Torture by TV for the duelling duo
21:45 GMT, 27 April 2012
Painful joke alert: What's the difference between a masochist and a sadist A masochist says 'Please hurt me'. And the sadist says 'No'.
If you want to see some genuine agony, tune in on Monday night for the most unneighbourly encounter in Manchester since Mario Balotelli's landlord came home to find his bathroom was on fire.
Sir Alex Ferguson says only a masochist would enjoy Manchester United's visit to Manchester City, but he is merely telling half the story – because sadists will love it, too.
In the spotlight: Sir Alex Ferguson and
Roberto Mancini will go head-to-head at the Etihad Stadium on Monday
At the heart of the torture chamber are two managers caught in the glare of a global television spotlight, where every tactical decision, every gesture and every remark will be analysed and torn asunder in high definition.
Should you wish to watch Roberto Mancini rage and gesticulate wildly on the touchline, press the blue nose button on your remote control. To see Ferguson harangue the fourth official, press the red nose button, although the blue nose button might work just as well if he is really angry.
Roy Hodgson thinks the scrutiny is too much. He believes Premier League managers are placed under impossible strain by television and he wants the intolerable cruelty to stop.
The West Brom manager called for TV cameras to be prevented from filming bosses during games, after becoming something of an online sensation himself earlier this year when he banged his head repeatedly on an advertising hoarding in a Basil Fawlty-style display of angry frustration.
'When you work in football you become a TV star,' he said. 'If I were in a dictatorial position I would never have cameras on coaches and benches. I would have TV cameras on the players. I don't think people should go to football matches to watch coaches, they should just watch the players.'
Fat chance. Newspapers and television stations have an array of long lenses constantly trained on the bench, in the hope of capturing grimaces, arguments and even that moment of uninhibited joy.
There might have been a time when a Brian Clough or Bob Paisley would have been left to their own devices once the game started, but those days are long gone.The manager is now an essential part of the drama and the technical area is their stage.
The ultimate performer is Jose Mourinho as he unleashes his full repertoire of managerial histrionics, capped this week by the sight of him kneeling alone in prayer on the touchline while Real Madrid exited the Champions League on penalties.
But if Pep Guardiola feels compelled to take a sabbatical from the pressures of running Barcelona – the most feted and successful club and coaching set-up in the world game – imagine what it must be like for every manager who has spent the last four years trying to catch up with him.
That is the pressure of being in front. It is a very different experience from being in the chasing pack. And all eyes will be on Mancini on Monday because it is a night when we will discover what he is made of.
Sign here: United boss Ferguson with starstruck fans on a club trip to South Wales on Friday
Although United have stumbled of late, the onus is still on City at the Etihad Stadium. Ferguson and United will be content to escape with a draw, hang on to their three-point lead and move on to their final two fixtures.
Their advantage was eight points with six games remaining, but City have diligently chipped away at this as Mancini has played to the gallery with some delightful shtick. The nearer City have got, the more remote his chances have apparently become.
'We have no chance to win,' Mancini smirked on Sunday. 'United always… they are favourites'. The ploy is obviously to relieve the pressure on his players with a bit of reverse psychology. As mind games go, it's about as unsubtle as a big red button saying 'Do Not Push'.
And if City actually win and move back to the top of the table, and Mancini stays true to his line, he will probably concede the Premier League to United.
Whatever he's been up to, there is no disputing it has worked – so far. Sergio Aguero and Carlos Tevez are playing with such a carefree abandon it looks like they are having a kickabout in a Buenos Aires backstreet rather than battling for the title.
Big question: Manchester United's defence has been flapping – but can City take advantage
But this is a game when Mancini can forget about talking down City's hopes. He has to win. Ferguson's players might be wobbling, with the defence looking as vulnerable as it did before Christmas with Jonny Evans and Rafael flapping about unconvincingly, but there is no doubting the resolve of their boss and his ability to transmit that winning mindset.
For Mancini, this is something new. He collected titles in Italy, but with all the riches and talent at his disposal, he has a genuine chance to claim his first English league title. With Guardiola now available the chance might not come his way again.
But whatever happens on Monday, it's going to hurt someone.
You ARE the bad news, Bernie
Circus: F1 ringmaster Bernie Ecclestone (left)
If I hadn't seen Bernie Ecclestone in
the flesh for myself (and just in time, otherwise my size 10s would have
accidentally squashed him down there) I'd have expected some
scriptwriter to invent this despicable little character.
F1's puppet master scuttled into Bahrain
with his grand prix cavalcade and then out again twice as quick with
the cash, avoiding pro-democracy protesters behind the tinted glass of
his high-security motorcade.
The diminutive 81-year-old dictator blessed with a gob as big as his bank balance then delivered his verdict on a shameful week. 'You know what they say – there is no such thing as bad publicity,' he said.
Oh really, Bernie Let's examine the truth of that idiotic maxim.
One 37-year-old protester shot and killed by riot police on the eve of the race. I'd imagine the family reading the obituary of the dead man might consider that pretty 'bad publicity'. Headlines declaring 10 women were held and one 'severely beaten' by troops aren't a winner, either.
If you think I've been harsh on Ecclestone, please don't worry on his behalf. Remember, Bernie says there's no such thing as bad publicity.
Leeds United manager Neil Warnock is having talks with El Hadji Diouf, the player he branded a 'sewer rat'.
Back then the player responded: 'Who is Warnock He is nothing to me. He is always shooting his mouth off.' The two are now negotiating a transfer.
I haven't been as confident of the outcome since Alfred Nobel said he had invented something called dynamite.
UEFA share the trophy for stupidity with Terry
So the trophy for being a prize fool may well go to John Terry after all.
Chelsea are looking ahead to the Champions League final after a wondrously courageous performance in the Nou Camp saw the club showered with deserved plaudits.
But there was one name missing from the roll of honour. Terry.
The Stamford Bridge captain was shown the red card for kneeing Alexis Sanchez off the ball, a dumb reaction that saw him banned from the final and excluded from appearing on the team bench in Munich on May 19.
I didn't do it: John Terry offered a ridiculous excuse for his moment of madness in Barcelona
But now UEFA, in their quite magnificent stupidity, say they will allow Terry to climb the steps and pick up the famous old pot if his side win. The clowns say they 'have no power' to stop him.
I wonder what UEFA staff do all day in their offices, aside from twiddle with paper clips. It is quite simple for them to instruct a banned player to stay away from the official trophy presentation.
If Chelsea wish, Terry can join the obligatory bout of jumping up and down on the spot with the cup later on. But he has no place in the formal ceremony.
Of course this is the same UEFA that decided it would be fitting for former chief executive and Dr Evil impersonator Peter Kenyon to lead the side up when Chelsea were beaten in Moscow in 2008.
More from Des Kelly…
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Terry could do the decent thing. He could say he has no intention of laying a hand on the trophy after jeopardising his side's hopes with that dismissal. He could leave the moment to Frank Lampard, who starred in the semi-final.
But Terry is not known for doing the 'decent thing', a fact we were reminded of by his reaction to the red card. He instinctively offered his customary Bart Simpson defence – 'I didn't do it. Nobody saw me do it. You can't prove anything.'
Unfortunately for Terry – he did; they did, and they could. Yet the gall of the man was staggering. To widespread derision, Terry claimed: 'The player checked his run and piled into the back of me. He put his weight on the back foot, that's why my knee went up. I've not had a booking in the Champions League this year. I would not deliberately strike another player. That would be madness.'
He was then shown the video replay that made a mockery of his version of events and tried again. 'At the time, I was bewildered because I was trying to protect myself a little bit,' he said. 'But I've no complaints. I've let the lads down. But I'm not that type of player.'
He is certainly not the type, not if we leave aside scandals involving insulting American tourists while the Twin Towers fell; being caught on CCTV urinating into a glass in a Romford nightclub; dumping his Bentley in a disabled parking bay; allegedly offering guided tours of the Chelsea training ground for 10,000 in cash; attempting to sell a Wembley box the England skipper receives as a perk; the personal scandals involving former team-mate Wayne Bridge; and a forthcoming trial to answer the charge he racially abused Anton Ferdinand.
As you see, he doesn't sound the type. Due to the impending court appearance, nobody at QPR was particularly keen to shake Terry's hand and, as a result, the Premier League has sensibly scrapped the pre-match handshake ritual.
What a disappointment UEFA have shown no such sense and seem quite happy to hand Terry a trophy.