Tag Archives: girlfriends

Simon Hughes, cricket pundit, on Guardian Soulmates website

Cricket pundit Hughes on a sticky wicket in love match

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UPDATED:

10:09 GMT, 16 November 2012

Simon Hughes

Channel Five cricket pundit Simon Hughes (right) is looking for love via newspaper internet dating site Guardian Soulmates.

'Yozzer 50-year-old male' announces himself as 'warm, passionate, good company, versatile, generous, imaginative and occasionally outrageous'.

The twice married broadcaster adds: 'My friends would say I'm bright, energetic, interesting, good fun and not a bad cook.'

However, prospective girlfriends should note that Wisden lists Hughes as having his 53rd birthday next month, in contrast to the Soulmates site.

Eriksson chasing his 10m in court

Former England manager Sven Goran Eriksson is due a High Court date next summer for his gross negligence case against the financial adviser whom it is alleged duped the Swede out of around 10million.

Eriksson has long been one of world football's highest-paid managers but it is claimed that he has lost the majority of his fortune in his dealings with Samir Khan.

Khan was given unlimited access to Eriksson's money after he started to act for him in 2003, when Sven was employed by the FA for around 4m a year. Court documents lodged in April 2011 allege that Khan 'misappropriated money for a variety of improper purposes' that included losing speculation on foreign currency markets and art.

Another rash investment saw Khan put Eriksson's cash into fellow manager Harry Redknapp's troubled luxury flats property development in Southsea, Hampshire which is reported to have losses of at least 4m.

Eriksson, at home in Sweden as he waits for his next managerial opening, is said to be 'knocked for six' by the unravelling of his dealings with Khan. The adviser has denied the claims, calling Eriksson an 'astute businessman' who is highly motivated by making money.

Ashley Young

The England players' recently introduced code of conduct, which was rolled out to the Under 21 side as well this week, specifies respecting the media – with the expectation that the team will not wear headphones when they go through the interview zone after a match. The improved attitude was demonstrated by Ashley Young (right), the chief headphone culprit at Euro 2012, carrying his set through the media area after the Sweden game rather than wearing them.

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson is understood to have given an interview to ITV for their tribute programme in January to mark Jose Mourinho's 50th birthday. Documentary maker Gabriel Clarke is too good an inquisitor not to have taken the opportunity to ask Fergie whether he can see Mourinho succeeding him at Old Trafford.

Roy still a man of the fans

ENGLAND manager Roy Hodgson's encounter with passengers on the London Underground – in which he revealed Rio Ferdinand did not have an international future – has not put him off interacting with fans. Hodgson is speaking with FA clearance at a 75-a-head corporate dinner at Norwich tonight, organised by majority shareholder and celebrity chef Delia Smith. This should ensure the potted crab and boeuf bourguignon on the menu are of a certain standard. Hodgson is a friend of Delia and Norwich chief executive David McNally. Next Tuesday, Hodgson is also addressing the Oxford Union before taking questions from students. England's demolition at the hands of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and his wonder goal will still be fresh in the memory.

The FA have identified their preferred 2014 World Cup base in Rio. The hotel is situated on the sea front not far from the Copacabana and Ipanema beaches.

The Rio attractions should ensure there is little likelihood of the boredom factor that was a big problem with the team's isolated Rustenburg hideaway at the World Cup in South Africa. After their city-centre experience in Krakow during Euro 2012, the FA are happy to have their England headquarters in Rio.

Manchester City, West Brom, Aston Villa and Fulham – who have been the big opponents of financial fair play regulations – again voiced opposition at yesterday's chairmen's summit discussing introduction of the rules next season.

Sir Alex Ferguson ban Manchester United Christmas party

Bah, humbug! Ebenezer Fergie poised to scrap Manchester United's Christmas party

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UPDATED:

10:51 GMT, 25 October 2012

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson is ready to put a ban on this season's Christmas party.

The Old Trafford club, who came from two goals down to beat Braga on Tuesday night, usually celebrate the festive season by visiting a number of pubs and bars in Manchester.

But after seeing the 2007 Christmas party end with Jonny Evans arrested over claims of rape – allegations upon which the United defender was never charged – Ferguson doesn't want to take any risks this year.

Ban: United's players will be forced into a low-key event this season

Ban: United's players will be forced into a low-key event this season

A source is quoted in the Daily Star as saying: 'Sir Alex is banning all boozy bashes this year, saying it will be a low-key dinner and nothing more.

'Fergie's also insisting the players bring their wives and girlfriends. 'The last thing he wants to see is his squad lording round the city, chatting to girls and wafting 50 notes at the bar.'

The Xmas gathering is likely to follow in the same vein as last year's festivities which was described by one source as the 'quietest Christmas party anyone can remember'.

Wayne Rooney didn't even bother to
turn up, with the England international preferring to spend his evening
watching boxer Amir Khan lose his title fight against Lamont Peterson at
home on TV.

The soiree was
a far cry from that of 2007 when United's players partied with over 80
women following a 15-hour boozing marathon which left Ferguson fuming.

No risk: Ferguson doesn't want to see a repeat of the scenes which marred the Christmas party in 2007

No risk: Ferguson doesn't want to see a repeat of the scenes which marred the Christmas party in 2007

The 70-year-old Scot appears to have learned his lesson by making this year's event a quiet affair.

United sit four points adrift of Chelsea, who occupy the summit of the
Barclays Premier League, after suffering two defeats in their opening
eight games.

The Old
Trafford club has suffered somewhat of a defensive crisis this term
falling behind eight times in their last 12 outings.

Bad memories: The United squad went on a 15-hour bender in 2007

Bad memories: The United squad went on a 15-hour boozing marathon in 2007

They've also conceded on average 1.25 goals a game compared to 0.33 at the same stage five seasons ago.

Ferguson's side however, have the opportunity to close the gap to Chelsea to just one point on Sunday when they travel to London to face their Premier League rivals.

The game will mark a testing six days for United with the Manchester club facing Chelsea again in the fourth round of the Carling Cup on Wednesday before hosting Arsenal in the lunch-time kick-off at Old Trafford on November 3.

Ryder Cup 2012: Opening ceremony at Medinah Country Club

Seve's memory brings tears to Olazabal's eyes as Timberlake opens the 39th Ryder Cup

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UPDATED:

00:20 GMT, 28 September 2012

The 39th Ryder Cup exploded into life with a star-studded opening ceremony in Chicago, at which Europe captain Jose Maria Olazabal wept over the memory of his late, great friend, Seve Ballesteros.

American pop star Justin Timberlake hosted the bash at Medinah Country Club and there was also a guest appearance from 18-time Olympic gold medallist Michael Phelps.

Olazabal and his American counterpart, David Love III, rounded off the night by announcing the pairings for Friday's foursomes, which will get the real action underway at 1.20pm UK time.

Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell are in Europe's first group, meaning one of the Northern Irishmen will tee off the competition as Europe have the honour as the visiting team. The Ulstermen will take on Jim Furyk and Brandt Snedeker.

Great friends: Europe captain Jose Maria Olazabal wipes away a tear at the mention of Seve Ballesteros

Great friends: Europe captain Jose Maria Olazabal wipes away a tear at the mention of Seve Ballesteros

All the players on both teams were
introduced by their captains, and were accompanied by their wives and
girlfriends – with the notable absence of tennis star Caroline
Wozniacki, McIlroy's partner, who is busy at a tournament in Tokyo.

Olazabal also delivered a moving
speech that made reference to Ballesteros, his fellow Spaniard, former
Ryder Cup partner and close friend, who passed away last May after
battling with a brain tumour.

Europe's captain had to take a moment to compose himself while speaking before wiping tears away from his eyes.

In the second game Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia, both unbeaten in foursomes in the match, take on Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley, like Snedeker a cup rookie.

Lee Westwood has been given Italian Francesco Molinari as his partner – they face Zach Johnson and another debutant in Jason Dufner – while Tiger Woods is kept until last by home captain Davis Love.

Line up: USA (left) and Europe (right) players stand on the stage during the opening ceremony

Line up: USA (left) and Europe (right) players stand on the stage during the opening ceremony

Woods and Steve Stricker will take on Justin Rose and Ian Poulter, who has spoken of wanting to 'kill' his opponents in the biennial competition.

Poulter has faced Woods twice before and lost both times, but has won eight of his other nine games.

The action starts at 7.20am local time and the foursomes will be followed by afternoon fourballs.

Woods and Stricker boast a 6-2 winning record together, but their last two games were the 6&5 drubbing by Westwood and Donald in Wales two years ago and then a 7&6 hammering by Adam Scott and KJ Choi at the start of last November's Presidents Cup. They did not play together again that week after that.

Cool customers: Europe's Graeme McDowell and USA's Phil Mickelson (right) are introduced to the crowd

Cool customers: Europe's Graeme McDowell and USA's Phil Mickelson (right) are introduced to the crowd

It means the four left out by Olazabal, who cried during the opening ceremony at the first mention of the late Seve Ballesteros, were Scot Paul Lawrie, Germany's former world No 1 Martin Kaymer, Swede Peter Hanson and Belgian newcomer Nicolas Colsaerts.

The quartet kept waiting to play by Love were his two major winners this year – Masters champion Bubba Watson and US Open champion Webb Simpson – plus Dustin Johnson and Matt Kuchar.

It would have been a huge shock if McIlroy and McDowell were not together again.

The captains: Jose Maria Olazabal (left) and Davis Love III lead their teams out at the opening ceremony

The captains: Jose Maria Olazabal (left) and Davis Love III lead their teams out at the opening ceremony

Close friends and compatriots, they had a modest one win, one half and one loss at Celtic Manor two years ago, but won three out of four in the 2009 Seve Trophy in Paris and have twice been World Cup partners as well.

In Donald, Garcia and Westwood Europe can call on three players with outstanding foursomes records in the event.

Donald will be looking to make it a perfect seven out of seven. His first four wins in 2004 and 2006 came with Garcia as his partner and two years ago he won with Poulter and then with Westwood.

Ready to go: USA's Bubba Watson, and Tiger Woods are introduced during the opening ceremony

Ready to go: USA's Bubba Watson, and Tiger Woods are introduced during the opening ceremony

Opening pair: Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy will elad off the European team

Opening pair: Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy will elad off the European team

Garcia is unbeaten in nine foursomes, eight of them victories, while Westwood has not lost any of his last 10 games in the format going back to 1999.

His partners in that time have been Darren Clarke, Garcia, Colin Montgomerie, Kaymer and Donald – and now he links up with the Italian whose debut two years ago came alongside his brother Edoardo.

A month after that Molinari pipped Westwood to his first world championship title in Shanghai – with the best of the rest nine shots further back.

Meet the team: The European players and support staff at Medinah Country Club

Meet the team: The European players and support staff at Medinah Country Club

Garcia remains the only teenager ever to appear in the match, his debut in 1999 coming a month after he and Woods battled for the USPGA Championship at Medinah. Jesper Parnevik was his first partner and they won their opening three games and got a half in the other, while in subsequent foursomes the Spaniard has won with Westwood, Donald and Olazabal.

Rose and Poulter won two of their three games together four years ago, Rose not making the 2010 match despite winning twice in America that summer.

Mickelson has won only two of his last 14 pairs games in the event, but was always expected to start with Bradley in his ninth appearance, an American record.

Centre stage: Justin Timberlake was the compere for the opening ceremony in Chicago

Centre stage: Justin Timberlake was the compere for the opening ceremony in Chicago

Inspiration: America's 18-time Olympic gold medallist Michael Phelps speaks during the opening ceremony

Inspiration: America's 18-time Olympic gold medallist Michael Phelps speaks during the opening ceremony

Olazabal told the crowd in his speech his side 'have every intention of taking it (the cup) back home' with them and also managed to pay his latest tribute to his former partner Ballesteros, who died in May last year following a long battle with a brain tumour.

'Of course I can't forget a great friend in the name of Seve Ballesteros,' he said. 'He was a special man. I believe Seve reflected the core of Ryder Cup values – no quitting and be prepared to chase any adversity.

'From him I learnt what true passion is all about. Seve, we miss you.'

Support: The European team's wives and girfriends were in attendance at the big event

Support: The European team's wives and girfriends were in attendance at the big event

Catwalk: Diane Donald (left), wife of Europe star Luke, leads out the players' wives and girlfriends

Catwalk: Diane Donald (left), wife of Europe star Luke, leads out the players' wives and girlfriends

Olazabal was also asked what advice Ballesteros would give him.

'Just play hard, play with passion and win the damn points,' added Olazabal.

Told that Molinari's inclusion as an eighth different partner for Westwood in his eighth appearance was somewhat surprising, Olazabal added: 'Well it might surprise you, but when you look at Francesco's game, he's a steady player. He very rarely misses a shot. He's straight off the tee. He hits good iron shots.

Choking back the tears: Jose Maria Olazabal took a moment to compose himself when talking about Seve

Choking back the tears: Jose Maria Olazabal took a moment to compose himself when talking about Seve

'And that's pretty much what you look for when you are playing foursomes. So you have to have the guys that are consistent and I felt that Francesco is one of those guys.'

All eight omitted from the opening session will be hoping to enter the fray in the afternoon fourballs.

Speaking about his pair, Woods said: 'Strick and I are very comfortable together. We've had some pretty good success over the years and we both have been playing well.

Shady: Justin Rose and Bubba Watson (right) and Lee Westwood (left) and Tiger Woods

Shady: Justin Rose and Bubba Watson (right) and Lee Westwood (left) and Tiger Woods

'Our captain said that would be a good fit and he wanted us out there to anchor.

'We know each other's game and we practise a lot together at tournaments. We know what to expect from each other.'

And Mickelson said: 'I'm really excited to play with Keegan – we have been wanting it for a while.

'We have a very difficult match. Luke I don't think has ever lost in foursomes and we are hopefully going to change that.'

Snedeker stated: '[I'm] really excited. Jim is playing great and a great guy to lean on. He's got so much experience.'

Brian McDermott attempts to diffuse Adam Federici Twitter row

McDermott attempts to diffuse Twitter row after Federici's girlfriend hits out

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UPDATED:

12:12 GMT, 19 September 2012

Rant: Federici with his girlfriend Micaela Gardner

Rant: Federici with his girlfriend Micaela Gardner

Reading manager Brian McDermott is sure there is no unrest within the dressing room following a Twitter outburst by Adam Federici's girlfriend.

The Australian goalkeeper was dropped for Sunday's home match with Tottenham, with Alex McCarthy playing in his place.

Federici's partner Micaela Gardner took to her now-deleted Twitter account after the 3-1 defeat to express her disappointment at McDermott's decision.

She posted: 'Football has left me feeling totally numb and empty inside! For once I have NO explanation! #noloyalty #absolutejoke.'

She added: 'Unbelievable!!! You need thick skin for success!!'

But McDermott has moved to calm talk of problems behind the scene.

'There's nothing I can do about someone's Twitter feed,' he said.

'I can't help what players or their girlfriends put on Twitter – if that's the case, then it's a shame.

Blunder-ful: Federici has made a shaky start to life in the Premier League

Blunder-ful: Federici has made a shaky start to life in the Premier League

'The fact of the matter is that I spoke to Adam and made a decision that Alex McCarthy was going to play.

'No player at the club has a position that means they will play every week – no player.

'Adam Federici has done fantastic for me and I know him really well as a person and player.

'He works really hard, but things haven't gone his way at the start of the season so Alex has come into the team. It's no different for a full-back, centre-half or striker.

'If there is Twitter stuff going on and there are emotional messages then there is not a lot I can do about that.

'I'm not one of these managers that says you will get fined 1,000 for going on Twitter.'

Chris Ashton attacked with glass at London nightclub

Saracens and England wing Ashton attacked with glass at London nightclub

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UPDATED:

13:04 GMT, 16 September 2012

Saracens have praised wing Chris Ashton for showing 'admirable restraint' after he was attacked with a glass at a London nightclub on Saturday night.

Ashton was out celebrating an anniversary with his girlfriend and team-mates following Saracens' 9-9 draw with Leicester at Wembley when the incident occurred.

The England international tweeted on
Sunday: 'So, some bloke decided to spoil an evening out for me and my
misses. No stitches needed…back to work tomorrow.'

Attacked: Ashton (centre)

Attacked: Ashton (centre)

Saracens – who Ashton joined in the summer from Northampton – have moved swiftly to clear the 25-year-old of any wrongdoing.

'To prevent confusion, the club would like to clarify events surrounding an incident which took place in London on Saturday,' a statement on the club's official website read.

'Several Saracens players, together with their wives and girlfriends, were enjoying a quiet evening when an uninvited stranger approached the group.

'A brief altercation occurred, which resulted in a friend of this stranger attacking Chris Ashton with a glass. The Saracens winger suffered two minor cuts on the left side of his face, but neither required stitches.'

Chief executive Edwards Griffiths added: 'Since arriving at the club, Chris has proved himself an outstanding member of the Saracens family, on and off the field.

Fresh start: Ashton joined Saracens from Northampton this summer

Fresh start: Ashton joined Saracens from Northampton this summer

'It is a reality that well known sports people are provoked by strangers and subsequent events are instantly tweeted. People will inevitably see this story and say an England rugby player is in trouble again.

'For clarity, Chris Ashton is not in trouble at all. On the contrary, he was celebrating an anniversary with his girlfriend and showed admirable restraint.'

Ashton moved to London in the summer for a 'fresh start' after his career had begun to be dogged by off-field controversies.

A fall-out with Northampton head coach Jim Mallinder last season followed condemnation of his 'Ash Splash' try celebration his England coach Stuart Lancaster.

Ashton, who has scored three tries in three games for Sarries, was involved in the 'dwarfgate' scandal that marred England's World Cup campaign in New Zealand last year.

Euro 2012: England are arrogant, says Anders Svensson

England arrogance to blame for woeful record against Sweden, says Svensson

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UPDATED:

08:48 GMT, 14 June 2012

Arrogance is to blame for England's poor record against Sweden who plan to upset Roy Hodgson's side to put their Euro assault back on track, according to midfielder Anders Svensson.

The Swedes face the Three Lions on Friday night in a must-win game after they lost their Group D opener to Ukraine 2-1 on Monday.

Sweden have never been beaten by England in a competitive fixture – a sequence of seven World Cup and European Championship encounters.

Arrogance: Svensson (centre) has blasted England's attitude to Sweden

Arrogance: Svensson (centre) has blasted England's attitude to Sweden

Euro 2012 email button

And Svensson believes his country have the upper hand as England do not respect Sweden as much as they respect the likes of France and Brazil.

He said: 'I just think maybe you think you are a little bit better than you are and we are a little bit better than you think we are,' he said.

'Obviously you have got big, big names, big, big players.

'I think you have a great team but I think you don’t think that much about the Swedish team, never have.

'I think we are a good team and are on the same level as England and have been for a long time. I don’t think maybe England have the same respect for us as they do for France, Brazil.'

He added: 'They (England) are a difficult team to beat like we used to be. I think we need to win against England to go forward. It will be win or die. It’s two knockout games.'

Stalemate: England were held to a draw by Sweden when they met in Germany

Stalemate: England were held to a draw by Sweden when they met in Germany

Stalemate: England were held to a draw by Sweden when they met in Germany

Svensson also moved to dismiss claims that captain Zlatan Ibrahimovic was angered with some of his team-mates for speaking to their wives and girlfriends before warming down after Monday's defeat.

He described the story as 'b*******' and denied that there were rifts in the camp.

He said: 'We saw our wives, went up and had a talk. Some of the other guys came out, talked to their wives. We waited five or 10 minutes for the other players to come out.

'When all the players came out, the physio said, ‘Let’s start the warm down’. There was no frustration from any player. There was no problem at all.'

Final preparations: Sweden need to beat England or they could be out

Final preparations: Sweden need to beat England or they could be out

Meanwhile, defender Jonas Olsson has challenged Sweden to maintain their impressive record against England in Kiev on Friday evening – and keep alive their Euro 2012 hopes.

The West Brom player said: “Our good record against England is something that is nice to have in the back of your head.

'We've done well against them and hopefully we can keep that streak going for a few more years. It is quite a lot of matches and you never want to be in the team that sees such a streak end.

'We also know that we need a positive result on Friday if we want to stay in contention in the group and that drives you on.'

Euro 2012: Roy Hodgson tells England to go for goals

We want goals! Hodgson hopes to see England become more creative

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UPDATED:

21:30 GMT, 13 June 2012

Roy Hodgson has told England’s players he wants to see more ambition and aggression against Sweden on Friday night.

The England manager was delighted with their disciplined, defensive display against France on Monday but has addressed his squad and told them he wants to see a more fluent attacking performance.

As Danny Welbeck said on Wednesday: ‘As a team we want to get forward and get more goals.’

Demand for goals: Roy Hodgson flanked by Jermain Defoe (left) and Andy Carroll (right)

Demand for goals: Roy Hodgson flanked by Jermain Defoe (left) and Andy Carroll (right)

Hodgson’s first-team players had a recovery day on Tuesday and did very little training the next day, spending most of the morning in the gym before catching up with family and friends in the afternoon.

Euro 2012 email button

Ashley Cole was first to leave training to protect an ankle problem he is nursing through the tournament, but the FA insist it will not prevent him from playing.

And despite the tough demands of the game against France, England will hope to take advantage of a Sweden squad that is in a state of civil war.

Two factions have emerged in Erik Hamren’s camp since the opening defeat by Ukraine on Monday. One group of players is standing firmly behind captain and talisman Zlatan Ibrahimovic and another is pledging support to former skipper Olof Mellberg.

Rift: Zlatan Ibrahimovic is at the heart of trouble in the Swedish camp

Rift: Zlatan Ibrahimovic is at the heart of trouble in the Swedish camp

The pair have not got along for some time but it is understood their personal differences have now infiltrated the whole Swedish set-up during the most important week of the squad’s year.

Ibrahimovic has already rebuked the Sweden team for waving at their wives and girlfriends when they should have been warming down after Monday’s loss and was also involved that night in an argument with assistant manager Marcus Allback, a friend and former Aston Villa team-mate of Mellberg.

The squad are also well aware of the hard task facing them. West Brom defender Jonas Olsson, who is expected to be recalled to the team, said: ‘It will be tough against England, no doubt about it. But they are a much weaker team without Rooney – a completely different team.

‘It is an advantage for us that they don’t have him, for sure.’

Euro 2012: Gary Neville says England WAG culture not welcome

Wave goodbye to the WAGs! Neville promises to avoid repeat of Baden Baden debacle

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UPDATED:

14:53 GMT, 31 May 2012

England coach Gary Neville has vowed that there will never be any repeat of the WAGs debacle at the 2006 World Cup in Germany.

As with this summer, six years ago, England opted to base themselves in an accessible location for a major tournament, the rather genteel spa resort of Baden Baden, close to the Black Forest.

However, England's presence was completely overshadowed by that of their glamorous wives and girlfriends, who became a magnet for photographers and a massive distraction.

Jobs for the boys: Gary Neville has vowed to help avoid a repeat of the WAG culture that blighted England's World Cup campaign in 2006

Jobs for the boys: Gary Neville has vowed to help avoid a repeat of the WAG culture that blighted England's World Cup campaign in 2006

Jobs for the boys: Gary Neville has vowed to help avoid a repeat of the WAG culture that blighted England's World Cup campaign in 2006

Poland's second city Krakow may not hold the same appeal and, a combination of the logistical difficulties of getting to matches taking place in Ukraine – a two-hour flight away – and the potential for racism has led some families to make a decision to stay away altogether.

Whether the lure of Brazil in 2014 raises the WAGs issue once more is open to debate.

Neville, part of that England squad in Germany which bowed out to Portugal in a quarter-final penalty shoot-out, is confident those chaotic scenes are a thing of the past.

'That won't happen again,' he said. 'The FA learned from the experience in 2006. The England team did. The England players did. That wasn't ideal for anybody.

'It was symptomatic of the times. Between 2002 and 2007 everyone got carried away with everything in life.

'It is a different world now and those mistakes won't happen again under any manager or any regime. The platform won't be given.

WAGs on tour: England players' partners provided a daily sideshow to the World Cup

WAGs on tour: England players' partners provided a daily sideshow to the World Cup

'We are managing it this time in a completely different way. We are here to play football. We are here to work.'

England's response to Baden Baden was to shut their players away in the relative isolation of Rustenburg in South Africa. That did not work either, with many players complaining of boredom.

So, when they leave England on June 6, they will do so for the centre of a city with approximately 750,000 inhabitants.

Yet, according to Neville, this is the only way to replicate the normal day-to-day experiences of the England squad, and get the best out of them.

'Players would not pen themselves into a countryside location between a Saturday and Tuesday game for their clubs,' he said. 'That is the big message, to have players doing what they would normally do.

'You can never replicate the home environment but in terms of being free to go for a coffee or to the shops – we should embrace it, even though it has never been done before.'

Out and about: Players were given plenty of freedom to mingle with their other half around the town of Baden Baden, near where the team hotel was based

Out and about: Players were given plenty of freedom to mingle with their other half around the town of Baden Baden, near where the team hotel was based

Out and about: Players were given plenty of freedom to mingle with their other half around the town of Baden Baden, near where the team hotel was based

Though he went to five major tournaments as a player during an 85-cap England career he regards as 'a waste of time' in the sense of never winning anything, this will be Neville's first as a coach.

It represents a giant leap of faith from manager Roy Hodgson, who knows the 37-year-old has no relevant coaching experience.

Hodgson was attracted to Neville though because of his astute observations in his role as a TV pundit on Sky.

Yet, during that time, the former Manchester United full-back has made many forceful comments about most of the 23-man squad he is now trying to get the most from.

'I don't think the players are too fragile,' said Neville. 'Yes, at some point I will have highlighted a mistake from every player in this squad, or praised them. But football players are very honest.

All ends in tears: England again fell at the quarter-final stage at Germany 2006

All ends in tears: England again fell at the quarter-final stage at Germany 2006

'If someone makes a mistake in a big game millions around the world will have seen it, plus their own coaches, own fans, family, themselves.

'The last thing they will be worried about is me sat in a little glass box saying something. A lot more questions were being asked about me and my role at Sky 12 months ago.

'I had been at United for 20 years and I was still an ambassador. How was I ever going to talk openly and honestly about Manchester United's players and their opponents

'I would like to think I have proved I am impartial and can speak openly. As long as you are fair and honest across the board I don't think anyone has a problem, although the real proof will come next season.

'That is when I have to prove I can handle both of these roles. But I am not worried about it at all.'