In August Neil Danns stood outside Gigg Lane, umbrella in his hand, and not only encouraged the throbbing rain, but whatever questions the Bury supporters had for the captain of their club about its future.
The answers came to the fore of what they had all been afraid of, with the Shakers expelled from the Football League days later. Danns knew, just like everyone else, from the players to the kitman, that he would have to look for another job.
& # 39; I honestly didn't do it & # 39; Don't think it would ever happen, "he told Sportsmail . & # 39; But if you play the game for so long, you'll learn that you never know. Things are changing for better or worse and luckily for me it has changed in a good way. & # 39;
Danns knows he was one of the lucky ones. He is now 37, more than 12 years since he last appeared in the Premier League for Birmingham in a career that has brought him to Crystal Palace, Bolton and Leicester City.
He was on his way to international service at Guyana when he received a call from Tranmere asking if he would like to meet manager Micky Mellon.
& I was immediately enthusiastic & # 39 ;, says Danns. & # 39; As a Merseyside boy, I had always grown up with a view to Tranmere, one of the local clubs. I always felt that I would end up there someday. & # 39;
Danns has 19 appearances for Rovers this season, the last time when Tranmere eliminated the Premier League-side Watford in their re-arranged repeat in Prenton Park, rescheduled for a field full of water, 3- 0 came to take a draw in the first meeting.
United comes to town on Sunday and the opportunity is up. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is under increasing pressure, the United fans have engaged the owners. Has there ever been a better time to cope with them, especially on Tranmere & # 39; s own pitch? Solskjaer has told his players to expect divots.
& # 39; Everyone buzzes & # 39 ;, says Danns. & # 39; You can already feel the excitement. It is such a huge game and we are really looking forward to it. & # 39;
& Everyone who participates in the game and does not believe we have a chance has the wrong attitude. We are realistic, we know that it is a big question.
& # 39; Regardless of whether they are struggling, they have talent. They only struggle by their standard. We cannot precede ourselves.
& # 39; They are still fifth in the Premier League, which is no easy feat. Struggling for Manchester United is different than struggling for a lower division. & # 39;
Tranmere wrestles herself, in the relegation zone of League One that has achieved successive promotions, but Danns believes the FA Cup has given the club the belief that it can & # 39; really try & # 39; in the second half of the season – and there is still the belief that the Cup trip can continue.
& # 39; We know that in one-off games anything can happen. You must have that faith. But we also have to enjoy, especially when you think where the club comes from. & # 39;
There is also a personal side to the band for Danns. As a lifelong fan of Liverpool, where his son Jayden is also part of the academy, it is always nice to beat United. But above all, he knows that the time he has left on the field, at 37, will not last forever.
Danns loves his music and has studied audio engineering and production at a school in Manchester for the past three years. He is passionate about writing songs and will continue his career as soon as he withdraws from football. He also plans to release a charity issue with his eight-year-old daughter Hayla-Essen to raise money for underprivileged children.
& # 39; For my own football career, I am standing on that slope where I have not yet been for many years & # 39 ;, he says. & # 39; I will record it year after year and at the moment I play regularly and perform decent performances.
& # 39; But I have the opportunity to play live on television against Manchester United in the FA Cup at the age of 37. I have to enjoy it. I will soak every moment. & # 39;
Steven Gerrard urges Rangers fans to enjoy the 37-year-old Jermain Defoe after the Hibernian performance … with the loan agreement for the Bournemouth striker ending in the summer
- Steven Gerrard said Rangers fans should enjoy Jermain Defoe this season. Defoe, 37, returns to Bournemouth in the summer at the end of the loan agreement
- However, Gerrard wants him to make a new permanent deal with Rangers
Steven Gerrard says Rangers fans need to get the most out of the time they have with Jermain Defoe.
The 37-year-old was given the responsibility to lead the line against Hibernian in the absence of the forbidden 27-goalkeeper Alfredo Morelos.
The former veteran star of England did not abandon his manager when he completed the 3-0 break of the Light Blues in the capital with a finish that showed the quality of his bravery.
He took two touches to move the ball past Jason Naismith before hitting past stationary Hibs keeper Ofir Marciano.
The red-hot shape of Morelos has made it difficult for Gerrard to give Defoe the minutes he craves for but there was no sign of rustyness on Easter Road when he reached his first goal since October – a month after his last Start.
The move of the 18-month striker from Bournemouth is in the summer and Gerrard remains keen to reach a deal that will make the former striker of West Ham and Spurs Glasgow its permanent base 013 ]
The Ibrox boss – whose party drove ahead after Ryan Kent and Joe Aribo were knocked in for eight minutes – knows that the clock ticks on the career of his old international teammate and thinks the Gers believers should be any moment to cherish.
& # 39; Jermain won't be around much longer, & # 39; said Gerrard. "Hopefully for a few more years, but we all have to admire Jermain's forward play.
" The first touch was top, the second touch was world class and the third touch is all about Defoe.
& # 39; There was a lot of pressure on Jermain last night because of Alfredo's departure to Motherwell, but I thought he was really good. & # 39;
Defoe & # 39; s 53-minute goal cam after Gers started the game in bed within eight minutes.
Aribo forced Martian to make a mistake for the opener, with Kent capitalizing on an empty net with a cool first finish.
Aribo then left astonished when he added a quick-fire second after a smooth combination with Ryan Jack moves along the right side.
Gerrard added: A lot is being done about forward players and their technique and so on, but for the first purpose, Joe simply shows complete desire and hunger to haunt a lost cause.
Ryan Kent got t he rewards that. His finish is a lot harder than people would think.
& # 39; The second goal was about Jacko and Joe – pure quality. The finish is top, top drawer of a player who was excellent again. & # 39;
Gers now have two games left for the winter break – first against Kilmarnock at home on Boxing Day and then their trip to Celtic Park on December 29.
Gerrard hopes to trim the numbers of his inflated team in January, but admits that there might be room for additions if the right deal appears.
He said: & We are always looking for Rangers because we always strive to be the best.
& # 39; So you never say never, but I don't think there will be much change in the team – there will be more releases than incoming. & # 39;
Frustration for Roger Federer but 37-year-old defying conventional wisdom by Battling to the Death against Novak Djokovic in Wimbledon Final
Amidst all this, after the most unbearable defeat of his career, Roger Federer made a joke
With the wounds of defeat still red raw, he was asked by Sue Barker what it felt like to be part of a competition that we would remember forever . Federer grinned and said, "I'll try to forget!"
How is it possible that among all the people at Center Court, the vast majority of those desperately desperate for his victory were Federer who was able to find a sense of perspective?
I hope I give other people the chance to believe that at 37 it's not over yet, "he said. "Back to father and husband, it's all right."
It was almost frustrating. We wanted him to cry, curse those fine margins that didn't go his way or staggered against the random new Wimbledon rule that forced him to become the tennis equivalent of a penalty shootout.
But Federer knows how precious such occasions are. He knows that even in defeat he was a glorious victor of the old father time and of sporting conventional wisdom.
A 37-year-old is supposed to be unable to do what he did on a tennis court on Sunday. This is not football, where an aging star can run the show from midfield while younger legs run around him.
Federer was there with DJ okovic three minutes shy of five hours, neck and neck wit one of the greatest athletes on the planet at the height of his powers. Djokovic ran 5.6km on Sunday; Federer 5.81km
He defeated his opponent and at some important moments he also passed him by. Federer won 14 more points than Djokovic and hit 40 more winners.
He felt at the time that Federer had to win that first set. It looked like he couldn't play Djokovic like that. But we also thought it was ready to go after seven Grand Slams without reaching the final in 2012-2014.
We said he could not return and win again in 2017 after six months off with a knee injury. If there is one thing that Federer is better at than tennis, it makes doubters foolish.
But as great as Federer was and as much perspective as he could find, this defeat must have hurt just like the dickens. There were agreements with back-to-back US Open semi-finals against Djokovic in 2010 and 2011. In both matches, such as here on Sunday, the Serbian saved two match points and went on to win.
Recalling the second of those two febrile nights in New York, it is striking to remember the difference in Federer's reaction to the defeat. When a 30-year-old jumping hen, he was surly and gloomy and moaned over the & # 39; happy & # 39; return of Djokovic to the competition point.
Since then he has come a long way. Djokovic has been praised in New Age spirituality in recent years, but it is Federer who has reached Zen and he has generously earned the Victor on Sunday evening.
And that credit was well earned. This was one of the greatest manifestations of mental power the All England Club has ever seen. Djokovic was the inferior player in all five sets, second best for Federer in every aspect of the performance other than one – nerve
That nerve carried him to a 16th Grand Slam title and the way he plays and with the lack of authentic new challengers He can very well continue to darken Federer's record of 20 majors.
If he does, there will be people who will educate Djokovic the best ever and they may have a point. But try to tell that to the 15,000 people at Center Court on Sunday night whose hearts shot up with Federer; He panted and cried and dared to dream.