Tag Archives: truth

Lionel Messi wins Ballon D"Or for fourth year in a row

In a league of his own! Barca star Messi wins fourth Ballon d'Or award after record-breaking year

By
Guy Aspin, Press Association

PUBLISHED:

18:58 GMT, 7 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

19:46 GMT, 7 January 2013

Lionel Messi won a record-breaking fourth consecutive FIFA Ballon d'Or at an awards ceremony in Zurich.

The 25-year-old Argentinian took the honour ahead of Barcelona team-mate Andres Iniesta and Real Madrid striker Cristiano Ronaldo.

Messi enjoyed a remarkable 2012 even by his own high standards, most notably surpassing Gerd Muller's 40-year-old record of 85 goals in a calendar year, finishing with an incredible 91.

Taking the honours: Lionel Messi with his Ballon d'Or

Taking the honours: Lionel Messi with his Ballon d'Or

Messi said: 'To tell you the truth this is really quite unbelievable. The fourth award that I have had is just too great for words.

'I would like to recognise my other colleagues from Barcelona; Andres it has been great to train and play alongside you.

'I would also like to recognise all of my friends in the Argentinian national team, everyone that has worked with me, coaches and staff and my family and my friends. Also my wife and my son. Thank you.

We've been here before! Messi receives the FIFA Ballon d'Or award for the fourth year in a row

We've been here before! Messi receives the FIFA Ballon d'Or award for the fourth year in a row

The moment of truth: Italy's Fabio Cannavaro shows the envelope with Messi's name as winner

The moment of truth: Italy's Fabio Cannavaro shows the envelope with Messi's name as winner

Talking a good game: Messi grabs hold of his award during his acceptance speech

Talking a good game: Messi grabs hold of his award during his acceptance speech

Messi said: 'To tell you the truth this is really quite unbelievable. The fourth award that I have had is just too great for words.

'I would like to recognise my other colleagues from Barcelona; Andres it has been great to train and play alongside you.

'I would also like to recognise all of my friends in the Argentinian national team, everyone that has worked with me, coaches and staff and my family and my friends. Also my wife and my son. Thank you.'

The final three: The Ballon d'Or finalists Cristiano Ronaldo, Andres Iniesta and winner Lionel Messi

The final three: The Ballon d'Or finalists Cristiano Ronaldo, Andres Iniesta and winner Lionel Messi

What a team: The Team of the Year was made up entirely of La Liga players

What a team: The Team of the Year was made up entirely of La Liga players

The top English player in the list was Manchester United's Wayne Rooney who came 15th with 0.39 per cent of the votes.

Speaking at the pre-gala press conference, Messi claimed he did not consider 2012 his best year yet.

He said: 'I'm more interested in team awards than I am about what I might win individually. There have been years where we won more titles that have been better.'

Up for it: Proceedings were hosted by Ruud Gullit (L) and Kay Murray

Up for it: Proceedings were hosted by Ruud Gullit (L) and Kay Murray

Messi's team-mates and rivals paid tribute to him.

Barca midfielder Cesc Fabregas wrote on Twitter: 'Congratulations Leo, forth time as the best player of ballondor, you deserve it. And also to @andresiniesta8, huge to be there.'

Argentina team-mate Sergio Aguero simply Tweeted: 'Messi, Messi, Messi, Messi.'

Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand Tweeted: “Congrats to Messi! Wow,4 yrs in a row!! Messi has added something else to his list of 'the only person to….' #isMessiTheBestOfAllTime '

Doing it for club and country: Messi has been a star for Barcelona and Argentina (below)

Doing it for club and country: Messi has been a star for Barcelona and Argentina (below)

Lionel Messi for Argentina

Fenerbahce's Miroslav Stoch won the FIFA Puskas Award for goal of the year, Spain boss Vicente Del Bosque was named World Coach of the Year and United States international Abby Wambach won Women's World Player of the Year.

The FIFPro World XI was named up entirely of players based in Spain with Barcelona's Dani Alves, Gerard Pique and Xavi, Real Madrid's Iker Casillas, Marcelo, Sergio Ramos and Xabi Alonso and Atletico Madrid's Radamel Falcao joining the three Ballon d'Or nominees in the team.

Franz Beckenbauer received the FIFA Presidential Award.

MESSI IN 2012: BY NUMBERS

What a year it has been for Lionel Messi. He broke Gerd Muller's 40-year-old record for the most goals in calendar year netting an astonishing 91 times. Aged only 24 he became the first person to score five goals in a single Champions League match in Barcelona's 7-1 win against Bayer Leverkusen in March. And he even started scoring for his country on a regular basis with 12 goals in nine matches for Argentina. Rightfully so he was awarded the 2012 FIFA Ballon d'Or for a third year in a row. Here Sportsmail unveils our Messi stats bonanza…

CLUB AND COUNTRY MATCHES
Total Barcelona matches: 63
Total Argentina matches: 11
Total matches combined: 74
Total Messi played: 69
Matches missed: 5
Total minutes of football Barcelona and Argentina played: 6,660
Total minutes Messi played: 5,973
Minutes missed: 687

LEAGUE DOMINATION
Total Barcelona league matches: 39
Total Messi played in: 38
Total Barcelona league minutes played: 3,510
Total Messi minutes: 3,361
Minutes missed: 149
The striker only failed to score in 10 of 39 league matches in 2012 – so he scored in 75% of Barcelona's league games.

HOW
Goals scored: 91
Left foot: 81
Right foot: 7
Head: 3

AREA
Inside the box: 78
Outside: 13

DEAD BALL
Penalty: 14
Free kick: 7

MINUTES
0-15 minutes: 5
16-30: 18
31-45: 14
46-60: 13
61-75: 17
76-90: 24
Messi didn't score a single goal in the first 10 minutes of matches at all last year.

TEAM
Barcelona: 79
Argentina: 12

COMPETITION
La Liga: 59
Champions League: 13
Copa del Rey: 5
Spanish Supercup: 2
World Cup Qualifiers: 5
Friendlies: 7

MONTH
January: 7
February: 10
March: 13
April: 9
May: 8
June: 4
July: 0
August: 7
September: 5
October: 10
November: 9
December: 9

DISTANCE
Average distance he scored from: 14.8 yards (or 13.5 metres)

TIME OF DAY
Day: 16 goals scored, 571 minutes played, 36 minutes per goal
Night: 75 goals scored, 5,402 minutes played, 72 minutes per goal

MESSI BINGO
There were 37 minutes of the 90 in a match that Messi didn't score in this season. These are the minutes Messi DIDN'T score in during 2012:
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 13, 14, 15, 19, 21, 23, 24, 26, 30, 32, 36, 37, 38, 40, 46, 50, 53, 54, 55, 62, 66, 68, 69, 75, 82, 83, 87.

STADIUMS
Camp Nou, Barcelona: 41 goals
Campo de Futbol de Vallecas, Madrid: 4
Campo de Futbol de Vallecas, Valencia: 4
Estadio Riazor, A Coruna: 3
Stade de Suisse, Bern: 3
MetLife Stadium, New York: 3
La Rosaleda, Malaga: 3
Iberostar Estado, Palma de Mallorca: 3
El Arcangel, Cordoba: 2
Coliseum Alfonso Perez, Getafe: 2
Vicente Calderon, Madrid: 2
Estadio Malvinas Argentinas, Mendoza: 2
Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow: 2
Reyno de Navarra, Pamplona: 2
El Sardinero, Santander: 2
Benito Villamarin, Seville: 2
La Romareda, Zaragoza: 2
El Monumental, Buenos Aires: 1
Estadio Mario Alberto Kempes, Cordoba: 1
Commerzbank Arena, Frankfurt: 1
Celtic Park, Glasgow: 1
BayArena, Leverkusen: 1
Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid: 1
Nacional, Santiago de Chile: 1
Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, Seville: 1
Jose Zorrilla, Valladolid: 1

By Sam Cunningham

Graham Poll: Alex guilty of abusing his power

Alex guilty of abusing his power

|

UPDATED:

23:25 GMT, 28 December 2012

Sir Alex Ferguson, like all the great
managers, has a certain presence that gives him the kind of power that
can be used as a managerial tool.

But it is also something that can be
used to intimidate, so with that power comes responsibility. Alex knows
he is revered, just as he knows others will copy him, and he must not
abuse that position.

Scott free: Fergie wasn't charged for his actions during the clash at Old Trafford

Scott free: Fergie wasn't charged for his actions during the clash at Old Trafford

In what he said in his press conference yesterday he was missing the point, because it's not always what you say but how you say it that matters.

And that aggression, the fingerjabbing, the sheer anger in his face, is every bit as wrong as actually insulting the referee. Alex might deny it, but it's the truth.

A player can be cautioned for dissent by action as well as the spoken word and that is what should have happened at Old Trafford on Boxing Day. Alex should have been disciplined.

He was quite clever on the day. Mike Dean feels they had a reasonable exchange but the television pictures showed Alex was far more aggressive towards the fourth official and the assistant referee. His behaviour was intimidating, but you are far less likely to get in trouble for having a go at one of the assistants than you are the ref.

Dean is getting a fair bit of criticism for not raising the issue in his report but it was up to the fourth official and the assistant to report the incidents to Dean in the first place. I can understand why they didn't. They probably felt he had enough to worry about on the pitch.

But they should have spoken to Dean at the time because that kind of exchange with Alex will be intimidating no matter how confident a person you are. Ultimately, though, the assistants are not to blame here and I don't blame the Football Association either. They were powerless to act. No, the fault lies with Alex.

England in control against India in third Test

England in control against India but Cook misses out on double-century

|

UPDATED:

14:14 GMT, 7 December 2012

If Alastair Cook had not contrived to run himself out when just 10 runs short of the third double hundred of his Test career he would almost certainly still have been batting at the end of the day. There just did not seem any way India could get him out.

Not only would Cook have joined Mike Gatting and Graeme Fowler in becoming only the third Englishman to score a Test double hundred in India but it would have been a fair bet that he could have gone on to a triple and avenge that six-run short-fall at Edgbaston last year which revealingly nagged at him so.

It really was a bizarre dismissal, Cook jumping out of the way of Virat Kohli's direct hit after he had decided against a single rather than grounding his bat before taking evasive action, which would have saved him.

The umpires consulted and at one stage even looked like they were going to ask MS Dhoni to withdraw an appeal against England for the third time in two years but they soon realised Cook had to go. The truth was that it was his mistake and he knew it.

Cook could not believe his aberration but he can hardly be condemned for it. He had started to look tired on the third morning of this third Test and, after more than a full day at the crease in this series, who could blame him.

It was not an error that he would have made at the start of an innings and nor can we expect him to do it again however long he bats. This is a man who truly learns from his rare mistakes.

Close: Alastair Cook fell just short of his double hundred

Close: Alastair Cook fell just short of his double hundred

The good news for Cook is that it
really should not stop England from winning this game and inflicting on
India successive Test defeats at home for the first time in more than 12
years. And that would be quite something.

Those two previous English doubles
here both came the last time England won a series in India 27 years ago
and there is no doubt that if this English vintage can now go on to
triumph it would be an achievement as good as anything they have
mustered since Andy Flower took control in 2009.

If the third day of this Test lacked
the record-breaking impact of the second then it was still as
satisfying for England. They lost wickets along the way but by the end
of it had taken their first innings to the heights of 509 for six, a
lead of 193, and their mission of batting India out of the match was
almost complete.

This was a totally professional,
totally pragmatic display from England. Firstly they ensured they did
not lose early wickets in a morning of application and then, when India
had given themselves a sniff by reducing England to 420 for five, a lead
of just 104, came the most positive batting of the day from Samit
Patel, Matt Prior and Graeme Swann. It left India with a monumental task
if they are to get out of Kolkata with the series still square.

Nothing summed up India's plight more
than the fortunes of Ishant Sharma who endured an absolute nightmare in
the field which brought back memories of their hapless defence of their
world No1 crown in England last year.

Marching on: Kevin Pietersen made a fast contribution as England built a lead

Marching on: Kevin Pietersen made a fast contribution as England built a lead

The dropping of Cook on just 17 by
Cheteshwar Pujara could be described as unfortunate but the spilling of a
simple caught and bowled opportunity by Ishant when the England captain
had made 156 was downright careless. Not only that but he seemed to
fumble whenever the ball went near him, the epitome of all that is wrong
in the field with this ageing India team.

When Cook and Jonathan Trott were
together England looked as though they would score at least 600 and the
captain will be delighted that Trott, who has endured a relatively lean
2012, was back to his machine-like best, only one that turned and took
his edge from Pragyan Ojha denying him a century.

Not so Ian Bell who, once Cook had
departed in such a freak manner, wasted the chance to put his own poor
year behind him on his return to the side after paternity leave with a
loose drive to give Ishant a moment's respite.

It was not necessary for Bell to
play such a cavalier stroke as Kevin Pietersen was moving through the
gears at the other end and, when he struck the first three balls after
tea to the boundary, he looked sure to emulate Cook in scoring his 23rd
Test century for England.

Surprisingly Pietersen was to fall
sweeping at Ravi Ashwin, a bowler who was expected to play a big part in
this series but whose mystery has turned out to be as predictable as a
latter-day episode of Midsomer Murders. Saeed Ajmal, or even the first
Inspector Barnaby, Ashwin is not.

Patel has been promising to play a
significant innings in this series and again looked the part against
Indian spin before cutting another one that turned from Ojha to slip
where Virender Sehwag parried and then clasped the chance.

Prior then showed why England so
value him at seven with one of his positive counter-attacks and, with
Swann showing more responsibility at eight, England added 56 in the
final 13 overs of a wearying day for India.

Their spinners had improved but that
was mainly because there is now signs of turn in this controversial
pitch and, with the bounce becoming more uneven for the seamers, this
really should be England's game.

Now they just have to make their superiority count and the transformation in this series will be complete.

PICTURE DISPUTE

We are unable to carry live pictures from
the third Test in Kolkata due to a dispute between the Board of Control
for Cricket in India (BCCI) and international news organisations. The
BCCI has refused access to Test venues to established picture agencies
Getty Images and Action Images and other Indian photographic agencies.
MailOnline consider this action to be a strike against press freedom and
supports the action to boycott BCCI imagery.

Alan Pardew says he has Newcastle board backing

Pardew believes he has Toon board backing despite being close to unwanted record

|

UPDATED:

22:30 GMT, 2 December 2012

Alan Pardew has got the backing from the Newcastle United boardroom to turn things around as he bids to avoid setting an unwanted record on Monday night.

If Wigan leave St James’ Park with all three points then Pardew will have become the first Newcastle boss to suffer five Premier League defeats in a row.

But a frustrated Pardew is confident the encouragement he has from owner Mike Ashley and managing director Derek Llambias can help bring the winning feeling back to Tyneside.

Backing: Alan Pardew said he thinks the board have supported him

Backing: Alan Pardew said he thinks the board have supported him

The Newcastle boss, whose side sit just two points above the bottom three, said: ‘The word from the boardroom is concern. We want to get going again and obviously to do well. They’ve given me massive support this week in trying to help me get the result I want, almost asking me what can they do for me

‘At the minute there’s not much they can do for me if truth be known. Little things here and there we talked about could help but they’ve been very forthcoming in that.’

Pardew is expecting to dip in to the transfer market when the window opens next month but a string of injuries to key players means he is not yet sure what areas of his squad needs strengthening the most.

He will welcome striker Shola Ameobi back to his bench tonight after groin trouble. The likes of Hatem Ben Arfa, Yohan Cabaye and Steven Taylor headline a long list of absentees.

Pardew, who only signed an eight-year contract in September, said: ‘Unfortunately for us we’ve had a real turn of events in terms of injuries.

Assistance: Papiss Cisse could help Pardew avoid the record

Assistance: Papiss Cisse could help Pardew avoid the record

'I can’t think of a Premier League team in the last couple of years that has suffered as badly as we have in terms of key players. You can almost look in every position.

‘People are asking me about the window and what am I going to do but you could argue we’re weak in every position through injury. In my view the January window isn’t something we can focus on at the minute in terms of a target.

‘We have to keep our eye on every position and make sure that in January we react to who we get back because one or two will come back, for sure.’

Ricky Ponting retires: An apology to the Australian legend… We"re sorry for all the jibes and most of all, for calling you Ratty

Ricky Ponting – an apology: We're sorry for all the jibes and most of all, for calling you Ratty

|

UPDATED:

11:12 GMT, 29 November 2012

Ricky Ponting we are sorry.

Sorry for accusing you of cheating. Sorry for pilloring your unsporting behaviour (of which there's been plenty). We're even almost sorry for calling you Ratty Ponting – but not quite.

Like all the greatest villains, we loved to hate you. Like all Australians, we've loved making fun of you. Above all else we loved beating you – and we'd gotten used to that.

The sad truth is we wish more of our sportsmen and women were like you. And that's why we must say sorry.

Ratty Ponting

Ricky Ponting

King Rat: How Sportsmail mocked Ponting in 2009 (left) inspired by the surely Aussie's image (right)

Almost fond farewell: Ricky Ponting has announced his retirement from international cricket at a press conference in Perth. Sportsmail owes him an apology

Almost fond farewell: Ricky Ponting has announced his retirement from international cricket at a press conference in Perth. Sportsmail owes him an apology

Kevin Pietersen's Twitter reaction

Ricky Ponting RETIRES…. ONE OF THE GREATS! I always got excited playing AUS, so I could watch him bat up close. Well done Punter! #legend

Your dogged determination, fierce patriotism and considerable talent made you a fearsome adversary.

We have loved your two-facedness. Remember Cardiff in 2009 You blew your top when we… sorry England, sent 12th man Bilal Shafayat on with spare gloves as Monty Panesar and James Anderson were grinding out a famous draw. Stalling for time, you said. You'd know all about that, cobber.

Old Trafford, 2005… your Aussies were clinging on for a draw when out pops little Stuart MacGill, 12th man, with a towel – yes, a towel! – for flustered Glenn McGrath as he and Brett Lee fought off a late onslaught.

We have loved your on-field lack of grace. Off it you're a charmer, a sporting prince. But when Michael Hussey was the only Aussie to applaud Alastair Cook's century in the Fifth 2010/11 Ashes Test at Sydney we lapped up your snarling unsporting behaviour.

Enlarge

Glove affair: How the Daily Mail covered the controversial Cardiff Test in 2009 when Ricky fumed at England's 12th man

Glove affair: How the Daily Mail covered the controversial Cardiff Test in 2009 when Ricky fumed at England's 12th man

Rodent times: How Ratty Ponting appeared in our pages in 2009

Rodent times: How Ratty Ponting appeared in our pages in 2009

We'll ignore you claiming Phil Hughes's catch when Cook was on 99, which clearly hit the turf first.

If one of ours hadn't celebrated the new year by making your mob chase leather around the park, we'd have really been angry. Your reaction just wasn't cricket, old bean.

We still love Gary Pratt for what he did to you. The sub fielder running you out at Trent Bridge in 2005 was not the best bit. Your fuming and finger-pointing at England coach Duncan Fletcher, who was sitting up in the pavilion was classic King Rat.

You were angry. You were hurt. We were laughing. So was big Dunc.

Ricky Ponting, Australian captain, is run out by England substitute fielder Gary Pratt

Gary Pratt (centre), substitute fielder for England, is congratulated by team mates after running out Ricky Ponting

Making a Pratt of himself: Ponting is run out (left) by substitute fielder Gary Pratt, who was hailed by England's Test stars (right) at Trent Bridge during the famous 2005 Ashes Series

Then there were the runs – we haven't loved those. All 2,476 of them against England at an average of 44.21. Not quite your overall 52.21, but still formidable.

In 2009 this newspaper dubbed you Ratty Ponting in a bid to put you off your stride. You averaged 48.12 in that series including a memorable 150 at Cardiff, but England still triumphed.

As a foe we celebrate you. As a cricketer we applaud you. As a personality we shall miss you.

There are some out there who will hope you add another century to your prolific haul of 41 at Perth tomorrow.

You'll understand of course, that we hope you get a duck.

Goodbye Ricky, it's by no means good riddance.

Farewell: Australia's Ricky Ponting always celebrated like it was his first victory

Farewell: Australia's Ricky Ponting always celebrated like it was his first victory

Ricky Hatton v Vyacheslav Senchenko – Jeff Powell"s fight preview

Baby steps that helped Hatton on his way back into the ring for comeback fight against Senchenko

|

UPDATED:

17:46 GMT, 23 November 2012

The moment Ricky Hatton knew he had to turn his life around by stopping the boozing and bingeing came as he held his new-born daughter in his arms.

That was 14 months ago.

The moment he decided the Hitman would be back came when baby Millie’s mother Jennifer accepted that he needs to exorcise his demons by re-entering sport’s most punishing work place.

That was three months ago.

All that remains is to convince the rest of the world that more than three years after his last, disastrous fight it is healthier for him to exchange violent blows to the head than drink himself into suicidal oblivion.

That comes on Saturday night.

On the brink: Ricky Hatton squares up to Vyacheslav Senchenko at the weigh-in at Manchester Town Hall

On the brink: Ricky Hatton squares up to Vyacheslav Senchenko at the weigh-in at Manchester Town Hall

On the brink: Ricky Hatton squares up to Vyacheslav Senchenko at the weigh-in at Manchester Town Hall

On the eve of this moment of truth against Vyacheslav Senchenko in the bear-pit atmosphere of the MEN Arena, Hatton had this to say: ‘I don’t expect anyone else to believe until they see it with their own eyes but I will be better, meaner and more ferocious than the old Hitman. After this we will be talking world title challenges.’

We already are, with old foe Paulie Malignaggi here in Manchester to offer a two-fight shot at his WBA welterweight crown if Hatton looks the part again.

But that is not what is driving Hatton to revive his Blue Moon tunes of glory.

With the dark revelations about his descent into drugs and depression still haunting him, he says: ‘I am doing this because I never want my kids (little Millie and 11-year-old Campbell) to hear another bad word against me. I am fighting here to obliterate those terrible memories.

‘As I watched Millie being born and picked her up I knew I had to change. The Hitman may be a hard bastard in the ring but underneath all that I’m soft as s***. I’m an emotional bloke with a big heart and I have to control all those feelings going into a fight.

Mad for it: Hatton's army of fans cheer for their returning hero on the eve of the fight

Mad for it: Hatton's army of fans cheer for their returning hero on the eve of the fight

Ready: Hatton

Vyacheslav Senchenko

Head to head: Hatton and Senchenko are both in trim condition for their Manchester showdown

‘I will go through a whole range of emotions walking into the ring in front of 20,000 fans. The nervous anticipation is the same for every boxer but there is more at stake for me than usual here. I have to regain not only my own pride but the pride of the people of this country. Above all, I will be thinking about the kids and about Jennifer.

‘I was nervous when I first started sparring again and I’ll be nervous coming into the ring. But when the first bell rings, watch me go. Senchenko will be on the receiving end of all my pent-up tension and emotion.’

Not that Hatton denies the siren lure, the thrill and the drama of big nights like this, which has tempted so many boxers into come-backs, well-advised or not: ‘Yeah, okay, I have missed the roar of the crowd. I’m humbled by the devotion of my fans and I’m also inspired by them. I didn’t want their last memory of me in the ring to be that of being stretched cold on the canvass by Manny Pacquiao.’

The images of that knock-out and an earlier one by Floyd Mayweather trouble even his most devout supporters and he says: ‘A lot have come up to me in the street and said they fear that I’ll get hurt.

But I’ve told them not to worry. People doubt my punch resistance now but I remind them the only men to beat me are the top two pound-for-pound fighters in the world.

‘The first time I got clocked on the chin in sparring my instinct was still to hit back, not to flinch.’
Hattton accepts that a truer test comes wearing lighter gloves in a real fight but says: ‘I know in my bones that it’s going to be okay.’

Family man: Hatton shares time with girlfriend Jennifer and daughter Millie

Family man: Hatton shares time with girlfriend Jennifer and daughter Millie

Kissy Hatton: The Hitman shares a moment with his daughter Millie

Kissy Hatton: The Hitman shares a moment with his daughter Millie

Pacquaio and Marvin Hagler are among iconic boxing figures questioning the Hitman’s return after so long an absence and he has prepared himself mentally for the worst should Senchenko surprise him.

Repeatedly, down these past ten weeks in training camp, he has said: ‘If I lose I will be able to look myself in the mirror on Sunday morning, know that I gave it my best and be able to walk away again, this time for good.’

Personally, as one of the few permitted to watch him spar and thus witness the renaissance of his speed, power and relentless aggression, I don’t expect that to happen.

Senchenko, whose only defeat in a lengthy career came when he lost his world welterweight title to Malignaggi, is an accomplished technical boxer and Hatton is right to counsel himself to master all those emotions and channel them into a clinical performance.

Thumbs-up: Sportsmail's Jeff Powell (right) is backing Hatton with victory on Saturday

Thumbs-up: Sportsmail's Jeff Powell (right) is backing Hatton with victory on Saturday

But the Ukrainian’s hesitation about facing the pre-fight stare-down with Hatton does not suggest confidence and he was given a foretaste of the scenes awaiting him in the MEN at yesterday’s packed and noise weigh-in.

Intriguingly, Malignaggi says: ‘This guy is talented but he does not have great belief in himself. If you get on top of him the doubts grow round by round and if Ricky is anything like as relentless as he used to be then Senchenko will eventually fold like a deck-hair on the beach.’

If there is one concern for a come-back fighter, it is stamina. Hatton looks fully capable of bringing the house down, along with Senchenko, by a mid-fight stoppage.

If not, as this is only his ten-round starter for part two of his career, the Hitman’s volume of punches should give him a commanding enough lead by the eighth for him to ease through to decisive victory.

Hatton v Senchenko is live on Primetime at 14.95 pay-per-view.

David Haye boxing clever and Helen Flanagan a real soap star in I"m A Celebrity

Haye boxing clever and Bristow on target as Flanagan proves she's a true soap star

|

UPDATED:

09:25 GMT, 12 November 2012

I'm A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here

Stick with Sportsmail Online for daily updates about what is happening in the jungle

Even now, after 10 series of ITV's I'm A Celebrity… Get me Out Of Here, there may still be a few people out there wondering why anyone in their right mind would want to spend up to three weeks in the garden feature from hell

True, in some (okay, perhaps many) cases, the answer is in that question. But that is surely not the whole truth.

After all, if you were going to not wash for days, eat animals' unmentionables and make small talk with someone from a reality show that you've never heard of, would you want to do it under the unblinking gaze of the British telly-viewing public

Soap star: Helen Flanagan has swapped the Coronation Street cobbles for the Australian jungle

Soap star: Helen Flanagan has swapped the Coronation Street cobbles for the Australian jungle

More from Mark Webster…

Edge Of The Box: Think Balotelli's a drama queen Try Montalbano
04/11/12

Edge of the Box: NFL is a BIG story… but one we've heard many times before
29/10/12

Edge of the Box: And they're off! End of an era as Frankel retires and Balding says goodbye to the Beeb
22/10/12

Edge of the Box: Humphrey and Bhasin come to the fore during international break
15/10/12

Edge of the Box: Strictly speaking, I bet Vaughan, Pendleton and Smith look good on the dancefloor
08/10/12

Edge of the Box: Blown away by a Ryder Cup cracker in the windy city
01/10/12

Edge of the Box: Sundays won't be the same without Wooly, but the Supplement is in safe hands
24/09/12

Edge of the Box: Britain's champions looking to win hearts before a contest of a very different kind
16/09/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

Okay, once again a lot of the answer is in the question, but there is also some method in that madness.

The perfect reminder of that was live on ITV on Friday when Phil Tufnell appeared on a special I'm A Celebrity… Who Wants To be A Millionaire.

Sitting alongside fellow 'King' Joe Pasquale, the current One Show reporter and Question Of Sport captain told Chris Tarrant he'd been at the US Embassy until four in the morning for the Presidential election.

'It was a good party. Last to leave as usual', laughed the irrepressible Tuffers, but do you imagine any of that would have happened if his biggest claim to fame had been a seven for 42 against Leicestershire at Grace Road, rather than becoming King Phil in 2003

No, for those few of you who hadn't noticed, I'm A Celebrity is a golden ticket to a whole new kind of fame and the sport folks competing to be this year's Charlie in the Chocolate Factory are David Haye and Eric Bristow; with affiliated support – and almost certainly, more shower scenes – coming from Scott Sinclair's actress girlfriend Helen Flanagan.

And it didn't take long for the two Londoners who usually let their fists do the talking – obviously, In Eric's case, while clenching his tungstens – to tell us why they have both excelled in their respective sports.

'I usually deal with confrontation with a right hook. I can be cocky. Arrogant. And I have a phobia of losing,' the Hayemaker informed us, clearly deciding that the Christopher Biggins approach to jungle glory was not for him.

Mind you, The Crafty Cockney was just as bullish.

'I fear nothing. I'm arrogant. Confident. You like me or you don't. Whatever it takes, I'll do it', he told us.

Clearly our superstar d'artist believes a good game of killer is just as much fun away from the oche.

Of the two, the south London heavyweight champ earned early bragging rights when his team won the helicopter ride in to their camp.

Squaring up: Former heavyweight champion David Haye (left) was against Made In Chelsea's Hugo Taylor

Squaring up: Former heavyweight champion David Haye (left) was against Made In Chelsea's Hugo Taylor

Hitting the bullseye: Darts legend Eric Bristow is on I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here

Hitting the bullseye: Darts legend Eric Bristow is on I'm A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here

Eric's team contained former Time Lard Colin Baker, who couldn't escape a dalek with a flat tyre these days, which meant they got an actual, as well as metaphorical, sinking ship to arrive by.

Of the initial challenges though, it was Helen who got the first serious welcome to the jungle for our sports folks.

Taking on a rope bridge across a ravine, Helen told us 'this is the most scared, like, ever' she's ever, like, been as she set out on her precarious endeavour.

Then many tears, a possible throw up and 47,000 'oh my Gods' later, she was across!

It took less than a couple of minutes to watch. However, judging by the changing light and the fact Brian Conley had grown a beard since she set out on her quest, it may have actually taken a tad longer.

Dream team: Presenters Ant (2nd right) and Dec (right) are the stars of the show

Dream team: Presenters Ant (2nd right) and Dec (right) are the stars of the show

As ever, presiding over the fun, fear and frolics are Ant & Dec who remain the sharpest, most endearing talents in light entertainment.

These two are the barometer of the series, judging perfectly where to go with the humour, the angst, the drama and the melodrama.

They welcomed David to the first Bushtucker trial of the series, competing against one Hugo Taylor from Made In Chelsea, who very quickly realised he wasn't in the Kings Road any more.

Challenge: David Haye was tested early on in the new series of I'm A Celebrity...

Challenge: David Haye was tested early on in the new series of I'm A Celebrity…

'That took real endurance and strength' said Ant in the pouring rain.

'Telling me. Nearly forty minutes we had to hold that umbrella up' deadpanned back Dec as Haye came out the resounding, and not entirely unexpected winner.

So for the first few nights, we'll be watching Team David versus Team Eric, which at the moment is looking like Barcelona against Billericay.

But obviously it's still early days, so join me here every morning to find out just how the jungle is rumbling.

Dirty work but somebody's got to do it: Helen Flanagan was snapped taking a shower

Dirty work but somebody's got to do it: Helen Flanagan was snapped taking a shower

Alan Smith interview – MK Dons veteran

Alan Smith exclusive: If you saw me in the morning you'd think I was 52 not 32

|

UPDATED:

06:43 GMT, 25 September 2012

It isn't only the hair. Many things have changed in the world of Alan Smith. He is playing his football at MK Dons, for a start, in the third tier of English football and basking in the climes of the south after nearly 32 years up north.

The fire and aggression that earned him 19 England caps and a Barclays Premier League title with Manchester United have not completely vanished – a red card at Bournemouth last month was the 12th of his career.

But, by his own admission, Smith has different priorities these days. He is discovering how to help his team without playing every game, he empathises with the manager's dilemmas and accompanies Dons coach Mick Harford on scouting missions.

Barnet away: Alan Smith is relishing life in the lower leagues with MK Dons

Barnet away: Alan Smith is relishing life in the lower leagues with MK Dons

My Anfield injury: The truth

In the spirit of truth and justice that has enveloped Liverpool and Manchester United in recent days, Alan Smith insists no-one rocked his ambulance at Anfield as it tried to take him to hospital in 2006.

'Everyone at Liverpool did as much for me as any club possibly could,' said Smith. 'I was disappointed the story blew up about rocking an ambulance. That was never the case. Liverpool and Man United did everything to get me to the hospital and everything in their power to make sure I was OK.

'I thank them for that. Sometimes it's nice to say that because people have read that they were rocking my ambulance and throwing stuff at it, which is so untrue.'

'I remember going to play Anderlecht in the Champions League with Leeds and we were playing Manchester United at home on the Saturday,' said Smith.

'I went there thinking if I score tonight, the manager (David O'Leary) can't leave me out. I scored twice, we won 4-1 and come Saturday morning against Man United, at Elland Road, he left me out.

'I swear it was like someone had ripped my heart out. Brian Kidd had to take me to one side and calm me down. At that age, I'd have been booting the door down. You just don't understand the things a manager has to go through. Now I totally understand,' Smith added.

Smith can pinpoint the start of this transition. It was February 18, 2006, at Anfield, when he launched himself in front of a John Arne Riise free-kick and snapped an ankle as it twisted beneath his own body weight.

Injury: Smith snapped his ankle in February 2006 but was back in the United side just seven months later

Injury: Smith snapped his ankle in February 2006 but was back in the United side just seven months later

He was back in the Manchester United team seven months later but would never be the same and suffered a stress fracture in the same ankle playing for Newcastle. Now, each day, he wakes in pain.

'If you saw me in the morning, you'd think I was 52 next month, not 32,' said Smith. 'But most people who dedicate their lives to sport go through this. Lots of players play with injuries. It makes you appreciate everything about this sport.

'My career was virtually ruined by my injury at Anfield and it was probably the biggest achievement in my career to play again, not only at the highest level, but at any level.

'When I look back, the injury made me a better person. Not a better footballer. There are deficiencies in my left ankle. It's probably 70 per cent different to my right. But, as a person, growing up, understanding what I'd achieved previously and making sure I tried to prolong my career, it really made me appreciate things.'

All smiles: Smith joined MK Dons on loan in January

All smiles: Smith joined MK Dons on loan in January before penning a permanent deal

Smith joined MK Dons on loan in January, struck up a good rapport with manager Karl Robinson and rejected far more lucrative offers to sign permanently when he left Newcastle in the summer.

'People might think I should have gone somewhere other than MK Dons but I had five months here last season and it relit my love for football,' he said.

'The decisions I've made have not always been the most popular but, when I look back, I want to know I've played for good football teams. An old friend from Leeds told me, “When you retire from football, no-one will say you were a nice person or a bad person, they'll just forget about you”.

'You've got to make sure every decision you make is right for you as a person. If you think you can go to a better club than the one you're at, then, regardless of what anyone says, you should go.'

Alan Smith

Alan Smith

New start: Smith rejected far more lucrative offers when he left Newcastle to join the League One outfit

Smith was an unused substitute at Bury on Saturday but is likely to be back when Sunderland visit Milton Keynes in the Capital One Cup tonight.

Robinson's team have a reputation as one of the best footballing sides in the lower leagues but, having fallen in the play-offs three times in four years, are desperate for promotion.

'The main focus is to get out of this division,' said Smith. 'Everyone here feels it's the start of something pretty special and that was part of the appeal for me.

'The transition to League One isn't too much. I was at Leeds when we trained on Fullerton Park – it's now a car park – and we had two small Portakabins where the lads would change and then get in a minibus and go to a training ground. This is similar.

'We're a young club and haven't had long to evolve but there aren't many better stadiums in the country. There are bigger ones but the attention to detail is second to none.'

Smith has signed for two years at MK Dons and, despite his changing outlook, suspects he may not be managerial material when his playing days end.

'I might be too emotional to be a manager,' he said. 'You love your players, don't you And I'm not sure I could leave them out. I know how it feels.

'Hopefully I can finish my career here, play for another two or three years and get to more than 500 appearances. That would be good. I'm on 440-something now.

'And we want to get up this season, stay in the Championship and go from there. There's no reason why you can't go back to back, like Norwich. But you can't look too far ahead, can you I've done that previously.'

Alan Smith interview by Matt Barlow

Alan Smith Exclusive: If you saw me in the morning you'd think I was 52 not 32

|

UPDATED:

21:30 GMT, 24 September 2012

It isn't only the hair. Many things have changed in the world of Alan Smith. He is playing his football at MK Dons, for a start, in the third tier of English football and basking in the climes of the south after nearly 32 years up north.

The fire and aggression that earned him 19 England caps and a Barclays Premier League title with Manchester United have not completely vanished – a red card at Bournemouth last month was the 12th of his career.

But, by his own admission, Smith has different priorities these days. He is discovering how to help his team without playing every game, he empathises with the manager's dilemmas and accompanies Dons coach Mick Harford on scouting missions.

Barnet away: Alan Smith is relishing life in the lower leagues with MK Dons

Barnet away: Alan Smith is relishing life in the lower leagues with MK Dons

My Anfield injury: The truth

In the spirit of truth and justice that has enveloped Liverpool and Manchester United in recent days, Alan Smith insists no-one rocked his ambulance at Anfield as it tried to take him to hospital in 2006.

'Everyone at Liverpool did as much for me as any club possibly could,' said Smith. 'I was disappointed the story blew up about rocking an ambulance. That was never the case. Liverpool and Man United did everything to get me to the hospital and everything in their power to make sure I was OK.

'I thank them for that. Sometimes it's nice to say that because people have read that they were rocking my ambulance and throwing stuff at it, which is so untrue.'

'I remember going to play Anderlecht in the Champions League with Leeds and we were playing Manchester United at home on the Saturday,' said Smith.

'I went there thinking if I score tonight, the manager (David O'Leary) can't leave me out. I scored twice, we won 4-1 and come Saturday morning against Man United, at Elland Road, he left me out.

'I swear it was like someone had ripped my heart out. Brian Kidd had to take me to one side and calm me down. At that age, I'd have been booting the door down. You just don't understand the things a manager has to go through. Now I totally understand,' Smith added.

Smith can pinpoint the start of this transition. It was February 18, 2006, at Anfield, when he launched himself in front of a John Arne Riise free-kick and snapped an ankle as it twisted beneath his own body weight.

Injury: Smith snapped his ankle in February 2006 but was back in the United side just seven months later

Injury: Smith snapped his ankle in February 2006 but was back in the United side just seven months later

He was back in the Manchester United team seven months later but would never be the same and suffered a stress fracture in the same ankle playing for Newcastle. Now, each day, he wakes in pain.

'If you saw me in the morning, you'd think I was 52 next month, not 32,' said Smith. 'But most people who dedicate their lives to sport go through this. Lots of players play with injuries. It makes you appreciate everything about this sport.

'My career was virtually ruined by my injury at Anfield and it was probably the biggest achievement in my career to play again, not only at the highest level, but at any level.

'When I look back, the injury made me a better person. Not a better footballer. There are deficiencies in my left ankle. It's probably 70 per cent different to my right. But, as a person, growing up, understanding what I'd achieved previously and making sure I tried to prolong my career, it really made me appreciate things.'

All smiles: Smith joined MK Dons on loan in January

All smiles: Smith joined MK Dons on loan in January before penning a permanent deal

Smith joined MK Dons on loan in January, struck up a good rapport with manager Karl Robinson and rejected far more lucrative offers to sign permanently when he left Newcastle in the summer.

'People might think I should have gone somewhere other than MK Dons but I had five months here last season and it relit my love for football,' he said.

'The decisions I've made have not always been the most popular but, when I look back, I want to know I've played for good football teams. An old friend from Leeds told me, “When you retire from football, no-one will say you were a nice person or a bad person, they'll just forget about you”.

'You've got to make sure every decision you make is right for you as a person. If you think you can go to a better club than the one you're at, then, regardless of what anyone says, you should go.'

Alan Smith

Alan Smith

New start: Smith rejected far more lucrative offers when he left Newcastle to join the League One outfit

Smith was an unused substitute at Bury on Saturday but is likely to be back when Sunderland visit Milton Keynes in the Capital One Cup tonight.

Robinson's team have a reputation as one of the best footballing sides in the lower leagues but, having fallen in the play-offs three times in four years, are desperate for promotion.

'The main focus is to get out of this division,' said Smith. 'Everyone here feels it's the start of something pretty special and that was part of the appeal for me.

'The transition to League One isn't too much. I was at Leeds when we trained on Fullerton Park – it's now a car park – and we had two small Portakabins where the lads would change and then get in a minibus and go to a training ground. This is similar.

'We're a young club and haven't had long to evolve but there aren't many better stadiums in the country. There are bigger ones but the attention to detail is second to none.'

Smith has signed for two years at MK Dons and, despite his changing outlook, suspects he may not be managerial material when his playing days end.

'I might be too emotional to be a manager,' he said. 'You love your players, don't you And I'm not sure I could leave them out. I know how it feels.

'Hopefully I can finish my career here, play for another two or three years and get to more than 500 appearances. That would be good. I'm on 440-something now.

'And we want to get up this season, stay in the Championship and go from there. There's no reason why you can't go back to back, like Norwich. But you can't look too far ahead, can you I've done that previously.'

Liverpool and Manchester United fans break fragile peace

Such a fragile peace: A day for decency but still the morons have their moment

|

UPDATED:

22:17 GMT, 23 September 2012

The fragile truce never felt like it would last. And when the decent fans had gone, and all that was left on three sides of Anfield were the discarded bits of paper used for a mosaic to honour 96 people who went to a football match and never had a chance to go home, the morons had their moment.

Both sides were to blame. Until then, Manchester United’s travelling supporters had stopped short of any direct references to Hillsborough — just about.

But when one idiotic Liverpool fan, frustrated at his team’s defeat and provoked by their taunts, responded by spreading his arms into the wings of a plane in the time-honoured way of mocking the Munich air crash, the gloves were off.

Truth and justice: Tributes are paid to the 96 who lost their lives at Hillsborough

Truth and justice: Tributes are paid to the 96 who lost their lives at Hillsborough

Truth and justice: Tributes are paid to the 96 who lost their lives at Hillsborough

‘Murderers!’ and ‘Justice for Heysel’ they chanted, in reference to that other awful tragedy to befall Liverpool Football Club. Several stewards and a policeman hustled him down the steps and out of view. Two more home fans among the few still scattered around the main stand followed suit and spread their arms wide.

‘It’s never you’re fault,’ sang the visitors. ‘Always the victims, it’s never you’re fault.’

It was the song heard at Old Trafford a week earlier, one that had raised even greater concerns that Liverpool v Manchester United was absolutely the worst fixture for the first game at Anfield since an independent panel had exposed the full horror of Hillsborough.

Those who believed the poison and hatred that festers between the hardcore elements of these two great clubs could be put on hold — even for a day — with some balloons, a bunch of roses and a letter from Sir Alex Ferguson, were kidding themselves.

Overall it passed off without major incident. For that we should be both relieved and thankful. But those people who praised supporters for their behaviour were obviously not sat near the Anfield Road End on Sunday afternoon.

Gesture: Ryan Giggs and Steven Gerrard release balloons at Anfield on Sunday

Gesture: Ryan Giggs and Steven Gerrard release balloons at Anfield on Sunday

Gesture: Ryan Giggs and Steven Gerrard release balloons at Anfield on Sunday

The ill feeling was evident beforehand despite the signs that read ‘Welcome Man United Fans’ above the turnstiles providing entry to the away end of the ground.

The letter from Ferguson calling for good behaviour and handed to each away fan as they entered the stadium served as the only indication that this game was different to any other between these two clubs down the years.

When the teams came out there was a chorus of ‘One Bobby Charlton’ for the United legend and Munich survivor who presented former Liverpool striker Ian Rush with a bouquet of red roses, and sporadic applause when captains Steven Gerrard and Ryan Giggs released 96 balloons into the grey sky.

But throughout a rousing chorus of You’ll Never Walk Alone, while the words ‘Justice’ and ‘The Truth’ appeared in a mosaic across the Centenary Stand and the Kop, the United fans defiantly sang their own songs.

Well behaved: The fans of both sides were largely respectful throughout

Well behaved: The fans of both sides were largely respectful throughout

The sound was drowned out but, sadly, when the end of Liverpool’s anthem was greeted with warm applause around the rest of the stadium the away end launched into a rendition of ‘You Scouse b******s’ accompanied by more than a few obscene hand gestures.

It’s important to remember that United are no different to any other club in having an unruly element, particularly away from home, and that close scrutiny of any set of fans is unlikely to show them or their club in a good light. They have had to endure horrible taunts about Munich in the past, and you can only admire the way Ferguson and his club as a whole conducted themselves in the build-up to this game. But this was more than a mindless minority.

There is a line between the usual football banter, like the predictable barracking of Luis Suarez and the abuse showered upon Gerrard when he came over to take an early corner, and the kind of sick taunts we feared might be heard on Sunday. At times the United fans were dangerously close to it.

Respect: Sir Bobby Charlton brings out flowers in honour of the Hillsborough tragedy

Respect: Sir Bobby Charlton brings out flowers in honour of the Hillsborough tragedy

When a public announcement urged supporters who stood throughout to sit down, they responded by singing ‘if it wasn’t for the Scousers we could stand’. It was because of Hillsborough that all-seater stadiums were introduced.

‘We’ll sing what we want,’ was another worrying chant that did not bode well following the pre-match calls for sensitivity, before they goaded their rivals with ‘Where’s your famous Munich song’
Thank goodness we didn’t hear it on Sunday.

But as United fans poured out of Anfield, separated from their rivals by snarling police dogs and ranks of mounted officers, you had to wonder just how far football has moved on since Hillsborough.