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No plot change but new stars in made for TV Premier League season

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first_imgChelsea, who have invested heavily in new recruits, will aim to be in the hunt, while Manchester United hope to improve on a third-place finish, 33 points behind Juergen Klopp’s Liverpool.Leeds United are back in the top flight after a 16-year absence and the Yorkshire club, managed by idiosyncratic Argentine Marcelo Bielsa, start their campaign at Anfield.The partial return of spectators will be tested at lower league level, with the Premier League hoping to have some fans back in grounds in October, depending on the threat level of the novel coronavirus, but the sofa or pub is the nearest supporters will get to the action this month.It is a sad state of affairs that fans have reluctantly become accustomed to but the broadcasters are hoping the action will maintain enthusiasm levels until the return to the grounds. Familiar foesHaving ended their 30-year wait for a domestic league title, Liverpool have been surprisingly quiet in the transfer market, with Klopp sticking by the players who dominated last term.Pep Guardiola’s City will have a familiar look as well but they have lost their inspirational Spanish midfielder David Silva as well as Germany winger Leroy Sane.While the hopes of a move for Barcelona’s Lionel Messi were ended by the Argentine’s decision to stay put, Spanish wide-man Ferran Torres has joined from Valencia and Dutch defender Nathan Ake has been recruited from relegated Bournemouth.Frank Lampard has been the busiest of the big six managers, the Chelsea boss adding two German internationals in striker Timo Werner from RB Leipzig and midfielder Kai Havertz from Bayer Leverkusen plus Morocco winger Hakim Ziyech from Ajax Amsterdam and England full-back Ben Chilwell from Leicester.While it is probably too soon to talk of the London club, who were fourth last season, being title contenders, those signings, combined with young players such as Mason Mount and Christian Pulisic who showed promise last season, should give Lampard the strength-in-depth for a more consistent campaign.Manchester United fans hoped for a summer of busy transfer market activity, but while the deadline for deals is not until Oct. 5, they have so far added just one new face in Netherlands midfielder Donny van de Beek from Ajax.The prospect of the Dutchman alongside Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba in midfield offers promise but manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be hoping that a deal eventually gets done with Borussia Dortmund for England winger Jadon Sancho.The United boss, who must also balance the needs of a Champions League campaign, will be keen to add some defensive options to back up an exciting attack featuring talented youngsters Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood.North London clubs Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur will hope their first full campaigns under managers Mikel Arteta and Jose Mourinho will result in a return to the Champions League positions after they had to settle for Europa League spots.Leeds are the most interesting of the promoted clubs to watch given the influence of Bielsa and they are joined in the top flight by West Bromwich Albion and Fulham who both return after short spells in the second-tier Championship. Topics : The new Premier League season kicks off on Saturday with some fresh talent but still without fans as the world’s most popular domestic soccer competition continues, for the time being at least, as a made for television product.The plot is unlikely to be dramatically different from the past two seasons.After winning the title by 18 points, Liverpool start as favorites again but Manchester City will be strong challengers as they seek their third title in four years.last_img read more

Reds Caravan

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first_imgIt was a lot of fun to have the chance to interview members of the Reds’ Caravan again this year. Thanks to WRBI for including me in the interview process.   The Reds do a great job of placing players, executives, announcers, and other personnel on these tours.  They are all friendly and make interviewing them a lot of fun.Three of the members of this year’s tour are some of my favorites to interview.  They include Jeff Brantley, Jim Day, and Dick Williams.  I was impressed this year with Eugenio Suarez.  He had a great command of the English language.  Also, he is very appreciative for the opportunity that the Reds gave him to start as a major league infielder.Folks, baseball spring training is just a month away!last_img read more

Jet lagged McIlroy eager to improve

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first_imgRory McIlroy got the defence of his Australian Open title under way with a two-under-par 69 that leaves him just two shots behind first round leader Jordan Spieth. The 25-year-old birdied the first and picked up further shots at the fifth and ninth, in-between his second bogey of the day at the seventh. McIlroy admitted he feels he can improve as the week goes on and revealed he is still adjusting to the time difference. “I feel like there’s a better score out there for me,” he said in quotes on the PGA Tour of Australasia’s Twitter account. “I’m feeling a bit jet lagged.” Spieth set the early pace, with a round of six birdies and two bogeys giving him a 67 which puts him a shot clear at the head of a leaderboard dominated by Australian players. Home hopes Scott Gardiner and Aron Price were three under, with McIlroy among seven players on two under. Australians Adam Crawford, Geoff Drakeford, Richard Green and Andrew Tampion carded 69s, as did Japan’s Achi Sato and Zimbabwe’s Brendon de Jonge. Scott lies seven shots off the pace after an opening round 74. The 34-year-old from Adelaide started with a double bogey and dropped three further shots on the front nine, before rallying with birdies on the 12th and 14th. World number one McIlroy, who edged out rival and home hope Adam Scott on the 72nd hole last year, was slightly off the pace on a cool and overcast morning at the Australian Golf Club in Sydney. He was level par for his opening nine holes, where his birdie at the 14th was immediately given back at the next hole, but improved after the turn. center_img Press Associationlast_img read more

Sprint legend streamlining fitness for Dortmund trial

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first_imgMELBOURNE, Australia, (CMC) – Legendary retired Jamaican sprinter, Usain Bolt, says he is seriously weighing up a career in football, and is currently getting in shape to undertake a possible trial at German Bundesliga giants, Borussia Dortmund.The multiple-time World and Olympic champion, the most successful sprinter ever in the history of the sport, has always flirted with the idea of a football career but has firmed up plans following his retirement last August at the World Championships in London.“It’s something that I want to do. I’m trying to get fit now,” the 31-year-old told the Herald Sun as he took charge of a training session with members of the Australia cricket side preparing for the Ashes series against England.“My doctor finally passed me after my hamstring problems at the World Championships, so now I can start training. I’ve started training while I’m here and trying to get into shape before I get home and next year I’ll get a trial and we’ll take it from there.”Bolt dominated sprinting ever since dramatically bursting onto the international scene at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, going on to become the first sprinter to win the 100 and 200 metres titles at three consecutive Olympiads.He is an 11-time World champion and remains the world’s fastest-ever man with his astonishing 100m record of 9.58 seconds and 200m mark of 19.19 seconds, still intact.His last appearance at the London World Championships was riddled with injury, however, as he could only manage third in the 100m before pulling up in the sprint relay.The outing raised some doubt over his ability to continue as a top tier athlete but Bolt said he would give his new interests plenty thought before making a final decision.“We’ll decide if it makes sense. When I put my mind to something, I’m going to do it,” he pointed out.“I’m going to train hard, put myself through some drills. Coach of the team in Jamaica – I’ll do some work with him also to figure out the finer details.”last_img read more

Guyanese boxers happy to be back home

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first_imgCOLIN Lewis, Desmond Amsterdam, Dennis Thomas and Keevin Allicock, four of Guyana’s national boxers are now back home after being stranded for months in Cuba due to the COVID-19 pandemic.The four men who are Olympic Boxing hopefuls were sent to Cuba in January 2020 to undergo training for the qualifiers which were scheduled to take place in Argentina in April.The boxers were scheduled to return home on March 22 but were unable to do so as Guyana’s National COVID-19 Task Force (NCTF) closed the country’s borders and airspace to control the spread of the coronavirus.Speaking to the Department of Information (DPI), Director of Sport, Christopher Jones explained when the country implemented lockdown measures the National Sports Commission took the responsibility of the boxers to ensure that their accommodation and other needs were taken care of.“This also would not have been possible without the support of Halim Majeed and the Guyana Embassy in Cuba,” he noted. Jones disclosed that they facilitated in transporting the young men to Havana, Cuba from where they were being housed initially.“Throughout the Caribbean, the Government has been making efforts to repatriate Guyanese from the different states and with some collaborative effort from Caribbean Airlines Limited, we were able to bring home Guyanese from Jamaica, Barbados and Cuba,” Jones stated.The visibly happy quartet told DPI that while the experience was a trying one, they did their best to maintain a positive outlook and commended the NCTF, the National Sports Commission and the Guyana Olympic Association for their efforts to bring them home.Desmond Amsterdam said while the experience was “quite challenging” he made the best of it as the pandemic was unprecedented. “Things weren’t perfect but I tried to cope with it and I am happy and relieved to be back home.”Keevin Allicock echoed similar comments noting it was “tough to be away from family for so long” but I learned a lot from the experience.The boxers were among 101 persons who returned home after being stranded in Cuba, Jamaica and Barbados due to the ongoing pandemic. (DPI)last_img read more

Passing plays pivotal role in Badgers’ trio of dominant wins

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first_imgAt this weekend’s InnTowner Invitational, one could argue that the difference between the Wisconsin women’s volleyball team and their three contenders was the strong overhead attack of the Badgers.This opinion certainly does make sense. When No. 13 Wisconsin smacked 164 kills in two matches against 122 for their opponents, their success was easy to comprehend.But, according to UW head coach Pete Waite, the Wisconsin offense simply could not have taken first place at the InnTowner had it not been for the team’s vast improvement on their setup shots to the kill.”Coming into this year, we have worked a lot on our passing game. We tell our passers and defenders all the time that they run the court, they run our offense. They have got a big responsibility out there, and they did really well [in this tournament],” Waite explained.What makes for such a potent passing game?An easy start is sophomore setter Jackie Simpson. As primary assist-getter for the Badgers, Simpson accumulated 129 assists in the tournament, while opposing setters achieved 103 against UW.”It’s been really easy to set a balance with the hitters. When our passing is right on, we have the versatile hitters that we can either run in [to the center], we can run them outside, there’s so many options, which makes the plays fun,” Simpson said.Senior middle blocker Sheila Shaw was the tournament MVP, thanks to her 12 kills against UCLA. Shaw was quick to praise her setter in helping her get the accolades.”Jackie did a really great job delivering the ball to me at the right time. She realized when their blockers were sitting out, so she got me a lot of one-on-one match-ups, so everything was clicking,” Shaw commented.Simpson hit 113 assists in the Montana State Holiday Inn Classic earlier this season, earning all-tournament honors for her efforts.”I think Jackie actually set a lot better this weekend than she did [at the Montana State Classic]. It just comes from even-better passing from the whole team, and she did a great job,” Waite said.But the Badgers’ set-up game doesn’t start and end with Simpson. Junior setter Katie Lorenzen has 49 assists this season, and sophomore middle blocker Taylor Reineke has 12. Sophomore liberos Jocelyn Wack and Amanda Berkley have added 12 and 8, respectively.Even though players like Wack and Berkley haven’t lit up the statistic categories in kills or assists, Waite said that his two main defenders are imperative in keeping his team’s passing solid.”While our setters always have a lot of great options, it takes our defense to start those plays. Without that, we wouldn’t even have any options,” Waite said.Wack does take the majority of digs for the team. With three more matches with double-digit digs at the InnTowner, she added to what is now her 40-match streak of 10 or more digs.Aside from Berkley, Wisconsin’s outside hitters, junior Maria Carlini and redshirt freshman Audra Jeffers, have been the main supporters in the digs department.”As a team, with some things that we’ve been doing differently, we’ve been moving really well to the ball. We’ve all been able to dig the ball around, and the results have been awesome,” Wack said.Perhaps Simpson’s greatest asset is that she has been surrounded by a score of attacking talent without one so-called “best player.”The final round of the InnTowner was a great example. Wisconsin took home an impressive victory over No. 11 UCLA, 30-26, 30-28, 30-23. Five Badgers had at least eight kills, yet Shaw and Reineke led the team with just 12 each.Stats like these prove that when Simpson has time to set up a kill, there is no need to look to any one player in particular. Simpson said that this just adds to the offensive strength Wisconsin brings to every match.”The beauty of this team is that all of the hitters are phenomenal. It really doesn’t matter who I go to, because there’s confidence in everybody out there, and as the setter, that’s really exciting,” Simpson commented.In the second game against UCLA, Wisconsin stumbled a bit, going down 16-22. Just when the Bruins looked like they would even up the match at one game all, it was Wisconsin’s passing game, according to senior outside hitter Aubrey Meierotto, which fueled eight-straight Badger points, effectively taking UCLA right out of the match.”I think, mainly, it was just our passing defense. We knew that if we dug some balls, we could definitely take care of things offensively. That’s what we started to do towards the end of the second game and got it going again,” Meierotto explained.Just try to ask Waite what he cares about most inside the Badger offense “Passing. We always talk about passing, [the team] hears about it every day in practice, all the time, every day, and they know it. They know that if we set up something in the offense, they have got to pass up a good ball. They’ve got to hit a good pass in the setting zone, or we’ve got no shot,” Waite said.From the looks of it, UW has a shot.last_img read more

Nasri’s girlfriend blasts Deschamps

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first_imgSamir Nasri’s girlfriend hit out at France coachDidier Deschamps in a foul-mouthed Twitter tirade after the Manchester City midfielder was left out of the 30-man provisional World Cup squad.British model Anara Atanes made clear her displeasure at Deschamps’ decision to leave Nasri at home despite his achievements at the club level this season.Atanes tweeted: “F*** France and f*** Deschamps. What a s*** manager.”She followed it up minutes later by tweeting: “In case you didn’t read my tweet properly…. I’ll repeat myself…f*** FRANCE!!!!! And f*** Deschamps!”Let’s just get this straight. I’m not mad I get my boyfriend for two months. I just think there’s a level of respect to be had #shouldhavebeenspanish.”The outburst is unlikely to endear Nasri to Les Bleus’ supporters who have recently reconnected with the France side after the disquiet that followed the squad going on strike during its shambolic 2010 World Cup campaign. Nasri was not involved in the bust-up in Knysna, South Africa, but was reported to have been a disruptive influence as France nosedived out of Euro 2012 remarkably tamely against Spain, after he launched a scathing attack against reporters during the tournament.The former Arsenal man has seemed like a happier figure at club level and, on Sunday, capped a fine season for Manuel Pellegrini’s men with the opening goal in the 2-0 Premier League title-clinching victory over West Ham.He was, however, widely expected to be left out of the party for Brazil this summer, with Deschamps confirming the decision in his provisional squad for the tournament on Tuesday evening.last_img read more

Troy Daniels not afraid to compete for his role with the Lakers

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first_img How athletes protesting the national anthem has evolved over 17 years The presumptive depth chart of the Lakers is already bursting with guards, and that does few favors for Troy Daniels, who figures to fit at the end of the bench on a veteran’s minimum salary.But coming into a season with little guaranteed playing time is not a harrowing concern for the 28-year-old guard – it’s been a truth of his career for the past six seasons.“That’s something I was brought up in this league, just compete and fight for playing time,” he said Monday during a conference call with media. “Who knows? I might go 20 games without playing, but when the opportunity presents itself, I just gotta be ready.”It’s a cliche in NBA discourse, but Daniels lives it: He’s averaged just 15 minutes and seven points per game in his career, and yet he’s hit three game-winning shots in the NBA – including one in overtime in a playoff game for the Houston Rockets.  “I think it makes it a lot easier for me as well as them because they have somebody to kick it out to and know nine times out of 10 it is probably going to go in if he is open,” Daniels said. “For me, I’m not trying to get open, I am probably going to be open, because they are going to command a lot of double-teams and a lot of attention.”Daniels is entering the age range most consider their athletic prime, and there’s a good chance after his one-year deal with the Lakers, he’ll be heading elsewhere in hopes of landing a bigger contract than the minimum. Making more money is the goal, he acknowledged, but more than anything, he’s hoping this season ends with a title.“I’m going to do whatever this team needs,” he said. “Whatever the organization needs from me, I’m going to be there and I’m going to do it at a high level. So you definitely think about stuff like (contracts) for sure as a player, as an NBA player but I think trying to win a championship and creating camaraderie with your teammates – I think that overlaps everything.” Lakers, Clippers schedules set for first round of NBA playoffs Trail Blazers, Grizzlies advance to NBA play-in game; Suns, Spurs see playoff dreams dashed Trail Blazers beat Grizzlies in play-in, earn first-round series with the Lakers center_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with PackersIt makes sense for that type of big-shot mentality to have value, but only to a limited market. Golden State and Oklahoma City (prior to its trades of Paul George and Russell Westbrook) were among the contenders who wanted Daniels to sign as a 3-point specialist.He was swayed by calls from General Manager Rob Pelinka and new star Anthony Davis, who acknowledged he’d have competition for minutes but wanted him in the fold. After two years with the struggling Suns, Daniels described joining a contender as “a breath of fresh air.”“I love being on those type platforms, hitting game-winners in the playoffs and those atmospheres and stuff like that,” he said. “It’s just unbelievable. And as a player in the NBA, you want to be in those situations. It’s one thing to be in the NBA, it’s another thing to actually play for a championship and I’m just fortunate enough to be on this team.”Daniels will be rejoining Jared Dudley, whom he described as “the ultimate vet.” The two became friends on a 21-win Suns team during a challenging 2017-18 season with an interim coach.It hasn’t been since his first two NBA seasons (when he played alongside James Harden and Dwight Howard) that Daniels got a taste of playing with stars. The prospect of being teammates with LeBron James and Davis was enticing for him – he said he envisions getting plenty of open looks with those two on the floor. Lakers practice early hoping to answer all questions Related Articles Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img read more

Perry, Allderdice fall in States

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first_imgby Malik Vincent For New Pittsburgh Courier Neither of the City’s second round or quarterfinal qualifiers was able to advance in the PIAA State Playoffs as Perry and Allderdice lost in AAA and AAAA, respectively.Allderdice, the league champions, was knocked off by Butler on March 16 at North Allegheny High School.Junior post player Ben Mickens led Allderdice (18-8) with 17 points. Senior Eric Mallinger closed out his high school basketball career with 10 points for the Dragons.“Eric was able to make shots despite being fouled all game,” Allderdice coach Andre McDonald said. “He had a black eye and everything, and still wasn’t getting calls, himself. But he still played a great game and ended his career right. I still, personally, think we should have won that game.”In a game that was tied at 21 at the half, they were the outscored 19-7 in the third quarter, which mainly put things out of reach for the Dragons, for what was essentially a home game, geographically, for the North-bordering Butler team.Butler big man, Bobby Swartwout, proved to be too much for Allderdice’s smaller, leaner team.The 6-foot-6, 270 pound senior led the Golden Tornadoes with a game-high 19 points.“With a guy with that kind of size, it’s hard to do anything in the middle,” McDonald added. “(Swartwout) was too big for us to do anything with.”Cody Herald and Nate Snodgrass also scored in double-figures for Butler with 15 and 12 points, respectively. When asked, McDonald mentioned that the possible merger of the City League and the WPIAL is a highly-discussed topic among his players and staff.“We understand that we need to win games like this so that can gain more of what we need to be in the WPIAL,” he said. “It’s something that we talk about quite a bit. We understand, as we move forward that these are the types of games that we need to win.”Also, after traveling to Slippery Rock University on March 15 and knocking off Franklin, 67-53 in the second round of the PIAA playoffs, Perry dropped it’s quarterfinal match against Montour last Friday at North Allegheny.Despite Perry senior Greg McGhee putting up a game-high 26 points, the Spartans forced Perry (23-5) into too many turnovers (six in the final six minutes of the game).“It was frustrating,” McGhee said. “We had never made it that far in State’s so we were unfamiliar with how things were going to go and I think that contributed to the way that we played.”Fellow senior Marcus Smith added 14 for the Commodores.Austin Heter led Montour with 15 points. Devin Wilson and Dillon Buechel rounded out their players in double-figures with 14 and 12 points, each. The Spartans were frustrated by Perry’s quickness in the early going. They forced nine takeaways in the first quarter. But they pulled ahead for good starting at the beginning of the fourth quarter, after leading 36-34 at the end of the third.“A lot of people were disappointed,” McGhee added. “I was. It was my last-ever high school basketball game to lose, and was very upsetting to me and my teammates.” (Malik Vincent can be reached at malikvincent@gmail.com.)last_img read more

Hasler backs Jackson to shine as Bulldogs captain

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first_imgJackson was one of Hasler’s biggest supporters and the text he received from the former coach after being named as James Graham’s successor as captain only added to the emotion of a special moment for the 27-year-old.”He sent me a text after they announced the captaincy which is something I really appreciated,” Jackson said.”I will always have a lot of time for Des. He gave me my first opportunity. I grew a lot as a player and as a person under him. He’s someone that I respect a lot.”It meant a lot to me for him to send me that message. I’ll never forget the contribution he has made to my career but also the influence he has had on me as an individual.”Hasler hasn’t surfaced since his departure from Belmore, however when asked by NRL.com to comment on Jackson before his first game as skipper in Perth on Saturday, the wily coach didn’t hesitate.It speaks volumes of the respect the pair have for each other and the strength of their relationship, with Hasler admitting there was only one applicant at the club ready to fill the shoes of Graham.”Josh was never a hard decision. He was always going to be captain,” Hasler told NRL.com.”I think one of the most important and strongest things for captaincy and leadership is integrity, and he’s got bucketloads of it. It was never going to be a hard decision. That’s his greatest attribute, integrity.”It’s a great attribute, as well as being a good footballer. Those other parts are vital for the role he’s going to fill and he’ll do a great job at it. That’s why he’s the captain, because integrity is a strong part of captaincy.”You’d be hard pressed finding anyone to argue with Dean Pay’s decision.Jackson has always let his actions do the talking, and even during the club’s under-performing season in 2017, he never wavered in his desire and commitment to the cause.The reality is, Jackson never wanted Hasler to leave. He believed in the coach.But it wasn’t until Jackson saw the impact of a fresh change did he realise how much the club needed to go in a different direction in 2018.”I have always got along well with Des and liked his training methods,” Jackson said.”I was fine with all that. I will never bag him. We were working really hard off the field last year, but the harder we worked the worse it got for us I feel. But I guess until you get something new, you don’t really appreciate that you needed a change. That’s come in the form of Deano.”He’s pretty laid back personality – that’s not to say he’s not intense on the field because we’ve been training really hard. But he just gives us something different. Our routine and the way we go about training and doing things differently. Everyone is very excited around the place.”Facing the premiers, the Melbourne Storm, is a fair baptism of fire, but the backrower isn’t planning anything special before he leads his teammates onto Perth’s new state-of-the-art stadium.”Despite what everyone says, I don’t say nothing,” Jackson joked.”I will always have something to say before a game. It will just be something similar to what I always say. There won’t be any inspirational type speech. I just want to be someone that leads by example. Someone that sets the standard.”If you want people to do things a certain way, you have to show them how to do it. That’s how you get respect. Saying you’re going to do something and actually doing it.”Graham said his successor at the Dogs had been his right-hand man for some time.”Josh Jackson has been a leader around there for so, so long now and helped me immensely in my time as captain there,” the St George Illawarra Dragons recruit said.”Some of the things he does on a rugby league field are really, really inspiring. Some things that I’ve watched first hand in his game you don’t see from many. I think he’s going to really, really take the role on well. It’s going to be successful for him.”One man on the opposition team on Saturday who knows just how far Jackson has come is Ryan Hoffman, who was in starting side for NSW when Jackson made his Origin debut in 2015.”He was certainly, I felt, the captain in waiting at the Bulldogs so it wasn’t a matter if, it was a matter of when before he got the captaincy because he had that leadership potential all over himself,” Hoffman said.”And to be honest, if it wasn’t for such a fantastic leader like Boyd Cordner, he probably would be captain of NSW as well.”last_img read more