Martin Keown says Ole Gunnar Solskjaer "will not last as Manchester United manager beyond this season" after the 2-0 home defeat to Burnley in the Premier League. Phil Neville insists the Norwegian should be given more time as "there are some positives" and says the club need to sign at least two players in the January transfer window.
Leicester City boss Brendan Rodgers is delighted with his side's performance in the 4-1 win over West Ham and confirms Jamie Vardy's injury was "not a hamstring" and they will know more in the next couple of days.
Premiership Rugby plans to investigate the “unauthorised and reckless leak” of an unredacted disciplinary report into Saracens, which named several players who were part of ventures set up with the club’s owner Nigel Wray that breached salary cap rules.
A Sky News report on Wednesday night revealed details of the 103-page report by Lord Dyson which found that Wray had put £1.3m towards companies owned by Maro Itoje, Billy and Mako Vunipola and Chris Ashton, in a way that constituted a breach of Premiership Rugby’s £7m salary cap rules.Continue reading...
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.Continue reading...
Scotland’s talisman, Finn Russell, has been sent home from their Six Nations training camp for a breach of discipline. The Racing 92 stand-off will not play in the Scots’ opener against Ireland on 1 February and his involvement in the rest of the tournament appears in doubt.
STATEMENT | Scotland team spokesperson: “Stand-off Finn Russell will play no further part in preparations for Scotland’s Six Nations opener against Ireland, having been disciplined for a breach of team protocol during the week’s camp in Edinburgh. He has returned to his club."Continue reading...
• England captain says ‘sky’s the limit for this team’
• No decision yet made on bowling selection at the Wanderers
Joe Root has said sealing a Test series win in South Africa would be the biggest achievement of his England captaincy, adding: “The sky’s the limit for this team.”
England head into the fourth and final Test at the Wanderers on Friday 2-1 ahead following consecutive victories at Cape Town and Port Elizabeth. They have come back after losing the opening Test at Centurion, a match in which the tourists were badly affected by a sickness bug that affected 11 members of the squad and six support staff.Continue reading...
• 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.Continue reading...
• Accounting rejected and £118.75m of sponsorships questioned
• City could face Champions League ban in second Uefa inquiry
Manchester City were found to have made inadmissible submissions to Uefa over financial fair play in 2014 and were reported for not making their bank statements available, the Guardian can reveal.
City’s submissions for the 2012 and 2013 financial years were questioned in relation to £118.75m in sponsorships from companies in Abu Dhabi, the home state of the club’s owner, and their accounting methods over transfer fees and the formation of two new companies were rejected.Continue reading...
Why does supporting one club mean you have to hate another?
Everyone reading this probably has a favourite football team. I’d also be willing to bet that all of you have at least one football club that you hate. Maybe it’s because their star player is a diver, or because they once broke your hearts in a season-defining, must-win game. Though probably it’s because you have to. Being a fan of one club means being expected to hate at least one other. But isn’t it just a little bit arbitrary? Who told you that you have to hate United or City? Arsenal and not Spurs? Then again, who told you that you have to hate anyone at all? Why does supporting one football club even have to mean hating another? In other words, why do we as football fans choose our rivals? And more to the point – how?
Our motivations for choosing rivals are an interesting psychological phenomenon, one which the work of the Austrian psychoanalysts in the early 20th century can help to explain. The contemporaries Otto Rank and Sigmund Freud might go a long way to explaining why rivalry is meaningful, why it is that we’re so viscerally connected not just to seeing our local team do well, but also to cheering on just about anyone who crosses paths with rival clubs.Continue reading...
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.Continue reading...
The affair has shown the regulations are ineffective as a deterrent and clubs stoke their own inflationary pressures
The end of an era was how Mark McCall described Saracens’ relegation to the Championship but will it also mark the end of a way of life? Will a club that has in the last 10 years based its squad around a core of English players it has either produced or signed young look to recruit from outside and minimise the financial impact of a player quickly going from a paltry wage to a substantial one after being capped by England?
Two months after protesting they had not breached the Premiership’s salary cap regulations and would appeal against the fine and loss of points, Saracens accepted they were over again this season and, given that they anticipated a not guilty verdict, took no steps to ensure they would comply this season as the leak of the 103-page report shows. Rather than wait for another hearing and the unlimited points deduction next season a panel would have had the power to impose on a repeat offender, they accepted demotion: it remains to be seen whether they receive the parachute payment of some £2m or whether it is forfeited in lieu of another fine.Continue reading...
• Dart departs after spirited fight with Simona Halep
• Second year in a row no British players in third round
The British are going home early again, beaten but mildly encouraged at the end of four days of struggle in singles at the Australian Open, and Harriet Dart at least waved goodbye with a spirited flourish against the former world No 1, Simona Halep.
This, nonetheless, is the second year on the spin there will be no British player in either singles draw in the third round. In the decade before 2019, at least one British player – usually Andy Murray – hung around for the first weekend. Dart on Thurday followed Heather Watson, who lost 6-3, 6-0 on a tiny outside court to the 16th seed, Elise Mertens, whom she had beaten in the quarter-finals in Hobart only a week ago.Continue reading...
Only two teams are still playing football, which means their rivals are already pondering what comes next in the calendar
There is just one meaningful football game left this season, and teams have already moved on to planning for next year. With that in mind, here are the biggest questions this coming offseason.Continue reading...
Much-travelled French jockey, now based in Newmarket, is being helped back to action at Oaksey House
The rehabbing facilities available to jockeys in Britain have been hailed as the best in the world by Gérald Mossé, who speaks with authority after more than three decades of riding in many different countries around the globe. Mossé, who has ridden winners of the Arc and the Melbourne Cup, is spending this week at Oaksey House, the Injured Jockeys Fund’s facility in Lambourn, with the aim of getting back in the saddle in mid-February after sustaining what he describes as a minor injury in Bahrain at the end of last year.
“I’ve been lucky in my career, never to be injured too much,” said Mossé between treatment sessions on Wednesday, “but what I will say is, it is amazing. This place really provides the jockey with everything needed to be able to get the best treatment, helping you to go back as quick as possible.”Continue reading...
• Australian progresses to third round after match of two halves
• French opponent bemused by crowd’s inane chanting
At war with himself as much as his opponent, Nick Kyrgios progressed to the third round of the Australian Open with a 6-2, 6-4, 4-6, 7-5 win over Frenchman Gilles Simon in Melbourne. It was a contest that proved the cliche about matches of two halves. For two sets Kyrgios was the focused and ruthless version of himself that could frighten the entire grand slam draw. For the second half of the match his head was spinning faster than his backhand slice.Continue reading...
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.Continue reading...
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.Continue reading...
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.Continue reading...
John Millman is looking forward to another dream showdown with Roger Federer after winning his second round Australian Open match on Wednesday night.
Often the marathon man drawn into long matches, the popular Australian had a surprisingly straightforward victory over 31st seed Hubert Hurkacz, 6-4 7-5 6-3.Continue reading...
Four of the six sides under new management struck an upbeat note at launch while England grapple with Saracens fallout
Five of the teams at the Six Nations launch at a chilly Tobacco Dock in London’s Wapping could be heard talking an upbeat game. Ireland, Wales, France and Italy are all under new management, while Scotland have a passionate new captain in Stuart Hogg already itching to lead out Gregor Townsend’s army on Saturday week.
The only contingent not obviously oozing bonhomie were England, an inevitable consequence of the sizeable Saracens-shaped elephant in the room. Owen Farrell would rather publicly discuss his bowel movements than bare his soul on the subject of his club’s salary cap defrocking, while Eddie Jones is never a fan of anything that distracts from Red Rose business.Continue reading...
Also featuring Wes McDonald morphing into Messi, C64 nostalgia with Peter Shilton and harsh red cards
1) Keeper saves penalty. Booked for coming off his line. Keeper saves penalty again. Sent off after second yellow for coming off his line. Defender goes in goal and saves penalty. Just an average day in the Turkish lower leagues, then. And if you thought that was a harsh sending off, try the Dutch third tier for size, where you can get sent off for having a drink. If you want a kinder game, futsal’s the place to be.
2) Basketball becomes basketbrawl as all hell breaks loose in the closing moments of the college match between Kansas and K-State.Continue reading...
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 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 it wouldn’t do any good. But now she is getting out, and she could not be happier.
“I think I had my first interview when I was eight or nine years old, it’s pretty crazy,” Wozniacki said at the Australian Open. “My whole life I’ve been scrutinised, my career’s been scrutinised. 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.Continue reading...
Rugby seems to have firm belief in its own probity but has been reminded that, like most elite sport, it is a morality free zone
At last, some good news out of the Saracens financial doping scandal, as former England wing Ugo Monye declares rugby union has lost “the moral high ground”. This is an immediate positive in a story not exactly littered with them. That said, we must sound a note of caution, as the phrase “the loss of the moral high ground” implies that one of the other sports has won it. Unless, of course, the moral high ground is lying fallow for a year, which would surely be the best option. Or rather, the second best option, after lying fallow forever.
Modern sport is about as suited to dispensing morality as Michael Jackson ever was. Which, I concede, didn’t ever stop him. But a useful rule of thumb in the sporting money trench is: the bigger the fairytale, the bigger the fakery it’s trying to hide.Continue reading...
Archer looks likely to return but a five-man seam attack and whether Dom Bess should be the one to make way are England’s decisions before Friday at the Bullring
The Wanderers stadium, affectionately known as the Bullring and famous for massive stands, thin air and fast, bouncy pitches, welcomed five of England’s remaining 15 players: those who did not play at Port Elizabeth plus Jos Buttler, who had a taxing net before running some punishing shuttles around the outfield, another departure from one or two of his predecessors – Godfrey Evans, for example, probably prepared for a Test match differently.Continue reading...
• Fans chanted against Glazers and Woodward in Burnley loss
• ‘We’ve got to stick to our values and beliefs,’ says manager
Ole Gunnar Solskjær admitted to understanding the disillusionment felt by Manchester United’s supporters following the team’s insipid 2-0 defeat by Burnley.
It was Burnley’s first win at Old Trafford for 58 years and home fans chanted against the club’s owners, the Glazers, and the executive vice-chairman, Ed Woodward. It was also United’s eighth league defeat of the season and Solskjær was asked how fans could be convinced United can turn their form around.Continue reading...
Female athletes are far more susceptible to cruciate damage and one man is particularly determined to find a solution
“You start to blame yourself,” Claire Rafferty says. “I definitely did. I would go through different phases of feeling sorry for myself. Why? Why is it me? Am I doing something wrong? Am I not training hard enough? When actually it’s stuff that you can’t really see.”
Rafferty’s journey through three ACL injuries has been well documented and her legs bear the long scars of her many surgeries. The former England international’s injuries were sustained before the professionalisation of the top flight and semi-professionalism of the Championship but female players are still suffering knee ligament injuries in worrying numbers. Research shows they are four to six times more likely to suffer an ACL injury than male footballers.Continue reading...
Leicester got back their mojo but lost their talisman when Jamie Vardy limped off with a glute injury. “He’s a fantastic player and really important for us but you’re never going to succeed if you rely on just one player,” Brendan Rodgers said.Continue reading...
• Liverpool captain now playing at much higher level
• ‘His natural quality was always there,’ says Jürgen Klopp
The Liverpool captain has been in fine form for the runaway Premier League leaders, who visit Wolves on Thursday seeking a 14th successive league win, with his contribution receiving wider acclaim inside Anfield of late.Continue reading...
• Edouard opens scoring in leaders’ win at Kilmarnock
• Defoe sinks St Mirren to keep Rangers within two points
Celtic maintained their two-point advantage over Premiership title challengers Rangers with a 3-1 win over Kilmarnock at Rugby Park. Odsonne Édouard fired the visitors into the lead in the 25th minute before Leigh Griffiths added a second at the start of the second half.Continue reading...
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.Continue reading...
• Copa del Rey last 32: UD Ibiza 1-2 Barcelona
• Bale scores on Real Madrid return in 3-1 win over Unionistas
Antoine Griezmann struck two late goals as Barcelona came from behind to beat third-tier UD Ibiza 2-1 and avoid an embarrassing Copa del Rey last-32 exit.
Javi Pérez put Ibiza ahead at the Can Misses municipal stadium after nine minutes and the hosts had a second goal disallowed before Raí Nascimento hit the post with Barcelona floundering.Continue reading...
The Arco da Rua Augusta in Lisbon, Munich’s Siegestor, the Roosevelt Arch in Montana and the Arc de Triomphe on the Champs Élysées in Paris are among the world’s best known arches. But when it comes to perfectly curved symmetry, none could hold a candle to the famous left eyebrow of Carlo Ancelotti as it headed towards the heavens while its owner watched Everton surrender a two-goal lead to Newcastle in the fourth and fifth minutes of added time at Goodison Park on Tuesday night.Continue reading...
'About six inches between the two bowls, so there is just room,' were the words of England's Greg Harlow as his partner Nick Brett approached a shot. Harlow's words were met with laughter by the audience at the World Indoor Bowls Championships. However, what followed was a stunning piece of skill, as Brett produced a spectacular shot sliding between the two red balls surrounding the jack. The English duo went on to win the tie with Scotland's Paul Foster and Alex Marshall 10-6, 6-8, 2-1Continue reading...
A fight broke out at the end of the US college basketball game between rivals Kansas State and University of Kansas on Tuesday. Despite the university side being comfortable 81-60 winners one of their players taunted the state player DeJuan Gordon after blocking his effort in the final seconds of the game. What followed was a mass brawl that emptied both benches. Speaking after the game, University of Kansas coach Billy Self admitted that his side 'were in the wrong', adding that it was 'an embarrassment on our part'Continue reading...
Mikel Arteta was delighted with Arsenal’s spirit as they twice recovered from a goal down to snatch a point against Chelsea, whose failure to take advantage of David Luiz’s early red card infuriated Frank Lampard. 'When someone makes a mistake, what cannot happen is that we don’t stand up for him. Every single player did it, with belief as well,’ said the Arsenal manager. Speaking after the 2-2 draw Arteta praised the performance of former Arsenal captain Granit Xhaka. 'I didn't know how good he was going to do, but he was going to put everything in there. And and he was great.' Xhaka played in central defence after the early red card to David Luiz.
England moved 2-1 up in the Test series against South Africa after a superb performance in Port Elizabeth, winning by an innings and 53 runs. Despite the flattering scoreline England were made to work for the final wicket which fell at a partnership of 99. It was a Test to remember for 22-year-old Ollie Pope who finished 135 not out as well as taking six catches during the match.Continue reading...
A moment of sportsmanship from a futsal match in Spain when Cartegena's Solano chooses to put the ball out of play - despite having an open goal.
After Zaragoza's Javi Alonso goes down injured, the ball is squared to Solano to tap in, but instead he puts ball out of play. The game finished 5-5.Continue reading...
Conor McGregor stopped Donald Cerrone 40 seconds into the first round at UFC 246 on Saturday night. Speaking after his return to the octagon, McGregor teased a rematch with bitter rival Khabib NurmagomedovContinue reading...
Today’s fluff is good at construction
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.Continue reading...
Speaking on TalkSport once, Dean Ashton revealed that Alan Pardew’s nickname during his time at West Ham was “chocolate” because the notoriously confident manager held himself in such high regard that “he would eat himself if he could”. Had supporters of Pardew’s new club ADO Den Haag known that before devising the giant Ghostbusters-themed tifo with which they greeted Pards and assistant Chris Powell for their first game with the Dutch side on Sunday, they might have mocked up their new boss as the giant Stay Puft Marshmallow Man which wreaks havoc on New York City, rather than one of the Ectomobile-driving, boiler-suited parapsychologists sent to stop it by flying in the face of proton-pack protocol and reversing the particle flow through the portal between dimensions by crossing the streams.Continue reading...
Grealish, Saka and Chalobah shine in draws, while Newcastle are ready for reinforcements after a late win
Arsenal’s injury problems at left‑back have led them to explore signing Layvin Kurzawa from Paris Saint-Germain. But what if the solution lies closer to home? Bukayo Saka is 18 and earlier this season was being rightly lauded for his rich promise as a flying winger. But he has filled in at full‑back four times in the past month, most recently against Sheffield United on Saturday, and looks the part. Saka is tenacious, diligent, has speed and energy to burn and a knack of picking out teammates with his deliveries. “I think he could,” Mikel Arteta said when asked if Saka could carve out a long-term future in the role. “He is someone that’s never played there before but he’s really trying to do it as well as possible. You can see that he’s got many strengths to play in that position.” Club and manager might have hit upon something far more exciting than they expected. Nick AmesContinue reading...
Who keeps scoring? Who keeps driving? Who keeps playing?
Conor McGregor is back in action this weekend in Las Vegas. When did he last win a fight (in UFC or boxing)?
JS Saint-Pierroise are playing in the last 32 of the French Cup this weekend. They are an amateur team and have never made it this far in the competition. How far do they have to travel for the game?
Even though they are top of the league in Spain, Barcelona decided to sack their manager this week. They played 69 home games under Ernesto Valverde and only lost one of them. Which manager got the better of him in that game?
Why was a referee given medical attention at the Masters snooker tournament in Alexandra Palace?
He tripped over a rest and sprained his ankle
An angry player punched him and split his lip
He was stung by a wasp
He had an allergic reaction to one of the player’s aftershave
The England cricket team are playing South Africa in Port Elizabeth this week. It is their 500th Test on foreign soil. What percentage of their previous 499 Tests did England win?
Sergio Agüero is now the top scoring foreign player in Premier League history. But he is still below three Englishmen on the all-time goals list: Alan Shearer, Wayne Rooney and …
Aston Villa have bid £10m for the Genk striker Mbwana Samatta. If he signs for Villa, Samatta will become the first footballer from which country to play in the Premier League?
Trinidad and Tobago
When the Dakar Rally was launched in the 1970s, the race started in Paris and ended in Dakar – hence the name. However, the course has gone nowhere near Dakar in recent years. Which country has been hosting the event this week?
Why was the rally started?
Ford organised the first race to show off the durability of their cars
A motorbike racer got lost in the desert and thought it would make for a great race
Senegal’s tourist board launched the race to showcase their capital city
It was set up to honour a man called Philippides, who was sent from Paris to Dakar in 490BC to announce that a battle had been won.
Fernando Alonso, the former Formula One driver, entered the rally this year. He did fairly well, finishing 13th overall, but he had a tough day on Wednesday. He crashed his car, flipped it twice and had to drive for 532km ...
… without a windscreen
... with his horn beeping every few seconds
… with a broken arm
... with his hazard lights flashing
Complete this sentence: “Yesterday, I was walking around my home town with cows around me and now I’m here …
… at Barcelona managing the best players in the world”
… ready to fight for the world heavyweight title”
… playing at the Australian Open”
… winning the Masters at Ally Pally”
1 and above.
Ah well. You tried. Have a great weekend
2 and above.
Ah well. You tried. Have a great weekend
3 and above.
Ah well. You tried. Have a great weekend
4 and above.
That's a respectable score. Have a great weekend
5 and above.
That's a good score. Have a great weekend
6 and above.
That's a good score. Have a great weekend
7 and above.
That's a fine score. Have a great weekend
8 and above.
That's a great score. Have a great weekend
9 and above.
That's a great score. You (nearly) know it all. Have a great weekend
10 and above.
That's a great score. You (nearly) know it all. Have a great weekend
11 and above.
That's a great score. You know it all. Have a great weekend
0 and above.
Ah well. You tried. Have a great weekend
12 and above.Continue reading...
This week’s roundup also features steeplechase drama and an astronaut being brought back down to Earth with a bump
1) Nashville Predators’ Pekka Rinne joins the short list of NHL goaltenders with an eye for finding the opposing net thanks to this effort against Chicago Blackhawks. He’s the first since 2013, when Mike Smith just beat the buzzer for Phoenix Coyotes.
New York Islanders’ Billy Smith, back in 1979, is credited with the earliest example, as the last player on his team to touch the puck before Colorado Rockies’ Rob Ramage passed to empty ice and watched forlornly as it made its way to an unguarded net. However, Ron Hextall shot and scored for Philadelphia Flyers in 1987 – and also contributed the next on the list, in the 1989 play-offs against the Capitals. New Jersey Devils’ Martin Brodeur has three goals to his name, with one sterling full-rink effort, followed by two Ramage-like pieces of charity from Daymond Langkow and Jordan Staal respectively. Leaving the technicalities aside, three more managed the feat from their own sticks: Chris Osgood, Evgeni Nabokov and Jose Theodore, whose 9-iron-style swing is arguably the pick of the bunch.Continue reading...
Max Rushden, Barry Glendenning, Jonathan Wilson and Jon Brodkin discuss Juan Mata’s slow march to a one-on-one, Christian Eriksen’s farewell tour, Harry Kane and England’s Euro inevitability, Love Island and Vera
We start by discussing Manchester United’s 1-0 win over Wolves - just a single goal in three hours of football, which Wolves fans had to pay £20 more to watch than United supporters.Continue reading...
Plus: top-flight careers over four decades, more big non-league gates and Garth Crooks presenting a politics show on BBC2
“After seeing Rory Burns miss an England cricket match because of an injury caused playing football, which footballers have missed matches playing other sports?” tweets Mattskating.
“Rangers’ Marco Negri suffered a serious eye injury playing squash with Sergio Porrini,” tweets Jono Bolton. “Before that, he’d scored 33 goals in 26 games.” Ah yes, February 1998 in Glasgow, with Rangers battling for a 10th consecutive league title. Negri takes up the story: “He was the wrong choice of playmate for squash because it should not have been a game in which winning became everything and yet with Sergio that was impossible … At a speed that felt like 100mph that sphere of hard, hot rubber cannoned off the concrete and straight into the centre of my eye.”Continue reading...
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.Continue reading...
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.”Continue reading...
At a Wigan leisure centre hundreds of hopefuls, from ex-pros to chancers, face a gruelling race to claim a place on the PDC tour
The little girl in the blue leotard grips her mother’s hand tightly, but her gaze is elsewhere. She is spellbound, perhaps even a little baffled, by the tableau she has just glimpsed on her way to gymnastics practice at the Robin Park Leisure Centre in Wigan. There, the large space she usually knows as the tennis hall is instead occupied by several hundred people, most of them middle-aged men in loud shirts, very few of them – if we’re being blunt – the usual leisure centre clientele. There’s a Body Combat class taking place in the sports hall and a sprint session going on in the cycle studio. But here, for this week only, the dream factory is in town.
From the moment the doors opened at 8am, the queue quickly stretched out into the car park. They have come from all parts: former champions and pub chancers, future icons and fallen idols, county stalwarts and armchair aspirants, in pursuit of a better life. Win one of the Professional Darts Corporation’s coveted tour cards and a lucrative new career awaits. But to do so, they’ll need to see off 500 rivals in the ruthless four-day marathon of Q-School.Continue reading...
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.Continue reading...