Forrest: I am feeling good

Newcastle midfielder Hatem Ben Arfa believes ‘everything is in
place’ for future success at the club despite their struggles this
season.

The Magpies have enjoyed some relief in recent games after a
troubled first half to the campaign which left them near the
Premier League relegation places.

Their inconsistent form came as a disappointment after Alan
Pardew led them to an impressive fifth-placed finish last term.

But Ben Arfa believes this year’s campaign will finish better
than expected, with Europa League success still within their reach,
and feels he can fulfil his trophy ambitions at St James’ Park in
the future.

The Frenchman, whose appearances for Newcastle this season have
been limited by a hamstring injury, told The Times: “It’s really
special to be back. I think we can turn this into a better season
than it might have seemed.

“I’d love to win titles, silverware. To give everything I can so
that at the end of my career I can look back and have no regrets.
Why not here? It’s a beautiful club.

“There’s everything here to succeed; a great stadium and
infrastructure, brilliant fans, good players. Everything is in
place.”

Signings

An influx of French signings in the winter transfer window has
given Newcastle a boost both domestically and in Europe, and Ben
Arfa has hailed the club’s recruitment drive.

“I feel a great sense of pride to see all the French players
arriving,” he said. “They are great signings. We’ve recruited very
well.”

Ben Arfa is keen to repay manager Pardew for the faith shown in
him, adding: “We have a good relationship.

“He’s given me a lot of responsibility, but he’s done it
gradually, so he’s learnt exactly where I play best. And he now has
confidence in me, which has really helped my game. I want to repay
him for that.”

Johnny Russell converted from the spot with four minutes to go
to secure a 2-2 draw for the home side after referee Alan Muir
ruled McGivern tripped Gary Mackay-Steven.

The on-loan Manchester City defender is not disputing the
challenge but insists it took place outside the box – a view backed
up by television replays.

He said: “I knew at the time when I stuck my leg out that I was
giving away a free-kick.

“When I turned around and the referee was pointing to the spot I
was shocked.

“I tried to have a word with the linesman and he was having none
of it.

“I think the linesman has got to help the referee out there
because I’m not sure what the referee’s position was but the
linesman should be level with the play.

“I’ve seen it back on the replay and you can clearly see I’m
standing outside the box when I make the tackle so it’s very
disappointing.”

He added: “I tried to tell the linesman it was clearly outside
the box and he told me to get away.

“Whenever officials are like that you’re not going to get much
out of them. You’ve just got to get on with it.”

Moments earlier, United claimed Russell had been fouled in the
box by Paul Hanlon.

McGivern said: “The officials are there to make decisions and
they’ve certainly got my one wrong.

“I’ve seen Paul’s back as well and I don’t think that was one
either.

“If they’ve been influenced by the fans then that’s a bit
disappointing.”

Hibs responded well after falling behind early on when
goalkeeper Ben Williams’ attempted clearance cannoned off the body
of John Rankin and into the back of the net.

James McPake levelled for the visitors before a lovely strike
from Leigh Griffiths handed them the lead until the late penalty
call.

However, having picked up three points on the road against St
Mirren in their last match, McGivern refused to be too downbeat
ahead of Wednesday’s game against Kilmarnock.

He said: “We’ve had two away games and picked up four points so
if we can get a win on Wednesday it’s a good week’s work.”

United boss Jackie McNamara said: “We were poor in the first
half and were quite fortunate with the goal.

“I thought Griffiths was the difference between the two sides in
the first half.

“But I thought we deserved at least a point for our second half
performance.”

The 26-year-old forward netted his 19th goal of a superb debut
campaign in English football, side-footing Swansea’s second beyond
Bradford keeper Matt Duke as part of an emphatic 5-0 Capital One
Cup final triumph.

Man of the match Nathan Dyer and Jonathan de Guzman grabbed a
brace apiece, the Dutchman getting his first after Duke had brought
him down in the area and been dismissed by referee Kevin
Friend.

Success at Wembley saw Swansea secure their first major piece of
silverware, and also earns them a place in the Europa League.

That means a first taste of European football since 1991, but
question marks remain over whether Laudrup will be the man to lead
them as the Dane continues to be linked with some of the biggest
jobs on the continent.

But, having brought Swansea so far, Michu believes it is only
right Laudrup sees them through their next challenge.

“The gaffer here has done great in his first season,” he said.
“But I have gone up to Michael and said ‘stay with us now we are in
Europe’.

“I know other people will want him. He is really good, doing
really well and maybe he can go with another club, but I hope he
will stay here.

“We are growing up really fast and it is always difficult for a
club of our size to win a trophy.

“But I think now we are going to play in Europe we can bring in
some very good players and can be a stronger team next season.”

Michu sympathised with Bradford as their hiding condemned them
to the heaviest defeat suffered by any side in a League Cup final,
but acknowledged the key moment of Swansea’s route to Wembley had
come in their 2-0 win at Stamford Bridge in the first leg of their
semi-final against Chelsea.

He said: “We scored five, which is never easy to do.

“It was a great performance because Bradford have been very
impressive in this competition.

“But the most important game for us was against Chelsea in the
semi-final. We are here because of the way we played at Stamford
Bridge.”

The Scotland international has been in and out of Neil Lennon’s
plans for large parts of the campaign due only to a variety of
niggles including groin and hamstring complaints.

However, the 21-year-old is now looking to become an
ever-present in the run-in to the Hoops’ likely SPL title win, with
the possibility of a William Hill Scottish Cup final appearance
still on the cards.

He said: “I am feeling good. I am doing a lot of running with
the sports scientist and I just need to get more games.

“There has not been anything seriously wrong and maybe that’s a
good thing but it has been really frustrating, coming back and
getting injured (again) so hopefully with a little bit of luck I
can stay fit for the rest of the season.”

Celtic stand-in skipper Joe Ledley opened the scoring in the
13th minute with Forrest notching the second from the spot four
minutes into the second half after Dee substitute Matt Lockwood,
only on for the start of the second-half as replacement for Brian
Easton, was shown a straight red card for denying Gary Hooper a
clear goalscoring opportunity.

Dylan McGeouch, Ledley and Hooper added goals to further deflate
the relegation-bound visitors whose new interim boss John Brown
watched from the directors’ box.

With Kris Commons missing through a virus, Forrest was happy to
take on the responsibility of taking the spot-kick.

“I was asked before the game and I felt confident,” he said.

“I think that is the main thing if you are going to hit a
penalty and I am just glad it went in.

“That’s one out of one penalties, I have given myself a chance
(of taking the next one) but I won’t bother with that, it was good
to get the three points.”

Dundee remain 15 points adrift of St Mirren at the bottom of the
table but assistant Ray Farningham pleaded with disgruntled fans
not to blame Brown for his controversial appointment following the
shock departure of Barry Smith last week.

Farningham said: “It is not John’s fault and I have got to
emphasise that.

“I don’t know about John’s credentials, all I know is that he
will give it 100 per cent and will do everything to try to get the
club moving forward and I’m quite sure he will because that is what
we have to do now.”