ManU Manager ALEX FERGUSON "has revealed the dressing room secrets that have kept him at the top for a quarter of a century," according to Pete Bainbridge of the MANCHESTER EVENING NEWS. The Reds' boss "gave an astonishing insight into his managerial philosophy and psychology at Old Trafford, and spoke openly of his approach to players in the modern era." He spoke of the core values he demands and that he must address the toughest issues head-on, and never second-guess himself, using the motto: "Never go to bed with doubt." He also admitted he is a "bad loser." In his widest-ranging interview of the past decade, Fergie "broke his code of silence to academics from the prestigious Harvard Business School in Boston" (MANCHESTER EVENING NEWS, 12/19). The London GUARDIAN wrote Ferguson "discusses his determination to prevent media leaks, how to keep players in line, and how to use a more sensitive approach to keep them happy, too." Ferguson said, "Players these days have lived more sheltered lives, so they are much more fragile now than 25 years ago. I was very aggressive all those years ago. I am passionate and want to win all the time. But today I'm more mellowed -- age does that to you. And I can better handle those more fragile players now" (GUARDIAN, 12/19).
BACK TO SCHOOL: The London TELEGRAPH wrote Ferguson "was the subject of an academic study by professor ANITA ELBERSE at the Harvard Business School." The Scot later described the experience as "excellent, enjoyable, and comfortable" while also learned a lot about himself. Ferguson said, "The whole atmosphere was professional. It was clear that they had done their homework. They had properly read the case study and supplemented that with their own opinions and research. That gave me a certain assurance that I had made the right decision to go ahead with the case" (TELEGRAPH, 12/19).
CATCHING SOME RAYS: In London, Adam Shergold reported the Harvard study revealed that ManU had a Vitamin D machine installed to "compensate for Manchester's lack of natural sunlight." Manager Alex Ferguson also gave players "staggered one-week breaks during the winter months, so they could replenish their Vitamin D" (DAILY MAIL, 12/19).
Barcelona head coach TITO VILANOVA has suffered a relapse on the cancer in his saliva glands, according to Oscar Zárate of MUNDO DEPORTIVO. A little over a year ago Vilanova had surgery to remove tumors in his glands and after his last checkup on Tuesday, doctors detected another "small tumor." Surgery to remove the tumor is scheduled for Thursday (MUNDO DEPORTIVO, 12/19). SPORT reported that doctors taking care of Vilanova "are optimistic" for the coach and believe he will be able "to spend Christmas at his home." They have also "never doubted the fact that he will be back on the bench" coaching Barcelona (SPORT, 12/19). In Barcelona, Begoña Villarrubia reported Vilanova's assistant coach JORDI ROURA will coach the team during Saturday's La Liga clash against Valladolid (MUNDO DEPORTIVO, 12/19). In London, Simon Rice noted Barcelona suspended its scheduled media activities for the day following Vilanova's healths concerns (INDEPENDENT, 12/19).
Russian Premier League club Anzhi Makhachkala defender CHRISTOPHER SAMBA said Zenit St. Petersburg fans who want non-white and gay players excluded from the Russian team are "living in another century", according to the BBC. Samba said, "I'm not surprised. Everybody knows Zenit supporters are no good and racist. It's a sad day for Russian football." However, the Congo-Brazzaville int'l insisted that there is "no prospect of black players staging a protest" by boycotting matches following Landscrona's open letter. Samba said, "Boycotting, why? Because fans make statement they don't want black players. No. Black players should fight for the good ones -- not the idiots" (BBC, 12/19).
Serie A club UC Sampdoria Genua has sacked coach CIRO FERRARA and replaced him with former Fiorentina Manager DELIO ROSSI (CHINA DAILY, 12/19). ... I-League football club ONGC "has appointed SANTOSH KASHYAP as coach for the rest of the season, after SUBRATA BHATTACHRYA stepped down from the position citing personal reasons" (TIMES OF INDIA, 12/19). ... Second Bundesliga club Dynamo Dresden "has appointed Austrian coach PETER PACULT as the team's head coach." Pacult "signed a two-year contract until June 30, 2014" (SID, 12/18). ... The Scottish Rugby Union will appoint SCOTT JOHNSON as national team coach. The former Wales and U.S. Eagles coach "pipped ex-Warriors chief SEAN LINEEN for the right to succeed ANDY ROBINSON." KIWI LINEEN, who has 29 caps for Scotland, "was also in the frame for the job following six years of impressive work with Glasgow" (Scotland DAILY RECORD, 12/19).
All-Party Tennis Group Chair ANGELA BILLINGHAM said the £640,000 ($1M) salary of Lawn Tennis Association CEO ROGER DRAPER in "unthinkable." On Monday, Sport England cut the LTA's funding, criticizing its plans for increasing participation. Billingham: "It's unthinkable that someone earning four times more than the Prime Minister has not got ideas for the shake-up of the sport" (BBC, 12/19). ... German striker THOMAS MÜLLER "has signed a contract extension with Bundesliga club Bayern Munich." Müller, whose current contract expires on June 30, 2015, "signed a two-year extension until June 30, 2017" (BILD, 12/19). ... Ligue 1 Paris St. Germain Brazilian midfielder NENE has revealed that he intends to leave the club over the winter period (LE PARISIEN, 12/19). ... London Games Gold Medalists ARTHUR ZANETTI and SHEILLA CASTRO were awarded the best athlete of 2012 award by the Brazilian Olympic Committte (COB) at an event held in Rio de Janeiro (IG, 12/18). ... The organizer of the 7th Dubai Int'l Sports Conference, Dubai Sports Council, "has put Argentinian legend and Dubai ambassador DIEGO MARADONA alongside Real Madrid coach JOSÉ MOURINHO in the same discussion next Friday" (GULF NEWS, 12/19). ... Flat jockey EDDIE AHERN, with more than 1,000 wins to his credit, is one of six men charged by the British Horseracing Authority on Wednesday with conspiracy to defraud (LONDON TIMES, 12/20).
Spanish tennis player RAFAEL NADAL: "Toda mi fuerza y apoyo a Tito Vilanova! Todos estamos contigo para superar este nuevo paso.#ÀnimsTito" ("All my strength and support to Tito Vilanova! We are all with you to overcome this new step.#EncouragementforTito")
FC Barcelona's XAVI: "Muy triste por la noticia.." ("Very sad to hear the news")
London Mayor BORIS JOHNSON: "Fantastic news that London will host the @Paralympic IPC World Championships in 2017 continuing the 2012 legacy"
BBC presenter GARY LINEKER: "Looking forward to #SpainFranceHollandEnglandRussiaScotlandItalyPortugalWalesGermanyUkraineIrelandDenmark