Tag Archives: hotel

Rio Ferdinand looks ripped after Manchester United win Premier League title

Ripped Rio! United defender Ferdinand can't play twice a week… but it hasn't stopped him bulking up in the gym

By
Colin Young

PUBLISHED:

08:44 GMT, 23 April 2013

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UPDATED:

09:07 GMT, 23 April 2013

The body might not be able to manage two games a week anymore but Manchester United’s title-celebrating tweeter Rio Ferdinand looks in pretty good nick to us.

Ferdinand posted pictures of his team-mates celebrating the club’s 20th title from the Old Trafford dressing room following their 3-0 win over Aston Villa.

But it was the photographs taken by the professionals as the United squad cracked open bottles of sponsors’ Barclays’ bubbly which really caught the eye.

Ripped: Rio Ferdinand celebrates after Manchester United clinched the Premier League title at Old Trafford

Ripped: Rio Ferdinand celebrates after Manchester United clinched the Premier League title at Old Trafford

Rio Ferdinand

Ripped: Rio Ferdinand celebrates after Manchester United clinched the Premier League title at Old Trafford

Ferdinand looked particularly ripped and muscly as he sprayed the champers.

It’s not just the torso which looks impressive in the images, but Ferdinand’s bulging biceps.

Ferdinand has played 24 games in his club’s latest title success and he looks certain to be around for another few years to add to his personal tally.

And looking like this. Why not

Great shape: Ferdinand (right) has had his problems with injury but he clearly spends plenty of time in the gym

Great shape: Ferdinand (right) has had his problems with injury but he clearly spends plenty of time in the gym

Rio Ferdinand with Michael Carrick and Wayne Rooney

Rio Ferdinand with Rafael

At least now we know what he was up to behind the scenes last month when he turned down his England recall.

Ferdinand may have flown over to the Far East for his television commitments. And he may have fulfilled his obligations to meet and coach youngsters in Dubai before appearing on Al Jazeera.

But quite clearly the 34-year-old defender spent the rest of his spare time in the hotel gym pumping those weights.

Main men: Ferdinand celebrates with Michael Carrick after United's 3-0 win over Aston Villa at Old Trafford

Main men: Ferdinand celebrates with Michael Carrick after United's 3-0 win over Aston Villa at Old Trafford

Brendan Rodgers arrives at court to support son Anton charged with sexual assault and voyeurism

Liverpool boss Rodgers arrives in court to support son charged with sexual assault and voyeurism

By
Paul Collins

PUBLISHED:

13:31 GMT, 21 January 2013

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UPDATED:

13:50 GMT, 21 January 2013

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers was at the Old Bailey today as his son Anton arrived to face trial accused of sexual assault and voyeurism.

The offences are alleged to have taken place at the Jury’s Inn hotel in Brighton, East Sussex, in July 2011.

Brighton and Hove Albion players Rodgers, 19, Lewis Dunk, 21, George Barker, 21, and former team-mate Steve Cook, 21, who now plays for Bournemouth, deny the charges.

Trial: Anton Rodgers has arrived at the Old Bailey on charges of sexual assault and voyeurism

Trial: Anton Rodgers has arrived at the Old Bailey on charges of sexual assault and voyeurism

Trial: Anton Rodgers has arrived at the Old Bailey on charges of sexual assault and voyeurism

Trial: Anton Rodgers has arrived at the Old Bailey on charges of sexual assault and voyeurism

The players are alleged to have assaulted a woman at the hotel. Rodgers, Barker and Cook are on bail.

The trial is not due to open in front of a jury until tomorrow.

Strolling: Rodgers walks to the court

Anton Rodgers, 19

Brighton defender Ben Sampayo, 19, has been told no further action will be taken against him over the alleged incident after he was arrested.

A sixth player, Seagulls midfielder Tommy Elphick, 24, was released without charge following the original arrests in January.

The charges come after a four-month investigation by Sussex Police.

Mario Balotelli will play in Manchester City v Watford FA Cup match

Balotelli set to play in FA Cup clash with Watford despite training-ground scuffle with Mancini… but City will still try to sell bad boy

By
Ian Ladyman

PUBLISHED:

11:42 GMT, 5 January 2013

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UPDATED:

11:42 GMT, 5 January 2013

Mario Balotelli is in Manchester City's squad for today’s FA Cup tie against Watford despite his bust-up with boss Roberto Mancini.

The Italian striker spent Friday night with the players at the team hotel in Manchester and has been told he will definitely be involved at some stage this afternoon.

Balotelli has not played since being taken off just after half-time in the Barclays Premier League defeat against Manchester United a month ago after falling ill and this week hit the headlines for the wrong reasons after a training ground bust up with manager Mancini.

Are you sure you should have that Mario Balotelli returned to training on Friday after his bust-up

Are you sure you should have that Mario Balotelli returned to training on Friday after his bust-up

However, Mancini is satisfied that
Balotelli is ready to be involved and the feeling at last night’s team
meeting was that he would start this afternoon among the substitutes and
come on in the second half. Ideally, Mancini would like to start the
Italian but is not sure his fitness is up to it.

City will also include youngster
Karim Rekik in the squad but will field a strong starting XI that will
also include Carlos Tevez.

It comes as City try to sell
Balotelli as soon as possible after Mancini privately conceded he cannot
change the wayward Italy striker.

Despite further claims to the
contrary from the City manager, it is understood that Mancini has
finally decided it is time to move Balotelli out of the club.

City will not wish to say the 22-year-old is for sale, for fear of driving down his plummeting value even further.

But with Balotelli now providing virtually nothing on the field — he has scored just one goal this season in the Barclays Premier League — and proving to be a constant distraction behind the scenes, Mancini, having previously stood by the player against the advice of many of his staff, accepts he has done all he can.

Game over: Balotelli will now be sold by Manchester City despite Mancini insisting otherwise (below)

Game over: Balotelli will now be sold by Manchester City despite Mancini insisting otherwise (below)

Glum: Roberto Mancini faces the questions during his Friday press conference

Mancini spoke for the first time
about the embarrassing scenes that occurred at the end of a City
training session on Thursday as the manager and his striker were
photographed pushing and shoving each other in front of the astonished
first-team squad.

Mancini
said he would give Balotelli a ‘hundred chances to change’ and confirmed
that the former Inter Milan star would not be fined and would be in the
squad for the FA Cup tie with Watford at the Etihad Stadium this
afternoon.

But City are willing to talk to any club who may wish to make an offer. AC Milan are circling but City want a cash sale — not a loan.

This all points to Balotelli staying during the transfer window and being sold in the summer.

Pals again Balotelli (left) laughs with team-mate Scott Sinclair during training on Friday

Pals again Balotelli (left) laughs with team-mate Scott Sinclair during training on Friday

On Friday, further details emerged
of Balotelli’s assault on team-mate Scott Sinclair that prompted
Mancini’s bust-up with Balotelli. Sportsmail understands that Balotelli’s lunge on Sinclair was so wild that Mancini felt compelled to intervene.

‘This
was not just a mistimed tackle that you sometimes get towards the end
of training,’ a source revealed. ‘This was an horrendous, horrific
slash.’

Meanwhile a separate issue loomed over another City striker when it emerged that Sergio Aguero has split from his wife Giannina, daughter of Diego Maradona, after four years.

It is unclear whether she will live with their three-year-old son Benjamin in Madrid or Buenos Aires, but the news is bound to raise concerns over Aguero remaining settled in Manchester.

Chelsea fans moving on after Roberto Di Matteo – Petr Cech

Rafa's rising sons think big in Japan as upbeat Chelsea prepare to take on the world

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UPDATED:

22:30 GMT, 10 December 2012

A big wheel flashes and spins in front of Chelsea's team hotel, a fairground attraction that lights up Yokohama harbour and dares to promise an upturn in fortunes for Rafa Benitez.

The defence of their European title may have gone badly but the club arrived in Japan in good spirits after two wins, with Fernando Torres smiling and among the goals and Benitez satisfied with progress after a rocky start to his interim stewardship.

As they prepared for their debut in FIFA's Club World Cup, there was even a hint from Petr Cech that supporters who fiercely opposed the change of manager last month may be moving on

Rafa Benitez

Chelsea

Ready to take on the world: Chelsea train on Monday under the guidance of Benitez (left)

'In the last two games, in the Champions League against Nordsjaelland and versus Sunderland, the support was very good,' said Cech.

'The atmosphere is getting better as the results and performances are getting better.

'You need results and better performances to get this pressure off the team and make the supporters happier. I think we are seeing it in a different way. We are on a good road now to changing that. The support we had at Sunderland was brilliant.'

Benitez, too, believes some of the minor tactical adjustments – tightening the defensive unit and compressing the team – are having the desired effect.

He talks continuously about the need to improve 'balance' between attack and defence but he has been thrilled with the reaction of Torres. The 50million Spain striker has scored four in two games, and the dark mood and sulky demeanour seem to be lifting as well.

He was the star attraction for Japanese fans yesterday as Chelsea trained before Thursday's game against Monterrey, of Mexico, the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) champions.

'He is happy,' said Benitez. 'When a striker is scoring, he's happy. I have noticed the difference in him. Everybody has been talking for months, saying that Fernando has to score more goals, so to score four in a week, he must be pleased.'

Centre of attention: Torres remains a big sell in the Far East despite his suspect form at Chelsea

Centre of attention: Torres remains a big sell in the Far East despite his suspect form at Chelsea

In training: Chelsea will face Monterrey in their opening match on Thursday

In training: Chelsea will face Monterrey in their opening match on Thursday

Chelsea feel they start this tournament at a disadvantage, having arrived late in Japan, because the Premier League refused their request to move Saturday's game at Sunderland. As it was, they flew from Newcastle Airport to Japan, with a two-hour refuelling stop in Helsinki.

'I tried to force myself not to sleep on the plane,' said Cech. 'I had a nap to relax when we left Helsinki, but then I woke up and stayed awake. So I was tired enough and ready to go to bed. It's not easy when you lose nine hours. Your body is set in its ways.'

Nothing on Barcelona: Despite an enthusiastic welcome on Sunday interest in the Champions League winners has cooled

Nothing on Barcelona: Despite an enthusiastic welcome on Sunday interest in the Champions League winners has cooled

It does not sound like perfect preparation for an elite athlete entering a world title contest, but the culture is that English teams take this tournament a little less seriously than the rest of the world.

This attitude is reflected in Japan where, despite an enthusiastic welcome at the airport on Sunday night, the interest in Chelsea had thinned yesterday and the locals claimed it was nothing like as clamorous as the visit of Barcelona last year.

Outside Europe, the Club World Cup is viewed as a very prestigious crown. When Brazil's Corinthians clinched the Copa Libertadores, the South American version of the Champions League, all this week's direct flights to Tokyo from Brazil were fully booked within days.

All smiles: Torres has scored four goals in his last two appearances for Chelsea

All smiles: Torres has scored four goals in his last two appearances for Chelsea

Up to 20,000 Corinthians fans are expected in Japan for the game, compared to around a thousand Chelsea supporters. It helps that the tournament sits at the end of the Brazilian season, whereas for the English clubs, it is a distraction at a pivotal point in the domestic league campaign.

Corinthians and Chelsea are expected to be in Sunday's final, but both have been determined to look no further than their semi-finals.

For the Londoners, this means the Mexicans who beat Asian champions Ulsan Hyundai of South Korea, after which Monterrey boss Victor Vucetich declared it was time to 'dance with the ugliest'.

It did not sound like a compliment but Benitez shrugged it off and said: 'Everybody thinks that the Premier League is high-tempo all the time, and maybe he was concerned about this.

'I watched them against Ulsan and maybe because they were better, they could play the passing game they like to play.'

Stuart Pearce blamed for losing Victor Moses to Nigeria

Pearce blamed for losing flying Chelsea winger Moses to Nigeria

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UPDATED:

08:31 GMT, 28 November 2012

England Under 21 coach Stuart Pearce has been singled out for blame after Chelsea’s dual-nationality forward Victor Moses chose to play for Nigeria rather than England.

Former Crystal Palace owner Simon Jordan, who oversaw Moses’s development at Selhurst Park, says the often taciturn Pearce should have done more to make the 21-year-old welcome during his time with his England side.

Blame game: Victor Moses (right) will play for Nigeria not England and Stuart Pearce has been blamed

Blame game: Victor Moses (right) will play for Nigeria not England and Stuart Pearce has been blamed

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And managers Neil Warnock and Roberto
Martinez, who had Moses in their respective teams at Palace and Wigan,
have also criticised the FA for not persuading the player to pick
England.

Jordan’s faith in Moses’s potential extended to the multi-millionaire football chairman having a 50,000 bet with former Arsenal forward Paul Merson that Moses would win more England caps than Merson’s tally of 21 — although that wager has been voided by the Nigeria decision.

The FA strongly defend Pearce’s interactions with Moses, saying that a lot of effort was made to keep the player in the national set-up. And they point to plenty of other young internationals opting for England when given a choice.

Roy Hodgson’s assistant Gary Neville was asked about Moses snubbing England while he was doing the Sky co-commentary of the Chelsea-Manchester City game last Sunday.

Neville shifted the blame on to the system that allows England to develop youngsters through junior sides only to lose them at senior level.

Why didn't you welcome him Simon Jordan says Pearce should have put the boat out

Why didn't you welcome him Simon Jordan says Pearce should have put the boat out

Coe's pulling power

Lord Coe’s arrival as chairman of the British Olympic Association has resulted in their high-quality director of communications Darryl Siebel, who was due to return to the United States after the 2012 Games, deciding to stay on to work with the new regime under Coe. Siebel’s welcome U-turn came just as a shortlist of candidates to replace him was being drawn up.

Sugar pill: UEFA are launching a charm offensive on England

Sugar pill: UEFA are launching a charm offensive on England

Wembley choice a sweetener

UEFA are using the Champions League final returning to Wembley for the second time in three years in 2013 — as well as their Congress being held in London next year — as evidence that president Michel Platini is not as anti-English as is so often perceived.

Both venue choices were ultimately the decision of Platini, who will also improve his popularity over here if plans to reduce the extortionate price of tickets for the CL showpiece come to fruition.

A UEFA charm offensive with the English media also includes appointing former Press Association sports chief Andy Elliott as a point of liaison with UEFA headquarters in Nyon.

Chang a Monaco man

Jen Chang, Liverpool’s hapless former media chief who was never suited to the post, has shown an even more unlikely interest in becoming director of football at Monaco — especially as one of the reasons given for his departure from Anfield was that his family was still based in New York.

One link for Chang is that Bruce Bundrant, Liverpool’s former head of partnerships, is commercial director at Monaco. But he only overlapped with Chang at Anfield for a few weeks.

Hamann for all seasons

Dietmar Hamann, the former Liverpool and Manchester City midfielder best known for scoring Germany’s winner at Wembley that led to Kevin Keegan’s departure as England manager, is not the first person you would expect to be so active on Twitter offering encouragement to England’s cricketers. Germany is hardly a hotbed of the game.

Remembered: Dietmar Hamann rifled home a free kick against England

Remembered: Dietmar Hamann rifled home a free kick against England

BT's Olympic aim

BT Vision’s coverage of the Premier League next season is expected to be presented from the Olympic Park’s media centre, which will give the network the 40,000 square feet of space it wanted for the hub of its new sports channel.

Talks are in progress with iCity, who won the legacy bid to develop the Press and Broadcast buildings. BT had been negotiating with ITV to produce the PL football content, for which they paid 738million.

But the discussions broke down around the proposed ITV studio location at their South Bank HQ as BT did not want to squeeze in with other productions.

After ITV’s withdrawal, the BT tender is being contested by Sunset & Vine, IMG media and North One.

Simon Jordan pondered Portsmouth buy-out – Charles Sale

Jordan pondered Portsmouth deal but bowed to fan power

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UPDATED:

23:18 GMT, 26 November 2012

Former Crystal Palace owner Simon Jordan has revealed he enquired about buying Portsmouth before the administrators agreed a deal with the Pompey Supporters’ Trust.

Jordan, now based in Marbella in Spain, had talks on behalf of a consortium encouraged by the potential of the financially stricken club because of their loyal fan base.

But Jordan opted out after discussions with lead administrator Trevor Birch because he didn’t believe his investment group could compete with the draw of fans being in charge of their own team.

Considered: Simon Jordan thought about buying Portsmouth

Considered: Simon Jordan thought about buying Portsmouth

Jordan showing interest in acquiring another Football League club is surprising considering that he admits to losing 50million of his fortune at Selhurst Park.

Be Careful What You Wish For, Jordan’s
acclaimed book about his Palace years — which he wrote himself — was
shortlisted for the 2012 William Hill Sports Book of the Year.

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Viagogo go abroad

Secondary online ticket dealers Viagogo are taking their time in passing on to the RFU the names of those who sold Twickenham seats via their site in 2010 and 2011 in breach of regulations. They were ordered to do so by a Supreme Court judgement but Viagogo are confident that moving their headquarters to Switzerland, with the extra layers of bureaucracy that entails, will make it more difficult for the RFU to pursue them.

Doping glory

Bike racer Tyler Hamilton’s book The Secret Race, which helped blow the lid on serial drugs cheat Lance Armstrong, was a worthy winner — for a change — of the prestigious William Hill Sports Book of the Year title this year.

Hamilton said he had read only a chapter at most of Armstrong’s autobiography, My Journey Back to Life, which took the prize in 2000, and American Hamilton would leave it to others to decide whether his disgraced compatriot should be stripped of the book honour along with his seven Tour de France title.

The judging panel discussed expunging Armstrong from their 24-year roll of honour but took the view drugs didn’t help him write the book.

Curtain raising book: Lance Armstrong rides with Tyler Hamilton (left), whose work won the 2012 prize

Curtain raising book: Lance Armstrong rides with Tyler Hamilton (left), whose work won the 2012 prize

Andrew in position

It was noticeable during England’s defeat by Australia at Twickenham that RFU survivor Rob Andrew, professional rugby director, was seated in the row behind struggling coach Stuart Lancaster. Andrew being so visible at a big Test match comes as a review by Peter Keen and Ian McGeechan takes place into his performance department, with increasing calls for an experienced RFU performance director for rookie international coach Lancaster to lean on.

A gala dinner to benefit rugby charities is being planned by the RFU for the 10th anniversary of the 2003 World Cup win. If England go into 2013 on the back of three home defeats, such an occasion will highlight the decline of the national side since.

Donnelly put on hold

Troubled Queens Park Rangers, who wasted a fortune on sacked manager Mark Hughes’s brief regime, need to get a grip on their finances before they spiral out of control.

Yet FA group chief financial officer Mark Donnelly, who was surprisingly persuaded in October to leave a secure job at Wembley to become chief operating officer at the relegation-threatened club, has to give six months’ notice to the FA and doesn’t know when he will be allowed to leave.

It’s unlikely Donnelly will be full time at Loftus Road until after the next transfer window, during which his advice may be needed after their 27million of spending in the summer. However, Donnelly is already helping out chief executive Phil Beard when his FA duties allow.

Boycott chips in

Cricket pundit Geoffrey Boycott joined Kevin Pietersen in paying for an upgrade to the more luxurious old wing of the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in Mumbai when the rest of the England touring team and media were allocated rooms at the five-star hotel.

Upgrade: Geoffrey Boycott helped pay for his improved upkeep at the hotel

Upgrade: Geoffrey Boycott helped pay for his improved upkeep at the hotel

Test Match Special analyst Boycott has always been as singular an individual as Pietersen.

A BBC spokesperson said: ‘The Beeb has not paid for an upgrade in relation to Geoffrey Boycott’s accommodation costs.’

Chelsea hotel vibe was all wrong, now it is time for Pep Guardiola: Andy Townsend

Chelsea team hotel in Turin was full of bad vibes. It was uneasy and tense. I've never felt an atmosphere like that before…

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UPDATED:

13:58 GMT, 21 November 2012

I was staying at the same hotel as Chelsea in Turin. There was a bad vibe. It didn’t feel like a big club building up to a big game together.

I’ve stayed in the team hotel before big games, both as a player and since working with ITV.

No unity: Andy Townsend says there was a lack of togetherness in the Chelsea hotel

No unity: Andy Townsend says there was a lack of togetherness in the Chelsea hotel

There is often time to kill before a
game. The players will be resting, in their rooms. The staff will sit
together and talk football.

But the Chelsea staff seemed disjointed. People were sitting apart, sitting alone or in small groups. It was uneasy and tense.

Beaten man: Roberto Di Matteo looked resigned to the fact he could lose his job after defeat to Juventus

Beaten man: Roberto Di Matteo looked resigned to the fact he could lose his job after defeat to Juventus

The next man Andy Townsend is keen for Chelsea to appoint Pep Guardiola

The next man Andy Townsend is keen for Chelsea to appoint Pep Guardiola

It felt odd. I thought: ‘Are you working together, or are you working apart’

I haven’t sensed an atmosphere around a team like that before.

Chelsea,
like all big clubs, have an army of staff – but it felt like some of
them were keeping themselves to themselves. There wasn’t enough unity.

Is this what happens when you’ve had eight coaches in nine years and more caretakers than my old school

Now I would like them to get on with appointing their man. Get Pep Guardiola, pay him enough money so he can’t say no.

Offer him a contract that says: ‘Get on a flight from New York now.’

There is nothing worse for a dressing room to have a caretaker manager, so I hope Chelsea don’t go down that path again.

Andy Townsend is a former Chelsea captain who made over 130 appearances for the Stamford Bridge club between 1990 and 1993. Townsend now works as a commentator and pundit for ITV Sport.

Ricky Hatton exclusive interview – I want to redeem myself

Ricky Hatton exclusive: 'I want to redeem myself. I want my kids to be proud of me'

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UPDATED:

22:46 GMT, 19 November 2012

The house that Ricky built stands up the road from the tough council estate where he grew up and from which he came out fighting.

Electronic gates open on to the driveway where he parks his Bentley but it still matters hugely to the Hitman that the fruits of his punishing labours do not cut him off from his gnarled roots deep in the suburbs of Manchester.

If you want to find the real Ricky Hatton go to Hyde — and seek. It is worth the journey to remind yourself there is no less spoiled, more honest sportsman in the land.

Hard work: Ricky Hatton is just days away from making his comeback in Manchester

Hard work: Ricky Hatton is just days away from making his comeback in Manchester

Who else would call his home Heartbreak Hotel Part tribute to Elvis Presley, part deference to the blows his hard old game inflicts.

Who else would have spent many days since he announced his comeback telling everyone interested that his girlfriend had to stop him slitting his wrists because he felt he had let down her, the kids, his fans and the country

Go also to be reassured — despite the scandal and self-destruction into which he descended during the three years since his last fight — that he is still the Pied Piper of hope for all the worse-off folk who live down the hill.

The 20,000 tickets for Saturday night’s comeback at the Manchester Arena sold out within hours even though the identity of his opponent was unknown.

‘Support like this gives me goose-pimples,’ he says. ‘Always has done. The people see me as one of their own and I am. They know I always give everything I’ve got, win or lose. That’s why they get behind me.’ Just as he gets behind Manchester City.

The sparring on this particular afternoon has been ferocious. ‘More like a proper fight, that was,’ he chuckles after beating up an eastern European duplicate of Vyacheslav Senchenko, the Ukrainian against whom he has to re-prove himself.

In conversation: Hatton talks to the Daily Mail's boxing correspondent Jeff Powell at his gym

In conversation: Hatton talks to the Daily Mail's boxing correspondent Jeff Powell at his gym

In conversation: Hatton talks to the Daily Mail's boxing correspondent Jeff Powell at his gym

The relentless toil was prolonged, too, with Hatton insisting on extra rounds. So we have to hurry back to the house because City v Ajax in the Champions League is coming up on the telly.

There is also work still to do. It is dark, cold and wet but he pulls on the trademark floppy hat and runs back out into the night to join a training partner in their regular 15 sharp sprints up a nearby hill.

As he goes he hugs Jennifer, his lady who stood by him through all the drink and drugs-related madness after his flattening by Manny Pacquiao, and asks: ‘Would you mind getting my tea ready The game will be kicking off.’

The pasta, greenery and tomatoes are duly waiting on the table. Then he and son Campbell are out of the hi-tech kitchen, through the kids’ playroom, past the indoor swimming pool, via the home gym and into the private cinema.

We miss kick-off but no sooner do we sit down than we’re on our feet again, in dismay. Ajax greet us by going two up. ‘What’s happened to defending in this country’ Hatton demands to know, banging the leather arm of his seat.

The Hitman’s link to his fervent public runs through football. The people’s fighter shares their love affair with the people’s game.

Hard at work: Hatton in the gym with his trainer Bob Shannon

Hard at work: Hatton in the gym with his trainer Bob Shannon

So much so that he has named one of the family dogs after an all-time City hero. This Franny Lee bears an uncanny resemblance to the original. He is a short, stocky, lively, lovable Shih Tzu who darts quickly hither and thither like a fox in the box — and has plenty to say for himself.

On City, Hatton says: ‘We’ve raised the bar by becoming champions. We all expect City to win the league again. That’s the No 1 priority for the supporters. I’ve felt all along that we’re still two or three years away from being real contenders for the Champions League. You have to pay your dues in Europe.’

Still, Hatton and son get excited as City come back to draw level with Ajax at 2-2. Then they jump into a high five as they appear to snatch a late winner. But it’s offside. So narrowly that we wonder how the distant linesman could see it. But offside nonetheless.

‘Yeah, OK, it was off,’ says Ricky. ‘Maybe for the best.’ In truth, the Hitman would prefer City to lose to Real Madrid tomorrow night and have done with Europe this time around. He explains: ‘I’d rather we finish bottom of the group than go into that waste of time called the Europa League. Maybe then we can take advantage in the Premier of playing fewer big games than the Reds and the rest through a key stretch of the season.’

Manager Roberto Mancini is on the screen. He is angry about the disallowed goal and the denial of a late penalty but he also looks disoriented.

Support: Hatton's girlfriend Jennifer (right) was distraught when he was knocked out by Manny Pacquiao

Support: Hatton's girlfriend Jennifer (right) was distraught when he was knocked out by Manny Pacquiao

Hatton says: ‘I like Mancini as a man but if it doesn’t come good in the League, I’m afraid it’ll be bye-bye to poor Roberto. Look, I can’t stand all the mugs in the stands who think they could do it better. I played a bit at right half (for the City academy among other teams) and I loved it.

‘I’m no football manager but I can see when a man’s struggling, the way I do in an opponent when I begin to get to him in the ring. Mancini sometimes is in danger of being hung on all these tactical switches of his.’

He takes no pleasure from that, saying: ‘It hurts when it’s one of the family. And unlike United and Chelsea and Arsenal, City are one big family — everyone from the players, coaches and directors to fans and stewards. It’s because we’re always fighting the shadow of big brother up the road at Old Trafford. If we’re going to win we all have to be in it together. So if one of the family can’t do his bit then I’m afraid he’s got to go.’

The family analogy hits home because Hatton has made a personal decision that is far more painful than paying off a multi-millionaire football manager.

The falling out between Ricky and his parents came to an ugly climax the night before he announced his comeback. The split had been festering and his father, Ray, went to Ricky’s gym to confront the issue. It is already a matter of infamous record that Dad took a swing at the lad, who rather than resort to his professional fists called the police.

All smiles: Hatton has turned his life around since deciding to return to the ring

All smiles: Hatton has turned his life around since deciding to return to the ring

Since Ray played for City and first indoctrinated Ricky in the club, many of their nearest are awaiting the reconciliation. They are to be disappointed.

Hatton keeps his counsel about the initial basis for the schism. But he is mortified by reaction on his own doorstep to the revelations of the drink and drug-fuelled excesses into which he sank.

As we sip tea by the hearth, he turns again to Jennifer and talks very candidly: ‘This lady went through more hell than anyone because of me. She had to stop me from killing myself when I had the knife to my wrists. She had more reason to feel angry than anyone but she was the one who stood by me when I needed it most. Never failed me.

‘I was at rock bottom and close to ending my life but Ray and my mum (Carol) never came round. Not once. I’m afraid it’s the finish for me as far as they’re concerned. It’s sad but it’s over. For good. There’s no going back now. Not for me.’

The silence is poignant but brief. He breaks it with a smile: ‘This is my family. Right here.’ A sweep of his tattooed arm takes in Campbell, Jennifer and their infant daughter Millie, as well as Franny Lee and their new puppy, a pet Chihuahua. ‘Look at my guard dogs,’ he says. ‘Such big, hostile beasts.’

The Hitman is laughing again. His comeback was launched out of fear of being remembered as ‘that fat idiot who won world titles but flushed it all down the toilet’. He adds: ‘I want to go down as a champion who redeemed himself, made up for letting everyone down and regained his self-respect. I want my kids to be proud of me.’

Standing in his way: Hatton takes on Vyacheslav Senchenko at the Manchester Arena on Saturday

Standing in his way: Hatton takes on Vyacheslav Senchenko at the Manchester Arena on Saturday

Is Campbell proud of him ‘Course I’m proud of my Dad. Very,’ says this bright, polite youngster. So much so that he is itching to follow him into the ring, adding: ‘I want to be just like him.’

Campbell is a good footballer — a City fan of course — and a promising rugby union hooker. But he wants to fight, and his mother, a former girlfriend of Ricky’s, has issued the terms on which she might relent.

Campbell has come home with a school report card full of As and just the occasional B grade. Excitedly, he tells his Dad: ‘Mum says that when I get straight As I can start boxing.’

You sense Jennifer is thankful the decision is not hers. She was the last of those close to Ricky to approve his comeback.

He says: ‘She was traumatised by the knockouts by Mayweather and Pacquiao. But she’s settled her mind and she’ll be back at ringside.’

She says: ‘At first I wanted him to stay out of it but I came to understand why he has to do this. I also realise that it’s healthier for him to box than live the life he’d fallen into. This time — yes, this time — I believe him when he says he’s a changed man.’

The end Hatton was knocked out cold by Pacquiao in Las Vegas when he last fought

The end Hatton was knocked out cold by Pacquiao in Las Vegas when he last fought

‘We all have to grow up some time,’ says Ricky. ‘This isn’t just a comeback for me, it’s a lifestyle change.’

There is further evidence of that in the effort he makes to restrain the industrial language once he arrives home. He lets only one syllable of vernacular slip all evening and promptly tells Campbell: ‘Don’t do as I do, do as I tell you . . . when I’m not swearing!’ Then adds: ‘Mind you, I was never any trouble at school. I just didn’t study.’

For the most part, Hatton is focused on the ring located up the back stairs at his thriving health club. He admits: ‘I was nervous as a kitten when I first started sparring again. Even though it was only against a couple of kids in the club, I was all over the place.’

With the help of his new trainer, Bob Shannon, it has slowly come back together. He says: ‘I began working out for my health’s sake five months ago so by the time I went into training camp proper I had got off the extra five stones in weight. So for the first time in years I’ve only had to work on my boxing skills and technique. Thanks to that I feel better and stronger than before any fight for a long time. I’m not nervous any longer, I’m excited.’

All change: Hatton has shed the pounds

All change: Hatton has shed the pounds

The gym can be a liar but, from what I saw, the relentless Hatton of old is on his way back, complete with the murderous body punches. So, too, is some of the zigzag head movement which might have kept him away from the blows landed by Mayweather and Pacquiao.

The physical comparisons with football are on his mind later, as we watch City. Hatton says: ‘I wasn’t going to say anything because some of these lads are my mates but when it comes to training they don’t know they’re alive. I go out to the training ground sometimes and what they do isn’t close to what boxers go through. To be honest, none of them would last five minutes in the ring.

‘Good luck to them with their big wages but when I look around this house I’m not only grateful but I know that what we’ve got has come through a lot of very hard work.’

That is why, when you ask what is his finest hour, he does not reach for the tape of his epic victory over Kostya Tszyu, which landed his first world title. Instead he walks us to the swimming pool and says: ‘We never had things like this. So the first day it was filled and I came home and saw Campbell swimming in there with his mates . . . that’s my proudest moment. I’m also glad this place is on my home turf.’

Little Millie has long been in bed by the time we finish talking but as I head into the night I look back to see Ricky, Jennifer, Campbell, Franny Lee and the Chihuahua framed in the bright, warm light of the open door.

Whatever happens on Saturday night, Heartbreak Hotel is the happiest of homes now.

Hatton v Senchenko will be live on Primetime on Saturday from 8pm for 14.95

Mario Balotelli and Roberto Mancini are like husband and wife (but is it match made in heaven… or hell?)

Balotelli and Mancini are 'like husband and wife' (but is it match made in heaven… or hell)

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UPDATED:

10:05 GMT, 14 November 2012

Mario Balotelli's agent has described
the relationship between Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini and his
most notorious striker as 'like that between a husband and his wife'.

Mino Raiola, agent and closest
adviser to the 22-year-old striker, has also insisted Balotelli will see
out his contract at the Etihad instead of moving to AC Milan, despite
the recent controversies that has seen Mancini leave him out the
matchday squad altogether.

Difficult relationship: Mario Balotelli (left) and Roberto Mancini

Difficult relationship: Mario Balotelli (left) and Roberto Mancini

Raiola said: 'Balotelli's relationship with Mancini is like that between a husband and his wife. They argue but they love and respect each other so much. Everyone has their own ideas, but Mario will remain at Manchester City. He won't go to AC Milan.

'He will be a City player for at least another two-and-a-half years because Mario is not thinking about other clubs.'

City manager Mancini rejected a 40million bid from Paris Saint-German this summer but has become increasingly frustrated by his performances and work ethic in training and AC Milan are reported to be ready to offer Balotelli a return to Italy in January.

Balotelli jokes with Italy team-mate Morgan De Sanctis

Don't mess: Balotelli clashes with Italy team-mate Morgan De Sanctis

Balotelli jokes with Italy team-mate Morgan De Sanctis

The Italian is yet to score in the Premier League for City in this campaign, and his only goal in open play came in a defeat by Aston Villa in the Capital One Cup.

Balotelli was spotted partying by City fans the night before the Spurs game, reports The Sun.

He was seen entering the Panacea Restaurant and Bar in Alderley Edge at 1am – with City kicking off at 1.30pm against Spurs that afternoon.

Balotelli had already been axed from the City squad the previous day and told he was not required at the team hotel that night.

Although Balotelli had not officially broken any rules by being out as he was not in the squad, the latest indiscretion did not go down well.

Northern Ireland v Azerbaijan: Michael O"Neill plays down Berti Vogts" claim

Northern Ireland boss O'Neill won't fall for Vogts' mind games ahead of Azerbaijan test

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UPDATED:

23:45 GMT, 13 November 2012

Mind games: O'Neill is nonplussed by Vogts' claim

Mind games: O'Neill is nonplussed by Vogts' claim

Berti Vogts' ill-fated Scotland reign was hardly renowned for its lighter moments, but he had Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill smiling broadly ahead of Wednesday night's World Cup qualifier at Windsor Park.

Axed by Scotland with their 2006 campaign in disarray, Vogts is back in business with Azerbaijan and busy applying his unorthodox methods to putting Northern Ireland on the back foot.

Despite O'Neill's team being only one
point ahead of Azerbaijan and Luxembourg near the foot of Group F, Vogts
portrayed them as world-beaters at his Belfast team hotel, as he said:
'They will be very confident after winning that point in their last game
in Portugal, and I would like to congratulate them on an excellent
draw. We have watched video tapes, and my players have got to know their
opponents. Some of them have gone a little quiet, because they have
seen the teams the Northern Ireland players represent. That tells us the
quality we are up against.'

O'Neill was less convinced Azerbaijan's players will be gripped with fear and nonplussed by Vogts' claim that seven injured players will be missing from their starting line-up.

'They didn't have a game on Saturday, so I'm not sure what they have been up to in training,' he said.

'I expect them to get men behind the ball, but I'm also sure they will fancy their chances of taking all three points.

'They wanted this game on a date when most countries are playing friendlies, and that tells me they knew they would get the preparation time needed and thought there would be a real chance of winning. We will have to be on our guard for that.'