Man Utd must ‘change’ to make top four after Southampton stumble

Man Utd must ‘change’ to make top four after Southampton stumble
Manchester United’s Paul Pogba attempts an overhead kick during their English Premier League match against Southampton at Old Trafford stadium on Saturday. (AP)
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Updated 12 February 2022

Man Utd must ‘change’ to make top four after Southampton stumble

Man Utd must ‘change’ to make top four after Southampton stumble
  • For the third consecutive game, United let a 1-0 half-time lead slip
  • The Red Devils again failed to build on their advantage

MANCHESTER, United Kingdom: Manchester United defender Luke Shaw warned there is “no way” the Red Devils will reach the Champions League next season if they continue to throw away leads after a 1-1 draw with Southampton on Saturday.
For the third consecutive game, United let a 1-0 half-time lead slip as Che Adams’ strike early in the second period earned the Saints a deserved point.
Jadon Sancho’s first Premier League goal at home rewarded a bright start from Ralf Rangnick’s men.
Yet the Red Devils again failed to build on their advantage and were punished when Adams slotted in off the inside of the post two minutes into the second half.
A point edges United level on points with fourth-placed West Ham.
But Arsenal are just a point behind with two games in hand, while Tottenham have played three fewer games and are four points back.
“We started really well the first 20 minutes, got the goal and it just happened again. We know it’s not good enough and it needs to change quickly,” said Shaw.
“We want to get in the Champions League and it’s not good enough. There’s no way we will get in the Champions League if we keep dropping points.”
Cristiano Ronaldo was recalled by Rangnick after being dropped to the bench for a disappointing 1-1 draw at bottom-of-the-table Burnley on Tuesday.
That followed a FA Cup exit to Championship side Middlesbrough on penalties after the scores were level at 1-1 after extra time.
Rangnick had to cope with more leaks in the press this week that the United players are unhappy with his coaching techniques.
But the focus of criticism is falling on an underperforming group of star players.
Ronaldo’s longest goal drought for 12 years stretched into a sixth game despite having chances he would expect to bury.
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner’s best sight of goal came early on when he rounded Fraser Forster, but did not get enough power on his finish to beat Romain Perraud who cleared off the line.
Sancho was by a distance United’s best performer of the day and ended his long wait for a Premier League goal at Old Trafford since a £73 million ($99 million) move from Borussia Dortmund.
Bruno Fernandes’ pass freed Marcus Rashford down the right and his low cross was turned in at the back post by Sancho.
Southampton did United’s top four chances a favor by twice coming from behind to beat Tottenham 3-2 in midweek.
The Saints started slowly after their exertions on Wednesday but gave the hosts a few warnings before the break as David De Gea was forced into saves from Stuart Armstrong and Perraud.
United conceded just two minutes into the second half at Burnley and were caught cold again at the start of the second period when Mohamed Elyounoussi played in Adams, who coolly slotted in off the far post.
“We didn’t have a good first half — we were a little bit slow in the mind and in the legs,” said Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl.
“When we started playing our football, we dominated the game.”
Hasenhuttl suffered the embarassment of a 9-0 defeat for the second time in the Premier League when Southampton visited Old Trafford last season.
But they could easily have secured a famous win 12 months on as twice Armstrong fired wide with good sights of goal before Diogo Dalot cleared Armando Broja’s effort off the line.
The visitors were also thankful to Forster just for a point, though, as he turned away Harry Maguire’s header low to his left.


Matteo Berrettini targets return to world top 10 with Diriyah Tennis Cup campaign

Matteo Berrettini targets return to world top 10 with Diriyah Tennis Cup campaign
Updated 1 min 10 sec ago

Matteo Berrettini targets return to world top 10 with Diriyah Tennis Cup campaign

Matteo Berrettini targets return to world top 10 with Diriyah Tennis Cup campaign
  • ‘I’m ready to compete again,’ Italian star says, looking back on injury-plagued year

After a stop-start 2022 campaign that saw Matteo Berrettini miss two of the four tennis grand slams due to injuries and illness, the Italian is hoping he enjoys a healthier 2023 as he targets a return to the world’s top 10.

Berrettini, who is in Saudi Arabia this week competing in the Diriyah Tennis Cup, was ranked a career-high No.6 early this season after reaching the semifinals of the Australian Open.

A right-hand injury that required surgery ruled him out of the entire clay season before he made an impressive return to the tour, winning back-to-back grass-court titles in Stuttgart and London. Bad luck struck again, however, as he tested positive for COVID-19 on the eve of Wimbledon and the 26-year-old sat out the action, knowing he was considered one of the favorites for the title.

Last month, a foot problem he picked up in Naples stopped him from playing singles for Italy in the Davis Cup finals, where he took part in just one doubles match before wrapping up his season.

“Mentally, it was really tough,” Berrettini told Arab News, reflecting on his 2022 campaign.

“I was at my best ranking, I was playing good, I had a good run in Australia, clay season was coming and grass season was coming, which are the ones I love the most, and then that injury happened so it was tough to deal with that.

“At the same time I tried to take that time in order to come back stronger, with more energy. Because, obviously, the tour can be really tiring in some ways, so I was like, OK, I have to stop and get surgery, but I’m going to try to use this time to get better, to maybe do something I wouldn’t able to do when I’m on tour. Just invest some time to do stuff I never had the time to do and I helped myself like that.

“It worked out because when I came back I was feeling ready, I was feeling good. Obviously after I got COVID in Wimbledon everything went a little bit downhill, but it’s ups and downs and, hopefully, next year there are going to be more ups.”

Berrettini admits it is tough getting back to being fully focused on tennis, and not spending too much time worrying about his body and his physical problems.

He said that he is feeling better and is “ready to compete” with an eye on having another strong run in Australia next month.

The Rome native explains how he tries to bring an intensity to his practice sessions to mimic match conditions in order to regain that match toughness he was lacking while dealing with injuries. He believes a healthier body can help relieve some of the pressure he has been feeling at tournaments lately.

“In general, I would like to be healthier. I played I don’t know how many tournaments this year and I felt like each tournament I played I had to perform and get points, otherwise my ranking would drop even more and having that kind of pressure is not easy to deal with,” said Berrettini.  

“So being healthy would mean also to be less stressed about that, so that’s one of the goals for sure (in 2023). Obviously I’d like to come back to the top 10, because I think the tennis is there, I just have to be more consistent.”

A former Wimbledon finalist with a devastating serve and forehand combination, Berrettini has shown great consistency at the grand slams over the last few years. He has made at least the quarterfinals in each of his last five major appearances, losing to Novak Djokovic or Rafael Nadal in four of them.

The men’s game is going through a generational change right now and players such as Berrettini are no longer focused only on chasing Djokovic and Nadal at the biggest events. The current world No.1 is Spanish teenager Carlos Alcaraz and Berrettini senses a shift in mentality on tour now that a 19-year-old is at the helm.

“It feels unbelievable if you think about it, what he achieved in such a short time,” Berrettini said of Alcaraz.

“I remember playing him in Australia at the beginning of the year and I played him Rio as well, and I felt he is a great player but what he did is still impressive for his age. The physicality he already has and everything, also mentally it’s not easy to deal with everything that he dealt with, so it’s impressive.

“At the same time we know that tennis it’s really tough, but it’s not impossible, we all know we can play our best tennis, I have to say it was a weird year with Novak not playing most of the slams, it was kind of a little weird. But Carlos deserves the world No.1 and I think everybody now is like, OK, he did it, yeah maybe it changed (our mentality) a little bit, it’s like maybe we can do it as well.

“Before world No.1 was Novak and Rafa, Daniil (Medvedev) already did it, which was impressive, but now, even Casper (Ruud) had the chance to be No.1 after the US Open.”

Away from the court, Berrettini has had an eventful year, full of new experiences. He became one of the faces of the fashion label Boss, alongside TikTok star Khaby Lame and supermodel Hailey Bieber. He attended the Cannes Film Festival and has been followed by cameras all year as one of the protagonists of the Netflix tennis docu-series that will be released early next season.

“It’s been fun,” he said of being part of the Netflix project.

“At the beginning I was like, what is this? Obviously when you win it’s always easy to have people around you and stuff but then when you lose, it’s tougher, you want to be by yourself, you don’t want to be bothered. But I was like, if I’m going to do this, I want to do it the right way. And that’s what I tried to do. I think it’s going to be really interesting to show people behind-the-scenes the stuff you don’t usually see.”

Berrettini lost his Diriyah Tennis Cup opener on Thursday to Stan Wawrinka. The Italian kicks off his 2023 campaign by representing Italy in the United Cup mixed team event in Brisbane, Australia, starting Dec. 29.


England’s Sterling to return to Qatar

England’s Sterling to return to Qatar
England's Raheem Sterling celebrates after scoring past Iran's goalkeeper during Qatar World Cup Group B match. AFP
Updated 25 min 25 sec ago

England’s Sterling to return to Qatar

England’s Sterling to return to Qatar
  • The Chelsea forward temporarily left to attend to a family matter but is now expected to rejoin the squad

DOHA: England forward Raheem Sterling is to return to the World Cup in Qatar on Friday after spending time in England following a robbery at his home, England’s Football Association said on Thursday.
“Raheem Sterling will return to England’s World Cup base in Qatar. The Chelsea forward temporarily left to attend to a family matter but is now expected to rejoin the squad in Al Wakrah on Friday ahead of the quarter-final with France,” the FA said in a statement.
Sterling did not feature in England’s squad for the 3-0 win against Senegal with Phil Foden and Bukayo Saka playing either side of striker Harry Kane.
It would be a surprise should Sterling be picked to start against France although his return does increase manager Gareth Southgate’s options from the bench.
British media reports had said that Sterling’s home was broken into by armed intruders while his family were in the property on Saturday night.
However, Surrey Police later said that no-one was at home at the time of the burglary and no threats of violence were involved.
The police said the house’s occupants were away on an ‘international trip’ and discovered on their return that a number of items of jewelry, including watches, had been stolen.
Southgate had been supportive of Sterling’s decision to leave the camp and return to England.
“At the moment clearly the priority is for him to be with his family. We’re going to support that and leave him to have as much time as he needs,” he had said.
Sterling has been a key player for England during Southgate’s six years in charge.
The 28-year-old has 20 goals in 81 caps for his country, including one at the 2022 World Cup in a 6-2 victory over Iran.


The evolving role of the substitute in cricket

The evolving role of the substitute in cricket
Updated 08 December 2022

The evolving role of the substitute in cricket

The evolving role of the substitute in cricket
  • As the sport’s franchises continue to grow, the role of the ‘12th player’ has taken on more importance

If evidence is needed of cricket’s attempts to ape the commercial march of football, then the decision of the Board for Control of Cricket in India, or BCCI, to introduce a tactical substitute system into the Indian Premier League, known as the IPL, in 2023 is an example. However, it has taken years to arrive at this position.

Substitutes were introduced in professional football for the qualifying rounds of the 1954 World Cup, although it was not until 1970 that they were allowed in the finals, despite having been added to the Laws of the Game in 1958. Many countries adopted the measure during the 1950s but English football authorities dragged their feet and it was not until 1965 that the first substitution was made in the English league. In 2022-23, five substitutes are allowed, whilst, in 2021, trials took place relating to substitutes for players suspected to have suffered concussion during a match.

The same concern has been taken seriously in cricket. In July 2019, the International Cricket Council, or ICC, announced a provision for concussion-substitution in Test cricket. If a player suffers concussion and becomes unfit to take any further part in the match, a like-for-like substitute is allowed to play. There are restrictions. If a specialist batter is injured and there is no specialist batter in the squad, but an all-rounder is available, then that player is only allowed to bat. A specialist bowler cannot substitute for a specialist batter. The first call on the provision occurred soon after its introduction. In August 2019, a specialist Australian batter was concussed in a Test with England at Lords and was replaced with a like-for-like substitute.

Prior to this sensible concussion provision, any injury incurred by a player during a match, sufficient to lead to him or her to leave the field either for the remainder of the match or for a shorter time, triggered the use of the “12th player.” Traditionally, this was the player, or one of the players, who was not selected in the starting lineup. Given that the player may not be happy to be omitted, there was no guarantee that the duties would be conducted with good grace and efficiency. One very famous player, who was not selected for the starting 11 when first picked for his country, is rumored to have paid someone else to perform his duties.

Since the 12th player is not permitted to either bat or bowl in the match, the duties are mostly unglamorous. They involve taking out replacement equipment, including bats, messages from coach and/or captain, drinks, ensuring that the team bath has been run to proper temperature, that drinks have been procured for consumption at the end of the day’s play, and sympathizing with a colleague who has been dismissed harshly or cheaply. One legend of the game is rumored to have had a permanent 12th man one season when captaining a county side because he was concerned with horse racing. The messages exchanged in the middle were mainly about the results of a race and which horse to select for another race.

On occasion, fate strikes a 12th player. This could be a catch or an outstanding or calamitous piece of fielding. One famous example occurred at Trent Bridge, Nottingham in 2005, when England’s substitute fielder pounced on the ball at cover, threw down the stumps, to leave a well-set Australian captain out of his ground. The moment irked the Australian for years, even more so as it was a decisive one in the game.

In recent years, there has been a tendency for the 12th player to be someone on the fringe of the team, so as to provide him or her with a taste of the action. In addition, some of the tasks have changed. Formal, timed, drinks breaks are now common, communal baths are less common, and additional ways of communicating messages exist. The BCCI’s proposal for IPL 2023 will go beyond the role of the 12th player as a partial substitute, effectively severing their traditional link as a substitute fielder.

Although the details of the BCCI’s scheme have not yet been revealed, it is thought likely to follow the lines of the Impact Player system used in the 2022 Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, India’s domestic T20 competition. At the toss, each team was able to name four substitutes, one of whom could replace any member of the starting team at any point before the end of the 14th over of either innings. The player was able to replace someone who had already been dismissed and bat, as long as no more than 11 players batted. Alternatively, a bowler who had already delivered some overs, could be replaced, with the substitute allowed a full quota of four overs.

There have been previous experiments with substitute systems. Super subs were introduced into one-day internationals, or ODIs, by the ICC in 2005. Under this, a substitute, who had to be named prior to the toss, was a direct replacement for another player. If the original player had been dismissed, the substitute could not bat and could only bowl the number of overs that the original player had not delivered. The system proved to be unpopular with players. It was judged that sides who were already advantaged by winning the toss also benefitted from using their substitute to far greater effect. The experiment was ended in March 2006.

Australia’s Big Bash League experimented with an X Factor system in 2020, whereby teams were able to substitute a member of the starting team after 10 overs of the first innings if the player had not already batted or bowled more than one over. Utilization of the substitute system has been infrequent, suggesting a lack of traction. It has been dropped for the 2022/23 tournament. This flies in the face of the BCCI’s direction of travel and may represent a divergence in T20 innovation philosophy between boards, players and viewers in different countries. It will be fascinating to follow how this plays out in the forthcoming global evolution of T20 franchise cricket.


World’s elite runners to contest Abu Dhabi Marathon 2022

World’s elite runners to contest Abu Dhabi Marathon 2022
Updated 08 December 2022

World’s elite runners to contest Abu Dhabi Marathon 2022

World’s elite runners to contest Abu Dhabi Marathon 2022
  • Kenyan duo Daniel Kibet and Dickson Chumba confirmed for men’s race
  • Ethiopia’s former world marathon champion Mare Dibaba and Kenya’s Angela Tanui will line up in the women’s event

ABU DHABI: Some of the world’s leading distance runners will participate in this year’s ADNOC Abu Dhabi Marathon on Dec. 17, it has been revealed by the organizers.

Kenya’s Daniel Kibet, winner of the 2019 Istanbul Marathon and second-place finisher at this year’s Milan Marathon, has confirmed his place on the starting line for the fourth edition of the race in less than two weeks. He will be joined by compatriot Dickson Chumba, who has won two of the World Marathon Majors (Tokyo in 2014 and 2018, and Chicago in 2015).

Meanwhile, the women’s race will feature 2015 Marathon World Champion and 2016 Olympic bronze medalist Mare Dibaba, from Ethiopia, alongside Angela Tanui, from Kenya, who won the Amsterdam Marathon in 2021 and finished fourth and second respectively in the 2022 Tokyo Marathon and 2019 Vienna Marathon.

A record 20,000 runners are expected to line up for this year’s event, which includes a new route for the 42.2km race. The day also features other contests including the marathon relay (two runners completing 21.1km each), and 10km, 5km and 2.5km runs. The event starts in front of ADNOC’s headquarters, and the runners will pass a host of the city’s most iconic landmarks.

Aref Al-Awani, general secretary of the Abu Dhabi Sports Council, said: “Since its inception, the ADNOC Abu Dhabi Marathon has attracted interest from the world’s elite marathon runners who view our event as a great way to finish their season and begin preparations for next year. The caliber of elites for this year’s race speaks volumes of how quickly Abu Dhabi and the Abu Dhabi ADNOC Marathon have earned a reputation on the world’s long-distance running map.

“Attracting more than 20,000 participants is clear evidence of the event’s distinguished position in the community and its ability to enhance collective efforts and encourage healthy and active lifestyles. The participation is still open across all distances and accessible to participants of all abilities.”

Meanwhile, the race organizers have revealed a new medal design for those who complete the various races. The medal will incorporate a reference to the expected record number of participants due to take part this year.


Celtics rout Suns in NBA showdown, Morant has triple double in Memphis win

Celtics rout Suns in NBA showdown, Morant has triple double in Memphis win
Updated 08 December 2022

Celtics rout Suns in NBA showdown, Morant has triple double in Memphis win

Celtics rout Suns in NBA showdown, Morant has triple double in Memphis win
  • Simone Fontecchio made the winning basket to give Utah a 124-123 home victory over Golden State Warriors

WASHINGTON: Boston’s Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum turned a matchup of NBA conference leaders into a rout on Wednesday while Ja Morant’s triple double sparked the Memphis Grizzlies over Oklahoma City.

Tatum and Brown each scored 25 points as the Celtics improved the NBA’s best record to 21-5 with a 125-98 blowout victory at Western Conference leader Phoenix.

Boston stayed two games atop Milwaukee in the Eastern Conference while Phoenix fell to 16-9 and a half-game behind New Orleans (16-8) in the West.

The Suns trailed 69-42 at halftime, their largest deficit of the season to that point, and by as many as 45 points in the third quarter.

“We were just really connected,” Tatum said. “We’re just making the right plays. We hit a lot of shots tonight.”

The Celtics, who lost to Golden State in last season’s NBA Finals, improved to 10-3 on the road.

“We’re happy with the way we’re playing,” Tatum said. “But we’re far from satisfied. This doesn’t mean anything if we don’t get back to where we want to get to (the NBA Finals) and get over that hump.

“It’s a long process but we’re trending in the right direction.”

Phoenix welcomed back guard Chris Paul, who missed a month with a heel injury. He had four points, four rebounds and four assists.

Morant, meanwhile, delivered a triple double with 26 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists to lead host Memphis over the Thunder 123-102.

It was a club-record sixth career triple double for the 23-year-old US guard.

“It means a lot,” Morant said. “A lot of credit goes to my teammates and my coaches putting me in positions to excel at a high level.

“We knew rebounding was important. I took it upon myself early on, I think I had seven early. Every other stat was from my teammates. Them knocking down shots opened up shots for me on the floor as well.”

Memphis allowed only 15 points in the fourth quarter.

“It was pretty much just locking in, getting stops and rebounds,” Morant said. “We’ve got to continue fighting and play hard.”

Greek star Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 35 points and added six rebounds and seven assists while Jrue Holiday contributed 31 points in Milwaukee’s 126-113 victory over visiting Sacramento. The Bucks improved the NBA’s second-best record to 18-6.

Kyrie Irving scored a game-high 33 points with nine assists, five rebounds and four blocked shots while Kevin Durant added 29 points, nine rebounds and eight assists in Brooklyn’s 122-116 home victory over Charlotte.

Simone Fontecchio made the winning basket with 1.4 seconds remaining to give Utah a 124-123 home victory over the Golden State Warriors.

Golden State’s Jordan Poole scored a game-high 36 points but his bad pass set up the Italian forward’s decisive inside shot.

Jordan Clarkson led the Jazz with 22 points while Fontecchio added 18 off the bench.

Zion Williamson scored 29 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to spark New Orleans over Detroit 104-98. The host Pelicans took the West lead with their fifth consecutive victory.

D’Angelo Russell scored a game-high 28 points and Frenchman Rudy Gobert added 16 points and 21 rebounds to power Minnesota’s 121-115 home win over Indiana.

Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet each scored 25 points to lead the Toronto Raptors over the visiting Los Angeles Lakers 126-113.

The Lakers, without Anthony Davis due to illness and LeBron James with a sore ankle, were led by German guard Dennis Schroder’s 18 points.

Orlando’s Paolo Banchero made six free throws in the last seven seconds of overtime to give the Magic a 116-111 home triumph over the Los Angeles Clippers.

Italian-American Banchero scored a game-high 23 points and went 13-of-14 from the free throw line.

Chicago defeated visiting Washington 115-111 behind 27 points from DeMar DeRozan while Julius Randle had 34 points and 17 rebounds to lead New York over visiting Atlanta 113-89.