Tag Archives: pronouncements

Vintage era for Sheri: Monster prop is blossoming after move to wine country

Vintage era for Sheri: Monster prop is blossoming after move to wine country

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UPDATED:

19:40 GMT, 14 December 2012

There has been an unforeseen, comic complication for Andrew Sheridan since his transfer to Toulon in the summer, caused by the familiar abbreviation of his name.

'To have “Sheri” as my nickname is not ideal over here, because it means “darling”,' said Toulon's former England and Lions prop. 'OK, the spelling is different, but the pronunciation is similar, so I've had some funny looks when I've been called that since moving to France.'

Full-bloodied: the switch across the Channel to Toulon fits Sheridan

Full-bloodied: the switch across the Channel to Toulon fits Sheridan

Yet, if locals are bemused to hear the giant 33-year-old from Bromley – who has also been known as 'Big Ted' in his time – addressed in such a way, he insists they haven't come up with an alternative Gallic nickname so far.

But there is no doubt that the club's fervent fans have taken to him. Sheridan has been a colossal presence in the first half of his first season in the Top 14 league, to make himself truly a darling of the title-chasing team, the city and the region.

He certainly won't talk himself up, though. As he prepared for the second of back-to-back Heineken Cup fixtures against his former club Sale at Stade Felix Mayol tomorrow, the destructive loosehead was as understated as ever in his pronouncements. Hyperbole doesn't get a look-in. Sheridan is an engaging character but in an interview, he is far happier asking the questions than answering them.

First, he wants to know the 'inside story' about the Lions coaching announcement. Then, he veers off on a tangent to suggest, with typically dry humour, that hairstyle fashion is now catching up with his cropped, military look. He is amused at the notion of being a trend-setter.

Even when he is dragged back to more orthodox subject matter, there is a light-hearted undercurrent.

Galactico gang: Jonny Wilkinson is Sheridan's team-mate

Galactico gang: Jonny Wilkinson is Sheridan's team-mate

'I've settled in here and I'm really enjoying it,' he said. 'I'm slowly picking up the language – it's a gradual process but we have French lessons every week. I've been picking up the rugby vocab – “le maul”, “le ruck”, “le pick-and-go” – honestly, that's what they say!'

What has been striking about Sheridan's season to date (and let's hope this is not a curse) is his constant state of good health. After so many campaigns blighted by serious injury, he has been able to stay fit. It has been a welcome change.

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'I've played in all 17 matches so far,' he said. 'I've had the odd little niggle, but I'm getting old so that is inevitable!

'It's been great to get a run of games week after week, because I spent a lot of time in the previous three years on the operating table. That led to long periods of rehab, which were frustrating, so hopefully this period of playing consistently can continue. I can't say for sure why my luck has changed, but the climate helps. It's starting to get cold now though – I've had to cover up the pool and I haven't been able to go in the sea for a while!'

Sheridan has also relished being surrounded by an array of international-class talent at Toulon. The galacticos include Jonny Wilkinson and Carl Hayman, Matt Giteau, Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe and Frederic Michalak. His preconceptions have been significantly altered in the case of one new team-mate with whom he had previously locked horns – a fearsome Springbok lock.

'Bakkies Botha is an incredibly tough rugby player and competitor, but he's also an amusing guy, it turns out,' he said. 'I must admit, I didn't expect him to be so funny – he's always coming out with little one-liners.'

Sheridan surely gives as good as he gets on that score, in his own softly spoken way. Asked how he has enjoyed the cultural benefits of being in France, the wine enthusiast – who hopes to find work in that trade when his rugby career is over – said he has already enjoyed trips to vineyards, but he mocked the suggestion that he might have tried his hand at surfing.

'There's no surfing here – it's the Med,' he said. 'The Med is dead! It's a flat sea and I'm no surfing expert, but the conditions here don't appear conducive! It's not for me anyway. I like paddling, going for walks along the beach and sitting in the sun.'

While Sheridan is at the forefront of Toulon's compelling double quest for the Top 14 title and Heineken Cup, he was an interested observer of England's autumn Tests. Having seen clips of the games against Fiji, Australia and South Africa, he watched the series finale against the All Blacks in full and was highly impressed.

'I thought it was a very complete performance by England,' he said. 'They played well in all areas, for the full 80 minutes. That was a very good win to have in their minds.

'There are bound to be tough matches in the Six Nations but whenever they are struggling, the players will be able to think back to beating the world champions, and that should lift them.'

Having been forced home from last year's World Cup by injury after the first pool match, Sheridan hasn't played for his country since.

He has not retired from Test rugby, but he does not expect to add to a tally of 42 caps, including two for the Lions. He was able to watch England beat the All Blacks without a trace of regret about the cross-Channel move that took him out of selection contention.

'I'm not an envious person and I don't get bitter,' he said. 'I'm a proud Englishman so I want England to do well. I knew the situation when I signed for Toulon. I know it is unlikely that they would pick people who are playing overseas. Even if I had stayed in England, Stuart Lancaster has looked to pick a younger side.

'My chances of playing for England again are remote. They've got a good batch of young props already performing well at that level. They would have to have quite a few injuries and find themselves really scraping the bottom of the barrel to get to me again! If I was asked, I wouldn't say no, but that is very unlikely.

'As for the Lions, I won't be involved in international rugby and there are good props all over Britain and Ireland, so that is highly unlikely, too.'

He says it all matter-of-factly. Sheridan is a realist, but in many ways, he is living the dream on the Cote d'Azur. 'I've got to go,' he said. 'It's time to open a bottle of wine!'

The new darling of Toulon has undoubtedly earned a glass or two.

Cristiano Ronaldo would snub Manchester City if he leaves Real Madrid

Ronaldo would snub City move for fear of falling out with father-figure Fergie

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UPDATED:

06:47 GMT, 6 September 2012

Cristiano Ronaldo is likely to snub a move to Manchester City should he leave Real Madrid – as he doesn't want to hurt Sir Alex Ferguson's feelings.

The Portuguese superstar sent shockwaves through the world of football on Sunday after revealing he was 'sad' with life at Madrid.

Ronaldo has since denied that he is angling for a new mega-money contract with the Spanish champions, but his pronouncements have alerted Europe's richest clubs.

Down in the dumps: Cristiano Ronaldo (left) is unhappy at Real Madrid

Down in the dumps: Cristiano Ronaldo (left) is unhappy at Real Madrid

The 27-year-old forward is the world's most expensive footballer after his 80million move from Manchester United to Real Madrid in 2009, and so only those clubs bankrolled by billionaire owners need apply for Ronaldo's signature.

That includes the likes of Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain – and City.

But Ronaldo has ruled out ever joining the Barclays Premier League champions as he is too close to former boss Ferguson.

The Sun quotes a source close to Ronaldo as saying: 'Cristiano has always been close to Alex Ferguson and even now they still talk. Cristiano simply would not risk hurting him by joining Ferguson’s immediate rivals.'

Ronaldo recently said that Fergie was 'like a father to him' and rates the Scot alongside current boss Jose Mourinho as the best in the business.

He said: 'When I arrived at United I was 18 and Sir Alex was like a father to me. He taught me many things.

'I worked with him for six years and he is a great human, a great coach. Sir Alex and Jose Mourinho are the two best coaches in the world.'

On duty: Ronaldo (left) in training at Praia del Rey with the Portugal squad

On duty: Ronaldo (left) in training at Praia del Rey with the Portugal squad

On duty: Ronaldo (left) in training at Praia del Rey with the Portugal squad

Ronaldo had caused the stir by refusing to celebrate his two goals in the win over Granada last weekend, limping off before the end of the match at the Bernabeu.

After the match: 'I’m sad – when I don’t celebrate goals it’s because I’m not happy. It's a professional thing. Real Madrid know why I’m not happy.’

Liverpool have not offered Roberto Martinez job

Liverpool mystified by Whelan's claim Martinez has been offered Anfield job

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UPDATED:

21:30 GMT, 25 May 2012

Liverpool are no closer to making Roberto Martinez their new manager despite Dave Whelan claiming the Wigan boss has been offered a deal.

Martinez met Liverpool’s Principal owner John W Henry in Miami on Thursday for talks and that prompted Wigan chairman Whelan to declare on Friday that an offer has been made.

‘In the meeting, I think they made him an offer,’ said Whelan, who has set a deadline of next Thursday for Martinez to inform him of his intentions.

Walk this way: Roberto Martinez enjoys a coffee break with John Henry

Walk this way: Roberto Martinez enjoys a coffee break with John Henry

‘Roberto has asked what his responsibilities are because they are American owners and the rules and regulations they set down are a little bit different to what we English set down for football.’ Whelan also suggested Martinez will hold more talks with Fenway Sports Group next Tuesday but Liverpool are mystified by Whelan’s pronouncements.

Liverpool maintain their recruitment process is continuing and that means candidates such as Swansea boss Brendan Rodgers remain firmly in the frame to succeed Kenny Dalglish. Former Bayern Munich manager Louis van Gaal is in line for the position of Liverpool’s Sporting Director.

In the frame: Martinez has emerged as the front-runner to succeed Kenny Dalglish

In the frame: Martinez has emerged as the front-runner to succeed Kenny Dalglish

Martinez is very much in demand and is also now the clear favourite to land the Aston Villa job.

Villa have not offered the job yet to the Spaniard, despite holding talks with Martinez’s agents on Thursday, but he was owner Randy Lerner's first choice 12 months ago.

David Silva hails Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini

Mancini is our master minder: Silva says boss is champion at shielding stars from title heat

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UPDATED:

21:30 GMT, 1 May 2012

It was in a room adjacent to the Arsenal away dressing room on April 8 that Khaldoon Al Mubarak took Roberto Mancini on one side and effectively told him that his job was safe.

Coming at perhaps the lowest point of Manchester City’s season, it was a cute move from the club’s chairman and one that Mancini has repaid in kind.

Some clubs — Chelsea certainly being one — seem to believe managers work better when they don’t know if they will have a parking space from one day to the next. At City, having learned from the lessons of Mark Hughes’ bungled sacking, it no longer seems to be that way.

Fiery: Roberto Mancini (right) has responded well to Manchester City's crisis

Fiery: Roberto Mancini (right) has responded well to Manchester City's crisis

Khaldoon’s privately expressed faith in Mancini certainly appears to have given the City manager the platform and the peace of mind to construct one of the most remarkable resurrections in recent Barclays Premier League history.

Since City’s season threatened to fall off a cliff that day in north London, Mancini’s team have reeled in Manchester United thanks to four straight wins, 13 goals and a defensive effort that has seen goalkeeper Joe Hart beaten only once.

In public, Mancini has certainly behaved a little strangely. Pronouncements about United’s supposed superiority and conspiracies about referees became so absurd that City officials pushed his press conference ahead of Monday’s derby back to the Saturday to keep him out of the papers.

That, however, doesn’t really matter. It is Mancini’s work at City’s training ground and in team hotels over the last three weeks that has been important and his Spanish playmaker David Silva pointed to this as he reflected on Monday night’s victory.

We thought it was over: City looked dead and buried after losing to Arsenal

We thought it was over: City looked dead and buried after losing to Arsenal

‘This is an important moment for us psychologically because we knew we had to win this game,’ said Silva. ‘Mentally we knew we had to win it. We did that and now we have to continue concentrating on the job. It does give us the confidence we need for the last two games.

‘Perhaps Roberto has deflected pressure from us by saying the title is over. He has certainly taken the pressure off the players, which always helps because the pressure is always there between Manchester United and City. Yes, him taking the pressure off the players has really helped.’

Mancini has talked often about mentality in the two years or so he has been at City. In games against Arsenal and Sunderland in early spring it was hard to believe his message was getting through.

It wasn’t the fact that they failed to win those games, it was the manner in which City played and behaved that raised questions. Subsequently, though, Mancini has somehow managed to get into his players’ heads.

The absence of the suspended Mario Balotelli has helped and Mancini can’t take credit for that. The young Italian has become a corrosive influence at the club and his red card at Arsenal removed him from the mix at the right time.

Winner: Vincent Kompany heads home the winner (above) and celebrates

Winner: Vincent Kompany heads home the winner (above) and celebrates

Winner: Vincent Kompany heads home the winner (above) and celebrates

Winner: Vincent Kompany heads home the winner (above) and celebrates

Elsewhere, though, Mancini has done his work flawlessly. Since City beat West Bromwich 4-0, shortly after the Arsenal defeat, the manager has barely touched his team.

Only injury to Yaya Toure briefly changed things, while his decision not to reintroduce fit-again Micah Richards on Monday night was born out of loyalty to Pablo Zabaleta.

The rather more unsung of City’s Argentinian trio repaid his manager’s faith with the performance of his career in England. The reintegration of Carlos Tevez has also been handled so skilfully that it has appeared seamless when it really hasn’t been.

And Mancini’s restricted use of Silva himself has allowed one of his most influential players to contribute when an ongoing ankle injury might have sidelined him completely.

This is where Mancini the strategist and Mancini the pragmatist have come to the fore.

He may not be an inspirational manager, but years working in the spotlight of Italy’s Serie A have taught him how to navigate through the fog when things are going badly. What has been noticeable in recent weeks has been a complete absence of panic.

On the verge: Manchester City fans celebrate the win over their bitter rivals

On the verge: Manchester City fans celebrate the win over their bitter rivals

At City, Mancini has endeavoured to build a team of winners. It has been clear for some time that he has assembled the most talented group of players in the country. That was the easy bit. Getting the whole to equal the sum of the parts has taken a little longer.

Certainly City don’t fear United now, despite what Mancini may suggest, and on Monday at the Etihad that became abundantly clear as the new league leaders produced a performance as composed, professional and stubborn as that stadium has ever seen from its team. United may not have been at their best. Ferguson may question whether he picked the right team. But the visitors still presented City with a devilish test and it is testimony to Mancini’s work that his team came through.

As Silva said: ‘I’m not sure how Mancini does or doesn’t look upon Ferguson. I’m sure he sees him as a great, influential manager. But Mancini doesn’t transfer that fact to us.

‘United are a great team and they have been winning and winning and winning but we are here to make things difficult for them.

‘We believe we can win the title.'