posted 04 Jun 2013, 21:39
Arsene Wenger has gone public with his interest in England's talisman, with the Gunners preparing to put together a salary package that can entice the Manchester United man.▼36 comments
Wayne Rooney will give serious consideration to a move to Arsenal this summer if they can match his salary demands, Goal understands.
England’s talisman is ready to sever his ties with Manchester United as he sets his sights on a new club next season.
Chelsea, Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain are among the big-spending continental outfits who are closely monitoring Rooney’s situation but Arsenal, armed with the biggest transfer kitty in the club’s history, are regarded by insiders to be serious contenders to land the forward. Goal revealed early last month that Arsenal had joined the scramble to sign the 27-year-old.
Arsene Wenger has since gone public with his interest and outlined the challenge new United manager David Moyes has in “bridging the gap” with Rooney after successfully suing him for libel in 2008.
Goal has learned that Rooney’s camp have given informal indications to Arsenal that the player would be interested in a shock summer switch to the north Londoners.
He is believed to be keen on being the marquee player in the team once again after seeing his status downgraded at Old Trafford last season, while the opportunity for a fresh challenge at an established Champions League club and playing alongside fellow England internationals Jack Wilshere, Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is also said to appeal to Rooney.
A transfer fee of £20-25million is affordable for Arsenal but the Londoners will have to make Rooney the best-paid player in the club’s history to entice him to Emirates Stadium.
He has two years remaining on a United contract worth up to £250,000-a-week and will not accept a drop in salary.
Arsenal have employed a tight wage structure in recent years, with their current top earners Theo Walcott and Thomas Vermaelen on around £90,000-a-week.
However, the cash-rich north Londoners will be armed with a kitty of up to £100m this summer and have also recently secured lucrative new sponsorship and kit manufacturing contracts with Emirates and Puma that will give Wenger more money to spend on transfers and salaries than ever before.
The Gunners paid Thierry Henry the equivalent of £200,000-a-week in 2006-07, the final season of his first spell at the club, and also upped Cesc Fabregas’ wages to £110,000-a-week to keep him at Arsenal in 2009 following sustained interest from Barcelona.
Arsenal are preparing to put together a package that, including performance-related bonuses, image rights and signing-on fee, will match his current United deal.
Wenger, who is close to making Swansea City’s Ashley Williams his first major signing of the summer and has also made a formal move for QPR goalkeeper Julio Cesar, wants to make a statement of intent this summer by signing a world-class forward.
Arsenal’s move for Fiorentina striker Stevan Jovetic has stalled as the Serie A club hold out for a £25m fee, while the likes of Edin Dzeko and Bayern Munich-bound Robert Lewandowski have also been firm targets.
But Wenger is believed to be increasingly hopeful of being in a position to entice Rooney from United.
Speaking in an interview with Al-Jazeera that was screened on Monday, the Frenchman said: “Rooney could be an interesting player for everyone in the world. Who would turn him down? The challenge Moyes faces with him – the first challenge - is to go into Manchester and bridge the gap between him and Rooney.
"Is that feasible or not? That depends on the personality. Does Rooney bear a grudge or not? We will see that. You face all these challenges as a manager. It will be interesting to see how that will be handled.”
Contrary to reports that Rooney’s relationship with Sir Alex Ferguson is central to his desire to quit the club he joined in 2004, sources have told Goal that the striker is unwilling to work under former boss Moyes, who was his first manager in professional football.
Publicly, the new Premier League champions have insisted Rooney is “not for sale” but they could be hemmed into a corner if he pushes hard for a transfer as his current transfer value will quickly depreciate once he enters the final 24 months of his contract without extending it.
posted 14 Jun 2012, 21:36
Faster, thinner laptops with hi-res screens. FaceTime video chatting over cellular networks. And a smarter Siri.▼10 comments
But no upgrades to Apple TV -- at least, not yet.
That, in brief, is what Apple will be rolling out to its users over the next six months. The company announced these updates, and a bunch of other significant if not surprising news, during a keynote presentation Monday kicking off its annual developers' conference.
The most impressive new product announced Monday may be a new MacBook laptop with a high-resolution display that Apple says will contain 5 million pixels -- 3 million more than an HD television.
"The new MacBook Pro is the most advanced Mac we have ever built," said Apple CEO Tim Cook.
The new "retina display" MacBook Pro measures 15.5 inches across and contains an Intel quad-core i7 processor. It will feature up to 16GB of memory and up to 768GB of internal flash storage, Marketing Vice President Phil Schiller told attendees. It goes on sale today.
Schiller said the new computer's display -- similar to the one in the company's newest iPad -- is the highest-resolution display of any notebook, or simple laptop, on the market. Users will get up to 7 hours of battery life, he said.
The laptop is about .7 inches thick and weighs less than 4.5 pounds -- about the size and weight of a MacBook Air, he said. Prices for the new MacBook Pro will start at $2,199 for a model with 8GB of memory.
Schiller also unveiled other MacBook Pros without high-res displays but with processors he said will be 60% faster than current models. The 13-inch model will sell for $1,199 to $1,499, depending on storage, while the 15-inch will be $1,799 to $2,199. They start shipping today, he said.
Schiller also introduced MacBook Air laptops with faster, new-generation Intel core processors. Prices for the 11-inch MacBook Air range from $999 to $1,199 -- $100 less than before -- while the 14-inch is $1,199 and $1,499. They also become available today, which explains why Apple's online store was down Monday morning.
There was no word Monday on retina-display screens for the MacBook Air.
"The products we make, combined with the apps that you create, can fundamentally change the world," Cook told developers in closing the keynote. "And, really, I can't think of a better reason for getting up in the morning."
iOS 6 and Siri
Apple also announced Monday that an improved version of voice-controlled "assistant" Siri is coming to iPhones -- and, for the first time, to the iPad -- as part of its newest mobile operating system. A more efficient Siri will be part of iOS 6, the next generation of the Apple system that runs iPhones and iPads.
That system, which enhances mobile devices with more than 200 new features, is expected to be available this fall.
Siri is going international: In addition to English and a handful of other languages she will now process Spanish, Italian, Korean, Mandarin and Cantonese -- a nod to Apple's growing popularity in China.
Users will be able to ask Siri to update their status on Facebook, post to Twitter or launch an app.
Siri also is becoming more of a sports fan. She will deliver scores and stats, and as seen in an onstage demo can even tell you which basketball player is taller -- Kobe Bryant or LeBron James (it's LeBron, in case you're wondering).
In other iOS 6 news, Apple announced that its FaceTime video-chat feature for newer iPhones and iPads will work over cellular networks, not just Wi-Fi.
As expected, Apple also is developing its own GPS-based mapping application to replace Google Maps in iOS 6. The product will work with Siri to offer voice-controlled, turn-by-turn navigation, letting motorists use it to guide them through unfamiliar neighborhoods.
"In iOS 6 we have built an entire new mapping system from the ground up. And it looks beautiful," said Senior VP for iOS Scott Forstall. "We're covering the world."
The Apple maps will include a local search feature, integrated with Yelp, that already has 100 million business listings, Forstall says. Apple also will enhance its maps with a real-time traffic application that will include anonymous, crowdsourced information from users.
Apple's maps app also will include a Flyover feature, which offers interactive 3-D views of popular cities..
Apple also said the next generation of its OS X operating system for laptops and desktops, dubbed Mountain Lion, will be available next month for $19.99. Mountain Lion will contain more than 2,000 new features, including iMessages, speech-to-text dictation and predictive "smart search" in the Safari browser.
The new Mountain Lion system also adds something called Power Nap, a new feature that keeps your laptop up to date while it sleeps by automatically refreshing mail, contacts and other apps.
Thirty billion apps and counting
The event runs through Friday and is the company's first World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) since co-founder and longtime chief Steve Jobs died last fall.
As usual, Cook began the keynote with a batch of new stats about Apple's impressive growth. The App Store now has 400 million accounts -- the largest number of accounts with credit cards anywhere on the Internet, he said. Some 650,000 apps are now available.
"Customers have now downloaded an astounding 30 billion apps," Cook said.
Many observers had expected Apple to announce upgrades to its Apple TV, the little box that lets users stream movies and other content from iTunes to their televisions. Experts had said such a move could be a step towards Apple launching its own TV set. But Apple made no mention of its TV product Monday.
Apple has sometimes used past WWDCs to unveil new iPhones. But because its most recent model, the iPhone 4S, launched only eight months ago, most observers don't expect the next one to come until the fall.
By Brandon Griggs and Doug Gross
posted 03 Jun 2012, 10:21
When Apple CEO Tim Cook took the stage at the All Things Digital Conference Tuesday night, he wasn't just answering questions from Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher — he was also dropping hints about the future of Apple's product roadmap.
Sure, a lot of his answers just regurgitated the same pat, familiar themes we've heard from Cook and other Apple executives: The iPad is taking the world by storm. The iPhone's doing great. The iPod has been the gateway drug for a new generation of Apple and Mac users.
But even Tim Cook can't completely stick to the script. During his interview, he teased a few interesting tidbits — which we present here along with analysis on what his words actually mean.
Siri should improve in the near future
Last week a former Apple employee reportedly said that former Apple CEO Steve Jobs would have "lost his mind" over Siri, and that employees are embarrassed by the virtual assistant. But luckily for Apple, any embarrassment should soon abate.
"There's more that [Siri] can do, and we have a lot of people working on this," Cook said. "And I think you will be really pleased with some of the things you'll see over the coming months on this. We have some cool ideas about what Siri can do. We have a lot going on on this."
Clearly, Apple wants to evolve Siri, and lift its current "beta" status. A recent study may have found that 66 percent of iPhone 4S users are either "satisfied" or "very satisfied" with Siri, but Apple has still been hit with a class-action suit from users who feel Siri was deceptively advertised.
In a final, non-beta version of Siri, Apple's virtual assistant would be better equipped to parse the nuances of human dialog. We should be able to talk to Siri as if she were an actual assistant. If a query needs clarification, she should be able to ask you much more specific questions to determine exactly what you need.
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Siri's capabilities should also expand via new database partnerships. Yelp and Wolfram|Alpha are great wealths of information, but Siri needs even more sources of human intelligence. In the original Siri iOS app, you could make OpenTable restaurant reservations using Siri. I would expect this and similar functionality to return.
You should also be able to use Siri to post tweets, and eventually Facebook status updates as well (other virtual assistant appsalready do this). I would imagine that Apple will eventually open up Siri to third-party developers, so they could incorporate her voice recognition, dictation, and search features within their own apps, making Siri useful and ubiquitous system-wide.
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Apple's leaving wearables to third parties
Don't expect Apple to debut a headset or wrist-worn iDevice any time soon. Apple hasn't bought into the wearable fad, illustrated most notably by the Nike Fuel Band and Pebble Smartwatch. On the topic of wearables, Cook said:
"I have on a Nike Fuel Band. I think there are some cool things that can be done. I think it is an interesting area. The question is, Can it change somebody's behavior? The book hasn't been written on that yet."
Of course, Apple does promote the iPod nano as a watch replacement, so it's not like the company is completely ignoring the trend. But, for now, it looks like Apple won't be releasing any trendy wearable gadgets to jump on the bandwagon — and, in fact, there's no need to.
Developing new hardware, especially in the relatively immature wearable space, takes a lot of time, money, and intellectual resources. So Apple has much more to gain by letting other manufacturers make wearable accessories — which inevitably hook into Apple's existing ecosystem via iOS apps. Apple reaps the benefit of increased iDevice purchases and upgrades, and even takes a 30 percent cut of any paid app that a wearable computing manufacturer might sell.
Expect Facebook-Apple collaboration
Historically, Apple and Facebook haven't always seen eye-to-eye — a collaboration between Facebook and Apple reportedly failed prior to the release of Apple's Ping social network, and Facebook has since cozied up with Microsoft on its Windows Phone platform. Nonetheless, it doesn't look like past conflicts are preventing Apple and Facebook from working together in the future.
"I think the relationship is very solid," Cook said of Apple's relationship with Facebook. "We have great respect for them. I think we can do more with them. Just stay tuned on this one."
Just stay tuned? Cook might as well just have told us, "Yes, Facebook and Apple are teaming up right now." iOS already features deep Twitter integration, and significant Facebook integration is a glaring omission.
It's not a stretch to think iOS 6 could yield greater Facebook integration like what the OS already provides for Twitter (indeed, code in an iOS 5 beta hinted at just such a thing). Perhaps we'll find out more during Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference in a few weeks' time. Or perhaps we'll have to wait until the next iPhone is announced, likely in October. Whatever the case, we have to assume that Cook wants to see Facebook tools integrated throughout the mobile OS.
Apple is deeply interested in the TV space
Apple is widely rumored to be working on its own TV set, which many consumers are eager to get their hands on. Cook is still playing coy about the subject, but more than ever before it sounds like Apple is actively exploring the TV space.
"This is an area of intense interest for us," Cook said about theApple TV set-top box, the company's current living-room content solution. "We are going to keep pulling the string and see where this takes us."
Could it take Apple to a full-fledged television set? Cook wouldn't directly say. Instead, he commented on Apple's strategy upon entering a new product area: "We would look not just at this area, but other areas, and ask, Can we control the key technology? Can we make a significant contribution far beyond what others have done in this area? Can we make a product that we all want? ... Those are all the things we would ask about any new product category."
Cook didn't answer his own questions, but we can.
Can Apple control the key technology? Yes. Apple already dominates manufacturing in a number of overseas factories. It's a master of supply-chain control. There should be little doubt that Apple can control the key technology, both on the manufacturing side, and the patents-software side.
Can Apple make a significant contribution to the TV space? Yes. Through a dedicated, TV-optimized version of Siri and a smart TV UI based on trademark Apple simplicity and aesthetics, Apple could advance the state of TV usability.
Can Apple make a TV we all want? Yes. As we reported above, consumers are excited by the prospect of an Apple-branded HD television. Come on, Tim! The questions you posed are softballs. You've basically announced that an iTV is all but inevitable.
No more lost iPhones?
"We're going to double down on secrecy on products," Cook said. "But, on other things — supplier responsibility, environmental issues, etc., Apple will be the most transparent company."
In a one-year period, Apple reportedly lost two iPhones: an iPhone 4 prototype in the spring of 2010 that made its way onto Gizmodo, and an iPhone 4S prototype that never made it into the public eye. And just this week, 9to5 Mac scored some images of what could be the next iPhone.
For a company that likes to keep upcoming product information under lock and key, such mishaps are monumental. Perhaps Apple will implement a new or different product testing program — one that doesn't involve its beta testers drinking at bars?
Joking aside, keeping multiple thousands of Foxconn workers from pulling out their own cameras and sending a few shots to the press for a quick buck would be a huge endeavor. Apple's next lines of defense might involve much more sophisticated device tagging, and elaborate sting operations, using deliberate bits of misinformation to smoke out moles who are giving up secrets.
Ping's days are numbered
"We tried Ping and I think the customer voted and said this isn't something that I want to put a lot of energy into," Cook said. "Will we kill it? I don't know, I'll look at it."
The first day Ping came out, we were excited to check it out and join the music-centric social network. Unfortunately, it just didn't stick, and Apple's aware of that. Rather than make a big announcement about its demise, we'd hazard that Apple will likely quietly put it to pasture some time in the next year or two.
By Christina Bonnington,
posted 02 Jun 2012, 17:46
Five games to watch at E3▼10 comments
"Call of Duty: Black Ops II," due in November, spans a cinematic storyline that propels the action into 2025.
• A slow year for video games will pick up at E3 next week
• Bucking the trend, "Resident Evil 6" actually had release date moved up
• Master Chief will be back in "Halo IV"
• "Call of Duty: Black Ops 2" will move the action into the future
The video game industry has had a slow start to the year, but that's about to change.
As the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) takes over the Los Angeles Convention Center this week, the biggest games of this year and next will be showcased in front of 45,000 attendees. With a big slate of blockbusters scheduled to hit retail shelves this holiday, things are looking up for gaming.
The game industry is growing rapidly through new business models like free-to-play games, mobile games and cloud-based gaming. But it still relies on big-name titles to fill its coffers and entice gamers to spend an inordinate amount of time on multiplayer experiences online.
Like Hollywood, game publishers are counting on bestselling franchises and sequels to attract the growing demographic of people who play games.
There are a lot of games at E3, but these five titles will stand out. Collectively they should provide hours of new interactive entertainment to gamers around the world once they're released over the coming year.
"Resident Evil 6" (Capcom, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC, October 2, 2012)
In a rarity in the game industry, where delays are commonplace, Capcom actually moved up the release date for this much-anticipated horror sequel.
"Resident Evil 6"
The "6" in the title holds a deeper meaning, as this "Resident Evil" offers three distinct, yet interconnected, two-player cooperative gameplay experiences. Set 10 years after the events that ravaged Raccoon City, these globe-trotting survival horror stories feature six unique characters that gamers control to contend with the new C-Virus plague.
The zombies in this game are smarter, faster and even wield weapons, upping the ante and requiring that second player's sharpshooting help. The development team is going for a more Hollywood feel with this blend of action and terror.
Gamers will actually get a double-dose of this franchise with Sony Pictures releasing "Resident Evil: Retribution 3D" in theaters September 14.
"Halo 4" (Microsoft, 343 Industries, Xbox 360, November 6, 2012)
"Halo" developer Bungie has moved on to an original franchise for Activision, leaving Microsoft to turn to new developer 343 Industries for the first in the Reclaimer Trilogy of Halo games.
Set four years after the events of "Halo 3," Master Chief returns with a new setting (the planet Requiem) but the same beloved first-person shooter action that has sold over 40 million games around the globe.
The new game will further explore the man beneath the mask, John-117, while pushing multiplayer forward. Gamers can create their own Spartan IV warrior for multiplayer and engage in a four-player cinematic adventure in the new Spartan Ops or jump into massive competitive arenas with War Games. All multiplayer will be linked through the UNSC Infinity starship to keep players immersed in this rich sci-fi universe.
"Call of Duty: Black Ops II" (Activision, Treyarch, PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, November 13, 2012)
With the "Call of Duty" franchise breaking entertainment launch records every year and raking in over $1 billion per release, developer Treyarch is catapulting the first-person shooter action into the future. "Call of Duty: Black Ops II" spans a cinematic storyline that propels the action into 2025, although some backstory gameplay will focus on the 1980s.
With American cities like Los Angeles under attack from flying drones and robots, players must contend with terrorist Raul Menendez, who's turned America's own military technology against itself. Treyarch is introducing more open-world gameplay to the mix and promises a more robust multiplayer experience (with all those new drones and robots), as well as an expanded Zombies mode with more undead enemies to contend with.
"Crysis 3" (Electronic Arts, Crytek, PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, 2013)
Crytek returns to a future Big Apple, circa 2047, in this first-person shooter, although New York has never looked quite like this. Players will explore a massive Nanodome called the New York City Liberty Dome, which offers a diverse range of environments known as the Seven Wonders.
Taking control of the Nanosuit-armed Prophet, skyscrapers have been replaced by an urban rainforest teeming with overgrown trees, dense swamplands and raging rivers. It's within this landscape that players will hunt Ceph aliens and Cell Corporation henchmen using a composite bow (armed with the latest technology) and an assortment of high-powered weapons from Earth and beyond.
Crytek is blending the best of both worlds from its first two bestsellers and offering gamers more options in both the campaign and multiplayer experiences this time around.
"Dead Space 3" (Electronic Arts, Visceral Games, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, 2013)
In space, no one can hear you scream. With Ridley Scott terrifying a new generation of audiences with "Prometheus," Electronic Arts' Visceral Games is bringing more alien horror to gamers. In "Dead Space 3," Isaac Clarke crash lands on a snowswept planet that just happens to be overrun with alien Necromorphs.
"Dead Space 3."
After contending with these assorted alien monstrosities in the past, Clarke has new weapons and technology to help him perform the strategic dismemberment that has become the cornerstone of the franchise. The subzero planet adds a twist to the gameplay with more open, and hostile, environments to explore and even bigger creatures to content with.
Fans of the franchise will also see a return of the more close-quarters, don't-be-afraid-of-the-dark areas, as well as those signature zero-gravity sequences. "Dead Space 3" is slated to scare gamers in the dead of winter early next year.
By John Gaudiosi,
posted 19 May 2012, 22:31
Woroud Sawalha knows she won't win a medal at the London Olympics. She isn't likely to get beyond the first round of the 800 meters.▼7 comments
But for the 20-year-old and her three teammates, just competing under the Palestinian flag is a source of pride.
The appearance itself is controversial: the U.N. does not recognize a Palestinian state but athletes have been allowed to compete under a Palestinian flag by the International Olympic Committee and soccer's ruling body FIFA since 1996 and 1998 respectively.
"It means a lot for me that I am female and representing Palestine,".
"I will represent my hometown Asira ash-Shamaliya, Palestine and my university."
Asira ash-Shamaliya is a village of fewer than 10,000 inhabitants in the northern West Bank, where protests and tear gas form part of everyday life in a region still fighting for independence from Israel after two decades of struggle.
Sawalha, who will be immediately recognizable by her black headscarf, long-sleeved top and long trousers, knows that when she steps up to the line in London, she won't just be representing herself.
"This will reflect on my female friends and on sports in Palestine," she said. "Maybe the view of girls will change from practicing sports in a more professional way and more freely in front of people."
The International Olympic Committee is hopeful that the 2012 Games will be the first to feature female athletes on every team.
Three teams have never sent women. Palestinians have competed in the Olympics under their flag since 1996, sending their first female athlete in 2000.
However, Sawalha believes the fact that she was only told six months ago that she would be going to London is a sign of how lightly women's sport is taken in the Palestinian territories.
She had her first taste of top-level international competition earlier this year at the world indoor championships in Istanbul.
She clocked two minutes 51.87 seconds in her heat for a personal best that was still more than 53 seconds slower than the gold medal-winning time.
Given her lack of preparation and the scant training resources available in her homeland, Sawalha knows a medal is beyond her, so her target is to further improve her personal best.
"Miracles do happen, and with God's help I will hopefully get a good result," she said. "Since they selected me for the Olympics, my running time has gone from four minutes to just under three, so I've seen a big improvement."
Training on pot-holed roads in Gaza, dodging cars and horses and carts, Bahaa al-Farra knows that only so much improvement is possible.
Like Sawalha, the 400-meter runner must rely on an invitation from the IOC to compete in London because neither has reached the required qualifying standard.
When he isn't running, al-Farra works out in a dingy public gym with shabby white concrete walls.
I need a proper track to train on -- at the moment I just run on the roads or on sand
Palestine athlete Bahaa al-Farra
"I need a proper track to train on," he said. "At the moment I just run on the roads or on sand. Also, proper starting blocks are unavailable in Gaza."
So when he arrives in London, he'll not only have the daunting prospect of a first Olympic Games to consider but he'll also have to quickly get accustomed to unfamiliar conditions.
"Hopefully, the lack of training tools won't affect me, and I can prove to the world that we can compete even without them," he said.
For al-Farra, competing in London won't leave him completely fulfilled. He hopes it is only the start of a long athletics career.
"My dream is to become a world-known runner and compete with world champions in overseas competitions and hopefully I can achieve my dream in the near future," he said.
"My dream is to do something for Palestine and show the world that Palestine deserves to live and stand on the podium."
By Matthew Chance and Caroline Cheese
posted 18 May 2012, 13:14
It's not a phrase that usually gets said out loud, but you have to feel sorry for Cristiano Ronaldo.▼18 comments
The Real Madrid player has just finished the season of his life, winning Spain's La Liga while vanquishing the club's hated Catalan foes Barcelona.
He scored more goals than he ever has before too, 46 in the league to be precise, and 60 overall. Yet even though Madrid finished nine points clear of second place, it is Barca's Lionel Messi that still gets all the attention.
"Some people say I'm better, other people say it's him, but at the end of the day, they're going to decide who is the best player," Ronaldo told in an exclusive interview before this weekend's Champions League final between Bayern Munich and Chelsea at Munich's Allianz Arena.
"At the moment ... I think it is me," he laughs.
European football season review
"Sometimes (the comparisons with Messi) makes me tired ... for him too because they compare us together all the time.
Messi breaks Barcelona's all-time scoring record
"You cannot compare a Ferrari with a Porsche because it's a different engine. You cannot compare them. He does the best things for Barcelona, I do the best things for Madrid.
"I think we push each other sometimes in the competition, this is why the competition is so high. This is why Madrid and Barcelona are the best teams in the world because everyone pushes each other, not just me and Messi but other players."
Good cop/bad cop
Perhaps Ronaldo is right. The world needs the "good cop/bad cop" routine of Messi and Ronaldo to bring the best out of both them. It might be the reason why neither has set the world alight on the international stage.
But while Messi is hailed as a secular saint, Ronaldo is derided for his self-confidence, some would say over-confidence. How does he cope with the vitriol he provokes in opposition fans?
"Sometimes, you have to put on a mask. You cannot smile every time for all the people. It's impossible, I cannot do that," he says.
"This is not my type of personality. And people really don't know me. And I do it for that because I don't want every person to know me, just close friends ... you know, my friends, teammates. These people know me very well. Other people, to be honest, I really don't care about that."
Still, such has been Madrid's dominance in the league that Ronaldo is entitled to feel, if not exactly sycophantic praise, then at least recognition of his and his team's achievements.
"My high point (in my career) is to win the title here in Madrid, La Liga," he explains.
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"(It) was my first time, so I was so happy because it's my best moment here in Madrid, the most important trophy. In terms of individual, it was great for me, the goals that I scored, to break my own record ... to do 100 points in the Spanish league which is a record too. It's phenomenal.
"For me this is the most difficult league in the world. To compete with Barcelona, as everyone knows is very complicated and we beat them. Nine points ahead ... so it was an amazing year."
In Barca's shadow?
Barcelona. It is the shadow that follows not just Ronaldo, but also Real coach Jose Mourinho, who has also had a remarkable season in Spain. You could argue it is a shadow that follows the city of Madrid around too.
"The points speak for themselves," Ronaldo replies when asked about the rivalry.
"Nine points separated Madrid and Barcelona; it's a lot here in Spain. We played better than them this year, I'm sure about that. I remember we went there one month ago and we won 2-1...nobody can do that, it's very difficult so we deserve to win the league. We are better than them at the moment, but we have to respect them because they are a great team too."
You cannot compare a Ferrari with a Porsche because it's a different engine
Ronaldo on Messi
Now there has never been a better time for Real Madrid to break the spell of Barcelona. With coach Pep Guardiola gone and questions being raised about the age of the Barca squad, Ronaldo believes that Madrid could go on to do something special, with the "Special One" at the helm.
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"As a person (Jose Mourinho's) a humble guy ... he's very simple. We joke all the time, with funny stories all the time. It's great. In terms of coaching, he's completely different. He's so serious, so professional."
For Ronaldo, Mourinho has proven himself to be the best coach in the world.
"This is why he wins the titles that he won. Because for me, not just because I work with him, but he's the best because of what he does: the tactics, everything around the players, the motivation ... and you know, the titles speak for themselves. He won in every country that he's passed, so I think that's great. I think nobody ... two or three coaches do that in their lives, so we have to appreciate that."
The worst day
Yet the season has not been without its disappointments. It may well have delivered the greatest single triumph in Ronaldo's career so far, but it also delivered its nadir -- losing to Bayern on penalties in the Champions League semifinals.
Ronaldo missed a spot-kick during the shootout as Real's wait for a record-extending 10th European title spilled into its second decade.
Most people think that Bayern is going to win easily. I don't think so
Ronaldo on the Champions League final
"To be honest, it was one of the worst days in my career so far," he admits.
Ronaldo, Real Madrid suffer heartache
"It's always tough when you lose something, when you lose on penalties. But I'm not really worried about that because if I didn't score the two goals most of the players aren't going to shoot the penalties, so I have to appreciate what I did in the Champions League, what I did for the club."
The dream Madrid-Barcelona final didn't happen. Instead we have a final that no one could predict. On the one hand a Bayern Munich side that unexpectedly fought back to knock out Madrid. On the other hand a Chelsea side that shocked Barcelona, the world, and one suspects, even themselves. Who does Ronaldo think will win?
"Most people think that Bayern is going to win easily. I don't think so," he says, perhaps remembering the battles he had with Chelsea while playing for Manchester United in the English Premier League.
"Don't forget that Chelsea beat Barcelona, which is very, very tough. It will be an interesting game. I don't know which team is going to win. I'm not going to bet on anything because Chelsea is very strong. They defend well, they have a good counterattack. Bayern is a fantastic team too, so it will be a good game."
In 12 months' time he will hope to realign the order of things and play in the 2013 Champions League final. For now he'll have to make do with being the best player in the best league with the best manager in the world.
Should you feel sorry for Cristiano Ronaldo? So far everything seems to be going just fine.
By Pedro Pinto and James Montague,
posted 12 May 2012, 18:14
NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Microsoft is launching a major overhaul of its also-ran search engine Bing on Thursday, aiming at a weakness it sees in market leader Google.▼5 comments
The most prominent new element in Bing's redesign is "Sidebar," a social search feature that scours users' social networks to surface information relevant to their search queries.
Google (GOOG, Fortune 500) unveiled a similar feature dubbed "Search Plus Your World" in January to decidedly mixed reviews. Though some of the basic features are the same, Microsoft (MSFT, Fortune 500) thinks it has a better solution.
Like Google, Bing's Sidebar will display posts from people in your social networks who have recently discussed a topic related to what you just searched for. A search for "San Francisco restaurants" will return posts from your friends talking about good eats in the city.
That's where the similarities end.
Google's "social search" only displays Google+ posts -- something that Facebook and Twitter are cranky about. It's a walled garden that fences users inside Google's proprietary network.
Bing's Sidebar works with multiple social networks, including Facebook, Twitter and Google+. It stashes its social search results off to the right side of the page, while Google plops them right into the middle of its main results.
Bing's strategy is pointedly different than that of Google, which is laser-focused on building its own social network. Though Google+ has grown to nearly 100 million users, analysts are still trying to determine how active and engaged they actually are.
Related story: Microsoft's master plan to beat Apple and Google
Microsoft, on the other hand, invested in Facebook in 2007 and partnered with Twitter in 2009. Those deals give it search access to content on two of the Internet's leading social networks.
Google had also partnered with Twitter, but that relationship ended in 2011.
"We think this is a far better approach than building our own social network," Stefan Weitz, Bing's senior director, said in an interview with CNNMoney. "We're not being restricting with anyone."
Sidebar isn't the only new feature in Bing's makeover. Some of the more superficial elements of the redesign began to show up on the website earlier this month, including a cleaned-up look with significantly less clutter on the margins.
On Thursday, Microsoft also launched "Snapshot," which provides instant answers to queries about topics like restaurant reservations, hotel reviews, maps and movie trailers. It also leverages Bing's social partnerships to help users search for people.
Most of those features were available in Bing previously and can be accomplished in Google, but Snapshot relocates that data to a middle column, keeping it out of the standard search results.
Even if Bing's changes give the service a boost, it has a long, long way to go to catch up to Google -- something Microsoft hasn't been able to do since it launched Bing in June 2009.
Bing currently maintains a 15.3% share of the search market, up from 8.4% when Bing launched, according to online data tracker comScore (SCOR). Google commands 66.4% of the market, up four-tenths of a percentage point from the 65% it held when Bing debuted.
More than half the share that Bing has gained has actually come from third-place Yahoo (YHOO, Fortune 500). The rest has come from search cellar-dwellers Ask.com and AOL (AOL).
There's usually no such thing as "bad" market share growth, but Yahoo's search is powered by Bing. That means more than half of Microsoft's share growth has come from cannibalizing its search partner.
Meanwhile, Microsoft is losing upwards of $1 billion a quarter on its search business.
The search engine's sad state of affairs has even made it the butt of pop-culture jokes. On Sunday's episode of HBO show "Veep," the vice president's socially inept aide yelled out, "I'm Binging it!" to a search request.
But if Bing does get social search right -- in stark contrast to Google's widely criticized approach -- it may be time to start taking it more seriously.
By David Goldman
posted 12 May 2012, 17:30
Greece may have given us the word democracy and many of the principles of civil society. But now it is "the sick man of Europe," and the people of other European democracies are asking whether it's worth saving with billions more dollars of their money. Put crudely, their argument is this: So what if Greece slides ignominiously out of the eurozone?▼8 comments
Greece may have given us the word democracy and many of the principles of civil society. But now it is "the sick man of Europe," and the people of other European democracies are asking whether it's worth saving with billions more dollars of their money. Put crudely, their argument is this: So what if Greece slides ignominiously out of the eurozone?
In continental terms, Greece is peripheral. It doesn't sit on reservoirs of oil, and it relies on agriculture and tourism as money-earners. It accounts for just 5% of the European Union's economic output. With the Cold War long over, its strategic position on the edge of the Balkans is not as important as it was.
Second, critics question whether Greece has the will or capacity to stay within the eurozone. In last Sunday's elections, the main Greek parties -- those that had promised to swallow the medicine doled out by the European Union and International Monetary Fund -- were trounced at the polls. Thursday, a third political leader was invited to try to form a government. Greek commentators predict no stable coalition is likely -- and new elections probable, just as a further $15 billion of austerity measures are due.
Greece struggling to form new government\
\Two weeks ago, the governor of Greece's Central Bank, George Provopoulos, warned that unless the country stayed the course, there could be "a disorderly regression, taking the country back several decades and eventually driving it out of the euro area and the European Union."
A majority of Greek -- some 70% -- tell pollsters they want the country to remain in the eurozone. But a substantial minority have just voted for parties that oppose what they see as austerity imposed by Berlin. They believe the medicine is actually making the situation worse. This year, the Central Bank forecasts the economy will shrink by 5%, after a 7% contraction last year. That means fewer jobs, less tax revenue and more difficulty meeting debt obligations.
Third, is the endless bailout smart economics? Or does it just perpetuate the crisis, as new debt replaces old? A confidential analysis by the IMF, European Central Bank and European Commission in February projected that Greek debt would still amount to 129% of GDP in 2020 and could be as high as 160%. The analysis, obtained by Reuters in February, estimated Greece would need some $175 billion in financing over the next two years.
Some argue that so long as Greece uses the euro as its currency, it will never become competitive. Research by investment bank Goldman Sachs concluded Greece needed a real depreciation in its exchange rate of a whopping 30% to restore competitiveness. Compare its situation to that of Iceland, which after a financial meltdown in 2008 thanks to its over-stretched banking sector, went cold turkey with a 40% devaluation of its currency and let bank creditors whistle in the wind. Now it's started growing again, albeit modestly.
U.S. economist Kenneth Rogoff has argued that Athens should be granted a sabbatical from the eurozone while remaining in the European Union, allowing it reintroduce the drachma at a deep discount to the euro and making its tourism industry wildly popular.
Hans-Werner Sim, head of German think tank Ifo, agrees. The money being showered on Greece to keep it in the eurozone would be better spent lubricating its departure, he says.
"The drachma will immediately depreciate, and the situation will stabilize very quickly. After a short thunderstorm, the sun will shine again," he told German magazine der Spiegel.
Fourth, beyond the discouraging arithmetic, some argue that the Greek state is too dysfunctional to cope with its massive obligations. Greece has a tax system that barely works, recalcitrant labor unions and extensive graft. The latest corruption league table from Transparency International ranks Greece as 80th - along with El Salvador.
"For decades the political elite, mired in corruption and rent-seeking, has followed the path of wasteful spending and patronage," wrote Kostas Bakoyannis, the mayor of Karpenisi, in the Wall Street Journal last month.
Greece hasn't privatized a single, state-owned industry despite repeated promises to do so. Its social fabric is fraying and it has a growing problem with political violence. Add to that, now, an unstable political order.
And finally, if Greece is unable to get its house in order and uncertainty persists, the dreaded contagion effect will rear its head again. It's a truism that markets hate uncertainty, and for the last year Greece has delivered it in weekly installments.
The never-ending melodrama could worsen the psychological climate for other "olive-belt" members of the eurozone. Negotiations on restructuring Greek sovereign debt have already left international investors wary of buying other south European debt. According to the Financial Times last month, investors have withdrawn $130 billion from Europe's sovereign bond markets over the past two years.
On the other hand...
The opposing argument is that a "disorderly default" or even a managed exit by Greece would have far-reaching consequences for Europe -- none of them good -- and misreads the Greek mood.
Pierpaolo Barbieri, Ernest May Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School's Belfer Center, has written extensively about Europe's financial crisis.
"Greek voters have turned against the old duopoly of PASOK and New Democracy," he says, referring to the dominant parties of the past 30 years.
"They are tired of crisis. That doesn't mean they are against being part of the eurozone. They realize their savings would be wiped out if a devalued drachma took the place of the euro and that Greek banks would collapse. So it's important to separate the weakness of the existing political parties from the issue of the bailouts and the eurozone."
Second, there is no playbook for leaving the single currency, no rules governing expulsion. It was just never envisaged. A new Greek government, by persistently defaulting on debt repayments, might effectively vote itself out of the eurozone, but the process would be messy. Greek companies that take advantage of the single market would be badly affected.
"Any announcement of Greece's departure would wreck havoc in the markets. If Greeks elected someone who wanted to pursue this path, it would be impossible to get back in at a later date," Barbieri told CNN.
In addition, he says, there is no guarantee that excising Greece from the eurozone will relieve pressure on other members. It might simply refocus anxiety on the next most vulnerable state.
"If Greece were to fall out, what would that say to Portugal, Italy, Spain and Ireland? There would be a danger to the whole European construction, including the single market. The Germans often say "If the euro fails then Europe fails" -- and project Europe has been at the core of German foreign policy for half a century."
Italy, Spain and Portugal are in the middle of painful restructuring; just this week the Spanish government announced it would have to step in to rescue the country's third largest bank.
The worst-case scenario: that the whole concept of an "ever-closer union" toward which Europe has been striving will unwind, one state at a time.
"Europe will have difficulty forming a federation, if its first action is to jettison countries that are unable to make ends meet," wrote commentator Barbara Spinelli in the Italian newspaper la Repubblica.
Let them eat carrots
Is there a way to muddle through? Maybe. But it will require a tilt from "austerity" toward "growth" to persuade the Greeks that their suffering will not be endless.
The basic choice may remain bailout or bankruptcy, but the bailout can be sweetened, as a spokesman for EU Economics Commissioner Olli Rehn hinted Tuesday.
"We can do lots to assist Greece, and we are doing so. Our member states, our taxpayers in other European member states of the euro area, are providing this solidarity," he said.
Concrete action must follow, says Barbieri.
"Europe needs to show the Greeks that they have reason to hope by staying the course, that it won't just be pain and more pain. There have to be measures to help growth, such as European investment projects in infrastructure and help for small and medium businesses starved for funding, which can be achieved through the European Investment Bank. The ECB should continue to help Greek banks, so as to start lending again."
Next year, Angela Merkel will be seeking a third term as German chancellor. If she gets one, analysts say, she may have greater freedom to tilt toward growth.
"It would be a positive development if Francois Hollande [the newly elected French President] could hasten this development and create 'rewards' for reforming countries, so as to remind European electorates the monetary union is not a 'suicide pact,' says Barbieri.
It may be that even with a rancorous political atmosphere, mass unemployment and street protests, Greece is actually making progress. If (yes, it's a large if) the next round of public spending cuts goes through Greece get close to achieving what's called a primary balance, its revenue will pay for its spending. According to the Central Bank, the economy may finally stop shrinking in 2013.
But 2013 seems a long way off, and these are the first tentative steps toward convalescence. Anyone who has seen the movie "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" will recall what happened to the man who insisted he wasn't dead yet.
By Tim Lister