Tag Archives: mischief

Police officer catches pitch invader with sliding tackle video

Dirty cop! Police officer catches pitch invader with sliding tackle

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UPDATED:

14:19 GMT, 28 November 2012

There are no excuses for deliberate
fouls on a football pitch, except perhaps when it's to apprehend a rogue
fan causing mischief.

One police officer took it upon himself
to show players how not to tackle, unless you want to earn yourself a
red card, while chasing down a fan in Monday's Israeli Premier League
clash between Beitar Jerusalem and Maccabi Haifa.

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The incident occurred ten minutes before the full-time whistle in the game that ended 2-1 to Maccabi.

A Beitar Jerusalem supporter wearing dark trousers and a white vest found his way on to the pitch at one end and managed to make it to the half-way line while being chased down by three security men.

Despite slipping a couple of times while giving chase, one officer was determined not to let the young man evade him.

Rather than trying to grab his torso, he instead executed a well-timed sliding tackle to bring the fan down.

The man was escorted from the pitch holding his club's flag, but not before trying to engage some of the Beitar Jerusalem players in conversation.

The officer, meanwhile, may be hoping that his tackling skills have caught the attention of watching managers.

Northern Exposure: Peaceful Newcastle fans got raw deal from police in Bruges

Peaceful Newcastle fans got raw deal from police in Bruges… now it's time to speak up

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UPDATED:

16:10 GMT, 21 November 2012

When Newcastle United were handed a Europa League tie in Bruges, thousands of supporters dipped into their piggy banks and booked their trip.

Never mind that hundreds weren’t guaranteed a ticket. Trains, planes, automobiles and ferries took the traveling Toon Army to the picturesque Belgian city two weeks ago and they set out to enjoy themselves.

This despite the unfounded fears of the city, the local police and FC Bruges that Newcastle would cause trouble.

Good trip: Newcastle and their fans did their club proud in Bruges as the team came away with a draw and the fans behaved

Good trip: Newcastle and their fans did their club proud in Bruges as the team came away with a draw and the fans behaved

More from Colin Young…

Northern Exposure: Why Newcastle could finally be tempted to make their move for old boy Carroll
13/11/12

Northern Exposure: Just how can O'Neill reverse Sunderland's fortunes
06/11/12

Northern Exposure: Wear-Tees derby may not be as mad as the big one but there's all to play for
29/10/12

Northern Exposure: Time to come up for air before next Newcastle v Sunderland battle
22/10/12

Northern Exposure: Super Sunday as Newcastle and Sunderland prepare for battle
19/10/12

Northern Exposure: Newcastle and Sunderland head into derby on back of Manchester mauling
09/10/12

Northern Exposure: Ba on his way out of Toon There's no smoke without fire…
18/09/12

Northern Exposure: Forget Trapattoni's wrath, Twitter mischief-maker McClean must face O'Neill
12/09/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

From the moment arrangements were made for the game – when Bruges refused to hand out enough tickets to cover the expected visitors – hurdles were put in the way.

The draconian `welcome’ for Newcastle fans included arrest for any fans who tried to enter a two-mile exclusion zone without a ticket. Thankfully, after the intervention of Newcastle United, Northumbria Police and North East Conservative MEP Martin Callahan, these plans were dropped.

On the surface, the welcome looked perfect.

A big-screen was put up in the Markt main square, the bars were open, plastic glasses handed out, and those who emptied the shelves and fridges of the nearby corner shops, who have never had a week like it, were encouraged, not frowned upon.

Some of them had a pretty good drink it has to be said, and some Belgian beers hold no prisoners. But Belgian police cells didn’t. Fans sang their songs, a lot, usually with anti-Sunderland connotations, and marked their return to Europe in good spirits.

The police presence was relatively low profile in the square, although that, and the mood among them changed when kick-off approached. Two or three hours before the game started at the Jan Breydel Stadium, those with tickets were encouraged to get on the Number 5 or 15 to the stadium. So we all headed off crammed into buses with the locals in rush hour.

The half hour journey took at least an hour, but two miles from the stadium anyone wearing colours, or identified as English, were forced off the buses by police to be escorted to the ground.

Myself and colleagues survived thanks to press accreditation and our laptops, but others, no matter what their age, were herded off into the dark. And it was a long dark walk through housing estates, often within close proximity to home fans.

Back in the game: Shola Ameobi scored Newcastle's equaliser just before half time

Back in the game: Shola Ameobi scored Newcastle's equaliser just before half time

To add insult to injury of course, there were vast gaps in the away end, as those back in the square and in Newcastle no doubt noticed. And the stewards we encountered also seemed hell-bent on ensuring we got plenty of exercise around the stadium. And with zero taxis or public transport available after the game, more than 2,000 of us had to walk back.

I know one Newcastle fan in Bruges who is no spring chicken. He was left so exhausted by the experience of walking to and from the ground that he nearly missed the game against West Ham on the Sunday. Of course he wished he had, but that’s how bad it was.

There was one altercation in Brussels, but there were no reports of any trouble in Bruges, although we witnessed one or two individuals testing the patience of their hosts after the game. Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew led the tributes to those who travelled to Belgium, relieved that his pre-match and post-match warnings for good, ambassadorial behaviour had not been ignored.

Praise: Alan Pardew was pleased with the Newcastle supporters in Bruges

Praise: Alan Pardew was pleased with the Newcastle supporters in Bruges

Yet it all came in the face of provocation, Callahan has now discovered. And he is determined that the voices of Newcastle United fans will be heard in Europe now.

Because he knows full well if there had been just a single flare-up in Bruges involving Newcastle United supporters, it would have been seized upon by the police, authorities and many of his MEP colleagues in Brussels.

He is taking statements from fans who were in Belgium and they should take him up on it.

He said: ‘I am extremely concerned at the reports I have received from Newcastle fans who were simply in Brugge to support their team peacefully.

‘Their accounts of the treatment they received are truly shocking and I have already been in touch with the Belgian police about this.

‘I would be appalled if fans from other countries visiting the North East were subjected to this sort of aggressive and over the top policing and I would be the first to condemn it.

‘The Brugge police commissioner gave me an assurance that Newcastle supporters would be welcomed and he asked me to report any fans’ complaints to him.’

Fans can contact Martin Callanan with their experiences and feedback on policing at the Club Brugge match via www.martincallanan.com

Ben Arfa can help kick start Toon's season

Amid the concerns over Newcastle United’s stop-start season, one man has emerged like the bright star he is.

Hatem Ben Arfa lit up the defeat to Swansea City every time he got the ball. Not that something happened every time he got it. It just looked like it might when he ghosted past one, two, three, four

He doesn’t always pick the right final ball. Sometimes he doesn’t pick it all.
But you sense, rather like Newcastle, it will all start to come together very soon.

Flashes of brilliance: Hatem Ben Arfa can spark Newcastle's season into life

Flashes of brilliance: Hatem Ben Arfa can spark Newcastle's season into life

With Yohan Cabaye gone for the difficult December programme, the onus is on Ben Arfa to deliver, particularly for the joint enigma that is Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse’s partnerhsip.

Cisse of course was absent – and like Callahan, Newcastle intend to pursue their grievances with the FA and FIFA.

But he did provide a couple of chances for Ba to score against Swansea. It’s just he could have delivered a few more.

To Alan Pardew’s frustration, Newcastle are missing valuable time on the training ground. And that won’t change in the next month.

He just has to hope it comes together in matches and that Ben Arfa’s feet still find the gaps very few players can, and put them to better use.

Sessegnon and Johnson show what they can do, now they have to find consistency

Sunderland’s Stephane Sessegnon has taken a little longer to warm to the challenge this season but Martin O’Neill has done his best to persevere.

The Benin maestro is too talented to allow games to by-pass him forever but his loss of form and touch, so soon after signing a new, improved deal, has been perplexing.

Done it once, now do it again: Stephane Sessegnon was back to his best against Fulham

Done it once, now do it again: Stephane Sessegnon was back to his best against Fulham

His performance at Fulham on Sunday, and his brilliant goal, have set the benchmark for the season, and backed O’Neill’s faith. And with Adam Johnson shifting through the gears effortlessly at Craven Cottage too, the Sunderland manager will be breathing a sigh of relief.

He just needs them to strut their stuff on home turf against West Bromwich Albion on Saturday now.

Downing bid proves Boro are serious promotions contenders

And finally, Stewart Downing back at Middlesbrough to lead the promotion charge Why not

It probably won’t come off. Liverpool need money for their unwanted England winger, not loan deals, and if a Premier League club comes in with cash, or a similar offer (Sunderland), even Boro boy Downing would surely be tempted to go there instead.

Back to Boro: Middlesbrough are keen to sign Stewart Downing

Back to Boro: Middlesbrough are keen to sign Stewart Downing

But it does show Middlesbrough have ambition, and they are taking this season seriously.

Chairman Steve Gibson has had enough of the Championship now and he wants to be back in the top flight.

And if he can’t see Downing back in a Boro shirt this season, he’s indicated he wouldn’t rule it out if Middlesbrough do get back to the promised land.

Sunderland are in trouble – Northern Exposure

Northern Exposure: Just how can O'Neill reverse Sunderland's fortunes

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UPDATED:

15:56 GMT, 6 November 2012

Ever get the feeling it’s just not your day/week/month/season That’s what Martin O’Neill, and his players, must surely be thinking after the week they’ve just endured.

The Capital One Cup exit at the hands of a useful and vibrant Middlesbrough team last week was a massive blow. Local bragging rights aside, this was a competition Sunderland were looking at with serious intent.

O’Neill won it four times as player and manager, and he recognised, like every Sunderland fan, the possibility of winning it this season. He might not also know that it would have put an end to the Newcastle 'have you ever seen a Mackem in Milan’ chants.

Head in hands: Sunderland's woeful form continued when they were beaten by Aston Villa

Head in hands: Sunderland's woeful form continued when they were beaten by Aston Villa

More from Colin Young…

Northern Exposure: Wear-Tees derby may not be as mad as the big one but there's all to play for
29/10/12

Northern Exposure: Time to come up for air before next Newcastle v Sunderland battle
22/10/12

Northern Exposure: Super Sunday as Newcastle and Sunderland prepare for battle
19/10/12

Northern Exposure: Newcastle and Sunderland head into derby on back of Manchester mauling
09/10/12

Northern Exposure: Ba on his way out of Toon There's no smoke without fire…
18/09/12

Northern Exposure: Forget Trapattoni's wrath, Twitter mischief-maker McClean must face O'Neill
12/09/12

Northern Exposure: Trapattoni ready to go against instincts and unleash McClean
05/09/12

Northern Exposure: Toon Army can look forward to more top trips around Europe
28/08/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

Lifting the first trophy since 1973 was a considerable way off, as Tony Mowbray acknowledged after his side were handed their 13th away cup draw in a row and given a trip to Swansea for next month’s quarter-final.

But last eight, semi-finals and Wembley in touching distance would all have helped lift the doom which has unexpectedly engulfed the Stadium of Light this season.

Sunderland then followed that with a home defeat to an Aston Villa side, who were reckoned to be really struggling and were three points behind them and without an away win all season.

And they probably deserved it too. If Lee Cattermole’s drive had flown a few inches lower, the first half, and outcome, might have been very different. But Sunderland are not having a lot of luck on top of Stephane Sessegnon, Adam Johnson and James McClean inexplicably and collectively being unable to deliver.

Villa just looked the bigger threat and once Gabriel Agbonlahor had ended a 28-league game wait for his goal, Sunderland never looked likely to equalise, for all their desperation and kitchen-sink style attacking play.

On top of all this, James McFadden signed last week and in hindsight might have been a fairytale in waiting on the bench but was overlooked for the latter stages of the Boro defeat for the McClean. But now he looks likely to miss out on the opportunity to impress for the next two months after suffering a hamstring injury on Thursday. It never rains…

This is all a serious test for O’Neill, who has asked for time to be judged and pointed out he endured similar difficulties in the early stages of management at Leicester and Villa. Even winning titles at Celtic didn’t come without its setbacks.

And he will know he has to get it right quickly. Just four points above third from bottom Reading, who are the home game in hand next month, Sunderland have a hectic and challenging period ahead.

You try and work out where the points are coming from. They face Fulham (A), West Brom and QPR (H), Norwich (A) before they really get into December.

Plenty to ponder: Martin O'Neill's appointment has not had the desired affect at the Stadium of Light

Plenty to ponder: Martin O'Neill's appointment has not had the desired affect at the Stadium of Light

They then have Chelsea (H) before the Reading re-match, followed by Manchester United (A), Southampton (A) and on Boxing Day Manchester City (H) before the month ends with Tottenham (H).

Testing times for Toon

Alan Pardew is also counting the cost of last week.

His Newcastle side came so close to ending their Anfield hoodoo, but what he'd give for a point and a clean bill of health after Sunday’s 1-1 draw.

Instead, Demba Ba, Yohan Cabaye and James Perch – the type of Newcastle players (yes, Perch included) who Sir Bobby Robson would have put in his `blue chip’ brigade – departed with injuries likely to leave them out of action for a few weeks.

And captain Fabricio Coloccini’s uncharacteristic moment of madness, even if he did try to pull out of a full-scale assault on Luis Suarez, has ruled him out of three Barclays Premier League games. He is always missed.

Blow: Demba Ba (right) added his name to Newcastle's growing injury list

Blow: Demba Ba (right) added his name to Newcastle's growing injury list

The downside of the deserved qualification to the Europa League was always going to be the test to the Newcastle squad. And at the beginning of the season, Pardew made no secret of his desire to see his fringe and younger players using the competition as a springboard to full-scale league involvement.

Pardew has used his men well and they sit top of their group, knowing a win in Bruges this week, and a favourable result between Maritimo and Bordeaux, puts them in next year’s knock-out phase. Progress indeed.

Thousands will make the trip to Belgium on Thursday, many without tickets, in a real show of force to mark Newcastle’s return to European action. Bruges is considerably easier, and cheaper, to get to than Mauritius and Athens.

Those who will be inside the Jan Breydel Stadium will not want to leave disappointed. This is the Belgian side’s last chance, and they will want to make an impression on home turf and end a run of six games without a win which cost seasoned campaigner George Leekens his job this week. They are likely to face a vastly inexperienced Newcastle team but the pressure is on the home side and caretaker coach Philippe Clement. It promises to be a testing night.

Return: Newcastle take on Bruges looking to qualify for the Europa League knockout phase

Return: Newcastle take on Bruges looking to qualify for the Europa League knockout phase

With points in the bag, Newcastle can afford a defeat. Maritimo at St James’s Park is an entirely different proposition in a fortnight and could prove to be the night for qualification. After that it is Bordeaux, when the majority of fans might appreciate the option of saving some money.

One criticism from supporters during the summer, was the lack of new signings. The new numbers of players alone didn’t match up.

The board believed they had the resources, and Pardew has never suggested he is unhappy with the cards he has been dealt. But this month tests the squad to the absolute limit and presents challenges he could do without as he looks to gain a stronger presence in the Premier League.

Newcastle have two months to get to the January transfer window. How they deal with its opening may depend on whether they limp or leap into the New Year.

Roberto Mancini not under threat from Pep Guardiola, say Manchester City

Manchester City deny Guardiola is primed to replace Mancini after arrival of pal Begiristain

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UPDATED:

09:50 GMT, 29 October 2012

Manchester City have denied Roberto Mancini's job is under threat from Pep Guardiola after the club lured Barcelona's former technical director Txiki Begiristain to the Etihad as director of football.

Begiristain's arrival, combined with that of recently appointed chief executive Ferran Soriano, another to have worked at the Nou Camp, had led to speculation that the currently-out-of-work Guardiola would be approached.

No pressure: Manchester City have denied Roberto Mancini's job is under threat from Pep Guardiola following the arrival of two former senior Barcelona officials at the Etihad

No pressure: Manchester City have denied Roberto Mancini's job is under threat from Pep Guardiola following the arrival of two former senior Barcelona officials at the Etihad

No pressure: Manchester City have denied Roberto Mancini's job is under threat from Pep Guardiola following the arrival of two former senior Barcelona officials

Mancini, who signed a five-year contract
in the summer to become the highest paid manager in the Premier League,
is safe, according to club sources.

'Roberto has won three trophies in
two-and-a-half years and was given a new five-year contract in the
summer, and that would not have happened if the powers that be thought
they had the wrong manager,' the source told ESPN.

'No,
this is not about the manager, as some mischief-makers might assume.
The possible recruitment of another former Barcelona man, that is just
not what is going on here.

'We
have a monster of a project with our new academy and Brian is going to
oversee that while Txiki comes in as we need a division of roles.

Welcome aboard: Txiki Begiristain (left) is now City's director of football

Welcome aboard: Txiki Begiristain (left) is now City's director of football

MANCHESTER CITY HIERARCHY

Owner: Sheikh Mansour

Chairman: Khaldoon al Mubarak

Chief executive: Ferran Soriano

DoF: Txiki Begiristain Boss: Roberto Mancini

Academy director: Brian Marwood

'Brian [Marwood] met up with Txiki on Thursday and Friday and Brian has the respect of the chairman and has been a constant in all that has been going on with some big changes and the creation of a philosophy and everyone is working together toward that end.'

Guardiola has also been linked with Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal, while clubs in Italy are among those monitoring his situation while he takes a sabbatical from the game.

Privately Mancini has told close associates he is relieved that more than two years of struggle with Brian Marwood – who was taken up the role of academy director – are now at an end. He is also said to be ‘open minded’ about the prospect of working with a director of football.

Pushed out Brian Marwood

Pushed out Brian Marwood

Marwood never actually carried that title after Mancini’s predecessor Mark Hughes objected to it when the former Arsenal winger was appointed four years ago.

It is clear that Begiristain’s role in the recruitment of players will be central to his day-to-day involvement at the Etihad Stadium. Whether Mancini will see that as helpful or obstructive will be interesting. The one thing he will not tolerate is being told which players he should or should not try to buy.

Mancini's season has not been without its problems so far, however, and he is currently trying to contain the mutterings of dissent from a small group of players in his dressing room.

Begiristain, 48, has been on City’s radar for some time and was finally lured from Barcelona at the end of last week by Soriano.

The two men worked successfully at the Nou Camp and City hope that the pairing of such experienced and talented men can help lead the group forwards as they look to build on last season’s Barclays Premier League win.

City were keen to stress that Marwood has not been demoted, claiming that the former Arsenal player retains the support of chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak and underlining that the success of the club’s academy will be vital to the future of the club. Nevertheless, it is hard to imagine that this is a role Marwood would have chosen.

Indifferent: City's form in Europe has been dismal, and they aren't convincing at home, either

Indifferent: City's form in Europe has been dismal, and they aren't convincing at home, either

Begiristain, who played for Real Sociedad and Barcelona during his playing career, said: ‘I am very pleased indeed to have been offered such an exciting opportunity.

‘The progress and on-field achievements at Manchester City are plain for all to see and I am honoured to have been asked to contribute to their future success.

‘I am very much looking forward to working with Brian Marwood, Roberto Mancini and Ferran Soriano in continuing to build a football team and philosophy which will serve Manchester City well in the near and long-term future.’

Mario Balotelli prank on Manchester City photographer

That's a bit flash! City photographer falls victim to Mario's latest prank

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UPDATED:

16:31 GMT, 20 August 2012

New season, same old Mario. It may have been a day to set the benchmark for the year to come, but the Premier League's favourite prankster still found time for some mischief on the opening afternoon.

His hi-jinx didn't involve fireworks this time, but a flash of a different kind as he grabs an expensive piece of camera equipment from Manchester City's club photographer Sharon Latham.

Just before the champions' opening match against Southampton, the unpredictable striker is filmed strolling down the tunnel at the City of Manchester Stadium, casually hi-fiving the young mascots.

Scroll down to watch the video

Balotelli strolls down the tunnel after completing his warm-up, nonchalantly hi-fiving the mascots

Balotelli strolls down the tunnel after completing his warm-up, nonchalantly hi-fiving the mascots

He spies club photographer Sharon Latham kneeling on the floor snapping away and makes a grab for her camera

He spies club photographer Sharon Latham kneeling on the floor snapping away and makes a grab for her camera

Meanwhile, Latham is crouched on the floor snapping away at him. The switch in Balotelli's mischievous mind goes and he reaches out for the flash, almost dragging the photographer with him as she tries to cling on.

And with a broad smile on his face, the Italian then twists of the lens and walks off the to changing room.

The embarrassed Latham doesn't know where to look and can only laugh at the prank.

The referee Howard Webb, walking down the tunnel behind Balotelli, struggles to hide a smirk as he walks past.

She bravely tries to cling on to her expensive piece of equipment as Balotelli tries to get the flash

She bravely tries to cling on to her expensive piece of equipment as Balotelli tries to get the flash

The striker proves too strong and gets away with the lens

The striker proves too strong and gets away with the lens

Balotelli disappears to the dressing room and Latham can only smile at the prank

Balotelli disappears to the dressing room and Latham can only smile at the prank

Balotelli came on for the last 20 minutes of City's 3-2 opening day win against Southampton as a replacement for David Silva.

He reportedly twisted his knee in a pre-match warm down, though City officials played down the extent of the injury.

He's likely to see plenty of match action in the coming weeks as strike partner Sergio Aguero was injured during the game.

Why always him Balotelli's latest prank

Mike McDonald hits out at Walter Smith

Put up or shut up: Green partner McDonald hits out at Walter

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UPDATED:

21:00 GMT, 15 June 2012

Under fire: Walter Smith

Under fire: Walter Smith

The business partner of new Rangers owner Charles Green has warned Walter Smith's takeover consortium to either put up or shut up.

Former Sheffield United chairman Mike McDonald leapt to the defence of his long-term ally as Green came under mounting fans' pressure to accept an offer from a group involving Smith, Scotland's richest man Jim McColl, Douglas Park and former director Dave King.

Revealing that the Smith consortium is just one of THREE parties to make their interest known since the completion of a 5.5million deal on Thursday, however, McDonald has warned all the bidders to prove they have means to take the club forward.

Sportsmail understands the Smith group are willing to pay up to 8m for the club and hope to meet with Green, McDonald and active investors early next week.

Angered by the calls for supporters to delay the purchase of season tickets, however, McDonald has queried why the Smith consortium waited so long to enter the bidding – branding the move 'mischief-making'.

'People say Charles should sell, but the answer to that is, “Where is the offer”,' McDonald told Sportsmail.

'Where is the proof of funding and the necessary offer It's all right saying they are going to do this or do that. It's fine to talk to the press and the fans, but if they've got something to offer, then they have to make a formal offer.

'They have to put their money where their mouths are. That's what Charlie and his team did.

'Where were Walter Smith and his team when David Murray and Craig Whyte were running the club into the ground

'These guys sat there and let all this happen and now, all of a sudden, they are back saying they want to do this and that.'

A business acquaintance of Green's for 40 years, McDonald has not invested in the takeover, but will provide the cash for new players if an SFA transfer embargo is lifted.

Insisting the Green group are at Rangers for the long haul, he revealed approaches from other parties on Thursday – the same day the Smith consortium made public their interest.

'We had plenty of Scottish people coming to us yesterday saying they want to get involved. And we've always said: “OK, put your money where your mouth is”. Every day people come to us.'

Sir Alex Ferguson: Manchester City would be haunted by title failure

Fergie's take: Manchester City would be haunted by final day failure

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UPDATED:

20:59 GMT, 11 May 2012

Deep down, Sir Alex Ferguson knows that his team’s race is just about run for another year. Only a Devon Loch moment — Ferguson’s own words — by Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday will hand United the 20th English championship they crave.

Sitting before the written media for the last time this season, though, the United manager did plant just one seed of mischief on Friday when he allowed himself to wonder what life might be like for Roberto Mancini and his players were they to let glory slip through their fingers.

‘The disappointment of losing the game would be unbelievable,’ said Ferguson. ‘It’s untold at this moment in time what effect it could have on them.

Slight hope: Sir Alex Ferguson is praying City fall apart on final day

Slight hope: Sir Alex Ferguson is praying City fall apart on final day

‘We can only do our best and try and win the match. Hopefully something stupid happens to City. Twenty-nine years ago today I took a wee team called Aberdeen to beat Real Madrid in a European final.

‘That’s QPR’s challenge — to do an Aberdeen.’

Ferguson struck exactly the right tone. While he clearly hopes victory for his team at Sunderland will be accompanied by a miracle in east Manchester, he knows the chances are slim.

As such, he was careful to be complimentary about City manager Mancini, but also clear on one thing. That United have been in this position before and recovered the following season.

‘The situation at the moment means we are probably going to lose out this season but there’s a lot of young players in the squad,’ he said. ‘We’re not looking as though it’s an end of an era for us. In many ways it’s the start.

‘The challenge is obvious. If we lose the league then we have to try and win it again. We are certainly not going away, that’s for sure.

Spirit: Wayne Rooney and his colleagues will need to win at Sunderland

Spirit: Wayne Rooney and his colleagues will need to win at Sunderland

‘There is a great thing about this club, an in-bred discipline about what is needed to win a league and it has shown itself this season again.’

Ferguson, of course, has endured last-day dramas before, most notably when United failed to win at West Ham in 1995, allowing Blackburn to win the league despite defeat at Liverpool.

‘How many chances did we have that day’ asked Ferguson, blowing out his cheeks. ‘It was unbelievable. It was agony, because we didn’t expect what happened at Anfield.

‘We thought Liverpool would maybe draw the game, but when we realised they had won. Well, what a chance we had.’

Ferguson and Mancini clashed on the touchline as City beat United at the Etihad recently. Should he ultimately finish second, though, Ferguson will undoubtedly convey his congratulations privately to Mancini. It is very much his style.

Close: Will Paul Scholes see United miss out on their 20th title

Close: Will Paul Scholes see United miss out on their 20th title

Asked about his rival yesterday, he said: ‘To win the league is not easy and a lot of people underestimate how hard it is to win.

‘Of course he (Mancini) has had a big financial advantage over everyone, but you still have to put a team on the pitch and pick the right players and the manager must take the most credit if you win the league in this country.

‘You have squads of players, but trying to orchestrate the harmony of the place is very important. Making everyone feel they have played their part is a massive part of the game today, so to win the league is a massive step forward for Mancini.’

Mario Balotelli wears t-shirt: Not only am I perfect, I"m Italian too

Not only am I perfect, I'm Italian too! Balotelli's message to fans after crashing Inter Milan unveiling

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UPDATED:

15:38 GMT, 28 March 2012

Mario Balotelli was back in Manchester after gatecrashing the Inter Milan press conference – and he had a message for his admirers.

The Manchester City star was pictured in Cheshire wearing a t-shirt with the words: 'Not only am I perfect, I'm Italian too!'

It comes 24 hours after Balotelli was involved in the latest incident that made his army of fans chuckle.

Scroll down to see video footage of Balotelli in the Inter Milan press conference

Put your shirt on it: Mario Balotelli out and about on Wednesday afternoon

Put your shirt on it: Mario Balotelli out and about on Wednesday afternoon

Mischief: Manchester City's Mario Balotelli caused a stir in Italy when he burst in on a press conference for the new Inter Milan manager

Mischief: Manchester City's Mario Balotelli caused a stir in Italy when he burst in on a press conference for the new Inter Milan manager

The striker, who used to play for Inter, made his unexpected appearance as new manager Andrea Stramaccioni was being unveiled.

The
21-year-old parked a red Ferrari outside the press briefing, burst in
and for reasons still unknown simply shook hands with those behind the
top table, wished the new manager luck, and left without so much as an
explanation.

Inter CEO Ernesto Paolillo, who travelled to London with the NextGen-winning youth squad last week, said the visit from the Manchester City striker was unexpected but not unusual.

‘He came to say hello to everybody at the training centre then left,’ Paolillo told Sportsmail. ‘We did not know he was coming but it’s not the first time. It’s typical of Mario. I see him sometimes when he comes to Milan.

‘I did not see the Ferrari as I was inside the press conference unveiling our new coach Andrea. We kissed hello and he left. We had no time to speak. I’ve known him at Inter since he was a young boy.’

Balotelli and the rest of his City
team-mates have been given a couple of days off by manager Roberto
Mancini, who himself jetted to Europe where he was seen in Bosnia.

After the commotion, Stramaccioni hailed his appointment as Claudio Ranieri's replacement as 'a dream come true'.

From this: Andrea Stramaccioni led the Inter development squad to glory in the NextGen series on Sunday

From this: Andrea Stramaccioni led the Inter development squad to glory in the NextGen series on Sunday

To this: Now he is in charge of the most handsomely paid squad in Serie A

To this: Now he is in charge of the most handsomely paid squad in Serie A

The 36-year-old was promoted from
youth team coach to guide the senior side after former Chelsea boss
Ranieri was sacked on Monday with Inter 10 points adrift of the third
and last Champions League qualifying place.

Stramaccioni,
who is Inter's fifth coach in the space of 22 months, said: 'It is a
beautiful dream come true. It has been totally unexpected but a dream
that club president (Massimo) Moratti has granted me and I will try to
do the best I can.'

The Rome-born Stramaccioni led the Nerazzurri's youth team to victory in the inaugural NextGen Series in London on Sunday.

'The victory in London with the youth team feels like it happened a long time ago considering yesterday's developments,' he said. 'Only football at this level can give you these emotions.'

Stramaccioni has no experience coaching in Italy's top flight and knows the challenge he will face to guide a star-studded side.

Big job on his hands: Stramaccioni knows he faces the biggest job his career at Inter

Big job on his hands: Stramaccioni knows he faces the biggest job his career at Inter

Paddy Power unveil latest Cheltenham stunt with Uffington Horse

First past the Uffington post! Paddy Power unveil Cheltenham stunt

This is Paddy Power's latest stunt ahead of next week's Cheltenham Festival.

The bookmakers – who are renowned for their eye-catching stunts – have added their unique touch to the historic Uffington Horse.

Catching the attention: The latest Paddy Power stunt took them to the hills of Oxfordshire

Catching the attention: The latest Paddy Power stunt took them to the hills of Oxfordshire

On top of the 374ft long chalk figure, the Irish-based bookies have placed their own jockey bearing the initials PP on his helmet. It is bound to grab the attention of those of pass by the 3,000-year-old site in Oxfordshire over the next few days.

The sneaky operation took place over six hours in darkness before Thursday's morning light revealed all. To complete the fresh touch, over 200 metres of canvas – cut into five separate pieces – were laid down to create the 110ft tall and 200ft wide effort.

Previous: The bookies laid down this sign looking down on the Cheltenham Festival in 2010

Previous: The bookies laid down this sign looking down on the Cheltenham Festival in 2010

A Paddy Power spokesperson said: ‘Funnily enough the idea for our Uffington rider came from a tweet from one of our customers. He was responding to our We Hear You campaign asking if we had any mischief planned for Cheltenham in the wake of our giant Hollywood sign a few years ago.

'We simply couldn’t resist the challenge and had to dig really deep to come up with something to literally measure up to the giant sign. I think we’ve achieved this.'

Paddy Power has offered a donation to the National Trust for the temporary installation.