O’Donovan strike dumps Gulls

Bristol City manager Sean O’Driscoll was concerned by his side’s
attitude during the 3-0 defeat to Derby at Pride Park.

The defeat left the Robins rooted to the bottom of the
Championship table – four points adrift of safety – but O’Driscoll
insists his side cannot afford to start feeling sorry for
themselves.

“That is probably as much possession as we have had since I
arrived at the club, yet it’s our worst defeat,” said
O’Driscoll.

“It’s a strange one because we let that disappointment affect
us, which is the first time that has happened.

“Through everything that has happened, we have been really
positive with the players and really positive with what we have
said to them. The first bit of negativity has just come from
them.

“You could see it in them and when they came in at half-time it
was negative, which is disappointing.

“That can’t happen given where we are in the league. We have got
to handle it better.

“The players have got to be positive and view where we are as a
challenge – an opportunity. Because if they don’t, the next few
matches are going to be torture.”

Anti-racism campaigners FARE have reported the Football
Association to FIFA over the behaviour of England’s fans in San
Marino last Friday.

Specifically, it was felt by FARE that the ‘bonfire’ song,
adapted to include the names of Ferdinand and his brother Anton,
warranted further attention from the game’s authorities.

The FA have so far failed to unearth any evidence of the song
being sung, while not challenging that it happened, and have
repeated their desire to stamp racism out of the game.

That may not prevent Ferdinand being targeted on Manchester
United duty though, given the controversy that surrounded his
England withdrawal and subsequent trip to Qatar to commentate on
the World Cup qualifier.

Yet United manager Ferguson feel the 34-year-old is strong
enough to cope.

“If there is criticism out there I don’t think it will bother
him,” said Ferguson.

“In modern society there is always a venting of spleen against
someone who displeases them at any particular moment in time.

“It will blow over quite quickly.

“Most people realise Rio’s international career had been in
doubt for a while anyway. He hadn’t been picked for a few
games.”

In a face-to-face meeting with Roy Hodgson prior to his
withdrawal, Ferdinand cited an “intricate and pre-planned” training
programme as the reason why he could not answer England’s call.

It is evidently as meticulous as Ferdinand says.

“The way our physio and sports science departments had been
handling him has been correct,” said Ferguson.

“That has allowed him to have one of his best seasons. That is
why Roy has picked him.

“But there is a way we treat Rio in terms of getting him ready
for big matches.

“The programme we have got for him is detailed in the sense of
the games he plays in and the type of training he does in the
build-up to games.

“We don’t play him in every game, as everyone knows. We try to
have him ready for the games that really matter.”

The question now is whether Hodgson will call Ferdinand up for
the summer friendlies against Republic of Ireland and Brazil given
the upheaval he experienced this week.

“I couldn’t tell you. I have not spoken to him about it,” said
Ferguson, when asked whether Ferdinand would play for England
again.

“He has had issues with his back obviously. Age catches us all.
There is no question about that. In football you don’t grow old
without penalties.

“Rio has lost that lightning speed he had five or six years ago.
But he has adapted in a different way in the sense of how his game
is.

“You have to adjust to the situation and Rio has done that very
well.”

Last season’s surprise French champions made PSG work hard for
their reward, with the only goal coming when Kevin Gameiro prodded
home from close range in the 80th minute.

This season could end in glory on more than one front for the
Parisians, with domestic honours increasingly probable but
Champions League success also in their sights.

Barcelona will pose more of a test than Montpellier when they
visit Parc de Paris on Tuesday, but at least PSG have almost 24
hours longer than the Catalans to prepare for their tussle as
Barcelona play Celta Vigo on Saturday evening.

The hosts’ priority however was to secure a no-fuss win and take
an eight-point lead in Ligue 1.

They threatened to edge in front after just a minute when Javier
Pastore released Clement Chantome on the edge of the Montpellier
penalty area. He had an angle to contend with, though, and shot
wide.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who would later play a key role in the
winner, was next to threaten the visitors’ goal as Marco Verratti’s
pass over the top found the Swede, who volleyed narrowly over the
crossbar.

Montpellier showed an attacking threat when Remy Cabella crossed
toward Gaetan Charbonnier, who from 20 yards fizzed a right-footed
shot inches wide.

Thiago Silva forced Geoffrey Jourdren into a save at full
stretch when he got his head to a free-kick from Jeremy Menez and
PSG menaced the Montpellier goal again before the interval when
Menez played in Ibrahimovic, whose curled right-footed strike was
blocked by the visiting keeper.

Ibrahimovic created the first chance of the second half, heading
the ball to Menez, whose thumping 20-yard volley narrowly
missed.

Jourdren denied Chantome before Montpellier proved their
pedigree by almost silencing the expectant home crowd.

Again it was Charbonnier with the chance, Younes Belhanda
playing him through on goal. But the finish was not punishing, with
goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu able to make the block.

With 10 minutes remaining and David Beckham newly called off the
bench for a late push, PSG went ahead.

Menez bustled through midfield and played a smart ball to
Ibrahimovic, whose run took him into the left side of the penalty
area. Montpellier defenders hurried back but could not intercept
the striker’s left-footed pass that found Gameiro racing in to turn
home from six yards.

The Cobblers were quickly out of the blocks and Clive Platt was
foiled by Brian Saah’s last-gasp challenge while Chris Hackett had
a close-range effort blocked.

O’Donovan saw his low drive saved by Michael Poke and Ishmel
Demontagnac fired over at the end of Northampton’s best move.

In between Jordan Chappell tested Lee Nicholls and Ryan Jarvis
fired wide but Poke did well to foil Ben Harding following a
scramble as Northampton dominated the first half without getting
their reward.

The Cobblers picked up from where they left off after the
restart. Ben Harding hit a post, Hackett was denied by Poke from
the rebound and from the ensuing corner John Johnson headed just
wide.

O’Donovan had a header ruled out for offside but Torquay had a
strong penalty appeal waved away when Elliot Benyon was tripped by
Clarke Carlisle.

But with five minutes remaining Hackett turned inside before
crossing for O’Donovan to head past Poke from 10 yards.

Rene Howe went close to an equaliser moments later and Nicholls
denied Benyon in the last minute.