Tag Archives: manuel

Dortmund hoping Champions League history repeats itself

Dortmund hoping history repeats itself as they take on Malaga for place in Champions League semi-finals

By
Darren Witcoop

PUBLISHED:

12:55 GMT, 3 April 2013

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UPDATED:

13:02 GMT, 3 April 2013

Borussia Dortmund will still remain dark horses to win the Champions League, but the omens might just be in their favour if they can progress beyond Malaga in the quarter-final showdown.

Dortmund have given up the ghost retaining the Bundesliga title with runaway leaders Bayern Munich destined for the trophy.

But in Europe, it is a different matter all together.

Star man: Dortmund striker Robert Lewandowski helped knock out Shakhtar Donetsk in the last-16 tie

Star man: Dortmund striker Robert Lewandowski helped knock out Shakhtar Donetsk in the last-16 tie

Masked man: Dortmund defender Marcel Schmelzer will be forced to wear a mask in Malaga

Masked man: Dortmund defender Marcel Schmelzer will be forced to wear a mask in Malaga

There is little doubt Dortmund, who have already knocked out Manchester City, are an emerging team under highly-rated manager Juergen Klopp.

Now Malaga, another of the season's surprise packages, stand in their way of a semi-final place.

Dortmund's only ever win in Spain came in the same season when they won Europe's biggest club competition in 1997.

A coincidence or destiny Only time will tell.

No panic: Dortmund coach Juergen Klopp and Brazilian defender Felipe Santana are in relaxed mood ahead of the last-four tie

No panic: Dortmund coach Juergen Klopp and Brazilian defender Felipe Santana are in relaxed mood ahead of the last-four tie

But Klopp claims Dortmund's 2-1 bruising win over Stuttgart on the weekend, which took its toll on his players, was ideal preparation for the first-leg challenge that lies ahead.

'We got manhandled', he said.

'At times I was worried about the health of my players.

'But it was a good preparation for the Champions League game in Malaga, because they fly into challenges with just as much intensity.'

Despite their underdog tag, Malaga, the Qatari-backed side who were in Spain's Second Division just five years ago, will not just roll over.

Top job: Manuel Pellegrini has defied the odds to lead Malaga into the quarter-finals

Top job: Manuel Pellegrini has defied the odds to lead Malaga into the quarter-finals

The money might have dried up at this cash-strapped club but they have still punched above their weight this season.

As well as reaching the last eight of the Champions League, they are also in the hunt for a top-four finish in La Liga although UEFA have banned them from playing European football next season due to outstanding debts.

'Nobody gave us a chance at the start and yet the players have responded so well,” said coach Manuel Pellegrini.

'We eliminated Porto and that represented a huge achievement for the side. We don't want our run to end here.'

Prized possession: Isco is wanted by Europe's leading clubs

Prized possession: Isco is wanted by Europe's leading clubs

Dortmund will be favourites to progress but they have been hit with injuries.

Marcel Schmelzer will need a face-mask but is likely to play, despite breaking his nose against Stuttgart.

Jakub Blaszczykowski has travelled but is struggling to overcome a groin injury.

Midfielders Sven Bender and Kevin Grosskreutz (ankle) are doubts and Mats Hummels is certain to miss out.

Robert Lewandowski, who has scored 13 goals in as many games, will lead the line and will be supported by Mario Goetze and Marco Reus.

In contrast, Malaga have few injury worries.

Portuguese winger Eliseu has been ruled out with a knee ligament injury but defender Diego Lugano is likely to return.

Ignacio Camacho and Duda are also back in contention after serving suspensions and star striker Isco will start.

Roberto Mancini challenges Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero to score goals to win the Premier League

Now win us the title, Sergio! City boss Mancini challenges Aguero to score goals to catch rivals United

By
John Edwards

PUBLISHED:

18:20 GMT, 17 February 2013

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UPDATED:

10:16 GMT, 18 February 2013

Roberto Mancini challenged Sergio Aguero to score the goals to wrestle the Barclays Premier League title from favourites Manchester United.

After seeing Aguero score twice in a 4-0 FA Cup win over Leeds, Mancini backed his striker to spearhead a late charge for the championship.

In the Cup spirit: Roberto Mancini is not giving up on winning the title just yet

In the Cup spirit: Roberto Mancini is not giving up on winning the title just yet

‘I hope Sergio will be like this from now to the end of the season, because if he is and our other strikers continue to score then the championship is not finished,’ he said.

With Malaga’s former Real Madrid coach Manuel Pellegrini the latest to be linked with his job at the Etihad Stadium, an unlikely second successive title should be enough to save Mancini from the growing threat of being sacked.

‘It is possible we could be 15 points behind by the time we face Chelsea next Sunday, but I think we should always be confident in ourselves,’ Mancini added.

‘There was a stage where we lost seven points in three games and that can happen to other teams as well.

At the double: Sergio Aguero scored twice as Manchester City cruised past Leeds

At the double: Sergio Aguero scored twice as Manchester City cruised past Leeds

‘So, even when we’re 12 points behind at this moment, we should believe it can be done. At this moment, United deserve to stay there because they have been better than us and scored more goals, but this win against Leeds can influence what we do for the rest of the season and spark us into life.

‘We have been unlucky with injuries this season, but Gareth Barry should be ready for Chelsea, and we hope we have Vinny Kompany for that one as well. We will see tomorrow or Tuesday about Javi Garcia, but I don’t think it’s big problem with him, either.’

Three and easy: Carlos Tevez celebrates with Aguero and David Silva after scoring City's third goal

Three and easy: Carlos Tevez celebrates with Aguero and David Silva after scoring City's third goal

Neil Warnock completes a year in charge of Leeds on Wednesday, but had to contend with some travelling fans calling for his head.

‘I’m going to have to get used to that, but no-one wants it and I don’t think I deserve it after the year I’ve had here,’ he said.

‘The fans are so desperate to get back in the big time and when they see the opportunity gradually fading, the manager has got to be the scapegoat.

Spot on: Aguero scores a 15th-minute penalty against the Championship side

Spot on: Aguero scores a 15th-minute penalty against the Championship side

‘If we don’t go up, I think everyone knows I’m not going to be here. My contract is up at the end of the season, and there’s no way I want to stay in the Championship next year.

‘The further from promotion we get, the more the club will be looking out to see what they are going to do. Could I go before then I have spoken to them (the owners) at great length. If they think it will help them then I’m not against it — I think whatever is best for Leeds United really.’

Feeling the heat: Manager Neil Warnock is under pressure from Leeds fans

Feeling the heat: Manager Neil Warnock is under pressure from Leeds fans

Ricky Burns to face Mexican Miguel Vazquez in world title unification match in March

Burns eyes Wembley glory! Champion set for world title unification fight with Vazquez

By
Martin Domin

PUBLISHED:

11:25 GMT, 14 January 2013

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UPDATED:

00:07 GMT, 15 January 2013

Ricky Burns will take on Mexican Miguel Vazquez in a mouthwatering lightweight world title unification clash at Wembley Arena on March 16.

The Scotsman has been out of action since brutally knocking out British rival Kevin Mitchell in Glasgow last September and turned down the chance to face American superstar and WBC champion Adrien Broner in Atlantic City next month.

But Burns, 29, will instead bid to add Vazquez's IBF belt to his own WBO strap in what will be the toughest fight of his career to date.

Fully focused: Ricky Burns will return to the ring in March against Miguel Vazquez

Fully focused: Ricky Burns will return to the ring in March against Miguel Vazquez

'The last time I boxed down at Wembley against Michael Katsidis, the crowd were excellent,' Burns said. 'I'm really looking forward to it.

'This is a dream come true for me. Any boxer would be happy winning two world titles at two weights and retire, but for me I want to continue winning more world titles, unifying them and stepping up the weight divisions. Vazquez is a top fighter and one that I’ve been after a long time so I’m over the moon that it’s happening.'

Burns also denied he was avoiding American superstar Adrien Broner after turning down the chance to fight the unbeaten 23-year-old in Atlantic City.

'Anybody that knows me, knows I'm a fighter,' he added. 'I want to fight the best. i didn't feel seven weeks was enough time to prepare [for Broner], I need 12 weeks.'

Having won the WBO
super-featherweight title with a shock victory over Roman Martinez in
2010, Burns became a two-weight world champion the following year, first
winning the interim WBO lightweight belt against Michael Katsidis
before being awarded the strap outright when Juan Manuel Marquez
relinquished the title.

Fight club: A Queen Elizabeth look-alike poses with Nathan Cleverly, George Groves, Dereck Chisora and Burns

Fight club: A Queen Elizabeth look-alike poses with Nathan Cleverly, George Groves, Dereck Chisora and Burns

Burns made a successful first defence
against Ghanian Paulus Moses last March before his stunning
fourth-round victory over Mitchell in front of 10,000 passionate home
fans.

He was due to face Liam Walsh at the
ExCeL Arena in London in December but his opponent pulled out after a
car accident. His replacement, Jose Ocampo, then withdrew just days
before the fight after his trainer died.

Vazquez, meanwhile, has lost three of
his 36 fights but only to the highest calibre of opponent. He suffered
defeat on his debut by compatriot Saul Alvarez in 2006 and was also
beaten in a rematch two years later.

Title showdown: Burns celebrates his victory over Kevin Mitchell in September

Title showdown: Burns celebrates his victory over Kevin Mitchell in September

Sandwiched in between came a unanimous
defeat by Timothy Bradley, who has gone on to become a two-weight world
champion with a controversial victory over Manny Pacquiao last year.

Also on the Wembley card will be
Nathan Cleverly's mandatory defence of his WBO light-heavyweight title
against Robin Krasniqi, George Groves' European super-middleweight clash
with Mohamed Ali Ndiaye and Dereck Chisora's return to the ring,
assuming he is granted a licence by the British Boxing Board of Control.

Boxing review of 2012, by Jeff Powell, with Ricky Hatton, Manny Pacquiao and more

Jeff Powell's review of 2012, with Ricky Hatton, Manny Pacquiao and more

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UPDATED:

21:40 GMT, 24 December 2012

'Tis the season to put on a few pounds, let the stitches heal the wounds, to soothe the swollen hands, take the weight off the feet without every second counting… and confer the annual awards.

Anno Domni 2012 began with Muhammad Ali further defying Parkinson’s by reaching his landmark 70th birthday. It ended with Manny Pacquiao being knocked flat out of contention as pound-for-pound king by the anatomically reconstructed 39-year-old Juan Manuel Marquez.

Between those ring-posts, history was made…

BOXER OF THE YEAR

Sergio Martinez achieved, at last, the recognition and the world title of which he had been deprived for too long.

The Argentine matinee idol, having begun his year by knocking out our own Matthew Macklin, went on to beat Son of Chavez and thus overcome the boxing politics in which he had been unfairly entangled.

He did so with a master-class for 11 rounds of dazzling style against Julio Cesar Jnr, capped off by his courageous recovery from a 12th round knock-down. The classic middleweight division found its latest successor to Sugar Ray Robinson.

Champ: Sergio Martinez recovered from a late knockdown to claim victory over Julio Cesar Chavez Jr

Champ: Sergio Martinez recovered from a late knockdown to claim victory over Julio Cesar Chavez Jr

BRITISH BOXER OF THE YEAR

Carl Froch, the outstanding fighter of his UK generation, gritted his teeth to come back from last year.s disappointing Super Six Final defeat by the accomplished Andre Ward.

He did so in commanding fashion, putting an end to the fancied Lucien Bute's unbeaten record to regain a world super-middleweight title.

A similar stoppage blitzing of Yusaf Mack not only gave the Nottingham Cobra a rousing homecoming but served notice on Ward and Mikkel Kessler that he intends, in 2013, to avenge the only two defeats of his warrior career.

Pride of Britain: Carl Froch was back to his brilliant best in 2012, especially against Yusaf Mack

Pride of Britain: Carl Froch was back to his brilliant best in 2012, especially against Yusaf Mack

WOMAN BOXER OF THE YEAR

Nicola Adams took her indelible place in the record books by becoming the first female to win Olympic gold in the boxing ring.

The wee lass from Leeds lit up London 2012 with her sunshine smile and lifted the roof off the cacophonous ExCel Arena by decking Chinese legend Can Can Ren en route to winning her historic final.

FIGHT OF THE YEAR

Manny Pacquiao v Juan Manuel Marquez*.

The asterix is there because the veteran Mexican idol had turned to a self-confessed former Olympics steroid provider to build him up physically in his desperation to secure a result against the legendary PacMan at the fourth attempt.

Marquez consistently denied using drugs to turn himself into a mini Arnold Schwarzenagger. So while there is no boxer of the year accolade from me, there is no denying that the Las Vegas night in its own right, with both men floored before Marquez landed his Hail Mary punch as Pacquiao appeared to be on the point of sixth round victory, was the thriller of 2012.

A broken man: Juan Manuel Marquez finally got the better of his old foe Manny Pacquiao

A broken man: Juan Manuel Marquez finally got the better of his old foe Manny Pacquiao

TRAINER OF THE YEAR

Rob McCracken not only brought Froch back from the professional brink to a third world title but also guided Team GB’s boxers to a rich medal haul at London 2012.

The first part of that double act has set up Britain's top prize-fighter for block-busting world super-middleweight title re-matches against Kessler and Ward in the coming 12 months.

The second part delivered not only Olympic glory but increased funding for this country’s amateur boxers.

SWANSONG OF THE YEAR

Ricky Hatton returned to the stage of pain for one last hurrah… and hurrah it was even though he over-matched himself after more than three years' absence by taking on an immediate past world champion.

We still love you: Ricky Hatton gave his fans once last chance to see him action, but was defeated

We still love you: Ricky Hatton gave his fans once last chance to see him action, but was defeated

The Hitman paid the price in the form of a crippling blow to that part of his body rendered most vulnerable by his past life of hard-boozing, his liver.

But he was ahead on the score-cards at the time and remains dear to the hearts of his army of fans, a sell-out 20,000 of whom sang him out of the ring for the last time and into a future as a trainer and promoter.

The sound of bells ringing in the ears – rather than the church steeples at this time of year – has stopped for the moment, but the memories linger on. Happy Christmas.

Arsene Wenger fears Bayern Munich in Champions League draw

Wenger fears Bayern bite and hails huge progress of German sides

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UPDATED:

22:30 GMT, 20 December 2012

Arsene Wenger’s relief at escaping yet another Champions League clash with Barcelona was short-lived as Arsenal were left with a daunting trip to Germany.

The Gunners will face last season’s runners-up — and Bundesliga leaders — Bayern Munich for a place in the quarter-finals.

Barring a third meeting in four years with Barcelona, a match against Jupp Heynckes’s side is arguably the worst-case scenario.

And speaking ahead of the draw in Nyon, Wenger, who has piled the pressure on contract rebel Theo Walcott to sign a new deal, admitted his preference was to avoid the Catalans and any German side.

Mixed emotions: Arsene Wenger was happy to avoid Barcelona but was hoping to miss out on any German teams too

Mixed emotions: Arsene Wenger was happy to avoid Barcelona but was hoping to miss out on any German teams too

Wenger said: ‘If I had a choice I would want to avoid Barcelona. Also, the German clubs have made a big, big leap forward. The Spanish clubs are traditionally there and in England we have a little deficit because usually at this level we have four but now we are only two.

‘You have the French, Paris Saint-Germain, coming in, traditionally Porto are always in there. But especially I believe the Germans have improved.’

And when discussing the draw, Germany international Lukas Podolski admitted the Gunners will find it difficult against Bayern.

‘It’s a big club but we have the chance to win against Bayern Munich,’ said Podolski, who used to play for the German giants.

‘They have a very good team with big players. They have [Mario] Gomez up front, they have [Franck] Ribery, [Bastian] Schweinsteiger, Philipp Lahm and Manuel Neuer. But both teams have the chance to win.’

The significant strides German football has taken in recent seasons has not gone unnoticed by Wenger and his backroom team.

Sportsmail highlighted in October how the Gunners, led by influential chief talent-spotter Steve Rowley, had expanded their German scouting network as a result of the country’s flourishing game.

Arsenal have already lured Serge Gnarby, 17, and Thomas Eisfeld, 19, from Stuttgart and Borussia Dortmund respectively, and Wenger hopes the club’s increased presence in Germany will lead to further acquisitions. Wenger is also interested in Bayern midfielder Luis Gustavo and Dortmund prospect Mario Gotze.

Of the forthcoming clash, Munich chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said: ‘We enter this match as the slight favourites, but we can’t make the mistake of underestimating them.

Out of the hat: Arsenal have a tough draw in the Champions League

Out of the hat: Arsenal have a tough draw in the Champions League

‘Arsenal have struggled at times in the league over the last few months, which a look at the standings in the Premier League will tell you. But by no means will this be an easy game for us.’

Meanwhile, Wenger has urged Walcott, 23, to repay the faith Arsenal have shown in him by signing a new contract. Walcott has rejected a five-year deal worth 75,000 per week but, as Sportsmail revealed on Wednesday, both parties have held talks geared towards persuading him to sign fresh terms.

And in his most forthright interview on the long-running saga yet, Wenger indicated that Walcott owes the Gunners.

He said: ‘I believe what is important is to keep the young players together and that at some stage I have stood up for them.

Watch out: The likes of Franck Ribery will pose a real threat to Wenger's side

Watch out: The likes of Franck Ribery will pose a real threat to Wenger's side

‘I played them at 17, 18, 19 years of age and I know I took a gamble. It is easier to take a player of 25 and put him in the team. You know what you are getting. If you put them in at 17 or 18, you have to stand up for them. You know you risk losing games while they are learning their job.

‘Once you have produced them, you want to say, “OK, let’s stay together and win together”.

‘Somewhere along the line they need to give back to the club what the club has given to them.After, when a guy gets to 30, you can understand it is his last contract and if he feels he wants a change, I can understand that.’

Wenger added: ‘Robin van Persie was 29 when he left. Theo is 23. It is important we keep him. I don’t want to compare him to Robin, but it would be a big loss. I want him to stay and have been consistent on that.

Sign up: Wenger hopes Theo Walcott will put pen to paper on a new deal

Sign up: Wenger hopes Theo Walcott will put pen to paper on a new deal

‘I am happy to pay Theo the money he deserves. But I feel as well that I bought him at 17 and spent a lot of money on him.

‘I am a big supporter and I believe he is happy here. He has always looked to me like he is an Arsenal man.’

Arsenal have put a 5million price-tag on flop defender Andre Santos, despite telling the Brazilian he is free to leave.

Santos arrived in the summer of 2011 from Fenerbahce for 6m, but the left back has failed to live up to expectations. Galatasaray have made a 2.5million enquiry but the offer has been rejected by Arsenal, who want the Turkish side to double their offer.

Santos, 29, is out of favour and angered Wenger by making a beeline for Van Persie’s shirt at half-time during the Gunners’ defeat at Manchester United.

Burnley 1 Watford 1: Austin on the mark again as Clarets grab a point against Hornets

Burnley 1 Watford 1: Austin on the mark again as Clarets grab a point against Hornets

PUBLISHED:

17:38 GMT, 15 December 2012

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UPDATED:

17:45 GMT, 15 December 2012

Burnley striker Charlie Austin scored his 22nd goal of the campaign as the Clarets and Watford drew at Turf Moor.

Nathaniel Chalobah fired the visitors into an 11th minute lead with a well-taken volley from the edge of the area but Austin equalised 17 minutes later from the penalty spot.

The home side dominated for large parts but could not force a winner, with Austin himself being denied by goalkeeper Manuel Almunia, and the Hornets could have left with all three points as Joel Ekstrand struck the crossbar for Watford with 10 minutes left.

Another one! Charlie Austin's equaliser against Watford was his 22nd of the season and earned Burnley a point

Another one! Charlie Austin's equaliser against Watford was his 22nd of the season and earned Burnley a point

Match Facts

Burnley: Grant, Trippier, Long, Shackell, Lafferty, Wallace (Vokes 90), Marney, Edgar, Paterson (Stanislas 72), Ings (Treacy 84), Austin. Subs not used: Jensen, Mills, Bartley, Stock

Booked: Treacy.

Goal: Austin 28 pen.

Watford: Almunia, Ekstrand, Hall, Hoban, Cassetti, Abdi, Chalobah (Yeates 46), Hogg, Pudil (Anya 90), Geijo (Vydra 72), Deeney. Subs not used: Bonham, Neuton, Beleck, Battocchio.

Booked: Chalobah, Almunia.

Goal: Chalobah 11.

Attendance: 14,896

Referee: Phil Gibbs

The latest Championship results, fixtures and table

Burnley boss Sean Dyche made three changes, with David Edgar and Kevin Long replacing suspended duo Chris McCann and Michael Duff, while Danny Ings was handed a first start of the season in place of Brian Stock, who dropped to the bench.

Watford welcomed back Almen Abdi to the side for his first start since November due to injury, while Alexandre Geijo replaced Matej Vydra in attack.

The visitors went ahead after just 11 minutes through on-loan midfielder Chalobah. Burnley failed to deal with a succession of Watford corners and, after the ball was partially cleared, Chalobah volleyed in from edge of the area for his second Hornets goal.

Burnley responded well to falling behind, with Edgar heading wide from Ross Wallace's corner.

And the Clarets were soon level. Referee Phil Gibbs had no hesitation in awarding a spot-kick after Joel Ekstrand pushed Dean Marney in the area and Austin calmly sent Almunia the wrong way.

Dyche's side were on top and Kieran Trippier's shot from the edge of the area tested Almunia, who could only gather at the second attempt. Then Danny Lafferty's deep cross was headed goalwards by Austin but the Spaniard saved well.

Just before half-time, Martin Paterson broke down the flank and Austin was denied a tap-in by a crucial intervention from Tommie Hoban.

Mark Yeates replaced Chalobah at half-time for the visitors to make his 300th career appearance, and the Hornets started the second half brightly with Deeney going close.

Away point: Nathaniel Chalobah had fired Gianfranco Zola's Watford into an 11th minute lead at Turf Moor

Away point: Nathaniel Chalobah had fired Gianfranco Zola's Watford into an 11th minute lead at Turf Moor

The striker, who was aiming to equal the club record for scoring in seven successive games, was denied twice by Lee Grant as the Burnley keeper saved the Deeney's far-post header with his legs and recovered quickly to block the follow up.

But Burnley soon found their rhythm again and almost went ahead as Trippier's dangerous cross was met by Austin, but his diving header was held well by Almunia.

Austin was then released by Lafferty but his attempted chip failed to find a way past the former Arsenal keeper.

There were loud shouts from the home fans for a penalty with 16 minutes left as the ball struck Marco Cassetti's arm in the penalty area, but the referee decided it was not deliberate.

Watford were still a threat on the counter and Ekstrand came within inches of a spectacular goal but his long range effort crashed off the bar.

But neither side was able to force a late winner as the game ended all-square.

Amir Khan"s former trainer Freddie Roach reveals wrist injury

Amir's chin is fine (…but his right hand is an issue): Former trainer Freddie Roach reveals Khan's wrist injury

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UPDATED:

19:56 GMT, 13 December 2012

The problem with Amir Khan is not his chin, it’s his right hand.

Freddie Roach, the world renowned trainer sacked by Khan after the knock-out which has put his career in jeopardy, has revealed the injury which has to be overcome on the climb back to the boxing summit.

As if regaining world titles is not tough enough, Roach spelled out the extra degree of difficulty confronting Khan as he goes into his rehabilitation fight against local hero Carlos Molina here tomorrow night.

With Khan no longer in attendance and Manny Pacquiao back in the Philippines licking his wounds after his shock KO by Juan Manuel Marquez, the fabled Wild Card gym in Hollywood was relatively quiet as Roach explained why Khan’s move up in weight divisions, to light-welter, is not the reason for his apparently reduced punching power of late.

Wounded: Roach believes Khan's right wrist injury could cause him problems

Wounded: Roach believes Khan's right wrist injury could cause him problems

Roach said: ‘Amir’s hitting as hard as ever in sparring because he knows that if something goes wrong its not as important in the gym as if it happens in a fight in the ring. The problem is that he’s a little wary throwing his right hand now.

‘He suffered some damage to the right wrist a while back and once any fighter gets hand trouble it’s with him for the rest of his life.

'That’s part of boxing and you have to live with it. He doesn’t want it to go again in a fight. It often stops him punching properly with the right as well.’

Amir Khan sparring

Amir Khan sparring

Must win: Khan knows he can't afford another loss after losing his last two contests to Garcia and Peterson

Roach talks about Khan with genuine concern, even though the young man from Bolton chose to move up the California coast to join rival trainer Virgil Hunter in the San Francisco bay area.

‘You get hired and you get fired in this game,’ says Roach. ‘It doesn’t bother me. Amir said he wanted me to make him my priority but as Manny Pacquiao’s trainer I couldn’t do that.

'What did surprise me was when he came out with that stuff about my Parkinson’s affecting me. If there was a problem with me as his trainer why ask me to put him before Manny

‘Was I disappointed Yeah. But I don’t care. I don’t wanna be angry with Amir. He’s a good boy. Works hard. I wish him well. We had three good years. He was never a problem.’

What Roach does not believe is Khan’s insistence that Hunter has already changed him into a more mature, better defensive, smarter boxer.

Khan was knocked off his world championship perch by Danny Garcia’s thunderbolt left hook earlier this year and Roach, who saw Pacquiao suffer an even more devastating shock from Marquez on Saturday, says: ‘Of course when Amir came back to the corner I told him to use his jab for a round or two and stay out of trouble. Then he could have gone back to beating up Garcia the way he was before he got caught by that strange punch to the neck.

‘But that’s not his instinct. He likes to exchange. He’s a fighter. When he gets hit and hurt his instinct is to hit back. No trainer in the world can change that. Amir will always fight that way and he can do it most of the time because I don’t believe he has an especially suspect chin.'

Khan was brutally punished by Danny Garcia in Las Vegas last time out

Khan was brutally punished by Danny Garcia in Las Vegas last time out

He added: ‘He made the same mistake as Manny, instead of continuing to dart in and out he stayed in the pocket too long when he sensed he was close to winning and got caught by a huge shot. That’s also boxing. But I will always be an offensive trainer because that’s the way to win fights.

‘I don’t know how good a trainer Virgil Hunter is. I know he’s got a great fighter in Andre Ward but however good he is Amir will box aggressive whenever he fights.’

Khan accepts he cannot afford a third successive defeat now but Roach says: ‘He should be okay, even though he should still be a little careful.’ He passes on that warning from his own unbeaten prospect Frankie Gomez, who fights on the undercard here.

Roach says: ‘Frankie fought Molina in the amateurs and tells me he punches harder than his record suggests. Still, Molina is small and Amir should win. You never know what psychological damage may have been done by a big knock-out until the fighter gets in the ring. But I don’t see Amir troubled. And I don’t see that in Manny either.’

Far from splitting from Roach, Pacquiao has invited his trainer to spend Christmas with him in the Philippines as they plot the return of the PacMan.

But if they do go ahead with a fifth Marquez fight Roach will insist on Olympic standard drugs testing. Eyebrows were raised at the muscular transformation of Marquez and his elevated punching power, not least because he recently hired as his physical conditioner one Angel Heredia, who confessed to supplying shamed American Olympic athletes Marion Jones and Tim Montgomery with steroids. Both he and Marquez deny any wrong-doing.

Fourth time lucky: Marquez finally got the better of Khan's former gym-mate Pacquiao

Fourth time lucky: Marquez finally got the better of Khan's former gym-mate Pacquiao

Juan Manuel Marquez celebrates after defeating Manny Pacquiao by a sixth round knockout in their welterweight bout

Roach reveals that he asked for random blood testing prior to Saturday’s shock, adding: ‘The Marquez people refused. I went to the (Nevada) commission but it is their practice not to do that unless both sides agree. If not, they just take a urine test on fight night. But that can be too late.

‘I’m not saying anything specific about Marquez but its not good for boxing if cheats win. There is too much stuff going on now about drugs. We had it with Lamont Peterson being on steroids before he was adjudged to have beaten Amir. It’s not right.’

Pacquiao’s chin is not his problem, either. Roach explains: ‘That punch from Marquez would have knocked out anyone. The issue with Manny will be that even if we don’t get agreement on drugs testing in our training camps, Manny will fight him again, anyway.’

Roach would still prefer that fourth re-match – and, yes, then the big one against Floyd Mayweather – to having Pacquiao start taking on ‘the young guns like Brandon Rios.’

Mayweather After that KO

‘Floyd has got the perfect excuse not to fight Manny now,’ says Roach. ‘But I say why not do the fight. Mayweather is talking about having two fights next year. The first looks like being against Tim Bradley (the beneficiary of a scandalous decision over Pacquiao). Then they are talking about Canelo Alvarez. But that’s too early in Canelo’s career. He needs to continue developing.

‘Canelo is already a bigger star than Floyd in many places so it makes financial sense, also, to let that build towards a mega-fight in 2014. So why not fight Manny after Bradley’

Roach remains convinced of this: ‘I still believe that there are only two men who can beat Mayweather. And they are Pacquiao and Khan.’

Wrap those wrists tight! Roach warns Khan to wrap his hands properly to prevent any further damage

Wrap those wrists tight! Roach warns Khan to wrap his hands properly to prevent any further damage

If Khan is to get that opportunity in the future, he must win in the historic Los Angeles Arena here and now.

To help ensure that victory, his immediate past trainer gives him one reminder, for free: ‘I hope he doesn’t forget to wrap his hands properly. I always wrapped them really stiff because he needs that to protect that right wrist.’

Juan Manuel Marquez beats Manny Pacquiao in Las Vegas

Pacquiao stunned as Marquez delivers knockout blow with stunning sixth-round shot in brutal 'Fight of the Year'

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UPDATED:

13:34 GMT, 9 December 2012

Manny Pacquiao gives straight answers even after he’s been knocked cold in the upset of the new century, as he was by his perennial rival Juan Manuel Marquez on Saturday night.

‘I’m open to a fifth fight between us,’ said the PacMan once he had regained consciousness. ‘Why not fight again’

Why not, indeed, when the early returns from the fourth edition of this saga suggest gross takings of $85 million. Why not, now that this knock-out with one second remaining in the sixth round has almost certainly put paid to the even richer prospect of a dream fight between Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather.

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Knockout blow: Marquez celebrates after stopping Pacquiao in the sixth round

Knockout blow: Marquez celebrates after stopping Pacquiao in the sixth round

Knockout blow: Marquez celebrates after stopping Pacquiao in the sixth round

The question which remains unanswered, however, is exactly how Senor Marquez, at the grand sporting age of 39, has developed a physique like the Incredible Hulk and nuclear power in his right fist.

If the world were as simple as when we were starry-eyed kids, we would have awoken with an almighty hangover on Sunday morning after joining thousands of Mexicans in their tequila-soaked celebrations here.

Instead we are walking gingerly on egg shells.

Stunning shot: Marquez lands the bout-winning right hand in the sixth

Stunning shot: Marquez lands the bout-winning right hand in the sixth

Knockout blow: Marquez lands the bout-winning right hand in the sixth

Knockout blow: Marquez lands the bout-winning right hand in the sixth

Knockout blow: Marquez lands the bout-winning right hand in the sixth

Knockout blow: Marquez lands the bout-winning right hand in the sixth

Knockout blow: Marquez lands the bout-winning right hand in the sixth

The world is not so simple when the victor of what might well be voted the Fight of the Year has to keep denying that his body-building transformation has been achieved with the help of performance enhancing drugs.

Marquez puts it down to incredibly hard work. We hear him but we also know that his physical conditioner is the man who confessed to supplying steroids to shamed US Olympic athletes Marion Jones and Tim Montgomery.

It feels horribly churlish to withhold unqualified praise for Marquez’s achievement in flattening, at the fourth attempt, the Filipino idol who went into this tumultuous weekend as one of the two best pound-for-pound fighters in the world. But if you hire as your dietician Angel Heredia – or whatever he calls himself at the moment – you must know that you will invite suspicion.

The PacMan: Pacquiao makes his way out to the ring

The PacMan: Pacquiao makes his way out to the ring

The PacMan: Pacquiao makes his way out to the ring

Everyone was dancing around the issue once Pacquiao was back on his feet and en route to hospital for precautionary tests.

His master trainer Freddie Roach has raised questions previously, but, more diplomatically, said: ‘His body has developed as he gets older and he’s punching harder. His power has improved and he hurt Manny a lot more with his right hand than in the past fights.’

That much was obvious for all to see as Pacquiao was decked in the second round before being knocked head-first into oblivion at the end of the sixth. His wife Jinkee was in weeping distress at the sight of her husband lying prostrate under a rope but once her husband had been revived he consoled her on his way to congratulating Marquez.

He remains a gentleman in defeat – and arguably still the greater boxer than Marquez even though the clear and decisive outcome which both sought in this re-re-re-match went to his nemesis, not himself.

Sighter: Pacquiao lands a left in the first round

Sighter: Pacquiao lands a left in the first round

Smiles better: Former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney (right) was in the crowd

Smiles better: Former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney (right) was in the crowd

Pacquiao, with his crisp right jabs, in-and-out attacks and whiplash lefts controlled this fight with the exception of taking those two huge blows. He recovered from his first knock down to dump Marquez on the seat of his pants in the fifth.

For the most part Pacquiao dominated from his quick-fire response to the first bell until that single second before it would have rung to end the sixth.

Marquez, his nose broken and his face lacerated, was on the brink of defeat when Pacquiao sensed a KO of his own, became over-excited and walked onto his opponent’s desperation punch.

‘We made one mistake and got knocked out just as we were about to win,’ said Roach. ‘It happens in boxing. But I didn’t see any signs of deterioration in Manny. When we get back in the gym I will advise him to retire if I see bad things. But I don’t expect that.’

On the charge: Marquez takes the attack to Pacquiao

On the charge: Marquez takes the attack to Pacquiao

Floored: Pacquiao hits the canvas after Marquez connects with a right in the third

Floored: Pacquiao hits the canvas after Marquez connects with a right in the third

Floored: Pacquiao hits the canvas after Marquez connects with a right in the third

Floored: Pacquiao hits the canvas after Marquez connects with a right in the third

Marquez was also showing signs of concussion when he returned to the dressing room and he, too, had to go to hospital.

With both men determined to bring their dispute to an abrupt and finite conclusion, promoter Bob Arum compared this with the historic battle between Marvin Hagler and Thomas Hearns which is regarded as the greatest three rounds in ring history.

Arum is probably right in arguing that Mayweather-Pacquiao could still be a $200 milllion pay-TV bonanza. As he says: ‘Losing a fight, even by knock-out, is not death.’ The problem is that Mayweather now has the perfect excuse for declining to put at risk the unbeaten record he cherishes. He did, after all, defeat the pre-muscular Marquez quite comfortably a couple of years ago.

Toe-to-toe: Both fighters were intent on attacking

Toe-to-toe: Both fighters were intent on attacking

Toe-to-toe: Both fighters were intent on attacking

Old acquaintances: The pair were meeting for the fourth time in their careers

Old acquaintances: The pair were meeting for the fourth time in their careers

Pacquiao-Marquez Five is another matter. The series continues to court the kind of controversy which, along with the intensity of the fighting, makes for good box office.

Marquez bitterly protested the results of their first three contests, a draw and two narrow decisions in favour of Pacquiao. Now he finds his night of redemption clouded by insinuations of drug abuse.

That will bring a sense of unfairness crowding in on him which will seem as over-powering as the roaring support he had in the Grand Garden Arena.

Old acquaintances: The pair were meeting for the fourth time in their careers

False dawn: Marquez had a wobble in the fifth after a left jab from Pacquiao

False dawn: Marquez had a wobble in the fifth after a left jab from Pacquiao

This was the night which was supposed to resolve their personal dispute once and for all.
Rather, it begs the question of a fifth encounter.

One for which the preparations need to be monitored, by wicked irony, by the Olympic standard blood testing which a certain Mr Mayweather is campaigning to make mandatory in boxing.

So when will it all end The PacMan may have to answer that, too. Whenever he decides to retire into politics full-time.

Floored: Pacquiao was face down on the canvas for some time

Floored: Pacquiao was face down on the canvas for some time

Floored: Pacquiao was face down in the canvas for some time

Floored: Pacquiao was face down on the canvas for some time

Job done: Marquez celebrates his victory

Job done: Marquez celebrates his victory

VIDEO: Reactions after Marquez knocks out Pacquiao in sixth round

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Kenny Shiels wants to play suspended Manuel Pascali against Celtic

Kilmarnock boss Shiels plans to play suspended player Pascali against Celtic

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UPDATED:

23:44 GMT, 6 December 2012


Off you go: Manuel Pascali was sent off early on

Off you go: Manuel Pascali was sent off early on

Controversial Kilmarnock manager Kenny Shiels is on a fresh collision course with the SFA and SPL after claiming he may play Manuel Pascali against Celtic on Saturday — despite the Italian being suspended.

Pascali was given a two-match ban after being shown a red card in the third minute against St Johnstone last month, which Killie subsequently failed to overturn on appeal.

The 31-year-old sat out the Scottish Cup win over Queen of the South, but Shiels is now bizarrely claiming that since there were 90 minutes, including injury-time, after Pascali was sent off against Saints, the game his player was ordered off in counts as the first of his suspension — meaning he is free to play against Celtic.

Should he field the banned player against Neil Lennon’s men tomorrow lunchtime, however, Kilmarnock and the player would both be in breach of SFA disciplinary rule 205.

That could see Pascali hit with an additional suspension of between three and 20 games, while Killie could face a fine of between 500 and 50,000.

Kilmarnock would also be in breach of SPL regulations and would face a range of sanctions including a warning, a fine, a points deduction, a replay or the match being awarded to Celtic.

But on Thursday night a defiant Shiels was adamant that he can play Pascali against Celtic; a view that will put him on a collision course with the authorities a week after claiming to have been told the SFA are ‘out to get him’.

Adamant: Kenny Shiels says he might play Pascali despite the suspension

Adamant: Kenny Shiels says he might play Pascali despite the suspension

‘According to my mathematics, Manuel Pascali has served two full games,’ Shiels said. ‘He played for the first three minutes and got sent off against St Johnstone, which lasted 93 minutes.

‘So, he has completed 90 minutes against St Johnstone and he missed last Saturday, so he will definitely be in the squad (against Celtic) — if not starting.

‘I think technically I’m right, so I’ll play him and then see where that takes us.’

On Friday on Twitter, Pascali tweeted from his @paska29 account: ‘I’m officially in the team for saturday!!!! #buzzin’ — and the Italian also vowed to score against Celtic.

Later, the player appeared to backtrack by adding: ‘Does people think seriously that i will play Ahahahahahhaha’

Shiels, meanwhile, also criticised the SFA’s decision to reduce a red card shown to Queen of the South’s Stephen McKenna against Kilmarnock last weekend to a yellow.

Breach: If Pascali does play the club will be punished by the SFA

Breach: If Pascali does play the club will be punished by the SFA

‘I am astounded,’ said Shiels. ‘His challenge was slightly worse than Pascali’s, but neither of them should have been red cards.

‘I am shocked by the level of inconsistency.

‘Pascali’s was less aggressive and what I want to know is why McKenna had his red changed to yellow, but Pascali didn’t.’

Last week, Shiels accused SFA disciplinary chiefs of being out to get him as part of a vendetta after being hit with a raft of charges.

Spokesmen for the SFA and SPL last night confirmed that if Pascali plays against Celtic, it would be a breach of their rules.

Roberto Mancini ready to spend big on Isco

Mancini ready to splash 17m to land Malaga playmaker Isco in January transfer window

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UPDATED:

14:00 GMT, 1 December 2012

Manchester City are poised to splurge 17.5million on playmaker Isco in January, before loaning the Spaniard back to Malaga for the rest of the season.

City’s new director of football Txiki Begiristain has discovered that Malaga are seeking to extend the 20-year-old’s current deal at Estadio La Rosaleda, which would likely raise his release fee to in excess of 30million.

Malaga sit in fourth in La Liga, and the youngster has been instrumental to their early season success, contributing five goals from midfield in all competitions.

Target: Manchester City are monitoring Isco (right)

Target: Manchester City are monitoring Isco (right)

City manager Roberto Mancini is hoping to wrap up the deal in next month’s transfer window, adding another creative midfielder to his star-studded squad.

Mancini wanted to bring Isco to Manchester for good in January, but could be willing to allow the talismanic midfielder to stay with Manuel Pellegrini’s side on loan until the end of the season, according to Goal.com.

Isco is a product of the same youth system at Valencia where City maestro David Silva graduated from. It was Silva who flagged up his compatriot’s ability to the champions' backroom staff.

He has also shown dazzling form in the Champions League, including netting a brace during an emphatic 3-0 victory over Zenit St Petersburg in September.

Should Malaga’s release fee be met, the Andalusia club would be making a marked profit on the 6.5million they spent on Isco when they lured him from Valencia in 2011.

Mancini missed out on the now Chelsea midfielder Eden Hazard in summer, but the Italian sees Isco as the ideal replacement for the Belgian playmaker.

Diminutive: The Spaniard is a product of Valencia's academy, but plays for Malaga

Diminutive: The Spaniard is a product of Valencia's academy, but plays for Malaga

Alternative: City missed out on Eden Hazard, who opted to move to Chelsea

Alternative: City missed out on Eden Hazard, who opted to move to Chelsea