Tag Archives: scoreline

Scottish football results – is it time to ditch them from the classifieds?

Forfar 4 East Fife 5… who cares I'd rather watch Britain's Got Talent, it's time to ditch the meaningless Scottish classified results (and bin the Welsh ones too!)

By
Graeme Yorke

PUBLISHED:

10:26 GMT, 16 April 2013

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UPDATED:

13:17 GMT, 16 April 2013

The voice: James Alexander Gordon reads out the classified results on Sports Report every week

The voice: James Alexander Gordon reads out the classified results on Sports Report every week

And finally…

Bala Town 4 Afan Lido 0

At least that’s what I think the presenter reading the football results said on the radio about 5.05pm on Saturday evening.

To be honest I’d switched off a long time before he got to that riveting scoreline.

In
fact, as soon as he said ‘Wycombe 2 Aldershot 1’, the final fixture in
League Two on Saturday, football as we know it was over.

It
had nothing to do with the fact that Aldershot are the club I’ve
supported man and boy and that they are heading for the Conference. It
had everything to do with the fact that nobody gives a monkey’s about
results outside the 92 top clubs.

Have
you tried listening to the Scottish results lately No, neither have I.
It’s a complete waste of time. Celtic win everything now that Rangers
are competing in the Shetland Isles Division Four. No amount of whisky,
let alone Irn-Bru, could make you think having the full rundown of
results from north of the border – and Wales, come to think of it – is
worthwhile. Not even for the fabled Forfar 4 East Fife 5.

I’d
rather watch Britain’s Got Talent (can’t believe I’ve just written
that!) than see meaningless scoreline after meaningless scoreline pop up
on the videprinter. Or listen to the shipping forecast than hear them
on the wireless.

Scroll down for the classic BBC Sports Report theme

Waste of time: Celtic win everything while Rangers compete in the Shetland Isles Division Four

Waste of time: Celtic win everything (above) while Rangers compete in the Shetland Isles Division Four (below)

Waste of time: Celtic win everything while Rangers compete in the Shetland Isles Division Four

What we want is the football of the real world. In these days of Messi and Ronaldo and the Champions League we need to know about La Liga, Serie A, Bundesliga and, now that Becks is just a Channel hop away, Ligue 1.

It’s time for the Beeb and Sky to realise there’s a new viewer and/or listener out there. Gone are the days when we all gathered round the wireless at 5pm on Saturdays to listen to the familiar introductory music for Sports Report and then the distinctive tones of results readers, John Webster and James Alexander Gordon.

Empty seats: The stands are hardly packed for Hamilton Accies v Falkirk

Empty seats: The stands are hardly packed for Hamilton Accies v Falkirk

Anyone interested – there can’t be anyone, can there – in how East Stirling, bottom of the Irn-Bru Division Three, got on against Annan Athletic can easily phone or tweet of one the team’s half-dozen loyal supporters to find out.

And don’t give me the old line about
needing to give all the results because of football coupons. When was
the last time you saw someone filling in one

More interesting: Britain's Got Talent is a more worthy watch than seeing meaningless scores on the vidiprinter

More interesting: Britain's Got Talent is a more worthy watch than seeing meaningless scores on the vidiprinter

The move for Scottish independence is to be welcomed. Cut them adrift and let them have their own results programme and while we’re at it they can take the Corbett Sports Welsh Premier League results with them.

They can then drone on about Cowdenbeath and Stenhousemuir to their Hearts’ content and leave us to soak up the results that really matter.

Results that matter: Now that Beckham is at Paris St Germain, we need to know the Ligue 1 scores

Results that matter: Now that Beckham is at Paris St Germain, we need to know the Ligue 1 scores

VIDEO The classic BBC Sports Report theme

Mario Balotelli is leaving Manchester City – but will he be missed?

Why always you As Balotelli packs his bags, Sportsmail looks back at his highlights… and not many are on the pitch

, where he
single-handedly dumped Spain's biggest rivals out, the Italian has shown
little to justify top billing.

When one thinks back through the
three years Balotelli has dominated the news agenda in the Premier
League, skills, goals or match-winning contributions are a mere footnote
to the training ground fights, lurid tabloid tales, silly hats, red
cards and disregard for the rules. The only explosive thing about this
guy were the pyrotechnics he let off in the bathroom of his home.

Bust-up: Balotelli was involved in a furious shoving match with Roberto Mancini at training earlier this month

Bust-up: Balotelli was involved in a furious shoving match with Roberto Mancini at training earlier this month

Even City's 6-1 demolition of
Manchester United – an iconic scoreline of 20 years in the Premier
League – isn't remembered by the seismic shift it represented in the
football landscape, but for the 'look at me' celebration of City's main
attraction. Why always you, Mario

This Premier League season, Balotelli
has scored one goal in 14 appearances, and been deemed worthy of 90
minutes just once. He's shooting accuracy is more wayward than at any
point in his City career, his chance conversion rate is SEVEN times
worse than last season, and his link-up with team-mates is pitiful.
Rather than hurtling towards his peak years, the 22-year-old is
regressing.

Infamy, infamy... why have they all got it infamy Baloteli celebrates scoring his first goal at Old Trafford in October 2011

Balotelli

Down to a T: Balotelli celebrates scoring his first goal at Old Trafford in October 2011 (left)

Balotelli smoking a cigarette

Balotelli

Balotelli smoking a cigarette and in his famous chicken hat

He's never been a team player – he
has one assist in 54 appearances – and in a sqaud of questionable
temperament, the livewire was the spark that all too often unsettled
things.

When he did play, City were
considerably worse off. Three red cards – one of which at Anfield came
about after he collected two yellow cards in 18 second-half minutes as a
substitute – came while the champions posted a win ratio with him of 59
per cent compared with 73 per cent without.

The fire brigade were called to Balotelli's Cheshire home after he set off fireworks in the bathroom

The fire brigade were called to Balotelli's Cheshire home after he set off fireworks in the bathroom

Balotelli fronted a fireworks campaign after the incident in his bathroom

Balotelli fronted a fireworks campaign after the incident in his bathroom

Even when he was worthy of praise,
Balotelli poisoned a journalist's pen for himself. His first goal, in
November 2010 against West Brom, was followed later in the match by a
red card for kicking out at Youssouf Mulumbu.

Chance after chance he got, though.
Mancini's patience tested to the very limit, but the man who had given
the teenager his first big chance persevered. He was repaid with an
attitude that, frankly, stunk.

Only Manchester's photographers, kept
in work as they have been by Balotelli, can possibly see his deflection
home to be a bad thing. Good riddance.

Balotelli was involved in a car crash in Manchester just weeks after signing for City in August 2010

Balotelli was involved in a car crash in Manchester just weeks after signing for City in August 2010

In a tangle: The Italian struggled to put his bib on before a Europa League clash with Dynamo Kiev

In a tangle: The Italian struggled to put his bib on before a Europa League clash with Dynamo Kiev

MEANWHILE, ON THE PITCH…

Roberto Mancini and Mario Balotelli

Youssuf Mulumbu

Up and down: In his third Premier League game for City, Balotelli scored his first two goals for the club before getting sent off for a challenge on West Brom's Youssouf Mulumbu in November 2010

Again: The volatile Italian was sent off in a 1-1 draw at Anfield a year later

Again: The volatile Italian was sent off in a 1-1 draw at Anfield a year later

Nasty: Balotelli was given a retrospective four-game ban for this stamp on Scott Parker in January 2012

Nasty: Balotelli was given a retrospective four-game ban for this stamp on Scott Parker in January 2012

Repeat: Balotelli's second red card of City's title-winning season, and his fourth in all competitions since joining the club, came at the Emirates for this challenge on Alex Song in April 2012

Repeat: Balotelli's second red card of City's title-winning season, and his fourth in all competitions since joining the club, came at the Emirates for this challenge on Alex Song in April 2012

VIDEO: Balotelli's backheel miss in a friendly against LA Galaxy

Mario stats

Mario stats

Stats on his Premier League record provided by OPTA SPORTS

Michael van Gerwen and Vincent van der Voort advance in the World Darts Championship

Double-Dutch as Van Gerwen and Van der Voort advance with ease

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UPDATED:

00:35 GMT, 21 December 2012

It was double Dutch on Thursday night as pre-tournament second favourite Michael van Gerwen and the rapid Vincent van der Voort booked their places in the last 32 of the World Darts Championship.

Van Gerwen beat veteran Paul Lim, who was the first man to hit a nine-dart finish at the PDC World Championships, 3-0 after Van der Voort saw off Stuart Kellett by the same scoreline on the last night of first-round action at Alexandra Palace.

58-year-old Lim held his own in the first set as he broke Van Gerwen’s throw twice but unfortunately he wasn’t as good on his own throw and the Dutchman won the deciding leg to move a set ahead.

Dutchman Michael van Gerwen is through to the next round of the World Darts Championship after beating Paul Lim of Singapore

Dutchman Michael van Gerwen is through to the next round of the World Darts Championship after beating Paul Lim of Singapore

It was far from fluent from Van Gerwen, though, and he was fortunate Lim let him off the hook with missed doubles in the second leg of set two to leave the score at 1-1.

But the man from Holland hit double top to break in the third leg before closing out the set 3-1 as he marched towards victory.

The man from Singapore stuck with Van Gerwen throughout the third set as the Dutchman struggled to finish the veteran off, but an 80 checkout in the deciding leg sealed the win for Van Gerwen against a battling Lim.

Lim was the first man to ever record a nine darter on live television, 22 years ago

Lim was the first man to ever record a nine darter on live television, 22 years ago

Van der Voort was on the Ally Pally stage before Van Gerwen and The Dutch Destroyer had no problems in despatching Kellett.

The match started with three consecutive breaks, as both players struggled to hit doubles, with Van der Voort ahead 2-1.

The Dutchman then closed out the first set in leg four with a 76 checkout to win it 3-1.

The second set, in similar fashion to the first, started with back-to-back breaks before both players then held their throw to take it to a fifth and deciding leg.

The Dutch Destroyer Vincent van der Voort (pictured) had no problems despatching Stuart Kellett (below)

The Dutch Destroyer Vincent van der Voort (pictured) had no problems despatching Stuart Kellett (below)

Stuart Kellett

Kellett was the first to get a shot at a double but he missed twice at double 18 which allowed Van der Voort to checkout 60 and move two sets ahead.

Mark Walsh beat Darren Webster to set up a second round tie with Justin Pipe

Mark Walsh beat Darren Webster to set up a second round tie with Justin Pipe

The Dutch Destroyer then raced into a 2-0 lead in the third set as he closed in on victory. Kellett hit an 84 checkout in the next set but it was little more than a final act of defiance as Van der Voort hit double top, albeit at the fourth attempt, to seal victory.

Scott Rand also booked his place in the second round as he beat last year’s quarter-finalist Kim Huybrechts 3-2 at Alexandra Palace.

Rand rallied from 2-1 down against his Belgian opponent to set up a last-32 clash against Wes Newton on Saturday night.

Huybrechts started the final set by wasting three chances to take a 1-0 lead but Rand couldn’t make him pay and the Belgian returned and checked out double nine.

But Rand came straight back to level and then hit a 90 checkout in the next leg against the throw to take him to the brink of victory before a double 16 checkout in leg four sealed the win.

DAY SEVEN RESULTS

Mark Walsh 3-1 Darren Webster
Kim Huybrechts 2-3 Scott Rand
Vincent van der Voort 3-0 Stuart Kellett
Michael van Gerwen 3-0 Paul Lim

In Thursday’s other contest, Mark Walsh beat Darren Webster 3-1 in the first match of the evening to set up his second-round tie with Justin Pipe.

Friday sees round two at Ally Pally get underway with a double session. Andy Hamilton, Dave Chisnall and Gary Anderson are all in action during the afternoon session before Phil Taylor headlines the evening’s play.

Terry Jenkins takes on three-time world champion John Part in the standout tie of the second round.

Scott Rand rallied from 2-1 down to beat the Belgian Kim Huybrechts 3-2

Scott Rand rallied from 2-1 down to beat the Belgian Kim Huybrechts 3-2

Liverpool 1 Aston Villa 3 – match report

Liverpool 1 Aston Villa 3: Ruthless Benteke runs riot at Anfield with two goals and an assist

PUBLISHED:

16:50 GMT, 15 December 2012

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UPDATED:

17:07 GMT, 15 December 2012

Aston Villa exposed Liverpool's flaws and the flakiness of their challenge for a top-four place by inflicting the Reds' worst home defeat for more than three years.

Christian Benteke scored twice, either side of Andreas Weimann's well-worked goal, before Steven Gerrard's late consolation as the hosts' three-match winning run was ended in surprising fashion.

It was the first time Villa had scored more than once in any half of league football this season and extended their own unbeaten run to five matches, with only a second away win in 17 away league games.

Brilliant: Christian Benteke celebrated scoring his first goal at Anfield

Brilliant: Christian Benteke celebrated scoring his first goal at Anfield

MATCH FACTS

Liverpool: Reina, Johnson, Agger, Skrtel, Gerrard, Downing, Lucas (Henderson 60), Allen, Sterling, Shelvey (Cole 46), Suarez,

Subs not used: Jones, Coates, Carragher, Wisdom, Suso

Booked: Suarez

Goal: Gerrard 87

Aston Villa: Guzan, Clark, Lichaj, Baker, Lowton, Westwood, Bannan (El Ahmadi 85), Herd, Holman (Delph 69), Benteke, Weimann (N'Zogbia 90)

Subs not used: Given, Bennett, Albrighton, Bowery

Booked: Lowton, Benteke

Goals: Benteke 29, 51, Weimann 40

Referee: Neil Swarbrick

Attendance: 44,607

The latest Premier League table, fixtures and results

Villa inflicted the same scoreline in
August 2009, and although both sides are at a lower level now, this was
a result no-one would have predicted.

The visitors almost doubled their
league away goals tally for the campaign, which now stands at seven, in
recording only their fifth Anfield victory in 34 visits.

Yet barely 24 hours earlier Liverpool
manager Brendan Rodgers had been talking about targeting second-placed
Manchester City so high was the confidence in his squad.

City are now 14 points ahead and,
worse still, Liverpool failed to take advantage of Everton's draw at
Stoke to close the gap on fourth place with many of their rivals playing
tomorrow.

For their part Villa moved three
points clear of the relegation zone. The opening half-hour was virtually
one-way traffic as the home side set off at pace in search of a third
successive Barclays Premier League victory for the first time since May
2011.

But their eagerness seemed to get the
better of them as there was an air of over-complication and lack of
finesse about their play in the final third.

Stewart Downing, who in the matchday
programme revealed Rodgers had told him he could leave and he would
assess his options in January, started left-back for the injured Jose
Enrique but enjoyed plenty of space down the flank.

From bad to worse: Pepe Reina is left on his back after Andreas Weimann put the ball beyond his reach

From bad to worse: Pepe Reina is left on his back after Andreas Weimann put the ball beyond his reach

Gerrard bundled a shot at goalkeeper
Brad Guzan after a poor pass behind him from Luis Suarez, returning
after suspension, rebounded back off Raheem Sterling before Downing shot
wide after cutting in on his right foot.

It continued with Joe Allen driving
wide, Gerrard's feet getting in a tangle after being picked out by
Suarez's inch-perfect cross-field ball, and Shelvey delaying his shot
long enough got Nathan Baker to block after Suarez capitalised on Chris
Herd's mistake.

Liverpool's inability to take their chances has hurt them in the past and it proved to be the case again in the 29th minute.

Tormentor: Benteke was rampant for Villa

Tormentor: Benteke was rampant for Villa

Coming together: Luis Suarez (right) collides with Brad Guzan

Coming together: Luis Suarez (right) collides with Brad Guzan

Brett Holman passed inside to
Benteke, who took a touch and – with no-one closing him down – unleashed
a low shot which beat Reina off the inside of his right-hand post.

What a difference the goal made as Villa suddenly started playing 30 yards further up the field.

It almost paid off when Weimann
seized on Glen Johnson's weak header to lob Reina, only for the ball to
drop on to the roof of the net.

The Austrian did not make the same mistake just before half-time with a brilliantly-worked goal.
Weimann released Benteke in the inside-right channel and raced into a
gaping hole in the Liverpool defence to turn the striker's clever
backheel under Reina.

Joe Cole's emergence for the second
half at the expense of Shelvey highlighted the lack of genuine
match-winners outside of Rodgers' first XI.

Contested: Liverpool could not capitalise on their strong start

Contested: Liverpool could not capitalise on their strong start

Cheery: Brendan Rodgers had the smile wiped off his face when Benteke and Co ran riot

Cheery: Brendan Rodgers had the smile wiped off his face when Benteke and Co ran riot

They should, however, have got back
into the game early in the second half when Ciaran Clark clearly pulled
Daniel Agger's shirt in the penalty area, but referee Neil Swarbrick
maintained Liverpool's record of not winning a penalty this season by
ignoring the appeals.

It proved costly as when Cole was
robbed by Holman on the halfway line, Benteke was sensibly quickly given
possession and he danced through the Reds backline to chip a shot past
Reina.
Liverpool laid siege to Guzman's goal in the final half-hour, with
further claims for a penalty when Johnson's header hit Baker's arm also
going unanswered.

When they finally made a breakthrough it came too late with Gerrard heading in Johnson's cross-shot three minutes from the end.

There was just enough time left for
Benteke to escape with a yellow card for pushing Johnson in the face in
front of a rapidly-emptying Anfield.

Double trouble: Benteke and Weimann ensured Villa were out of sight by the time Steven Gerrard scored

Double trouble: Benteke and Weimann ensured Villa were out of sight by the time Steven Gerrard scored

Notching them up: Weimann has been in fine form of late

Notching them up: Weimann has been in fine form of late

Manchester United 0 Cluj 1: Match report

Manchester United 0 Cluj 1: Alberto's rocket shocks Reds as Romanians snatch win

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UPDATED:

07:57 GMT, 6 December 2012

In the context of what happened to Manchester United in the Champions League last season, this has been a satisfactory campaign.

Sir Alex Ferguson will know, however, that a significant improvement will be needed in February if significant progress is to be made.

A year ago, of course, United were heading for the Europa League after a dismal night in Basle that saw them dumped out of this competition and lose captain Nemanja Vidic to injury for the rest of the season.

Defeat: Rooney and Co were on the wrong side of a 1-0 scoreline at Old Trafford

Defeat: Rooney and Co were on the wrong side of a 1-0 scoreline at Old Trafford

Away goal: Luis Alberto celebrates after scoring against Manchester United

Away goal: Luis Alberto celebrates after scoring against Manchester United

Match facts

Man Utd: De Gea, Jones, Wootton, Smalling, Buttner, Powell (Macheda 73), Cleverley (Scholes 45), Giggs (Fletcher 86), Welbeck, Rooney, Hernandez.

Subs Not Used: Lindegaard, Da Silva, Young, Vermijl.

Booked: Scholes.

CFR Cluj-Napoca: Mario Felgueiras, Ivo Pinto, Cadu,Piccolo, Rada, Muresan, Luis Alberto, Rui Pedro (Aguirregaray 71), Camora, Sougou (Kapetanos 90), Bastos (Maftei 78).

Subs Not Used: Stancioiu, Sepsi, Bjelanovic, Godemeche.

Booked: Cadu, Mario Felgueiras.

Goals: Luis Alberto 56.

Attendance: 71,521

Referee: Daniele Orsato (Italy)

The latest Champions League tables, results and fixtures

This time, United qualified for the last 16 with two games to spare and head into a Barclays Premier League meeting with Manchester City on Sunday having rested virtually their whole squad against the Romanians of Cluj.

Nevertheless, a successive European defeat — they lost in Turkey a fortnight ago — will hardly delight Ferguson. In terms of application on a night when some of these players were supposedly playing for derby places, this was modest stuff.

For Cluj, a famous victory and a more than respectable 10 points in the group. Sadly for them, there was to be no qualification and they must make do with the Europa League; late Galatasaray goals in Braga saw to that.
Nevertheless, this was their night and victory came their way thanks to a truly spectacular goal.

On a night that featured moments of casual football from Ferguson’s team, the manner in which they gave the ball away in the 56th minute was unimpressive.

Paul Scholes’s pass from his own half never reached Nick Powell and when Luis Alberto moved forward, Chris Smalling backed away to allow the Cluj central midfielder to drive a wicked swerving shot into the corner of the goal via David de Gea’s left-hand post.

Shocked: Javier Hernandez, Ryan Giggs and Danny Welbeck react after Cluj take the lead

Shocked: Javier Hernandez, Ryan Giggs and Danny Welbeck react after Cluj take the lead

Going close: Danny Welbeck heads just wide

Going close: Danny Welbeck heads just wide

Off target: Rooney played the full 90 minutes at Old Trafford but failed to get on the scoresheet

Off target: Rooney played the full 90 minutes at Old Trafford but failed to get on the scoresheet

It was a terrific goal and in the 30 minutes that remained, United enjoyed plenty of possession but never looked like replying.

Afterwards, Ferguson’s assessment was
surprisingly generous. ‘We were beaten by a wonder goal and there was
nothing we could do about that,’ said the United manager. ‘I thought we
did OK. We created quite a few chances.

‘We put a very young team out and they did very well at times.Sunday will be different altogether.
‘In terms of the defending, it’s the senior players that have to get their act together.’

Down you go: Nick Powell is challenged by Ricardo Cadu

Down you go: Nick Powell is challenged by Ricardo Cadu

Tangled up: Cluj's Lonut Rada challenges Manchester United's Javier Hernandez

Tangled up: Cluj's Lonut Rada challenges Manchester United's Javier Hernandez

The one advantage of this night was
secured before kick-off in that nine or 10 of Sunday’s likely side were
rested. Of last night’s starters, perhaps only Wayne Rooney, Danny
Welbeck and De Gea have a realistic chance of playing at the weekend.

Yet one could argue that a team
containing those three along with Paul Scholes — on for the injured Tom
Cleverley at half-time — Ryan Giggs, Javier Hernandez, Chris Smalling
and Phil Jones might have been expected to do better.

As it was, this was a performance largely devoid of life, never mind inspiration.

Close, but not close enough: Tom Cleverley sees his shot saved by Mario Felgueiras

Close, but not close enough: Tom Cleverley sees his shot saved by Mario Felgueiras

United did have their moments and could have scored during a flurry of good attacking play towards the end of the first half.

Hernandez was denied by Mario
Felgueiras’s feet before the Cluj goalkeeper palmed away a delicate
Rooney chip and Smalling headed wide from a few yards out when the ball
was slung back in from the opposite side.

Earlier in the half Cleverley had
been denied twice by Felgueiras rushing from goal, while a Powell shot
struck a defender after Jones had crossed well from the right.

Shot on goal: Hernandez is put under pressure by Daniel Ivo Pinto

Shot on goal: Hernandez is put under pressure by Daniel Ivo Pinto

Cluj had created chances too,
though. De Gea kicked away a ball that deflected off Smalling’s toe
before young Scott Wootton was required to block a shot from Modou
Sougou just as the forward looked set to score.

As it turned out, that was an
indication of what was to come. For the main event on Sunday, United
will hope their first XI can do rather better.

But Ferguson will have been pleased
with the work of Jones on his second start in nine months, and if a
player who was so valuable to United early last season can stay fit he
will be an asset over the coming weeks. Last night also saw Rooney, who
was his usual energetic self, complete 90 minutes.

Ferguson added: ‘Phil Jones was
fantastic and we got exactly what we wanted as far as he was concerned.
The more game time players like Smalling and Jones can get, the better
it will be.
‘Wayne is now close to full fitness also and hopefully he will be approaching top form come Sunday.’

Manchester City have great expectations ahead of Manchester United clash

City have great expectations ahead of Manchester derby after last season's 6-1 demolition

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UPDATED:

22:30 GMT, 2 December 2012

It was a scoreline which defined a season, one that blasted out a message that Manchester City meant business.

The 6-1 drubbing they handed out to Manchester United 14 months ago was the victory that propelled them to the Barclays Premier League title, an afternoon when City’s mesmeric attacking talents ruthlessly clicked to take advantage of their neighbours’ naivety.

When they locked horns with United for the first time last year, City, to borrow a phrase from Mancini, were ‘in a good moment’, full of confidence and expectation but can the same be said now as they prepare for the latest collision with their most bitter rivals

Why always him Mario Balotelli scored a brace against Manchester United in last season's 6-1 win at Old Trafford

Why always him Mario Balotelli scored a brace against Manchester United in last season's 6-1 win at Old Trafford

At first glance, you would say yes.
Unbeaten in the league and possessing the best goal difference, Mancini
could not wish for better statistics at this stage of the campaign.
Scratch a little deeper, though, and things do not appear as they should
be.

Just look at this latest 1-1 draw with
Everton. With City pragmatic rather than imaginative, the atmosphere
inside the Etihad Stadium was tense and spiky. Every decision that went
against City was greeted with derision, each squandered pass resulted in
Mancini gesticulating irately.

It all came to a head when Mancini
replaced Carlos Tevez with Sergio Aguero. No matter that City were in
the process of extending their unbeaten home record in the league to a
37th game, the dissent towards the decision — which Mancini vehemently
defended — was widespread.

‘People pay their money to watch a
football match and everybody has opinions,’ said City assistant manager
David Platt. ‘I don’t think it is new in football. Certainly there is
expectancy from ourselves and there is an expectancy level from our
supporters.

Ready Balotelli will be in contention to face Everton

Ready Balotelli will be in contention to face Everton

One to watch Robin van Persie will play in his first Manchester derby for United

One to watch Robin van Persie will play in his first Manchester derby for United

‘That is healthy because the
expectancy level wouldn’t be there if we didn’t win trophies. A lot of
comparisons have been made with our form last season and this time. But
the amount of goals we scored then was alien.

‘I don’t think anyone was going to hit
those heights on such a consistent basis. We are unbeaten after 15
games. In many ways, we haven’t hit top gear yet but we have been solid.
The reason we have gone so long unbeaten (at home) is that we are a
good team.’

That may be so but while Sir Alex
Ferguson has worries about Manchester United’s defending he will know
putting City on the back foot causes problems. Everton’s refusal to sit
back flummoxed City and kept players who make a difference like Samir
Nasri, David Silva and Tevez out the game.

How the other half did: Manchester City drew 1-1 with Everton at the Etihad

How the other half did: Manchester City drew 1-1 with Everton at the Etihad

EURO WATCH

Ready: Mario Gotze

Manchester City cannot qualify for the Champions League last 16 after their home draw with Real Madrid and must win at table-toppers Borussia Dortmund and rely on Ajax failing to beat Real to finish third and enter the Europa League.

The German side are unbeaten in 11 games, including a 1-1 draw at Bayern Munich on Saturday.

Had Everton gone into the break with
the 33rd-minute lead that Marouane Fellaini had given them, rather than
conceding a soft equaliser to a Tevez penalty, it would not have been
difficult to envisage David Moyes’ side holding on.

‘You would have to expect City to have
some of the game and they certainly did that after half-time but I
thought we had our fair share of it before that,’ said Moyes. ‘Any team
coming here is going to have it tough because City are very good at
keeping the ball and have players who can score.’

City only needed one to see off United
in April and Mancini would no doubt settle for the same again next
Sunday but, first, he must negotiate tomorrow’s final Champions League
group game in Dortmund and hope his squad do not pick up any more
injuries.

‘We will play on Tuesday, the derby is
Sunday — I think there will be time for us to recover,’ said Mancini.
‘If we get a good result and go into the Europa League it will be better
for us. Out target at the start was to win the Premier League again.’

But, as Mancini knows, that is proving easier said than done.

Fiery: Manchester City beat their rivals on the way to winning the FA Cup

Fiery: Manchester City beat their rivals on the way to winning the FA Cup

England are team to be avoided in World Cup – Clive Woodward

Big guns fear England! No one wants to land World Cup hosts, says Woodward

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UPDATED:

22:30 GMT, 2 December 2012

Sir Clive Woodward believes England’s demolition of New Zealand makes them the team to avoid in Monday’s draw for the 2015 World Cup.

New Zealand, South Africa, Australia and France are the top seeds — and hosts England, who are among the second seeds, could find themselves up against the All Blacks when the draw is made at Tate Modern in London.

‘It makes the draw fascinating, given that England have just demolished New Zealand,’ said Woodward.

History: England celebrate their stunning victory over New Zealand

History: England celebrate their stunning victory over New Zealand

‘The top four sides will not want to be playing against England. That result will make the southern hemisphere teams sit up and say for once, “We want to keep away from England”.

Speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live’s Sportsweek, Woodward, who was England’s World Cup winning coach in 2003, added: ‘It was a great, great victory for the English team. The 38-21 scoreline absolutely reflected the performance and it was a great, great day to be at Twickenham.

‘They have some great players in there — Joe Launchbury, Tom Wood, Chris Robshaw — who were world class. This was a real David and Goliath effort.

Flying: Chris Ashton scored a try during England's win at Twickenham

Flying: Chris Ashton scored a try during England's win at Twickenham

‘They came out and threw the kitchen sink and New Zealand got completely rattled. Every phase of the game they won.’

Because Wales have slipped to ninth in the world following seven successive defeats, they will be drawn against two teams higher than them in the rankings, and could face New Zealand and England in a ‘group of death’.

But centre Jonathan Davies recalled
Wales’s performance at the last World Cup when they lost by a point to
France in the semi-finals and said: ‘Because of what we did then, I
think people will be fearing us, not the other way round.

Despair: Wales lost their fourth and final autumn international to Australia

Despair: Wales lost their fourth and final autumn international to Australia

‘It’s not an ideal situation, but we had a tough draw last year, too. I’m sure the boys are pretty confident that whoever we are drawn against we can beat.’

Wales wing Alex Cuthbert was similarly confident. ‘I’d look forward to it, whoever we draw,’ said Cuthbert. ‘Two top teams in the pool You want to beat the best in the world. We’ll be looking forward to it.’

Ireland 46 Argentina 24: Gilroy announces himself as super Ireland thrash lacklustre Pumas

Ireland 46 Argentina 24: Gilroy announces himself as super Ireland thrash tame Pumas

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UPDATED:

18:06 GMT, 24 November 2012

Ireland reacted to a potentially critical moment in Declan Kidney's reign as coach by posting a record victory over feeble Argentina at the Aviva Stadium.

The seven-try rout of opposition that clearly had nothing left in the tank after a long year guarantees Ireland's place among the second seeds for the 2015 World Cup draw.

It also concluded their five-Test losing streak – their worst sequence of results since 1998 – and relieved the pressure on under-fire Kidney.

A star is born: Craig Gilroy shone on his Test debut for Ireland

A star is born: Craig Gilroy shone on his Test debut for Ireland

A star was born in the shape of Ulster 21-year-old Craig Gilroy, who capped an outstanding Test debut with a brilliant finish for injury-depleted Ireland's opening try.

Either by using slick footwork or bulldozing through tackles, Gilroy tormented Argentina throughout and was involved in the build-up of three more tries.

Jonathan Sexton crossed twice and skilfully directed a dynamic attacking display by Ireland that will have done his chances of becoming the Lions' Test fly-half no harm.

Two up: Tommy Bowe scores his second try of the game for Ireland

Two up: Tommy Bowe scores his second try of the game for Ireland

Winger Tommy Bowe also finished with two tries and there were further touch downs for hooker Richardt Strauss and full-back Simon Zebo.

The scoreline surpassed Ireland's previous best against Argentina – a 29-9 triumph at the same venue in 2010 – and represented one of their finest moments in one of Test rugby's unlikeliest rivalries.

It was exactly the result and performance they needed after facing criticism for their collapse in their Guinness Series opener against South Africa.

The opening 90 seconds were little indication of what was to come as first Sexton's kick-off failed to travel 10 yards and then they conceded a penalty at the breakdown.

An 11th-minute scrum provided the platform for Ireland to take the lead with Gilroy supplying the magic.

Running the show: Ireland fly-half Jonathan Sexton scores a try

Running the show: Ireland fly-half Jonathan Sexton scores a try

The 21-year-old came racing off his wing to take an inside pass from Sexton around the 22 and beat three defenders as he weaved a path to the whitewash.

It was proving a dream debut for Gilroy, who continued to break tackles before Ireland regrouped and redirected their assault down the left flank.

Centre Gordon D'Arcy passed back inside to Sexton and the Leinster fly-half showed strength as he broke two tackles to crash over.

Both conversions were landed by Sexton, but with Sanchez slotting two penalties, Argentina remained in touch.

The Pumas suffered a blow when Sanchez departed for the concussion bin and their situation deteriorated further when Ireland produced a third try.

Slippery: Ireland's Craig Gilroy tries to shake off a tackle

Slippery: Ireland's Craig Gilroy tries to shake off a tackle

Once more it came from the set piece with Strauss coming up with the ball following a line-out drive and touching down in the right corner.

For the first time Ireland came under serious pressure and they responded with Bowe and Zebo executing a try-saving tackle on scrum-half Martin Landajo.

Sanchez, who had returned after passing his concussion test, ensured the attack went rewarded by kicking his third penalty.

Ireland were soon back on the offensive, however, when Bowe caught a high kick to initiate a passage of play that ended when Sexton sent Zebo a missed pass with the Munster full-back diving over in the left corner.

When Sanchez landed his fourth penalty shortly after half-time, a Pumas comeback looked a possibility.

Breaking through: Ireland's Donnacha O'Callaghan crosses the gainline for Ireland

Breaking through: Ireland's Donnacha O'Callaghan crosses the gainline for Ireland

But those hopes were soon dashed as their scrum back-pedalled furiously, presenting Sexton with a shot at goal that he steered between the uprights.

Argentina's collapse continued unchecked as Ireland ran in two more tries in quick succession with Sexton heavily involved in both scores.

First the 27-year-old produced the chip kick that enabled Bowe to gather and touch down before finishing himself with Donnacha Ryan supplying the scoring pass.

Also playing a key role in the tries was the superb Gilroy, whose side-step and ability to break the first tackle set up the initial field position on both occasions.

Frustrated Argentina prop Maximiliano Bustos was sent to the sin bin for throwing the ball into the face of opposite number Cian Healy.

The final Irish try arrived when Bowe pounced on Keith Earls' chip kick, but substitute Tomas Leonardi and Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe scored late tries to give Argentina some respectability on the scoreboard.

Italy 10 New Zealand 42: Match report

Italy 10 New Zealand 42: All Blacks beat Azzurri into submission in Rome

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UPDATED:

17:53 GMT, 17 November 2012

New Zealand were made to work hard in Rome before completing an ultimately comfortable win over battling Italy.

The All Blacks led only 13-7 at half-time, with Kieran Read's try drawing an Italian response through Alberto Sgarbi.

But second-half tries by Ma'a Nonu, Cory Jane and two for Julian Savea gave the scoreline a lop-sided look as Italy's resistance dissipated in the final quarter.

Over you go: Julian Savea scored two tries for New Zealand as they beat Italy in Rome

Over you go: Julian Savea scored two tries for New Zealand as they beat Italy in Rome

New Zealand had to wait 13 minutes for their first points, which came courtesy of Aaron Cruden's close-range penalty.

But their first try followed soon afterwards when a fast-flowing move ended with Conrad Smith scooping up a loose ball and sending number eight Read over. Cruden converted and soon added his second penalty.

A promising position for Italy slipped away when Mirco Bergamasco could not find Tommaso Benvenuti but they came again and their pack set up a first Test try for centre Sgarbi. Luciano Orquera converted.

A crucial tackle from Bergamasco, helped by Simone Favaro, prevented Hosea Gear going over in the corner as Italy stayed in touch at the interval.

Fearsome: Ma'a Nonu and the All Blacks eventually won the match comfortably

Fearsome: Ma'a Nonu and the All Blacks eventually won the match comfortably

Come here! Liam Messam is pursued by the Italians

Come here! Liam Messam is pursued by the Italians

But a deliberate knockdown after a brave goal-line stand allowed Cruden to extend the lead five minutes after the restart and wonderful passing then sent Nonu barrelling over for his side's second try. Cruden's routine kick made it 23-7.

The Azzurri enjoyed a spell of attacking field position and Orquera's drop-goal took them into double figures.

But as they sought to build up a head of steam, their handling became sloppy and knock-ons twice checked their momentum.

And having battled so hard, they allowed replacement Jane to stroll in far too easily and put New Zealand out of reach at 30-10 with 11 minutes to go.

Luke McLean was credited with first contact on a bouncing ball to deny Cruden a try but Savea dived over in the left corner shortly afterwards, despite losing a boot in the build-up.

Cruden missed for the first time but strong running from Jane sent left-winger Savea coasting in behind a tired defence for a converted score to make it 42-10.

Crunched: Leonardo Ghiraldini made his best effort to stop Hosea Gear (right)

Crunched: Leonardo Ghiraldini made his best effort to stop Hosea Gear (right)

Stuart Lancaster will change England up for Australia challenge

Ruthless Lancaster will change England up for Aussie challenge in bid to find top gear

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UPDATED:

23:24 GMT, 11 November 2012

From a coaching perspective, the scenario is perfect. A half-century of points and seven tries to ignite this autumn campaign, but enough glitches along the way to ensure England’s players will be subjected to a harsh post-mortem.

Stuart Lancaster and his assistants have the luxury of conducting a critical review on the back of a rousing victory. They will have ample ammunition at their disposal to ensure the feet of their squad are kept fixed to the floor. Five days before confronting wounded Wallabies, this is no time for back-slapping.

‘I don’t think there is any danger of us getting carried away,’ said England’s head coach. Nor should there be.

Tough call: Charlie Sharples nearly had a hat-trick of tries against Fiji but could lose his place to Chris Ashton

Tough call: Charlie Sharples nearly had a hat-trick of tries against Fiji but could lose his place to Chris Ashton

He added: ‘You only have to look at the players in the changing room — they were quite pleased with the performance but they weren’t shouting from the rooftops.

‘We recognise the challenges ahead and we know we’ll have to up our game to win next week.’

It is absolutely vital for England’s prospects in the next three weeks that all the holes in their performance in this first QBE International against sadly poor opposition are laid bare. For all the gloss of the final scoreline and the undoubted class of some of the home side’s attacking craft on Saturday, there are issues to address. The video screening on Monday will illuminate several gremlins.

LIONS WATCH

Full back Alex Goode produced ample evidence that he should be a contender for next summer’s tour, with a man-of-the-match performance full of guile and nous.

Captain Chris Robshaw was typically full of energy and endeavour, without dramatically advancing his own case for selection, while Danny Care showcased the speed and eye for a gap which would be such an asset in Australia.

Manu Tuilagi is another who took a positive step in the right direction with his power running, his improved distribution and his tries.

Before the eulogies, let’s tackle what the management would term the ‘work-ons’. First of all, England were dreadful for almost the entire first quarter; conceding the initiative to their outclassed rivals and failing to regain it in a hurry. After 15 minutes they had claimed 19 per cent of the possession, they were hemmed in their own half, they fell off a few tackles and had to scramble feverishly to defend their line.

Even when that slow start had been worked out of the collective system, Lancaster’s men were not as slick as they should have been after a fortnight of painstaking preparation. Too often passes were sent high or wide of their intended recipient, or simply released too soon, the re-start was a mess throughout and there were some moments of dubious decision-making, such as when Dan Cole ignored an overlap on the right, ploughed on to the line but was held up.

On the back of a robust, probing review, it is equally crucial that selection this week is approached with a critical eye and a ruthless streak. The old mantra about not changing a winning team can be dismissed as a red herring in this instance.

Expanding repertoire: Centre Manu Tuilagi bagged a brace of tries of Twickenham on Saturday

Expanding repertoire: Centre Manu Tuilagi bagged a brace of tries of Twickenham on Saturday

There is a case to consider several changes, with Chris Ashton available again after his one-game ban, leaving one of Saturday’s try-scoring wings, Ugo Monye and Charlie Sharples, vulnerable to a cruel cut. Sharples struck twice, very nearly had a hat-trick and was particularly dangerous and dynamic, but he — like Ashton — favours the right flank, which may count against him.

Elsewhere, Thomas Waldrom was heavily involved but not a dominant, marauding presence at No 8, so Ben Morgan should be in strong contention to replace him. Tom Wood was sufficiently prominent in the closing stages to give Lancaster cause to consider starting him ahead of Tom Johnson.

In the front row, Joe Marler went off early in the second half after suffering a back spasm and despite his forceful scrummaging contribution, Alex Corbisiero has a chance to usurp him at loosehead. Rookie lock Joe Launchbury could further reduce the cap-count by taking over from his Wasps team-mate Tom Palmer.

Lancaster indicated that he is ready to make tough calls by removing men who featured strongly in this emphatic win.

Man of the match: England full back Alex Goode (second left) started the autumn internationals in style

Man of the match: England full back Alex Goode (second left) started the autumn internationals in style

‘The selection philosophy will always be to pick the best side we can to win the next game,’ he said. ‘If that means players retain the shirt or other players will get opportunities, then that’s what we will do.

‘With the likes of Alex Corbisiero, Chris Ashton and Jonathan Joseph coming back into the equation, we’ve got some decisions to make leading into the Australia game.’

For now, thrusting London Irish centre Joseph straight back into the starting midfield seems an unnecessary disruption. On Saturday, Brad Barritt displayed more of his attacking qualities and Manu Tuilagi alongside him was typically effective in generating precious momentum, while also showing an improved awareness of support runners around him. There were several off-loads from the Anglo-Samoan Tiger; some effective and some on the wild side, but he is certainly expanding his repertoire.

Choices: Thomas Waldrom (centre) faces a fight to keep his place at No 8 ahead of Ben Morgan

Choices: Thomas Waldrom (centre) faces a fight to keep his place at No 8 ahead of Ben Morgan

Having shone a bright light on England’s shortcomings, it is only fair to emphasise that these were far outweighed by lots of encouraging aspects against Fiji. While the Pacific Island side were able to claim two tries, the home defence was largely rock solid, as was the set-piece work, with the scrum in total command and debutant hooker Tom Youngs’ line-out throwing in perfect working order.

Best of all, Alex Goode at full back delivered a majestic performance to enhance England’s attacking potency significantly. He popped up at various points in the line, running cleverly, using his deft footwork to good effect and sharing the playmaker’s load with Toby Flood.

Once the first-quarter problems had been rectified the hosts swept away from Fiji. Sharples cut inside and twisted through several tackles for his first strike, the home pack won a penalty try with their dominant scrum and Goode’s quick tap penalty allowed Monye to glide over on the left just before the break. In the second half, crisp handling from Goode and Chris Robshaw allowed Johnson to apply a simple finish on the right, then Sharples pounced on the opposite wing and Tuilagi punished a tiring Fiji defence with his brace late on.

Hair-raising: The unmistakable figure of Joe Marler may lose his spot in the front row to Alex Corbisiero

Hair-raising: The unmistakable figure of Joe Marler may lose his spot in the front row to Alex Corbisiero

The fact that Manasa Saulo’s try gave the visitors a consolation and the last word in this game will be one of those issues addressed in today’s review.

England are up and running, but they must reach greater heights when the serious business starts in five days’ time.

England ratings

England ratings