…Tragedy behind Wanjiru’s smile …

New book raises more questions on the death of Olympics star

A Dutch writer who has been documenting the circumstances surrounding the death of Olympic champion Samuel Wanjiru for months describes his tragic fall as “strongly suspicious”.

In an exclusive interview about a new book marking the first anniversary of the star’s death, Frits Conijn makes a series of extraordinary claims regarding the mysterious death of the runner in his home on the night of May 15, last year.

“The evidence concerning his death is not conclusive. But I can smell a rat,” says Conijn, who has co-authored Death Runner, the tragic end of Olympic marathon champion with Simon Maziku.

“The technical evidence is very strange — blood in the bedroom, maybe he cut himself shaving — but the contradictions in the testimonies are even stranger.”

Next Tuesday, the sports world will mark the first anniversary of Olympic marathon champion Samuel Kamau Wanjiru’s death.

And to commemorate the star’s passing, Dutch journalist Frits Conijn on Tuesday launched a book that seeks to answer many questions that surrounded the star’s mysterious death following a night fall from the balcony of his Nyahururu home.

Unique talent

The 288-page book titled Doodloper – Het tragische einde van Olympisch marathonkampioen Samuel Wanjiru), which translates to “Death Runner – The tragic end of Olympic marathon champion Samuel Wanjiru,” has been published by Tirion Uitgevers of Herculesplein in Utrecht, The Netherlands.

The Dutch version hit the shelves on Tuesday with the launch of the English version expected soon.

Doodloper is a story about unique talent, adultery, poverty, witchcraft, humiliation and the world of top sport.

“I knew Samuel Wanjiru as someone with a perpetual smile on his face,” top athletics manager Jos Hermens of The Netherlands said in his foreward.

“This story clarifies the tragedy that was hiding behind it,” the Global Sports Communications head adds.

“Kenya was plunged in deep mourning. Samuel Wanjiru, the Olympic marathon winner of 2008 fell from his balcony and died at an early age,” Conijn, who co-authored the book with Tanzania-born Simon Maziku, now a Dutch citizen, told the Daily Nation on Wednesday.

“There were rumours of suicide and murder in international media but a thorough investigation after his untimely death was not carried out.

Until today, speculations about his fatal fall continue.”

International fame

Conijn and Maziku spoke to people from Wanjiru’s inner circle.

In their book, they describe how the super athlete is confronted with the downsides of his international fame.

How he ran on a road with a dead end.

In collaboration with a Dutch pathologist, the authors found evidence of a cover up and their final conclusions are staggering.

Wanjiru remains an intriguing character, a man who gave the marathon a whole new dimension.

“He was someone who brought Kenyan tribes together, but ironically the dark circumstances around his death drove them apart again,” Conijn said on Wednesday.

Conijn raises numerous questions regarding the statements made at the time by his widow Terezah Njeri, with whom they had well publicised run-ins before and, apparently, on the night he died.

The athlete died on the day he returned to Nyahururu from a training camp in Eldoret at the request of his wife, who said she was ill and in need of medical treatment.

After arriving at 9pm to find no one home, the runner drove into town and set on a drinking spree before returning home for the last time.

It is clear that he returned home later that night with a female companion, Margaret Nduta, and that Terezah found them and stormed out in a huff but no one knows yet what precisely happened next as to lead to the runner’s death.

In emailed responses to the Saturday Nation, Conijn is scathing of the police investigation and their failure to extract more information from Terezah, Nduta and the watchman who must have seen more than he said.

He castigates the police for failing to protect the crime scene that was visited by numerous people allowed into the compound on the ill-fated night, saying this was a deliberate move to cover up evidence.

After a year’s review of the evidence and interviews with witnesses and acquaintances of the family, the author lists numerous contradictions that have yet to be answered:

  • How come Terezah, Nduta and the watchman were never thoroughly interrogated?
  • One time Terezah says she discovered Sammy and Nduta in the living room, next time it is the bedroom. Which is the truth?
  • Terezah says she only knew the next day her husband died. But two witnesses (independent from each other) told the author that they found her at the police station 20 minutes after Wanjiru’s death.
  • How come Terezah was not aware of the fall of her husband? She could not have been far and round that time of the night it is very quiet.
  • Terezah is not very clear on the reason why she wanted Sammy to come back to Nyahururu. First she says it was about dowry payment, then to ‘take her to hospital’, and lastly she wanted them to discuss about an investment in a transport firm.
  • Terezah is not very clear on when she came back from Nairobi. And why would she come to hospital in Nyahururu when there are better facilities in Nairobi where she was?
  • Where did the blood in the bedroom come from? Whose was it and did detectives carry out any tests?
  • Why did the police do such shoddy investigation?
  • How come the watchman knows nothing? He claims he knew of the events when he saw Wanjiru under the balcony. Strange, if the story of Terezah is true, there was a lot of shouting before.
  • How come the watchman did not see Nduta in the car when Sammy wanted to enter the compound? The star stopped at the gate and asked him if Terezah was home.
  • Why was Terezah insisting on the funeral? Why not wait till the investigation was finished and the results were published then she would have been off the hook for good?
  • Why are the authorities not cooperating with Sammy’s mother, Hannah, push for more investigation?

The author claims the plot to kill the athlete could have been hatched five months earlier when police found foreign currency equivalent to Sh33 million in his house during a swoop for an alleged illegal pistol.

“On December 31, 2010, police stormed Wanjiru’s house and allegedly found an AK-47 rifle and also took away a small portable safe where they believed a pistol was after Wanjiru declined to open it.

“According to three witnesses (independent from each other) there was Sh33 million ($390,842 by today’s exchange rate). So maybe the police wanted to cover this up, now Wanjiru can never claim the money again.”

Prior to this Wanjiru would buy friends and strangers drinks at local pubs and then proceed to engage in rowdy behaviour, fighting and breaking glasses in pubs which he would later pay with a handsome ‘tip’ for the waiters.

Police officers called to the pub would quickly withdraw after receiving instructions from their seniors not to ‘touch’ Wanjiru.

On December 31, 2010, Wanjiru came home drunk and a quarrel erupted with his wife. Terezah fled as Wanjiru went to collect a gun to “teach her a lesson”.

She ran to Nyahururu Police Station where she reported the matter.

Then Divisional Police Commander Jasper Ombati and CID counterpart Isaac Onyango led a raid on the house during which an AK-47 rifle was recovered and Wanjiru arrested for threatening to kill his wife and his then watchman William Masinde, who had allowed Terezah to drive out of the compound.

Terezah later dropped the charges saying she had forgiven her husband. She also disclosed that they would invest jointly and spend more time together to cement their relationship.

The couple kept off the limelight until February 14 when they turned up for the Valentine’s dinner at the Carnivore Restaurant in Nairobi.

The couple was evidently smitten with each other and the public display of love convinced many people that they had recovered from the tumultuous events that led to the athlete being charged in court for violent conduct.

When Wanjiru won the Olympics gold medal, he organised two homecoming celebrations sponsored by corporate giants. The first was to celebrate the country’s first marathon victory and the second for winning a Sh100 million jackpot marathon in October 2009.

There were meet-the-people tours in Nairobi, Nyeri, Nyahururu, Kinangop, Kipipiri and Ol Kalou which culminated in a State House trip that confirmed Wanjiru’s moment had come early at 21.

Looking back, his Japanese coach could have been right to say the Kenyans who turned out for the tours never took care of Wanjiru’s soul.

And the few who passed for his friends only cared about his deep pockets (money).

“According to me there should be programmes for young athletes. How can you expect them to deal with such amounts of money without any education? Maybe the youngsters should be connected with experienced or former ones who experienced everything,” said Mr Koichi Morishita.

In Japan everybody described him as a very kind young man. When he was second in London and already a big star, he still paced for his team-mates to help them make the Olympics cut. Sammy was an excellent pacer, but in the last few metres he wanted to win, adds Japanese international athletic coach Koichi Morishita.

Morishita says he knew Wanjiru, liked him very much but was still puzzled that he (Wanjiru) remained largely ‘unpredictable’.

“To me it feels as if the tribal culture was insufficient for Wanjiru. Normally the youngsters are controlled by a lack of money and by the elderly. But what to do with a young man who earned more than $6 million? The only solution is they (elders) can control themselves (to keep away from Wanjiru), but the tribal culture seems to be more about social control,” he said in the interview.

That Wanjiru never appreciated his new status is not news. He was often caught up in pub fist fights, and was said to have once drawn a pistol on a pastor after their vehicles were involved in a minor accident.

The shocked pastor reported the incident to police but no action was taken. Only a group of local coaches and athletes visited the marathon icon and urged him to shun binge drinking.

Wanjiru loved his beer and would revel with non-athletes late into the night. Anybody who cared for a free drink, including security officers, was invited to the open party as long as they continued singing praises of the star. As many would say, this was one generous man who knew how to buy beer and liked being praised for what he was.

To fit his stature, Wanjiru would change cars like clothes with top of the range vehicles being his favourite.

But amid all this chaos, the father of two would also find them to nurture, support and donate cash to budding athletes in Nyahururu. He set up a training camp for them.

After the gun fiasco, Wanjiru left Nyahururu and reportedly bought a house in Nairobi where he moved with his young family to escape the bad publicity that was threatening to overcome his prowess on the track.

The Dutch author says Terezah ‘really’ wanted to meet Wanjiru in Nyahururu and not in Nakuru or at their Nairobi home.

“It is not very clear on when she came back from Nairobi. Strange to come back for the hospital in Nyahururu! Why did she want to see Sammy? Sometimes it is about the dowry, the next time he has to take her to the hospital, another time they have to talk about an investment in a transport firm” says the Dutchman.

Wanjiru’s close associates say Terezah kept calling him as he left Eldoret where he had been training for an international race.

Judy Wambui, who bore Wanjiru a son he never saw, says when the star arrived at her house in Nakuru, Terezah called him several times. Wanjiru would later travel to Nyahururu that evening.

And when he arrived, he went drinking turning up at home with Jane Nduta. It’s here that the detail is lost in contradicting tales by the police, his widow and watchman.

Conijn does not believe that Terezah learnt about her husband’s death the next morning. He says Gatheru and a Mr Ngatia said they found her at the police station 20 minutes after the incident.

“How comes Terezah was not aware of the fall of her husband?

According to Nduta, Wanjiru opened balcony door after Njeri locked them in the bedroom.

The CCTV shows Terezah leaving the small gate followed by the watchman who then abruptly turns round and runs towards the balcony.

Confused he runs to the pedestrian gate and goes out. He returns and runs back to the guard house then towards the balcony gesticulating in despair.

Nduta, in an earlier interview with the Nation, said she followed the star to the balcony only to find him missing. She then called the watchman.

“The watchman asked me, can’t you see him lying down here”, but this could not be verified as the security camera at the balcony was not working.

The watchman said Wanjiru jumped over the balcony in a bid to stop Terezah from telling the world he had a woman in the house despite his earlier promise that he would never do that again.

..courtesy of the Saturday nation…

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..Chelsea aim for fresh Reds misery…

Roberto di Matteo’s Chelsea side will face Liverpool at Anfield on Tuesday with renewed hope of securing the top four finish that would guarantee their Champions League qualification.

The two teams will meet just three days after the FA Cup final that ended with Chelsea celebrating a third success in the competition in four years following a 2-1 victory at Wembley.

And while Liverpool have only pride to play for in the rematch, di Matteo’s men were given fresh incentive as Newcastle and Tottenham stumbled in their quest for maximum points.

Had either of those two teams won last weekend, Chelsea’s hopes of finishing fourth in the Premier League would have all but disappeared.

That would have left the Stamford Bridge club needing to win the Champions League final against Bayern Munich to ensure a return to Europe’s premier club competition – and consign the fourth-best team in England to the second-tier Europa League.

But Chelsea could yet provide themselves with an insurance policy against losing the Champions League final by finishing fourth.

That would happen if they beat Liverpool and Blackburn in their final two league games and Tottenham and Newcastle failed to defeat Fulham and Everton respectively on Sunday.

The odds are stacked heavily against them, but Chelsea’s end-of-season revival has shown the danger of dismissing their chances.

First, though, they must carry on where they left off at Wembley.

“It’ll be a bit weird playing them (Liverpool) again so soon after this,” Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard said.

“But we still have two league games to play before the Champions League final and we want to finish as best as we can.

“It will be a lot easier going to Anfield with a win than if we had lost,” added the England international.

Success is breeding self-belief at Chelsea and the prospect of appearing in the Champions League final is providing added motivation.

“We will carry the confidence through and hope it carries on in the Champions League final,” said Lampard.

“We have one more cup final to go, then who knows? It is nice to go into the next game – then the Champions League final – with a win.”

Chelsea, beaten on penalties by Manchester United in the 2008 Champions League final in Moscow, have never won European club’s football greatest prize and Lampard said: “It is huge, we have been close a few times and everyone at the club – the fans as well – is desperate to win it.”

Temporary Chelsea coach di Matteo, the former Blues midfielder put in caretaker charge after Andre Villas-Boas was sacked in March, must decide how to manage his squad after a draining run of games.

Ramires and Didier Drogba were the goal scorers at Wembley and while Ramires seems certain to start at Anfield, Drogba may be rested, paving the way for Fernando Torres to start on his return to his old club.

For Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish, there is the difficult task of raising his players after such a demoralising cup final defeat.

Poor for an hour, the Reds were revived at Wembley by the introduction of striker Andy Carroll who scored one goal and was denied an equaliser only by the heroics of Chelsea keeper Petr Cech.

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard has already set his sights on next season when the Reds, who won the last of their 18 English titles back in 1990, will be expected to improve on a desperately poor league campaign.

“We’ve been fantastic in the cup competitions this year (Liverpool won the League Cup prior to their FA Cup final defeat) and the players deserve a lot of credit for that,” said Gerrard.

However, the England midfielder added: “We haven’t been good enough in the league this year. We deserve criticism and we need to take criticism like men.

“We need to do better. We’re Liverpool Football Club; we’re not seventh or eighth in the league. We’re better than that.”

..Fergie looking for Hughes favour…there’s still hope ..i hope..

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson hopes Manchester City’s “unethical” sacking of Mark Hughes will rebound on them when the Premier League title is decided this coming Sunday.

Table-toppers City, bidding to be crowned champions of England for the first time in 44 years, and title holders United are level on points.

But, crucially, City have a plus eight goal difference difference advantage over their local rivals.

Ferguson saw his side take the race to finish top to the last round of matches with a predictably comfortable 2-0 victory over mid-table Swansea City at Old Trafford on Sunday.

But City’s win at Newcastle by the same scoreline earlier in the day leaves them in pole position to end their long wait to claim the top flight crown.

To end the campaign on May 13, Manchester United travel to Sunderland, who haven’t beaten them in the league in 19 attempts spanning 15 years.

However, City – unbeaten at home in the league this season – will be overwhelming favourites when a relegation-threatened QPR side that have won just three times on the road this season arrive at Eastlands.

The Premier League title has never been decided on goal difference before but this season there is every chance that it will.

Victory for both Manchester clubs – barring a mathematical miracle courtesy of an unlikely eight-goal swing – will spark huge celebrations in the blue half of town.

Hughes was sacked by City in controversial circumstances two-and-a-half years ago and Ferguson hopes the shoddy manner in which the Welshman was treated will prove to be a factor in United’s favour.

The Scot is hoping for a ‘Devon Loch’ style collapse from City similar to the one the luckless horse suffered when leading in the closing stages of the 1956 Grand National steeplechase at Aintree, and with no more fences to jump, he inexplicably sprawled on the turf and lost the race.

“People will think City have both hands on the trophy, and of course it’s going to be very difficult for us to win the league,” conceded Ferguson, whose side have, astonishingly, surrendered an eight-point lead in the last month.

The Scot added: “But you have to think there’s hope. QPR go to City looking for survival. They’re fighting for their lives and need to get something. City are favourites, but QPR have a chance.

“I just wish Mark Hughes was playing for QPR. He was sacked in a very unethical way by City and I’m sure he will remember that. There could be a Devon Loch, you never know. Stranger things have happened.

“We just have to keep going with the right spirit. Hopefully, next week will be the biggest celebration of our lives.”

United eased past Swansea thanks to first-half goals from Paul Scholes and Ashley Young, though the muted celebrations betrayed the feeling in the camp.

Swansea have won just once in their last eight games to remain 12th, and manager Brendan Rodgers said: “We took the game to them as it wore on but we made life hard for ourselves with the two goals we conceded.”

However, a mid-table Premier League finish for a Swansea side only promoted last season is a huge achievement for the Welsh club and Rodgers has made an unusual request to their supporters ahead of Sunday’s finale against Liverpool at Anfield.

“I will be asking all the fans if they can wear as many Elvis Presley costumes as we can because when we got promoted the bookies said there was more chance of seeing Elvis Presley than us staying at this level,” he explained.

 

..your thoughts??

…Mancini super cautious as Man-City eye the coveted title..

Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini adopted a cautious approach after a 2-0 victory at Newcastle left his side on the brink of the Premier League.

Yaya Toure’s two goals at St James’ Park here on Sunday left visitors City top of the table heading into the final round of matches on May 13.

City, who haven’t lost at home in the league all season, will now welcome strugglers QPR. And they go into the match with a plus-eight goal difference advantage over second-placed champions Manchester United.

Assuming City beat QPR, United would have to win by a huge margin away to Sunderland to deny their cross-town rivals a first English title since 1968.

But while United manager Sir Alex Ferguson suggested City had “two hands” on the trophy Mancini, who wrote off his team’s chances when they were eight points adrift of United a month ago, would only say: “Maybe we are the favourites now.

“But, in one game, things can change,” the Italian added. “We should keep our concentration like we have done the last five weeks

“I’m excited because we are top, but it’s not enough. If we play like we did here I think we have a fantastic chance to be champions.”

He added: We’ve still got a difficult game against QPR on the last day.

“At least it doesn’t depend on Manchester United anymore, it depends on us, but we have another game.

“It won’t be easy because QPR are fighting against relegation. If we think we have won the Championship it will be a big mistake.

“All the players have to keep their feet on the floor. I cannot talk about what it would mean to win the title, not until next week.”

Toure, who was freed to moved forward and score his goals after Nigel de Jong went on as a substitute, is also not as convinced as Ferguson that the race is run. “Only one hand on the trophy,” was his verdict.

The Ivory Coast international added: “I always thought I came to this club to make a story. We are not there yet at the moment but it’s important to keep going and try to help our teammates.”

Mancini paid tribute to Toure’s influence on this victory by saying: “He is a fantastic player. He has experience of winning trophies at Barcelona and he has brought that to us.

“We brought him for that reason. He can play in a number of different positions, which is very important to us.”

Meanwhile Newcastle manager Alan Pardew is now convinced City will be crowned champions. “The QPR game is one you would expect them to win,” he said. “If I’m honest, City are the best team we have faced this season.”

This defeat damaged Newcastle’s chance of figuring in the Champions League next season, but they can finish in the top four if they win at Everton this coming Sunday and Tottenham and Arsenal slip up.

“It’s a simple equation – we have to win at Everton, but it may not be enough,” said Pardew.

Despite the defeat, north-east giants Newcastle’s fans stayed behind for a lap of honour from players, who held out for more than an hour and were sensing a victory before Toure struck his first goal in the 70th minute before adding a second late on.

“It was a terrific game,” Pardew said. “You could sense it was real tight, tense affair and we had done our homework on each other. We stopped each other doing what we do well.

“One goal was going to change the face of the game. It needed a bit of quality to do that and Yaya came up with it.

“When the game opened up after the first goal, City looked at their best, but we kept them quiet until then.”

 

Its Certainly a tight race to the Finals..with Rivals Manchester-United Hanging though several goals down..

Manchester United take title race to wire after their win yesterday..

Manchester United ensured the race for the Premier League title will go to the final game of the season as they beat Swansea City 2-0 at Old Trafford on Sunday.

But it proved to be a bitter-sweet day for the reigning champions, who will start as significant underdogs to clinch an unprecedented 20th title as rivals Manchester City close in on their first top-flight crown since 1968.

First-half goals from Paul Scholes and Ashley Young saw Sir Alex Ferguson’s side draw level on points with City at the top of the table, but with a vastly inferior goal difference.

United kept the destiny of the Premier League trophy in doubt until the final round of games on May 13, but having surrendered an eight-point advantage, that promises to be scant reward for Ferguson’s men.

To end the campaign, Manchester United travel to Sunderland, who have not beaten them in the league for 15 years, spanning 19 attempts.

However, City will be overwhelming favourites to beat a relegation-threatened Queens Park Rangers side who have won just three times on the road this season.

The Premier League title has never yet been decided on goal difference, but there is every chance this season that it will.

United will have to better City’s final day result to finish above their near neighbours.

Victories for both – barring a mathematical miracle courtesy of an unlikely nine-goal swing – will spark huge celebrations in the blue half of Manchester.

United kicked off knowing two goals from Yaya Toure had seen City cement their grip on the title with a 2-0 win at Newcastle United earlier in the day.

Asked shortly before the start if City had a hand on the title, Ferguson replied: “Probably two.”

Swansea’s Michel Vorm was by far the busier of the goalkeepers, and the Dutchman was forced into a fine double save to deny Patrice Evra from 20 yards, and then a close-range follow-up from Wayne Rooney.

Michael Carrick was at the heart of things as the hosts finally broke the deadlock in the 28th minute.

Antonio Valencia beat Neil Taylor to make strides down the right before pulling the ball back for the lurking Carrick, who quickly re-directed the ball into the six-yard box.

Swansea had plenty of bodies back to cover, but that failed to prevent Scholes from reacting first to open the scoring with a close-range flick.

The lack of celebration from the veteran midfielder to meet his fourth goal of the season betrayed the true feeling in the United camp, one that their chase was a forlorn one.

United’s second goal arrived four minutes before the break.

Swansea were made to pay for being caught in possession as they attempted to pass out of their own area, Scholes winning the ball to square for Rooney in the penalty box.

The England forward’s snap-shot was blocked, but fell invitingly for Young to curl his eighth goal of the season into the bottom-right corner with a calm right-foot finish from 15 yards.

Rooney wasted a clear opening to claim a career-best 27th Premier League goal of the season after being released by Carrick as Welsh club Swansea were again carved open in ruthless fashion.

Having already secured another season in the top flight, Swansea rarely looked like improving on a dire record at Old Trafford that now sees them without a victory there in nine visits.

Nathan Dyer curled an early long-range effort narrowly over, and David de Gea made a meal of a low 25-yard shot from Gylfi Sigurdsson, before the Spaniard made amends with a fine save to deny Danny Graham from close range after the break.

When De Gea clawed out Sigurdsson’s long-range free-kick shortly after Dyer blazed high and wide from a promising position, the last chance of mounting an improbable comeback had gone.

Defeat left Swansea in 12th place, with only one victory in their last eight league matches going into their final game at home to Liverpool.

Fergie laughs off Mancini mind games..for the Man-U fanatics..like me!

Fergie laughs off Mancini mind games

Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has rubbished claims by Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini that the Premier League title race is over.

Ferguson’s side, who entertain struggling Aston Villa on Sunday, saw their lead at the top of the table cut to five points with five games remaining after a shock midweek defeat at Wigan.

Second placed City can move within two points of their title rivals if they beat Norwich at Carrow Road on Saturday.

Yet Mancini, speaking after his side’s win over West Bromwich Albion on Wednesday, conceded that the title race was over and that United had ‘fantastic spirit’.

Ferguson clearly believes Mancini’s comments are meant to take the pressure off his players and heap it on United.

The Scot laughed off Mancini’s claims and insisted the race for the Premier League is still very much alive.

“I think he maybe picked the wrong time to say it. There’s five games still to go,” Ferguson said on Friday.

“The twists and turns of the Premier League are fascinating and we had to experience that last season when we played Chelsea in the third or fourth final game, a vital game for us, and we won.

“The experience helped us that day and hopefully it does again.

“The Sunday game is the one to focus on. The rest takes care of itself really. After Sunday’s game, which we’ll hopefully win, there’s four games left.

“You eventually whittle all the games away and you’re left with none and hopefully we’ll achieve what we want to achieve.”

United’s defeat at relegation-threatened Wigan ended a run of eight straight top-flight victories, and Ferguson is demanding his side bounce back in style when Villa visit Old Trafford.

Villa, managed by Alex McLeish, are 15th in the table – six points above the relegation zone with six games remaining – after a run of one win in 10 league games.

“Obviously the disappointment of losing that (Wigan) game makes it important we get back on track on Sunday,” added Ferguson, who could recall Paul Scholes and Nani to his starting line-up.

“I think they’re probably safe (Villa) but you never know.

“They’ve six games left and they’re six points clear, they can’t be dead sure.

“As they were against Liverpool and Stoke recently, I expect them to be really determined.

“I think Alex has had a rough first year at the club, not being able to buy players and sold a few players.

“He’s had a couple of bad injuries in losing Richard Dunne and Darren Bent. Of course Bent’s goals are a big loss.

“But Alex is a very capable manager and I think he’s coped with it well.”

Balotelli and Mancini make peace

Balotelli and Mancini make peace

12 Apr 2012 16:58:37

Manchester City’s troubled striker Mario Balotelli has settled his differences with manager Roberto Mancini and could stay at the Premier League club for two more years, his agent said on Thursday.

Controversy has followed the Italian from his rebellious teenage years at Inter Milan to City where his latest indiscretion was another red card in the weekend defeat by Arsenal.

Media reports have speculated Balotelli could be sold to boyhood club AC Milan in the close season given his catalogue of bad behaviour but Mino Raiola has denied the rumours.

“I am in Manchester but not for any transfer business. I have talked with Mario and Mancini, there was a moment of tension but now the situation is calmer,” the agent told Sky Italia TV.

“Mario has understood his errors, he is special in every way, sometimes he makes mistakes without meaning to. There is enormous pressure from the fans on Mario but Manchester City do not intend to sell him.

“He must grow here then in one or two years, we’ll see,” added Raiola.

Mancini knew about his compatriot’s wild streak having managed him at Inter but still brought him to Manchester in August 2010 for €22 million ($28.9 million).

Some fans are blaming the 21-year-old, whose escapades away from the pitch include setting fire to his bathroom with fireworks, for mega-rich City slipping five points behind leaders Manchester United in the race for the league title.

However, Raiola said that although Balotelli will finish his career in Italy, trophies with City are his immediate priority.

“He must stay here, it is not true he is unhappy. When he leaves England he will do it as a winner,” the agent said.

Balotelli’s antics have led Italy coach Cesare Prandelli to question his presence in his Euro 2012 squad.