Tag Archives: impossible

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Sir Alex Ferguson wants to become director at Manchester United

Ferguson 'set to move upstairs' when United's legendary boss eventually calls it a day

By
Graeme Yorke

PUBLISHED:

02:11 GMT, 1 March 2013

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UPDATED:

02:31 GMT, 1 March 2013

Sir Alex Ferguson has said he is keen on becoming a director at Old Trafford when he finally decides to quit management.

The 71-year-old Manchester United boss said that he is determined to stay at the club after initially intimating that he would step away.

Ferguson said: ‘There’s no getting rid of me. I’ll probably become a director. Nobody knows [my retirement date], neither do I. It won’t be a doctor that tells me to quit!’

Probable: Sir Alex Ferguson said he would probably become a director at Manchester United

Probable: Sir Alex Ferguson said he would probably become a director at Manchester United

As for his successor, he added:
‘They’ll ask me but I think it’ll be a club decision, not mine. With the
structure we have here, it can't be an impossible job.

Former United star Viv Anderson has
rejected the idea that Ferguson might be tempted to step down this
summer, even if they win the Champions League and Premier League.

Anderson, who played under Ferguson
from 1987-91, said: ‘There is no chance that Sir Alex will retire this
summer. He loves the club. He lives and breathes it.’

Not yet: Ferguson is still going strong at United

Not yet: Ferguson is still going strong at United

Success: Ferguson will go down as one of the most greatest managers of all time

Success: Ferguson will go down as one of the most greatest managers of all time

In his wide ranging interview with
twentyfour7 magazine, the United boss also discussed his deliberate
decision to use his former players among his staff.

The likes of Nicky Butt and Brian
McClair are already involved, and Ferguson has backed Paul Scholes, Ryan
Giggs and Darren Fletcher to follow suit.

He added: 'Looking at my present
crop, it's difficult, but the likes pf Giggs and Scholes wil be part of
the structure here. Darren Fletcher is a long term possibilty, and Nicky
Butt is with the reserves.

'We try to get as many former players in the set-up as we can, we've got a good back up.

'We look ahead because that is
succession planning in terms of structure – they've the experience of
being at the club, being a player here, knowing what it takes to be a
winner.'

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Adrien Broner v Gavin Rees LIVE

LIVE: Adrien Broner v Gavin Rees – round-by-round coverage of the big fight

By
Martin Domin

UPDATED:

03:50 GMT, 17 February 2013

Gavin Rees faces what many are describing as mission impossible when he takes on American superstar Adrien Broner in Atlantic City in the early hours of Sunday morning.

The WBC lightweight belt is up for grabs and you can follow all the action with Sportsmail.

Email your thoughts to martin.domin@dailymail.co.uk or via Twitter @martin_domin

3.50am: Bika starting to take control in the second round against Sjekloca. Lucian Bute is ringside and is expected to fight the winner for the title.

3.45am: Bika and Sjekloca are getting underway so it could be an hour till Rees and Broner are in the ring.

3.40am: So, Rees v Broner is for the American's WBC lightweight belt which he won in November when he beat Antonio DeMarco.

Rees on the other hand is a former world champion at light-welterweight and held British and European titles at lightweight.

3.30am: Rees' ring walk won't be before 3.55am but we still have another fight first as Sakio Bika takes on Nikola Sjekloca in a final eliminator for the WBC super-middleweight title.

3.20am: Sportsmail's Jeff Powell is ringside in Atlantic City and will be bringing you all the latest news. Incidentally, he is the only national newspaper journalist present. We do spoil you…

You can tweet Jeff via: @jeffpowell_Mail

3.10am: I'd love nothing more than for Rees to put Broner flat on his back but I just can't see it happening. Having said that, he will certainly give the American a tougher fight than the bookmakers are suggesting. Some in Las Vegas are believed to have quoted 80/1 which is frankly insulting.

3.05am: First things first, please send in your predictions using the addresses above, I want to hear how you think this fight is going to go!

3am: Welcome to Sportsmail's coverage of Adrien Broner v Gavin Rees

Adrien Broner Gavin Rees

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Celtic 0 Juventus 3 – Match report

Celtic 0 Juventus 3: Old Lady dish out painful lesson to Lennon's naive Bhoys

PUBLISHED:

21:38 GMT, 12 February 2013

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UPDATED:

21:44 GMT, 12 February 2013

Celtic face a near impossible task to make the quarter-finals of the Champions League after Juventus scored in both halves to take the advantage at Parkhead.

Neil Lennon's side got off to the worse possible start as they went behind inside the first five minutes.

Alessandro Matri poked the ball through Fraser Forster's legs and got the ball over the line despite the best efforts of Kevin Wilson who tried to clear, but Claudio Marchisio clattered home the rebound to make sure.

The second came in the final 15 minutes when Matri played the ball into the path of Claudio Marchisio, the midfielder cut inside a tired Scott Brown challenge before smashing past Forster at his near post.

And the game was wrapped up when Juventus added a third when Efe Ambrose was caught horribly in possession by Claudio Marchisio who played in Mirko Vucinic and he finished well to beat Forster.

More to follow…

Early lead: Claudio Marchisio and Alessandro Matri combined to open the scoring for the Italians

Early lead: Claudio Marchisio and Alessandro Matri combined to open the scoring for the Italians

Match Facts

Celtic: Forster, Lustig, Wilson, Ambrose, Izaguirre, Forrest, Brown, Wanyama, Mulgrew, Commons, Hooper.

Subs: Zaluska, Matthews, Miku, Nouioui, Ledley, Watt, Kayal.

Juventus: Buffon, Barzagli, Bonucci, Caceres, Lichtsteiner, Vidal, Pirlo, Marchisio, Peluso, Matri, Vucinic.

Subs: Storari, Pogba, Giovinco, Anelka, Padoin, Quagliarella, Marrone.

Referee: Alberto Undiano Mallenco (Spain)

XXXX

Desperate dive: Kelvin Wilson tries to prevent the ball from crossing the line

Desperate dive: Kelvin Wilson tries to prevent the ball from crossing the line

Making sure: Marchisio smashes the ball over the line

Making sure: Marchisio smashes the ball over the line

Rod Stewart

Billy Connolly

Faces in the crowd: Singer Rod Stewart and comedian Billy Connolly watch Celtic

Tussle: Celtic striker Gary Hooper tangles with Stephan Lichsteiner

Tussle: Celtic striker Gary Hooper tangles with Stephan Lichsteiner

Fight for the ball: Wilson vies for the ball with Alessandro Matri

Fight for the ball: Wilson vies for the ball with Alessandro Matri

Strong challenge: Celtic's Emilio Izaguirre is brought down by Juventus' Leonardo Bonucci

Strong challenge: Celtic's Emilio Izaguirre is brought down by Juventus' Leonardo Bonucci

Looking on: Celtic keeper Fraser Forster looks dejected at the end of the game

Looking on: Celtic keeper Fraser Forster looks dejected at the end of the game

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Sir Alex Ferguson has praised Ally McCoist for the job he is doing at Rangers

In awe of Ally: Sir Alex hails McCoist on Mission Impossible

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UPDATED:

00:10 GMT, 29 December 2012

Sir Alex Ferguson last night saluted the managerial job Ally McCoist has masterminded at Rangers in the face of the toughest set of circumstances ever experienced by an Ibrox boss.

The legendary Manchester United chief, Britain’s most successful manager of all time, has been hugely impressed at how McCoist has handled his ‘Mission Impossible’ in the wake of the ‘disgraceful’ and ‘disastrous’ financial collapse of Rangers under shamed former owner Craig Whyte.

Sir Alex Ferguson

Rangers manager Ally McCoist

Impressed: SIr Alex Ferguson (left) has given Rangers manager Ally McCoist (right) his seal of approval for the way McCoist has led the Glasgow club this year

Ferguson has marvelled at how McCoist has emerged from the trauma of the club’s liquidation, and the loss of a team of star players, to build a side which now sits 12 points clear at the top of the Third Division, ahead of today’s trip to Hampden to face Queen’s Park.

Despite giving McCoist his own personal managerial seal of approval, however, the two-times Champions League winner and 12-times English Premier League champion does not believe the record Rangers goalscorer will receive the credit he deserves for his work in the Ibrox dugout amid the off-field turmoil.

‘I think the job that Ally McCoist has done at Rangers is fantastic,’ said Ferguson, who became embroiled in a war of words with Newcastle yesterday after offering a not-so-complimentary opinion on their club and manager Alan Pardew, describing him as a ‘hypocrite’.

Top: Rangers are 12 clear at the top of the Third Division and will travel to Hampden to play Queen's Park on Saturday

Top: Rangers are 12 clear at the top of the Third Division and will travel to Hampden to play Queen's Park on Saturday

‘What bigger examination could a Rangers manager ever get than being demoted to the Third Division, losing all his players — and then still being top of the league.

'Ally has done a fantastic job, but he won’t get the credit he deserves because if Rangers are not in European football, then they are not Rangers.’

Ferguson started his playing career at Queen’s Park between 1957 and 1960, before spending two years at Ibrox as a Rangers striker between 1967 and 1969.

Support: Tens of thousands of Rangers supporters are expected to travel to Hampden Park

Support: Tens of thousands of Rangers supporters are expected to travel to Hampden Park

He would have loved to accept an invitation to be at Hampden today and joked that despite Manchester United hosting West Brom, he was still tempted to make the trip back to Glasgow.

‘Is Queen’s Park v Rangers a romantic fixture Absolutely,’ he told Sky Sports. ‘I was invited to the game but we are playing. I’ll maybe nip up anyway.’

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Reading 0 Swansea 0 match report

Reading 0 Swansea 0: Royals fail to make up ground in bid to drag themselves out of the drop zone

PUBLISHED:

16:52 GMT, 26 December 2012

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UPDATED:

17:36 GMT, 26 December 2012

Reading ended a run of seven consecutive defeats with a goalless draw in their Boxing Day bout with Swansea at the Madejski Stadium.

The Royals are still rooted deep in the relegation zone but they were the only one of the bottom three teams to get any kind of a result today, while Southampton also drew.

It is a small step but stopping the rot was vital for Brian McDermott's men, who had come so close to earning a draw against Manchester City before Christmas. The Royals' last Barclays Premier League points came on November 17.

Battle: Swansea captain Ashley Williams holds off Jobi McAnuff

Battle: Swansea captain Ashley Williams holds off Jobi McAnuff

Match facts

Reading: Federici, Gunter, Pearce, Mariappa, Harte, Kebe, Leigertwood, Karacan, McAnuff (Robson-Kanu 61), Guthrie, Pogrebnyak (Le Fondre 61).
Subs: Taylor, Hunt, Morrison, Tabb, Cummings.
Booked: Pogrebnyak, Le Fondre.

Swansea: Vorm, Tiendalli, Chico, Williams, Davies, Dyer, Britton (Agustien 67), Ki, Moore (de Guzman 68), Routledge, Michu (Shechter 80).
Subs: Tremmel, Bartley, Graham, Monk.
Booked: Tiendalli.

Att: 24,050

Referee: Mike Jones (Cheshire)

Latest Premier League table and results

Adam Le Fondre saw a late volley
headed over the bar by Swansea defender Chico Flores and the Reading
striker was also booked for handling the ball Maradona style into the
net.

But after conceding nine goals in
their last two home games, Reading's onus was clearly on keeping a clean
sheet and goalkeeper Adam Federici secured that by saving well from
Nathan Dyer and Ki Sung-Yeung.

Reading also rode their luck in the
first half with Michu shooting wide and then over the bar from close
range in a game of little quality.

The in-house DJ played 'The
Impossible Dream' before kick-off, which for long periods of a laboured
game seemed to sum up Reading's hopes of surviving in the top flight.

The home supporters are already
indulging in black humour. When Swansea's travelling fans chanted 'Going
down, going down, going down', the home support sang 'So are we, so are
we, so are we'.

Danny Guthrie was given his first
start, the only change to the side beaten so late at Manchester City at
the weekend, and he had early shouts for a penalty.

Pavel Pogrebnyak pick-pocketed Flores
and Guthrie carried the ball into the box before going down under the
challenge of Leon Britton but the referee waved play on.

Heads up: Kyle Bartley is challenged by Jobi McAnuff at the Madejski Stadium

Heads up: Kyle Bartley is challenged by Jobi McAnuff at the Madejski Stadium

It was a rare Reading foray forward.
It was only in the final 20 minutes that Reading began to put Swansea
under any sustained pressure.

For most of a turgid first half they were content to sit back, allow Swansea to keep possession and ride their luck.

Swansea were comfortable in
possession and Michu linked well with Luke Moore on the edge of the
Reading box before digging out a shot which just curled wide of the top
corner.

That's mine: Danny Guthrie and Ki Sung-Yueng bid for the ball in the bore draw

That's mine: Danny Guthrie and Ki Sung-Yueng bid for the ball in the bore draw

No way through: Adam Federici makes a save in front of the cameras for Reading

No way through: Adam Federici makes a save in front of the cameras for Reading

The classy Spaniard showed shades of
Matt Le Tissier as he turned Adrian Mariappa inside out before stabbing a
shot just wide of the near post.

Michu was harshly judged to have
fouled the hapless Mariappa so a goal would not have stood in any case,
but it was another let-off for Reading.

The Royals sat deep. Swansea held on to the ball, moving it around their back four and playing the waiting game.

At one stage the only entertainment
in the ground came from the brass band in the far corner. Jimmy Kebe
tried to haul the game out of the rut with a break from his own half but
a dreadful touch from Pogrebnyak on the edge of the box allowed Swansea
keeper Michel Vorm to scoop up the ball.

Reading defender Chris Gunter then
made a hash of his attempt to chest a cross from Dyer back to his
keeper, and Michu pounced but somehow poked his shot over the bar from
four yards out.

Quiet day: Swansea dangerman Michu was halted by Reading

Quiet day: Swansea dangerman Michu was halted by Reading

Reading had more penalty shouts
turned down when Jobi McAnuff went down as he challenged for a header
and the Royals then wasted a promising free-kick opportunity.

There was more urgency about Reading in the second half. They began to press Swansea more.
Guthrie went in hard on Britton to win the ball but Pogrebnyak then
lunged in very late on Dwight Tiendalli to earn a yellow card.

Pogrebnyak made way almost
immediately with Le Fondre taking over up front and Hal
Robson-Kanu replacing McAnuff in a double substitution.

Although Swansea had dominated possession it was only in the final half hour they began to really test Federici.

Something to shout about: Le Fondre was pulled up for his handball goal

Something to shout about: Le Fondre was pulled up for his handball goal

Silly boy: Adam Le Fondre is shown a yellow card by referee Mike Jones for his handball

Silly boy: Adam Le Fondre is shown a yellow card by referee Mike Jones for his handball

The first chance came from sloppy
Reading defending, which allowed Wayne Routledge to pick out Dyer, whose
diving header from eight yards out was well saved by Federici.

The Australian dealt well with a
powerful drive from Ki Sung-Yeung after Reading had only half-cleared
their lines from a Swansea free-kick.

Reading fans celebrated what they
thought was the winner after 73 minutes when Le Fondre beat Vorm from
close range after rising to meet Ian Harte's free-kick.

But eagle-eyed referee Mike Jones spotted Le Fondre had turned the ball in with his arm and booked the Reading striker.

Vorm was the busiest man on the field
in the closing stages, repeatedly punching clear as Reading finally
turned the screw in search of a late winner.

One such punch fell to Le Fondre,
whose volley was goal-bound but Flores did well to stand his ground and
head the ball up over his own bar.

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Manchester City v Manchester United: European knockout will help Blues – Sir Alex Ferguson

Try keeping your squad happy now, Mancini! Ferguson fires warning at rival following City's European humiliation

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UPDATED:

10:51 GMT, 7 December 2012

Sir Alex Ferguson believes Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini will have an impossible job keeping his players happy after the defending Barclays Premier League champions crashed out of Europe.

City have one of the biggest – and by far the most expensive – squads in the Premier League.

Ferguson reckons playing fewer games will be an advantage to City in the title race, but believes Mancini will struggle to keep his players happy.

Exit: Manchester City crashed out of Europe this week - but Fergie reckons it will hand them an advantage

Exit: Manchester City crashed out of Europe this week – but Fergie reckons it will hand them an advantage

Sorry, Sir Alex but you're off target

Sir Alex Ferguson claimed rivals Manchester City get a 'lot of penalties' but since the start of the 2010/11 season both City and United have been awarded the same number of spot kicks.

The Manchester clubs have won 21 penalties each, with Chelsea (16) up next and Liverpool and Tottenham (13) rounding out the top four.

Speaking ahead of Sunday's Manchester derby, Ferguson said: 'It's an advantage for City. It gives
them a full week to prepare for their League games and obviously they
will be playing less games.

'I think they would rather have European football because any big team wants to play in Europe all the time. From that disappointment though
comes a definite advantage.

'Having said that they have to keep all their
players happy as they have a big squad. That's an encumbrance to them in
terms of picking the right team because everybody will want to play.'

Defeat: United were beaten in midweek by Cluj but their passage to the last 16 had already been secured

Defeat: United were beaten in midweek by Cluj but their passage to the last 16 had already been secured

Ferguson also said City are given
far too many penalties. The champions have been awarded 21 spot-kicks
since the start of the 2010/11 campaign.

'They have scored lots of goals late
in the game and they do get lots of penalties,' Ferguson added. 'If we
got that many penalties there would be an inquiry in the House of
Commons.'

Tom Cleverley will undergo a scan on his calf injury on Friday. The 23-year-old limped out of United's 1-0 Champions League defeat to Cluj on Wednesday, leaving him doubtful for Sunday's clash with City.

Scan: Cleverley limped out of United's defeat against Cluj on Wednesday

Scan: Cleverley limped out of United's defeat against Cluj on Wednesday

Ferguson added: 'Tom Cleverley is having a scan today. It is a calf. We shall see.'

Ferguson also revealed that Shinji Kagawa and Nemanja Vidic, who have both suffered knee injuries, are struggling to be fit in time for the derby match at the Etihad Stadium.

He said: 'I thought Kagawa may have a chance but he is still a bit short. He won't be available until Sunderland next week.

'Nemanja Vidic is certainly doing well in training. It is just his own confidence to play. He will be ready for Sunderland.'

United's defence has come under scrutiny following the 4-3 victory at Reading last week. And Ferguson admitted set piece defending has been worked on at the training ground since.

He said: 'Manchester City will have expected us to work on it (defending set pieces). I am sure they have (attacking them).'

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England v New Zealand 2012 preview – Chris Foy

Go out there and do us proud! Lancaster's men have to show more progress against mighty All Blacks

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UPDATED:

22:00 GMT, 30 November 2012

It’s not quite mission impossible, but it is not far off. As an indication of what Stuart Lancaster’s callow side are up against on Saturday, it is useful to consider how difficult even England’s greatest team found it to crack the All Blacks.

The squad assembled and honed into world-beaters by Sir Clive Woodward twice managed to lower the Kiwi colours in Test combat, once at home by three points, the other away by two. Aside from a draw in 1997, those two wins represent the only English success against New Zealand in the professional era.

All smiles: Chris Ashton (left) shares a joke with Danny Care in training on Friday

All smiles: Chris Ashton (left) shares a joke with Danny Care in training on Friday

The countries have clashed 16 times in
that period and the All Blacks have prevailed on all but three
occasions. Saturday afternoon’s QBE International at Twickenham presents
Steve Hansen’s team with the opportunity to extend the winning sequence
in this fixture into double figures – in addition to the small matter
of finishing 2012 unbeaten and as peerless world champions who have
raised their game.

Lancaster and his assistant coaches frequently highlight the gulf in experience between their side and the opposition. This time the comparison is staggering: England have a tally of 206 Test caps in their starting XV and New Zealand have 788.

Those two professional-era victories came when Woodward was able to send out a side armed to the teeth with Test pedigree and nous, a side finely-tuned over several years at the sharp end of the game. Even then, they were pushed to the limit by rivals with an engrained aversion to taking a beating in the iconic shirts which serve as a focal point for their country’s identity.

This is how it's done: Ben Cohen dives in during England's 31-28 victory over New Zealand in 2002, the last time they beat the All Blacks at HQ

This is how it's done: Ben Cohen dives in during England's 31-28 victory over New Zealand in 2002, the last time they beat the All Blacks at HQ

The backdrop to Saturday’s contest suggests it will be no contest at all. As per annual tradition, New Zealand have swept aside Scotland, Italy and Wales, while England come into this match on the back of defeats at the hands of Australia and South Africa. New Zealand are ranked No 1 in the world, England are fifth. New Zealand are settled, have most of their leading men available and bring with them momentum and belief. England have chopped and changed their selections, are without a number of leading players and also without the confidence born of recent success.

Most of their side do not know what it is to face the All Blacks, let alone beat them. Yet, the lack of expectation among the capacity crowd could work in their favour. The script says England will lose. The bookies have them down as 6-1 underdogs and are giving them a 15-point handicap.

Strong favourites: Richie McCaw leads the All Blacks out at Twickenham on Saturday

Strong favourites: Richie McCaw leads the All Blacks out at Twickenham on Saturday

Experience up front

The New Zealand front row have won more caps (239) than the entire England team…

ENGLAND

Team caps: 206. Pack caps: 99. Ave per man: 13.7.

NEW ZEALAND

Team: 788. Pack: 470. Ave per man: 52.5.

All week, coaches and players have declared that this is no lost cause, that the men they will face are mere mortals, that they are vulnerable, beatable. Of course, there is truth in this upbeat out-look, but there is wishful thinking, too. If Hansen’s men hit their stride, England cannot match them, but they can emerge with credit, nonetheless.

After having to contend with stifling pressure in the games against the Wallabies and Springboks, that element is absent this time.

So the mind-set should be different, as flanker Tom Wood claimed. ‘To some extent the pressure’s off us,’ he said. ‘It would be a huge scalp and would salvage what has been a disappointing campaign in terms of results. We’re going to play without fear, meet them head-on and make sure that, win or lose, they know they’ve been in a game.’

In that sense, Chris Robshaw and Co should take their cue from the England team who took on the All Blacks in November 2005.

While the visitors wound up as 23-19 victors, captain Martin Corry and the rest of the pack, in particular, rose to the occasion to such an extent that the Kiwi forwards were almost blown away.

No pressure: Wood (centre) believes that England have nothing to lose

No pressure: Wood (centre) believes that England have nothing to lose

Watching brief

Kick-off: 2.30pm at Twickenham.

Referee: George Clancy (Ireland).

TV & Radio: LIVE on Sky Sports 1
from 1.30pm, highlights on BBC3
from 7pm. BBC Radio 5 Live from 2.30pm.

In the closing minutes the result was in the balance and there was an overpowering sense of an England side, supposedly inferior to their opponents, defiantly refusing to bend the knee.

That is the minimum requirement on Saturday. ‘Hopefully after this game they will think of us as a highly-skilled, competitive, determined side,’ said Wood. ‘The best way to combat all their skill and flair is to have the ball and play it our way. We believe we can win and we’re going to absolutely throw our hearts and souls into it.’

Ultimately, sheer spirit and endeavour won’t suffice. Up front, England need to surpass the intensity they reached in trumping South Africa’s vaunted pack.

New Zealand are not so imposing in their tight five that the hosts can’t steal a minor edge in the scrum and tight collisions, although the great Richie McCaw will be a familiar spectre at the breakdown. If he is to be nullified, the likes of Wood and Joe Launchbury must keep hitting rucks with the same ferocity as they did a week ago.

Key role: Launchbury (centre) was outstanding last week

Key role: Launchbury (centre) was outstanding last week

After all the over-zealous criticism of Robshaw, England will be alert to every nuance of their decision-making, but this can’t turn into a box-ticking exercise. It remains a fine balance but Ben Youngs should still be encouraged to tap-and-go, with the onus on Chris Ashton to revive his handy knack of tracking any half-break and capitalising. While Lancaster’s team need to be precise, that must not translate into a cagey approach or their slim chance of an upset will fade to nothing.

What England cannot hope to match is the All Blacks’ ability to strike from deep with their lethal counter-attacking game, conducted by superstar stand-off Dan Carter and his cunning right-hand man in the creative department, Conrad Smith.

rugby2 copy.jpg

Even if Brad Barritt can orchestrate the greatest defensive rearguard action produced by the national team in years, it is unlikely to be enough. The best hope of England responding in kind lies in giving Manu Tuilagi front-foot ball at full throttle and keeping Alex Goode busy in the line, but that will require the collective effort to click in a manner not seen so far in this difficult month.

The danger lies in England falling between two stools – veering uncertainly from daring to damage-limitation, from cavalier abandon to caution.

They surely will not win, but the manner of their performance in defeat will say much about whether they are heading in the right direction, as they claim, or not really heading anywhere at all.

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Barcelona v Celtic: How will Neil Lennon stop Lionel Messi?

How do you solve a problem like Messi Celtic take on football's toughest challenge

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UPDATED:

11:34 GMT, 23 October 2012

Step forward Charlie Mulgrew, Efe Ambrose and Victor
Wanyama – the latest contestants on football’s impossible challenge.

The challenge of stopping a player with 53 Champions
League goals in 70 matches, of keeping quiet a man with 201 goals in his last
200 games, of stifling a threat that has delivered 71 goals already this
calendar year – just 20 less than your entire team.

The conundrum of ‘How to stop Lionel Messi’ is the biggest
chin-scratcher in football and, on Tuesday night in the Nou Camp, Celtic’s Neil
Lennon and his defenders will be the latest to try and solve the puzzle.

Crowded house: Celtic would be well advised not to give Lionel Messi this much room in Tuesday night's match

Crowded house: Celtic would be well advised not to give Lionel Messi this much room in Tuesday night's match

Form of his life: Messi completes another hat-trick in Barcelona's 5-4 win at Deportivo at the weekend

Form of his life: Messi completes another hat-trick in Barcelona's 5-4 win at Deportivo at the weekend

They will try and stop what was once famously called the
‘passing carousel’ orchestrated by ten of the most technically gifted players
in the world. They will try and shackle a player who has more records than the
annual stocking filler hardback published by Guinness.

At least the boss isn’t kidding himself about the scale
of the challenge – ‘You are wary of being embarrassed. You don’t want that – I
certainly don’t want that,’ Lennon said in the build-up to the Champions League
Group G tie.

‘People say, “what’s it like to play in the Nou Camp
Well, you come off and say “I don’t know, I don’t remember much about it.” I
was too busy doing this that or the other.’

Lennon can reflect with enormous satisfaction on his two
visits there as a player. A battling goalless draw in the UEFA Cup in March
2004 against Ronaldinho and company which carried Celtic through 1-0 on
aggregate.

And a 1-1 draw in the Champions League group stage the
following season, in which John Hartson fired an equaliser to cancel out Samuel
Eto’o.

Right approach: Celtic may have to get as tight to Messi as Neil Lennon (right) and Chris Sutton did to Ronaldinho in 2004

Right approach: Celtic may have to get as tight to Messi as Neil Lennon (right) and Chris Sutton did to Ronaldinho in 2004

MESSI BY NUMBERS

In all competitions, Messi has 201 goals in his last 200 matches for Barcelona. He is one away from his 300th club goal.

Messi's 53 goals in 70 Champions League matches makes him the third highest all-time scorer in the competition

He has 15 goals for Barcelona so far this season and 71 in this calendar year. The latter stat means he is closing in on a benchmark set 53 years ago by Pele, who scored 75 goals in 1959

Messi has 11 goals in 22 games against British opposition

But with respect to the past, and to Celtic’s ability,
Barcelona now play at a level several times higher than they did then. As
Lennon acknowledged, you can be ‘eaten alive’ by them.

If news of Barcelona shipping four goals at the weekend
against Deportivo offered hope their defence might not be quite so imperious at
the moment, it’s worrying that they still scored five and, with great
inevitability, Messi got three of them.

The Argentinean is closing in on another eye-catching
record – usurping Pele as the player who has scored the most goals in a
calendar year (Pele got 75 in 1959 for club and country, Messi has 71 and it’s
only the end of October) and a few against Celtic will almost get him there.

The leading theory for sides trying to counter Messi –
and Barcelona – can seem scientific: Place as many immovable objects in the way
of the irresistible force. But the defenders of La Liga who know him best have
in their time come up with a few practical tips that Celtic might want to heed.

You know what you have to do: The task falls to Efe Ambrose to keep Messi and co at bay in the Nou Camp

You know what you have to do: The task falls to Efe Ambrose to keep Messi and co at bay in the Nou Camp

Martial arts Victor Wanyama could be deployed in front of the back four to disrupt Barcelona's passing

Martial arts Victor Wanyama could be deployed in front of the back four to disrupt Barcelona's passing – though perhaps not like this

FANCY A FLUTTER

FIRST SCORER

Messi is 7-4 favourite to score the first goal against Celtic with Bet365, with David Villa at 10-3. The first Celtic player is Gary Hooper at 14-1. Messi is 3-1 to score a hat-trick.

TO WIN

Barcelona are 1-12 to win, Celtic are 25-1 with the draw at 10-1.

CORRECT SCORE

You can get the same odds on a 6-0 win for Barcelona (20-1) as a 1-1 draw.

WINNING MARGIN

Barcelona to win by a four-goal margin or greater is priced at 7-4.

You might think taking a physical approach against Messi
is the one nobody has thought of, but the Real Betis full-back Javier Chica
says he has tried this – and well and truly failed. ‘You can’t foul Messi! Two
touches and he’s gone,’ he has said.

‘Better to try and make sure that he only receives the
ball with his back to goal and is unable to turn. If he turns and faces you, if
he can see all his options clearly, he is very dangerous.’

He may be an ex-Rangers man, but Celtic might also listen
to Juanma Ortiz, now at Granada, who recommends that defenders show him onto
the outside at all times as it’s more ‘unnatural’ for him.

Gonzalo Rodriguez, now at Fiorentina but late of
Villarreal, has stressed the critical importance of staying compact and
disciplined, while Bilbao’s Andoni Iraola says you need to keep tabs on him
even when you’re in possession ‘in case’ the ball breaks to him.

If there’s one man who knows how to halt Messi, it’s Jose
Mourinho. He has faced him with Chelsea, Inter Milan and Real Madrid – and he’s
also an advocate of collective organisation.

Special: Jose Mourinho masterminded a win for Inter Milan over Barcelona in the 2010 Champions League semi-final

Special: Jose Mourinho masterminded a win for Inter Milan over Barcelona in the 2010 Champions League semi-final

‘I am against man-to-man marking,’ he revealed after
Inter had beaten Barcelona in the Champions League semi-finals in 2010. ‘We
defend as a team, in zones – one man alone cannot stop Messi.

‘You can’t say it was [Esteban] Cambiasso that stopped
Messi or that our midfield or our defence stopped Messi – we worked together
and played in zones.’

Another Madrid favourite, Michel Salgado, concurs. ‘The
best way to stop Messi is as a team. It is incredibly important to double up on
him at all times and you have to be as tight as possible as a defensive unit.’

Real have previously deployed someone like Pepe to roam
in front of the back four with, in essence, the sole aim of roughing Barcelona
up.

But equally, Sir Alex Ferguson had his staff compile the
biggest tactical dossier ever on Messi before the 2011 Champions League final –
to no avail.

Surrounded: Manchester United tried to stifle Messi in the 2011 Champions League final - but to no effect

Surrounded: Manchester United tried to stifle Messi in the 2011 Champions League final – but to no effect

And how many times have managers sent out their sides demanding
military-style discipline, instructions to flood the midfield and disrupt the
supply lines, only to see their well-intentioned plans torn to shreds

If anyone does have a watertight formula for stopping the
Messi express, then they haven’t shared it. Perhaps it’s down to guess work or
good fortune. Or maybe Efe Ambrose knows the secret.

In the run up to the game he said: ‘He won’t pose many problems
to me.’

Fighting words, but will they prove foolish come ten o’clock

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Lord Sebastian Coe elected BOA chairman

Coe elected unopposed as new BOA chairman after opponent Leman withdraws from contest

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UPDATED:

17:47 GMT, 16 October 2012

Sebastian Coe will be elected unopposed to be the next British Olympic Association chairman after his only opponent withdrew from the contest.

Richard Leman, the head of British hockey, had faced an almost impossible task against Lord Coe after the success of the London 2012 Games.

It means Coe will be elected unopposed on November 7 to succeed Lord Moynihan at the helm of the BOA.

Coe looked unbeatable on the back of delivering the London Olympics and will have immense pulling power to bring in sponsors to aid the cash-strapped BOA.

New role: Lord Sebastian Coe

New role: Lord Sebastian Coe

Leman had canvassed opinion from leading figures in the British Olympic movement, most of whom advised him to withdraw gracefully.

Leman, an Olympic gold medal-winner in men's hockey at the 1988 Seoul Games, said: 'Recognising the unique circumstance in which we find ourselves in having the person who led the organisation and delivery of what is widely regarded as the most successful Olympic and Paralympic Games in history standing for election as our next chair, I have decided to put my full support behind Seb Coe and his candidacy.

'The opportunities and challenges we face during the next four years are unprecedented, and from my position as a member of board of directors, I will continue to work closely with our next chair, my colleagues on the board, the national Olympic committee and our staff to meet those challenges.

Summer of success: Coe launches the Paralympic Wall at the Athletes' Village

Summer of success: Coe launches the Paralympic Wall at the Athletes' Village

'Having had the opportunity to compete for Team GB at the Olympic Games, I have always viewed my service to the BOA as an opportunity to give something back to British sport by making certain subsequent generations of athletes benefit from the same life-changing experiences I enjoyed.'

Leman is now expected to stand for a BOA vice-chairman position next year.

Moynihan, understood to have initially encouraged Leman to stand, said: 'The British Olympic Association is in the enviable position of being able to attract accomplished leaders such as Richard Leman and Seb Coe to serve on its board.

'It is with leadership of this calibre that the BOA is well-placed to build upon its recent successes and continue making an important difference for British athletes as they pursue their Olympic dreams.'

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Fernando Torres handed Roberto Di Matteo backing

Torres backed in bid for 'mission impossible' as Chelsea eye Champions League history

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UPDATED:

21:50 GMT, 18 September 2012

Those searching for the legacy of Chelsea's European triumph need look no further than an 80million summer spree and the presence of Eden Hazard.

Roberto Di Matteo admits the club could not have beaten Manchester City to Hazard's signature without Champions League football or won the race for Brazilian starlet Oscar.

Striding out: Fernando Torres training yesterday following his angry exit on Saturday

Striding out: Fernando Torres training on Tuesday following his angry exit at Loftus Road

Good enough Chelsea will start their defence against Italian champions Juventus

The two 21-year-olds cost 60m and represent the costly end of Roman Abramovich's rejuvenation programme.

'They want to be involved in the biggest club competition in the world,' said Di Matteo. 'So it would have been extremely difficult to attract these players.'

Fighting fit: Both John Obi Mikel (left) and John Terry (right) are hoping to win another Champions League

Fighting fit: Both John Obi Mikel (left) and John Terry (right) are hoping to win another Champions League

Relaxed: Chelsea players Ashley Cole and Daniel Sturridge (right) shared a joke in Tuesday's training session

Relaxed: Chelsea players Ashley Cole and Daniel Sturridge (right) shared a joke in Tuesday's training session

They
take on Juventus at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night on the road to
attempting to be the first team in the modern era to defend the crown.

'At a club like Chelsea, the pressure is always on to win more trophies and have more success,' Di Matteo added.

'It just has proved impossible for anybody to win it twice. But we will try to do the impossible.'

Di
Matteo has proved quite capable at impossible missions since taking
over from Andre Villas-Boas in March. He rejects the theory he got
lucky.

'It can't just
be that,' he said. 'We prepared ourselves very well against every
opponent. We worked very hard. You need to deserve everything you get.'

Di
Matteo named Juventus among his possible winners of the tournament but
the Italians have won only three of their last 11 competitive games in
England and arrive with problems.

Andrea Pirlo has been unable to recapture the vintage form he produced
in Euro 2012. And, although, they have started the Serie A campaign with
three wins, there are concerns that the three-man defence is not as
well organised as last season. Juventus must cope with the 10-month
touchline ban on manager Antonio Conte in a match-fixing scandal.

Di
Matteo has selection issues, setting the merits of rotating his squad
in these group games against the warnings of last month's 4-1 defeat by
Atletico Madrid in the Super Cup.

Plotting: Manager Roberto Di Matteo talks tactics on the eve of the clash

Plotting: Manager Roberto Di Matteo talks tactics on the eve of the clash

Ready for anything: Chelsea are keen to hit the ground running in this season's campaign

Ready for anything: Chelsea are keen to hit the ground running in this season's campaign

Ready for anything: Chelsea are keen to hit the ground running in this season's campaign

Fernando Torres is at the heart of this riddle as the only established
centre forward in the squad. Torres stormed down the tunnel after he was
replaced near the end at QPR on Saturday but Di Matteo insisted last
night: 'There's no problem with Fernando. 'He's played all the games
before I made the change. It was nil-nil and I tried to change the
dynamic of the game.'

Daniel
Sturridge, who came on at Loftus Road and looked sharp, would be the
obvious replacement but this may be the competition which sees Brazilian
midfielder Oscar introduced.

Oscar
has yet to start a game and has made little impact coming off the
bench, but Di Matteo said: 'You will see more of him in the future, for
sure.'

Stage is set: Chelsea will host Juventus at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night

Stage is set: Chelsea will host Juventus at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night

All smiles: David Luiz is hoping to partner Terry in the centre of defence

All smiles: David Luiz is hoping to partner Terry in the centre of defence