The Sports Matrix: Friday 20 January 2012


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The Independent Online

Villas-Boas: Let top clubs have Spain-style feeder teams

The Chelsea manager, Andre Villas-Boas, thinks top clubs should have feeder teams in lower leagues, to give young players useful experience as the biggest Spanish sides do.

"The youth-development system in England is not right," Villas-Boas said yesterday. "The reserve-team league is not competitive. The youth levels are not competitive enough. The FA Youth Cup: does it favour talent or competition? In my opinion there is a missing link between age groups in all competitions.

"The gap between the reserve team and the first-team is immense," said Villas-Boas, explaining why so few youngsters emerge at Chelsea. "Barcelona 'B' play in the equivalent of the Championship. If the European model is applied in England, it could be tested. The reserve team serves the first team but it doesn't serve the progression of talent coming through. There is more of a cultural identity [with the parent club] if it's called a B team.

"It's the same name, the same environment. What happens in Barcelona B is a good model in terms of competitions."MORE

England collapse to heavy defeat

England lost the first Test against Pakistan in Dubai by 10 wickets. After conceding a first-innings deficit of 146 England were bowled out for 160, Umar Gul taking four wickets and Saeed Ajmal three. Pakistan scored 15 without loss to win. MORE

Strauss criticises England batting

The England captain, Andrew Strauss, criticised his team's batting after their Test defeat: "It's important you don't run away from the truth. As batsmen we have to ask ourselves whether we played well enough. Was our game plan smart enough?" MORE

Coleman hopes Bellamy will stay

The new Wales manager, Chris Coleman, will try to stop Craig Bellamy retiring from international football. "I will try to talk him round," Coleman said. "Wales need him. He's demanding and difficult, but wants things done right." MORE

Morrison 'wants £30,000 per week'

The Manchester United youngster Ravel Morrison is reported to be asking for £30,000 a week, rather than the £12,000 he has been offered. Morrison, whose troublesome lifestyle has marred his time at Old Trafford, is out of contract this summer. MORE

Murray ready for 'nuts' Llodra

Andy Murray faces the eccentric French left-hander Michael Llodra tomorrow in the third round, and knows all about his opponent's character: "I've been around him enough to know that he's nuts. He's like a young kid with so much energy." MORE

Ashton agrees move to Saracens

Chris Ashton's end-of-season move from Northampton to Saracens was confirmed yesterday. The England winger wrote on Twitter that it was "all about Saints" until then but it is not certain that director of rugby Jim Mallinder will pick him. MORE

QPR agree fee for City's Onuoha

Queens Park Rangers yesterday agreed a fee with Manchester City for the defender Nedum Onuoha, who played under new manager Mark Hughes when he was at City. Hughes suggested he might "draw a line" under his pursuit of Blackburn's Chris Samba. MORE

Warnock: Owner was influenced

The former Queens Park Rangers manager Neil Warnock believes that he was dismissed due to influence exerted on club owner Tony Fernandes. "It's almost like slowly poisoning somebody from outside the club," he said, "and from within as well."

Opinion: Pete Jenson

Pepe's stamp on Lionel Messi was the latest in the Real Madrid player's long list of crimes against football. A poor man's Carles Puyol would be a generous label: he is just not good enough to justify his near-€30m fee. MORE