Tag Archives: shane

Rafa Benitez press conference: Chelsea manager defiant

Rafa responds! Defiant Benitez insists he wants the fans to back him and the team

: West Brom 1 Chelsea 0 (Gareth McAuley, 82)

The Portuguese was supposed to be given the freedom to overhaul an ageing squad, but with a place in the top four and Champions League football slipping from Chelsea's grasp, Villas-Boas was given his marching orders in early spring. Di Matteo was brought in and delivered the FA Cup and Champions League trophies.

ROBERTO DI MATTEO

November 17, 2012: West Brom 2 Chelsea 1 (Shane Long, 10, Peter Odemwingie 50; Eden Hazard 39)

After leading Chelsea to a first Champions League title while interim boss, the Italian's permanent appointment was short-lived. A 2-1 loss at the Hawthorns, the team's first away defeat of the league season, was followed by a European defeat at Juventus which sealed Di Matteo's fate and saw Benitez drafted in.

Ashes 2013: England are red-hot favourites to beat Australia, says Nasser Hussain

Red-hot Ashes favourites: England have talent to burn as battle for urn hots up

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UPDATED:

22:32 GMT, 18 December 2012

England have beaten India, and Ashes
fever is starting to hot up. Surrey announced that they have already
sold out all five days for next summer’s final Test, the first time an
English Test has ever been entirely sold out before Christmas.

With the
oldest enemies in cricket meeting in back-to-back series next year, Sportsmail columnist
Nasser Hussain, a veteran of many an Ashes battle as England batsman
and captain, ran the rule over both teams with the countdown to the big
battle now under way…

Three's a charm: England aim to win their third consecutive Ashes series next summer... and travel to Australia in winter

Three's a charm: England aim to win their third consecutive Ashes series next summer… and travel to Australia in winter

The captains

We have two phenomenal players here
who seem to have been inspired to new heights by the captaincy and
increased their potency since rising to high office. I think Alastair
Cook is much more likely to score runs in Australia than Michael Clarke
is in England, with the English seamers fancying their chances of him
nicking the ball to wicketkeeper or slips over here next summer. But
that is not to underestimate Clarke, who has had a Bradmanesque year.

Face-off: Alastair Cook (left) and Michael Clarke will do battle over 10 Tests in seven months

Face-off: Michael Clarke

Write caption here

As
a leader, Clarke, a disciple of Shane Warne, is more proactive and more
inclined to do unusual things, like getting keeper Matthew Wade to have
a bowl in Hobart when he was struggling for wickets. Cook will sit in
more and is like Andrew Strauss in style but we saw in India that he is
not afraid to quickly change things if they are not going right, like
replacing Joe Root at silly point with Ian Bell in the final Test to
immediate productive effect. He has made big changes to personnel
already too, even though he is a new captain, like leaving out Stuart
Broad after Mumbai.

The bowlers

On paper Australia have an excellent attack full of potential but the challenge for them will be keeping their bowlers fit because they have had one injury after another. A seam attack featuring the likes of Peter Siddle, Mitchell Starc, James Pattinson, Ben Hilfenhaus and Pat Cummins could cause problems for England but there are too many question marks for Australia’s liking. And their spinner, Nathan Lyon, is OK and nothing more. England certainly won’t be kept up at night looking at DVDs of Lyon like we had to watch videos of Warne.

No sleepless nights: England's batsmen need not have nightmares about Nathan Lyon

No sleepless nights: England's batsmen need not have nightmares about Nathan Lyon

England, in contrast, have strength in depth and are raring to go. They have been able to rest and look after their bowlers — they sensibly left Jimmy Anderson out of the Indian one-day series — and Graham Onions, who is a fantastic bowler who could get into almost any other Test team in the world, hasn’t even had a game yet this winter for England. And England have two world-class spinners in Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar. They have the bowling edge, no question.

The batsmen

Again I fancy England in batting too. Any side who cannot get Eoin Morgan and Jonny Bairstow in the team at the moment must have depth while another two Test batsmen have emerged against India in Nick Compton and Root. England’s batters just seem more ready for Test cricket these days than Australia’s when they are introduced. Clarke and Mike Hussey are outstanding but there are question marks at the top of the order and around them.

Mr Cricket: Mike Hussey remains a middle order menace for England

Mr Cricket: Mike Hussey remains a middle order menace for England

Shane Watson has been decent without going on to big scores and David Warner could be very good but I am not sure yet, while the absence of Ricky Ponting could be a problem for them because they will miss his experience. No Australian line-up will be ordinary but they have no-one like Kevin Pietersen, and all England’s batsmen know how to perform in their own conditions.

The keepers

Matt Prior really is the finished product while Wade is another one still in the promising category. Warne has been saying for some time that Wade was the man to watch out for but I actually think Australia could miss Brad Haddin. He is a feisty character who England don’t really like and a good attacking batsman. I cannot speak highly enough of Prior, the best No 7 in world cricket and a much improved keeper. I would keep him as vice-captain, too. He impressed in that role after Broad was left out in India.

In the box seat: Matt Prior (right) and Pietersen celebrate an Ashes victory Down Under

In the box seat: Matt Prior (right) and Pietersen celebrate an Ashes victory Down Under

The verdict

I think next year’s two Ashes series are coming at exactly the right time for England whereas for Australia they may be a year to 18 months too early. For them to defeat England they will need to get everybody fit for sustained periods and rely on the galvanising abilities of Clarke. England will not leave anything to chance and have great bench strength. OK, they had had a bad year before they pulled things around in India but I believe they are very much back on track now. If I were a betting man I’d have money on England to win, as both teams stand now, both home and away.

Martin Samuel: Marouane Fellaini was wrong but let"s get to grips with the real problem

OK, Fellaini was wrong but let's get to grips with the real problem

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UPDATED:

22:59 GMT, 16 December 2012

The narrative moves fast in English football but, even so, it can safely be presumed they haven’t changed the rules on the sly midway through the season.

So, as of the weekend, it was still illegal to hold on to another player to prevent his movement. Meaning the first foul that was committed in the Stoke City penalty area in the 59th minute on Saturday was by defender Ryan Shawcross.

That does not justify Marouane Fellaini’s reaction, and is only the tiniest mitigation for an incident that will almost certainly end with a three-match ban for the Everton player, but it is nevertheless an important fact.

Losing his head: Marouane Fellaini's clash with Ryan Shawcross was wrong on many levels

Losing his head: Marouane Fellaini's clash with Ryan Shawcross was wrong on many levels

Losing his head: Marouane Fellaini's clash with Ryan Shawcross was wrong on many levels

More from Martin Samuel…

It's been the greatest sporting year we've seen, but there can be only one winner, so… It must be Murray
14/12/12

Viva Forever Let’s hope it’s dead by Easter
13/12/12

Martin Samuel: Benitez battling jet-lag at a Club World Cup that is still trying to wake up… a prize that should be football's crowning glory, but isn't
12/12/12

Martin Samuel: Being good at football is not an act of provocation
11/12/12

Martin Samuel: You've had your time, Shane. Don't fight the dimming of the light…
09/12/12

Martin Samuel: Has Platini just torpedoed European Football with his 2020 vision
06/12/12

How awkward. I agree with the head-bangers
06/12/12

Martin Samuel: Gay hero Surely there's only one man to herald football's watershed moment… step forward Joey Barton
05/12/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

For it makes plain that what happened on Saturday, a clash that could have ended in serious injury, a fractured cheekbone or broken nose, was a direct result of football’s decision to allow wrestling matches in the penalty area.

Fellaini assaults Shawcross primarily because he is being prevented from playing, illegally, and Mark Halsey, the referee, appears happy to let this continue. Football has never had more policemen and yet such little interest in implementing the rules.

The replays clearly show that, directly before Fellaini strikes, Shawcross is gripping him by an upper arm beneath the shoulder, to restrict his run. This is a foul. It isn’t a penalty, because the ball is dead but it is without doubt subject to corrective action.

As none is forthcoming, Fellaini takes matters into his own hands, attempts to wrestle free and, as he passes Shawcross, ducks his head into his opponent’s face. Shawcross collapses. Halsey misses the incident.

For this reason the FA can pass sanction and Everton will lose their key player at a crucial time in the campaign. David Moyes, the manager, is resigned to this and did not complain. To his credit, he as good as invited punishment.

Maybe, by doing so, he felt he was acting for the wider good. Had Moyes defended his player, the fallout would have centred on Fellaini, who got away with several instances of poor behaviour on Saturday.

Instead, with Everton pleading guilty, football would now be wise to study cause and effect.

Fellaini is a physical player. He gives as good as he gets, and one imagines he gets plenty. Even so, he does not usually prioritise butting defenders over scoring goals. If Shawcross’s marking had been old-school, without fouling, this would not have happened.

Football is a contact sport. In the
penalty area, players will be in proximity. Yet over the last decade,
increasingly, defenders no longer guard their man, but grapple with him.

Jose Mourinho’s
Chelsea were masters at it, so are Stoke. And because referees have not
stopped this behaviour, it is encouraged.

Rough and tumble: Grappling at corners and freekicks has become commonplace in football

Rough and tumble: Grappling at corners and freekicks has become commonplace in football

Every penalty area resembles a red-belt judo class these days. The FA, supposed guardians of the game, are content to let this continue.

Fellaini has admitted he was wrong and apologised. There can be no quibbles over punishment.
Yet the wider problem is not being addressed. A single weekend, in which every foul of this nature was met with a warning, then a yellow card (or a penalty if it happened when the ball was in play), would curb it instantly.

Results would briefly resemble rugby scores, but then the crisis would be over, and football would be re-acquainted with the old-fashioned ways of defending. After all, isn’t that exactly what a player like Shawcross is supposed to be about

All about cash for nice little Hearner

Leyton Orient chairman Barry Hearn continues his battle to torpedo any hope of a genuine legacy at the Olympic Stadium.

'This dispute is going to run and run and run,' he said, maintaining his opposition to West Ham United’s tenancy. 'I know, after talking to the London Legacy Development Corporation, that the Olympic Stadium is all about money and nothing about community values.'

The same community values that once led Hearn to consider moving Orient to Harlow or Basildon.
That deal, obviously, wouldn’t have been about money at all. He's all heart, our Barry.

Pay now, judge later

Damien Comolli has been working overtime attempting to justify his record at Liverpool. It boils down to the standard demand of every director of football: judge me in five years.

'I don’t think we made mistakes on the players going out,' he said, 'and whether we made mistakes on the players who came in, time will tell.'

Time has told, old son.

Jordan Henderson

Jordan Henderson

Andy Carroll

Andy Carroll

Stewart Downing

Stewart Downing

Nearly two years down the line, Andy Carroll is on loan to a lesser club, having scored 11 goals for Liverpool — just six in the league — at a cost of 35million.

Jordan Henderson and Stewart Downing can barely get a game. Charlie Adam is gone. There are eight players that have made double figure league appearances for Liverpool this season and only one — Luis Suarez, great acquisition, but hardly out of left field — was signed by Comolli.

The majority were in the team under Rafael Benitez.

'I speak to people and they ask, “What about that deal”' Comolli said. 'I explain and they say, “OK, I see where you’re coming from”.'

Of course they do; they aren’t writing the cheques.

'If you want to talk about Carroll, the situation was quite clear,' Comolli added. 'We were selling two players, Fernando Torres and Ryan Babel, and were bringing two in, Suarez and Carroll.

'Chelsea kept bidding higher and higher for Torres until we got to a point where the difference between their first and final bid was double. We were making a profit and the wage bill was coming down as well.'

In other words, Abramovich was overpaying so Comolli decided it did not matter if John Henry paid through the nose, too. That is why he got the bullet.

He was big-hearted Charlie with another man’s money. Judge him whenever you want but Liverpool will regret giving him even as long as they did.

Arsenal should be wary of dinosaurs like Usmanov

The Australian PGA Championship has probably sunk its last putt in Coolum, Queensland. Blame Jeff.

Jeff is a 26-foot robot plastic replica of a Tyrannosaurus Rex located outside the clubhouse between Coolum’s ninth green and 10th tee. It has been there since the resort club was purchased by billionaire mining magnate Clive Palmer. He is also considering building a dinosaur theme park.

Indeed, Palmer is considering a lot of things, many of them plastered on one of the 60 signs he erected around the course, promoting his pursuits, including a proposed replica of the Titanic.

Dino-sore: Jeff, the 26-foot robot plastic replica of a Tyrannosaurus Rex at Coolum, isn't pretty

Dino-sore: Jeff, the 26-foot robot plastic replica of a Tyrannosaurus Rex at Coolum, isn't pretty

Also sinking is golf’s credibility as players, including Darren Clarke, walk in Jeff’s shadow.
At least Palmer agreed to turn off the dinosaur’s mechanical roar. Club players and guests traditionally get a mulligan — a chance to replay the shot without penalty — if Jeff bursts into life at the top of a backswing.

The very rich, as F Scott Fitzgerald observed, are very different from you and me. Palmer cannot understand what the fuss is about and wants Coolum to host again next year.

Alisher Usmanov, meanwhile, is perplexed that Arsenal continue to reject his advances and his requests for a seat on the board.

Yet just as Palmer dropped Jeff on an unsuspecting public, so Usmanov – wealthier than Roman Abramovich – offered a glimpse of what Arsenal could be like on his watch, by announcing that Thierry Henry should return to the club, 'but not as a player'.

Decisions, decisions: Alisher Usmanov

Decisions, decisions: Alisher Usmanov

‘I don’t have any powers in terms of decisions but there are a few players with whom I am in contact,’ Usmanov said. My favourite is probably Thierry. He should be involved at the club. He has another role to play; a more important role.

'Take the example of Patrick Vieira at Manchester City. He is also a symbol of Arsenal but is helping another club. We have to avoid that with Thierry.'

Says who

One imagines if Arsene Wenger wants Henry back in any capacity, he is perfectly capable of asking him. And if he wants him as a player, short-term like last season, he would not appreciate having his plans vetoed by an owner who thinks he knows best.

In attempting a populist manoeuvre, Usmanov inadvertently revealed more of his style than was flattering.

Whatever Arsenal’s current predicament, Wenger has more than earned the right to make his own decisions and to be told that Henry’s transfer is off, but his unrequired return in an elevated role is on, is precisely the type of interference that could usher him out of the door.

Usmanov has money and this alone appeals to desperate supporters, but the last thing Arsenal need is a 26-foot dinosaur, roaring his instructions at a neutered manager.

AND WHILE WE'RE AT IT
Expansion explained

We can all see the problem with the Club World Cup. To embrace the global ethos all continents must be represented, yet Europe and South America are overwhelmingly strong, so the tournament contains no mystery, beyond the outcome of the final.

Happy chappys: Corinthians are champions of the world after beating Chelsea in the Club World Cup Final

Happy chappys: Corinthians are champions of the world after beating Chelsea in the Club World Cup Final

The Intercontinental Cup, as the Club World Cup once was, has a tradition lasting 52 years, beginning with a home and away final between the winners of the European Cup and the Copa Libertadores.

Real Madrid lifted the first trophy in 1960, drawing 0-0 with Penarol of Uruguay in Montevideo and then beating them 5-1 in the Bernabeu. This was the best and most dramatic format of all.

From 1960 to 1979 when Olimpia of Paraguay defeated Malmo, there were 10 South American winners and nine from Europe.

Money won, however, and FIFA then switched to a one-off game, sponsored by Toyota, in Japan.
Again, competition stayed even. From 1980 to 2004 there were 13 European winners and 12 from South America.

Expansion then brought the Club World Cup, with a wider range of entrants, a horrid false start in Brazil in 2000, a relaunch in 2005, but basically the same outcome.

Apart from the shock qualification of Mazembe of Congo in 2010, the final has always been between Europe and South America. So as a spectacle, the tournament is moribund.

What is to be done Bruce Buck, chairman of Chelsea, has a good idea.

To strengthen the tournament, he said, it should be expanded to include the winners of the Europa League and its South American equivalent, the Copa Sudamericana. That way, there would be no guaranteed progression and at least one tough match en route to the final.

This season’s tournament would have featured Chelsea and Atletico Madrid from Europe, and Corinthians and Universidad de Chile from South America.

Sao Paulo, who finished fourth in Brazil this season, nine points clear of Corinthians, would already have qualified for next season’s tournament as Copa Sudamericana champions.

Conquering the world: How would Chelsea feel playing three matches in South America

Conquering the world: How would Chelsea feel playing three matches in South America

Buck’s point was that the Champions League became more vibrant by expansion.

Placing the tournament in one of the host cities in Europe or South America — so this year’s edition would have been played in London, Madrid, Sao Paulo or Santiago — rather than a sterile location like Japan or Dubai would also help.

One imagines the bid to claim the title of world champions would carry greater cachet if Chelsea’s task involved three matches in South America, against Monterrey of Mexico, Universidad de Chile and a final against either Corinthians or Atletico Madrid. Just a thought.

Are you sitting comfortably

Sir Dave Richards, chairman of the Premier League, is to be grilled at a Football Association board meeting this week over his character witness support for John Terry.

The FA considers Richards’ stance during Terry’s hearing a conflict of interests. Yet the FA brings these disciplinary cases and also commissions and rewards the members of the independent tribunal.

This as good as places the jury in the pay of the prosecution. No conflict of interests there then, gentlemen.

Merry Christmas

Well, that’s it from me until the New Year. I know we don’t usually do presents, but if you’ve got a machine that can receive apps, search for Radio Soulwax and download a file called Dave.

Sixty minutes of pure pleasure. If you like David Bowie, that is. And, if you don’t, seriously, what’s the matter with you But it’s free, so either way, Happy Christmas.

.

Hillsborough charity single revealed including Alan Hansen, Paul McCartney, Kenny Dalglish and Robbie Williams

Hillsborough charity single revealed: Dalglish and Hansen join McCartney and Robbie in video to raise cash for families of victims

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UPDATED:

18:26 GMT, 4 December 2012

Kenny Dalglish, Paul McCartney and Alan Hansen are among the cast of stars of Justice Collective singing on the Hillsborough charity single: He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother.

They are joined by Robbie Williams, Gerry Marsden, Melanie C, Paloma Faith and Shane MacGowan in the bid to raise vital cash for the families continuing to fight for justice for the 96 Liverpool fans who lost their lives in the 1989.

Liverpudlian Guy Chambers, who is producing the charity single, hopes the single can raise 1million – if it reaches the No 1 spot after official release on December 17.

VIDEO: Justice Collective – He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother

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Jamming: Paul McCartney plays guitar in the charity single

Jamming: Paul McCartney plays guitar in the charity single

Alan Hansen (left) and Kenny Dalglish sings along in the group's bid to raise 1million for the victims' families

Alan Hansen (left) and Kenny Dalglish sings along in the group's bid to raise 1million for the victims' families

He told The Mirror: 'I am deeply honoured to be asked to produce this record for the 96.

'If we can help to raise money to support the families’ legal battle so that they finally get their time in court then our job will be done.

'I spent my teenage years in Liverpool and feel a deep affection for both its musical heritage and the unique solidarity of its people.'

Supportive: Mel C and Co are taking part to get justice for the 96 victims of the Hillsborough disaster

Supportive: Mel C and Co are taking part to get justice for the 96 victims of the Hillsborough disaster

Pitching in: John Bishop joins in with the rendition

Pitching in: John Bishop joins in with the rendition

He ain't heavy: Former manager Kenny Dalglish and Peter Reid

He ain't heavy: Former manager Kenny Dalglish and Peter Reid

Who's singing what

The road is long – ANDY LAWSON

With many a winding turn – ANDY LAWSON

That leads us to who knows where – GERRY MARSDEN

Who knows when – PAUL HEATON

But I'm strong – GLENN TILBROOK

Strong enough to carry him – GLENN TILBROOK

He ain't heavy, he's my brother – JOHN POWER/ROBBIE WILLIAMS

So on we go – JOHN POWER

His welfare is of my concern – MELANIE C

No burden is he to bear – ROBBIE WILLIAMS

We'll get there – ROBBIE/MELANIE C

For I know – REBECCA FERGUSON

He would not encumber me – HOLLY JOHNSON

He ain't heavy, he's my brother- HOLLY JOHNSON/REBECCA F

If I'm laden at all – BEVERLEY KNIGHT

I'm laden with sadness – BEVERLEY KNIGHT

That everyone's heart – PALOMA FAITH

Isn't filled with the gladness- PALOMA FAITH

Of love for one another – ELIZA DOOLITTLE

It's a long, long road – DAVE McCABE

From which there is no return – PETER HOOTON

While we're on the way to there – REN HARVIEU / JON McCLURE

Why not share- JON McCLURE / REN HARVIEU

And the load – DAVE McCABE

It doesn't weigh me down at all – MACCA

Coz he ain't heavy – MACCA

(He ain’t heavy) – SHANE MACGOWAN

He's my brother – SHANE MACGOWAN/ BEVERLEY K

He's my brother – ALL (most)

He ain't heavy, he's my brother … – ALL (most)

QPR and Tottenham on alert as Everton defender Sylvain Distin wants Premier League stay

QPR and Tottenham on alert as Everton defender Distin says he wants Premier League stay

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UPDATED:

22:31 GMT, 3 December 2012

Everton defender Sylvain Distin, who is out of contract in the summer, says he wants to remain in the Premier League.

The 35-year-old, who has attracted interest from QPR and Tottenham in recent months, has been in and out of Everton's side this season but has impressed when starting in the last three games.

However, manager David Moyes is eager to bring in younger players and has scouted Molde's Vegard Forren, 24, and revealed a desire to take Joleon Lescott on loan from Manchester City. Distin believes he can still perform at the highest level.

Interest: QPR and Tottenham have been linked with a move for the veteran

Interest: QPR and Tottenham have been linked with a move for the veteran

He told EvertonTV: 'Being on the bench, I didn't like it and I think it's my longest spell on the bench since I started football. I did hate it but I did try to take the positives out of it and it made me realise that I'm not ready to stop at all.

'I'm not ready to be on the bench at all and that's a good thing. 'I'm working hard every day not to be on the bench, but we have four great centre-backs.

'We have an England international [Phil Jagielka], a Dutch international who played in the final of the World Cup [John Heitinga] and then you have me and [Shane] Duffy.

'It's tough competition but it is healthy competition. We enjoy playing with each other and there is no tension between us.

'This can only make us better and we know that we have to perform week in and week out, otherwise there will be another two players who will be picked.

'The reason I am in England is to play against the best strikers and I would rather have those kind of challenges every week rather than play in a league where I don't enjoy my football. 'I know it is difficult but that is what makes football magic for me.'

Shane Long wanted by Liverpool

Rodgers thinking of going Long as Liverpool weigh up 12m move for West Brom striker

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UPDATED:

11:30 GMT, 2 December 2012

Knee-sy does it: Long has scored seven goals in all competitions for West Brom this season

Knee-sy does it: Long has scored seven goals in all competitions for West Brom this season

Liverpool are considering a 12million January bid for West Brom striker Shane Long.

Reds boss Brendan Rodgers is desperately short of attacking options and he is a fan of the Republic of Ireland international having worked with him when the pair were at Reading.

The 25-year-old's current deal at the Hawthorns runs to 2015 but Daily Star Sunday are reporting that he would be very interested in a move to Anfield.

Long has been in fine form for West Brom this season, netting five league goals to help the club into fifth place in the Barclays Premier League table.

West Brom do not want or need to sell Long, but it is thought they would be tempted by a 12m bid for a man they paid 6.5m for in August 2011.

Andrew Flintoff will be knocked out – Richard Dawson

EXCLUSIVE: I'm not here to play, I'm going to knock Flintoff out, vows Dawson

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UPDATED:

00:49 GMT, 29 November 2012

Richard Dawson has promised that Andrew Flintoff’s venture into professional boxing will be nasty, brutal and short.

The 23-year-old undefeated American has been hand-picked to take on the former England cricket captain at the Manchester Arena on Friday night.

But Dawson believes the fight could be won as early as Thursday’s weigh-in.

No messing around: Richard Dawson plans to ensure Andrew Flintoff's boxing career is short-lived

No messing around: Richard Dawson plans to ensure Andrew Flintoff's boxing career is short-lived

‘I definitely want to knock him out,’ he told Sportsmail in his first interview since the fight was announced.

‘I’m not going to play with him, I want to get in and get out. I don’t have time to put on a show because we’re in his town and I don’t trust the judges.’

Dawson, from Oklahoma, only took up the sport two years ago but has been fighting for a brighter future for significantly longer.

‘I had a pretty rough life,’ he admits. ‘My mum and dad did jail time and my sister and brother-in-law raised me until I was 18.

‘A lot of my friends are either dead or in jail and my brother is crippled after being shot in front of our house.’

Dawson, who has three other sisters and a nine-month-old son of his own, spent almost three months in prison for assault.

‘I was breaking up a fight,’ he explains. ‘The guy was on pills, he pushed me and something just clicked in my head. I had never been in trouble before.

‘That convinced me I never want to go back, I didn’t want to follow the family pattern and I feel like I’ve learned from the mistakes my parents made.’

Hitting hard: Andrew Flintoff (left) has been training with Barry McGuigan and his son Shane (right)

Hitting hard: Andrew Flintoff (left) has been training with Barry McGuigan and his son Shane (right)

Speaking at his Manchester hotel, Dawson claims boxing has ensured he now sticks to the straight and narrow.

‘At first I had a real bad attitude but boxing slowed it down a lot. It helps me keep my composure, keeps me humble and keeps my confidence up.

‘My role models sold dope but now kids come up to me and talk about boxing and I feel like a role model to them.

‘But my upbringing gives me a big advantage. When I step in the ring, I know I’ve got a son who needs to be fed, I need to pay the bills and I want to take a lot of anger out after what I’ve been through and I do it in the ring.’

Dawson has had three professional fights following a one-bout amateur career although his first contest, in December last year, was not sanctioned.

It went ahead on a professional bill and MMA fighter Ryan Lopez was knocked out cold in 19 seconds. Subsequently, Jimmy Lane retired on his stool with multiple broken ribs before he was taken the four-round distance by Jamell Williams in August.

Big stage: Flintoff and Dawson will fight at the Manchester Arena which also hosted Ricky Hatton's comeback

Big stage: Flintoff and Dawson will fight at the Manchester Arena which also hosted Ricky Hatton's comeback

A clash with street fighter-turned-boxer Kimbo Slice meanwhile was called off at the last minute in May.

Turning his attention to Flintoff, Dawson is confident he can extend his winning record.

‘I don’t really know why they chose me,’ he said. ‘I guess they wanted a heavyweight who’s had three or four fights and I was the person they called.

‘I think he’s going off my amateur fight as that’s the only one I’ve got on video but I’m a totally different fighter now.

‘Flintoff is a brave guy; it takes a brave man to get in the ring and I respect him for that but once that bell rings, it’s totally different; it’s just him and me.

‘I’ve seen a clip of him sparring and he’s come a long way in five months but anyone can look good on the pads.’

Dawson believes he can exploit Flintoff’s ‘chicken wings’, where he keeps his arms and elbows out out rather than tucked in.

Trim: A slimline Andrew Flintoff

Trim: A slimline Andrew Flintoff

Modelling himself on Floyd Mayweather and Roy Jones Jnr, Dawson is comfortable fighting in either orthodox or southpaw stance.

The bout in Manchester will be over the minimum professional distance of four two-minute rounds.

‘It’s as if Flintoff has told his trainers he can’t last three minutes for four rounds,’ Dawson adds. ‘He should be in the best shape in his life. If you become a pro boxer, you should be able to pick your rounds, whether it’s four or eight or 12.

‘I’m not going to say I could do 12 three-minute rounds but I’ve got the heart to do it. I’d keep banging because eventually I’ll get my rest.

‘I fight from my heart because that’s what I did growing up. If he’s never been in a fight in his life, it’s going to be hard for him to deal with someone experienced.’

Dawson admits he had never heard of cricket before he was offered the fight.

‘When I Googled it, I thought it was baseball but I’ve read about Flintoff and his cricket stuff. He’s going to have a lot of fans behind him.’

Dawson expects to weigh in at 235lbs, considerably heavier than his slightly taller opponent.

‘My dad taught me to win the fight at the weigh in and that’s what I’ll do,’ he concludes. ‘If he turns away when I look into his eyes, that’s it, it’s over.’

Simon Mignolet admits to error against West Brom

Mignolet faces the music after gaffe costs Sunderland dear against West Brom

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UPDATED:

21:28 GMT, 25 November 2012

Simon Mignolet could have headed straight home on Saturday night, and plunged into the lonely, miserable world of the goalkeeper who has made the error which has cost his team victory.

But the Belgian keeper, Sunderland's saviour on so many occasion this season, did not want to hide.

He wanted to offer his apologies and thanks to fans and team-mates after the error which gifted Shane Long a goal and handed West Brom their fourth consecutive win for the first time in 32 years.

Gaffe: Shane Long took advantage of Simon Mignolet's error to score

Gaffe: Shane Long took advantage of Simon Mignolet's error to score

Mignolet was immediately inconsolable after spilling a mis-hit through ball from Chris Brunt in the last minute of the first-half and Long pounced to tap home.

He was still cursing himself at half-time and the final whistle, when he was applauded and serenaded by the few fans who had stayed for the duration of the 4-2 defeat.

Mignolet made one stunning save later to deny Long. But the damage was done. He got a hand to Zoltan Gera's strike and was helpless to stop Marc-Antoine Fortune's lovely, late finish and a penalty from Romelu Lukaku.

Martin O'Neill's No 1, who also took to Twitter to apologise, made himself for interviews in the tunnel.

And he said: 'First of all I have to thank the fans for the reaction around the stadium afterwards.

Error: Mignolet had been in fine form for Sunderland this season

Error: Mignolet had been in fine form for Sunderland this season

'There are two things that can happen when you do things like that: The players, fans, can get behind you because they know what you have done for them in the past or they can get on your back. What happened was that they all got behind me.

'I really appreciate it and I thank them all for that. There's another game on Tuesday and that's what a goalkeeper's life is. You are only as good a goalkeeper as the last game you play.

'It doesn't stop the bleeding, no matter how I have done in the past. It is probably the worst mistake I will make. I have never made a big mistake like that before.

'You don't want things like that to happen. You know it can happen. But you can't do any more about it. You learn from it.

'I can't even say anything about it. That's what football is. Anything can happen in a split second. What happened is the question that will be in my head, spinning round. But I can't dwell on it.

Gutted: Sunderland slumped to another defeat at the weekend

Gutted: Sunderland slumped to another defeat at the weekend

'I was pleased with how the second half went. I didn't lose my confidence which is more important than what happened in the first half. There's plenty big games this year still to play.'

Sunderland have rubbished rumours that O'Neill offered to quit on Saturday night.

But they have now won just three Premier League games in 26, and they were all against 10 men. And his side are Harry Redknapp's first opponents as QPR boss on Tuesday night.

Mark Cavendish involved in road accident in Italy

Not another one! Cavendish 'relatively ok' after becoming latest British cyclist involved in road accident

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UPDATED:

15:09 GMT, 19 November 2012

Mark Cavendish has become the THIRD British cyclist to be involved in a crash this month after he collided with a car while training in Italy.

The news follows injuries to Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins and British cycling head coach Shane Sutton also sustained this month.

Cavendish broke the news on Twitter, revealing he was 'relatively ok' after colliding with a car while training in Italy.

'OK': Cavendish (right) injured his arm while training in Tuscany

'OK': Cavendish (right) injured his arm while training in Tuscany

The incident happened when the 2011 world road race champion, who last month left Team Sky for Omega Pharma-Lotto, when a car braked suddenly in front of him.

The 27-year-old from the Isle of Man wrote on Twitter: 'Went & hit the back of a car that slammed on today in training. Wasn’t ideal. Apart from a bruised arm, I’m relatively ok. If anyone cares.'

Third time unlucky: Cavendish rides alongside Wiggins (yellow jersey) during this year's Tour de France

Third time unlucky: Cavendish rides alongside Wiggins (yellow jersey) during this year's Tour de France

The collision happened less than two weeks after Wiggins and Sutton were knocked off their bikes in the UK.

Also over the weekend Cavendish, who has now travelled from his home in Tuscany to California, announced his engagement to former model Peta Todd.

Engaged: Cavendish with fiancee Peta Todd earlier this month

Engaged: Cavendish with fiancee Peta Todd earlier this month

Meanwhile, just over a week after he suffered bruising, a fractured rib, a bruised lung and a dislocated finger, Wiggins was back on his bike on Friday morning.

In a separate road accident, British cycling head coach Sutton was also admitted to hospital within 24 hours of Wiggins with a fractured cheek bone.

Roberto Di Matteo promises changes after seeing West Brom extend Chelsea"s poor run

Di Matteo promises changes after seeing West Brom extend Chelsea's poor run

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UPDATED:

23:33 GMT, 17 November 2012

Chelsea boss Roberto Di Matteo is set to ring the changes and alter the formation of his side after their poor run of form continued with a 2-1 defeat at West Brom.

The Blues have taken only two points from their last four league games to leave Di Matteo rueing another bleak November for Chelsea.

Di Matteo was rational and calm when facing the media but it is understood he was furious with his players behind closed doors in the dressing room.

Peter Odemwingie scored the West Brom winner after Eden Hazard had cancelled out Shane Long's opening goal.

Breached: Shane Long (bottom left) scores past Petr Cech

Breached: Shane Long (bottom left) scores past Petr Cech

Chelsea dominated for long periods but Di Matteo was unhappy with the defending for both of the home side's goals and is set to shake his side up.

He said: 'It is a ground we find difficult, last season when we lost here, and now this season again. We know they are very good at home.

'But giving away goals like we did today makes if difficult to win the game.

'You have to score three goals to win then and our defending was very poor today.

'We didn't concede many chances but, the ones we did, we had to do better.

Chelsea have operated an attack-minded 4-2-3-1 formation under Di Matteo but that looks set to be reassessed.

At a loss: Chelsea have taken two points from a possible 12

At a loss: Chelsea have taken two points from a possible 12

Di Matteo said: 'This season we are playing a little bit different but we might have to go back (to a previous formation) to be able to win games, and make sure first and foremost we don't concede.

'Maybe it is the time where we might have to change a little bit in terms of our selection and the way we play.

'For some reasons, November for our club is a bad month and it seems the same again this year.

'We are disappointed and maybe it is time to look at things, maybe change it a bit and get a win.

'We will look at the set-up of the team and maybe sacrifice a bit the attacking options to go a little bit more defensive.'

Di Matteo made five changes but insisted: 'It was based on the midweek (international) games. The players were all over Europe and the world, long flights, five or six hours' time difference. They were not in a condition to start or last the game.'

Desperate times: Cech attempts to beat West Brom keeper Boaz Myhill

Desperate times: Cech attempts to beat West Brom keeper Boaz Myhill

West Brom boss Steve Clarke is not allowing himself to get too excited after his side climbed into fourth position.

He said: 'I'm delighted, a great three points, good attacking play, two fantastic goals, and dogged determined defensive play towards the end.

'Can we think of the Champions League I don't look that far ahead, I look from game to game.

'It is a great time to be at the club and if the supporters want to dream a bit, they can. But within the camp, we will keep our feet on the ground.'

Clarke paid tribute to Long after another fine performance following the death this week of his grandmother.

High praise: Long (centre) came in for praise from Steve Clarke

High praise: Long (centre) came in for praise from Steve Clarke

He displayed a T-shirt which said 'Rest In Peace Gran' after scoring his sixth goal of the campaign.

Clarke said: 'I've run out of words to describe his performances this season.

'Shane produced another fantastic performance in what has been a difficult week for him.

'He wanted to play. He is going back to Ireland tonight to be with his family for the next two or three days.'