Tag Archives: publicity

Shane Warne fit for Ashes for Australia against England

WARNEING: I'm fit for Ashes! Shane, 43, is in the shape of his life and ready to save Australia

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UPDATED:

22:48 GMT, 4 December 2012

Just when it seemed we could bid an
emotional farewell to the last of Australia's true greats with Ricky
Ponting's tearful retirement, up pops Shane Warne to flex his spinning
finger and tease us all over a possible Ashes comeback.

Warne chose the week of his latest
return to action in the Australian Big Bash Twenty20 competition with
the Melbourne Stars to say that he had 'absolutely no doubt' he could
bowl at Test level again.

The ball, it seems, is in his close
friend Michael Clarke's court and fizzing like a classic Warne
leg-break. Can he really be serious

Ashes to Ashes! Warne is willing to come out of retirement to face England once again

Ashes to Ashes! Warne is willing to come out of retirement to face England once again

Final Warne-ing: Would Shane's other half put a block on him playing England again

Final Warne-ing: Would Shane's other half put a block on him playing England again

Well, perhaps the greatest bowler
of them all, and almost as great a showman, has talked of comebacks
before but there has always been more than a hint of publicity stunt
about it.

Now, in the aftermath of Australia's crushing defeat by South
Africa in Perth, he again chose to provide a glimmer of hope to a
slightly desperate nation.

If the Australian captain gives him a call,
Warne insists he will respond. 'If your best friend says, “Mate, I want
you to seriously consider making a commitment to Australian cricket by
coming out of retirement”, that's a different scenario,' said Warne.

'Especially with back-to-back Ashes series coming up next year. It could
be a 12-month thing where you take three spinners with you and say,
“Righto, work with these spinners and see how you go”. That's a
different kettle of fish.'

Nemesis: Warne took great delight in bowling England over time and again

Nemesis: Warne took great delight in bowling England over time and again

Nemesis: Warne took great delight in bowling England over time and again

Ball of the century: Mike Gatting was bowled all ends up in 1993

Ball of the century: Mike Gatting was bowled all ends up in 1993

So is this what you might call a
'come-and-get-me plea' 'I'm definitely not asking for Michael Clarke to
come out and say that,' conceded Warne.

'You asked me if I felt I could
still play international cricket, if I wanted to just turn up, do my
bowling and if the first Test was in three weeks, do you think I could
play

'I'd have no hesitation in saying yes. And I think I'd do pretty
well.'

It does, of course, feel like madness. Warne, after all, is 43
and has not played Test cricket for almost six years.

He may be able to
turn his arm over in a domestic Twenty20 league but could he really
return to what remains the biggest battle in world cricket

It is not as
if he needs to. Warne is busy and in successful postretirement and,
since he met Elizabeth Hurley, has found contentment in what has often
been a rocky personal life.

Surely he would not risk his considerable
reputation by putting his neck on the line again

And yet. Warne is
probably in the best physical shape of his life, has never been close to
being replaced in the Australian team and could bowl off a couple of
paces and resume his old position at slip, as long as his eyes haven't
gone, without too much fuss.

It couldn't happen, could it 'From purely a bowling perspective I don't think my form would be a concern,'
said Warne.

'It's just the time and actually making a commitment again.
'My kids are turning 16, 14 and 12 next year and we're juggling two
continents with my work commitments and Elizabeth's.

'There's travel, sponsors, businesses, so much stuff that I'd have to put
on hold to come back to international cricket. That's the reason I
haven't said for a while that I'm going to make a comeback.'

Oh Shane,
don't spoil it. His comments, made in Adelaide, have guaranteed
publicity so we might as well dream of what it might be like.

Shane's world: Warne retired in 2007 and soon took up commentary duties

Shane's world: Warne retired in 2007 and soon took up commentary duties

The
thought of Warne in another Ashes series is like a huge dollop of
stardust that will be missing in the contests in England and the return
in Australia as a result of Ponting's absence.

'For me it's not a
question of whether I could do it,' said Warne. 'I have no doubt that if
I wanted to commit I could do it.

'I watched the Perth Test and I felt
like jumping off the couch and grabbing the ball. I really felt for
Michael Clarke from a captaincy point of view.'

Nathan Lyon, the latest Australian spinner faced with the thankless task of stepping into
Warne's shoes, should look away now.

'When you've got international
bowlers bowling one or two full tosses and half-volleys an over I felt
for Pup (Clarke), I really did. I think I'm bowling as well as I have
for a long time. The best since I retired from international cricket. My
body's fresh and strong and fit. My mind's fresh from it all and off
the field I'm very happy, content and looking forward to playing.'

Oh,
go on Pup, give him a call. You know you want to. We all certainly want
you to. That really would light up the Ashes.

Andrew Flintoff has
improved his fitness levels so much in his boxing training that he may
play Twenty20 cricket again, says his father, Colin.

The only people cheering Warne's return would be England's batsmen

The only surprise about Shane Warne's latest dalliance with the idea of unretiring and playing Test cricket once more is that it's been a while since he's aired the possibility.

Barely a week went by during the 2010-11 Ashes when Warne wasn't asked whether he fancied helping out his struggling former team-mates. And, being a straight-talking kind of guy – and one with an eye for a PR stunt – he was damned if he was going to dismiss the prospect without giving it at least some room to breathe.

Now, he's done it again, saying he has 'absolutely no doubt' he could hack it at Test level and leaving a nation to dream of the good old days, when the thought of Australia failing to take six South African wickets in an entire day to win a match – as Michael Clarke's team contrived to do recently in Adelaide – would scarcely have occurred.

No one can question Warne's self-belief. It was part of the package that made him the most compelling spin bowler in the history of the game. His capacity to wring so many front-foot lbws out of impressionable umpires was a wonder to behold.

His aura might still earn him the odd wicket, and he could doubtless summon up the old magic to produce the occasional rip-snorter. Hell, it would be fun to watch.

But Test cricket is a gruelling business. And in a shade over six months next year spilling over into 2014, Australia will play ten straight matches against England, away and home. Warne will turn 44 between the two series. A return to Test cricket Really

If the headlines ever descended from the realms of Cloud Cuckoo Land, the only people cheering once the initial excitement had worn off would be England's batsmen.

Sportsmail cricketer writer and editor of Wisden – LAWRENCE BOOTH

VIDEO: Ball of the century which heralded Warne's arrival on Ashes scene…

John Smith"s call time on Grand National sponsorship

John Smith's call time on Grand National sponsorship

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UPDATED:

22:02 GMT, 24 November 2012

Aintree is seeking a new sponsor for the Grand National after the shock decision of John Smith's to pull their backing after next year's race in April.

Those in charge at Aintree have had to deal with negative publicity following the deaths of two horses in each of the last two Nationals.

Thrill of the chase: Neptune Collonges (right) jumps The Chair on the way to winning the Grand National

Thrill of the chase: Neptune Collonges (right) jumps The Chair on the way to winning the Grand National

Last summer the course's managing
director, Julian Thick, departed unexpectedly and at least one more
senior figure is set to leave.

Now Aintree has lost the backing of
the brewing giant John Smith's, who have invested heavily in the
three-day National meeting over nine years, with the prize money almost
doubling to just under 1million since 2005.

John Baker, new regional director for
Jockey Club Northern Racecourses, said: 'We are finalising new
sponsorship to ensure the event remains one of the crown jewels in the
sporting calendar.'

One of the leading bookmakers could
step in, since betting during the build-up to the National reaches an
annual peak on the day of the race.

But bookies are unlikely to provide the significant depth of funding delivered by John Smith's and, before them, Martell.

Lord Daresbury rode winners over the famous Aintree fences as an amateur.

Yesterday, as chairman of the
racecourse, he said: 'This news comes at a bad time but I am confident
the race will attract plenty of interest from potential sponsors.'

Andre Flintoff defends decision to box Richard Dawson

Flintoff hits back at critics as former cricket star denies boxing match 'cheapens' sport

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UPDATED:

18:56 GMT, 14 November 2012

Andrew Flintoff denies his reinvention as a boxer demeans the sport with trainer Barry McGuigan claiming any criticism is motivated by jealousy.

Flintoff will make his professional debut in Manchester on November 30 in a four-round fight against novice American Richard Dawson, exclusively revealed by Sportsmail, who has won both of his bouts.

Strong opposition from within boxing has greeted the former England cricket captain’s decision to swap bat for gloves.

Defiant: Andrew Flintoff (left), pictured with Mike Tyson (right) claims he is not cheapening boxing by stepping into the ring

Defiant: Andrew Flintoff (left), pictured with Mike Tyson (right) claims he is not cheapening boxing by stepping into the ring

Frank Warren and rising British heavyweight Danny Price described it as “car crash TV”, while Frank Maloney branded it a 'scandal'.

Maloney also called for British Boxing Board of Control chairman Charles Giles to be sacked for approving the 34-year-old’s license.

But Flintoff, who lost 45lbs in weight during a gruelling four-month training camp filmed for a three-part series to be screened on Sky1HD, insists his motives are honourable.

'You couldn’t go through this for a TV stunt,' he said.

'If I was looking for a publicity stunt I’d have picked something easier. There’s other things I could have done.

'There’s been criticism of things I’ve done in the past. I’m just getting my head down and doing the best I can.

'I appreciate that people want to protect the sport they’re involved in. I’d be the same with cricket.

'I’m hoping this is something where boxing is celebrated because it’s not my intention to cheapen the sport or show it up.

Looking on: Tyson and Flintoff's trainer Barry McGuigan watch the former cricketer in action

Looking on: Tyson and Flintoff's trainer Barry McGuigan watch the former cricketer in action

'We want to show the sport in the best possible light because ultimately I’m a boxing fan as well.'

McGuigan mounted a robust defence of the project at today’s preview screening of “The Gloves Are Off”, the first episode of which will be aired on November 22 at 9pm.

Former WBA featherweight champion McGuigan, 51, oversaw Flintoff’s training with his son Shane acting as the technical and strength and conditioning coach.

'What we’re doing is the opposite to cheapening the sport, it’s promoting it. You see the pain and anguish Freddie goes though,' McGuigan said.

'How can that be negative in promoting the sport To say it cheapens boxing is a complete and utter load of nonsense.

'It’s a case of the green-eyed monster I’m afraid. Freddie’s worked his nuts off and we’re promoting the sport in a very positive way.

'We could have done white collar or amateur boxing, but that’s not real. This is real.'

Taking advice: Flintoff listens to the former heavyweight champion of the world during a training session

Taking advice: Flintoff listens to the former heavyweight champion of the world during a training session

In the sparring sessions seen in episode one Flintoff, who has no amateur background, is strong but limited and is generally treated sympathetically by opponents.

McGuigan accepted there are rough edges but praises the 2005 Ashes winner’s attitude.

'Let’s be honest, Freddie is a novice. There’s been a monumental change physically,' he said.

'Technically he has a lot to work on, but we’ll keep at that. He’s a great pupil. He’s not a natural but he works very hard. He gets there because he’s so determined.'

Flintoff faced some of cricket’s biggest names during a career that numbered 79 Test appearances and 141 one-day internationals, but admitted boxing is the toughest challenge he has faced.

Swapping sports: Flintoff was a successful England cricketer before his retirement

Swapping sports: Flintoff was a successful England cricketer before his retirement

'In cricket the mental aspect was tough but this has taken that to a whole new level,' Flintoff said.

'You’re up and down all the time, you get nervous before a sparring session, you’re on a high when you’re in there and then an hour later you’re flat.

'The diet’s had its’ moments….eating steak at 530am isn’t the easiest. Giving up booze has been all right though. It’s been a lifestyle chance.

'One of the things I had to overcome is that I’m not the most confrontational bloke.

'When I played cricket every now and then I would be, but it didn’t bring out the best in me.

'There has to be a ruthless streak in the ring, so there’s been a change mentally to achieve that.'

Luis Suarez rebuts Jim Boyce diving claims by saying he does not know FIFA chief

Who are ya Suarez rebuts Boyce's diving slur by saying he's never heard of FIFA chief

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UPDATED:

09:15 GMT, 13 October 2012


Criticism: Luis Suarez has been castigated

Criticism: Luis Suarez has been castigated

Luis Suarez has responded angrily to FIFA vice-president Jim Boyce's comments about the Liverpool striker.

Northern Irishman Boyce, Britain's representative on FIFA, described Suarez's clear dive against Stoke as 'nothing less than cheating' and said simulation was a 'cancer' in the game.

That prompted the Uruguayan Football Association (AUF) to write to FIFA defending their player and demanding Boyce be referred to the governing body's Ethics Committee.

And Suarez, who played for his country in last night's 3-0 World Cup qualifying defeat to Argentina, has now has his say.

In an interview on Argentinian radio, quoted in the Sun, the 25-year-old said: 'This guy (Boyce), I've no idea who he is.

'I don't know why he has been talking about me. He certainly can't be well-known and he wants to get publicity.

'Let him carry on talking. My job is to play football and to try to do so in the best way possible.

'What he has said does not affect me. I am not interested in what he has to say.

In action: He played for Uruguay as they lost 3-0 to Argentina

In action: He played for Uruguay as they lost 3-0 to Argentina

'It's been important to have the support of the Uruguayan FA and the people.'

Suarez has always been a controversial figure, with the diving discussion adding to last season's race row with Patrice Evra, for which he was banned for eight matches.

And he said: 'I have lived through a lot in the past year, with people saying things about me, but I have continued playing and proving my job is what happens on the pitch.'

The AUF's letter, signed by the organisation's president Sebastian Bauza and general secretary Anibal de Olivera, described Boyce's remarks as 'at odds with the principles of world football governing.'

It continued: 'The code of ethics of
FIFA, in its article three, clearly states: “Officers should be aware of
the importance of their role and the obligations and responsibilities
that entails.”

'Deliberately
ignoring his position and role, Mr Boyce has referred specifically to a
football player, encouraging and provoking hostility towards him.'

The
letter also included a list of six steps the AUF want FIFA to take,
including withdrawing their confidence in Boyce, referring him to the
ethics committee and expressing their regret to Suarez.

Boyce was talking earlier this week as he
called for football associations to take retrospective action against
players who dive.

Boyce said: 'I have seen several
incidents recently, and I watched the latest Suarez incident two or
three times, and to me it is nothing less than a form of cheating.

'It
is becoming a little bit of a cancer within the game and I believe if
it is clear to everyone that it is simulation then that person is trying
to cheat and they should be severely punished for that.

'It
can be dealt with retrospectively by disciplinary committees, and it is
done so in some associations, and I believe that is the correct thing
to do.'

Who Suarez says he does not know who Jim Boyce is

Who Suarez says he does not know who Jim Boyce is

Suarez

John Terry not wanted to wear Kick It Out t-shirt

EXCLUSIVE: Terry to face Kick It Out backlash on return from ban

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UPDATED:

21:58 GMT, 8 October 2012

Furore: Terry (right) is to serve a four-game ban

Furore: Terry (right) is to serve a four-game ban

John Terry faces fresh controversy after it emerged that the Kick It Out campaign have serious reservations about the Chelsea skipper wearing their T-shirts later this month.

Chelsea’s players are due to wear Kick It Out shirts with the message ‘one game one community’ for games against Tottenham on Saturday week and Manchester United eight days later.

If Terry appeals against his 220,000 fine and four-game ban for racially insulting Anton Ferdinand, he will be available to play in both matches.

Kick It Out chiefs will meet Chelsea officials in the next fortnight to discuss the potential ramifications and will raise their fears about the issue.

It has become a delicate area for Kick It Out after their public show of support for the Ferdinand family during the case at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in July, when Terry was cleared of a racially aggravated public order offence.

They have aligned themselves with the
Ferdinand family throughout the ordeal and welcomed the findings of the
FA’s independent regulatory commission, who condemned Terry in a report
published last week.

The
panel held that he had used the words ‘f****** black ****’ as a racial
insult against Ferdinand during that infamous game against QPR at Loftus
Road last October.

Fallout: Terry has received bad publicity over the incident

Fallout: Terry has received bad publicity over the incident

Would Roman Abramovich ditch John Terry and Ashley Cole? Matt Barlow

Dare Abramovich ditch Terry and Cole in wake of recent events

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UPDATED:

22:19 GMT, 7 October 2012

As the John Terry case grinds towards its bitter end, Roman Abramovich reaches a crossroads in his quest to make the world love Chelsea.

Alan Shearer, on Match of the Day, said he wanted to see the FA make an example of Ashley Cole for his abusive tweet by banning him from England.

Cole reacted with more Twitter interaction which must have made the board groan, but it also makes clear how Abramovich can use the end of this episode to make a statement about his club’s direction.

What a pair: Terry and Cole have been making headlines for all the wrong reasons

What a pair: Terry and Cole have been making headlines for all the wrong reasons

Chelsea’s owner was at Stamford Bridge on Saturday to see Roberto Di Matteo’s team ease to a 4-1 victory against Norwich.

With exciting young players like Eden Hazard, Oscar and Juan Mata to take the club forward — and statesmen like Frank Lampard and Petr Cech still in the camp — how much does the owner need two 31-year-old defenders with ailing bodies and an unfortunate magnetism for bad publicity

Cole is in the final year of his contract and is understood to be tempted by offers from abroad, including Paris Saint-Germain. He has served Chelsea well as a player but, off the field, has harmed their reputation as much as he has improved it.

Last week’s tweet was the latest in an embarrassing series of misjudgments which include an air-gun shooting at the training ground and allegations that he smuggled women into the team hotel on the eve of matches.

Terry’s contract expires in 2014 but his relationship with Chelsea — and especially the fans — is much stronger and more emotional than Cole’s.

End of the road Abramovich may not offer the pair new contracts

End of the road Abramovich may not offer the pair new contracts

He joined the club as a boy, captained them through the most glorious years in their history and has spoken of his desire to manage the team one day.

Whether this remains feasible after the events of the last 12 months is debatable. Whether he can remain captain is open to question. But dare Abramovich take it one step further

To start the process of ending Terry’s association with the club would be a huge call but if image and standards are important to the Russian, as Di Matteo’s comments suggest they are, it is something he must consider.

Carl Froch-Nathan Cleverly fight won"t happen – Eddie Hearn

Froch-Cleverly fight won't happen, says Hearn as promoter blasts offer as 'publicity stunt'

By
Sportsmail Reporter

PUBLISHED:

16:47 GMT, 6 September 2012

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UPDATED:

16:53 GMT, 6 September 2012

Carl Froch will never face Nathan Cleverly with the IBF super-middleweight champion's promoter Eddie Hearn describing an offer for them to meet as a publicity stunt.

Promoter Frank Warren contacted Hearn, boss of Matchroom, stating he was willing to pay Froch 1million to challenge for Cleverly's WBO light-heavyweight title in Cardiff.

While Hearn admits the figure is accurate, he insists even a sum several times that amount would fail to persuade Froch to leave a high-quality division full of big names.

Off the agenda: Froch won't fight Cleverly, according to Hearn

Off the agenda: Froch won't fight Cleverly, according to Hearn

Once the 35-year-old from Nottingham has negotiated his title defence against Yusaf Mack in November, he is being lined up for rematches against Lucian Bute and Mikkel Kessler.

'We must have stated a dozen times it would be impossible for Carl Froch to move up to light-heavyweight,' Hearn said.

'He starts camp at 12stones 4lbs. He'd be fighting blokes at 190lbs in the ring.

'He's world super-middleweight champion and will be defending his super-middleweight title against Yusaf Mack.

Forget about Froch: Hearn's advice to the Welsh boxer

Forget about Froch: Hearn's advice to the Welsh boxer

'Then it's Bute and Kessler, after that he may hang up his gloves.

'They could offer 10million, the fight isn't going to happen. The money's irrelevant.

'Anyway, the offer they made us was probably half of what I'd pay Carl for the same fight. 'I told Carl about it last night and he laughed. Carl feels sorry for Nathan and thinks he's a good young fighter.

'My advice to Cleverly would be forget about Froch, he's a legend. You're not even at the races with him. Focus on Tony Bellew.

Not at the races: Hearn claims Cleverly isn't in the same league as Froch

Not at the races: Hearn claims Cleverly isn't in the same league as Froch

'By sending the email, they can say they made us a huge offer. It gets people talking about their fighters.

'When you don't have a major broadcaster behind you, you need some cheap free publicity and that's what this is…a publicity stunt.

'I might email Sugar Ray Leonard at the weekend to see if he wants to come out of retirement to fight Froch and tell everyone that Sugar Ray turned down a massive offer.'

Cleverly has faced criticism for the quality of his opponents since being crowned WBO champion. Victory over unknown American Tommy Karpency has hardly enhanced his reputation and next month's showdown with Ukrainian former world title challenger Vyacheslav Uzelkov is equally uninspiring.

'I feel sorry for Nathan Cleverly, he's a nice kid. But look at the opponents he keeps facing, they're horrific,' Hearn said.

'You can't talk about Bernard Hopkins and Froch when you're fighting guys like Tommy Karpency and Vyacheslav Uzelkov.'

Warren's efforts to tempt Froch, Bernard Hopkins, Mikkel Kessler and Beibut Shumenov into fighting Cleverly have been frustrated.

'Froch, Hopkins and Shumenov are the three big names we really tried to get something sorted out with but unfortunately it was not to be,'

Warren said. 'Hopefully we can resurrect them in the new year if Nathan comes through against Vyacheslav Uzelkov.'

Hearn was speaking at the head to head press conference for Tony Bellew's clash with Edison Miranda at Alexandra Palace on Saturday night.

Hearn stated that contrary to claims by Warren, Bellew had not been offered a rematch of his entertaining domestic match against Cleverly last October.

Kevin Pietersen will work for ESPN during Twenty20 World Championships

Shamed Pietersen heads to World Twenty20 after all… but only as a TV pundit

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UPDATED:

10:04 GMT, 24 August 2012

After being left out of the England squad batsman Kevin Pietersen will take up a punditry role for ESPN-STAR Sports for the upcoming Twenty20 World Championships.

Pietersen will take up a 'presentation and analysis' job after being overlooked thanks to the infamous text message debacle in whuch he sent messages to South African players criticising England captain Andrew Strauss and coach Andy Flower.

New job: Kevin Pietersen will provide analysis on the championship

New job: Kevin Pietersen will provide analysis on the championship

In addition to his new duties, he will also 'play an important role in the publicity and promotion of ESS’s broadcast of ICC World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka,' according to a statement from the channel.

It continued: 'This places him as one of the most suitable persons to give insightful perspective on this iconic T20 tournament, a format in which he has excelled as a player, thus further enhancing coverage of the ICC World Twenty20 for passionate cricket fans.'

Excited: Pietersen says he is looking forward to the role

Excited: Pietersen says he is looking forward to the role

Pietersen said, 'I am very excited about working with ESPN STAR Sports covering the ICC World Twenty20 watching England defend their title.'

He was player of the tournament at the last incarnation of the event, held in West Indies in 2010.

Roberto Mancini says Robin van Persie gives Manchester United the edge

Van Persie gives Man United the edge over City, insists Mancini

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UPDATED:

21:30 GMT, 17 August 2012

Fantasy football 2012

It is 97 days since Sergio Aguero’s right boot won the Barclays Premier League title and little seems to have changed at Manchester City.

Despite a summer of much talk in the transfer market, City’s squad remains pretty much untouched ahead of Saturday’s opening fixture at Southampton. Manager Roberto Mancini, meanwhile, still thinks neighbours United are favourites.

Last season, Mancini liked to say United were ‘four yards’ ahead of his team. That has now changed.

Tipping the balance: Robin van Persie gives Manchester United the edge, according to Roberto Mancini

Tipping the balance: Robin van Persie gives Manchester United the edge, according to Roberto Mancini

‘I think without Robin van Persie they had two yards in front of us,’ said Mancini. ‘Now with Van Persie they have maybe five.’

As Van Persie completed his move to United yesterday, City unveiled Jack Rodwell. Once again — in terms of publicity — City were back in their neighbours’ shadow.

Mancini claims that Van Persie was never a realistic target. ‘It would’ve been impossible because we’d have had five strikers,’ he said. Don’t be fooled by this. Mancini chased Van Persie hard. United simply offered the 29-year-old more money.

In his mind, though, Mancini has moved on. He paid lip service to United’s quality on Friday but his team begin as champions and he will expect them to end the season the same way.

Our boy: Mancini has dipped into the market himself, purchasing Jack Rodwell

Our boy: Mancini has dipped into the market himself, purchasing Jack Rodwell

Asked about the suggestion that United have the best four strikers in the Premier League, Mancini said: ‘I think in the world.

‘Last year our strikers were better than other strikers but if you want to do better than last year then you have to work harder.

‘I think they are favourites because they are United and they bought Kagawa and Van Persie. I think that because we won the last championship, our mentality has improved. But we should know that a team like Manchester City have to work harder than before. The second year, all the other teams that fight with you for the title improve and buy other players.’

Dangerous: The two top Premier League goalscorers (Van Persie and Rooney) have been linked

Dangerous: The two top Premier League goalscorers (Van Persie and Rooney) have been linked

Mancini looks likely to lose another target, Bilbao’s Javi Martinez, to Bayern Munich, and he admitted that a deal for Liverpool’s Daniel Agger is unlikely.

However, City are optimistic about signing Swansea winger Scott Sinclair and Roma’s Daniele De Rossi.

City did appoint one person on Friday, chief executive Ferran Soriano.

The Premier League champions have 13 days left to deliver Mancini someone a little more newsworthy.

Mario Baloteli smokes bong in St-Tropez nightclub

Party time for Balotelli as City star smokes hookah pipe and guzzles champagne

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UPDATED:

10:13 GMT, 9 July 2012

His Manchester City team-mates may have returned to pre-season training but Mario Balotelli is clearly in no mood to slow down his partying.

The Italy striker has yet to return to Carrington after being given extended leave following his country's exploits at Euro 2012 and was swigging champagne and smoking a bong in the exclusive VIP Room nightclub in St-Tropez.

The 21-year-old put his personal troubles to one side – his ex-girlfriend Raffaella Fico claims she is pregnant with his child – to enjoy a massage from a scantily clad blonde.

Party time: Mario Balotelli smokes a bong while holding a bottle of champagne as he receives a massage

Party time: Mario Balotelli smokes a bong while holding a bottle of champagne as he receives a massage

Balotelli hit out at Raffaella, 27, last week, demanding a paternity test after calling her behaviour 'disappointing'.

He said: 'A few days ago I learned from third parties that Raffaella was pregnant.

'So I decided to contact her and it was only after I had questioned her that she confirmed it was true.

Living the dream: Balotelli was clearly enjoying himself at the VIP Room nightclub in St-Tropez

Living the dream: Balotelli was clearly enjoying himself at the VIP Room nightclub in St-Tropez

'I am very disappointed as I don’t think it is right that I should learn this after four months.'

Balotelli, who split with Raffaella in April, also accused her of 'exploiting the story for publicity'. He said he had 'no intention' of getting back together with her.

Raffaella claimed she told Balotelli she was pregnant while he was in action for Italy and that he had replied: 'You have given me the best news in the world.'