Nigel de Jong is one step closer to leaving Manchester City

The Nerazzurri already secured the services of Gaby Mudingayi from Bologna earlier this summer to add some steel to their midfield, but Andrea Stramaccioni is not impressed with the Belgian.

The Inter coach has therefore demanded the arrival of another holding midfielder, and the 2010 Champions League winners see De Jong as the perfect addition to their squad.

De Jong joined City from Hamburg in January 2009 and quickly became an important first-team member at the Premier League side.

However, he is no longer a certain starter under Mancini, and the Citizens are ready to cash in on the 27-year-old.

The Dutchman’s contract with the Premier League champions is due to expire in the summer of 2013, and an offer in the region of €9 million could be enough to lure him away from City.

Inter playmaker Wesley Sneijder recently stated that De Jong would be a great signing for the Serie A giants, and the attacking midfielder has already been in touch with his compatriot to convince him that a move to Italy would be the right step.

The Nerazzurri face stiff competition in the race for De Jong’s services, though, as AC Milan are closely monitoring his situation as well.

Even though Inter remain confident of getting their man, they have lined up Napoli’s Walter Gargano as a possible alternative for De Jong, in case they miss out on the combative midfielder.


Bills release veteran LB Merriman


Linebacker Shawne Merriman told on Monday that he has been released from the Buffalo Bills

“I didn’t fit the 4-3 (defensive) system. I’m more of a 3-4 guy,” he said..

The seven-year veteran played the first six years of his career with the San Diego Chargers, making the Pro Bowl three times. He continues to deal with the effects of an Achilles injury he suffered while playing for the Chargers.
Merriman considered this year as the best chance to revive his career after season-ending surgery in November to repair a partially torn right Achilles tendon
At his peak, Merriman was regarded as one of the league’s top pass-rushers, and earned the nickname ”Lights Out.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Sergio Garcia tripped to a bogey on the final hole Monday

Sergio Garcia tripped to a bogey on the final hole Monday, but still claimed the Wyndham Championship by two shots and likely secure a Ryder Cup berth.

Garcia, whose last PGA Tour win was at the 2008 Players Championship, closed with a 4-under 66 to finish his eighth PGA Tour win at 18-under-par 262.

“Obviously, I won a couple times last year in Europe, but it has been a while since I’ve won here [in the U.S.]. So it feels great,” Garcia said in a televised interview. “I’m proud of the way I played coming in.

“Obviously, I don’t feel comfortable on 18 or 14, and you could see that, but I came through nicely. I hit some good shots and I managed to put it away. Hopefully, I’ll secure my spot in the Ryder Cup.”

With the win, Garcia likely secured a spot on the 2012 European Ryder Cup team. That team will lock in after this week’s Johnnie Walker Championship and Jose Maria Olazabal will make his captains picks next Monday.

Tim Clark birdied the last to close a round of 3-under 67. He took second at minus-16.

Bud Cauley posted a 2-under 68 to end alone in third at 15-under-par 265.

Chad Campbell closed with a 4-under 66 to share fourth place at 14-under-par 266. He was joined there by 2008 champion Carl Pettersson (68) and Jimmy Walker (67), the first- and second-round leaders.

Jason Dufner (69), Nicolas Colsaerts (66) and Bill Haas (67) shared seventh at 13-under-par 267.

The other big fight this week was trying to get inside the top 125 on the FedExCup points list to make the playoffs, which start on Thursday.

Heath Slocum is the only player that moved into the top 125. He bumped Jhonattan Vegas from the playoffs. Vegas started the week 124th on the points list, but missed the cut and dipped to No. 126.

The final round resumed on Monday after rain left Sedgefield Country Club unplayable on Sunday afternoon. When they returned, Garcia parred the first six holes he played.

Clark birdied the eighth to joined Garcia in the lead at 15-under. From there, the South African ran off nine consecutive pars of his own.

Garcia moved one ahead with a short birdie putt on the 11th. However, he failed to save par after missing the green at the par-3 12th.

The Spaniard atoned for that mistake with a kick-in birdie on the par-4 13th. At the par-5 15th, he blasted from a greenside bunker to nine feet and drained that putt for birdie.

Garcia made it two in a row as he stuffed his tee shot inside two feet at the 16th and knocked that in for birdie. He made his third straight birdie at 17 when he dropped in a 6-foot putt.

At the last, Garcia pulled his drive into the left trees. He pitched out, then hit his third to the back fringe. He lagged his par putt to a foot. Garcia kicked that in to wrap up the win.

Clark birdied the last in the group ahead of Garcia to end two back.

Campbell had moved into a tie for the lead at 15-under with three straight birdies from the 15th. However, he stumbled to a bogey at the last to dip into a share of fourth.

“I played great. I would have liked to finish a little bit better, but definitely happy with the way I started to play,” Campbell said. “Didn’t hit the best shot on 18. Had a decent look at it. Not a bad putt. That’s the way it goes. I made a great putt on 17. Like I said, definitely happy with the way things are going now.”

Everton v Manchester United

Evening liveblog fans.

Give it a few more weeks and we’ll be able to fully embrace football, hold it closely to our sporting bosom and whisper it sweet nothings until it falls asleep in our arms to the strains of He Scores When He Wants (lullaby remix).

For the time being there’s a five-ringed caveat still hanging over the sport.

Despite an opening weekend which did its darndest to convince us that everything was fine, that football was still our favourite, that it had changed, there’s still a sense of this season being slightly premature, perhaps even slightly unwanted.

Enter Manchester United. On a one-team mission to jump-start the sport by signing last year’s best player, and pairing him with 2004’s most exciting man Wayne Rooney.

There’s some reasonable attacking talent pulling the strings (No Ryan, we know you stopped listening at “talent pulling”, this is about football) behind them as well.

Shinji Kagawa will be annointed later as either the new new Paul Scholes or an utter failure. Nani and Antonio Valencia love to run fast. Ryan Giggs begins his 409th consecutive Premier League season.

Everton, meanwhile, have done the unthinkable this summer and signed some players.

Steven Naismith has crawled from the Rangers wreckage to re-unite with Nikica Jelavic up front. Steven Pienaar is back, Back, BACK! Kevin Mirallas has also joined, after an administrative error which erroneously suggested he was also named Steven.

Plenty to be getting on with, then. If only the cricket hadn’t had been so good.

Team news and lots more to follow, stay tuned.

Here’s a lovely preview:

Monday, August 20, 2012

Everton v Manchester United
Goodison Park
Kick-off: 20.00 BST.
TV: Live Sky 1.

Everton (Possible, 4-4-1-1): Howard; Hibbert, Jagielka, Distin, Baines; Naismith, Fellaini, Gibson, Pienaar; Osman; Jelavic.
Out: None.

Manchester United (Possible, 4-4-1-1): De Gea; Rafael, Vidic, Ferdinand, Evra; Valencia, Carrick, Scholes, Kagawa; Rooney; Van Persie.
Out: Fletcher (colitis), Jones (back), Smalling (toe), Evans (ankle).

Referee: Andre Marriner. Matches (last season): 21, Red 5, Yellow 73.

Team News
Summer signing Steven Naismith is in line for his competitive debut against Manchester United on Monday. The former Rangers player is one of two arrivals at Goodison Park so far, with midfielder Steven Pienaar returning from Tottenham. Marouane Fellaini (groin) and fellow midfielder Darron Gibson (thigh) have both recovered from injury.

Match Notes
From the second Sergio Agüero turned United’s title celebrations to dust last May, Sir Alex Ferguson has craved this moment. One suspects it’s been the longest three months of his career, plotting a course to reclaim the Premier League. Robin van Persie’s signing was a show of intent. Everton have enjoyed an encouraging summer but this is an opening fixture neither wanted. As a pointer for the next eight months, expect little. As an exhilarating starter, this is unmissable.

Betting: Home 13-5, Away 5-6, Draw 12-5.

Stat of the game: Wayne Rooney has scored five times in the last seven opening season games for United.

Chris Bascombe’s prediction: Everton 2 Manchester United 2.

Buttner, 23, would become United’s second recent Dutch

Buttner, 23, would become United’s second recent Dutch acquisition following Robin van Persie’s move from Arsenal to Old Trafford last week.

The player, who had been linked with possible moves to Queens Park Rangers, Fulham and Southampton, told reporters before leaving Schipol Airport in Amsterdam for Manchester that he was hoping the United deal would be completed soon.
“If a week ago, you told me that together with Robin van Persie I would be playing at Manchester United, I would have driven you straight to the madhouse,” he said.
“One month ago Manchester United sent an email expressing their interest, but in the last four days it became concrete.
“I have not spoken yet with Sir Alex Ferguson, but if all goes well that will happen.”
Buttner was included in a provisional Netherlands squad for Euro 2012, but did not make the final 23. He has made 107 appearances for Arnhem, scoring 10 times.

Formula One racing’s summer break in full swing

With Formula One racing’s summer break in full swing, you’d expect most drivers to be relaxing on a well-deserved holiday. Ferrari’s Felipe Massa, however, had other ideas over the weekend and got back behind the wheel at his local circuit of Interlagos for the fourth round of Brazil’s Copa Fiat series.

Massa took to the track for two practice sessions of the competition, which was previously known as the Trofeo Linea. Although as a guest driver he was entitled to have one more set of tyres than the rest of the competitors, the Brazilian impressed, setting times of 1m 51.411s and 1m 52.005s in the first and second sessions respectively.

“Today, having one set of tyres more than the others helped me but I was not expecting to be quicker than excellent and experienced drivers like Christian Fittipaldi, Caca Bueno and Andre Bragantini, who are leading the championship,” Massa told Ferrari’s official website.

“A great job has been done and the car is much improved, more stable and easier to drive. These characteristics are a great help to drivers who, like me, come from single-seaters.”

After enjoying practice on Saturday, Massa returned to the sidelines to watch the racing action on Sunday. He will be back in a Formula One cockpit at the 2012 Formula 1 Shell Belgian Grand Prix from August 31 to September 2.

Report of Manchester City 3 Southampton 2

Read a full match report of the Premier League game between Manchester City and Southampton at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday Aug 19 2012.

 This was the weekend when the Premier League empire struck back against those who decried it as a soulless sporting show.

This was the match that paraded the Premier League at its breathless, competitive best, especially in the second period when the drama jumped from end to end.

Southampton left the home of the champions without any points but with hearts filled with pride and hope.

The Premier League newcomers know that they gave Manchester City a real scare, that their academy has nurtured another prospect in the composed, hard-working 17-year-old James Ward-Prowse and that they can survive at this level if they continue to play with as much belief and counter-attacking power.

But Southampton must start Rickie Lambert, who gave them a real cutting edge when he arrived on 55 minutes.

City were trailing 2-1 with 18 minutes remaining but demonstrated their resilience. Their fans chanted “We’re Man City, we’ll fight to the end”, seeking to summon up the spirit that accounted for QPR so memorably at the end of last season.

Samir Nasri responded, proving the man of the match for his endless creativity and eventual winner.

The Frenchman has not always impressed for City but was a crucial force yesterday, particularly when the talismanic Sergio Agüero departed early on with a knee injury following a challenge by Nathaniel Clyne.

The Southampton right-back was briefly booed but was totally blameless; Agüero just twisted his right knee as he fell.

Roberto Mancini, the City manager, talked afterwards of needing reinforcements. If Agüero has badly damaged his ligaments, City will inevitably again be linked with the likes of Fiorentina’s young Montenegrin striker Stevan Jovetic.

The reinforcing may not end there. In midfield, Mancini gave Jack Rodwell an unexpected debut, starting alongside Yaya Touré, but the City manager’s interest in Daniele De Rossi of Roma remains strong.

The announcer at the Stadio Olimpico declared last night that “De Rossi stays with us forever” while the tifosi chanted abusively about Mancini. Negotiations could be lively.

At least Mancini can reflect on the good form of Nasri and Carlos Tévez. Nasri’s flick released Tévez in to the box and his sudden turn tricked Jos Hooiveld, who brought him down.

It was a surprise that Tévez himself did not take the penalty, leaving it to David Silva. The Spaniard’s effort was poor, allowing Kelvin Davis to make a simple save.

Davis was increasingly busy, denying Tévez, but Southampton still threatened occasionally in the first half.

A free-kick from the excellent Adam Lallana was headed clear by Nasri, who then played the key pass for City’s opening goal five minutes from the break.

Rodwell and Touré combined in midfield, Nasri delivered the ball down the inside-right channel and Tévez was off and running. Outstripping Jose Fonte, Tévez advanced to place the ball firmly between Davis and the keeper’s left-hand upright.

Fonte glared at Mike Mullarkey, the assistant referee, having expected an offside flag. From Mullarkey’s position Clyne could have been playing Tévez on. Tight call.

Until Lambert arrived Southampton were too cautious, dropping too deep and leaving Guly Do Prado too isolated.

City continued to pour forward. Edin Dzeko, who had replaced the stricken Agüero, Gael Clichy and Silva missed good chances.

But then came Lambert, immediately taking his prolific Championship form into the Premier League. He scored within four minutes, exploiting apparent City confusion over referee Howard Webb’s decision not to give them a corner at the other end.

Nasri was standing by the flag, waiting to take the kick, when Webb signalled a goal-kick. Suddenly Lambert ran down the field, Joleon Lescott chasing him.

Southampton swept the ball forward. City managed to get back in numbers but their defence had insufficient time to man the barricade.

The ball flew from Lallana to Guly until half-cleared by Lescott. Ward-Prowse, the son of a Portsmouth barrister, showed real calmness and vision to work the ball to Lambert, whose shot came back off Guly and Lescott.

Lambert then made no mistake, placing the loose ball superbly past Joe Hart.

The visiting fans celebrated with a Poznan. Concern rippled through the home ranks. Such was the rising sense of urgency that James Milner played ball-boy, hurrying up a City throw-in.

Southampton manager Nigel Adkins had another surprise for them, sending on Steven Davis for Ward-Prowse. Davis soon had an impact.

When Rodwell lost possession, Lallana raced 50 yards, laying the ball left to Davis. It was like the Red Arrows flying down the pitch.

When Davis then played the ball into the box, Clichy made an attempt at a clearance but Lallana regained possession for Southampton.

Another member of Southampton’s academy, Lallana rolled the ball back to Davis who stroked it past Hart.

The champions were wobbling but Nasri dragged them back into it. From a Nasri corner, Vincent Kompany fired the ball back in and it reached Dzeko via Mario Balotelli.

Dzeko swept City level. City’s technical class and precision told as Nasri began and finished the move for the winner.

After gliding through the middle, Nasri played the ball left to Clichy and continued into the box. When Danny Fox met Clichy’s cross with a poor clearance, Nasri pounced, firing the ball in before racing away, lifting his shirt and revealing the greeting “Eid Mubarak”. He was booked.

Adkins sent Billy Sharp on, hoping that lightning could strike three times from the bench. Southampton pressed hard. Lescott cleared.

Clichy ran down the clock by taking the ball back to Hart. The champions held on as the Premier League sprang back into life in style.

Match details:

Manchester City: J Hart, P Zabaleta, V Kompany, J Lescott, G Clichy, J Rodwell, D Silva (M Balotelli, 72), G Touré, S Nasri, C Tévez (A Kolarov, 87), S Agüero (E Dzeko, 14)
Goals: Tévez (40), Dzeko (72), Nasri (80)

Southampton: K Davis, N Clyne, J Hooiveld, D Fox, J Fonte, J Ward-Prowse (S Davis, 65), J Puncheon (B Sharp, 86), M Schneiderlin, A Lallana, G Do Prado, J Rodriguez (R Lambert, 55)
Goals: Lambert (59), Davis (68)