Tag Archives: collective

Rio Ferdinand coin: Idiot could have blinded me – ESPN pundit Peter Reid

One mindless idiot could have blinded me! Peter Reid relives moment he was struck by coin during Cup tie whilst working for ESPN



13:15 GMT, 10 December 2012

It was the shock really that I felt first. I knew I'd been hit by something but I was just stunned. There was a sharp pain then under my eye and I realised it was a 2p coin.

There had been no chanting or name calling just friendly banter with the crowd.

It was half-time in the FA Cup tie between Dorchester and Plymouth and we were stood in the corner, Martin Keown and I commentating for ESPN.

Hit: Ferdinand was struck by a coin in the dying moments of the derby while celebrating Robin van Persie's winner

Hit: Ferdinand was struck by a coin in the dying moments of the derby while celebrating Robin van Persie's goal

Confrontation: A City fan makes his way on to the pitch but is held back by Man City stopper Joe Hart

Confrontation: A City fan makes his way on to the pitch but is held back by Man City stopper Joe Hart

I was actually leaning over getting
make-up on, as I need lots of it, when it hit me. It didn't cut me, I'm
made of Teflon me, but I was very lucky. One mindless idiot could have
blinded me.

The security ran after whoever it was
but I don't know what happened to them. The club were great and
everyone was asking if I wanted to carry on but I soldier on me, always
have done.

Struck: Peter Reid was hit by a coin whist working for ESPN during an FA Cup tie

Struck: Peter Reid was hit by a coin whist working for ESPN during an FA Cup tie

The shock though stayed with me. I
was so surprised by it happening to me there as I was working for TV.
The trouble is there is no legislating for this kind of cowardice.
That's what it is plain and simple. What happened to Rio was millimetres
from the game going into shutdown. What if it had cut his eye

I've heard the calls for netting and
the like but I'm a big believer in collective responsibility. We have to
police it ourselves on the terraces. Clubs can't stop people from doing
this and I'm not having the argument that if we stop players
celebrating then it stops the crowd being incited. If you're a fan and
you see someone do that, tell a steward, report them to the police.



Under siege: The United defender holds his head after being struck by a coin thrown from the crowd

There's no shame or stigma in being
the one who tells on someone like that. Good on you. I'm aware of peer
pressure and bravado but getting rid of this mentality will do us all a
favour. There's nothing brave in their actions only cowardice and

The sooner society wakes up to it the better.

Target: Rooney holds aloft a coin after being pelted with objects whilst taking a corner for Manchester United during the derby

Target: Rooney holds aloft a coin after being pelted with objects whilst taking a corner for Manchester United

West Brom success down to squad rotation

Clarke puts stunning West Brom success story down to squad rotation



22:31 GMT, 25 November 2012

West Bromwich Albion boss Steve Clarke has put his side’s success down to the way his players have taken to his rotation system.

The Baggies are up to third in the Premier League but Clarke is trying to keep his players grounded.

'I’m mildly happy,’ he said with half a smile after his side's win over Sunderland.

Party time: West Brom climbed to third with their win over Sunderland

Party time: West Brom climbed to third with their win over Sunderland

Boaz Myhill narrowly survived three scares before goals from Zoltan Gera, Shane Long, Romelu Lukaku and Marc-Antoine Fortune scored to give West Brom their fourth successive top flight win for the first time since 1982.

Goals from Craig Gardner and Stephane Sessegnon gave Sunderland brief hope, and a rally, but the visitors were good value for their win.

Clarke said: 'I said at the start I was happy with the squad and only thing I said to them was they should be comfortable in the Premier League after two seasons finishing mid-table. The only way to build on that is with better performances and we have.

'I just try to use the squad the best I can to get the best out of them. They have bought into what I am trying to do and that is really important.

Main man: Shane Long continued his fine form with a goal on Saturday

Main man: Shane Long continued his fine form with a goal on Saturday

'The game now is not about 11 players now, it is about your squad. The stronger your squad, the more chance you have of winning games in the Premier League. I turn round, look at the bench and want to make changes. I am always really happy with what I see.

'I am never satisfied. If we get to our target of 50 points in March, I will go for another target. But the philosophy we have and the way we have worked is to build game to game and we look no further.’

And while Clarke may have praise for the collective effort from all his players, he rightly singled out Long and Gera for their contribution to an impressive away win, which made up for the undeserved defeat at Newcastle earlier in the month.

In charge: Steve Clarke

In charge: Steve Clarke

He added: 'Zoltan has been terrific all season. He had a career-threatening injury, it took him a long time to get over it and we nursed him through it to protect him.

He is at the stage of his career where you can’t play him in every game because that would be detrimental to him. He accepts that fact and you see the quality of the guy’s performances. He is always for me one of the better players.

'I speak about Shane every week, whether he plays 70 or 60 minutes or comes on for 20. I have run out for superlatives for him, he has been tremendous every week.

'But he also has Lukaku sitting on his tail which keeps him lively. As well as Marc-Antoine and Marcus Rosenborg, who didn’t get on the pitch, we have Peter Odemwingie who has found another level. So there is great competition for the front places and Shane is a big part of that.’

Alex Ferguson says Manchester United defence must stop being bullied

Fergie warns his defence: Stop being bullied and toughen up



10:42 GMT, 16 November 2012

Sir Alex Ferguson has warned his Manchester United defenders to 'toughen up' after being alarmed at the way goals have been conceded this season.

Ferguson said he was especially unhappy at how Aston Villa striker Christian Benteke had 'bulldozed' Chris Smalling too easily last weekend.

The Manchester United manager issued a blunt message to his side ahead of their game at Norwich as he reflected on the way they once more went two goals behind at Aston Villa.

Aston Villa's Christian Benteke towers above Chris Smalling

Aston Villa's Christian Benteke towers above Chris Smalling

Chris Smalling looks like he didn't enjoy the experience on his return to action

Chris Smalling looks like he didn't enjoy the experience on his return to action

Javier Hernandez's razor-sharp finishing rescued the day and gave United a dramatic 3-2 win but Ferguson said: 'It has been our Achilles heel this season. The fact that we have players who can change the course of a game is always a huge advantage and that's exactly what Chico did when he went on at Villa.

'But the fact is, you can't take it as a gimme that you are going to come back every time and overturn a two-goal deficit. We've got to defend better and toughen up, plain and simple.

'That much was evident at Villa from the way they scored their first goal.

Rio Ferdinand battles with the powerful Belgian Benteke

Rio Ferdinand battles with the powerful Belgian Benteke

'Their centre forward, Christian Benteke, simply bulldozed Chris Smalling out of the way to set up what was a wonderful strike from the edge of the area.

'These are areas we have to improve on because we can't keep giving goals away.

'If we can sort that out, we'll be fine, because as a collective group, this squad is stronger this season and the younger players have more experience.'

Smalling prepares to lock horn with Benteke as United win 3-2

Smalling prepares to lock horn with Benteke as United win 3-2

He praised Norwich manager Chris Hughton for the job he has done. Norwich are four games unbeaten after a shaky start.

Wayne Rooney is a doubt with an ankle injury that forced him out of the England game, but Robin van Persie should be fit to play.Jonny Evans is doubtful for the
Carrow Road encounter, but the United boss had good news on Phil Jones.

The England defender has not played this
term after suffering a knee injury during pre-season. Jones is closing on a return, though, which could come
against Galatasaray in the Champions League on Tuesday.

'Phil has been training all week,' said Ferguson. 'We will take him to Turkey. That is a great start for

Hernandez will start after his match-winning cameo at Villa Park. 'Javier came on last week and changed the game
completely,” said Ferguson. 'He should start tomorrow.'

Mike Phillips Bayonne suspension lifted by club

Family matters for Phillips after seeing Bayonne suspension lifted by club



10:12 GMT, 10 October 2012

Wales star Mike Phillips was due to resume training with Bayonne after having his suspension lifted by the French club.

He was suspended 12 days ago and fined for what Bayonne described as unacceptable off-field behaviour.

But club chairman Alain Afflelou, administrators and coaching staff have now welcomed Phillips back into the fold.

Back in the fold: Phillips has returned after being banned by his club

Back in the fold: Phillips has returned after being banned by his club

'Mike Phillips is allowed to resume collective training from Wednesday, October 10,' the club said on its official website.

It is unlikely that Phillips will be involved in Friday night's Amlin Challenge Cup opener against Italian minnows Mogliano.

There is, though, a strong chance he could feature when Bayonne tackle Newport Gwent Dragons in Wales on Saturday week.

Wales caretaker coach Rob Howley is due to announce his squad for the autumn Tests on October 22, with Phillips a key part of his plans for game against Argentina, Samoa, New Zealand and Australia.

Phillips' latest suspension came 15 months after the Welsh Rugby Union temporarily removed him from their 2011 World Cup training squad following a late-night incident in Cardiff city centre.

Jamie Peacock says Leeds Rhinos Super League Grand Final win is best of his eight

Proud Peacock enjoys eighth wonder and colossus says Leeds win is best of the lot



19:29 GMT, 7 October 2012

Moments after collecting his eighth Super League winner’s ring, Jamie Peacock sat in the Old Trafford dressing room and declared it the best of the lot.

The former England captain, 34, remains a colossus for Leeds Rhinos. He was the only man to make more than 200 metres in a compelling Grand Final against Warrington, leaving his body covered in bruises.

But his grin was unmistakable. ‘It’s an overwhelming feeling when you win that way,’ he said of the 28-16 win. ‘It justifies all the self-sacrifices and all the difficult decisions we’ve made over the past eight or nine months.

‘You never want to be disrespectful to previous teams you’ve played with but this is the best win.

Serial winner: Jamie Peacock savours victory

Serial winner: Jamie Peacock savours victory

‘We didn’t come into the play-offs with any form. We got beaten by 12 men at Huddersfield (in the last league game of the season), and then we had to beat a great Wakefield side who were in form, go away to Catalan, win at Wigan and then beat a side we’ve never beaten before in a final.

‘To come from behind and have that belief shows a special group.’

Peacock’s exertions were just the tip of a collective effort from Leeds that confirmed their position as the best side British rugby league has produced since Wigan’s team of the late Eighties and early Nineties.

‘The belief in this group is very strong,’ said Peacock. ‘When you’ve been in this position before, it allows you to have faith in the person next to you and trust them in those situations. Our belief never wavered.’

Drive time: Peacock powers on

Drive time: Peacock powers on

Leeds hooker Rob Burrow paid tribute to the rampaging prop.

Burrow said: ‘JP gets more grey every day, but he seems to get younger each week with his performances. He commands respect, and Kev (captain Kevin Sinfield) is the same. You wouldn’t have anyone else captain the side and as assistant captain you’ve got JP — how can you get better than that’

Leeds pounded Lee Briers, with Carl Ablett given responsibility for targeting Warrington’s creative force when Wolves had the ball.

Ablett said: ‘I was just trying to get in his head, letting him know that I was there.’

The tactic left Sinfield clear to guide Leeds to another remarkable triumph. ‘There’s no better kicker under pressure in this country in either code,’ said Peacock.

‘He’s the greatest Leeds captain of all time.’

Mikel Arteta says Arsenal defend as a team

We defend as a team! Arteta says blame should be shared for Arsenal lapses at the back



19:25 GMT, 30 September 2012

Midfielder Mikel Arteta maintains Arsenal must take collective responsibility for their defensive failings against Chelsea.

The Gunners tasted defeat for the first time this season when they went down 2-1 at the Emirates Stadium.

Both goals were preventable, as Fernando Torres outmuscled Laurent Koscielny to hook in Juan Mata's free-kick before the the former Valencia midfielder's second-half delivery was allowed to creep inside the far post after Gervinho had pulled the hosts level just before the break.

Bullish: Mikel Arteta said Arsenal defend as a team

Bullish: Mikel Arteta said Arsenal defend as a team

Koscielny was kept in the side ahead of 6ft 6ins German Per Mertesacker as captain Thomas Vermaelen returned from illness.

While the France international did not cover himself in glory for either goal, his slight deflection helping Mata's free-kick past Vito Mannone's dive, Arteta insists every one of the Arsenal players must stand up and be counted.

'We have conceded three goals from three set-pieces in the last two games that cost us points and it is not got enough,' Arteta said.

'I don't think it is something to do with the defence, it is to do with an individual set-up in the game, which is a free-kick or a corner or whatever, and we haven't defended the ball well enough and we conceded three goals in those two games.'

Arteta added: 'You cannot blame one player, you have to clear the lines so quickly and you cannot allow runners like that in the box, and it was the same sort of ball for both goals.

'It hurts when you lose points at home against teams like that and you feel you haven't deserved to lose.

'It is frustrating, but I think it was our own fault because we didn't defend those set-pieces.'

Battle: Laurent Koscielny (right) struggled to cope with Fernando Torres (left)

Battle: Laurent Koscielny (right) struggled to cope with Fernando Torres (left)

Battle: Laurent Koscielny (right) struggled to cope with Fernando Torres (left)

Arteta, though, insists Arsenal can take confidence from their start to the campaign.

'We have played some of the best teams in the league and we haven't been battered at all. In fact it has been the opposite, we have been better than them through the 90 minutes. I think that is a very positive thing,' he said.

'We will bounce back on Wednesday [in the Champions League against Olympiakos].'

Wenger accepts consistency will be the key to Arsenal's chances of mounting a sustained title tilt.

'It is part of human cycle – we are not every day at the same level, and at set-pieces we were poor,' he said.

'There was much more in this game for us if we had been more patient and clever.

'When we went in 1-1 at half-time I was convinced we would win the game.'

Wenger added: 'We will recover from it. It can happen in the season, but they are disappointed because they lost a game they should not have lost.'

Not good enough: Arteta is unimpressed with Arsenal's inability to deal with set-plays

Not good enough: Arteta is unimpressed with Arsenal's inability to deal with set-plays

It"s all tweet and sour for embarrassed Hamilton after Button eclipse

It's all tweet and sour for embarrassed Hamilton after Button eclipse



21:30 GMT, 1 September 2012

Lewis Hamilton was forced into an embarrassing climb-down after taking to Twitter to vent his displeasure at being eclipsed by his team-mate Jenson Button, who produced a stunning qualifying display here to register his first pole for McLaren.

Hamilton, by contrast, had to be content with eighth, although he was promoted to seventh thanks to a five-place grid penalty for Mark Webber, after Red Bull were forced to replace his gearbox.

Climbdown: Lewis Hamilton made a bit of a twit of himself

Climbdown: Lewis Hamilton made a bit of a twit of himself

Blaming the decision to run an old spec rear wing for his lack of pace, Hamilton tweeted: 'Damn, WT F!! Jenson has the new rear wing on, I have the old. We voted to change, didn't work out. I lose 0.4 tenths just on the straight.'

Seconds later he added: 'Nothing I could do. Now it's about picking up every point I can from there. Jenson should win easy with that speed.'

Tweet surrender: Hamilton's tweets

Tweet surrender: Hamilton's tweets

Hamilton then tweeted that his use of the acronym 'WT F' had been a joke, claiming it was another example of Ali G style humour.

Given that the last time he tried a similar gag was his infamous, 'Maybe it is because I am black' gaff at the Monaco Grand Prix last year, Hamilton should have known better.

The fact his tweets were swiftly deleted suggested that someone at McLaren did not find the matter amusing, while they bore little resemblance to the team press release, in which Hamilton claimed the decision to run the old wing had been 'a collective choice'.

Pole star: Jenson Button

Pole star: Jenson Button

Speaking later alongside Button and McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh, Hamilton claimed the disappearance of the tweets had been prompted by his desire to 'rephrase some things I said'.

Hamilton then professed his desire to do everything he can in today's Belgian Grand Prix to help his team-mate to victory.

The irony is that all the pre-race talk had been about Button becoming a support act to Hamilton, who he trails by 41 points.

While Hamilton was busy with Twitter, Button was sat in the top three press conference expressing his delight at finally hooking things up on a Saturday qualifying. 'This is close to winning a grand prix for me, it has been so long,' said Button who is competing in his 50th race for McLaren and whose last pole came in 2009 at the Monaco Grand Prix.

'Sundays have been good over the last few years, but Saturdays have not gone perfectly. I have a style which makes it difficult to make the car work in qualifying but, when it does, I get pole.'

Kamui Kobayashi of Sauber was second, but Pastor Maldonado of Williams was demoted from third to sixth for blocking Force India's Nico Hulkenberg.

Reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel will start 11th, while Michael Schumacher was 13th in his 300th grand prix.

London 2012 Olympics: Mike Tindall on wife Zara Phillips

Tindall: Zara winning Olympic silver was better than me lifting the rugby World Cup



22:17 GMT, 18 August 2012

It is not supposed to be a competition but, if it were, Mike Tindall concedes defeat to his wife Zara Phillips in the medal collection they have assembled on the Gatcombe Estate now that she has returned with an Olympic silver.

Tindall became chief cheerleader, mentor, shoulder to cry on, motivator and, judging by his avid updates on Twitter, reporter during the three-day eventing at Greenwich Park which ended with Team GB finishing second.

He is so enamoured by his Olympic experience that he argues Zara’s silver is as good, if not better, than the rugby World Cup winners’ medal from 2003 that he hangs proudly in the same kitchen.

Team: Zara Phillips gets a hug from Mike Tindall after the show-jumping stage of the equestrian

Team: Zara Phillips gets a hug from Mike Tindall after the show-jumping stage of the equestrian

‘I’ve got that World Cup winners’ medal and a Grand Slam medal but she’s got a world and European individual winners’ medal and now that Olympic silver. That, by my reckoning gives her the edge.

Unless you believe my European Shield winners’ medal gets me back in the race,’ he says, as he sits in the Kingsholm stands at Gloucester and watches his younger team-mates train.

‘That Olympic silver, in my book, is right up there with my World Cup medal, if not above it, because it was won at the London Games with so much expectation and pressure.

‘When England won the World Cup we were favourites to do so. Team GB’s eventing silver wasn’t expected, so to produce that collective performance was outstanding.

‘Sure, there were tiny margins between gold and silver, just as Jonny Wilkinson’s drop-goal proved to be the tiny margin that won the World Cup. But for me the Olympics is the No 1 sporting occasion in the world and Zara and the team smashed it.’

In the standsL: Tindall watches his wife in the three day event at Greenwich Park

In the standsL: Tindall watches his wife in the three day event at Greenwich Park

Then there was his wife’s journey back
from apparent oblivion when Toytown — the horse that helped win her
world and European titles (and the 2007 BBC Sports Personality of the
Year award) — was unfit for the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

had to start all over again in the quest to train another horse, High
Kingdom, to qualify for London and then do her bit to win silver.

‘Zara always backed herself when others didn’t,’ said her husband. ‘The reason she made it to London and then performed as she did was down to sheer hard work, determination and belief that she would come good again.

‘I’ve been there myself as a sportsman. There are dark days, of course, but it’s all worth it when you get through them and return to the top.’

Tindall was living every jump. He
stayed in the families’ hotel next to the Olympic village, where his
wife lived with Team GB team-mates, although there was also a house for
the equestrian team in Greenwich to be used during the days of
competition and training.

Silver lining: Phillips (right) with Mary King, Nicola Wilson, William Fox-Pitt and Kristina Cook

Silver lining: Phillips (right) with Mary King, Nicola Wilson, William Fox-Pitt and Kristina Cook

He said: ‘The whole experience was absolutely brilliant, from meeting the volunteers who seemed as if they’d swallowed happy pills, to seeing the whole team go clear in the cross-country, which was so impressive.

‘I knew they were on for a medal from the moment the dressage went well.’

In the circumstances, he did well to even remember the fact that cross-country day was also his first wedding anniversary after their sumptuous event in Edinburgh.

‘I managed to get a card from the supermarket the day before because I couldn’t find a proper card shop, but I did get some flowers from the market,’ he said.

‘The best present for both of us was seeing Zara go clear that day in the park.’

the immediate aftermath, however, there was a tinge of disappointment
because Phillips accumulated seven faults in her first round in the

Although going clear in the second, she felt some responsibility for the team failing to overhaul winners Germany.

Blow: Zara Phillips, riding High Kingdom, knocks a rail in the show jumping equestrian event

Blow: Zara Phillips, riding High Kingdom, knocks a rail in the show jumping equestrian event

Tindall said: ‘Zara was a little down at first and thought she was responsible, although it’s very obvious that medals are won and lost over three days and that there were all kinds of other reasons why we didn’t end up with gold, too, like Willy Fox-Pitt’s time faults in the cross-country.

‘After a day, the disappointment of not winning gold turned into delight that she won silver, and since that day I’ve hardly seen her without it.’

Tindall was unable to see any of the other equestrian events live due to rugby commitments at Gloucester, where he is player-backs coach for the season ahead under new head coach Nigel Davies. But he watched as much as he could of the dressage, where Team GB won team gold plus individual gold and bronze, and the showjumping, where another team gold was claimed.

‘Carl Hester teaches Zara dressage so I was delighted for him to win team gold and for his pupils, Charlotte Dujardin and Laura Bechtolsheimer, to win individual medals. As for the showjumping, the stand-out story for me was Nick Skelton. One broken neck and a hip replacement and he wins gold. It proves they make them tough in the north.’

Triumphant: Zara Phillips with her medal

Triumphant: Zara Phillips with her medal

The only other live action he and Zara caught together was the greatest night of British athletics history when Jessica Ennis, Greg Rutherford and Mo Farah all took gold inside an hour. ‘Probably the best sporting event I’ve ever seen’ is how Tindall puts it.

He should also have witnessed two more golds that morning at the rowing.

‘En route I discovered I’d left my pass behind so I ended up taking Zara and her brother Peter and then I went to Michael Parkinson’s pub near Maidenhead and watched it on TV by myself.’

So what now Phillips is 31 but, according to Tindall, will go to Rio if selected, and very possibly beyond — especially as she has two more horses that are showing tremendous potential.

‘I know Rio is in her plans and there’s no reason why High Kingdom can’t make it because he’s only 11. But she’s got two more horses, Lord Lauries and, especially, Black Tuxedo, and she has high hopes for them.

‘She says she can’t see herself going on for too long but I have my doubts. It’s in her blood too much and she absolutely loves competing still.’

As does Tindall, which is why the man with 75 England caps to his name is embarking on a new career as player-coach at Gloucester, although he still insists he is player first, coach second.

‘I have to obtain my level two and three coaching badges and, in time, I’d like to forge a career as a rugby coach — and I’ll have ambitions, like everyone else, to go as far as I can.

‘For now, though, I’m a player first, coach second. Although we have a backs line at Gloucester which, to a man, has the ability to play for England, I want to make it hard for them to keep me out of the team. If I can improve them as players then I’m doing my job as a coach.’

His new role was very last minute. He was facing the end of his playing days, or at least a highly inconvenient move to France, last May until some sterling displays for the Barbarians helped convince new coach Davies to extend the midfielder’s time at Kingsholm. ‘I was more than a bit worried but managed to get things sorted at the 11th hour,’ said Tindall.

‘I shouldn’t play for the first team but it’s also about results now. As we finished an unacceptable ninth last season in the Premiership, we need to start well. Injuries also count, so I’m expecting and wanting a busy season on and of the field.

‘It’s also a Lions tour at the end of the season. Do I think I can finally become a Lion It’s not likely but I’ve learned in sport you can never rule anything out. It’s the one thing missing but I’ll happily take what I’ve achieved.’

Tindall has one more plan to hatch and that returns to an Olympic theme.

‘I’d be more than happy to be cheering on Zara from the sidelines at the next five Olympics,’ he said. ‘But I’d love to go to Rio because I’ve never been and I note rugby sevens will be included. I’ll be 37. I wonder if England would take me as a prop forward’

Sir Alex Ferguson should have spoken out about Manchester United owners the Glazer family: Patrick Collins

400 million reasons why you should have spoken out, Sir Alex



00:20 GMT, 8 July 2012

Once upon a time, Manchester United’s
balance sheet told a happy tale. An ambitious club, they pursued the
game’s great prizes, paid the largest fees for the finest players and
generally enjoyed a level of prosperity that others could only envy. Yet
they did not owe a single penny.

Then, in the summer of 2005, the
Glazer family of Palm Beach, Florida, acquired this admirable enterprise
by means of a leveraged buy-out. The process was totally legal and, to a
lay person, utterly mystifying. It involved borrowing some 525 million
to complete the purchase, then promptly dumping that sum on the club’s
hitherto pristine books. In seven years, the ingenious family spent
about 500m of the club’s income on servicing that debt, with its
enormous interest charges and professional fees.

Last week, we learned that United are
to be floated on the New York Stock Exchange, via the tax haven of the
Cayman Islands. This is not an unusual way of raising finance but here
it is being done as a faintly desperate means of reducing the Glazers’
debt without diminishing the family’s control. Some thought it an
incongruous operation; the most renowned institution in the domestic
game being treated as if it were a dice to be rolled or a card to be
dealt. But the people who administer English football took the whole
affair in their comfortable stride.

Flotation: Bryan and Avram Glazer, sons of Michael, pictured on a rare visit to Old Trafford

Flotation: Bryan and Avram Glazer, sons of Michael, pictured on a rare visit to Old Trafford

It needs something seismic to shake
the smugness of the Premier League. At the time of the United takeover,
the league’s chief executive Richard Scudamore dismissed the concerns
about debt: ‘The most important thing for us when we met with the
Glazers was to talk about their aspirations regarding television rights
and collective rights generally,’ he declared. And he sounded less
reassuring than he intended.

Five years later, when United’s debts
had passed 700m, he remained unruffled: ‘Manchester United have
continued to be one of the top clubs and since the Glazers have owned it
have continued to deliver huge success,’ he said. ‘It is absolutely one
of the best-run clubs in the world.’

More from Patrick Collins…

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Murray beats the clock in his new role as Cinderella: Victory takes him closer to dream of first Grand Slam

Patrick Collins: Pirlo the master shows how far behind England truly are

Patrick Collins: Sadly Chambers must be chosen, but he could at least end the petulance

Patrick Collins: That touch of Sir Alf is why there is such trust in Roy

Patrick Collins: Fans will be the last to gain from Premier League's 3bn jackpot

Patrick Collins: Now for the real test… but Hodgson's men travel to Euro 2012 in hope

Patrick Collins: Is it any wonder preening Pietersen is so hard to like


Now whenever Scudamore is challenged
about the way in which the various clubs of his league are run, he
usually insists that he is ‘ownership neutral’. It is a formula which
allows his organisation to shrug aside the antics of such as Thaksin
Shinawatra at Manchester City, as well as some of the rascals who have
helped destroy poor Portsmouth. And so long as he can carry on
delivering 3billion television deals, the various owners will not
worry. This is, after all, the ‘Barclays’ Premier League, a
serendipitous title which reminds us that a sensitive conscience can be
an expensive luxury.

But if Scudamore and his chums have
been predictably indifferent to the situation at United, the silence of
the Football Association is far more concerning. The most renowned club
in English football are in debt to the tune of 423.3m. Even the Glazers
admit that: ‘Our indebtedness could adversely affect our financial
health and competitive position.’ Yet the FA, the custodians of the
national game, have nothing to say on the matter.

But there are two other figures whose
silence is both perplexing and regrettable. David Gill, the accomplished
chief executive, was part of the United board who opposed the Glazer
takeover. In the ensuing years, he has defended the owners at every
turn, insisting that the soaring debt has not damaged the club’s ability
to invest in the team.

Then there is Sir Alex Ferguson. Since
2005, he has delivered his employers four League titles and a Champions
League. In addition, he has declined to complain about player
investment and described the Glazers as ‘excellent owners’.

Surprisingly silent: Both Sir Alex Ferguson and David Gill have backed the Glazers since their takeover

Surprisingly silent: Both Sir Alex Ferguson and David Gill have backed the Glazers since their takeover

Yet he, more than anybody, was responsible for that original, unblemished balance sheet. It was his work which had made the club such an inviting financial target. But now he is required to run harder than at any time in his career, simply to stay level. While the famously noisy neighbours make merry with Abu Dhabi’s endless largesse, Ferguson must try to flourish on more slender resources.

He has never complained, since that would be construed as weakness, but ideally he would not have chosen to go against City with Paul Scholes (37) and Ryan Giggs (38) in his engine room. Both have been extraordinary players but the fact that United should have come so close to success with such a venerable cast represented a minor miracle of management.

With City’s ruling family expected to invest still more lavishly in their project — leverage is not a term they recognise at the Etihad — Ferguson’s task becomes painfully daunting. He will give it his best shot, since that is his nature, but deep down he must know that the die was cast on the day when Family Glazer arrived at Old Trafford, bearing promises of a brave new world and around half a billion pounds of debt.

He was the one person who might have altered events. Had he publicised his protests and articulated his opposition, public anger might have been aroused and a more suitable purchaser might have emerged. But he said nothing and now the club who have consumed his energies and talents have become the Cayman Islands-registered Manchester United Ltd. Just another ‘brand’, another commodity, another hopeful gamble on the New York Stock Exchange.

Why I wish AVB well

The last time I saw Andre Villas-Boas, he was about to be sacked. It was March and Chelsea had just lost at West Bromwich Albion. He had concluded, correctly, that several of his players were way past their peak and that drastic surgery was required.

For their part, the old lags recognised their continued employment depended on the manager’s departure. So they got rid of him.

The process was curiously repugnant: they shrugged, pouted and went through the motions, apparently indifferent to the outcome. They made it clear that they would not play for the manager.

An honourable man: Andre Villas-Boas

An honourable man: Andre Villas-Boas

Just a few weeks later, they would mass their defences and ride some outrageous luck to win the Champions League. But by then, AVB would be gone.

He left with great elegance, refusing to blame those who had let him down, and we sensed he still had much to offer. He now has his chance at Tottenham. I hope he takes it.

No room for cheats

Deluded: Stewart Regan

Deluded: Stewart Regan

At the risk of intruding upon private grief, it would seem that demotion to the Scottish Third Division is the very least of the penalties which Rangers should expect for their sustained exercise in financial doping. However, Stewart Regan, the chief executive of the Scottish FA, is trenchantly opposed to such a punishment.

He pleads for the softer option of relegation to the Scottish First Division, apparently on the grounds that Rangers are too big to fail. Indeed, he has issued preposterous warnings of ‘Armageddon’ and ‘social unrest’ if the club should get what they truly deserve. Rangers in the Third Division, warns Mr Regan, would ‘kill the game’ in Scotland.

I suspect he is mistaken, for civilised sanctions will not kill the Scottish game. That task can safely be left to systematic cheats like Rangers. And deluded prattlers like Stewart Regan.


Liz Nicholl is chief executive of UK Sport. This is the excellent body who have invested vast amounts of Lottery and exchequer funding into Olympic sport. Unfortunately, they have a bizarre obsession with bogus targets.

After staging ‘close consultations’, they bravely forecast that GB would win between 40-70 medals. Ms Nicholl has now announced the ‘official’ medal target. ‘Our commitment is to 48,’ she declares.

The figure is as meaningless as the process which produced it. Next time, she should choose the scientific option. And ask a bloke down the pub.

Euro 2012: Sergio Busquets says Spain"s players know how to stop Cristiano Ronaldo

Ronaldo We know how to stop him, boasts Spain star Busquets



15:15 GMT, 25 June 2012

Spain's players know how to stop Portugal forward Cristiano Ronaldo in Wednesday's Euro 2012 quarter-final, according to midfielder Sergio Busquets.

Ronaldo has scored in each of Portugal's last two games and his team-mates from Real Madrid and the Barcelona players in the Spain squad have seen plenty of what he can do in La Liga.

Busquets believes they must pay particular attention to Portugal's wing play and come to the aid of full-back Alvaro Arbeloa when necessary.

Real deal: Cristiano Ronaldo is Portugal's main threat

Real deal: Cristiano Ronaldo is Portugal's main threat

In quotes reported by www.marca.com, Busquets said: 'We all know what a great player Cristiano is. He'll spend a lot of time on Arbeloa's side, but you need to work together as a team to stop a player like him.'

Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque was also well aware of the test facing his side.

He said: 'It's tough trying to stop a player with his qualities. He's extremely dangerous both when he has space and without it.'

Eyes on the prize: Sergio Busquets says the Spanish players know how to deal with Ronaldo

Eyes on the prize: Sergio Busquets says the Spanish players know how to deal with Ronaldo

Defender Gerard Pique agreed, adding: 'He's one of the best in the world and if we want to stop him it will have to be a collective effort.'

But Barcelona and Spain team-mate Xavi backed Arbeloa in his encounter with Ronaldo.

'We have a great full-back in Arbeloa, who is among the best out there defensively speaking.

'We'll try to cover for him, to make sure Ronaldo doesn't settle and we don't let him turn.'