By RUSSELL BENNETT HE’S the most prolific run-scorer of the West Gippsland Cricket Association’s Premier era and is regarded…[To read the rest of this story Subscribe or Login to the Gazette Access Pass] Thanks for reading the Pakenham Berwick Gazette. Subscribe or Login to read the rest of this content with the Gazette Digital Access Pass subscription.
PAKENHAM photographer Clinton Plowman will exhibit a series of photographs at the Cardinia Cultural Centre in July and…[To read the rest of this story Subscribe or Login to the Gazette Access Pass] Thanks for reading the Pakenham Berwick Gazette. Subscribe or Login to read the rest of this content with the Gazette Digital Access Pass subscription.
By Bruce FuhrThe Nelson Daily On paper the Fred Thomson rink looked like one of the teams that would book a ticket to the B.C. Men’s Curling Championships.But when the final rock was played, it was Nelson’s Thomson, third Don Freschi of Trail, second Rob Norbert of Castlegar and Nelson lead Barry Marsh on the outside looking in at the Men’s Kootenay Curling Playdown this past weekend in the Bavarian City.Thomson lost to Tom Buchy of Kimberley in the first qualifier 9-7 Sunday before dropping the second qualifier 7-6 to Cranbrook’s Tom Shypitka.Both Buchy and Shypitka now represent the zone at the Canadian Direct Insurance B.C. Men’s Curling Championship Feb. 6-12, 2012 at the Parksville Curling Club.“We’re extremely disappointed,” Thomson told The Nelson Daily Tuesday. “We thought going in, as did most people, that (Tom) Buchy and our rink would be the two top teams.”Which is why the games are played.The Buchy rink proved to almost unstoppable on home ice. The Kimberley skip twice defeated Thomson, the latter coming in the first qualifier Sunday.Deuces, including the pivotal tenth end, in four ends proved to be enough to power Buchy to the two-rock win.“It was a war out there,” Thomson explained. “There were lots of good shots by both teams but in the tenth Tom played it really well, guarding (shot rock) with three or four guards.”“In the end I really didn’t even have a shot,” Thomson added.The loss dropped Thomson into the second qualifier against Shypitka.A mistake in the second opened the door for the Cranbrook skip to score four en route to the one-shot win.“We were up 2-0 and decided to go for the steal,” said Thomson. “We tried to freeze up to his rock but my shot never curled and they had a wide open hit for four.”“We made the decision as a team to go for it,” Thomson added. “Sometimes it works out great but when it doesn’t . . ..”There’s another shot at making the provincial meet coming January.However, Freschi has a previous engagement forcing the team to miss the regional final in Kelowna.“We knew going in we were not going to attend the back door playdown,” Thomson said.The backdoor open bonspiel determines the final four spots in the 16-team field.Already confirmed to be in Parksville are defending B.C. champ, Jim Cotter of Vernon and CTR leader Brent Pierce of New Westminster.Also advancing to the B.C.’s are former B.C. champ Shawn Geall, Buchy and Brian Windsor.EXTRA END: The Nelson rink of skip Brent Pihowich, third Nando Salviulo, second Jamie Tedesco and lead Greg Kinder finished 2-3 during the Kootenay zones. Pihowich lost to Thomson and Rob Ferguson of Trail. . . .The Ferguson rink lost to Tom Shypitka in the C Final. The Ferguson rink includes third Brian LeMoel, second Joey Ferguson and lead Justin Kitcher. . . . The Myron Nichol rink of Castlegar also finished 2-3 and was eliminated by Shypitka. The rink includes third Garry Beaudry of Nelson, second Stewart Higgins and lead Rob Babiarz. email@example.com
The month of December will go a long way to determining if the Nelson Leafs have what it takes to compete for the Murdoch Division title in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League.After compiling a seven-game winning streak during November, the Leafs find themselves in a bit of a funk after dropping a pair of games to surging Castlegar Rebels.The once-double-digit lead in Murdoch Division standing has now been reduced to four points with a tough divisional schedule on the horizon — three of the seven games in December coming against defending KIJHL Champion Beaver Valley Nitehawks.“We need to get back to playing our game, moving our feet and get back to being the hardest working team on the ice game in and game out,” said Leaf GM Lance Morey.“(Head coach) Mario (DiBella) and the coaches have worked hard all week in practice to get the boys back on track and the players I have chatted with feel that this weekend we will see a better effort from everybody and a strong step back towards the team we have been for most of the year.”Despite owning the KIJHL for the first three months of the season, Nelson looked ordinary against the Rebels, who just happen to be the hottest team in the league after winning its sixth consecutive game against the Leafs last week.In the two games, Nelson managed to put up a measly two goals while surrendering nine defensively.Leafs may have been tired during the latter part of last week’s game after starting the contest with 15 skaters and losing two during the game.However, Morey has been working the phones looking for Junior A replacements to bolster the Nelson lineup.“We are still working on the three or four players we are looking to bring in from recent Junior A cuts,” Morey said. “Realistically having them here in Nelson just after the Christmas break is our target date.”“We may have one player acquisition to announce as early as (Friday) morning and could have him in the lineup for Saturday night’s game,” Morey added.Facing BV Nitehawks always a test for Green and WhiteFriday, Nelson travels to Fruitvale to face the defending KIJHL Champs.In two games this season, both in Nelson, the teams have split with the Leafs winning on opening night 1-0 and Beaver Valley clawing back a victory in early October 2-1.In Nelson’s victory, the Leafs were led by netminder Josh Williams who proved to management he can steal games.Williams, the league’s best goalie, will once again need to be at his best between the pipes as the Leafs have always had difficulty playing on the small ice surface at the Beaver Valley Arena.Border Bruins pay first visit to Heritage CityIt seems like an eternity since the Leafs have played a home game after Nelson spent most of November on the road.And not only will Leaf fans be happy to see the home side against, but spectators get to see their first look at the Grand Forks Border Bruins, Saturday at 7 p.m. in the NDCC Arena.The Leafs have owned the Bruins this season, winning all three games in Grand Forks.However, every one of those games Nelson has been pressed to escape with three one-goal victories.Saturday, despite struggling to a sub-.500 record, the Bruins will no doubt prove to be a tough opponent for the Green and White.
Seeing how deadly Eduard Folayang can be, Kiwi-Malaysian challenger Ev Ting braces for a tough fight when he finally challenges for the ONE Lightweight title at ONE Championship: Kings of Destiny Friday at Mall of Asia Arena.“He’s a tough champion and he’s shown that. Look at him, he’s a specimen so I’m preparing for the best version of the champion,” he said Tuesday at City of Dreams in Parañaque.ADVERTISEMENT That’s why Ting is also gunning on executing the same perfect gameplan to dislodge the champion off of his throne.READ: Ting ready for toughest challenge yet in Folayang“There is no perfect fight, but I’ll be flawless, try to be a little bit sharper, a little bit cleaner, a little bit enough,” he said.“I’m preparing for the most well-rounded Eduard Folayang as possible. I’m ready for every scenario, every situation that can come up in the fight. It’s simply working harder and more.” LATEST STORIES Filipinos turn Taal Volcano ash, plastic trash into bricks PLAY LIST 01:40Filipinos turn Taal Volcano ash, plastic trash into bricks01:32Taal Volcano watch: Island fissures steaming, lake water receding02:14Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard02:56NCRPO pledges to donate P3.5 million to victims of Taal eruption00:56Heavy rain brings some relief in Australia02:37Calm moments allow Taal folks some respite Palace: Crisis over ABC-CBN franchise unlikely Dozens wounded as Iraqi protesters up pressure on government Tough test ahead for Ting, assures Folayang Marcos monument beside Aquino’s stirs Tarlac town Panelo: Duterte only wants to emulate strong political will of Marcos View comments Ting (13-3) has meticulously studied Folayang’s past fights, most importantly his title victory over Shinya Aoki last November.READ: Tough test ahead for Ting, assures Folayang FEATURED STORIESSPORTSEnd of his agony? SC rules in favor of Espinosa, orders promoter heirs to pay boxing legendSPORTSBreak new groundSPORTSMcGregor blasts Cerrone in 40 seconds in UFC returnDespite his best efforts, that didn’t give him much insight into Folayang’s weaknesses as he noted that the defending champion has followed his gameplan to a tee in his past outings.“Watching his last fight, there wasn’t much to study. He had a perfect performance. He defended everything and showed superiority in striking and wrestling. There are no flaws I could bring up, so it’s a matter of believing in myself that I could do more and better him come fight night,” he said. SpaceX launches, destroys rocket in astronaut escape test More Taal volcanic quakes recorded despite weaker eruptions MOST READ On the edge of America, census begins in a tiny Alaska town Presidency bid needs ‘deep reflection’ – Sara Duterte Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next ADVERTISEMENT Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Canadian military mobilized to help Newfoundland dig out
Renuka Tewari is a self-taught craftswoman, who hails from the county of Demerara. As a teenager who loves crafts and designing, she has managed to create a business in less than a year, which brings to life the needs of her customers. CraftsCreations&Smiles, her online-based business, speaks volumes in bringing out the strange crafty demands of customers. What makes this enterprise a unique one is the fact that the items cannot be found in stores or on the Internet, since it customises items to fit the various occasions.Some of the popular items in recent months include dream catchers and elaborate floral crowns. However, mugs with catchy slogans, twisted copper necklaces, and eccentric bridal bouquets are also on the list.“CraftsCreations&Smiles is an online craft store and my aim is to provide the customised creations. We also have items that are already made. We do items such as bouquets, floral arrangements, floral crowns, mugs, corsages, and basically anything crafty.”Tewari recalled that it all started when a friend desperately needed a floral crown for his girlfriend and she decided to help him. It was that first creation of hers that sparked a latent aspiration to make craft-making an enterprise, rather than just a hobby.“After creating that piece, I posted it on social media and it received tons of likes. That’s when I decided that I can create even more amazing stuff and make a business out of it,” Tewari explained.“The main aim behind the business is to have persons being able to have their designs come to life, so we work with various specifications,” she related.She reminisced on the days when artsy ‘stuff’ was just part of her school projects, which would reflect her imagination and personality. Building on those memories, she continues to create for her business even more astonishing pieces that capture the attention of strangers everywhere.On numerous platforms, the 19-year-old has had the chance to showcase her products. Her creations have been showcased at Curl Fete and the recently-held Regional Agricultural and Commercial Exhibition at the Leonora Track and Field Centre.In both cases, customers are thrilled at the quality of work being handcrafted by Tewari and many of her items are sold immediately.She explained that making other people happy is one of the things that drive the business forward, since she is always working to please the customers and meet their needs. This epitomises her favourite quote, “Keep smiling and brighten someone’s day” which she turns to for inspiration.Bending copper into dazzling pieces is not just her way of making crafts, but it relieves stress and enables the mind to think beyond the norm.
…on teachers’ “vocation” hypocrisyAt the Minister of Education’s award ceremony for Region Four teachers, one teacher read her poem detailing in verse the woes of her profession in light of their meagre wage – especially after the insult they received in lieu of increases after their one week strike. Immediately, up bounced Ivelaw Griffith, Vice Chancellor of UG onto the stage, to gratuitously “advise” the teachers that they should “do it for the passion, not the pay”!!Can you believe this man? Here he is, earning millions monthly – not to mention his perks – after he was let go at his last posting at Fort Valley State University in Georgia and he’s talking about “teaching for passion and not pay”?? Was it the “passion for teaching” that drove him to appoint a 12-person “Cabinet” with three Deputy Vice Chancellors” to assist him?? You don’t believe he called his top assistants a “Cabinet”? Just google the UG website!!Was it for “passion” that his first act after he was appointed was to raise UG students fees by five per cent, even though he attended for free back in the day?? Which he had to rescind because of the outcry! Was it for “passion” he flew a huge entourage – mainly his “Cabinet” – up to New York supposedly to “raise funds” but ended up spending $4 million and brought back $2 million!! Unlike Jack of yore, he PUT IN a plum and PULLED OUT a thumb!!Was it for “passion” he insisted on the first “Investiture Ceremony” for himself in the 50+ year history of Guyana? This involved a procession with faculty attired in academic regalia to confer the “official powers and responsibilities of the office to Professor Griffith”!! This, not so incidentally, cost $10 million?? Even greats like Drayton who preceded him didn’t try to puff up themselves at the expense of the institution.He tied in the “Investiture Ceremony” with an elaborate “”Diaspora Conference” at the Ramada Princess Hotel. Was it because of his “passion for education” there were no students in attendance nor any papers presented by them? Was it because of his “passion for teaching” that had him launch a very expensive glossy “Renaissance” Magazine which seems to have as its sole goal to “big up” his reputation?It’s hypocritical for Griffith to be telling teachers who still can’t get a living wage to not worry about money when he’s spending the stuff – from our tax dollars – like it was going out of style. And UG is over $500 million in debt!!There needs to be a CoI into the operations of the VC. Maybe Justice Kennard who has experience with wild spending at City Hall?…on wild claims in ParliamentIn the wake of President Trump’s proclivity for making all sorts of wild and outrageous assertions, the term “fact checking” has moved out of the publication business and into general usage. In Guyana, the Public Infrastructure Minister seems to have caught the bug during his presentation on the budget!He reels off a host of projects initiated by the PPP complaining there were “no feasibility studies”. He, of course, has been stung by the SOCU investigation into why he sole-sourced a $153 MILLION feasibility study for the Demerara Harbour Bridge – which had to be thrown out!! PPP’s Irfaan Ali nailed him immediately on one wild claim about the East Coast-East Bank bypass road!But there was his claim for the Skeldon Factory. If he’d looked at Tate and Lyle’s website, he’d see “Booker Tate carried out a viability and expansion study which recommended… a new cane sugar factory at the Skeldon Sugar Estate”. The he spoke about Amaila Falls.Did he check the one for Burnham in 1976 by Motor-Columbus Consulting Engineers? Sheesh!!…on sugar lieLast Sunday, Nagamootoo gloated, “…the balance in severance payment…owed to the sugar workers who lost their jobs as a result of the closure of some estates, was paid.”So why were the Wales workers picketing on Wednesday for “severance”?
0Shares0000Wayne Rooney chats with his manager Jose Mourinho during the game against Arsenal on November 19, 2016 at Old Trafford. PHOTO/ DAILY MAILMANCHESTER, United Kingdom, Nov 21- The need for speed saw Wayne Rooney parked back on the Manchester United bench on Saturday.As Jose Mourinho was at pains to point out, the demotion of the England captain had nothing to do with the boozy gate-crashing of a wedding party while on international duty. Having publicly put an arm round Rooney’s shoulders, the pragmatic boss did not extend his sympathy to his team selection.Mourinho looked at the opposition, decided the player was not quite up to it and chose Juan Mata, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford instead. Rooney, who started United’s last two matches, was dropped.‘I thought we were going to have the ball,’ Mourinho explained after 31-year-old Rooney’s 30-minute cameo.‘Arsenal are a team who let the opponents play. I thought we would have space and the ball would arrive quite easily to the attacking players. I believed ones like Mata, Martial and Rashford were faster than Wayne, better attacking opponents one-to-one in the last line. I thought it was the best option.’Rooney’s week started with a dawn bed-time and lurid headlines, and it finished with him labelling his critics ‘disgraceful’ in a passionate attack at the way he has been treated since his misbehaviour was made public.He said: ‘I’m proud to play for my country and I’m proud of my achievements. It’s not finished yet. I think what’s been going on is disgraceful. It shows a lack of respect and I think enough is enough. It feels as if the media are trying to write my obituary and I won’t let that happen.’Mourinho has a different, bigger picture, like working out how his team turned a decent performance into a third successive draw after Olivier Giroud’s late header cancelled out Mata’s opener.Phil Jones compared it frankly to a ‘6-0 slapping’ and his manager said it was a miracle United did not win.Amid all the angst and anger at Old Trafford there were signs that maybe, just maybe, the home side have reasons to be cheerful.Finally, Mourinho appears to have found his best midfield combination. With captain for the day Michael Carrick and the busy Ander Herrera in the side, world record signing Paul Pogba looks like he has found his expensive feet.‘Paul is adapting much better,’ the manager said. ‘He is much more confident. Obviously he plays with some guidelines over his position but at the same time with some freedom to occupy some attacking areas where he feels and thinks he can be important. He is comfortable on the pitch.’The evergreen Carrick’s role in £89million Pogba’s improvement cannot be downplayed and Mourinho suggested he will be rewarded with a new contract.‘Michael is 35 years old,’ he said. ‘It is very sad to know that time flies for every one of us. He is such a fantastic player and it is a pity, I always loved him, but instead of being his manager when he was 25 I am his manager when he is 35.’He may still be staying in a hotel, but Mourinho appears to have already picked up the local dialect.‘I am still having Michael Carrick,’ he added. ‘And probably for one more season.’A relieved Arsene Wenger was left to hail the Gunners’ spirit. After a bright start they faded and spent long periods on the back foot and Giroud’s leveller, set up by fellow benchwarmer Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, came out of the blue. A hint, maybe, that things may be different for the perennial Premier League bridesmaids this year.‘The resilience was the main thing and we kept our composure as well, even at the end,’ the Arsenal manager said.‘I believe there’s a great harmony in the squad. The players who come on make a difference every time and that’s not a coincidence. That is down to attitude and overall I took some gambles as well.’For Wenger, the emotions were different from those of his hosts.‘When you are 1-0 down, you come back to 1-1 with a minute to go, it feels more than a draw, that’s for sure,’ he admitted.He too, was left frustrated, however. ‘We can accept a point here,’ he explained. ‘But we are getting too many draws at the moment and with three points for a win you cannot afford that too many times so it’s important for us to get back to winning habits.’-By Daily Mail–0Shares0000(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today)
1 Bradford may get the chance to claim another Premier League scalp in the FA Cup, with the League One side set to face either Sunderland or Fulham in the next stage as reward for their fourth-round heroics over Chelsea.Phil Parkinson’s giant killers caused one of the greatest upsets in the competition’s history when they came back from 2-0 down to win 4-2 at Stamford Bridge on a Saturday full of shock results.While Sunderland or Fulham – who replay next week after a goalless draw – are not the Manchester United or Arsenal the barnstorming Bantams will have hoped for, they may fancy another surprise against either the top flight strugglers or the second-tier side.If Manchester United can get past Cambridge in their replay they will travel to the winners of Preston and Sheffield United, while holders Arsenal host Middlesbrough – the Championship high-fliers who won at Manchester City in another of the weekend’s shock scores.Liverpool and Bolton will replay for the right to go to Crystal Palace, while Leicester and Aston Villa meet in a Midlands derby.West Brom face West Ham at home, while the winners of Monday’s tie between Rochdale and Stoke will travel to Blackburn.Derby play host to Reading in an all-Championship affair to round off the draw, but it is the enduring appeal of Bradford that is likely to hold the headlines.League Cup finalists two years ago, they are making further waves this year and their stunning win at Chelsea will be spoken of for years to come.The last time they faced Sunderland saw them lose 3-0 in December 2003, while they have to go all the way back to 1994 to find their last meeting with Fulham, a goalless draw.FA Cup fifth round draw:Crystal Palace v Liverpool/BoltonArsenal v MiddlesbroughAston Villa v LeicesterWest Brom v West HamBradford v Sunderland/FulhamBlackburn v Stoke/RochdaleDerby v ReadingPreston/Sheffield United v Cambridge/Manchester UnitedTies to be played across the weekend of February 14 and 15. Bradford celebrate their brilliant 4-2 FA Cup fourth round victory at Chelsea
This interview appears in the current edition of Sport magazine. Download the free iPad app from the Apple Newsstand, and follow on twitter @sportmaguk“Football is unexpected,” said Cesc Fabregas as he ponders his move from Barcelona to Chelsea last summer. For most of his football life, Fabregas and his new manager Jose Mourinho had been rivals. The Spaniard was in his formative years when Mourinho was transforming Chelsea from a team that the midfielder’s former side Arsenal had become accustomed to beating into one that always seemed to be one step ahead of the north Londoners. And when Fabregas fulfilled his dream of returning to his boyhood club Barcelona in 2011, he found Mourinho at the helm of a record-breaking Real Madrid side that finished nine points ahead of the Catalans in his first season back in Spain. Fabregas is now, however, an integral part of the Mourinho winning machine. We meet the 28-year-old less than a week after he won the Premier League title with Chelsea – an achievement that eluded him throughout his eight years at Arsenal. “It’s been a very good year,” he grins. “We won two trophies (the Blues also won the Capital One Cup in March) and hopefully it’s just the beginning of something very good for this club. That’s what you hope, that’s what you want and that’s what you fight for.” He has enjoyed four days off on Mourinho’s instruction. But today Fabregas goes back to work, with the team set to meet at Chelsea’s training ground in a few hours’ time to prepare for their first match as league champions. Until then, and with a large sushi order on the way to ensure he arrives at Cobham fully fuelled, Fabregas is ours to ask how an unexpected link- up with a former foe turned into one of the season’s biggest success stories…Was there a moment or match during the season when you first realised this was a title-winning team? “Basically, in all the big games. Almost every three days we were competing in the Champions League, Capital One Cup or Premier League. And, up until now, we’ve lost only three games all season. That’s remarkable, I’d say, because we’ve played more than 50 games for sure [Chelsea’s 1-1 draw with Liverpool last weekend was their 52nd game of the season]. That’s not an easy thing to do, considering the high level football is at these days. I knew from the beginning that we had a good squad and all the ingredients to have a good season, but you still have to perform to make that happen. We’ve been very consistent throughout the whole season. And, at the end, it’s the most consistent teams that get silverware.”Was the transition from playing in Spain to returning to the Premier League as straightforward as many presumed it would be for you? “There is always something you have to adjust to when you go to a new club, as much as it is the same league that I played in for eight years at Arsenal. When you change clubs, though, there are new people, new tactics, a new manager, new everything. So you have to adapt and adjust to what the team wants from you. But apart from that, I have always just tried to play my game, be natural and be efficient.” Cesc Fabregas What was it like for you going back to the Emirates as a Chelsea player? Were you surprised at the booing from some sections of the crowd?“There was some at the beginning, but at the end of the game when I came off it was very nice. So that’s what I take from it. I just tried to take it as a normal day and play my game. It is difficult because obviously I know I played there for many years. I know the pitch and the memories do come back to you, but you have to be professional and get the three points for your team. Well, that’s what I hoped for. As it turned out, the [0-0] draw was a very good result for us.”Do you think the Premier League has changed at all in the years between you leaving Arsenal and joining Chelsea?“Yes, I think the league is improving. I think it’s tactically much better. It is growing up. At places like QPR, Hull, Leicester and Burnley we won all our games but I think it was the individual quality that always made the difference. That means that collectively, the teams in England are tactically very strong. They defend better, there are not so many spaces in the middle of the park and they know how to press. That’s why every year it’s more difficult to get results.”What about personally? Are you a different player compared to the one who left England for Spain in 2011?“In Spain I learned a lot, especially tactically. That Barcelona team was a very experienced one. They won many trophies, so to go there you had to be at your best. I learned a lot from all the players there. I also feel more mature now, having played in England before and then in Spain. I have played for such big clubs with great players and in so many big tournaments. I feel grateful for that because I have matured a lot and it shows on the pitch. I can feel it.” Chelsea started the season in sensational form, but slowed somewhat as the season progressed. Are there lessons you can take from this year to ensure that early form is maintained next season? “You don’t necessarily need to always play the way we did at the beginning to win things. We’ve shown that. If you look at it, the only time when you can say that we didn’t perform as well as we could have was during the second half of the game against Paris Saint-Germain when we went out of the Champions League. The first leg in Paris, I think we played a solid game. A draw was a good result for us. But it’s true that in the second half of the second leg, when PSG had ten men [after Zlatan Ibrahimovic was sent off on 31 minutes], we maybe should have approached the game in a different way. We should have played better than we did. Apart from that, you can mention the result against Bradford [Chelsea lost 4-2 at home to the Bantams in the fourth round of the FA Cup], when a lot of players were rested and others were on the bench. There was a lot of rotation for that game, so I don’t take that result as anything big because I know these kinds of things can happen – especially in English football.”So you don’t agree that Chelsea were grinding out results more as the season went on? “In the league we’ve won nearly all our games, and that’s in the second half of the season as well. Whether we have done that by playing better or worse, I don’t know. But it was done by playing for the result that we wanted, which was to win. And that’s what we did. Maybe we didn’t play as fluently as before or with the same freedom, but we got results. So I get surprised when people say that we didn’t play as well as in the first half of the season, because when you win the league with the amount of points and wins that we have got, and having lost only two games, it’s a bit too much [smiles].”Members of the Arsenal side that went through the 2003-04 season unbeaten have said they went into every game with an unshakeable belief. Has there been a similar feeling around Chelsea this season?“To be honest, the feeling I had was that we could beat anyone. That’s how I felt before going into games. We lost games against Tottenham and Newcastle, but they are two difficult places to go during the season. And the Spurs game came during the Christmas period when everything is a little bit crazy, because there are too many games and the team has to be rotated – so it can happen. We went out of the Champions League without losing a single game. So it has been a good season, really, and the confidence of the team has been very high.”Was that Champions League exit the toughest point of the season for you?“Yes, 100 per cent. We were very disappointed to go out, but these things can happen. And it’s PSG – they have also invested a lot in the team and have great players. But it happened and it’s the only thing that I have negative in my mind for this season.” 5 5 Six assists in your first four Premier League games of the season suggest it didn’t take you too long to adapt…“I just tried to play my football, really. I’ve been lucky enough that the manager has believed in me and that he allows me to play the way I feel – this is always important. Of course he asks me to do specific things on the pitch. But, apart from that – and especially when we have the ball – I can be free and I can play how I think the game needs to be played. That is always important for me.”Did you come to Chelsea with any expectations of what it would be like to work with Mourinho, given how often you’ve played against him in your career?“I had my thoughts, but until you work with the person who you expect things from, or who you don’t really know about, then you are always curious to see how things will really be. And so far, so good. I’m learning a lot. He’s making me feel things that I hadn’t felt for a while. And I feel very important, which is vital.”Has there been anything about his management style that surprised you?“No, I know that he really fights for his players; he defends his players to the end. He’s very demanding. He wants the best out of you every single day, and that’s what I want: a manager who makes you feel at the top of your game. With him you also know you have to be at the top of your game, otherwise you don’t play. This is good for the whole squad because you know if you are competing well, you will have your chance. It’s a very fair approach. The motivation he has given to the team all season is not easy. Sometimes when you win too much or when you lose, it can either give you too much confidence or not enough. But he always maintains the right balance. And he always wants to win.”From what you’ve seen at Chelsea and other teams you’ve played for, how much does the attitude of the players on the pitch reflect the manager’s approach?“I’ve always said the manager makes a big difference. There are so many examples, like at Atletico Madrid with [Diego] Simeone. Compare how they were before him with how they are now. And with Mourinho it is the same thing. When he went to Real Madrid, they won the league with 100 points. Now in England he comes back and wins the Premier League after Chelsea went five years without winning it. So for me, a manager is very important, because if a player doesn’t believe in his manager then I know from experience that it’s not going to work as well. It is a difficult job because you have to make your players believe in what you say, in what you do and in how you want to play. If your players don’t believe, then you can try to do as much as you want – [but] there will never be a connection. I think he [Mourinho] is vital. He is very good at this.” 5 5 5 When you’re playing alongside someone like Lionel Messi, like you did at Barcelona, do you try and take in everything you can from him?“I absorbed a lot from him. But obviously to reach Messi’s level is impossible because he is one of a kind. But I soaked up everything I could. Technically and tactically, I have learned a lot and I’m very proud of that.”