Man Utd close to hiring Rangnick as interim boss: Reports

RB Leipzig coach Ralf Rangnick before the DFB Cup Final between RB Leipzig and Bayern Munich at the Olympiastadion, Berlin, Germany, May 25, 2019. (Reuters)
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Updated 25 November 2021
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Man Utd close to hiring Rangnick as interim boss: Reports

  • German Ralf Rangnick, 63, is currently head of sports and development at Russian club Lokomotiv Moscow and is seen as a potential short-term successor to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
  • United are planning to make a permanent appointment at the end of the campaign, with Paris Saint-Germain boss Mauricio Pochettino strongly linked to the job

LONDON: Ralf Rangnick is close to finalizing a deal to become Manchester United’s interim manager as they seek a replacement for the sacked Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, it was widely reported on Thursday.
The Premier League giants have identified the German, 63, who is currently head of sports and development at Russian club Lokomotiv Moscow, as a potential short-term successor to the Norwegian.
Michael Carrick took charge of the side for Tuesday’s Champions League win at Villarreal, which secured progress to the knockout stages, but the club want to bring in a more experienced figure until the end of the season.
United are planning to make a permanent appointment at the end of the campaign, with Paris Saint-Germain boss Mauricio Pochettino strongly linked to the job.
The Athletic reported that Rangnick, the former RB Leipzig manager, had reached agreement with United to take over, saying the agreement was subject to Lokomotiv agreeing to release him from his contract.
But it said he would not be in charge in time for the game at Chelsea this weekend due to work permit issues.
Solskjaer was sacked on Sunday following his side’s embarrassing 4-1 defeat to lowly Watford.
They are eighth in the Premier League after losing four of their past five matches, 12 points behind leaders Chelsea and six points adrift of fourth-placed West Ham.


Max Verstappen holds off Lando Norris to win Spanish GP and increase F1 lead

Updated 40 min 15 sec ago
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Max Verstappen holds off Lando Norris to win Spanish GP and increase F1 lead

  • Verstappen started from second on the grid behind pole-sitter Lando Norris
  • Once overtaken, Norris tried to mount a late challenge but Verstappen upped the pace to cross first

MONTMELO, Spain: Max Verstappen steered his Red Bull to victory at the Spanish Grand Prix on Sunday to increase his lead in the Formula 1 drivers championship.
Verstappen started from second on the grid behind pole-sitter Lando Norris. But the three-time champion whipped past the McLaren driver by the first turn and then overtook George Russell on lap three of 66 and never looked back.
Norris tried to mount a late challenge but Verstappen upped the pace to cross first. Norris was second, followed by Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes in third.
Verstappen said that his moves to get past Norris and Russell so early proved crucial so he could build an advantage and keep the hard-charging Norris at bay.
“I think what made the difference in the race was the beginning,” Verstappen said. “I took the lead and had my buffer. After that we had to drive a defensive race.”
Verstappen got his seventh win in 10 races this season and claimed his third straight victory at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalonia.
Verstappen has 219 points. Norris moved into second place with 150, overtaking Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, who fell into third place with 148 points after finishing fifth.
Norris put the blame on his poor start — when he lost two spots — for having to settle for second. The British driver got his first win at Miami in May and was gunning for a second victory.
“I should have won,” Norris said. “I got a bad straight, it is as simple as that.”
Hamilton’s third place was the first podium of the season for the seven-time world champion, who is in his last season for Mercedes before joining Ferrari next season.
Norris was beaten from the starting line by Verstappen and Russell, who whipped around both rivals from his start from fourth on the grid to take a surprise lead after the nearly 600-meter (yard) run to the first corner.
Verstappen was right behind Russell, however, and within two laps he swerved past him just after his team told him “(this) might be our best opportunity now.”
Once ahead, Verstappen managed his tires on the tough Barcelona track, and his Red Bull team pulled off two clean pit stops to avoid any mistakes.
Norris showed his great form by chasing down both Mercedes after a tire change. He got past Hamilton and then featured in a long duel with Russell midway through the race. Norris swerved past, Russell counterattacked to edge ahead, before Norris finally got in front.
But the jousting also favored Verstappen, who added to his lead.
Norris turned up the speed over the final 10 laps and was closing on the Dutchman, but he ran out of time and track. He crossed two seconds behind Verstappen.
Russell finished fourth, while it was a bad day for Leclerc and Carlos Sainz as neither Ferrari could contend with the front-runners. Sainz, the Spanish fan’s best hope for a win, finished sixth.
Norris’ McLaren partner Oscar Piastri was seventh. Sergio Pérez in the other Red Bull was eighth after his start from 11th place following a third-place grid penalty incurred in last round’s Canadian GP. Alpine pair Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon rounded out the top 10. Fernando Alonso was 12th in his Aston Martin.


Albania team says UEFA banned player Mirlind Daku for two Euro 2024 games after nationalist chants

Updated 23 June 2024
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Albania team says UEFA banned player Mirlind Daku for two Euro 2024 games after nationalist chants

  • Daku joined in chanting slogans against Serbia and North Macedonia
  • 26-year-old forward began playing for Albania last year having used his right under FIFA rules to change his eligibility from Kosovo

TIRANA: The Albanian soccer federation said UEFA banned its player Mirlind Daku on Sunday for two games after leading fans in nationalist chants at the European Championship.
Daku took a megaphone after Albania’s 2-2 draw with Croatia on Wednesday in Hamburg and joined in chanting slogans against Serbia and North Macedonia.
The Albanian federation also said UEFA imposed fines totaling 47,250 euros ($50,500) for incidents at the game, where its fans joined Croatian fans and chanted an anti-Serb slogan.
The Serbian soccer federation said it would leave the tournament if UEFA did not punish the incidents.
Albania play a decisive group-stage game on Monday against Spain. If Albania advance, Daku also would sit out the round of 16 game.
Daku later apologized for his actions in a social media posting, as UEFA appointed an in-house investigator to study his “alleged inappropriate behavior.”
The 26-year-old forward began playing for Albania last year having used his right under FIFA rules to change his eligibility from Kosovo, the ethnic-Albanian former province of Serbia that declared independence 16 years ago.
UEFA also announced charges against its Albanian and Croatian member federations for “potential racist and/or discriminatory conduct” by fans on Wednesday, who were reportedly chanting “Kill the Serbs” in Serbian.
The Albanian soccer Federation, or FSHF, called on the fans to be “accountable and avoid incidents and riots.”
“The FSHF invites fans and football lovers to support to the end the Albanian national team in this magical and historic path in Euro 2024 by showing citizenry and accountability through correct behavior and by respecting the rules and the opponents,” said a statement.
Albania have impressed at Euro 2024 in an opening 2-1 loss against Italy and then the 2-2 draw with Croatia. The team likely need to beat Spain to advance.


How Pakistan’s new cricket coaches can approach tough tasks ahead

Updated 23 June 2024
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How Pakistan’s new cricket coaches can approach tough tasks ahead

  • Despite the team’s failure to progress to the Super 8s of the 2024 T20 World Cup, there could be reasons to be optimistic

NEW YORK: How many times have we heard the words inconsistent, unpredictable and chaotic used to describe the Pakistan men’s cricket team’s performances over the years?

The answer is numerous, although usually the description is followed by the qualification that the team are at their most dangerous when in that state.

In the wake of the team’s failure to progress to the Super 8s stage of the 2024 T20 World Cup, the mood is different and much darker.

Inconsistency, unpredictability and chaos did not translate into becoming a dangerous opponent. Nor should it, because it is much more likely that a team characterized as consistent, hardworking and united will perform best.

In my view, it is time for those involved in Pakistan’s cricket world to step away from the myth surrounding what it takes to galvanize the team. In its place ought to be a realization that the raw talent that once helped them produce magical moments is not being harnessed properly and that teams in other countries have adopted a more adventurous style of playing cricket.

The big question is how can Pakistan achieve such a transformation? There is nothing new about the current environment. Issues with chairmen and selection have abounded over the years, leading to accusations of nepotism and favoritism. However, I believe that there is reason to be hopeful.

The two new coaches, Gary Kirsten for white ball cricket and Jason Gillespie for red ball, are in positions which allow them to make decisions which are likely to be backed unconditionally by the hierarchy, even if it is just to save face for themselves.

Hopefully, the coaches will take full advantage of this opportunity to set their paths immediately. It is not an understatement to suggest that they are set for the hardest task of their careers. I was coached by Gillespie at Yorkshire and know his style is to be calm, which will be of help in this task. He prefers to let players lead while occupying a supporting act. From a distance, Kirsten seems to have a similar style, evidenced by his time with India in winning the 2011 World Cup under MS Dhoni’s captaincy.

Anyone who has followed the men in green will be very aware of all the issues with the team environment, so those must be addressed first. It is a very insecure one with a lot of noise.

Personally, I would not have chosen the two-coach policy. These players need simple and consistent messaging to be able to go out and express themselves. However, given that two coaches are in place, it will be especially important for them to work together and build a trusted backroom staff body which is the same across the formats. Time is of the essence to put this in place as pressure to improve both team and individual performances will build quickly. In my view, the environment needs freshening and unnecessary baggage which has built up over the last couple of years needs removing.

One of the most difficult and contentious issues is that of the captaincy. In the current situation, I would play down the power and importance of the captain. This goes against my natural grain but, for the immediate future, the coach needs to be the figurehead and lead. Obviously, there still needs to be a captain, ideally across formats, so as to reduce noise and deliver one simple message. Pakistan’s next white ball match is not until early November in Australia, so there is no need for immediate action. However, there are two Tests with Bangladesh to be hosted in August. Shan Masood is the current captain.

Another contentious issue is the selection process and, within it, the role of Wahab Riaz. It was only on Mar. 24 that the current seven-member selection committee was established. This included Riaz, who had previously acted as chair, but that title was removed, Riaz remaining as a committee member. Somewhat impracticably, each member carried an equal vote from which a majority decision would be formed. How this works in practice is unclear.

In my view, the experiment should be ditched, with the coaches having the final say in a reduced committee. Riaz, who is believed to be close to the PCB (Pakistan Cricket Board) chair, was senior team manager during the World Cup, despite there being a team manager and a coach! There is a public perception that Riaz appears to wield too much influence. It remains to be seen if the review of Pakistan’s World Cup performance will recommend that it is reduced. The results are expected shortly.

The first requirement for team selection will come with the Bangladesh Tests. Gillespie will oversee a training camp ahead of these matches to prepare both the national and A teams. He has already said that “we can’t rely on the same 11 players to play day in and day out. We need to make sure that we’ve got a squad mentality.”

Surprisingly, the talent pool appears to be small with a lack of ready-made replacements in some positions, so there is a need to identify and back those with the necessary character and skill. One of the options is Mohammad Haris. He has the modern-day approach which surely needs to be injected into the team’s approach and pursued all the way to the next T20 World Cup. Irfan Khan Niazi is another young dynamo who could grow into a good finisher, whilst investment in batter Omair Yousuf could prove beneficial.

In the fast-bowling department, Shaheen Shah Afridi needs the necessary support to return to basics and improve his performance. In my view, he would be advised to forget about the captaincy to concentrate on taking wickets and being a match winner. Naseem Shah needs protection and support as he appears to be on the right path to being world class. I expect Gillespie to provide those levels of support for both players.

Leg-spinner Usama Mir would have been in my World Cup squad, whilst Mehran Mumtaz has the ability to be the all-format No. 1 spinner. Shadab Khan needs time to rediscover his bowling skills. He has been brilliant as a batter for Islamabad but that seems to have skewed his thought processes in international cricket. He has succeeded before and I have no doubt he will again, but he is another who needs to go back to basics.

My suggested change in approach for both coaches may not be very natural for either man. Both prefer to have a strong captain who takes the lead while they create an environment which encourages the players to make their own decisions.

In the short term, my view is that the coaches need to lead from the front, dealing with the noise and protecting their players from the inevitable attacks by ex-players, pundits and fans. Internally, they are advised to set out clear expectations. The team must become the priority in what is an insecure culture which makes the players think more about personal performances.

The two men need to settle the players in their minds through a combination of hand holding and tough love. Hopefully, a period of calm and support will create a better environment for success.


Ex-champion Murray out of Wimbledon after back surgery

Updated 23 June 2024
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Ex-champion Murray out of Wimbledon after back surgery

LONDON: Two-time Wimbledon champion Andy Murray has been ruled out of this year’s tournament after undergoing back surgery, the ATP Tour confirmed on Sunday.
“After an operation on a spinal cyst, Andy Murray is sadly out of Wimbledon. Rest up and recover Andy, we’ll miss seeing you there,” the ATP said on X, formerly Twitter.
The Scot had been aiming to make a farewell appearance at the grass court Grand Slam, which he won in 2013 and 2016.
However, the 37-year-old will need an expected six weeks to recover from surgery with Wimbledon starting on July 1.
He now also faces a race against time to be fit for next month’s Paris Olympics, with Murray twice a gold medallist in the singles.
Murray managed just five games before a back injury forced him to withdraw from his second-round match against Australia’s Jordan Thompson at the Queen’s warm-up event in London on Wednesday.
The former world number one, who plays with a metal hip, struggled from the start of his match against Thompson and said afterwards he had a feeling of weakness in his right leg and had lost coordination.
“I never had that loss of coordination, control and strength in my leg before,” Murray said shortly after retiring from his match with Thompson.
“I’ve been struggling with my back for a while — I had lost the power in my right leg so lost all motor control, I had no coordination and couldn’t really move.”
Asked then about his prospects of playing at Wimbledon, he added: “Like all tennis players, we have degenerative joints and stuff in the back, but it’s all predominantly been left-sided for me my whole career.
“I have never had too many issues with the right side. So maybe there is something that can be done between now and then to help the right side.”
Murray underwent minor back surgery in 2013 and following a first-round loss at the recent French Open he said he would need treatment to address soreness.
The three-time Grand Slam champion only returned to competitive action in May after nearly two months out with an ankle injury.
He had been due to play singles and doubles with his brother Jamie at Wimbledon before potentially ending his career at the Olympics in Paris.


Kuramagomedov takes welterweight world title at Bellator Champions Series Dublin

Updated 23 June 2024
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Kuramagomedov takes welterweight world title at Bellator Champions Series Dublin

  • Paul Hughes shines on Bellator debut with second round TKO

Dublin: Bellator Champions Series Dublin crowned a new champion at the 3Arena in Dublin as Ramazan Kuramagomedov defeated Jason Jackson to extend his unbeaten streak and become the new Bellator welterweight world champion in a gruelling five-round battle.

Kuramagomedov was visibly emotional after he achieved his life-long dream of becoming a champion after a hard-fought unanimous-decision victory.

In the co-main event, the Irish welcomed Derry’s Paul Hughes who stepped into the cage for his Bellator Champions Series debut and rose to the occasion as he stopped Bobby King via TKO in the second round. “Big News” Hughes lived up to his moniker, confirming to the MMA world that he will be a prospect to watch for years to come.

Australia’s Arlene Blencowe silenced the 3Arena when she dropped Sinead Kavanagh and followed up with a guillotine choke to force the tap. The two fighters exchanged heavy hands in the first round, with “Angerfist” landing a strong straight right hand on Kavanagh in the second round followed by the successful submission.

Dalton Rosta had his hand raised after a three-round battle with Norbert Novenyi after a wildly entertaining middleweight bout. The pair exchanged heavy offence, with Dalton displaying his resilience in the third round as he fought through adversity after big elbows from Novenyi to secure the majority decision win.

The main card kicked off with a win in the Irish column as Darragh Kelly remained undefeated after he put Mathias Poiron to sleep after a tight guillotine that brought the home crowd to their feet and put the lightweight division on notice.

 

Bellator Champions Series Dublin Main Card Results

Ramazan Kuramagomedov (13-0) beat Jason Jackson (18-5) via unanimous decision to become Bellator Welterweight World Champion

Paul Hughes (12-1) beat Bobby King (12-7) via second round TKO

Arlene Blencowe (16-10) beat Sinead Kavanagh (9-7) via second round guillotine

Dalton Rosta (9-1) beat Norbert Novenyi (7-1) via majority decision

Darragh Kelly (6-0) beat Mathias Poiron (7-2) via first round guillotine

 

Preliminary Card Results

Kasum Kasumov (16-1) beat Matheus Mattos (14-3-1) via unanimous decision

Nathan Kelly (11-2) beat Jose Sanchez (13-3-1) via first round front naked choke

Khasan Magomedsharipov (10-0) beat Tyler Mathison (6-4) via unanimous decision

Sarvarjon Khamidov (16-0) beat Marcirley Alves (12-4) via unanimous decision

Shinobu Ota (7-3) beat Roger Blanque (5-6) via first round north south choke

Michelle Montague beat Karolina Sobek via first round rear naked choke

Nate Kelly beat Paul Nolan via first round tap arm bar