Tag Archives: humour

Friedel to fight Lloris at Tottenham after signing new deal to 2014

Friedel chooses fight over flight after signing to stay at Tottenham until 2014

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UPDATED:

09:44 GMT, 26 December 2012

Brad Friedel has signed a new contract to extend his stay with Tottenham until 2014.

The United States goalkeeper had been linked with a return to Blackburn after being deposed as first-choice by summer signing Hugo Lloris but now appears set to fight for his place.

Friedel, the only player in Premier League history to have made over 300 consecutive league starts, arrived at Spurs from Aston Villa in 2011.

Commited: Despite interest from former club Blackburn, Friedel wants to stay at White Hart Lane

Commited: Despite interest from former club Blackburn, Friedel wants to stay at White Hart Lane

His commitment to the club leaves manager Andre Villas-Boas with four goalkeepers – the other two, Heurelho Gomes and Carlo Cudicini, are both big earners and could be set for exits

Lloris, meanwhile, says he cannot wait to have his first taste of Boxing Day tension, even though it has meant sacrificing his usual extravagant dining.

The France captain is preparing for their visit to Villa today but admits he usually “feasts” over Christmas and is not used to showing restraint from gorging on fine food.

Down but not out: Lloris' arrival has not convinced Friedel he needs to leave the club

Down but not out: Lloris' arrival has not convinced Friedel he needs to leave the club

Players in Ligue 1 are handed a two-week break from football over the festive period, before the campaign resumes on Friday, January 11.

‘Usually it was a period where I lay around, enjoying many feasts,’ he told L’Equipe.

‘I heard someone shout from the stands, “these aren’t holidays, so watch your line”.’

Safe hands: Lloris is looking forward to facing Aston Villa

Safe hands: Lloris is looking forward to facing Aston Villa

Taking it in good humour, the former Lyonnais stopper admits to having chuckled at this, but knows the importance of staying focused.

‘It is a family event and it shows all the passion of football in England. I can’t wait to see it for myself.’

Sam Warburton and Wales must be firing from the start to beat Australia

Wounded Wales are on the ropes but they must be firing from the off to beat Wallabies

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UPDATED:

00:04 GMT, 1 December 2012

As the old saying goes: if at first you don't succeed, try having a sixth crack at the Wallabies in a year and see if that helps.

For Wales, the curse of the Grand Slam continues. They have stumbled to six successive defeats since then and this is their last chance of a victory or it will be a bleak midwinter.

They were supposed to be the star candidates for the crucial fourth place in the IRB rankings ahead of Monday's World Cup draw, instead they could slip down to ninth and face New Zealand and England in their World Cup pool if the rugby gods have a sense of humour.

Time to shine: Sam Warburton was in action in Friday's training session

Time to shine: Sam Warburton was in action in Friday's training session

WALES V AUSTRALIA

Wales: Halfpenny; Cuthbert, Davies, Roberts, L Williams; Priestland, Phillips; Jenkins, Rees, Andrews, Reed, Charteris, Shingler, Faletau, Warburton (capt).
Subs: Owens, Bevington, Lee, Jones, Tipuric, Knoyle, Biggar, S Williams.

Australia: Barnes; Cummins, Ashley- Cooper, Tapuai, Mitchell; Beale, Phipps; Robinson, Polota Nau, Alexander, Douglas, Sharpe (capt), Higginbotham, Palu, Pocock.
Subs: Moore, Slipper, Kepu, Dennis, Hooper, McKibbin, Harris, Iaone.

Referee: Wayne Barnes (England). Kick-off: 2.30pm, Millennium Stadium.

TV: Live on BBC1 from 2pm.

Their squad have been ravaged by injury and this team are being held together by bandages. Jamie Roberts, who was sorely missed on the three-Test tour Down Under in the summer, will have to wear a protective pad on his hip bone just to take the field.

The bruising was so bad after the All Blacks game he spent most of his week in ice and could start running only on Thursday.

Admittedly, these two Test teams have become tediously familiar foes over the past 13 months, but this match has taken on new significance. Lose and Wales will begin the defence of their Six Nations title without a victory since March.

The chronic Welsh problem of starting slowly and playing a game of desperate catch-up must be remedied with an explosion out of the blocks that puts the Wallabies on the back foot.

Australia are playing their 16th Test in 12 months, while Wales are playing their 24th in 16, so if this was a boxing match it would be two heavyweights with burning lungs and bleeding noses going toe-to-toe in the last round.

Land an early blow and it should make the difference. Wales must also cut out the stupid mistakes. A botched lineout call scuppered their first attack against the All Blacks and, while Wales made six line breaks, they failed to score from a single one.

Walking wounded: Wales have a depleted squad for Australia's visit

Walking wounded: Wales have a depleted squad for Australia's visit

Thinking cap on: Warren Gatland is hoping to record a win to salvage the series

Thinking cap on: Warren Gatland is hoping to record a win to salvage the series

The All Blacks made three line breaks and scored three times. Wales head coach Warren Gatland, taking charge of his final game before committing full-time to the Lions, has spoken all year about the 'learning curve' when you face the Southern Hemisphere sides.

But at some point that curve has to flatten out and Wales have to put those lessons into practice. With such a jam-packed international schedule they have had enough chances.

The summer was a case in point. They left Cardiff hoping to win the series, left Brisbane hoping for a solitary win and left Sydney with heads hanging after a hat-trick of defeats.

Openside flanker David Pocock got the best of Sam Warburton in June, but the Welsh skipper was recharged and back to his charging best against New Zealand.

Return: David Pocock will return to the fray after missing the England victory

Return: David Pocock will return to the fray after missing the England victory

That made a huge difference to his team. The lineout battle between veteran Nathan Sharpe – captain in his 116th and final Test – and lock Luke Charteris will be a defining fight when clean possession off the set piece is key.

Earlier this week, Australia head coach Robbie Deans said 'cornered beasts are the most dangerous'.

He was talking about the Wallabies. It may just turn out he was talking about the wrong team.

Crunch time: Liam Williams in action on Friday

Crunch time: Liam Williams in action on Friday

Roberto Mancini wears David Platt mask

Is that you, David Mancini arrives at City training in disguise as No 2 Platt

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UPDATED:

11:14 GMT, 16 November 2012

Roberto Mancini may be under pressure at Manchester City… but he proved he's keeping his sense of humour today.

The City boss arrived at his morning press conference wearing a David Platt mask to the amusement of the assembled press.

Platt has done many of Mancini's planned interviews in recent weeks – to the frustration of the media – so perhaps the Italian was enjoying a little joke at their expense.

Is that you, David Roberto Manncini arrived at Manchester City training wearing a David Platt mask

Is that you, David Roberto Manncini arrived at Manchester City training wearing a David Platt mask

Is that you, David Roberto Manncini arrived at Manchester City training wearing a David Platt mask

Is that you, David Roberto Manncini arrived at Manchester City training wearing a David Platt mask

Right hand man: Platt has been by Mancini's side throughout his tenure at Manchester City

Right hand man: Platt has been by Mancini's side throughout his tenure at Manchester City

And explaining the stunt, the Italianjoked : 'Do you prefer David or me

'People have been asking about my mood and if I have been upset.
But I had a meeting last week and that was the only reason I didn't come
to the press conference.'

When the press conference turned to more serious matters, Mancini was quick to defend under-fire goalkeeper Joe Hart.

The England stopper endured a miserable midweek trip to Sweden, when he conceded four times, including Zlatan Ibrahimovic's breathtaking acrobatic effort in stoppage time.

But Mancini threw his full support behind his No 1.

'Joe Hart can make mistakes, that is normal for any keeper,' the City boss said.

'And if you make a mistake, you can end up conceding a goal and losing a game.

'This is the life of a keeper, but he is a top performer and I think Ibrahimovic can score against every keeper in the world.

'He is one of the top five strikers in the world. For me, his best goal was the second one but the fourth was incredible.

'Joe is mentally strong and will be OK. Keepers have to be very strong and very strange and Joe is both. All 'keepers are strange to my mind.'

With Hart's position assured, Mancini
explained the exclusion from the last Premier League outing of one of
his other high-profile stars, Mario Balotelli.

Feeling the heat: Joe Hart had a night to forget in Stockholm, when he conceded four goals

Feeling the heat: Joe Hart had a night to forget in Stockholm, when he conceded four goals

The striker was omitted from the matchday squad for last weekend's win over Tottenham, and his manager revealed a poor work ethic in the build up to the game had been to blame.

Mancini explained: 'Mario did not play because that was my choice. We have 20 players to pick from and when any player does not work as well as he should, he does not deserve to play. Mario is like any other player in that respect.

Missing out: Mario Balotelli was axed from City's squad for the Premier League win over Tottenham

Missing out: Mario Balotelli was axed from City's squad for the Premier League win over Tottenham

'It was not a punishment, but other players were working better than Mario. They deserve to be obnt he bench more than him.

'Some
people have said we are like a married couple, but that is not the
case. I know him as a guy. I am the manager and he is the player.

'And if he does not work well, he does not play. That applies to all the players.'

Mark Hughes backs goalkeeper Robert Green

Under-fire Green 'will show his critics he's No1', claims Hughes after horror show

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UPDATED:

00:00 GMT, 25 August 2012

Fantasy football 2012

Mark Hughes has backed Robert Green to cope with the double pressure of a nightmare debut for Queens Park Rangers and the mocking message from his fellow goalkeeper Paddy Kenny.

The QPR boss expects Green to bounce back at his former club Norwich on Saturday after one of the worst weeks of the keeper’s career.

Hughes said: ‘This is the first time he has been back to Norwich since he left the club and he will want to do well.’

Blunder: Robert Green's mistake cost QPR the opening goal against Swansea

Blunder: Robert Green's mistake cost QPR the opening goal against Swansea

Green was at fault for the first goal in the 5-0 home defeat by Swansea last week. Then, as revealed by Sportsmail on Thursday, he was taunted by Paddy Kenny about his display in a series of abusive messages to QPR’s chairman Tony Fernandes and technical director Mike Rigg.

The former England No 1 is also under threat from the imminent arrival of Brazil’s first choice keeper Julio Cesar on loan from Inter Milan.

Green was shocked to learn this week that Kenny, who was in the Rangers team that escaped relegation at the end of last season, had mocked his performance against Swansea.

Kenny sent texts and left voicemail messages with Fernandes and Rigg, impersonating Green’s agent and claiming he will ‘come good’.

Kenny’s manager at Leeds, Neil Warnock, told The Independent: ‘I was disappointed that something that began in good humour got out of hand.

Abuse: Leeds goalkeeper Paddy Kenny sent texts and left voicemails

Abuse: Leeds goalkeeper Paddy Kenny sent texts and left voicemails

‘I’ve spoken to Paddy Kenny and he
was full of remorse and couldn’t apologise to me quickly enough. I told
him there is no problem with having a drink to celebrate a win like last
Saturday’s over Wolves but he must be aware of his responsibilities to
the club and be careful where he is and what he does.

‘I’ve fined him and he has agreed to
finish on Twitter with immediate effect. He has also apologised to Tony
Fernandes. I’ve also spoken to Tony and told him I honestly believe
there will not be a repeat. We ended the call on good terms.’

Hughes said: ‘The messages were
totally inappropriate. I’m sure Paddy regrets it. I don’t know why he is
so upset because we helped him go back to Yorkshire in the summer when
he decided he wanted to leave.

‘It is unusual but I’m sure Robert
Green can cope with it. He was disappointed with the first goal last
week, but he wants to put that right.

‘As far as everything else that has been going on around him, he has to put that out of his mind.’

Come in No 1: Julio Cesar could join QPR from Serie A side Inter Milan

Come in No 1: Julio Cesar could join QPR from Serie A side Inter Milan

Cesar told Hughes he would only
consider a switch to Loftus Road as first choice, which means Green
returns to Carrow Road today knowing he will lose his place if the
keeper, capped 64 times, move to Loftus Road goes through before the
transfer deadline.

QPR were working frantically on
Friday to try to get the deal across the line and Hughes admitted Cesar
would be a star attraction.

The Rangers manager added: ‘It’s great that we are the kind of club now that can attract people like that.

‘A year ago we wouldn’t have been
sitting in a room negotiating with players of this quality, but that’s a
measure of the ambition.’

Cesar is available on a free transfer, but will command 3million per year in wages.

London 2012 Olympics: Great Britain must get better at relay – Laura Williamson

After Helsinki farce, when it comes to 4 x 100m, GB must stand for Get Better

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UPDATED:

23:53 GMT, 1 July 2012

Great Britain will not have a 4 x 100 metres women’s relay team at our home Olympic Games.

We couldn’t muster up a side worthy of making the world’s top 16 and, quite rightly, there are no convenient host nation places for our also-rans to skulk into, heads lowered, leaving much more deserving teams out in the cold.

It is sickening.

Farce: Hayley Jones stepped out of her lane and Britain were disqualified

Farce: Hayley Jones stepped out of her lane and Britain were disqualified

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This isn’t about Hayley Jones stepping out of her lane in the semi-finals of the European Championships in Helsinki on Saturday, prompting Great Britain’s disqualification and slide to No 17 in the world. It should never have come to that.

Why did we allow ourselves to teeter on the edge of the top 16 in the first place

‘I will take all the blame in the world for us not reaching the European final,’ said Jones on Twitter, ‘but I won’t take any for 2 years of missed opportunities.’

These ‘missed opportunities’ are what are truly galling. Don’t give me the old drivel about a lack of funding: it’s a lack of vision; a complete absence of pragmatic thinking — from UK Athletics, but also from the athletes themselves.

UKA head coach Charles van Commenee admitted he ‘basically stopped’ the relay programme two years ago because he ‘didn’t think they were going to be dangerous in London’.

Questions: Charles van Commenee

Questions: Charles van Commenee

But it seems to me a one in 16 chance is a marked improvement on the fortunes of our individual female sprinters.

Only two British women have met the ‘A’ qualifying standard of 11.29sec for the Olympic 100m. We haven’t a hope of getting an athlete into the final, let alone actually winning something.

Yet nobody has thought: ‘Hang on, what about the relay’

Individually we have no chance but — together — with enough competition practice and a serious commitment from the athletes, we might just sneak into a relay final… and then anything could happen.

That’s the thing about relays, you know: people have a tendency to drop the baton or run out of their lane.

Great Britain should know that. Our athletes have done it often enough — as demonstrated on Sunday by our bungling men’s sprint relay team, who compounded the farce surrounding the women’s squad by failing to finish their race.

I have been at the United States Olympic track and field trials in Eugene, Oregon, for the past few days with double Olympic gold medallist and Sportsmail columnist Daley Thompson.

He was just as disgusted as I was to
hear the news from Helsinki. ‘The relay medals are the easiest ones to
win,’ he said. ‘What our girls and our boys have to realise is they have
no chance of even making finals in the individual sprints but, if they
work hard enough, they could get a medal in the relay.

‘It’s
not about funding. It’s a misnomer even to suggest it. There should be
10 or 12 athletes so desperate to get into the relay team that they are
prepared to pay for themselves.’

Not you as well: The men's 4x100m team dropped the baton in Helsinki

Not you as well: The men's 4x100m team dropped the baton in Helsinki

The Americans have a word for athletes who make the team but have no chance of winning a medal. They call them ‘tourists’.

The inference is these people may as well travel to London armed with disposable cameras and fold-away ponchos because they’re just there to make up the numbers.

I think it’s a brilliantly brutal outlook but I’m envious, too.

Come August 9, when the heats of the women’s 4 x 100m relay are taking place in the Olympic Stadium, Britain’s female sprinters will be ‘tourists’ in their own country.

Team GB More like Team (Must) Get Better.

WHAT THEY SAID…

Tweet of the week Iveta Benesova (@IvetaBenesova) expresses her frustration after losing to Britain’s Heather Watson in the first round of the women’s singles at Wimbledon.

‘F WORD GRASS!!!!!!!!’ she tweeted.

It’s safe to say she’s not a fan of that particular surface.

Well beaten: Iveta Benesova lost to Heather Watson at Wimbledon

Well beaten: Iveta Benesova lost to Heather Watson at Wimbledon

…AND THIS IS WHAT I’VE BEEN DOING THIS WEEK

Growing ever more frustrated with the notion of ‘plucky Brits’ at Wimbledon.

The phrase implies overcoming difficult circumstances, which is impossible to comprehend when surveying moneyed, manicured lawns at SW19…

Reading The Dirtiest Race in History by Richard Moore, which looks at the 1988 Olympic 100 metres final: Ben Johnson versus Carl Lewis.

The 2012 version promises to be even more fascinating, with more main players and, hopefully, no major drugs scandal.

Enjoying running on the forest trails of Eugene, the town that spawned America’s obsession with jogging and that famous sports brand with the swoosh. No wonder they call it ‘Track Town USA’.

PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK

Olympic 100 metres champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce set a new national record of 10.70sec in winning Jamaica’s Olympic trials on Friday night.

In a league of her own: Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce set a new national record

In a league of her own: Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce set a new national record

Only three women have ever run quicker than the ‘Pocket Rocket’, whose electric start was in stark contrast to that of the defending men’s 100m Olympic champion, Usain Bolt.

Wimbledon is huge test for Andy Murray and Ivan Lendl relationship – John McEnrore

Ivan gamble… Wimbledon is a huge test for Murray-Lendl axis, says McEnroe

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UPDATED:

21:30 GMT, 19 June 2012

Making his point: McEnroe poses with Nadal after the Spaniard won his seventh French Open

Making his point: McEnroe poses with Nadal after the Spaniard won his seventh French Open

Long gone are the days when John McEnroe and Ivan Lendl were engaged in their deadly feud at the top of tennis, when they would barely acknowledge each other's presence in the locker room.

The passage of time has seen both men mellow into cordiality, but tennis's sharpest pundit still cannot resist the odd dig at his old rival, who broke his Grand Slam duck against the American with a famous win at the 1984 French Open.

Now McEnroe is more fascinated than anyone about Lendl's coaching relationship with Andy Murray, how it works, and how coach and player are said to feed off each other's sense of humour.

'I was shown an article saying that Ivan has come into the team and brought a sense of humour and that he's a lot more fun than Andy,' recounts a guffawing McEnroe, 'and I'm like: “My God, what has Andy been doing all this time” That I found really humorous.

'But my relationship with Ivan now is fine, we can laugh and talk about it now, we won't look at each other and walk in the other direction. He'll have some comment that he thinks is funny and I won't, and we can agree to disagree.'

Watching brief: The British No 1 is still awaiting his first grand slam

Watching brief: The British No 1 is still awaiting his first grand slam

Clearly, though, beyond the banter there are reservations about whether first-time coach Lendl can manage the enormous task of trying to hone Murray's game and temperament to a level where he can overcome the brilliance of Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.

'I would think Ivan is still learning to be a coach. He's not full-time, that's tricky,' says McEnroe.

'Being part-time makes it very difficult to me personally. Andy seems to be an all-or-nothing guy. It sounds like he will have to do it that way but to some extent it's like he's getting his feet wet.'

McEnroe sees the key to Murray's development is eradicating the British No 1's tendency to fret on court, especially in the controversial area of reacting to injuries.

Reservations: McEnroe isn't sure whether Lendl can guide Murray to Wimbledon glory

Reservations: McEnroe isn't sure whether Lendl can guide Murray to Wimbledon glory

'I don't know what's going with these injuries, his back. It's a place where a lot of stress goes. To me it's an area where Lendl potentially could help him. If you have a coach who's not going to take no for an answer, you could have someone who won't let him look for a way out to keep him in there. I don't think Ivan is the kind of guy who likes to take any s***.

'The more I thought about their partnership the more sense it made. There are similarities in their career paths, some definite similarities. Before he beat me in Paris Ivan was 0-4 in finals, Andy is 0-3. There's a lot of credibility he can bring to the table.

I don't think Ivan is the kind of guy who likes to take any s***

'Actually, I think this Wimbledon is the first time you can get a real gauge on how well it's going between them. At first I thought it was crazy, then I thought it was going to work out, now it's wait-and-see, you have to give it some time.'

McEnroe also sees similarities in himself with Lendl, in the way they tried to recreate the buzz of being a champion once their playing days were over, and is unsparing in his assessment.

'He had deluded himself into thinking he was going to be a golfer, like me deciding I wanted to be a rock star – the closer you get the more difficult you realise that it is. I think he was more serious about that than me going out to play some music.

Amicable: But Lendl and McEnroe endured a strained relationship during their playing days

Amicable: But Lendl and McEnroe endured a strained relationship during their playing days

'He spent a lot of time trying to get ready for the seniors golf, but after a certain amount of time maybe there's a reality check. He had got really far away from tennis, so for him this is a nice opportunity.'

They have even played against each other in seniors' tennis, and much to McEnroe's amusement he has found the tables turned, fitness-wise, from the day when Lendl came back from two sets down at Roland Garros to win in five and begin his collection of eight Grand Slam titles.

'When he first came back he thought okay, I'm going to be the old Ivan Lendl and get myself way fitter than everyone else and beat John's ass, but it wasn't that simple. The body doesn't answer the bell so easily as you get older. I never would have believed in my wildest dreams that I would be fitter than him.'

He fears something else might not be that simple in Lendl's new role – the sheer scale of talent ranged against his client Murray at the top. 'Is Andy as good as these other guys' asks McEnroe.

'I mean the others are unbelievably good. Murray is a great player, at least bordering on great. But is he as great as these other guys That's quite a different issue.

'It's difficult to say but it seems like the gap is widening again.'

But his advice for Murray is to look to showbusiness for some inspiration: 'An actor goes to a lot of auditions and doesn't get the part. Jack Nicholson didn't get anything until he was in his 30s. You have to persevere and put yourself in positions and sooner or later you will break through.'

John McEnroe commentates for BBC TV at Wimbledon, live coverage starts on June 25 across TV, radio and online.

Laura Williamson: Why we must not disable our sense of humour

Why we must not disable our sense of humour

PUBLISHED:

21:31 GMT, 3 June 2012

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UPDATED:

21:31 GMT, 3 June 2012

What do you call a man who has no left
leg, a right leg that has been amputated at the knee and can throw a
javelin 41.37metres

An athlete.

In this case it's Great Britain's world champion Nathan Stephens, who broke the F57 javelin world record last year.

Putting the Great in Britain: Paralympian Nathan Stephens

Putting the Great in Britain: Paralympian Nathan Stephens

He happens to be a Paralympian, too, but first and foremost he's an athlete.

I'm sorry if that first sentence
sounded like the beginning of a bad joke, but humour highlights how
scared most of us are of causing of fence when it comes to Paralympic
sports.

Instead, we rely on cliche.

More from Laura Williamson…

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27/05/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

Paralympians are always 'inspirational'.

Some, of course, are wonderful role models, others have fascinating personal stories.

But they are also elite athletes: talented people driven by the pursuit of success.

The British Paralympic Authority still feel the need to offer guidelines about the 'language of Paralympic sport'.

We should use the term 'non-disabled person' not 'able-bodied' and never refer to 'the blind' because this is a stereotype and generalisation.

Language matters and we must be accurate, but in our rush to say the right thing we are in danger of not saying anything at all.

Rachael Latham represented Great Britain at the 2008 Paralympic Games and will be part of Channel 4's reporting team in London.

The station has pledged that half of its 'on-screen talent' during its 150 hours of Paralympic coverage will be disabled.

Latham has Erb's palsy, meaning she has limited use of her left arm.

She said: 'Somebody once said to me “The Olympics are about sport and the Paralympics are about the story”.

'One of my friends stuck her arm in a sausage machine when she was three years old, but I don't have a story. I've always been this way. I didn't train 24 hours a week on one arm for a story. People will say stuff wrong. But we would rather be thrown in the spotlight and deal with it than chucked away in a corner.

'You want people to have a laugh with it because it draws them in and then hopefully they'll stay tuned and realise we are elite sports people. It's one way to help people feel more welcome.'

Humour: Clare Balding (left) and Rachael Latham (right)

Humour: Clare Balding (left) and Rachael Latham (right)

Humour: Clare Balding (left) and Rachael Latham (right)

Humour will form a key part of Channel 4's coverage.

Knowledge and expertise – particularly a new system to explain the sometimes dizzying classifications – will be crucial but sport is, ultimately, entertainment.

You do not want to sit at home and feel bad because you haven't made the most of having two legs and two arms.

As presenter Clare Balding said: 'You don't want to make it too worthy.'

The line between comedy and cringeworthy can be a difficult one to navigate.

It will be challenging and people will get it horribly wrong.

But let's have the debate.

The Paralympic Games, after all, have the potential to be the surprise package of the summer.

On a high: Robbie Grabarz

On a high: Robbie Grabarz

Performance of the week

Great Britain's Robbie Grabarz's world-leading high jump of 2.33m to win at the Diamond League meeting in Rome – the first commercial competition of the 24-year-old's career.

Talk about brilliant timing.

…and this is what I've been doing this week

Enjoying the slightly surreal experience of running through central London with a childhood sporting hero, Haile Gebrselassie, at 7.30am on Tuesday.

…joining Team Sky's Mark Cavendish for a bike ride (and feeling a little silly in my Lycra when Kelly Brook turned up in a prom dress riding a bike with a basket on the front)

…admiring Usain Bolt's 9.76sec 100m statement of intent in Rome on Thursday night. He needed a big performance and he delivered.

They said what

Royal College of Art fashion students Thomas Crisp and Trine Hav Christensen, who designed the space-age medal bearers' outfits for the London Olympics, said they were 'inspired by Greek mythology as well as British heritage'.

Silly me, I didn't realise Apollo was a Star Trek fan or that we invented budget airlines.

Twitter talk: Former Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish (left) and Brendan Rodgers

Twitter talk: Former Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish (left) and Brendan Rodgers

Favourite tweet

Kenny Dalglish's good luck message to his successor, Brendan Rodgers: 'Congratulations to Brendan and Good Luck to everyone at LFC. Kenny.'

Makes far more sense in 140 characters than he did in a lot of his press conferences.

David Edwards says Wolves stars have let club down

We've let the club down, admits 'ashamed' Wolves midfielder Edwards

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UPDATED:

12:19 GMT, 7 May 2012

Dave Edwards admits his relegated Wolves team-mates are ashamed of their performances this season and feel they have let the club down.

Wolves are condemned to finish bottom of the Barclays Premier League table and signed off at Molineux on Sunday with a drab goalless draw against Everton.

It at least brought to an end a run of nine successive home defeats but was only the fourth point the club have picked up in 12 games since Terry Connor took over from Mick McCarthy as manager in February.

Ashamed: David Edwards says the Wolves quad have let the club down this season

Ashamed: David Edwards says the Wolves quad have let the club down this season

The fans mixed black humour with anger directed towards the board at the end of a miserable season, and Edwards wanted to assure them the players understand their frustrations.

The midfielder said: 'They feel just the same as us – we’re ashamed, we’re upset and we’re disappointed at the way we’ve played because the manager has put faith in the players he selects and we haven’t been good enough this season.

'And we feel we’ve let the club down as a whole, from the people at the top to TC (Connor) especially, because everyone loves him.'

Connor will find out after the final game of the season at Wigan next Sunday whether he will be given the chance to lead Wolves in the Championship.

Fighting spirit: Connor has been pleased with his side's effort of late

Fighting spirit: Connor has been pleased with his side's effort of late

Despite the poor results, the players have been unanimous in their support for McCarthy’s former assistant, and he has no doubt they have given everything to the cause.

'It’s very nice that they should say that,' said Connor.

'I can’t ask for any more in terms of
their endeavour, their honesty and their approach to the games and
training, and to everything I’ve tried to do.'

Sunday’s
game could not have been a greater contrast to Wolves’ 4-4 draw with
Swansea a week before, with neither goalkeeper unduly tested.

Edwards
admitted it was not one of Wolves’ better performances, but he was
relieved that for once they managed to get something out of the game.

'If
we don’t play well, we need to make sure we don’t lose and we managed
that, it’s just unfortunate that we haven’t done that all season,' he
said.

'We didn’t play well but I think that was because the lads were all mentally jaded after the last few weeks.

'We
prepare right every week and we did for this game too but, for whatever
reason, I thought the boys looked very sluggish in the first half and
we were lucky to come in with the score still 0-0.

'But at least it was 0-0. In the past, when we haven’t played well, we’ve been 2-0 down.

'We showed a bit of a fight at the start of the second half and created a few chances, but in the end we were happy with a 0-0 draw because we didn’t play as well as we would have liked.'

Roberto Mancini calm before crucial match – Molineux Match Zone

Molineux Match Zone: Roberto calm before it kicks off

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UPDATED:

21:31 GMT, 22 April 2012

If Roberto Mancini was caught up in mind games, he wasn’t about to show his hand prior to kick-off.

One pre-match interviewer tried to hype the importance of Sunday's match but the Italian simply replied: ‘There was a five-point difference. Now it is six.’ You can bet the dark arts will be taken to another level during the course of the next week.

Keeping cool Roberto Mancini tried to underplay the importance of Sunday's match

Keeping cool Roberto Mancini tried to underplay the importance of Sunday's match

… and his team didn't bottle it

It was a measure of just how worried Mancini was when David Silva was substituted shortly before the hour. Nigel de Jong was introduced in his place to protect the one-goal lead. And if he wasn’t feeling the pressure, Manchester City’s boss had a funny way of showing it.

A water bottle was hurled to the ground after just six minutes in frustration that an early chance had gone begging.

Gallows humour

Wolves fans have not been slow to show their anger in recent weeks, particularly at the worst home run in the club’s history.

But they resorted to good old gallows humour as the final whistle approached singing: ‘Que sera, sera, whatever will be, will be, we’re going to Barnsley…’

Away days: Wolves will have a few less glamorous trips to make next season

Away days: Wolves will have a few less glamorous trips to make next season

Wolves did win after all

The half-time pitch announcer clearly had a sense of humour. After informing the stadium of the interval score at Anfield he asked for the crowd’s attention, saying: ‘There was an important match at lunchtime today’ and then proceeded to say that Wolves’ women had won the League Cup by beating Stoke City 2-0.

Fair play

Joe Hart is known as one of the game’s good guys. And he was caught applauding and mouthing the words ‘great save’ when Wolves substitute Christophe Berra almost fired the ball past his own keeper Dorus de Vries in the closing stages.

IN FOCUS

Doris De Vries
The Dutch keeper had already conceded five against City in the Carling Cup this season. His last league match — for Swansea — saw him promoted to the top flight. This one saw him relegated from it.

Joleon Lescott
He is fondly remembered at Molineux for his part in Wolves’ first Premier League campaign and got a warm reception.

Gael Clichy
He has not been a prominent figure but Mancini was grateful for his contribution as it was his superb pass that set up Aguero and his quick free-kick that led to the second goal.

Andy Murray"s warrior spirit fuelled by laws of Lendl

Murray's warrior spirit fuelled by the uncompromising laws of Lendl

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UPDATED:

21:29 GMT, 29 March 2012

Nearly three months into the Andy Murray-Ivan Lendl project and we are starting to get a measure of the famously uncompromising attitudes that once marked the 52-year-old Czech's playing career.

Murray's reward for overcoming a stomach upset to beat world No 9 Janko Tipsarevic is Friday's semi-final against Rafael Nadal at the Sony Ericsson Open, and it is going to be a fascinating marker.

Quick learner: Pupil Murray mastering key aspects of his mentor's former unflinching style

Quick learner: Pupil Murray mastering key aspects of his mentor's former unflinching style

Talking to the ever-engaging Lendl, resplendent in a shirt of his hometown football club Banik Ostrava, you speculate whether Murray would have beaten Tipsarevic in these circumstances a year ago, or if he would have gone down in a hail of frustration-induced expletives directed at his coaching box.

'I can't answer that,' said Lendl. 'But in golf there is a saying that when people whine about their score, or their opponent makes a par by chipping in, “There are no pictures on the scorecard”.

'A win is a win. In tennis, whether you have a bad tummy or a broken leg, one guy goes through and it had better be you.

The caps fit: Lendl (left) has every confidence in his pupil (right)

The caps fit: Lendl (left) has every confidence in his pupil (right)

The caps fit: Lendl (left) has every confidence in his pupil (right)

'He is out there to do one thing, and that is to get a win. He is not out there to show what a great sense of humour he has got.'

What is clear is that a strong sense of kinship has developed between the two.

Lendl says all the good things he first saw in Murray have been confirmed since they took up in January, and it helps that he can identify with some of the facets of a man half his age.

He remains baffled some still view Murray as a bit of a misery.

'But that was the same with me,' he said. 'You cannot judge someone on what they are like when they are working, it's unfair, he's just trying to win. He's a very polite young man, he's so polite to everybody, people who just come up to him. He's a really good guy.'

Miami slice: Murray returns the ball to Janko Tipsarevic

Miami slice: Murray returns the ball to Janko Tipsarevic

That much came as no surprise to Lendl, but there has already been the odd revelation.

'Andy is such a quick learner, I knew he was a hard worker but as a learner he's surprised me a bit.

'It used to take me 18 months to pick some things up. He's far quicker than me but then he has more talent than I ever had. Look at his hands, he has wonderful hands, look at the angles he creates. The strings they use these days help, but I could never do that.'

Lendl has taken a forensic approach to coaching, and you can already see some of it bearing fruit, such as his client being more aggressive on big points, the second serve getting beefed up and the forehand getting more of a thump.

'It's a long process,' said the Czech. 'You start by identifying the things you work on, then becoming able to do them in practice, then in matches, then in big matches under pressure. That's the final step.'

To reach that end Lendl, a millionaire many times over, will go back on the road around the clay courts of Europe with Murray next month before returning home and then going back for the French Open.

Respect: Murray celebrates match point against Janko Tipsarevic (left)

Respect: Murray celebrates match point against Janko Tipsarevic (left)

Respect: Murray celebrates match point against Janko Tipsarevic (left)

Not unexpectedly, the man who invented serious hard work in tennis has strong views about preparation and training, the nub of which is that it is best done outdoors whenever possible, hence the Scot spending more time in Florida with him.

'The best preparation is here in Miami where you do five blocks of 40 minutes on court and it's so hot that it's hard to get through even half an hour.

'It's that which is going to give you the best chance at the US Open, not waiting around in a cool climate hoping it isn't going to rain.'

Nadal was slightly nervy in beating Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-2 5-7 6-4, in a quarter-final marred by the Frenchman's accusations of preferential treatment by the chair umpire.

Holding his nerve and his serve: Rafael Nadal (left) looked on edge against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (right)

Holding his nerve and his serve: Rafael Nadal (left) looked on edge against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (right)

Holding his nerve and his serve: Rafael Nadal (left) looked on edge against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (right)

Tsonga claimed borderline calls by Damian Steiner went against him and added: 'If Rafa doesn't like him any more, he would not be in the chair many times in semi-finals and finals.'

The Spaniard, however, made a habit of beating Murray in big semi-finals last year, although in October's Japan Open final, the British No 1 cuffed him 6-0 in a deciding set.

But all that was before Lendl.

Maria Sharapova beat Caroline Wozniacki 4-6 6-2 6-4 to reach the women's final.