Tag Archives: desperation

Nathan Cleverly v Robin Krasniqi and Dereck Chisora v Hector Avila – LIVE

LIVE BOXING: Nathan Cleverly v Robin Krasniqi and Dereck Chisora v Hector Avila

By
Martin Domin

PUBLISHED:

03:00 GMT, 20 April 2013

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UPDATED:

19:17 GMT, 20 April 2013

Nathan Cleverly fights on home soil for the first time in 14 months when he takes on his mandatory challenger Robin Krasniqi over 12 rounds at Wembley Arena.

The WBO light-heavyweight champion is joined on a stacked card by Dereck Chisora, Liam Walsh and Scott Harrison along with a number of promising young fighters.

Email your thoughts on the big fight to [email protected] or via @martin_domin

8.15pm: Harrison's punches are beginning to carry an air of desperation as Walsh slips and slides his way out of trouble while landing his own to the body. He has extended his lead as we enter the penultimate round.

8.05pm: Halfway through this 10-round contest and I have Walsh just in front. He's landing more accurately, even if Harrison looks to be throwing more punches.

8pm: The saying goes that a boxer's power is the last skill to go and if that is the case, Harrison could be heading for the retirement home. He lands a left hook flush in the fourth but Walsh laughs it off.

I get the feeling that Walsh will be happy to take this into the later rounds when his superior stamina should come into play.

Early action: Liam Walsh (right) misses with a right against Scott Harrison

Early action: Liam Walsh (right) misses with a right against Scott Harrison

7.50pm: Harrison started well in the opening round and looked to land the right hand. Walsh's left eye was cut after a clash of heads but the Scot did enough to take the session.

Walsh was livelier in the second and Harrison was admonished by the referee for failing to stop when requested. The champion then had the better of the exchanges.

7.40pm: Welcome to Sportsmail's coverage of a packed card at Wembley Arena in London.

Scott Harrison has just made his entrance ahead of his clash with WBO European champion Liam Walsh.

The Glaswegian takes on the unbeaten 26-year-old in his third fight since returning from a near seven-year absence.

Great Britain's Nathan Cleverly (left) is pulled away as he faces his challenger Germany's Robert Krasniqi

Wigan hoping for repeat win over Manchester United – Roberto Martinez

'Desperate' Wigan are out to repeat historic victory over United, warns Martinez

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UPDATED:

22:30 GMT, 31 December 2012

May 13, 2012, will go down in Premier League history as the day Manchester United lost the title on goal difference with practically the last kick of the season.

Those who witnessed United's alarming collapse over those final few weeks, however, know that it began long before Sergio Aguero's unforgettable goal for Manchester City left Sir Alex Ferguson and his players bereft on the pitch at Sunderland.

April 11, to be precise. United were eight points clear with six games left and odds-on for the title when the wheels began to come off on a fateful Wednesday night at Wigan, Shaun Maloney's second-half strike condemning the champions to a shock 1-0 defeat that turned the title race.

Desperate: Wigan has warned Sir Alex Ferguson that his Wigan side are desperate for points

Desperate: Wigan has warned Sir Alex Ferguson that his Wigan side are desperate for points

United go back to the DW Stadium on Tuesday with a seven-point advantage knowing they can ill afford another slip with second-placed City once again leading the chase.

Roberto Martinez is convinced the secret behind one of the most famous results in Wigan's history was sheer desperation to win points in their own battle against relegation, which made his players focus on their own game rather than the calibre of their opponents.

Worryingly for United, the Wigan boss believes they are just as desperate this time around.

'Nobody could have expected what was going to happen in the following weeks,' said Martinez. 'But last season we had such a massive need to get points we couldn't afford to look who we were playing against. Too many times in the past we'd played Manchester United and that affected us.

'That day we learned we had to play Wigan Athletic.

Next in town: Alex Ferguson and his players will try to avenge last season's defeat at the DW

Next in town: Alex Ferguson and his players will try to avenge last season's defeat at the DW

In the spotlight: Ashley Young and Co will be expected to leave with all three points

In the spotlight: Ashley Young and Co will be expected to leave with all three points

'The desperation factor is still there. We need to understand that 18 points at this stage of this season is desperation.

'We're not happy with that points tally, it's nowhere near good enough. There is desperation going into every game left at home this season, and Manchester United is no different.'

Wigan's impressive financial figures for the year ending May 31, released on Monday, underline the gulf between the two clubs. Despite adding to the squad, their wage bill has dropped to 37.7million compared to a whopping 160m paid out at Old Trafford.

Soaring: Wigan battered Aston Villa 3-0 away from home

Soaring: Wigan battered Aston Villa 3-0 away from home

Easily done Emmerson Boyce celebrates after scoring the second at Villa Park

Easily done Emmerson Boyce celebrates after scoring the second at Villa Park

Indeed, before Maloney's stunner in April, United had never dropped so much as a single point to their opponents in 13 encounters. The aggregate score for the previous five was 21-0.

Normal service was resumed when United won 4-0 at Old Trafford in September, and Martinez has warned his players not to dwell on the events of last season.

'It would be very dangerous to think what happened that day will happen again,' he said. 'If we do that we're in for a very long game.

'We have that recent picture of what's required to beat a team like Manchester United but I don't think the result last season will change the way they approach the game.

'They're going to come here believing they're the team that's going to win the title and to get the three points. You need to overcome that feeling of superiority.'

Remember this, Fergie Shaun Maloney fired home the decisive goal last season

Remember this, Fergie Shaun Maloney fired home the decisive goal last season

Remember this, Fergie Shaun Maloney fired home the decisive goal last season

If there is any encouragement for Wigan, it is that an alarming number of the 28 Premier League goals conceded by United this season have been against teams in the bottom half of the table.

'We've conceded 28 and it's only New Year,' said Ferguson. 'I remember one season with Peter Schmeichel we conceded a lot less than that over the whole season.

'We're stretching ourselves all the time. We've been forced to up the ante all the time because we're losing goals. If we stop giving them away we've got a great chance.'

India v England in Nagpur: Hosts hold edge after day one – Lawrence Booth

Lawrence Booth: India claim the edge at stumps after England's old-fashioned progress

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UPDATED:

11:30 GMT, 13 December 2012

The opening day of the Nagpur Test was characterised by caginess and perhaps a little fear.

A combination of India's desperation to avoid a historic series defeat, England's determination not to squander a rare triumph at the toss, and a pitch of stultifying slowness meant the cricket rarely got out of second gear.

It was tempting to label as old-fashioned England's progress to 199 for 5 from 97 overs, especially given the sight of a Yorkshireman – the assured 21-year-old debutant Joe Root – getting his head down with something close to religious fervour.

Good day at the office: Pietersen steadied the England ship in Nagpur

Good day at the office: Pietersen steadied the England ship in Nagpur

In fact, the day was full of the angst that has marked both side's cricket in 2012 – and it finished, appropriately, in an uneasy kind of truce, with India just claiming the edge.

Their policy of selecting only one seamer, Ishant Sharma, would have looked slightly less curious had MS Dhoni won his fourth successive toss.

Forced to take the field for the first time in the series, the Indian captain instead opted for containment, quickly dispensing with all his slips and keeping Alastair Cook quiet with a 7-2 leg-side field for the bowling of Pragyan Ojha.

Sharma's first spell of 6-2-8-2 – which included a needless nibble by Nick Compton and a geometrically ignorant lbw decision against Cook by Kumar Dharmasena – suggested India had got their selection horribly wrong.

And while Jonathan Trott and Kevin Pietersen were advancing to 102 for 2 against a four-pronged spin attack that seemed to rotate while Sharma rested, England appeared to be quietly taking advantage.

In the runs: Trott made 44 for England before he was dismissed

In the runs: Trott made 44 for England before he was dismissed

But India's slow bowlers were giving nothing away – and nor were the fields. If England wanted to make history, Dhoni seemed to be saying, they would have to make all the running too. It turned into an unexpectedly successful ploy.

Trott shouldered arms to the debutant Ravindra Jadeja, whose left-arm spin is a class above poor old Samit Patel's. Ian Bell contrived to pick out short extra cover with a little over 10 minutes to go before tea. And Pietersen, having controlled his urges for well over three hours, went down the track to whip Jadeja to short midwicket.

If there was culpability in all three shots, then they were at least understandable: Chinese water torture can do funny things to the mind. At 139 for 5, England's innings felt more like Ahmedabad than Mumbai or Kolkata.

But Root, who had stylishly collected 10 runs from the 11 balls he faced before tea, came with no baggage and played with a freshman's resolve, while Matt Prior helped him inch the run-rate above two.

Root ran hard between the wickets, stretched well forward to smother the very gentle turn, and even had the nerve to reverse-sweep Ravi Ashwin. Prior was the ideal partner: busy, wise, and with a deft touch against spin.

Together, they have given England hope of a first-innings total which, if the pitch really does break up, could ask serious questions of India's shaky batting line-up. But it was a day that only grudgingly yielded answers.

Picture Dispute

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.

Gary Speed suicide anniversary: Leon McKenzie book serialisation – I raced back from training to my hotel room determined to kill myself

LEON McKENZIE BOOK EXCLUSIVE: Nothing could stop me now.
I raced back from training to my hotel room determined to kill myself… I was sick of players, coaches and fans staring at me.

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UPDATED:

15:50 GMT, 27 November 2012

On the anniversary of Gary Speed's tragic
death, Sportsmail publishes here the harrowing opening chapter of Leon
McKenzie's autobiography 'My Fight With Life'. In the first extract of
an exclusive MailOnline serialisation, the former Premier League striker
recounts the bleakest of days when he tried to take his own life.
+++ WARNING: DISTURBING CONTENT +++.

I’d had enough of life, my life at least, so it was time to end it all.

Thoughts of suicide had popped in and out of my head for a while now, but for the last week they’d been pretty much permanent visitors.

A pulled hamstring towards the end of a training session pushed me over the edge. It was a relatively trivial moment for sure, and an occupational hazard for a footballer, but I’d been beating myself up mentally for months and this was the punch that knocked me down and out.

I could think of only one way to escape the misery that had enveloped my life. At that horrible time I couldn’t explain why I felt numb, empty and desolate. On the outside I had everything, but inside I was lost in a fog of uncertainty.

Dark times: Former Premier League striker Leon McKenzie, who has battled depression throughout his career, at his Northamptonshire home last year

Dark times: Former Premier League striker Leon McKenzie, who has battled depression throughout his career, at his Northamptonshire home last year

TOMORROW: PART II OF MailOnline's EXCLUSIVE SERIALISATION…
Charles Bronson and Myra Hindley – life in prison and how the PFA failed depressed footballers like meLEON McKENZIE: My Fight With Life

Published by MacAnthonyMedia, priced 7.99

Leon McKenzie: My Fight With Life

Click here to buy your copy now…

I knew deep down that suicide was selfish. I knew it would cause misery and desperation to the people I loved the most and I know now that’s what depression does to you.

You don’t think straight. Hope is abandoned. Back then logic and rational thought had left my head months before leaving just one idea swimming back and forth inside my mind.

I wanted out. No ifs, no buts, no maybes, I wanted out and I wanted out today.

I was a man with a beautiful, loving wife and three young children who meant the world to me. They were my life and yet I wanted to leave them behind to try and find a better place for me.

They’d be better off without me anyway. I wasn’t contributing much. I didn’t want my sadness to crush them.

Inexplicable thoughts (although they seemed perfectly sensible at the time) like that were running through my head day after miserable, stinking day. I was trapped in a maze of mood swings that made little sense.

I’d lost sight of what was good and positive in my life. I saw only misery and uncertainty ahead.

The people I worked with didn’t suspect a thing. I appeared normal to them. I would appear calm, in good humour, one of the lads, someone without a care in the world.

That was how it was in the world of professional football. You had to keep up appearances, join in the banter as most people at that time, in this macho, testosterone-filled world would view mental illness as a weakness rather than a problem that needed attention, a problem that demanded help.

I was good at keeping up appearances. I could be a livewire in the dressing room, laughing, shouting and bantering as loudly as anyone.

Inside I was dying though and I was gradually convincing myself that suicide was the best way to escape the torment.

I was a footballer at Charlton
Athletic coming to the end of a career that had included two spells in
the Premier League, an appearance at Wembley, a couple of promotions and
some memorable and magical moments.

But
I wasn’t really a footballer any more as I was permanently injured and
couldn’t string two games together for my latest club.

Scroll down for video…

Leon McKenzie of Norwich is foiled by Shay Given of Newcastle during the Barclays Premiership match between Norwich City and Newcastle United at Carrow Road on April 20, 2005

Boxer Clinton McKenzie, with his son Leon McKenzie, in the ring

Premier class: McKenzie is fouled by Newcastle goalkeeper Shay Given (left) to win a Barclays Premier League penalty for Norwich in 2005 and in the ring with his British light welterweight champion boxer dad, Clinton (right). McKenzie's father saved his son after Leon attempted suicide at a south-east London hotel

LEON McKENZIE: Factfile…

Full name: Leon Mark McKenzie
Date of birth: May 17, 1978 (age 34)
Place of birth: Croydon
Height: 5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)

Club information

Current club: Corby Town
Youth career: Crystal Palace

Senior career
Apps† Gls
1995–2000 Crystal Palace 85 7
1997 → Fulham (loan) 3 0
1998 → Peterborough (loan) 14 8
2000–2003 Peterborough 90 46
2003–2006 Norwich City 79 20
2006–2009 Coventry City 62 12
2009–2010 Charlton Athletic 12 0
2010–2011 Northampton Town 27 10
2011 Kettering Town 9 2
2012- Corby Town 10 3

People, fans especially, would still envy my lifestyle. They’d assume I was collecting a few grand a week and living comfortably for doing very little, but I hated my existence.

For as long as I could remember, or at least from the time that I chose football over the family tradition of boxing, I just wanted to score goals, I wanted to play at the highest level, I wanted to be loved.

I’d achieved it all, but now it had been taken away from me by a body struggling to the point of collapse with the demands of my work. That had led to my mind falling apart as well. Now I just couldn’t face the future.

After signing me, Charlton had put me up in a Marriott Hotel in Bexleyheath. I’d been there for four months, returning to an empty room after training in the early hours of the afternoon, collecting my room key, making sure the door was locked behind me, pulling the curtains, lying on the bed and either staring into space or just bursting into tears, usually the latter, often both.

I had no energy, no drive. All through my football career I’d flogged myself to the limits in training and on the pitch, and I generally lived a hectic life, but now I couldn’t even be bothered to switch the TV on in my room, or make a drink, or visit the bathroom.

The sheer weight of this illness is hard to explain to those who have never come into contact with it.

I wasn’t mad. I didn’t feel like I’d gone crazy and there was no chance of me making trouble for anyone. I didn’t have the passion that would make me rant and rave or to fight with anyone. My head was empty apart from that persistent thought of suicide.

Some sufferers of depression never get to the suicide stage. I seemed to arrive there quickly. Anxiety had used up most of my energy, and all of my fight.
I certainly didn’t want to be with anyone on those miserable afternoons. I had no idea what the Charlton players did after lunch because I didn’t mix with them once the chore of training had been completed.

Former glories: Leon McKenzie, who has battled depression throughout his career, poses at his Northamptonshire home in front of his collection of signed shirts

Former glories: Leon McKenzie, who has battled depression throughout his career, poses at his Northamptonshire home in front of his collection of signed shirts

Fighting on: McKenzie has battled back from his suicide bid and is now playing for Corby Town in the Blue Square North (Conference)

Fighting on: McKenzie has battled back from his suicide bid and is now playing for Corby Town in the Blue Square North (Conference)

Sofia, my wife, would call. She was living in the family home with our daughter in Northampton. I’d answer, but I wasn’t really there. I knew how hard I’d worked to make myself a Premier League footballer and now I was feeling desperately sorry for myself because my entire career was coming to an end.

No-one had prepared me for the end of my playing days. As my career had taken off, it was all big promises of fame and massive earnings. I was surrounded by sycophants and well wishers telling me nothing could go wrong now I’d made it to the big time. I was set up for life.

I wasn’t prepared for the reality of a career collapsing in a heap, the prospect of future obscurity , and God only knows what else.

Powerhouse: McKenzie celebrates after scoring the second goal for Norwich in a famous 2-0 win over Manchester United in April 2005

Powerhouse: McKenzie celebrates after scoring the second goal for Norwich in a famous 2-0 win over Manchester United in April 2005

This was tough and, in my head at least, I was dealing with it all on my own.

I was sick of players, coaching staff and fans staring at me. I knew what they were thinking: ‘look at Leon, he’s injured and not able to play again.’

After leaving Coventry to join Charlton, I’d also got myself into serious debt which obviously didn’t help my state of mind so now was the time to act.

It was an unremarkable Tuesday morning when I finally decided to put my suicide plan into operation. I was training well, I felt fit for a change and then my hamstring went.

I pulled up. I couldn’t run anymore. I was jinxed so what was the point in carrying on, in football or in life.

I
could sense everyone glaring at me. There was sympathy from people at
the club, but not everyone, and to be fair I felt embarrassed and guilty
myself.

I was embarrassed
because I was desperate to show this club how good I could be. Instead
my body was breaking down and I was crying inside.

I
went to the medical room for treatment. It was a path I knew well. I
was on my own in there for a while and I just sat there on a treatment
bed and roared my eyes out.

While
I was there, I casually asked the club doctor for some sleeping pills,
explaining that I was having too many restless nights and I was
struggling to get through training as a result.

He
gave me a batch to help me but like the rest of the club staff, he had
no idea that what I was really suffering was a lot worse than a bout of
insomnia. He also couldn’t have known that I already had a separate
batch of 20 sleeping pills back at the hotel.

I
had enough now to be sure of making my exit. I also had some
anti-inflammatories and there was an unopened bottle of Jack Daniels in
my hotel room to wash everything down.

Nothing
could stop me now. I drove to the hotel car park and rang my mum. I
burst into tears, telling her that I couldn’t take any more pain, any
more anguish. I was sick of being injured and scared about what the
future held for me.

Mum
started crying. She hated how unhappy I had become. She hated the fact
that injuries had started to interrupt my career on a regular basis and
she now decided she wanted me to give up playing.

Good old mum- always practical, always caring- but she hadn’t grasped what I was planning.

I fooled myself that the mental struggles I was experiencing ran deeper than a career that was coming to an inglorious end.

I tried to convince myself that I had nothing left to prove or achieve anyway. I’d found and married my soul-mate, I’d played football at the highest level, I’d scored 100 goals, I’d fathered three beautiful children.

What else was there Especially as my body had now given way.

I look back at those days now and cringe. I realise now that my ‘Queen B’, my name for Sofia, and my children were reason enough to keep going, but I must have been in a bad, dark place that particular night, a place I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.

I decided the world was now horrible and unforgiving and I’d seen enough of it. I wanted to join my sister Tracey who had taken her own life aged 23 eight years earlier.

I had no professional help from
within or from outside of football while I struggled with my thoughts.
I’d seen no doctors or medical experts on depression and I didn’t feel
able to tell anyone within my sport as there appeared little chance of
finding any understanding.

I’d even pushed my loving wife away.

Read Neil Ashton's exclusive interview with Leon McKenzie from December 2011…
Click here to read the full exclusive interview

Now
it was time to go. I was sure of that. I had the means and there was
no-one to stop me. I put the phone down on mum and raced into the hotel.
I had to do this before I could change my mind.

I
lay on the bed and chucked one pill after another into my mouth, and
after each batch of five or six tablets, I took a decent swig of
whiskey.

I was relentless. I was dedicated to death. This was serious shit now. I couldn’t stop myself and I didn’t want to.

Inside five minutes 40 sleeping tablets and several antiinflammatories were in my system along with half a bottle of whiskey.

Leon McKenzie, Norwich City, celebrates scoring against Crystal Palace in 2005

Leon McKenzie of Norwich City jumps a tackle from Kenny Cunningham of Birmingham City

Leon McKenzie celebrates his goal in the 2-0 win for Peterborough over Cardiff

Life in the spotlight: McKenzie celebrates scoring Norwich's second in their April 2005 2-0 win over Manchester United (left), jumping a tackle from Kenny Cunningham of Birmingham City (centre) and celebrating scoring against Cardiff for Peterborough (right)

I’d surely done it. I don’t recall much, there was no memory of an inner-peace, no sense of relief, no life flashing before me, just a longing to fall asleep for one last time.

But then I thought of my dad. I needed to say thank you and goodbye to my big, powerful father who had always been there for me, supporting me during every step of the way in my life.

I had followed his path into professional sport and he was one of the major reasons why I had travelled as far as I had.

Even in my semi-conscious state, I told myself I had to speak to him one last time. I don’t believe it was a sub-conscious cry for help or one last attempt to get people to see and understand my problems as for all I knew my dad could have been on the other side of the country, unable to make a difference.

I wasn’t panicking. In fact, I was
eerily calm. I told dad I’d done something stupid. I told him I’d taken
loads of pills. He freaked out, while I crashed around the room before
collapsing on the bed and passing out.

In amongst it: McKenzie (centre in Norwich kit) competes for the ball in the West Brom box during a 2004 Premier League encounter at Carrow Road

In amongst it: McKenzie (centre in Norwich kit) competes for the ball in the West Brom box during a 2004 Premier League encounter at Carrow Road

Ledley King of Spurs clashes with Leon McKenzie of Norwich

Leon McKenzie (left) of Coventry and QPR's Peter Ramage

Cut and thrust: McKenzie challenges Tottenham legend Ledley King (left) and battles it out for Coventry City against QPR in the Championship (right)

It turned out dad was close by.

I
had been drifting in and out of consciousness for what seemed like
hours when dad burst in with a couple of members of the hotel staff.
I was groggy, my eyes were heavy and shut, but I could still hear.

Leon McKenzie: My Fight With Life

My dad’s voice was faint, but full of concern: ‘Champ, wake up,’ he was repeating over and over again.

Then my world went black and silent. I assumed this was death.

I was wrong. I came round the next
morning in hospital. Sofia was there with my mum, dad, cousins, Tracey’s
mum Kim, my elder sister Rebecca, everyone I loved deeply, they were
all there.

And they were
all in tears. They were expecting, hoping, to hear some words to suggest
I’d reached rock bottom and that I’d now fight my way back up.
'It didn’t work then,' I said, finally realising I was still alive.

My mum stormed out of the room, appalled at what I had just said.

And
I wasn’t joking. I was disappointed to still be around. The nurse said
that one or two more pills would have done the job and that I was lucky,
but that was the last thing I felt.

Dad
had been 10 minutes away when I called him and he’d arrived in the nick
of time. That was also lucky, but frustrating from my illogical point
of view.
I instantly regretted not blagging some more pills from the Charlton medical staff.

I’d failed to kill myself and I was still depressed. More so because of what I’d just put those I loved the most through. My nightmare was to continue.

I was discharged that morning, so I got up, picked up my kit and went off to the football ground for treatment on my hamstring.

Life must go on even if you didn’t want it to.

LEON McKENZIE: My Fight With Life, Published by MacAnthonyMedia, priced 7.99. Click here to buy your copy now…
VIDEO: McKenzie on his new autobiography…

DM.has('rcpv1991247685001','BCVideo');

Lay off Neil Lennon – Celtic"s Efe Ambrose

Lay off Lennon, says Efe as Celtic boss threatens to quit after fans showdown

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UPDATED:

00:57 GMT, 26 November 2012

Efe Ambrose has urged disgruntled Celtic fans to cut Neil Lennon some slack after the Parkhead boss issued a shock threat to quit.

The 1-0 defeat suffered by the SPL champions at home to Inverness Caley Thistle on Saturday prompted a verbal flare-up between the Parkhead manager and a handful of spectators near his technical area.

The Irishman, who has Celtic in contention for a place in the last-16 of the Champions League, even went as far as to warn he would exit his post if that’s what his detractors really wanted.

Row: Neil Lennon argues with a Celtic fan seated near the dugout

Row: Neil Lennon argues with a Celtic fan seated near the dugout

‘If they’re not happy with what I’m doing and they want me to go, then I will,’ said Lennon. ‘If fans make it clear they’re not happy and want me out, then that’s OK. I’ll do the honourable thing.’

The latest reversal means Celtic have spilled 17 points in the SPL this season and taken just one point from their last three home games.

Ambrose, however, believes any unhappy fans should give the manager a break.

‘I believe these things come out of desperation,’ said the Nigerian defender, when asked about Saturday’s confrontation.

‘The fans want us to win but, when we cannot win, you see the other side of them. The ugly side, but this is football.

‘I believe that with patience, everything works out better than they think.
‘The team is just building up and the injuries coming along do not help.
‘It’s affecting the team a bit.

‘When the injured players are back, you are going to see a better Celtic team.

‘The fans should stay behind us and stick with us.

Gutted: Celtic crashed to a shock defeat at home to Inverness

Gutted: Celtic crashed to a shock defeat at home to Inverness

‘The supporters are here to see what this team can do, but we are just starting out, we have not even reached the second level.’

Ambrose knows the players must also raise their performances and fire up the crowd and he has vowed that Saturday’s defeat will be a watershed in Celtic’s domestic season.

‘I now believe that will be the end of it,’ he said. ‘From now on, we will make sure this never happens again at Celtic Park.

‘It’s not been good here as we have been losing and drawing games in the SPL.

‘Our away record is better than at home and that is not good, so we are going to work harder to balance that.

‘From now on, we will be winning games at home.’

Despite defeating Barcelona in an impressive Champions League campaign, Celtic are only one point ahead of Aberdeen in the SPL ahead of a visit to Tynecastle on Wednesday night.

Party time: Inverness manager Terry Butcher celebrates

Party time: Inverness manager Terry Butcher celebrates

Ambrose, however, vehemently denied that there was an attitude problem with players facing domestic games after the high of European nights.

‘I wouldn’t say that,’ he added. ‘It’s difficult. I’d say that every team that comes here to face us wants to be like we were against Barcelona and do what we did.

‘To defeat Celtic at home is a great achievement for them.

‘But we will learn from our mistakes.

‘In the past three games at home in the SPL, we have only taken one point and that is not good enough.

‘We need to make sure things go right from now on.

‘We have a couple of injuries in the squad, but we have the players to come into the first XI.

‘I do believe that, when we have a fully-fit squad and everyone is back, there will be a lot of difference.

‘But, as for now, we have to try and see how we play together when missing some key men.

‘I don’t believe tiredness is an excuse, but, when we have a full squad, we’ll do better than we are just now.’

Philip Hindes "cheating gaffe" was not lost in translation: Des Kelly

Cheating It's all foreign to us

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UPDATED:

23:09 GMT, 3 August 2012

There was a blur of furious back-pedalling going on. From the moment Philip Hindes admitted on live television that he had deliberately taken a dive, mobiles buzzed urgently and panicked glances flashed from face to face at British Cycling.

When badminton players from China or South Korea were up to their Olympic skulduggery, the situation was manageable. Britain could tut and shake the head in comfortable condemnation.

But now, in the midst of a gold rush, the host nation had been caught up in some awkward mischief. And this wasn’t just anyone involved, either. It was the revered cycling team.

Pull the other one: Philip Hindes takes a fall

Pull the other one: Philip Hindes takes a fall

After hitting the deck in the Velodrome with an undignified clatter at the start of Britain’s pursuit of team gold, Hindes offered up the most candid of explanations.

‘I did it on purpose,’ he said, as the camera rolled. ‘Just to get the restart — just to have the fastest ride. It was all planned really,’ he admitted.

‘When that (the wheel skid) happens, you can lose so much time. My only chance was to crash and get the restart.

‘I think they knew I’d done it on purpose. We were speaking yesterday — that if anything happens, someone has to crash. So I did it.’

Golden wonders: Great Britain's Chris Hoy (right) and Jason Kenny celebrate their medals with Hindes

Golden wonders: Great Britain's Chris Hoy (right) and Jason Kenny celebrate their medals with Hindes

And he most certainly did. Only nobody was meant to admit as much out loud and cycling’s heroes found themselves wandering towards a grey area between gamesmanship and cheating.

So an idea was born. ‘Let’s say it was lost in translation,’ someone cried. ‘Let’s say Hindes misunderstood.’ And the alibi was seized upon with the same kind of desperation that greets the opening of a packet of cigarettes at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting.

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‘Lost in translation’ Not since Basil Fawlty hit Manuel on the head with a spoon and explained ‘Don’t worry, he’s from Barcelona’ had there been a more comical excuse.

‘English is not Hindes’ first language,’ claimed a spokesperson from British Cycling. Strangely, no custard pie was planted in their face, just to sustain the slapstick mood.

You see, the trouble was that German-born Hindes had spoken quite clearly. In fact, he could not have been more lucid. His confession was delivered in excellent English, as you might expect from someone who now lives here and has an English father.

In the circumstances, ‘Don’t worry, he’s from Krefeld, north-west of Dusseldorf’ just didn’t wash as a defence plea.
Nothing had been lost in translation, but something had definitely been mislaid. It was the concept that Britain’s eventual gold medal victory and world record had gone untarnished.

We understood what really happened. Hindes had been honest on live TV and Team GB didn’t appreciate the consequences.

If his comments emerged at a press conference, the line would have spread that they were ‘taken out of context’.

No mistake: Philip Hindes made his comments on live TV

No mistake: Philip Hindes made his comments on live TV

If they were said during a one-to-one interview, some communications officer would have denied them and claimed the remarks were exaggerated or invented.

But that was all impossible on live TV.

Instead, they retreated behind the cover story that Hindes was just a bit too foreign to understand or explain himself, which sounded little more than feeble.

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Sir Chris Hoy was said to be ‘privately angry’ his medal had been spoiled. I’d say there was nothing private about it. Watch the footage as Hindes starts his infamous interview and the second rider Jason Kenny grimaces. Hoy then takes a half-step back, almost to try and get out of the shot and glares in surprise.

If Usain Bolt has a false start it’s over for him. He can’t pretend his shoelace was undone.

And no matter how many medals Michael Phelps has in the locker, should he inadvertently leave the starting block early he can’t stick his hand out of the water and say, ‘Sorry, can we try that again please’

In cycling, a race is only usually stopped for a mechanical failure, although the rulebook does not refer to anything more specific than a ‘mishap’ .

Dave Brailsford’s outfit have earned so much admiration for their ‘clean’ approach to the sport, their dedication and appliance of science to the process of winning medals.

Like Britain’s rowers, they set standards in professionalism and attention to detail.

But here they exploited a loophole. They bent the rules. They cynically rewound the night so they could win. Hindes took a dive and appealed to the referee like any cheating footballer.

Had the French pulled this trick, Britain would have moaned until 2016. But as far as Team GB was concerned, the real crime was that Hindes admitted it.

Gamesmanship is always OK when it’s ‘our’ side. Think back to when Michael Owen or Wayne Rooney tumbled over an imaginary leg to win a penalty; they were applauded, regardless of the justice involved.

But when Didier Drogba or Luis Suarez throws himself to the floor, it’s because he is ‘foreign’.

The same lack of principle was applied here.

When Hindes was winning gold he was British. When he took a dive he was German.

Why greatest debate will run and… swim

It was the first gold medal for Britain that changed my mind. Throughout the run-up to London 2012, I’ve been loud and proud with my belief that Sir Steve Redgrave is this country’s greatest ever Olympian.

Five gold medals at five different Games; what could possibly top that

Then the debate took another turn.

As Bradley Wiggins stormed to his sixth medal, there were arguments that the cycling modfather had rightfully been placed on that golden throne. The question was: is six medals on water better than seven on a bike Then Sir Chris Hoy joined in and we wondered where they all stand when compared to the likes of Michael Phelps or Carl Lewis

Out on his own: Michael Phelps has won 21 Olympic medals

Out on his own: Michael Phelps has won 21 Olympic medals

Lord Coe said it was a ‘great global pub debate’. Denise Lewis didn’t even like making comparisons across different sports and called last orders.

The rest of us ordered another beer, reached for the pork scratchings and carried on with the argument. Coe said Phelps, with 21 medals and counting, was ‘the most successful, but not the greatest’, nominating Daley Thompson and Redgrave.

My view changed when I heard Britain’s first gold medal winning pair, Helen Glover and Heather Stanning, only took up rowing four years ago and were still able to claim gold. That is not to diminish their magnificent efforts.

But it made me think. It took them four years to conquer their sport. Contrast that with the GB handball team, who also had four years, but were pounded in every appearance at the Copper Box having had to come to terms with a more complex sport.

Best of the Brits: Bradley Wiggins has won seven Olympic medals

Best of the Brits: Bradley Wiggins has won seven Olympic medals

It also fitted in with a theory by the former director of coaching at UK Athletics, Dr Frank Dick OBE, that to aspire to true greatness there has to be some variation in skill involved.

Rowing, argued Dick without being critical, was endurance allied with the repetition of one technique. But he wondered whether there were enough variables to make it a true test of skill

And now I’m wondering too. Could we say the same of cycling Is America’s Lewis truly the greatest Olympian of all time for winning 10 medals and nine golds on the track Is Thompson the best British Olympian for double gold in the decathlon I might say yes, if Daley didn’t say it himself quite so often. Someone needs to get another round in.

Beeb's unsung heroes are making The Games a winner

So far, good old Auntie has smeared her best lippy on, pulled the best frock out of the wardrobe and scrubbed up rather well for the big Olympic party.

The television coverage has been quite immense. Every sport is covered, if not on the main channels, then online. And the expertise on hand rarely disappoints, which was not the case during the Opening Ceremony.

You know the familiar faces, but special mention must be made of some unsung heroes.

The educated contributions of Adrian Moorhouse, Mark Foster and Andy Jameson at the swimming, for instance; Big Ron McIntosh’s much needed sanity in the ham-it-up world of boxing; and the basketball dream team of John Amaechi and Mike Carlson, who don’t sugar-coat British shortcomings.

Leftie moans becoming tedious

This continued whine about a ‘leftie’, ‘commie’, ‘Marxist’ opening ceremony is becoming rather tedious. Of course, certain scenes appeared contrived or simplistic.

Stop moaning: Complaints about the Opening ceremony are tedious

Stop moaning: Complaints about the Opening ceremony are tedious

But I assume the critics know it was a grand, theatrical show and not The History Channel Moaning it’s not ‘real Britain’ is like going to see Jesus Christ Superstar in the West End and complaining he didn’t sing that much in The Bible.

Let's hope legacy does not turn country gun happy

What is the after-effect of the Team GB gold rush in your area Do you see more people on bikes Are the rowing machines extra busy at the local gym Let’s just hope the legacy of Peter Wilson’s shooting gold doesn’t suddenly make the country gun happy.

Volunteers deserve golden thanks

If I wore a hat, I’d tip it in thanks to the battalions of Olympic volunteers on duty at the Games. They are patient. They smile and try to help. Some start at 5am and finish at ungodly hours for little more than some questionable kit and the privilege of ‘being there’. But London 2012 would not happen without them and they deserve our thanks.

The real heroes: The Olympic Volunteers have been a credit to The Game

The real heroes: The Olympic Volunteers have been a credit to The Game

Time to give up on the excuses

Aside from the person that dreamed up the slogan ‘Our Greatest Team’, the most relieved faces greeting the home nation’s medal jackpot were to be found in the Team GB press office.

For a couple of days they churned out optimistic lines about ‘lucky losers’, competitors who were ‘edged out’ or ‘have more to give despite defeat’. It still meant the same thing. They lost.

My favourite was from the archery. It said: ‘Team GB left to concentrate on individual event’, which was true. As they’d all been knocked out of the singles competition. And the best excuse followed a water polo thrashing by Australia. Apparently the British were ‘too keen’.

Rio Ferdinand wants Paul Scholes to stay

Rio begs Scholes to stay as legend considers second retirement

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UPDATED:

11:56 GMT, 26 April 2012

Rio Ferdinand has urged team-mate Paul Scholes to put any retirement plans on hold for one more season.

Scholes returned to the fold in January after retiring last summer and since his comeback has excelled in the heart of the Manchester United midfield.

Ferdinand, 33, said he would love it if the 37-year-old would refrain from hanging up his boots for the second time for a further year.

Turnaround: Paul Scholes has transformed Manchester United since his return

Turnaround: Paul Scholes has transformed Manchester United since his return

Asked if he would attempt to persuade Scholes to stay, Ferdinand said: 'Definitely. It would be nice if he could play another season.

'With Scholesy, though, you know it doesn’t make a difference what anybody else says. He’s his own man and he’ll make his own decision.'

Ferdinand added: 'He was out of the game for months and yet he’s come straight back into top-level football and he’s hardly looked out of place. At this stage of his career, that’s phenomenal.

'It’s not just the quality of his football that impresses me but the way he’s adapted physically. Would we have been in the same position without him

Please: Rio Ferdinand wants his team-mate to stay for another season

Please: Rio Ferdinand wants his team-mate to stay for another season

'It’s impossible to say. It’s great to have him back, though.

'There are a number of reasons why we’ve done well since the turn of the year and there’s no doubt that one of them is Paul Scholes.'

Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini said United bringing Scholes back was an act of desperation, but if it was, it worked, with Sir Alex Ferguson's side only dropping four points from the 13 league games Scholes has played since his return.

West Brom want Steven Naismith and Allan McGregor from Rangers

West Brom signal intent to poach injured Naismith and McGregor from Rangers

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UPDATED:

23:03 GMT, 10 April 2012

West Brom signalled their desperation to land Steven Naismith by launching a fresh bid for the crocked Rangers attacker.

And Sportsmail understands the latest offer, believed to be worth less than the 2million previously reported and heavily weighted with add-ons, is actually the third attempt the Premier League side have made to land the Scotland international in recent weeks.

Asked if he had submitted a new offer for Naismith, manager Roy Hodgson — also in for Rangers keeper Allan McGregor — was non-committal, saying: ‘That might be so.

‘It’s not really my department, it’s sporting director Dan Ashworth you’d have to ask about that.’

Target: Naismith

Target: Naismith

Naismith renegotiated the terms of his contract last month when Rangers players accepted swingeing pay-cuts following the club’s descent into administration.

Now believed — in common with other key first-team players — to be available for a fraction of his true value, West Brom have repeatedly bid low, arguing the player’s injury problems make him a risky signing.

Naismith, 25, is now back running after suffering a cruciate-ligament injury against Aberdeen on October 29.

And manager Ally McCoist hopes the Scotland star, a major miss for his side this season, will return to first-team action before the end of the campaign.

McCoist told Blues News: ‘Stevie is doing really well and he was going for a scan today to make sure everything is OK.

‘It would be nice to see if he could get a game in somewhere, although we’d obviously take advice from the medical team on that.

‘For his own peace of mind, if nothing else, it would be good if he could get 45 minutes somewhere and then he could go away and have a holiday knowing he is absolutely fine.’

McCoist expects Lee Wallace and Steven Whittaker to recover from less serious injuries before Rangers go to Hearts on April 21.

Liverpool"s worst run of league results for 59 years, is Kenny Dalglish still King?

This is Liverpool's worst run of league results for 59 years… still King, Kenny

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UPDATED:

22:20 GMT, 1 April 2012

Kenny Dalglish's Liverpool reign plunged deeper into crisis on Sunday after his side's collapse at Newcastle ended with him tearing into his players for their lack of discipline.

Goalkeeper Pepe Reina was sent off for butting James Perch and striker Andy Carroll was involved in a foulmouthed spat with Dalglish as Newcastle eased to a 2-0 win.

On the slide: Liverpool are now 11 points behind Newcastle and one place below Everton

On the slide: Liverpool are now 11 points behind Newcastle and one place below Everton

That left them 11 points ahead of a Liverpool team suffering their worst run of form since 1953 and heading for their worst finish in the Barclays Premier League.

Dalglish said: 'We started well enough, passed and moved and looked quite threatening.

'But it ended up with a lot of frustration and disappointment and I think that resulted in the actions that Pepe took. He got a deserved red card.

'And then Andy came off and went up the tunnel. He was frustrated with the way the game had gone. Not just for himself but for the team.

Unwelcome return: Carroll endured a torrid afternoon at his former club

Unwelcome return: Carroll endured a torrid afternoon at his former club

Unwelcome return: Carroll endured a torrid afternoon at his former club

'We have not got a problem with people showing desperation or disappointment or frustration. But we need to channel it better. But we will try to remain calm and sort out the problems that we have.'

Reina's dismissal rules him out of the FA Cup semi-final against Everton.

Yellow peril: Carroll was booked for this woeful dive, trying to win a penalty

Yellow peril: Carroll was booked for this woeful dive, trying to win a penalty

Yellow peril: Carroll was booked for this woeful dive, trying to win a penalty

Although Newcastle defender Perch's reaction was exaggerated, referee Martin Atkinson had no option but to dismiss the Spaniard.

To add to Dalglish's woes, former Newcastle favourite Carroll, who he signed for 35million 15 months ago, mouthed obscenities at his manager and stormed down the tunnel after Dalglish substituted him in the 80th minute on his first return to Tyneside.

Using your head: Reina was sent off for angling his head at James Perch

Using your head: Reina was sent off for angling his head at James Perch

Using your head: Reina was sent off for angling his head at James Perch

Papiss Cisse, Carroll's successor in the No 9 shirt, scored twice to condemn Dalglish to his sixth defeat in seven games.

Newcastle manager Alan Pardew said: 'Cisse was terrific. I felt for Andy. He is a terrific lad and he is having a difficult year but he'll come back.'

Enforced change: Enrique finished the game playing goal after Reina's sending off

Enforced change: Enrique finished the game playing goal after Reina's sending off

Alex Ferguson hits back at Patrick Vieira"s bias claims

Ferguson hits back at refereeing 'bias' claim, insisting: I'll get Keane back to tackle Vieira!

|

UPDATED:

08:58 GMT, 30 March 2012

Sir Alex Ferguson hit back in his
latest exchange with Manchester City and Patrick Vieira on Thursday over
suggestions his team benefit from favourable refereeing decisions at
Old Trafford.

Clearly warming to the challenge,
Ferguson hinted that the comments of Vieira, City's football development
executive, might be of interest to the FA and even joked about bringing
the former Arsenal midfielder's old rival Roy Keane back to Manchester
United.

Mind games: City are not the best team now, says Fergie

Mind games: City are not the best team now, says Fergie

An angry Vieira insists he was misrepresented in a BBC interview, and FA sources said last night they are unlikely to take any action against him.

But a week after he irked Ferguson by suggesting that bringing Paul Scholes out of retirement was an act of desperation, the United boss smiled when asked if the 35-year-old was trying to drag him into a slanging match as the Barclays Premier League title race hots up.

'I'm trying to analyse that,' said Ferguson. 'I'm not sure. He's more or less saying all the refs have been wrong this season and you're not supposed to discuss referees.

'So he is a paid official, isn't he I think he is, isn't he Apparently, he's retracted that. I can bring Keane back if he wants, and make it interesting!'

Famous feud: Roy Keane (left) and Patrick Vieira (right) clash

Famous feud: Roy Keane (left) and Patrick Vieira (right) clash

Famous feud: Roy Keane (left) and Patrick Vieira (right) clash

Vieira's comments followed a controversial incident at Old Trafford on Monday night when referee Michael Oliver rejected a late penalty claim from Fulham for Michael Carrick's challenge on Danny Murphy as United won 1-0 to go three points clear of City at the top of the table.

Ferguson insisted refereeing decisions even themselves out over the course of a season, and pointed to the penalty harshly awarded against Rio Ferdinand for his challenge on Newcastle's Hatem Ben Arfa in November.

United get the breaks: Vieira penalty claims

The United boss had done his homework, claiming his side have been awarded an average of 'three-and-a-half penalties a year' during his time in charge.

He also tried to turn the tables on City by pointing out that Gareth Barry could have been penalised for his challenge on Stoke's Glenn Whelan at the weekend.

And he reminded his rivals that Mario Balotelli escaped a red card for his stamp on Scott Parker – the Italian received a retrospective ban – before scoring their winner from the penalty spot against Tottenham in January.

'We've had some terrible decisions at Old Trafford, like when Newcastle got a penalty kick,' said Ferguson.

Price of a stamp: Mario Balotelli catches the head of Tottenham's Scott Parker

Price of a stamp: Mario Balotelli catches the head of Tottenham's Scott Parker

'Tottenham could claim the same when Balotelli wasn't sent off and ended up scoring the winning goal. I think from the referee's position I could see why he didn't give one when Danny Murphy was brought down because the ball was moved to the angle as Michael Carrick challenged him.

'From that position it wasn't clear but it was a good claim.

'But then City could have had a penalty kick against them at Stoke, with Gareth Barry.

'Every club gets good breaks, they get bad breaks that even themselves out over a season and that will never change.

Prospering from a penalty: Balotelli remained on the pitch to score against Spurs

Prospering from a penalty: Balotelli remained on the pitch to score against Spurs

'Someone said to me years ago that United always get penalty kicks at Old Trafford. But you go back through the 25 years I've been here, it's only three-and-a-half a year or something like that.'

Ferguson also responded to Vieira's suggestion that City deserve to win the title because they have played the better football.

'They were playing great football in the first half of the season,' he said.

'We felt the brunt of it when they beat us 6-1. But a season lasts for a bit longer than three months.'

City can go top again by beating Sunderland at home on Saturday before United play at Blackburn on Monday night.