Tag Archives: neville

Gary Neville backed by Sky and FA after Richard Keys attack

FA and Sky back Neville after former host Keys accuses pundit of having an agenda

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England expects: Neville is part of Roy Hodgson's staff, and was at Euro 2012

He faced criticism yesterday from England goalkeeping legend Gordon Banks, who said: 'I was very upset to hear Gary Neville talking about how the players were disgusted with him (De Gea), how they were looking at him after he hadn't punched the ball quite clear. I thought, “Hang on a minute, everybody makes mistakes in matches”.

'I found it a bit strange that he (Neville) was saying they'd go back in the dressing room and give De Gea a telling-off.'

Superstars TV review – Mark Webster

Return of Superstars delivered what we wanted: sporting heroes outside their comfort zones

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UPDATED:

00:01 GMT, 31 December 2012

Ah, telly's golden years. When gangs of formation dancers you didn't know in DIY costumes waltzed their way around Come Dancing, before it went Strictly.

This was a good thing, of course. Because it meant there was absolutely no good reason to watch it. Then came the celebrity version, though, and a sudden, compelling desire to see Ramp's rumba, Audley's jive and, of course, the victorious Louis Smith's cha cha cha.

There was once a show, however, that Louis might have won without the need to slip into a skintight satin onesie. While still giving us the joy of what we really want – seeing our sporting heroes outside of their comfort zones.

Up a creek: Farah has many talents - kayaking is not one of them

Up a creek: Farah has many talents – kayaking is not one of them

More from Mark Webster…

With SPOTY, the BBC delivered a champagne moment to mark vintage year
17/12/12

Edge of the Box: Neville passes Manchester derby test with flying colours (red and blue) as pundit's old pals win
10/12/12

Edge of the Box: Beckham steals the show in farewell final… but did you expect anything else
02/12/12

Edge of the Box: Fasten your seatbelts for Jake off! Humphrey leaves a big hole in BBC F1 coverage
26/11/12

Edge of the Box: Bristow's arrows at Helen and co put darts legend in line for the chop
23/11/12

Edge of the Box: Bristow, Haye and Flanagan be warned: No one is safe in the jungle now – it's just like being manager of Chelsea
22/11/12

Edge of the Box: Finally, some sport! Joker Haye teaches celebrities how to box
20/11/12

Edge of the Box: Flanagan finally gets it right… now give her a night off
19/11/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

Superstars was the light entertainment show for real men that once delivered that.

Inspirational theme tune, cool logo, a genuine desire to win and short shorts – REALLY short shorts. On Saturday, the 2012 version turned up on prime time BBC1.

Thus providing us with the opportunity to not only get all nostalgic about the fun old format, but also enjoy the sight of a group of our brand new Olympians back where they belong, in the spotlight.

Not that the opening shots of Gabby Logan wandering around a market in Bath exactly set the pulse racing for what was about to come. It struck me the show opener would have been the ideal opportunity to really remind people of what Superstars was all about.

We did eventually get to see Kevin Keegan famously come a cropper on his bike and former judoka Brian Jacks owning the gym. Yet these clips were fleeting. Surely a few more trips down memory lane would have sat well

And surely a chance was missed to have some old competitors on hand to set up the show, wax nostalgic and mix with the next generation

That aside, once the events did get under way and you saw Anthony Joshua genuinely delighted he'd triumphed in the opening event, the sprint, you knew that old spirit was back.

Because the thing is of course, we normally only get to see these people in their natural environments, in competition. That is the duck gliding gracefully across the water.

As I alluded to earlier, Superstars is the flippers flapping frantically below the surface. Just like the endless days of hard training each of these competitors endure in their professional lives are. All blood, sweat and tears, but also good friendly, competitive fun. And that is what we grew to love on Superstars.

Keen competitors: The stars were put their paces in a number of disciplines

Keen competitors: The stars were put their paces in a number of disciplines

Keen competitors: The stars were put their paces in a number of disciplines

Thankfully, that sense of camaraderie and competition was brought to life by Iwan Thomas, who as an experienced TV presenter and former athlete, knew just the right buttons to push as he interviewed the eight women and eight men going for the titles, throughout the show.

While a sense of gravitas was added on commentary by the always measured, authoritative tones of Paul Dickenson. If this man were a station announcer, he could make the delayed 11.20 from Hounslow sound like a Murder On The Orient Express.

Of course what this was really all about though was a great bunch of people warming the cockles of our hearts, which they all managed in abundance.

For me, there were plenty of highlights throughout the two days, and ninety TV minutes of competition. Watching the Brownlee brothers having their own little sibling battle was great fun.

Alistair couldn't have looked more delighted when brother Jonny flipped his kayak in the pool, and both impressed in a nip and tuck one, two in the 800 metres.

But, holy mackerel, they can’t throw!

Rebecca Adlington was on hand to coach them all in the swimming event, during which Jade Jones left the blocks just as her mentor might. However, a split second later, she entered the water like Tom Daley from the 10 metre board!

I bet she couldn’t do that twice.

Elsewhere, Christine Ohuruogu nearly had someone's eye out during the archery while Mo Farah managed a magnificent 'spider' – archer speak for a dead bullseye.

On you r bike: Classic action involving Kevin Keegan

On your bike: Classic action involving Kevin Keegan (above) with Jackie Stewart, Barry John, and Tony Jacklin (below)

On your bike: Classic action involving Kevin Keegan (above) with Jackie Stewart, Barry John, and Tony Jacklin (below)

However, what proved just as unequivocal a little later…Mo don’t row!

proved a more than worthy platform.

Sprint finish: Credit to those involved - they served up a rare treat

Sprint finish: Credit to those involved – they served up a rare treat

Everton 2 Wigan 1: Match report

Everton 2 Wigan 1: Osman and Jagielka keep Toffees on track as captain Neville reaches 500 not out

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UPDATED:

17:17 GMT, 26 December 2012

Leon Osman and Phil Jagielka made sure Everton captain Phil Neville enjoyed his 500th Premier League game.

After a goalless opening 45 minutes, Osman fired home, with the help of a deflection, early in the second half and Jagielka looked to have put the result beyond doubt with a header after being set up by Neville.

Arouna Kone set up a frantic finish when he cut the deficit in half but the hosts held on to stay in fourth place in the table – for a few hours at least.

Breakthrough: Leon Osman punches the air in celebration after scoring for Everton against Wigan (below)

Breakthrough: Leon Osman punches the air in celebration after scoring for Everton against Wigan (below)

It's there: Osman's opener for the Toffees at Goodison Park
MATCH FACTS

Everton: Howard, Neville, Jagielka, Distin (Heitinga 70), Baines, Osman, Hitzlsperger, Gibson (Naismith) 46), Pienaar, Jelavic, Anichebe (Oviedo 70).

Subs not used: Mucha, Gueye, Barkley, Vellios.

Goals: Osman 52, Jagielka 77

Booked: Jelavic

Wigan: Al Habsi, Boyce, Caldwell, Figueroa, Stam (Gomez 79), McCarthy, Jones (Di Santo 72), McArthur, Beausejour, Maloney, Kone.

Subs not used: Pollitt, McManaman, Boselli, Ramis, Golobart.

Goal: Kone 82

Booked: Beausejour, Figueroa, Caldwell

Referee: Lee Mason (Lancashire)

Latest Premier League table and results

A large group of Wigan fans came in banana costume, in keeping with their town's Boxing Day tradition of fancy dress.

But the party will be limited to town centre revellers after a sixth game for the Latics passed without a win.

The visitors thought they should have had a penalty when Shaun Maloney went down in a challenge from Osman but referee Lee Mason was not convinced.

Everton, who will now hope to push on and mount a strong top-four challenge, also had some good chances, not least when Thomas Hitzlsperger hit the bar. Everton almost made the perfect start as Nikica Jelavic laid off a Darron Gibson cross and Victor Anichebe flashed a shot wide with just 13 seconds on the clock.

Wigan also wanted to attack and a good Jean Beausejour cross aimed at Kone was clutched by Tim Howard at the second attempt.

The influential James McCarthy also had a powerful effort from outside the area blocked.

Leighton Baines created a chance for Everton when he skipped over a challenge from Ronnie Stam to supply Steven Pienaar and Ali Al Habsi did well to turn his shot around the post.

Heads up: Phil Jagielka (right) is congratulated after scoring Everton's second

Heads up: Phil Jagielka (right) is congratulated after scoring Everton's second

Stretch too far: Wigan keeper Al Habsi fails to stop Jagielka's header as Steven Naismith watches the ball go in

Stretch too far: Wigan keeper Al Habsi fails to stop Jagielka's header as Steven Naismith watches the ball go in

Anichebe headed wide from a Hitzlsperger cross but Wigan began to assert themselves in the game more as McCarthy and James McArthur drove forward.

Kone and Maloney linked up well outside the area but attempted one pass too many and a promising attack broke down.

Maloney tried his luck from a free-kick after McCarthy was tripped by Gibson – who was free to play after appealing against his red card at West Ham last weekend – but Howard parried and then gathered.

Howard was in action again as Stam struck a low shot from 20 yards but saved comfortably.

500 not out: Everton captain Phil Neville (right) in action against Wigan on Boxing Day

500 not out: Everton captain Phil Neville (right) in action against Wigan on Boxing Day

Everton applied some pressure by winning a series of corners in quick succession and felt they should have had penalties at two of them.

Anichebe first claimed he was being held back by Beausejour and then there was an appeal for handball against Maloney but referee Mason gave nothing.

The first half came to a tame end but Everton returned with renewed vigour after the break and were soon rewarded.

Lifeline: Arouna Kone (right) scored late on as Wigan pressed

Lifeline: Arouna Kone (right) scored late on as Wigan pressed

Wigan were given a warning when Hitzlsperger struck a thunderous long-range effort against the bar and then Osman dribbled his way through the area only to fail to test Al Habsi.

Osman got lucky when he next aimed for goal after 52 minutes, his shot from just outside the area striking Caldwell's arm and wrong-footing the unfortunate Al Habsi.

There was controversy as Wigan tried to respond as Maloney went to ground in the area in a challenge from Osman.

Too little, too late: Kone was keen to get on with things after his goal but Wigan couldn't find a second

Too little, too late: Kone was keen to get on with things after his goal but Wigan couldn't find a second

Latics were incensed not to be awarded a penalty and Beausejour was booked for his protest but replays suggested Maloney may have already been going down before the contact.

Kone had a good opportunity from six yards after Maloney whipped in a good ball from the right but Neville made a vital block at point-blank range.

It was a miss the visitors were to rue as Everton grabbed a decisive second 13 minutes from time.

Ground force: Ronnie Stam slides in to challenge Everton full-back Leighton Baines

Ground force: Ronnie Stam slides in to challenge Everton full-back Leighton Baines

Neville was on hand to receive a short corner from substitute Bryan Oviedo and marked his landmark appearance by sending in an inch-perfect cross for Jagielka, who powered in a header off the bar.

But Wigan, as ever, fought on and gave themselves late hope when Kone bundled the ball in at close range after Jagielka and Baines failed to clear from a Maloney shot.

The visitors applied more pressure as time ran out but were unable to find a way through stubborn Everton defending.

Getting to grips: Everton midfielder Steven Pienaar tries to get away from Emmerson Boyce

Getting to grips: Everton midfielder Steven Pienaar tries to get away from Emmerson Boyce

Tussle: Everton's Victor Anichebe (left) and Wigan star Maynor Figueroa battle for the ball

Tussle: Everton's Victor Anichebe (left) and Wigan star Maynor Figueroa battle for the ball

Everton captain Phil Neville set for 500th Premier League game, the seventh ever

500 club! Everton captain Neville set to become seventh man in illustrious group

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UPDATED:

22:00 GMT, 25 December 2012

Phil Neville will add his name to an illustrious group on Boxing Day when he becomes only the seventh man to make 500 appearances in the Barclays Premier League.

During a career that spans 19 years, Everton’s captain has won almost every honour in the game and represented England on 59 occasions but his ambition and determination to make the most of every day means he is reaching the landmark figure quicker than expected.

Fergie's fledgling: Phil Neville was at United from 1995

Fergie's fledgling: Phil Neville was at United from 1995

End/start: Neville left Manchester United in 2005

End/start: Neville left Manchester United in 2005

Skipper: He has led Everton with distinction since 2007

Skipper: He has led Everton with distinction since 2007

NEVILLE IN NUMBERS

19: Seasons in the Premier League… 11 at United and eight at Everton

3: Red cards 82: Yellow cards 9: Goals scored
263: Matches for United 444: starts

MILESTONES

First game: United v Manchester City (February 11, 1995)

100th: United v Middlesbrough (May 9, 1999)

200th: United v Southampton (November 2, 2002)

300th: Everton v Tottenham (August 26, 2006)

400th: Everton v Aston Villa (April 12, 2009)

TOP 10 IN THE PREMIER LEAGUE

Ryan Giggs 607
David James 572
Gary Speed 535
Frank Lampard 531
Emile Heskey 516
Sol Campbell 503
PHIL NEVILLE 499
Paul Scholes 495
Jamie Carragher 491
Mark Schwarzer 486
*Brother Gary played 400

Neville, after all, only had surgery to correct a knee problem in November that should have meant he was laid up for eight weeks.

However, when he returned to Everton’s starting line-up at West Ham on Saturday, it was only 36 days after his operation.

Though he will be 36 in January, Neville’s enthusiasm remains undiminished and it has prompted Everton manager David Moyes — whose side will be aiming to consolidate their grip on a place in the top five with victory against Wigan — to label him as the model professional.

‘People would be amazed by the amount of work and conditioning Phil has put in to get himself right,’ said Moyes.

'He continually works hard. He is in every morning at 8.30am, he doesn’t leave until late. The rehabilitation work he puts himself through — never at any stage does he complain.

'He just continually pushed himself to try and get back. The biggest impact that it should have on everyone is the manner of what he has done.

'They might not say it but I think they would all have to have admiration for how he continually prepares himself and the way he goes about playing.

'It has helped him recover from this injury. We will have to look after him. He has had a bit of cartilage taken away, so we will have to be careful that it is not bone on bone in his knee. I might need to try to calm him down a bit!'

Cheers, bro: Neville remains close with his brother Gary, with whom he broke through at United

Cheers, bro: Neville remains close with his brother Gary, with whom he broke through at United

Better together: His relationship with David Moyes has helped Everton thrive

Better together: His relationship with David Moyes has helped Everton thrive

Very few players have left Old
Trafford during Sir Alex Ferguson’s reign and gone on to enjoy
successful careers elsewhere but Neville has been an integral part of
Everton’s development under Moyes, who hugely appreciates his captain’s
achievement in reaching 500 appearances.

'It
says a lot about what he’s done,’ said Moyes, who has certainly got
value for money from Neville since signing him for 3.5million in August
2005.

'But it doesn’t
surprise me because his mentality and his attitude to the game have been
great since he came from Manchester United.'

Pedigree: The midfielder has played for England 59 times, though not since 2007

Pedigree: The midfielder has played for England 59 times, though not since 2007

Neville has six months remaining on his current contract and Moyes added: 'He’s been a great signing. The best person to talk about (the future) is Phil because I’ve already spoken to him and he just wants to see how his body is.

'He's just back from a knee operation and he would be the first one to say that we should just see how his knee is. I don’t think he sees any great panic in it at this moment in time.'

SPORTSMAIL'S FIVE FAVOURITE NEVILLE MOMENTS
Phil Neville's Manchester United debut v Manchester City (February 11, 1995)

Manchester United debut v Manchester City (February 11, 1995)

Neville played at right back (right) in the fabled defence that included Bruce, Pallister and Schmeichel, as Paul Ince, Andrei Kanchelskis and Andy Cole secured a 3-0 win.

Setting up Eric Cantona at St James’ Park (March 4, 1996)

His surge down the left flank and cross for Cantona led to United beating Newcastle 1-0 and the victory gave Ferguson’s side the impetus to go on to win the Premier League title. It was the first of Neville’s six gongs.

Winning goal at Chelsea (February 28, 1998)

Neville has only scored nine goals in his 499 appearances to date but this, in a 1-0 victory, was the pick of the bunch, a bending right-foot effort that gave Dmitri Kharine no chance.

Everton debut v Manchester United (August 13, 2005)

If there were any doubts Neville would
struggle to adjust to life after Old Trafford, they were banished in
his first Everton game. Everton may have lost 2-0 but he was
outstanding.

Season-changing tackle on Cristiano Ronaldo (October 25, 2008)

Everton were in the doldrums when they
faced his old side, and losing 1-0, but a thundering challenge on
Ronaldo (below) altered the course of the game – Everton drew 1-1 – and sparked a
run that carried them to fifth.

Phil Neville's season-changing tackle on Cristiano Ronaldo (October 25, 2008)

Tony Pulis makes Marouane Fellaini complaint

Pulis makes Fellaini complaint as Everton midfielder is only given three-match ban for headbutt

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UPDATED:

22:36 GMT, 21 December 2012

Tony Pulis has made a complaint to referees’ chief Mike Riley over the leniency of the punishment handed out to Everton’s Marouane Fellaini.

Stoke City’s boss was upset that the Belgium midfielder was given a three-match ban following a series of incidents involving Ryan Shawcross.

Fellaini was caught on camera headbutting the England centre back as the pair jostled prior to a corner.

Headbutt: Fellaini was given a three-game ban for this challenge

Headbutt: Fellaini was given a three-game ban for this challenge

The Everton man was retrospectively handed a three-match ban for violent conduct. But two other clashes between the pair were highlighted after the final whistle.

Pulis was upset at referee Mark Halsey’s report and wrote to Riley arguing that one of his players would have been given a lengthier ban had they acted in the same manner.

Fellaini, who has been fined 150,000 by Everton, will be forced to train as normal by manager David Moyes during his ban, including on Christmas Day.

Stoke midfielder Charlie Adam has pulled out of Saturday’s match at Tottenham following the death of his father.

Complaint: Pulis is not happy with the FA's decision

Complaint: Pulis is not happy with the FA's decision

Meanwhile, Everton striker Kevin Mirallas will miss the festive fixtures with a hamstring problem that has led to him being sent to see the renowned Dr Hans Muller-Wolfhart in Munich.

Mirallas has only played for 45 minutes since he pulled up lame against Sunderland on November 10.

‘I am worried, yes, especially as he is a quick, fleet-footed player,’ said Moyes, who will recall Phil Neville following knee surgery.

Manchester United vs Real Madrid is the game that changed British football forever

Manchester United vs Real Madrid: Ferguson comes face to face with an old friend and an old foe in the game that changed football

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UPDATED:

23:47 GMT, 20 December 2012

Manchester United against Real Madrid.

It is the game that changed football, between two managers who have certainly changed football, featuring the player Sir Alex Ferguson has been saddest to see leave in his 26 years at Old Trafford.

It was a meeting between United and Madrid, a sizzling seven-goal encounter in 2003, that persuaded Roman Abramovich, who was a guest that night, to buy a football club and so transform the financial landscape of the European game.

It was Ferguson who rewrote the modern
management manual and Mourinho who then added a couple of new chapters.
Mourinho calls Ferguson ‘the boss’.

Sir Alex Ferguson (pictured) will face an old friend in Cristiano Ronaldo (below) and an old foe in Jose Mourinho (bottom) when the tie of the round in February

Sir Alex Ferguson (pictured) will face an old friend in Cristiano Ronaldo (below) and an old foe in Jose Mourinho (bottom) when Real Madrid meet Manchester United in the tie of the round in February

Cristiano Ronaldo

Jose Mourinho

Ferguson says — the Special One’s good looks aside — they boast the same qualities. And then there’s Cristiano Ronaldo.

The world’s most expensive player and, alongside Lionel Messi, the world’s finest. In Ferguson’s mind everyone leaves United when the time is right. Either when he says so or when they choose to retire.

But Ronaldo was different.

Ronaldo was the best he’s ever had — someone who even managed to alter Gary Neville’s view on how the game should be played — and he left before he had even peaked.

Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo

Then and now: Cristiano Ronaldo has continued to score goals and win trophies since his 80m move to Madrid

On March 5 Ronaldo will return to Old Trafford for the first time since his 80million transfer to Madrid in 2009. ‘It’s the tie of the round,’ said Ferguson yesterday.

‘It’s a great opportunity for our fans to see Cristiano again and also meet up with Jose — I’ll need to order some good wine.’

It is the game. The game that offers so much and evokes so many memories, too.

The game that changed football: Ronaldo scored a hat-trick in the match that convinced Roman Abramovich to invest in a football team

The game that changed football: Ronaldo scored a hat-trick in Manchester United's 4-3 victory at Old Trafford in 2003. The match convinced Roman Abramovich, who was sat in the stands, to invest in a football team

Real Madrid's Ronaldo

In 2000, Real Madrid beat United 3-2 at Old Trafford thanks to a masterful peformance by the Argentina midfielder Redondo.

Then there was the clash in 2003 when the other Ronaldo, the Brazil striker, scored a hat-trick at Old Trafford which convinced Abramovich to pay 140million for a football club.

There is also the electrifying image of Mourinho storming down the touchline at Old Trafford in 2004 when Francisco Costinha’s last-minute equaliser for Porto knocked United out of the Champions League.

Ronaldo is the only player who has left Manchester United before Sir Alex Ferguson wanted them gone Ferguson talks to Cristiano Ronaldo

Ronaldo is the only player who has left Manchester United before Sir Alex Ferguson wanted them gone

This time United and Real clash at the Bernabeu on February 13 and then play at Old Trafford on March 5, three days after Real host Barcelona in La Liga’s El Clasico.

It is the European Cup or nothing for Mourinho now after Real slipped to defeats against Getafe, Sevilla and Betis in La Liga. Real’s defence of their title is faltering after falling a staggering 13 points behind Barcelona just 16 games into the season.

Mourinho is threatening to walk away long before his contract expires in 2016.

‘He has a contract for another four years and he is one of the best coaches in the world,’ explained Real official Emilio Butragueno here at yesterday’s draw.

No-one listening really believed him. Mourinho’s dream is to win European Cups for clubs from three different countries and then head back to England to replace Ferguson at United.

Ferguson admitted it could happen in a recent ITV documentary about Mourinho, championing his cause as he spoke of the pair’s special relationship.

Jose Mourinho has won trophies everywhere he has gone in his career bit finds himself under pressure after a poor start to the season

Jose Mourinho has won trophies everywhere he has gone in his career, but finds himself under pressure after a poor start to the season. He will relish a tie against the man he calls 'the boss'

They took afternoon tea at the Lowry Hotel in Manchester ahead of Real’s group game with City on November 21, gossiping about Rafa Benitez’s arrival at Chelsea.

Ferguson also spoke, briefly, with Ronaldo in the minutes before Real boarded the team bus for the Group D clash at the Etihad.

This will be Ronaldo’s game, facing his former manager for the first time since he quit following the Champions League final defeat against Barcelona in Rome.

He was immense for United, scoring 118 goals in 292 appearances following his move from Sporting Lisbon in 2003. United have missed his firepower, his ability to break at speed and bulldoze opposition defences with those twisting feet.

Neville said he ‘redefined football’ when he returned from the 2006 World Cup in Germany. He said he was the best player on the planet during that period.

Man Utd's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates with his mother after winning the title

Dejected Cristiano Ronaldo

Highs and lows: Ronaldo won three Premier League titles, the Champions League and an FA Cup while at the club, but lost to Barcelona in the final of the Champions League in what was his last game for the club

This is the game everyone wants to watch. Edwin van der Sar, in attendance yesterday for Ajax’s Europa League draw, stopped United’s secretary John Alexander on the way out of the auditorium yesterday to reserve two tickets.

Former United goalkeeper Van der Sar has firsthand experience of Ronaldo, working with him day in, day out on the training pitches at Carrington.

‘He made no secret of the fact he wanted to be the best player in the world and he worked hard to get there,’ said Van der Sar.

‘At 19 I didn’t think he could do it. You have to see how players react after one good season, or after they sign a big contract, or when they get booed.

Tension: Mourinho and Ronaldo have had a fractured relationship during his tenure in charge but both will be desperate to beat Manchester United

Tension: Mourinho and Ronaldo have had a fractured relationship during his tenure in charge but both will be desperate to beat Manchester United

‘Ronnie could handle all of that. He was always in at 9am doing his exercises and working his way through a strengthening programme. On the training pitches he would work hard on crossing, free-kicks, everything really.

‘He was always busy, which is why he is one of the best players in the world. He will be looking forward to this game.’

Ronaldo won three titles, an FA Cup and the Champions League in 2008 with United, but his dream was to play for Real Madrid.

Manchester United's Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo

He forced the move and although there have been signs of tension with Mourinho in recent weeks, they will have to focus on this tie together in order to win.

Ferguson talks of the new training methods Mourinho introduced to English football when he became Chelsea manager in 2004.

Chelsea beat United in the opening game of that season and won their next seven games before finishing a staggering 18 points ahead of Fergie’s team.

Real Madrid are third in La Liga, already a massive 13 points behind Barcelona with only 16 games played

Real Madrid are third in La Liga, already a massive 13 points behind Barcelona with only 16 games played

The next season, when he was asked about the threat of United to Chelsea’s chances of winning the title, Mourinho replied: ‘I’m more concerned by the threat of bird flu. I mean it.’

On February 13, when they collide in the Bernabeu, he will mean business once again.

Phil Neville ready to return for Everton three weeks early

Everton boost as captain Neville stays on course for return three weeks early

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UPDATED:

23:08 GMT, 18 December 2012

Phil Neville is in contention to return to Everton's starting line-up this weekend three weeks ahead of schedule following a knee operation.

The Toffees captain underwent surgery to clean up his knee 33 days ago and it was initially feared he would be out for eight weeks.

However, his rehabilitation has gone so well that manager David Moyes is considering starting him against West Ham on Saturday. Neville's return would offset the loss of the suspended Marouane Fellaini.

Fitness fight: Phil Neville could return to action ahead of schedule from surgery

Fitness fight: Phil Neville could return to action ahead of schedule from surgery

EXCLUSIVE: Gary Neville takes Sportsmail behind the scenes at Monday Night Football

MNF star Neville takes Sportsmail behind the scenes of the TV show making fans fall in love with punditry again

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UPDATED:

23:31 GMT, 18 December 2012

It is 4.30pm and although Gary Neville is midway through rehearsals for that evening’s Monday Night Football, he is still going through his first item in painstaking detail. Things have to be right and he is unapologetically demanding and meticulous in his preparation.

‘What do we think about this’ the former Manchester United full back asks producer Scott Melvin, as a chart flashes up on his touch screen. ‘I don’t think that’s good enough.’ He is over-ruled. ‘Fine,’ he says, but his arms are folded — it is clearly not fine.

‘Are we comfortable with that colour on this graphic’ is the next question. ‘It’s disgusting,’ Neville continues, without waiting for a reply. ‘I’m not a colours man but… can’t you change it’ It is duly changed.

Oh what a night: Sportsmail's Laura Williamson joined Gary Neville and Ed Chamberlain in the Sky studio to see how the hugely popular Monday Night Football has become such a big hit

Oh what a night: Sportsmail's Laura Williamson joined Gary Neville and Ed Chamberlain in the Sky studio to see how the hugely popular Monday Night Football has become such a big hit

Oh what a night: Sportsmail's Laura Williamson joined Gary Neville and Ed Chamberlain in the Sky studio to see how the hugely popular Monday Night Football has become such a big hit

Neville has been at Sky’s studios in
west London since 9.30am, but he is still like a man on fast-forward,
running ‘at 100 miles per hour’.

His intensity, willingness to work
hard and genuine vigour for his sport are startling. It seems the same
qualities that characterised him as a footballer are the ones that mark
him out as a pundit.

‘This is different to football,’ says
the 37-year-old, ‘but there is pressure — and I think that’s the thing
that keeps me excited and stimulated. It’s got to be right.

‘I think information and the detail
are the most important things for me. Nice goals or a lovely finish or
an incident, that will get done a thousand times by everybody else and
there isn’t really much more you can say.

‘I prefer information. I try to do it as if I was looking at it as a player or a coach rather than as entertainment.

‘I don’t think, really, I’m a perfect
broadcaster by any stretch of the imagination. I think it’s more around
the information for me. That’s all I can do. If you want a pretty face
or a nice voice then don’t come here.’

Ed Chamberlin, the host of MNF, laughs. ‘Well, I won’t argue with that,’ he says.

The pair have been working together
for barely 18 months but have taken the format made famous by Richard
Key and Andy Gray and made it their own.

There is little ego or arrogance about
Chamberlin, who works without an autocue and fully understands his role
is to ensure Neville is the star of the show.

The presenter continually tries to
tease extra insight and information out of a right back who won 85 caps
for England, constantly asking ‘why’ and ‘how’, which seems to amuse and
frustrate Neville on alternate occasions.

Practice makes perfect: Chamberlain and Neville can be in the studio from 9.30am on the day of the game

Practice makes perfect: Chamberlain and Neville can be in the studio from 9.30am on the day of the game

NEVILLE'S MANIC MONDAY

9.30am Arrive at Sky’s studios in west London.

10am Production meeting. Neville has been feeding ideas to the production team since the previous Wednesday. They discuss what he wants to talk about and the order the pieces should run.

11.30am Neville goes through all the video clips, while Ed Chamberlin studies the running order and familiarises himself with all the links and music.

2pm Lunch.

3pm Rehearsals start on set.

6pm Make-up.

7pm On air. An hour of analysis from the weekend’s games and to preview that night’s Barclays Premier League fixture. Also includes interviews with the managers, live from the ground.

8pm Kick-off.

8.45pm Half-time analysis.

9pm Second half.

9.45pm Full-time analysis, a look back at the weekend’s goals and a Twitter Q&A.

11pm Off air.

‘Ed doesn’t offer opinions on
football,’ says Melvin. ‘It’s different with (Match of the Day
presenter) Gary Lineker. He was a footballer and you would never
begrudge him an opinion.

'But, for me, the presenter’s job is
to probe the guys who have played football. Ed drives it and keeps it
on the rails because otherwise, God knows what would happen.’

It is no mean feat keeping Neville in
check, that’s for sure. He revels in his Aladdin’s cave of touch-screen
boards, slow-motion clips, high camera angles, statistics and league
tables.

The former England defender even had a
screen installed in his Manchester home for nine days to practise
before he started at Sky, only to go bonkers when he found out they had
updated the technology when he arrived in London.

‘I’m obsessed with charts,’ Neville
says, laughing at the nerdy nature of his words. ‘I’ll say, “Make me a
chart, make me a chart”. They argue I don’t need one, just to say it,
but I want everyone at home to know those statistics are there.

‘Every time I do a piece I don’t just
get the clips, I get the statistics. I want statistics to back it up,
so it’s not just my instinct. It’s easy to get caught up in thinking,
“Arsenal are rubbish”. But where are they rubbish Why They can’t be
all rubbish, or all good.

‘You’ve got to offer some perspective. Everything’s so sudden, everyone’s always screaming.

‘I think that’s what people inside
football do better than people in the media because in the media there’s
a need to make everything so dramatic. But, inside football, you
analyse it. You look at it bit by bit and think that’s OK, that’s not
bad, rather than everything being bad or good.’

Neville’s proximity to the game, however, could easily compromise his willingness to say what he sees and how he feels.

He spent all his career at Manchester
United and has a four-year contract with the FA to work under Roy
Hodgson and coach the England senior team, after all.

Gary Neville gets ready for Monday Night Football

Gary Neville gets made up on Monday Night Football

Finishing touches: Neville is still new to football punditry but is brilliantly professional in his preparation

But as Neville watches Arsenal’s 5-2
win at Reading — from a ‘big, wide high camera angle’ because ‘that’s
the only way you can analyse it properly, you can’t watch the ball’ —
there is only a flicker of his allegiance to the national side. When
Jack Wilshere crumples to the ground in the build-up to Reading’s first
goal, Neville suddenly becomes even more animated.

‘Oh! Oh!’ he cries. ‘Wilshere’s done
his knee ligaments. Oh no. Or is it his groin Oh dear.’ Then, ‘Oh,
phew, he’s OK. What price 5-4 Reading now’

Neville’s affiliations make him more
accountable than most but he insists he remains deliberately detached
from the insular, pally world of football.

His reasoning is as clear as the
straightforward manner in which he is able to talk through a set-piece
or analyse the build-up to a goal: you cannot criticise someone on live
television one day and go for a pint with them the next.

‘I don’t speak to too many people,’
he says. ‘I think if you speak to too many people you become friendly
with them and it might not be as honest an assessment.

‘You get to know people — “All right,
how are you mate” — and a week later they think you’re stitching them
up. Don’t get too close. I do know people but I spent my life at one
club.

‘People at the start, understandably,
were asking how it would work, but I think I’ve been as honest as I
can be about United games and most people seem to have accepted the fact
that I’ve praised or criticised their team.

‘I think fans are pretty honest. They
don’t want rubbish. If their team play well they know they’ve played
well. If they haven’t, they know that, too. You try to show why or how
because they know the rest themselves. You’re always looking for the
most interesting bits. Less fluff, more gruff.’

And they're off: The show has received rave reviews this season thanks to Neville's expert analysis

And they're off: The show has received rave reviews this season thanks to Neville's expert analysis

The enjoyment Neville derives from his
new role is obvious, even if he can barely contain his energy, pacing
up and down during advertising breaks and badgering the producer with
ideas as early as the Wednesday before a show.

This opportunity to have the last
word on the weekend’s action is, after all, both the programme’s
strength and its continual challenge — how do you be significantly
different from what has gone before, on television and social media
and in the newspapers

Neville consumes information from all these outlets but still has to offer new insight on a Monday night.

As you can probably imagine, he is not
short of ideas, although the transition from player to pundit has not
been as straight-forward as you might think.

‘The more I relax, the more I become a
little lighthearted,’ says Neville. ‘But on the first show last year, I
was 100 miles per hour. I was like a train with no brakes. I used to
get an incredibly dry mouth because I was so nervous. I’ve not done
anything like this before in my life.

‘And my hands! Oh my hands. That was a
massive problem. What do you do with them when you’re standing at the
touchscreen Now I carry my pen with me because you’ve got something to
focus on.

‘I was everywhere — my hands were
terrible. I got a lot of feedback: hands and my hair, which is a
continual challenge — I’ve just given up on that.’

Giving up That must be a first for Neville, surely.

Sky Sports is the home of football
with more than 500 live matches every season including Barclays Premier
League, UEFA Champions League, internationals, the npower Football
League and more.

Dynamo – the Bradford fan – on beating Arsenal

The Dynamo magic willing giantkillers Bradford all the way to Wembley after shocking Arsenal

|

UPDATED:

18:22 GMT, 12 December 2012

Bradford beating Arsenal in the League Cup was a huge shock – but they might have taken the 'magic of the cup' literally with the biggest magical football fan in the world behind them.

Magician Dynamo has been astonishing audiences and stars around the world with his magic tricks.

But he could've pulled off the biggest one of career willing his hometown club Bradford to a win against Arsenal.

Mind games: Bradford fan Dynamo was willing his team to victory over Arsenal

Proud: Bradford fan Dynamo

Mind games: Bradford fan Dynamo was willing his team to victory over Arsenal

Dynamo tweets

Backing: Dynamo took time out from his stage show to support his team last night

Dynamo factfile

His real name is Steven Frayne

He was born in Bradford on December 17, 1982

He first learnt to perform illusions from his grandfather and developed the skill during trips to New Orleans.

Dynamo's first TV appearances were on Richard & Judy, followed by a Channel 4 special entitled Dynamo's Estate Of Mind

In May, 2009, Dynamo levitated Little Britain comedian Matt Lucas four feet off the ground in front of a crowd at the Emirates Stadium.

In June, 2011, Dynamo was photographed apparently walking on water, crossing the River Thames on foot in front of the Palace of Westminster.

He has performed with the likes of Rio Ferdinand, Gary Neville and David Haye.

Later that year, he announced that he had joined the magicians' society the Magic Circle.

The 29-year-old had a claret and
amber bedroom growing up from as early as he can remember – two walls
claret, two amber, Bradford wallpaper and bedspread.

And he said: 'I definitely like to think I had a little in-put. My
main focus last night was the match even though I was on stage doing the
biggest show of my career. I wanted to get off stage to see Bradford.
It was all I could think about, I was willing my team to win.

'I'd like to think Thomas Vermaelen missing that penalty could've been
something to do with me. I'm going to give Bradford the credit they
deserve but I was thinking about them.

'I was invited as a guest of honour,
to walk out on the pitch before the match, and I tried to get my manager
to change my schedule but he said if it was any other event he would
but not this one.'

They
were considering taking a helicopter to make it to the match but the
clash with an annual show at Claridge's Hotel – whose speakers and
performers have included Will and Kate last year and Diana back in 1992 –
made it impossible. But everything in the diary will be shifted if they
make it to the final at Wembley.

The League Two side have won nine penalty shootouts in the past three
years – mysteriously coinciding with the years the Bradford magician has
risen to become a huge performer.

That's magic! Bradford celebrate dramatic victory over Arsenal

That's magic! Bradford celebrate dramatic victory over Arsenal

Trick shots

Dynamo Magician Impossible Series 2 out now on DVD

And Dynamo, real name Steven Frayne, added: ' 'If you check the dates it's probably on a par. If we get to the final and you see any crazy things happening with the ball, that was me.'

Even though he was performing on stage he had an assistant at the side flashing up how the match was going. He had an Arsenal fan friend in the back row and could tell there was a late equaliser when their mood instantly changed.

He will be back in Bradford on Saturday to share in the celebrations – but admitted there is one down side to it all: 'The only thing is this does mean it is going to be more expensive to live my dream to own them one day. But it just means I've got to work harder.'

Keep an eye on Bradford, the magic of the cup means something completely different to them.

Watch the video…

Gary Neville hits out at Manchester City"s Samir Nasri after derby display

Nasri lost City the derby… he went missing at the vital moment, blasts ex-red Neville

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UPDATED:

13:47 GMT, 12 December 2012

Former Manchester United defender Gary Neville has blasted Manchester City player Samir Nasri, accusing the French midfielder of failing to turn up in the big games.

Sky Sports pundit Neville has ripped into Nasri following his disappointing performance in Sunday’s 3-2 derby defeat to United.

And Neville believes that the 25million signing deserved to be substituted instead of Mario Balotelli, who Neville has defended after the Italian also came under fire after an ineffective showing at the Etihad Stadium.

Missing: Gary Neville accused Samir Nasri of not turning up for big games

Missing: Gary Neville accused Samir Nasri of not turning up for big games

Neville told the Manchester Evening News: 'There was another player on the pitch who could easily have been taken off before Mario Balotelli,' he said. 'I think he goes missing in big games for City – and he’s the only one – and that’s Samir Nasri.'

To City’s detriment, Nasri remained on the pitch, and as Van Persie stepped up to take a 92nd minute free-kick, the Frenchman failed to stand tall in the three-man defensive wall, ducking behind City striker Edin Dzeko.

Van Persie’s strike was diverted in via Nasri’s outstretched leg and Neville has claimed that it was typical of Nasri to go missing at the vital moment.

Hiding: Nasri fails to stand strong in the wall as Robin van Persie gets scores a stoppage time free kick for Manchester United

Hiding: Nasri fails to stand strong in the wall as Robin van Persie gets scores a stoppage time free kick for Manchester United

Neville added: 'The football match has been won by what Samir Nasri did in that wall. It really has cost his team. That was the difference on the day.'

'For me, he doesn’t put a shift in. When they play with David Silva and Nasri, you expect the brilliance of Silva and you need somebody more solid on the other side.

'I played against Nasri three or four years ago at the Emirates Stadium and he pulled my pants down for 60 minutes and I got subbed because he absolutely battered me.

My ball: Patrice Evra slides in to take the ball off Nasri

My ball: Patrice Evra slides in to take the ball off Nasri

'This is a player you’ll see when the ‘oles’ are coming out, but when the going gets tough I’m not sure he fancies it that much.'

Despite United’s victory at Eastlands taking Sir Alex Ferguson’s six points clear of their Manchester rivals at the top of the Premier League, Neville still believes that City are capable of catching United to retain the title.

'There’s no way Manchester United will be caught by 18 of the teams, but with Manchester City I would never get carried away at this point of the season,' he said.

'They were neck-and-neck last year and City were five points ahead at one point early in the season, so if you’re a Manchester United fan, manager or player you wouldn’t be getting carried away.'