BENCHED FOR THE GAME STOKE, England (AP): Louis van Gaal raised the prospect of quitting as Manchester United manager after Stoke condemned the club to a fourth straight loss for the first time in 54 years on Saturday. The 2-0 loss at the windy Britannia Stadium pushed United down to sixth place in the English Premier League, and van Gaal is sensing the pressure after barely 18 months in charge. “I can also quit by myself,” van Gaal said when asked if he had received assurances about his future from the club hierarchy. “That is something I speak to (vice chairman) Ed Woodward (about) by himself – not with you (reporters). “It is not always … the club has to fire or sack me. Sometimes I do it by myself. I am the one who wants to speak first with the board of Manchester United and with my members of staff and players – and not with you.” United was in disarray defensively in the first half when Memphis Depay’s horrendous defending allowed Bojan Krkic to score, and Marko Arnautovic powered in Stoke’s second goal from outside the penalty area. United captain Wayne Rooney watched it all from the sidelines after being dropped to the bench for the first time in a league match in almost two years. United came to life only in the second half after Rooney was brought on, but Stoke goalkeeper Jack Butland thwarted any hopes of a comeback. “The circumstances were difficult – not only the circumstances, the wind, but also the pressure,” van Gaal said. “That is, in my opinion, the reason they don’t dare to play football (in the first half).” The losing streak started with Champions League elimination, and has also seen United drop out of the Premier League top four by losing to Bournemouth and Norwich. Win-less in seven matches, United have little time to recover their confidence, with a home match against Chelsea today. Asked if he would be in charge of the game, van Gaal said: “You will have to wait and see, but I think so.” “I try to do everything, but the pressure shall be, every match, higher and higher, and we have to solve that problem,” van Gaal, who has been in charge since July 2014, added. “It’s more difficult because I am now part of the four matches we have lost and people are looking at me.” A day after British astronaut, Tim Peake, displayed a Stoke flag on the International Space Station, the central England team was in a different orbit to United in the first half. Depay’s mind seemed to be on another planet when he sent a downward header back toward goalkeeper David de Gea in an attempt to clear Geoff Cameron’s deep ball. Depay, a winger in the right-back position, was unaware that Glen Johnson was primed to dart in and seize possession before crossing for Krkic, who took a touch then slotted the ball into the net in the 19th minute. “It was a bad goal to give away,” van Gaal said. If United’s players were fighting to save their manager’s job, they didn’t demonstrate it. Their response lacked any burning desire to end their slump. And the mission facing United became even tougher seven minutes later. Krkic’s free kick was blocked by the United wall, but the ball came back out to the edge of the penalty area and Arnautovic’s powerful strike beat De Gea. United was offering little in response, with Depay’s free kick parried by Butland, and Marouane Fellaini was offside as he tried to react. MISSED OPPORTUNITY United was spared further misery before the interval when Arnautovic ran onto Krkic’s through ball, but missed the target with his shot. As usual, on the United bench, there was little outgoing evidence of concern, with neither van Gaal nor assistant Ryan Giggs springing out of their seats to berate or inspire their team. Van Gaal’s about-turn came at half-time, when Rooney spent the break warming up before coming on to replace Depay. Rooney’s first significant contribution came after 20 minutes on the field, cutting the ball back for Fellaini six yards in front of goal, but rather than slamming the ball high into the net, Fellaini shot low and, lacking power, allowed Butland to make a diving save. In the closing minutes, Rooney, this time, set up Juan Mata, but, again, Butland made the vital save. And Butland also pushed Anthony Martial’s attempt round the post as Stoke completed a December double over Manchester clubs, having already beaten City. Stoke are three points behind United, which manager Mark Hughes used to play for. United are three points adrift of fourth-place Tottenham.
February 10, 2020
In the beginning, sports to a child consisted of running up and down, jumping, playing catch and having fun.Then adults step in. Rules are introduced and the game becomes structured, with ultimately winners and losers. Children then benefit from what sports offers – physical activity, the importance of rules, safety, the importance of teammates, respect for authority, etc.Soon, it becomes obvious which sport a child is best suited for, thus the process of becoming great at a particular sport begins.Training is introduced, skills are honed and developed with the first aim being to represent your community, school (or vice versa), club and, ultimately, country.At different points along this journey, monetary reward can be introduced, which may, or may not, reduce the ultimate goal, national representation.In the past, national representation trumped just playing for money but, as the rewards (cash and kind) increased to unprecedented levels, national representation slipped further down the totem pole of life’s goals.To old fogeys like me, that fact is very disturbing.I am one who does believe, however, that maximising one’s ability to be well rewarded for being good at sports can coexist with national representation.All that is needed for this to become reality is for the administrators of sport to be as broad-minded as possible, not let ‘bad mind’ and jealousy corrupt their thought processes as they draft rules, the sole aim of which is to punish the rich sportsman and sportswoman, who dare to think for themselves and eventually refuse to bow to some of their ridiculous demands.As it stands, national representation seems to be an important step on the journey to financial independence.Therefore, international competition should be ‘the best of ours against the best of yours’.Nations should be able to identify talent, develop this talent with facilities, resources and coaches.OVERSEAS HELPMost nations, eventually seek overseas help in developing the skills set and potential of their natives. This may include the hiring of overseas experts, or sending their talented nationals to an overseas destination with better facilities and higher-quality competition that should make that individual better at the particular sport.Eventually, in international competition, the best of ours goes up against the best of theirs. Not so in the 21st century.The rules now allow sportsmen and sportswomen to represent countries in sports, even though their knowledge of the country that they represent is gained from anecdotes and the Internet and, in some cases, they do not even speak the native language of the nation they represent.This ‘rule’ is supported by those who believe that winning is not only everything, it is the ONLY thing.I would like to see Jamaica resist this trend, insist that those who represent us are ‘us’, natives whose skills are identified and developed locally (and sometimes) overseas, returning to represent their country, assist in improving those who are HERE, by passing on what they have learnt, so that the country benefits.
February 10, 2020
P W D L GF GA GD Pts1. Leicester 32 20 9 3 55 31 24 692. Tottenham 32 17 11 4 57 25 32 623. Arsenal 31 17 7 7 52 30 22 584. Man City 31 16 6 9 56 32 24 545. Man Utd 31 15 8 8 39 27 12 536. West Ham 31 13 12 6 49 37 12 517. S’hampton 32 13 8 11 41 33 8 478. Stoke City 32 13 8 11 36 39 -3 479. Liverpool 30 12 9 9 46 41 5 4510. Chelsea 31 11 11 9 49 41 8 44 P W D L GF GA GD Pts11. W’ Brom 31 10 10 11 30 37 -7 4012. Everton 30 9 11 10 51 42 9 3813. B’mouth 32 10 8 14 38 54 -16 3814. Watford 31 10 7 14 30 36 -6 3715. Swansea 32 9 10 13 33 42 -9 3716. Crystal P 31 9 7 15 34 42 -8 3417. Norwich 32 8 7 17 35 56 -21 3118. S’land 31 6 9 16 36 55 -19 2719. N’castle 31 6 7 18 31 58 -27 2520. A’ Villa 32 3 7 22 22 62 -40 16