Ferdinand hopes to erase ’embarrassing’ year at Manchester United

With his contract set to expire in June, the 35-year-old former England captain had appeared set to finish his 12-year career at the club after being used sparingly under recently sacked Scotsman Moyes.

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“I’m going to continue playing,” Ferdinand told British media. “Whether it’s here, I don’t know, but I hope so.

“I am sure that whoever is here, whoever is managing, the aim of this club is win trophies and championships and we have done that for 25 years. Long may that continue.”

After winning last year’s league title in Alex Ferguson’s final year as coach, United plumbed new depths under former Everton manager Moyes, and will miss out on the next Champions League tournament, a once unthinkable prospect.

Interim coach Ryan Giggs took the reins with a 4-0 win over Norwich City on Saturday, their biggest home league victory of the season. The win kept them seventh on the table, six points behind Tottenham Hotspur.

Ferdinand was unable to explain the team’s immediate improvement without Moyes in charge.

“The person who has the correct answer to that would be a genius,” he said. “If we knew why, then I’m sure the change of manager wouldn’t have happened. I’ve not looked at the league table for ages.

“We were saying it before the game. It’s because you don’t want to. It’s embarrassing. You don’t want to look at the league table and see where we are, but that’s down to us as players.

“We take responsibility for that as much as anyone else. We are where we are and we have to take some responsibility for that.

“We are not shirkers and we are not people who don’t take responsibility. I don’t think you get to where we have got to in our careers without taking responsibility and this is no different.”

Giggs has been backed to continue as United’s full-time boss by Ferguson, but Dutch media have linked Louis van Gaal with the role once he finishes his World Cup commitments with Netherlands’ national team in Brazil.

(Writing by Ian Ransom; Editing by Greg Stutchbury)

Neymar bids to enter Brazil’s pantheon of greats

Neymar has faced some understandable difficulties adapting to life on and off the field in Barcelona after joining almost a year ago.

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The financial machinations of the transfer caused the resignation of Barcelona’s president while Neymar and his agent-father have become embroiled in a war of words with Santos.

But the forward tends to put his troubles to one side when he pulls on Brazil’s famous yellow shirt.

Neymar has more of a free role with the national side and his predatory instincts in front of goal will be vital if Brazil are to go all the way this time, especially with doubts over the reliability of centre forwards Fred and Jo.

The Barcelona player has scored 11 goals in 15 games for Brazil since leaving Santos, taking his overall total to 30 in 47 internationals.

Neymar was in inspired form at the Confederations Cup and, ominously for the sides who are out to prevent Brazil lifting the World Cup for a record-extending sixth time, he says the squad are improving all the time.

“The team is ready, we have our style of play and with time to prepare before the World Cup the understanding we have will only get better,” he said.

“I am happy to score goals but the goals come because there is a team behind me with a united philosophy.”

It would be easy to view Neymar as the consummate individual. He frequently changes hairstyles, he has an obsession for ‘selfies’ and has a host of endorsement deals.

But he is a more mature player than many give him credit for and he is popular with, and respected by, his team mates.

Cafu, the man who led Brazil to their last triumph in 2002, believes Neymar has what it takes to join the pantheon of World Cup greats.

“Neymar can be the leader,” said Cafu. “He’s young but he is experienced and he is not afraid to take responsibility.”

(Editing by Tony Jimenez and Mike Collett)

Favreau talks about passion project Chef

He’s directed big-budget favourites including Iron Man and Elf, but Jon Favreau returns to his indie movie roots with the drool-worthy foodie flick Chef.

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Favreau not only helmed the passion project, but wrote, produced and also stars in it. He plays Carl Casper, a talented chef but preoccupied dad who loses his fancy restaurant job and looks into starting up a food truck.

Favreau says he wasn’t looking to make a small movie, but the idea popped into his head and he just couldn’t ignore it.

“I haven’t really written a script like this since Swingers, where it all came out in a matter of weeks and I was just so excited that I had something I wanted to say,” he says, referring to the 1996 film he wrote and starred in alongside Vince Vaughn.

“So I wanted to honour that. The movie was about somebody who wanted to do something small and personal and it sort of mirrored how I felt about wanting to do something small and personal as well.”

Thanks to the success and friendships he made on studio films such as Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Cowboys & Aliens and Elf, Favreau had creative freedom and could gather together the budget, cast and crew he needed for the month-long shoot.

It meant that despite the lower budget, he was able to wrangle together names that could have easily headlined a major blockbuster, including Sofia Vergara, Dustin Hoffman and his Iron Man 2 stars Robert Downey Jr and Scarlett Johansson.

“It was a matter of having good friendships, good relationships and people who liked the script,” he says.

Although Favreau is a self-professed fan, who watches shows such as Top Chef and devours Anthony Bordain’s books, he knew he couldn’t convincingly play Carl Casper and authentically capture the culinary culture without some help.

So Favreau turned to noted Korean American chef Roy Choi, whose own real-life experience surprisingly parallels some of Carl’s.

Choi became Favreau’s mentor and on-set foodie guru, putting the actor/director through his paces, first training him up in a traditional French kitchen, then putting him to work as a prep cook and a line cook in his restaurants.

The result is that onscreen, it’s hard to imagine Favreau not having some kind of background in the industry, as he chops up ingredients and plates dishes like a pro.

And what dishes they are.

The cast and crew on Chef must have been some of the best fed in all of Hollywood.

Favreau says one of the best examples would be when they stopped at Franklin Barbecue in Austin, Texas – a place where people line up from 8am to buy briskets they smoke for 15 hours overnight.

Yet they saved a couple just for Chef.

“He flipped that smoker open and out came the brisket,” he says, adding what you see in the film is exactly what the actors saw.

“We ate about a half pound of meat off of that thing, and then we yelled cut.

“The crew was like a flock of seagulls, flying onto that thing.

“It was gone, like it fell into a piranha tank.”

What with the stops and having Choi on the set everyday preparing the food (seriously, don’t see this film on an empty stomach), it wouldn’t be surprising if everyone finished the shoot a few kilos heavier.

“Everybody ate good on this movie,” Favreau says.

“On this, ever single thing that was on set was delicious and we tried not to waste any of it.”

* Chef releases in Australian cinemas on May 8

Tasmanian government warns of tough budget

Tasmania’s new treasurer won’t rule out sacking double the number of public servants the Liberals promised at the March state election.

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The party pledged to shed 500 jobs without forced redundancies but a treasury report for the new government has revealed a $1.1 billion budget “black hole”.

The report recommends more than 1000 public service jobs be axed to address the deterioration of the bottom line.

Treasurer Peter Gutwein says the government will meet all of its election promises, including around $400 million in spending commitments.

But he has refused to rule out shedding more than 500 public service jobs.

“I’m not going to deal with hypotheticals in regards to what may come out of the budget process,” Mr Gutwein told reporters in Hobart.

The treasurer did rule out forced sackings but said his first budget, to be delivered in August, would be tough.

“The mess that we have been left with is significant,” he said.

“We are at a very difficult moment with regards to what was left by Labor and the Greens.

“If we want to put the budget back onto a pathway to sustainability …. there are going to need to be some tough decisions made.”

Shadow treasurer Scott Bacon said the Liberals had made “extravagant” election promises despite being warned about a deteriorating budget position.

“They squandered a chance to demonstrate prudent financial management,” Mr Bacon said in a statement.

“Now they’re trying to lump the blame with the previous government, despite Labor being up front about the budget position.”

The treasury report predicts accumulated deficits of $1.1 billion over the forward estimates and net debt of $400 million by 2016-17.

It says falling GST revenues and mineral royalties are the biggest factors.

Public service cuts of 1700 in the 2011-12 budget actually amounted to only 700, it says.

Mr Gutwein said he would aim for a return to surplus in six years.

“It is significantly worse than what anybody was expecting,” he said.

Qld school’s stolen guns still missing

Police are searching for several rifles and shotguns stolen from a Brisbane Catholic school’s gun club.

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A man and a woman are in custody after one of the weapons was found in the boot of a car, however the rest of the guns are still missing.

Police say about ten weapons and a large amount of ammunition were stolen from a student gun club during a break-in at St Joseph’s Nudgee College on Sunday night.

Officers pulled over a car not long after and found one of the shotguns and most of the ammunition in the boot.

Driver Cristle Ten-Bohmer, 27, and passenger Jason Francis Williams, 43, have been charged with weapons and property offences.

Ten-Bohmer wouldn’t consent to a police interview but tearfully protested her innocence during a bail application in the Brisbane Magistrates Court.

“I didn’t even know that the stuff was in my car,” she sobbed from the dock.

“He (Williams) just rang me up and asked me to drive him.”

Ten-Bohmer had only met Williams a couple of times, according to duty lawyer Rosemary Gilbert.

Police prosecutor Senior Sergeant Mark Gorton said police were concerned about the outstanding weapons, which were taken from a bunker that was supposed to be secure.

“The worrying thing is, if ten guns went missing and we’ve only found one, there’s nine guns on the street,” he told the court.

Magistrate Christine Roney agreed it was concerning and denied Ten-Bohmer bail.

She noted the prisoner’s “substantial” five-page criminal history – which contains mostly drug offences – and declared her an unacceptable risk of reoffending.

Williams is expected to appear in the same court on Tuesday.

WA coroner examines hospital death

Lynn Desmond Ernest Church had a history of psychiatric illness and had tried to take his own life twice before being placed in an open ward at a mental health facility.

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Despite being observed by nurses every 15 minutes, the 65-year-old managed to make them think he was sleeping soundly in his bed by rolling up towels, blankets and a beanie.

Meanwhile, he entered his ensuite bathroom where he was later found dead from asphyxia.

The West Australian coroner is now investigating the quality of the supervision, treatment and care provided to Mr Church, who was an involuntary patient at the Joondalup Health Campus mental health unit in July 2010.

The coroner will examine the cause and effect of Mr Church’s illness, whether it was appropriate to transfer him to an open ward, and what precautions were taken to remove potentially dangerous items from the open ward given that he was at high risk of suicide.

In her opening address on Monday, counsel assisting the coroner Ilona Burra-Robinson said Mr Church suffered from severe migraines and was in almost constant pain.

He was intermittently referred to psychiatric care and was prescribed various medications, including antidepressants, but would often self-medicate for pain, she said.

Mr Church’s daughter Karen Frances Sibbrett testified her father took medication every day and would “mix and match and alter the doses”, so she recommended he keep a book to record what he was taking.

She said her father did not believe he was depressed – but that he had a pathology issue with his brain – although he did talk about suicide with anyone who would listen.

He had pre-paid his funeral, Ms Sibbrett said.

“He was ready to exit and he’d talk that way for a very long time.”

Ms Sibbrett said her father was experiencing hallucinations and acting more aggressively towards the end of his life.

“I think he was losing his grip on reality a little bit,” she said.

Ms Sibbrett was critical of the level of care her father received and said there had been a “string of poor duty of care” that led to his suicide.

“I felt that I wasn’t being listened to,” she said.

The inquest continues.

* Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.

Huegill’s race day drug court case

Swimming’s comeback king Geoff Huegill has hit troubled waters after he and his wife were allegedly caught with cocaine at Sydney’s Randwick racecourse.

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NSW police were patrolling Saturday’s Autumn Carnival race meeting when they were directed to a suite in the grandstand by security.

Officers reportedly approached Huegill, 35, and his 30-year-old wife Sara Hills, after viewing CCTV footage of the two entering a disabled toilet.

Police allegedly gained entry into the toilet after finding the door was locked with the couple inside.

Officers claim to have found a small quantity of white powder, believed to be cocaine, and charged the two with possessing a prohibited drug.

They are due to appear in Waverley Local Court on May 14.

Huegill, a former world record butterfly swimmer who won silver in the 4×100 metre medley relay and bronze in the 100 metre butterfly at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, overcame battles with weight and depression to win two gold medals at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi.

Lawyer Paul Hunt confirmed the couple were issued with a court notice.

“As the matter is not yet resolved, my clients do not intend to make any further comment at this point in time,” he said in a statement.

On the day he was charged, the popular Huegill posted a photo of him and his wife on Instagram “enjoying the day … in the Moet suites at Randwick”.

He posted a picture of a white bottle of luxury French champagne Moet.

The Olympic medallist is the latest high-profile Australian swimmer to find himself in the spotlight.

Olympic greats Ian Thorpe and Grant Hackett have both spent time in rehab this year for depression and sleeping pill addiction respectively.

Scott Miller, butterfly silver medallist at the 1996 Olympics, admitted he was addicted to the drug ice earlier this year after avoiding jail time for drug possession.

Huegill battled weight problems after retiring from swimming following the 2004 Athens Olympics and admitted to taking drugs and suffering depression.

He turned his life around by losing 45kg and returning to the pool, capturing double gold in Delhi before missing the team for the 2012 London Olympics.

In 2011, he revealed he drank heavily, became hooked on fatty food and had suicidal thoughts during his time out of the sport.

“My life from about 2005 to 2007, I experimented with many different things. I guess that’s a story that’s in my past,” he told the Nine Network.

Huegill credited his wife, whom he met in 2007, with turning his life around.

The couple live in the inner Sydney suburb of Darlinghurst and have two young daughters.

Since hanging up his goggles, Huegill has set up his own company working as an athlete-entrepreneur, along with public speaking and Club Skip, his weight-loss program.

Lambert accepts fan criticism but calls for Villa unity

A 4-1 defeat at Swansea City on Saturday left the former European champions in 16th on 35 points, three ahead of Lambert’s old club Norwich City, who are 18th and occupy the final relegation place but have played a game more.

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“Criticism is not nice but I’ve had it as a player and as manager. I’ll take it,” Lambert was quoted as saying by British media on Monday.

“I’ve never shied away from it. I’m the manager and it’s my job to protect the players. They are the ones who play the game.

“I totally understand the supporters’ feelings. This is a huge football club and expectation levels are so high because of what has been achieved in the past. The club should never be in this position, that’s the bottom line.

“I’ll take the criticism, but if there was ever a game where the supporters need to get behind the team it’s next Saturday.”

Barring an unlikely run of results from the teams at the bottom of the table, Hull secured their Premier League status for another season after coming back from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 at 19th placed Fulham on Saturday.

Hull are in 13th with 37 points and Steve Bruce’s side have an F.A. Cup final against Arsenal to look forward to and Lambert will be hoping to take advantage of the chance to claim the three points with daunting trips to Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur to finish.

However, Villa have managed only five wins at home this campaign, only two goals in their last four league outings and will again be without long term injury concerns Christian Benteke and Libor Kozak for the run in.

Still, Lambert, who survived a relegation battle last season in his first campaign with the club, remained optimistic they will be playing in the Premier League next year.

“We’d be more worried if our fate wasn’t in our own hands,” the former Borussia Dortmund midfielder said.

“We’ve got three games left, others have got two. One win will do to keep us up and next week’s game is now a cup final.”

(Writing by Patrick Johnston; Editing by Greg Stutchbury)

NZ shares join global sell-off

New Zealand shares have joined a global sell-off, on concern about heightening tensions between western powers and Russia over Ukraine.

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The benchmark NZX 50 Index fell 38 points, or 0.7 per cent, to 5,116 on Monday.

Within the index, 32 stocks fell, 11 rose and seven were unchanged. Turnover was $200 million.

The European Union is moving to impose further sanctions against Russia amid concerns the nation is adding to its annexation of Crimea with further incursions into Ukraine.

A2 Milk, which gained 15 per cent over the past year, fell 7.1 per cent to 78 cents, its lowest this year.

Xero fell 5.2 per cent to $30.25, and has declined 24 per cent in the past month after rising more than 200 per cent in 2013.

Pacific Edge, which has gained 90 per cent over the past nine months, declined 1.9 per cent to $1.04.

“There are one or two concerns out there with Russia, and I think investors are being pretty cautious and keeping a close eye on developments there,” said Grant Williamson, a director at Hamilton Hindin Greene.

“With events offshore, whereas a month or two ago everybody was looking at the growth side of the market, now investors are certainly taking a more cautious approach.

“There is still quite a bit of profit-taking in the high growth sector of the market.”

Chorus, the telecommunications network provider, fell 2.8 per cent to $1.74. Auckland International Airport dropped 1.5 per cent to $3.91. Infratil, the infrastructure investor, slipped 1.3 per cent to $2.24 and construction firm Fletcher Building was unchanged at $9.76.

Telecom went against the trend, climbing 1.9 per cent to $2.665.

Goodman Fielder jumped 20 per cent to a two-month high of 69 cents on the NZX after the world’s biggest palm oil processor, Wilmar International, teamed up with Hong Kong-listed investor First Pacific Co to make an $A1.27 billion ($NZ1.37b) offer for the Australasian food ingredients maker.

Explainer: How to protect yourself from ATM card scams

ATM scammers seize more than $100,000: NSW PoliceWhat is card skimming?

Card skimming is when someone illegally copies the information from the magnetic strip on your bank or credit card.

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This can be done via an ATM or an EFTPOS machine.

Once these details are taken, a “cloned” or fake card can be created. Fraudsters can then use the fake card to make purchases using your money. They’re also able to take out loans in your name and can even steal your identity.

How do skimming devices work?

At an ATM, a card-reading device is attached on top of the normal card slot which captures data from your card’s magnetic strip. A hidden camera or a fake keypad is also attached to record your personal identification number (PIN).

A skimming device in an EFTPOS machine is hard to detect, as the modified machine looks just like a normal machine. The device captures information from the magnetic strip on the card.

Warning signs to look out for

According to ScamWatch, here are some warning signs to look out for:

Does the ATM look normal? Can you notice any unusual modifications? (e.g. glue residue, exposed wires, double-sided tape).The retail assistant takes your card out of sight in order to process the transaction.The assistant swipes the card from a machine that looks unusual or different to what you normally see.Your card is swiped more than once.How to protect yourself from card skimmingBe as discreet as possible when withdrawing money from an ATMAlways cover your hand when you enter in your PIN.If a shopkeeper tries to take your card out of your sight, ask for it back. Try to pay with cash or don’t make the purchase at all.Keep your card in sight at all times when you’re paying for something.Don’t share your PIN with anyone.Don’t keep a written copy of your PIN with your bank card.Don’t email your PIN or any personal information to someone claiming to be from your bank.Check your bank statements regularly. You can access this information immediately via online banking or your bank’s smartphone app.What to do if you suspect somethingIf you suspect your card has been skimmed, call your bank immediately.Change your PIN immediately so the fraudsters can’t access your account.Report the incident to CrimeStoppers on 1800 333 000Report the scam to ScamWatch so they can investigate the matter.