Dunne undergoes surgery in US

Nemanja Vidic is confident he can recapture his best form for

Manchester United following his injury problems, but accepts it may

take a few games.

The United captain initially suffered a serious knee injury

against Basel 12 months ago before requiring further surgery in

September after making five appearances in the early stages of the

season.

He is expected to be involved against Sunderland on Saturday and

the centre-half is ready to play his part in United’s bid to regain

the Premier League title.

“I have worked hard to be the same player again and I have the

determination not to drop the quality of my game,” Vidic told The

Sun.

“There will be pressure. When you play for United you don’t have

time for people to wait for you.

“When I got the first injury I was out for six months and people

were saying ‘Is he going to be the same? ‘Can he play for

United?’

“This is the challenge you have to deal with. But when you have

been out for the best part of a year – after having always played –

I think I will need to go through a few games to get my form back

but I’m confident that I can deal with that.

“Obviously, it’s a challenge for me when I come back, firstly to

be in the same form as I was but also to help the team.

“As someone who has had six years here and, at 31, with some

good years still left to play, I feel a responsibility.”

The 31-year-old is also hoping that he does not suffer a further

setback following the most difficult 12 months of his United

career.

He added: “It is not going to be nice if something happens

again. Definitely you can have that in your mind but once you are

on the pitch you just play and do not have time for that. I have

worked hard with the physios, physically I have been strengthening

the legs.

“It is obviously different playing from the start of the season.

Now I am coming into December and the rest of my team-mates are on

top of their games.

“I am having to come in. But I think I have worked hard and will

manage that.”

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On the day City confirmed annual losses of ?97.9million, and

again privately repeated they had no intention of strengthening

their squad next month even if they fall further behind Manchester

United, Mancini outlined why they might have to.

The Blues chief confirmed he had virtually given up hope of

persuading Yaya Toure to remain in England instead of heading to

the African Nations Cup with the Ivory Coast.

Even Mancini’s belief that Toure will remain until after City’s

FA Cup tie with Watford on January 5 seems a bit optimistic if past

experiences are anything to go by.

Brother Kolo is also expected to be part of the Ivory Coast

squad, whilst Mancini also anticipates young midfielder Abdul Razak

will be called away by coach Sabri Lamouchi for the tournament in

South Africa, which begins on January 19.

But the news gets even worse.

Mancini has also revealed Jack Rodwell has suffered a recurrence

of the hamstring problems that have restricted him to just six

appearances since his summer move from Everton and have already

kept him out for over two months.

“I don’t know,” said Mancini, when asked whether he needed to

strengthen his squad.

“We will have to see what happens when the players are all

recovered.

“I am worried because for us because Yaya is really important

and to lose him for all that time in January will be really

difficult.

“But we do not just lose him. We lose his brother. Probably

Abdul as well.

“Also, Jack has hurt his hamstring again. We need to work harder

with him because he is a good player and a good man. He deserves to

play without a problem.”

Mancini confirmed he was considering whether to send Rodwell to

a specialist to see if City can discover any underlying problem for

a player the Italian was convinced could have a major impact this

season.

If that was bad enough, there have also been reports of dressing

room unrest, specifically rows with both Joe Hart and Mario

Balotelli immediately after the United defeat.

In both instances, it is easy to see why Mancini might have a

problem.

He called for a four-man wall at the fateful free-kick from

which Robin van Persie scored the winner, only for Hart to overrule

him to get Carlos Tevez to mark Wayne Rooney.

And if Mancini’s public condemnation of Balotelli’s inept

display was repeated behind closed doors, the fiery Italian is

unlikely to have been too impressed.

“It is usual for me to talk to the players,” said Mancini.

“Also some times you can have a discussion.

“But I prefer to keep it in the dressing room, not like some

other people who talk outside.

“For me it is not like this. We know where these stories comes

from.”

With skipper Vincent Kompany sidelined for Saturday’s trip to

Newcastle by a hamstring strain and Gareth Barry suspended, it

merely adds to the sense of chaos after Sunday’s defeat, which left

them six points adrift in the title race.

Yet the defeat left Mancini more convinced than ever that City

are actually the better of the two Manchester teams.

“We showed we are better,” he said.

“For 20 minutes they did not touch the ball. They had two

chances and we made mistakes for the first two goals.

“Afterwards, in the second-half, they played with all their

players in their own half.

“I don’t say they were lucky because United are a strong team.

But it is not like it was three years ago when they were

better.

“Now they are not better than us. But they know they had to

defend well for all the second half.”

Mancini is certainly not buying the argument that his team are

inferior to the one which swept all before them in the first half

of last season.

Not even a disastrous Champions League campaign, when his side

picked up only three points from their six games, the worst return

of any English club in the competition’s history, can change that

assessment.

“We have had a good season in the Premier League so far,” he

said.

“We are only six points behind United.”

While many gave up on Torres ever coming good at Stamford

Bridge, Mata never lost faith that his fellow Spaniard would

eventually begin to justify his record-breaking ?50million price

tag.

And the last 10 days have proven him right, with Torres netting

in three successive matches for the first time in his Chelsea

career, bagging five goals in all.

Winger Mata said: “This is what I saw from him in training all

those weeks and months, so I knew it would happen.

“And when I said I could see it coming, that was true. Fernando

was, is and will be always an important player.

“He is a very good striker for us. Now you can see he is fully

fit and we have a lot of confidence in him.”

Torres’s revival has mirrored that of Chelsea as they have

shaken off their worst slump for 15 years in the Barclays Premier

League to win three straight games in all competitions.

One more against Corinthians on Sunday and they will win the

Club World Cup.

“That’s what we’re trying to do,” said Mata, who claimed the

“intensity and confidence” was back at Chelsea under interim

manager Rafael Benitez.

“We’re trying to play in a good way. I think the best way to win

is with the ball and that is what we are looking to do now.”

Chelsea comfortably beat Monterrey in Thursday’s semi-final and

Mata added: “That was the sort of football the manager has told us

he wants to see, wants us to play.

“But having come out here, so far, we are only halfway. We have

to finish the job on Sunday.

“We know that Corinthians are one of the best teams in South

America, so we will have to play at our best level.”

Especially in possession.

“It will be the main point for the game for us – whether we can

keep the ball or not,” Mata said.

“We know they are a team who likes to play with the ball, a

typical Brazilian team.

“But we have players as well who want to play that way.

“We want to have the ball, to make passes, create chances and

assists.”

The duo managed to keep the Hammers in the top flight but were

still dismissed in May 2010 by new owners David Sullivan and David

Gold, to be replaced by Avram Grant.

But Clarke is philosophical about being axed and insists the

credit crunch was a big factor in why he and Zola lost their

jobs.

Speaking ahead of Sunday’s Premier League clash against the

Hammers at The Hawthorns, Clarke said: “The new owners came in and

assessed what they thought they had to do at the club. They made

that decision and that’s the owners’ job.

“They have to decide what is the best way forward for their

club, and that’s what Mr Sullivan and Mr Gold did at the time.

“What happened the next season is ifs and buts. If you look at

it, though, we didn’t make any progress.

“The year before we’d finished in the top 10. The second season

was a lot more difficult but there were a lot of extenuating

circumstances at West Ham.”

Clarke added: “When I first went into that job it was on the

promise that we’d always have money to spend in the transfer

windows and we were going to push on into the top six.

“But within a fortnight of being in the club, the credit crunch

collapse happened. The then Icelandic owner Bjorgolfur

Gudmundsson’s bank went bust.

“The circumstances changed completely. There was a gradual

erosion of the squad and it was an achievement just to keep West

Ham in the Premier League that year.”

Clarke still believes his time at Upton Park was a valuable

learning curve in his career.

He said: “I’ve learned lessons from every job I’ve been at. The

West Ham job was good because I’d come out of Chelsea where success

was part and parcel of the season.

“Then I went to a club where it was more difficult, and you had

to find different ways to motivate players.

“You had to find different ways to get results on a Saturday,

which is what we were judged on.”

There was a perception in some quarters that Clarke was not

tough enough for the demands of the role and was “too nice”.

But he claimed: “I’ve never actually been called too nice

before. Obviously the owners didn’t know me too well.

“I think people who know me realise there’s an edge there if it

needs to be there.

“It doesn’t mean to say you have to go around being a nasty guy

all the time to get that image.

“If I need to have an edge, I can have an edge.”

Clarke admits that side of his character has seldom been seen

during the current campaign given the Baggies’ fine form.

He said: “If we’d lost 10 games this season, there might be more

of an edge about me.

“I don’t see why I should be angry or disappointed with the

efforts of this group of players. Hopefully they never see it.

“I’m not going to sit here and say I haven’t shouted at them and

had cross words. It happens. In environments, you can lose your

temper a bit.”

Dunne initially suffered the setback when part of the Republic

of Ireland’s Euro 2012 campaign.

He underwent early season surgery and had to undergo a further

operation after returning to training last month.

Now the former Manchester City player has again gone under the

knife in the hope it will finally bring an end to his spell out of

action.

Villa manager Paul Lambert said: “Dunny got hurt at the Euros

and it’s never really cleared up. I think that’s where it’s come

from.

“He had another operation yesterday in America so hopefully once

and for all that will be cleared up.

“I think America was the only place he could get that done.

He’ll come back in the next few days and hopefully then start his

rehab and get going again.

“It’s all stemmed from his hip area.

“We tried to sort out one thing and then it went to another,

then it’s gone to another thing. I’ve never seen anything like

this. I don’t think the medical people have seen anything like

this.”

Lambert insists Villa have not looked at trying to obtain

compensation from the Football Association of Ireland over the

matter.

He said: “I’ve not gone down that road. Injuries can happen to

players, sometimes you get to the bottom of it, sometimes it takes

longer than you think.

“As a footballer you get frustrated because you can’t put your

finger on what’s gone wrong with you. Hopefully this time this has

worked.”

Lambert is hoping a sickness bug at Bodymoor Heath this week is

under control ahead of Saturday’s clash at Liverpool.

He said: “There are one or two who have not felt too good. I

hope it is not too bad.

“Stephen Ireland missed the Norwich game with it. He came in

yesterday and did a little bit so we will see how he is feeling

again before the Liverpool game.”

Lambert refused to speculate on whether striker Darren Bent’s

hamstring injury will have any bearing on the future of the player

ahead of January’s transfer window.

Bent made his first start for six weeks in the Capital One Cup

quarter-final at Carrow Road in midweek but limped off after half

an hour.

He is now facing “a few weeks” out of action and has been ruled

out of the festive programme.

Lambert said: “I thought he looked sharp considering he hadn’t

played for a number of weeks. He had a good chance to score.

“The thing with Darren is he gets into those positions where he

can score. It’s just unfortunate that he made a run and he has done

something to his hamstring.

“Could it affect what happens to him in January? It is what it

is. We just concentrate on the games coming up.

“I’ve not said that (what might happen) one way or another. It’s

just unfortunate we have a player who is injured.”