Tag Archives: loving

Bernard Hopkins wins the IBF light-heavyweight title against Tavoris Cloud

Record-breaking Hopkins defies odds to win world title at age of 48

By
Mike Dawes

PUBLISHED:

10:19 GMT, 10 March 2013

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UPDATED:

10:53 GMT, 10 March 2013

Bernard Hopkins broke his own record again by becoming the oldest man to win a world title after beating Tavoris Cloud on points to claim the IBF light-heavyweight crown.

Hopkins (53-6-2, 32KO wins) benefited when Cloud was cut over his left eye in the sixth round, which the referee ruled an accidental clash of heads but replays showed the gnarled veteran opening up the wound with a left hook.

Record: Bernard Hopkins (left) connects with a punch on Tavoris Cloud during their IBF light heavyweight fight

Record: Bernard Hopkins (left) connects with a punch on Tavoris Cloud during their IBF light heavyweight fight

Fighting spirit: Bernard Hopkins poses for a photo after claiming the title at the grand old age of 48

Fighting spirit: Bernard Hopkins poses for a photo after claiming the title at the grand old age of 48

The 48-year-old, who has been linked
with a bout against Wales' Nathan Cleverly, took control against his
fellow American thereafter and was victorious by scores of 117-111,
116-112, 116-112 to the delight of fans in the Barclays Center, New
York.

The former undisputed middleweight champion first became the oldest boxer to hold a portion of the world title when he defeated Canada's Jean Pascal for the WBC light-heavyweight championship in May 2011.

Back-foot: Hopkins (left) tries to fend off a punch from Tavoris Cloud during the first round with the

Back-foot: Hopkins (left) tries to fend off a punch from Tavoris Cloud during the first round with the

Endurance: An exchange of blows between Cloud (left) and an upright Hopkins

Endurance: An exchange of blows between Cloud (left) and an upright Hopkins

He was comfortably beaten by Chad Dawson
in April last year – leading many to speculate his retirement – but his
latest victory has once more galvanised his career.

Bobbing and weaving: Cloud (right) tries to avoid another big swing from Hopkins

Bobbing and weaving: Cloud (right) tries to avoid another big swing from Hopkins

Conversing: Hopkins (right) and Cloud give each other their opinions just after the enthralling fight

Conversing: Hopkins (right) and Cloud give each other their opinions just after the enthralling fight

Loving life: The legendary boxing promoter Don King watching on with glee at the result

Loving life: The legendary boxing promoter Don King watching on with glee at the result

Josh McEachran dreams of Chelsea despite Middlesbrough success

EXCLUSIVE: Josh gets his teenage kicks with Boro but he still dreams of Chelsea

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UPDATED:

23:00 GMT, 8 November 2012

Did you ever think you would hear a teenage Premier League footballer use the phrase ‘jumpers for goalposts’ Meet Chelsea’s Josh McEachran. That was his childhood growing up in Oxfordshire.

He was handed his first Chelsea strip by the club at the age of eight and wore it every day in the family back garden, if he could be bothered to get out of his school uniform. Two versus two with his three brothers, who can all play a bit and are all midfielders.

Josh, 19, is the oldest so teamed up with George, the youngest, now 12 — who has followed Josh’s footsteps, and their parents Julie and Mark’s car journeys, to the Chelsea academy. Their opponents were Billy, now 14, and second oldest Zak, 18, who was released by Chelsea five years ago and now plays for Oxford City. Got that Josh and George v Billy and Zak.

Shining light: Josh McEachran is loving life on Teesside after being sent out on loan from Chelsea

Shining light: Josh McEachran is loving life on Teesside after being sent out on loan from Chelsea

Loan star: Josh McEachran

Blue boy: Josh McEachran

‘We were lucky we had a good relationship with the neighbours and they’d always throw the ball back,’ Josh said. ‘It was all we did. Two v two after school every day. As soon as we got in, we’d chuck the bags down and head out there. It was a small garden, no grass on it, just mud, we’d put down little jumpers for goalposts, get a proper ball out and batter the fences.

‘It was really competitive. They are all good footballers and it usually ended in a little row and we’d sort it out the next night. My grandad played semi-pro in Scotland and my dad only played locally but he reckons he could play. I think he thinks he is better than he was but it’s weird he has sons who are all pretty good.’

Asked who is the best of the McEachrans, he gives it some thought, blushes and smiles when he nominates himself. It is a rare moment of bravado from a shy young man who is certainly not afraid to express himself on a football pitch.

Those who have seen him play will not be surprised that his skills were honed in an enclosed backyard. He can also play a bit. He has played in 22 Chelsea games since his debut in the Champions League against MSK Zilina two years ago when he became the first player to be born after the competition started (November 1992) to play in it.

On the ball: The Oxford-born midfielder is one of four football-mad and rather talented brothers

On the ball: The Oxford-born midfielder is one of four football-mad and rather talented brothers

But a loan spell at Swansea last season fell flat, despite his style suiting Brendan Rodgers. He played five games in five months, three as a substitute.

‘I went at a bad time,’ he said. ‘They wanted to stay up, they were playing really well and Brendan didn’t want to change the team so it was tough to get in. Gylfi Sigurdsson came in a week before me, he was on fire from the start so he had to play. They did well and I can’t blame him.’

Now on loan at Middlesbrough, he is a regular in their midfield, playing a pivotal role in Tony Mowbray’s typically free-flowing side, who can go top of the Championship with a victory over Sheffield Wednesday on Friday night.

McEachran is enjoying his time on Teesside. He lives at the luxurious Rockcliffe Hall adjacent to the training ground, spending an ideal day off with his girlfriend, whom he mentions a lot, even though she is supposed to be off limits. She is Coronation Street actress Brooke Vincent, aka Sophie Webster.

It is the football I’m interested in and McEachran believes the move to the most northern Championship club is helping his development. It is working for Middlesbrough, who are looking for their biggest crowd for four years, despite the Sky cameras, after luring fans back with a half-price ticket offer. It helps that Mowbray’s methods are working.

Pass master: McEachran (left) has been a big hit at Middlesbrough playing under Tony Mowbray

Pass master: McEachran (left) has been a big hit at Middlesbrough playing under Tony Mowbray

Happy couple: Josh with girlfriend Brooke Vincent

Happy couple: Josh with girlfriend Brooke Vincent

McEachran said: ‘I could have gone to a few teams but I met Tony, got on with him and his assistant Mark Venus, saw the training ground. I know his style is to get the ball down, pass it through midfield, so it was an easy choice. He drums it in every day in training. I am playing games, which is what I came to do, and Middlesbrough are doing well. The standard is good, really competitive, anyone can beat anyone.

‘My body is getting used to it but I am feeling fitter than ever and training is not as intense because of all the games.’

McEachran is under constant review from Chelsea and he is in regular contact with assistant first-team coach Steve Holland.

He has watched recordings of seen every Chelsea game. They could recall him in January, so he wants to be primed for that. While Middlesbrough is a happy temporary location, he did not sign a five-year contract last season for the sake of it.

He said: ‘I don’t see Mata, Hazard or Oscar in my position. It would be good to play with those players, they are all on fire. I am a deeper midfielder, so that’s my favourite position, where Mikel, Lampard or Ramires play.

‘I’ve been there since I was seven and came through the youth system, so that is my dream club. That is who I want to play for, but this experience can only help me.’

Nicklas Bendtner has dig at Arsenal training

Arsenal training is nothing compared to Juventus! Bendtner takes dig at Gunners

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UPDATED:

09:57 GMT, 15 October 2012

Nicklas Bendtner has taken a swipe at Arsenal by claiming the training programme at Juventus is the best he has been involved in.

Bendtner joined the Italians on loan for the season just before the summer transfer window closed.

The Denmark striker had arrived at Arsenal in 2004 but failed to establish himself in the team and had loan spells at Birmingham and Sunderland before moving to Serie A.

Fighting fit: Nicklas Bendtner (No 11) is loving life at Juventus

Fighting fit: Nicklas Bendtner (No 11) is loving life at Juventus

'At Juventus, the training has been
different to – and much harder than – anything I've done before,' he
said in Ekstra Bladet. 'Because of that, my form is at a peak. I'm
much sharper.

'Without playing, I'm down to fighting weight and that's never happened before.'

Bendtner, 24, has made just one league appearance for Juve but added: 'I think Juventus are aware of what I can do.

'When you come to a new club, you have to learn about things. In seven games, they have won six and drawn one, so it's fine.'

After scoring for his country in a
draw against Bulgaria on Friday, Bendtner is set to meet a few familiar
faces when the Danes face Italy on Tuesday night.

He said: 'Of course, it will be
enjoyable to play against Italy, who have eight Juventus players in
their squad. They know me and I know them, so I don't know if anyone
has an advantage.

'For me, it's a battle that Denmark
must win rather than a battle that Nicklas must win. I think we need to
win as a team – it's not something I have to win as an individual.'

Enjoy Kevin Pietersen. We"ll miss him when he"s gone: Paul Newman

Let's enjoy Pietersen. We'll miss him when he's gone

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UPDATED:

23:27 GMT, 18 July 2012

If only he had just left it alone after providing his views fully and persuasively in his interview with Sportsmail.

Okay, I know I would say that, but
Kevin Pietersen had explained thoroughly his decision to retire from
limited-overs cricket, his reasons for embracing the Indian Premier
League and the outside chances of him reversing his controversial move
to opt out of the one-day game. Whether you agreed with him or not, at
least he had put his side of the story fully and in context.

Then he went and talked again on TV
after striking a majestic double century for Surrey against Lancashire
at Guildford and any semblance of sympathy from the cricket loving
public about the demands of the crippling international schedule had
been virtually thrown out of the window.

The entertainer: Kevin Pietersen is great value for money

The entertainer: Kevin Pietersen is great value for money

Yes, the adrenalin was clearly
flowing after he had played such a brilliant innings, but there are
times when Pietersen, who as expected was left out of
England’s provisional squad for the World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka in
September, cannot help himself in going just that little bit too far
when making what is invariably a very valid point. And he went too far
when he said that he had ‘never been looked after’ by England.

That
is palpably not true and one can only imagine what Andy Flower made of
that comment because the England team director keeps his thoughts close
to his chest and would never consider giving anything other than a
measured response in the fullness of time.

The
subsequent revelation that one of the proposals the KP camp put to
England’s Hugh Morris to facilitate his rapid one-day return was missing
the first Test against New Zealand next year to play the full IPL can
only add to the sense that the clock has started to run down towards the
end of Pietersen’s England career.

More from Paul Newman…

Paul Newman: Smith looking vulnerable as Boucher era comes to end
11/07/12

Paul Newman: Tremlett is back and ready to hit the heights once more
04/07/12

Paul Newman: It's hardly the Ashes but Aussie duels will set hearts racing…
27/06/12

Paul Newman: Rotation is right way to protect England's top players
20/06/12

Paul Newman: Flower must stay firm while IPL is calling the shots for KP
13/06/12

World of Cricket: This Aussie overkill can only damage the game's great rivalry
06/06/12

Paul Newman: Cherish flair and leave alone Pietersen's stroke of genius
30/05/12

Paul Newman: Finally, there was a bright idea amid the gloom at Lord's
23/05/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

He still maintains he is as committed
to Test cricket as ever. His explanation for this apparent contradiction
next year is that New Zealand’s top players have been given permission
already to miss that first Test because of the IPL so why shouldn’t he
But this forgets that England’s players are a lot better paid than New
Zealand’s and that the ECB will do everything in their power not to
undermine Test cricket.

It
would be a massive shame if Pietersen drifts further and further away
from the centre of the best England team in modern memory, not least
because he remains a special talent who should be playing on the biggest
stage for as long as possible.

The
question of whether the England players now view Pietersen as something
of an outsider, and have been frustrated by him again hogging the
headlines in this most important of weeks, is a valid one.

But cricketers are pragmatic souls and they would forgive just about anything as long as Pietersen continues to hit match-winning hundreds, as he did in Colombo with an innings of rare brilliance just a couple of months ago.

The one thing that Pietersen never lacks is his craving of attention, and thriving when it most matters, and the first Test at the Kia Oval really matters. It would be absolutely no surprise at all if he had something special up his sleeve in this match. Enjoy him because we will miss him when he’s gone.

Majestic: Pietersen in full flight in Colombo

Majestic: Pietersen in full flight in Colombo

Record breakers

Ten successive one-day international wins and England have the chance to equal their record of 11 set by the 1992 team when they next play.

And where will that historic record equalling opportunity come Edinburgh, that’s where, in an ‘official’ international against Scotland somehow sandwiched between the second and third Tests next month.

Don’t expect any of the Test players to be there. Imagine what would happen if one of them injured themselves before the possible Lord’s decider against South Africa.

And the next generation will not be there either because the Lions are busy playing Australia A then in a far more relevant contest. So just who will play for England in that spurious game

And how will Scotland react to having to play an England Third XI

The mind boggles, it really does…

Top form: England will look to match their record run of one-day wins

Top form: England will look to match their record run of one-day wins

The winning combination

When asked to compile a composite XI from the England and South Africa teams off the top of my head by talkSport on Sunday I quickly came up with a side that included eight England players.

Now I have had more time to think about it my only real dilemma is whether I was right to prefer Andrew Strauss to Graeme Smith when the South African captain has such an outstanding record in this country.

But I will stick to my guns and propose this as the outstanding combined team ahead of this mouthwatering series.

Strauss (captain), Cook, Trott, Pietersen, DeVilliers, Kallis, Prior (keeper), Broad, Steyn, Swann, Anderson. It is some side, even without Smith, Hashim Amla, Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander.

If I am right then England should win comfortably!

Up for grabs: There is much at stake this summer

Up for grabs: There is much at stake this summer

Bumble’s final word

The massive question to be asked here is can the England team put Kevin Pietersen’s issues to the back of their minds and concentrate fully on the first Test

I have been there, done that and bought the T-shirt when I was England coach and let me categorically tell you it is easier said than done.

Can they turn up to work with someone who wants to rewrite the rules

This is a Moody Blues moment and these are the questions! Not sure Andy Flower’s mood will be great at the moment…

Euro 2012: England spirit is shining through from Krakow base – Martin Samuel

Now they are free in Krakow, England spirit is shining through

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UPDATED:

22:46 GMT, 22 June 2012

Call it cabin fever. Tournament football plays strange tricks on the mind. A closed, insular environment; long, dull days without relief or distractions. It overtook England's base in South Africa two years ago, caused rifts and eruptions, and ultimately contributed to World Cup failure.

The good news is that lessons were learned. No more isolation, no more football, football, football. The meltdown in Rustenburg has been widely misinterpreted as little more than a squad demand for lager after matches. It ran far deeper than that.

English players do not need to be fuelled by beer, but they should not be sapped by boredom. Roy Hodgson is responsible for England's transformation on the field, but the Football Association, and Fabio Capello, were the architects of the revolution off it: the new approaches going merrily hand in hand.

All together now: England appear a more content group than in previous tournaments

All together now: England appear a more content group than in previous tournaments

Euro 2012 email button

Hodgson has helped revive team spirit, but the inclusive team base with its city centre location has helped foster a loving home environment.

Whatever tomorrow's quarter-final with Italy brings, this tournament has created a template for how England will address future competitions. The engagement, the openness will last to Brazil and beyond.

As England returned, victorious, from Donetsk this week, Adrian Bevington, managing director of Club England found himself going through customs with Ashley Cole. He asked if everything was all right. Cole said it was fine. Bevington pushed for a little more. Feedback on the team base, perhaps.

The choice of hotel, city, the location just off the main square, the training facilities. Anything that could have been better, what could be improved No, said Cole, it was all good.

Happy campers: Cole is England's most experienced player and is happy with the current setup

Happy campers: Cole is England's most experienced player and is happy with the current setup

Nothing needed changing, no upgrades or rethinks. Everything was exactly as it should be. Contrary to his public perception, Cole is not considered particularly high maintenance by those around the England camp. Head down, does his job, 7/10, minimum. He is, however, England's most senior player. If there was a problem with England's approach to the 2012 European Championships, he would say.

So this has been a landmark for English football. The end of the culture of trying too hard. The desire to protect the players, to remove all distractions, had created a different raft of problems.

England's tournament bases were becoming increasingly extreme. Clinging to the west of France by the fingertips in 1998, on an island surrounded by a moat in 2002, halfway up a mountain in 2006, the bitter end was the Royal Bafokeng complex in Phokeng, near Rustenburg, with England cooped up like the Torrance family in The Shining in 2010.

Out on the town: Oxlade-Chamberlain, Hart, Lescott and Cole take time out on Krakow's main square

Out on the town: Oxlade-Chamberlain, Hart, Lescott and Cole take time out on Krakow's main square

It was decided that in Krakow it would be different. England players have been spotted around town, out for a coffee, in disparate groups watching football in the evening. One pizza restaurant party included Cole, Andy Carroll, Joe Hart, Jordan Henderson, Martin Kelly and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Players from different clubs, different age groups, a few young Liverpool lads, but nothing that suggested a clique.

Around the corner, Steven Gerrard was watching the same game in a hotel with friends. This is how Test teams get through the long winter tours. They allow players freedom to choose their own pals and dining clubs, from inside and outside the group.

An England cricketer might be found in a restaurant with some team-mates, a couple of pals from college, or his family. Even the odd journalist, in some cases.

England's new regime owes much more to domestic club practices, too, as Scott Parker indicated. 'It's definitely an easier environment,' he said.

Great Scott: Parker has lauded the atmosphere within the England camp ahead of Sunday's quarter-final

Great Scott: Parker has lauded the atmosphere within the England camp ahead of Sunday's quarter-final

'I've been in a few England squads, Roy's my third manager now and it's definitely a lot more relaxed, not as intense. You can see that the way the players are, the way we're preparing, where we're based.

'We understand we're here to play a massive competition and we recognise that much in training, but as soon as training's finished, you're back at the hotel and if you want to go out and have a walk and a coffee, you can. It's not football, football, football, football. At your clubs, when I'm playing at Tottenham Hotspur, I have that break from the game. When I leave training, I walk out the door and get into my car, I go and speak with my wife, speak with my friends, pick up the kids. It's not all football. But certainly before, whenever I've been around England, that's been how it was, constantly. And you're in such a tight environment anyway that it doesn't help. So we have intensity in training, in preparation and leading into games – but straight after we have another side.'

There is, of course, a balance. Near to England's hotel base is an Irish bar with a rooftop terrace. On the first night here, it was still going into the small hours.

Hair we go: Rooney celebrates his winning goal as England beat Ukraine and top the group

Hair we go: Rooney celebrates his winning goal as England beat Ukraine and top the group

Representations were made to the mayor's office and a compromise reached: the bar stays open but the outdoor terrace shuts at a reasonable hour. The last massage booking allowed for England players is 11pm. After that, and on the terrace of the Irish bar too, it is time gentlemen please.

Already plans are being made to recreate this relaxed mood in Brazil in 2014 (this is not arrogance, every nation plans ahead). Ideally, England will be based in Rio De Janeiro – although that will present a further challenge as it is a host venue and likely to attract significant numbers of fans, which Krakow is not – but the location has to be right.

Copacabana is out – England may as well try to win a World Cup in Spain from Benidorm – and Ipanema looks a little lively, too.

Next along the strip, however, is Barra, which ticks both boxes as an antidote to boredom without doubling as party central. Other cities, including Sao Paulo and Belo Horizonte are being considered – not least because the brochures that have gone out to teams include no proposed bases in Rio – but while the north is regarded as beautiful, the FA feel it could turn into another Rustenberg, slow and quiet with players unable to escape from the pressures of the tournament.

What's happening in Krakow is that English football is returning to its roots

'Breakfast, train, lunch, bed, dinner, bed,' as Wayne Rooney described the average day at the last World Cup.

Of course, there is no prize for best conceived team headquarters. Holland were also in Krakow, and looked to have snapped up the prime location in the city, on the river, near the town centre, engaged without having an Irish bar rocking until all hours when the players were trying to sleep. Yet, three defeats and an early exit, and who cares

Without doubt, results are currently vindicating the FA's policy. Yet what is also significant is Hodgson's contribution. This is the closest regime to the one put in place by Terry Venables before the 1996 European Championship, and Hodgson the closest manager.

English players feel very comfortable with an English coach, but experience helps. Venables was right in saying this is not a job for a young man.

Glenn Hoddle and Steve McClaren got the job too early, while Capello struggled with elements of England's football culture. Hodgson knew enough to appoint Gary Neville, but also to patiently hear out his ten new ideas an hour, then pick the one that works.

Right-hand man: Hodgson has sought to employ Lewington on a permanent basis

Right-hand man: Hodgson has sought to employ Lewington on a permanent basis

Everyone remembers Bryan Robson in Venables regime, but the true lieutenants were his long-standing coaches and allies, such as Don Howe and chief scout Ted Buxton.

Neville is the marquee name from Hodgson's backroom staff, but Ray Lewington is the man he has sought to employ full-time. This is a staff that understands nuance.

Capello, for instance, was so thrown by the conversation about being allowed a beer after games that beer suddenly appeared on the table with dinner before England's matches, to the utter bemusement of the players.

Hodgson would have appreciated there was no issue beyond winding down, just as Venables resolved an issue about chips at dinner – players had been sneaking out to McDonald's under a previous regime – by ordering the chef to produce huge, thick cut chips to greatly reduce the fat intake.

Venables may have experienced his greatest success in Spain, and he loved and studied Dutch football, but at heart he was an English manager. So is Hodgson, despite his time in Scandinavia, Switzerland and Italy. And what is happening in Krakow is that English football is returning to its roots, realising that long hours of contemplation on game reserves, or remote Japanese islands, do not feed the soul of an Englishman like a pizza in the town square in front of a big screen TV showing the football.

Good play is still all that will beat Italy, but at least this time we will not beat ourselves.

David de Gea loving life at Manchester United

De Gea loving life at United after shaky start to Old Trafford career

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UPDATED:

13:37 GMT, 14 April 2012

Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea is loving his first Barclays Premier League campaign.

After a difficult start to his Red Devils career, De Gea has emerged as one of Sir Alex Ferguson's key men on their drive towards a record 20th championship.

The Spain Under-21 internationals resolve remains in tact, even after the 1-0 midweek defeat at Wigan.

Part of the team: David De Gea celebrates with his Manchester United team-mates

Part of the team: David De Gea celebrates with his Manchester United team-mates

And, ahead of Sunday's Old Trafford encounter with Aston Villa, De Gea has revealed how excited he is about the thought of what lies ahead.

'I am really enjoying it,' he said.

'We can't wait for each game and I want the Aston Villa match to come round as quickly as possible.

'There is a little way to go yet and we still have plenty of work to do.

'But the dressing room is very positive. We intend to keep fighting and maintain that advantage.'

To that end, De Gea believes the shock defeat at Wigan might prove to be a good thing.

Having a good time: De Gea has shown his true form in recent months

Having a good time: De Gea has shown his true form in recent months

After a series of sluggish displays, United were overcome by a Latics outfit who controlled long periods of the game.

It provided a pretty stern reminder that victories cannot be taken for granted – a lesson De Gea is confident will be heeded.

'It was a disappointment but sometimes games like that can be a wake-up call,' he said.

'It reminded us that anyone is capable of winning games in this league, against any opposition.

'It will make us even more focused going into these last five games and make sure we carry on that battle for the title.'

It brought to an end United's eight-match winning run, and also represented their first Premier League defeat since the beginning of January.

That loss at Newcastle provided the trigger for an amazing sequence of results, from which the Red Devils connected 34 points from a possible 36 – turning their status from potential runners-up behind Manchester City to champions elect.

Not all going his way: De Gea looks dejected after Wigan's win over Manchester United

Not all going his way: De Gea looks dejected after Wigan's win over Manchester United

Part of the reason, De Gea notes, is stability at the back, where Jonny Evans has impressed alongside Rio Ferdinand and either Rafael or Phil Jones have been consistent at right-back.

'Having the same players around doesn't just help me – it is the defenders themselves,' said De Gea.

'It is a real positive for them because you get that consistency and continuity, which makes it far easier.'

Safe hands: De Gea has pulled off some brilliant saves in recent weeks

Safe hands: De Gea has pulled off some brilliant saves in recent weeks

It has also allowed De Gea to build relationships with the men in front of him, which has also been a major benefit as the 18million summer signing from Atletico Madrid adapted to life in England at such a young age.

And, taking into account the odd problem – failing to make a challenge in the build-up to Victor Moses' disallowed goal on Wednesday being an obvious example – it has allowed De Gea to flourish.

'I am very happy with my level of performance at the moment,' he said.

'It was always going to be tougher at the beginning.

'It took me a while to get used to the new faces and settle in with a new group of players in a different league.

No beating me: De Gea makes a great save against Fulham

No beating me: De Gea makes a great save against Fulham

'But I have improved from the start of the season and I am happy with how things are going at the moment.

'If you ask any player, when their confidence is high they are always going to put in better performances and, at the moment, my confidence is good.'

Ferguson has confirmed Paul Scholes will return for United in midfield, while Javier Hernandez's place is at risk after an ineffective display at the DW Stadium.

Portugal winger Nani will also hope to be a more central figure after making little impact on his return from an ankle injury.

Kenny Dalglish hails Luis Suarez

Dalglish backing Suarez to bring Merseyside misery down on Premier League defenders

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UPDATED:

11:18 GMT, 21 March 2012

Kenny Dalglish has warned that a happy Luis Suarez is set to bring sadness to Liverpool's Premier League rivals.

Suarez has been linked with a move away in the wake of the race row with Patrice Evra which earned him an eight-game suspension.

But the Uruguay striker this week insisted he is loving life at Anfield and Dalglish expects his star man to make defences pay.

King Luis: Suarez scored his 12th goal of the season in the win over Stoke

King Luis: Suarez scored his 12th goal of the season in the win over Stoke

The Reds boss told Liverpoolfc.tv: 'It might be bad news for other Premier League teams but it is encouraging for us.

'Luis has always said he is happy here, so it's great for everyone who supports Liverpool.

'I don't think he has been anything other than a threat to the opposition. We aren't going to analyse every game he has played in, but he's always been a threat.

'We have been delighted with him since he has been here. And we are delighted with the wee man's comments.

Key player: Kenny Dalglish is delighted with Suarez's contribution

Key player: Kenny Dalglish is delighted with Suarez's contribution

'He scored a fantastic goal against Stoke, it was quite similar to the one he scored at Stoke in the Carling Cup although he was a bit more wide.

'Luis has made a contribution every time he has stepped out on to the football pitch, whether it was on Sunday (in the FA Cup win against the Potters) or a month ago. He scores goals and creates goals.

'It's great news that he is happy. We are delighted with his statement and the content of it. It's good news for everyone who supports the club.'

Suarez joined Liverpool from Ajax for 22.8million in January last year.

Lewis Hamilton interview: I"m in love and in the groove

I'm in love and in the groove! Hamilton is relishing forthcoming F1 season

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UPDATED:

23:09 GMT, 12 March 2012

Lewis Hamilton can't wait for the new season. His McLaren looks on the pace, he is back with popstar girlfriend Nicole Scherzinger and is embarking on a new life in the Monaco sunshine.

Before heading to Australia for the Formula One season opener in Melbourne on Sunday, Hamilton took time out to tell Sportsmail how he has prepared for the most crucial campaign of his career.

He also got the chance to scare the living daylights out of Simon Cass on the Top Gear track…

Winning formula: Life is good for Hamilton on and off the track

Winning formula: Life is good for Hamilton on and off the track

When you were travelling to the USA after last season, did you sit on the flight pondering what you did wrong and what you could have done differently

HAMILTON: 'I did that over there. I tried to see where my strengths were, the races where I was strong and the races where I can improve.

'And there's definitely quite a few where I can improve! It's more, I guess, all about being in the right place at the right time.

'In Malaysia, for example, I flat-spotted a tyre which led to me having to use the wrong set of tyres, which then led to me running seventh, which then led to me having a penalty with Fernando (Alonso). It's just about trying to avoid those pitfalls.'

Monaco was perhaps the scene of your greatest torment both on and off the track last year (Hamilton was handed two drive-through penalties for collisions before blasting the stewards after the race with an ill-judged joke about the colour of his skin). What went wrong

HAMILTON: 'I had a lot going on at the time, my mind was not clear. And when your mind isn't clear then your decisions are overshadowed, you aren't able to think clearly.'

Loving life: Hamilton's relationship with Scherzinger is back on track

Loving life: Hamilton's relationship with Scherzinger is back on track

Did you feel you made some uncharacteristic mistakes last year, like your crash with Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi in Belgium, after which you apologised and admitted you didn't see him

HAMILTON: 'Yeah, I think that's just a case of being more switched on, more aware of your surroundings, being more alert. That's what I've tried to make sure I am.'

Do you feel the troubles that you have had were character building

HAMILTON: 'It is what it is. I'd love to be sitting here with three world championships under my belt. But I definitely don't regret what's happened and the experiences I've had. I think I'm better for it and hopefully that will help with future races.'

Is there any sense that success in your career came too quickly, that you didn't have to learn to cope with difficulties like you endured last year

HAMILTON: 'What people tend to forget is the journey that I had getting to Formula One. There were plenty of years where I had to learn about losing and having bad races. So I have had that experience coming up but it's a bit different in Formula One.

'You're stuck in front of millions of people and comments are made. If I'm really honest, I'm pretty sure that if the car was the same as it was in 2007 and 2008 I think you'd be seeing a different person sitting here, but that wasn't the case.'

Testing times: The rehearsals are over - the fun can now begin for real

Testing times: The rehearsals are over – the fun can now begin for real

Testing times: The rehearsals are over - the fun can now begin for real

This will be your sixth season in Formula One. Have you achieved as much as you hoped by this stage of your career

HAMILTON: 'I would like to have achieved more but the journey I have been on was mapped out for me, I think, and the learning curve has been quite steep.

'I am only 27 so I have some time if I am racing as long as Michael (Schumacher). My commitment has never really changed. The way you divide up your time can be better but I feel great, I am in a good place.'

You joined McLaren aged just 13, but after such a tough 2011 have you lost some of that boyish enthusiasm for racing

HAMILTON: 'Even messing around in that car (the MP4-12C GT3), I was still very much a kid with a new toy. I can't wait to get back into the car. I enjoyed all the testing and each day I wanted to do more and more laps, but we ran out of time.

'I'm really looking forward to getting back out and racing, especially in Australia which is one of my favourite places.'

So are you looking forward to getting back into your new car more than in the past few years

HAMILTON: 'In 2009 I wasn't too keen to get into it (thanks to an underperforming McLaren, Hamilton did not make the podium until the 10th race, the Hungarian GP, which he won).

'The last couple of years the cars were not bad, but this one does feel better than it did this time last year.'

What's the attraction Hamilton has moved to Monaco

What's the attraction Hamilton has moved to Monaco

What's the attraction Hamilton has moved to Monaco

You have decided to swap living in Switzerland for a new life in Monaco. What prompted that decision

HAMILTON: 'I just fancied a change. It was a bit boring where I was living, not many people around, so it was good to move. Where I have moved to there are a lot of people I know so there is a bit more of a social life, better weather and by the sea – just better.

'My trainer lives just up the road so we have settled down quite well. I moved a week or so ago. I still have loads of boxes to unpack but I am sure I can get someone to do that for me. I definitely plan to spend a lot more time at home.'

Is the competition stronger this season because there are six world champions on the grid

HAMILTON: 'You say that, but there are quite a lot of good drivers and have been for some time. There was a bigger difference in the cars. A lot more drivers are able to excel because they have better cars; the competition is closer because of that.

'Winning a world championship like this one, with so many great world champions out there, it'll definitely be one of the most valuable.'

In a spin: Hamilton takes Sportsmail's man for a ride

Robbie Keane wants Premier League return

Keane pondering permanent return to Premier League after successful loan spell

Aston Villa hope to sign Robbie Keane on a permanent deal with the striker considering a return to the Premier League.

The Republic of Ireland captain has been on loan at the club since January after signing from LA Galaxy.

Loving life: Robbie Keane has enjoyed a successful loan spell at Aston Villa

Loving life: Robbie Keane has enjoyed a successful loan spell at Aston Villa

And, amid reports that the 31-year-old striker is homesick, Villa will head a queue of clubs in the frame to bring him back to England.

Keane has scored three goals in six appearances, including two against rivals Wolves, for Villa but will return to Los Angeles next week to prepare for the new MLS season.

But, according to The Sun, he will consider his options again in the summer.

Glenn Whelan signs new Stoke deal

Ireland star Whelan stays on at Stoke for three and a half more years

Stoke midfielder Glenn Whelan has agreed a new three-and-a-half-year contract, the club have confirmed.

The Republic of Ireland international, who joined from Sheffield Wednesday in 2008 for 500,000, has become an important player in central midfield having initially struggled to hold down a regular place when the Potters were promoted to the Barclays Premier League.

Whelan, 28 on Friday, also has the option for a further year after his new deal expires.

Staying put: Glenn Whelan has signed a new deal at The Britannia

Staying put: Glenn Whelan has signed a new deal at The Britannia

Whelan has had a significant 12 months as he was part of the side which reached the FA Cup final, losing to Manchester City, and also helped the Republic qualify for Euro 2012.

'I am loving life at the moment and things are going really well, so I am absolutely delighted to commit my long-term future to the club,' he told scfc.com.

'We have enjoyed a remarkable past few years with everything that we have achieved and I believe that even more success can be achieved in the future.

'I am very excited about what the next few years could have in store, and I am proud to be a part of it as we look to continue the club's excellent progress.

'All of the hard work I have done over the past 12 months has paid off.

'To play at Wembley twice, reach the FA Cup final, play in Europe and be doing well at international level has certainly made it a memorable time for me.'

Keeping his man: Tony Pulis was delighted Whelan put pen to paper on a new deal

Keeping his man: Tony Pulis was delighted Whelan put pen to paper on a new deal

Manager Tony Pulis said the midfielder had proven to be an invaluable member of the squad.

'Glenn has played a big part in our achievements since he came to the club and it is important to look after players who have been the bedrock of that success,' he said.

'He has had a fantastic time these past 12 months, and he's shown that he's a player who thrives on being challenged to step up to the next level.

'That's probably the Celtic blood in him and a steely determination to prove people wrong, which has included even myself on occasions.'