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.”