Tag Archives: decisions

Montenegro mayhem is nothing new for England

Montenegro mayhem is nothing new for England as Roy's boys return to Podgorica

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Back again: England have played in Podgorica before, in a qualifier for Euro 2012…

Back again: England have played in Podgorica before, in a qualifier for Euro 2012...

A picture of Bent in action features prominently in the programme for tomorrow's game but these days he cannot hold down at place at Aston Villa and among Roy Hodgson's big decisions ahead of his big night is who to pair with Rooney.

The stadium will rattle with noise. Pictures have been painted of a hostile reception from the local fans but if the last visit is anything to go by this will be nothing more sinister than a spirited reception for a newly-independent nation.

...and the home fans celebrated on the pitch after watching their team secure a draw

…and the home fans celebrated on the pitch after watching their team secure a draw

As so often in this part of the world, the football team has given the former Yugoslav states a platform to show who they are and what they stand form.

The people of Montenegro provide a warm welcome. The fervour inside the stadium is because this little team is proudly punching above its weight.

Scoring for fun: England will find it much tougher in Montenegro than they did in San Marino on Friday

Scoring for fun: England will find it much tougher in Montenegro than they did in San Marino on Friday

Teams emerge from a tunnel in the corner of this 12,000-capactiy ground, beneath the noisiest of the supporters.

The game in October 2011 culminated in a pitch invasion but this was due mainly to the euphoria of the team's progress into the play-offs.

What Hodgson can be sure of is that it will be uncomfortable and many of those in his team were not on the pitch the last time.

Red mist: It was in Montenegro in 2011 that Wayne Rooney was sent off for kicking out at Miodrag Dzudovoic

Red mist: It was in Montenegro in 2011 that Wayne Rooney was sent off for kicking out at Miodrag Dzudovoic

Red mist: It was in Montenegro in 2011 that Wayne Rooney was sent off for kicking out at Miodrag Dzudovoic

Branko Brnovic's team will be disciplined and tight at the back, reliant upon the star strikers Stevan Jovetic and Mirko Vucinic to provide the magic up front, perhaps pinch a goal which will turn the pressure on England.

How can they can cope That will be the test.

Rooney's red is a warning to them all. They must manage their frustration and they must think clearly amid the din.

Atletico Madrid open door for Fernando Torres return from Chelsea

Atletico open door for Torres return while Chelsea given encouragement over Falcao

By
Rik Sharma

PUBLISHED:

12:45 GMT, 23 March 2013

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UPDATED:

13:00 GMT, 23 March 2013

Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone has opened the door for Fernando Torres to return to his former side.

The Chelsea striker made his name in Spain before moving to Liverpool in 2007.

Simeone says he knows how important Torres can be for his side and that because of his roots he knows about what it means to play for Los Rojiblancos.

Struggle: Fernando Torres has not been able to find his feet at Chelsea

Struggle: Fernando Torres has not been able to find his feet at Chelsea

He told Spanish radio station Onda
Cero: 'Fernando Torres is currently playing for another team. We have to
wait for the season to finish and decide which of the available players
could come here and do a good job.

'Fernando knows about the club's history, what it means to play here and I don't need to speak about his ability.

'We were teammates. I know how important he can be.'

Chelsea want Atletico's Colombian striker Radamel Falcao as a replacement. He has scored 25 goals in 28 games for his club this season, including a hat-trick against the Blues in the Super Cup final.

He can be procured for 48million but the Blues would be interested in a part-exchange deal involving Torres.

When asked about Falcao's future, Simeone did not insist the player would be staying at the club.
Instead he reasoned that everybody makes their own decisions and Falcao deserves respect.

Simeone said: 'I'm not Falcao and I'm not his agent. I'm the manager and have the utmost respect for him, because he gave me so much at River Plate and has done the same here.

'He always gives his all and I really respect players who do that. But everyone makes their own decisions in life.

'Every person is different, and we have to respect each other. Those who stay are always going to be the best.'

Can't stop: Radamel Falcao is in absolutely lethal form for club and country

Can't stop: Radamel Falcao is in absolutely lethal form for club and country

Frank: Diego Simeone said that Torres knows the club and he would be an important player

Frank: Diego Simeone said that Torres knows the club and he would be an important player

Raheem Sterling signs new Liverpool contract

Sterling ends speculation by signing new long-term contract with Liverpool

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UPDATED:

14:53 GMT, 21 December 2012

England whizzkid Raheem Sterling has signed a new long-term contract with Liverpool.

The 18-year-old winger has been in negotiations with the Anfield club for weeks over a new deal.

But, as revealed by Sportsmail this week, both parties have shaken hands on a deal for Sterling to stay with the Merseysiders for the foreseeable future.

Signed, sealed, delivered: Raheem Sterling agreeing his new contract with Brendan Rodgers

Signed, sealed, delivered: Raheem Sterling agreeing his new contract with Brendan Rodgers

'It's every 18-year-old's dream. I'm just really grateful to be at such a big club like this,' Sterling said.

'There's a lot more to be done. I haven't begun yet, as the manager has said. Hopefully I can kick on after the New Year and try to do my best for the team and the football club.'

Manager Brendan Rodgers believes Liverpool provide the ideal environment in which Sterling can flourish.

There was a slight hold up to the deal being finalised as negotiations had to be thrashed out over the scale of his pay rise – from a reported 2,000-a-week to nearer 40,000.

But Rodgers insisted extended discussions were also about football as well as financial decisions.

Shake on it: Sterling with Liverpool boss Rodgers

Shake on it: Sterling with Liverpool boss Rodgers

'It was just making sure that we take
care in terms of the financial – but also the football – plan for the
player,' said the Reds boss.

'This was about a young player who
has rocketed from playing in the youth teams and the reserves into
becoming a full England international.

'A lot has happened in his young life and it was just about making sure that there was that protection for him going forward – both in his financial situation and his football plan.

'I have always been confident that this was going to be the best place for him and thankfully the kid is very focused and devoted to Liverpool.'

Jamaican-born Sterling had just 18 months left to run on his existing contract and ensuring the teenage sensation penned an extension was a top priority for the club.

And after several meetings between managing director Ian Ayre and Sterling's representatives the England international can now concentrate on establishing himself as a key member of Brendan Rodgers' plans.

A number of the Premier League's elite were lining up to take advantage of the uncertainty regarding Sterling's future next month.

Both Manchester clubs, Arsenal and Chelsea have watched Sterling extensively with a view to swooping for the forward in January.

Sterling, who started his career at Queens Park Rangers, has made rapid progress for Liverpool since breaking into the first team under Kenny Dalglish last season.

And his impressive breakthrough culminated in his first England cap, as he started in the defeat against Sweden last month.

However, he is still eligible to play for his native Jamaica given he has not played for the Three Lions in a competitive fixture yet.

Ayre said: 'This is another positive step forward for the football club in securing the long-term future of one of the country's brightest young talents.

One to watch: Sterling has come to the fore this season under manager Brendan Rodgers

One to watch: Sterling has come to the fore this season under manager Brendan Rodgers

'The negotiations were very positive and both parties acted in a very responsible way to reach an outcome that benefits both Raheem and Liverpool FC.

'Since the summer, Luis Suarez, Daniel Agger, Martin Skrtel, Jonjo Shelvey and Suso have all signed new long-term contracts and it's a clear indication of our intent to keep the players we believe are crucial to bringing success on the pitch.

'It also shows the belief the players have in the vision and leadership of Brendan Rodgers and everyone at this football club.'

Bradley Wiggins: I"ll follow Team Sky orders and help Chris Froome to Tour de France victory

Wiggins: I'll follow Team Sky orders and help Froome to Le Tour victory

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UPDATED:

22:53 GMT, 18 December 2012

Bradley Wiggins is prepared to play second fiddle to Chris Froome at next year’s Tour de France if ordered to do so by Team Sky.

It has been widely thought that Wiggins, this year’s Tour champion, would be the back-up man in 2013 as the mountainous route appeared to play more to Froome’s strengths.

However, Wiggins has suggested in recent days that he would quite like to mount a proper defence of his title but added: ‘The last four years, all the focus has been on the Tour de France for me, trying to win that race.

Crowning glory: Bradley Wiggins won Sports Personality of the Year last week

Crowning glory: Bradley Wiggins won Sports Personality of the Year last week

'Fortunately I did it this year, then it’s deciding what to do next, (maybe) going back as defending champion next year to try to win a second Tour de France.

‘We’re very fortunate that we have two people that can win the Tour de France. It could be Chris Froome on the day, it could be me, but once we get on that line we all have a professional obligation. We saw this year what Chris did for me, it could be that I’ll be doing that for him next year for the team to win.’

Wiggins, 32, expects Team Sky to go into the Tour with a clear idea of their leader, saying: ‘You go out there with a plan. That plan may change during the race but you certainly start out with a game plan and follow that game plan as much as possible.

‘If that’s Chris Froome then the whole eight riders will commit to Chris.’

World class: Wiggins' Great Britain and Sky team-mate Chris Froome

World class: Wiggins' Great Britain and Sky team-mate Chris Froome

Team Sky principal Dave Brailsford has shown in the past that he is prepared to make big selection decisions and Froome revealed: ‘The team are saying they are going to back me with the Tour this year. That’s directly from Dave Brailsford. He said, “You’re our man for the Tour. Focus on it”.’

However, Brailsford seems to have wavered slightly but Wiggins believes having two potential winners is a good thing.

He said: ‘It always helps to have strength in numbers, it’s a nice problem to have.

‘So much is made of the negative aspects of having two leaders who could potentially win, but very little has been said about the positive side. We finished one and two this year, so it’s always a nice problem to have.’

Meanwhile, Team Sky have confirmed the signing of British rider Josh Edmondson, 20, on a two-year contract.

Nasser Hussain: We have to bring in DRS for all Test matches

Nasser Hussain: 'Enough is enough. We have to bring in DRS for all Test matches.'

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UPDATED:

21:47 GMT, 16 December 2012

The time has now come for the ICC to stand up to the Indian cricket board and say: ‘Enough is enough. We are using the decision review system in all Test matches.’

This series has provided all the proof needed that the game is categorically better off using technology rather than relying totally on the men in the middle.

Controversy: England captain Alastair Cook was given out caught despite the ball traveling well wide of his bat

Controversy: England captain Alastair Cook was given out caught despite the ball traveling well wide of his bat

Surely the world game’s governing body can now go to India and say, ‘we have listened to your reservations and we respect them, but just look at what has happened in a marquee series when technology hasn’t been used. Big mistakes have been made on both sides and your players have misbehaved because of it’.

All the boards bar India now seem to want the system in place. Spectators want it and, judging by his reaction to a decision yesterday, India captain MS Dhoni wants it.

And sitting in the Indian dressing room is the man who invented DRS, their coach Duncan Fletcher. What more do they need

Nobody is saying the technology used is perfect. But the very professional people behind it are working towards making it as near perfect as it can be. And if it had been used in these four Tests, I reckon there might have been one or two errors made with important decisions. Instead, there have been 10 or 12.

I was asked by Sky to come up with the blatant umpiring errors in this series, and I quickly picked out 10 that really should have been spotted by the naked eye by elite umpires. I’m sure there have been other mistakes too.

10 UMPIRING HOWLERS THIS SERIES

Batsman / Bowler – What happened…

Test: Ahmedabad (1st Test)

Samit Patel / Ravi Ashwin – Should have been given out lbw on four

Mumbai (2nd)

Zaheer Khan / Graeme Swann – Given out caught at short leg — nowhere near it

Mumbai (2nd)

Pragyan Ojha / Monty Panesar – Obvious glove to leg slip — missed by Aleem Dar

Mumbai (2nd)

Gautam Gambhir / Graeme Swann – Out lbw after edging the ball into his pads

Kolkata (3rd)

Alastair Cook / Ravi Ashwin – Caught at short leg, not noticed by umpire

Kolkata (3rd)

Monty Panesar / Ravi Ashwin – lbw after nicking it

Nagpur (4th)

Alastair Cook / Ishant Sharma – lbw, despite being hit outside line of off

Nagpur (4th)

Cheteshwar Pujara / Graeme Swann – Given out at short leg off the forearm

Nagpur (4th)

Alastair Cook / Ravi Ashwin – Caught behind, but didn’t hit it

Nagpur (4th)

Jonathan Trott / Ravindra Jadeja – Hit in line with the stumps, survived the lbw shout

I am just not sure it is right when people say the elite panel get 90 per cent of their decisions right. It certainly hasn’t been that way in this series.

The four umpires used in these games seem to have become uncertain once they have had their safety net taken away from them. They have seen from technology that more decisions are out than was perceived in the past and, without it, they are not sure what to give and what to turn down.

The genie is out of the bottle. The modern generation can’t understand why technology isn’t being used. It’s time for India to see the error of their ways and accept the views of the vast majority. We have seen with our own eyes that it is the only way forward now.

Commanding: Despite his unfair dismissal, Alastair Cook's (pictured) England team remain on course for an historic series win

Commanding: Despite his unfair dismissal, Alastair Cook's (pictured) England team remain on course for an historic series win

We
are unable to carry live pictures from the fourth Test in Nagpur due to a
dispute between the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and
international news organisations.

The
BCCI has refused access to Test venues to established picture agencies
Getty Images and Action Images and other Indian photographic agencies.

MailOnline consider this action to be a strike against press freedom and supports the action to boycott BCCI imagery.

Will Bradley Wiggins be allowed to defend his Tour de France crown?

Will Bradley Wiggins be allowed to defend his Tour de France crown

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UPDATED:

21:41 GMT, 15 December 2012

Bradley Wiggins would be the first to admit that his year of awesome achievement would not have been possible without the methodical mind of the man who has become the most influential figure in British cycling.

But now Dave Brailsford faces one of the most difficult decisions of his sporting life: does he encourage Wiggins to fulfil his dream of consecutive victories in the Tour de France — or ask the man who is clear favourite to lift the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award to follow team orders to play second string to Chris Froome’s attempt to win the most gruelling event in sport

Bradley Wiggins

Champion: Bradley Wiggins has had a sensational year but now is the time huge decisions will be made on next year's Tour

This summer, Brailsford presided brilliantly over Team Sky’s militarystyle campaign which enabled Wiggins to ride triumphantly along the Champs Elysees as the first British winner in the 109-year history of the Tour de France.

For his encore, Wiggins won an Olympic gold medal nine days later against the backdrop of Hampton Court Palace and Brailsford, as British Cycling’s performance director, had confirmed his status as a linchpin in Wiggins’s life for the past dozen years.

Now, with Wiggins talking for the first time last week of wanting to defend his Tour de France title rather than concentrating on the Giro d’Italia and playing a support role to Froome on the 2013 Tour, Brailsford knows he must manage the expectations of two of road racing’s greatest exponents.

Bradley Wiggins

Golden boy: Just nine days after becoming Britain's first ever Tour champion, Wiggins stormed through the streets of London to take Olympic gold

‘We haven’t finalised our plans for next year,’ said Brailsford, speaking last week from the warm weather camp in Majorca where Wiggins has been getting back to work in the afterglow of his phenomenal summer.

‘Bradley’s had a taste of celebrity but he has relished getting back the structure in his life and he is in great shape. Brad loves normality.’

Froome, thought to be marginally favoured by the route of next year’s Tour, which includes four mountain summit finishes and fewer stage miles in the time trials, and Wiggins have both publicly pledged to abide by the decision Brailsford arrives at with his trusted right-hand man, Australian Shane Sutton. Yet, briefly, there was tension between the two riders this summer, if swiftly managed.

Bradley Wiggins

Champion team: Wiggins celebrates with team-mates on the Champs-lyses

On Stage 11, Froome risked leaving Wiggins, leading the Tour by two minutes, exposed on the road when he made an unscheduled break on a climb.

‘It looked worse than it was,’ insisted Brailsford last week.

‘Through Froomey’s eyes, Brad was going really well and had a big buffer and he was thinking about his own position in relation to (Vincenzo) Nibali.

‘It was a brief bit of exuberance from Chris. If his intention had been to attack Bradley, he’d have kept going but, once he realised Brad was not on his wheel, he played his team role. There was no malice or going against team orders.’ Even so, he had to be told to back off.

Bradley Wiggins of Great Britain and Team SKY chats to Team Principal Dave Brailsford

Team talk: Sky team principal Dave Brailsford will soon decide who will lead his team in next year's Tour. Will it be Wiggins or Froome… or even both

At the time, Wiggins was distinctly unamused. ‘From that moment, through the rest of the Tour, I didn’t quite know what to expect from Chris when it got into the heat of battle,’ Wiggins wrote in his autobiography.

For Brailsford, the incident is consigned to history; a small blip during a Wiggins- Froome blitz of the world’s best riders.

Instead he remembers how Wiggins, a man who already possessed six Olympic track cycling medals, three of them gold, turned his career around two years ago to enable him to win the greatest bike race in the world after 21 glorious days in July.

According to Brailsford, Wiggins’s road to glory on the Tour de France began in a private — and uncomfortable — meeting at the end of a disappointing first season for Team Sky.

‘Bradley had to look hard at himself in the mirror at the end of 2010,’ he said. Brailsford acknowledged that mistakes had been made — ‘We over-complicated everything,’ he admitted — but Wiggins also faced a personal crisis.

His performance dipped and his mind wandered as he mourned the death of his beloved grandfather, George — his role-model after his father, Gary, a professional cyclist, walked out on him and his mother, Linda, when he was a child. Wiggins’s world crashed. He turned off his phone and could not be contacted. Patience within Team Sky was close to being exhausted.

Bradley Wiggins, winner of the 2012 Tour de France cycling race, celebrates as he crosses the finish line of the last stage of the the Tour de France

Magic moment: Wiggins crosses the finish line in Paris, but many say next year's route would be better suited to the mountain climbing strengths of Chris Froome

At one low moment, Wiggins later learned the crisis ran so deep that Brailsford asked team psychiatrist Steve Peters: ‘What should we do with Brad He’s a bloody nightmare.’

Eventually Wiggins, with the support of his wife, Cath, realised he had to address his problems. At a team summit with Brailsford, Sutton agreed to Wiggins’s request to coach him.

Last week Brailsford recalled: ‘We had words and we had some honest feedback with Brad. But after that first year, as a team, we went back to the drawing board.

 Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome

Team tension: Chris Froome congratulates Wiggins on his gold medal but was itching to break free from his supportive role in this summer's Tour

'We had clarity of purpose with everyone thinking the same way. But Brad deserves a lot of credit for his unbelievable hard work and the maturity that now makes him easy to coach.’

Never had a man on a bike travelled so far, or so fast, into the consciousness of the public than Wiggins.

‘The first week of the Tour is all about not losing any time, but it’s also about not crashing,’ said Brailsford. ‘The safest place is at the front of the bunch — but every other team is trying to do the same, so it becomes like a scene from Ben Hur.’

 (L-R) Silver medallist Tony Martin of Germany, gold medallist Bradley Wiggins of Great Britain and bronze medallist Christopher Froome of Great Britain

National treasure: Bradley Wiggins is joined on the podium by German silver medallist Tony Martin and Britain's Chris Froome, who finished third

On the third stage, Kosta Siutsou, a key support rider for Wiggins, broke a leg.

‘That shook everyone in the team and the mood was pretty fraught,’ admitted Brailsford.

‘Of course, for Brad it brought back memories of how his Tour had been ended by a broken collar-bone the previous year. It was quite a jolt because, at the time, we didn’t know how the story was going to unfold.’

From that moment, Team Sky had to combat their rivals with eight men rather than nine. And Brailsford had to gather the riders and staff together to restore morale as fast as possible.

Great Britain's Bradley Wiggins

Power house: Wiggins is the best time trialist in the world but next year's Tour will have fewer time trial miles

‘It is a mini-grieving process,’ he said. ‘Anger surfaces and then there is an acceptance that life is not fair, that the goalposts get moved.’

Brailsford’s management style is fastidious and he leaves nothing to chance.

‘We take our own beds from hotel to hotel and everybody has their same pillow every night,’ he said. ‘We vacuum and dust every room before the riders arrive and we install airconditioning and de-humidifiers.’

The team travel with their own chef and the team bus is a haven of luxury. Wiggins excelled as each day came and passed.

He earned the Yellow Jersey on stage seven and wore it all the way to Paris, where he was greeted by thousands of ecstatic British supporters, many wearing fake sideburns as a tribute to their laid-back hero.

‘For me, there was a feeling of elation and pure joy at Brad getting that jersey,’ said Brailsford.

‘It was a perfect performance from the team — one of my best days in cycling. ‘Brad is a connoisseur of the sport, he knows its history. You had only to look at him to see how much it meant. Fundamentally, he is a family man, a decent man and a very funny man.

He’s a colourful character, strongminded like all champions, and someone who occasionally courts controversy — but Brad has a heart of gold.’

Great Britain's Bradley Wiggins of Sky Pro Racing (yellow jersey), followed by team mate Mark Cavendish, during Stage 20 between Brambouillet and Paris, France.

Leading the pack: Team Sky's strategy of leading from the front worked spectacularly well during the summer

On returning from Paris, Wiggins was given the honour of ringing the bell at the opening ceremony in the Olympic Stadium, symbolically declaring the Games had commenced.

Four days afterwards, he was receiving an Olympic gold medal after destroying all-comers in the road time trial, the race of truth.

‘To make history in the Tour de France was a big deal but then to take Olympic gold so soon afterwards makes what Bradley did this summer exceptional,’ said Brailsford, who will be in the audience at the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year awards tonight.

Brailsford’s own day of judgment — whether to throw his support behind Wiggins or Froome on the 2013 Tour — lies ahead this winter.

Charles van Commenee bemoans stars who reveal all in "boring books"

Britain's head coach quits and hits out at stars who reveal all in 'boring books'

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UPDATED:

20:24 GMT, 8 December 2012

The man whose ruthless leadership as Britain's head athletics coach helped Jessica Ennis and Mo Farah to Olympic glory has promised to resist spilling the beans on the controversies of his four-year reign.

Charles van Commenee, who will move back to Holland later this month after resigning his post as UK Athletics head coach because his team failed to meet their London 2012 medals target, roared with laughter as he said: 'I will take my secrets to the grave.'

Keeping mum: Van Commenee has turned down five book offers

Keeping mum: Van Commenee has turned down five book offers

The provocative 54-year-old Dutchman also delivered a parting swipe at athletes, including Ennis, who cash in on their fame by publishing what Van Commenee claims are 'boring' books.

And he has revealed the tough management decisions he took to give his stars their best chance of striking gold.

'I've had five offers to write a book,' said Van Commenee.

'But I promise you won't see one. They either become boring, a big ego document, or you reveal things and you look cheap. I can't see the point other than financial benefits.

'Who wants to read a book by an athlete You see pictures of them when they were babies or when they were 12. You read what their headteachers or their parents said to them or how important their coaches were and how hard they've worked. It's all the same.'

Asked if he had read Unbelievable, Ennis's autobiography, or recently published books by gold medal cyclists Victoria Pendleton and Bradley Wiggins, Van Commenee replied: 'I know what to expect, I don't need to.

Unbelievable: Jessica Ennis

Unbelievable: Jessica Ennis

'If I wrote a book, I'd have to break confidentiality because I can't help myself in that respect. I'd want to deliver quality. I can't write a book about having a nice coffee and pleasant conversation on the river bank on a rainy Monday morning.'

Two days before Christmas, Van Commenee will pack his belongings into the back of a friend's van and set sail on the final ferry to leave Harwich for the Hook of Holland that evening.

He arrived from Amsterdam to transform a flabby, disparate organisation after Britain won just four athletics medals in Beijing.

He leaves having overseen Super Saturday, the finest evening of British sport for almost half a century.

He helped to turn 25million of funding into six medals – including four golds and some historic moments – but half came from outside the traditional UK Athletics training centres of Loughborough and Lee Valley.

Van Commenee insists, however, that important decisions were taken to support Farah, who trained in Portland in the United States, and Ennis, who trained at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield.

'Sometimes you read, “Jess and Mo are not part of the system”, but that's incorrect,' insisted Van Comenee.

'In Jessica's case, I'm the line manager of her coach, Toni Minichiello. We direct medical support, UKA pay for the facility and I allocate the biomechanist and her massage therapist. For Mo, he had one exercise physiologist, a brilliant man there for 80 athletes.

'I sent him for almost half a year to Mo in the run-up to the Olympics, ordering him not to leave his shadow. That meant 79 athletes couldn't use him at the time. That's a management decision to increase the chance of Mo winning medals.

'We employ Toni full time to work with one athlete and it paid off, but it's quite exceptional. It was a calculated risk but it's proved to be the best decision and they both did a wonderful job.'

The head coach set a team target of eight Olympic medals, including one gold, and never considered staying in his reported 250,000-a-year role after that was not achieved.

'I'm a strong believer of having clear targets, and when one is not hit it should have consequences,' added Van Commenee.

'To remain in the job when other coaches are losing theirs would have betrayed the philosophy. It wouldn't have been right.'

Roberto Mancini accuses Ashley Young of diving

Mancini accuses Young of diving in penalty row ahead of heated Manchester derby

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UPDATED:

22:30 GMT, 7 December 2012

Sir Alex Ferguson and Roberto Mancini traded barbs over dodgy penalty decisions as they ramped up the pressure ahead of Sunday's Manchester derby.

Mancini accused United winger Ashley Young of 'swimming' – he meant diving – while Ferguson questioned the number of spot-kicks City have been awarded at the Etihad Stadium.

Barclays Premier League leaders United visit champions City with a three-point lead over their neighbours and both managers were testing the FA's rules against pressuring referee Martin Atkinson.

Swimming: Roberto Mancini claimed Ashley Young went to ground too easily last season

Swimming: Roberto Mancini claimed Ashley Young went to ground too easily last season

WHAT ABOUT THE STATS, FERGIE

Sir Alex says City have had too many penalties at home, but do the stats back him up

20 Home penalties given to City since the start of the 2010-11 season. United had 13 at home

9 United were given nine penalties at home last season, one more than City

21 Both clubs have had the same number of penalties since the start of 2010-11

Ferguson suggested City had won far too many penalties at the Etihad, saying: 'If we got that number of penalty kicks, there'd be an inquiry in the House of Commons.'

When this was put to City manager Mancini half an hour later, however, the Italian pointed to Young's dive that won United an important penalty at home to Aston Villa last season.

Mancini said: 'I remember very well last year when Young was swimming in the box.

'Four or five times in the last 10 games and no-one said anything. Fergie is clever for this.'

Since the start of the 2010-11 season City have been awarded 20 Premier League spot-kicks at home to United's 13.

Barbs: Mancini (above) and Alex Ferguson sniped at the opposite team ahead of the Manchester derby

Barbs: Mancini (above) and Alex Ferguson sniped at the opposite team ahead of the Manchester derby

High five: Edin Dzeko (left) earned a penalty for Manchester City last week against Everton

High five: Edin Dzeko (left) earned a penalty for Manchester City last week against Everton

However, last season United were given nine penalties at Old Trafford – one more than their neighbours.

Referee Atkinson has had problems with both clubs. He was in charge at Old Trafford in 2009 when six minutes of added time saw United seal a 4-3 triumph over City, while he upset Ferguson with his handling of a game at Chelsea two seasons ago.

Ferguson may play captain Nemanja Vidic, while City are hoping to have David Silva back after a hamstring injury.

Asked if City were still the 'noisy neighbours' he called them four years ago, Ferguson laughed: 'Aye, they are screaming now.'

Prepared: Ferguson greeted troops in Chester on Thursday

Prepared: Ferguson greeted troops in Chester on Thursday

Newcastle v Bordeaux preparations disrupted by heavy snow

Snow joke! Heavy downfall disrupts preparations for Pardew's young Newcastle side in Bordeaux

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UPDATED:

19:57 GMT, 5 December 2012

Newcastle United's young squad were left stranded by heavy snow for more than five hours at the city's airport as Alan Pardew's plans for his team's final Europa League qualifier suffered major disruption on Wednesday.

The Newcastle manager was forced to cancel his pre-match press conference in Bordeaux late on Wednesday night after his players were forced to sit in their plane on the runway for more than three hours.

Newcastle eventually arrived in the French port five hours later than anticipated, although they had made the decision last week to train at their own training ground in Tyneside before departure rather than at the Chaban-Delmas Stadium.

Delayed: Alan Pardew and his players trained in the heavy snow on Wednesday

Delayed: Alan Pardew and his players trained in the heavy snow on Wednesday

Although Pardew and his opposite number Francis Gillot have taken independent decisions to field weakened teams, the delays are still a setback for the Newcastle manager who wanted a trouble-free journey to France for his younger players.

Striker Adam Campbell was among the squad members who tweeted from the departure lounge and then the Newcastle plane throughout Wednesday afternoon as more than five inches of snow hit the North East and forced the pilot to postpone departure.

Newcastle need to win on Thursday to top Group D, and perhaps avoid the bigger names dropping out of the Champions League. But Pardew has made no secret of his desire to blood his fringe players to face a Bordeaux side they defeated 3-0 at St James's Park in October.

One-time Academy striker Campbell, former Coventry City teenager Gael Bigirimana, youngsters James Tavernier and Shane Ferguson and striker Sammy Ameobi are among those expected to start.

There is also an unlikely recall for Nile Ranger.

Sammy Ameobi, the younger of the two brothers, has already grabbed his opportunity in the Europa League this season.

He was outstanding in the home and away legs against FC Bruges and the winger, who is likely to start with brother Shola, has relished his opportunity to shine in Europe. He says all the young players have to perform for Pardew.

How long The young Newcastle side were stuck on the runway for three hours

How long The young Newcastle side were stuck on the runway for three hours

Larking about: But the likes of James Tavernier took the time to have a laugh during training

Larking about: But the likes of James Tavernier took the time to have a laugh during training

NEWCASTLE'S POSSIBLE STARTING XI TO FACE BORDEAUX

Elliot; Simpson, Tavernier, Perch, Ferguson; Marveaux, Bigirimana, Amalfitano, Sammy Ameobi; Shola Ameobi, Ranger

Ameobi said: 'Growing up here as a Newcastle fan, I already kind of knew what was expected. It means that much more to me and I've only just come in. I'm hoping for better things now.

'Europe has been enjoyable. It's not the same as the Premier League but it's a tough competition and great for experience. We've played against different types of football and that sort of thing just pushes you on.

'We're through now but we want to go on and win the Group and get as far as we possibly can now.

'The young players are here for the long haul, in my opinion. When we were young kids we could make mistakes and no-one came down on us but now we're starting to learn that we have to affect games and be an effective part of the squad.'

Fun and games: The players seemed to be enjoying the snow

Fun and games: The players seemed to be enjoying the snow

Fun and games: The players seemed to be enjoying the snow

Fun and games: The players seemed to be enjoying the snow

Nigel Adkins finally faces boyhood team Liverpool

Treat for Saints manager Adkins as he finally gets to face his boyhood team

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UPDATED:

22:30 GMT, 30 November 2012

Southampton manager Nigel Adkins has wanted to face Liverpool for years – and is finally getting the opportunity.

The 47-year-old was a schoolboy at Liverpool when he was a young goalkeeper before eventually signing his first professional contract at Tranmere.

When he was manager at Scunthorpe every time the club were in the third-round FA Cup draw he hoped his hometown club would be pulled out of the bag.

Fun times: Nigel Adkins will enjoy going to Anfield... provided Luis Suarez doesn't run riot

Fun times: Nigel Adkins will enjoy going to Anfield… provided Luis Suarez doesn't run riot

That never happened – but back-to-back promotions has meant he no longer needs to rely on a lucky cup draw to face his former club and will head to Anfield for the first time on Saturday.

Adkins said: 'We will relish going to a big stadium like Liverpool. I have good memories of Liverpool. I remember training with Ray Clemence and saving a penalty from Graeme Souness in a practice game and playing alongside Alan Hansen and Kenny Dalglish in small-sides games.

'I enjoyed being at Anfield as a player and I’m looking forward to going there as a manager'

The Saints boss learned a lot from his time at Liverpool and their ethics still influence his managerial decisions today.

He added: 'You grow up with the history of Liverpool Football Club. When you are there it models your thoughts – the culture surrounding it. There were close-knit training session in the evenings with the likes of Roy Evans, Ronnie Moran and Joe Fagan around. Bob Paisley would give us a team talk before a FA Youth Cup game.

'They have always had this continuity and the next manager would always come through the system and they kept that continuity which was good. It showed that they had close-knit group of staff who all contribute in a big way.'

He is not the only one at Southampton to dream of going to Anfield. Midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin has been a Liverpool fan since his time as an academy player in France. He said when he was growing up in France people either chose the Merseyside club or Manchester United but his mind was made up watching them come back against AC Milan in the 2005 Champions League final.

Collection duty: Morgan Schneiderlin (right) might pick up a few Liverpool shirts

Collection duty: Morgan Schneiderlin (right) might pick up a few Liverpool shirts

He said: 'I was in an academy in Strasbourg and we were watching the game in the same room, there were just an amazing atmosphere, 40 young players were watching that game. It was an amazing moment and I picked them.'

The 23-year-old has already has his friends in France on the phone trying to persuade him to get various players shirts after the match. He has always been a huge fan of Steven Gerrard and will get his shirt first – but only if Southampton win today.

Schneiderlin added: 'Some friends already called me and said “Morgan bring me the shirt, bring me the shirt”. I'm not focussed on that but I will see at the end of the game if we win I will ask for some shirts. If we lose I will be in the shower as quick as possible and gone.'

If Saints win today you might see a young midfielder running around collecting as many Liverpool shirts as possible after the final whistle.