

Much as any Grand Prix is, Strategy and Pit Stops proved essential, with Raikkonen requiring two stops; having to rely on his tyres. This proved to be a key element, with the Spanish Alonso stopping three times.

By lap 23, Raikkonen had moved into pole position and regained the lead from Lap 34 to hold on for the win quite comfortably.

If this race is anything to go by, the 2013 Season will be extremely tantalising and close. The credit goes to Team Lotus, but all eyes will turn to Malaysia next week for Race 2.

Wales 30-3 England. Wales Retain the Six Nations in Cardiff

It had been hotly tipped to be a seriously nail biting encounter in Cardiff, with the last round of games in the RBS Six Nations coming to a close, with 2 sides still in the running; all in one match.

Wales vs. England did not turn out to be nail biting at all. In fact the opposite, with Wales recording a record win over the English.

Two tries from Alex Cuthbert, 4 penalties from the ever brilliant Leigh Halfpenny and then 8 points kicked from Dan Biggar gave Wales the resounding win, and the Championship.

In a brutally contested first half, England; despite only seeing one penalty from Owen Farrell fly over, were still in it. Despite this, England had to be extremely defensive. Last time out at Italy, England conceded just 5 penalties. This margin was overtaken under 40 minutes.

England had made many mistakes but from this came one of my highlights of the Championship; a fantastic, try saving tap-tackle from Mike Brown to stop the Welsh Calvary.

For me, a key factor was the ever present Welsh crowd. In front of around 75,000 it was never going to be easy and perhaps this got to the inexperienced England team. After all, their most experienced player, Dan Cole, only recorded his 40th cap when starting this game.

In the end the game became a bit of a rout, and Wales had one on their own soil in the Millennium Stadium.  For England, and ten of the fifteen who had never played here; it was a harsh lesson.

The recovery period will be strenuous for Stuart Lancaster and his men, but expect this team to be back. The World Cup 2015 is one to look forward to, or even next year’s Six Nations. It must also be noted that the upcoming Lions tour will contain some highlight players from this Championship and match. A this moment, you would however look more towards the Welsh outfit.

For now, and most definitely deservedly, the tribute must go to the Welsh.

For a full in-detailed match report go to:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/rugby-union/21778425