Manchester City are becoming accustomed to doing things in style.
For the first interview given by chief executive Ferran Soriano to English newspapers since he arrived at the Etihad Stadium nine months ago, the club choose the very top floor of New York’s sumptuous Trump Hotel in Soho.
We are 48 stories up in the rather ludicrously-named So-Hi Lounge.
It’s an appropriate venue, though.
For, even after the disappointment of season 2012/13, City’s ambitions remain lofty, to say the least.
Long game: Ferran Soriano (right) believes if Manchester City play good football, the trophies will follow Their incoming City manager Manuel Pellegrini, Soriano tells us, will be asked to win five trophies in as many years.
No pressure, then.
Off the field, meanwhile, Soriano believes City can and will catch neighbours Manchester United to become England’s most financially powerful club.
If Soriano and his colleagues are still feeling the disappointment of a poor Barclays Premier League title defence and a numbing FA Cup final defeat to Wigan, it doesn t show.
One man, after all, has already paid the price for that and City’s controversial decision to sack manager Roberto Mancini seems an appropriate place to start.
It’s always hard as nobody wants to change a manager but we all want to play good football and we all want to win, said Soriano.
Roberto Mancini did very good for the club.
He changed the mentality to that of a winning club and that is very hard.
We thank him.
But we are now looking for several things.
We are looking to play good football and to win and I said that in the right order.
If you play good football you will win.
We want to play better.
You can win one year playing not so good football and being lucky and having two extraordinary players but that’s not sustainable.
You can t go to the market every year and buy the most expensive players.
That’s not to say we won t be signing expensive players.
But the objective the vision is to have a team where at least half of the players will be home grown City players.
What we want is a football concept so that the basic way we play is shared by the whole organisation.
From young teams all the way to the first team.
We are asking the new manager to have close collaboration with the youth football and to work together to achieve this.
Teams that have won consistently in the past have a core of players that are home grown.
I have seen it to the extreme in Barcelona and you have seen it at ManchesterUnited.
Throughout the 45 minutes spent with journalists this week, Soriano was careful not to denigrate Mancini.
The thanks he offered the Italian appeared to be genuine.
Nevertheless, it appears that problems with Mancini’s abrasive style of management were felt not just in the dressing room but all the way to the top of City’s chain of command.
Time’s up: Roberto Mancini was axed by the club after failing to bring home the FA Cup earlier this month Fan favourite: The Italian remains an immensely popular figure among the City faithful Incoming: Malaga coach Manuel Pellegrini is set to take over from Mancini next month You know, what we want is not the image of unity, said Soriano.
We want the actual unity.
Everybody has his personality and his style and there are some cultural issues here.
We were not very worried about Mancini’s public criticism.
If somebody wants to criticise, it is their problem.
What we do want to say is that none of the criticisms out there were, in my mind, real.
Our management team off the pitch is among the best in Europe so there is no real reason for criticism of anyone.
Now we want a manager who knows about football, but we want somebody who knows about man-management.
It is impossible for us to win, win the Champions League in the end, if we don t have a group that behaves like a family.
We want a family where there are no such criticisms, where everybody respects everybody, and to do this you need to be a senior coach.
Our group of players are diverse but they are also very mature people.
I have seen the players behave.
If they work with a senior manager, they can do great things.
Viewed in black and white, Soriano’s comments on Mancini’s style appear damning.
They were, however, delivered with more subtlety than that and were as much a take on what City feel they need from managers in the future as they were a criticism of what they have had in the immediate past.
Nevertheless, the City powerbrokers chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak and sporting director Txiki Begiristain are a key part of the process will not wish to see their new coach grappling with players as Mancini did with Mario Balotelli during training last season.
Powerhouse: Director of football Txiki Begiristain (left) and chairman Khaldoon al-Mubarak (right) Critical: Mancini was scathing of Begiristain’s successor Brian Marwood (right) for last season’s transfers We want at least half our players to be homegrown I knew from the first minute I saw those photos that there was nothing to worry about, reflected Soriano.
But, yes, I was worried about the image we were giving to the world.
I think Mancini is a champion, a winner.
To change the mentality of the club was great.
Other areas were different and more challenging and to the new manager we are asking this: We know we have very good players, very mature players, so if they are in an environment where there are fewer tensions they will be able to deliver more on pitch.
I think stories of tensions have been a bit exaggerated.
I have seen dressing rooms with tensions before.
So we are not too worried about this and it’s not the reason why we decided to change the manager.
Having said that, with the new manager we are asking him that the dressing room has as much harmony as possible, knowing that total harmony is impossible.
The last time City visited New York, three years ago, they were a club running off the endless, unpredictable energy of Soriano’s predecessor Garry Cook.
Soriano is a different character, more reserved.
Other things will soon be different, too.
Pellegrini, for example, will arrive under no illusions about the structure of the club’s football set-up.
The South American will look after short-term results and performances while Begiristain will work to the longer-term and, crucially, have the decisive say in the acquisition of players.
Fracas: Mancini had a public row with Italy striker Mario Balotelli on the training ground at Carrington This, as we know, is not the English way.
It is not, for example, the way it has been at two of England’s most successful clubs, Manchester United and Arsenal.
That is right, agreed Soriano.
But is that because of the organisation or the personalities of those two managers? You could argue that in England the two managers that you talk about have been successful.
But let’s look at all the managers.
I think its arguable.
Our relationship is not a relationship of one man reporting to the other, it’s collaboration.
It’s impossible for Txiki to develop a squad and a concept of football that’s not in line with what the manager wants, so they will work together on this.
But at the same time we want someone working at the club who will govern the essence of what we do.
We are not changing the culture of the club.
I know that Roberto Mancini complained about Begiristain’s predecessor Brian Marwood but I saw them working together.
The difference in role between football director and the manager is that the director of football has, and has to have, a long-term view.
So what we are asking him to do is build a squad, but also football concepts, and a way of working that will last for the next 10 years.
We want to play good football, beautiful football.
We want a good show.
Having fun: Joe Hart and the rest of the squad are currently in America to take on Chelsea Having fun: Joe Hart and the rest of the squad are currently in America to take on Chelsea Showing off: Abdul Razak shows off his skills as the City players visited the New York Giants Fan: Aleksandar Kolarov signs an American football for Louis Murphy of the Giants Dwarfed: Mathias Kiwanuka shakes hands with James Milner and his City team-mates Role reversal: Defender Micah Richards tries his hand at American football The manager has a shorter span.
We are asking the manager to win this season, next season and every Sunday.
I have seen this working very well in Barcelona.
The style of play will run through the club but when it goes to the first team, the manager can make as many changes as he wants.
Normally what shouldn t happen is that he will make radical changes, such as playing lots of long balls etc.
We are not telling the manager how to do his job, we are just providing for the manager technically skilled players who are talented enough to play this kind of beautiful football.
He can then do that as he wants.
Guardiola is very young.
We speak to him weekly Soriano is clearly preoccupied with stability and rightly so.
His definition of the term is interesting, though.
During our interview, he talked of coaches working in cycles of three or four years and it is clear he feels one man cannot reasonably be expected to be function well beyond two of these.
Isn t there a danger, though, that another change of coach at the Etihad Stadium in, hypothetically, the next two seasons would threaten City’s progress in the long-term? Nobody, after all, wants to rotate coaches like Chelsea have.
I think it is totally unfair to compare, Soriano countered.
I don t know how Chelsea operates, that’s their problem.
But our behaviour and our approach to management has, I think, been appropriate.
Three years in football is a long time.
In football, teams have cycles and you can have managers who go through several cycles and managers who go through one cycle.
Obviously, we want the next manager to stay for a number of years, but I think it would not be wise to speculate.
Maybe a manager can do one or two cycles, but people get tired.
Players need another way, another excitement, and managers also want to move.
Soriano didn t talk directly about Pellegrini.
That appointment is yet to be rubber-stamped.
He admitted, though, that his former Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola will in all likelihood head to England in years to come and it is clear he remains a possible City manager of the future.
Youthful: Pep Guardiola, who will take over at Bayern Munich, speaks with Begiristain on a weekly basis Matchwinner: Sergio Aguero netted the title-winning goal against Queens Park Rangers to hand Mancini the Premier League Matchwinner: Sergio Aguero netted the title-winning goal against Queens Park Rangers to hand Mancini the Premier League Pep is very young, reflected Soriano.
After Germany he probably will come to England to coach somewhere.
Pep and Txiki speak regularly, maybe weekly, so that would have been an easy one.
But we are now convinced that we will bring a manager who will be what we are looking for.
Pellegrini’s task will certainly be clear and progress in the Champions League a prerequisite.
It’s the real measure and this real measure we failed last season, said Soriano.
Here in America this week, City have once again been attempting to imbed themselves further in the global football consciousness.
They are continuing to build their brand.
They will have a team in the MLS in two years and they plan to make the Etihad Stadium bigger back home in Manchester.
At times, though, they seem as far behind United as ever, such is their neighbours vast commercial influence.
Soriano, though, believes the landscape will change.
United have been very successful in the past but we are catching up, he argued.
When I started in another club Barcelonain 2003 our revenue was 123million and United was 251m.
After three years our revenue was higher than United.
Our revenues will increase.
Certainly it can be done.
However, it all starts on the pitch.
The ideal: Barcelona’s style of youth development is something Soriano would like to emulate in Manchester Barcelona Homegrown: Xavi, Messi (left) and Andres Iniesta all graduated from Barca’s youth academy Certainly, City must win games next season, lots of games.
In replacing a coach of Mancini’s pedigree and record, Pellegrini will have much to prove.
If we can win in the 93rd minute on the last day, that is fine, Soriano smiled.
But I d rather prefer winning with a bit more time and to do this we have to be consistent in delivering good football.
Let me say something positive about United here this is what they did this season.
You could be more or less impressed about how they played but you have seen their performance in the Premier League and it has been consistent.
Actually our team has played some very good football.
You have seen some good games when we were very satisfied, like winning at Old Trafford.
The challenge is it has to be more consistent.
What cannot happen is that the performance changes so much from one game to the next.
You never knew what you were going to see.
It cannot be like that.
Admiration: Soriano believes Manchester United showed the required consistency this season
Bradley Davies: skippers Wales on tour of Japan Cardiff Blues lock Bradley Davies will captain Wales on their two-Test tour of Japan, which also sees the return of Steven Shingler.
Davies gets the nod from interim head coach Robin McBryde after impressing on his return to the side having overcome an ankle injury that ruled him out of their successful Six Nations title defence.
The 26-year-old has not played for his country since been knocked out by a punch from New Zealand hooker Andrew Hore during last autumn’s Test series.
But Davies is fighting fit again and will get the opportunity to lead his country in the absence of the likes of Ryan Jones and Matthew Rees, who are rested.
Meanwhile, London Irish back Shingler is picked just over a year after he unsuccessfully attempted to represent Scotland.
There are nine uncapped players in the 27-man squad, which has been reduced from an initial training party of 32, including Ospreys centre Dafydd Howells and Blues fly-half Rhys Patchell.
The two hookers in the squad, Scarlets’ Emyr Phillips and Scott Baldwin of the Ospreys, are also uncapped.
Scarlets hooker Ken Owens, fly-half Rhys Priestland and centre Scott Williams miss out though after they picked up injuries in the RaboDirect Pro12 semi-final defeat to Ulster, while Blues flanker Josh Navidi also misses out after being chosen in the initial touring party.
Dan Biggar is the only member of the side which beat England in the Six Nations title decider who makes it onto tour, with all 14 of his colleagues from that fixture touring Australia with the British and Irish Lions.
“We’ve had the training squad together for more than a week and we’ve been impressed,” said McBryde.
“They have really put the effort in and stepped up as we have asked them to.
Everyone in the training squad put their hand up for selection making our jobs much harder.
“It’s a chance for these players now to experience the international Test environment and put their marker down.” Wales will take on Japan in Osaka on 8 June before facing them in Tokyo on 15 June.
Wales squad for the two-Test tour of Japan: Forwards: Ryan Bevington (Ospreys), Rhys Gill (Saracens), Emyr Phillips (Scarlets), Scott Baldwin (Ospreys), Scott Andrews (Blues), Craig Mitchell (Exeter Chiefs), Rhodri Jones (Scarlets), Bradley Davies (Blues, captain), Lou Reed (Blues), Andrew Coombs (Dragons), James King (Ospreys), Aaron Shingler (Scarlets), Dan Baker (Ospreys), Rob McCusker (Scarlets), Andries Pretorius (Blues).
Backs: Lloyd Williams (Blues), Tavis Knoyle (Scarlets), Dan Biggar (Ospreys), Rhys Patchell (Blues), Ashley Beck (Ospreys), Owen Williams (Blues), Jonathan Spratt (Ospreys), Dafydd Howells (Ospreys), Liam Williams (Scarlets), Harry Robinson (Blues), Tom Prydie (Dragons), Steven Shingler (London Irish).
Carl Froch holds his new-born daughter Natalia to his bare chest, kisses her tenderly on the forehead and says of child and mother: She’s going to be as beautiful as my lovely Rachael.
This domestic idyll seems light years distant from the punishing brutality of the prize-ring.
Yet even as these photographs were being taken, the next world-title defence for the family breadwinner was fast approaching.
Now Saturday fight night is almost upon us and Froch’s opponent is drawing encouragement from his conviction that the joys of fatherhood will drain the venom out of The Cobra.
WATCH: Scroll down for a video of Carl Froch’s public work out in Nottingham Girl power: Carl Froch kisses new-born baby Natalia Froch’s feisty reaction suggests otherwise: If Mikkel Kessler thinks I m going soft just because I m a dad then he’s the one who’s gone soft in the head.
To inure himself against distraction during the final weeks of training, Froch moved into separate quarters within the handsome six-bedroom mansion recently purchased to accommodate his growing family.
We call it the East Wing, he says jocularly of the suite above the garage.
It’s been hard on Rachael because she’s the only one having to get up three times a night.
But right now I need my unbroken sleep.
Kessler is one of only two men to have beaten Froch in his 32-fight career and Britain’s No 1 boxer is so intensely focused on avenging that defeat that he has been down to within a pound of the 12 stone super-middleweight limit for three weeks.
Family fortunes: Carl Froch with children Natalia and Rocco and their mother Rachael Cordingley Fighting talk: Froch discusses his upcoming world title fight with Mikkel Kessler with Sportsmail’s Jeff Powell Nor is his mood as benign as Kessler would like to believe.
Froch is not best pleased that two of his fellow Brits went to Denmark to give his rival the benefit of their sparring.
Of Nathan Cleverly and George Groves, he says: How can a pair of our country’s boxing prospects go over there to help the enemy? If they wanted sparring there was nothing to stop them coming to me.
It’s very disappointing, to say the least.
If we were at war, people would be calling them traitors.
Froch refers to them both, not just Groves, as prospects because he does not regard the WBO belt held by Cleverly to be as authentic a world title as the WBC crown he lost narrowly to Kessler or the IBF championship he wrenched from the previously undefeated Lucien Bute with such abrupt violence.
On home soil: Froch will take on Kessler at London’s O2 Arena on Saturday Those two keep talking about wanting to fight me, he says.
Let’s see how they feel about that after getting in the ring with just one opponent in the same class as all those I ve been fighting in the last few years.
Boxing at elite, world level is something completely different.
‘Tell Mikkel I m totally focused on giving him a whupping.’ Froch is coming to the 10th in his four-and-a-half-year sequence of world-title fights against such esteemed rivals as Kessler, Jean Pascal, Jermain Taylor, Arthur Abraham, Bute and Andre Ward all world champions in their own right.
The blood is up as he reflects on those battles but Froch, at 35, has learned to contain every fighter’s aggressive instinct and channel it into a performance as controlled as it can be ferocious.
People ask why we do this, he says, with one eye on Rachael.
Perhaps to reassure Ms Cordingley, mother and glamour model, he goes on: They don t realise that for us this is our sport.
It’s the game we love to play.
Helping the enemy: Both Nathan Cleverly (left) and George Groves have sparred with Mikkel Kessler We don t think about injury because that’s not what we intend to inflict on each other.
I don t look at my opponent’s eyes in the ring.
I watch his gloves so that I can block or avoid his punches.
It’s a science.
When I throw my own I m aiming to score points with the judges by landing on the target area the torso or the head.
If I do that harder and more often than him I will wear him down and beat him.
Sure, the ultimate can be to knock a man unconscious.
But that very rarely does lasting damage and there are many more fatalities in lots of other sports.
The wounds we get might look terrible but are usually superficial.
Cuts and bruises.
That coherent rationale may not totally settle the butterflies in the recently pregnant tummy of the mother of his two children the bouncy first-born Rocco is three now but it is at odds with all the bloodthirsty hyperbole traditionally used by boxing to fill seats.
No such rantings by Froch and Kessler were needed to sell out London’s O2 Arena within two hours of the 19,000 tickets going online.
If not quite the close friends they are portrayed to be, the two protagonists in this potential fight of the year are mutually admiring acquaintances.
Happy families: Froch with his partner Rachael, daughter Natalia and son Rocco That respect was cemented in their first, thunderous fight in Denmark, which fell to Kessler so closely on points that Froch has been three years champing for vengeance.
As negotiations neared completion, Kessler appeared to be wavering and Froch says: It looked as if Mikkel was having second thoughts about our rematch, so I sent him a text asking if he still fancied the fight.
He texted back saying not to worry, that he was only trying to get the best possible deal for himself.
Courtesy of Sky lifting their moratorium on pay-per-view broadcasts, a second epic became possible.
Froch is as pleased about that on behalf of younger, emerging boxers as for himself.
He says: I m proud that I m the one who is bringing back pay-per-view in Britain.
I ve always known my fights are exciting and I m pleased Sky now agree.
Sealed with a kiss: Froch celebrates his win over Lucian Bute with partner Rachael For a start it is a compliment that they re breaking the embargo to put me on Sky Box Office.
But it also gives up-and-coming boxers a better chance of securing their financial futures.
And as far as Saturday is concerned, big fights like this can t happen without pay-TV money.
Without it, I don t believe we would have got Mikkel to come to England.
Froch’s turn at home advantage must be beneficial, especially if this second fight is as close as the first.
But what else helps convince him he is about to spring a reversal of fortunes? Kessler insists that Froch has remained essentially the same fighter with the same flaws during these prime years of his career but Nottingham Forest’s No 1 fan says: I ve kept improving in many ways.
Boxers evolve with experience.
Public workout: Froch trains in Nottingham city centre with Rob McCracken Skip to the beat: Froch goes through his work out routine infront of the watching crowds Belt up: Froch is looking to add Kessler’s WBA belt to his collection My trainer Rob McCracken (Britain’s successful London Olympic coach) has driven into me the importance of the second phase of an attack.
Now, after I land punches, I slip the counters and connect with follow-up combinations.
That was something Bute couldn t cope with.
Also my footwork is better.
We ve sorted out the distance between my feet and I m more balanced.
That means better movement so I don t take as many shots as I used to.
There’s something weird about me the way even the biggest punches to the jaw don t wobble me, but if you can avoid being hit too often, so much the better.
The sequel: Froch andl Kessler will do battle for the second time this weekend Real battle: Kessler and Froch fought it out over 12 rounds in Denmark in 2010 Ultimate warriors: Kessler beat Froch by a unanimous points decision Dejection: Kessler celebrates after beating Froch who looks disappointed after the fight Most importantly of all, I m busier now.
I had a bit of a reputation as a slow starter but now I come out fast and firing from the first bell.
You saw that against Bute.
I blitzed him from the off and he could never settle.
He was unbeaten before and now it looks like I may have ended his career.
I always finish strong and if I d been up and running from the start against Kessler I m sure I would have stopped him late in the fight.
I m even more certain that’s what’s going to happen on Saturday night.
That conviction is strengthened, not diluted, by the arrival of little Natalia.
Back on form: Froch demolished Canadian Lucian Bute to win the IBF belt in 2012 Night to remember: Froch celebrates his win over Bute in Nottingham At the time of their first fight, Rachael was heavily pregnant with Rocco when she joined Carl on a private jet to Denmark which had to fly low and turbulently under that infamous volcanic ash cloud.
He says: We were worried about the effect on the birth.
There were also all the usual concerns about having your first child.
Now Natalia is safely with us and healthy.
Instead of anxious, I m happy.
Instead of tense, I m relaxed.
Putting it all on the line: Froch is looking to avenge the the defeat he suffered to Kessler in 2010 As he speaks he nuzzles Natalia and embraces both Rocco and Rachael with that long left arm which, within an hour or two, will be put to sterner use as a shuddering jab.
As he sets off for sparring, he says: Kessler probably doesn t get it because he doesn t have kids of his own.
But when I m training and fighting I shut out family, home, everything except boxing.
I m purely a fighter in the zone.
Tell Mikkel I m totally focused on giving him a whupping.
Like a postcard from the edge, it comes with a happy family snap on the front…
and a clenched fist on the back.
VIDEO: Watch Kevin Quigley’s video from Froch’s public workout
Lee Purdy was left in tears after he was pulled out at the end of the seventh round of his fight with world welterweight champion Devon Alexander.
A late replacement for stable-mate Kell Brook, Purdy failed to make the 147lb weight limit on Friday and so was unable to win the title in Atlantic City.
And while he put up a brave fight, he was outclassed by the American, who was making the first defence of his IBF belt.
Tearful: Lee Purdy argues with his corner after he was pulled out at the end of the seventh round Purdy afforded his opponent too much respect in the opening minute as Alexander picked him off with his jab before switching downstairs with both hands.
The underdog eventually began to exchange but Alexander looked far from fazed and ended the session on top, forcing Purdy back on to the ropes with some aggressive uppercuts.
The visiting fighter attempted to close the gap on Alexander in the second session but succeeded only in taking more punishment from the champion while offering little in response.
That pattern continued into the third stanza and for all his bravery, Purdy looked to be on a hiding to nothing as one punch after another found a way past his guard.
But the Colchester man refused to be intimated and goaded Alexander in between shipping uppercuts and hooks in the fourth round.
Purdy’s trainer Tony Sims had been unable to travel to Atlantic City and so middleweight Darren Barker took charge of his corner and compelled his gym-mate to win the fifth round in order to stem the tide.
One-way traffic: Devon Alexander (right) outclassed Purdy before the Brit was pulled out And while he couldn t quite manage that, Purdy did make more of an impression on the champion while at the same time keeping his guard high to fend off the repeated attacks.
Alexander by now appeared to have injured his left hand, using it increasingly sparingly as the fight reached the halfway stage, which itself was something of an accomplishment for Purdy.
But he was allowed to continue for just another three minutes as Barker pulled his stable-mate out at the end of the seventh session, much to Purdy’s frustration.
‘Devon wasn’t hurting me,’ he told Sky Sports .
‘We don t live in an ideal world; I took it at four weeks notice.
I knew everything would be an uphill struggle.
‘I took world class shots.
I l know when I fight for a world title next time, I can take those shots and throw my own but the better man won.’ ‘I was gutted to be pulled out.
I’d have stayed in there until the end but I have to respect Darren’s decision.
I’m devastated; I wish I’d had eight-weeks notice but we didn t.
I put a brave performance in.’ Brave effort: Purdy kept coming forward but was unable to make an impression on the champion Barker meanwhile admitted it was a difficult decision to pull his friend out.
‘He is one of my good fiends,’ he said.
‘Why would I want him dragged out of there? He’s a young man with a good future ahead of him.
‘This is a sport and you’ve got to think of his health.
He was in there with a great champion and did us proud.’ Alexander meanwhile set his sights on a fight with either Amir Khan or Floyd Mayweather.
‘He Purdy came to fight and that’s what I expected him to do,’ he said.
‘I hurt my left hand in the first round and couldn’t throw it.
‘Lee Purdy did an excellent job.
I’m glad he came to fight and give me some rounds.
I knew he was tough; I like his spirit.
‘If my team comes up with Khan, I ll fight Khan.
If they come up with Mayweather, I ll fight Mayweather.
Simon Ramsden: new deal at Motherwell Sky Bet Football Betting Retrieving latest Sky Bet odds Football Betting 10 Free Bet Motherwell defender Simon Ramsden has signed a new two-year contract at Fir Park.
Ramsden joined the Steelmen from Bradford on a one-year deal last summer and has made 30 appearances for Stuart McCall’s side, mainly in central defence.
“I am really happy to be staying at the club and pleased that the contract has been sorted out,” he said.
“My family and I are really settled in Scotland and I am pleased with how things have gone on the field too.”
Jamie Robinson: Forced to retire Former Wales centre Jamie Robinson has been forced to retire at the age off 33 because of injury.
The former Cardiff Blues star won 23 caps for Wales between 2001 and 2007, and after a spell in France playing with Toulon and then Agen, he has had to hang up his boots.
He scored seven tries for his country, the first on his debut against Japan and he also touched down against France, New Zealand and Australia.
He confirmed on Twitter: “After nearly 15 years of professional rugby, I’m having to retire due to injury.
“I’d like to thank everyone who’s helped me along the way.” Known for his strong defence and speed, Robinson played for Wales U19, U21, the ‘A’ squad and then the full international team.
He was part of the superb Wales team which reached the final of the Youth World Cup in 1999 where they lost to New Zealand.
The Waratahs have confirmed they have agreed deals to sign Jono Lance and Tala Gray for next season.
Former Australia Under-20s and Sevens international Lance will make the switch from the Reds, with the 22-year-old able to cover at fly-half and centre.
Gray, a 23-year-old back row, joins from Top 14 outfit Biarritz, having previously played Shute Shield rugby for Eastern Suburbs.
And Waratahs head coach Michael Cheika believes the duo will be valuable additions to his squad.
Excellent “Jono brings a dual running and ball distribution game, and he is an excellent defender,” said Cheika.
“He has all the qualities to fit the profile of what we are looking for.
Along with that, he has an excellent character and that is a very important feature in our recruitment criteria.
“At a young age, Tala backed himself to make it over in France.
He’s the type of player we’re looking for.
“Rugged in attack and defence, Tala is a strong ball carrier and a big worker.
He also has a bit of edge which I really like in players and he is hungry to prove himself back in Australia.”
John Tomic: Barred from all ATP tournaments following charge of assault John Tomic, the father of Australian tennis player Bernard, has been barred from all ATP tournaments until further notice.
Tomic appeared in court on Tuesday where he denied charges of assaulting his son’s practice partner Thomas Drouet, shortly after their arrival in Madrid for the Masters.
In a statement on Tuesday evening, the ATP said: “Following last week’s incident in Madrid concerning John Tomic, and the ensuing investigation, Mr Tomic’s credential privileges have been suspended at all ATP tournaments until further notice.
“The ATP’s investigation into this incident remains ongoing.” Tomic, who must return to face trial on May 14, allegedly broke Drouet’s nose and told the court he acted in self-defence.
According to Drouet, however, a row at Nice airport prior to leaving for Madrid sparked the outbreak, and on arriving in the Spanish capital Tomic asked to walk with him before the incident took place.
Drouet said: “Outside the Cuzco Hotel he comes up to me and I think he is about to apologise (for the incident in Nice) and he says come over here with me.
“So I walk with him maybe 100 metres and he is doing this (looking about), like looking about for a place.
It was away from the front.
“He then says the same things and then spits in my face.
“I took steps back and say ‘okay John, you are a real man’.
And then I say ‘okay don’t pay me, Bernard will pay me’.
“He suddenly turns and headbutts me right here (points at bridge of nose).
“I call out ‘help’ and then I fall down.
I am out 10 to 15 minutes, I didn’t know – that is what I am told.
“I lost consciousness, I blanked out.
I was told after this headbutt he just walked back to the hotel like normal, like nothing happened.” Tomic’s lawyer Carmen Dieguez however, insisted Drouet was the aggressor.
“(Tomic) claims (Drouet) was the aggressor and grabbed him,” he said.
“He feels it was self-defence and he does not believe he was responsible for what happened.” Speaking as he left the court, Tomic said: “I don’t feel guilty.
I didn’t do anything wrong.”
City were unable to rubber stamp a second place finish after playing out a dismal goalless draw at Swansea.
There were premature sobs of dejection in the away end on City s only other visit to the Liberty Stadium in March 20121 but tears of boredom were more likely this time after a drab encounter in South Wales.
A monotonous match was only punctuated by a couple of penalty appeals and half-chances for both sides in a game between teams who looked like they have very little to lose – or gain for that matter.
With all of the epitaphs for City s unsuccessful title defence scribed, printed and passed over the fish and chip shop counter, attention has shifted towards next week s FA Cup final against Wigan.
Competition for Wembley starting berths and the opportunity to all but cement second and an automatic Champions League group stage place provided all the motivation Roberto Mancini s3 men required going into this meeting against fellow former Lazio man, Michael Laudrup.
There was no question of rotation in the the manager’s thoughts, with a strong line-up named that showed two changes from the team that saw off West Ham at the Etihad Stadium last Saturday4.
As for the hosts, a table charting the form of Capital One Cup winners in the final straight of the Premier League season would make for interesting reading, given previous winners propensity to spend the remaining weeks of the campaign in a contented haze, daydreaming on golden sands and lapping waves.
Despite the home side being well clear of the drop thanks to Laudrup s impressive first season in charge; their form has tailed off in recent weeks and they went into this game without a win in six.
City, by contrast, boasted the Premier League s best record over the last eight matches and went into one knowing that a win would guarantee Champions League football at the Etihad Stadium next season.
City got as far as the 34th minute without fashioning anything to unduly worry Michel Vorm in the Swansea goal, but when the chance did come, Samir Nasri9 should probably have given his side the lead.
Gareth Barry floated a long, drifting pass over and in behind the Swansea defence and Nasri met it on the volley but the Frenchman couldn t get any power on his shot and Vorm made a simple save.
Mancini s men haven t been fortunate on many occasions in the Premier League this season but they had cause to be grateful on 37 minutes when Nastasic appeared to pole-axe Michu in the penalty area but referee Mike Jones waved away the protests.
David Silva10 almost made the most of this good fortune on the stroke of half-time after an intricate, flowing move from the Blues presented him with the opportunity to open the scoring but superb defensive work from, first Ashley Williams, then Vorm, denied the twinkle-toed Spaniard when a goal looked likely.
October s meeting between these two at the Etihad Stadium11 broke a record for longest Premier League game at a whopping 102 minutes, but at times the first-half felt longer than that, with both teams barely breaking into a jog.
If that was a move to spark life into the away side, it didn t work and, if anything, the second half was played in an even more lethargic spirit.
City had a penalty shout 15 minutes into the second-half when Dzeko tumbled over the outstretched leg of Chico Flores just inside the box but it would have been a harsh award given Swansea s grievances over the earlier incident with Nastasic.
With City still searching for their first-ever goal at the Liberty Stadium, Tevez was introduced with a little over 10 minutes to play but even the Blues top-scorer in all competitions couldn t inspire the FA Cup finalists to a match-winning goal.
As if to sum up the impotence in front of goal from both teams, Dzeko fluffed City s best chance of the afternoon with seven minutes to play, side-footing a volley wide from six-yards out and Silva blazed wide a minute later when he really should have scored.
Another clean sheet for City but the 63-year wait for a win at Swansea goes on.
There will be no DVD released of this one.
Villa defeat ends City’s play-off hopes
Saturday 04 May 2013, 3:00PM
Liberty StadiumBarclays Premier League
Vorm, Rangel, Chico, Williams (c), Davies, Britton, de Guzman, Routledge (Aguestien 63mins), Dyer (Tiendalli 86mins), Hernandez, Michu (Moore 68mins)
Unused subs:Tremmel, Monk, Taylor, Shechter
Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany (c), Nastasic, Clichy, Yaya Toure (Dzeko 45mins), Barry, Nasri, Silva (Rodwell 86mins), Milner, Aguero (Tevez 78mins)
Unused subs:Pantilimon, Kolo Toure, Kolarov, Garcia
All times are taken from a live feed and are approximate at time of publishing.
- ^ City s only other visit to the Liberty Stadium in March 2012 (www.mcfc.co.uk)
- ^ Edin Dzeko (www.mcfc.co.uk)
- ^ Roberto Mancini s (www.mcfc.co.uk)
- ^ team that saw off West Ham at the Etihad Stadium last Saturday (www.mcfc.co.uk)
- ^ James Milner (www.mcfc.co.uk)
- ^ Carlos Tevez (www.mcfc.co.uk)
- ^ Matija Nastasic (www.mcfc.co.uk)
- ^ Vincent Kompany (www.mcfc.co.uk)
- ^ Samir Nasri (www.mcfc.co.uk)
- ^ David Silva (www.mcfc.co.uk)
- ^ October s meeting between these two at the Etihad Stadium (www.mcfc.co.uk)
- ^ Yaya Toure (www.mcfc.co.uk)
- ^ Sergio Aguero (www.mcfc.co.uk)
- ^ Previous (www.mcfc.co.uk)