The Sports Matrix: Friday 09 December 2011



Capello convinces Uefa to shorten Rooney's ban

Wayne Rooney's three-match international ban was reduced yesterday to two games, allowing him to face Ukraine in the Euro 2012 group stage, thanks to a plea by England manager Fabio Capello. Rooney was sent off during England's qualifier in Montenegro, shortly after his father and uncle had been arrested over betting irregularities. Capello admitted that Rooney was "paying for my mistake", arguing that he had been wrong to select the striker, who was in no fit mental state to start. The veteran manager said it was swiftly clear that Rooney should not have been risked, and that he considered taking him off at half-time, before watching him kick out at Miodrag Dzudovic with 17 minutes left in the game. The Uefa three-man panel was also impressed by Rooney's personal appearance at the hearing, and by the fact that in more than 60 Uefa-sanctioned games, he had only been sent off once, in the Champions League in 2005. The third game of the ban was suspended rather than overturned: he will still miss the games against France and Sweden next June. MORE

Mancini: Critics can spur on City

Roberto Mancini has insisted that Manchester City can take inspiration from criticism following their Champions League exit. "It can be useful," the Italian said. "It can help us push on. When you receive criticism, it makes you stronger as a team and as a man." MORE

England look to the future with Farrell

Andy Farrell, rugby league legend and Saracens coach, has been named in the interim three-man team to lead England for the forthcoming Six Nations. Stuart Lancaster and current England scrum technician Graham Rowntree make up the team. MORE

GB are out to duck curse of the hosts

In a bid to avoid the slump that affects host nations, GB's Olympic sports are being asked to plan for the 2016 Rio Games. UK Sport has asked national governing bodies to submit business plans for the next cycle by February. MORE

United fear Vidic out for the season

Manchester United fear centre-back Nemanja Vidic could miss the remainder of the season with the knee injury he picked up in Wednesday's Champions League defeat in Basle. The Serbian was taken off in the first half after twisting his knee. MORE

McIlroy makes early title running

Rory McIlroy made a stunning start to his Dubai World Championship campaign yesterday as he bids to beat World No 1 Luke Donald in the Race to Dubai rankings. The Northern Irishman, who must win, posted a 66 to lead the Englishman by six shots. MORE

Dalglish rails at FA double standards

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish has accused the Football Association of double standards following their appeal against Wayne Rooney's ban at a time when they have also charged Reds striker Luis Suarez after the defeat at Fulham. MORE

England stick with winning formula

England are unlikely to make many changes when they announce the squad to face Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates. The only change from the squad that won the Ashes last winter could be Ravi Bopara replacing the retired Paul Collingwood. MORE

Opinion: James Lawton

Everyone in football knew Sir Alex Ferguson's challenge last summer: to re-seed the midfield so plainly inadequate against Barcelona. He did not, and so the ghost of Wesley Sneijder haunted United's defeat in Basle on Wednesday. MORE

Whelan pledges to stand by Martinez

Wigan chairman Dave Whelan has insisted Roberto Martinez's job as manager is safe, even if the Latics are relegated. "Sacking him isn't even a consideration," Whelan said. "[He] is a fantastic, honest manager who knows our strengths and weaknesses." MORE

'Character' Gauvain beats Somersby

Gauvain won the Betfred Peterborough Chase at Huntingdon yesterday, beating Somersby, despite falling at Sandown on Saturday. "He can be a bit of a character," said assistant trainer Andy Corbett, "but when he's happy, he's a good horse." MORE