“The England job drives them all mad in the end”

IAN COLE rounds up the week in sport and sports journalism with his selection of quotes

John Terry: trying on the England captain's armband (slightly used) for size

“History teaches us that the England job, with its over-hyped players and overblown expectations, drives them all mad in the end” Patrick Collins, in the Mail on Sunday, on Fabio Capello, the England manager.

“Against Wales we need a captain with a big personality, a leader. John, when he played without the armband, was every time a leader on the pitch, a leader in the dressing room” Fabio Capello hands back the captaincy to John Terry after serving a year’s punishment.

“We didn’t deserve to win. We weren’t in it. We didn’t land a blow and there are no excuses” Martin Johnson after England’s 24-8 defeat to Ireland in Dublin which denied his side the Grand Slam.

“We won the kick-off – and that was about it. The Six Nations title is of minor significance. In the grand scheme of things we missed out on the big one – and by quite a bit, to be honest. Lifting the trophy was an empty feeling. You don’t want to do that on the back of a loss” Nick Easter, England’s stand-in captain.

“I’ve played like an idiot but I have to man up and take it on the chin. This is a good test of character. Let’s see what I’m made of. I will work hard to make sure it never happens again” Ben Youngs, the England scrum half  sin-binned for throwing the ball away.

“So, there was no Grand Slam. England are left wondering how the steam went out of a campaign that started with breathtaking audacity. This is no year in which to go from good to indifferent” Eddie  Butler assesses the Six Nations for The Observer.

“To ride against people like Ruby Walsh, Tony McCoy and the Carberrys, to do it under pressure, under stress and in the circumstances of the Gold Cup, and to do it as if it were no more than a point-to-point on a Sunday afternoon…well, I’m just staggered, I admire him so much” Nicky Henderson in praise of amateur jockey Sam Waley-Cohen, who won the Cheltenham Gold Cup on his horse, Long Run.

“There is no room for amateurism in professional sport. It was do or die at some fences. If you don’t pick up you will be eating grass. It’s a surreal moment. Sometimes, achieving your dreams is difficult to comprehend” Sam Waley-Cohen, first amateur rider to win the Gold Cup for 30 years.

Gold Cup moment: Sam Waley-Cohen on Long Run acknowledges the Cheltenham plaudits

“They can jeer as much as they fucking like. I couldn’t care less. I’ll be charged for my excess baggage though” Michael O’Leary, boss of Ryanair (cheap flights but plenty of surcharges) owned two winning horses at the Cheltenham Festival and was heckled by punters as he collected the trophies.

“The great joy of going racing is that it is one sporting event at which you meet people from all walks of life, united only in the futile quest to predict which combination of horse flesh and undernourished pilot might be worth investing in, and Channel 4’s team reflects this democracy brilliantly” Martin Kelner reviews the week’s coverage of the Cheltenham Festival.

“It’s the only industry you can’t tell the truth in, you know. Anyway, it’s in the past. They’re not worth it” Sir Alex Ferguson on a five-match touchline ban and £30,000 fine from the FA for criticising referee Martin Atkinson.

“I think he has always had good behaviour. Five games out is too much” Carlo Ancelotti has a memory lapse.

“The way the ban is administered here I struggle to see where the punishment is. UEFA agree with me and impose a far more effective punishment. The coach is barred from the dressing room area from the time that the team sheets have to be submitted, 75 minutes before the kick-off. He is then allowed no contact with the team, or technical area, until after the final whistle” Graham Poll, the former World Cup referee, writing in his Daily Mail column, on the flaws in the “touchline ban” on Sir Alex Ferguson.

“He looks like a guy who’s not been involved for a long time but has kept his body fit. He has the basic physical fitness but lacks a little bit of decision-making and practice in goal” Arsene Wenger brings back 41-year-old Jens Lehmann to help his goalkeeping crisis – but finds the German is in much the same shape as his four other keepers.

“Fuller just came on and kicked Joey. I heard Joey ask him ‘Why did you kick me?’ As far as I know it all calmed down” Alan Pardew’s Newcastle, and Joey Barton, are the latest to receive a traditional Stoke welcome from Ricardo Fuller.

“I’ve never had treatment like this before. They are not happy with me and I am not happy with what we’re doing at the moment. But, let me reassure the fans. I do know what I’m doing and I’m convinced we have everything it takes to survive” Gerard Houllier suffers a torrent of fan abuse as Aston Villa slip deeper into relegation trouble after a home defeat to Wolves.

“Suarez is not a friend of mine but if he wants to speak to me, fine. I will also speak to him because he is a sportsman and so am I. Despite what happened in the World Cup life goes on. I am sorry to say he is the most hated person in Ghana. I would have done the same thing, though, if I was in the same position” Asamoah Gyan, the Sunderland striker, prepares for a first meeting with Liverpool’s Luis Suarez since the Uruguayan’s last-minute goalline handball robbed Ghana of a place in the World Cup semi-finals.

“There wasn’t much blood, there was just a big hole and you could see everything. It wasn’t the prettiest sight” David Wheater on Bolton team mate Stuart Holden’s gashed leg, following a tackle by Jonny Evans which earned the Manchester United player a red card.

“This is up there with the Ashes for raw emotion. We dug ourselves a large hole but we are slowly getting out of it” Graeme Swann after England keep their World Cup alive by turning defeat into victory against West Indies.

“I told my kids that if we win Daddy will get a few more pennies to buy more Barbie dolls” Paul Collingwood, away from home since the end of October, has a quick response to his daughters’ request that England should lose to West Indies and make an early exit from the World Cup.

Tue Apr 5: SJA Olympic Question Time.
Click here to find out more

Wed Apr 13: SJA 2011 Annual Meeting, at offices of UK Sport, Russell Square. Strictly SJA members only.

Wed Dec 7: SJA 2011 British Sports Awards – note the date in your diary now.

All details subject to alteration. Keep checking for updates