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The Sport Matrix: Friday 10 January

Defiant Allardyce: West Ham will ‘come out fighting’

West Ham’s under-pressure manager Sam Allardyce has assured the club’s supporters his team will “come out fighting” ahead of tomorrow’s crucial league game away to Cardiff.

Allardyce (pictured) retains the backing of the club’s co-owners, David Gold and David Sullivan, despite the 6-0 Capital One Cup semi-final first-leg defeat at Manchester City, which followed hot on the heels of a 5-0 FA Cup thrashing at Nottingham Forest.

And Allardyce has shown his defiance by writing an e-mail to worried fans. “You either come out fighting or you sink and die – I come out fighting as a manager and my staff and players are the same,” he wrote.

“We’ve got to get out there, face the music and use it to anger us, if you like, make us mad, and win football matches.”

 Former West Ham defender Julian Dicks was among those critical of the manner of the team’s performance during Wednesday’s defeat to City. “I can understand how the fans feel,” said Dicks. “The football isn’t good, the lack of passion and pride is awful.” MORE

West Brom name Mel as head coach

West Bromwich Albion last night appointed former Real Betis manager Pepe Mel as their new head coach on an 18-month contract. The Spaniard replaces Steve Clarke, who was sacked last month. Mel will take charge for the game against Everton on 20 January. MORE

Platini unhappy at Valcke’s comments

The Uefa president Michel Platini has revealed his displeasure at Fifa secretary general Jérôme Valcke publicly outlining plans for a winter World Cup in Qatar in 2022. Platini said yesterday: “This is supposed to be a  decision for the executive  committee of Fifa.”

Hodgson prepares World Cup plans

Roy Hodgson is close to finalising the details for England’s  World Cup finals build-up, which will include games against Peru, Ecuador and Honduras. Hodgson feels England should face South American teams before their Group D games with Uruguay and Costa Rica. MORE

Smalling apology for bomber outfit

The Manchester United  defender Chris Smalling yesterday apologised for making an “ill-thought out and insensitive decision” after a picture was published of the 24-year-old wearing what appeared to be a suicide bomber costume at a fancy dress party. MORE

Ruiz may make loan move to Betis

Bryan Ruiz could move from Fulham to struggling Spanish side Real Betis on loan for the rest of the season. Cardiff, meanwhile, have made an official approach to sign Hannover’s Senegalese international striker Mame Biram Diouf. MORE

Walcott will return stronger – Wenger

Arsenal’s manager, Arsène Wenger, is in no doubt that forward Theo Walcott has the character to return “as strong as ever” from the knee injury which has ruled him out of playing for England in the World Cup in Brazil this summer.

Evans crashes out at qualifying stage

Heather Watson and Johanna Konta recorded victories in Australian Open qualifying but there was disappointment for Dan Evans, who lost 6-4, 6-1 to Hungarian Marton Fucsovics in just 59 minutes in the second round of qualifying. MORE

Six Nations axe for struggling Burns

England’s head coach, Stuart Lancaster, has urged Gloucester’s unsettled fly-half Freddie Burns to sort out his club future after dropping him for the Six Nations. Lancaster has instead called up Bath’s George Ford.

Lehmann bats away England talk

Australia coach Darren Lehmann would not be drawn into commenting on England’s malaise ahead of the one-day series. He said: “That’s for them to work out. We’ve got enough to worry about.” MORE

Roger Federer

Swiss player tells Paul Newman how coach Stefan Edberg, a new racket and working harder than his rivals over the winter have renewed his confidence ahead of the Australian Open. MORE

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