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.”