Tag Archives: intricacies

Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini can"t afford to lose to Dortmund and United

Mancini is feeling the heat… and the Manchester City boss can't afford to lose to Dortmund and United

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UPDATED:

13:04 GMT, 4 December 2012

A year ago next Monday, Manchester City lost their first game of the Barclays Premier League. A 2-1 defeat at Chelsea it signalled the end of a long unbeaten run that ultimately ensured that Roberto Mancini's team could withstand some inevitable hiccups later in the season and still win their first title of the modern era.

Once again this season City have yet to be turned over in the league. Things in Europe have been considerably more difficult but in the Premier League the champions' unbeaten run already stretches to 15 game ahead of Sunday's Manchester derby at the Etihad Stadium.

Middle man: Manchester City's manager Roberto Mancini

Middle man: Manchester City's manager Roberto Mancini

It is unfortunate, then, that City still seem a little uneasy and that their manager continues to appear a little uncomfortable. As City look to defend their title – which is always hard – they still appear to be in need of some improvement.

From that point of view, this is an important week. Lose at Dortmund in the Champions League and City will suffer the indignity of finishing bottom of their group without a win and will not even qualify for the Europa League.

Lose to United on Sunday and they will be six points behind their rivals in the Premier League.

Two victories, on the other hand, could provide City with a little momentum and could give them the kind of lift-off that their season has lacked so far.

We could talk all day about the intricacies of City's season so far, about Mancini's state of mind and about the form of some of his key players. Certainly City would improve overnight if players like Vincent Kompany, YaYa Toure, Carlos Tevez and Sergio Aguero could remember who they are.

The players have uneasy relationship with Mancini

Cold front: The players have uneasy relationship with Mancini

Mancini

Tight call: Mancini waiting for a flight to Germany

However, one thing that City's season has definitely lacked so far is a significant victory.

Mancini's team have accumulated
their 33 points in a rather functional manner up until now. Nothing
wrong with that. There are no extra marks given in football for artistic
impression.

They have, however, managed only draws against teams like Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea, Real Madrid and Dortmund.

Taken in isolation, these results are decent enough. But individual victories over your direct domestic rivals or big European teams can do wonders for the direction and impetus of a season and City, it must be said, are a team that look to be crying out for one at the moment.

Tonight in Germany, Mancini will rest some players as he looks to give his team the best possible chance of facing United in rude health on Sunday.

The City coach knows that, despite their league position, Sir Alex Ferguson's league leaders are vulnerable defensively and feels that if his team can click in to gear offensively then they could very well come away with the victory that they need to take them to the summit themselves and deliver the kind of message that may an impact both outside and inside their own dressing room.

Question time: Mancini quizzed by the media at Manchester Airpoirt

Question time: Mancini quizzed by the media at Manchester Airpoirt

Still got it: Mancini shows off his ball skills during training

Still got it: Mancini shows off his ball skills during training

City supporters bristle when their own team's 'uncertain form' is mentioned. Certainly, Alan Hansen's suggestion on Match of the Day on Saturday that the champions have 'struggled all season' seemed to over-state the point a little.

Nevertheless, it is true that City have looked rather unlike themselves so far this term. This has been a team that has scraped together its victories, rather than ease teams aside in the Premier League as it did on the first third of last season's campaign.

Some may suggest its symptomatic of a playing squad no longer totally in tune with its manager. Others may argue that City are suffering from a shortage of confidence and from a reduced impact from their big name players.

Whatever the case, two victories in the next five days would see things looking a good deal brighter.

I"m a Celebrity: Eric Bristow"s arrows at Helen Flanagan put darts legend in line for the chop – Edge of the Box

Bristow's arrows at Helen and co put darts legend in line for the chop

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UPDATED:

16:35 GMT, 23 November 2012

Is it me, or has it all got just a little bit genteel in the jungle since it hasn’t been 'The Helen Show' Suddenly, I find myself hankering for the drama and the histrionics surrounding her and the bushtucker trials.

Instead, we have the plucky and straightforward Pussy Cat Doll Ashley nailing her task and winning the camp a Thanksgiving feast, no fuss, no bother.

Mind you, even though she wasn’t the main attraction, Helen still managed to get herself involved and generate a thin lather of soap opera by nicking Ashley’s clean towel when the poor girl returned to the camp coated in goo.

Game for a laugh: Eric Bristow shares a joke with former Pussycat Doll Ashley Roberts in the jungle

Game for a laugh: Eric Bristow shares a joke with former Pussycat Doll Ashley Roberts in the jungle

So as she nipped off for a well earned shower, Helen was left to complete a task she’d never done before, which was to clean a towel – a task she told the gathered throng, she normally outsources. Which caused David Haye to cry in consternation ‘who sends a towel to the dry cleaners!’.

Of course the whole point of the jungle is to bring together a whole bunch of opposites and see what fits, and what rubs up against each other.

If you want that kind of contrast, look no further than Eric and Hugo walking off into the trees together to listen to records. With treats at stake, the pair had to find numbers hidden in songs they played on a wind up gramophone.

Eye-opener: David Haye was flabbergasted by some of Helen Flanagan's behaviour

Eye-opener: David Haye was flabbergasted by some of Helen Flanagan's behaviour

The music selection totally dumbfounded the young Old Harrovian, but Eric new them all! ‘This was No 1’, he told his posh (Mister Bristow’s word) partner as he sang along to ‘Shaddup You Face’. ‘It was late eighties…loads of c**p records were No 1 then’, before going on to explain the subtle intricacies of ‘The Birdie Song’ .

If Danny Baker ever needs a break from his forthcoming BBC 4 music programme, we’ve got his replacement right here.

Eric was actually in a chirpier mood than he had appeared to be in the last couple of days. He’d recently had a pop at Helen, and last night it was Rosemary’s turn. Yet he remains defiant. ‘I keep taking the mickey’, he told us from the diary room, ‘but if you’re easily upset, you shouldn’t be here’.

Face it Helen, it's not going to get any easier: Bristow has vowed to keep taking the mickey out of Flanagan

Face it Helen, it's not going to get any easier: Bristow has vowed to keep taking the mickey out of Flanagan

Of our trio of sports-connected celebs, I think that ‘take no prisoners’ approach could see Eric the first to take the long walk off a short rope bridge.

But for now, he’s still very much there as it was Limahl – who only turned up, like, two days ago! – proving that, in fact, not all stories are never-ending.

Which means at least Ant, Dec or me don’t get to pun on either of his two hits anymore.

Leeds takeover imminent, confirm club and GFH Capital

Leeds takeover imminent after Bates receives proof of funds from Bahrain

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UPDATED:

10:51 GMT, 26 October 2012

Bahrain-based investment bank GFH Capital are poised to complete their takeover of Leeds, the two parties said on Friday.

GFH Capital have provided Leeds owner Ken Bates with the necessary proof of funds to complete the transaction, which has been in the pipeline since May when talks between the two first began.

Speaking on Friday morning, Bates said: 'It's been a long road, but we are in a good place. Both sides have been in talks over the last few days to finalise this deal. We are keeping focused and hope to complete very soon.

Almost done: Ken Bates time as owner is nearing an end with a buyout imminent

Almost done: Ken Bates time as owner is nearing an end with a buyout imminent

'The inaccurate reporting of certain journalists who will remain unnamed does not help the situation.

'Their articles, based upon a lack of knowledge of the intricacies of the deal and the full facts of the positive intentions of GFH Capital, achieve little and lead only to retractions or public apologies at a later date.'

GFH Capital announced in October that they had signed an exclusive agreement to lead a takeover of Leeds after they had notified the Bahrain stock exchange.

GFH Capital's deputy chief executive officer David Haigh said: 'With the money in place, we are poised to make this deal happen pending agreements and arrangements which are in the interests of the future of Leeds United – we need to make sure all the finer detail is addressed before trading signatures.

'Despite what has been said recently in media, both sides continue to talk regularly and continue to work hard to get the job done.'

GFH Capital director and chief investment officer Salem Patel added clarification that the operation of the club would not be hindered by Shari'ah law, owing to GHF`s Islamic background, saying: 'We understand there is some concern related to how Leeds United would be run under our stewardship.

On the up: Leeds hope the buyout will spark a return to the Premier League

On the up: Leeds hope the buyout will spark a return to the Premier League

'It remains important to be clear that Shari'ah law will not hinder this transaction, nor will it affect the future operations of the club.

'Our intention is to provide investment which will facilitate a successful and sustainable future for Leeds United on and off the pitch.'

Former Chelsea chairman Bates, 80, who took control of Leeds in 2005, has become increasingly unpopular with a growing number of fans due to a perceived lack of investment in the playing squad.

In April last year Bates announced he had bought a controlling 72.85% stake of the club's shares from a Geneva-based company, Forward Sports Fund, while the club have made pre-tax profits of more than 10million since the summer of 2007.

England v South Africa was proper cricket: Patrick Collins

After our diet of fish fingers, this was proper cricket

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UPDATED:

21:50 GMT, 21 July 2012

The South African total was swelling hour upon hour, a relentless accumulation of runs and minor records. The English fielding was starting to wilt, with Andrew Strauss frowning his concern.

And high in the grandstand, a man who captained England long ago was nodding his approval of the scene. ‘Test cricket,’ he growled. ‘Proper cricket.’ And we knew just what he meant.

A philosopher once observed that the English, not being a spiritual people, invented cricket to give them some sense of eternity. At The Oval, their understanding became a little more profound. Not that it was dull, never that. But it was decidedly different to the usual diet of Twenty20 hit and giggle.

Floored: Andrew Strauss is left to ponder one of the toughest days of his England captainsy

Floored: Andrew Strauss is left to ponder one of the toughest days of his England captainsy

Different to the sudden death attitudes of the one-day game. And quite different to most modern Tests, which involve the opposition briefly flattering to deceive before capitulating to the best English side of recent years.

Capitulation was never on the South African agenda, as they played the kind of cricket that Tests were designed to provide. It is a game which examines character as well as technique; a game in which pressure is incrementally exerted, advantages are subtly seized, and tame concession is never contemplated.

The players had grown used to the rhythms of the shorter form. You could almost watch them altering their methods, adjusting their expectations.

After a diet of fish fingers, they were being served Dover Sole, and they found it rich for their taste. Likewise the crowd. This was not quite what they had come to see, but they became slowly absorbed by the intricacies.

Not out: Hashim Amla was immovable, batting all day for 183 not out

Going nowhere: Hashim Amla was immovable, batting all day for 183 not out

True, there were a few Mexican waves when affairs slowed drastically in mid-afternoon. But they knew what was at stake, how much mental effort was being expended on the battle.

South Africa have players who relish this kind of conflict, none more than the captain Graeme Smith. In the course of this short tour — far too short for most tastes — he has dispensed a stream of soothing platitudes: ‘It’s a very open series . . . two good teams going up against each other . . . we wouldn’t expect it to be easy.’

All true, of course, but that is not what he is saying in the dressing room. Smith believes that there are weaknesses, technical and temperamental, in this England side, and he is desperate to exploit them. Since they are rated the best in the world, he offers the English the mandatory compliments, but his body language does not hint at excessive respect.

In this, as in much else, he resembles other successful Test captains. Australia’s Allan Border springs to mind as a man prepared to bat for days without offering a sociable word or a plausible chance. There were times when it seemed that Smith still might be in the middle come Monday evening, and it took the rankest fluke to remove him.

Hungry: South Africa have never lost a Test when Graeme Smith has scored a century

Hungry: South Africa have never lost a Test when Graeme Smith has scored a century

Stuart Broad had just donated 21 off three overs with the new ball when Tim Bresnan was brought on to stem the flow. With his first delivery, he had Smith hesitating for a millisecond.

The ball found the inside edge, struck a pad and touched the wicket with scarcely sufficient force to dislodge a bail. Smith had scored 131, yet he strode blackly away, as if he had left the scorers untroubled. It had been something of a tour de force, his first 50 taking him 160 balls, his second whipped off in just 41. And he had left his side in a position of some security.

Smith’s collaborator, Hashim Amla, was in equally implacable mood. He scores his runs with rather more wristy style and grace than his captain, but he scores them in similar quantities. He was the nimble, resourceful player he had always promised to be and he was to find a formidable accomplice.

Jacques Kallis is not the man a fielding side would most like to see coming down the pavilion steps when the scoreboard is showing 260 for two. His career statistics are overwhelming, certainly with ball, but most ferociously with bat.

Power show: Jacques Kallis helped himself in the afternoon session, moving to 82 off 161 balls

Power show: Jacques Kallis helped himself in the afternoon session, moving to 82 off 161 balls

And this match has revealed no diminution of his abilities. Pretty soon, he was filling his boots; slowly at first, then with accelerating ease as control passed into South African hands. His face gives little or nothing away, but as the total passed 400 the whole of The Oval knew he was enjoying it.

As was my friend, the ex-England skipper. ‘Test cricket. Proper cricket,’ he called it. And he called it just right.

Rory McIlroy misses cut at Players Championship

Rory flops at bogey event! McIlroy misses Sawgrass cut again

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UPDATED:

22:56 GMT, 11 May 2012

Put Rory McIlroy on any course in the world boasting four par-fives reachable in two blows and watch the birdies flow. Any course, that is, bar one.

For the world’s best golfer, Sawgrass is a labyrinth on the scale of the Hampton Court maze. A place where the fairways are lined with kryptonite.

Here he competed in his third Players Championship and has still to make it through to the weekend.

Woe: Rory McIlroy missed the cut at the Players Championship

Woe: Rory McIlroy missed the cut at the Players Championship

Can it really be true that he has not
completed 18 holes in less than the par of 72 shots Since last August
McIlroy had finished in the top five in 13 out of 15 tournaments.

It made no difference here, where he shot rounds of 72 and 76 to comfortably miss the halfway cut in a tournament for the first time in over a year. How does that happen ‘There’s just something about this course I can’t get to grips with,’ he sighed.

After his first two appearances, McIlroy was so frustrated with its intricacies he didn’t bother showing up last year.

This time he displayed a more mature response. ‘I’ll be back next year and hopefully for another 20 years after that,’ he said. ‘If I don’t figure it out by my 20th attempt, there’s something wrong.

‘Right now, it just feels like one of those things. I shot 14 under par last week and felt like I hit it exactly the same this week, and yet I’m going home.’

Bogey course: McIlroy has yet to make it to the weekend at Sawgrass

Bogey course: McIlroy has yet to make it to the weekend at Sawgrass

McIlroy’s best golfing friend Graeme
McDowell probably put his finger on the problem. ‘There’s so many
opportunities to be aggressive out here but if you don’t pull off the
shot you’re usually in worse trouble than if you’ve played
conservatively,’ he said.

‘Rory told me in the build-up he was going to curb his natural instincts this week. So what happened when I turned on the highlights There he was, going for the par-five ninth with a three- wood for his second shot and putting it in the trees.

‘It’s all very well saying you’re going to be disciplined but it’s very hard to say no when the par-fives feel like they are there for the taking.’

In contention: World No 2 Luke Donald

In contention: World No 2 Luke Donald

The fact the tournament is led at
halfway by American Zach Johnson, who once won the Masters while never
going for a par-five in two, says everything about a venue that places
such a high premium on strategy.

Among those two behind are a couple of US-based Brits — Martin Laird from Scotland and consistent Londoner, Brian Davis.

As for joint first-round leader Ian Poulter, the car fanatic leaked some serious oil early on before mounting a partial recovery to finish five shots off the lead.

World No 2 Luke Donald and No 3 Lee Westwood came into this event with exceedingly high hopes and remain firmly in contention at five shots behind after rounds of 69 and 70 respectively.

What they must do over the weekend is cut down on the errors. Between them they had no fewer than 20 birdies and two eagles over the first 36 holes. With all those gains, they should be better placed than three under.

To be fair to Donald, there were mitigating circumstances for his unusual profligacy. There are two or three times a year when he wakes up with sinus problems and how unfortunate that one of them happened to be the first morning of this event.

‘I was proud of him for hanging so tough and coming in with a 72,’ said caddie John McLaren. ‘You could tell how listless he was feeling with the number of drives that were going left. He was unable to get through the ball properly.’

Starting from the 10th, he certainly got through the ball properly at the 16th and the second, where he mustered two eagle threes in the space of five holes. A couple of dropped shots thereafter took away some of the excitement.

Recovery: Tiger Woods fought back to make the cut at Sawgrass

Recovery: Tiger Woods fought back to make the cut at Sawgrass

Alongside him was Westwood, who showed off his vastly improved skills from the sand at the 16th, splashing out to two inches from an awkward pot bunker. ‘Great shot,’ cried Donald, praise indeed given he is the world’s best bunker player. An ugly three-putt at the 17th was a blow but he sank good putts at the first and second to keep the leaders in sight.

As for Laird, he would have been leading but for becoming another victim of the fateful trinity of finishing holes, dropping four shots over the stretch.

Davis has had two top-fours and a ninth-placed finish in his last five events, and is benefiting from a full reappraisal of his game at the end of last year.

Having lost one superstar in McIlroy the last thing the event needed was to lose another in Tiger Woods.

Fortunately, at three under for his round with three to go, the American was playing a lot better than during his opening 74.

Rangers crisis: Campbell Ogilvie received 95k EBT cash

SFA president Ogilvie admits to receiving 95k EBT cash from Rangers

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UPDATED:

14:06 GMT, 18 March 2012

Scottish Football Association president Campbell Ogilvie has admitted receiving 95,000 from Rangers' controversial Employee Benefit Trust scheme and admitted he might have asked more questions of the way the club was run under Sir David Murray.

The Scottish Premier League are investigating alleged undisclosed payments to Rangers players from 1998, which centre on the EBT scheme, now the subject of a potential 49million tax tribunal.

Former Rangers director and company secretary Ogilvie had already denied any role in drafting player contracts after the mid-1990s.

Revelation: Ogilivie received EBT payments from Rangers

Revelation: Ogilivie received EBT payments from Rangers

Ogilvie, who became general secretary in 2002 and left Ibrox in 2005 after 27 years, told Sunday newspapers: “I knew the EBT scheme was in place, but I didn't know the extent of it and which players had them.

'I didn't believe they were risky as the Murray Group took a lot of legal and tax advice when the scheme started.

'I don't know how Rangers used them with players but I was in the scheme.

'In my case it was an offer of a discretionary bonus or a contribution into the trust. I chose to pay in and then apply for a loan. That's how it works.

'I got three payments between 2001 and 2003. It was 5,000 each time and as part of my settlement when I left the club I got a figure of 80,000.

'It was a discretionary contribution into the trust and then I applied for a loan. I don't want to get into intricacies but you have to repay the loans over a period of time.

Plenty to explain: Rangers' crisis continues to rumble on

Plenty to explain: Rangers' crisis continues to rumble on

'There was nothing illegal about it. I have to stress that. I've a clear conscience.

Former director Hugh Adam has claimed players were given supplementary paperwork in addition to registered contracts, but Murray has denied the existence of dual contracts.

'I have no knowledge of any side contracts and I would be very surprised if that was the case,' Ogilvie said. 'If anything comes up that I'm not aware of then I'll put my hands up.

'You know the way the club was run. I was a director and we had a controlling shareholder who ran the club.

'I don't know what I could have done. Maybe I should have questioned things more.'