Forster spurred on by critics

Inter Milan president Massimo Moratti has denied accusations

that the Serie A club are “blackmailing” midfielder Wesley

Sneijder.

The Nerazzurri had stated that the Holland international would

not play again until he agreed to extend his contract, which

currently runs until 2015, while simultaneously taking a pay

cut.

Head coach Andrea Stramaccioni subsequently insisted that

Sneijder’s absence from first-team action is purely a tactical

choice.

But FIFPro, the worldwide trade union for professional

footballers, issued a statement requesting dialogue with FIFA, UEFA

and the European Commission to share its concerns over what it

called ‘blackmail behaviour of clubs’.

Moratti told inter.it: “As far as the club is concerned, we are

completely open to the player, there is no sort of blackmail.

“If a contract is valid, it’s certainly valid to ask a person if

it can be improved in some way. That doesn’t change the fact that

for the time being he’s not playing for technical reasons.

“Obviously no one would want to throw away someone of his value.

The club is calm, we haven’t forced anyone to do anything. His

contract is valid, no one is forcing him, Sneijder is free.”

The former Real Madrid playmaker has not featured since

September and Moratti would not be drawn on whether he would return

against Palermo this weekend.

“That’s entirely down to the coach, if he thinks he’s physically

and psychologically up to playing,” he added.

The FIFPro statement read: “FIFPro signals a growing number of

players who are put under pressure to prolong their contract. This

is no new phenomenon.

“A club forces a player with a contract nearing expiry to sign a

new contract. If the player refuses, the club puts him on the

reserve bench or in the grandstand.

“This professional footballer doesn’t get a chance to play any

more. Only when he has signed a new contract he can resume

playing.”

Hughes, 48, who replaced Neale Cooper at Victoria Park earlier

this month, lost his first two games in charge of League One’s

bottom club, but stopped a run of five straight defeats with a draw

at Walsall last weekend.

“There have been no promises from day one,” Green said. “We’ve

always been realistic. He’s not said ‘I will keep you up’. Nobody

can say that in football, if they could they would be magicians and

manager at Man United.

“But there’s always a gamble, don’t get me wrong, bringing him

to his first job in England. But we feel that the odds are stacked

in our favour with choosing John and taking the gamble we’ve

made.”

Hughes’ side, recently thrashed 6-1 at Chesterfield in the FA

Cup, are without a fixture this weekend as the competition stages

the second round proper.

The Magpies came within nine minutes of ending their wait for a

Premier League victory and five of avoiding a fourth successive

top-flight defeat for the first time since 2008 at the Britannia

Stadium.

However, Papiss Cisse’s 47th-minute opener ultimately counted

for nothing as Jon Walters and substitute Cameron Jerome struck at

the death to render a much-improved display by the injury-plagued

visitors futile.

Alan Pardew’s men have now won only one of their last nine

league games and currently sit in 14th place in the table, and the

situation could deteriorate further over the weekend as they are

not in action again until Monday night, when Wigan head for St

James’ Park.

But Tiote told the club’s official website: “This was so

difficult for the team to take.

“We played well and were the better team on the pitch. We tried

to pass the ball well and scored the first goal, but after that we

were unlucky because it was two sloppy goals that cost us the

game.

“Everyone is very disappointed, but we were much brighter than

we have been recently and had more energy on the pitch.

“If you play well like we did, then you expect to win the game,

so if we continue to play like this, we will get three points again

very soon.”

Full-back Danny Simpson was equally disappointed, but also

confident that a corner has been turned after cards-on-the-table

discussions following Sunday’s tame 2-0 defeat at promoted

Southampton.

He said: “It was a big blow. You can’t fault our performance and

we gave it everything, every single one of us.

“We looked comfortable and we felt comfortable at the back. We

were dealing with everything they threw at us and we were trying to

get a second goal.

“We had a couple of chances, but the first goal and then the

second one straight afterwards were just a big blow because I think

we deserved a win, to be honest with you.

“We all had a good chat after Southampton and said it wasn’t

good enough and that we need to perform better away from home to

give us a chance, and it was the complete opposite from

Southampton.

“We did everything right. The game-plan was perfect and we went

1-0 up. But those two goals were a killer because I thought we

deserved to win the game.

“I don’t think they were better than us, but they got the two

goals.

“We have got a couple of days now before the next game and we

have to pick ourselves up and get going again.”

Robertson left the field on a stretcher after coming on as a

second-half substitute during Wednesday night’s 1-0 defeat to

Hibernian.

He was expected to spend the night in Perth Royal Infirmary

following the Scottish Premier League clash at McDiarmid Park.

The club has now confirmed initial fears of a leg break.

They wrote on Twitter: “Confirmed that @davidrobbo12 broke his

leg in last nights game and is to undergo surgery today.”

Koscielny limped off after just four minutes at Goodison Park

and Gunners boss Arsene Wenger said afterwards he expected the

centre-back to be out for three weeks.

Wenger was pleased to leave Merseyside with a point despite his

side dominating the last 10 league meetings, winning eight and

drawing just two.

“It was a game of big physical intensity, we had a good start

and after that I felt Everton came back into it and their direct

game was always a threat,” he said.

“There are regrets on the goal we conceded but 1-1 is a fair

result and it is a good point here.

“We needed to show great spirit to get away with a point and I

am pleased with the effort they put into the game.”

The champions have stuttered at times this term, despite topping

the SPL, losing 17 points already in comparison to 21 dropped in

the whole of last season.

Neil Lennon’s side came in for stick following their shock home

1-0 defeat by Inverness at the weekend, with the manager even

threatening to quit after an altercation with a couple of fans.

However, inspired by goalkeeper Forster, who turned in another

fine performance, Celtic raced into a three-goal half-time lead

thanks to efforts from striker Lassad Nouioui and right-back Mikael

Lustig, while Charlie Mulgrew’s cut-back was deflected into his own

net by Gorgie midfielder Ryan Stevenson.

Striker Gary Hooper grabbed a fourth late in the game before the

Parkhead keeper showed why he has forced his way into the England

set-up by saving a late penalty from Hearts skipper Marius Zaliukas

to take them a point ahead of Hibernian with a game in hand.

“If you lose you always have your critics,” said Forster.

“We don’t worry about what people are saying but it is just

important that you go out and show what we can do.

“We have our own pride to look after so it is important the we

focus on that and play the best we can.

“It was a fantastic result. It was always going to be a

challenge and it was probably the game we needed.

“We knew Saturday was unacceptable and we just had to get a

reaction and we got it.”

Lennon claimed his side had now “set the bar” for the rest of

the season.

He said: “I know they are capable of those performances. I have

seen it time and again.

“It was a performance I was looking for, regardless of the

result.

“If we had won 1-0 I would have been delighted but to win it so

emphatically was so pleasing.”

Hearts manager John McGlynn, who revealed Jason Holt and Dylan

McGowan picked up injuries which make them doubtful for Sunday’s

Scottish Cup tie against Edinburgh rivals Hibernian, was left

stunned by the result.

“I think the scoreline was harsh on us” he said.

“I’m led to believe the statistics were a lot closer than the

scoreline was. It was 3-0 at half-time but it could have been

2-2.

“Celtic were clinical on the night, they had the same amount of

opportunities and had four goals to show for it but we tried to

play.”