Tag Archives: substantial

Anthony Fry appointed the new chairman of the Premier League

Fry gets top job at Premier League: Dairy Crest boss to replace Richards as chairman

Olympics vice-chairman who is a director at Tottenham.

Champions: Manchester United wrapped up the Premier League title on Monday against Aston Villa

Champions: Manchester United wrapped up the Premier League title on Monday against Aston Villa

Instead, the nominations committee have
chosen in Fry, who is also chairman of Dairy Crest and the Cala Group, a
person who has no formal connection with football.

Buck added: 'There were a number of outstanding candidates, any of whom would have made a fine Premier League chairman, but in Anthony Fry we have appointed an individual with the correct blend of experience, skills, attitude and demeanour to represent the best interests of the Premier League.

Moving on: Sir Dave Richards will step down in June

Moving on: Sir Dave Richards will step down in June

WHO IS HE

Fry is currently Chairman of the Finance Committee of the BBC Trust and has enjoyed a distinguished career. He has specialised in the media industry and has held numerous Chairmanships and Board positions across a range of business, public, charitable and academic bodies.

'Anthony's CV speaks for itself, but
we were particularly impressed by his aptitude for and understanding of
the role, as well as believing his style to be particularly well-suited
to developing effective working relationships with both the member clubs
and the executive of the Premier League.'

Fry himself said: 'The opportunity to
become chairman of the Premier League is one that appealed hugely to me
for obvious reasons.
'I have a deep-seated and long-held passion for sport and believe the
skills and attributes I have developed throughout all aspects of my
career will serve both the Premier League clubs and the executive
extremely well.

'The league is one of the country's
great success stories of recent times having overseen a period of rising
playing standards, substantial investment in infrastructure and
development, significant growth in attendances and viewing figures as
well as the marked commercial success that has benefited the English
game as a whole.'

Rafael Benitez says Chelsea can still win title

We can still win the title! Chelsea boss Benitez believes Blues can come from behind and see off Manchester rivals

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UPDATED:

00:44 GMT, 15 December 2012

Rafael Benitez believes Chelsea can still win the league — even if they enter the Christmas period 13 points adrift of Manchester United.

Chelsea will be trailing the league leaders by a substantial margin if United win at home to Sunderland on Saturday, while Chelsea attempt to win the Club World Cup against Corinthians on Sunday.

Child's play: Rafael Benitez meets Japanese children in Yokohama on Sunday

Child's play: Rafael Benitez meets Japanese children in Yokohama on Sunday

Yet Benitez hopes to use a positive result in that tournament, and the glory of being crowned world champions after less than a month in charge, to inspire his players to refocus their attentions at home.

And he is refusing to give up on the big one: his first domestic league title as a manager in England.

Speaking at his team’s base in Yokohama, Benitez said: ‘I did not see the Manchester derby, but people told me about it and I agree it (the title) is not a two-horse race. People have asked me whether it is over already, but realistically, with three points for a win, if you get victories two or three games in a row you have more confidence and then it is different.

What's so funny, Rafa Benitez smiles at his players during training

What's so funny, Rafa Benitez smiles at his players during training

‘If we win here and play like we did against Monterrey in the semi-final, we can go on a run. We play good football and with the quality we have going forward and the right balance in defence, this team can win many games in a row easily. How many I don’t know, but once you start that with three or four, the confidence will go so high, why not

‘At Liverpool, we had an 11-game stretch, drew against Arsenal and won the other 10. So why can’t we do the same at Chelsea It is just a question of confidence. If you are strong enough, compact enough, we can do this. But these things will take some time to adjust.

Blue is the colour: Chelsea players are preparing for Sunday's World Club Cup final

Blue is the colour: Chelsea players are preparing for Sunday's World Club Cup final

‘What we do depends on the team. At Valencia, I had three years: the first really good, the second fine, the third amazing. Why Repeating the same exercises with clever people, they could understand.

‘As for winning the league at Chelsea, when I talk to the players here, I can see in their faces that they have the belief. So I know what we are doing is working. The roles and the movements we are
asking of them in training is working. I don’t have any doubt about the things I can do.’

Emmanuel Adebayor retires from international football

Boost for Spurs as Adebayor vows to stay away from Cup of Nations over pay dispute with Togo authorities

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UPDATED:

00:45 GMT, 3 December 2012

Tottenham were handed a boost when Emmanuel Adebayor announced that he will suspend his international career with Togo after a pay dispute failed to be resolved.

The Spurs striker will take no part in the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations with Togo, who sealed their place in the tournament over Gabon in October.

Adebayor released a statement which read: 'Togo international and captain of the Sparrow Hawks Emmanuel Sheyi Adebayor hereby brings to the notice of the general public that he is suspending his international career with Togo team.

Quitting: Emmanuel Adebayor (right) will not represent Togo in the African Cup of Nations

Quitting: Emmanuel Adebayor (right) will not represent Togo in the African Cup of Nations

The 28-year-old last week condemned the non-payment of fees after Togo beat Morocco in an international friendly.

He also called upon the Togolese
football federation to justify a substantial sum of money reportedly paid to the
governing body by the Royal Moroccan Football Federation.

Adebayor said earlier this week: ‘If
this does not change, then I will retire from international football and
many will stop playing for our country.

'In our FA everyone thinks about their own pockets. Some players have not received their money, some have received half of it.

'Players come to me to ask about
their money. It is a shame. I asked the Moroccan Federation how much
they paid our Togolese FA. They told me that they paid €35,000 to
President Ameyi.

'The president has the money because
the Moroccan FA will not lie to me. If this continues, then no one will
play for others to fill their pockets.’

The former Manchester City man retired from international football in 2010 after the team bus was attacked by militia in Angola.

He returned to the fray this year, and has been instrumental in their qualification to the Africa Cup of Nations.

Boost: Adebayor (right) will now focus on his career at Tottenham

Boost: Adebayor (right) will now focus on his career at Tottenham

Cash v country: Adebayor says a number of players have not been paid for turning out in a match with Morocco earlier this month

Cash v country: Adebayor says a number of players have not been paid for turning out in a match with Morocco earlier this month

Manchester United OR City will win Premier League title… and derby is around the corner

It's not yet December and there's plenty more twists and turns to come… but the title IS going back to Manchester (now start the real battle between United and City)

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UPDATED:

13:51 GMT, 29 November 2012

Take your pick, blue or red, the title is going back to Manchester.

While the rest of the Barclays Premier League flounders and flaps beneath them, champions Manchester City and their city rivals United continue to flourish. Chelsea are in disarray, Arsenal are nowhere near again, and the rest are only good enough to challenge for fifth.

The 2012/13 season is a two-horse race.

That's why we're champions: Mario Balotelli celebrates Manchester City's win at Wigan on Wednesday

That's why we're champions: Mario Balotelli celebrates Manchester City's win at Wigan on Wednesday

All too easy: Robin Van Persie and Wayne Rooney enjoy Manchester United's win over West Ham

All too easy: Robin Van Persie and Wayne Rooney enjoy Manchester United's win over West Ham

Next weekend’s showdown at the Etihad Stadium will of course not decide the outcome of the title race but it will give the victors a substantial advantage going into the Christmas programme.

The rest of them will merely have a say in the destination of the trophy by taking points off the Manchester giants. They can forget about winning it.

The fixtures that will decide the title

Sunday December 9:
Manchester City v Manchester United
1:30pm KO

Saturday April 6*:
Manchester United v Manchester City
3pm KO

*Date subject to change

Fourteen games into the campaign and City remain the only unbeaten team in the land.

Roberto Mancini’s tinkering may be perplexing at times, but the Italian is getting away with it at the moment. And City look invincible at home.

Take his substitution at Wigan last night. City fans were scratching their heads when the City boss gave striker Sergio Aguero the hook and sent on Aleksandar Kolarov in his place, leaving Mario Balotelli to plough a potentially lonely furrow as the spearhead of City’s attack. Within seconds, the Italian striker had scored his first of the season and City were on their way to their ninth league win, which leaves them just a point behind United.

There is talk that Mancini will not
be strengthening his squad in January’s transfer window. But he has the
resources should he decide to do so, as do United.

But
if he can leave Carlos Tevez, Edin Dzeko and Scott Sincalir unemployed,
as he did at the DW Stadium last night, why splash the cash
unnecessarily

Not good enough: Fernando Torres and Chelsea are in disarray under interim manager Rafa Benitez

Not good enough: Fernando Torres and Chelsea are in disarray under interim manager Rafa Benitez

In form: Theo Walcott

In form: Gareth Bale

In form: But despite Theo Walcott and Gareth Bale, neither Arsenal or Spurs are good enough to win the title

The riches he can turn to, and the ability of the likes of James Milner and Dzeko to vent their frustration on opponents is one of City’s primary strengths. And it’s matched only by their great rivals.

The impact Robin van Persie has made at Old Trafford does not come as a great surprise.

The former Arsenal striker’s 31 second blast against West Ham was his 12th already in a United shirt, and his 105th in the Premier League since he moved from Feyenoord eight years ago.

And his partnership with Wayne Rooney has barely started to register yet as Sir Alex Ferguson tries to find the right formula to make them the deadliest duo in the league.

United are not playing that well. They have been behind in nine of their league encounters so far and although van Persie’s early opener gave them the cushion required against Sam Allardyce’s side, they were never completely comfortable, even on home territory.

But they have already established that healthy champions’ habit of wining matches when they are not firing on all cylinders, a trait which has proved so useful to Ferguson’s teams over the years.

It is all new to City, as is defending your title. And if they can’t do that efficiently over the next six months, starting with United’s visit on December 9, they will be handing the coveted title back to Sir Alex in May.

AND WHO COULD FORGET WHAT HAPPENED IN LAST YEAR'S EPIC MANCHESTER DERBIES

Why always him Mario Balotelli's double at Old Trafford last October inspired City to an incredible 6-1 win

Why always him Mario Balotelli's double at Old Trafford last October inspired City to an incredible 6-1 win

Noisy neighbours: Vincent Kompany screams with delight after heading the winner at the Etihad Stadium in April

Noisy neighbours: Vincent Kompany screams with delight after heading the winner at the Etihad in April

Blue Moon rising: The two derby victories proved crucial as City won the title on goal difference

Blue Moon rising: The two derby victories proved crucial as City won the title on goal difference

Harry Redknapp must fix wage divisions in QPR squad – Sami Mokbel

Redknapp's first job is to stop his men waging war

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UPDATED:

23:25 GMT, 26 November 2012

How would you feel if the bloke sitting next to you at work was on double your salary

Motivated and enthusiastic, or disheartened and bitter Probably the latter.

There lies one of the key problems Harry Redknapp must rectify if he is to guide Queens Park Rangers to Premier League safety.

Wage war: Harry Redknapp has to stop the players' salary issues

Wage war: Harry Redknapp has to stop the players' salary issues

The club’s Harlington HQ was not a happy ship under Mark Hughes.

Losing week-in, week-out obviously didn’t help the mood. However, neither did the substantial differences in players’ earnings.

Rumours of dressing-room and training-ground bust-ups — and even a squad member becoming so intolerant of certain team-mates that he prepared a packed lunch just so he did not have to eat at the training ground — have circulated for months.

But the crux of the problems can be identified in everyday workplace logic. A simple case of the haves and the have-nots.

While signings such as Julio Cesar, Esteban Granero, Jose Bosingwa and Park Ji-sung earn upwards of 70,000 per week, those who have served the club since Neil Warnock’s time in charge are not in a similar wage-bracket.

A number of the club’s longer-serving players feel some of Hughes’s buys have rocked up to Loftus Road simply for a final big pay-day.

The same players feel that while they continue to put their heart and soul into training sessions, other individuals are only there to make up the numbers.

Tricky: Redknapp has to deal with a divided squad

Tricky: Redknapp has to deal with a divided squad

One source said the contribution of certain players has been ‘unacceptable’.

Yes, personality clashes are part and parcel of top-flight football. Big personalities and big pay-packets see to that. But the trouble begins when those divisions start to cost you points.

That has happened at QPR.

That is what Harry Redknapp must sort out. If he does not, then he will really have to be Harry Houdini to get his new club out of the mess they are in.

Tony Fernandes to attend Arsenal v Queens Park Rangers match

Fernandes to show public backing for Hughes as QPR chairman prepares to attend Arsenal clash

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UPDATED:

22:10 GMT, 21 October 2012

After monitoring QPR's progress from Malaysia, Tony Fernandes will make a special trip to London for Saturday's game with Arsenal.

He communicates with Mark Hughes on most days, and his flying visit will give him the chance to show some public support for his manager.

QPR's flamboyant chairman expected a better start to the season after comparing the fortunes of his team to the grid of a Formula One race.

Stuck in first gear: Queens Park Rangers have yet to win a game in the Premier League this season

Stuck in first gear: Queens Park Rangers have yet to win a game in the Premier League this season

As the owner of Caterham F1, he knows all about competition. Right now, his team are last and Fernandes does not like being at the back.

The real race is run at the top, where teams such as Everton have their noses in front and are making a romantic play for the Champions League.

After eight false starts in the Barclays Premier League, QPR have coughed, spluttered and failed to turn the corner.

Even the editor of QPR's matchday programme is picking up on the fear, leaving out the league table for Sunday's edition after Rangers picked up two points in their opening seven matches.

They are still last, despite five changes from the team beaten 3-2 at West Bromwich on October 6.

The engine had been revving at the start of the season when Rangers recruited 12 new players and pushed 19 in the direction of rival teams.

There will always be a period of adjustment, particularly with a blend of players who arrived to earn big bucks at Loftus Road.

Fernandes has piled heavy-duty cash into the contracts for Julio Cesar, Samba Diakite, Park Ji-Sung, Esteban Granero, Jose Bosingwa, Junior Hoilett and Bobby Zamora.

For that, he expects a substantial return, but Cesar is still settling in after his high-profile move on loan from Inter Milan.

He allowed Ricardo Vaz Te's deflected effort to beat him in the previous home game against West Ham, and the Brazil keeper should have done better with Sylvain Distin's header.

Coming home: Owner Tony Fernandes will travel to London to watch his QPR side face Arsenal on Saturday

Coming home: Owner Tony Fernandes will travel to London to watch his QPR side face Arsenal on Saturday

It is taking time, a precious commodity in an era when all that counts for clubs such as QPR is staying in the Premier League.

They have undergone major surgery, refurbishing the club's training ground at Harlington and giving the offices at their west London stadium a facelift.

If there are doubts beginning to creep in about Hughes, then the record of David Moyes should give Fernandes some comfort.

As manager of a team that once competed for league titles, Moyes hasn't always been chasing the Champions League.

Misfiring: The likes of Bobby Zamora (centre) have failed to impress so far this season

Misfiring: The likes of Bobby Zamora (centre) have failed to impress so far this season

He finished 15th in his first season at Goodison Park (2001-02) and narrowly escaped relegation when they ended the 2003-04 season one place above the drop.

But he has turned Everton into a formidable team, finishing in the top half of the table in each of the last six seasons.

The challenge for Moyes is to turn them into Champions League material, by finishing in the top four.

The opposition is taking Moyes seriously – Brendan Rodgers made the trip south ahead of Sunday's Merseyside derby.

It has taken on added significance as Everton's manager becomes accustomed to questions about his team's top-four potential.

He wants them to be judged after 10 Premier League games, but Rodgers was making his own assessments in the directors' box on Sunday.

Liverpool's manager will have been surprised by Moyes' decision to tuck Steven Pienaar inside and sacrifice his electrifying partnership with Leighton Baines down the left.

Pienaar was sent off, harshly, for a second yellow card in the second half, and will miss the visit of Liverpool. It's a big game for both teams, but Moyes is pleased with his position on the grid.

Not again: Fernandes will show his public backing for manager Mark Hughes (right) on Saturday

Not again: Fernandes will show his public backing for manager Mark Hughes (right) on Saturday

Lance Armstrong"s team-mates take doping bans

Five of Armstrong's team-mates take reduced doping bans after giving evidence against rider

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UPDATED:

20:57 GMT, 11 October 2012

Five of Lance Armstrong's former team-mates have accepted six-month doping bans from the US Anti-Doping Agency after their evidence helped strip Armstrong of his seven career Tour de France titles.

The USADA said the bans imposed on George Hincapie, Tom Danielson, Levi Leipheimer, Christian Vande Velde and David Zabriskie were reduced because of 'substantial assistance' supplied by the riders in relation to their investigation into Armstrong.

Punished: (From top, left to right), US George Hincapie, US David Zabriskie, Belgium's Christian Vande Velde and US Levi Leipheimer

Punished: (From top, left to right), US George Hincapie, US David Zabriskie, Belgium's Christian Vande Velde and US Levi Leipheimer

A sixth former Armstrong team-mate, Canadian Michael Barry, also accepted the sanction, although Barry announced his retirement from the sport last month.

Ordinarily, the riders would have faced bans of at least two years for admitting the offences.

Shamed: Evidence is stacking up against Lance Armstrong

Shamed: Evidence is stacking up against Lance Armstrong

The bans have been back-dated to September 1, 2012 and will run through six months relating to their participation in any activity or competition organised by any signatory to the World Anti-Doping Code.

Each rider also had his competitive results erased for the specified period in which they acknowledged doping had taken place, and all but Danielson admitted they had withdrawn from the London 2012 Olympics as a part of the deal.

Asamoah Gyan fails to pay Sunderland Foundation donation

Gyan breaks 100k Sunderland charity promise… despite earning 10m

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UPDATED:

22:27 GMT, 25 July 2012

Asamoah Gyan has reneged on his agreement to pay a substantial donation to Sunderland's Foundation charity despite earning more than 10million tax free in the last year.

The former African footballer of the year, and Sunderland’s record signing, was allowed to join UAE club Al-Ain in a 200,000-a-week tax-free deal at the beginning of last season.

As part of the lucrative move, Gyan agreed to make a sizeable donation to the club’s own community scheme which has ploughed millions into the region through education and football programmes for the last nine years.

On the move: Asamoah Gyan joined UAE club Al-Ain from Sunderland last season

On the move: Asamoah Gyan joined UAE club Al-Ain from Sunderland last season

Sportsmail has learnt that Gyan, whose total earnings in the last year will top 10.4million, has failed to pay the donation, believed to be in the region of 100,000.

A club spokesperson confirmed: 'The donation has not been received to date, however we are hopeful that this is merely an oversight on the part of Asamoah and his representatives.

'The Foundation does a tremendous amount of work with young people in the North East region and a donation of this kind will help to fund some fantastic programmes and support youngsters from some of the most vulnerable areas of society.'

There were few tears at the Stadium of Light when the disruptive Gyan swiftly negotiated his exit a year ago. But his decision to quit the Wearside club, and the Barclays Premier League, still stunned then chairman Niall Quinn and manager Steve Bruce.

Quinn said in a club statement: 'Steve Bruce, our owner and the board all found the football decision that Asamoah wished to make baffling but I, as chairman, with everyone’s full support, decided that this deal was in the best interests of our football club.'

Nice little earner: Gyan's total earnings in the last year will top 10.4million

Nice little earner: Gyan's total earnings in the last year will top 10.4million

The former chairman, still a Foundation patron, also emphasised that part of that deal included the donation from Gyan to the club’s own foundation charity.

The Ghana international has now joined Al-Ain permanently after scoring 22 goals in 18 games last season. The whole transfer eventually clawing back most of the 13million Sunderland paid for his 10 goals in 34 appearances.

Martin O’Neill’s number one priority this summer is to find a prolific goalscoring replacement for Gyan, who, like Darren Bent, was bought and sold by Bruce.

London 2012 Olympics: Carl Froch"s trainer masterminds boxing Brits

Fighting Brits out to punch weight in gold… with Froch's mastermind as boss

By
Jeff Powell

PUBLISHED:

22:04 GMT, 25 July 2012

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UPDATED:

22:47 GMT, 25 July 2012

Rob McCracken will not be in the corner as his galaxy of boxers strive to deliver almost a quarter of the medals demanded of British athletes at these London Games.

As the totally professional mastermind behind three-time world champion Carl Froch, the performance director of one of the squads vital to Team GB's quest for fourth place in the 2012 medals table is banned from getting up close and personal at the amateur ringside come fight time.

Ridiculous as that ruling is, given the funding bestowed on modern Olympians, McCracken is unperturbed. He knows he will be where it really matters — inside the head of each and every one of the seven men and three women he is priming to punch their weight in gold, silver and bronze.

Lots of glove to give: British super-heavyweight boxer Anthony Joshua is set for London 2012

Lots of glove to give: British super-heavyweight boxer Anthony Joshua is set for London 2012

The tactical advice and spiritual exhortation which McCracken has to give Froch the deeper he battles into a 12-round championship war is not required during the brief span of Olympic duels.

‘These are two different sports,’ says McCracken. ‘Professional fighting, especially at world-title level, is mentally stressful, physically gruelling work in which you get bashed about and need help the longer it goes.

Be gentle: Joshua spars with Hollywood star Will Smith, who once famously played Muhammad Ali

Be gentle: Joshua spars with Hollywood star Will Smith, who once famously played Muhammad Ali

‘Amateur boxing, so long as you put in the right preparation, is fun. The fights often seem like they’re over almost as soon as they’ve begun. It’s not the same game.’

The prospect of a substantial contribution to the target of 48 medals set for Team GB has risen to a ‘not impossible’ 10 with the inauguration of women’s boxing.

Meet the home contenders

Tom Stalker (team captain) — light-welterweight (64 kg)

Home town: Liverpool.
Age: 28.
World ranking: 1.
Medals: Commonwealth gold, European silver (2), world bronze.

Rob McCracken’s verdict: ‘Ideal captain. One of world’s best now up at light-welter. Surely medals if he maintains focus for the entire tournament.’

Andrew Selby — lightweight (52 kg)

Home town: Barry, South Wales.
Age: 23.
World ranking: 1.
Medals: European gold, bronze (2), world silver.

Rob’s verdict: ‘Brilliant talent. Confident. Can beat anyone if he overcomes tendency to start slowly.’

Luke Campbell — bantamweight (56 kg)

Home town: Hull.
Age: 24.
World ranking: 3.
Medals: European gold, world silver.

Rob’s verdict: ‘Fine southpaw stylist. Strong and has every chance but he must remember to start every round fast. In amateurs, if you look, you lose.’

Anthony Joshua — super-heavyweight (over 91 kg)

Home town: London.
Age: 22.
World ranking: 3.
Medals: world silver.

Rob’s verdict: ‘Big Josh has come from nowhere to become one of the best super-heavyweights. Must medal if he couples a good start to that ability, speed and power.’

Fred Evans — welterweight (69 kg)

Home town: St Mellons, Cardiff.
Age: 21.
World ranking: 2.
Medals: European gold

Rob’s verdict: ‘Carried brilliant junior career into the seniors. Has the talent to be a medal candidate but he must stay switched on at all times.’

Anthony Ogogo — middleweight (75 kg)

Home town: Lowestoft.
Age: 23.
World ranking: N/A.
Medal: Commonwealth silver.

Rob’s verdict: ‘Capable of beating anyone in tournament boxing. Needs to be fully focused and if so he can deliver.’

Josh Taylor — lightweight (60 kg)

Home town: Prestonpans, Scotland.
Age: 21.
World ranking: N/A.
Medals: Commonwealth silver.

Rob’s verdict: ‘Works incredibly hard and boxed at his best when qualifying. Drive, tenacity and spirit give him a chance of winning a medal.’

As the girls take their place in this particular Olympic ring for the first time, led by Britain’s first female world amateur champion, Savannah Marshall, they do so over four two-minute rounds. That formula was tried for the men in Beijing but they revert to their traditional three rounds of three minutes in London.

McCracken is pleased: ‘The three-minute round is more demanding. You have to be able to do a bit of everything. You have to stay calm under pressure, counter-punch when under attack and so on. It’s right for the men.’

Not that he has any qualms, even as a key player in the macho and blood-splattered world of prize-fighting, about women boxing.

‘It’s never been an issue with me,’ says McCracken. ‘When I had my first fight in America 15 years ago there was a girl southpaw on the card who was very talented.

‘At the World Amateur Championships in China I tried standing a long way back from the ring and at that distance the girls looked like male boxers.’

So relaxed is McCracken about the concept of girls in gloves that Marshall, European champion Nicola Adams and surprise world bronze medallist Natasha Jonas spar with their male team-mates.

‘We graduate it,’ says McCracken. ‘The girls give it 100 per cent, the lads about 40 per cent. We also balance out the weights by putting the girls in with lighter men. The experience is invaluable for them.’

That sparring has also injected extra cement into the team-bonding process, even if it has to exclude their super-heavyweight sensation on the basis of sheer size.

Anthony Joshua, at 6ft 6in and 200lb, has turned his life around after a drugs conviction last year.
He had to settle for silver at the world championships after a controversial points defeat by the local favourite in China but is now one of the seven members of Team GB among the top four seeds for London 2012 at their weights.

He says: ‘That court conviction came as the reminder I needed of how much I want to win the gold medal and be a respected boxer.’

The Olympics have been densely commercialised but for the majority of the young people in the world they are still about taking part, not only in the Games but in productive life.

This squad is full of youthful exuberance, in addition to seemingly well-founded optimism.

So will Joshua or one of his team-mates become the next Cobra in their mentor’s professional menagerie

‘Well,’ says McCracken, ‘I don’t anticipate there being another Carl Froch. He is unique.

‘He has come through an unprecedented sequence of consecutive fights against world-class boxers to not only regain his world title twice but to prove himself the supreme super-middleweight.

‘It’s high time he received the recognition he deserves. You can’t win the argument in the minds of the public while he’s still boxing and Calzaghe is a retired hero but I believe Carl would have been the only man to beat Joe if they had fought. I am also sure he can defeat Andre Ward whenever that re-match comes.

‘As for the next top pro to come out of the amateurs, the truth is that there’s never any certain telling as to who it will be. You can see a brilliant talent who should be a star of the future but there is so much more to the transition.

‘Nor is there the same financial imperative now to turn pro. With the funding, the sponsorships and the endorsement, it suits some Olympians to stay amateur and go on building their fame and securing their futures at the next Games.

The man behind Froch: British Amateur Boxing Association performance director Rob McCracken

The man behind Froch: British Amateur Boxing Association performance director Rob McCracken

‘To become a professional world champion takes absolute dedication. Then there’s the question of the people around the boxer.’

Tyson Fury, a would-be challenger to the world heavyweight title duopoly of the Klitschko brothers, pleaded to join the Froch stable but McCracken says: ‘Tyson is a good guy with talent but he is a big family man and I just could not see him cutting himself off from his relatives for lengthy training camps.’

Here come the girls: Savannah Marshall

Here come the girls: Savannah Marshall

Fury is currently being trained by one of his uncles. McCracken expects to be busy with Froch for a few years yet, even though the Cobra has just turned 35. Given success for his charges at London 2012, he would also welcome the chance to take Team GB on to the Rio Olympics in four years’ time.

He loves the contrast: ‘In terms of excitement, drama, the fantastic sense of satisfaction, nothing compares with being involved with Carl’s world-title achievements. These are incredible nights and feelings, shared with an ultimate professional who is such a close friend that I don’t have a contract with him and won’t ever want one.

‘But did I say it’s more fun with the amateurs After a big world title fight we’re all drained. After a day at the amateur tournaments we all get on the team bus laughing and joking.

‘The hard part is that the winners have to come back the next day and the next day and the days after that if they’re to medal.

‘So they have to be able to keep switching the focus back on.’

McCracken’s affection for the amateur game is rooted in his own early years wearing a British vest: ‘I had a great time being in the team environment and travelling abroad with the guys. To be honest, I never enjoyed my professional career as much.’

That comes as a surprise from a gifted former British and Commonwealth champion who won 33 of his 35 fights and who was ahead on the scorecards in Atlantic City in the year 2000 before he was stopped in the 11th round by defending WBC world middleweight champion Keith Holmes.

McCracken explains: ‘I never really lived the champion boxer’s life. Then I made wrong decisions by draining off the pounds believing it better to be bigger at the weight when I would have been more comfortable boxing in a heavier division.’

Those regrets factor into the wisdom he is passing down to his amateur proteges: ‘We monitor the weight of every member of the team all the time. We don’t want them sneaking off for junk-food snacks and they know they have to keep to our nutritionist’s diet. I also make sure they box at the best weight for them.

Ready for the Games: Savannah Marshall, Nicola Adams, Josh Taylor, Anthony Ogogo, Anthony Joshua, Natasha Jonas, Fred Evans, Tom Stalker and Andrew Selby

Ready for the Games: Savannah Marshall, Nicola Adams, Josh Taylor, Anthony Ogogo, Anthony Joshua, Natasha Jonas, Fred Evans, Tom Stalker and Andrew Selby

‘Tom Stalker (the team captain) was killing himself getting down to lightweight so I moved him up to light-welter. He’s now ranked No 1 in the world. By contrast, we moved Andrew Selby down a couple of kilos to flyweight and he reached the World Championship final and was unlucky to get silver rather than gold.’

Attention to detail is McCracken’s stock in trade but he knows once he has imparted his wisdom his boys and girls will be on their own in the ring.

He says: ‘Much will depend on how they handle the Games. In three-threes or four-twos they will either start with urgency and box well . . . or they won’t. There’s no time to correct anything.

‘The financial help they received has given us plenty of time with them but there is now funding all over the world. So the traditional amateur powerhouses like Cuba, America, Russia and the Ukraine are also benefiting from a more professional approach.’

Not least to help with the analysis of opponents, McCracken has picked ‘three top-class coaches’ to work with him on the training, then work for him in the corner: ‘Like the rest of our team of physio-therapists, doctors, psychologists, nutritionists and so on, they deserve the chance to get their share of the credit.’

As for himself during the fights for medals from which he will be estranged: ‘Me I’ll be watching from my seat in the crowd.’

And hopefully, for Britain, having miles and miles of fun.

Patrick Collins: Now there can be no doubt that Britain gets the Games

Now there can be no doubt that Britain gets the Games

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UPDATED:

23:00 GMT, 26 May 2012

One week in and the relay has taken on the rhythm of a ritual: hours of waiting by a crowded roadside, a low rumble of expectation as the procession draws close, then a clamorous eruption of sheer delight as the golden cone is spotted, floating above the throng. Day by day, in their tens upon tens of thousands, the people have been flocking to the flame.

From the moment that London won the right to stage the Games, on that memorable afternoon in Singapore, some have wondered if Britain would ‘get it’. Would the nation readily accept the onerous expense, the burdensome responsibility and a substantial degree of disruption in order to put on an Olympics for the ages The answers have arrived with every inspiring stride of the torch relay.

In truth, the delirious response has come as no great surprise. Of course we get it. As a nation, we love sport and we are captivated by a big event. The Olympic Games are the apotheosis of sport, they are incomparably the grandest event on the planet. It was, therefore, inevitable that the British would throw themselves, heart and soul, at the challenge of making those Games a huge and memorable success.

Flaming the fire: The Olympic torch relay has captured the hearts of the British public

Flaming the fire: The Olympic torch relay has captured the hearts of the British public

Having covered every Olympics since Munich ’72, with the single exception of Montreal, I believe that London enjoys greater public support than any in my experience. At this stage of affairs, two months before the opening ceremony, most cities regarded the preparations with a kind of ominous suspicion.

In Athens they were still constructing their stadia. In Atlanta they believed, correctly as it proved, that the whole thing had the makings of a chaotic shambles. Even in Barcelona and Sydney, widely regarded as the finest of the modern Olympics, the public was initially unconvinced about the value of the entire exercise.

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Theatre of dreams: The Olympic stadium will play host to 17 days of sporting excellence

But we also know that a vast, hitherto desolate, expanse of east London has been wondrously transformed by the fact of the Games. We know that those Games will leave a legacy of fine buildings, glittering facilities and the kind of sporting investment we have not known in generations.

Of course, this legacy will need to be protected; not least when this Government can no longer bathe in a post-Olympic glow. But a successful Games will make official promises more difficult to break. Yet all these are for the years ahead. For the moment, we mark the passing days with the swell of noise and fervour and surging enthusiasm as the torch is carried on its journey of 8,000 miles through country lanes and city streets.

When the Games are officially opened, the stadium screens will carry the words of the founding father, Baron Pierre de Coubertin: ‘The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle.’

Noble sentiments, but as the excitement grows and the scale of the achievement moves more sharply into focus, the song of another visionary springs to mind. It is a hymn to optimism, it is the work of Bob Marley, and its message is simple and soothing: ‘Don’t worry about a thing, ’cause every little thing gonna be all right.’

May it serve as the theme for the London Olympics.

Self-delusion is at the top of Dean’s agenda

Dean Richards is the man who orchestrated rugby’s ‘Bloodgate’ scandal, a piece of cheating which cost him the directorship of rugby at Harlequins and the respect he had accumulated over decades as a player and coach.
And yet, after serving a three-year ban, his confidence appears blissfully intact.

A week ago, he told this newspaper of his disillusion with the national situation. ‘England are not on my agenda at all,’ he said.

‘That fire burnt out a long time ago, as soon as they appointed someone like Johnno (Martin Johnson), in fact, someone who didn’t have the experience.

No stranger to confidence: Dean Richards

No stranger to confidence: Dean Richards

‘You have to ask yourself if you want to be part of a set-up that does things like that and the answer is “not at this moment”. If someone asked me about the England job right now, I would say No to it.’

There is a slim line between robust self-esteem and rampant self-delusion. Richards may have crossed it.

Red faces as Foden bares his pompous side

The initial instinct was to feel sorry for Ben Foden. When the England rugby full-back celebrated his stag party by cavorting stark-naked on stage with a gaggle of strippers, he did not expect to find incriminating pictures in the popular prints.

Caught short: Foden

Caught short: Foden

After all, what a chap does in the privacy of a ‘notorious Barcelona sex club’ is surely his own business. Poor show. Red faces all round.

But that might have been the end of it had Foden not elected to issue a warning to his less worldly England team-mates.

‘A picture speaks a thousand words and some things can be taken massively out of context,’ he prattled. ‘You have to be careful in what you are doing, especially on tour.’

The ‘thousand words’ cliche was merely banal but that ‘out of context’ ploy was absurdly crass. And the finger-wagging admonition — ‘You have to be careful’ — told us far more about Foden’s self-serving pomposity than we really wanted to know. The England team who disgraced themselves at last year’s Rugby World Cup contained a distressing number of players who believed their own publicity.

The new coach, Stuart Lancaster, was left with the task of separating the serious strivers from the vacuous poseurs. I suspect he still has some way to go.

PS

Not for the first time, Kevin Pietersen has caused a minor flutter with a spiteful little Tweet.

Aimed at Nick Knight, the Sky commentator, it accused Knight of ‘talking his way into the commentary box’, which is what commentators tend to do. Those who know Knight speak of a serious, articulate man of considered opinions; terms which are rarely applied to Pietersen.

But KP is undoubtedly more famous than Knight. He is a ‘celebrity’. And in the world of Kevin Pietersen, that may be the thing that really matters.