Man United to reduce spending in upcoming transfer windows

Man United to reduce spending in upcoming transfer windows
Manchester United are set to reduce their activity in the transfer market in upcoming windows following an overhaul of the squad after the arrival of new manager Erik ten Hag. (Reuters)
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Updated 22 September 2022

Man United to reduce spending in upcoming transfer windows

Man United to reduce spending in upcoming transfer windows
  • United were one of the biggest spenders in Europe in the summer transfer window, with an outlay approaching $250 million on players
  • The influx of new players is starting to take effect, with United winning their last four English Premier League games

MANCHESTER, England: Manchester United are set to reduce their activity in the transfer market in upcoming windows, one of the club’s senior executives said on Thursday, following an overhaul of the squad after the arrival of new manager Erik ten Hag.
United were one of the biggest spenders in Europe in the summer transfer window, with an outlay approaching $250 million on players including Antony, Casemiro and Lisandro Martinez.
The record 20-time English champions reported a net loss of 115.5 million pounds ($130 million) for the 2021-22 season, with the net debt under their unpopular owners — Glazer family — rising 95.4 million pounds ($107.5 million) to 514.9 million pounds ($580 million). That’s an increase of 22 percent.
The influx of new players is starting to take effect, with United winning their last four English Premier League games after opening with back-to-back losses that put Ten Hag under some pressure.
“We will continue to support Erik in ensuring he has players with the right quality and characters to achieve success, while ensuring that investment remains consistent with our commitment to financial sustainability,” John Murtough, United’s football director, said on a call to investors.
“Overall, we are ahead of schedule in our recruitment plans as envisaged at the start of the summer, and we do not anticipate the same level of activity in future windows.”
United chief financial officer Cliff Baty said the club’s financial results were adversely affected by the absence of a summer tour in July 2021 and the impact of the weakening of the pound on some non-cash finance costs.
United’s revenues rose by 18 percent, to 583 million pounds ($657 million). Baty said the club expects to have revenues of 580-600 million pounds ($655-677 million) for the next financial year despite the team being in the Europa League this season and not the more lucrative Champions League.
Following the signings in 2021 of Cristiano Ronaldo, Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane, United’s wage bill rose by 19.1 percent to 384.2 million pounds ($433.6 million) — the highest in the Premier League according to the latest figures released by clubs.
Payoffs to managers Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who was fired in November, and Ralf Rangnick, who replaced Solskjaer on an interim basis and then did not take up a two-year consultancy role at the end of the season, and their associated coaching staff contributed to the cost of “exceptional items” amounting to 24.7 million pounds ($27.9 million).


Why leg before wicket remains cricket’s most contentious law

Why leg before wicket remains cricket’s most contentious law
Updated 10 sec ago

Why leg before wicket remains cricket’s most contentious law

Why leg before wicket remains cricket’s most contentious law
  • International, pro cricket has technology, experienced umpires but lower down sporting pyramid interpretation of LBW can suffer bias

It would be rare to find a cricketer at any level who has not fallen victim to a leg-before-wicket decision which he or she felt to be unjust.

Although caught is the most common form of dismissal, with 57 percent, LBW accounts for around 14 percent of dismissals, meaning that its importance should not be treated lightly.

This is placed into greater perspective because the decision rests with the umpire.

In today’s international cricket, umpires are supported and informed by technology and by an off-the-field third umpire who has access to the technology.

In professional cricket, professionally trained umpires make decisions without such support.

In club cricket, there are umpires, usually former players, who have obtained umpiring qualifications but there are many matches at a lower level where the umpires are also players in the match. This does raise the issue of potential bias, especially as the relevant law is open to significant interpretation.

The original cricket laws of 1744 did not contain a dismissal mode of LBW, only requiring no “standing unfair to strike” by strikers.

In those days, a curved bat was used to hit underarm deliveries, so the striker needed to stand at distance from the leg stump to provide an arc to swing at the ball. Thirty years later, the introduction of straight bats changed this stance and strikers were able to make strategic use of their legs to defend the wicket.

Revised rules in 1774 specified that the batsman was to be given out if he, “puts his leg before the wicket with a design to stop the ball and actually prevent the ball from hitting his wicket by it.”

In 1788, the word design was removed, and accidental obstruction added, while in 1823, the point of interception was widened from legs to any part of the body. These changes led to one commentator expressing the view in 1868 that the LBW law was, “the most perplexing and disagreeable of the whole code.”

There are many who hold this view a century-and-a-half later. Imagine a club cricket match in which players double as umpires in rotation.

The match is heading for an exciting conclusion, four runs to win and one wicket to fall. The away team’s captain is batting, the non-striker is a young man with no batting prowess, and the umpire is a member of the away team. He is very experienced and is known not to like the home team very much following years of fierce rivalry. In particular, he does not like the person who is about to bowl.

When the ball is delivered it pitches outside the off stump, unexpectedly cuts back sharply to the surprise of the away team captain, who thrusts his padded leg toward the off-side in the direction of the ball, which hits him on his front leg, but outside of a wicket-to-wicket line. There is a prolonged and vociferous appeal for LBW from the home team and supporters.

In this combustible situation, no one seems to have noticed that the ball has ricocheted off the batter’s pads and is about to reach the boundary.

This is substantial information for the player-umpire to absorb in a few seconds and, on his assessment, the outcome of the match will be decided. He has studied the laws of cricket intensely, but he is in a complete dilemma. He knows that law 36 requires that all of five circumstances need to apply for the striker to be given out. First, the delivery needs to be legal, which it is.

Second, the ball must pitch in line between wicket and wicket, or on the offside of the striker’s wicket, which it has. Thirdly, the ball has not touched the bat, but the striker has intercepted the ball with a part of his person, which is the case. Fourthly, the point of impact must be between wicket and wicket, which it is not. However, if the striker has made no genuine attempt to play the ball with the bat, then the point of impact is not only between wicket and wicket but also outside of the line of the off stump. Fifthly, the ball would have hit the wicket but for the interception.

It is not difficult to discern that, in this circumstance, any umpire would be taxed to make a just decision. When local rivalry, history, aligned umpires, and a tense finish combine, the context is quite different to international matches with neutral umpires. Nevertheless, the principles are the same. The first three criteria for dismissal have been met, but have the fourth and fifth ones? The umpire must determine if the striker made a genuine attempt to play the ball and that the ball would have hit the wicket.

The law does not define genuine. Does it mean anything other than a deliberate attempt to not play the ball? Without the support of technology, who can really be certain that the ball would have hit the wicket? Many times, I have seen a ball which had beaten the striker and looked certain to hit the wicket deviate or bounce over the top.

Our fictious umpire is left not only with these considerations but also the consequences of his decision. If he gives his captain out, he will incur the wrath of not only his captain but his whole team for a long time. The home team will delight in his discomfort. If he says not out, he will face the full wrath of the home team and accusations of bias and, even worse, cheating.

Prior to the introduction of neutral umpires to international cricket in 1992 and the later introduction of review technology, home umpires gave more visiting batters out LBW than home batters in Test matches.

Controversial LBW decisions still occur at international level, but with a much lower proportion than at club cricket level. There, the potential for bias and simmering controversy is ever present with the LBW law.


5 things we learned from Saudi Arabia’s loss to Mexico and Qatar 2022 exit

5 things we learned from Saudi Arabia’s loss to Mexico and Qatar 2022 exit
Updated 01 December 2022

5 things we learned from Saudi Arabia’s loss to Mexico and Qatar 2022 exit

5 things we learned from Saudi Arabia’s loss to Mexico and Qatar 2022 exit
  • The exhausted Green Falcons fall short of the round of 16, but depart with plenty of pride and the memory of their stunning win over Argentina

A dramatic, at times beautiful adventure, is finally over.

Saudi Arabia exited the 2022 World Cup on Wednesday night at Lusail Stadium, losing 2-1 to Mexico. It means a fourth place finish in Group D with three points from three games.

Below are five things we learned from another drama-filled day in Qatar and the campaign in general.

1. A wild ride comes to an end

Whatever happens, the players, the fans and the whole country will always have the historic 2-1 win over Argentina. It was the biggest story of the first round of games at the tournament and it really brought the World Cup to life. Unlike 2018 when the international football community barely realized that Saudi Arabia had been in Russia at all, the Asian powerhouse were talked about in all corners of the planet.

It was unfortunate that there were no more points to come. Saudi Arabia played well against Poland and did not deserve to lose 2-0, and perhaps did not really deserve to lose at all. When the dust settles, there will be an unending debate as to what would have happened had Salem Al-Dawsari’s penalty late in the first half had not been saved by Wojciech Szczesny (though the Al-Hilal star is in good company as Lionel Messi suffered the same fate on Wednesday). We will never know but there is no doubt that Saudi Arabia and their legions of fans can leave Qatar with their heads held very high.

Mexico were the better team and deserved to win but it was fitting that the campaign ended with a well-worked goal from Al-Dawsari deep inside injury time. Saudi Arabia helped give the world another remarkable and exciting game.

2. Injuries and suspensions were costly in the end

It was almost forgotten amid the thrills of that Argentina win that captain Salman Al-Faraj joined the celebrations on crutches and fullback Yasser Al-Shahrani was carried off in the final moments.

Key midfielder Abdulelah Al-Malki was suspended after picking up two yellow cards. It was then a major blow as central defender Ali Al-Bulaihi went off with what looked to be a hamstring injury. Who knows? Had the Al-Hilal man, who went off after being pushed, been on the pitch then the corner from which Mexico scored their opening goal may have been cleared.

There was nothing that anyone could have done about the Chavez free kick. It was a special set piece that will surely not be bettered at this World Cup, even if it was a pointless foul to give away. In the end, Mexico were too good and Saudi Arabia too depleted and too tired. Had coach Renard had a full and fit contingent of players to pick from, then surely the final game would have been closer. The boss did not have the deepest of squads to call upon when compared with some others and was always going to struggle once injuries and suspensions kicked in.

3. Salem Al-Dawsari a star, Kanno catches the eye

For a number of years, Arab News has waxed lyrical about the talents of the 31-year-old Salem Al-Dawsari and now everyone agrees. The Al-Hilal man caught the eye from the get-go and has been hailed around the world.

His goal against Argentina did not just win the game but was a beautiful strike in its own right. His technique and silky skills have played their part in making the World Cup an exciting one as he has shown that there is exciting talent in Saudi Arabia. The only negative is that he is on the wrong side of 30. But the 2026 World Cup is not that far away and now that he has equaled Sami Al-Jaber’s World Cup tally of three goals, he may want more.

Midfielder Mohamed Kanno also caught the eye of the international audience with his energy, running and ability to break up play. It was impressive for a player who has had little playing time at club level in recent months.

There were others too who made a name for themselves and they leave Qatar with reputations enhanced and in need of a well-deserved rest.

4. The World Cup will miss Saudi Arabia

It wasn’t just the win against Argentina that ignited the tournament, it was the presence of the tens of thousands of Saudi Arabian fans that created a magnificent atmosphere. As hosts Qatar struggled on the pitch, it almost felt like the games were being hosted over the border in Riyadh, Jeddah or Dammam. In every game, the fans came to fill the stadiums and create the sort of buzz and excitement that every tournament needs.

They came to support their team and were rewarded with some unforgettable experiences and moments. There is still a lot of football to be played and while the Green Falcons were eliminated in the first round, if there was a tournament for best fans then the country would be going all the way to the final.

The fans have given the world a taste of Saudi Arabian football culture and passion just as the team have done on the pitch and that is what the World Cup is all about.

5. Mexico’s elimination means more history for Saudi Arabia

It was always going to be the case that Mexico were much improved from their first two games against Poland, a goalless draw, and a 2-0 loss to Argentina. They had failed to score and failed to impress. There was much more invention, energy and ambition in this game, as you would expect as they were in a do-or-die situation.

El Tri were on top in the first half and played much of the second half in sight of the Saudi Arabian goal. They had plenty of chances to get the additional goal that would have been enough to take them past Poland into second place.

The Green Falcons have helped make history. Mexico last failed to get past the group stage in 1978. Saudi Arabia may have lost but they did, in a way, eliminate the CONCACAF powerhouse at the first round for the first time since the previous century. Saudi Arabia leave in good company after taking part in another thrilling match.


Devin Booker hits for 51, fuels Suns’ 132-113 rout of Bulls

Devin Booker hits for 51, fuels Suns’ 132-113 rout of Bulls
Updated 01 December 2022

Devin Booker hits for 51, fuels Suns’ 132-113 rout of Bulls

Devin Booker hits for 51, fuels Suns’ 132-113 rout of Bulls
  • Jordan Clarkson had a season-high 33 points and five assists, and Utah snapped a five-game losing streak

PHOENIX: Devin Booker scored a season-high 51 points in just three quarters, Deandre Ayton had 30 points and 16 rebounds and the Phoenix Suns stretched their winning streak to six games with a 132-113 victory over the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday night.

Booker scored 25 points in the first half and had 26 more in a sublime third quarter. After a contested 3-pointer splashed through the net, “MVP! MVP!” chants broke out across Footprint Arena, and the 26-year-old is certainly making an early season case.

The two-time All-Star had a steal late in the third before sprinting downcourt and flushing home a dunk for his 50th and 51st points. He added six assists and four rebounds. He didn’t play in the fourth quarter with the Suns holding a healthy lead.

Booker shot 20 of 25 from the field, going 6 of 7 from 3-point range. It was his second straight 40-point game. He had 44 in a victory at Sacramento on Monday night.

The Bulls struggled on defense the entire night. DeMar DeRozan led Chicago with 29 points. Zach LaVine added 21.

NUGGETS 120 ROCKETS 10

Jamal Murray scored 26 points, Nikola Jokic had 10 of his 12 assists in the first half and Denver won their fourth straight by beating Houston.

Jokic added 17 points and nine rebounds in just 27 minutes. Aaron Gordon scored 20 points and Bruce Brown had 18 for Denver, which never trailed in beating Houston for the second time in three days.

Kevin Porter Jr. scored 23 points and Alperen Sengun had 18 points and 11 rebounds for the Rockets, who fell behind 6-0 and 13-2 and trailed by as many as 33 points.

The Nuggets built a 74-47 halftime lead with Jokic taking just two shots. He instead spent most of the half passing to Murray and other open teammates for easy buckets.

JAZZ 125 CLIPPERS 112

Jordan Clarkson had a season-high 33 points and five assists, and Utah snapped a five-game losing streak.

Collin Sexton added 21 points, six rebounds and six assists for the Jazz. Lauri Markkanen chipped in 23 points and nine rebounds. Jarred Vanderbilt added 14 points and 12 rebounds.

John Wall finished with a season-high 26 points off the bench to lead Los Angeles. Reggie Jackson added 15 points for the Clippers, who lost despite outscoring Utah 65-22 in bench points.

CELTICS 134 HEAT 121

Jayson Tatum had eight 3-pointers and scored a season-high 49 points, and Boston held off hot-shooting Miami.

Tatum scored the Celtics’ first six points and had 41 points after three quarters. He finished 15 of 25 from the field, 8 of 12 from 3-point range and 11 of 12 from the line. He also grabbed 11 rebounds.

Jaylen Brown finished with 26 points following a one-game absence due to neck stiffness. Malcolm Brogdon added 21 points, connecting on five of Boston’s 22 3-pointers in the game. Boston shot 55 percent (46 for 83) and has won five straight and 14 of its last 15.

Max Strus finished with 23 points and five 3-pointers for the Heat. Bam Adebayo also added 23 points before being ejected in the closing seconds following a pair of technical fouls. Miami, which shot 52 percent (47 for 90) overall, was 18 of 40 from beyond the arc.

BUCKS 109 KNICKS 103

Giannis Antetokounmpo had 37 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists, and Grayson Allen made the tiebreaking 3-pointer with 30 seconds left after his superstar teammate fouled out, leading Milwaukee past New York.

Allen made only one 3-pointer, but it was the only one the Bucks needed after Antetokounmpo had carried them for so long.

He fouled out with a minute left and the Bucks leading by two. Mitchell Robinson made one free throw and the Knicks got the rebound when he missed the second, leading to a free throw by Jalen Brunson that tied it with 47 seconds remaining. After Allen’s 3-pointer, RJ Barrett missed a 3 for the Knicks and the Bucks closed it out from the free throw line.

Jrue Holiday had 22 points, six rebounds and five assists for the Bucks.

Barrett scored 26 points, Julius Randle added 18 and Brunson had 17 for the Knicks.

NETS 113 WIZARDS 107

Kevin Durant scored 39 points and Brooklyn extended its winning streak to three games by beating Washington.

Durant was 13 for 20 from the field and hit all 11 of his free throws in 37 minutes after scoring a season-high 45 points Monday night in a victory over Orlando.

Kyrie Irving added 27 points and Joe Harris had 14. Brooklyn has won five in a row at home.

Kristaps Porzingis had 27 points and 19 rebounds for Washingon. Bradley Beal and Kyle Kuzma each had 25 points for the Wizards, who have lost four of their last five games.

PELICANS 126 RAPTORS 108

Zion Williamson had 33 points, four steals and two blocks, and Trey Murphy added six 3-pointers and 26 points as New Orleans beat Toronto.

The Pelicans shot 52.3 percent from the floor on 45-of-86 shooting, had 28 assists and led by as many as 31 points midway through the third quarter.

Four other Pelicans scored in double figures: Jonas Valanciunas had 16 points and 13 rebounds, rookie Dyson Daniels added 14 points and nine assists, Herb Jones had 12 points and Larry Nance Jr. 10.

Toronto was led by Gary Trent Jr., who scored 35 points, and Pascal Siakam with 23.

CAVALIERS 113 76ERS 85

Caris LeVert scored 22 points off the bench, Darius Garland had 21 points and nine assist and Cleveland routed Philadelphia.

Donovan Mitchell added 18 points and six assists for Cleveland, which led by a season-high 33 points in the fourth quarter. The Cavaliers are 9-1 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, the third-best home mark in the NBA.

All-Star center Joel Embiid led Philadelphia across the board with 19 points, six rebounds and six assists, and Shake Milton scored 14 points. The 76ers had their three-game win streak snapped in the opener of a three-game trip.

Philadelphia’s starting backcourt of All-Star James Harden and Tyrese Maxey remains out with injuries. The Cavaliers played without All-Star center Jarrett Allen, who missed his third consecutive game with a low back bruise.

TIMBERWOLVES 109 GRIZZLIES 101

Anthony Edwards had 29 points, five steals and three blocks to lead Minnesota over Memphis in the first game of an extended absence for injured Timberwolves star Karl-Anthony Towns.

Jaylen Nowell added 24 points off the bench and D’Angelo Russell had 15 points and 10 assists for the Timberwolves, who forced a season-high 27 turnovers by the Grizzlies and snapped a three-game losing streak despite being outrebounded 59-29 in a sloppy but spirited matchup.

Ja Morant scored 24 points and Jaren Jackson Jr. had 16 points and 11 rebounds for the Grizzlies, who lost their cool down the stretch with successive ejections for Dillon Brooks and Morant. Grizzlies rookie David Roddy finished 13 points and five rebounds in his native city.

HAWKS 125, MAGIC 108

Trae Young had 30 points and 14 assists and Atlanta snapped a three-game losing streak with a win over Orlando.

Dejounte Murray added 27 points and Clint Capela finished with 20 points and 12 rebounds after a dominating first quarter in which Atlanta built an 11-point lead.

Franz Wagner had 22 points and six rebounds for Orlando, which lost its sixth straight. Paolo Banchero added 20 points and five assists.

Led by Capel and Jarrett Culver (12 rebounds), Atlanta had a 49-33 rebound advantage.

THUNDER 119 SPURS 111

Rookie Jalen Williams scored a season-high 27 points and Oklahoma City overcame a 20-point second-half deficit to hand San Antonio their ninth straight loss.

Lu Dort scored 23 points and Josh Giddey added 14 points and 14 rebounds for the Thunder. Oklahoma City guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, the league’s No. 3 scorer with 31.1 points per game, sat out with a bruised hip.

Devin Vassell scored 25 points and Keldon Johnson added 19 for the Spurs.


Lewandowski celebrates ‘happy defeat’ as Poland go through to next round

Lewandowski celebrates ‘happy defeat’ as Poland go through to next round
Updated 01 December 2022

Lewandowski celebrates ‘happy defeat’ as Poland go through to next round

Lewandowski celebrates ‘happy defeat’ as Poland go through to next round
  • That late Saudi goal ensured Poland finished as runner-up in Group C, ahead of Mexico on goal difference

DOHA: Robert Lewandowski left the field with a huge smile on his face after blowing kisses to fans and hugging teammates.

You’d never know his team just lost a crucial World Cup game 2-0 to Argentina.

But Poland scraped into the knockout stages of the tournament, despite Wednesday’s loss to the South American champions, after Salem Aldawsari’s stoppage-time goal for Saudi Arabia in a 2-1 defeat to Mexico.

That late goal ensured Poland finished as runner-up in Group C, ahead of Mexico on goal difference, to set up a last 16 game against France on Sunday.

“You can say it’s a happy defeat,” said Lewandowski, who failed to even have a shot on target. “I’m not happy with the way we played. Of course not. We can’t be happy with the game itself.”

Poland had been thoroughly outplayed by Argentina with Lewandowski an ineffective isolated figure as his team was pegged back for the duration of the game. Argentina had 24 attempts at goal, 13 on target. Poland had three, none on target.

“We didn’t want to take any risk and, you know, we achieved our result because we reached the next round,” Lewandowski said with a smile. “Even though we lost, we can be happy.”

Poland coach Czeslaw Michniewicz said his team’s lack of attacking threat wasn’t Lewandowski’s fault.

“I’m not attacking anyone from the team, but we didn’t help him to score,” Michniewicz said. “If (Lionel) Messi played for us and Robert played for Argentina, Robert would have scored five goals. Robert needed to get assistance and the match was played in our half. There were so many players covering him.”

Poland had goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny to thank for a string of saves — including a first-half penalty from Messi — and Karol Swiderski for a goal-line clearance that avoided a heavier defeat.

Yet Poland’s players celebrated like they’d won, spraying each other with water bottles on the field.

It had been an anxious wait.

Poland’s game finished but Mexico was leading Saudi Arabia 2-0 and desperately pushing for the third goal that would have been enough to progress at Poland’s expense.

Both Poland and Mexico had four points, with two goals scored and two goals conceded each at that moment. Poland only had the edge by having fewer yellow cards than Mexico’s players.

Poland defender Bartosz Bereszynski covered his face. He couldn’t bear the tension.

Then Aldawsari scored for Saudi Arabia to end Mexico’s hopes.

“I guess it’s the first time I felt you can be happy after a loss,” Lewandowski said.

The Poland star is already looking ahead to Sunday’s game against France.

“It’s another favorite to win the world championship and we’ve nothing to lose,” he said. “We know what kind of players they have but we have to enjoy it and do our best. We have to fight … France will be a huge challenge and we have to play better than today.”


Maradona would be ‘super happy,’ says Messi

Maradona would be ‘super happy,’ says Messi
Updated 01 December 2022

Maradona would be ‘super happy,’ says Messi

Maradona would be ‘super happy,’ says Messi
  • Messi, who still needs a World Cup winner’s medal to cement his legacy as one of the sport’s greatest players, believes Argentina are moving up through the gears

DOHA:  Lionel Messi believes Diego Maradona would be “super happy” after he led Argentina into the World Cup last 16 on Wednesday thanks to a 2-0 win over Poland.

Messi became his country’s most capped player at the tournament with a 22nd appearance surpassing his legendary compatriot who died just over two years ago.

“I learned it recently, I didn’t know it. It’s a pleasure to be able to continue to achieve these kinds of records. I think Diego would be super happy for me, because he always showed me a lot of affection, he was always happy when things went well for me,” said Messi.

Despite missing a penalty — his 39th career failure from the spot — the Argentina captain said he was “happy” with this “big match.” 

“We achieved our first objective, which was to get out of the group after starting the way we did (a shock 2-1 loss against Saudi Arabia),” said Messi.

“I was really frustrated to have missed the penalty, because I knew that a goal could change the whole match, that it makes you play in a different way. But I think that from the penalty I missed, the team came out stronger.”

Messi, who still needs a World Cup winner’s medal to cement his legacy as one of the sport’s greatest players, believes Argentina are moving up through the gears at precisely the right time.

“After the first goal, everything went our way. We started doing again what we had been trying to do since the start of the World Cup, but which we hadn’t been able to achieve for various reasons.

“Having been able to do it today, it gives us confidence for the future.”

Next up for Argentina is a last 16 clash against Australia on Saturday.

“We know that now everything will be very difficult. That whoever the opponent, it will be complicated. We have seen recently, at our own expense, that any opponent can play a good game and win.”