Tag Archives: cabinet

Liverpool sign Daniel Sturridge from Chelsea

Sturridge set for Cup debut after completing 12m move to Liverpool from Chelsea

European Cup and 2010 and 2012 FA Cups in his trophy cabinet.

STURRIDGE TIMELINE

1989: Born September 1, in Birmingham.
2003: Signs for Manchester City's academy at the age of 13, following trials with Aston Villa and Coventry.
2004: Named player of the tournament and finishes as top scorer as City win the Under-15 Nike Cup.
2006: Signs professional contract with City.
2007: February 3 – Makes City debut in 2-0 defeat to Reading.
2008: January 27 – Scores first professional goal in a 2-1 defeat to Sheffield United.
2009: Finishes the season with four goals in 26 appearances.
July 3 – Turns down a new deal at City to sign for Chelsea.
August 11 – Earns first England Under-21 cap against Netherlands.
2010: January 2 – Scores first goals for Chelsea, in a 5-0 FA Cup thrashing of Watford.
May 15 – Comes off the bench at Wembley as Chelsea secure a Premier League and FA cup double by beating Portsmouth 1-0.
2011: January 11 – Joins Bolton on a loan deal until the end of the season,
February 2 – Scores 90th-minute winner on his Bolton debut as Wanderers beat Wolves 1-0.
May 22 – Sent-off during his final Bolton appearance against former club Manchester City. Scored eight goals in 12 games during the loan spell.
October 2 – Scores a brace during Chelsea's 5-1 thrashing of former club Bolton.
November 15 – Makes England debut as a second-half substitute in a 1-0 victory over Sweden.
2012: April 29 – Scores the opener in a 6-1 victory over London rivals QPR to keep Chelsea's hopes of Champions League qualification alive.
May 19 – Remains on the bench as an unused substitute as Chelsea beat Bayern Munich on penalties to win the Champions League for the first time.
July-August – Makes a full recovery from meningitis to represent Great Britain at the 2012 Olympics in London, scoring against both the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay but missing a crucial penalty against South Korea in the quarter-finals.
October 31 – On the scoresheet as Chelsea need extra time to eliminate Manchester United and reach the quarter-finals of the Capital One Cup with a 5-4 victory.
2013: January 2 – Leaves Chelsea to join Liverpool for an undisclosed fee. After signing a long-term contract, he says: 'I am humbled and happy to be here. I've not signed to play for a couple of years and then move on. I've signed to be here for as long as possible. It's a humongous club.'

Michael Owen defence: Why is he hated so much?

In defence of Michael Owen… what has the striker done to deserve such loathing

By
David Kent

PUBLISHED:

11:09 GMT, 2 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

11:09 GMT, 2 January 2013

There are few players who provoke such abuse as Michael Owen, but why is that

The same Michael Owen whose dazzling goal for England in France 1998 thrust him on to every back page and every child’s bedroom wall.

He was the hero of the nation – the schoolboy whose pace and finishing prowess, already well known on Merseyside, was now announced to the world.

Twitter row: Michael Owen (above left) responded to abuse by posting a picture of his trophy cabinet (below)

Twitter row: Michael Owen (above left) responded to abuse by posting a picture of his trophy cabinet (below)

Michael Owen trophy cabinet

OK, he became a Liverpool striker who then played for Manchester United. He has a terrible injury record and earns a lot of money, so that adds up to the money for old rope argument.

But he was overplayed as a junior and it’s not his fault that he is injured so often.

It’s not his fault clubs have wanted to pay him so much money… and it’s pretty wise business practice to invest money in a business you know about.

Owen likes horse racing and has invested in stables, but what is wrong with that

VIDEO: Owen's goal against Argentina at the 1998 World Cup

We can all get the normal football tribalism. West Ham fans will abuse Jermain Defoe because he asked for a transfer the day after being relegated and now plays (and scores regularly) for Spurs. It might not excuse some of what is said, but supporters abusing a striker who plays for the locals rivals is nothing new.

While you would have to understand the religious splits in Scottish football to fully appreciate the hate directed at Mo Johnston, the former Scotland striker knew what he was getting into when he became the first catholic to play for Rangers. And he was a former Celtic idol.

But what did Owen do to deserve such loathing

Can't hear you: Michael Owen made his name at Liverpool but scored goals at each of his subsequent clubs

Can't hear you: Michael Owen made his name at Liverpool but scored goals at each of his subsequent clubs

Michael Owen

Michael Owen

VIDEO: Owen scores winner in 4-3 derby win for Manchester United

He’s been a very good striker – he scored 40 goals in 89 England games – and has regularly hit the target for all his clubs.

Even though he career has tailed off, because of his injuries, he is still a box office name.

He’s barely played for Stoke, but is on a pay-as-you-play deal so that won’t be proving too taxing for them.

So get off his back and let’s allow him to drift into retirement at his own pace. Not as quick as he used to be, of course, but not making enough noise to offend.

Another one for the collection: Owen (centre) finally won the Premier League with Manchester United

Another one for the collection: Owen (centre) finally won the Premier League with Manchester United

VIDEO: Owen wins the FA Cup for Liverpool against Arsenal

Michael Owen hits back at Twitter trolls with photo of trophy cabinet

Take a look at my medals! Owen hits back at Twitter trolls with picture of trophy cabinet

By
Lee Bryan

PUBLISHED:

23:42 GMT, 1 January 2013

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UPDATED:

01:22 GMT, 2 January 2013

Stoke striker Michael Owen hit back at Twitter trolls who were abusing him on the social network site by posting a picture of his personal trophy cabinet.

The abuse started after Owen wrote: ‘Tough game today and not many teams get anything away at Man City. Shame our 10 game unbeaten run in the Premier League is over. #Stoke’

And that prompted many of his followers to reply to the striker – who has been out injured – to ask what he had done to contribute to Stoke’s run and why he was not playing.

Hitting back: Stoke's Michael Owen refused to take abuse lying down

Hitting back: Stoke's Michael Owen refused to take abuse lying down

Owen, who has made just four appearances for the Potters this season, then Tweeted: ‘New Year but things never change. About 100 replies to my last tweet so far and every single one is abusive. What a lovely world we live in.

‘Tweet something like that and then you see the nicer side of Twitter. The minority always ruin it for genuinely decent people.’

Here's what I've won: Owen tweeted a picture of his trophy cabinet

Here's what I've won: Owen tweeted a picture of his trophy cabinet

He then followed up with a picture of his trophy cabinet that includes European Player of the Year trophy, a Premier League medal, a FA Cup winners medal as well as three League Cup winners medals along with the Tweet: ‘Oh, and just to remind the trolls with a short memory out there.’

That then prompted his former team-mate Dietmar 'Did' Hamann to reply: ‘Hahaha nice one mukka.’

London XI 2012: Chelsea dominate our team of the year but there"s ZERO Arsenal stars – Neil Ashton

London XI 2012: Chelsea dominate our team of the year with SEVEN players, but there's ZERO Arsenal stars… and can you guess which Championship tyro gets the nod

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UPDATED:

11:46 GMT, 31 December 2012

Sportsmail's dream teams

Click below to read:

Jamie Redknapp's team of the season so far

Martin Keown's Arsenal/Spurs XI

Dominic King's Mersey stars of 2012

It's been something of a mixed year for London clubs. The last 12 months have seen Chelsea crowned FA Cup and European champions, but manager Roberto Di Matteo was ditched after a Premier League slump despite that unforgettable May night in Munich.

But the Blues' triumph was bad news for Tottenham, whose Champions League spot was snatched away despite breaking into the Premier League's top four. Meanwhile, West Ham have built on their promotion from the Championship and Fulham continue to enjoy life in the top flight.

But over at the Emirates Stadium, the trophy cabinet remained bare for yet another season. While Arsenal again finished in the top four, Arsene Wenger has come under increasing pressure amid a dip in performances and the loss of another top star, Robin van Persie, to Manchester United.

But whatever the fortunes of their respective clubs, here Sportsmail selects the standout performers from London clubs in 2012. Do you agree Let us know who would be in and out of your team by posting in the comments section below…

Goalkeeper:

Petr Cech

No contest. Saved a penalty in extra-time from former Chelsea winger Arjen Robben in the Champions League final and was the hero with two more in the shoot-out. Best keeper in town.

Petr to the rescue: Cech saves Arjen Robben's penalty in the Champions League final in May

Petr to the rescue: Cech saves Arjen Robben's penalty during the Champions League final in May

Branislav Ivanovic

Ashley Cole (left)

Right-back: Branislav Ivanovic

Tempted to give this to Kyle Walker
as an orthodox right back, but Ivanovic, a natural central defender, is
so tenacious he deserves his place. Next year, Kyle.

Left-back: Ashley Cole

Despite the uncertainty about his
future, he is guaranteed to produce week in, week out. Chelsea will miss
him next season – he’s still the best left-back in the world.

Centre-backs:

Steven Caulker

Given the runaround by Zlatan Ibrahimovic when Sweden played England in November, but he has been outstanding for AVB at Spurs. Young players need encouragement and AVB has provided it.

David Luiz

Just love this guy. Has an outgoing personality on and off the pitch and he’s not afraid to show it. Will develop into one of the best ball playing central defenders in the world under his next manager.

Steven Caulker (left)

Not your average centre-halves: Spurs youngster Steven Caulker (top left) and the gifted David Luiz (below)

David Luiz

Defensive midfield:

What a goal: Ramires sparked Chelsea's incredible Champions League triumph over Barcelona with this chip

What a goal: Ramires sparked Chelsea's incredible Champions League triumph over Barcelona with this chip

Ramires

Has adapted to the physical demands of
the Premier League and has emerged as a key part of Chelsea’s plans for
the long-term future. Just edges in ahead of Sandro and Dembele.

Frank Lampard

Lifted the European Cup as captain for
the first time in Chelsea’s history and fully deserved it after an
outstanding career at Stamford Bridge. One of the game’s great
statesmen.

Crowning glory: Frank Lampard capped his magnificent Chelsea career by lifting the European Cup

Crowning glory: Frank Lampard capped his magnificent Chelsea career by lifting the European Cup

Attacking midfield:

Wilfried Zaha

Any player who can make people wake up on a Saturday morning with childlike excitement at the thought of watching him play merits a place in any team. Have witnessed this kid’s development week in week out and he is some player.

Come and get him: Wilfried Zaha is ready to make the step up from Crystal Palace to a top club

Come and get him: Wilfried Zaha is ready to make the step up from Crystal Palace to a top club

Juan Mata

Will have to play on the right of the front three to accommodate Gareth Bale, but he is comfortable in any position. Chelsea’s player of the year last season, could easily win it this time too.

Gareth Bale

His thrilling runs down the left are becoming part of Tottenham folklore. Unfair reputation for being a diver – most of the time he’s protecting himself from the risk of serious injury. Sensible lad.

Juan Mata

Gareth Bale

Just you try and stop them: The outstanding Juan Mata (left) and Gareth Bale (right)

Striker: Jermain Defoe

His game has matured and is now
equally comfortable isolated up front on his own, or playing alongside
Emmanuel Adebayor. Has scored 10 in the Premier League for AVB and
there is plenty more to come.


Coming of age: Jermain Defoe has matured into a fine goalscorer no matter who he plays with up front

Coming of age: Jermain Defoe has matured into a fine goalscorer no matter who he plays with up front

Bradley Wiggins knighthood in Honours List

Don't call me Sir Brad! Knighthood caps stunning year for Wiggins …but Le Tour and Olympic hero stays cool as ever over honour

|

UPDATED:

09:26 GMT, 29 December 2012

Bradley Wiggins has been rewarded with a knighthood after winning the Tour de France and Olympic gold – but immediately warned: 'Don't call me Sir Brad!'.

Wiggins followed his historic win in France, the first by a British cyclist, by winning a fourth gold medal and first on the road while Ben Ainslie was also knighted after becoming the most successful Olympic sailor of all time with his fourth successive gold.

Scroll down for videos and a full list of Olympic Honours

Bradley Wiggins

Bradley Wiggins

Champagne moments: Bradley Wiggins won the Tour de France (left) and then Olympic gold in London

Wiggins said: 'It's not something I'll use on a daily basis but it's nice to have in the trophy cabinet as the ultimate accolade as a sportsman, being knighted by your country for not only the success this year but 12 years now of consistent work and performing – four Olympic Games, seven medals.

VIDEO Sir Bradley not entirely comfortable being called that yet

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'It's quite something really. I never ever imagined that I would ever become a knight so it's an incredible honour but there's a slight element of disbelief, and it will take a while to sink in.'

Ainslie announced his Olympic retirement last month and will now concentrate on the America's Cup, which Britain has never won.

The 35-year-old said: 'This is an incredible honour. When I set out Olympic sailing 20 years ago, I never would have dreamt this would happen.

Unstoppable: Ben Ainslie won his fourth successive gold medal at the London Olympics

Unstoppable: Ben Ainslie won his fourth successive gold medal at the London Olympics

'I couldn't have achieved this honour without the support of all the people who have helped me throughout my career and so I hope they can also take some pride in this moment.'

All the 2012 gold medallists end the year with an honour, although seven athletes who had previously received honours, including Sir Chris Hoy, were not recognised further this time.

Along with Ainslie and Wiggins, inspirational British Cycling performance director Dave Brailsford is also knighted after he once again masterminded a stunning medal haul as well as leading Team Sky to a one-two in the Tour de France.

Brailsford is renowned as a team player and admitted to being not entirely comfortable with an individual honour such as this.

High praise: David Brailsford will also receive a knighthood for guiding the cycling team to stunning success

High praise: David Brailsford will also receive a knighthood for guiding the cycling team to stunning success

He said: 'I can totally understand it with Chris (Hoy) when he won his three gold medals, or with Brad, because to have done what he has done is pretty amazing.

'But I guess it does feel a little bit uncomfortable given the hard work that everyone puts in that there is an individual recognition rather than a group recognition. That is a bit of a challenge – but it is a great honour nevertheless.'

VIDEO Sir Dave Brailsford: 'It's going to take getting used to'

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A fourth knighthood goes to David Tanner, the performance director for British Rowing, who also oversaw a record medal haul as Britain's rowers won four golds and nine medals in all.

Four Olympic stars are made CBEs, including the king and queen of British athletics, Mo Farah and Jessica Ennis, after they lit up the Olympic Stadium.

London was the swansong for cyclist Victoria Pendleton, who added a second Olympic gold and is made a CBE after playing a trailblazing role for women sprinters on the track.

Poster girls: Jessica Ennis (above) delivered gold in the heptathlon while Victoria Pendleton also triumphed

Poster girls: Jessica Ennis (above) delivered gold in the heptathlon while Victoria Pendleton also triumphed

Victoria Pendleton

Rower Katherine Grainger receives the same honour in the year she finally made it gold with Anna Watkins in the double sculls following three successive silvers.

The Scot said: 'I am surprised and delighted to receive this new accolade, which, for me, brings 2012 to such a wonderful conclusion.

'In the last few months it has been become wonderfully apparent just how much our Olympic achievements have meant to everyone up and down the country.

'I fully appreciate this new accolade and I'd be thrilled if it helps with the efforts of everyone on Team GB to produce a meaningful legacy.'

Looking good: Rower Katherine Grainger will receive a CBE after winning gold with Anna Watkins

Looking good: Rower Katherine Grainger will receive a CBE after winning gold with Anna Watkins

Katherine Grainger and Anna Watkins

Three of Britain's double gold medallists have been awarded OBEs – dressage star Charlotte Dujardin and cycling couple Jason Kenny and Laura Trott – along with tennis' Andy Murray, who was both a gold medallist and a grand slam winner in 2012.

Murray revealed after his triumph that his friends had been teasing him about the possibility of a knighthood – something he definitely was not expecting.

The world No 3 said: 'A lot of my friends have been messaging me about it and I don't really know what to say. I think it should take more than one or two good tournaments to deserve something like that. It would probably be a bit rash.'

Apart from Hoy, rowers Pete Reed, Tom James and Andrew Triggs Hodge, cyclists Ed Clancy and Geraint Thomas and show jumper Nick Skelton, all other gold medallists receive MBEs.

Among them is long jumper Greg Rutherford, who joined Ennis and Farah in winning gold in an unforgettable Super Saturday night in the Olympic Stadium.

Super Saturday: Mo Farah (above) and Greg Rutherford (below) won gold medals on an unforgettable night

Super Saturday: Mo Farah (above) and Greg Rutherford (below) won gold medals on an unforgettable night

Greg Rutherford

He said: 'I am delighted and feel very proud to be receiving this great honour. This has been an incredible year for me and winning a gold medal at a home Games was a dream come true.'

Also honoured with MBEs are 51-year-old three-day eventer Mary King, who won team silver in London, and gymnast Louis Smith, now a three-time Olympic medallist.

'This year has been like no other for so many reasons,' said the 23-year-old, who this month added the Strictly Come Dancing title to his Olympic gongs.

'For me it's obviously one I'll never forget and I wasn't sure it could get any better but to be awarded an MBE is the icing on the cake and without a doubt the proudest moment of my life.'

Dancing king: Louis Smith won silver at the Olympics before appearing on Strictly Come Dancing

Dancing king: Louis Smith won silver at the Olympics before appearing on Strictly Come Dancing

Boxer Nicola Adams – the first woman to win a boxing gold medal in the history of the Olympics – was also awarded an MBE.

'It is really good to receive such a prestigious honour,' said Adams, 30, from Leeds.

'Everything is all a bit surreal for me.

'It has been an incredible year. To have achieved so much in that time – it is really hard to put it into words how amazing this year has been.

'I have won an Olympic gold medal and have met the Queen.'

Pioneer: Nicola Adams (right) was the first woman to win a boxing gold medal

Pioneer: Nicola Adams (right) was the first woman to win a boxing gold medal

Two-time London 2012 Olympic champion Jason Kenny meanwhile received word of his OBE while in Australia training for further glory.

The 24-year-old from Bolton won sprint and team sprint gold at the Olympic Velodrome in August as Britain's cyclists won seven out of 10 titles on the track.

Kenny, who received an MBE after winning his first Olympic title in Beijing in 2008, was at a training camp in Perth, Western Australia when his mother opened an official letter from the Palace detailing his New Year Honour while he was on the other end of the phone.

'My mum opened a letter for me whilst I was in Perth,' he said.

'It's something really special that you don't ever plan for. It's something you can share with the family and something really nice when it comes along.

Team work: Jason Kenny (left) won double gold at the velodrome

Team work: Jason Kenny (left) won double gold at the velodrome

'It's a great honour and it's not every day you get to go to Buckingham Palace, so to get that invite is really special.'

A number of coaches also receive MBEs – Malcolm Brown for triathlon, shooting's Ian Coley, equestrian performance director Will Connell, Paul Hall for gymnastics, David Howlett for sailing, boxing's Rob McCracken and Paul Thompson and Robin Williams for rowing.

The men and women who brought the Games to London and made it happen feature heavily in the honours, too, led by organising committee chair Lord Coe, who is made a Companion of Honour.

He described the list as 'a wonderful end to this unique Olympic and Paralympic Year'.

He said: 'It recognises the achievements of our sportsmen and women who inspired the nation.

Recognised: Lord Sebastian Coe was honoured after bringing the Games to London

Recognised: Lord Sebastian Coe was honoured after bringing the Games to London

'This year's list also recognises those behind the scenes at LOCOG for outstanding leadership and delivery of the world's largest sporting events.

'I am incredibly proud of them all and our partners who made Britain proud this summer.'

Coe's deputy, Sir Keith Mills, is made a Knight Grand Cross while LOCOG chief executive Lord Deighton becomes a Knight Commander.

Other figures to receive honours include LOCOG's director of sport Debbie Jevans and London 2012 director Neale Coleman, who are both made CBEs, while communications chief Jackie Brock-Doyle becomes an OBE.

OLYMPIC ATHLETES HONOURED

Knighthood

Ben Ainslie – sailing
Bradley Wiggins – cycling

CBE

Katherine Grainger – rowing
Jessica Ennis – athletics
Mo Farah – athletics
Victoria Pendleton – cycling

OBE

Charlotte Dujardin – equestrian
Jason Kenny – cycling
Andy Murray – tennis
Laura Trott – cycling

MBE

Nicola Adams – boxing
Tim Baillie – canoeing
Laura Bechtolsheimer – equestrian
Scott Brash – equestrian

Alistair Brownlee – triathlon
Steven Burke – cycling

Luke Campbell – boxing
Peter Charles – equestrian
Katherine Copeland – rowing
Helen Glover – rowing
Alex Gregory – rowing
Carl Hester – equestrian
Philip Hindes – cycling
Sophie Hosking – rowing
Jade Jones – taekwondo
Anthony Joshua – boxing
Peter Kennaugh – cycling
Dani King – cycling
Mary King – equestrian
Ben Maher – equestrian
Ed McKeever – canoeing
Joanna Rowsell – cycling
Greg Rutherford – athletics
Louis Smith – gymnastics
Heather Stanning – rowing
Etienne Stott – canoeing
Anna Watkins – rowing
Peter Wilson – shooting

Roberto Mancini sick of being blamed

Mancini's meltdown: I'm fed up taking the blame for my City players

|

UPDATED:

23:06 GMT, 10 November 2012

For someone blessed with a bulging trophy cabinet, a 37million contract and heart-throb status in Manchester and Italy, Robert Mancini is awfully tetchy these days.

Nobody it seems is safe from a wild-eyed rant by the 47-year-old Italian, as City players Micah Richards, Joleon Lescott and Joe Hart, executive Brian Marwood, referee Peter Rasmussen and even a Champions League pitchside cameraman can all testify.

No wonder Sky Sports will keep a lens trained on Mancini at all times during City's game against Tottenham on Sunday in case the manager combusts in the technical area over some perceived slight from his own players or the match officials.

In plain sight: Roberto Mancini prepares to enter Carrington

In plain sight: A well-dressed and well-drilled Roberto Mancini prepares to enter Carrington

WATCHING BRIEF

Manchester City v Tottenham

TV: Live on Sunday, Sky Sports 1, 1:30pm

Venue: Etihad Stadium

At face value, Mancini has nothing to
get hysterical about as he welcomes Andre Villas-Boas to the Etihad
Stadium. City are champions and the only unbeaten team in the Premier
League this season.

The club insist his job is safe even
if they finish bottom of their Champions League group, and his close
friends, including City coach David Platt, are adamant he will not walk
away voluntarily from the project, having turned down the Russian
national team job to sign a five-year contract in the summer.

On top of that, he no longer has to
work on transfer deals with Marwood, who he did not respect. But the
arrival of new sporting director Txiki Begiristain from Barcelona won't
mean more funds in January and has also given conspiracy theorists the
opportunity to link Pep Guardiola with the Etihad Stadium.

Yet something is still troubling Mancini – and the relationship with his own players is the key to his future.

Keep calm: Mancini (left) lost his cool as Manchester City drew with Ajax on Tuesday night

Keep calm: Mancini (left) lost his cool as Manchester City drew with Ajax on Tuesday night

Keep calm: Mancini lost his cool as Manchester City drew with Ajax on Tuesday night

Keep calm: Mancini lost his cool as Manchester City drew with Ajax on Tuesday night

No matter how rich an owner, modern football has shown that the players hold the power on all firstteam matters.

Roman Abramovich, the wealthiest and most powerful individual owner football has seen, proved that earlier this year.

He spent 13million and gambled his
own reputation by bringing in Villas-Boas to Chelsea in 2011 to replace
Carlo Ancelotti. But such is the investment in players' wages that, when
John Terry, Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard decided they were not
having the young Portuguese manager, Abramovich backed the players,
sacking Villas-Boas after less than a year.

Example set: If Mancini's attitude was more like his captain Vincent Kompany (centre), his life would be a lot easier

Example set: If Mancini's attitude was more like his captain Vincent Kompany (centre), his life would be a lot easier

City's players have never liked
Mancini because of his aloofness, strict discipline and mixed public
messages. But until now they have always respected him, and his ability
to organise a team pattern and deliver trophies, the FA Cup in 2011 and
Premier League title in May.

But that fragile peace was exploded in the hours after the Champions League defeat at Ajax.

Mancini angrily confronted them in
the dressing room and told them he had personally taken the blame in
front of the world's media to protect them. But with his next breath he
shouted in temper that he actually did blame them for the 3-1 defeat
which had all but killed their prospects of reaching the knockout stages
this season.

The reaction of most players was one
of disgust that Mancini had claimed in one breath to be trying to
protect them, and in the next treated them with contempt. Since that
game, City have struggled to beat Swansea and been held to draws by West
Ham and in the return game with Ajax.

Tractor boy: Balotelli warms up in training

Tractor boy: Balotelli warms up in training

It makes the performance, as well as
the result, against Spurs today absolutely crucial. 'Some of the players
hated him for what he did after the first Ajax game,' said a
well-connected source.

'When the manager comes in and tries
to be clever, explaining how he has been protecting them but doesn't
mean it, that's not good for morale. Only time will tell but it might
prove a tipping point in their relationship with him.'

Mancini has been down this road
before. He regarded the 2010 FA Cup final as a make-or-break game for
him, believing defeat against Stoke City at Wembley would give Marwood
and his other enemies the chance to sack him.

Last season he earned a new deal when
a late rally saw them make up eight points on Manchester United in the
closing weeks to become champions.

Just before then, he had resembled a
dead man walking, particularly when Mario Balotelli was sent off in a
defeat at Arsenal to leave United odds-on title favourites.

The question is whether the City
players are motivated enough now to save Mancini's skin again. An
additional problem is what support Mancini will get in January.

Last summer, he wanted A-list signings but was given Scott Sinclair, Jack Rodwell and Javi Garcia instead.

The manager stressed at a meeting
with Begiristain last week he would like to do business in the next
window but the view from the top in Abu Dhabi is players such as Edin
Dzeko, Balotelli or Joleon Lescott will have to be sold to finance any
new purchases.

Dangerman: Jermain Defoe hit three against Maribor in midwek

Dangerman: Jermain Defoe hit three against Maribor in midwek

And none of the City squad are keen
to leave because no other clubs can match their wages. Mancini is
fighting the only way he knows how, with intensity and passion.

Platt, a former team-mate of his at
Sampdoria, thinks the Italian will have to be carried out of Manchester
kicking and screaming rather than walk of his own accord.

'I know him – his desire is to win;
it's what he's here to do,' said Platt, now on the City coaching staff
and a valuable ally for the manager.

'He signed a five-year contract in
the summer which was given to him by the football club by virtue of the
fact he's the manager of the league champions. And at the start of this
weekend's fixtures, we were two points off the top in third place after
10 games, with 28 to go. That's 84 points to play for. It's hardly a
crisis.'

With so much at stake, the biggest
decision for Mancini is whether to hand Balotelli his 50th City
appearance. The bad boy of Italian football has come to epitomise the
chaos at City, although he did set up the titlewinning goal in May for
Sergio Aguero.

New look: Mario Balotelli's paint job will turn heads

New look: Mario Balotelli's Bentley has been covered in army camouflage vinyl wrap

New look: Balotelli arrives at training

Causing a stir: City staff admire Mario's latest stunt

Causing a stir: Incredulous City staff admire Mario's latest stunt to keep out of the limelight

Platt insisted: 'Roberto manages him
to try to get the best out of his talent. I've grumbled and groaned as a
player. It's not until you actually put a tracksuit on and put a
whistle in your mouth that you realise just how much of a git you were.

'That's the nature of the beast in
being a footballer. You are heightened into that competitive edge every
day. If you are taken off in games, you don't expect to be happy about
it.'

Sunday's game against Spurs could be a
watershed. Win to stay in contention at the top and Mancini may feel
relaxed enough to do his own press conferences next week (Platt stood in
for him on Friday).

Lose and the commotion surrounding
the club will not go away, even if there is little evidence that
Guardiola sees City as his dream job.

Captain Vincent Kompany will try to
walk out of the tunnel with a sense of balance. 'You won't ever hear me
say one game is less important than another,' said the Belgian.

'Tottenham will want to bounce back
from the defeat they had last weekend (1-0 to Wigan). We want to show
that we can carry on with this unbeaten streak, so it's a game to look
forward to.'

They are wise words from the calm
defender. If only his manager could keep a similar sense of proportion,
his life would be a lot easier right now.

David Bentley joins FC Rostov – but who are they?

From Tractor to Torpedo, the curious case of FC Rostov, David Bentley's new club

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UPDATED:

14:43 GMT, 7 September 2012

Few will be surprised David Bentley has finally left Tottenham after a miserable four years at White Hart Lane, but nobody expected him to end up on loan in the Russian top flight.

But as the midfielder prepares to pack his suitcase with the warmest winter garments he can find, Sportsmail gives you the lowdown on his new side, FC Rostov.

So who are this lot

Rostov are a club that has undergone more name changes than Prince. Starting out in 1930 as Selmashstroy, they switched to Selmash six years later and Tractor in 1941, the latter being the flavour of the month when they played their first official match in 1950.

Yellow fellows: FC Rostov is the new - and surprising - home of David Bentley

Yellow fellows: FC Rostov is the new – and surprising – home of David Bentley

In 1953 they became Torpedo before the name Rostselmash was taken up five years later. They stuck with that until 2003 when FC Rostov was introduced.

And I thought Cardiff fans had it bad when their club switched the kit colour, have they at least played in the same area through all those changes

In fairness they have played at the Olympus 2 Stadium in Rostov-On-Don, which is around 100 miles from Donetsk in Ukraine, since formation.

The ground is an all-seater one-tier stadium and holds 15,840, but as part of their bid to host matches at World Cup 2018, the club have submitted plans for a new stade-of-the-art centre.

Any pots in the trophy cabinet

No major ones although they came close after narrowly losing the Russian Cup final to Spartak Moscow in 2003. While Bentley was sealing a 15m switch to Tottenham in 2008 they won the second tier championship in Russian football… if that counts.

For this: Rostov currently play in front of a capacity crowd of 15,840...

For this: Rostov currently play in front of a capacity crowd of 15,840…

To this: A new state-of-the-art stadium has been planned for the World Cup

To this: A new state-of-the-art stadium has been planned for the World Cup

No, it doesn’t. What's their highest league placing

Since becoming a member of the Russian top flight in 1992 their best placing was sixth in 1998. They have been relegated twice in the last 20 years but have won instant promotion on both occasions.

Any European nights

Consecutive appearances in the Intertoto Cup in 1999 and 2000 are their only continental showings to date. The first time around they were trounced 9-1 on aggregate by Juventus in the semi-final, while a year on in the third round, they lost their only tie against Auxerre 5-1 on aggregate.

Enough of the history lessons, who is the manager lucky enough to play the midfielder formerly known as the next David Beckham
That would be Miodrag Bozovic. He’s only been in charge since June but has a fair reputation in the top flight of dragging sides away from a relegation fight. The 44-year-old’s best success was guiding Amkar Perm to the Europa League for the first time in 2008.

Any star players we may know about

Man in charge: Miodrag Bozovic

Man in charge: Miodrag Bozovic

Bentley aside, Roman Adamov is a handy striker for the club and has been top scorer for the past two terms. After making a two-year loan deal from Rubin Kazan a permanent switch this year, the 30-year-old is back for a second spell following a period at Rostov between 2001-2004.

Alongside Roman Pavlyuchenko, he was the Russian league’s top scorer in 2007 and featured for Russia at Euro 2008.

Any other names we may know

Just a couple. Stipe Pletikosa became the club's No. 1 keeper last year following a short spell at Tottenham, while former Liverpool striker Florent Sinama Pongolle is also on the books. Not bad for a club that was suffering financial difficulties last season.

And it wasn't just financial difficulties that have had the club worried recently.

Correct, they struggled on-field as well, finishing 13th last season and only surviving the drop into the second tier by winning a relegation play-off.

In truth it’s like that every season. In a field of 16 they haven’t recorded a top-eight finish in the Premier division since 1999.

So what has DB got himself into How are Rostov doing this term

True to form, another battle against relegation. After seven games they lie 13th with just one win. The glory days of the Intertoto Cup look to be long gone.

London 2012 Olympics: Russia shock China in beach volleyball

Red-hot Russia shock Chinese big guns in beach volleyball opener

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UPDATED:

13:02 GMT, 28 July 2012

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LIVE RESULTS |
EVENT SCHEDULE |
MEDALS TABLE

The beach volleyball competition at Horse Guards Parade threw up an immediate upset as Chinese second seeds Xue Chen and Zhang Xi slipped to defeat in their opening Pool B match against Russia.

Xue and Zhang, bronze medallists in Beijing four years ago, began among the favourites for gold this time but could not have got off to a worst start to their Olympic quest as they fell to a 18-21, 21-14, 16-14 loss to Anastasia Vasina and Anna Vozakova.

The 9am start to the match did not prevent a sizeable turnout at the venue's 15,000-seater centre court, located just yards from Downing Street and Whitehall's Cabinet War Rooms.

Smashing: Anastasia Vasina sends one down as Xue Chen tries to block

Smashing: Anastasia Vasina sends one down as Xue Chen tries to block

Full stretch: Anna Vozakova reaches for the ball during Russia's victory over the Chinese team

Full stretch: Anna Vozakova reaches for the ball during Russia's victory over the Chinese team

And with dancers, music and even early-morning sunshine to help the session along, the crowd were soon into the spirit of the occasion.

China never looked at their best throughout the contest, and only just got across the line in a 20-minute opening set that could have gone either way.

The 21st-ranked Russians responded well in the next, taking the set comfortably, before the third – when deciding sets are first-to-15 with a two-point cushion, rather than first-to-21 – went to the wire.

Come on then, show us what you've got: China's Zhang Xi waits for the Russians to serve

Come on then, show us what you've got: China's Zhang Xi waits for the Russians to serve

China looked home and dry when they ran up two match points at 14-12, but some great defensive play saw the Russians pull back level, before they forced match point for themselves at 15-14, which was converted when Vasina's spike cannoned out of bounds off the helpless Zhang.

Next up for the Chinese pair is a meeting with Switzerland on Monday, and Zhang admitted improvements were required.

'I did not feel right before the game and maybe our preparation was not right,' she said. 'We must focus next time. The Russians played really great and there's been lots of pressure on us and we made lots of mistakes.'

Crowd pleasers: Cheerleaders perform during Saturday's beach volleyball at Horse Guards Parade

Crowd pleasers: Cheerleaders perform during Saturday's beach volleyball at Horse Guards Parade

Elsewhere in the women's competition, German 10th seeds Katrin Holtwick and Ilka Semmler posted a 21-16 21-18 win over the Czech Republic's Lenka Hajeckova and Hana Klapalova in Pool A.

The men's tournament began with an impressive win for Latvia's Aleksandrs Samoilovs and Ruslans Sorokins in Pool D.

The 13th-ranked Latvians made a slow start against world number sevens Mariusz Prudel and Grzegorz Fijalek of Poland, losing the first set, but recovered well to post a 12-21, 21-15, 15-12 victory.

The opening session's final offering was a Pool C clash between Germany's Julius Brink and Jonas Reckermann and Russia's Konstantin Semenov and Serguei Prokopiev. The third-ranked Germans posted a 21-19, 21-17 win.

All smiles: Russia's Anastasia Vasina (right) and Anna Vozakova celebrate at the end of the second set

All smiles: Russia's Anastasia Vasina (right) and Anna Vozakova celebrate at the end of the second set

US Open 2012: Rory McIlroy"s smiling but history is against him

Tough pitch! McIlroy's smiling after a champion year, but history is against him…

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UPDATED:

23:40 GMT, 13 June 2012

The year ended as it began, with the US Open trophy in front of him, his arms aloft in a joyous salute and the crowd rising as one in unanimous acclaim. The only difference was the size of the ball.

From Congressional last year and the completion of an historic eight-shot triumph, to San Francisco's wondrous new baseball stadium where Rory McIlroy spent the penultimate night with his trophy throwing out the ceremonial first pitch.

Making his pitch: Defending US Open champion Rory McIlroy stands on the mound smiling before throwing out the ceremonial first pitch of a Major League Baseball game between the Houston Astros and San Francisco Giants

Aim: McIlroy prepares to make his throw

Ready, aim, fire: US Open champion Rory McIlroy stands on the mound smiling before throwing out (below) the ceremonial first pitch of a Major League Baseball game between the Houston Astros and San Francisco Giants

Fire: McIlroy launches his ceremonial first pitch

Away it goes: The crowd cheer McIlroy after the Northern Irishman throws his first pitch

What a year it was. Sure, there were
growing pains and words he would take back if he could. But amid a
golden sunset beside the Golden Gate Bridge, how good to see McIlroy
wearing the same infectious smile that left a sporting world in thrall a
year ago.

Chances are, the trophy will have
left his grasp on Sunday night. After all, even Jack Nicklaus did not
defend this one successfully, nor Tiger Woods.

But there is a determination to go
out doing the right thing and playing the right way, with the sort of
performance that will leave everyone – including himself – feeling it
will not be long before the major championship trophy cabinet is
occupied once more.

In the swing: McIlroy is ready to go on the attack in his bid to defend his maiden major

In the swing: McIlroy is ready to go on the attack in his bid to defend his maiden major

It is worth bearing in mind that
during his year in office, McIlroy mustered 14 top-five finishes and won
three other tournaments. Not since Woods was winning majors for fun has
a winner been as consistently impressive as that. So back off internet
trolls and those depressing souls who ply the insidious trade of
continually seeing only fault.

No doubt they will be thinking
McIlroy's appearance at the baseball is yet more evidence of him
embracing the celebrity culture. In fact, it is a tradition for the
defending US Open champion to throw out the first pitch, a harmless form
of bonding with the host city.

The San Francisco Giants took it one step further. They had 5,000 McIlroy bobbleheads made to give out to supporters.

Waiting game: McIlroy partnered countryman Graeme McIlroy during Tuesday's practice round

Waiting game: McIlroy partnered countryman Graeme McIlroy during Tuesday's practice round

Golf blog

'It's actually probably better
looking than me,' said McIlroy. In his final practice warm-up on the
course he spent time with the man who handed over the crown a year ago –
his best golfing mate, Graeme McDowell.

This afternoon, he will tee it up
alongside Lee Westwood and Luke Donald in a marquee grouping matched
only by the star-spangled American triumvirate of Woods, Phil Mickelson
and Bubba Watson. Wouldn't it be the perfect tournament to see players
emerging from these two groups to contest the final two rounds

Remember, alas, this is the
graveyard of favourites, the venue that has set an Olympic standard in
sticking up for the underdog. Jack Fleck over Ben Hogan. Billy Casper
over Arnold Palmer. Scott Simpson over Tom Watson. Lee Janzen over Payne
Stewart.

California dreaming: Hometown favourite Mickelson hasn't won a US Open

California dreaming: Hometown favourite Mickelson hasn't won a US Open

Is it because it is perched on the
San Andreas Fault that the Olympic Club feels the need to continually
come up with a golfing earthquake What price Woods and McIlroy in the
final pairing on Sunday, only to be beaten by Zach Johnson

There is another way of looking at
it, of course. Isn't it about time the crowd favourite came out on top
What better place than his native California to see America's favourite
golfing son Mickelson finally land his national title after a
heartbreaking, record five runner-up finishes

It is four years since Woods left the
West Coast with his last major, a time marked only by injuries and
scandal. Where better to end an Olympic-sized gap in time than the
Olympic club

Then there is England's hope. With
every garland gathered elsewhere, the mystery over the lack of majors
won deepens. The country's finest have certainly got some monkey on
their backs now, haven't they What a grim, not to mention embarrassing,
set of statistics considering the players we are talking about have
gathered in the 64 majors since the last English victory.

In the mix: Woods will play alongside Mickelson and Masters champion Bubba Watson for the opening two days

In the mix: Woods will play alongside Mickelson and Masters champion Bubba Watson for the opening two days

What do America, Northern Ireland,
South Africa, Germany, Korea, Argentina, Ireland, Scotland, Australia,
New Zealand, Fiji, Canada, and Spain have in common These are the
countries whose representatives have celebrated a major triumph since
Sir Nick Faldo claimed the last of his six at the Masters in 1996.

Twenty-one different Americans, would
you believe, have won majors in that time frame and 18 of them – Woods,
Mickelson and Stewart would be my only exceptions – couldn't hold a
candle to Westwood and Donald.

Can Westwood, the nearly man of the
majors, finally hole his share of putts Or Donald end a curious US Open
record that has seen him fail to muster a single top-10 finish in nine
attempts

To be fair to both, they do not hide
behind their world ranking positions and enviable levels of
consistency. They know they need to win a major to erase the question
marks. But the evidence of the last 14 majors and their 14 different
winners is that expectation is an awful burden.

In the swing of things: Donald is still gunning for his first major

In the swing of things: Donald is still gunning for his first major

It might be that a Justin Rose or an Ian Poulter, sheltering in the favoured haunt under the radar, proves a better bet.

A remarkable change has come over
the US Open since the turn of the century. Once it was almost the sole
preserve of players from the host nation. In the 29 US Opens following
Tony Jacklin's victory in 1970, for example, no fewer than 25 were won
by Americans.

But look at what has happened in the
11 staged since Tiger's win at Pebble Beach in 2000. Seven were claimed
by the international contingent, including the last two by players from
Northern Ireland.

Take that recent overseas
superiority, then, and place it alongside the dominant theme of the year
on the US Tour so far, the American comeback. Dare I say it, sitting on
the San Andreas Fault. But Something has to give.

Three to watch

London 2012 Olympics: Tony Pulis will carry the Torch

Pulis saves the day… Stoke boss will carry the Olympic torch after drop-out

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UPDATED:

14:44 GMT, 28 May 2012

Stoke manager Tony Pulis is to be given the honour of carrying the Olympic torch.

Pulis, thought to be the only top-flight manager to be given the honour, will be handed the torch as the nationwide relay leaves Stoke-on-Trent on Thursday.

An Olympic hopeful, Emma Jackson, was due to be the first Olympic Torchbearer of day 13.

Replacement: Tony Pulis will bear the flame

Replacement: Tony Pulis will bear the flame

Emma withdrew from carrying the torch after she received an amazing invitation to race in the Diamond League Athletics meeting in Rome, with Pulis the replacement.

'This is an historic event for the whole of Britain and it is an immensely proud feeling to be able to say that you are carrying the Olympic torch as part of that build-up,' Pulis said.

'I am extremely honoured to be given the privilege of representing Stoke-on-Trent and to be among those offered this most prestigious of opportunities.'

Mark Meredith, Stoke's cabinet member for economic development, said: 'To have someone of Tony's calibre and close links to the city carrying the torch is superb news.

'Stoke City fans obviously hold him in extremely high regard and it would be great to see them all lining the route in the city centre on Thursday morning.'