Tag Archives: routine

Michu snubbed by Tottenham, West Ham, Aston Villa, Stoke, Fulham and Leeds before Swansea swooped

REVEALED: The SIX Premier League clubs (and Leeds United) who snubbed Michu before Swansea swooped for 2.2m bargain

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UPDATED:

22:10 GMT, 31 December 2012

If Roberto Mancini is having
sleepless nights over missing out on Robin van Persie, then one can only
imagine the mood at Tottenham's training ground every time Michu scores
for Swansea.

There,
at Hotspur Way, something of a dark comedy routine has been going on
this season between Pat Jennings and Tim Sherwood, an exchange that
usually ends with one telling the other: 'Don't mention Michu'. He's the
one that got away. Twice.

And once he was going for free. But Tottenham are not alone. Sportsmail understands
that Fulham, Stoke, West Brom, West Ham and Aston Villa were also told
by an independent agent in Spain about the 26-year-old in the summer and
encouraged to bid for a man who had just scored 15 goals in La Liga.

Summer steal: Michu has been a sensation since joining Swansea from Rayo Vallecano for just 2.2m

Summer steal: Michu has been a sensation since joining Swansea from Rayo Vallecano for just 2.2m

Who needs Michu

Michu has taken the Premier League by storm since joining Swansea in the summer. Here's how his goal tally compares with the leading scorers at the clubs he snubbed…

Premier League goals 2012-13 (as of Dec 31)

Michu – 13

Spurs – Jermain Defoe – 10

Aston Villa – Christian Benteke – 5

West Ham – Kevin Nolan – 5

Stoke – Jonathan Walters – 5

Fulham – Dimitar Berbatov – 6

West Brom – Romelu Lukaku – 6

And one in the Championship…

Leeds United – Luciano Becchio – 14

The fact that those goals came for
Rayo Vallecano, a struggling team that frequently couldn't afford to pay
their players, wasn't enough to coax an offer.

The
fact that most of the goals had come from midfield, and his release
clause was a relative snip at 3.2million, was seemingly also ignored.

In
Tottenham's case, the shame is a little deeper. Spurs were first
notified about Michu in the summer of 2011, when his contract at Celta
Vigo, who were then in the Spanish second tier, expired. It meant that
he was available on a free transfer.

At
the time, Michu was largely playing a deeper, more defensive role and
Tottenham snubbed the recommendat ion of Gerry Armstrong, a former Spurs
player-turned-Spanish football expert, to make a bid.

'Even
then, it was obvious this guy was a different class,' Armstrong said.
'He played a bit further back, but he was so comfortable on the ball.

Before he was famous: Michu in action against Real Madrid in September 2011 (when he was still up for grabs)

Before he was famous: Michu in action against Real Madrid in September 2011 (when he was still up for grabs), but Andre Villas-Boas, Paul Lambert and Sam Allardyce (below, left-right) all passed up the chance to sign him

Andre Villas-Boas

Paul Lambert

Sam Allardyce

'He
had brilliant vision, could win headers, could pass, could shoot. There
didn't seem to be anything missing.' It wasn't just a Premier League
thing. Leeds, along with the six top-flight clubs, were contacted by a
Spanish agent in the summer and, like the rest, did not act on the
recommendation. Swansea stumped up 2.2m.

The Bigger Picture

'He was offered, I think, to a lot of clubs in the summer,' Michael Laudrup told Sportsmail back in August.

'I think he will be a very good player here. I have a feeling that he will.

'There
is a lot of value in the Spanish market right now. There is not a lot
of money and you can get some very good deals. I think this is a good
deal.'

That conversation took place in the
week before Swansea opened their season against QPR – Michu's debut. He
scored twice in a 5-0 win. Then he scored again in their second game, a
3-0 win over West Ham.

'He can score goals, but I think he can do more,' Laudrup said in the summer.

Indeed,
he passes well, beats players, can poach and has a pile-driver in
either foot. In keeping with Swansea's modus operandi, he is comfortable
taking possession in small spaces, but he's also 6ft 1in and is superb
in the air, making him a target for long balls and crosses.

Laudrup
spoke of adding a Plan B and a greater goal threat in pre-season and
Michu has given him both. His Premier League tally stands at 13, one
short of Van Persie, who cost current leaders Manchester United 24m.

Paying attention: Spain's coach Vicente del Bosque says he will hand Michu his first international cap

Paying attention: Spain's coach Vicente del Bosque says he will hand Michu his first international cap

The Tale of the Tape

A week ago, Vicente del Bosque, the
Spain manager, took the unusual step of promising Michu his first
international cap, almost two months before of the world and European
champions' February 6 friendly with Uruguay in Doha.

Del
Bosque spoke out the night before Michu scored his 13th league goal of
the season in a 1-1 draw with Manchester United on December 23.

A
couple of days earlier, Sir Alex Ferguson had told his club's website
that he had not heard of the Spaniard prior to this season.

He
added that he would be having words with his scouting department.
Fergie won't be the only Premier League manager doing that. Or
Championship boss, for that matter.

Leading the way: Robin van Persie has scored the most goals in the Premier League this season

Leading the way: Robin van Persie has scored the most goals in the Premier League this season

VIDEO: Here's what all the fuss is about…

Wasps 25 Sale 18: Sharks relegation fears worsen

Wasps 25 Sale 18: Suffering Sharks rise above Danny debacle to claim bonus point

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UPDATED:

22:27 GMT, 23 December 2012

Sale arrived at Adams Park in a state of near disarray on Sunday but they left with renewed hope in their relegation fight, as Johnny Leota’s last-minute try and Rob Miller’s conversion secured a vital bonus point.

This was Wasps’ eighth consecutive home win in all competitions and they were propelled to victory by marauding 20-year-old No 8 Billy Vunipola.

Fortress: Wasps have now won eight from eight at Adams Park this season

Fortress: Wasps have now won eight from eight at Adams Park this season

His storming break from a scrum in the
52nd minute set up a try for Rhys Thomas to put the result beyond doubt
and suggest he could soon force his way into the senior England squad to
join his brother, Saracens prop Mako.

While Dai Young’s side climbed to
seventh in the Aviva Premiership table, the scoreline was far more
significant for the bottom club, who closed the gap behind London Irish
to five points.

Bonus: Richie Vernon is mobbed after scoring Sale's try

Bonus: Richie Vernon is mobbed after scoring Sale's try

After the 62-0 massacre at the hands
of Toulon last Sunday, there was character and resilience from the
Sharks on Sunday, personified by returning hooker Marc Jones. It all
came to fruition in the closing seconds when, from a scrum on the right,
Cillian Willis darted forward and Leota barged through to touch down.
Miller, who had missed two routine shots at goal, struck the conversion
with conviction.

Such a scenario seemed highly
unlikely before the game. After the record loss in France, Danny
Cipriani had been dropped, with interim director of rugby John Mitchell
pulling no punches in deriding the fly-half’s defensive work. Then,
after Sale’s head of social media had ignited a storm by condemning
protesting fans as ‘f***wits’ on Facebook, chairman Brian Kennedy
delivered his own damning verdict on Cipriani.

Lion-in-waiting: Joe Launchbury collects a high ball for the home side

Lion-in-waiting: Joe Launchbury collects a high ball for the home side

‘Danny didn’t want to tackle last
week,’ he said. ‘If you can’t defend, there’s no place for you in
Premiership rugby. Danny had a dreadful game in defence last week. If
you’re not prepared to put your body on the line for this club, who pay
your wages and give you the chance to play at the highest level each
week, then you won’t be in the squad.’

Cipriani was stunned by the public
broadside from his employer, but Mitchell didn’t spare him after this
match either. Referring to his decision to leave him out, the Kiwi said:
‘I’m certainly not Santa Claus — I don’t care where he played before.
All I’ve asked him to do is defend. Our defence was good last week until
he chose to be an individual. You have to serve your team-mates before
yourself. If he improves his defence, he’ll be back involved again.’

Putting the boot in: Stephen Jones (centre) kicked 14 points

Putting the boot in: Stephen Jones (centre) kicked 14 points

Despite the potentially disruptive
nature of this sideshow, Sale improved their performance from the
previous week and Mitchell added: ‘You cannot discount the importance of
that bonus point today. If we can win our next game, at home to
Worcester, it would put us right back where we need to be.
‘Everyone has to take responsibility for where we are and things have to
change. We’ve got to make it happen on the 28th, then it can become a
defining game.’

While Sale’s kickers struggled,
Stephen Jones landed 14 points – four penalties and a conversion – with a
flawless display. Elliot Daly weighed in with a three-point shot from
the left flank on halfway, just before the break. That gave Wasps the
lead again, after Sam Tuitupou’s rampaging run in midfield had caused
sufficient mayhem for Richie Vernon to score the visitors’ first try on
the right.

Battering ram: James Haskell is tackled by David Seymour

Battering ram: James Haskell is tackled by David Seymour

In the second half, it was Vunipola’s
dramatic intervention which gave the hosts the decisive edge and while
Young was critical of the team effort, he was effusive in his praise of
the Anglo-Tongan back-row prospect, saying: ‘Billy was outstanding in
attack and defence. He’s been in the same vein of form for most of this
season, it’s hard to believe he is only 20.

‘If he was called upon by England, he
wouldn’t let anyone down and I don’t think it will be too long before
he is putting on an England jersey.’

Gangnam style: West Ham mascot in Psy tribute

Hey, sexy ladies! West Ham mascot rivals the Crystals and Sammy the Saint in battle for best Gangnam Style tribute

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UPDATED:

12:01 GMT, 10 December 2012

If the Crystal Palace cheerleaders' performance is anything to go by, Hammerhead and Sammy the Saint have a lot to live up to in their bid to deliver football’s finest version of global craze, Gangnam Style.

Korean pop singer Psy's popular dance routine has been impersonated by millions across the world since the smash hit’s release earlier this year.

And yesterday, West Ham took great pride in re-living the highlights of their robot 'superhero' mascot getting carried away in the act.

The Upton Park crowd were treated to a half-time airing of the mascot's dancing skills, which he first previewed during the win over Chelsea just over a week ago.

Hoping it would conjure the same inspiration for their victory over the Blues, the dance failed to deliver another famous win for the east London side, as Liverpool came from behind to celebrate a 3-2 win.

But Hammerhead is not the only Premier League mascot to get wrapped up in the fever.

Southampton's Sammy the Saint delighted the St Mary's faithful ahead of last month's 1-1 draw with Norwich with his take on the trend.

Neither come close to outpointing the Crystals. All together now: ‘Hey, sexy ladies’…

Bobby Campbell who sits with Roman Abramovich at Chelsea talks to Sportsmail

'If I told you any more, I would have to kill you…': Inside Roman's inner circle, Sportsmail speaks to Bobby Campbell, the former Chelsea boss who sits next to Abramovich at every home game

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UPDATED:

14:16 GMT, 3 December 2012

Bobby Campbell got on the bus from his home on the King’s Road this morning and made his way to the luxurious health club at Stamford Bridge.

The former Chelsea manager, 75, is there most days, working out and spending time talking to staff at the fitness suite as part of his daily routine.

On matchdays he has another routine, spending time with owner Roman Abramovich and his close associates before home games.

In the box: Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich (right) in the stands with Bobby Campbell on his left

In the box: Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich (right) in the stands with Bobby Campbell on his left

Friends: Campbell (left) described Abramovich as a 'wonderful' man

Friends: Campbell (left) described Abramovich as a 'wonderful' man

WHO IS BOBBY CAMPBELL

Assistant to manager John Hollins, Bobby Campbell took over as caretaker manager at the club at the back-end of the 1987-88 season when the boss was sacked.

Although he could not help in the remaining eight games as the club were relegated he helped them fly back up to the top flight the following season.

Then he led them to fifth place – a record high for the Blues at the time.

After finishing 11th in 1991 he was moved on as manager and appointed personal assistant to Ken Bates.

Campbell's record as Chelsea manager:

P163 W77 D44 L42

‘Roman is a wonderful man and I have a very good relationship with him,’ revealed Campbell just as he stepped off a big red London bus outside Stamford Bridge this morning.

‘He is a good man, but you have to remember he is Russian and there is a big cultural difference which people don’t want to accept in this country.

‘I accept him because I know the man and I respect him and like him. I have been invited to watch games with him for seven or eight years and I have learned a lot from him.

‘They are a decent bunch of lads, there is no doubt about it. They really are good people with Chelsea’s best intentions at heart.

‘I can’t tell you much more about my relationship with Roman, other than to say if I did, I would have to kill you.’

Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.

Asked if he was part of the decision-making process behind the decision to sack Roberto Di Matteo and hire Rafael Benitez, Campbell said: ‘I’d best take the fifth amendment on that.’

Campbell has been back at Chelsea for seven or eight years, part of the inner circle of confidantes that Abramovich relies on for advice and guidance.

They met after he was introduced to Abramovich’s right-hand man Eugene Tenenbaum at the fitness centre built at the back of Stamford Bridge ‘around seven or eight years ago’.

Since then he has been a regular presence at Stamford Bridge, watching teams assembled under Jose Mourinho, Carlo Ancelotti and Roberto Di Matteo from the comfort of Abramovich’s box.

Bobby Campbell

Bobby Campbell with Dave Beasant

Welcome to Chelsea: Bobby Campbell, pictured as manager of the Blues, with his signing Dave Beasant

Bobby Campbell with Dave Beasant

Campbell, who led Chelsea to promotion from the old Second Division under Ken Bates in the late Eighties, insists everyone is getting it wrong about their Russian owner.

He added: ‘He wants the best for Chelsea and he has invested a lot of money in the team and the club. They are very committed and they are good men.’

It is clear that Campbell, now 75, has Abramovich’s ear after spending a lifetime in the game.

He spent the early part of his playing career with Liverpool and Portsmouth before he eventually went on to manage at Fratton Park.

He went on to manage Chelsea but Campbell couldn’t save them from relegation in 1988 when he was appointed manager.

They lost their First Division status in the play-offs during a game marred by hooliganism against Middlesbrough at Stamford Bridge on May 28 1988.

A year later he won promotion back to the top flight, but eventually moved upstairs to work with Bates after he the club’s former owner brought in Ian Porterfield.

Campbell is embedded in the club’s history and first met Abramovich when he returned to England after a spell living in Florida.

He added: ‘I went to live in Florida because my son is a professional tennis player, but when I returned to England I went back to live on the King’s Road.

‘I’ve been there ever since and when I started going to the fitness centre I was introduced to Eugene Tenenbaum.

King's Road: Campbell lives in Fulham and regularly goes to the gym at Chelsea

King's Road: Campbell lives in Fulham and regularly goes to the gym at Chelsea

‘He is a lovely man and we used to talk all the time. I like them because I respect them and they respect me.

‘I know Chelsea are hated – they were hated when I was manager there. Everyone hated us.

‘I brought in a wonderful man called Dennis Signy (a brilliant journalist who passed away in June 2012) to work unpaid at Chelsea as my advisor.

‘Not much has changed since – no-one like them now, but they have the wrong impression.’

Carlos Tevez given driving ban

Tevez given driving ban… just two weeks after his car was impounded by police

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UPDATED:

12:09 GMT, 26 November 2012

Manchester City striker Carlos Tevez has been disqualified from driving less than a fortnight after his luxury car was removed from the road by police.

Tevez, 28, mimicked driving a vehicle after he scored twice in his team's Barclays Premier League win at home to Aston Villa on November 17.

Two days earlier his Porsche Panamera was impounded in Manchester as he could not produce a full UK driving licence.

Banned: Tevez mimicked driving a car in Manchester City's victory over Villa

Banned: Tevez mimicked driving a car in Manchester City's victory over Villa

Today, Lancaster magistrates imposed an interim ban on him for a separate matter in which he failed to provide information when his car was clocked speeding in Morecambe.

It is understood his vehicle was caught breaking the speed limit in the town on March 28 when he played for City's reserves against Morecambe Reserves.

His solicitor, Gwyn Lewis, told the court his client accepted he did not provide identification – which carries six penalty points – and that under the totting-up procedure he was now liable for disqualification.

Carlos Tevez

Carlos Tevez

Date: The length of Tevez's ban will be decided on December 20

Mr Lewis said: 'My instructions are though he was not the driver on that occasion I am not going to argue against a ban on grounds of exceptional hardship.'

He asked the magistrates to impose an interim disqualification and adjourn sentencing so that the 'no licence case' from Manchester could be dealt with at the same time.

'He (Tevez) has been told that he will not be able to drive this morning,' added the solicitor.

The magistrates agreed and listed the matter in Lancaster for December 20 when the length of the suspension will be set. The Argentinian did not attend today's hearing.

His Porsche was seized under section 165 of the Road Traffic Act in a routine patrol near to the Britannia Airport Hotel on November 15.

He was then summonsed for driving otherwise in accordance with a driving licence, said Greater Manchester Police.

Three years ago – when he was playing for City's rivals Manchester United – his Bentley Continental GT Speed was impounded in similar circumstances.

The Bentley was removed by police near to junction 6 of the M60 in February 2009 after it was found he did not have a full UK driving licence.

As an Argentinian driving licence holder, Tevez, from Prestbury, Cheshire, is permitted to drive in Britain for the first 12 months of his stay in the country but is then required to apply for a provisional licence and pass the UK driving theory and practical test.

The centre forward joined West Ham United in 2006 and then moved to Manchester United a season later. He signed for Manchester City in the summer of 2009.

Micah Richards to begin running again as Manchester City ace starts comeback

EXCLUSIVE: Richards to step up recovery from knee injury after doctors give City defender all-clear to start running again

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UPDATED:

18:27 GMT, 22 November 2012

Manchester City defender Micah Richards will next week start running for the first time since undergoing knee surgery.

The 24-year-old met with his surgeon last week for a routine three-week check up.

And the defender was given the all-clear to stop using his crutches and start applying weight to his injured right knee.

Healing: Manchester City defender Micah Richards is set to lose the crutches

Healing: Manchester City defender Micah Richards is set to lose the crutches

Richards has already made trips to the club’s Carrington training ground to complete post-surgery sessions before starting his main rehabilitation plan.

And Richards will start jogging from Wednesday as he starts on his long road to recovery.

It is hoped Richards will be back in contention for a first team return by January.

The news will come as a much-needed boost to manager Roberto Mancini who is still reeling from his side’s early Champions League exit.

Agony: Richards tore the miniscus in his right knee against Swansea in October

Agony: Richards tore the miniscus in his right knee against Swansea in October

Richards has been out since tearing the miniscus in his right knee during the 1-0 win against Swansea on October 27.

It was originally feared Richards could miss up to four months with the injury, but he is now on schedule for a much earlier return.

ICC world Twenty20 2012: Stuart Broad wants England to beat India

Broad keen for England to keep momentum going as India await in Group A showdown

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UPDATED:

11:58 GMT, 22 September 2012

Stuart Broad's defending champions will be playing for the pride of England, rather than any tangible ICC World Twenty20 reward, when they meet India.

The structure of this short tournament dictates that once the routine business of beating a group minnow – Afghanistan in England and India's case – is safely out of the way, the two heavyweights can lock horns without direct consequence.

The Super Eight venues and oppositions for both teams will not change, irrespective of the outcome under the Premadasa Stadium lights.

So it is that the final Group A match will surely be billed in a broader context by many, and the significance or otherwise of the Indian Premier League will doubtless be inferred from the result.

Winning start: Stuart Broad runs out Karim Sadiq during England's 116-run victory over Afghanistan

Winning start: Stuart Broad runs out Karim Sadiq during England's 116-run victory over Afghanistan

Hundreds of IPL matches on one side's CV contrasts with barely a handful, courtesy of Eoin Morgan and Luke Wright, on the other.

Captain Broad, of course, will diplomatically let others do the talking on that topic.

But he does have to make sure his team can make the mental leap required to convince themselves that, if not the reputation of the IPL, then something certainly is at stake.

Asked what that might be, the England captain surprisingly avoided that great abstract notion of all cricket tournaments and series – 'momentum'.

National pride, instead, will be his motivation – and, by natural consequence, his team's too.

'I think it's hard to call any game meaningless when you're putting on the Three Lions of England and you're taking the field as an international,' said Broad.

'Whether it is a must-win for us or whether we don't have to win to go through, it won't change the way our approach to the game.

'Any game against India is huge. It will have massive viewing appeal, and we know how passionate the Indian fans are about their cricket so we want to put on a fantastic show.

'It certainly won't dampen the mood that we're already through – it will be a fantastic game of cricket.'

Shake on it: Broad and Gulbodin Naib share pleasantries in Colombo

Shake on it: Broad and Gulbodin Naib share pleasantries in Colombo

Broad is heartened that, quite apart from the ruthless 116-run dismissal of Afghanistan on the back of a brilliant 99 not out from Luke Wright, England have been toughened up for this assignment by some pedigree opposition.

A drawn home series against South Africa was followed by hard-fought warm-up wins here against Australia and then Pakistan.

'We've been performing and competing against top-level teams, so it's not like we're coming up against India and it's our first real challenge in the last few weeks,' he said.

'We do know the dangers they offer. But if we focus on what we did really well [against Afghanistan] we can be a challenge for anyone.

'Throughout the whole batting line-up, we struck it really well. If we have batsmen in towards the end, you can see how dangerous we can be, and the aggression we showed with the ball and in the field to take the chances like we did was superb.'

Broad has great respect, but no fear, for an opposition line-up – under the captaincy of Mahendra Singh Dhoni – crammed with superstar talent.

He is confident England can match them at every step.

'India have got a powerful batting line-up. We know the dangers they offer – they've played a lot of Twenty20 cricket domestically and internationally,' he added.

'But one thing I will say if we play cricket like we have here – the way we went about things, the passion, energy we showed in the field – we'll be in a good position.

'You look through our batting line-up – we've got guys who can clear the ropes from ball one – and our bowling unit is powerful as well.

'We've got guys who can hit people on the head, brilliant slower balls, good yorkers and good spinners – and if we field like we did on Friday all tournament, we'll win some games with our fielding as well.'

Returning hero: Yuvraj Singh (left) gets a spray of sun cream from MS Dhoni

Returning hero: Yuvraj Singh (left) gets a spray of sun cream from MS Dhoni

One of the biggest names in India's stellar batting order is Yuvraj Singh, back at centre stage after his battle to recover from lung cancer.

Broad is full of admiration for a player he will never be able to forget, having been hit by him for six sixes in an over at Durban in the inaugural World Twenty20 tournament five years ago.

'To have an illness like that is horrible to see, and the whole cricketing world got behind him,' he said.

'It's great to see him back playing for India; we know what a dangerous player he is, and he's someone you look out for and do your research on.

'It's amazing for a player come back from an illness like that and come back as strongly as he has.'

Meanwhile Kevin Pietersen's absence from England's campaign remains an issue more for opponents than Broad's team, it seems.

While a disaffected Pietersen is working instead in a nearby television studio as a broadcast pundit, others – most recently Wright – are making enough runs to serve England well.

Broad's opposite number Dhoni insists nonetheless that the unavailability of Pietersen makes England less formidable.

'It is very difficult to replace Pietersen in this format,' he said.

'If Pietersen was part of their side they would be a slightly more difficult side to beat.'

India are considering several changes, to give their squad players some match time in case they are needed in the later stages of the tournament.

'We are looking to make a few changes to our playing X1 so that most of the players get at least one game before going into the next stage,' added Dhoni.

Cristiano Ronaldo gets his way as Real Madrid back down over "Beckham law"

Ronaldo gets his way as Madrid back down over 'Beckham law'

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UPDATED:

21:12 GMT, 8 September 2012

Real Madrid are preparing a joint
statement with Cristiano Ronaldo that should put an end, at least
temporarily, to the uncertainty over his future.

The declaration being compiled by the
club, but expected to be signed by the player as well, will affirm
Real’s commitment to eventually extending Ronaldo’s contract beyond 2015
and will also give the club’s full support to his candidacy for the
Balon D’Or prize awarded at the end of the year.

Goal machine: Cristiano Ronaldo scored for Portugal in Friday's 2-1 win over Luxembourg

Goal machine: Cristiano Ronaldo scored for Portugal in Friday's 2-1 win over Luxembourg

The reaction addresses the two main reasons behind Ronaldo’s current unhappiness — the failure of the club to extend his current deal and a perceived lack of institutional support towards him in his battle to beat the likes of Leo Messi and Andres Iniesta to football’s top individual prizes.

There had also been leaks from the player’s camp that he had grown unhappy because he is not universally loved.

Yet while he is said to be peeved that his name is not greeted with thunderous acclaim pre-game at the Bernabeu — and has even been jeered by a voluble minority — it does not square with claims that his unrest is because he has no social life as he cannot get respite from adoring fans.

Ronaldo had been portrayed as a lonely figure whose daily routine of driving across Madrid, from his home at the exclusive La Finca in Pozuelo de Alarcn to the club’s Valdebebas training complex, was only occasionally broken by an ill-fated attempt at enjoying life in the city.

Insiders told newspaper El Mundo that Ronaldo had taken Russian girlfriend Irina Shayk to the theatre to see The Lion King, entering wearing sunglasses when the lights had been dimmed, only to leave before the interval because he had been swamped by fans demanding photos and autographs despite his requests to be left in peace.

Uncertain future: Ronaldo refused to celebrate his two goals against Granada

Uncertain future: Ronaldo refused to celebrate his two goals against Granada

It also reported that constant pestering
in public prevents him going to his favourite restaurant and he now has
food delivered to his home.

His unhappiness was also said to extend to the Real dressing room, where
he was once part of a band of Portuguese-speaking players. He has
fallen out with Brazil full-back Marcelo who, allegedly, said Iker
Casillas would be a worthy Balon D’Or winner. And while Ronaldo’s
Portugal team-mate, Pepe, made a point of congratulating his Madrid
clubmates in the Spain team after their European Championship semi-final
win, the former Manchester United hero did not.

Ronaldo feels his relationship with many of the Madrid fans is not what
it should be. After scoring 150 goals in his first 150 games for the
club (151, according to Ronaldo, after a referee awarded a deflected
effort to Pepe) one might expect unwavering adulation. But while the
80m attacker’s name is still sung by his former United supporters at
Old Trafford, at the Bernabeu there is no special treatment.

The cheers when his name is announced before kick-off are no louder than
for any other player … and usually less than those for his manager,
Jose Mourinho. There have even been isolated incidents of whistling from
a disgruntled minority.

Defiant: Florentino Perez

Defiant: Florentino Perez

Not just that, in Madrid he is constantly reminded that he earns around
21,800 a day — 1.5 times what the average Spaniard (if he is not one of
the five million unemployed) gets in a year.

‘If he wants a pay rise he
should at least ask less publicly,’ has been the common sentiment.

Ronaldo’s next home game comes in nine days’ time against Manchester
City in the Champions League, and the Real Madrid hierarchy will be
listening for the reaction to the player from the stands.

The first thing Real president Florentino Perez did when Ronaldo told
him he was unhappy, in a meeting he had requested last Saturday, was to
make sure there were no imminent bids for their superstar in the dying
days of the transfer window.

However, the ears of City, Chelsea, PSG, FC Anzhi and even United will
have pricked up, and the potential suitors will have been encouraged by
tales of the player’s tormented goldfish-bowl existence and Real’s
struggle to pay him what he wants.

Yet things might not have come to a head had Real managed to free
themselves of Kak in the summer. They are obliged to pay him 7.2m net a
year but, relieved of that expense, they may have been able to go a
long way to meeting Ronaldo’s demands before things got public.

Another problem for Real is the abolition of the so-called ‘Beckham
Law’, under which they agreed to pay Ronaldo 8m a year net, with the
club meeting his 24 per cent tax obligation. Ronaldo’s current contract
still benefits from the ‘Beckham Law’. But any new contract would, from
2015, be subject to a 52 per cent tax.

Paying Ronaldo his 8m a year has been costing the club just under 10m a
season. Now, by giving in to his 30 per cent pay increase demands, his
new 10.35m take home pay would see them shelling out more than 20m a
season.

Jack Butlad ready for England dream against Italy

Butland ready to realise England dream with keeper set to stand-in for Hart

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UPDATED:

16:00 GMT, 13 August 2012

Fantasy football 2012

Teenage goalkeeper Jack Butland says it will be a 'dream come true' if he makes his senior England debut in this week's friendly against Italy in Berne.

The 19-year-old Birmingham custodian could get the chance to feature on Wednesday after Joe Hart was ruled out with a back injury.

England manager Roy Hodgson opted against calling up a replacement for Hart, leaving Butland and John Ruddy as the only two remaining goalkeepers.

Making a fist of it: Jack Butland says it would be a 'dream come true' to play for England

Making a fist of it: Jack Butland says it would be a 'dream come true' to play for England

For a player whose only senior experience at domestic level are the 24 games he played on loan for Cheltenham in League Two last season, a full England bow would cap a remarkable rise for Butland having also played for Great Britain during the Olympics.

'It's what dreams are made of. Unfortunately it's come, or hopefully will come, due to an injury which is unfortunate for Joe but if I get the chance it will be a dream come true,' Butland said at today's press conference.

'It's something I can't stop thinking about and I'd love the chance to be able to perform on that stage on Wednesday night.

On the ball: Butland is hoping to start ahead of Norwich goalkeeper John Ruddy

On the ball: Butland is hoping to start ahead of Norwich goalkeeper John Ruddy

Take a break: The young Birmingham keeper goes through his stretching routine at London Colney

Take a break: The young Birmingham keeper goes through his stretching routine at London Colney

'I think it's very important, I'm not going to try and put too much pressure on myself or expect anything because there's not a lot of goalkeepers who get the chance at such a young age so I'm very privileged to be in this position.

'I'm going to take everything in my stride. If it doesn't happen on Wednesday I'm going to work harder to make it happen on a different occasion.'

Butland, who was part of England's Euro 2012 Squad in Poland and Ukraine, also believes the experience of playing for Team GB at the Olympics will prove invaluable as he continues his development.

Talking a good game: Butland, who represented Team GB at the Olympics, is hoping to get a chance to impress England boss Roy Hodgson

Talking a good game: Butland, who represented Team GB at the Olympics, is hoping to get a chance to impress England boss Roy Hodgson

He said: 'It was fantastic for everyone involved. I feel very proud and privileged that I was given a chance to be able to perform and be a part of something bigger than just football.

'You were given the chance to mix with other athletes, it was a very good experience to see how all the other sports do it and just get a feel for the Olympics. It's something I won't forget.'

He added: 'The Euros were fantastic and it was a great experience to see and train with top players and it was a big eye-opener for me and showed me where I want to be for long periods of my career.'

London 2012 Olympics: Usain Bolt admits to injury

Yes I had injury but I am ready to defend sprint titles in London, says Bolt

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UPDATED:

22:36 GMT, 26 July 2012

Usain Bolt has admitted he has been carrying injuries that have affected his performance.

Following Sportsmail's exclusive pictures that showed the triple Olympic champion enduring an agonising stretching routine during training, Bolt conceded that a bad back had been causing him hamstring problems.

Thumbs up: Bolt has conceded he was carrying an injury but says he is ready to race in London

Thumbs up: Bolt has conceded he was carrying an injury but says he is ready to race in London

Thumbs up: Bolt has conceded he was carrying an injury but says he is ready to race in London

But the 100 metres world record holder, who will carry Jamaica's flag in the opening ceremony, insisted he is fit to defend his titles.

'I've had some slight problems but I'm ready to go. It's fixed now,' said Bolt, who was beaten in the Jamaican Olympic trials by his training partner Yohan Blake and then missed a race in Monaco this month.

'My fitness at the trials was all right but I wasn't at my best. For me it's all about getting it right on the day. I'm all right.'

Hats your lot: Bolt looked relaxed as he talked talked at a Jamaica press conference

Hats your lot: Bolt looked relaxed as he talked talked at a Jamaica press conference

Hats your lot: Bolt looked relaxed as he talked talked at a Jamaica press conference