Mogga Magic to Boost Boro into Prem [picture]

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Middlesbrough manager Tony Mowbray is hoping his side’s lofty position in the Championship will allow him to attract an excellent set of new additions to his squad during the January transfer window.

Despite having one of the smallest squads in the league, Mowbray has guided Middlesbrough to within touching distance of the automatic promotion places this Christmas and the Boro boss has stated his desire to give his side a boost with some new signings.

Mowbray will have to work with a modest budget, but has high hopes that the possibility of Premiership football next season could be enough to tempt his transfer targets to join the cause as Boro look to push on in their bid for promotion.

'Any prospective player will look at the table and hopefully see a team with a chance, we've given ourselves a chance,' Mowbray told the Northern Echo.

'Over the season, you accumulate points and give yourself an opportunity going into the last dozen or so games to fight for one of those two places or at least in the play-offs.'

'Hopefully we're in a position where if we have got targets we can find the finance for, and they should see us as a team with the ambition to push on.'


Steve Kean to get the Sack this Xmas [picture]

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Steve Kean is expected to lead Blackburn Rovers into their game against Liverpool on Boxing Day despite fans ramping up their protests against the Scotsman, though his future prospects at the club looks as bleak as a Christmas Turkeys.

Kean has found himself under heavy fire as his Ewood Park side slumped to the bottom of the Premiership following an uninspiring 2-1 home defeat against fellow strugglers Bolton Wanderers on Tuesday.

A demonstration by the Blackburn fans outside the clubs training ground has put additional pressure on Kean and the clubs owners, but Kean has stated that he would be ‘100% shocked’ if he was not manager for the game at Anfield.

The harsh treatment Kean has received from Blackburn fans has prompted several high profile managers to speak out in support for him, including Sir Alex Ferguson and David Moyes.

It has been reported that the Blackburn owners Venky’s cannot afford to sack Kean after giving him an improved contract in November, although the club have not commented on the matter.


Mario Balotelli is Sports Personality of the Year

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Love him or hate him, there really has been no escaping from madcap antics of Mario Balotelli this year. Barely a week goes by without a news story relating to the off the field activities of Manchester City's rebellious striker.

Whether he's having punch ups with team mates or inspiring his side to a memorable 6-1 over title rivals Manchester United, Balotelli walks the fine line between genius and madness in a way that never ceases to be entertaining.

While his most memorable moments have been controversies such as his dart throwing incident and the notorious fire at his home caused by fireworks set off indoors, stories of Balotelli giving large sums of money to homeless people reveal a kind hearted side that contrasts with his flash and petulant exterior.

Though he often receives attention for all the wrong reasons, few can argue with his performances on the pitch and goal scoring record this season. Balotelli's sporting achievement coupled with his lovable maverick personality has earned him the prestigious honour of being Flaming Hairdryers Sports Personality of the Year 2011.


King Kenny Contests Suarez Verdict

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Liverpool’s hopes for success have been dealt a serious blow after the FA handed their top scorer Luis Suarez an eight match ban and a £40,000 fine.

The FA have come down hard on the 24-year-old after finding him guilty of racially abusing Manchester United’s Patrice Evra during the 1-1 draw at Anfield on the 15th October.

Suarez, who has protested his innocence against the allegations has a 14 day period in which to appeal against the decision.

The Uruguayan tweeted last night: 'Today is a very difficult and painful day for both me and my family. Thanks for all the support, I'll keep working!'

'I'm upset by the accusations of racism. I can only say I have always respected and respect everybody.'

'We are all the same. I go to the field with the maximum illusion of a little child who enjoys what he does, not to create conflicts.'

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish also took to this twitter account to voice support for his striker tweeting: 'Very disappointed with today's verdict. This is a time when Luis needs our support. Let's not let him walk alone.'

Suarez will be available to play in Liverpool’s game against Wigan tonight as his ban does not come into force until the deadline for his appeal has passed.


Fuming Fergie After Basel Result [picture]

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Sir Alex Ferguson has strived to keep a cool head following a disastrous week in which his side was dumped out of the Champions League after they failed to get the point needed against FC Basel to progress to the next stage.

The elimination came as a massive shock as United were placed in a weak group in which progression to the knockout stages without any trouble was expected, but they will now have to compete in the Europa League following only finishing third in their group.

'Of course we're disappointed,' said Ferguson after the defeat. 'You have to deal with the disappointment, and this club has used it as motivation many times. It's a loss because it's the best tournament in the world.'

After a promising start United’s season has been dealt some serious blows, being knocked out of both the Carling Cup and Champions League in quick succession. To Ferguson’s woes he will be without Nemanja Vidic for the rest of the season after he ruptured his cruciate knee ligament during the game against Basel.

'We had a fantastic start to the season then we started getting quite a few injuries. That can destabilise you,' said Ferguson. 'The balance goes a little bit. But the quality is there. Our club can have bad results just like everyone else. We all get them. The important part is how you recover.'


Top Ten Finish Ahead, O'Neill or No Deal?

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After a seventeen month absence Martin O’Neill made his return to Premiership management this weekend after being appointed to replace Steve Bruce at Sunderland, who left the club by mutual consent.

The Northern-Irishman was in the stands as the Black Cats lost 2-1 away at Wolves yesterday which means they slide to within a point of the relegation drop zone, having only scored sixteen goals in fourteen matches.

While acknowledging the scale of the task ahead of him, O’Neill seemed enthusiastic and eager to take on the challenge of turning Sunderland’s season around when speaking about his appointment at the club.

'You want to get yourself established,' said O’Neill. 'We had a great season last season, finishing 10th and a wee bit of a disappointing start this time. But we hope that, with a little bit of luck, we can turn things around.'

'I would like it to be a really successful period and I'm going to try my best to achieve that. That’s what I’ve come for.'

In the short term instilling some confidence in his current crop of players and keeping Sunderland in the top flight are the main targets for O’Neill, but looking long term chairman Ellis Short is expecting regular top ten finishes to be produced by his club.

Speaking about his new manager Short said: 'Martin has as good a managerial pedigree as you could wish to find, and has proven over the years to be a very astute, top-level manager.'

'During his time at Aston Villa, he established the club firmly in the top 10 of the Barclays Premier League year-on-year, and this is something we are striving to achieve at Sunderland.'

'Having spoken with Martin, I know he is brimming with enthusiasm and anticipation about the challenge of taking Sunderland forward, and I believe he is the perfect choice to deliver the success we all desire.'


No More Battle of the Noses [picture]

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Sunderland are on the hunt for a new manager following their dismissal of Steve Bruce as result of a poor start to the season which has seen the Black Cats come within two points of the relegation drop zone.

Bruce led Sunderland to a 10th place finish in the Premier League last season, but after only two wins in thirteen games chairman Ellis Short  decided a change of manager was needed to improve the clubs fortunes.

Speaking after the sacking the Sunderland chairman said: 'It is my job to act in the best interests of our football club and I can assure everyone that this is not a decision that I have taken lightly. Sadly results this season have simply not been good enough and I feel the time is right to make a change.'

Assistant manager Eric Black has been given control of the Sunderland first team whilst the club search for a replacement for Bruce, with Mark Hughes and Martin O’Neil among the favourites to be appointed.

Sunderland face fellow Premiership strugglers Wolves at Molineux on Saturday whose manager Mick McCarthy could also be for the chop if he fails to turn things round for the club.