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Life in bubble is not for me, says Andrew ‘Beef’ Johnston as he withdraws from British Masters

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life in bubble is not for me says andrew beef johnston as he withdraws from british masters

For most players at the Betfred British Masters, the sheer joy of resuming what they do for a living means they are happy to put up with all the necessary restrictions on how they normally go about their work.

But life in a claustrophobic tournament bubble is definitely not for everyone. It is the reason staff at the European Tour had specific training on mental health and wellbeing in the build-up to the UK swing. On Thursday, sadly, came news of the first player in need of counsel.

Andrew ‘Beef’ Johnston was in two minds over whether to make the five-hour drive to play at Close House this week. The closer it got to deadline, the more agitated he became.

Andrew 'Beef' Johnston withdrew from the British Masters on Thursday after nine holes

Andrew 'Beef' Johnston withdrew from the British Masters on Thursday after nine holes

Andrew ‘Beef’ Johnston withdrew from the British Masters on Thursday after nine holes

The engaging Londoner earned himself an audience of millions with his marvellous play in 2016 and captivating backstory – but 12 months ago he revealed the price he paid, as he spoke movingly and unsparingly about his descent into depression.

Thankfully, he made it to the other side. He discussed the joy of getting married and becoming a father. But the wretched legacy of Covid-19 has brought back uncomfortable memories. Nine holes on Thursday proved enough before he withdrew and drove home, and it might be the other side of the pandemic before he is seen again.

‘I’d been on-off about playing, and now I’m not going to play for months,’ confessed the 31-year-old. ‘Being confined to the hotel and confined to the golf course, not being able to bring my family is ultimately not what I want at this moment and not how I want to live my life.

He admitted that the situation and life within golf's new bubble was not designed for him

He admitted that the situation and life within golf's new bubble was not designed for him

He admitted that the situation and life within golf’s new bubble was not designed for him

‘I’ve learned to be honest about it, whereas in the past I might have just swallowed it up. The golden rule for me now is that if I’m not happy, I’m not playing.’

Fellow Englishman Dale Whitnell has known plenty of tough times himself. Now 31, the promise shown during his amateur days when the Essex man rubbed shoulders with the likes of Tommy Fleetwood has never been realised, to the extent that two years ago he took on a job as a courier driver to make ends meet.

In Thursday’s second round he delivered a brilliant 64 to be just a stroke behind the leader, gifted Italian Renato Paratore, 23.

Whitnell is trying his level best not to let the mind race ahead and think of how life-changing the next two days could be.

Fellow Englishman Dale Whitnell hit a brilliant 64 to be a stroke behind the leader on Thursday

Fellow Englishman Dale Whitnell hit a brilliant 64 to be a stroke behind the leader on Thursday

Fellow Englishman Dale Whitnell hit a brilliant 64 to be a stroke behind the leader on Thursday

‘It’s tough, to be honest,’ he acknowledged, smiling.

One shot behind Whitnell is Ashley Chesters from Shropshire, whose victory in the Lee Westwood Trophy in 2011 was the springboard to a glittering amateur career. If the 30-year-old claimed his first pro title on Saturday, he would receive the trophy from none other than… Westwood.

Speaking of the tournament host, he was in danger of sitting out the next two days after an ugly double bogey for starters, but he rallied for a 71 to make it through. Playing partner Eddie Pepperell is five behind following a 69.

Gifted 23-year-old Italian Renato Paratore is at the head of the pack going into Friday's action

Gifted 23-year-old Italian Renato Paratore is at the head of the pack going into Friday's action

Gifted 23-year-old Italian Renato Paratore is at the head of the pack going into Friday’s action

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Zinedine Zidane sent a clear message to the board by not bringing Luka Jovic on in goalless draw

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zinedine zidane sent a clear message to the board by not bringing luka jovic on in goalless draw

Luka Jovic is available on loan this summer – that was the clearest conclusion to be drawn from Real Madrid‘s opening day 0-0 draw with Real Sociedad.

The 22-year-old Serbian international, who scored 17 goals in 32 appearances in the Bundesliga for Eintracht Frankfurt the season before last and 10 in 14 Europa League matches, was left on the bench on Sunday night as Real Madrid’s blunt attack failed to break down Real Sociedad’s defence.

Zidane requested the signing of Jovic for £58million in the summer of 2019 but instead of turning to him to break the stalemate he put on 20-year-old winger Marvin Park and 18-year-old attacking midfielder Sergio Arribas. His message could not have been clearer.

Luka Jovic (left) did not come on in Real Madrid's goalless draw against Real Sociedad

Luka Jovic (left) did not come on in Real Madrid’s goalless draw against Real Sociedad

Jovic joined Real Madrid - at the request of Zinedine Zidane - for £58million in summer of 2019

Jovic joined Real Madrid – at the request of Zinedine Zidane – for £58million in summer of 2019

The Serbian striker has been left out in the cold and will be available to loan this summer

The Serbian striker has been left out in the cold and will be available to loan this summer

After the game Zidane said: ‘I did not want to change the formation and Karim Benzema was playing well.’ It was not the most convincing of explanations. Throwing Jovic on with Benzema and playing 4-4-2 looked the obvious plan B after plan A had impressed but failed to find the opening goal of the season.

Park, who was at Tranmere as a kid before moving back to Spain in his early teens and under-18 prospect Arribas are both highly thought of but once the season is in full flow they are unlikely to feature again. 

This felt like a message from Zidane. He has moved on Gareth Bale and James Rodriguez and now he wants shot of someone else he does not see a future for at Real Madrid.

Zidane’s decision to ship out Rodriguez, Bale and Sergio Reguilon has already come under scrutiny. Don’t think Marca’s headline last week: ‘Zidane gets his way’, was anything other than a clear message to the Madrid manager: you have given up on these players, you had better make it work with those who are left.

Jovic has been looked at by several Premier League clubs. His performances against Chelsea in the Europa League in 2019 put him in the diaries of various directors of football and there would have been a great scrap for his signature had Madrid not been prepared to pay such a big fee last year. 

Now he is on the table again. Madrid learned the hard way from their experience with both Bale and Rodriguez that if Zidane sets his mind on overlooking a player then he will barely feature and his price will plummet.

Zidane instead opted to bring on Marvin Park (right) while Jovic stayed stuck on the bench

Zidane instead opted to bring on Marvin Park (right) while Jovic stayed stuck on the bench

Young midfielder Sergio Arribas also got the nod ahead of Real Madrid's £58m man on Sunday

Young midfielder Sergio Arribas also got the nod ahead of Real Madrid’s £58m man on Sunday

Borja Mayoral was another centre-forward left kicking his heels on the bench. The 23-year-old former Spain Under-21 international was out on loan at Levante last season. 

With one year left on his current deal Madrid are holding back on loaning him out again because they would rather sell. Zidane could keep Mayoral if Jovic goes but it really does seem that Zidane fancies neither of them.

‘It’s going to be a long wait for Mbappe’ read the Diario AS headline on Monday morning. He is the player Zidane really wants but there is no chance of that happening this summer.

Perhaps the best news for the Real Madrid coach after the first game of the new season was the form of Martin Odegaard. It was back in May 2015 when Odegaard made his debut for Madrid. He came on after an hour to replace Cristiano Ronaldo that night. 

It was a clear message from Zidane that he doesn't want Jovic (pictured) at Real Madrid

It was a clear message from Zidane that he doesn’t want Jovic (pictured) at Real Madrid

The same happened with Gareth Bale, who has now returned to Tottenham for the season

The same happened with Gareth Bale, who has now returned to Tottenham for the season

The score was already 5-3 in Madrid’s favour and Odegaard helped the team to two more goals. But coach Carlo Ancelotti would later refer to the debut as a PR stunt by the club. They had wanted their youngest Galatico to become the youngest player to play for the club, aged 16 years and 156 days.

He has returned as the complete midfielder after loan spells at Heerenveen, Vitesse and Real Sociedad.

He is yet to get full fitness because of a lingering problem in his right knee but he showed enough in the first half to suggest Real Madrid have done the right thing ending his loan odyssey.

He looked on the same wavelength as Karim Benzema and Zidane will hope that, in the absence of Mbappe, he can call upon the still unfit Eden Hazard sooner rather than later and enjoy the three of them trying to improve Real Madrid’s attacking threat.

James Rodriguez was also forced out by Zidane and has got off to a flying start at Everton

James Rodriguez was also forced out by Zidane and has got off to a flying start at Everton

Martin Odegaard was one bright spark for Real Madrid as they started the season with a draw

Martin Odegaard was one bright spark for Real Madrid as they started the season with a draw

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Today’s horse racing tips: Templegate’s NAP and best bets for Beverley, Warwick, Lingfield and Newcastle

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todays horse racing tips templegates nap and best bets for beverley warwick lingfield and newcastle

NEVILLE’S CROSS (3.30 Warwick, nap) will leave the bookies fuming.

He was impressive when winning at Uttoxeter on his handicap debut last time and a 9lb rise won’t stop him following up. Trainer Tom Lacey is in good nick too.

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Credit: John Mather / The Sun

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BULLS AYE (1.30 Beverley, nb) can hit the target again after cruising to victory at Musselburgh. He likes this trip and has much more to come.

REDESDALE REBEL (6.40 Newcastle, treble) landed a cosy win over seven furlongs here 14 days ago and sees out this mile well.

BEVERLEY

1.00     Beechwood Donna

1.30     Bulls Aye (nb)

2.05     Harbour Vision

2.40     Ornate

3.15     Gamesome

3.50     William Alexander

4.25     Ricksen

4.55     Jupiter Road

WARWICK

1.15     Let The Heirs Walk

1.45     Diamond River

2.20     Purple King

2.55     Getaway Mag

3.30     NEVILLE’S CROSS (NAP)

4.05     Veiled Secret

4.40     Young Wolf

5.15     Kayarnah

LINGFIELD

1.55     Too Shy Shy

2.30     Legendary Day

3.05     Absolute Scenes

3.40     Lynns Boy

4.15     Cappananty Con

4.50     Amanto

5.20     Taqareer

5.50     Quemonda

NEWCASTLE

4.00     Desert Dawn

4.35     Jack Randall

5.10     Scots Sonnet

5.40     Titian

6.10     Light Refrain

6.40     Redesdale Rebel (treble)

7.10     Dark Devil

7.40     Loweswater

8.10     Serenading

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Harry Maguire ‘turns like an ocean liner’, blasts Simon Jordan in stinging rant at Man Utd board and Solskjaer

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harry maguire turns like an ocean liner blasts simon jordan in stinging rant at man utd board and solskjaer scaled

SIMON JORDAN blasted Harry Maguire for “turning like an ocean liner” in a stinging rant at Manchester United.

The former Crystal Palace chairman saw the Eagles stun United with a 3-1 win at Old Trafford on Saturday evening.

Simon Jordan called out Harry Maguire for criticism following his performance against Crystal Palace

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Simon Jordan called out Harry Maguire for criticism following his performance against Crystal PalaceCredit: Getty Images – Getty

And Jordan let rip at the Red Devils when he appeared on talkSPORT, singling out skipper Maguire and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team selection for particular criticism after the defeat.

He said: “Manchester United were dreadful. Harry Maguire turns like an ocean liner and you see that in an instant – an £80million footballer who can’t move.

“Whether that’s psychological because he’s got all the baggage in the world or whether he needs a centre-half who’s quicker and can accommodate some of the things he can’t do.



“It seems inconceivable you wouldn’t pick Aaron Wan-Bissaka to shut Wilfried Zaha up… maybe the notion is he won’t play as well against his own club, rubbish!

“He’s a professional who wants to play for the biggest team in football in Manchester United.”

Jordan then turned his attention to the United board and their policies since Sir Alex Ferguson left in 2013, especially recruitment.

He added: “You don’t need to strengthen, with respect, to beat Crystal Palace. You need to perform to a certain level.

“Two weeks ago we’re hearing people going, ‘It’s not fair, Man United get an extra week to prepare’. Now we’re hearing that they were rusty. Which one is it? Which one gets the benefit?

The former Eagles chairman did not hold back as he blasted the Old Trafford club

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The former Eagles chairman did not hold back as he blasted the Old Trafford clubCredit: talkSPORT
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“Man United were poor, Crystal Palace were what they do at times – very organised, very well versed in what their job is and very counter-intuitive about attacking on the front foot.

“At what point do one of the biggest clubs in the world turn to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer for a solution for a problem that’s laid down over the last seven years?

“Man United are getting further and further away. They haven’t won the Premier League for 70 per cent of a decade.

“Whilst Solskjaer is a decent football man, you wonder when Manchester United became the side of someone that employs the track record of and capability of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to bridge the gap against Manchester City, Liverpool, Real Madrid, Barcelona… against all the superpowers that Man United purport to be bigger than.”

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Agbonlahor says Man Utd should sack ‘soft’ Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and replace him with ex-Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino

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