Wesley Sneijder plays down Liverpool move

Sneijder plays down 9.5m move to Liverpool as Inter Milan midfielder eyes January exit

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UPDATED:

14:31 GMT, 31 December 2012

Unsettled Inter Milan midfielder Wesley Sneijder has moved to dampen speculation linking him with a January move to Liverpool.

Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport reported on Sunday that the Reds had made a 9.5million offer for the Dutchman.

Sneijder has been left feeling isolated at the San Siro after snubbing a suggested annual pay cut of 1.6million and then being dropped from the first-team.

On the move: Inter Milan's Dutch midfielder Wesley Sneijder is heading for the exit in the January transfer window

On the move: Inter Milan's Dutch midfielder Wesley Sneijder is heading for the exit in the January transfer window

But he denied there was any foundation in the story linking him to an Anfield switch when asked about it on Monday, telling a press conference: ‘Again, no truth’.

The 28-year old – who has also attracted interest from Manchester United and Tottenham – reacted furiously to Inter’s proposed salary cut and demanded a move, putting the pressure on the Serie A outfit to sell him for close to the same 15million euro fee they paid Real Madrid in 2009.

Red alert: How Sneijder would look in Liverpool coloursRed alert: How Sneijder would look in Liverpool colours

Red alert: How Sneijder would look in Liverpool colours

‘Clearly it’s best for everyone concerned that in January I am transferred,’ he said defiantly. ‘If that doesn’t happen then I will stay. I have a contract with Inter until 2015.’

Manager Andrea Stramaccioni has since dropped Sneijder from the squad over the bitter dispute.

His wage bill is currently 200,000 per week and Inter will be relieved to offload the financial burden. Liverpool’s coffers, however, are unlikely to be able to stretch to such levels.

Talk of a move to Spurs for the Holland international cooled when his agent told Dutch paper Algemeen Dagblad:

‘There is nothing, absolutely nothing true about that.’

United are also thought to be weighing up a January bid for the former Ajax man.

Darron Gibson out for a month with thigh strain

Everton star Gibson out of action for a month after suffering thigh strain

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UPDATED:

14:33 GMT, 31 December 2012

Everton midfielder Darron Gibson will be out of action for at least a month after suffering a thigh strain.

The Irishman will miss the Merseysiders’ fixtures against Newcastle, Swansea, Southampton and West Brom in January.

Everton manager David Moyes said: 'I think he's going to be out for about four weeks.

Gibson should be back in time for the clash against former club Manchester United on February 10.

Injured: Gibson will be out for at least a month

Injured: Gibson will be out for at least a month

The 25-year-old spent more than two months on the sidelines earlier in the season with a similar problem.

He missed 10 Barclays Premier League matches as a result and a further absence is a significant blow to Everton as he has been one of their key players since arriving in January.

Moyes still has Kevin Mirallas (hamstring), Tony Hibbert (calf) and Seamus Coleman out, while Phil Neville (knee) had to be rested against Chelsea having played two matches in five days on his comeback from surgery.

Best goal of 2012: Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Papiss Cisse, Neymar, who will win?

Who scored the best goal of 2012 Drogba, Neymar and Ibrahimovic are all in with a shout… here are Sportsmail's top 10

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UPDATED:

14:40 GMT, 31 December 2012

Compiling a list of the greatest goals of the year is always tricky. It’s difficult to judge whether a magnificent dribble leading to a solo goal is better than a searing volley from 30 yards out.

But come the end of the year it’s time to decide which strikes make the cut and which must fall by the wayside. This collection has been chopped and changed a-plenty, but this is what we’re sticking with.

Only two of FIFA’s three Puskas award short-listed goals are present and correct – apologies and an honourable mention to Radamel Falcao.

We only have space for 10 goals on this list but if you believe other strikes deserve to be recognised then have your say in the comment section below.

Whose was the best 2012 saw some spectacular and brilliant goals and Sportsmail lists the top 10

Whose was the best 2012 saw some spectacular and brilliant goals and Sportsmail lists the top 10

10. Peter Crouch (STOKE v Man City)

People love to stick the boot in on Stoke because of their 'dour' brand of football. But they have offered some magic moments too during their time in the top flight.

Earlier this week we saw Cameron Jerome score an absolute rocket against Southampton. And in March Peter Crouch dealt Manchester City a setback in the title race.

We know now that it didn't stop them winning the Premier League, but at the time this wondergoal gave Man United the chance to open up a three point lead at the top.

Crouch nodded Asmir Begovich's long punt to Jermain Pennant who nodded it back and then the giant striker teed himself up and lashed in a stunning volley from an awkward angle past Joe Hart.

9. Simon Cox (NOTTINGHAM FOREST v Birmingham)

In the 1998 World Cup quarter-final clash between Holland and Argentina, Dennis Bergkamp scored a delightful goal, controlling a long pass expertly and finishing with aplomb.

Nottingham Forest and Ireland striker Simon Cox evoked that spirit against Birmingham in the Championship. Yes, the stage was smaller but the skill was no less admirable.

Cox took one touch to kill Lewis McGugan's long ball and then adjusted instantly to delicately flick it over the helpless Jack Butland.

8. Rodrigo Palacio (GENOA v Lazio)

Did he mean it That was the question everybody was asking when Rodrigo Palacio, now of Inter, scored this gem.

The Genoa striker's cute backflick from this corner floated over the surprised Lazio keeper and sank into the net.

Some say it was luck, others judgement. Sportsmail falls in the latter camp and will give the Argentina hitman the credit this effort deserves.

7. Gaston Mealla (NACIONAL POTOSI v The Strongest)

Colombian goalkeeper Rene Higuita made it famous at Wembley in 1995. But keeping the scorpion kick revival movement going in 2012 was Nacional Potosi striker Gaston Mealla. (See also THIS hilarious scorpion kick own goal for last year's effort).

During a Bolivian league match between his side and The Strongest, an under-hit dink forward was set to land behind the striker on the edge of the box. But Mealla cared not for his team-mate's mistake.

His stupendous athleticism salvaged the situation and helped create a bizarre and beautiful goal.

6. Neymar (SANTOS v Internacional)

Santos' much sought-after Brazilian demonstrated just why Barcelona, Real Madrid, Chelsea and Manchester City all are willing to splash the cash on him with this bewitching solo goal against Internacional.

He picked the ball up in his own half surged at 100 miles-per-hour past, round and through anybody who stood in his way, before nudging the ball home.

Note – Hatem Ben Arfa's effort in the FA Cup against Blackburn was a contender for the list, but the Newcastle man just missed out to this. A tough call to make.

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5. Didier Drogba (Bayern Munich v CHELSEA)

Picture the scene. Chelsea are 1-0 down in the Allianz Arena and the stadium is bouncing. Bayern Munich are on the cusp of winning the Champions League trophy on their own turf.

With two minutes to go Juan Mata floats in a corner from the right. Everything seems to stand still as the ball drops in towards the near post. Everything that is, except Didier Drogba.

The Chelsea striker leaps for the ball and sends a venomous header in at the near post in front of the Blue corner of the stadium. To get so much power into the ball from such an awkward position makes this one of the finest headers of all time – before you even forgetting the circumstances.

An honourable mention goes to Ramires, Drogba's team-mate whose superbly weighted lob against Barcelona in the semi-final earned the Blues passage to Munich.

4. Philippe Mexes (AC MILAN v Anderlecht)

Philippe Mexes is supposed to be a defender. So how on earth did this happen

AC Milan were beating Anderlecht 1-0 in the Champions League when the centre-back doubled the lead with something a little bit special.

The Frenchman chested Riccardo Montolivio's ball away from goal and then flipped it accurately into the top corner with a precisely executed overhead-kick.

Milan's general manager Adriano Galliani waxed lyrical about the strike, and said: 'If Leo Messi had scored that, every news channel around the world would show it and he'd have been made a saint tonight!'

He's probably right.

3. Miroslav Stoch (FENERBAHCE v Genclerbirligi)

He's not the biggest name on the list, but he scored one of the finest goals.

Bringing to mind Zinedine Zidane's Champions League final volley and Paul Scholes' effort against Aston Villa, Fenerbahce winger Miroslav Stoch made Turkish league opponents Genclerbirligi pay.

Stoch stayed cool to pull the trigger on a 25-yard volley which swerved away from the goalkeeper and zipped in to the top corner.

This goal has been nominated for the FIFA Puskas award, along with Neymar's effort. At the Ballon d'Or ceremony on January 7 the winner will be revealed.

2. Zlatan Ibrahimovic (SWEDEN v England)

This is certainly the most famous goal of 2012.

Yes, it's Zlatan Ibrahimovic's simply ridiculous propeller kick against England, which also happened to be his fourth goal of the game.

He defied gravity as he tossed his 6ft 4 frame into the sky with abandon, to caress the ball sweetly into the net.

There's an arguement to be made that Mexes' effort was trickier because he had a goalkeeper to beat – here Hart is in no-man's land – but this is from further out and far more awkward to hit.

The Swedish superstar had, until this friendly which his side won 4-2, previously been maligned by a fair few people on British soil, who thought he was over-rated and arrogant (OK, so the last part is still true).

This incredible goal was the cherry on the cake which he gleefully stuffed down the gaping mouths of his detractors.

1 Papiss Cisse (Chelsea v NEWCASTLE)

On a cold spring evening in May, Papiss Cisse warmed the cockles of Newcastle's travelling fans and delighted football fans the world over with this simply stupendous effort.

With one momentous swing of his right boot, he destroyed Chelsea's hopes of qualifying for the Champions League through a top four finish and secured himself a place in every 'Greatest Goals' DVD release between now and the end of time.

Every time you watch his outrageous volley, which spins past the thoroughly bewildered Petr Cech, it just gets better and better.

Perhaps the previously lethal Senegal striker decided he could never top this because it seems like he's stopped trying this season. You could forgive him, because this would be the highlight of anybody's career.

Liverpool loan move for David Villa rejected by Barcelona

Cough up if you want Villa! Bold Liverpool loan move rejected as Barca hold out for 16m

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UPDATED:

13:34 GMT, 31 December 2012

Liverpool have been rebuffed in a bold attempt to take Barcelona striker David Villa on loan.

The 31-year-old is frustrated at the Nou Camp due to his lack of game time and is keen to come to England.

However, Barcelona will not entertain the idea of letting the Spain international go out on loan and will only consider a bumper transfer offer to sell in this window.

Hotshot: But David Villa has found opportunities hard to come by at Barca this term

Hotshot: David Villa has found opportunities hard to come by at Barca this term but his goalscoring record with both the Catalan giants and Spain is exceptional

David Villa

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has already agreed a deal with Chelsea for Daniel Sturridge and is advanced with talks over a move for Thomas Ince. However, that deal has dragged because Blackpool want 6million for a player they bought from Liverpool for 250,000 18 months ago.

Villa was seen as a player of quality and experience who could share the burden with Luis Suarez and fit into Rodgers' ideal 4-3-3 formation having also played on the left for Barcelona and Spain.

Brendan Rodgers

Lone furrow: Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers (above) is in the market to
bring in some support up front for Luis Suarez (below), despite his two goals against QPR

Luis Suarez

The move would have been an exception to Liverpool's normal guidelines with the club reluctant to bring in players who are over the age of 24.

Arsenal were interested in Villa but are reluctant to become embroiled in another bidding war with Barcelona having been told the price would be at least 16m.

Chelsea have been sounded out also but Rafa Benitez is unlikely to move for Villa with other options still ahead of him, despite the breakdown in the move for Demba Ba.

Villa has made 17 appearances for Barca this season and scored five goals. However, he would also be cup-tied in Europe having figured against Spartak Moscow, Celtic and Benfica in the Champions League.

Cheltenham"s New Year"s Day fixture abandoned

Balding's parade is rained on as Cheltenham's New Year's Day fixture is abandoned

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UPDATED:

13:29 GMT, 31 December 2012

Host: Balding is part of Channel 4 racing's new-look team

Host: Balding is part of Channel 4 racing's new-look team

Cheltenham’s New Year’s Day fixture at Prestbury Park has been abandoned due to a waterlogged track.

Clare Balding had been due to make her Channel 4 Racing debut from Cheltenham but the abandonment means the former BBC presenter will be broadcasting from a stable in Berkshire.

The only live action will be from Musselburgh and Channel 4 will send Balding and Mick Fitzgerald to visit trainer Nicky Henderson at Seven Barrows, Lambourn, home of Gold Cup contenders Bobs Worth and Long Run.

Channel 4 Racing executive producer Carl Hicks said: 'We have arranged for Clare and Mick to visit Seven Barrows.

'Nicky Henderson has so many high-profile horses to run before the Festival, there is plenty to see and talk about.'

Not at the races: Cheltenham's New Year's Day meeting was called off on Monday morning

Not at the races: Cheltenham's New Year's Day meeting was called off on Monday morning

Wet: Further rain is forecast at the racetrack

Wet: Further rain is forecast at the racetrack

Course officials originally scheduled an inspection for 3pm on Monday but the meeting was abandoned long before that.

Cheltenham clerk of the course Simon Claisse told At The Races: 'Sadly we've had to take the decision earlier than we thought to abandon the meeting.

'We've had more rainfall and there's quite a lot more rain forecast between now and 2pm. The course is waterlogged in too many places.'

Alex Ferguson electric car: Manchester United boss drives new Chevrolet Volt

After blowing his gasket on Boxing Day, Fergie's new electric car is right up his street…

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UPDATED:

13:36 GMT, 31 December 2012

He may have turned 71 today, but Sir Alex Ferguson has never been afraid to modernise, as his latest new signing shows.

The Manchester United manager has been purring about his latest investment, the energy-saving electric Chevrolet Volt.

When running in its near-silent electric mode the Volt has a range of around 50 miles, capable of getting Fergie to and from United’s training ground at Carrington.

Buzzing: Fergie drives his new Chevrolet Volt to training every day

Buzzing: Fergie drives his new Chevrolet Volt to training every day

Blowing his gasket: Fergie loses his cool with referee Mike Dean

Red faced: Fergie loses his cool with referee Mike Dean

CHEVROLET VOLT
Maximum
battery
life performance – with option of charging at home
0-62 mph in 9 secondsCapable of running in pure electric mode for 40-80 km

‘I think the Volt is absolutely phenomenal,’ said Ferguson.

'A
friend of mine drove one in the States and kept going on and on about
it, so when I had the opportunity I said 'yeah I’m going to try it
because it’s the car of the future, really.

'I’m very pleased with it.’

An added bonus for the Scot is that the Volt only attracts a five per cent tax charge, meaning a higher rate taxpayer such as Ferguson will only have to pay 58.25 per month.

Ferguson isn’t the only man connected with United to enjoy cutting down on his carbon footprint.

Ex-United captain Gary Neville speaks proudly of the fact he owns a hybrid car and when he’s not driving his Vauxhall Ampera, he takes the train.

So how long before the rest of the team follow their manager's lead and swap their super cars for hybrid motors

Modest: Fergie's new car will stand in contrast to some of his star players

Modest: Fergie's new car will stand in contrast to some of his star players

Top gear! How Fergie's new car compares to the best of the rest…
Wheely good: Legendary George Best used to drive his Lotus Europa to Old Trafford

Wheely good: Legendary George Best used to drive his Lotus Europa to Old Trafford

All smiles: Brian Clough steps into his car outside his hom after Derby after he was sacked by Leeds in 1974

Moving on: Alan Ball starts up his Ford after being sacked by Blackpool in 1981

Start the car: Late greats Brian Clough (L) and Alan Ball make a getaway in their cars after being sacked by Leeds and Blackpool in 1974 and 1981 respectively

Villa Car Park: The 1983 Aston Villa squad had MG Maestro cars delivered after the club signed a two-year sponsorship deal with Austin Rover

Villa Car Park: The 1983 Aston Villa squad had MG Maestro cars delivered after the club signed a two-year sponsorship deal with Austin Rover

Wheeler dealer: QPR boss Harry Redkanpp is famed for giving interviews in his Range Rover

Wheeler dealer: QPR boss Harry Redkanpp is famed for giving interviews in his Range Rover

Sir Alex Ferguson birthday: 71 best quotes from the Manchester United manager

On Fergie's birthday, 71 examples of his wit, wisdom and temper from over a quarter-century at Old Trafford

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UPDATED:

13:44 GMT, 31 December 2012

Sir Alex Ferguson celebrates his 71st birthday today and to mark the occasion, Sportsmail has picked out 71 of the Scot's best soundbites from his time as Manchester United manager.

There's pithy observations, musings on great United players, hurricane-force hairdryers, philosophical statements and withering put-downs.

So enjoy, and raise a glass to Sir Alex.

Happy Birthday! Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson is 71 today

Happy Birthday! Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson is 71 today

ON WINNING THE EUROPEAN CUP IN 1999

'It was the most emphatic display of selflessness I have seen on a football field. Pounding over every blade of grass, competing if he would rather die of exhaustion than lose, he inspired all around him. I felt such an honour to be associated with such a player.'

Speaking after Roy Keane's inspired performance in the semi-final of the UEFA Champions League against Juventus after receiving a booking which meant he would miss the final

'At the end of this game, the European Cup will be only six feet away from you, and you’ll not even able to touch it if we lose. And for many of you, that will be the closest you will ever get. Don’t you dare come back in here without giving your all.'

Ferguson's half-time team-talk during the 1999 European Cup final with Bayern Munich

Crowning glory: Ferguson holds the European Cup aloft after United unforgettable stoppage time win over Bayern Munich in 1999

Crowning glory: Ferguson holds the European Cup aloft after United unforgettable stoppage time win over Bayern Munich in 1999

Treble tops: Ferguson and United won the Premier League, FA Cup and the European Cup in 1999

Treble tops: Ferguson and United won the Premier League, FA Cup and the European Cup in 1999

'I was just starting to adjust to losing the game. I had reminded myself to keep my dignity and accept that it wasn't going to be our year. What then happened simply stunned me.'

As the game entered injury time with United losing 1-0

'Can you f***ing believe him!'

To his assistant Steve McClaren on seeing Peter Schmeichel going up for the first stoppage time corner

'I can't believe it. I can't believe it. Football. Bloody hell.'

After United won with two dramatic goals in stoppage time

ON LIVERPOOL

'My
greatest challenge is not what's happening at the moment, my greatest
challenge was knocking Liverpool right off their f***ing perch. And you
can print that.'

Reacting to remarks by former Liverpool player Alan Hansen that he was past it in 2002

'You must be joking. Do I look as if I'm a masochist ready to cut myself How does relegation sound instead'

When asked if Liverpool were genuine title contenders in 2007

Auld enemy: There have been many defining games with Liverpool during Ferguson's time at United. here, he celebrates a last minute John O'Shea winner at Anfield in 2007

Auld enemy: There have been many defining games with Liverpool during Ferguson's time at United. here, he celebrates a last minute John O'Shea winner at Anfield in 2007

'I
think he was an angry man. He must have been disturbed for some reason.
I think you have got to cut through the venom of it and hopefully he'll
reflect and understand what he said was absolutely ridiculous.'

On Rafael Bentez, reacting to the Spaniard's infamous 'facts' press conference during the 2009 title race

ON NOISY NEIGHBOURS CITY

'There
has been a lot of expectation on Manchester City and with the spending
they have done they have to win something. Sometimes you have a noisy
neighbor and have to live with it. You can't do anything about them…

After City are taken over by billionaire new owners

'It was our worst ever day!'

After the 6-1 defeat at Old Trafford last season

New rivalry: Roberto Mancini and Manchester City have emerged as United's main enemies in the past few years

New rivalry: Roberto Mancini and Manchester City have emerged as United's main enemies in the past few years

ON ARSENE WENGER AND ARSENAL

'They say he's an intelligent man, right Speaks five languages. I've got a 15-year-old boy from the Ivory Coast who speaks five languages!'

On Arsene Wenger, shortly after his appointment as Arsenal manager in 1996

'He's a novice—he should keep his opinions to
Japanese football.'

More harsh words for the Frenchman in 1997

'Oh dearie me, the FA are going to be delighted with that!'

Speaking about United's 4-0 loss to Arsenal in the League Cup in 2001

Mellow: The once frosty relationship between Ferguson and Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has thawed over the years

Mellow: The once frosty relationship between Ferguson and Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has thawed over the years

Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger shake hands before a Premier League match in January 2012

'It's getting tickly now – squeaky-bum time, I call it.'

During
the climax to the 2002-2003 title race between Arsenal and United,
which ended with Ferguson winning a seventh Premier League crown

'In the tunnel, Wenger was criticising my players, calling them cheats, so I told him to leave them alone and behave himself. He ran at me with his hands raised saying 'What do you want to do about it'

'To not apologise for the behaviour of the players to another manager is unthinkable. It's a disgrace, but I don't expect Wenger to ever apologise…he's that type of person.'

Relations with Wenger hadn't got much better by 2005…

ON CHELSEA

'He could start a row in an empty house.'

On Dennis Wise, the highly-strung former Chelsea player

'He’ll be getting a hug and a kiss from me – maybe even two!'

Speaking about his good friend Sam Allardyce after Bolton stalled Chelsea's title challenge in 2006-2007

'If Chelsea drop points, the cat’s out in the open. And you know what cats are like – sometimes they don’t come home.'

ON JOSE MOURINHO

'He was certainly full of it, calling me “Boss” and “Big Man” when we had our post-match drink after the first leg. But it would help if his greetings were accompanied by a decent glass of wine. What he gave me was paint-stripper.'

Ferguson's first impressions of Jose Mourinho, who got the better of him when Porto dumped United out of the Champions League in 2004

'I would never think a guy who hasn't played a game could be a top coach but then you've got to look at his personality. He's got a marvellous, strong personality and that bridges that gap.

'I remember his first press conference [at Chelsea, in 2004] and I thought: 'Christ, he's a cocky b******, him'. He was telling the players: 'Look, I'm the special one, we don't lose games.'

Remembering Mourinho's grand entrance into English football

Friends and rivals: Ferguson and Jose Mourinho enjoyed a great relationship despite United and Chelsea going toe-to-toe for the title

Friends and rivals: Ferguson and Jose Mourinho enjoyed a great relationship despite United and Chelsea going toe-to-toe for the title

'He can manage anywhere, absolutely. I'm not going to put any forecasts on what is going to happen at this club. I won't last forever, but Jose can manage anywhere, there is no question about that.'

On the possibility of Mourinho succeeding him at Old Trafford

ON DAVID BECKHAM

'David Beckham is Britain’s finest striker of a football not because of God-given talent but because he practises with a relentless application that the vast majority of less gifted players wouldn’t contemplate.'

Waxing lyrical about David Beckham's commitment and talent

'It was a freakish incident. If I tried it 100 or a million times it couldn't happen again. If I could I would have carried on playing!'

Playing down the famous incident in which he allegedly kicked a boot which hit David Beckham in the forehead

Booted out! Beckham was allegedly hit by a boot kicked by Ferguson in the United dressing room in 2003

Booted out! Beckham was allegedly hit by a boot kicked by Ferguson in the United dressing room in 2003. He left Old Trafford that summer

Special talent: But Ferguson had a great deal of respect for Beckham's workrate and natural ability

Special talent: But Ferguson had a great deal of respect for Beckham's workrate and natural ability

'It is totally out of the question. There is no way we would sell him, or any of our best players.'

In April 2003, two months before selling David Beckham to Real Madrid

ON THE ITALIANS

'When an Italian tells me it's pasta on the plate, I check under the sauce to make sure. They are the inventors of the smokescreen.'

Wise, if slightly ambiguous, advice before United played Inter Milan in the 1999 Champions League quarter-final

'Inzaghi was born in an offside position.'

A withering assessment of Italian striker Filippo

'They come out with the ‘English are so strong, we’re terrible in the air, we can’t do this, we can’t do that’. Then they beat you 3 – 0.'

On Italian teams in general

Finding their feet: Ferguson's United struggled against Italian teams like Marcello Lippi's Juventus when they returned to the Champions League - but finally cracked it in 1999 when beating Inter and Juve en route to winning the competition

Finding their feet: Ferguson's United struggled against Italian teams like Marcello Lippi's Juventus when they returned to the Champions League – but finally cracked it in 1999 when beating Inter and Juve en route to winning the competition

ON THE MEN IN THE MIDDLE

'You
can't applaud a referee.'

Very true…

'The pace of the
game demanded a referee who was fit. It is an indictment of our game.
You see referees abroad who are as fit as butcher's dogs. We have some
who are fit. He wasn't fit. He was taking 30 seconds to book a player.
He was needing a rest. It was ridiculous.'

Brutal comments on referee Alan Wiley and his lack of fitness

'There is no doubt about it. They were never getting through that tie; with 11 men we had no problem. The young boy showed a bit of inexperience but they got him sent off. Everyone sprinted towards the referee – typical Germans.'

Reflecting angrily on the dismissal of Rafael da Silva as United crashed out of the Champions League to Bayern Munich in 2010

Taking issue: Fergie bawls at Alan Wiley during the 2009 FA Cup semi-final with Everton

Taking issue: Fergie bawls at Alan Wiley during the 2009 FA Cup semi-final with Everton

'They gave us four minutes [injury time], that's an insult to the game. It denies you a proper chance to win a football match.

'There were six substitutions, the trainer came on, so that's four minutes right away and the goalkeeper must have wasted about two or three minutes and they took their time at every goal kick.

'That's obvious to everyone today and it's a flaw in the game that the referee is responsible for time keeping. It's ridiculous that it's 2012 and the referee still has control of that.'

Talking about Fergie time – or the lack of it – after United lost 3-2 at home to Tottenham earlier this season

ON PLAYERS PAST AND PRESENT

'I used
to have a saying that when a player is at his peak, he feels as though he can
climb Everest in his slippers. That's what he was like.'

On Paul Ince (When at United…)

'He's a bully, a f***ing big-time Charlie.'

On Paul Ince (…after he left United)

Happier times: Ferguson and Paul Ince in 1992

Happier times: Ferguson and Paul Ince in 1992

'If he was an inch taller he'd be the best centre-half in Britain. His father is 6ft 2in – I'd check the milkman.'

On the now retired United right-back Gary Neville

'[Andy] Cole should be scoring from those distances, but I’m not going to single him out.'

Erm…

'He was towering over me and the other players were almost covering their eyes. I’m looking up and thinking ‘if he does hit me, I’m dead’'

Recalling a dressing room disagreement with Peter Schmeichel

Towering figure: Ferguson with Peter Schmeichel after winning the FA Cup, the second leg of the 1999 Treble

Towering figure: Ferguson with Peter Schmeichel after winning the FA Cup, the second leg of the 1999 Treble

'I remember the first time I saw him. He was 13 and just floated over the ground like a cocker spaniel chasing a piece of silver paper in the wind.'

First impressions of Ryan Giggs, his longest serving player at Old Trafford

'Whether dribbling or sprinting, Ryan can leave the best defenders with twisted blood.'

On the enduring brilliance of the Welshman

'Wayne is truly blessed. He doesn’t just have ability, he has a fire inside him.'

After Rooney joined United in 2004

'Sometimes you look in a field and you see a cow and you think it's a better cow than the one you've got in the field.'
Speaking about the amazing U-turn pulled by Wayne Rooney on signing a new contract in 2010

Larking around: Ferguson and Wayne Rooney before the 2011 Champions League semi-final with Schalke

Larking around: Ferguson and Wayne Rooney before the 2011 Champions League semi-final with Schalke

ON ERIC CANTONA

'If ever there was one player, anywhere in the world, that was made for Manchester United, it was Cantona. He swaggered in, stuck his chest out, raised his head and surveyed everything as though he were asking: 'I'm Cantona. How big are you Are you big enough for me''

On a very unique temperament

ON CRISTIANO RONALDO

'I bet him he wouldn’t get 15 league goals and I’m going to have to change my bet with him. If he gets to 15 I can change it and I am allowed to do that because I’m the manager. I’m going to make it 150 now!'

In reference to a rather foolhardy bet with Cristiano Ronaldo

'Do you think I would get into a contract with that mob. Jesus Christ, no chance. I wouldn’t sell them a virus.'

On the chances of selling Ronaldo to Real Madrid (Ronaldo was sold for 80m in 2009… to Real Madrid)

Mentor: Ferguson nurtured Cristiano Ronaldo's abundant talent during his five years at Old Trafford

Mentor: Ferguson nurtured Cristiano Ronaldo's abundant talent during his five years at Old Trafford

ON OTHER MANAGERS

'It can be difficult to pinpoint who would make it as a manager. For instance, nobody here thought Mark Hughes would become a manager, never in a million years, and we all thought Bryan Robson was a certainty to be a top manager.'

On his former players turning to management

'Pardew
has come out and criticised me. He is the worst at haranguing referees.
He shoves them and makes a joke of it. How he can criticise me is
unbelievable.

'He
forgets the help I gave him, by the way. The press have had a field
day. The only person they have not spoken to is Barack Obama because he
is busy.

'It
is unfortunate but I am the manager of the most famous club in the
world. Not Newcastle, a wee club in the North-East. I was demonstrative.
I am always demonstrative. Everyone knows that. I am an emotional guy
but I was not abusive.'

The latest entry to the Fergie litany – a savaging of Alan Pardew and 'wee club' Newcastle last week

'Wee club': Ferguson attracted the ire of Alan Pardew (right) and Newcastle United with his comments last week

'Wee club': Ferguson attracted the ire of Alan Pardew (right) and Newcastle United with his comments last week

SWIPES AT THE MEDIA

'On you go. I'm no f***ing talking to you. He's a f**ing great player. Yous are f***ing idiots.'

Aimed at journalists who criticised Juan Sebastian Veron

'I don't give any of you credibility. You talk about wanting to have an association with people here and you wonder why I don't get on with you But you're a f***ing embarrassment. One of these days the door is going to be shut on you permanently.'

Aimed at the media in general

'There are members of the London press who seek to antagonise me, deliberately.'

A bit of finger pointing

Flop: 28m signing Juan Veron failed at Man United, despite all Fergie's attempts to defend him

Flop: 28m signing Juan Veron failed at Man United, despite all Fergie's attempts to defend him

'They [the BBC] did a story about my son that was whole lot of nonsense. It all [sic] made-up stuff and 'brown paper bags' and all that kind of carry-on. It was a horrible attack on my son's honour and he should never have been accused of that.'

On the BBC documentary about his son, Jason

'Myths
grow all the time. If I was to listen to the number of times I've thrown
teacups then we've gone through some crockery in this place. It's completely
exaggerated, but I don't like people arguing back with me.'

On the notorious 'hairdryer' treatment

'Struggling. Are you serious We’re not struggling.'

Before walking out of a press conference following Manchester United’s clash with Benfica (Basle knocked them out of the group stages in the following game)

HAIRDRYERS

'You’re a f***ing bottler Incey! You cannae handle the stage, can you You are a f***ing bottler!'

To Paul Ince at half time during a Champions League match with Barcelona in 1994

'What the f*** are you lot playing at That is the biggest load of s**** I’ve ever seen. Not one of you can look me in the eye, because not one of you deserves to have a say. I can’t believe you’ve come here and decided to toss it off like that c*** you’re playing out there.'

Half-time at Sheffield Wednesday, 1998 and things aren't going to plan

ON UNITED'S HOME SUPPORT

'We have people coming here to admire the scenery and enjoy their crisps.'

Honour: The North Stand was renamed the Sir Alex Ferguson Stand in November 2011

Honour: The North Stand was renamed the Sir Alex Ferguson Stand in November 2011

ON THE PHILOSOPHY OF WINNING

'I don't like losing but I've mellowed. I maybe have a short fuse but it goes away quicker now.'

'I've never played for a draw in my life.'

'If we can play like that every week we'll get some level of consistency.'

'Sometimes in football you have to hold your hand up and say, yeah, they're better than us.'

'As long as there are games to play it is not over.'

Medallion man: Ferguson with the Premier League trophy and the Carling Manager of the Year Award in 1999

Medallion man: Ferguson with the Premier League trophy and the Carling Manager of the Year Award in 1999

'I do believe in fate.'

'I tell the players that the bus is moving. This club has to progress. And the bus wouldn't wait for them. I tell them to get on board.'

'Sometimes you're not sure about a player. Sometimes you doubt. Sometimes you have to guess. Sometimes… you just know.'

'The work of a team should always embrace a great player but the great player must always work.'

'Well, football is a hard game; there's no denying it. It's a game that can bring out the worst in you, at times.'

Old friend: Renewing acquaintances with the Premier League trophy in 2009

Old friend: Renewing acquaintances with the Premier League trophy in 2009

'Only true champions come out and show their worth after defeat- and I expect us to do that.'

'I'm going to tell you the story about the geese which fly 5,000 miles from Canada to France. They fly in V-formation but the second ones don't fly. They're the subs for the first ones. And then the second ones take over – so it's teamwork.'

A Cantona-esque observation on teamwork

ON RETIREMENT AND LEGACY

'I’m privileged to have followed Sir Matt because all you have to do is to try and maintain the standards that he set so many years ago.'

A proud moment when surpassing Sir Matt Busby's managerial record

'I think it’s important to work and I’m entitled to work. Some people do not want to work but I want to continue working. Retirement is for young people.'

Once again addressing a question about retirement

Masters: Ferguson with Sir Matt Busby after winning the 1991 European Cup Winners' Cup

Masters: Ferguson with Sir Matt Busby after winning the 1991 European Cup Winners' Cup

'If my parents were still alive, they would be very proud. They gave me a good start in life, the values that have driven me, and the confidence to believe in myself.'

On instilled values

'I am such a bloody talented guy. I might go into painting or something like that.'

Move over Da Vinci

'Football management is such a pressurised thing – horse racing is a release. I'm also learning to play the piano – I'm quite determined – it's another release from the pressure of my job.'

On passions outside of football

Wilfried Zaha transfer: Manchester United bid to be rejected

Palace set to reject United's 8m bid for Zaha as race to sign winger hots up

|

UPDATED:

09:36 GMT, 31 December 2012

Crystal Palace will reject Manchester United's opening offer of 8million for star winger Wilfried Zaha.

The 20-year-old is keen to move to the Premier League in January with United and Arsenal involved in a straight fight for his signature.

Palace chairman Steve Parish insists Zaha will not leave for less than 20m but it is believed a bid of half that will test the Championship club's stance.

In demand: Wilfried Zaha is wanted by Arsenal and Manchester United

In demand: Wilfried Zaha is wanted by Arsenal and Manchester United

Arsenal-supporting Zaha told Sportsmail that he is ready to make the step up to the top flight.

‘I’m not a teenager any more,’ he said. ‘I’ve played more than 100 first-team games and this year
is crucial to develop my football career. I want to establish myself in
the Premier League and in international football.

‘I’ve
played a lot in the Championship so having that new challenge in the
Premier League, where everyone wants to be, would be great. To be
honest, if I had the chance in January and Palace agreed, it’s something
I’d want to go for.’

Main man: Zaha's form for Crystal Palace earned him an England cap

Main man: Zaha's form for Crystal Palace earned him an England cap

Gunners boss Arsene Wenger is desperate to add to his squad in the transfer window, particularly after United ruled out selling Nani to their rivals.

But Palace manager Ian Holloway insists Zaha should concentrate on improving his form for his current club, rather than setting his sights on a move.

'Playing for England. So
what It’s four minutes,' he said. 'I don’t want to sound funny but I’m more
concerned about us working with him and getting him playing how he was a
couple of weeks ago. That’s all I worry about.’

Everton in four-way fight for Italian defender Astori as Saints join race

Everton and Southampton in four-way fight for 8m-rated Italian defender Astori

|

UPDATED:

10:38 GMT, 31 December 2012

Everton and Southampton have targeted Italian defender Davide Astori ahead of the opening of the January transfer window.

The 25-year-old Cagliari centre back – valued at 8million – is also wanted by Juventus and Napoli after impressing since signing from AC Milan.

Southampton are in particular need of defensive reinforcements after conceding 37 goals in 19 Premier League games.

Wanted: Southampton and Everton are keen on Davide Astori (left)

Wanted: Southampton and Everton are keen on Davide Astori (left)

Mario Balotelli won"t leave Manchester City – Roberto Mancini

Mario's going nowhere, the Sheikh loves him too much, insists City boss Mancini

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UPDATED:

10:47 GMT, 31 December 2012

Roberto Mancini insists Mario Balotelli will not be sold by Manchester City – and claims owner Sheikh Mansour loves the Italian firebrand.

The controversial striker has failed to impress for the Premier League champions this season – scoring just one league goal- and continues to be dogged by disciplinary problems.

But Mancini remains defiant in his support of Balotelli – but has warned him to clean up his act.

Joker of the pack: Mario Balotelli (centre) has disappointed this season

Joker of the pack: Mario Balotelli (centre) has disappointed this season

'I think Mario will stay but the future depends mostly on him,' he told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

'Sheikh Mansour likes Balotelli because he recognises the talent and he exports the name of the City over the world.

'We need to consider that Mario was made as a major investment, and this is not a club that throws its capital through the window.'

Controversy: Balotelli stormed off after being replaced against Sunderland

Controversy: Balotelli stormed off after being replaced against Sunderland

Mancini admitted he has taken the 22-year-old to task in light of his performances on and off the field.

'The relationship between me and him is always good, even if one day he does something,' he added.

'I love him because for many years we live together. I've seen him grow. But the professional relationship is another thing and I've told Mario what I need from him.

Colourful: Italian Balotelli continues to make headlines off the pitch

Colourful: Italian Balotelli continues to make headlines off the pitch

'The time of cheap talk is over. Balotelli is 22 years old and now it's time to be professional. I ask from him seriousness and commitment in training, a more stable private life and correct behaviour on the pitch.

'[Roma forward Francesco] Totti is Mario's best example. If Francesco is able to have this continuity of performance at the highest level at the age of 36 years, it's because he has behaved as a professional.

'Mario now has returned to training and could be on the bench against Stoke. Otherwise, he could play against Watford in the FA Cup on January 5.'