Eric Cantona scored 82 goals for Manchester United. He won four league titles and two Doubles, and was a catalyst for the most successful period in the club’s history. None of that will keep him warmest in his dotage. “My best moment? I have a lot of good moments but the one I prefer is when I kicked the hooligan.”
Cantona always refers to Matthew Simmons, with a delightful, absent-minded contempt, as “the hooligan”. It’s a neat way of dehumanising the gobby fan he dealt with when he tried to kick racism out of football on 25 January 1995. Twenty-five years later, the footage and images of his kung-fu kick retain an exhilarating power. It was the definitive example of what Alex Ferguson called Cantona’s “defiant charisma”. His defiance that night defined his career, and also his life.
Liu becomes first woman to repeat as champion since 2013
Mariah Bell, Bradie Tennell go second and third respectively
Alysa Liu needed all of her technical brilliance in her impressive jumping arsenal to hold off Mariah Bell and successfully defend her US figure skating championships title Friday night.
No American woman comes close to the repertoire of jumps the 14-year-old Liu possesses. She hit two triple axels among eight triples overall and attempted the only quad of the event, a lutz she under-rotated. Her 160.12 points by far exceeded the rest of the field and lifted her to 235.52 and up from second place after the short program.
NFL team allegedly helped archdiocese with PR damage control
Saints attorneys call suggestion ‘outrageous’ in court papers
The New Orleans Saints are going to court to keep the public from seeing hundreds of emails that allegedly show team executives doing public relations damage control for the area’s Roman Catholic archdiocese to help it contain the fallout from a burgeoning sexual abuse crisis.
Attorneys for about two dozen men suing the church say in court filings that the 276 documents they obtained through discovery show that the NFL team, whose owner is devoutly Catholic, aided the Archdiocese of New Orleans in its “pattern and practice of concealing its crimes”.
LeBron edges Luka Doncic in balloting for West captain’s spot
Lakers star is voted All-Star starter for NBA-record 16th time
It’ll be an All-Star rematch: Team LeBron v Team Giannis.
LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers and Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks will be the captains for the NBA All-Star Game, just as they were last season. They earned the captaincies by being the top overall vote-getters from the Western and Eastern Conferences, respectively.
It looks like some of Liverpool’s injured contingent could be returning to action this weekend. They have a lot of matches coming up so definitely need some reinforcements...
Lovren is in contention for the FA Cup tie at Shrewsbury following a return to training. Meanwhile, Keita could be a part of the session on Friday. James Milner and Shaqiri are unlikely to be involved. "I think it's too early." Mane (hamstring) is scheduled for a scan today. #LFC
Some news on Crystal Palace now and it looks like Christian Benteke will not be leaving Selhurst Park this month. Everton and Aston Villa have also been linked with the Belgium striker, who is out injured at the moment anyway.
Crystal Palace fans may (or may not) be pleased to know that Christian Beneteke will be staying according to his agent Eris Kismet
In response to rumours of a move to Turkey/Europe etc “Everton
Embattled NFL free agent spends night in Broward county jail
Brown faces charges of burglary, battery and criminal mischief
NFL free agent Antonio Brown turned himself in at a Florida jail on Thursday night following accusations that he and his trainer attacked the driver of a moving truck that carried some of his possessions from California.
Brown, 31, arrived at Broward county jail around 10 pm. The wide receiver, wearing a turquoise suit buttoned over a green athletic jacket, walked out of the jail a few minutes after arriving, but then returned after conferring with his lawyer, who indicated that he would spend the night behind bars.
Lewis Hamilton versus the young guns Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc should be a fascinating generational tussle, but paywalls are getting in the way of inspiring a new generation
As the new season draws closer, Formula One’s hip young gunslingers are ready to step up and challenge the sport’s undisputed champion. The prospect is tantalising, offering the possibility of a defining period of F1 in a spectacular generational tussle. Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc are two of the most exciting talents in the sport and six-time champion Lewis Hamilton is their target. F1 will want to make hay from a potentially gripping battle but just how they do so is a vital question as pay TV continues to dominate its dissemination.
Beating the 34-year-old Hamilton, with his vast talent and experience, would be an outstanding achievement for Red Bull’s Verstappen or Ferrari’s Leclerc, both still just 22 years old. For Hamilton, seeing off the next generation as his career draws near to its close would cement his place as a true great.
Roger Federer 4-6 7-6(2) 6-4 4-6 5-4* John Millman: The nerves from Federer are so palpable and this time they affected his serve: he threw in two double faults and found himself at the precarious score of 30-30. However, the Swiss steadied himself with two good first serves to keep himself ahead. He stands one game away from crawling over the line.
Roger Federer 4-6 7-6(2) 6-4 4-6 *4-4 John Millman: Millman pieces together a swift, businesslike hold to immediately put the pressure right back on Federer’s broad shoulders.
• Venus Williams says ‘sky’s limit’ for precocious teenager • Greatest achievement for player doing high school lessons
There is precocious composure and there is Coco Gauff. It is difficult to recall a teenager thrown into the klieg lights of global sporting celebrity so comfortable with praise yet unfailingly polite and brimming with such self-belief. Anyone who moves into her ambit would think the same: is she too good to be true?
Certainly, she was too good for Naomi Osaka here on Friday night. In an hour and seven minutes she destroyed the defending champion for the loss of seven games. No mountain is safe. Ask Venus Williams, who won four of her seven slams before Gauff was born, but could not take a set off her in two matches in slams, most recently here this week.
• Job needs more mental strength than at any other team, he says • ‘Klopp spent four years building his team,’ Solskjær claims
Ole Gunnar Solskjær believes managing Manchester United demands more mental strength than at any other club and insists he is up to the challenge.
The Norwegian hopes to avert United losing three consecutive games for the first time since April in Sunday’s FA Cup fourth-round tie at Tranmere Rovers. After defeats by Liverpooland Burnley Solskjær is facing renewed questions regarding his job. David Moyes and Louis van Gaal were convinced they would be granted time to turn around United’s fortunes but were sacked.
The LA Dodgers have every reason to believe that they were cheated out of the title. That doesn’t mean that MLB will alter the record books
Say one of your city’s baseball teams loses in the World Series two years in a row. That’s a tough pill to swallow, right? Wait, it gets worse. What if it turns out the two teams they lost to were cheats? What would your response be?
Well, if you’re the city of Los Angeles, you respond by petitioning Major League Baseball to vacate the results of both the 2017 and 2018 World Series. Unfortunately for them, it looks like the MLB commissioner, Rob Manfred, has no interest in changing the record books despite the sign-stealing scandal that has engulfed the Houston Astros and the Boston Red Sox.
Vélez Sarsfield have overhauled their players’ contracts in an effort to combat a problem that is all too common in society
Ricardo Centurión is toxic. But the winger’s raw skill — his game is full of stepovers and mazy runs – appears to blind fans to his repeated transgressions. Time and time again, he is forgiven.
Since turning professional with Racing Club in 2012, the 27-year-old has had three of his professional contracts rescinded for his behavior. Among other things, he has fallen out of favor for partying too much; been photographed in his swimming trunks while holding a shotgun; insulted the president of Boca Juniors; tried to bribe a police officer to avoid a drink-driving test; crashed his car while trying to evade police; fought his own teammates; and argued with his manager mid-game. That last incident ended in his exile on loan to Liga MX, although he is now back in Argentina with Vélez Sarsfield, on loan from Racing Club. With seven games of the season left, Vélez manager Gabriel Heinze hopes Centurión won’t blow up again. Only time will tell.
Serena Williams staggered out of the Australian Open on day five, losing in three sets to the world No 29 Wang Qiang, a brave but flawed performance that exposed the veteran American’s gathering frailties.
It was the biggest shock of the tournament and the biggest upset of Wang’s career. She took a single game off Williams in New York six months ago.
And that’s where our coverage of the day session ends. The story of the day, unquestionably, was Serena Williams’ exit from the tournament at the hands of Wang Qiang. There won’t be an eighth Australian Open title for Williams this year, but there might be for Novak Djokovic. His campaign is well and truly alive after a facile win over Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka. And while we’re on candidates to go all the way, Australia’s world No 1 Ashleigh Barty was a straight-sets winner over Elena Rybakina. And we said goodbye to Caroline Wozniacki, who retires from tennis after her loss to Ons Jabeur.
But today doesn’t end here. Join us in a short while for our live coverage of the evening session, where Naomi Osaka and Coco Gauff will do battle in a much-anticipated clash. As will Roger Federer and Australia’s John Millman. Thanks for your company.
Diego Schwartzman is next for Novak Djokovic, with a spot in the quarters at stake. When asked post-match about his incredible serving effort - he dropped one point off his serve in the opening two sets against Nishioka - and what he was doing to improve that part of his game, Djokovic said: “I’m trying to hit more aces.”
This happens so often one would almost think it is normal. But what Liverpool are doing this season is freakish. Here they withstood fierce pressure from Wolves before claiming their 22nd victory from 23 Premier League matches, stretching their lead at the top of table to 16 points.
Wolves put them through the ringer, threatening to explode the visitors’ invincibility after Raúl Jiménez cancelled out Jordan Henderson’s first-half goal. But Roberto Firmino struck six minutes from time to plunder yet another victory.
New Orleans Pelicans rookie Zion Williamson, the No 1 overall pick in last year’s NBA draft who’s been hailed as the best prospect since LeBron James, made his long-awaited professional debut on Wednesday night, a wait that had been made even longer by the team’s cautious approach to his rehabilitation from arthroscopic surgery on his right knee.
The 19-year-old prodigy managed to deliver on the extraordinary hype that’s preceded him since high school, whipping the sold-out Smoothie King Center into chants of “M-V-P! M-V-P!” during an electric fourth-quarter stretch where he poured in 17 unanswered points on seven consecutive possessions over a three-minute span.
Fifth place feels about right for United but problems lie in the difficulty of separating sporting and commercial ventures
The protest songs began around the hour mark, shortly after Burnley had scored their second goal: swelling and swirling around the tired, peeling old ground like hymns to a hazily-remembered past. One was about wanting their United back. Another proposed chopping Ed Woodward up from head to toe: the same grisly verse that had greeted the Glazer family when they first rolled into Old Trafford in the summer of 2005. Another beseeched fans to stand up if they hated the Glazers. Thousands of fans got to their feet. To be fair, they might simply have been heading for the exits.
The teams are walking out on a fizzing, crackling, see-your-breath night at Molineux.
I have a feeling ... just a feeling ... Wolves are going to give Liverpool a proper examination tonight. We could be in for something here. Even if that something is not, in any eventuality, a title race.
Frontman for the unpopular Glazer family is target for hateful chants now the manager no longer doubles as a human shield
On Wednesday night Ed Woodward discovered another problem with the appointment of Ole Gunnar Solskjær as Manchester United’s manager. The Norwegian, the hero of the Camp Nou in 1999, is all but unimpeachable even if his team play lumpen football and a series of ill-conceived decisions have exposed an unsuitability for top-level management.
And so United’s fans’ ire must be directed elsewhere, and while the club’s executive vice-chairman has been in the firing line for much of his near-seven years running the club, Solskjær is not David Moyes, Louis van Gaal or José Mourinho, a hired hand who doubles as a human shield for Woodward. “He’s gonna die, Ed Woodward is gonna die”, as sung during the 2-0 home defeat by Burnley, is a repurposed chant historically aimed at Manchester City, less a threat than a vivid, unseemly expression of hatred.
• Play delayed for up to two hours after overnight deluge • Medvedev speeds past Spanish qualifier Pedro Martinez
As the Australian Open staggers towards the end of an eventful first week through hail, heat and polluted dust bombs, there was relief for Dominic Thiem, encouragement for Alexander Zverev and Daniil Medvedev and confirmation that world No 1 Rafael Nadal is still dangerous away from clay.
Actually, when the dirt fell in an overnight deluge that briefly held Melbourne in an ochre embrace, it very much looked like a clay-court tournament until attendants power-hosed away gobbets and blankets of sticky dust, delaying the start by two hours in many cases.
Monfils breaks Karlovic, literally and perhaps figuratively. The Frenchman leads 6-5 and will serve for the match.
The in-form young Russian Andrey Rublev, tipped for perhaps the top 10 this year, has just notched up his 10th consecutive win of 2020, defeating Japan’s Yuichi Sugita 6-2, 6-3, 7-6 (5). Meanwhile Gael Monfils, who seems positively youthful at 33 compared to his 40-year-old opponent Ivo Karlovic, are involved in a right old battle on the 1573 Arena. It’s 5-5 in the fourth set, with Monfils leading 4-6, 7-6 (8), 6-4, 5-5.
They light up the women’s game and will command the full attention of media and spectators when they meet on Friday
The 2020 Australian Open needs some drama that does not involve sodden red dust falling out of the sky or players choking on polluted air – and Coco Gauff and Naomi Osaka will surely provide it on day five.
They light up the women’s game like few of their contemporaries, with both their tennis and personalities, the 15-year-old American oddly more self-contained and clinical than the 22-year-old Japanese player who already has two slam titles.
Williamson, 19, scores 22 in long-awaited debut after slow start
No 1 pick scores 17 straight during electric fourth-quarter stretch
Spurs hold off Pelicans to spoil Duke product’s first NBA game
Zion Williamson scored 22 points in his NBA debut, but LaMarcus Aldridge topped him with 32 points and 14 rebounds as the visiting San Antonio Spurs defeated the New Orleans Pelicans 121-117 on Wednesday night.
Williamson, the first overall draft choice, missed the first 44 games of the season while rehabbing from arthroscopic knee surgery.
Manning, 39, to announce retirement on Friday, ESPN reports
Two-time Super Bowl champion played 16 seasons in New York
Manning to walk away with career record of 117-117 as a starter
New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning will announce his retirement from professional football after 16 seasons, the team announced Wednesday.
The durable 39-year-old signal-caller walks away following a decorated career that includes a pair of Super Bowl championships and nearly every team passing record for one of the NFL’s blue-ribbon franchises.
Leicester got back their mojo but lost their talisman, as Jamie Vardy limped off here with a suspected glute injury. That did not matter against a dishevelled West Ham, as Brendan Rodgers’s side strutted to their first league win since New Year’s Day thanks to two goals by Ayoze Pérez and one each by Harvey Barnes and Ricardo Pereira. Leicester’s top-four credentials look good again.
A successful penalty by Mark Noble gave West Ham fleeting hope of scrounging a point but ultimately the visitors left with what they deserved, which was nothing other than a reminder that they need to get their act together quickly if they are to avoid being overtaken by at least one of only three teams below them in the league.
Burnley have a famous first win at Manchester United since 1962 and Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s side must again regroup somehow. This was a defeat that speaks of their callowness and inability to turn possession into goals.
Burnley were sharper at the business end of the pitch leaving United to rue a chance to close the gap to fourth-placed Chelsea to three points. Instead the gap is six and United’s one-step forward, one-step back form continues.
Popular orange-haired mascot accused of punching teenager
Police confirm ‘active and on-going’ investigation of assault
Philadelphia Flyers mascot Gritty has been accused of physically assaulting a 13-year-old boy at the team’s home arena, according to police.
Chris Greenwell claims the mercurial orange-haired creature “took a running start” and “punched my son as hard as he could” during a meet-and-greet photo shoot for season ticket holders in November at the Wells Fargo Center.
Growing apathy at Old Trafford? It may just be the particular echo chamber of Twitter that I inhabit, but I couldn’t help but notice a few Manchester United-supporting folk mention today that they either weren’t bother going to tonight’s game, or knew other fans who couldn’t be bothered to go. If the sight of empty seats at Old Trafford becomes a regular one, the Glazers and Ed Woodward would not be best pleased, even if they are almost entirely to blame for this apparent apathy.
Such is the Brazilian’s swagger that his solo goal at Chelsea seemed predestined; he could be the perfect fit for Mikel Arteta
“I’m not the Messiah!” “I say you are, Lord, and I should know – I’ve followed a few.” – Monty Python’s Life of Brian
Has a goal ever looked so breathtakingly easy and ludicrously difficult all at once? As Gabriel Martinelli gathered the ball in his own half on Tuesday night, he found himself all on his own, 80 yards from goal, with N’Golo Kanté blocking his path. And yet within a few seconds the ball was rolling past Kepa Arrizabalaga into the Chelsea net, the 18-year-old Martinelli having simply run the length of the field in a very fast straight line, dumping perhaps the world’s best covering midfielder on his backside in the process. You know, as you do.
• Cyclist suffered multiple broken bones last summer • Froome targeting record-equalling fifth Tour de France
Chris Froome will make his return to racing at the UAE Tour next month as he continues his recovery from career-threatening injuries suffered last June. Froome, 34, suffered multiple broken bones including a fractured right femur, a broken hip and fractured ribs when he crashed into a wall at high speed during a recon ride at the Critérium du Dauphiné last summer.
The seven-time Grand Tour winner has set himself the goal of being on the start line for the Tour de France in June, determined to pursue a record-equalling fifth Tour title. His long-awaited return to racing will come when he starts the week-long UAE Tour, which starts on 23 February.
Inter Miami have not played a competitive game in MLS yet. In fact, they have only had two training sessions in their history. But that’s not stopped the club’s co-owner, David Beckham, from dreaming big when it comes to his plans for assembling a winning team from scratch. Becks has taken on harder challenges – such as the time he stayed up till 3am to build a 4,000-piece Lego castle – so creating a competitive MLS club in a few months shouldn’t be a problem.
Which is why he’s batting his eyelids in the direction of David Silva and Sergio Agüero. Hot air doing the rounds suggests Agüero might prefer to see out his career on the same continent as his son, while Silva’s already said he will leave City at the end of the season and Miami’s not a bad place to spend your downtime. They could be South Beach’s most famous double act since Crockett and Tubbs. Mind you, the City empire includes New York City FC, so any move Stateside for either player could cause a family rift.
The Dane is retiring after the Australian Open and says that while she is looking forward to a quieter life she can look back with pride at a grand slam title and 70 weeks as world No 1
Caroline Wozniacki has spent the vast majority of her life in a fishbowl, her every move monitored and detailed. She never complained, accepting that it is part of the business of being a top sportswoman, that if she told paparazzi not to take photos of her, it wouldn’t do any good. But now she’s getting out, and she couldn’t be happier.
“I think I had my first interview when I was eight or nine years old, it’s pretty crazy,” Wozniacki said in an interview at the Australian Open. “My whole life, I’ve been scrutinized, my career’s been scrutinized. So it’s nice to do what I want to do, not have to think twice about anything. Obviously, I want to make right decisions but just be able to live life. That’s the great thing about being an athlete, once you stop, there are always new people coming up and taking your spot, you can live a normal life, you can live a family life and have the best of both worlds, having your time in the spotlight but also just doing normal stuff.”
Teams fight after block as time expires in Kansas victory
Coaches, police and security have to separate players
Bitter rivals Kansas and Kansas State ended their college basketball showdown on Tuesday night with a wild melee that included punches, shoving and at least one player picking up a stool.
The fight started when Kansas’s Silvio De Sousa blocked a DaJuan Gordon shot as time expired, sending his opponent to the floor. Kansas were leading 81-60 at the time. De Sousa then stood over Gordon shouting at him. That triggered the benches to empty and punches to be thrown as the fight spilled into the disabled seating section of the stands. At one point, De Sousa picked up a stool and held it above his head before assistant coach Jerrance Howard grabbed it from him.
Naomi Osaka and Cori Gauff, two of the most precocious talents tennis has had in many years, are on track to meet in the third round of the Australian Open on Friday. The defending champion will start favourite, having beaten the American teenager handily at Flushing Meadows six months ago, but will take nothing for granted.
They won in contrasting styles on Wednesday, Osaka having the easier time of it over two sets against the unseeded Saisai Zheng in an hour and 20 minutes on Margaret Court Arena, while Gauff, the youngest player in either draw at 15, had to dig deep to beat the seasoned Romanian Sorana Cirstea, 4-6 6-3 7-5, in a thriller that lasted just over two hours on the Melbourne Arena.
Sergio Agüero came off the bench to restore normal service for Manchester City, securing a win with a sharply taken goal when the defending champions appeared in danger of being held for a second game in succession.
Certainly before Agüero’s introduction there had been little to choose between the sides, which is as much a compliment to Sheffield United as a criticism of City’s performance, though there might have been had not Gabriel Jesus seen a first-half penalty saved by Dean Henderson. The striker has been unsuccessful with all three penalties he has taken for club and country this season, and if Pep Guardiola is going to persist with using Agüero sparingly he might like to consider giving someone else a turn from the spot.
Two inconsistent sides, two baffled managers. For Frank Lampard, this result was tough to take. Chelsea played against 10 men for more than an hour, took the lead twice and ended up dropping more points at home. They lacked creativity again and paid for their carelessness when the electrifying Gabriel Martinelli dented their push for Champions League qualification with a stunning equaliser.
While Lampard seethed, Mikel Arteta celebrated Martinelli’s fearlessness and considered the defensive frailties that left Arsenal with a mountain to climb. For all the talk of progress, Arteta will know he must be ruthless with players like Shkodran Mustafi, whose catastrophic error led to David Luiz’s red card against his old side. Yet there was resolve from Arsenal when it mattered. They fell behind again when César Azpilicueta restored Chelsea’s lead. It did not last. Chelsea are too soft and Kepa Arrizabalaga’s form in goal is of grave concern. The Spaniard was the villain when he somehow let Héctor Bellerín’s shot squirm past him.
• Ángel Vizcay says Getafe and Real Betis were paid to lose games • Former president Miguel Archanco denies any match-fixing
The Spanish top-flight club Osasuna fixed football matches in an attempt to avoid relegation over two seasons, a court heard on Tuesday.
The club’s former secretary said Osasuna had paid Getafe and Real Betis to lose against them in 2012-13 and 2013-14 respectively and had made a further payment to Espanyol in return for a draw. Ángel Vizcay testified in the case led by the investigating judge Fermín Otamendi and brought against 11 men: six former Osasuna directors, three former Betis players and two estate agents also accused of being involved.
Mexico striker says it is ‘the right time’ to join MLS
Hernández’s deal reported to be for three years
Sevilla have agreed a fee with LA Galaxy for Mexico striker Javier Hernández. In an interview published on Tuesday with the Los Angeles Times, the 31-year-old said it was “the right time, the right opportunity” to make the move to the MLS club.
The Galaxy confirmed the move on Tuesday morning, and a photo of Hernández in the club’s shirt appeared at the top of their Twitter page. Reports say the Galaxy paid €8.5m ($9.4m) for Hernández, and he will earn around $6m a year under the terms of a three-year deal.
Pep Guardiola’s call is well placed and better still would be for a streamlined FA Cup to emerge with the final in February
When Jürgen Klopp was asked last week for his thoughts on the Africa Cup of Nations being moved to January next year he spoke uninterrupted for almost eight minutes, detailing his dissatisfaction with the burden on players and clubs and the complete lack of meaningful response from anyone in charge of the game when managers complained of the dangers of trying to cram too much into an already crowded fixture list.
A few days later when Pep Guardiola was asked for his views on fixture congestion, bearing in mind that Harry Kane and Marcus Rashford had been sidelined long term, almost certainly as a result of playing too many games in too short a space of time, the Manchester City manager was ready with a plan of action. Scrap a competition, was the gist of his reply. Most likely the Carabao Cup. “We need less games, less competitions, less games,” Guardiola said. That should have been fewer, of course, but this is not the time to be picking up a non-native English speaker on his grammar. What Guardiola said next was spot on. “People can live without football for a while. It’s too much.”
Trump marked Martin Luther King Day on Monday by taking to Twitter to hail his own achievements at reducing unemployment among African Americans. McGregor responded by writing: “Phenomenal President. Quite possibly the USA goat [greatest of all time]. Most certainly one of them anyway, as he sits atop the shoulders of many amazing giants that came before him.”
Most football clubs represent their local community. Flat Earth FC represent an idea
Javi Poves was a promising young footballer. Having risen through the ranks at Sporting Gijón, the Spanish defender made his La Liga debut in 2011 on the final day of the season. He retired that summer having made that one appearance for the club. He was 23 years old.
“What I’ve seen from within makes it clear: professional football is only money and corruption. It’s capitalism, and capitalism is death,” said Proves. “I don’t want to be part of a system based on people earning money at the expense of the deaths of others in South America, Africa and Asia. To put it simply, my conscience will not let me continue with this.”
Serie A club poised to make offer to Spurs on Tuesday
Victor Moses set to join Inter on loan from Chelsea
Internazionale are preparing a bid of €15m (£12.8m) plus add-ons for Christian Eriksen as they attempt to conclude a deal with Tottenham.
An offer of €10m plus add-ons was rejected last week but Inter are confident that their new bid, which will be presented to Spurs on Tuesday, will be enough to see the Dane leave north London after six and a half years.
Trail Blazers star held previous record of 60 points
Boston Celtics inflict heavy defeat on LA Lakers
Damian Lillard set a franchise record with 61 points, including a career-best 11 three-pointers, and the short-handed Portland Trail Blazers outlasted the equally depleted Golden State Warriors 129-124 in overtime on Monday night.
Lillard’s previous career high was 60 points earlier this season against Brooklyn. His 11 3-pointers were also a team record. “I guess if somebody’s going to beat my record, it’s good to be me,” Lillard said after the game.
The team’s trip for a 1-1 draw with Australia involved an arduous trek across the globe and came with scandal and drama aplenty
England’s 500th Test match on foreign soil, which concluded in Port Elizabeth on Monday, prompted a lot of people to reminisce about tours past, but few could hope to match the tale of England’s voyage to their first ever away Test, played in Melbourne in March 1877. It is a tale of death, drama, donkeys and cross-dressing, and was thankfully diarised in sometimes excruciating detail by an unnamed player in a series of letters to the Sporting Life.
In all 255 days passed between the players setting sail from Southampton and their return to London’s Charing Cross station. The correspondent details every day of the outbound trip. Along the way they stopped at Gibraltar, Malta (“the beggars and guides are a perfect nuisance, pestering you the whole time”), Port Said and Suez at either end of the Suez Canal (“Suez is a wretched town. No pleasure can be got by a visit to the place, which is a tumble-down, narrow-streeted, stinking hole”), Yemen and Galle, before the players switched boats for the leg to King George’s Sound.
Sharapova world ranking projected to drop to No 366
Maria Sharapova offered no guarantees that she will be back at the Australian Open after a first-round defeat against Donna Vekic on Tuesday. Ongoing shoulder problems limited Sharapova to a handful of tournaments last year and her ranking is projected to drop to world No 366 as a result of the 6-3, 6-4 loss to the 19th-seeded Croatian.
Sharapova needed a wildcard to play at Melbourne Park, where she won the title in 2008, and had good recent memories having reached the fourth round last year, beating defending champion Caroline Wozniacki.
• Manager saw signs that team are making ‘strides forward’ • Solskjær refuses to bite on Gary Neville criticism
Ole Gunnar Solskjær has refused to engage with Gary Neville’s criticism of Ed Woodward, the manager instead pointing to the “strides forward” made by Manchester United in Sunday’s defeat at Liverpool.
Neville, a former club captain, described Woodward’s player recruitment as “unforgiveable” in a vociferous attack on the executive vice-chairman after the 2-0 loss at Anfield, in which Mo Salah scored the late second goal.
The Los Angeles Charger is focused on his game during the season. Beyond that, he dreams of a Bernie Sanders presidency
Even in an era of anthem protests and White House boycotts, there is something about Justin Jackson that feels like a new mold for the politically energized athlete.
Jackson, a running back for the Los Angeles Chargers, has spent the first two years of his NFL career operating in a reserve role in one of the deepest backfields in the league. But in the most left-wing corners of Twitter, Jackson has become an overnight star, trucking over centrist Democrats and neoliberals with a zeal usually accompanied by a rose emoji.
It is particularly great to see Katie Boulter back after the terrible 9 months she has had. Last April, Boulter performed admirably as she helped Great Britain defeat Kazakstan in a dramatic Fed Cup tie. But her commitment came at a cost as Boulter was competing with an injured back that she aggravated during the tie, forcing her out until she returned to some lowly ITF challenger events in November.
Her ranking fell as low as 351 after she sat around her career high of 82 in April. That was unfortunate enough, but a few months later she was also subjected to some intense criticism at the French Open. Despite the severity of her injury, she entered the French Open draw and didn’t withdraw until after the qualifying draw had begun. By withdrawing late, she was entitled to 50% of the first round prize money. In hindsight, thank heavens she did since she didn’t have any playing income for 7 months after that.
A few things are happening right now:
Britain’s Katie Boulter is facing off against fifth seed Elina Svitolina and she is currently performing well, with the match on serve at 4-3 to Svitolina in the 1573 Arena.
United have just been well beaten by a Liverpool side 30 points ahead of them. They are sleepwalking towards mediocrity
Liverpool are brilliant. They are top of the league by 16 points with a game in hand and will probably have the title wrapped up by the end of March. And yet at the same time, while acknowledging how preposterous it is to offer any criticism of a side that has taken 64 points from 22 games this season, there must be a sense that of late they’ve become a little bit sloppy.
In their past two league games, against Tottenham last week and then against Manchester United at Anfield on Sunday, they have come extremely close to drawing games they have dominated almost entirely. Giovani Lo Celso and Anthony Martial both missed extremely presentable chances to make it 1-1. In both games Liverpool ended up under pressure in the final 10 minutes – on Sunday at least until Mohamed Salah added a second on the break deep in injury time. Tottenham they had broadly held at arm’s length, in a performance of great control; United they had pummelled for roughly a third of each half. And yet in each two points could have slipped from their grasp.
Against Granada it was very Setién. It was also very Barcelona, in a move driven by nostalgia, but with a glimpse of the future
Nine hundred and ninety-eight … 999… 1,000. And still it went. Jordi Alba played the ball to Riqui Puig, who played it to Sergi Busquets, who played it to Arthur Melo, who played it to Sergi Roberto, who played it to Gerard Piqué. Who, finally halted on 100, didn’t get the chance to play it to anyone else. Half an hour before his first game as coach of Barcelona, Quique Setién had sat on the bench alongside his assistant Éder Sarabia, empty seats rising around them, still barely able to believe they were here, and silently contemplated the players – his players – warming up with a ball at their feet. Two and a half hours later, standing now, collar turned up against the cold, when the final whistle went it was still there.
“I’ve seen some of the things I wanted,” Setién said afterwards and others had too, although not all of them. Above all, he had seen the thing he says all players want and always have, right back to the playground: the ball. Barcelona won 1-0 on his debut against Granada but there were other numbers that occupied everyone. Piqué was one of four players to reach 100 passes, 98 of them accurate. Rakitic had only been two away from making it five; Lionel Messi was seven away. Puig had played more passes than all of Granada’s players – and he had only been on the pitch 22 minutes. Busquets had played more than all of them put together. His 157 was a record this season.
• Former Spurs midfielder set to join on loan from Schalke • Inter’s Lazaro also a target; Willems and Dummett out for season
The Algeria international Nabil Bentaleb had a medical at Newcastle United on Monday afternoon ahead of a loan move from Schalke until the end of the season.
Bentaleb is surplus to the requirements of Schalke’s manager, David Wagner, and the 25-year-old former Tottenham midfielder is keen to return to England. Bentaleb swapped Spurs for the Bundesliga in February 2017 but has not featured for Schalke since March 2019 when, due to disciplinary issues, he was removed from the first-team squad.
Study of footballers in Brazil shows spending time on a smartphone or console before a game causes mental fatigue
Could spending too much time on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram affect a footballer’s performance? Manchester United appear to think so. One report before their trip to Anfield claimed the club were “consulting leading experts” about how to help their stars deal with the negative mental effects of social media and also suggested there were concerns that players were suffering dips in form as a result of being abused online.
Some may suggest the players should just “man up”. But scientists are increasingly scrutinising how mental fatigue – the lack of energy we feel from long periods of purely cognitive activity – can influence sporting performance, often with startling results.
If the champions of Europe win the title undefeated they will have to be recognised as the best of the Premier League era
They’re coming for you, they’re coming for you. The boys of ’99. Fergie and Eric. Andy and Dwight. Arsène, Thierry, Sergio and Pep. They’re coming for you.
So much for the league and so much for Manchester United, who were awkward opponents at Anfield, without ever feeling like much more than a bump in the road. At the end of this 2-0 victory Liverpool will have something else in their sights.
The San Francisco 49ers quarterback wasn’t terrible in the NFC championship game. But the strength of his supporting case meant he had very little to do
When the 49ers kneeled for the final time on Sunday, officially launching themselves to a Super Bowl berth after a 37-20 annihilation of Green Bay, Levi’s Stadium shook with joy. Kyle Shanahan threw down his headset and hugged every warm body in sight, the players’ families swarmed the field, and red and gold confetti rained down until there was barely a blade of visible grass left on the field. Running back Raheem Mostert celebrated his 220 yards and four touchdowns, and also the fact that he has found such an idyllic home after being cut by six other teams. The defensive backs pranced knowing they had mostly neutralized Aaron Rodgers. Then there was Jimmy Garoppolo, whose smile was as big as anyone’s despite the fact that he could have read a Dostoevsky novel for much of this game and the result would have been unchanged. Garoppolo produced virtually nothing in the NFC Championship because he didn’t have to.
“We were running the hell out of the ball tonight. It made my life very easy. It was a fun night,” said Garoppolo with his signature grin.
15-year-old beats seven-times Grand slam winner 7-6, 6-3
World No1 Barty also through despite sluggish start
Six months after putting Venus Williams out of Wimbledon in the first round, the American teenager Coco Gauff did it again to her 39-year-old compatriot on day one of the Australian Open, and is on course for a showdown with the defending champion, Naomi Osaka, in the third round on Friday.
Gauff, 15, was well worth her win and has to next get past the Romanian, Sorana Cirstea, who outlasted Barbora Strycova in two tight sets. The Czech, on the edge of the seedings, has reached the fourth round here on her past three visits.
Not a great evening for Australian slam champions so far. Sam Stosur just lost the first set 6-1 to American youngster Caty McNally who is eviscerating the 2011 Wimbledon champion’s serve and playing some vicious attacking tennis. Stosur has famously struggled on home soil and she hasn’t actually won a match in Melbourne since 2015. We’ll see what she can do in the second set.
Here is Kevin Mitchell’s report from Melbourne after Dan Evans recovered from two sets down to defeat Mackenzie McDonald and seal his very first slam win as a seeded player. Evans will hope that there is more to come.
Raheem Mostert rushed for 220 yards and four touchdowns to make quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo mostly a spectator, Nick Bosa harassed Aaron Rodgers from the start and the San Francisco 49ers beat the Green Bay Packers 37-20 for the NFC championship on Sunday.
The 49ers advanced to their first Super Bowl in seven years and will play the Kansas City Chiefs in two weeks in Miami for the championship.
KC will face Packers or 49ers in next month’s Super Bowl
Patrick Mahomes tiptoed down the sideline for a game-turning touchdown, added three TD passes, and the Kansas City Chiefs made their first Super Bowl in a half-century by beating the Tennessee Titans 35-24 on Sunday for the AFC championship. In two weeks in Miami, they will play the winner of the NFC title game between Green Bay and San Francisco.
Mahomes did his usual superb job passing, but it was his 27-yard tap dance down the sideline late in the first-half that gave the Chiefs their first lead. From there, they outran the run-oriented Titans and star back Derrick Henry. For the first time since 1970 and the third time overall, the Chiefs are Super Bowl bound.
Rod Laver Arena: What a line-up for the opening morning of the grand slam season - defending champion Naomi Osaka followed by living legends Serena Williams and Roger Federer. All will expect to progress without alarm based on current form.
Managers come and go, but Lionel Messi remains. There were 15 minutes remaining in Quique Setién’s first game as manager of Barcelona and the tension was growing, when the Argentinian finally escaped to score the goal that prevented his opening night ending in failure.
Barcelona were closing in on 1,000 passes, but they had struggled to create clear chances until Messi, Antoine Griezmann and Arturo Vidal combined. Down on the bench, Setién celebrated. It was only 1-0 but it was enough, for now. It was a start.
Team face each other with place in Super Bowl on the line
Hello and welcome to our coverage of the NFC Championship game! The San Francisco 49ers are about an hour away from hosting the Green Bay Packers, with the winner set to cross the continent to Miami for Super Bowl LIV (54).
We’re really excited to have you with us but can I give you a little advice? For now, stick with the Chiefs and Titans and our live blogger extraordinaire, Hunter Felt, who is monitoring the AFC Championship for us. Once that’s done, come back and read this little spiel below about the Niners and Packers, and get ready for the big game at Levi’s® Stadium in Santa Clara.
David will be here shortly, in the meantime here’s our preview of today’s game:
Hunter will be here shortly, in the meantime, here’s our preview of today’s game:
What the Titans need to do to win: Ummm, avoid blowing a 24-0 lead? The Titans should bear in mind that, despite Patrick Mahomes’ heroic performance during last Sunday’s destruction of the Houston Texans, Ryan Tannehill and co are more than capable of beating the Chiefs. In fact, they did so in November, and that was with Mahomes playing at the height of his considerable powers. Back then Tennessee won the day by doing the simple things well: Tannehill was interception-free, special teams chipped in with a blocked field goal in the 35-32 victory and Brett Kern pinned the Chiefs back in their own territory with a 51.0-yard punting average. And then of course there was Derrick Henry, who ran for 188 yards, with the Titans outrushing the Chiefs by 225 yards to 97. Side note: Andy Reid is 1-8 all time against the Titans.
For Manchester United fans, it is the hope that kills them. The hope that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer can find the answers, that the flickers of promise from his tenure can morph into meaningful momentum, that the romance inherent in his appointment can somehow over-ride the problems and the drift at the top of the club.
This was a game in which Liverpool’s superiority was so pronounced for most of the first-half and the early part of the second that it would have been no surprise had they led by five or six. The intensity of their football coupled with the surgical nature of their incisions were enough to take the breath. It certainly seemed to take that of United. During the period, it felt like the latest reality check for Solskjaer and his players.
41 mins: Chance for United! Martial curls an excellent cross to Wan-Bissaka, who half-volleys across to Pereira, who just needs to touch it in at the far post but can’t quite reach it! “The reaction of the United players following what seemed a perfectly legit challenge by van Dijk was an unwelcome reminder of the days of Roy Keane,” fumes Tony Wawryk. “Players shouting in the ref’s face, pointing, manhandling - they lost their heads. Half the team should have been booked and de Gea sent off. Shocking behaviour.”
40 mins: A moment of promise for United as Pereira runs into the area, but for some reason James steps across to tackle him.
Perpetrator expelled after referee airs grievances
Stuart Bingham leads Ali Carter 5-3 in final
The final of the Masters – one of the biggest days in the snooker calendar – was briefly disrupted by an electronic “whoopee cushion” in the crowd.
“Play momentarily stopped at Alexandra Palace. Looks like someone has planted a whoopee cushion inside the arena and it keeps going off making a ‘poooooop’ sound. Crowd laugh, Bingham not happy,” tweeted BBC journalist Shamoon Hafez.
Dana White, the UFC president, was quick to talk up the prospect of a rematch with the undefeated lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov. The match-up would be a huge moneyspinner after their last fight, in October 2018, ended in acrimony and violence. McGregor taunted his Russian opponent before that fight, and made negative references to his Muslim faith. Worse was to come when Nurmagomedov ended up brawling with some of his opponent’s entourage after defeating the Irishman. Both men received suspensions and fines for their part in the tawdry scenes.
No woman has raced in a Formula 1 grand prix since the 1970s. Does the 21-year-old Williams driver have the talent and ambition to change all that?
Even if you’re one of the most promising young racing drivers of your era, you still have to take your driving test. Shortly after she turned 17, Jamie Chadwick thought she’d better get on with it. She had been driving competitively since she first raced a go-kart, when she was 11. “Obviously I knew how to drive a car,” she says. “But driving on roads, knowing everything about road driving, is very different.” She’d planned to have lessons, but only managed “sort of one and a half” before a cancellation meant she had a chance to take the test. “I was, like, I’ll just do it and if I fail, I might never live it down, but I just have to give it a go.” To her great relief, she passed. “Somehow. But I was never taught to park, so I still can’t. Then I found myself as designated driver and I was, like, this isn’t worth it either.” She laughs. “So a lot of regret in that whole situation.”
Chadwick might not be able to park, but in Formula 1, she’s not going to need to. If all goes to plan, that is exactly where she’ll end up, breaking a 43-year dry spell for women on the starting grid. Last year, she won the inaugural W Series, an all-female championship that ended at Brands Hatch in August. She is gathering firsts at quite a rate: at 17, she was the first woman and youngest driver to win the British GT Championship. In 2018, she became the first woman to win a British F3 race. Last February, she became the first female winner of the MRF Challenge series in Chennai. She is competing now in the Asian F3 Championship.
Top-level athletes are, by definition, unusual but the very best will have an unlikely advantage over their siblings
Winners come second. Or third, even fourth. Just usually not first. I’m talking about birth order: where you fit into the run of your siblings. That’s the takeaway from Mind Games, a new book by Annie Vernon, best known at the Guardian and Observer for a short work placement she did here in 2015, though in the wider world she perhaps has greater fame as a world champion rower who won a silver medal at the 2008 Olympics.
Mind Games sets out to unpick what it is about top‑level athletes that makes them different. For Vernon it’s mostly mental. “You have to be unbelievably, ruthlessly, exceptionally driven,” she writes. It’s the difference between chickens, which is to say most of us, and pigs, who are rare sorts like Vernon. “Think about a plate of bacon and eggs,” she continues, “as the saying goes, the chicken is involved, but the pig is committed.”
There has been little sign of improvement since Solskjær took over and he looks ill-equipped to turn things around
O n Friday 5 March 1909, Manchester United went to Burnley for an FA Cup quarter-final. The pitch was frozen, there was heavy snow and with 18 minutes remaining the referee, Herbert Bamlett, decided the match couldn’t go on. For United, the abandonment was fortunate: they had been 1-0 down but won the rearranged game 3-2 and went on, for the first time, to lift the FA Cup.
Bamlett, having refereed the 1914 FA Cup final, turned his hand to management, taking charge of Oldham, Wigan Borough and Middlesbrough, guiding the latter to the verge of promotion when, in April 1927, he was named manager of United.
Last year’s win over Petra Kvitova put Osaka on top of the tennis world, but she struggled through a ‘U-shaped’ season
It is difficult to think of many more impressive sequences in recent tennis history than the madness that unfurled in last year’s women’s Australian Open final. Following all the suffocating drama surrounding her 2018 US Open victory over Serena Williams, Naomi Osaka had arrived in Australia with a profile that perhaps no other new player, male or female, had managed to attain in the entire decade.
Most players would have struggled in the aftermath of the US Open match, but Osaka was still unsatisfied. She entered Melbourne to win and she ground her way into the final where she outplayed Petra Kvitova for two sets, eventually building a 7-6, 5-3 with triple championship point.
Former two-division champion returns from inactive stretch
Conor McGregor stopped Donald Cerrone with a head kick and punches 40 seconds into the first round at UFC 246 on Saturday night, announcing his return to mixed martial arts with his first victory since 2016.
The Irish former two-division champion returned from a three-year stretch of inactivity and outside-the-cage troubles with a performance that echoed his greatest fights during his unparalleled rise.
“I made history tonight,” McGregor tells UFC pundit Joe Rogan during his in-ring interview. And he has. McGregor is the first fighter in the promotion’s history to record knockout victories at featherweight, lightweight and welterweight.
He continues: “I’ve etched my name in history once again. For the Irish people! For my ma back home!”
McGregor explodes from his corner at the bell and throws a massive left hand that just misses the target. Now McGregor hammers Cerrone with a couple of shoulder strikes out of the clinch and Cerrone is already bleeding from his nose. Cerrone is in big trouble early, his nose perhaps broken. McGregor drops him with a kick to the head and opens up with the ground and pound. Oh boy. Only a matter of time now ... and the referee has stopped it! McGregor has won in roughly 45 seconds to announce his return with style!
The Liverpool manager said his side have more enemies than anyone else as they prepare to face Manchester United, the only team to take points off them this season
History and most of English football tend to see the past 50 years as a battle for supremacy between Liverpool and Manchester United. The great north-west rivalry provided the narrative arc even before Sir Alex Ferguson made his famous comment about knocking the country’s most successful team off their perch, though if the pendulum is swinging back towards Merseyside this season it might just be because Jürgen Klopp is an outsider to all that.
“I used to enjoy watching English football when I was working in Germany but I was busy with my job most of the time,” the Liverpool manager says. “Then when I came here I only thought about my team, I didn’t give much thought to my opponents. I knew about Chelsea, because they had won the Champions League and the Europa League.
The warrant was issued on Thursday as video posted on social media appeared to show Beckham slapping a security officer’s buttocks during a locker room victory celebration for LSU, the player’s old college, after Monday night’s national championship game in the Superdome.
Is possession overrated? It certainly seemed so for Chelsea as they manoeuvred the ball up and down a series of apparent blind alleys and culs-de-sac before ultimately seeing all that effort reduced to nothing when Isaac Hayden headed Newcastle’s stoppage time winner.
At times Steve Bruce’s side appeared to have developed an alarming allergy to passing between themselves but few occupants of the Gallowgate End were worrying about that as Allan Saint-Maximin redirected the fallout from a poor, partially cleared, Matt Ritchie corner and Hayden rose above all comers to clinch three precious points.
If this is the day Manchester City all but mathematically surrender their title, frustration will surely be the searing emotion. They dominated Crystal Palace and looked to have overturned Cenk Tosun’s first-half strike via two late Sergio Agüero goals.
Then, though, Wilfried Zaha raced upfield and with the clock in added time the winger hit a cross at Fernandinho and the Brazilian turned it beyond his goalkeeper, Ederson.
Newcastle make six changes to the XI sent out against Rochdale in midweek. Martin Dubravka, Jonjo Shelvey, Ciaran Clark, Jetro Willems, Federico Fernandez and Allan Saint-Maximin are back; Karl Darlow, Florian Lejeune, Matt Ritchie, Christian Atsu and both Longstaffs step down.
Chelsea make one change to the team that beat Burnley 3-0 last Saturday. N’Golo Kante relegates Ross Barkley to a seat on the bench.
Tottenham remain adrift of the Champions League places and Watford continue their ascent away from the drop zone despite Troy Deeney’s saved penalty, after a match that was edged by the hosts but undermined by poor finishing ended in stalemate.
Deeney’s spot-kick, saved by Paulo Gazzaniga, came amid a flurry of second-half Watford chances, while Tottenham could have won it late on only for Érik Lamela to see a poked effort cleared off the line in stoppage time. There were standout performances from Nathaniel Chalobah and Ismaïla Sarr, while Christian Eriksen emerged from the bench on the second for what could be his last performance in a Spurs shirt.
If Nigel Pearson gave a pre-match interview, your hapless MBM correspondent must have missed it. I’ve failed you, dear reader. O can you ever forgive me? If it makes up for it at all, I can report that he looked very chipper as he watched his charges warming up, laughing heartily with his players in a manner that’d make Jurgen Klopp look like Alex Ferguson in hairdryer mode. A happy ship at the moment, Watford. On the other hand, here’s Mike T: “Seems to me Spurs fans are divided. Some are gleeful at watching football in a spaceship shopping mall applauding Mr Levy’s zero net spend. And the rest, livid that we don’t win anything. Either way can anyone say they are excited at this starting 11 compared to a few years ago?”
Jose Mourinho, slightly flat, not exactly exuding sunshine this morning, speaks to BT Sport. “If I focus on the Leicester, Liverpool and Middlesbrough matches, I have to be happy with what the boys did. So let’s hope that we can follow that direction, because we were intense, we played well, we were organised. Defensively we didn’t have big problems, we created a lot of chances, we played very nice quality football. We probably didn’t score enough goals for what we did, but let’s see if we can follow. We don’t have the striking power, the number-nine target we used to play with, so we have to try to play in a different way.”
Since Shankly, via Paisley, Dalglish and Benítez, Liverpool have had several outstanding sides. But how do they measure up?
Statistically, this is likely to be Liverpool’s greatest league season, which for a club with 18 championships is no small achievement. The only season that could conceivably beat this one came last year, when they did not win the title – a reminder that statistics must always be considered in context. Greatness lies not only in numbers.
And in a world in which Juventus can dispense with their manager after five successive league titles, and Barcelona sack theirs after two straight titles while top of the table, in which 95+ points has come to seem standard for a Premier League champion, it’s as well to be aware that domination of a domestic league does not mean quite the same thing that it did in the past.
Iranian exile Alireza Firouzja, 16, shares the lead at tournament in the Netherlands after an impressive win against Anish Giri
Magnus Carlsen’s streak of 111 games without defeat is a new landmark in the 29-year-old Norwegian’s career, but its climax has been six lacklustre draws at Wijk aan Zee which threaten to derail his impressive record there.
Carlsen’s halved games in the first four rounds completed an unbeaten sequence which broke Sergei Tiviakov’s 2004-05 record of 110 against weaker opposition. Arguably the champion’s splendid run at the elite Tata Steel Wijk tournament of seven victories and a second place in eight attempts is a still more outstanding achievement.
• January switch may affect club’s transfer policy, says manager • Klopp hopes Kane injury prompts FA action on fixture pile-up
Jürgen Klopp has labelled the switch of the 2021 African Cup Nations Cup from summer to January a “catastrophe” to continue his complaints against football’s global calendar.
Liverpool would lose three leading players in Sadio Mané, Mohamed Salah and Naby Këita for the African tournament, now set to run from 9 January to 6 February next year, having been previously scheduled for July.
On the Ashley Young being the oldest English Serie A debutant question, there’s been a shout for David Beckham but he was 33 when he made his AC Milan bow in 2009 and Ashley Cole, who was also 33 when he made his Roma bow in 2014.
Jamie Jackson has interviewed one of Manchester City’s young stars unable to get into that glittering first team. Have to say, Joleon Lescott as the club’s loan manager came as a revelation.
Baseball’s toothless response to the Houston Astros sign-stealing scandal lays bare uncomfortable truths about society’s tolerance for cheating
One of the harder-to-believe tales in American sports over the past decade involved the stunningly rapid transformation of the Houston Astros from a historically lousy baseball team to World Series winners and emerging dynasty. The impetus behind the American League club’s dramatic reversal of fortune was the 2011 appointment of general manager Jeff Luhnow amid a three-year stretch where the Astros lost a combined 324 games. A former McKinsey consultant and University of Pennsylvania graduate with dual degrees in engineering and economics, Luhnow expanded on the advanced sabermetric groundwork popularized by Oakland A’s executive Billy Beane to rebuild the organization into a forward-thinking, analytics-driven powerhouse. He installed a former Nasa rocket scientist as the team’s director of decision sciences and marshaled a wholesale overhaul of the scouting department, synthesizing traditional methods of player evaluation with advanced statistical analysis into a proprietary system that guided the team’s decision-making. And it worked. A mere four years removed from a 111-defeat season, Houston captured the first championship in the club’s 56-year history – and came within a game of winning a second only three months ago.
The fighter has had several brushes with the law since he last fought nearly 15 months ago. He is a risky proposition to stake the promotion’s reputation on
On Saturday night, Conor McGregor will make his long-awaited return to the octagon, where he will face journeyman Donald Cerrone in the main event of UFC 246. The welterweight clash takes place after McGregor’s 15-month hiatus from fighting and on the heels of several brushes with the law, which include two separate sexual assault accusations.
While McGregor, who denied the allegations in an interview with ESPN, has not been charged or officially named by the ongoing police investigations, the New York Times reported the 31-year-old was arrested in January 2019 for questioning and was later released pending further investigation. Despite the sensitive nature of the situation, the UFC has opted to host McGregor’s return, once again highlighting the promotion’s penchant for profit at the expense of common sense, ethical standards and social responsibility.